The ratings range from 1 to 10, with 1 being utterly horrible and 10 a classic in the making! Singles, EPs and compilations will not be rated.
The ratings range from 1 to 10, with 1 being utterly horrible and 10 a classic in the making! Singles, EPs and compilations will not be rated.
|REVIEWS ADDED 28 August, 2007 (WEEK 35)
POVERTY'S NO CRIME: "Save My Soul" 9
Inside Out 2007
After an almost 4 year musical sabbatical, German prog rockers Poverty's No Crime return with their new album "Save My Soul". Their previous CD "The Chemical Chaos" got briliant reviews and it has been one of my favourite albums of 2003. The new album sounds a little bit different but maybe that is due to the fact that this album was produced at the Area 51 studio together with Tommy Newton (Gamma Ray, Angra, ARK, Redemption). The music is still melodic, heavy and fascinating from the opener "Open Your Eyes" till the last song "Break The Spell".
Most of the tracks have those typical PNC characteristics, meaning: lots of diversity, catchy guitar riffs, driving riffs, wonderful melodies and amazing vocal parts. The title track is a true example of a great PNC song filled with all those musical ingredients, especially the guitar work in that track is truly awesome. The band also explores some new musical territories, take for instance the sinister, heavy "The Torture". Here the guitars are tuned down low to a B and this song almost sounds like Black Sabbath..... "The Key To Creativity" is a wonderful melodic track which could turn into a hit would this song be played on the radio,as it has a truly addictive chorus which stays in your head for a very long time.
My personal favs are: "in The Wait Loop" (weird title?) featuring heavenly guitar solos, amazing melodies and lost of other great musical stuff. The instrumental "Spellbound" surprises the listener with lots of tempo changes,
fantastic guitar melodies and an organ solo. This fantastic CD ends with the epic "Break The Spell", giving you all the prog metal ingredients you are looking for.
The 4 year wait was worth it as these German rockers never cease to amaze me. This album is a must for prog rock/metal lovers and I cannot wait to hear these guys "in the flesh". Truly recommended!!
HEAVEN & HELL: "Radio City Music Hall - Live" 9
'Sing me a song, you're a singer' - Bloody'ell, Ronnie James Dio is indeed a vocal God and one of the best ever in the hardrock business. Vinnie Appice is a timekeeper supreme, a Geezer is always a Geezer, and so what if Tony has the stage persona of a pissed Butler (get it?).
I haven't seen the DVD as of yet and it's probably for the best too. I seriously doubt it to be much fun, considering their age and robotic stage performances of the past. But man, can they play and sing their music or what??? Unbelievable and not of this earth, I'd say. 'In a misty morning' - Heaven & Hell (Black Sabbath) doesn't have a real image, no interest in putting on a mockering show and no pretensions. What you get to hear is four geezers having fun playing music that dates back to 1980 and up to present days.
Two new songs are included here as well on the compilation CD (three actually). "The Devil Cried" and "Shadow Of The Wind" are exactly what to expect from this band and they fit nicely in with the classics. "The Mob Rules", "Children Of The Sea", "Lady Evil", "The Sign Of The Southern Cross", "Die Young", "Heaven And Hell", "Neon Knights", and "Falling Off The Edge Of The World", wow. By the way, the latter is the very reason to the sound of Iron Maiden.
"Radio City Music Hall - Live" is a double set that will go down in history as an instructional manual of how to play classic hardrock and heavy metal. New bands, pay attention, listen, learn, and simply add a decent image and sound of your own. Essential stuff and I'm really not that much 'into' live records in the first place.
DIAMOND HEAD: "What's In Your Head" 8
What's in my head? none of your business... but I do have a lot of space for rent. Nevermind the rather insulting title as the semi-legends of NWOBHM are set to penetrate your brain with aggressive heavy metal music. I believe there's a Metallica connection to the geezers of Diamond Head, but you all know the story anyhow.
The opening track, "Skin To Skin", is indicative of the CD as a whole, power riffing in the 80's school and strong vocals. Yup, Sean Harris still moans and groans like Robert Plant in heat. The following number, "I Feel No Pain", could just as easily have been the work of Saigon Kick in the early/mid 90's. "This Planet And Me" is a superb mix of the old and new. "Reign Supreme" and "Tonight" utilises at first a Soundgarden sound but keeps it very melodic and 80's in the tradition of the band. Soaring vocals and a hypnotic beat is the main ingredients of "Nothing To Lose".
Final verdict: "What's In Your Head" isn't absolutely fabulous, but it is darn good, and shows that Diamond Head deserve to be more than just a Metallica connection. You need to spin this a couple of times and then let it all sink in for a while. It's a real grower and I'am really impressed by the overall high quality of the song material. Whatdoyaknow, I managed to go through the entire review without once refering to "Am I Evil"... oh crap... nevermind...
DEAD SOUL TRIBE: "A Lullaby For The Devil" 8
Inside Out 2007
If you can remember my last reviews of Dead Soul Tribe albums you will know that these were not really to my liking. I rewarded their last album "The Dead World" with sheer 3 points....stating that it was a dull and very melancholic album, with almost no variety and no musical solos whatsoever. So I was in fact not to keen on reviewing another DST album. But to my surprise after a couple of listening "sessions" I must say that "A lullaby for the devil" is the first DST album I really like. The music on this CD shows a definite change of direction as the songs are tough-as-nail metal, pervaded by rigorous guitar riffs, addictive riffs and hooks and great vocals. In short, there is much more aggression and progression and the production is fuller and more complete. Just listen to the amazing dark opener "Psychosphere" and you will hear the difference.
"Goodbye City Life" is one of my favourites, starting with a 2 minutes heavy prog metal intro, followed by piano,vocals, explosive guitar solos and brilliant vocal parts. This is probably one of the best DST songs I have ever heard. "Here Come The Pigs" (great title) is a very dark song with weird whispering vocals and a rather hypnotic vocal melody. "The Gossamer Strand" is an instrumental track with lots of piano and flute passages, sounding like Camel and Focus, altough the flute parts are a bit too long in my opinion. "Further Down" is the second highlight of this CD. Again a rather heavy track with great riffs and a brilliant solo! The title track, filled with dramatic vocals, spooky riffs and lots of piano, ends this remarkable album.
There are only two weak songs on this CD, namely: "Any Sign at All" and "Fear", which are in fact old-fashioned tribal metal songs which would fit in perfectly on previous DST albums.
Devon Graves really surprises me on this album as "A Lullaby For The Devil" sounds like modern day heavy progressive metal, multi-layered and truly contemporary. I never thought that I would say this, but the new DST album is really worth listening to.
Check it out for yourself, listening tips: "Goodbye City Life" and "Further Down". Devon Graves is back!!
Axel Rudi PELL: "Diamonds Unlocked" 7
Bummer, it's one of those cover albums again. Well, Axel Rudi Pell have at least the decenty to pick a couple of obscure tunes for his tribute to the past. You know, instead of all the obvious choices and samey-samey material as the rest of the pack. My favourites are definitely the odd ones, like his smashing version of U2's "Beautiful Day". To be honest, this is a friggin' great tune in its original shape and colour, but this rocking version will do just f-i-n-e. Kikk-azz guitarwork by Pelly and whiskey tinted vocals by Johnny 'Hardline' Gioeli is a perfect combination here.
They have also decided to turn the KISS classic, "Love Gun", into a unplugged ballad and it works out remarkably well. Soft percussion by Mike Terrana, acoustic guitars, and a killer performance by Gioeli. Pay special attention to the solo by Pell as it's very suiting to the mood of the tune. Two thumbs up!!! They've also managed to beef up the old Michael Bolton number, "Fools Game". This is from his pure AOR days in the year of 1983, prior to becoming an hausfrau favourite, and it's yet another example of a nice cover version. More aggressive guitarwork and ditto vocals by Johnny is the winning concept here.
I'm having mixed feelings towards, "In The Air Tonight", originally by Phil Collins. You need to be in a special mood to truly appreciate the song. You also need to have patience and not rush things. Pell does finally add some more aggressive guitars and a longer solo of course. Yep, it's a still a rather classy tune. Another surprise and winning concept is Pell's version of "Like A Child Again", originally by The Mission. The U.K. goth rockers have also recorded one of the better albums of the year with "God Is A Bullet" and this has always been a marvelous song. "Stone" was originally done by Chris Rea and later covered by The Law on their self titled album in 1991. This is closer to The Law's version and it's yet another homerun for the teutonic rocker.
However, some of the songs are simply to similar to the originals and not really that interesting. I'm merely thinking about: "Warrior" (Riot), "Heartbreaker" (Free), "Rock The Nations" (Montrose), and "Won't Get Fooled Again" (The Who). Seriously, if you're going to cover classic acts such as these, please do add something new and fresh to the old arrangements. You're always going to end up on the losing side otherwise. Let's face it, you can't re-create history nor mess with perfection without getting your fingers burned. Nontheless, "Diamonds Unlocked" is a quite nice cover album for a change.
SOUL DOCTOR: "Blood Runs Cold" 6
AOR Heaven 2007
While I rate vocalist Tommy Heart (the voice of Fair Warning) as one the finest singers in rock, I haven't really warmed up to Soul Doctor's material. I'm afraid "Blood Runs Cold" won't make much of a difference, as it's still more of the same - basically OK hard rock, bur somehow forgettable songs. Too bad.
The medicine that this Soul Doctor offers is timeless AC/DC/Whitesnake/Zeppelin-influenced hard rock. There's nothing wrong with that, these songs will surely have your feet tappin'. Still, apart from the few highlights, at least for me they failed to leave a lasting impression.
The album's standout track for me was "Temptation". It's a highly melodic midtempo track, with a slightly bluesy vibe, reminding me of Whitesnake, Steelheart and Great White. I also quite liked the Bon Joviesque "The Lie" and the two straight-forward hard rockers, "Blood Runs Cold" and "Touch Of Love". The latter is the only track not written by the band members, as it's penned by Joe Lynn Turner, Glenn Hughes and Stuart Smith.
I can fully understand that Tommy Heart might want to create something different on his own, and I never expected Soul Doctor to be a Fair Warning clone. I don't have anything against the band's style, it's just that the songs seem to lack that "little something". Take a band like Gotthard for example - their musical style is pretty similar to that of Soul Doctor's, yet their albums are bursting with memorable songs... with stronger songs The Docs could very well be giving Gotthard a run for their money.
LINES OF LEAVING: "Battle For Humanity" 6
Independent Sounds Oy 2007
Lines Of Leaving have a lot to say and they aren't afraid to speak their mind. Their songs deal with serious issues, and there are no sappy love songs in sight. Instead, you'll get thoughtful lyrics about various problems we're facing right now. Musically the band seems to be just as uncompromising, yet quite appealing. They are not sticking to any formats and they seem to take influences from everywhere. It's hard to describe their sound, as it has elements of modern rock, alternative rock, punk, metal... In their "quirkiness" they remind me of My Chemical Romance, yet at the same time there are traces of REM, Bad Religion and probably some Finnish "artsy" rock bands.
Not only are the songs heavy on content, they're also heavy on words. There's a lot of lyrics for vocalist Timo Nyman to sing. That makes some of the vocal melodies sound a bit rough around the edges and they don't flow naturally. This is quite common for Finnish bands who sing in english, the consonant-rich Finnish language shines through...
I like the overall sound of the album and the song material is quite solid. None of the songs really stand out, although there were some hooks that I found myself humming. I just couldn't tell from which songs they were without checking! After closer inspection, I believe that "Fistula", "Christy Brown" and "Tourniquet" were the ones with the most memorable bits and pieces, even though as whole songs they didn't steal the show.
One thing I must add: the band has released the album on their own label, but it sounds and looks like a major label release, with excellent production and suberb packaging.
RAGING SPEEDHORN: "Before The Sea Was Built" 4
There's a thick and massive groove throughout this record. It's unfortunately not a great groove, it merely works as a constant reminder of how some CD's are just plain average and without any major ups or downs. Yeah, we all know that Raging Speedhorn are semi-legends of the stoner and their early albums are quite refreshing and perky stuff. Well, not really, it's bloody awful stuff actually.
But sure enough, "Before The Sea Was Built" starts out superbly with opening track, "Everything Changes". This is a hypnotic little tune that had me thinking about the good, old days. It's not too shabby, not shabby at all actually. But apart from "The Last Comet From Nothingness", nothing immediate caresses the soul of this reviewer. It's hate filled music, fuelled with boredom and frustration, it's difficult to find any 'hooks' or recall any melodies whatsoever here. I don't get it? you're not supposed to remember their songs, or what? Well, mission completed.
MY FATE: "MMVI"
My Fate Music 2007
This four-track EP "MMVI" is the fifth release from Finnish metal band My Fate. I haven't heard their previous material so I won't be able to judge how they have progressed, but I do know that this is their first release with the new singer Jukka Ruostila.
Since I'm not completely up to date with the current sub-genres of metal, I'd simply call My Fate's music as Extreme Metal - they've probably influenced by the classic Thrash Metal bands but also the newer generation of metal bands, the panteras and the machineheads and so on. What makes them a bit more appealing to a melodic rock fan like me is the fact that their songs are not all about aggression and attitude. Sure, vocalist Ruosila does scream, roar and growl like a man possessed at times, but he can also carry a melody. The guitars are heavy and ruthless, but at the same time, they weave melodic textures to the background.
The songs that stand out are the two first tracks "Upstream" and "Noise Machine". Both are heavy and uncompromising, yet the choruses are quite melodic. I wasn't quite as keen on the other two tracks, "Drifting In Shadows" being especially a bit too heavy on the cookie monster vocals.
The EP will be available as a free download on the band's website, so check them out if you're in need of some modern metal.
|REVIEWS ADDED 20 August, 2007 (WEEK 34)
NIGHTWISH: "Dark Passion Play" 10
Nuclear Blast 2007
Let me start off with an admission: I am not a Nightwish fan. No, really. To be honest, I could always take them or leave them, leaving them especially when they turned “Over The Hills & Far Away” into a Goth Opera piece that made me want to cut my ears off. My other half, mind you, thinks they are the best band in the world, so I've had plenty of opportunity to appreciate them and still it never clicked. Until now, obviously.
When I first heard the first recording with new vocalist Anette Olzon, “Eva”, I was rather unimpressed. Although I like her work with Alyson Avenue, “Eva” seemed to be a rather dull song with which to launch her at slavering fans. Let me just say now that when I hear “Eva” as part of the album it shines like a very shiny thing. Put simply, “Dark Passion Play” is like a beautifully crafted musical jigsaw, each piece complimenting the others to form a stunning picture.
14 minute opener “The Poet & The Pendulum” sets the tone for the whole album perfectly, as it has enough twists and turns for several songs, and I had to keep checking I wasn't yet on the fourth or fifth track. It's all over the place, yet in a good way, utilizing Anette's non operatic (but sooooo good) vocals in conjunction with the London Orchestra and more mood swings than a bus full of pregnant women. It's truly a wonderful composition, yet the listener is shaken out of the tranquility by the pure heavy rock of “Bye Bye Beautiful”, in which Marco takes over the majority of vocals and screams like man with his hairy orbs stuck in a vice. He's not a great singer, but after a few listens he really grew on me, and he gives the song a real power that will get heads banging.
I'm not going to go through the whole album track by track, because there's 13 of them and they last over 70 minutes. It's hard to even pick out favorites, such is the sheer quality of every one, especially when considered as part of the whole. Personally, I do have a fondness for “Amarinth” and it's catchy melody twinned with big arsed guitars. Then again, there's the pure Celtic influence of “Last Of The Wilds”, a great instrumental piece, or the melodic metal overtones of “Sahara”. Sod it – I love 'em all!
I think that “Dark Passion Play” can only cement Nightwish's reputation
as the band that all other operatic/theatrical gothy type bands want to be.
In Anette they have found a singer that can also open up their music to
those who were put off by the operatic strains of whatsername (like me),
whilst retaining the theatricality and pompousness that somehow works within
the excellent songwriting and arrangements. It's an album of great maturity
and depth that deserves to be savored by anyone who likes rock or metal
music. Overall, it's worthy of being my first perfect ten on this site, and
I really look forward to hearing some of the tracks live, although in a
perfect world they'd just play the whole thing from start to finish. Well, I
MANITOU: "No Sign Of Wisdom" 9
Metal Heaven 2007
These Finnish traditional heavy metallers release their third album and you can say that it is their best one up to date. The main musical influences of Manitou are obviously Queensryche, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Ozzy and Dio but they also have their own musical style, which is traditional heavy metal mixed with progressive musical elements and passages.
The first two tracks "In this indolence" and "Dead of the freaks" are both up tempo rock songs filled with speedy, but melodic twin guitar solos, honouring classic metal bands like Saxon and Maiden... "No signs of wisdom" again features some headbanging riffs but also some quieter melodic parts in the middle. The up tempo rocker "Harbinger" even features some high-pitched vocals.
The first real highlight is "Polluted world" which is filled with heavenly twin guitar solos and melodies, but it becomes even better with the power rock track "Some of the sins revealed". That song is really powerful and diverse with lots of tempo changes, melodic guitar parts, excellent vocal passages and even some Fates Warning-like semi-acoustic parts. However Manitou saves the best for last as the epic "August Sky" is the absolute musical highlight of this CD. It clocks over 11 minutes and it features a lot of progressive musical elements, rock passages and even metal parts. Especially some of the guitar passages/melodies and solos are out of this world.
HUMAN ZOO: "Over The Horizon" 8
AOR Heaven 2007
Human Zoo released their first album "Precious Time" on a small label last year, and the feedback it recieved prompted AOR Heaven to add them to their rooster. Now it's time for the "difficult second album"... Just like the first album, "Over The Horizon" has been produced by Dennis Ward. His name on an album sleeve is almost a guarantee of a quality product, and that's the case with this one too. The album sounds absolutely brilliant!
Great production doesn't amount to much if the songs don't work, but fortunately the Zoo boys have come up with a good selection of songs again. Especially the first few songs are first class melodic hard rock tracks with superb, strong choruses, just as good as anything on the first album, if not better. What's more, the rather odd and grammatically questionable lyrics of the first album are mostly a thing of the past, as the band seems to have paid attention to them.
The two brief instrumental pieces aside, Human Zoo offer us ten new tracks on this album. The first three ("Cryin'", "Over The Horizon" and "Communicate") are among the finest songs this band has come up so far, and they give a flying start to the album. These songs should be a real treat for the faans of the likes of Pink Cream 69, Bonfire and Gotthard. "Want It" is a more groove-oriented track with (synth?) horns, that doesn't totally work for me. The cool pre-chorus leads into a rather dull actual chorus, which is a bit of a let-down.
My favourite song on the first album was the ballad "In The Rain", so I was curious to see what kind of lighters-in-the-air material the guys would come up this time. There's two ballads on this album, out of which my vote goes to "Be The One", a good traditional power-ballad, on which the band finally let the saxophone player Boris Matakovic to steal the spotlight with a fine solo. The acoustic closing number "Endless Road" is nice enough, but not one of the album's highlights.
In between the two ballads you'll find a couple of hits but also a couple of misses. "Creatures Of The Night" is a cool, keyboard-driven hard rock track, which reminds me a lot of Sabu's cult classic "Angeline". The band also uses their "secret weapon" - the saxophone - on it to a good effect. I've also grown to like the laid-back, semi-balladic "Lovin' You", which sounds very much like "Open"-era Gotthard. Unfortunately, I can't say I've learned to like the two remaining songs - both are straightforward and predictable rockers. Oddly enough, both of them deal with "rocking"... or something... "Rock Your Town" is easy to understand, but "We're gonna hit the rock, gonna hit the roll, hit rock'n roll" doesn't really make any sense to me... maybe it just sounded good?
It's never easy to follow-up a solid first album, but Human Zoo have managed to do just that. The song material on the first album was perhaps a tad stronger overall, but "Over The Horizon" has more variety and the lyrics are definitely better... so we call it a tie then?
21 EYES OF RUBY: "Conquer The World Part 2 & 3" 8
21 Eyes Of Ruby is a Dutch rock trio which now release their new album called "Conquer The World Part 2 & 3." (for a review of "Part 1" see our archives) This remarkable band was founded in 2006, just one day after they released their debut EP. The trio can be placed in the alternative rock scene, as their music is a mix of bands like Tool, The Mars Volta and The Smashing Pumpkins. This new double CD features 14 songs, being complex, not easy accessible and sometimes even chaotic. However after several spins I got truly addicted to these guys, especially the longer tracks "InVain/Carmine" and "Unfold Your MInd" are amazing/
Part 2 kicks off with the heavy up tempo rocker "Million Seconds", featuring some prog metal riffs and guitar melodies, reminding me of Tool and System Of A Down. "Make A Mess" is even more experimental, with some great drums and bass guitar parts, a rather catchy chorus and a nice guitar solo. The absolute highlight of this first CD is called "InVain/Carmine", which clocks over 8 minutes and is filled with heavenly guitar hooks, riffs and solos. Some melodies and especially the Asian/Oriental musical influences bring back memories of another great Dutch rock band: Whistler/Courbois/Whistler. However there are also a couple of songs on part 2 that are no more than mediocre rock songs, like for instance "24 Again" or "Perfect Daughter". "Off You Go" is a true musical disappointment as it is no more than a dull grunge-like semi-acoustic ballad.
Part 3 opens with "Angel From Sri Lanka", a great up tempo rocker with a very melodic guitar solo and great vocals by Antoine. "Unfold Your MInd" is the best 21 Eyes Of Ruby song so far. What a killer track, featuring amazing relaxed guitar solos, addictive melodies, staccatto riffs and lots more. This is 21 Eyes at their best!! The Tool-like "Memories Of Pain" is also a musical feast, featuring Oriental guitar melodies and a howling guitar solo in the middle. "How Long" is the last track if this great CD and that one even has some Nirvana influences. Sad but true there is also one really dull track on this heavenly album, namely the acoustic ballad "The Mystery Remains", which also has a trumpet solo.
All in all, there is a lot to enjoy on these two CDs, especially if you like the
bands I mentioned. 21 Eyes Of Ruby definitely have their own musical style, relying on great guitar
work/riffs/melodies and a very strong rhythm section. I think that this band has a
great future ahead of them. Listening tip: "Unfold Your Mind" at maximum volume.
JOE BONAMASSA: "Sloe Gin" 8
If you listen carefully to this new album of Joe Bonamassa you will notice that this guy is one of the best blues/rock guitar pickers of this time. However it is a shame that 6 out of the 11 "new" songs are covers.... First we have "Ball Peen Hammer", originally played by Chris Whitley, an excellent blues rock track with an amazing slide guitar solo. This is followed by the Ten Years After classic "One Of These Days", which Joe adapted in his own mysterious way, making you almost forget that this is a cover! "Seagull", the third cover, is a semi-acoustic ballad and this is not really my cup of tea, too mellow. The title track, which clocks over 8 minutes is also a cover and that one is actually from Tim Curry's 1978 solo debut album. It is a super blues ballad with some of the greatest guitar solos Joe has ever done. I think that this one is going a to be a real Bonamassa live killer. The other two covers are Charles Browns' "Black Night" and John Martin's classic blues nugget "Jelly Roll", not two of my favourite songs on the album.
"Dirt In My Pocket", the first "real" JB song is a nice mid tempo blues track with some fine guitar picking and slapping. "Another Kind Of Love" will also be a great track for a live set and "Around The Bend" is one of my favourite tracks on this CD.
This third album for Provogue Records re-teams Joe with producer Kevin Shirley and he really brings Bonamassa's music further than ever making the album more different than anything Joe has ever done before. The CD ranges through heavy blues - which is awesome - and some acoustic stuff - which is less to my liking. Furthermore the album is sequenced as a throwback to the side A and side B set up of vinyl records as listening to an album as a whole is a lost pastime.
Personally I liked "You & Me" better as there were not that many acoustic parts on that one, altough I must say that "Sloe Gin" is one of the best Joe Bonamassa songs I have ever heard, altough it is a cover... Play that one on maximum volume and you will be hooked, for sure!!
P:O:B: "Crossing Over" 7
Mid-paced melodic Prog-Rock attack from the land of the princess who speaks to angels. Yep, it's an uncanny feeling of ghostly figures in the spiritual world as Norway strikes once again with something quite unholy and un-identifible. Let it be known from the start, it's difficult to label the music of P:O:B (Pedestrians Of Blue) and it's even harder to pen down in a short review on the web.
We've featured these geezers in our A&R section in the past and "Crossing Over" is their nicely produced debut album. Not that strange perhaps, considering that it's been mixed by Daniel Flores and superbly mastered at Finnvox studios by super-Finn, Mika Jussila. The actual song material is almost more impressive though as it's a fine mish-mash of lushy Prog-Rock of the past and quite modern sounding rock of the complex kind.
Opener, "Father & Son", happens to be the darkest track of the album. Very likeable yet far from P:O:B's strongest moment. The following, "Promises", is their most modern rock sounding effort and you can't really put this in the same pile as the prog tunes. "The Garden" will remind you of Styx and especially Tommy Shaw.
It's like this huge melting pot of varying moods and pace-changes that will leave you stunned and confused for days. Bloody'ell, this should be easy accessible for everyone to buy and it makes you wonder why they're not signed to: Insideout, SPV, or any of the more "prog" friendly labels. It's certainly not a question of skill nor orginality as P:O:B kicks minor butt in both departments. In fact, any regular buyer of complex, yet very melodic prog-rock, should NOT miss out an opportunity to check this out.
MINDFLOW: "Mind Over Body" 7
Gordeon Music 2007
"Mind Over Body" is Midflow's second album and on this CD these Brazilians deliver 80 minutes of progressive music with musical elements from notorious bands like Ayreon, Mindkey, Dream Theater, Pain Of Salvation and Fates Warning. The album kicks off with the epic "Crossing Enemy's Line" featuring a classic prog metal intro, followed by different tempos, rhtythm changes and sometimes high-pitched vocals. Unfortunately there are not many solos making the song rather complex and "difficult" to listen to. "Upload - Spirit" has a rather trashy intro with a short guitar solo followed by dark, weird vocals, which tend to irritate me after a couple of minutes... "Thousand Miles From You" is a boring piano ballad with nerve-racking whispering vocals; the first real disappointment on this record!
"Just Water, You Navigate" has some rather "clear" POS and Fates Warning characteristics, although the vocal parts of lead singer Danilo Herbert are surely not as good as those of Gildenlow or Alder... "Chair Designer", a complex up tempo prog rock song definetely reminds me of Angra. However this great song is again followed by a true "failure", namely the song called "A Gift To You", which is boring, horrible paino ballad, again with annoying whispering vocals. "Hellbitat", which clocks over 12 minutes is too long and filled with too many vocals; at some places Herbert even grunts his way through the song...
The longest track "Follow Your Instinct" is true prog metal, complex and at certain times even a bit chaotic. Here it sounds like the band is searching for its own musical style, which they probably have not found yet. However, in my opinion there is again too much singing and not enough melody and a true lack of solos! The album ends with the melodic track "Hide And Seek", which also features strings and violin.
I think that these guys have musical potential, but on this CD they went over the top. The music on "Mind Over Body" is too complex and it lacks a definite own musical style. The album brings a booklet with eight artistic photos that capture the essence of each song. The special, beautiful, "Follow Your Instinct" comic book adds another dimension to this excellent package. However I think that the music is more important than the cover, and the band should really work on their musical skills, which they have, and then we will hear a lot from these guys in the near future!
SMASHING PUMPKINS: "Zeitgeist" 7
There are Smashing Pumpkins all over the world. In fact, "Zeitgeist" is their thought-worthy sixth CD that reflects the band's ability to make music with as many different sources of influences as possible. It's much more accessible than say any Corgan solo effort as of lately and the album actually throbs with several rock monsters that won't let you up to the surface for a breather. Ehem, there's an obvious risk for drowning in other words and I'm afraid that you'll have to take the good with the bad.
It's still a rather powerful rebirth and comeback album by the two key members, Billy Crogan (vocals/Guitars) and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, and old fans with particular affection for confident rock will undoubtedly come over all enthusiastic about this CD. The first single, "Tarantula", was merely a nice taster of their new "emo" rock and Corgan has a voice made to be set over screaming guitars and emotional sections like these.
However, the middle-section of the album rely too much upon mere atomsphere to become really interesting. I would definitely have re-arranged the running order of the tracks to make up for a couple of truly awful songs in between the goodies. Indeed, "Zeitgeist" has a certain odour of sheer attitude and passion of their handywork. It may however suffer from the absence of a clearly stuctured agenda and not to mention a couple of real sing-a-long tunes. Final verdict: solid, darn solid effort, but no real candidate for the album of the year award.
CONSORTIUM PROJECT 4: "Children Of Tomorrow" 7
Metal Heaven 2007
The musical style on this new CD is a natural progression from the roots of the previous three Consortium albums. However this new album is a more diverse rock metal production with progressive and even gothic elements. All the 11 new songs clock under the 5 minute mark and are all dominated by those typical, very recognisable Ian Parry vocals. The album opens with "A Sign Of The Times", which features Elegy and even Ayreon like musical influences. "Nowhere Fast" starts with an Arabian-like intro and has some mysterious melodic passages reminding me of Ayreon, Vengeance and even Aina. "Neverland" is a real power rock song with those typical Parry characteristics. "Shadows" has some Within Temptation trade marks, such as strings, piano and the typical vocal parts.
The rest of the songs is more or less the same; not bad, but I have heard it all before and some of the songs would do better on a new Elegy album... The only true disappointment on the album is called "Let The Wind Carry You Home", which is a weird ballad with folk and Celtic musical influences.
So, if you like Elegy, Ayreon and Within Temptation and the other Consortium Projects then you can buy this CD without a shadow of a doubt, but unfortunately there are no musical surprises, so if Ian decides to
release another Consortium album then I will certainly pass...
SEASONS OF THE WOLF: "Once In A Blue Moon" 6
Some poor schmuck told me this CD would bear resemblance to Dream Theater??? Dream on buddy, well, I'm sure you could find hints of Bee Gees with the right kind of imagination and/or amount of alcohol in your blood. Nontheless, the new Seasons Of The Wolf is strickly old school metal in the fashionble tradition of Mercyful Fate, (very early) Accept, and Lizzy Borden.
You will also find quite a lot of keyboards into their music. Nope, not the progressive stuff, they're included to create an spooky atmosphere as they're going after the metal version of Edgar Allan Poe here. Lead vocalist Wes Waddell is a chapter of his own and his remarkable strong vocals will instantly grab hold of your throat and won't let go. The American mainstream version of both King Diamond and Udo Dirkschneider? Never quite as much over-the-top and hysterical as either though, but always with their voices in the back of his mind.
"Once In A Blue Moon" is very much an theatrical display of metal and fans of Mercyful Fate, Lizzy Borden, will definitely feel right at home. The mid-paced rocker, "Behind The Eyes Of Evil", truly is a 50/50 mix of the debut album of Accept and early Mercyful Fate. "The Reaper" will also remind you of early Priest and you can't help to compare this to "The Ripper". However, keep in mind that the funny named keyboardist, 'Dr.Samurai', adds his stuff all over the heavy metal sound. Close but no cigar.
LEC ZORN Project: "It Began In The Underground" 6
The Lec Zorn Project have made more than a splash on the melodic scene, since being featured on various CD compilations over the last couple of years. The project has finally been completed in the year of 2007 and it's apparently the fulfillment of a dream that has stretched for more than twenty years.
U.S. rocker Lec Zorn (bass/keys/songwriting) has managed to put together a nice, traditional, AOR project, with a little help from his friends. The guestlist is quite impressive and features musicians such as Eli Hludzik (Dakota), Eric Ragno (American Angel), Mike Walsh (Departure), Tracy White (Shotgun Symphony), Lars Säfsund (Work Of Art), Michael Riesenback (Toto fanfields) and of course, Tommy 'Radioactive' Denander.
Well packaged and nicely self-produced twelve track CD that opens up with an instrumental piece, "Lecoverture". I find this especially strange since Lec Zorn isn't a guitarist after all and this is his project??? Oh well, Mike Walsh steps up to the plate and I wouldn't exactly call it a homerun or anything. Fast skip to track two, "Long Time Coming", which is obviously a song about this very project and the long wait to get it done. "Second Chance" is the sound of Pride Of Lions, Survivor, and Journey. The highlight of the album is the utterly pink and fluffy Pomp/AOR of "Eternal Flame". High-pitched vocals by Tracy White, singing guitarwork by Walsh and a nice rock approach in the style of Kansas. "Fighting Chance" is the Survivor sound of the early/mid 80's and it's actually darn close to a certain "Eye Of A Tiger".
Bottomline: nicely executed and performed AOR, but unfortunately also a bit too sterile and safe at times. Don't get me wrong, die-hard fans of the genre will find a lot of goodies here (simply check out the excellent cover of Kansas' Play The Game). However, it's all been done before and it really doesn't feature anything "new" or original. I would recommend pure AOR fans to check out both sites below, listen to some soundclips and make your own mind up. This could just as easily have been a Escape or Frontiers release though.
SKANSIS: "Take A Chance" 6
In this modern era of time and music, it's no longer a question of just being crap or good at melodic hardrock, rather than if you sound like everybody else of the past or have your own style. Yeah, I know, it's certainly not an easy task to be a newcomer in 2007 as you're pretty much damned if you do and damned if you don't.
But let's be honest here, a catchy tune is always a catchy tune, and a fine effort is always a... decent effort??? Skansis (dodgy name) is a new unit of Swiss rockers and their debut album, "Take A Chance", could just as easily have been a big-seller in the year of 1991. They have a great singer in Reto Reist (no annoying accent to be found), a couple of excellent six string-benders in Bax & Daniel Joss, and the rhythm section of Menz Pfister (bass) & Matt Hagmann (drums), are tight as pants on Agnetha Fältskog in the late 70's.
The first three tracks (Is That Enough, Will You Be There, All I Care) are all bloody marvelous and complete with great sing-a-long choruses. They do however play the rather 'typical' sound of Teutonic/Swiss rock 'ala Gotthard, Casanova, and all the other bands featuring Michael Voss as lead vocalist. Reist could actually pass for a distant cousin of Voss as he works in a similar field and range. "Will You Be There" is a rather slick tune where the semi-raspy voice of Reist as the centre of attention. This is more or less a perfect mix of the two above mentioned acts and it's all been nicely produced and performed. "All I Care" is a more aggressive attempt of hardrock and it works out perfectly as it also features a darn catchy refrain.
Final verdict: You simply can't go completely wrong here if you'd like another slice of "typical" Swiss/Teutonic rock. I'm not entirelly sold on the whole album of Skansis, it's frankly a bit too stereotyped and predictible. Nevertheless, don't be afraid to "Take A Chance" as it's once again a solid release from Escape Music this year.
|REVIEWS ADDED 12 August, 2007 (WEEK 32)
TIGERTAILZ: "Thrill Pistol + bonus disc" 7
Ryan Giggs, Gary Speed, Manic Street Preachers, Tom Jones, Cardiff Kate (hello!), and Tigertailz - bloody'ell... I can't come up with anything more from Wales. Well, at least not on a positive note, not that anyone would ever put Tom Jones in that category. Nontheless, "Thrill Pistol" is the "real" comeback album and first complete new studio album by the Tigertailz. Not to forget that this 2-CD set also comes with a second bonus disc of the original, previously unreleased 1991 album 'Wazbones'. Goodie!
Glam vets Tigertailz may be, but one thing, "Thrill Pistol", makes clear is that they're not completely gobsmacked by the narrow stylistic limitations of the genre. Then again... "80's Glam" was/is more of an image than music style anyhow and you'll quickly notice how easily they've manage to mix their Punk influences with good, ol', sleazy, hardrock.
Sure enough, they can do all that sweet and fluffy stuff, aka "Milez Away", a mighty fine power ballad of the 80's, but check also out the chugging punk grooves of "Brain The Sucker" or the mega sleazy approach of "Twisted". The lyrics of the latter tune goes along the lines of: 'My Mama said I'm twisted, sick in the head', and hey, there's no need to argue with a professional [;-)].
Never the sort of blokes to wait for an invitation, "Thrill Pistol" will certainly trash your neighbours back-to-school party and still have enough of stamina to mess up the rest of the block. Merely ten new tracks though and then you still have to remove the dodgy rock attempts of "Hanging By The Heels" and "Serpent Queen". I'll have to get back with a indepth-review of Wazbones as my pre-release promo only holds the Thrill Pistol album.
SACRED HEART: "Shake" 7
Winkelrant Records 2007
Hardworking UK band Sacred Heart decided to take the bull by the horns, to finance and release their first real album on their own record label. They did release a 10-track CD a while ago, but in my books it was still a demo. Now with "Shake" I've chosen to review their album alongside other "real" releases.
"Shake" is firmly rooted in the sounds of the eighties' "Hair Metal". You'll be reminded of acts like Dokken, Firehouse, Trixter and Warrant. Only in sound though, as spandex trousers, shiny snakeskin boots and immaculately sculpted hairdos are nowhere in sight. Now the times have changed, and these mean looking lads - as nice as they may be - look more like a gang about to kick your ass than pouting poser rockers!
The band has enlisted the services of one Alex Burke as the producer, and he has done a reasonable job. What does bother me is the somehow stripped arrangements of the songs. As good as some of the songs are, they could use a "finishing gloss" in the form of some subtle keyboards, backing vocals and perhaps some additional guitar tracks. Now the songs tend to sound a bit too much a-like. These arrangements do probably give a good idea of the band's live sound, but especially the choruses could've benefitted from additional backing vocals. Well, maybe the guys just wanted to stay true to their live sound, and chose not to add elements that would be hard to reproduce in a live setting.
The band has a several rather catchy hard rock tracks, like "Lost", "Promise" and the title track "Shake", even though the last one does borrow its' riff (or at least the inspiration for it) from "Unchain The Night" by Dokken. Some of the other songs aren't quite as good, and the fact that most of them are on the slower side doesn't help one bit. I can't help but wonder what a rather plodding song like "Lift You Up" would sound like, if the boys stepped on the gas pedal, raised the tempo and added some urgency to the chorus...
(hed)p.e: "Insomnia" 4
Suburban Noize 2007
Well, this is pretty unusual, to say the least. If I had to write down all the things in the World I love, then hardcore rap metal really wouldn't figure very high. Possibly it would be just below Paris Hilton's Publicity Stunts. (hed)p.e. have been around for over a decade now, and this is the first time I have ever heard their music, so it came as a bit of a shock.
“Insomnia” is definitely hardcore rap metal, but don't go thinking this is going to be anything like Linkin Park or even Limp Bizkit. When they actually get it right, (hed)p.e. Can be favorably compared to Rage Against The Machine, as the albums stand out track “Walk On By” demonstrates. It's a shame, then, that the rest of the album just doesn't quite work. There's stuff for rap fans, with totally shit “I'm badder than you” type lyrics and tales of niggaz, bitches, drugs and guns. To me, this is almost as painful as black metal. Elsewhere, the band try some rock and rap fusions, with bits of funk thrown in, and if I'm honest (which I always am), some of these work quite well. “Atlantis AD”, for example, has a good groove, and “Suffa” has another go at RATM shoutiness to some effect.
“Insomnia” is a hard album for me to review, because I'm not really into
this stuff. From what I've read, it should be well received by existing fans
of the band, but I can't see non believers getting much out of this at all.
SYRON VANES: "Property Of" 1
My oh my... now here's a classy artwork by the airhead, stereotyped, metal wanker of the past. I'd like to think that hardrock has evolved from a rather sexist type of genre to a more female friendly kind of music (well, let's leave Manowar out of this). Yes, absolutely, I used to think that pulling an guitar pose, big hair, and having a victimized chick on the frontcover added up to being a cool band. But then again, I was like eleven years old at the time and didn't really see past my own... uhm... little world.
... And just the idea that any person of the opposite sex would even consider themselves to be branded as, "Property Of", Syron Vanes, is frankly too laughable to even start to take their music seriously. Yeah, sure, it's all fun and games, you say, but there's a very fine line between being plain dumb and an genius. C'mon, a bunch of Swedish hardrock wannabe's with a couple of crappy releases of the early/mid 80's. Yeah, I'm s-u-r-e they can pull a lot of birds in the year of 2007.
Hey, Grandpa's of Syron Vanes, this isn't the stoneage anymore, you know. There's no need to have your logo branded with hot iron onto the arses of your fantasy women... like any old herd of live-stock. Then again... I'm sure they've done the exact same thing with their own grandchildren... "Property Of" Syron Vanes... geez... please return to your cave a.s.a.p.
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