You can find older reviews and everything else in the Reviews Archive.

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.

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REVIEWS ADDED 29 September, 2009
YÖ: "Loisto" 8

Poko Records 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
18 September 2009

I have a feeling that this review might raise a few eyebrows among the Finnish readers... the "rock credibility" of YÖ might not be on a high level, but to me they are a good example of Finnish "Adult Oriented Rock". Ok, they don't sound like Journey or Foreigner, but their rock is surely oriented towards the adults of this country. What makes them special is that unlike many of their contemporaries, domestic or foreign, they are still selling albums and scoring hits, and their live setlist isn't based on nostalgic value. With "Loisto" they will get a few additional hits to choose from.

The band has come a long way, with only vocalist Olli Lindholm remaining from the original line-up. However, the circle has kind of closed, as Jussi Hakulinen, the original keyboard player and the sole songwriter of the first two albums has provided the majority of these songs. He has written some extremely melodic, mostly balladic songs for the album, most of them containing some "trademark" melodies of his, instantly recognizable as Jussi Hakulinen compositions. The biggest difference to the "old" Yö material is in the very colourful arrangements and the quality of musicianship, which is in altogether different league. Despite all this, "Loisto" leaves a little to be desired. The biggest drawback of the album is the lack of uptempo songs. 10 out of the 12 songs are slow or even slower tracks - a bit unbalanced tracklisting, I'd say! That's not to say that the ballads aren't any good, but maybe a catchy rock track or three might have made a difference.

The album kicks off with one of the two faster tracks, the excellent, guitar-driven "Kiitos Ja Kunnia". The title track follows, and while it's blessed with strong melodies, I'm not too crazy about the schlager-like arrangement. Next please... and up next we have the other somewhat uptempo track "Saanko Laulaa Tähdille". The Ultra Bra-like horns in the intro almost had me reaching for the skip button, but the song itself turns out to be a nice, understated pop track with a likeable hook from Hakulinen.

"Arjen Kauneus", the duet with Olli Lindholm and Maria Lund doesn't win me over, despite a neat but short guitar solo from Daffy Terävä, but I do like "Vuori", a majestic ballad with a strong vocal from Lindholm. "On Mennyt Yö" features lead vocals by bassist Juki "Jay" Lewis, who's 80'ies-like hard rock solo album I reviewed recently. This song is another big ballad (no surprise), not too far from Diane Warren's hit ballads, although written by the talented Antti Kleemola. Lewis has sung the two highlights of the previous two YÖ albums, and he does it again, although to a lesser extent.

The brilliant "Vie Mut Elämään (Siipirikko)" contains one of the biggest choruses of the album, while "Salaisuus" is more understated but equally melodic. Songwriter Hakulinen takes over the lead vocals for "Hän Katoaa", a very orchestrated, dramatic song but not one of my favourites. "Kosketus" has a bit more of a rock vibe in its' chorus, and for that it gets my vote. Same goes for "Yö On Minussa", which is a dark and moody ballad. And damn it, if the closing track "Parrasvalot" isn't another strong, dare I say "epic" track with a boys' choir and the full-blown orchestration.

The hopelessly slow overall vibe aside, I must say that this is one of the most thoroughly enjoyable albums from this band, and there's no denying the quality of the production, the performances and the arrangements. And hey, I even like the CD cover, which might be the band's best one so far.

ILIUM: "Ageless Decay" 8

Escape Music 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
17th September 2009

Whilst I like power metal, I am used to it coming direct from Germany, where it belongs, or perhaps America. The last place I expect to find a decent power metal band is Australia, yet Ilium have taken me by surprise by coming from that very place. Mind you, they do sound pretty German so I can let it slide.

“Ageless Decay” is Ilium’s fourth album, and the first to feature ex Riot/Masterplan vocalist Mike DeMeo (who is American). In the past, various metal magazines have been falling over themselves to praise the band, and it’s immediately obvious why. One thing Ilium seem to do very well is Melody, and another is power. There’s no room for wimping about on “Ageless Decay”, with the guitar of Jason Hodges soaring all over the place, never heavy metal enough to frighten the timid, but always melodic enough to invite praise. It’s like Ilium are nestled nicely between the likes of the heavier Cage and classic era Helloween, and trust me this is a very good place for them to be. I don’t know what their vocals were like previously, but in DeMeo they have a really good replacement, as he has a naturally good power metal voice, scraping the ceiling for the higher parts but mainly using a good, mid level tone for the bulk of the songs.

If you are into melodic power metal, then there really is no reason you shouldn’t love “Ageless Decay”, unless you are allergic to pretentious song titles. I mean, “Hibernal Thaw”, “Omnipaedia”, “The Neo Mortician”, “Nubia Awakes” and just about every other title belongs firmly in prog rock. I tell you, it’s a good job the music is so good, as otherwise ridiculing them would be like shooting really fat fish in a small barrel. Luckily, the music rocks, so give them a go.

THE 69 EYES: "Back In Blood" 8

EMI Finland 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
22 September 2009

The Helsinki Vampires are back... raised on an unhealthy diet of horror, cartoons and rock'n roll, these veterans of Finnish Goth Rock could just as well be cartoon characters themselves. As one would expect, the song titles of this album include a lot of blood, death and nights, and the lyrics deal with vampires, the undead and easy dead girls, not to mention rock'n roll. A winning concept, I guess.

The band may have changed producers, but I don't think that Matt Hyde has brought anything really different to the table. The album does sound great though, but I believe that the 69 Eyes have honed their concept to such perfection that an outside producer can only add subtle touches to it. The guitars may be a bit more aggressive and the keyboards play a smaller role, but otherwise the sound of the band hasn't changed much.

I was a bit suprised to find out that "Dead Girls Are Easy" was chosen as the first single. While it's a fun track with a bit of a Mötley Crüe vibe, it's hardly one of the most memorable ones of the album. It seems to be that the song "Dead N' Gone" is getting more airplay here in Finland, and it certainly has a stronger hook. At some point, I wouldn't be suprised if the title track was released as a radio single/video too, as it has simple, yet effective "catchphrase" chorus... For the last few days, the "Back In Blood/Blood Is The New Black" refrain has been going around in my head, trying hard to drive me nuts! The more restrained and melodic "Night Watch" and "Hunger" are potential hits too.

The previous two 69 Eyes albums had their share of filler, but also a few really great songs. "Back In Blood" has less filler, but its' standouts aren't quite as obvious as the ones on "Angels" and "Devils". Is it a better album then? I don't know - it's more enjoyable as a whole, but a real killer hit wouldn't have hurt. Meanwhile... "Back in blood, blood is the new black"... Goddamn it, I need to get that out of my head! It's not even one of my favourites...

ALL TIME LOW: "Nothing Personal" 8

Hopeless Records 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
17th September 2009

Album number three for Baltimore punk pop outfit All Time Low, with all indications being that it’s likely to make them rather than break them. Coming out of the same sandbox as Simple Plan, You Me At Six and Elliot Minor, All Time Low have no problem bouncing around throwing rock shapes and making horribly catchy pop punk for the masses. Here’s where you’re going to either love or hate them, as they bring absolutely nothing new to the genre, but they do manage to make the same old same old as fun as it ever was.

Twenty years ago you would listen to Van Halen, Y & T or Bon Jovi whilst cruising in the Summertime, but these days it’s bands like All Time Low who provide the soundtracks for summer. The songs are infectious and fun, lightweight but easy to have a good time with. “Keep the Change You Filthy Animal” is a prime case in point, with a great chorus that you will be singing on your first listen. They go down the “Woah Woah” route with the unashamedly named “A Party Song (Walk Of Shame)”, whilst single “Weightless” is as good as anyone else out there. They slow it down on a couple of tracks, and whilst “Too Much” has a good feel about it, “Therapy” doesn’t quite work for me, coming across as too whiny. Despite this minor blip, “Nothing Personal” is a vibrant, happy piece of work that should make you forget all your troubles for at least half an hour.

JADED HEART: "Perfect Insanity" 7

Frontiers 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
06 August 2009

On "Perfect Insanity", Jaded Heart seem to continue their metamorphosis from a Bon Jovi-soundalike to a power metal band. On the previous two albums with the new singer Johan Fahlberg they fared better, but this isn't a half bad album either. Still, I do hope that the "change" doesn't go on much longer, because there's a risk of them becoming yet another faceless Euro-metal band. There are some tracks here which show signs of that. Let's take a closer look at the songs, one by one.

"Love Is A Killer" is a good, no-holds-barred opener. Somehow the verses remind me of Anthrax with keyboards (!), while the chorus is a melodic monster, with great backing vocals. In fact, great background vocals can be found on most of the tracks. The title track is another strong number with sharp riffs courtesy of Peter Ostros, and again lots of fine vocal work. Next up the band goes all Judas Priesty on "Blood Stained Lies" , with some Halford-like screams from Fahlberg and juggernaut-like guitarwork. The chorus is quite melodic though, but I'm still not sure about this song.

A more melodic approach graces "Tonight", a nice midtempo track with a big, layered chorus. As the title might suggest, "Freedom Call" is more metal again. I guess it's not a tribute to the band by the same name... Anyway, it's more along the likes of Stratovarius, Helloween and Primal Fear. The guitar solo is pure Pumpkin Metal for sure.

Unlike the previous album "Sinister Mind", this one does contain a ballad. They've always been one of the band's strengths, and "One Life One Death" doesn't disappoint. Can't say the same about "Rising", which has a bit of a semi-gothic vibe. The chorus is BIG, but somehow it doesn't work at all. An "A" for effort, but no... unfortunately the next two tracks "Hell Just Arrived" and "Psycho Kiss" suffer of the same, both solid tracks, massive choruses, great background vocals and cool guitarwork, but in the end they leave me quite cold.

The band adopts a bluesier style for "Come To The Feast", a decent track that reminds me of the first Lynch Mob album a lot. The last track of the album has a bit of a power metal vibe again, with a bit Stratovarius-like riffs. The chorus is more Jaded Heart though, and an OK one.

That's it... a decent set of songs, if not earth-shatteringly great. Extra points for the production and especially the backing vocals, they're just as good or better than anything I've heard this year. Peter Ostros impresses too, and Henning Wenner's keys have taken a step forward towards the "frontline" again, after being pushed back on the previous album. So many good things to say about the album - too bad that the songs are the weakest link.

AOR: "Journey To LA" 6

Escape 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
23 September 2009

Frédéric Slama's appropriately named project AOR has previously released 5 albums (plus one compilation), all with "LA" in the title. Eech one of them has been full of sweet and soft westcoast rockin', with an odd nod towards harder edged AOR sounds. On "Journey To LA" Slama seems to have chosen to favour a bit harder sound. Helping him out are such wimp-rock giants as vocalists Philip Bardowell, Steve Overland (FM), Fergie Frederiksen (ex-Toto) and Bill Champlin (ex-Chicago) and guitarists Steve Lukather and Tommy Denander, just to mention a few. Denander has also co-produced the disc.

Overland-sung "Waiting In The Darkness" is a good opener for the album, an uptempo track that showcases the slightly harder vibe of this album. Overland does a great job as usual, and the song itself is one of the better ones on the album. Next track that requires an extra mention is the Foreigner-like "Love Remains The Same", with a great vocal from Philip Bardowell. The first notes of the song might fool you to think that you're listening to a HIM album though.

This AOR doesn't get any better than "Desperate Dreams", a rather awesome melodic rock track with vocals from Fergie Frederiksen. The song was actually first released on the "Best Of"-release "Nothing But The Best", but apparently this is a new version. "Heartless" has to be rated as one of the better songs as well,a good Bardowell-sung track.

While I like the fact that Slama has adopted a slightly heavier style, I must say that a few of the harder tracks aren't particulary sensational. "Never Surrender", "Read The Signs" and "Don't Turn Back" show promise, but all three have somewat tiresome choruses. Then there's the "real westcoast" selection, namely "West Into The Sun" and "Lost In Your Eyes" (a track that seems to appear on four different AOR releases). The first track sounds a bit like jazzy Sting, while "Lost..." sounds like elevator music, and I don't mind if I never hear them again. Thankfully, the album is closed with a good instrumental version of "You're My Obsession", a track that seems to be on most of the project's albums. I guess Slama likes it too?!!

REVIEWS ADDED 16 September, 2009
THE RUSHING: "Summon the Heroes" 8

Fish Face Recordsn 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
14th September 2009

The Rushing are a UK band who like to include Foo Fighters, Led Zeppelin and Queens Of The Stone Age amongst their influences. Unsurprisingly this has resulted in a debut album that high in guitars with plenty of added creativity and melody. That, my friends, is never a bad thing.

With the likes of Foo Fighters and QOTSA cramming together in their collective minds, it is perhaps not too much of a surprise to hear distinct grunge influences in The Rushing’s music. Throw in Puddle Of Mudd, Hoobastank and a hint of U2 and you’re pretty much there. Jonny Ross fronts the band with some good, honest vocals that would go well in any modern Indie band but are used to good effect with a band behind him that actually wants to make a decent loud noise. The rest of the band aren’t short changed in any way, with producer Val Proletarski delivering a fantastic mix. There aren’t many widdly solos to play with, although the guitar is always solid, with some excellent monster riffs breaking through the speakers. The songs all have a really good energy, although the band aren’t afraid to throw something different your way, such as the trumpet solo that closes “Kiss”.

It’s a nice surprise to hear a British band playing this sort of music so well, and with their own identity. The Rushing may well be the wrong flavour in our particular music climate, but I can’t help but feel that anyone who hears them or sees them live (something I plan to do as soon as I can) will find them hard to forget. Adrenaline packed rock for anyone who thinks that grunge is too depressing and Indie is too wussy, the Rushing are the perfect antidote to the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs and The Killers.

AXXIS: "Utopia" 8

AFM Records 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
10th September 2009

Axxis are a German power metal band who have been beavering away for two decades now, with "Utopia" their thirteenth studio album. It's a case of yet another band I've never heard of being ludicrously productive and rather popular to boot, leaving me with some more egg on my face as I sit and wonder how this lot ever passed me by, as they're just the sort of thing I like.

Axxis are unashedly Power Metal, with all that entails. It always seems that Germans have a pretty strong idea of how to do this sort of thing rather well, and Axxis are no exception. They hover somewhere inbetween the likes of Helloween (no surprise there) and Accept, with some nice touches that would make Stratovarious or Sonata Arctica take note. It's all held together by the typically high register power metal vocals of Bernhard Weiss, who brings a lot to the party in terms of power and pitch. He's backed up by co founder Harry Oellers, who throws in some excellent keyboards that thankfully never get lost in the mix.

The songs are almost uniformly cool, mixing bombastic beats with hints of theatre, melodic undercurrents and some seriously fancy guitar from Marco Wriedt, playing here on his second album for the band. As power metal albums go, "Utopia" rates as one of the better ones, and I heartily reccomend that you check out the title track, as if you like this then you will also love the rest of this melodic, powerful album.

RONNY MUNROE: "The Fire Within" 7

metal Heaven 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
14th September 2009

For some reason I couldn’t place the name Ronny Munroe when I first played this, only realising a few spins later that he is the current voice of Metal Church. Now I’m not a big Metal Church fan, but I did quite like their last album “This Present Darkness”, so make of that what you will. One thing Munroe brought to the table was a good, strong metal voice that was a bit like Bruce Dickinson but not as good, if you see what I mean.

The voice in question is in fine form again here, belting out songs that are heavy enough but just wouldn’t have really fit on a Metal Church album. This is classic style metal, make no doubt, with some frenzied guitar solos drifting towards modern power metal territory. Perhaps the most melodic track (and my favourite) is the “Rebuild The Ruins”, which features some very strong vocals from Ronnie coupled with a rather maiden-esque melody line. Elsewhere, he is happy to allow a snarl to creep into his voice on the likes of the more traditional metal of “What You Call hell (I Call Home)” and “Delerium”, both of which are pretty cool tracks that suffer from being a bit too ploddy. On “Demon Opera” he allows himself to reach his higher register, and whilst I appreciate that his screeching style when he does this may not appeal to some (take a bow, Kimmo), I quite like it in the occasional song.

You don’t have to be a Metal Church fan to like “The Fire Within”. In fact, it may be better if you aren’t in some ways. If you like a good bit of classic tinged heavy metal, with solid beats, good tunes and rousing choruses, this could be for you. There’s some very good tracks here, along with some that are rather average, but taken as a whole there’s a lot to like about “The Fire Within” if classic metal is your thing.


Poko Records 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
14 September 2009

Guess what was the release date for this long-awaited album? Yep, 09-09-09... I wouldn't be surpised if that band had actually decided a long time ago that it would be the release date of their ninth album, come hell or high water!

Zero Nine rose to fame in the early eighties, when the waves of heavy metal mania were corrupting the Finnish youth. For a few years, they were "the" finnish metal/hard rock band. Yes, it's quite unbelieveble, as Finland seems to be the hotbed of metal talent these days, but back in the eighties, Zero Nine didn't have much domestic competition. Thier finest moment for my money was the "Intrigue" album (1986). They called it a day after "Voodoo You" (1988), but have regrouped twice after that, in the mid-nineties with the album "Freakshow" and more recently in 2004, when they released "N.E. Files". After that, they've gigged sporadically and released a compilation album.

After the slightly average "N.E. Files", I was hoping for a bit more exciting album from these northern guys. After the first three songs, my hopes were slowly fading away. The opener "Totally Stoned" is a big, dumb rocker with a chorus that might work live in front of a few hundred drunken rockers, but from a CD it sounds a bit awkward. "Working For The Y.S.I." has a bit of a funky, Extreme-like vibe, but it doesn't quite take off, and "Thunder's Calling" doesn't make much of an impression at all. Thankfully, track number four came to the rescue a renewed my faith. "Can't Rewrite The History" proves that there's still life in this old monster, as it contains a rather excellent chorus hook.

"Crazyloving You" is the album's big ballad, a bluesy track with a slight Bon Jovi-vibe, thanks to vocalist Kepa Salmirinne's JBJ-mannerisms. It's not bad, but it doesn't really win me over either. "Full Reaction" is a nod towards the band's history, with similarities to the band's 80'ies hit "Banging On Drums". A good song, although I think that the chorus could have a bit more bite.

The next noteworthy song is "Set Me Free", which indeed has a chorus with a lot of bite. It's followed by another good one, the somehow 70'ies styled "Love's Too Dangerous". For some reason it reminds me of Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper". Unofortunately the last three songs aren't too special, so in the end the hopes that I initially had weren't fullfilled. For many Zero Nine fans this album won't be a disappointment, as it's hard rockin' disc, but for those of you who have enjoyed the more melodic, catchy side of the band, you might want to check out some samples before heading into the record store.


Ear Music 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
14th September 2009

You don’t seem to get many instrumental albums these days, at least it doesn’t seem like it. Fresh from deserved triumph with Chickenfoot, Chad Smith is bashing the skins for yet another band, the gloriously named Bombastic Meatbats. This is Smith laying on the funk with an oversized spoon, aided by guitar ace Jeff Kollman, Bassist Kevin Chown and Keyboard player Ed Roth. Groovy…

“Meet The Meatbats” is, basically, a jazz, funk and rock fusion album, coming over like an extended jam session between four very talented musicians. This is probably because the whole thing was written and recorded pretty quickly, with the band performing “live” in the studio, riffing off of each other and no doubt changing the tunes every time they play them. Although there’s a fair few rocky moments where Kollman get’s to shine, this is mainly music to chill out to. There really is a pretty even mix of rock, funk and laid back jazz, and each one is done quite beautifully, but as a whole it can get quite yawnsome if you’re not in the right mood for it.

It’s a hard album to rate, as the musicianship and production is top notch. Having said that, the songs can get repetitive, and the closing ten minute “Status Spectrum” could have been done away with (although it is, admittedly, listed as a bonus track). “Into the Floyd” unsurprisingly plays on Pink Floyd, but this includes a dull mid section just like they would have done. In the end, your reaction to this album will depend on your willingness to embrace the music within, and the differing styles it brings together. Me, I can’t help like it, but I can’t quite love it.

BRITTON: "Rock Hard" 6

Z Records 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
15 September 2009

Originally released in '89, this reissue is the 20th anniversary edition of Britton's debut album, with a whopping 10 bonustracks. The liner notes state that this album has been "widely regarded as one the best melodic rock albums of the late 80s era". Maybe by the band themselves and their hardcore fans, but in reality we're talking about an obscure cult release. It has its' merits, but a classic it is not. It's merely a promising, low-budget album with average production.

Britton's music is on the more melodic side of L.A. Hair Metal genre, with big choruses and good backing vocals. The muddy and weak production cannot hide the fact that the band did indeed have some excellent songs, "Hold On" and "Name The Time" being the most outstanding out of the original album tracks. Some of the bonustracks are actually better than the album tracks itself, but the production or rather the lack of it makes them quite unpleasant to listen.

If the band had been able to get a major deal and someone like Neil Kernon to produce an album with the best of these tracks for them, I'm sure that they would have created a true melodic rock masterpiece. Now they remain an interesting underground band with unfulfilled potential.

ELECTRIC EEL SHOCK: "Sugoi Indeed" 5

Rodeo Star Recordsn 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
14th September 2009

Electric Eel Shock are tend to stand out in the rock crowd. A Japanese trio famed for their live energy, they have been knocking around for a decade or so, with this their fourth album. Interestingly, the funds to make the album were raised through Sellaband, and it’s good to see that this sort of thing really works.

As a band, Electric Eel Shock don’t offer up any surprises. Their music is fast and furious, mainly in English with a few Japanese vocals. It doesn’t really make a lot of difference, as the lyrics in English don’t tend to be that decipherable anyway. There’s plenty of pretty raw punky type rock here, and you can imagine it going down a storm live. Unfortunately, it’s all rather average on record, and there’s little here to encourage too much repeat listening. Ultimately, Electric Eel Shock are a band who explode onstage but only manage to sizzle in the studio.

BLAZE BAYLEY: "the Night That Would Not Die DVD"

Blaze Bayley Recordings 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
14th September 2009

It’s been a good musical year for the man and band known as Blaze Bayley. Finally in full control of his own destiny, 2009 has seen his “The Man Who Would Not Die” album receive deservedly positive reviews, and his tour of just about any venue that would have him won him a lot of respect at grass roots level. We’ve had the live album “The Night That Would Not Die”, and now here’s the accompanying DVD to complete the set.

Filmed in Switzerland last December, the DVD really doesn’t give me much to add on top of the live CD review. Twenty songs are rolled out, two of them revisiting the Maiden days, and each and every one is delivered with passion and conviction. The camera is well handled, and is understandably not a big budget affair. There’s multiple angles well edited together, and the live sound is as good as you get these days. The sight of Blaze grimacing at the audience is enough to give small children nightmares, but he remains a captivating performer, more at home now than he ever was in Iron Maiden. This is metal stripped to the bone, and will remind you just why you got into it in the first place.

REVIEWS ADDED 07 September, 2009
THE WILDHEARTS: "Chutzpah" 8

Backstage Alliance 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
28th Auhust2009

It’s album number eight for Brit stalwarts The Wildhearts, whose career over the last 16 years has seen some excellent releases to accompany the break ups, make ups and general shite. If I’m honest, the only release that never really grabbed me was the last original, self titled, album from 2007, which seemed to eschew melody and spark for more depressing, angry music. Of course, they picked up the year after with their covers album “Stop Us If You’ve Heard This Before”, which saw the band revitalised by the simple act of throwing some of their favourite, mostly obscure songs at us, each one given a special Wildhearts twist.

The Wildhearts have never been a simple pop punk band like all the meticulously styled young twentysomethings that pepper the rock charts these days. Instead, they have always had something special about them, a raw power and angst coupled with a willingness to tell the world to just fuck off if they wake up in a grumpy mood. If “The Wildhearts” album was that grumpy mood, then “Chutzpah” is Ginger and co back to their cheeky, melodic best, turning potentially depressing titles like “John Of Violence” and turning them into hummable slices of pop rock.

This isn’t to say that “Chutzpah” is a fun filled romp, as there are a few angry tunes holding the more melodic ones at bay. “You Are Proof That All Women Are Not Insane” throws a bit of shouty aggression around, whilst the title track closes the album with five minutes plus of pent up frustration that mixes Pantera like metal with bursts of melody before drifting off into a meandering laid back instrumental to finish. As usual, The Wildhearts are nothing if not creative. It’s when they deliver simple but effective power pop that they really fly, though, such as on the wonderful ”Plastic Jebus”, which has a chorus that has followed me around since I first heard it. Although the album is peppered with eclectic song titles such as “Mazel Tov Cocktail”, “Tim Smith” and “Low Energy Vortex”, these hide songs filled with energy, vigour and a ton of melody. Green Day and their ilk may be the big hitters, but The Wildhearts had the edge in pure creativity, with “Chutzpah” showing a welcome return to form.

FARCRY: "High Gear" 8

Kivel 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
06 September 2009

US-based hard rockers FARCRY have gotten some well-deserved attention for their debut album. Released in March 2009, I actually bought a copy sometime ago, but never got around to review it since the pile of promos took priority. Now that a promo copy found its' way to my mailbox a few days ago, I guess a review is required, so here we go... at least I don't have to spend a lot of time getting to know the album, as it's gotten its' share of spins already!

If you're into the likes of 80'ies Def Leppard or Bon Jovi and more contemporary acts like Harem Scarem, this album is a safe bet for you. Blessed with a very good production, some excellent songs, highly competent performances and even stylish artwork, this is a quality release. A few more average tunes prevent me from giving it a higher rating, but at best this band are something really special.

The album kicks off with possibly the two strongest tracks of the album, a bright'n breezy AOR track "Love Won't Wait" and the darker "Fine Line". The first one isn't one of the most original tracks of the album, using tried'n tested AOR elements, but I'm not complaining when it works this well. "Fine Line" on the other hand has especially clever verses, with vocal melodies that sound quite original, and that's quite a feat in this genre and this age.

Other key tracks of the album include a rocked-up version of the Jim Steinman song "Nowhere Fast", originally recorded by Fire Inc for the cult classic "Streets Of Fire" movie, the Winger-like "Have It All" and the more balladic "Heaven" and "The Same Mistake". The weakest tracks are in the middle of the tracklisting - the choruses of "Out Of Reach" and "Kick Me Down" just don't work for me, and vocalist Mark Giovi's Enuff Z'Nuff-isms of "She's Crazy" are just... well, enuff.

Apart from the Steinman cover, the album also contains "Talk To Me", originally by the Norwegian band HUSH. Several of the tracks were provided by one Jason "Jace" Pawlak, who is a solo artist and has a couple of albums under his belt. That's enough info I guess - head over to the band's MySpace page and listen to the tunes yourself!

RPWL: "The RPWL Live Experience"

Metal Mind Productions 2009
Review by Martien Koolen,
27 August 2009

The first DVD of German prog rockers RPWL was recorded in Poland and I must say that the band is in really good shape, altough I have seen and heard better gigs of this still very underrated band. The setlist is quite good with great songs like: "Hole In The Sky", "Sleep", "Wasted Land" but I also miss a couple of classic RPWL tracks and some songs from the new album... Where for example are superb songs like "The Gentle Art Of Swimming" or "World Through My Eyes"; these songs would have really given this DVD more grandeur!

"This Is Not A Prog Song" is of course the so-called medley everybody has already heard, but it is still fun and "Silenced" is without any doubt one of their best new songs ever. The two covers "Opel" and "Biding My Time" do not really belong to my favourite songs on this DVD, why not play a song that you wrote by yourself...

The sound quality is very good and the extras feature an interview with Yogi and Kalle, a video of the song "Breathe In, Breathe Out" and the usual photo gallery and more.

A nice DVD but it does not really meet my expectations as I have seen RPWL performing much better in other venues...

GRAND DESIGN: "Time Elevation" 7

AOR Heaven 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
07 September 2009

if you thought that BB Steal were the biggest Def Leppard clones ever, there's a new bunch of wannabes in town... Grand Design. These Swedes have seriously tried to rewrite "Pyromania" and "Hysteria". They've even attempted to create the trademark Leppard harmonies and frankly they've pulled them off quite well. Maybe the fact that the band's mainman Pelle Saether (vocals) is a seasoned producer with his own studio explains it... I guess they had more studio time and experience at their disposal than most acts.

The bio states that the band is influenced by Europe, Scorpions and Def Leppard. You can pretty much forget the first two, because the Def Leppard influence is so overbearing. You can actually play a fun "match the songs"-game, as almost each one of the tracks has a real life DL counterpart or two. Some aren't that obvious, but I'm sure you'll figure them out in the end. Just keep your copies of "Pyromania" and "Hysteria" nearby.

The complete lack of originality doesn't make this an unenjoyable album, since everything's well done. The two albums which are the blueprint for GD's sound are all-time classics, so they can't really fail, can they? Although I know where the origins are, I can't help but smile when I listen to songs like "Let's Go Down Fighting" or "Air It Out".

Saether's lower range isn't quite as impressive as Joe Elliott's, and he seems to sing mostly in higher register, which sounds a bit screechy at times. Guitarist Peter Ledin and Dennis Vestman have nailed the Collen/Clark-guitar work, and the rhythm section of Richard Holmgren (drums) and Anders Mood (bass) pound out the straightforward beat very much in the DL style. Extra mention for the drum sound - haven't heard a bigger sound for a while.

The band themselves sum up the ideology behind this album in the song "Hello Mr. Heartache" - "same old song, but a different refrain". Funnily enough, the refrain of this particular song owes more to Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" than any DL song... but it does have its' counterparts too and there's no doubt that you'll be 'geddin' them...

CRISES: "Coral Dreams" 7

7Hard Records 2009
Review by Martien Koolen,
27 August 2009

Crises is a German prog metal band, founded back in 1995 and their main musical influences were Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Rush and Metallica. However the new singer Dominik Eckert gave the band some new ideas and potential and now you can describe their "new" musical style as alternative hightech metal rock; whatever that may be....

Opening track "Joan" is a melodic prog metal song with good vocals, some heavy riffs and a more than nice guitar solo. And so the album goes on and on and on and nothing new or really exciting happens in fact. Do not get me wrong, it is solid, well-played prog metal but it all sounds so alike and so much like Dream Theater that you start hoping that the record will end soon. "When You Were Mine" is the obligatory bittersweet ballad with only piano and vocals, but the album ends with the best song of the cd: "The Blame". This is something that Crises should do more often, altough the intro sounds very much like you know who by now, but the rest of the song is great, staccatto riffs, good singing and a splendid guitar solo.

Maybe their next album will more to my liking, still if you like melodic metal then Crises is worth a listening tour!

ANDI STARR: "New Warm World" 6

TSM/SLW promo 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
2 September 2009

Andi Starr is the name of a multi-talanted, pale skinned woman (at least according to the glossy promo pic) from the U.S. Of A. The brand new and very emotional singer/songwriter CD, "New Warm World", already her fifth studio release, and Starr play most everything herself including keyboard, organ, guitar, mandolin and percussion.

Vocally, a haunting image of something deeply emotional far off in the distance and a real pro at the ebony/ivory as any classically trained pianist would be. Okie-dokie, she's got the talent, alright, how about the actual material? Well, it's quite obvious that her main source of inspiration orginate from other female performers such as Tori Amos, (original) Jewel, Joni Mitchell, Azure Ray.

She's also steeped in a similar formula and style as Swedish 'Laleh'. It's very laidback, melodic driven folk rock and it's all focus mainly on her vocals. It's a warm and personal journey as Starr is turning difficult subject matter into beautiful compositions. Her voice is so fragile yet strong at the same time and it's just so hard to resist in the long run. My only problem with "New Warm World", hardly any tempo changes or that 'special' hit tune. Heck, even Tori Amos knew the importance of including a 'sort-of' uptempo tune such as "Crucify". Starr seem to be more into the 'celtic' folk sound on several tracks and not as much straight pop though. Final verdict: this one's for your very laidback moments when you merely wish to be a fish in the ocean... or whatever. Nice, but hardly earthshaking schtuff.
MySpace site

TAKIDA: "The Darker Instinct" 5

Universal 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
4 September 2009

Takida is actually every Swedes favourite love/hate topic of the moment (musicwise). In other words, each and every "respected" reviewer hate them and wish they would just all piss off and die. On the other hand, each and every 13 year (mostly female) "true rock" fan love them as much as they once loved mr. Fluffy, their since long neglected pet bunny. So what the hell is all the fuss and hysteria about? Team RockUnited to the rescue.

To really sum up everything about "The Darker Instinct" in a couple of sentences. It's basically the 'hits for kids' version of Nickelback (and just a hint of Linkin Park, Radiohead?). They are desperately trying to be rough'n'tough, yet they have more in common with any pink'n'fluffy 3rd rate AOR act than "real" rock. Not necerssarily a bad thing, if you're into reused melodies and ditto corny arrangements.

And no, it's neither music to love or hate, it's too darn average to cause any major concern nor manifestation. I do enjoy "Caroline" and "Walk On By". The latter a tribute to a bullied girl who earlier this year commitied suicide due to her tormentors. Do you recall the hype of Creed and the fact that most of us bought all of their albums? They were basically just another poor man's Pearl Jam, yeah? Seriously, how many of us are still playing our Creed CD's today? I believe it's the same story with Takida only on a much smaller scale of course.
MySpace site


Transubstans 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
29 August 2009

'Rösta på Gösta' - Pardon my French (Swedish actually) as this could turn out to be all 'Greek' to most readers. "Detta Har Hänt" (rough translation = "Previously") is the brand new CD by the all instrumental Stockholm based rock quartet, Gösta Berlings Saga. Just to clarify things a bit to folks all around the world wide web. Gösta Berling's Saga was the debut novel (1891) by Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf also known as the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1909).

It's supposed to be some kind of concept album that mainly focus on languishing welfare state, industrialism and love. It's not easy to get the full picture behind the idea though, considering there's no lyrics whatsoever on this platter. The basis for the album was recorded live in the studio. However, overdubs have been made using early prog instruments such as mellotron, mini-moog, and pump organ, to give more dimension to the progressive sounds of the band.

I expected the worst kind of flower-power hippie nonsense in the vein of Öresund Space Collective. Thank God, these lads are overall more into structure and discipline. Not quite the awful free form improvisation from hell. They do however escape into the hippie fog on the ocassional track. For example, "Bergslagen" is simply too much 'out there' and spacey to any rockers liking. Opener "Kontrast" is heavily inspired by King Crimson and Träd, Gräs & Stenar... and you can find several more of them on this CD. The Bottomline: it's still too close to hippie crap, but "Sorterargatan 3" is a darn fine instrumental tune no matter what.
MySpace site

ELEKTRADRIVE: "Living 4" 4

Valery 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
29 August 2009

Elektradrive, one of those underground cult heroes of the past. Originally named Overdrive back in 1981, they changed their monicker in '83 and the rest is as they say history. Some mad potty reviewer of Metal Forces gave their debut album 'Over The Space' a stunning 90/100 points in 1986.

Not to mention that their sophomore release 'Due' received a KKKKK rating by Kerrang magazine in late '89. And people complain about overall high ratings from internet reviewers of today??? Shocking to say the least. They were obviously never *that* good, quite average AOR actually.

Enough b.s. about the past. It's now 2009 and the Italians return with their long awaited CD, "Living 4". Not surprising then that this CD should be the work of a tight and very competent band. They've been working together for quite a while by now and should know their craftmanship. 14 tracks and unfortunately rather one dimensional songs with the similar phrasing and arrangements.

They do play some kind of "modern" influenced melodic rock nowadays. It's sort of the Harem Scarem sound of the mid/late nineties. "What We Still Don't Know" seem to have been inspired by King's X and their rather groovy kind of music though. "Pain" and "You Are Always On My Mind" standing out as the CD's strongest tracks. However, the goodies doesn't last for long with such a average outlook on just about everything from songwriting to vocals to arrangements. They never made it to the big league during the eighties and I seriously doubt this to be their breakthrough album.
MySpace site

Al ATKINS & Neil DANIELS: "Dawn Of The Metal Gods"

Iron Pages 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
06 September 2009

Subtitled "My Life In Judas Priest And Heavy Metal", this book is the biography of original Judas Priest singer Al Atkins. He left the band before they found fame and glory, but his name can be found on the credits of the first two Priest albums, as he co-wrote many of the early songs of the band.

The book is co-authored by Neil Daniels, who previously wrote a book about Judas Priest, so in a way this an extension to that story. Whereas the Priest book was a well-researched, detailed one, this is more of a personal type of book. Atkins comes across as a straight-forward, down-to-earth kind of a guy who doesn't try to glorify his part in the Priest saga. His rough ride trying to make ends meet in rock music is told side by side with Priest's rise to the top. Unlike one might think, Atkins doesn't sound too bitter, always keeping a positive tone when talking about his former bandmates.

At times it seems that Atkins and Daniels have tried to cram a little bit too much to the book. Some of the early chapters are slightly tedious, almost like "The history of British Rock as witnessed by Al Atkins", with endless "mini-biographies" of bands who were making a name for themselves back in the sixties. Further in the book Atkins does concentrate more on his own story, or perhaps I just got used to his style of writing... in any case, after the first few dozen pages I started to enjoy the book a lot more.

I must admit that I've become quite addicted to band/artist biographies, and as such, this book did give me my "fix" for a few days. If you have the same addiction, you might want to consider checking this book out. It's certainly different to the dozens of "rags to riches" stories, giving the reader a glimpse of the not-so-glamourous world of a touring musician.

CINDERS FALL: "The Reckoning" EP

Transcend 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
30 August 2009

I've noticed that a lot of folks would simply just file this act under Gothenburg-style melodic death. I dunno... that's like saying that My Chemical Romance is Glam, simply because they've been influenced by some glitter-acts. But, no doubt, you can find quite a lot of melodies inspired by the likes of In Flames on this platter.

Cinders Fall do come from the land of fish & chips though (U.K.) and they obviously needed to be six people in the band just to make everything work. Whatever happened to the good, old, power-trio, huh? The line-up includes lead vocalist, two guitarists, bass, keyboards, and drums.

Anyhow, the two guitarists, James Bartram & Ben Sullivan are definitely at it from the word go. Excellent twin guitar work throughout the CD as they rip and shred like some kind of mad...ehh, rip & shred machine (nice going, bucko!). The two of them know how to make a song work though as they've managed to come up with truly wicked power-riffing here. There's something altogether sinister and evil entwined into their massive guitar assault.

They have this Avenged Sevenfold on a night out with Lamb Of God kind of sound going for them. Yes, yes, and... In Flames. "The Reckoning" is a rather good starting point, I reckon, and it's up to the lads to provide us with more and better material in the future.
MySpace site

DEUTERONOMIUM: "Retaliatory Strike" 4

Bullroser Records 2009
Review by Martien Koolen,
27 August 2009

An EP from a Finnish trash metal band, what more could you want on your lazy Sunday afternoon?? Four tracks all with the obligatory trash metal ingredients come crashing through your speakers if you listen to this new EP of Deuteronomium. So, expect, lots of grunting, hate that by the way,trashy, speedy riffs, headbanging melodies and almost no guitar solos. So,only for die hard fans of real, good old school trash stuff, not my cup of tea.

REVIEWS ADDED 27 August, 2009
John TAGLIERI: "The Lives Project" 7

LeapDog Music 2009
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
25 August 2009

John Taglieri has grown from a clever, talented independent musician to a clever, talented independent musician over the last couple of years. Since he appeared in underground music circles a couple of years ago he has made excessive use of web2 tools, kept bugging us with various mailing lists, MySpace and various other sites, not to mention street teams and God only knows what else. And you know what? More power to him! With no label promotional backing he has become a relatively known name in (online) melodic rock.

This new thing from him is another ambitious project, a 6-track EP accompanied by a book and he says there'll be 3 more similar combos coming. Singer/songwriter dudes publishing books tend to wake my interest (I kinda enjoyed Joshua Kadison's similar efforts) but I have to admit those grabbed me more than this one. The story by Gil Gonzalez failed to grab me and musically the EP reminds me of Jon Bon Jovi's "Destination Anywhere" album which is VERY far from my favorite Bon Jovi effort.

The comparison is quite obvious as Tag sounds like a real dead ringer to JBJ sometimes and the songs are mostly contemporary acoustic rock, enjoyable, digestible but nothing really special in my book. I'd still take the debut Taglieri album any day over this one. Give this thing a try at its website and watch your mailbox, Facebook, MySpace or whatever web-profile you keep as he'll surely pop-up there anytime soon. :)

REVIEWS ADDED 24 August, 2009
EUROPE: "Last look At Eden" 8

Ear Music 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
12th August 2009

I have to say that I thought Europe’s last two albums, “Start From The Dark” and “Secret Society” were both very good, showing a band that had come back hungry to rock and ready to roll. There’s no Kee Marcello any more, but John Norum is more than capable of taking up any slack. “Last look At Eden” has been pretty well anticipated, with Europe making a bit of a surprise appearance at the Bloodstock festival. Although their not exactly heavy metal, at least the band have retained the heavy sound for this, the third album of their second phase.

It all kicks off with the title track, which is bombastic and full of intent, combining melody with a strong rock beat. The production is happy to emphasize the lower end, with John Levin’s bass anchoring the sound really well. No one else is short changed, though, with the whole album reaping the rewards that a decent production can bring. For the most part, “Last Look At Eden” throws tracks at you that are hard and heavy, with Joey Tempest’s silky smooth vocals still as good as ever, even taking on a little edge at times. John Norum seems to have a blast as well, with every track well catered for in the solo department. Special mention must go to album closer “In My Time”, a well written, soulful ballad with two minutes of brilliant, bluesy guitar to finish it off. The only other ballad is the string and piano led “New Love In Town”, which is pretty sweet but very wet.

There’s several really decent tracks here, with my favourite being “Only Young Twice”, a mean and moody ditty with a great guitar solo and some nice keyboard work. If you want Europe being as heavy as they’re ever likely to get, you could do worse that “Run With the Angels”, which I suspect will absolutely kill live. To be honest, there’s only a couple of tracks where the band seem to be treading water, and even these feature some great instrumental work. “Last Look At Eden” is a Europe album that should see them getting rave reviews all over the place, also providing some pretty cool new tunes to wow live audiences. In the end, it’s still Europe, but these days they have much bigger balls.

The PSYCHICS: "The Psychics" 8

Krescendo 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
15 August 2009

The Psychics, huh? I'm SURE they're already familiar with the words I'm about to type down. Dude, I'm so out of here... no need to continue reviewing their self-titled CD. Ehem, ok, here goes anyhow... just in case they're not as good at parapsychology and reading, telling the future as the monicker may at first suggest. To speak one's piece about this particular debut is actually a piece of cake. This sucker came from out of nowhere and knocked us down to the ground with a mighty left hook.

Do you recall the early 90's U.K. act, Lionsheart, featuring the former Grim Reaper on lead vocals. Main songwriters and guitarists of the band on their smashing debut in 1993, the identical twin brothers Mark and Steve Owers. The two of them finally decided to return to the hard rock scene the other year with a new project... and it's a good one. Still no grim reaper though, however, brother Steve is a real trooper on lead vocals as he wails and howls along the tunes in the tradition of Coverdale and Kal Swan (Tytan, Lion).

Brother Mark rips and shreds like a real guitar hero of the past and it's all a very pleasant experience. Ten tracks in total and it's a big nod and headshake to Whitesnake, Blue Murder, and the one-off project by Coverdale/Page. If you're looking for originality, keep searching, even the song titles will have you screaming blue murder and Snakes. For example, "Here Comes The Rain", on your pc screen and soundwise a mixture of "Here I Go Again" and "Crying In The Rain". "21st Century Whipping Boy" borrows a lot from the sound of "Slip Of The Tongue", you know, when Coverdale did his best to sound like Plant and co.

Original and groundbreaking? Forgetaboutit. However, it's friggin' good anyhow and should definitely please many fans of above mentioned acts and the first Lionsheart CD. Release date: September 7th. For now, check out the the sites below.
MySpace site

HOURGLASS: "Oblivious To The Obvious" 8

TSM Promotion 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
17 August 2009

2 hours and 19 minutes!!! Bloody'ell, this Utah-based five-piece act decided to release a 2-disc album which clocks in at 139 minutes. They are obviously just as potty as Harry Potter on pot or merely just extremely serious about their musicianship. I decided to give them a benefit of a doubt and go with the latter conception for now. Mainly because they are very good at what they do.

Yes, they are a progressive rock/metal act (what else?) and even though it's a lot of music, it is only a total of 10 songs. That should give you an average running time of close to 14 minutes for each track. I need coffee, lots of coffee. What started out as a simple follow-up to their 2004 critically acclaimed release, "Subconscious", has since transformed into an engrossing and extended selection of hard hitting riffs and ambient prog-rock. They've never been too worried about the lenght of their songs.

Hourglass is the name and epic songs is the game. As you can imagine, it took a couple of days/weeks just to get through all of the music and reach the core of the band. I'd be lying if I told you, there's absolutely no connection to the music of Fates Warning, Dream Theater, Enchant, on these discs. However, not just another copy-cat act, since there's so much more to the arrangements of Hourglass than first meets the eye... ehh, ear. No need to lay it on thick, but, "Oblivious To The Obvious" is actually a pretty fantastic prog release. Everything from disc one's, "On The Brink", to disc two's closing title track will have you cheering for the home team in no time.

Very demanding epic prog though. You need to keep your focus, considering the lenght of the songs. Watch out for yet another guitar and keyboard solo coming your way through the loud speakers. Strangely enough, never too boring or repeative as Hourglass manage to find a new and different way to the finish line. They're making a mark for themselves in the field of progressive rock and you should consider buying this in favour of tomorrow's dinner. Highly recommended and a label such as "ProgRock Records" should obviously consider signing them a.s.a.p.
MySpace site

The HOLY ANGEL FIRE: "Wolves" 8

Indie 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
14 August 2009

The previous The Holy Angel Fire CD - kind of rubbish, didn't expect much good to come from this one either. My bad... the "Wolves" are howling outside my door and it's a vast improvement since their debut. The monicker have a connection to internet (gedit?) and they're a Los Angeles four piece caught somewhere between nu prog, early metal, classic and modern punk (oi!).

The songs are relativity short and fast but complicated by a lot of changes and complexity. The lyrics are kind of perky and darn right complicted too. For example, the opening track, "Ted Blondie", is a two minute experiment written from Ted Bundy's point of view as if he were a crazed Blondie fan. Inspired by a false claim Debbie Harry made in 1989, the song explores Ted's ficticious reaction to Deb's supposed encounter with the serial killer. Dude, like that's not enough already, the lyrics are almost entierly comprised of Blondie song titles and Bundy factoids.

They obviously love the smell of melting amps as well as the sound of ringing ears. Their rough and ready mix and match of glowing garage and big-arena guitar rock grabs the unwary by the balls and hauls them to the deep end. Vicious uptempo numbers such as "A Pilot Is My Co-Pilot", "What Passes For Fame", "Vows", screams along to the old ghosts of Stooges, The Dictators, as well as newer acts, Bullet For My Valentine and Avanged Sevenfold. "Lucifer Rising" is a smashing tune in the vein of Coheed And Cambria, only with slightly more metal and not quite as hysterical hi-pitch vocals.

Older metal fans may recall when Judas Priest & Ozzy were put on trail becasue of "messages" discovered on their records when played backwards. The song, "Vance Belknap Syndrome" is all about the happening and lyrics reference the messages found in songs by Pink Floyd (Pigs), ELO (Fire On High) and of course, Judas Priest (Better Be You, Better Than Me). Final Verdict: a combination of complicated high energy tunes and no-fuss punky attitude makes "Wolves" a CD worthy of your attention. This release proves that The Holy Angel Fire have the stamina to go all the distance and if needed more. Make sure to at least check out sound clips.
MySpace site

KOOZNETZ: "Kooznetz" 8

TSM Promotion 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
17 August 2009

As debut albums go, Kooznetz stands up for itself pretty darn well and manages to capture the energy and aggression of a young and hungry metal act. Indeed, new kids on the block but with a rather "dated" Thrash/Metal sound of the eighties. Not as much dated as a huge nod to all the major acts of the genre. Let's face it, the eighties rules when it comes to metal and thrash.

It soon becomes apparent why you should bother checking out another independent CD though. Everything from songwriting, musicianship, packaging (CD+DVD), to production, close to top-notch stuff. The DVD comes with interviews and music video. Awful artcover on the other hand, but you can't have it all, I guess? By the way, the rather wikked sounding monicker is the Russian name for 'Blacksmith'. They're all from Vancouver, Canada, though.

The music is a raw, back-to-basic mix of acts such as: Annihilator, Anvil, Diamond Head, Megadeth, Metal Church. You won't find a single note of modern and/or nu-metal on this disc. This being particular strange considering the young age of all the band members. Kooznets is obviously the product of a lifetime's obsession with the eighties metal. You can easily trip on this retro-bomb and prepare yourself for a massive explosion.

A couple of moments of 'what were they thinking about', such as the almost too ambitious work of "Stalingrad". You can't help grining along to the cover of "Rasputin" though (Boney M). Final Verdict: overall a very fun experience and proof that newer bands are still keeping the old metal flame burning. Recommended.
MySpace site

SNAIL: "Blood" 8

MeteorCity 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
16 August 2009

Snail recorded and released a self-titled CD in 1993 before disappearing into the great oblivion. Well, I haven't heard any news about the band since and that's well off the chart in my books. They were obviously a band of their time and did their very best to become Seattle's biggest grunge act. Unfortunately a completely different 'Seattle' though as these geezers came from the outskirts of Washington and not way up close to the border of Canada (bummer!).

Fast forward to 2009 and "Blood" do still have a lot of common with the "real" Seattle sound though. You can hear a lot of Nirvana into tracks such as "Sleep","Underwater", "Committed", "Not For Me", etc. and they're pretty darn good at it too. This is way more straight forward rock/grunge than any of the other MeteorCity releases in the package sent to us at RockUnited and it's also the best one.

Pixies fans may also recognize a thing or two from their indie heroes on this platter. From the stoner-ish "Mental Models" to the laidback Alice In Chains rock of "Blacklight", they keep things round a grungy soft-metal core and never eases up for a second. All of which makes perfect sense. Because, while the spirit of "grunge" may still be around in certain places, it's still a sound of the past, and none of the artists at MeteorCity are exactly "hip" or trendy. 80% grunge + 20% stoner = 100% Snail. No need to be heavily sedated while enjoying their music... and that's always a big plus. Good schtuff!
MySpace site

Bert HEERINK: "Better Yet..." 6

AOR Heaven 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
23 August 2009

"Better Yet..." is the first hard rock album in 20 years by Bert Heerink, a vocalist whose work with the bands Vandenberg and Picture should be quite familiar to those of you familiar with European hard rock scene of the eighties. The songs for this album have been gathered from some wellknown songwriters such as Russ Ballard, Jeff Silbar and Bob Daisley, and the proficient Mad Max/Casanova-frontman Michael Voss has produced them, so this is bound to be a good one, right? Well... read on.

The production is fine, and Heerink himself sounds really good. He has obviously taken care of his voice during the years we haven't heard of him. It's the songs that he's been given to sing that are puzzling me... some of them are good, but some of them sound like they were aimed for The Jonas Brothers or Kelly Clarkson, but ended up in the wrong studio!

If Heerink and the other powers that be have been after a "youthful" sound, they've nailed it best with the opener "Panic Attack". It's the kind of song that Clarkson or some other young pop/rock artist could have a hit with, yet it doesn't sound too contrived for Heerink either. The "A-Ah-Ah" background vocals I could've done without though. "All Fired Up" on the other hand is a bit too bouncy and repetitive for its' own good, sounding like a mix of contemporary pop and seventies glam. "Can't Make Me" is a slower, darker track that sounds like Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" slowed down.

The more "adult" tracks range from the rather excellent AOR of "April", "Falling Down" and "Love Is Like Heaven" to the sugarbomb of "Precious", which is easily the worst track of the album. It's wimp pop of the highest order, even Barry Manilow might turn it down for being too fluffy...

I hope that this album is popular enough to ensure that we'll get another rock album from Heerink. The next time the song selection should be a bit stronger though. Name writers or unknown ones, I don't care, as long as the songs are good.

SPANK: "Get Bent" 5

SOL 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
12 August 2009

'Spank the plant or bite the dust, groovus, groovus mamimus'. Hardly as much groove and electricity as the boys from Sweden. However, they are certainly elliptical and variation is definitely the concept of "Get Bent". The four members: Brian Boles (guitar/vocals), David Barker (guitar/vocals), Jody Blevins (bass/vocals), Ben Barker (drums/vocals), are all involved in the band process of songwriting. They each have a certain approach to arrangements and you can find everything from classic 70's rock, 80's melodic hardrock, to modern rock of more present date. Their common ground is overall loud choruses though.

Spank play it neat and fast with their harmony section working overtime, as they all chip in on backing vocals with a very pleasant result. Their repertoire is littered with rock hymns to life and earthly things. Well... Bassist Belvins seem to have his head up in the clouds though as his songs are all about "Gravity", "Space", being "Terrified" and to "Step Out Of Line". He's also the most influenced one by the likes of KISS and more basic hardrock.

"Back To Me" is a nice mixture of 70's Glam (the closing part is from 'All The Young Dudes' - Mott The Hoople) and solid rock in the vein of Gotthard. "Breathing" is closer to the sound of Daughtry and The Calling. Final Verdict: Spank sound like a cross between the seventies and the radio-friendly schlock of both the eighties and the presence, but without ever quite managing to match the musical achivements. It's a nice CD. It's just not enough of orginality to make this band stand out from the rest of the melodic pack.
MySpace site

PREY: "Knights Of The Revolution" 2

GMR Music 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
14 August 2009

'Pray for the soldier, who's wounded bad. Pray for the dreamer, he's still so sad. Pray for the stranger, you know so well'. - Pray for the Prey, straight outta hell. Europe (and the rest of the world), the time has come to start up the final countdown for the courageous, "Knights Of The Revolution". Yeah, I've been listning a LOT to some other Swedish hardrock CD up until very recently. Ehem, surely it won't interfere with this review?

Prey would certainly like to rock now, rock the night - 'til the early morning light. They play a very safe and actually quite boring kind of melodic metal though. The sort of metal which already sounded dated back in 1986. 'Hoping that maybe one day, he could be someone. Praying that maybe someday, he could be number one'. Definitely: on the loose. Unfortunately, very predictable, generic and not too inspired, dare I say, pointless? I did... by jove, I did - 'marching on a trail of tears'.

'If I were a noble ancient knight, I'd stand by your side to rule and fight. It will always feel the same when I call out your name'. Ninja may survive, but merely the track, "Blood Red Sky", managed to survive the escape from the "Knights Of The Revolution". An uninspiring CD characterised by not enough of metal for the die-hard fans, and not enough fluff for the melodic ones. 'I read your mind with no intentions of being unkind, I wish I could explain. It all takes time, a whole lot of patience. If it's a crime, how come I feel no pain'. Not a crime whatsoever. I'll just make sure to add Joey Tempest to the credit notes for all this nonsense.
MySpace site

FLOOD: "Native" 2

MeteorCity 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
15 August 2009

Sweeet! The opening track (Aphelion) clocks in at 18:29 minutes. That's more than enough time for me to put on the kettle, visit the bog (wash the hands, wash the hands), check out todays important football transfers, power nap, preper for dinner, and still have some time over to type down all this nonsense. Flood? It's a bloody slow flood, I'd say. No need to panic as it's psychedelic doom/acid rock in the style of Sleep (zzz!), Acid King (flower-power!), Om (huh?) and Mammatus (pappatus!).

Yes, it's droner music for people with way too much spare-time on their hands. This one should come with a warning sticker that reads 'music strickly intended for potheads only'. Seriously, noone with a sort of normal, functional, brain, would ever get the idea of touching this with a ten feet pole. The first +five minutes of "Aphelion" is some mindless nonsense without any vocals or plot whatsoever. It sounded at first as if some poor schmuck were merely trying to re-tune his guitar with no or very little success.

The thoughtless rambling of the vocalist is simply beyond comprehensibility. Merely four tracks but still a playing time of +44 minutes should be enough for the average defenceless drone out there. You simply haven't got the stamina to listen to tracks like, "Water", without being heavily sedated with a straitjacket wrapped around your upper body (nurse, nurse, I need more drugs!).
MySpace site

REVIEWS ADDED 13 August, 2009
DANGER DANGER: "Revolve" 10

frontiers 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
3rd August 2009

Now this one has been a long time coming. Not only do we get a new Danger Danger album, but we get a new Danger Danger album featuring original vocalist Ted Poley, and this can only be a good thing. So there’s enough reason to get a little bit excited, but if you want to get really excited then try this for size: it’s the best one they’ve done since the debut all those years ago. If you just let a little bit of excited wee go when you read that don’t be ashamed - the boys are back, and excitement is fuckin’ mandatory.

First up, I should tell you that DD have kept to their old habits, meaning that “Revolve” isn’t an out and out rocker. There’s fast one, mid paced ones and slow ones, but on the upside there’s no turkeys of any kind. Okay, so “Fugitive” is perhaps a bit too syrupy, but there’s still some great, classic ballads like “Killin’Love” (which grew on me like a fungus) and “Never Give Up”. If you want good old melodic rock, then “Revolve” has plenty of it, and every one a potential classic. Personal favourites include the immensely catchy “Hearts On The Highway” and the Ted-Poley-Thinking-With-His-Cock-Again anthem “Dirty Mind”, which closes the album with a filthy grin and a wink. Add to this some beautiful mid pacers (“Rocket To My Heart” has a chorus that just won’t quit, whilst “Ghost Of Love” is catchy as hell) and a band on the top of their game and you get an album that, along with House Of Lords latest, makes you realise what you love about big haired melodic rock.

Special mention must go to the band, particularly Rob Marcello, who delivers some great little solos and riffs, whilst Ted Poley sings better than ever before. They are well served by a perfect production that suits the music down to the ground. Frontiers have a bona fide melodic rock monster here, and personally I just want to see the boys back together on UK soil. Only eleven tracks, which is a shame, but each one is stuffed full of melody and talent. I was going to be cautious and give this album 9, but there really aren’t any weak spots, making it the melodic equivalent to the hard rock of Out Loud this month. Believe the hype, Danger Danger have rolled back the clock and made their best album in 20 years, perhaps their best ever.

GOTTHARD: "Need To Believe" 8

Nuclear Blast 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
13 August 2009

Gotthard, Switzerland's finest musical export is a reliable band. I'm not a huge fan of their early work, but ever since "Homerun" in 2001 the band has constantly released strong albums, including their finest moment "Lipservice" in 2005. "Need To Believe" is another strong album, yet I'd rate the previous two above it. The production in spot on, the band sounds great but some of the songs haven't won me over. Let's take a look at them one by one.

"Shangri-La" opens the album and it's a suitably bombastic first number. There's a bit of a Zeppelin vibe in it, yet the chorus is hugely melodic. Yes, very good indeed.

The band raises the tempo a bit with "Unspoken Words", which is an average track on Gotthard's standards. Oddly enough, it reminds me of Europe's recent material, and Gotthard and Europe are about to tour together this fall... weird. I don't dislike this track, but it doesn't really work for me either.

The album's title track is a midtempo track with a massive chorus, and it just might be my favourite track. One of this year's finest songs so far... unfortunately it's followed by an average semi-balladic "Unconditional Faith". It's frankly a quite forgettable, nondescript track.

The hardrockin' "I Don't Mind" isn't one of the band's greatest rockers, but it does add a dose of energy to the tracklisting. "Breakaway" has a decent chorus, but otherwise I'm not too fond of its' repetititive verses.

Gotthard has written a lot of brilliant ballads, and "Don't Let Me Down" is trying hard to be one of them. It's a good one, but its' chorus is very close to that of "Can't Find My Way" by Hardline. I prefer the album's other ballad "Tears To Cry", which does belong to the long line of Great Gotthard Ballads.

Between the two ballads there's a trio of songs which really give a boost to the album. "Right From Wrong" is a gritty, yet catchy rocker, while "I Know You Know" is a dramatic midtempo track with a cool chorus hook. "Rebel Soul" has a bit Deep Purple'ish vibe yet it's also armed with a big hook.

So there you have it, one of the most long-awaited albums of this year. Not necessarily the masterpiece I was hoping for, but still better than most of this year's other releases.

LYNCH MOB: "Smoke And Mirrors" 8

Frontiers 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
12th August 2009

“Better late than never” says George Lynch of this, the album that reunites him with vocalist Oni Logan, last heard bringing some real passion to Lynch Mob’s excellent “Wicked Sensation” album way back in 1990. As a follow up, “Smoke And Mirrors” is perhaps a little late, but it’s certainly welcome to stay a while, as it should herald a welcome return to the rock scene for Lynch and Logan.

It certainly starts well, with “21st Century Man” showing off a solid riff and catchy chorus. It’s great to hear Oni Logan again, sounding as good as he did on “Wicked Sensation”. Unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of time in the track for Lynch to flex his guitar muscles as well. As a whole, the album lacks a few proper fast paced rockers, preferring to slow the pace down a bit with the likes of the very cool and bluesy title track and the more radio friendly vibe of “Before I Close My Eyes”. When they do crank it up, though, the results are as good as anything else out there. “The Phacist” has a good retro feel to it, and it’s a fast paced track in the same vein as some of Eric Martic’s better stuff, with a great chorus and some huge, meaty riffs. Then there’s the energetic, catchy “We Will Remain”, a song that wouldn’t be out of place on a Turner era Rainbow album and will be sure to be a live favourite. There’s more Blackmore affectation in the likes of the lengthy “Let The Music Be Your Master”, which has a very epic feel about it, coupled with a run time that allows Lynch to get a good guitar wank in.

Although there’s a couple of tracks that wander into “meh “ territory, “Smoke And Mirrors” remains a fine album. Logan and Lynch were made for each other, with vocals and guitar playing off each other effortlessly throughout. There’s plenty of sterling guitar work from Lynch, which should come as no surprise, although he never lets his playing overshadow the song. There’s plenty of competition for your money at the moment, but if you’re a fan of Lynch Mob, or even if you fondly remember their debut all those years ago, “Smoke And Mirrors” is going to be a blast.

TED POLEY: "greatestits"

Ted Poley 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
30th July 2009

If you’re reading this site then you almost certainly know who Ted Poley is. Back in 1989 he and Danger Danger wowed melodic rock fans with their self titled debut, and this was thanks to some very catchy songs, well played instruments and some silky smooth vocals by a bloke who looked like he’d shag your missus and persuade you to thank him for it afterwards. Yeah, THAT Ted Poley…

Whilst you wait for Poley’s first album with Danger Danger in 8 years (trust me, it’s worth the wait), this generous collection should keep you happy and rocking. The title may show that Poley has a sense of humour somewhere below Beavis and Butthead (“Tits… huh huh huh“), but the contents show that when he’s been away from Danger Danger he has produced some classic stuff indeed. There’s twenty nine songs taken from his various side projects, including Melodica, Poley/Rivera, Bone Machine, Pleasuredome, Poley/Pilcher and of course his solo stuff. On top of all this there’s three new demos, a Vic Rivera version of “Smile”, 1994’s rare and filthy “A Letter To Santa” and comic CC Banana’s “Unholy” (Kiss) parody “Ted Poley”, which is bloody funny AND bloody well done.

With 13 or more albums to cull this stuff from, it’s no surprise that “Greatestits” hasn’t got any duff tracks. In addition, there’s a good variation to the songs on offer, due to the different styles of Poley’s co conspirators over the years. It’s all classic/melodic rock, sure, but each collaboration brings up new variations that allow the listener to go through the whole thing in one sitting without getting that “Same old same old” feeling. Poley put together this package by himself, going so far as to stick a picture of himself on the toilet (as a baby) inside for shit and giggles. As a testament to one of the true nice guys of the genre “Greatestits” is a double CD that will stand erect and proud (huh hu huh) in any rocker’s collection. By the way, Ted might still have some signed copies on his site for sale.

HOUSE OF LORDS: "Cartesian Dreams" 8

Frontiers 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
13 August 2009

James Christian and his merry men are back again, and still carrying the torch of House Of Lords. This "new version" of the band has now released three albums, all of them good ones, true to the sound of the first three HOL albums yet never just cashing on the past. This is probably my least favourite of the three recent albums, but it still does have its' moments, and at best, those moments are sheer magic. Even without keyboard wizard Gregg Giuffria.

If "World Upside Down" and "Come To My Kingdom" sounded a bit alike, on "Cartesian Dreams" the band takes a couple of sidesteps from the path one might have expected them to stay on. A couple of the songs sound suspiciously like Jack Ponti's handiwork - "Born To Be Your Baby" and "Bangin'" are hard-edged, hookladen rockers which remind me a lot of Baton Rouge and other Ponti-related bands. They prove that there's still fire in the heart of this old beast that is House Of Lords... Although to hear a grown man sing "I Was Born To Be Your Baby" sounds a bit too cutesy. However, "Bangin'" is pure fireworks from the start to the glorious end.

Another departure from the expected style is the dark and moody "Never Look Back", and I do believe that "The Bigger They Come" is the first HOL track with a gallop beat. The brilliant chorus is one of those aforementioned magic moments. The beautiful ballad "Sweet September" is one of the highlights too, even though this rendition of the song is a bit heavy-handed. I think the melodies might benefit of a sparse arrangement. How about an unplugged version?

More traditional HOL material can be found too: the title track is the kind of grandiose, dramatic hard rock the band is known for, as is "Desert Rain". "Joanna" is a distant relative of the band's early hit "I Wanna Be Loved". A colleague pointed out that it sounds like James is actually singing "John Lennon" in the chorus, and I'm still trying to get that out of my head... Damn you, Alan!

Buried to the traditional "filler spots" (back in the LP times it would've been in the middle of the B-side, now in the middle of the CD's second half) are the weakest two tracks, namely "Repo Man" and "Saved By Rock". Both are tiresome, dull rockers with lazy choruses. Even the presence of the very lovely Robin Beck on backing vocals doesn't help. These would have been wiser to save as Japanese bonustracks or something, the album would have been a stronger one without them.

SHAKE CITY: "Shake City" 8

Eonian Records 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
5 August 2009

Oh dear, not the best choice of monicker, Shake City. Reading through the booklet, a name chosen in part because of the group's location on the earthquake-prone west coast (U.S.A.). That's no excuse for poor taste though. However, once you get past the rubbish name, you're actually in for some rather fun hairmetal. In fact, the group toured the famous late 80's/early 90's club circuit, starting with the Troubadour, the popular Sunset Strip clubs like The Roxy, Whiskey-A-Go-Go, as well as The Marquee, FM Station, etc. Yup, one of those acts that never really cracked the big time, but were/are still good enough to rock your soxx off.

The excellent vocalist, Adam Shore, fronted Warrant in their early days/daze prior to a certain Jani Lane. Not to mention that Shake City guitarist, Michael Blair, happens to be Eric Turner's cousin. Like if that's not enough of Warrant already. Turner co-wrote a couple of tunes and I noticed that all songs are published by Erik Turner Music, BMI. Jane Lane wrote the song 'Game Of War' for the band, obviously included on this CD. It's a typical 'downboys' rocker 'ala the first Warrant CD and quite catchy I may add. More name-droping? Well, Black N' Blue's Tommy Thayer aka the very Fake-Ace from KISS, co-wrote a couple of songs too. Their main songwriter was however their vocalist Adam Shore though.

All songs were recorded between 1990 and 1991 at the Fort Apache and Pat Regan's Fortress Recorders in Hollywood. In other words, you can expect a pretty decent production and sound here. Their influences may be worn upon their sleeves but take on lives of their own when shaken together in glitter city. It's a dash of Black'N Blue, a little bit of Swingin' Thing, the odd Warrant, would you believe Tuff, and obviously a big dose of f-u-n. It's not rocket science, merely just a bunch of entertainers doing their bit to conserve their legacy of hair metal. These kind of releases, revamped old tunes, doesn't always end up with a happy ending (no pun intended). However, the result is quite pleasing to the ear(s). Nothing new, nothing too fancy, just good old solid hair metal.
MySpace site

ALTARIA: "Unholy" 7

Escape 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
07 August 2009

Altaria have come a long way since I reviewed their "Sleeping Visions" demo back in 2001. Apart from drummer Tony S., no original members are left. The vocalist position has been the most difficult to fill, since the band's current vocalist Marco Luponero is their fourth. He's nowadays the band's bassist too, as the band's other founding member Marko Pukkila left them last year. Still, the four current members (including also the guitarists J-P Alanen and Petri Aho) have been playing together for three years now, so we're talking about the most stable line-up of the band!

It might be a bold statement, but I think that in Luponero, the band has found their best vocalist so far. Sure, Taage Laiho is a great singer but his pronounciation of english isn't nowhere near as good as Luponero's, and I always felt that his performances on Altaria's albums were a bit impassionate. That can not be said of Marco Luponero, who throws himself into the songs full-on, and sounds totally convincing.

"Unholy" isn't a perfect set of songs, but it does contain some of the finest Altaria tracks ever. The highlights include the thumping "Warrior", the fast'n furious, yet melodic opener "Alterior Motive" and the catchy, Pretty Maids-like "Danger Zone", just to name a few. On the other hand, a couple of the songs are pretty lame, namely the cliche-fest called "Ready!" and "Steal Your Thunder", which reminds me of Accept's mid-80'ies half-hearted attempts at radio-friendly hard rock. Another song I want to mention is "The Lake". It's not one of the best or one of the weakest ones, somewhere in between, but an interesting one nevertheless. It sounds a lot like a song that Lordi could have written - a horror story with an Alice Cooper-like chorus (late eighties' era). It's just too slow for its' own good, and might've been one of the highlights as an uptempo track. The best part of the song is faster-paced last 60 seconds with catchy Whoa-Oh's...

The band made a conscious effort to sound "meaner and rawer" with this album, with guitars upfront and no keyboards. I don't think that they succeeded in it 100%. The album sounds less polished than their last couple of efforts, but it also sounds a bit dry and flat. I think that they've got the kind of songs that should sound bigger than life, with bombastic arrangements and massive, layered backing vocals. Maybe Escape will hire Desmond Child to produce their next album?


Ferret Music 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
30th July 2009

As usual, I’m the last one to catch up on a band that seems to have half the internet community in a tizzy. Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster are an Alabama band who pump out aggressive southern styled metal that must get more than a few heads banging.

Unsurprisingly, this is the band’s third album, and if I’m honest it took me a while to get used to their sound. What they have done is fuse typical southern rock stylings with Pantera-esque aggression that at first made me back right off and hide under a pile of FM albums. A few songs later, though, and it all seemed to make sense, as I got used to front man Dallas Taylor’s bellowing, and as he himself toned it down a bit. It’s only second track “Settling Scores & Burning Bridges” that really overdoses on the shouting, and the rest of the album balances it out with what fussy bastards like me would call “proper singing”. To be honest, he hasn’t got a great voice anyway, but it has a raw power that suits the music perfectly. This is what Nashville Pussy wish they sounded like.

Apparently the band are Christian, but I honestly only know that because I read it. The name comes from the legend of Ma Barker and her outlaw gang, if you were curious. This aside, “III” is a good album full of fist punching metal combined with good ol’ boy sensibilities and a few nods to Marilyn Manson on the way. It’s an odd one, to be sure, but has an original sound and power that will please a lot of people looking for some metal with that extra something that many bands lack. Add the fact that they just have to kill live and you’ve git a band worth checking out.

RADIO SILENCE: "Whose Skin Are You Under Now" 6

Escape 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
06 August 2009

Alistair Gordon is the man behind the Radio Silence. He's an english musician who has worked with the likes of Tony Banks (Genesis), Eric Clapton and Paul Young, and under the Radio Silence banner, he's released two albums before this one. On "Whose Skin Are You Under Now" he's gotten some valuable assistance from Escape Music's "in-house producer" Martin Kroklund, who has played the guitars and co-produced the album.

What this Radio is blasting out is AOR, nice and pleasant enough but nothing earth-shattering. A touch of Foreigner, maybe a bit of Harlan Cage and some similarities to Mark Spiro's solo material is what can be found here. Gordon's vocals remind me a lot of Spiro, although he manages to pull off a strange Billy Idol impression on "Somethin' Going On" too.

The best tracks are pretty solid indeed, maybe not jaw-droppingly awesome but very nice, while the weaker ones are quite bland and forgettable. To the first category I'd raise the opening duo of "Hand To Mouth" and "Mosquito", along with the Def Leppardesque "Staring At The Sun", the aforementioned "Somethin' Going On" and "Heart Of Hearts", which reminds me of Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven Is A Place On Earth". I quite like the 60'ies tinged "One Day At A Time" too, but the others fail to impress, and fall into the second basket. Still, If you're after well-produced, traditional AOR with a bit of an 80'ies pop vibe, please look into this!


MeteorCity 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
12 August 2009

One slice of hot and spicy plastic coming your way entitled "Chronicles". All pizza references aside, the Swedish power trio, 'New Keepers Of The Water Towers', would hardly fit your description of easily digested dinner infront of your saturday football tv marathon. They've obviously gone for the bizarre on the monicker as well as penning down lyrical themes of dwelling beasts and filfthy creature (much like your average night out down the pub actually).

15 tracks in all on the "Chronicles", most of them sounding basically the same, but when the sound is utterly stoner groove, who needs variety, ehh? Each track stomps along to the terrible tantrum of Tor Sjodin who plays drums with the insanity of The Muppets' Animal'. Thankfuly, Tor is also blessed with the occasional stability and finesse of Niclas Sigewall (Electric Boys) and at times even Led Zeppelin's John Bonham (not "quite" as impressive though - an understatement as good as any). What's even more strange, the noisy drummer happens to be the main songwriter of the band along with vocalist/guitarist Rasmus Booberg.

Sounding like a cross between a sledgehammer and overall groovy arrangements, The Kippers (ehh, 'Keepers') would definitely be filed under 'stoner rock' by most folks and journos. However, there's a strong connection to rather 'simpy' and straight-forward seventies rock too. The rather goofy and at times darn right silly lyrics may not be to everyone's liking though. Simply expect a lot of confussion and grin along to songtitles such as: 'Persuit Of Yeti', 'Scientists And The Man Of Ice', 'Rise of The Lizard King', 'Flight Of The Reptilians', 'Giant Subway Beast', 'The Strafing Lobster', 'The Three Headed Cow', 'The Knowledgeable Kangaroo', etc. Mastodon fans might get a kick outta this as it's a solid piece of craftsmanship. 15 tracks is at least 5 too many though.
MySpace site

WATCHMEN: "Watchmen" 6

Z Records 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
07 August 2009

Z Records have had to go all the way to South America to find the closest thing to Whitesnake ever, and that is their new signing WATCHMEN. Yep, even the name sounds a bit like Whitemen...Watchsnake...Whitemenwatchsnake? Okay, let's be fair - some of the songs don't really sound like Whitesnake, but vocalist Ivan Sención does sound more or less like a Coverdale clone with a bit of a foreign accent.

The opening track "Take Me Higher" is probably one of the least Whitesnake-like songs on the album. It's more in the vein of the bands that arrived at the tail end of the "golden years" of melodic hard rock (circa 1992) - Bangalore Choir, Tyketto, Wildside etc. It does have a very "Still Of The Night"-like midsection though. "Hang On" is a midtempo track that reminds me a bit of Fair Warning, and not only because of the title (Fair Warning were "Hanging On" on their debut too). The album's most AOR-type of tracks are the next two: "One Step From Heaven", which sounds like Whitesnake's "The Deeper The Love" mixed with Journey, and "Safe" which takes cues from "Here I Go Again" and "Is This Love", yet does boast a rather original chorus.

"Not Enough" and "Time Is Over" mark a return to the harder-edged stuff after the AOR tracks, both decent tracks, but nothing too exciting. As the title might give away, "Livin' The Heartache" is again more melodic material, with Sención doing a frighteningly good Coverdale impersonation. The "epic" (isn't that another word for "damn long") "Wings Of Thunder" fails to keep me interested for its' whole duration, but I do like the next track "Man In A Hole", a good melodic hard rock song. Just to remind everyone that Watchmen are indeed Brazilia's answer to Whitesnake, the album is closed with "On The Road", a track that could very well be a leftover from "Slide It In".

I guess "Watchmen" is a safe bet for fans of "Slide It In" and "1987". Original it is not, but at its' best, very good.

BLACK PYRAMIDS: "Black Pyramids" 6

MeteorCity 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
10 August 2009

What's your definition of doom metal? Could it be bands like early Sabbath, Candlemass, Obsessed, Pentagram, Trouble? Well, how about your true definition of stoner metal? Would Kyuss and Electric Wizard be among your first choices? Yeah, I know, it's already too close to comfort and nitpicking to the extreme. Buy hey, that's basically what hardrock and metal music is all about really. To each genre, there's a ship-load of sub-genres, and it's all waaay too complex and boring to the average music fan.

Face it, you need to be a 'nerd', much like any poor trekker (dude, star trek is just sooo lame) to know your melodic sleaze from cheeze and slow-motion doom from gloom. Black Pyramid on the other hand is definitely doom... ehh, but, with the rumbling down tuned tones of stoner metal. Actually... if you're trying really hard, you can probably discover many different styles and tiny fragments of plysch, kraut, prog, psychedelica, and pork,. See, that's how you do it! Type down at least half a dozen of sub-genres or more and you're bound to hit a homerun every now and then (pork?).

All jokes aside, pretty impressive stuff, and you won't find any fashion statements or bandwagon material on this platter. It's head's down in the stoner ground and noone's allowed to smile while performing on stage. I must confess that I tend to get easily agitaded by slow-motion tracks such as the first two, "Visions Of Gehenna" and "Mirror Messiah". Restless mind, restless heart. To be honest, they are just not as interesting due to lack of choruses and/or hooks. The latter something which at least Ozzy's Sabbath managed to include every once in a while.

They do however spark with virility and have an uncanny ability to persude your senses during tracks such as "No Life King" or "Twilight Grave". No doubt, this power trio's been spedning many, many, moons locked up in their basement, listening to early Sabbath, Hawkwind, and having another go at the bong. "The Worm Ouroboros", truly is a slow-motion version of Monster Magnet."The Cauldron Born" had me seriously thinking about Hawkwind, and "Wintermute" speaks the international language of doom. Final Verdict: interesting debut, but sadly not enough of great melodies. Die-hard fans of the genre may disagree though.
MySpace site

UZI: "Madhouse" 5

Eonian Records 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
3 August 2009

Uzi, not to be consfused with Israel's premium submachine gun designed by local folk hero Uziel Gal in the late 1940's. You're not buying for an open bolt, blowback-operated gun here, that's a completely different site (oy vey!). It's neither the U.K. band of the late eighties, featuring a bunch of Saxon geezers such as Paul Johnson and the two Nigel's, Dawson & Durham. I know, you're probably as stunned and confused as the person on the cover of the CD (see pic).

This particular version of Uzi came out shooting from Chicago's downtown area in the mid eighties. Blimey, I thought they were all using Tommy-Guns at Al Capone-land. Anyhow, 'Madhouse' is basically a compilation of various songs recorded between the years of 1987 to 1992. They're going though different stages and influences musicwise and you can pick up everything from Guns N' Roses to Sisters Of Mercy to Every Mother's Nightmare and Kix. They're also said to have been inspired by Metallica and Megadeth on a couple of tracks, but can't really say I found much of their sound on this CD.

It's actually v-e-r-y noisy sleaze rock with the occasional ballad. I must say that I personally prefer their slow songs as they've managed to hit a nerve with the ballad, "Away From My Heart". This one walks in the shadows of many other accoustic guitar anthems by the likes of Poison, Every Mother's Nightmare, Faster Pussycat, etc. My favourite uptempo track will have to be the mega catchy "Raise Hell". Sure, it's kinda basic and goofy glam/sleeze rock in the tradition of Teeze. Nevertheless, it's good stuff and that's enough for me. The song was actually written in 1984 and originally recorded before Uzi when Flynt and Keith Johnson were in KIDD. The song feature a certain Chip Z'Nuff from Enuff Z'Nuff on bassguitar, however, that's not my reason for liking.

"From The Gutter" is another fun tune and they do have a couple of more of them. Yet, they never seem to nail this CD on the head. The guitar sound is too punky for glam, the production leaves a lot to ask for, and the songs are overall, simply not strong enough to please this rocker.
MySpace site

BAD HABIT: "Ultimate Collection DVD" 5

YesterRock 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
2 August 2009

I believe Dee Snider and Twister Sister wrote the book "I've got one bad habit - I like to rock n' roll". The DVD 'Ultimate Collection 1987-2009' with the Swedish AORsters is unfortunately not as much about rock n' roll rather than bad habit(s). The Swedes are considered as one of the premiere AOR bands from my homeland. I never understood the hype though as they were mostly known for their Boston cover of "More Than A Feeling", and I prefered the likes of Alien, Europe, Treat, etc. Not all poor whatsoever. But, they kind of disappeard after merely one album, "After Hours" in '89 and didn't return to the scene of the crime until 1995 with "Revolution".

Pro's and con's about the DVD starting with the good things. Playing time: 139 minutes. 9 video clips where "Another Night" stands out as perhaps their best song ever with its mega catchy refrain. I always end up howling loudly along to the words 'and I can't take another night''. Specials from playback TV shows in Sweden and "Rowena" as one of their other highlights and ultra fun tunes. Live material from USSR in 1989 and shows from Yalta and Leningrad (a total of 12 songs plus key/drum solos). 3 songs live from KB, Sweden in 1991 (A.W.O.L, Scandal Nights, Sex Machine).

The 'not so good things' about the DVD. Playing time: 139 minutes. 9 video clips where "Alive", "Walk Of Life", I Don't Want You", Above And Beyond", are as much fun as watching wet paint dry. Terrible material and far from the catchy stuff such as "Another Night". Not to mention the awful state of above videos and image (dansband, schlager wannabees). A drunk neighbour must have been in charge of the camera for all the clips. Specials from playback TV shows in Sweden and a sort of "interview" in Swedish by the worst person ever allowed to host a TV show. It's mostly nonsense about the upcoming 1990's Football World Cup anyhow (and a female caller on the line). The making of "Above And Beyond", could have been interesting, if it'd been a half decent CD (sadly their worst release).

The "documentary" is basically gaga in the vein of any old boring holiday trip recorded by your grandpa and co. Including killer lines such as: 'dude, where's your sunglasses, etc'. All in their native language. You need to know your Swedish... which you've obviously picked up from the classic episodes of The Muppets Show and a certain chef. Subtitles! You need English subtitles? Forgetaboutit! I couldn't find any and I hope there's merely something wrong about my dvd disc. Don't think so though. It reads language English / Swedish - what a disappointment. Bottomline: one of those DVD's you'll watch once and never again. P.S. What ever happend to the black dude?
MySpace site

REECE: "Universal Language" 4

Metal Heaven 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
31st July 2009

American David Reece seems to be a bit of a vocalist for hire, having sung on single albums for the likes of Accept, Bangaore Choir, Stream and Gypsy Rose. So, a man with an interesting if not all that exciting pedigree, releasing a solo album that is probably about as hotly anticipated as the Swine Flu epidemic. Please hold on whilst I contain my excitement… Okay, so I’m being sarky here, but that’s who I am so get used to it. After reading his CV, it’s no surprise that Reece has a good enough voice, sounding like he’d just love to be David Coverdale but hasn’t got the pipes for it. The music here is as competent as the singing, so in other words it does the job but doesn’t ever manage to make the listener go “wow”, with “meh” a more likely exclamation when yet another mid paced rocker trundles along the conveyor belt. If you saw David Reece and his band live I’m sure you’d have a good time, but I’m also pretty sure that afterwards you’d be hard pushed to remember any of the songs you’d been playing air guitar to. The more I listen to this album the harder I find it is to give any sort of a toss about it, particularly when the awful ballad “Once In A Lifetime” vomits from the speakers for the twentieth time. Thank god for skip buttons. “Universal Language” is a truly average rock record, with average songs, average singing, average guitar solos and probably an average cock size. There is so much better stuff out there, and I’m surprised at Metal Heaven for picking this up, as they normally show better judgement. It’s rock by numbers for the easily impressed, so give it a miss and get Herman Frank's album instead.

REVIEWS ADDED 29 July, 2009
OUTLOUD: "We'll Rock You To Hell & Back Again" 10

Frontiers 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
27th May 2009

Outloud are a band happy to have a “does what it says on the tin” type name, album title and an album cover that depicts several Marshall amps. This tells you that they aren’t likely to play artsy fartsy rock and that they really like Marshall amps, and that’s just fine by me. Sometimes you just want an album of melodic hard rock that doesn’t pull any punches, and Outloud are the band to deliver it, towing behind them massive amps that probably go up to eleven.

The main draw of the band is vocalist Chandler Mogel, who some of you may know from his work with Talon, whose stunning debut should be a part of everyone’s collection. The American has teamed up here with Firewind keyboard/guitar player Bob Katsionis, and if the thought of the pair of them making music together doesn’t make your mouth water then there’s something wrong with you. Add to the mix Firewind drummer Mark Cross along with Jason Mercury and Tony Kash on bass and guitar and you have a very tasty prospect indeed.

It will come as a no surprise that the resulting album crosses paths with both Firewind and Talon, containg some very meaty melodic hard rock that is unashamedly classic in it’s energy. What it keeps reminding me of is vintage Stryper, without the religion, and with better songs. There’s plenty of full force rockers here to keep you happy, and it’s almost impossible not to get into furiously melodic songs like “Out In the Night”, or the insanely catchy “We Run”. They leave it until late in the day to finally throw a ballad into the mix, and whilst “Lovesigh” is a pretty good song made better by some excellent vocals, it’s just not needed on an album like this. It’s the musical equivalent of hitting a brick wall in a go kart, and thankfully straight afterwards comes the full tilt “Out Loud”, a song that would have made Skid Row proud, although Skid Row could never have done it this well. Stryper might have, though…

Whether this band will have any legs, what with all the other band the principal players are involved with, is down to the amount of sales it gets, I suppose. Well, when I tell you that I prefer Outloud to stuff by either Firewind or Talon, then I hope you realise that this is an album that you just have to own. The guitar work is superb, the vocals sublime, the drumming like a herd of bulls in a city of china shops. I want to see this band come on tour, so I’m relying on you to buy at least ten copies each so that it happens. This is why I love melodic heavy rock, people.

ROSWELL SIX: "Terra Incognita Beyond The Horizon" 9

ProgRock 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
15 July 2009

Sci-fi vs. fantasy? sign me up for the latter anyday of the week since merely the 'Alien' stories had me cheering for the space invaders. Give me a good fantasy universe with sailing ships, monsters, a clash of religions, and a love that will reach to the edge of the world. Huh? what's love got to do with it as Tina would say. Anyhow, this is a pretty unique and most importantly, great, crossover project by the good people at ProgRock Records and international bestselling author: Kevin J Anderson (do a google of the man if needed).

Anderson (obviously a 'Swede' and there should be two 'S' in Andersson since we're talking about the Son of Anders, Anders' Son), and his wife, yet another bestselling author, Rececca Moesta, wrote the lyrics, adapting part of the novel's story to music. Famed soft-prog keyboardist/composer Erik Nolander (Lana Lane, Rocket Scientists, etc) wrote the music and executive producer Shawn Gordon from ProgRock brought together a truly fine line-up of musicians.

All lead vocals are the fine work of: Lane Lane, James LeBrie (Dream Theater), John Payne (ASIA) and the ever so impressive, Michael Sadler (SAGA). I tell ya', Sadler rules on this record and that's not an easy task, considering the stiff competition. It would be difficult to name this a pure "Prog-Rock" project, since it's just as much symphonic, pompous, melodic hardrock. Something like, Here Be Monsters", could just as easily have been straight off another swell all-star project from the eighties, namely, Phenomena. Fanfare keyboards and massive choirs are only to be expected as well as stunning vocal duels by Lane, Payne, and Sadler. Highly recommended.
MySpace site

CAIN'S OFFERING: "Gather The Faithful" 8

Frontiers 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
24 July 2009

I guess it's fair to say that here's a Finnish Metal Supergroup - former Sonata Arctica guitarist Jani Liimatainen has joined forces with vocalist Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius), keyboardist Mikko Harkin (Mehida, ex-Sonata Arctica, ex-Wingdom), bassist Jukka Koskinen (Norther, Wintersun) and drummer Jani "Hurtsi" Hurula (Paul Di'Anno). Liimatainen has written all the material and produced the whole thing, so it's very much his project, but the others do add very strong performances to it. Especially Kotipelto sounds excellent - could it be that Jani's vocal melodies and lyrics have a more natural flow than most of the Strato/Kotipelto material? Whatever it is, it works.

At first listen, some of the songs sounded a bit like standard melodic metal - like a cross between Stratovarius and Sonata. After scratching the surface a bit, I started to find out a lot of interesting bits and pieces. The melodies Jani has come up with are really beautiful, and the arrangements are clever and sophisticated. While never straying too far from the melodic metal genre, Mr. Liimatainen has incorporated all kinds elements to the songs, from pop to classical music and almost everything in between.

The first two tracks almost steal the show, as they are both superb slices of metal-based music. "My Queen Of Winter" is an uptempo belter, a somewhat Sonata-like metal track but with a great chorus dripping with melody. "More Than Friends" is more midtempo song, bearing some similarities to Stratovarius tracks like "Kiss Of Judas" and "Million Lightyears Away", but with even more hooks and melodies.

"Oceans Of Regret" is a bit more progressive effort, yet still carrying some fine melodies. The album's title track is an instrumental, a cinematic piece that reminds me a lot of Nightwish. It never really takes off though, and somehow I feel that it's missing a killer vocal melody. "Into The Blue" is the first of the ballads, and it's a good one, while "Dawn Of Solace" is another ultra-fast metal track with a strong Sonata Arctica vibe. Not one of my favourites but not without its' merits.

"Thorn In My Side" is a revamped version of a song from Liimatainen's previous project Dream Asylum, featuring a new chorus and a bold arrangement, almost industrial at times. The band's epic track is "Morpheus In A Masquerade", almost seven minutes and containing quite a few different parts. It's a bit hard to digest, but I can't deny that it has its' moments. "Stolen Waters" is a bit "easier" track with a good chorus, and finally, the album is closed with the delicate ballad "Elegantly Broken". It borrows some of its' melody from an eighties' dance pop track "Tell It To My Heart" by Taylor Dayne, but since it's otherwise very different it doesn't really matter.

BLAZE BAYLEY: "The Night That Would Not Die"

Blaze Bayley Recordings 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
21st July 2009

If you were lucky enough to see Blaze Bayley as his “Tour That Would Not Die” came through the UK recently then you’ll most likely be pleased to see the release of this live double CD, covering a full set from Switzerland in December 2008. Twenty one songs, delivered at typical breakneck speed, showcasing the fact that whilst some may see Blaze as a “poor man’s Bruce Dickinson”, he is in fact a powerful front man backed by a top set of musicians. It’s metal for the masses with no apologies, and does a great job of capturing the man and the band on great form.

There’s not much to say about live albums, and in the end it all comes down to the production and the music itself. The production here is absolutely perfect, with the band, singer and audience all allowed to show through the mix with no one getting short shrift. Songwise, the only disappointment for me is that there’s no “Clansman”, but I know that it wasn’t in the set back then, so it’s not really a fair quibble. What you get is 19 Blaze songs backed up with “Futureal” and “Man On the Edge” from his Maiden days. There’s plenty of audience interaction, as Blaze always likes to get everyone growling in unison, and it comes across as a very good gig to have attended. This, perhaps, is the true mark of a good live album, and “The Night That Would Not Die” stands up as one of the best.

Danny VAUGHN: "The Road Less Travelled"

Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
27 July 2009

"The Road Less Travelled" is a special kind of an album. First of all, it's a live one, featuring the Danny Vaughn band but in an unplugged fashion. Secondly, the tracklisting isn't what one might expect. Nope, this isn't an "All The Hits And More" type of a thing, but more like "Bet You Didn't Think We'd Play This!" kind of an affair. It's a double-edged sword - while it's great to hear these acoustic renditions of less obvious song choices, dropping Vaughn's signature songs like "Forever Young" and "Wings" will not please everyone. Actually, only one Tyketto song made it to the album - an almost jazzy version of "Lay Your Body Down". Apparently "Wings" was played in the full set, but it didn't make it to album, only to the limited edition which has the full show on two discs.

Danny Vaughn's material is usually somewhat acoustic guitar driven, so it's no surpise that the material works fine in stripped format. Danny himself sounds good, maybe a bit hoarse at times, but that doesn't bother me at all, it only adds a real "live edge" to the recordings. The human touch, if you prefer... proving that the songs haven't been too doctored afterwards.

It's hard to name any highlights because all the songs are quite enjoyable. It was good to hear all those From The Inside tracks, and the material from Danny's previous studio album "Traveller" work very well in this format too. A nice album, and recommended for all Vaughn fans. Even without "Forever Young"!

RIOTGOD: "Riotgod" 8

Riotgod 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
18 July 2009

Riotgod is the new band project featuring former Monster Magnet rhythm section, Jim Baglino (bass) and Bob Pantella (drums). They've joined forces with fellow New Jersey musicians: Mark Sunshine (vocals) and guitarist Garrett Sweeny to record a truly impressive debut CD.

Indeed, I can't believe it's an independent release as they've managed to create a magnificent meltpot of retro 70's hardrock and 90's grunge. One minute you're listening to basic Led Zeppelin vibes and the other it's Soundgarden 'ala 'Down On The Upside'. The two rather mismatched acts obviously have a lot more in common than you could at first believe. It's basically all about the groove, and Riotgod should in a perfect world be hailed as the new, New Jersey kings of groove and roots-laden hardrock.

No doubt, you will also find quite a lot of Monster Magnet on this disc. However, this platter is more easy accessible than most of Magnet's stuff. It's sunny weather and open roads all the way down to the bitter end of "Evil" and it's definitely stamped quality on the opening track of "Light Of The Sun". You're immediately pulled in by the versatile vocals by Sunshine and the brilliant guitarwork by Sweeny. The downside? there's unfortunately a couple of tracks too many here (a total of 15), especially since some of them are just too groovy, and flower-power for my liking. Final verdict: genuine great and timeless music with the occasional downer.
MySpace site

Jay LEWIS: "Beat The Elite" 7

Recovery 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
25 July 2009

Connoisseurs of Scandinavian hard rock may remember a band called OZ. Jay Lewis (or Jay C. Blade as he was known then) was the band's main songwriter during the 80'ies, but left the band in 1987 and moved to USA. He joined Princess Pang, a sleaze rock band who were soon signed to Metal Blade, released one album and toured with the likes of Mr. Big. Lewis spent some 12 years in the States before relocating back to Finland, where he joined YÖ, one of the biggest domestic bands. He's been playing bass with them ever since.

A hard rocker at heart, Lewis has now put together his second solo album. "Beat The Elite" is very much an 80'ies styled melodic hard rock album with influences from the big players of the era. Interestingly enough, every now and then Lewis sounds uncannily like Robert Ernlund of Swedish AOR heroes Treat, and some of the songs do have a bit of an Scandi-AOR vibe. Without a strong accent though - 12 years in the USA does wonders to it.

Lewis has played a lot of the instruments himself, calling top players of the Finnish music scene to help when needed. Some of his current and former co-workers in Yö have helped out, along with the Finnish drummer icon Twist Twist Erkinharju and vocalist AmAndA Löfman (that's the preferred spelling, not a typo).

The album's highlights are all among the more melodic tracks; "I Wanna Love You", "All I Need", "Bring On The Night" and the balladic "Boulevard Of Frozen Dreams". As for the less impressive tracks, there's a tribute to Lemmy of Mötorhead called "Bulldozer" which does sound a lot like Mötorhead, which some of you might take as a recommendation, but I could've done without it. I'm not too crazy about "Funk Rocker" either, which is... well, a funk rocker. The rest of the songs are somewhere between, some better than others.

All in all, a pretty interesting selection of songs from a talented guy. I'm looking forward to the next one.

SYRYM: "Syrym" 7

Hatrix 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
20 July 2009

Syrun, surum, suryrurm, syruryrum, see dog run, ehh, whatever. Do you recall the Babylon A.D. group of the early 90's. Yes, no, maybe? Whatever happened to them post 'Nothing Sacred' anyhow? Well, look no further as this turned out to be the long awaited return of former Babylon.A.D. members: Rob Freschi (guitars) and Jamey Pacheco (drums).

The syrup line-up is complete with the addition of Vertigo vocalist Jeff Winslow and bassist Rich Talley. By the way, never judge a CD by its cover, we actually found some good music on this disc... when we finally managed to get up from the floor again after the hysterical laughing bit. The production is way above average and the guitar work by Freschi is something out of the ordinary. Very George Lynch-ish at times and you can pick up quite a lot of influences from his Lynch Mob and modern day Dokken. Especially the first couple of tracks (Foul Mouth Blues, Warpath) will remind you of the sound of Mr.Lynch.

"Ugly On The Inside" is more in the vein of the first Babylon A.D. CD. This would have been the first promo single sent out to radio back in the days. Very catchy with a sing-a-long chorus and impressive guitar work. I'm not quite sure about a couple of notes from Winslow here and there (Brokedown) as it's borderline off-key, but no biggie really. Fans of Babylon A.D, Dokken, Lillian Axe, Lynch Mob, simply can't go all wrong here. Respect!
MySpace site

VOICES OF ROCK: "High & Mighty" 7

Metal Heaven 2009
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
26 July 2009

For all those unfamilier with the moniker: Voices of Rock is a project run by Michael Voss (Mad Max, Casanova, etc.) and Chris Lausmann (Bonfire, Jaded Heart, etc.) where they have their songs unused at other projects (leftovers? - may I ask) sung by various better and lesser known singers of the melodic rock scene. On paper it sounds good and indeed it does sound decent in reality as well.

As both of the guys have done decent production/songwriting jobs in the past, the experience and the professional attitude is there. The song material is not that bad either though I have to say they tend to save their better ones for their own use. Hence the 7/10 rating though production and performance-wise the album is not lacking at all. Let's take a look at the singers song by song:

Tony Martin's "Into The Light" opens the album up and it being a heavy rocker with an aggressive vocal performance it reminded me of his (best) Black Sabbath years. Bret Heerink (once in Vandenberg) delivers and equally powerful performance on the following uptempo "Shame On You". Then it is Joe Lynn Turner's turn (heh!) with "Tonight" which is one of the best tracks here. Yet I've got a production related problem here. JLT's vocal style is not as lung and air driven as the previous two singers yet I suppose the two producers (engineers?) mixed it to an equal velocity-level as the other two. The result? Though JLT delivers a flawless performance, his vocal track gets lost in the mix and even the backing vocals (mostly sung by Voss' characteristic voice) are louder (hence appear to be stronger) than the lead vocals. And that is the case with several other performers. Either JLT's voice is so banged up that it was the best they could get out of him (which I honestly doubt) or the engineers didn't pay attention to the differences of voice characteristics (which I doubt again). So I'm puzzled in general and hope that it is only the advanced promo copy that has these minor problems (probably barely noticable to general public) and the final mastered album version won't have them. Paul Shortino's "Rock Me" has the above mentioned JLT-feature while Rob Rock's ballad "Remember Me" is stunningly perfect, his vocals powerful as ever, absolutely confident, and generally very good on top of a decent ballad. One of the best tracks of them all. Mitch Malloy's "Lay Down To Rest" failed to grab me, he sings lower than his usual range and that takes away much of the usual character from his voice. Yet Tony Mills' "In the Heart of the Young" is another very pleasant surprise here. I have to admit I never liked his vocals in Shy but filling Tony Harnell's shoes in TNT, Mills have developed a raucous upper-tone to his voice that makes him a dead-ringer to his predecessor and with the song featured here being an acoustic-driven one, it reminded me of the glorious Morning Wood album and won my heart once and for all. This one is worth the album alone. Can't say that about David Reece's "Dirty Games" or Paul Sabu's "Down The Drain" (very familiar guitar lick here, huh!) as they are both very average tracks. The closing "Only 4 Ever" by Torben Schmidt sounds like a good ole Skagarack song, it is melodic, it is catchy, it's a winner. The album should contain a track sang by Voss himself (one of my fave voices in the business) which was not included in the promo, it may be a good extra if you ever decide to buy the album. It is worth it as none of the singers are any sloppy here, the musicianship and the production is really decent, so it's a value-for-your-money package for sure.

DAEMONICUS: "Host Of Rotting Flesh" 7

Vici/Sound Pollution 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
20 July 2009

Stereotypes such as ABBA music and misanthropical Death Metal acts are some of the main issues strongly connected to my homeland. Thus why it's no major surprise that 'Host Of Rotting Flesh' is yet another sterling death metal release from the land of previous vikings, nowadays, ikea and volvo mechanics, Sweden.

To be perfectly honest, the title and the savage monicker of Daemonicus, gave away a couple of clues to what kind of music to expect from this lot. Formed in Umeå, Sweden, in early 2006, they quickly set out on a mission to create death in the true old school spirit, but without becoming one of all the lame copies. Not sure they've entirelly completed their mission though. You can find a lot of Dismember and Entombed amongst anguished tracks such as "Carnage", "Unrest In Peace", "To Feed Upon Flesh".

It could simply be that I haven't heard this kind of 'death' for a very long time. Nontheless, I actually find their raw, bonecrushing, melodies, to be rather uplifting and refreshing from all the wimpy metal stuff. This platter will never reach the height of the early 90's era, however, you can do worse than listening to Daemonicus on a early monday morning (wtf?).
MySpace site

DAME FORTUNE: "The Secret Art" 4

Indie 2009
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
23 July 2009

Dame Fortune plays the kind of rough, in- your-face hard rock that may be fun to listen to at a bikers' meeting somewhere down in Tennessee yet it's not much fun to take it for a full CD length. Rough vocals, flat vocal melodies, raunchy guitars, gang-vocals and generally lacking production are characteristic for the album. As I like both my steak and my music well-done (polished if you prefer that word), I got really tired by the end of the album, no matter how many times I played it.

Though the guitar-work is really good for what this music is all about, the vocal melodies fail to grab me. No catchy hooks here, no singing along, not even humming along. I guess it's safe to say that the weakest link is the vocals here. That's too bad cuz the lyrics are okay, the general concept is not bad but the realization is far from acceptable, even for an independent effort.

So my advice is to check the band out live, they must be much better in a smoky bar than on CD.

SOTAHUUTO: "Vastarintaan" 2

Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
27 July 2009

Sotahuuto is a Finnish Christian Metal band, and "Vastarintaan" is their third album. Their music is described as "aggressive, full frontal attack" and that does sum it up pretty well. I've tried to listen to this album twice, and both times I've felt like I've been taking a real beating... with a very heavy bible. Mind you, the message isn't so obvious because Sotahuuto favours semi-rough vocals, not quite in the worst cookie monster category but monster-y anyway. Add frantic drumming and riffing and you've got "Vastarintaan". Is it white metal or black metal, I don't know... maybe it's grey metal, all I know that I've had enough of this unmelodic barrage. For those interested in thrashy Christian stuff, the band does sing in Finnish but the lyrics are translated in the booklet. Recommended for fans of Children Of Bodom and the likes, and the two points are for the unquestionable talent of the musicians.

PROFUNA OCEAN: "Watching The Closing Sky" EP

Farr Rec. 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
20 July 2009

Question: how can you tell when you're listening to a Prog EP? Answer: the four tracks are still ticking in at friggin' +40 minutes of time. Jesus Christ in a bodybag. It's no wonder they all have blisters after all the self-indulgent navel reflections and violent music spanking. By the way, violent? nah, this is v-e-r-y laidback prog, hardly any tempo changes whatsoever. Actually, you can forget about 'up-tempo' since Profuna Ocean are basically stuck in second gear.

Credit for not being just another Pink Floyd cover act though. This is a more vivid picture they're painting... and intially, it sounds rather good as it's obviously also been influenced by indie rock, but offers very little character and plot overall. Very much like Sanity or any of those other prog acts from Holland. Let's hope for slightly more focus next time and perhaps we'll get back to these guys in words of triumph and success.
MySpace site

REVIEWS ADDED 20 July, 2009
STRYPER: "Murder By Pride" 8

Frontiers 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
16 July 2009

Stryper mainman Michael Sweet promised that "Murder By Pride" would be a return to the roots, and you know what - Mr. Sweet isn't a liar! This album is a near-perfect example of how it's done - mixing vintage elements with contemporary sounds and influences. Other bands have tried... and usually failed. Stryper didn't quite get it the last time with "Reborn", which wasn't a bad album but apart from Michael's vocals, didn't really sound like Stryper. "Murder By Pride" does. It's got the sharp, catchy riffs, It's got the big harmonies and it's got the fine melodies Stryper is known for. It may be a bit too long for it's own good and the production isn't that great, but for once I can say that the best tracks of it can rival the old Stryper classics.

The album opens with a small shock - a very punk-vibed "Eclipse For The Sun". The first few seconds had me thinking that was listening to Green Day or something, but when the Stryper harmonies kick in, everything's forgiven! The chorus is a subtle one, but very melodic at the same time, and after numerous plays, this song has found its' way to my favourites. "Four Leaf Clover" starts with a very vintage-sounding riff, and evolves into another good song. "Peace Of Mind" is a cover of the Boston hit from 1976, and it features Boston's Tom Scholz as additional guitarist. Stryper's version is very good, although a bit heavy-handed and doesn't have the effortless flow of the original.

Stryper's ballads have always been something a bit special - sometimes too wimpy even for a wimp rocker like me, but sometimes completely spot on (like "Lady" from "Against The Law" - one of my all time favourite ballads). On this album, all three are very good, including the European bonus track "My Love, My Life, My Flame", which is a touching declaration of love. Knowing what Michael Sweet has gone through recently makes it even more touching).

Probably my favourite track of the album is the title track, which is admittedly the most 80'ies sounding track of the album. Never mind that, it's a great song with a superb hook and fantastic guitar playing. "Love Is Why" is another standout, a distant relative of "Free" from "To Hell With The Devil", yet with a contemporary vibe.

The album would've been a stronger one without the dull "Mercy Over Blame" or the remake of "My Love (I'll Always Show)". The latter was first released a ballad on the band's first mini-album, and it was one of the overtly wimpy ones. Apparently the original version dating back to the pre-Styper band Roxx Regime was a rocker, and it's this arrangement that sees the light here. It's just not very good - early Stryper style but average. I'm not sold on the repetitive "Everything" either... without these tracks, this would've been one of the best releases of 2009. But never mind that, it's still a good album and a step into the right direction for the striped ones.

GEFF: "land Of The Free" 7

Metal Heaven 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
16th July 2009

I really don’t know why this group is called Geff, as it’s not their initials and doesn’t seem to mean anything in Swedish, but Geff it is and you’d better get used to it because they may be staying a while.

They are optimistically described as a “super group”, but are really nothing of the sort. Vocalist Goran Edman has made about a billion albums in the last 25 years, most notably a couple with Malmsteen and five with Brazen Abbot. He’s no slouch, obviously, and it’s no surprise that he possesses a decent set of pipes, although he does get lost in the mix a bit sometimes. Drummer Anders Johansson is another Yngwie alumnus, although may be better known for his work with Hammerfall. The guys all seem to have played with a multitude of well known bands, and certainly have a collective CV that would encourage any classic rock fan to check out their new, oddly named band.

What Geff have produced with their collective talents is a very competent and occasionally sparkling debut that shows off the natural talents of each member with aplomb. There’s some excellent upbeat melodic rockers, such as opener “Xtacy”, “Crusaders” and the title track (which features a very nice keyboard piece from Stratovarious’ Jens Johansson). Indeed, “Land Of The Free” should appeal to those of you who like Straovarious, Kamelot and even Firewind when the guys get going. The production could be punchier, and there’s one or two tracks that lack any real bite, but on the whole Geff come recommended as a fine example of melodic rock with a good bite behind it.


Metal Heaven 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
16 July 2009

Ever since their classic self-titled debut back in 1992, Fair Warning has been one of my favourite bands. Their recorded output has been consistedly of high quality and they have a sound of their own. I wouldn't say that "Aura" marks a significant drop of quality, but it does rank as my least favourite FW album, thanks to the ballad-heavy tracklisting and a couple of other things.

While I do like ballads in general, and FW have written a few really great ones previously, but 4 slow tracks out of 10 is a bit too much, isn't it? If they had been great ones, I guess I wouldn't have a problem, but unfortunately they range from average to OK, nothing more. Another thing that I noticed is Helge Engelke's weird, muted guitar sounds on a few of the songs. Sounds like he's been experimented a bit, and it takes a while to get used to the odd, buzzing sounds.

The album starts with a few very traditional Fair Warning numbers. "Fighting For Your Love" is a good song, but to me it sounds like they've been trying a bit too hard to write a standard FW song. Much better is the next one, a catchy number called "Here Comes The Heartache". The chorus is really good, and doesn't borrow too heavily from the past. "Hey Girl" is probably the best of the ballads with a nice build-up, while "Don't Count On Me" doesn't really move me in any way. Well, the guitar sound is weird... and it's that on the next song, which is "Falling", a ballad again. The song sounds a lot like Duran Duran's "Ordinary World", especially the verses. The chorus is different, and I must say that Duran Duran song has a better one.

"Holding On" is a departure for Fair Warning, a very bluesy ballad. Tommy Heart sings his heart out like always, and raises the song to another level. OK one. "Walking On Smiles" is a bit more upbeat, a catchy track and one of the better ones. Then it's time for yet another slowie... "Someday" is an OK ballad I guess, standard level for FW. "As Snow White Found Out" isn't exactly a fast song either, but one of my favourites. The chorus is quite excellent. Finally, there's "Station To Station", which has an almost reggae vibe but another decent chorus. It's still one of the lesser tracks of the album.

I was thinking of giving this one a little bit less points, but to be fair (oh no...), there aren't any really lousy tracks here. Maybe a couple of more average ones though, so believe a 7 is the right rating.


7 Hard 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
16th July 2009

This is certainly an album that teaches you not to judge a band by it’s name. Okay, so it works with the likes of Napalm Death or Slayer, but Stockholm Stoner do not, by any stretch of the imagination, play stoner music. Thank fuck for that, because stoner music makes me want to maim seal pups.

At least the Stockholm part of their name is appropriate, as this is another Swedish band to add to the teetering, Babel-like tower we already have. They adhere to the current bizarre trend of labelling everything a “super group”, which seems to mean the individual members have done a lot of session work between them. Chickenfoot this isn’t, but I’m sure it’s only the publicist that calls them this so I can’t really blame the band.

So, to the music. Stockholm Stoner are one of those bands who can only really be called a rock band by the very kind hearted. This isn’t metal, melodic rock, hard rock or classic rock by any stretch, and should really be covered by a site called Easy Listening United or something. That said, I still like it as it’s a very good easy listening album. The songs are often akin to Bruce Hornsby or Eric Clapton, with some good hooks, multiple instruments and chilled atmosphere. It can get a little yawn some, but it’s the perfect album to play whilst sipping a glass or two of wine and relaxing by the fire with a loved one or sedated cat.

Mats Ronander handles vocals, amongst other things, and does a good job. He shares production duties with two other band members and they get a clear, honest sound that allows all the little touches to shine through. It’s pretty hard to get excited by this album, but I can honestly see myself going back to it over the years when I need a little chill out and I can’t find my Bruce Hornsby albums.

M.A.D: "for Crown & King" 2

7Hard 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
20th July 2009

It’s been a while since I wanted to feed a compact disc to a pack of ravenous, rock hating lesbians, but M.A.D, aka Maniacal Area Damage, have released such an album with their sophomore effort “For Crown & Country”. There’s plenty of good metal bands in Germany, so it’s a shame that this lot just can’t compete with the big boys.
At heart, M.A.D seem to be unable to decide whether they want to be AC/DC or Saxon, ending up being a pale imitation of both. The title track, for example, would be moulded by Biff Byford into a storming metal anthem, but here it’s just a dull song. On “A Long Hard Road” they totally rip off AC/DC’s “Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be” to the point where they deserve to be haunted by a drunken Bon Scott, rattling beer cans at them whilst they try to sleep. They even have a track called “Bad Boy Boogie”, or as it is called on the back cover “Bad Boy Boggie”, which I personally think is a better title. It’s not a bad bluesy rocker, but again just feels like something stolen from AC/DC. The first time I listened to this album I had to check it was still the same one, as half way through it goes totally AC/DC, whereas the first half is more traditional heavy metal.
So there’s two personalities at war here, and it’s a shame that neither are very entertaining. The band can certainly play, and Jochen S Bach has a decent enough voice, but it’s just that the songs are so boring, with the only one to garner any sort of positive attention from me being a cover of “Nutbush City Limits”. M.A.D are one of those bands who might be fun to see in a bar, but on CD they’re just horribly underwhelming trad metal wannabes who, if we’re lucky, will never leave Germany.

REVIEWS ADDED 15 July, 2009
CRASH THE SYSTEM: "The Crowning" 8

Frontiers 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
7 July 2009

Crash The System is a new project of producer Daniel Flores (Mind's Eye) and songwriter Sören Kronqvist, who has written songs for Michael Bormann, House Of Lords and CC Rock. The duo has taken care of most of the instrumentation, but for lead vocals they've invited the cream of the crop of Scandinavian "travellin' man singers", namely Göran Edman, Mats Leven, Thomas Vikström and Björn Jansson. These guys have CV's that include stints with bands like Yngwie Malmsteen, Glory, At Vance, Treat, Therion, Ride The Sky, Mehida and many others, so there's plenty of vocal talent involved in this Crash...

Kronqvist's songwriting style ranges from bombastic hard rock to very pop-oriented soft rock, while Flores' production adds a modern and even slightly symphonic sheen to them. I'd say that the harder-edged, darker stuff works the best, because the lighter side of material is at times very predictable, assembly-line Swedish pop. If arranged differently, tracks like "Higher And Higher" and "Love Is In Your Eyes" could just as well be performed by some dance group with marketable, clean-cut image. I don't know whether I should say anything about the production because of the rather lo-fi mp3 files I'm working with, but it does sound a bit percussion-heavy with the drums oddly upfront in the mix.

The album gets a flying start with the fantastic opening trio of "Fight Fire With Fire", "All Because Of You" and "I Still Believe In Love". They're all absolutely brilliant songs with huge hooks and interesting melodies, not to mention top-notch performances from the vocalists. The production or the mp3 compression doesn't do justice to them, and I truly hope that they sound better on CD.

The quality of the songs stays on a decent level throughout the tracklisting, even though the opening trio proves to be unbeatable. Still, "Angel Of My Heart", "Rolling Stone" and "Don't Tell Me No Lies" should appeal to AOR fans, just to name a few good ones... and those with a sweet tooth for more sugary kind of rock should check out the album too - there's a few saccharine bombs waiting for you.

BAD SISTER: "Because Rust Never Sleeps" 8

Distinct Music 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
9th July 2009

If you’ve never heard of Bad Sister, I’m not going to hold it against you. They released a couple of albums in 1989 and 1991, then sort of disappeared for a decade, before reforming, releasing a remastered live album and working towards this new release. Vocalist Suzie Lohmar was not on the original albums, although she did join the band before they split.

“Because Rust Never Sleeps” is a good album. You know you’re in for a treat straight away, as opener “Surrender” borrows a little from “Since You’ve Been Gone” and splices it into territory previously occupied by Bon Jovi or Heart. This is good, upbeat AOR, people, and it’s hard to dislike (check it out at YouTube). It’s all good until the first ballad “Carry On” spoils the mood, as Lohmar’s voice just doesn’t suit it. Saying this, she has got a very odd voice, and I had to keep checking that it really was a woman singing, as she sounds just like a bloke, albeit a bloke who sings in a high voice. I’m not mad on the voice, if I’m honest, but it’s good enough for the job at hand. Speaking of vocals, there’s a track near the end called “Talk To You later”, which shamelessly rips of the intro to “Runaway”, on which original singer Petra Degelow guests, and I have to say I’d have liked to hear her sing the whole album.

Regardless of the above, which is probably just me, “Becaue Rust never Sleeps” is a rather good melodic rock album. Of The 13 tracks the only one I didn’t like was the single ballad, and that’s a pretty good hit rate. Guitarist Sven Lange pulls off some great solos at times, and the whole thing is well put together at all times. For those interested there’s two keyboard players, but they aren’t allowed to swamp the sound. From what I’ve managed to find of their original two albums, this one is better, so existing fans should love it. Of those who have never heard of them, suffice to say that this is a good time to find out more about Bad Sister.

RAM: "Lightbringer" 8

AFM Records 2009
Review by Martien Koolen,
28 June 2009

Ram was founded back in 1999 and now they release their second album in ten years time; so these guys are not really very productive. However if you are a fan of good old heavy metal in the veins of Judas Priest, Manowar, Iron Maiden or King Diamond then you will really love "Lightbringer". This album is packed with headbanging guitar riffs, razor sharp guitar solos, high-pitched vocals and true good old fashioned heavy metal anthems.

Check out "Ghost Pilot", "Blood God" or "Titan" and you will be convinced because your head will not stop banging, until you have got a nerve racking migraine.... Ram delivers true metal, my only point of criticism would be that it sounds a bit too much like Mercyful Fate at certain times, but what the f...... Get RAMMED and enjoy!!

CONSTANCIA: "Lost And Gone" 7

Frontiers 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
13 July 2009

Swedish Constancia (with a German bass player) are trying to sell us the term "Melogressive Metal", as if they've invented a genre of their own. I'm not buying, as their music isn't breaking any boundaries, and falls nicely into the category of melodic metal. And it's good melodic metal - fans of Masterplan, vintage Dokken, Mindcrime-era Queensrÿche and Leverage will most probably find a lot to enjoy here.

The driving force behind the band is keyboard player Mikael Rosengren, but that doesn't mean that the music is very keyboard-oriented. Nope, I'd say that guitarist Janne Stark's excellent work is more in the foreground, not to mention the fine vocals of vocalist David Fremberg. His performance sounds like a combination of Don Dokken's smooth tones (way back when...) and Jorn Lande's controlled power. The rhythm section of Michael Müller (bass) and Trumpeter Svensson (drums) is very competent too.

Now after all these superlatives, why only a "7" you ask? The songs, the songs... Don't get me wrong, there's a few really fine songs on the album, but towards the end, the quality suffers a little. Opener "Fallen Hero" is one of the strongest tracks of the year, immensely powerful and melodic, while both "Troublemaker" and "Blind" impress too, sounding a bit like a metalized version of Giant. The ballad "Little Big You" is a good track too, highlighted by a great vocal from Fremberg. "Dying By Your Flames" borrows a little from Malmsteen's "Judas", but despite that it gets a thumbs up from me, as does the melodic mayhem of "No One Like You". No, it's not a Scorpions cover...

The remaining songs aren't actually that bad, but somehow they just fail to keep me interested. Fans of Dio and Heaven And Hell might dig the pounding "" and ballad lovers might fall for "Life Is Like Poetry", but they don't really work for me. And by the way, exactly how "Life Is Like Poetry"?

MANIMAL: "The Darkest Room" 7

AFM Records 2009
Review by Martien Koolen,
28 June 2009

This debut album of newcomers Manimal directly rushed to number 36 in the national charts of their home country Sweden, however I think that the response in the rest of Europe will be less enthusiastic as "The Darkest Room" is not really very original. You can find nine melodic power metal songs on this album and if you like bands like Helloween, Hammerfall or Steel Attack then you will probably enjoy this cd as well.

The best songs can be heard on the first half of the album, especially "Shadows", "Living Dead" or "I Am" are really good power metal songs. Unfortunately the second half of this album is rather weak as tracks like "Spineginder" or "Dreamers And Fools" are really packed with power metal cliches.... That is a shame because I really think that Manimal (weird name by the way) has true potential, so let's wait for their second album before we "crucify" these guys as another Scandinavian power metal Spinal Tap.
Listening tip: "Shadows", a real killer song!

CHRIS CAFFERY: "House Of Insanity" 6

AFM Records 2009
Review by Martien Koolen,
28 June 2009

I really loved Chris's former solo albums (see our archives) but his new album is so disappointing I cannot believe that this is Caffery.... This album is really an old hair-metal throwback with 11 middle of the road songs like I have never heard of Caffery before! The title track and "I Won't Know" are the only two decent songs on this entire album. Here Caffery reaches the musical level of his former albums; the rest is so mediocre I cannot believe it.

Especially Chris's singing performance on this album is so weak that it really "damages" the songs. Just listen to the almost horrible rock ballads "Madonna" and "Backs To The Wall" and you will catch my drift. The absolute worst song however is called: "Winter In Hamburg", which is a weak semi-ballad with a-capella parts. I am sorry to say that this is Chris Caffery unworthy material, sad but true...

The only reason that I "award" this album with 6 points is because I know and he proved that in the past that he can do much, much better!! Best to forget about "House Of Insanity" as quickly as possible.


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