Saturday, August 31, 2013

Shortcuts : Sawthis , INVSN , House of Shakira

Sawthis - Youniverse (2013)
If you´re into old school thrash meets modern metal, here´s an album for you. Italian modern thrashers Sawthis releases their 3rd album "Youniverse" on Sept 30th and it´s an explosive affair of hard hitting metal. They sound really tight and are no amateurs at writing powerful choruses either, imagine a mix between Pantera and In Flames and you´ll get Sawthis. Their new album is solid through all 11 tracks but my favorites are "The logical colours", "The disturbed" and "The indeleble".
This band sure deserve their spot on the map of metal and the concept of the album feels very interesting too with a theme about multiple personality disorder.
3 out of 5

INVSN - INVSN (2013)
The U.S debut from the new Swedish band INVSN (pronounced in-vey-zhuh-n) takes the listener back in a time machine to the glory days of punk and new wave in the late 70´s with bands like Television, A Flock of Seagulls and Echo & The Bunnymen. The band feature members of Refused, International Noise Conspiracy, Deportees and Lykke Li. The first two singles "Down in the shadows" and "The promise" are already available on iTunes and are both perfect ambassadors for the whole album, the members of INVSN comes from the northern parts of Sweden and has also written a tribute song called "Vasterbotten" about their home. The only minus is the song "Distorted heartbeat" that is a carbon copy of "Down in the shadows" but not as good.
However, I like this album a lot so if I have managed to catch your attention as well, mark your calendars on Sept 24th when this album is released.
3,5 out of 5

House of Shakira - Pay to play (2013)
Swedish melodic rock band House of Shakira´s 7th studio album "Pay to play" is the 2nd one to feature new lead singer Andreas Novak, HoS released their debut "Lint" in 1997 and are showing no signs of giving up. "Pay to play" sounds like a typical HoS album and if you´re a fan of their previous self titled album "HoS" from 2012, you will dig the new one too. After several releases on Lion Music, the band has a new home now on MelodicRock Records where this album will be available from Sept 23rd.
Thumbs up for the great harmony vocals, but do they know they borrowed the riff from Thin Lizzy´s "Johnny" on their track "Dopamine Junkie"? Anyhow, this is good stuff and recommended if you like Kiss, Bon Jovi and Thin Lizzy.
3 out of 5

Friday, August 30, 2013

Shortcuts : Zebrahead , IAMEVE , One Days Notice

Zebrahead - Call your friends (2013)
I had no expectations at all regarding Zebrahead´s 10th album "Call your friends" but it´s my pleasure to announce that this is their best album since "Playmate of the year" from 2000. They sound hungry and has truly written some of their greatest songs on the new album, touring guitarist Dan Palmer of Death By Stereo is now a full member and deliver some amazing guitarplaying on these 14 tracks. If their previous releases can be compared to like driving a Volkswagen, the new album is a Ferrari. We´re talking explosive pop punk with superstrong line up of new Zebrahead classics such as "Public enemy number one", "I´m just here for the free beer" and "Murder on the airwaves". And I haven´t even mentioned the new single "Call your friends" or the crunchy opener "Sirens", well now I have. Hehe.
4 out of 5

IAMEVE - The everything nothing : Act 1 (2013)
You might have heard the song "To feel alive" from the Percy Jackson : Sea of Monsters Soundtrack by the upcoming star IAMEVE, with enchanting melodies and songstructures of mystique - IAMEVE´s first act of her 3 act albums makes an impressive start of a new song-stress that is here to stay. The opening track "Throw me a line" is perfect for your headphones with a massive soundscape of sci.-fi pop, the following "Another day" is a fave of mine where the song opens up completely halfway through the song. And if you don´t surrender to the brand new single "Red and black", you´re no fan of artpop because I hear Kate Bush and Marina & The Diamonds all over this awesome track.
3,5 out of 5

One Days Notice - When dinosaurs get drunk (2013)
It´s hard to really describe Ohio based One Days Notice´s music in one word because even if the major part is punkrock, the band is here to entertain us and could also be labeled as fun rock. The follow up to the debut EP "That´s what she said" from 2012, is called "When dinosaurs get drunk" where they worked with producers Ben Shigel and Jim Wirt. I think the mix could´ve been a bit better but there´s nothing wrong with the material on this album, they are experts of writing hooks if you look at songs like "Liar", "Coming home" and "Bye bye crazy". However, the best song is by far "Haha" that you can listen to on youtube. What a smash hit it is. For fans of Sugar Ray, Alien Ant Farm, The Offspring
3 out of 5

Shortcuts : Slowlikefire , Joel Compass , Metropolis America

Time for a new feature here at my review page where I´m doing short reviews of new albums because I have way too many requests at the moment, but I won´t quit doing my traditional reviews with full coverage of all album credits and info.

Slowlikefire - Thieves by nature (2013)
This is a new alternative modern rock band from Texas with a 6 track EP available entitled "Thieves by nature", I recently posted the single "My name is Billie Jean Davy" on my Palace of Rock blog and it´s also the highlight on this EP along with the really nice "En Vacio" that contains a strong chorus. Their sound bring thoughts to a mix between Trust Company, Acroma and Socialburn. Perhaps, not as heavy as Trust Company but more towards U2 in some moments. The title track is definitely a grower where I totally dig Jojo Badillo´s vocal performance.
3 out of 5

Joel Compass - Astronaut (2013)
"Astronaut" is the debut EP from the promising London born singer Joel Compass, his song "Fucked up" became an instant hit on youtube when it was released earlier this summer. That song is of course included here along with 3 other indie R&B songs, Joel sings very well and I welcome the electronica elements in his music where especially "Kiss love goodbye" stand out. The title track sounds too much like everything else on the R&B charts but I like the hitsingle "Fucked up", that melody gets stuck in the head for sure.
2,5 out of 5

Metropolis America - Metropolis America (2013)
What do you get if you take a potion of Britpop a la Pulp and Suede and blend it with American indierock like The Killers, well you get the Philadelphia based trio Metropolis America. The two singles "Bittersweet" and "A burden of our youth" are two very catchy songs that will make you put on your new wave costume and dance away. I like this a lot and I already look forward to their next single "A stolen heart in a stolen car", all produced by Brian Sperber (Julian Casablancas).
3,5 out of 5

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dave Martone / Glen Drover - Live at Metalworks

Dave Martone / Glen Drover - Live at Metalworks (2013) Magna Carta Records
Produced by Dave Martone / Glen Drover
Tracks : 1.The goodie squiggee song 2.Bossa dorado 3.Angel fish 4.The devil went down to Georgia 5.Got da blues 6.Dinky Pinky 7.Crush of love 8.Frozen dream 9.Illusions of starlight 10.Colours of infinity 11.Filthy habits 12.Ascension 13.Ground zero 14.Symphony of destruction
2,5 out of 5

The guitarists Dave Martone and Glen Drover´s performance at Metalworks from 2011, is released on CD & DVD in September. Although, I really liked their latest studio albums "Metalusion" by Drover (2011) and "Clean" by Martone (2008), I find this new release "Live at Metalworks" less inspiring.
It might seem strange since the major part of the setlist is built on both albums except for a few covers. Martone takes on the 70´s classic "The devil went down to Georgia" by Charlie Daniels Band, a song you might have heard through Tenacious D´s biggest hit "Tribute song". However, I´m not as amazed to hear Martone´s live version than the band´s excitement to play it. The cover of Satriani´s "Crush of love" is a lot better but there´s a bit too much shredding going on in the song for me to jump high about it.
I like his own songs "Dinky Pinky" and "Angel fish" but really can´t stand the solo orgy in "Got da blues".
Drover´s set feels a little more interesting where Saga keyboardist Jim Gilmour is joining on stage, these live versions are heavier compared to the clean fusionrock on the studio album "Metalusion". You can tell, Drover´s been in Megadeth and he even pulls off a nice version of Mustaine and Co´s hit "Symphony of destruction" as an encore. This is a decent live album but far from a classic.

Charming Liars - New disorder

Charming Liars - New disorder (2013) Independent
Produced by Bob Rock / John Fields
Tracks : 1.New disorder 2.I´m losing you 3.Wasted 4.Break away
3,5 out of 5

The only problem with Charming Liars new EP is that "New disorder" only contains 4 tracks, I want to hear more! But it´s easier and less expensive to release EP´s and also more appropriate in these times when digital songs are selling more than physical CD´s. The London based rock band Charming Liars decided to relocate to Los Angeles and record their 2nd EP with fame producers Bob Rock and John Fields, you might think they´ve gone mainstream and sound more Americanized on "New disorder" but Charming Liars haven´t forgotten about their roots. The choruses might have those huge Bon Jovi/Def Leppard-like hooks but the overall sound of these 4 songs leans more towards bands like Brigade, Fightstar and Young Guns. There´s no doubt this band feels like a bright hope in the future of modern rock, you can´t keep a good band down.

Deaf Havana - Old souls

Dead Havana - Old Souls (2013) Razor and Tie Records
Produced by YOUTH / Lee Batiuk
Tracks : 1.Boston square 2.Lights 3.Everybody´s dancing 4.Subterranean bullshit blues 5.Night drives 6.22 7.Speeding cars 8.Saved 9.Mildred 10.Tuesday people 11.Kings road ghosts 12.Caro Padre
3 out of 5

The British band Deaf Havana started out as a post hardcore band but they have a different sound today, the screamo vocals is gone with the wind and instead the band focus on breaking through on the other side of the Atlantic with a more rootsrock sound on the new album "Old souls". This is their first U.S release and it´s released with a different artwork in the U.K than the one included in this review, their previous album "Fools and worthless liars" went no.1 on the rock album charts in the U.K and they have every chance of getting there once again with "Old souls". 
All 3 singles are strong, "Boston square", "Kings road ghosts" and "Mildred". But there´s more to win over the crowd when they play live such as "Lights", "Speeding cars" and "Tuesday people". It´s a good album but I prefer their old sound, this is recommended if you like Bruce Springsteen, Sons of William and Biffy Clyro.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Human Cometh - Mayan logic

Human Cometh - Mayan logic (2013) Independent
Produced by Morgan Pettersson / Dan Swanö
Tracks : 1.Deux ex machina 2.Grendles modor - Goddess of the Mere 3.Left behind 4.Wolves at the door 5.Coup de grace 6.Mayan logic 7.The darkening sky 8.Stay in line - Single file 9.Egle, the queen of serpents 10.Gates of Babylon
4,5 out of 5

Two years in the making, Human Cometh´s bandleader and main songwriter Morgan Pettersson worked even harder to find the right musicians for the 3rd album "Mayan logic". And it certainly paid off because the new album sounds terrific, the music is a bit heavier than the previous two albums "Evolution" and "HCII" and also a bit more progressive.
Besides Morgan, bassist Björn Pehrson is the only original member left in the Mk II line up, Walter Kelleher replaced Jon Robbins on drums and I must say that Walter performs some exceptional drumming on "Mayan logic". However, Jon sticked around to track drums on one song, "Stay in line".
Even though I miss Jay Schankman´s cool keyboard work on the new HC album, his two replacements Anders Plassgard and Gianluca Grasso participated in the metal art with a different approach. The Hammond organ adds a 70´s rock flavor to some of these new songs which is nice. The new lead singer Eric Johns is hardly a newcomer in the music business, he has released several albums and performed with blues rockers Southern Gentlemen for many years. A band founded by the 80´s guitarhero David T.Chastain.

Blues might be Eric´s homefield but let me tell you, he´s no stranger to this modern metal where his voice is reminiscent of Myles Kennedy and Chris Cornell at times. The star however of this band is none other than six string maestro Morgan Pettersson, he´s got a perfect tone and his riffs and solos are both intelligent and flabbergasting. With influences like Opeth, Yngwie Malmsteen and Eric Johnson - the music from Human Cometh stays interesting from the first second of "Deux ex machine" to the instrumental virtuoso of "Egle, the queen of serpents". And as a special bonus, the new album ends with an epic cover of Rainbow´s classic "Gates of Babylon".
The only thing preventing me from giving this 5 stars, is track no.2 "Grendles modor" that don´t move me at all. But who cares when the rest is pure brilliance, I take off my hat and bow to these metal heroes.
And you´re so right Eric when you sing "Only zeros and ones, only ones and zeros, one man´s devil is another man´s hero".
The shadow of the internet is heavy for some to bare.

Crash Karma - Rock musique deluxe

Crash Karma - Rock musique deluxe (2013) eOne Music
Produced by Terry Brown / Crash Karma
Tracks : 1.Appetite for life 2.Tomorrow 3.Man on trial 4.Everything 5.Finally free 6.Whatever happened 7.Leave her alone 8.Spinning 9.It´s for love 10.When you´re gone 11.Tonight
3,5 out of 5

It´s nice to see a supergroup that stay together for more than just one album, the Canadian band Crash Karma featuring Edwin (I Mother Earth), Mike Turner (Our Lady Peace), Jeff Burrows (Tea Party) and Amir Epstein (Zygote) hardly knew eachother when they recorded their first album in 2009. None in the band were too keen on criticizing one another during the recordings, they had a lot of respect for eachother so it could´ve ended there but after their first tour, they became close friends. And here we are, Crash Karma´s 2nd album "Rock musique deluxe" is living proof that this supergroup is to be reckoned with for a little while longer. They deliver smart modern rock with first class melodies, the first single "Tomorrow" is excellent and also one of the best tracks on the album. You have to look hard to find any fillers, this is really a well crafted album with many highlights but my personal faves are "Finally free", "Whatever happened" and "Leave her alone". A safe buy.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Born Cages - The Sidelines EP

Born Cages - The Sidelines EP (2013) Razor and Tie Records
Produced by Jon Kaplan / Oliver Straus
Tracks : 1.Don´t look back 2.Caiti 3.Metaphor 4.Perfect harmony 5.Cover my band´s song
4 out of 5

I read from a fan review on iTunes that this was a perfect summer album and I can only agree, the New York based indie rock band Born Cages knocked me to the floor with the first single "Don´t look back" earlier this year and now their debut "The sidelines" EP is out. This is the kind of music that will make you put on your dancing shoes and swing away, the choruses stick like superglue to your head all from the new single "Perfect harmony" to the earcandy of "Metaphor". The band is currently working on their debut full length to be released in 2014 so I can only predict big things for this band to come. For fans of The Killers and Panic! at the disco.

Downfall 2012 - Everyman for himself / Issue two

Downfall 2012 - Everyman for himself / Issue two (2013) Independent
Produced by Downfall 2012
Tracks : 1.Gone for now 2.Quicksand 3.Heckler 4.Behind the mirror 5.Transformed 6.Picture perfect
4 out of 5

Now this is a big one, I was amazed to hear Houston based Downfall 2012´s first issue of "Everyman of himself" recently and they do not disappoint with the follow up simply called "Issue two". They deliver killer hooks and riffs that sounds like they were created in a powerplant, if you´re a fan of bands like Disturbed and Sevendust - this is truly a must for you. One of my favorite tracks is the Linkin Park-like "Behind the mirror", I just love the soundscape of this song. Not to mention the powerful rocker "Transformed" that will run you over like a caterpillar. Are you still reading this? When you can listen to some awesome 90´s metal!

Jasko - Thirty Forty

Jasko - Thirty Forty (2013) Riot Hook Records
Produced by Todd Jasko
Tracks : 1.A new start 2.Valentine 3.Over it 4.The memo 5.Blackout drunk 6.Hungover
2 out of 5

"Thirty Forty" is a real short 6 track EP from Todd Jasko, each song are about 2 minutes long so before you know it, the last song has ended. What we get is pretty basic and naked power pop/rock with a 70´s sound. I think Todd could´ve worked a bit harder on the production and the mix but I appreciate the honesty in these songs, it´s pretty cool that you can hear traces of Graham Parker, The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty in his songs. A decent EP where "A new start" stand out.

American Authors - American Authors

American Authors - American Authors (2013) Island Records
Produced by Shep Goodman / Aaron Accetta
Tracks : 1.Believer 2.Best day of my life 3.Luck 4.Hit it 5.Home
4 out of 5

Beware of one of the best EP´s of this year to be released on Aug 27th, the Brooklyn based American Authors makes infectious songs that will spread like the flu disease in World War Z. Their self titled EP contains a smorgasbord of rootsrock, a bit of folkmusic and catchy pop melodies with 4 harmony vocals on top. Truly amazing! My thoughts go to bands like The Hooters, Mumford and Sons and Indecent Obsession while listening to these songs. I think all 5 songs have potential to be smash hits. I just love this EP. It´s time for the crowd to make the wave around the arena.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Wise Girl - You´ll just have to wait

Wise Girl - You´ll just have to wait (2013) Independent
Produced by Chris Fasulo
Tracks : 1.You´ll just have to wait 2.I´m a freak 3.Second 4.So broken 5.Leave me out of it 6.Little white lies 7.I´m not ready 8.Stuck in this 9.Wishful thinking 10.Roles are reversed
3,5 out of 5

I can´t think of any other way to describe New York based Wise Girl´s debut album "You´ll just have to wait" than sunny and positive music that makes you happy. Imagine The Rembrandts meets The Donnas and we´re close to the sound of these 10 songs, the band is fronted by Abby Weitz who´s voice reminds a bit of Rachel Farris and Abby is also the main songwriter behind Wise Girl. This trio released a 3 track EP in 2012 and two songs off that EP are included here, "Wishful thinking" and "Roles are reversed". Two good songs that fit right in with the rest like the infectious single "Stuck in this" that is out now or the irresistable opening track "You´ll just have to wait". Love that tune. My bet for the next single is "I´m a freak" that features a chorus that is real easy to singalong to. Great album!

Lots of Love - From the start

Lots Of Love - From the start (2013) California Dreamin Records
Produced by Robert Schwartzman
Tracks : 1.Sitting in a box 2.From the start 3.It´s so hard 4.I think it´s called 5.Come to life 6.It´s happening 7.Boys men 8.Mister mystery 9.When I see you 10.Ghosts are coming
3 out of 5

Jessica Fleischer aka Lots of Love, is a talented singer/songwriter from Los Angeles with her debut full length produced by Robert Schwartzman of Rooney. She´s influenced by 60´s and 70´s pop with artists like The Beatles, E.L.O and Ronnie Spector. You can add a touch of Fleetwood Mac and Nina Persson of A Camp in her sound as well. Jessica has a really unique voice and I find songs like "From the start", "It´s so hard" and "Boys men" very enjoyable. The production from Schwartzman bring thoughts to Jeff Lynne´s work with Traveling Wilburys, just listen to "Boys men" and you´ll know what I mean. My favorite track is "Mister mystery" that could´ve been written by Ron and Russel Mael of The Sparks, what a lovely tune.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sworn In - The Death Card

Sworn In - The Death Card (2013) Razor and Tie Records
Produced by Brian Hood
Tracks : 1.XIII 2.Hypocrisy 3.Mindless 4.Dead soul 5.Senseless 6.A song for the nameless 7.Snake eyes 8.Dead pan 9.Mute 10.Three cheers 11.Bitter blood 12.Death 13.Return
2 out of 5

Illinois based Sworn In´s debut album "The death card" keep wandering through different genres such as death metal, extreme metal and metalcore. It´s a fine line between these genres but a well trained ear and a die hard fan knows the difference. Sworn In sounds a bit like Otep meets Slipknot with a flavor of doom on top. I think they´ve got a lovely sound where the guitar riffs cut through the flesh like razorblades but many songs are built on the same songstructure and I can´t seperate one song from another. However I do dig tunes like "Mindless", "Return" and the short "Mute".

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Venetia Fair - Every sick, disgusting thought we´ve got in our brain

The Venetia Fair - Every sick, disgusting thought we´ve got in our brain (2013) SwitchBitch Records
Produced by The Venetia Fair
Tracks : 1.Too late to dream 2.The day I set them free 3.I : We used to worship the moon 4.Pride alone won´t put this fire out 5.II : The dirt won´t keep your secrets 6.Only in the morning 7.Bleeding a stone 8.The sky came down 9.III : Go on, paint me a picture 10.IV : The saints of Gomorrah 11.V : You never looked like this 12.Puking platitudes 13.VI : I could end my search tonight
3,5 out of 5

If you´re looking for unpredictable music and want to be surprised once in a while, search no longer because The Venetia Fair is the answer to your prayers. How exciting I find this band and I really liked their 2009 debut "The Circus" but the new album "Every sick, disgusting thought we´ve got in our brain" is even better. They have also released the EP "The pits" between these albums if you want more from this adorable band. The blend of artrock and drama pop makes me all warm inside and I think of their sound as something that would be perfect for a Tim Burton movie, but I also sense traces of bands like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance when I listen to these new songs. Highlights : Bleeding a stone, Only in the morning, We used to worship the moon.

TVF is an unsigned band. They independently funded their album via kickstarter. SwitchBitch Records strictly released a run of their vinyl.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Taberah - Necromancer

Taberah - Necromancer (2013) Dust on the tracks Records
Produced by Taberah / Joe Haley
Tracks : 1.2012 2.Dying wish 3.Burning in the moonlight 4.Necromancer 5.Warlord 6.Don´t say you´ll love me 7.For king and country 8.One goon bag later 9.The hammer of Hades 10.My dear lord 11.Burn
3 out of 5

The Australian band Taberah is heavily influenced by NWOBHM and got rave reviews of their debut album "The light of which I dream" from 2011, which helped them to support bands like Motorhead and Dianno. This fall they return with the sophomore album "Necromancer" and fans of the this genre won´t be disappointed because we get a solid 11 track album with classic ingredients like twin guitars and 80´s metal lyrics. I really like this album and do welcome the layers of harmony vocals, songs that stand out are "2012", "Necromancer" and "Warlord". Plus I also dig their cool cover of Deep Purple´s "Burn". Thumbs up.
Recommended if you like Praying Mantis, Saxon and Tokyo Blade.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Find Me - Wings of love

Find Me - Wings of love (2013) Frontiers Records
Produced by Daniel Flores
Tracks : 1.Road to nowhere 2.Another world 3.Dancing to a broken heart 4.Eternally 5.Firefight 6.On the outside 7.One soul 8.Powerless 9.Bottom of my heart 10.Unbreakable 11.Wings of love 12.Your lips
2,5 out of 5

Find Me is a new collaboration between producer/drummer Daniel Flores and Blanc Faces singer Robbie LaBlanc, with contributions from guitarist Daniel Palmqvist (Xorigin) and bassist Jonny Tobro. We already know what pro Daniel Flores is from his bands Minds Eye and The Murder of My Sweet and no AOR fan can complain about Robbie LaBlanc´s vocal capacity. The production on Find Me´s debut album "Wings of love" is really big and it sounds like a million buck so why only 2,5 stars? Well, the thing is that Frontiers releases all start to soundalike mostly because they use the same songwriters for each and every album such as Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse), Robert Säll (Work of Art), Tom and James Martin (Vega), Sören Kronqvist (Xorigin) etc. Just look at recent releases like Jimi Jamison, Toby Hitchcock, Sunstorm, Issa, Fergie Frederiksen, Place Vendome and Kimball / Jamison. They are all involved and even though some of these albums are truly great, I start to feel the point of know return has come.
"Wings of love" ain´t at all bad, there are some good songs on it like "Dancing to a broken heart", "Unbreakable" and "Firefight". If you want your AOR to be like Big Mac and Co, this is a safe buy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fergie Frederiksen - Any given moment

Fergie Frederiksen - Any given moment (2013) Frontiers Records
Produced by Alessandro Del Vecchio
Tracks : 1.Last battle of my war 2.Let go 3.Price of loving you 4.I´ll be the one 5.Time will change 6.How many roads 7.Candles in the dark 8.Any given moment 9.Not alone 10.When the battle is over 11.Angel don´t cry
3,5 out of 5

I´m glad to see that Fergie is feeling better from the treatment of the liver cancer he was diagnosed back in 2010, he sure do sound healthier on his new solo album "Any given moment" compared to the previous album "Happiness is the road" (2011). His voice sounded a bit fragile on that album which isn´t so strange considering the state Fergie was in, this time around he feels more like a fighter on songs like "Time will change", "Last battle of my war" and "When the battle is over". Fans of albums such as Toto´s "Isolation" and LeRoux´s "So fired up" will be very pleased to hear the new album because this is classy stuff. I´m not sure about the new version of the Toto classic "Angel don´t cry" since the original version is a killer, it´s really a dead end street to beat that version even if Fergie´s remake is good. Favorite song - Price of loving you.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hollow Haze - Countdown to revenge

Hollow Haze - Countdown to revenge (2013) Scarlet Records
Produced by Hollow Haze
Tracks : 1.Room 212 2.Watching in silence 3.Still alive 4.No rest for the angels 5.Life has no meaning 6.We must believe 7.The answer 8.Il tempo del fuoco 9.A fading angel´s life 10.Countdown to revenge 11.The gate to nowhere
3,5 out of 5

Though I can´t say I´ve heard any of the Italian band Hollow Haze´s previous albums, I´m pretty sure their 5th album "Countdown to revenge" has every chance of being their breakthrough album in the world. The new album is the first with new lead singer Fabio Lione (Kamelot, Vision Divine) and he´s one of the reasons why you should listen to these 11 tracks, what a great singer and a powerful voice he sits on. The band has also collaborated with The Wintermoon Orchestra to give them a more bombastic sound, this is so macho and exciting I feel vital while listening to songs like "The answer", "Watching in silence" or "No rest for the angels". We´re talking symphonic metal deluxe here, the mix from Sascha Paeth is topnotch so I can only recommend "Countdown to revenge" the warmest.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Houston - II

Houston - II (2013) Livewire / Cargo Records
Produced by Ricky Delin
Tracks : 1.Glory 2.I´m coming home 3.Return my heart 4.Talk to me 5.Back to the summer of love 6.24 hours 7.On the radio 8.Losing 9.Just friends 10.Believe
3 out of 5

The Swedish AOR band Houston´s debut album from 2010 was well received by the press and the year after, the band released the covers EP "Relaunch" of classic 80´s AOR songs. Producer and keyboard player Ricky Delin has now joined Hank Erix - Lead Vocals and Freddie Allen - Drums. Guitar parts is once again handled by Tommy Denander and fans of the first album will of course be pleased to hear the new album because we get traditional Scandi-AOR in the 80´s vein. I wasn´t at all impressed by their debut but I do think the new songs are a bit stronger, I really like tracks like the opener "Glory", "Back to the summer of love" and "24 hours". The new single "I´m coming home" might feel a bit average but it´s ok, however I´m glad AOR is still alive and well in my homecountry.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Little River Band - Cuts like a diamond

Little River Band - Cuts like a diamond (2013) Frontiers Records
Produced by Little River Band
Tracks : 1.The lost and the lonely 2.Forever you, forever me 3.Cuts like a diamond 4.You dream, I´ll drive 5.I´m an island 6.Way too good 7.What if you´re wrong 8.Where do I run 9.Someone 10.Who speaks for me 11.Love is
3 out of 5

If you ask me, Little River Band is one of the greatest bands to come from Australia. They´re a superb vocal band with several classic releases in the 70´s and 80´s with amazing frontmen like Glenn Shorrock and John Farnham and more than 30 million sold albums. Today, there are no original members left but their trademark of the typical LRB sound is still there when you listen to their new album "Cuts like a diamond". The 2013 line up is fronted by long time member Wayne Nelson on lead vocals and bass and he does a really great job behind the mic, you can´t complain about the harmony vocals either. I think the new album sounds a bit like "No reins" (1986) meets "Monsoon" (1988), this is a solid piece of work with some really good songs like the new single "The lost and the lonely", the title track "Cuts like a diamond" and the beautiful "I´m an island".
Fans won´t be disappointed to hear their first album with new original songs since 2004.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Evilyn Strange - Mourning Phoebe

Evilyn Strange - Mourning Phoebe (2013) Thirteen 772 Music
Produced by Evilyn Strange / Chris Hughes
Tracks : 1.The ballad of Evilyn Strange 2.Your eyes give you away 3.Everything 4.All that you do 5.Narcissistic bar statistic 6.The world needs someone like you 7.Love finds you 8.No mercy 9.Please don´t tell me 10.Just a little 11.Will you be there?
3,5 out of 5

Now, this ain´t your average hard rock album. The British/Swedish trio Evilyn Strange deliver melodic rock on their debut album "Mourning Phoebe" but you can´t accuse them for being just another melodic rock band because I found their music to be very refreshing and really entertaining. I hear so many names pop up in my head while listening to these 11 songs that put a big smile on my face, with everything from the Ozzy-like "The ballad of Evilyn Strange" to the classic rock of "Just a little" that bring thoughts to Riverdogs. I do like Phillip Strange´s vocal performance a lot where he sounds a bit like Robert Fleischman meets Donnie Vie. Even the music has a bit of that EnuffZNuff flavor to it, the best tracks are "Your eyes give you away", "Everything" and "All that you do". This is also for fans of UFO and Ugly Kid Joe. Highly recommendable.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Arc Angel - Harlequins of light

Arc Angel - Harlequins of light (2013) Frontiers Records
Produced by Jeff Cannata
Tracks : 1.Harlequins of light 2.As far as the eye can see 3.War 4.Voice of illuminati 5.Through the night 6.Amnesia 7.Fortune teller 2 8.California daze 9.Tonight......forever 10.Get to you 11.Diamonds and gold 12.Legend of the Mary Celeste
4 out of 5

30 years ago, the classic Arc Angel album was released with heavyweight AOR songs like "Stars", "Tragedy" and "Sidelines". Believe it or not, but Jeff Cannata returns with yet another fantastic pomp AOR album under the monicker of Arc Angel. This time without Michael Soldan who was involved in the making of the first album even though it was mainly Cannata´s brainchild. However, we get to see some familiar names on "Harlequins of light" such as David Coe, Scott Spray and Jeff Batter who all played on the 1983 album. Soundwise, the music ain´t far from the pompous AOR of "Stars" but Cannata has also spiced up the new album with some progressive moments of his latter solo career. We even get a new version of his splendid "Fortune teller" and I dig the re-make a lot, it´s got the spirit of the old version but it´s less hi-tech and suits the sound of this new album better. Cannata fans might remember that he did a new version of "Stars" on the 2002 album "Tamorok" and I almost thought that it was included on "Harlequins of light" as well because the song "Diamonds and gold" sounds like a carbon copy. I must admit that I wasn´t too much of a fan of the title track when I watched the video on youtube, it felt like a bombastic hard rock song more suitable for House of Lords but the rest of the album is fabulous. I´m a sucker for Cannata´s pomp AOR in songs like "Amnesia", "War", "As far as the eye can see" and "Legend of the Mary Celeste". Not to mention the more straight ahead melodic rock of "California daze" and "Get to you". Bravo!

Norma Jean - Wrongdoers

Norma Jean - Wrongdoers (2013) Razor and Tie Records
Produced by Josh Barber
Tracks : 1.Hive mind 2.If you got it at five, you got it at fifty 3.Wrongdoers 4.Potter has no hands 5.Sword in mouth, fire eyes 6.Afterhour animals 7.The lash whistled like a singing wind 8.Neck in the hemp 9.Triffids 10.Funeral singer 11.Sun dies, blood moon
3,5 out of 5

After their critically acclaimed 2010 album "Meridional", Atlanta based Norma Jean had to go through line up changes and a few setbacks regarding writing songs for the new album which would become "Wrongdoers". But three years later, this metalcore act is more than ready to unleash their latest product and I might add that it´s a real fine piece of music we get here. I can´t help to wonder what the real Norma Jean (Marilyn Monroe) would think about this band if she would´ve been alive today, hehe.
They visit punk kingdom in the 1 minute long "The lash whistled like a singing wind" and flirt with the radio on the supermelodic title track, the impact you feel while listening to the massive "Funeral singer" can´t be explained - you must feel it. But my real favorite is the opening track "Hive mind", this is progressive metalcore at it´s best. Norma Jean deliver a hangar of metal on this album, no doubt.

Famous Underground - Famous Underground

Famous Underground - Famous Underground (2013) Dust on the tracks Records
Produced by Famous Underground
Tracks : 1.Wasteland 2.Overdrive 3.Dead weight 4.Love stands still 5.Forever and a day 6.Necropolis 7.Wheel of misfortune 8.Momma is a junkie 9.On broken wings 10.Bullet train 11.Hell to pay
3 out of 5

If you like a mix of 80´s hard rock and 90´s metal, then the Canadian band Famous Underground´s debut album might be your cup of tea. The band feature former Slik Toxic frontman Nicholas Walsh and they rock hard, no holding back here regarding the riffs or the powerful sound. There are a few less interesting songs but the major part of the album feels rather good, definitely for fans of Skid Row, Lynch Mob and Sister Sin. The rock ballad "Forever and a day" sounds like it was made for MTV back in 1989 while the crunchy rocker "Dead weight" should be perfect on Skid Row´s "Slave to the grind" album. Good stuff.