Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Review : Atoms To Ashes - Through the storm

Atoms To Ashes - Through the storm (2017) Independent
Produced by Atoms To Ashes
Tracks : 1.Blown away 2.Not gonna break 3.Black to red 4.No longer 5.Around my neck
3 out of 5

It´s time to get your daily dose of active rock and why not turn to Montreal and Atoms To Ashes´ new EP "Through the storm", including 5 tracks with a crossover of electro rock and modern rock.
The band is led by Chris Starr who has his eyes set on the modern rock scene after 2000, if you´re into old school metal, skip this review and make yourself a cup of coffee instead.
The EP opens with the most electronic song out of these five songs, the verse is really cool but the chorus is almost a direct copy of Linkin Park´s One Step Closer which sucks.
"Not gonna break" is the first single from the EP and it´s a typical modern rock song, this one´s the Big Mac and Co on the menu.
"Black to red" follows and this song is very good, perhaps it´s because it reminds so much of Angels and Airwaves sound. It has Tom DeLonge written all over it.
"No longer" is the most poppy song on the EP, if you like to call it boyband-rock, go ahead, I won´t argue.
"Around my neck" is a nice rocker that bring thoughts to the Scandinavian modern rock scene with bands like April Divine, Plan Three and Blowsight.
Also available : Heartless EP (2014)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review : Hornal - The game begins with the lights out

Hornal - The game begins with the lights out (2017) Independent
Produced by Iain Hornal
Tracks : 1.Staring at the sky 2.Running away 3.Jennifer 4.Caledone 5.She doesn´t have anyone 6.Quit you 7.Dangerous men 8.Different places 9.Pictures of past 10.Any other way 11.Say the word
4 out of 5

Do you remember the days when there was music on MTV and the suits and jackets had shoulder pads to give the wearer the illusion of having broader shoulders? I´m talking about the 80´s.
If you ask Iain Hornal, it was an era when pop music had a brain, a soul and a heart.
Hornal´s debut solo "The game begins with the lights out" is an entertaining album that is the light we need in a rather bleak world, he truly gives the listener an idea of what kind of music he loves.
I´m pretty certain you will find records with Fleetwood Mac, Mike + The Mechanics, 10cc and E.L.O in his record collection, you can´t go wrong those artists.
And speaking of E.L.O, Iain Hornal was the backing singer in Jeff Lynne´s ELO on the Alone In The Universe tour 2016 and he also wrote the intro tape to The Feeling´s live shows.
Hornal´s album opens with the dreamlike and Floydian "Staring at the sky", I wonder if David Gilmour came by the studio and left his mark on the song? It sure sounds that way.
The songs "Running away" and "Any other way" will make fans of Wax´s 80´s pop very happy, Wax? you say! Well, let me give you a hint, their biggest hit is Bridge to your heart.
Imagine if Stevie Winwood teamed up with Sad Cafe´, then the result could very well be the song "Jennifer", I´m a sucker for this kind of late 70´s westcoast pop.
This album is like a carnival of melodies where Hornal doesn´t hold back, I think it´s impossible to get an overdose of harmonies but I´m willing to take it because I could die listening to "She doesn´t have anyone" or "Say the word". Both goes in the finest ELO/10cc style.
The album has two beautiful ballads too, "Pictures of past" that bring thoughts to Simon and Garfunkel and "Quit you" that sounds like something Paul Carrack could´ve written.
About the song "Caledone", I´m starting to think that John Lennon called from the other side and wanted his unreleased song back.
The best song is "Dangerous men", featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor. A brilliant composition that easily could´ve fit on David Bowie´s 1983 album "Let´s Dance".
Good Golly Miss Molly!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Quickbits : Bush, Mallory Knox, KXM

Bush - Black and white rainbows (2017) When post grunge goes mainstream
It might seem a bit strange that I never got into the music of Bush since I´m such a fan of Gavin Rossdale´s voice, but their songs didn´t appeal to me.
Rossdale´s solo album WANDERlust from 2008 is another story somehow, that album is a killer but also a completely different sound compared to his band.
So why start now? Well, a person can change. Ten years ago I couldn´t believe that I would be listening to Frank Sinatra almost every week at this age so I thought I should start by checking out Bush´s latest album "Black and white rainbows".
And I do like their new single "Mad love".
I really want to like this but the music still just doesn´t move me, Rossdale´s voice can move mountains but not even he can lift these mediocre midtempo songs.
(+) The voice, ah the voice.
(-) 15 songs are a few too many in my opinion, what´s wrong with the classic album concept of 10 tracks?

Mallory Knox - Wired (2017) At a crossroads of a hit or miss record
Album no.3 from the energetic rock band Mallory Knox, they have worked with a different producer on each album and this time around they teamed up with Dan Austin (The Cooper Temple Clause, Arcane Roots).
"Wired" is the follow up to the 2014 album "Asymmetry" where the band were on their way to something big, the Gil Norton produced "Asymmetry" was a bit more polished but also packed with a set of great songs.
The band is more happy with the sound on "Wired" that feels more raw and live compared to their previous record but I think the songs are weaker on the new album.
I expected something more from Mallory Knox, sure there are a few great tunes like "Lucky me", "Better off without you" and "Giving it up", however I can´t help but feeling a bit disappointed.
(+) In their best moments, they´re the Foo Fighters of Britain.
(-) The album is way too uneven.

KXM - Scatterbrain (2017) Power trio size XL
Getting tired of waiting for a new King´s X album? Well, don´t be. KXM is the closest thing of getting a King´s X record.
We´ve got Dug Pinnick singing like a god and playing bass with the same attitude as we´re used to hear him with Ty Tabor and Jerry Gaskill.
Then add the thundering drumming from Ray Luzier (KoRn) and the extraordinary six string work from George Lynch (Lynchmob), you´ll get KXM´s second album "Scatterbrain".
It´s more proggy than the debut but just as heavy, it´s not as heavy as KoRn but a whole lotta heavier than Lynch´s old band Dokken.
So I will give it a fair shot at saying that fans of King´s X will probably dig this record a lot.
KXM aren´t about writing radio friendly rock, you could say this music is for the people that want something more than the regular verse-chorus-verse-chorus formula.
Highlights : Scatterbrain, Big sky country, Noises in the sky
(+) I´m so glad that KXM didn´t turn out to be a one-album-band.
(-) Since this is the kind of rock that only should be played loud, I´m afraid my tinnitus is getting worse.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Toronto : Sprawling on the fringes of the city

                                                 Toronto, the Liverpool of Canada!
As a Swede, my first relation to this town, was the legendary Swedish hockey player Börje Salming who played in the NHL team Toronto Maple Leafs during the 70´s and 80´s.
But that didn´t stop me from being a Boston Bruins fan, however I have deep respect for Toronto Maple Leafs because it´s one of the original six league members along with Chicago Black Hawks, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins.
When it comes to music, my first contact with the most populous city in Canada, was the introduction of the 1976 live album "All the world´s a stage" with the classic phrase -Hello and please welcome home, Rush!
The live album was recorded at Massey Hall in Toronto and it was the start for me being a long-time fan of this beloved trio that has fans all over the world. (Other famous artists that has recorded their live albums at Massey Hall are Neil Young, Matthew Good, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie).
By listening to Rush, it also got me more interested in rock music from Canada because up to 1976, I was mainly listening to bands from England and the U.S.
Rush might be the biggest band from Toronto but this city has a lot to offer for music lovers, whether you´re a  heavy metal fan and love Anvil, Lee Aaron or rather prefer melodic rock like Coney Hatch, Wrabit and Triumph. They are all top quality bands from the big city by the Lake Ontario.

This is also the hometown for ultimate progrock music with names like Max Webster, Klaatu, Alpha Galates and I Mother Earth, not to mention the famous producer Bob Ezrin who´s CV is mighty impressive with classic albums like Pink Floyd´s The Wall, Kiss´ Destroyer, Alice Cooper´s Welcome To My Nightmare and Peter Gabriel´s first solo album.
Ok, then, those albums and bands aren´t exactly new so you might wonder if the music scene in Toronto is pretty dead these days. Well, it´s not! I still discover new talents all the time so the climate for modern rock is alive and kicking with artists such as Thornley, Manic Drive, Crash Karma, Sky Terminal and Saint Asonia.
If I sit down with a few of my closest friends and talk about bands from Toronto, I know they would holler classic rock and blues artists like Neil Young, Jeff Healey, Steppenwolf and Moxy. And speaking of Moxy, I have a great story to share about some of my best friends who went down to Sweden Rock Festival in 2001 where the line-up was Angel, W.A.S.P, Gary Moore, Dokken, Helloween, Uli Jon Roth, Moxy and many more.
It was a hot and sunny day in the beginning of June and my friends Eddie and Tonnie had just put up a tent and were listening to a mixtape on a portable cassette player not far from the stage area. They were drinking beer and talking about the bands they were excited to see, and between two of the songs on the mixtape that happened to be Moxy. They noticed that they heard the same music coming from the stage, -shit, Moxy is on stage! So they ran like crazy because they had forgotten about the time Moxy would perform. I laughed a lot when I heard about this.

10 Essential albums made by artists from the city of the maple leafs
Rush-Moving Pictures (1981)
Max Webster-Universal Juveniles (1980)
Neil Young and Crazy Horse-Rust never sleeps (1979)
Anvil-Forged in fire (1983)
Dalbello-She (1987)
Harem Scarem-Mood Swings (1993)
Alias-Alias (1990)
Frozen Ghost-Frozen Ghost (1983)
Pat Travers Band-Live! Go For What You Know (1979)
Red Rider-Neruda (1983)

Rik Emmett was a relatively unknown singer/songwriter/guitarist on the local Toronto scene in September of ’75 when he joined a newly-formed hard rock trio called Triumph. By ’79 three albums had gone platinum in Canada and two charted in the States, receiving serious radio airplay. By ’81 Triumph was firmly established as one of the premier touring rock acts in North America, with generous FM radio airplay support and heavy rotation on the fledgling MTV cable channel. In the next seven years, the band released ten gold albums, with four turning platinum in Canada. In the U.S., two went gold.

What musicians from Toronto inspired you to work with music?
Rik Emmett-Domenic Troiano was a guitarist locally of high reputation.  From the jazz area, my teacher at college was Peter Harris, who was very much a Lenny Breau kind of fingerstyle guy.  A local guitarist from the jazz field who was extremely influential on many guitarists was Ed Bickert.

But as far as 'rock' goes, there weren't a lot of local guys that managed to rise above the huge influence of the Yardbirds guys, Beck, Page & Clapton.  No one locally played like Hendrix.  (Well - no one anywhere played like Hendrix, did they?)  When the wave of British Invasion stuff hit, and in its wake, there were no local guys who had the impact on Toronto Canada's pop scene like the idols of my teenage years:  Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Howe, Jan Akkerman ...   And even if one set one's sights a bit lower, and only looked to the States, there would be blues guys like Mike Bloomfield, and Buddy Guy ... It was more of a blues rock influence in Toronto, coming up out of Chicago, and Detroit. 

Dream Aria is a Toronto band who offers a blend of traditional progressive rock music with new prog, world music, goth, ambient & classical to their fans.

The band is fronted by Ann Burstyn and with a new album coming out on May 1st called On The Other Side, the Palace of Rock felt we needed to ask the question :

What is your opinion about the music scene in Toronto?
Ann Burstyn - The Toronto music scene is not what it used to be but really, that’s to be expected. We’re not in the 80’s any longer.  The nostalgic lot of us wishes it was perhaps but yet, here we are. The bad news is that so many of our beloved clubs have closed due to many reasons (mostly financial and younger demographics) but the good news is music is definitely alive and well, even here in the  TO! 
There is room for many successful cover/tribute acts in various remaining venues around the city. For those aforementioned “nostalgic” folks, you can still hear some of your fave bands from the past but in tribute fashion, such as Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Dio, Pat Benatar, Heart etc.  Although it’s not the same as the real acts, the experience can still be much the same. If you’re into new music, the Indie Scene is a great place to look! Indie Music Week is an excellent place to find new treasures! There are bands of every genre and even bands that blend many genres together to create their own unique sound. Most TO residents will always think of RUSH as THE Toronto band. Yes, they are still around making great music but likely will be touring less and with a new drummer.  But some of the newer acts such as Big Wreck, Drake, Harem Scarem, Metric, Bruno Mars, Broken Social Circle Scene, The Weekend, along with others, are here to carry the torch. I personally give them all much respect and wish them the best of success today and into the future.  

Toronto has always been very diverse in culture and that shines through in the variety of artists/music genres these acts provide.  If one is looking for the BIG concert feel, the ACC, Roger’s Centre, Massey Hall, Molson Ampitheatre, Budweiser Stage, Sony Centre For Performing Arts, Sound Academy, and the Danforth Music Hall are the perfect venues to check out. Some acts on their rosters for 2017 are Bon Jovi, John Mayer, U2, Kings Of Leon, One Republic, Bruno Mars, Bob Dylan, and Tim McGraw/Faith Hill, to name just a few.  We can’t forget live Musical Theatre! Musicals are very much still a Toronto highlight. Some of the shows on that front are The BodyGuard, The Book Of Morman, The Sound Of Music, Mary Poppins, Pokemon, and many more. 
We still have quite  number of great clubs to satisfy your live band music thirst are: College Street Bar, Lee’s Palace, The Phoenix, The Mod Club, The Drake, The Rockpile, Horseshoe Tavern, Groove Bar & Grill, The Resevoir Lounge, The Silver Dollar, The Rex, Sneaky Dee’s, and Velvet Underground.
So there you have it! If you ask me, yes, the Toronto Music scene has changed but it still thriving BUT to keep it that way here’s a favorite and important quote we often say and hear around these parts: “Support Your Live Music Scene!” I cannot stress that enough. See you out there

The big ones that put Toronto on the map of rock and roll
Anvil (heavy metal)
Barenaked Ladies (rock)
Bob Ezrin (producer) 
Coney Hatch (melodic rock)
Dalbello (pop / rock)
Danko Jones (rock)
Harem Scarem (melodic rock) 
I Mother Earth (progressive metal) 
Jeff Healey (blues)
Kim Mitchell (classic rock)
Klaatu (progressive rock)
Lee Aaron (heavy metal) 
Max Webster (progressive rock)
Metric (pop / rock)
Moxy (classic rock)
Neil Young (classic rock)
Our Lady Peace (post grunge)
Pat Travers (hard rock)
Phil X (guitarist of Bon Jovi)
Red Rider (melodic rock)
Rush (progressive rock)
Santers (melodic rock)
Sheriff (melodic rock)
Steppenwolf (classic rock)
Three Days Grace (modern rock)
Tom Cochrane (melodic rock)
Triumph (hard rock)
Wrabit (melodic rock)

Underrated artists from Toronto that should be / or should´ve been bigger
Abandon All Ships (electronica / metal)
Alias (melodic rock)
Alpha Galates (progressive rock)
Big Wreck (hard rock)
Crash Karma (modern rock)
Dream Aria (progressive rock) 
Edwin (pop / rock)
Eugene Ripper (folk rock) 
Evans Blue (alternative metal)
Frozen Ghost (melodic rock)
Justin Rutledge (singer / songwriter) 
Leh-Lo (pop / soul)
Manic Drive (modern rock)
Saint Asonia (rock / metal)
Thornley (modern rock)
Toronto (melodic rock)

Rising acts from Toronto to have on the radar
Affinity (hard rock) 
All But Over (rock / metal) 
Before The Curtain (rock / metal)
Betty Moon (rock / pop) 
Bleeker (alternative rock)
Blind Race (heavy metal)
Bolus (progressive rock)
Broken Sons (rock)
Cooper (hard rock)
Curses (alternative rock)
Dani Rosenour (modern rock)
Days Like Today (pop / punk) 
Dear Love (alternative rock)
Down With Webster (rock / hip hop)
Fast Romantics (rock)
Final Thought (pop / rock)
Fire X Fire (power pop)
Jesse Labelle (alternative pop)
July (pop / punk)
Justin Nozuka (pop / soul)
Kai Exos (rock / soul)
Liferuiner (post hardcore)
MadMachines (alternative pop) 
Menage (pop / rock)
Never Say Die (alternative rock) 
Red Handed Denial (rock / metal)
Romes (alternative rock)
Rosedale (pop / punk)
Six Side Die (rock)
Sky Terminal (modern rock)
Smashing Satellites (electro pop)
Sumo Cyco (hard rock)
The Android Meme (progressive metal) 
The Fullblasts ( pop / punk)
The Heights (pop / rock)
The Lipstick Junkies (indie rock)
The Rabid Whole (electro rock)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review : Momb - Hard care

Momb - Hard care (2016) Alliance Records
Produced by Momb
Tracks : 1.Tough enough 2.Nobody else 3.All you are made of 4.Believing in yourself 5.Hard care 6.Coke nut 7.Coke nut epilogue 8.Richest touch 9.Sexercise 10.Silence of your heart 11.Way of the water
4 out of 5

Now talk about a totally unexpected release, the second album "Hard care" from Danish band Momb.
Their brilliant self titled album was released in 1997 so I never thought there would be another album from these guys.
Where have they been all this time? on Mars? hiding underground for a science fair project? living like monks in Tibet? Who knows, but last year they came out of the silence and dropped a fantastic follow-up with "Hard care".
Soundwise, it´s like time stood still and we´re back to 1997, Momb continue to deliver lovely harmonies and excellent vocals in a blend of power pop and west coast sounds.
If Nik Kershaw and Gregg Alexander (New Radicals) wrote a song together and had Mew as backing band, the result could very well be the awesome song "Coke nut".
The track "All you are made of" bring thoughts to Mr Mister´s album "Go on" (1987) so I´m definitely in musical heaven here.
Highly recommendable!
Highlights : Sexercise, All you are made of, Hard care, Coke nut

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review : As We Ascend - Farewell to midnight

As We Ascend - Farewell to midnight (2017) Vital Records
Produced by As We Ascend
Tracks : 1.Hatchet 2.My ghost 3.Expendable 4.Tell me 5.When the gun goes 6.Insulate 7.End of me 8.Watch the world burn 9.We fight 10.Wash away 11.At my door
3,5 out of 5

As We Ascend is a new hard rock band from Nashville, formed in 2016 by singer / songwriters and guitarists Jake Jones and Justin Forshaw (formerly of We As Human) and drummer Robert Venable.
Their debut album "Farewell to midnight" is climbing like a rocket on Billboard´s album and single charts, many thanks to the kick ass single "Wash away" that completely knocked me down.
As We Ascend´s sound bring thoughts to bands like Disciple, Decyfer Down and Saliva so this album is hardly groundbreaking but it doesn´t matter that much because the riffs have enough impact to make a crater and the songs are damn good.
My favorites at the moment are "My ghost", "Hatchet", "Wash away" and "When the gun goes". I bet we´re gonna hear a lot more from this band in the future.

Rumours in the air

Christian metal band The Letter Black has signed with EMP Label Group and will release their 3rd studio album Pain on May 26th, the previous album Rebuild was released on Tooth and Nail records in 2013.

The alternative metal band Eighteen Visions parted ways in 2007 but the members James Hart - Lead Vocals, Keith Barney - Gutiars and Trevor Friedrich - Drums, have reunited and are currently in the studio recording their first album since the self titled album from 2006.

Boston based hard rock band Extreme is wrapping up their follow-up album to Saudades de Rock (2008), their 6th studio album is expected to be released later this year.

Modern rockers Hoobastank has finished recording their 6th studio album with producer Matt Wallace (Faith No More, Train), it´s their first album since Fight or Flight (2012).

Former Survivor singer Dave Bickler is finishing up his first solo album Darklight for a release in 2017. Bickler will perform at Rockingham Festival in Nottingham, U.K in October.

The British progressive / alternative metal band Amplifier are set to return with their 6th studio album Trippin´ With Dr.Faustus in mid-2017. It´s the follow-up to Mystoria (2014).

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Review : Onesie - Leos Consume

Onesie - Leos Consume (2017) Independent
Produced by Onesie / John Meredith
Tracks : 1.Karaoke killers 2.Credit score of 666 3.Pillow sail 4.Tall and lean 5.Hotelekinesis 6.Husbands in finance 7.Ballad of the boomerang 8.This minstrel 9.Life coach infinite scroll 10.Everything you want and more 11.Understudy
3 out of 5

As a band, you can either look at what´s on the charts, get trendy and hope for the best or you just don´t give a shit what´s selling and instead go your own way.
That´s exactly what the Brooklyn based trio Onesie has done on their debut album "Leos Consume" and it´s a charming record too.
The band is founded by former members of The Isles and Man Without Plan and takes inspiration from British pop, American punk and classic rock.
If Crash Test Dummies were a grunge band, they could´ve sounded like the track "Everything you want and more" but there are other bands that comes to mind while listening to the entire album and they are Weezer, Beck and Barenaked Ladies.
The humorous lyrics and and the raw guitars are definitely the strength of Onesie´s music, while the singer´s limited vocal range is the weakness.
Highlights : Karaoke killers, Husbands in finance, This minstrel

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Album Spotlight : Eclipse - Momentum

It's been two years since we last heard a new full length album from Swedish hard rockers Eclipse. Two years that has seen the band play to audiences in Australia, Japan, America and Europe, not to mention the three and a half million viewers who saw Eclipse's debut on Swedish national television at Melodifestivalen 2016.

With the development shown in their last two albums "Bleed and Scream" and "Armageddonize" the picture was clear, these guys were destined for greatness, and now greatness has been delivered in the shape of their new album MONUMENTUM.

After touring extensively for two years with their previous album, Eclipse's main songwriters Erik Mårtensson and Magnus Henriksson reconvened in Erik's new studio in the Swedish countryside and started writing songs. The intention was to write and record an album with no compromise of either song quality or performance from the band.

We know saying your latest album is the best you've done is the oldest cliché in rock, and so instead of taking our word for it, tune in and listen to the killer opening track “Vertigo”. It's melodic rock that's respectful of its history but with sights set on the future. Fans of the band will not be disappointed and new acquaintances can look forward to hard rocking tunes with massive hooks from the first to the final track.
As Erik puts it: "When I go and see a band I just want to hear songs that make me wanna put my fist in the air and scream along, and I want everyone around me to do the same. Well, Monumentum is one giant fist waiting for a chanting crowd of rockers. We can't wait for the people to hear it!"

Better be ready: ECLIPSE are coming to kick your butt!

Erik Mårtensson – lead vocals, guitars
Magnus Henriksson - guitars
Philip Crusner - drums
Magnus Ulfstedt - bass

Tracklisting : 1.Vertigo 2.Never look back 3.Killing me 4.The downfall of Eden 5.Hurt 6.Jaded 7.Born to lead 8.For better or for worse 9.No way back 10.Night comes crawling 11.Black rain

Momentum is released on March 24th.

Album Spotlight : House of Lords - Saint of The Lost Souls

“Saint Of The Lost Souls” is House Of Lords’ tenth studio album, following up the highly successful “Indestructible”. House Of Lords continues to get even stronger with each release. Recorded and produced by the band’s singer and mastermind James Christian, this collection of songs has an incredible flow of up-tempo and mid-tempo rockers mixed with power ballads, which lean a bit more toward keyboards this time around, but without compromising the band's trademark sound which is based around Jimi Bell’s guitar.

“Saint Of The Lost Souls” is already one of the year’s most anticipated melodic rock releases and will not disappoint fans of the band or genre. James Christian's well crafted and smooth vocals bring the band's craft to new heights. Guitarist Jimi Bell is on fire and the melodic riffs throughout the album will leave you breathless. A new addition on bass is Chris Tristram, who is no stranger to the rock community. His solid performance adds another dimension to the sound and BJ Zampa brings a solid and powerful rhythm foundation to House of Lords.

House of Lords debuted in 1989 with the release of their self-titled album, a record which is still regarded as one of the best arena rock releases of the 80’s. The colossal sound, the soaring vocals of James Christian and instrumental capabilities of the band (which featured ex-Angel and Giuffria keyboardist, Gregg Giuffria, along with luminaries Lanny Cordola, Chuck Wright and Ken Mary), were reminiscent of such frontrunners as Whitesnake, Deep Purple and Van Halen and immediately brought the band to the attention of the music media and fans.

With their sophomore release, “Sahara”, House of Lords had considerable radio and video chart success with their cover of Blind Faith’s “Can't Find My Way Home”. After a tour with Nelson in 1991, the group disbanded, eventually coming back together with a new lineup (featuring original members Giuffria and Christian) in 1992 with "Demon's Down". With the change in musical climate at the time, House of Lords went into hibernation until the original lineup came back together in 2000, releasing the controversial “Power and the Myth”, an album which featured a sound leaning more towards progressive hard rock with 70’s rock influences. After a short European tour, singer James Christian decided to go back to the trademark arena rock sound of House Of Lords, putting together a new line-up with the blessing of founding member Gregg Giuffria, who opted out right before the release of “Power and the Myth”. New members Jimi Bell on guitars and B.J. Zampa on drums supplied a true powerhouse sound to the fifth studio album, “World Upside Down”, a record which caused a real stir in the hard rock and melodic rock scenes. That album was followed up by the equally impressive “Come to My Kingdom” in 2008, "Cartesian Dreams" in 2009, "Big Money" in 2011, and “Precious Metal” in 2014.

The band has toured relentlessly in Europe and the States in support of their releases and have now become a true staple of the hard rock scene on both continents. House Of Lords stands for superb hooks and majestic atmospheres that bring back the memories of their stellar debut album, monumental guitar riffs and a production to die for. All these ingredients you will find on “Saint Of The Lost Souls” which shines from the first second to the last!

Look out for House of Lords on tour in the spring of 2017.

House of Lords
James Christian – Lead Vocals
Jimi Bell – Guitars
Chris Tristram – Bass
BJ Zampa - Drums

Tracklisting : 1.Harlequin 2.Oceans divide 3.Hit the wall 4.Saint of the lost souls 5.The sun will never set again 6.New day breakin´ 7.Reign of fire 8.Concussion 9.Art of letting go 10.Grains of sand 11.The other option

Saint Of The Lost Souls is released on March 24th.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Album Spotlight : Night Ranger - Don´t Let Up

Frontiers Music Srl is proud to announce the release of “Don’t Let Up”, the 12th studio album from Night Ranger. “Don’t Let Up” will be available in both a standard edition and a deluxe edition (featuring bonus track and bonus DVD - physical format only).

Anticipated by the first single “Somehow Someway”, “Don’t Let Up” is the culmination of the band's work to date and celebrates the band's 35th anniversary with incredible melodic cuts and hard rocking numbers. Self produced by the band, Night Ranger's new album has everything the fans, both old and new, could ask for!

“The “Don’t Let Up” album is the result of five musicians living and breathing rock 'n roll 24 hours a day. 35 years on and Night Ranger is once again ready to let the fans know “It’s Only Rock and Roll, but I like it,” says Blades of the new album.

Keagy adds, “Working on the material for the new album "Don't Let Up" was a great experience once again. I always look forward to creating music with Brad, Eric, Kerri, and Jack. I'm really looking forward to playing some of this material for the fans. It rocks!”

"I'm looking forward to the new Night Ranger studio effort 'Don't Let Up' as it's always a pleasure releasing new material to keep the bands creative flow. As typical for NR, we have all the elements that made us popular in the first place, including twin lead vocal tradeoffs with Jack and Kelly and dual guitar harmonies and solos with my new partner in crime, Keri Kelli. We've stacked the deck again with up tempo driving rock songs, mid tempo tunes and a few acoustic ballad tracks. We're hoping this new album will be added to your existing Night Ranger catalog!!!" enthuses Gillis.
With more than 17 million albums sold worldwide, over 3000 live shows performed, and more than 1 billion in radio audience, Night Ranger has both epitomized and transcended the arena rock sound and style of that era and beyond. With songs that have significantly impacted popular culture and continue to expand their ever-growing fan-base, Night Ranger is proof that powerful songs, plus accomplished musicians is the perfect formula for continued success.

Night Ranger has earned widespread acclaim, multi-platinum and gold album status while leaving their indelible mark on the music charts with a string of best-selling albums (Dawn Patrol, Midnight Madness, 7 Wishes, Big Life and Man In Motion), its popularity fueled by an impressive string of instantly recognizable hit singles and signature album tracks. Producing legendary hits such as “Sister Christian”, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”, “When You Close Your Eyes” the anthemic “(You Can Still) Rock In America”, along with "Sentimental Street", "Goodbye", "Sing Me Away", "Four in the Morning" and more.

The band was also one of the first big "video" bands, with over 10 number 1 videos on MTV.

Over the years, the band’s music has made notable contributions to and been featured in many different areas of media and popular culture. Night Ranger’s songs can be heard in TV Shows; The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, American Dad, Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, Parks & Recreation; Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Grand Theft Auto, video games; Rock of Ages hit Broadway musical and feature film; the Oscar-Nominated film Boogie Nights, Friday the 13th, Teachers, Sixteen Candles, The Secret of My Success; JBL’s "Hear The Truth” brand campaign; and many more!

NIGHT RANGER is Jack Blades (bass, vocals), Kelly Keagy (drums, vocals), Brad Gillis (lead & rhythm guitars), Eric Levy (keyboards), and Keri Kelli (lead & rhythm guitars).

Tracklisting : 1.Somehow someway 2.Running out of time 3.Truth 4.Day and night 5.Don´t let up 6.Won´t be your fool again 7.Say what you want 8.We can work it out 9.Comfort me 10.Jamie 11.Nothing left of yesterday

Don´t Let Up is released on March 24th.

Album Spotlight : One Desire - One Desire

ONE DESIRE formed as “OD” in 2012, when drummer Ossi Sivula started gathering musicians and friends for his new project. A couple years of writing songs, making demos with different musicians and friends went by with an aim to create music that could change the world. Various musicians came and went along the way, but in 2014 they met Jimmy Westerlund (Negative, Sturm Und Drang, Joel Madden of Good Charlotte, Pitbull etc.). Jimmy has several platinum and gold albums to his credit as a producer, guitarist and songwriter. Jimmy had just moved back to Finland after a stint in Los Angeles. The band hired him to produce some songs, and after recording three songs with a new musical direction, they managed to attract the attention of Serafino Perugino, owner and head of A&R at Frontiers Music Srl.

But, at this point the band desperately needed a great singer. After trying out some different options, Jimmy suggested his long time friend Andre Linman from the band Sturm und Drang. They were friends since way back and SuD had decided to go on hiatus the year before. Andre got together for a couple of sessions with the guys and after writing a couple new songs together, the style and sound that was about to become ONE DESIRE was born. Ossi and Andre asked Jimmy to join the band in 2016 and this is the album that was born from that collaboration. Also, not long after this happened, the very talented Jonas Kuhlberg (Paul Di´Anno, Cain´s Offering, MyGrain) was brought on and he became the last link in the chain.

After Jimmy brought in the song “Hurt”, the band felt that that they had taken it to the next level. Andre wrote the beautiful ballad, “This Is Where The Heartbreak Begins” and at that time, ONE DESIRE started to find the right direction for Ossis' rocker, “Do You Believe”. Finally, in mid-2016, the band felt they finally were musically locked in and had the material to make an album that they could honestly stand behind and love beyond a doubt. 2017 will be a fantastic year as the journey of ONE DESIRE just begins!

Jimmy Westerlund – guitars
André Linman – lead vocals
Ossi Sivula – drums
Jonas Kuhlberg – bass guitar
Tracklisting : 1.Hurt 2.Apologize 3.Love injection 4.Turn back time 5.Falling apart 6.Straight through the heart 7.Whenever I´m dreaming 8.Do you believe 9.Buried alive 10.This is where the heartbreak beginsOne Desire is released on March 24th.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Quickbits : Island, Creye, Circa Waves

Island - A Place Like You (2017) Guitars with delay that will stick around until the next release
Time for some romantic rock from London, U.K, the band Island debuted with the "Girl" EP in 2015 featuring the minor hit song "Stargazer" and now releases their 2nd EP "A place like you".
These guys play a slower form of indie rock that makes me think of the Nordic Sea, a sense of Scandinavian melancholy lies over these 4 tracks.
Lead singer Rollo Doherty has a voice that would work just fine in emo music, he sure sounds passionate when he´s singing.
I think it´s a decent 4 EP where the opener "Waves" stand out, but this music can be both right and wrong depending on the mood you´re in.
(+) At times, Island reminds a bit of modern version of The Cure.
(-) This ain´t exactly what you choose when you want to get the party started.

Creye - Straight to the top (2017) Music for Karate Kid and Top Gun
"Straight to the top" is the debut EP from Swedish band Creye, led by guitarist Andreas Gullberg (Grand Slam) and fronted by Alexander Strandell (Art Nation).
Inspired by the synthwave movement and 80´s AOR, this band has made a promising start but it´s a shame that the EP only consists of 2 original songs and a cover of Robert Tepper´s Rocky IV anthem "No easy way out".
Lately, we´ve seen cover versions of this AOR classic from bands like Bullet For My Valentine and Platens, so do we really need another one? You can´t beat the original version no matter how hard you try.
Fans of Houston and Brother Firetribe are in for a treat without doubt.
(+) The band´s own two songs "Straight to the top" and "Never too late" are very good.
(-) Up with the keyboards! I wouldn´t mind a more synth-driven sound on their next release.

Circa Waves - Different Creatures (2017) From the streets of the Fab Four
You´ll never walk alone in Liverpool, the rock and roll capital of England. This city has a fine tradition of musical greatness with artists like The Beatles, A Flock of Seagulls, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Echo and The Bunnymen so Circa Waves are in good company.
We´re dealing with upbeat Brit rock here on their 2nd album "Different creatures" which is the follow up to their Top 10 debut "Young chasers" from 2015.
Imagine a blend of Manic Street Preachers and Feeder and you´ll get Circa Waves. I often confuse them with other bands that are named Circa like Circa Survive, Circa Zero and the prog-rock band Circa.
But I think I´m getting the hang of it now, Circa Waves doesn´t sound anything at all like others so there shouldn´t be a problem.
And by the way, this is a great record.
(+) The album opens in a smashing way with "Wake up" and "Fire that burns".
(-) The track "Old friends" is more suitable on a Franz Ferdinand or Arcade Fire record.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Quickbits : Dishwalla, Unruly Child, Chickenfoot

Dishwalla - Juniper Road (2017) First album of new music in 12 years
The American band Dishwalla was one of the first bands that got me into the modern rock scene along with other bands like Diffuser, Neve, Live and Third Eye Blind.
And I know I was one of many that had a moment of sadness when their former frontman J.R Richards left the band in 2008 but just the opposite, I´m having a moment of happiness now when they release their new album "Juniper Road" even if J.R Richards isn´t a part of the band anylonger.
Their current lead singer Justin Fox (ex.Tripdavon) has been in the band since 2008 and does a solid job in replacing the original voice. I know that´s a tough thing to do.
"Juniper road" is a good album where the band doesn´t have to be ashamed of themselves, I know they wouldn´t release something that they couldn´t stand for so we´re still in for a good time of fine modern rock standards.
(+) Tracks like "Give me a sign" and "Here for you" are the signum of what makes this band great.
(-) I can´t get rid of the feeling that I still miss the wonderful voice of J.R Richards.

Unruly Child - Can´t Go Home (2017) A smorgasbord of Album Oriented Rock
Who could believe in 1992 when Unruly Child released superb debut, that they would still be releasing albums in 2017.
As an AOR band, Unruly Child went through the dark ages of melodic rock in the 90´s when grunge ruled the music business, and we were few who thought the original line up would ever make a comeback but they did with the strong "Worlds collide" in 2010.
So I´m truly happy that they are still around to give the fans another fine full length album with "Can´t go home", the new record isn´t in the same division as the stunning first album but it´s very good.
Marcie´s voice hasn´t changed a bit, she can still hit those high notes and the music is just the way me and other Unruly Child fans want it - a gourmet of AOR.
Best song : "Point of view".
(+) Thumbs up for the pink and fluffy production.
(-) I want it to be April 21st so I can lay my hands on their box set Reigning Frogs.

Chickenfoot - Best + Live (2017) These guys would win a chicken race for sure
Do we really need a compilation from Chickenfoot already after only 2 studio albums? Well, this release is kinda unnecessary if you already have their 3 first releases including the live album LV and feel satisfied with that.
But if you´re a record collector like me and feel it´s almost urgent to get every new release with your favorite musicians, then Best + Live is worth every penny.
Because it´s a beautiful package of 2 CD´s including the brand new song "Divine termination" that features a riff from Satch that other guitarists would kill for, it´s a great rock song.
The live section of this double CD contains all the tracks from the "Get your buzz on" DVD concert, recorded in 2009, so for the first time on CD, die-hard fans can get their hands on 8 more live tracks not included on the LV album.
(+) Their live version of Deep Purple´s classic "Highway star" is simply dynamite, Satch is playing like a god.
(-) I can do without the 11 minute jam of "Bad Motor Scooter".

Friday, March 10, 2017

Top 10 albums 2017 (so far)

2017 has started out really great with plenty of awesome albums.
Here are the Top 10 albums so far this year. I bet the list will change........

1.The Spiritual Machines - Awake Alert Alive Almost (5)
2.Starset - Vessels (4,5)
3.Blackfield - V (4)
4.The Mute Gods - Tardigrades will inherit the Earth (4)
5.The Kin - Modern primitive (4)
6.Unruly Child - Can´t go home (4) (review is coming soon)
7.Cellador - Off the grid (4)
8.Acceptance - Colliding by design (4)
9.Deaf Havana - All these countless nights (4)
10.The Flashpot Moments - The Flashpot Moments (4)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review : White Willow - Future Hopes

White Willow - Future Hopes (2017) Laser´s Edge Group
Produced by Jacob Holm-Lupo
Tracks : 1.Future hopes 2.Silver and gold 3.In dim days 4.When there was sea, there is abyss 5.A scarred view 6.Animal magnetism (bonus track) 7.Damnation valley (bonus track)
3,5 out of 5

The Norwegian band White Willow is in no hurry releasing new albums, "Future hopes" is their first album since "Terminal twilight" from 2011 so they do take their time and makes sure everything falls into place before rushing into something they would possibly regret.
White Willow started out as a folk-rock band in the mid 90´s and there are traces of folk music in their sound even thirty years later, but not much.
I liked their previous album too and even if they´re still in the land of progressive rock on "Future hopes", I do think the new record is a bit different but still very good.
Soundwise, "Future hopes" can be described as old school prog a la Eloy with the electronic sounds of Tangerine Dream and Nordic melancholy pop, so they´re quite unique.
The first time I listened to this album I didn´t notice that "Animal magnetism" was a cover of the classic song by Scorpions, but now I know and I must say that it´s an unsual version that Klaus Meine and Co surely would appreciate.
The artwork by Roger Dean kinda completes this package of fairytale-like prog.
Hats off for Venke Knutson - Vocals, Jacob Holm-Lupo-Guitars/Keyboards/Backing vocals, Mattias Olson - Drums, Lars Fredrik Froislie - Synthesizers/Keyboards, Ellen Andrea Wang - Bass and Ketil Einarsen - Flute.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Review : The Kin - Modern Primitive

The Kin - Modern Primitive (2017) Independent
Produced by Jon Castelli
Tracks : 1.Warpaint 2.The Rush 3.Falling pieces 4.Tear me up 5.Ashes 6.Anchor 7.Lighthouse 8.Gun point love 9.Week of the disaster 10.Crossfire 11.Everything´s changing 12.Underneath it all
4 out of 5

Have you heard The Kin? If not, it´s about time you did.
The Kin consists of the Aussie brothers Isaac Koren- Vocals/Keyboards, Thorald Koren - Vocals/Guitars and NYC drummer Mark "Shakerleg" Nicosia, the trio is saying goodbye to the music industry with their final album "Modern primitive" and what a great album it is.
The band debuted with the full length album "Rise and fall" in 2007 and their 2013 EP "Get on it" on Interscope Records earned them a gold record in New Zealand.
The Kin are also known for causing trouble with their signature "musical robberies" where they burst into a randomly chosen high-traffic public area, such as a diner or airport, and surprise innocent onlookers with a spontaneous live performance.
I bet they made this album on purpose so we´ll miss them even more because not only will their fans love it, The Kin will also gain new fans with "Modern primitive".
The opening track "Warpaint" is one of the best songs I´ve heard so far this year, this is a smart pop song in the same vein as The Feeling where the chorus is a wetdream for any songwriter.
The emotional "Falling pieces" is like a male version of Adele, I just love the vocals on this one.
Another fave is "Tear me up" that sounds like something MuteMath could´ve released while "Ashes" is perfect for mainstream radio, the song bring thoughts to OneRepublic when they were good.
This is one of those "buy or die" albums!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Review : FerreTT - In through the out door

FerreTT - In through the out door (2017) Independent
Produced by FerreTT / Tony Stanziano
Tracks : 1.Year of the Ferrett 2.Thirsty 3.Boys night out 4.Canadian hookers 5.On my way 6.Jason lives 7.Jobber 8.Casual encounters 9.Orangutan gigantus 10.In through the out door
2,5 out of 5

You can´t blame the New York City based band FerreTT for not having humour, this is a band that has a lot of distance to the heavy metal genre they call their home.
I´m afraid I wasn´t too kind in my review of their first album "Year of the FerreTT" from 2013, that album sank like a stone in dark waters - never to be found.
But they´re definitely headed in the right direction because the new album "In through the out door" presents a band that has dropped the anchor to sail the seven seas, armed with metal cannons and is ready to fire at will.
I have only one complaint and it´s the track "On my way" that is a minor disaster where it feels like the bandmembers are playing different songs at the same time.
They have a new drummer and he´s bringing more punch and authority into the music which makes me real glad, their frontman calls himself King of The Night Time World and he´s got a voice that could give him the job in Motorhead if they ever decide on a tribute tour for Lemmy.
Now to some songs that caught my attention, the opening track "Year of the FerreTT" is classic 80´s metal a la Quiet Riot and Anvil.
The party-like hard rock anthem "Boys night out" bring thoughts to Good Rats while the title track "In through the out door" is a powerful hard rock song in the same vein as Alice Cooper meets Thor.
We´ll see if album no.3 will be their breaktrough.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Quickbits : Place Vendome, Tokyo Motor Fist, Lionville

Place Vendome - Close to the sun (2017) When AOR and metal unite
Michael Kiske and producer/bassist Dennis Ward are back with the 4th Place Vendome album "Close to the sun" and although I wasn´t that impressed by the previous album "Thunder in the distance", I do think the new one is not only harder, it´s also better.
This is solid AOR-ish metal where Kiske sings like a true rock god in  the powerballad "Strong", another memorable song is the title track "Close to the sun" that bring thoughts to The Poodles.
The line up on the new album is completed by Gunter Werno - Keyboards (Vanden Plas), Uwe Reineauer - Guitar (Pink Cream 69), Dirk Bruinenberg - Drums as well as guest appearances with guitarsolos from Mandy Meyer (Krokus), Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray), Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear), Simone Mularoni (DGM) and Gus G (Firewind).
It´s a big year for Kiske because he has reunited with Helloween where he will share the lead vocal duties with their current frontman Andi Deris, plus this new strong album that should make fans of Kiske very happy.
(+) Kiske sings with more passion on these songs compared to the other albums with Place Vendome.
(-) It feels a bit too obvious with all these cliche´s in the melodic rock genre.

Tokyo Motor Fist - Tokyo Motor Fist (2017) Domo Arigato 
How would you think a collaboration with members of Danger Danger and Trixter would sound like? Well, like a blend of Danger Danger and Trixter!
With Ted Poley behind the mic, it´s easy to believe that Tokyo Motor Fist sounds like the Poley-era of Danger Danger but Trixter guitarist Steve Brown´s riffs and songs have more in common with the Paul Laine-era of Danger Danger.
Tokyo Motor Fist is a good melodic hard rock album that feels more 90´s than the 80´s, if you´re a big fan of The Defiants album from last year, then you´ll like TMF too.
Poley and Brown aren´t the only veterans in this band, they are joined by former Rainbow members Greg Smith on bass and Chuck Burgi on drums so we´re home safe with a competent rhythm section.
This is so much more fun to listen to than Ted Poley´s solo album "Beyond the fade" from 2016, there are plenty of great songs on TMF but my personal faves are "Love me insane", "Shameless" and "Put me to shame".
(+) The Def Leppard-like background vocals are spot on.
(-) "Picking up the pieces" is a weak album opener.

Lionville - A world of fools (2017) A shadow of a lost genre
"A world of fools" is the 3rd studio album and the first in 5 years from the Italian melodic rock band Lionville featuring Lars Säfsund - Lead Vocals (Work of Art) and Stefano Lionetti - Guitars/Production.
I can´t say that I cared about the first two albums and I won´t start by going back either because this is a rather average westcoast/AOR album, but die-hard fans of Radioactive, H.E.A.T and Work of Art should check it out.
Lionville is one size too small to be compared to westcoast giants like Toto or Richard Marx, "A world of fools" is not a bad album, there are some decent songs on it but the music is just too ordinary. For example, the title track and the ballad "Image of your soul" are pretty good.
(+) Singer Lars Säfsund once again shows that he belong in the elite of voices from Scandinavia.
(-) The drummer has zero groove factor.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Quickbits : White Lies, AFI, Acceptance

White Lies - Friends (2016) Presenting a more synth-driven sound
The 80´s, ah the 80´s. I remember when I wanted the same haircut as Simon Le Bon in Duran Duran and stopped playing in a rock band just to be the bassplayer in a new romantic band. We had the same kind of clothes as bands like Classix Nouveaux, A Flock of Seagulls and Duran Duran.
Me and my friends in that band listened mostly to synth-pop and an album like "Friends" by White Lies would´ve been a favorite back then, I still like this kind of music and I do get nostalgic with a trip down memory lane but I don´t get equally thrilled today as I when was a teenager.
(+) Music like this only brings back great memories of the happy 80´s.
(-) The deluxe version contains 4 bonus tracks but don´t bother, they are merely album fillers.

AFI - AFI The Blood Album (2017) Say hello to album no.10 from A Fire Inside
This is AFI´s first album since "Burials" (2013) but singer Davey Havok and guitarist Jade Puget haven´t been lazy during this time, they released the album "Material" with synth-pop band Blaqk Audio in 2016 and Havok is also working on the debut album with Dreamcar (out later this year) that features three members of No Doubt.
AFI has recorded 14 tracks which feels like there are a few too many, I think they could´ve reduced it to an EP of 7-8 tracks because there are some mediocre moments on "The blood album".
They are true to their mish-mash sound of goth-rock, emo and post-hardcore but this album won´t go down in history as a milestone of their discography.
I can´t help but feeling a bit disappointed, AFI can do better.
(+) The Ramones-like "Dumb kids" is really cool.
(-) I´m not too happy about the weak production.

Acceptance - Colliding by design (2017) An unexpected comeback
I don´t think it was possible to make a bet on whether or not Acceptance would return, the odds would´ve been rather high for such a surprising comeback since they only released one album in 2005 entitled "Phantoms".
It was hardly a bestseller and the band parted ways in 2006, during the split the bandmembers played with artists such as Anberlin, Search/Rescue and Andy Mineo.
However in 2015, a decade later, Acceptance reunited and released the first song in ten years with "Take you away" but it´s not included on the new album "Colliding by design".
The sophomore album contains 11 new origínal songs by Jason Vena - Vocals, Kaylan Cloyd - Guitars, Ryan Zwiefelhofer - Bass, Christian McAlhaney - Guitars and Garrett Lunceford - Drums.
Everybody except Garrett Lunceford played on the first album, it was Nick Radovanovic who was the drummer on "Phantoms".
Soundwise, "Colliding by design" is less pop/punk-ish and instead the music is more like a blend of The Panic Division and Tears For Fears. With an atmospheric soundscape and U2-like guitars, Acceptance has grown into a completely different beast.
(+) Let this album grow on you and you will be totally sold.
(-) Fans that expect Phantoms 2.0 might be disappointed.