Sunday, October 28, 2012

Soleil Moon - On the way to everything

Soleil Moon - On the way to everything (2012) Frontiers Records
Produced by Soleil Moon
Tracks : 1.History repeats it´s pages 2.Love the way you love 3.On the way to everything 4.Blackbird 5.Goodnight Irene 6.Freedom 7.Burn 8.Down 9.Colorado 10.Move on 11.Here I am 12.Ohio 13.Calling on the world 14.I´d die for you
3,5 out of 5

Soleil Moon is a duo featuring Larry King on lead vocals (Michael Thompson Band) and John Blasucci on keyboards (Dennis DeYoung), their debut album "World´s apart" was released in 1999 and a few years later the follow up "On the way to everything" came out but who actually heard of it? Not me. So Frontiers Records thought it needed a proper release with 3 bonus tracks and voila!, here we are. This album also features guest appearances from Michael Thompson on guitar, Leland Sklar on bass and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums so the performance is faultless. Singer Larry King is truly wonderful with a great voice that is reminiscent of Sherwood Ball (Jay Graydon), if you´re a fan of Westcoast/AOR a la Michael Thompson Band you will love Soleil Moon as well. The only 2 songs I think is rather mediocre are "Freedom" and "Down" but the rest is just great. The album opens with 3 lovely westcoast tracks in "History repeats it´s pages", "Love the way you love" and the title track "On the way to everything". The rocking instrumental "Burn" is awesome and the stunning "Colorado" could´ve been an unreleased The Eagles song. The AOR gem "Here I am" was also recorded for Michael Thompson Band´s new album "Future past", both versions are quite similar. The bonus track "Ohio" takes the listener back to the days of 80´s Soundtrack music, pure magic!

Jimi Jamison - Never too late

Jimi Jamison - Never too late (2012) Frontiers Records
Produced by Erik Mårtensson
Tracks : 1.Everybody´s got a broken heart 2.The great unknown 3.Never too late 4.I can´t turn back 5.Street survivor 6.The air I breathe 7.Not tonight 8.Calling the game 9.Bullet in the gun 10.Heaven call your name 11.Walk on
3 out of 5

Jimi Jamison´s been in and out of Survivor ever since his debut with the band in 1984, and last year of 2011 he returned once again but there´s no new Survivor record in sight so we´ll just have to settle with his solo projects. But those on the other hand are like roller coaster rides with up´s and down´s like the previous Kimball/Jamison album from 2011 that was truly an uneven affair. The one before that one with Jim Peterik called "Crossroads moment" (2008) was a lot better and closer to the classic AOR sound of Survivor, 61 year old Jimi Jamison is still going strong and releases his 5th solo album "Never too late" this fall. This time it´s a collaboration with songwriter/producer/guitarist Erik Mårtensson of Eclipse and it´s Jimi´s most rocking album since his days in Cobra, if you´ll ask Jimi about the highlights of his career he probably would say "Burning heart" from Rocky IV, the Baywatch theme and the time in 1989 when he was asked to join Deep Purple to replace Ian Gillan but Joe Lynn Turner got the job instead. However, I´ve got a gut feeling he would also add "Never too late" to that list because it´s a solid AOR album in that typical Survivor sound. Songs like "Heaven call your name", "Everybody´s got a broken heart" and "Street survivor" are really good but there are some average songs as well such as "Calling the game", "Not tonight" and "Bullet in the gun".
I´m fine with this but if you compare it to let´s say, "Vital signs", the new album feels small.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ashes You Leave - The cure for happiness

Ashes You Leave - The cure for happiness (2012) Rock N Growl Records
Produced by Matej Zec / Ashes You Leave
Tracks : 1.Devil in disguise 2.Only ashes you leave 3.For the heart soul and mind 4.The ever changing 5.Meant to stray 6.Summers end 7.Reality sad 8.The cure 9......For happiness
2 out of 5

Ashes You Leave is the biggest metal band from Croatia, they formed in the mid 90´s and will release their 6th album "The cure for happiness" in late November this year. It´s the first album to feature new female singer Giada Etro from Italy, according to the band also their heaviest album to date. Ashes You Leave blend doom and gothic metal and the result isn´t as dark as I expected, there are some progressive parts that lightens up the doom-ish sound like the nice "Summers end". I also dig the opening track "Devil in disguise" that is much heavier, thumbs up for the violin parts. But the other songs feels rather forgettable even though I like a few moments such as the ending of "For the heart, soul and mind" which is quite beautiful. However, I can live without this album.

Peace´d Out - Peace´d Out

Peace´d Out - Peace´d Out (2012) Siren Records
Produced by Peace´d Out
Tracks : 1.Castlemania 2.White pyramid 3.Cha-Chang-Changmail 4.I would like to. Feed your fingertips. To the wolverines 5.Baadering raam
3 out of 5

Peace´d Out is a new band with members from I Am The Avalanche, No Motiv, RX Bandits and The Velvet Teen. Their new self titled EP is a musical joyride of technical hardcore with traces of progressive rock, expect the unexpected in these 5 songs that can be a little too complex at times but also very unpredictable and I like it. The opening track "Castlemania" is a bit better than the other 4 but they´re good too, I think of "Castlemania" as Yes on a raging war crusade. Quite cool in fact. I know one thing for sure, I want to hear more from this band further on.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blood Of The Sun - Burning on the wings of desire

Blood Of The Sun - Burning on the wings of desire (2012) Listenable Records
Produced by Blood of the sun
Tracks : 1.Let it roll 2.Burning on the wings of desire 3.Can´t stop my heart 4.Brings me down 5.Rock your station 6.Good feeling 7.The snitch 8.Good and evil
3 out of 5

Blood Of The Sun was formed in 2002 by drummer Henry Vasquez (Saint Vitus) and keyboard player Dave Gryder (Storm at sunrise), their self titled debut came out in 2004 and their 3rd album "Death ride" featured Derek St.Holmes on lead vocals from Ted Nugent. They´ve got a new line up on the new album "Burning on the wings of desire" with Tony Reed on bass and Point Blank members Rusty Burns on guitar and John O´Daniel on lead vocals. We´re talking 70´s rock here with Hammond organ and southern rock flavored riffs, imagine a mix between Grand Funk Railroad, Black Oak Arkansas and Uriah Heep and we´re close to the sound of "Burning on the wings of desire". BOTS sound a lot like 1975 to me, this is album rock so if you´re looking for radio ready songs - move on. I know Kiss costs $2.8 million if you want to book ´em so if you want a much cheaper band for your festival but still rocking just as much, get in touch with BOTS and you´ve got yourself a great opening act. Highlights: "Can´t stop my heart" and "Good feeling".

Carson - Leap

Carson - Leap (2012) Independent
Produced by AJ Perdomo / Cody Payne
Tracks : 1.Battles 2.No sleep November 3.Resilience 4.Time to get up 5.Elevator 6.Heart meet habit 7.Moving forward 8.Apparition 9.Keep calm
3,5 out of 5

I reviewed Carson´s self titled EP from 2011 at and gave it 3 stars, it´s a good EP from a promising band that will please fans of Paramore. This fall, they will release the new album "Leap" which is produced by AJ and Cody of The Dangerous Summer and all the 5 songs from the previous EP are included here along with 4 new tracks. The new stuff is stronger, the songs "Battles", "Time to get up", "Elevator" and "Keep calm" sound more mature and not too much like Paramore-babies. It´s not hard to understand that Carson deliver quality music since they´re from the state of North Carolina where huge artists like Ryan Adams, Tori Amos, Ben Folds and James Taylor are from. With that kind of music scene, you´ve got music in your blood when you grow up in NC. Support this lovely band and buy the new album when it comes out in November.

The Sword - Apocryphon

The Sword - Apocryphon (2012) Razor and Tie Records
Produced by J.Robbins / The Sword
Tracks : 1.Veil of isis 2.Cloak of feathers 3.Arcane montane 4.The hidden masters 5.Dying earth 6.Execrator 7.Seven sisters 8.Hawks and serpents 9.Eyes of the stormwitch 10.Apacraphon
3 out of 5

In the new wave of stoner metal with bands like Graveyard, Wolfmother and Galvano. Texas based The Sword has put their name on the map with their previous album "Warp riders" that reached #42 on the Billboard album chart. Their 4th album "Apocryphon" is their first for Razor and Tie Records and there are some new changes for the band too with a new management, new drummer and also the first time they recorded an album outside Austin, Texas. Their lyrics are inspired by Science Fiction and Egyptian mythology and the music, as you might know, is heavily influenced by early Black Sabbath. The new album is good no doubt, we get great rocknroll in tracks like "Dying earth", "Execrator" and "Apacraphon" but there are moments when I wonder what identity this band has. I mean, they sound a bit too much like Black Sabbath sometimes for their own good. They should develope their sound into a more personal style.

Basement - Colourmeinkindness

Basement - Colourmeinkindness (2012) Run For Cover Records
Produced by Sam Pura
Tracks : 1.Whole 2.Covet 3.Spoiled 4.Pine 5.Bad apple 6.Breathe 7.Control 8.Black 9.Comfort 10.Wish
3,5 out of 5

U.K based rock band Basement has announced that they´re going on an indefinitive hiatus after their 2nd LP "Colourmeinkindness", that´s just too bad since their new album is really good. They are getting rave reviews all over the net and truly deserve it too, this band´s got an irresistable sound of 90´s rock, emo and grunge where my thoughts go to Ash, Feeder, Nirvana and Foo Fighters. The songs are filled with memorable hooks like in songs such as "Whole", "Covet" and "Pine". The only minus is not a big deal really but the majority of the songs are midtempo and I would´ve wanted a few more upbeat tracks on the album. Think of it as a few dark clouds on a sunny blue sky, because "Colourmeinkindness" is bloody great.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kiss The Gunner´s Daughter - Kiss The Gunner´s Daughter

Kiss The Gunner´s Daughter - Kiss The Gunner´s Daughter (2012) Independent
Produced by Brent DeRocher
Tracks : 1.Message from Roslyn 2.Still here 3.Paralyzed 4.Make it through 5.Absent
4 out of 5

Are you ready for a sound barrier of riffs the titan style? Seattle based Kiss The Gunner´s Daughter´s self titled EP rocks the big way, the band features members from Temperedcast and SYFT. They have shared the stage with bands like 10 Years, 36 Crazyfist and Floater. You can obviously tell they´re from Seattle because KTGD is heavily influenced by Alice in Chains but also bands like Alter Bridge and Sevendust. The opening track "Message from Roslyn" takes off like a rocket launch, and I love their crispy and heavy sound too. Perfect match! I am also impressed by their strong choruses in songs like "Still here" and "Paralyzed".
Play it loud!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Crown The Empire - Limitless

Crown The Empire - Limitless (2011) Independent
Produced by Crown The Empire
Tracks : 1.The glass elevator 2.Breaking point 3.Wake me up 4.Johnny Ringo 5.Voices 6.Limitless 7.Lead me out of the dark
4 out of 5

I found out about the Dallas based hardcore band Crown The Empire at and their upcoming release "The Fallout" that comes out in November on Rise Records. Then I checked out their latest single "Johnny Ringo" from the debut EP "Limitless" on youtube and what a superb song it is, we´re talking electro emocore here like a macho version of My Chemical Romance with synthesizers. Crown The Empire is just as artsy as MCR but a helluva lot heavier, "Breaking point" contains such a big chorus and the title track "Limitless" features a guest performance from Dennis Shaforostov of Make Me Famous. I can´t wait to hear their debut full length this fall, this band´s got potential!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sister Sin - Now and forever

Sister Sin - Now and forever (2012) Victory Records
Produced by Sister Sin
Tracks : 1.MMXII 2.End of the line 3.Fight song 4.In it for life 5.Hearts of cold 6.The chosen few 7.Hang ´em high 8.I´m not you 9.Running low 10.Shades of black 11.Morning after
3,5 out of 5

If you want a new old school heavy metal release these days, you have to rely on your classic bands from the 80´s to still deliver new albums with the old sound but how often do you get to hear a new band with that lovely heavy metal sound? Well, Sister Sin from Sweden doesn´t have anything left to prove after 3 albums that has put them on the map of rock and roll but if you´re new to this band. Then it´s time you start to pay attention because their new album "Now and forever" will please every fan of razorsharp riffs and strong choruses with attitude. How can you resist their hard hitting sound that bring thoughts to early Motley Crue meets Accept? This is a really great album where my personal faves are "Shades of black", "Fight song" and the new single "End of the line". Turn it up!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Issa - Can´t stop

Issa - Can´t stop (2012) Frontiers Records
Produced by Alessandro Del Vecchio
Tracks : 1.Can´t stop 2.Power over me 3.Wherever you run 4.Just a wish 5.If you ever fall 6.Do you ever think of me 7.Dream on 8.Stranded 9.Heat of the night 10.I won´t surrender 11.State of love 12.These eyes
2,5 out of 5

The Norwegian singer Isabel Oversveen aka Issa, has released 2 really good AOR albums in 2010 and 2011 called "Sign of angels" and "The storm". On her 3rd album, her label Frontiers wanted Issa to revisit some old classic AOR songs as well as less known AOR tracks. "Can´t stop" is a decent covers album where Issa sings really well, some of these songs are already fantastic in their original versions so it´s hard to beat them but I think Issa and producer Alessandro Del Vecchio does a good job. There are also a few quite average AOR tunes that weren´t so hot as an original. Here are all the original artists from track 1-12. 1.Aviator 2.Atlantic 3.Regatta 4.21 Guns 5.Mystic healer 6.Unruly child 7.Blvd 8.Tangier 9.Worrall 10.Tower City 11.Mark Free 12.21 Guns

Thursday, October 18, 2012

DarkPony - Suburban Serenade Vol.1

DarkPony - Suburban Serenade Vol.1 (2011) Independent
Produced by Jon Herchert
Tracks : 1.Ludicrous 2.Turnaround 3.Shadow 4.Hey Ma 5.Dog 6.Someday baby 7.It´s over 8.Afraid to love 9.Shallow 10.Kids these days 11.Today 12.Wake up
3,5 out of 5

Minneapolis based singer/songwriter Jon Herchert started his music career in the 90´s jam band Mango Jam and eventually also got to play with Grammy Award winning artist Jonny Lang on tour in 2007. Now, Jon started his own band DarkPony featuring Matt Novachis on drums, Jim Anton on bass, Joe Savage on Pedal steel and Tonia Hughes on backing vocals. Their debut album "Suburban Serenade Vol.1" is a nice mix of Americana, roots rock, country and powerpop. Think Wilco meets Tom Petty and we´re close to the sound of these 12 tracks, I really like Jon Herchert´s passionate vocal performance and the production is top notch. "Turnaround" could´ve been a lost Rick Springfield song, awesome. Thumbs up for Tonia Hughes Gospel voice, she´s featured on several tracks and she´s really good.
Highly recommendable!

Blynd - Punishment unfolds

Blynd - Punishment Unfolds (2012) Pitch Black Records
Produced by Blynd
Tracks : 1.Divine gathering 2.Arrival of the gods 3.As punishment unfolds 4.Never for the fallen 5.The chosen few 6.Convicted in the devil´s land 7.Sins to the cross 8.The final resistance 9.Divine conspiracy 10.Infinity race
3 out of 5

The Cyprus based metal band Blynd formed in 2003 and released their debut album "The enemy" in 2010, they have taken influences from both thrash metal and death metal. Their 2nd album "Punishment unfolds" will be out in November and it´s quite good, especially the blistering guitar riffs appeal to me. The band sounds tight and when they pull off some serious Megadeth-like riffs in "As punishment unfolds", I totally surrender. That song rocks. Blynd even gets a bit progressive in "The chosen few" which is another highlight on the new album. A few parts bring thoughts to Opeth but not the entire song. "Sins to the cross" is more of a classic thrash metal song with a really strong chorus, if you want a huge dose of growls and fast hard hitting metal. Blynd is for you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Confidence - Seeds

Confidence - Seeds (2012) Independent
Produced by Clas Sjöstrand
Tracks : 1.Nail me down 2.Collective perspective 3.The walking man 4.Seeds
3 out of 5

Confidence is a new Swedish hard rock band, heavily influenced by 70´s rock and 80´s metal. This 5 piece band sounds a bit like Uriah Heep meets Rainbow and even the 80´s Swedish hard rock band Six Feet Under. They debuted with "Prelude" earlier this year and in November their new 4 track EP "Seeds" comes out, the music is well performed and I welcome the Hammond B3 sound that bring thoughts to Uriah Heep of course. It looks like the band will focus on releasing EP´s since they said their next release will contain 4 or 5 tracks too, singer Emil Kyrk should audition for Quiet Riot with his Kevin Dubrow-like voice. Thumbs up for the Rainbow vibes in "The walking man", it´s a great song. It´s good to know that classic hard rock is still alive and kicking.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Arrow Haze - Music Factory

Arrow Haze - Music Factory (2012) Independent
Produced by Arrow Haze
Tracks : 1.Casino 2.Memories 3.Visions 4.Dreams 5.Lost 6.Perfectly ordinary 7.Confirm the message 8.Along the way 9.Elly Kedward 10.Music factory 11.Stranger tides 12.Routine 13.Crisis
4 out of 5

One thing for sure is that I couldn´t stand on speaker´s corner in Hyde Park, London and talk about Belgium rock music. I only know of a few bands like Front 242, Soulwax, Triggerfinger, Arid, Zornik, Frozen Rain, Plastic Bertrand and All I Know. Plus now also Arrow Haze. I posted the video of the first single "Elly Kedward" a while back and labeled it as modern rock which isn´t entirely true when you hear the full length debut "Music Factory". Sure there are some modern influnces in their sound but Arrow Haze is mainly a classic rock band with a melancholic feel to it. Imagine Year of the Rabbit meets Pink Floyd with a touch of Kent. This is a strong record with well crafted songs and I just love atmospheric style in songs like "Stranger tides", "Confirm the message" and the new single "Casino". The album features a cool guest appearance from Derek Sherinian on Keyboards, if you´re looking for a band with a unique sound, look no further because Arrow Haze is here.

That´s Outrageous - Psycho

That´s Outrageous - Psycho (2012) InVogue Records
Produced by That´s Outrageous
Tracks : 1.Psycho 2.Return to Woodsboro 3.Pretty little liars 4.Obliviate 5.Vyvanse trance 6.Paging Patrick Bateman 7.Flatliners 8.Home invasion 101 9.Stranger danger 10.Star67 11.The New York chainsaw massacre Part two 12.Straight to voicemail
3 out of 5

It´s become rather popular to blend hardcore with dance pop these days where New York based That´s Outrageous proved on their debut "Teenage scream" from 2011. They follow up with the sophomore release "Psycho" this fall and formula is the same, screamo and vocoder vocals, metal riffs and programming, kick ass drumming and dance beats all together. The track "Vyvanse trance" is MTV pop a la 2012 while the title track "Psycho" is melodic hardcore that will scare away any fan of One Direction. I prefer tracks like "Obliviate" and "Pretty little liars" with strong hooks and a perfect mix of hardcore and pop than the slick pop of "Home invasion". It gets a bit annoying when the vocoder vocal parts take over, I prefer a real voice.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Kiss - Monster

Kiss - Monster (2012) Universal Music Group
Produced by Paul Stanley
Tracks : 1.Hell or hallelujah 2.Wall of sound 3.Freak 4.Back to the stone age 5.Shout mercy 6.Long way down 7.Eat your heart out 8.The devil is me 9.Outta this world 10.All for the love of rocknroll 11.Take me down below 12.Last chance
5 out of 5

The 20th studio album from Kiss has the suitable title Monster because it´s nothing but a monster, however I reckon Stanley and Simmons had that in mind. It´s the 2nd album to feature the new line up with Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer, the previous album "Sonic boom" was a step back to the classic sound of the early 80´s but the new album takes the band all the way back to the late 70´s when they released legendary albums like "Love Gun" and "Rock and roll over".  There are no keyboards and no outside songwriters involved, just the band behind the writing and playing just like it was back in the early days with Criss and Frehley. It´s great to hear that Simmons deliver some really good hard rock songs and he describes the new album as a clash between Destroyer and Revenge which is really close to how Monster sounds like. Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer also gets a chance to shine with vocal performances on "Outta this world" and "All for the love of rocknroll", I do think "Outta this world" has some Frehley-vibes over it. Paul Stanley is the king here, the opening track "Hell or Hallelujah" is already a fan fave but the new single "Long way down" belong on every Kiss Best of compilation from now on. I la-la-la-love it! Don´t forget to check out iTunes bonus track "Right here Right now" if you want more than 12 songs. And what about ballads? What´s it called? Ballads? Nah, not if you want to rock and roll all nite and party every day!

Buried in Verona - Notorius

Buried in Verona - Notorius (2012) Artery Recordings / Razor and Tie
Produced by Fredrik Nordström
Tracks : 1.Maybe next time 2.Four years 3.Miles away 4.Can´t let it go 5.Lionheart 6.Couldn´t give 34 fucks 7.Perceptions 8.The descenta 9.Forget what you know 10.Finders keepers 11.Last words 12.Ivory
3,5 out of 5

Australian post hardcore band Buried in Verona went to Sweden to record their 3rd album "Notorius" with producer Fredrik Nordström (In Flames, Soilwork, Opeth), and the Gothenburg metal scene has had a major impact on BIV. The new album sounds like a mix of In Flames and post hardcore bands like From First To Last and Eighteen Visions with a touch of the numetal of Sevendust. The riffs rips you up and they´ve got the same wall of sound as Rammstein, some of the choruses are just as radio friendly as Dead By April except BIV is a lot heavier. I have listened a lot to this album this weekend and I can´t stop hearing songs like "Can´t let it go", "Lionheart", "Maybe next time" and "Perceptions".
A huge album!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Fusion Syndicate

The Fusion Syndicate (2012) Cleopatra Records
Produced by Billy Sherwood
Tracks : 1.Random acts of science 2.Stone cold infusion 3.Molecular breakdown 4.Particle accelerations 5.At the edge of the middle 6.Atom smashing 7.In the spirit of...
2,5 out of 5

Multi instrumentalist Billy Sherwood has impressed me by the getting some of the biggest names in the fusion genre aboard his latest project "The Fusion Syndicate", just take a look at the following names like Billy Cobham, Steve Morse, David Sancious, Chester Thompson, Randy Brecker, Jerry Goodman, Percy Jones, Jordan Rudess and many more. Earlier this year, Billy Sherwood released The Prog Collective which is a project featuring well known guestmusicians within progrock music. My first musical meeting with Sherwood was his World Trade band back in the late 80´s and what a debut album that was, phew! After that stunning album, Sherwood has released 6 solo albums, been a member of Yes and released albums with bands like Circa, Conspiracy, Yoso and The Key. Just like Sherwood, I also grew up listening to jazzrock legends such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return To Forever and Weather Report. Stanley Clarke is my favorite bassplayer but that´s another story. I think the instrumentation on "The Fusion Syndicate" is highly professional and also the good side of this album, the songs on the other hand leaves the listener with more to wish for. They are more or less jazzy jam songs rather than jazzrock structured pieces. If you´re a fan of Spyro Gyra, this one´s for you.

Solisia - UniverSeasons

Solisia - UniverSeasons (2012) Scarlet Records
Produced by Simone Muraloni
Tracks : 1.UniverSeasons 2.The guns fall silent 3.Kiss the sky 4.Mind killer 5.All I want 6.Betrayed by faith 7.Dirty feeling 8.From dusk til dawn 9.Symbiosis 10.The queen´s crown 11.I loose myself
3 out of 5

The female fronted Italian band Solisia describe their sound as symphonic metal and I guess most of you start to think, -yet another band in the same vein as Nightwish and Within Temptation. But that´s where we´re all wrong, soundwise Solisia has more in common with bands like Dream Theater and Circus Maximus. The band formed in 2006 in Rome by keyboardist Wilson Di Gesa and drummer Marcantonio Quinto, their debut album "Ordinary fate" came out in 2010 but I haven´t heard it. Their 2nd album "UniverSeasons" features the new singer Elie Syrelia who replaced Marilena Stagliano from the first album, and don´t worry because Elie is not an Opera based vocalist. She would do just fine releasing solo albums in the same style as Kelly Clarkson or Avril Lavigne, Elie´s got a real nice voice for pop/rock music but it also suits Solisia´s progmetal. My favorite tracks are "The guns fall silent", "Dirty feeling" and "Symbiosis". Another interesting song is "All I want" that sounds like The Murder of My Sweet meets The Phantom of The Opera. A solid album anyhow.

Secret Sphere - Portrait of a dying heart

Secret Sphere - Portrait of a dying heart (2012) Scarlet Records
Produced by Aldo Lonobile
Tracks : 1.Portrait of a dying heart 2.X 3.Wish and steadiness 4.Union 5.The fall 6.Healing 7.Lie to me 8.Secrets fear 9.The rising of love 10.Eternity
3,5 out of 5

Oh no, not another boring powermetal album! Was my first thought when I received the Italian band Secret Sphere´s new album "Portrait of a dying heart". But to my surprise, I was totally wrong this time and I´m glad too because I really enjoy a good time of great progressive metal which this is. It´s very melodic and almost AOR-ish too, Secret Sphere debuted with "Mistress of a shadowlight" in 1999 and 7 albums later, their brand new album "Portrait of a dying heart" features the new lead singer Michele Luppi (Vision Divine).
The band is led by guitarist and songwriter Aldo Lonobile who is a huge fan of bands like Savatage and Queensryche, but the sound of "Portrait of a dying heart" is more comparable with Royal Hunt. We get pro-musicianship and a strong vocal performance from Luppi, there are plenty of great songs like "Lie to me", "Wish and steadiness", "The fall" and the instrumental "Portrait of a dying heart". So this is far from a boring powermetal album.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ten - Heresy and creed

Ten - Heresy and creed (2012) Frontiers Records
Produced by Dennis Ward / Gary Hughes
Tracks : 1.The gates of Jerusalem 2.Arabian nights 3.Gunrunning 4.The lights go down 5.Raven´s eye 6.Right now 7.Game of hearts 8.The last time 9.The Priestess 10.Insatiable 11.Another rainy day 12.Unbelievable 13.The riddle
3 out of 5

I pretty much gave up on British rocker Gary Hughes and his Ten after the disastrous 3rd album "The Robe" from 1997 but their 10th album "Heresy and creed" goes more in the same style as the first two albums "Ten" and "The name of the rose" from 1996. The new album ain´t bad at all, it sounds quite good and there are a few really good melodic rock songs like "The lights go down", "Raven´s eye" and "Arabian nights". But there a couple of mediocre tracks as well such as "The Priestess" and "Right now". It´s a good thing Gary Hughes teamed up with Dennis Ward because the production is way better than Hughes own productions. Also for fans of Bob Catley´s "The Tower" (1998) and Dare´s "Blood from stone" (1991).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In Fear And Faith - In Fear And Faith

In Fear And Faith - In Fear And Faith (2012) Rise Records
Produced by In Fear And Faith
Tracks : 1.Intro 2.The calm before reform 3.A silent drum 4.Look what you made me do 5.Soul survivor 6.A creeping dose 7.It all comes out 8.Enigmatic 9.Dream catcher 10.You had your chance 11.Last man stranded 12.Self fulfilling prophecy
4 out of 5

When San Diego based post hardcore band In Fear And Faith released the "Symphonies" album with orchestral renditions of their songs, they must have been truly inspired to record the new self titled album with more orchestral pieces. Their new album has a bombastic sound with explosive riffs, super melodic choruses and thoughtful piano parts. The band is touring with Alesana this fall so you´d better catch a date if you´re in the states because this album is a killer, truly one of the best post hardcore albums of 2012. The opening track "The calm before reform" sets the high standard right away and don´t bother looking for fillers because IFAF only recorded songs with memorable hooks on this album, there are plenty of highlights but my personal faves are "A silent drum", "It all comes out" and "Self fulfilling prophecy".

LePaige - Hit the lights

LePaige - Hit the lights (2012) Independent
Produced by LePaige
Tracks : 1.Another chance to lose 2.Iceberg ahead 3.Truly divine 4.Modern day Aphrodite
2,5 out of 5

Hollywood based pop/rock band LePaige has opened for Go Radio and Safetysuit and released their debut EP "Hit the lights" earlier this year, you can also describe their music as powerpop influenced pop punk. There are a couple of nice songs on their 4 track EP such as "Iceberg ahead" and "Modern day Aphrodite" but the whole production could´ve needed a bit more edge which I hope they aim for on their next EP, which they are raising funds to record through Kickstarter. The band´s got potential.
There is a jungle of pop/rock bands out there so you´d better stand out if you´re trying to get somewhere.

Wazu - Robobo

Wazu - Robobo (2012) Anti-Language Records
Produced by Wazu / Rick Parker / Kevin McMahon
Tracks : 1.Councillor 2.It´s a trick 3.Show your skin 4.Bugsatio 5.Symbol system 6.I think I remember 7.I´ll take you over 8.Ghost years 9.Hard game 10.Bones 11.Irene
3,5 out of 5

Wazu, what´s that? Can you eat it? Is it an African instrument or perhaps a language? Well, what I do know is that it´s a male/female duo from Australia that are living in NYC now. It says 2012 on the album cover but it could´ve easily been released in the golden age of synthpop back in 1983, I just love the dark synth sounds of Wazu´s new album "Robobo" where most songs are really strong. The album opens with the Depeche Mode flirt of "Councillor" and continues with the Devo-esque "It´s a trick", what a cool song. The track "Bugsatio" bring thoughts to Shiny Toy Guns while the industrial "Symbol system" could´ve been an unreleased song by Gary Numan, awesome. The more soft "Irene" sounds like a cousin to The Stranglers song "Don´t bring Harry". Highly recommendable!

Armada - Paper ghosts

Armada - Paper Ghosts (2012) Independent
Produced by Mike Boden
Tracks : 1.Ghost of Illinois 2.Young man 3.Callanwolde 4.Nevada 5.Beacon Street 6.Badge gun 7.Up out 8.Pick up the pieces 9.Renaissance 10.Love you
3 out of 5

Armada is a trio from Los Angeles featuring Cody Page - Vocals/Guitar, Jeremy Gruber - Bass/Keyboards and Eddie Core - Drums. They deliver a blend of 90´s rock, blues and classic rock for fans of Queens of the stone age, Rival Sons and Robin Trower. Their debut album "Paper ghosts" is a bit uneven but the good stuff is really good on the other hand, just listen to the cool "Nevada" that sounds like something that could´ve been in a Tarantino movie or the groovy single "Callanwolde" that I dig a lot. The melodic "Badge gun" is my personal fave along with the ZZ Top-like "Up out", this is a promising band no doubt.
Cody is a great guitarplayer for sure.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Neal Schon - The Calling

Neal Schon - The Calling (2012) Frontiers Records
Produced by Neal Schon
Tracks : 1.The Calling 2.Carnival Jazz 3.Six string waltz 4.Irish field 5.Back Smash 6.Fifty six 7.True emotion 8.Tumbleweeds 9.Primal surge 10.Blue rainbow sky 11.Transonic funk 12.Song of the wind II
4 out of 5

The world´s greatest guitarplayer, Neal Schon, returns with the brand new solo album "The Calling" which is the first one since "I on U" from 2005. This guy is a true workaholic and has played with some of the best bands on this planet such as Journey, Bad English, Hardline, Santana, H.S.A.S and Soul Sirkus. The new solo album was recorded in only 4 days with former Journey drummer Steve Smith, keyboardist Igor Len and his old pal Jan Hammer on synthesizer. Although, I haven´t been too much of a fan of his previous solo albums, I do think Schon has done his best album since "Late nite" (1989). Because "The Calling" contains lots of rock driven songs with both traces of the early progrock sound of Journey and the fusion style a la "Late nite". This new album is up there along with the excellent Schon/Hammer albums and I´m so pleased to hear Schon and Hammer play together again, and the drumming from Steve Machine Gun Smith is just as good as I thought it would be. Just listen to the groovy "Back smash", I just love that Billy Cobham vibe. Another highlight is "Blue Rainbow Sky" which is dedicated to Ronnie James Dio, magic melodies from Schon on this one. But the best track is "The Calling" that opens the album with some fantastic riffs, this is pure gold ladies and gents.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Maker - Maker

Maker - Maker (2012) Engineer Records
Produced by Erik Arena / Jim Fogarty
Tracks : 1.Shadows 2.You know who you are 3.I had to put my lady down 4.Medina 5.Hurricanes
3,5 out of 5

Maker´s previous album "Mirrors" from 2011 was a good Emo album and there are still some traces of Emo on their upcoming EP, out on Nov 13th. But I think these 5 new songs has more of an indie rock flavored punk sound and they are stronger too compared to the their full length album. It sure sounds like they are heavily influenced by bands like The Who, The Clash and The Strokes but if you´ll ask ´em, they will probably say Frank Turner or Saves The Day. My favorite track is "You know who you are", that song´s got some great hooks and I love the warm sound of the entire EP.
Thumbs up!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Night Ranger - 24 Strings and a drummer

Night Ranger - 24 Strings and a drummer, Live and acoustic (2012) Frontiers Records
Produced by Night Ranger
Tracks : 1.This boy needs to rock 2.When you close your eyes 3.Sing me away 4.Growing up in California 5.The secret of my success 6.Sentimental street 7.Four in the morning 8.Let him run / Goodbye 9.Forever all over again 10.Don´t tell me you love me 11.Sister Christian 12.You can still rock in America 13.Boys of summer
2 out of 5

I´ve got some good memories to Night Ranger´s music, I listened a lot to their "Seven wishes" album in the mid 80´s when I met my wife. And just recently when I went to see the Rock of Ages musical in London, they played "Sister Christian" in the show, that song is a classic. I also think their "Feeding off the mojo" album from the early 90´s is way underrated but I was glad to hear their comeback album from last year, "Somewhere in California" showed the band in their finest form again. It is now 30 years ago since their debut album "Dawn Patrol" was released and still with the band from the original line up are Jack Blades, Brad Gillis and Kelly Keagy. They are now joined by the new members Eric Levy - Keyboards and Joel Hekstra - Guitar, it is not so suprising that the new live album "24 strings and a drummer" is mainly based on the first 4 albums that are their most successful ones. But the band also pull off a great version of "Growing up in California" from the latest studio album, however the boring "Forever all over again" from the weak 1997 album "Neverland" could´ve been erased from the set.
Solo´s most often are tiresome but Eric Levy´s piano solo on the intro to "Sentimental street" is really entertaining, that song is also one of the highlights here. The band close the show with a cover of Don Henley´s unforgettable hit "Boys of summer" and they do it good.
But Night Ranger has released 7 live albums before this one so my question is, do we really need another live album?

Michael Addison - Blinding shadows

Michael Addison - Blinding Shadows (2012) Independent
Produced by Larry Marciano
Tracks : 1.Never look back 2.Alone 3.No regret 4.Go 5.All your might 6.Tell me lies 7.You tonight 8.Say goodbye 9.Let me burn 10.Dream 11.Until the end 12.Take me in 13.Always you (remix)
3 out of 5

I gave Michael Addison´s previous "Always you" EP 2,5 stars over at where I thought there were some fine moments, the first full length album "Blinding shadows" is more rocking compared to the EP so it´s definitely a step in the right direction. But the songs are far greater than Addison´s vocal performance on some songs which is a shame, he is a good songwriter but not equally good as a singer I´m afraid. And just like on the EP, Ryan Hoyle (ex.Collective Soul) is playing drums and on background vocals we find Vanessa Bryan and Adam Brooks. The first single "Alone" is quite good, think Tom Petty meets Eddie and The Hot Rods and you´ll get the idea. The opening track "Never look back" is more of a new wave rocker in the same vein as The Jam and The Motors first album, I like it. "You tonight" is nice powerpop song and the emotional "All your might" can be described as folkrock gospel, one of the best songs here. The Lou Reed-like "Tell me lies" is rubbish, but we´ll get a Celtic feel in "Until the end" which bring thoughts to Jon English. A solid album.

The Acacia Strain - Death is the only mortal

The Acacia Strain - Death is the only mortal (2012) Rise Records
Produced by The Acacia Strain
Tracks : 1.Doomblade 2.Our lady of perpetual sorrow 3.Go to sleep 4.Brain death 5.The mouth of the river 6.Dust and the Helix 7.Victim of the cave 8.Time and death and god 9.The chambers nautilus 10.House of abandon
2,5 out of 5

The Acacia Strain from Massachusetts is one of the most hardworking bands in the hardcore genre the last decade, they tour constantly and are very loyal to their fans. Recently, they signed to Rise Records which must be one of the heaviest labels around if not the heaviest, I mean this is soooo heavy. Imagine Hulk in his angriest mood and then hang a guitar over his shoulder, get the picture! The band debuted with "And life is very long" in 2002 and ten years later, their 6th album "Death is the only mortal" is unleashed. The Acacia Strain deliver a blend of hardcore and death metal, very doom-ish where the soundscape is dark with spacerock-esque guitar harmonies. "Our lady of perpetual sorrow" stand out here but I also like "Victims of the cave" a lot, this album works better in small doses because they´re just a bit too aggressive. Hrm.

Canto - Ha Ha Ha

Canto - Ha Ha Ha (2012) Independent
Produced by Canto
Tracks : 1.Adam and Eve 2.Sandpaper 3.Cardigan sweater 4.The pit 5.The big house 6.Farewell well well 7.Griseous 8.William Byrd and his contemporaries 9.In the sun 10.Desert
2 out of 5

Canto consists of three brothers all under the age of 20, Seamus Blackwell - Vocals/Guitar, Aidan Blackwell - Bass and David Blackwell - Drums. I wonder if they open their shows with "Mr.Blackwell" from "The Elder" by Kiss?, Nah, I don´t think so because Canto ain´t exactly a hard rock band. Ok, they´re a rock band but more influenced by bands like The White Stripes, Led Zeppelin and The Clash. This trio has an honest sound, alive and passionate but the album lack of strong material. I only dig a couple of songs like "Cardigan sweater" and "Farewell well well", it´s a good thing that they sound like they´re playing live in the studio though. Their debut has the same title as a late 70´s album with Ultravox but I´m not sure they are aware of this fact.

Nonpoint - Nonpoint

Nonpoint - Nonpoint (2012) Razor and Tie Records
Produced by Johnny K / Brian Virtue
Tracks : 1.Lights, camera, action 2.The way I see things 3.I said it 4.Left for you 5.International crisis 6.Another mistake 7.That day 8.Pandora´s box 9.Go time 10.Independence day 11.Temper 12.Ashes
3,5 out of 5

Florida based numetal band Nonpoint has sold more than 750,000 albums, with songs featured in movies like Miami Vice and The Condemned. They´ve been on labels such as MCA, Lava, Bieler Bros and Rocket Science but after 8 albums, it was time for a change. So with a new line up and a new label (again), the band is off for a fresh start with their self titled album out on Razor and Tie. The original members Elias Soriano - Vocals and Robb Rivera - Drums have added some new blood into the band with Dave Lizzio - Guitar, Rasheed Thomas - Guitar and Adam Wolosyzn - Bass. And let me tell you, their new album is really good!
They sound reborn, the riffs are glowing and Elias is singing like it was his last album ever, he´s giving it all. If you dig the first two songs "I said it" and "Left for you" that´s been available for a while, you´re in for a treat here. I truly dig songs like "Temper", "Lights, camera, action" and "That day". Such energy!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Jeff Lynne - Long wave

Jeff Lynne - Long Wave (2012) Frontiers Records
Produced by Jeff Lynne
Tracks : 1.She 2.If I loved you 3.So sad 4.Mercy Mercy 5.Running scared 6.Bewitched, bothered and bewildered 7.Smile 8.At last 9.Love is a many splendored thing 10.Let it rock 11.Beyond the sea
2 out of 5

Don´t get me wrong, I think it´s really cool that we finally get a new solo album from Mr.E.L.O himself but did Jeff Lynne have to record only covers? It´s been over 20 years since his last solo album "Armchair Theatre" and he´s not the artist that release albums often, woah.......I mean he gave his fans the E.L.O album "Zoom" in 2001 and in 2009 Lynne started working on "Long wave". During the past 2 decades, he also produced a couple of albums with Tom Petty but other than that, Lynne is enjoying his time as a millionaire at home. The new album "Long wave" contains songs that has inspired Lynne when he was younger so this might not appeal to fans of the classic E.L.O sound. No, this album has more in common with Traveling Wilburys and George Harrison´s "Cloud Nine" from 1987 which Lynne produced. I think there are a few nice versions from Lynne like "Running scared" (original by Roy Orbison), "At last" (by Etta James), "Beyond the sea" (by Bobby Darin) and "She" (by Charles Aznavour).
"Long wave" is ok but I think it means more to Lynne than it will to his fans.

Muse - The 2nd Law

Muse - The 2nd Law (2012) Warner Music
Produced by Muse
Tracks : 1.Supremacy 2.Madness 3.Panic station 4.Prelude 5.Survival 6.Follow me 7.Animals 8.Explorers 9.Big freeze 10.Save me 11.Liquid state 12.The 2nd Law:Unsustainable 13.The 2nd Law:Isolated system
5 out of 5

What´s the point in making the same album twice? That must be Muse´s motto, they always look forward and keeps developing their sound but still perform it with their typical trademark of Bellamy´s dramatic vocals and the band´s futuristic rock. On their new album "The 2nd Law", the trio is influenced by dubstep and collaborated with Nero on the 6th track "Follow me". We also get a taste of dubstep rock on the title track "Unsustainable" which sounds like a show opener to me, let´s see in December when I have my tickets ready for the show in Stockholm. However, fans of the progressive side of Muse will be much pleased to hear majestic tracks like "Supremacy" and "Explorers". The new single "Madness" is a smash, just like the 2012 Olympic theme "Survival". I get goosebumps everytime I hear the outro of that Queen-like song. This is also the first time the band gets personal and sing about relations and alcoholic problems like bassist Chris Wolstenholme sings in "Save me" and "Liquid state". Those songs are different but very good, I can only use one word for this album. EPIC!

Electric Light Orchestra - Mr. Blue Sky

Electric Light Orchestra - Mr. Blue Sky, The Very Best Of (2012) Frontiers Records
Produced by Jeff Lynne
Tracks : 1.Mr. Blue Sky 2.Evil woman 3.Strange magic 4.Don´t bring me down 5.Turn to stone 6.Showdown 7.Telephone line 8.Livin´ thing 9.Do ya 10.Can´t get it out of my head 11.10538 Overture 12.Point of no return
4,5 out of 5

Who could´ve thought we would get 2 new releases from Jeff Lynne in 2012? First the new re-recordings of classic hits of Electric Light Orchestra, all performed by Jeff himself and secondly the new solo album "Long wave" which is a collection of covers of his favorite songs.
You could ask yourself the point of re-recording E.L.O hits when they´re already fantastic in their original versions but Jeff thought they could´ve needed a facelift with today´s technology. What strikes me is that how close to the original version all these re-recordings are, sure the production is a bit more rich but still they do sound like they could´ve been made in the 70´s. However, I think the original versions are crispier and that is mostly because you can´t beat an analog recording even with today´s digital hi-tech stuff. A good thing about this compilation is the unreleased track "Point of no return" which is a great song in the classic E.L.O style. These songs are magic so I can´t give it any lower than 4,5.

Joshua Ketchmark - The Ignited

Joshua Ketchmark - The Ignited (2012) Independent
Produced by Davey Julson-Rieley
Tracks : 1.About to break 2.Fallen 3.Hurt 4.Without you
3,5 out of 5

Joshua Ketchmark´s 3rd EP in 2012 is called "The Ignited" and will be out on Oct 30th, it´s produced by Davey Julson-Rieley who has worked with Kill Hannah, Kelly Clarkson and Elvis Costello. These 4 new songs are really good and a cool blend of powerpop and modern rock, Joshua Ketchmark even takes a visit in AOR land on "Hurt". The opener "About to break" is more of a contemporary modern rock song and also perfect for active rock radio, my favorite though is the smart rock of "Without you". Such lovely harmonies in this song where my thoughts go to Ken Andrews.
Highly recommendable!