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DERDIAN is one of those typical Italian Melodic Power Metalbands like there are so many out there, but somehow they show on every new disc they can compete with the likes of RHAPSODY, VISION DIVINE, WONDERLAND, LABYRINTH and such. OK, maybe it is not original what we get to hear on the 3rd CD, which is also the final part of their ‘New Era’ saga, one can not deny that some of the included material is very catchy. The band also reminds a lot of EDGUY, DRAGONFORCE and POWER QUEST, so I think the loyal fans of this genre will understand how DERDIAN sounds like more or less. Most of the songs are very fast uptempo pieces with all sorts of neo-classical instrumental parts and catchy singable choruses. Highlights are opener “The spell” (fast and pure Italo Power Metal Classic style), the more Melodic Rock based “Black rose”, “Dreams” (EDGUY on speed), “Divine embrace” (a chorus that will make the Italo Power Metal fans walk through fire!) and the AORish ballad “Forevermore” (duet with the female singer from the band EVENOIRE). Fans of the mentioned bands will absolute adore the new CD of DERDIAN, especially since so many of the songs are capturing a fast Italo Power Metal style most of those bands nowadays lack. Please go to: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Every year there are a few Progressive Metal releases that just stand out big time and easily belong to the finest records released in that year. One listen to those records and you’ll understand that we are dealing with something quite sensational. This year one of the best Progressive Metal releases might become the debut CD of the Italian band TIMESWORD. This band was formed back in 2005 and although it took some time for them to actually start recording something, now in 2010 they present their first album, which at a first listen sounds like a hammer! Thanks to the incredible instrumental sound of the 4 musicians within the band and especially due to the fact the band has a superb lead singer, TIMESWORD has released a very interesting sensational album. The band’s singer MARK PASTORINO is a real natural talent, because he sounds incredible, very much like the VISION DIVINE/LABYRINTH high octave ranged singers and combined with the fact that the melodies of the included songs on this CD are superstrong, this TIMESWORD is a must-have for fans of Melodic Progressive Metal a la SECRET SPHERE, SEVENTH WONDER, VISION DIVINE and such. 6 song are included, with as highlights the first 2 tunes (“Thousand year kingdom” and “Highway to paradise”) and the final epic 20 minutes counting “Real Mistery” that actually consists of 5 separate songs. A great new band with a high “WOW” factor, so make sure to check them out at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Tough female fronted Hardrock with a modern touch is the best way to describe this SPIDER ROCKETS. The band hails from New Jersey, USA and their professional looking debut CD was co-produced, engineered and mixed by ERIK RACHEL (who worked with PATTI SMITH GROUP, IN THIS MOMENT, MISFITS and several other established acts), while the artwork was created by MARK WEISS (OZZY, DISTURBED, GUNS’N’ROSES) and IANNIS VASILOUPOLOS (ROLLING STONES, LYNYRD SKYNYRD). All together it all looks and sounds quite impressive for an independent CD release. The female singer (HELENA COS) has a strong clean melodic voice, with as back-up a tight tough modern Hardrocksound that is mostly built around a heavy groovy typical American Hard Rock guitar riff, such as we hear in many US bands nowadays. 10 songs are included and the album definitely rocks from the first few seconds of opener “Kiss you dead” until the very end with “No place to hide”. This is the album LITA FORD or LEE AARON should have made when returning to the scene, so if you want to hear a lady rock out really hard and still sound melodic, well then look no further than this SPIDER ROCKETS record at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Swedish guitarist SVEN LARSSON already released quite a few records, 3 records with Neo-Progband GALLEON, 2 with the Sympho-AOR outfit XINEMA and 4 sensational AOR albums with STREET TALK. Now he has released his first solo-CD titled ‘Sunlight and shadow’, on which he shows he is not only a superb guitarist, but also a very decent vocalist. He got a little help from his STREET TALK bandmates and not that surprising, the result is then that the music is very AOR based, not unlike STREET TALK. Especially uptempo AOR Rockers like “Sunlight and shadow”, “Eagle”, “Turn my back” and “Bastard” sound very impressive and can easily match the STREET TALK level. There’s also some moodier Westcoast based material included (TOTO/DAVID ROBERTSish in for example the lovely “It’s over” which might possibly be the greatest AOR-Westcoast fusion since the mid 80s!) and a few instrumentals to make the overall sound of the album quite diverse. It all reminds me also a lot of the FREDERICK SLAMA’s AOR projects. Definitely an album to be checked by the fans of high quality intelligent AOR/Westcoast a la TOTO, STREET TALK, DAVID ROBERTS, DAKOTA… More info at: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


Now this is a very interesting new project, which features among others one of the finest female singers in music history, ROBIN BECK. Yes, she sings a few songs on this CD and as always she sounds amazing, what a fabulous voice, wishing she would sing more these days than the few solo-records every few years, because she is by far the most underrated female singer of all times, perhaps only reminded of that “First time” Coca Cola adventure back in 1989! Well, IMPULSIA is this new project put together by vocalist/keyboard/pianoplayer JOHAN LANGQUIST (ex-CANDLEMASS), guitarists MARCUS JIDELL and UNO SJOSTROM, whom together wrote a bunch of songs and got help from a whole range of well-known musicians, such as TOMMY DENANDER, the late MARCEL JACOB, JAMES CHRISTIAN, PONTUS NORGREN, ROBIN BECK and several others, including STEVIE WONDER (!) ’s touring band piano-player VICTORIA THEODORE on 2 songs. Nice to see all kinds of different music background featured and brought together on this CD. Most of the songs featured here are epic, semi-ballad orientated, but could mostly be labeled as Melodic Rock. Highlights are “Fly away”, “Alone”, “Seas to cross” and “Too many heartaches”, on which one can hear some beautiful melodies vocally and instrumentally. A nice hybrid is included here and fans of epic melodic rock will surely enjoy it a lot, but especially ROBIN BECK have 3 great new songs to listen to that ‘golden’ voice of hers. More info at: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


SEDONA is a well-kept secret within the Westcoast-AOR community, because for many years this French band has been hiding underneath the French landscapes somewhere between the jungle of Paris, the French Rivera and the Alphs. Anyway, AVENUE OF ALLIES MUSIC is the German based AOR/Westcoast label that seems to be keen on releasing such treasures on CD and happily now the world can also enjoy SEDONA, a 3-piece French band which is playing 80s AOR/Westcoast orientated material. KING OF HEARTS, PLANET 3, TOTO, LA COWBOYS and such are clear comparisons here, so this is definitely pure 80s US Westcoast-AOR, especially during great catchy songs like “Magic dream”, “California ballad”, “Sweet wave of sunset” (great ballad a la 80s CHICAGO/RICHARD MARX/TIM FEEHAN/ORO), “You choose fanatic” and “Rock board”. The album is actually a re-issue, because the album was originally released way back in 1995. Now 15 years later the band is working on a follow-up, to be released also this year, but in the meantime check out this great first CD of SEDONA, which is a must-have for any Westcoast-AOR freak. More info at: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


FINAL GRAVITY is a Californian based band playing a mixture of all kinds of Rock and Metal, sounding quite modern here and there, but most of the time they show they are in fact a high quality Progressive Rockband. The band sounds at their best when they go for a more melodic progressive structure, such as in the songs “The darkness”, “Room 19”, “Lightning and rainbows” and “The flying Dutchman” that sound like a mix between RUSH and ENCHANT. The first 2 songs on the band’s debut CD ‘H2O’ however show a more uptempo ok sounding Hardrockband, but don’t let that put you off, because throughout the rest of the CD the band sounds very strong and impressive and going for the already mentioned melodic prog approach. After a few times listening to their CD, FINAL GRAVITY comes over as an interesting band you need to hear a few times to discover that most of the material on their album is very challenging actually and definitely recommended to the fans of Progressive Melodic Rock, with of course as best comparison RUSH, yet with here and there a sorta modern uptempo Rock approach. Check them out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


KILLING MOOD is a female fronted act and their CD should not really be classified as Rock, because it has almost nothing in common with the usual stuff we review. Still on the other hand the experimental music of KILLING MOOD has something that somehow keeps you interested and therefore one will listen to the whole CD nevertheless. Very hard to describe, this is music that actually belongs in a small theatre. Take a listen for yourself at: 

(Points: - out of 10)


The story of the young female singer PAIGE ARMSTRONG from Nashville, USA is quite long and also sad if you consider the fact that she already faced a battle when she was only 10 years old! She was diagnosed with Cancer at this tender age and of course this completely turned her life upside down. She visited hospitals and had to fight for many years (until this very day), but happily it also led to something beautiful, because thanks to the MAKE-A-WISH foundation she was able to fulfil her wish and go and record in a real studio a full-length CD, which is now released on a sublabel of the mighty SONY MUSIC. Paige is a very good singer and she wrote all the included songs in cooperation with producer CHRIS OMARTIAN. Maybe the music is not really original, because the comparisons to KELLY CLARCKSON, EVERLIFE and PARAMORE are very clear in such great rockers like “Lights burn out”, “Come Alive”, “I dare you” and “Apathy”, but it all sounds picture perfect and especially the story of such a beautiful talented young girl fighting for her life and now releasing this high quality CD is of course a story not many people have experienced in their life. Paige is now just 19 years old, but has already faced many struggles in her life that this first CD will be a dream come true and glad that it does sound like a very good typical female fronted Melodic Poprockalbum in the end. Check out her story and music at:  and 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Not sure what this is all about… but SPIT LIKE THIS is a band from the UK and they play basically pure 1970s Glamrock, yet with a weird and rare touch taken from Gothic, Punk and Rockmusic from other decades. They are a female fronted outfit, but sound dangerously close to T-REX, SLADE and THE SWEET, with a bit of ALIEN SEX FRIEND thrown in to give it an own identity. Not bad at all and also reminding a lot of SLAVE RAIDER meets WENDY O WILLIAMS, so perhaps only interesting if mentioned bands are your favorite acts. More info at: 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


DAWN OF SILENCE is a Swedish band formed in the year 2000 and after recording several demos, they released their official debut CD in 2006 on METAL HEAVEN RECORDS. Although praised for it’s quality material, the band parted ways with the label and therefore it took 4 more years before they would surface again with a new album. Happily, the wait is now over and their new album ‘Wicked saints or righteous sinner’ sounds very sensational actually. OK, I have to admit that we do not hear anything new here, because the typical catchy European Melodic Power Metal sounds almost identical to bands like DESTYNATION, EDGUY, DIONYSUS, HEAVENLY, DYSLESIA, HELLOWEEN, etc. etc. but it’s all been done very well and with such superb catchy uptempo pieces like “Escape the night”, “Chasing a Ghost”, “Away from heaven” and “Release me” (a song EDGUY would love to have done!), DAWN OF SILENCE shows they easily belong to the best Melodic Power Metalbands in Europe. 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


GLASS HAMMER is a Progressive Rockband that has been active for many years now and with a very extensive back catalogue, they have built up a strong reputation within the progrock community. From the very first record on they have been releasing nothing but quality records and also the new CD ‘Three cheers for the broken hearted’ can easily be seen as high quality record filled with pure Progressive Rock. However, there’s a slight difference compared to the band’s earlier albums, because it sounds a little darker and edgier than before. Somehow this new CD sounds like the darkest and heaviest GLASS HAMMER album. Not really a bad thing at all, although the die-hard fans might get used to it I think. Nevertheless, it is a pretty good album that can still be regarded as a pure Progressive Rockalbum that has here and there some similarities to PORCUPINE TREE somehow, but then with female vocals of SUSIE BOGDANOWICZ. Be sure not to miss out this slightly modern sounding Progressive Rockalbum of GLASS HAMMER at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


‘Deuce’ is the 2nd CD of the American band THE BONESMEN and musically we are in the pure Classic Hardrock territory. 10 songs are included and with clear similarities to AEROSMITH, BLACK CROWES and LYNYRD SKYNYRD, this band is waving the flag for true American bluesy rootsy Hardrock’n’roll. What they do is very good and I’m sure fans of mentioned bands will absolutely dig this band. More info at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


The French band QANTICE was formed back in 2002 by TONY BEAUFILS, who played in the Celtic Progressive Rockband TORNAOD for many years, but had the ambition to form a Symphonic Melodic Power Metalband. With QANTICE he is making his dream come true, because they now release their debut CD ‘The cosmocinesy’, which from start to finish contains quality Melodic Power Metal that does not sound that far away from their countrymen of HEAVENLY and DYSLESIA. Maybe nothing new is brought here, QANTICE is definitely able to bring some good fun quality music that is a pleasure to listen to. Songs like “Head over worlds”, “Megantrop”, “The question” and “The herd that you need” are very catchy tunes that will be a must to hear if you like fast Melodic Power Metal. For more info go to: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


THE MARY MAJOR is an interesting band from Sweden with a huge sound on their very first album ’04:13’, which is surprisingly thanks to the mastering by BEAU HILL (!), who of course is a legend from the 80s American Poser Metal scene (WINGER, WARRANT…). Nevertheless, THE MARY MAJOR sounds modern and fresh, very heavy in the guitar department, but also thanks to the mix of a superstrong female singer for the higher vocal range (LOTTA HOGLIN) and a male singer for the lower vocal range (ERIK MOLARIN), this is a very original album in the end. Personally prefer the female singer, who really sounds great. The music of THE MARY MAJOR is modern, yet pure Melodic Heavy Rock with Metal riffs here and there. 10 songs are included and the band reminds a bit of a mix between BACKYARD BABIES, TURBONEGRO and CRUCIFIED BARBERA. Typical Rock and Roll of the present day, so make sure not to miss this band at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


TOYZ is a French band that has been active for quite some years now and they have just released their latest effort titled ‘Carte blanche’. The album is filled with pretty good German orientated Melodic Hardrock in the style of BONFIRE, PINK CREAM 69, SHYLOCK, WILD FRONTIER, HOTWIRE, JADED HEART and such bands. Maybe not really original, but on the album are definitely some very catchy Melodic Rocksongs, such as opener “Angel” (uptempo MHR a la BONFIRE), “The captor” (midtempo piece a la SHYLOCK), the semi-ballad “Pharaoh’s cries” and the 80s BON JOVI ish Melodic Rocker “The poet”. Vocally it could sound a little better, because there is this strong JON BON JOVI accent to be heard most of the time, which on the other hand is probably also a compliment. Although the band reminds me so much of all mentioned bands, probably the finest comparison should be the mid 90s German band STEEL DAWN, because this TOYZ sounds exactly like that band! If you never heard STEEL DAWN’s ‘Mirror images’ album from 1994, which was one of the first albums I ever reviewed 15 years ago (!), well then of course you will not understand what I mean. Then just go and hear TOYZ at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


I wish I was born in Sweden, because that country is by far the most productive AOR/Melodic Rock orientated country in Europe. Ever since the 1980s Sweden has delivered nothing but high class AOR/Melodic Rockbands, with every year new bands joining the big family and especially the past few years we have seen many great new independent AOR bands with a true pure 80s sound and HOUSTON is the latest one to check out. Sadly only 1 song can be found on their CD-single, but nevertheless the particular song “Hold on” is sounding like a sensational 80s AOR song a la 80s JOURNEY/SURVIVOR… with big keyboards, a huge chorus and some amazing vocalwork. The band is working on their full-length CD as we speak and I can honestly say to any AOR fan out there, keep your eyes wide open for HOUSTON, because their debut CD might become an absolute winner!!! Together with the new H.E.A.T. album, this HOUSTON album are the 2 releases that might possible claim the title of ‘album of the year 2010’! In the meantime, check them out at: 

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)


Now this is a real surprise!!! 1980s SHY brought some real AOR Classics, but after a change of style in the later 1980s, they never really released something sensational and lead singer TONY MILLS recently even joined TNT to record some painfully terrible records, so who on earth could have thought that after 25 years a new record with Tony on lead vocals could come close to the classic ‘Excess all areas’ record of SHY. Well, look no further, because SERPENTINE is the name of this new band, in which Tony is handling the vocal duties. It’s unbelievable, but the included 10 songs are really pure 80s SHY AOR (and JOURNEY!), sounding exactly like the first couple of SHY Classics, the same kinda melodies can be heard and they are definitely as good as those SHY classics from 25+ years ago!!! Boy, this is really a fantastic AOR record, with many superb tunes, starting off with opener “A touch of heaven”, an uptempo AOR Classic that is right up there with “Can’t fight the nights” of SHY, but basically any song on this CD is a winner. “Whatever heartache”, the midtempo “Lonely nights” and the semi-ballad “For the love of it all” or “In my blood”… they all sound like AOR Classics at a first listen! Anyone into the first 3 SHY Classics MUST buy this SERPENTINE record asap! More info at: 

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)


FM is back! In the 1980s they released 2 AOR Classics, of which ‘Indiscreet’ still stands proud as being one of the finest AOR albums ever released! The band’s 1990s records were a bunch of nice bluesy melodic rockalbums, yet nowhere near the sensational stuff of the 80s. After splitting up in the mid 90s, the band recently reunited and here is the result… a new studio-album titled ‘Metropolis’. Anyone expecting ‘Indiscreet part 2’ will be very disappointed, because the included material is far from the band’s 80s AOR style. It just continues the style of their 1990s records, which is of course not bad at all, because songs like “Hollow”, “Unbreakable”, “Over you”, “I ain’t the one” and “Bring back yesterday” are very impressive tunes, but still somewhere deep down in every AOR fan’s heart there is this little bit of hope for a follow-up to their ‘Indiscreet’ classic. Well, maybe there is some hope, because track number 12 “Who’ll stop the rain” is finally a song that goes into that classic FM AOR style and also reminds one of WHITE SISTER’s debut, so a real pure ‘Indiscreet’ type of uptempo AOR Rocker. If only the whole album would have went into that style, well then this ‘Metropolis’ record would have by far become album of the year 2010!!! However as mentioned, the rest of the CD is more a mix of the 90s FM Bluesy Melodic Rockstyle and some of today’s Modern Melodic Rock mixed straight through, such as can be heard in the album’s finest track “Unbreakable” that could easily become a huge radiohit! So we have here a great sounding comeback record of FM, which however is not a Classic I am afraid, but thanks to a great production, excellent Classic Rockish guitarwork and the fantastic vocalwork of STEVE OVERLAND, who still is one of the finest British vocalists in music history, this new FM album is without a doubt a great album to check out, but only don’t expect any real 80s keyboard friendly AOR here! Concluded, this might perhaps the best FM album since ‘Tough it out’ and is also therefore deserving a very high rating, but the 10 out of 10 is an unreachable rating which FM only received for their 1986 debut ‘Indiscreet’…

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


First of all, do not confuse this Swedish WONDERLAND with the fantastic same named WONDERLAND from Italy! I do vaguely remember I reviewed a demo from a Swedish band called WONDERLAND 15 years ago, but it will be impossible to tell you if this is the same band. This Swedish WONDERLAND has just released a CD titled ‘Seven wonders’, which contains good clean quality Melodic Heavy Rock, with some slight AOR and Prog touches here and there. 7 songs are included and although the vocals could be a little stronger, the 220 VOLT/MADISON/NORTHERN LIGHTS type of material included here is quite nice to listen to. Especially the song ”Afraid” is actually quite a strong Melodic Rocker that somehow reminds me a lot of the band CRYSTAL BLUE, if anyone can actually remember them! Concluded, this WONDERLAND CD is filled with typical 80s orientated Swedish Melodic Heavy Rock, reminding a lot of mentioned bands, so if you’re starting to become interested, check them out at:  and e-mail them at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Although GORAN EDMAN is a fantastic vocalist who sang on many great albums in the past and Swedish guitarist JAYCE LANDBERG is a very talented musician, the new CD of Jayce is not really a groundbreaking record. The RAINBOW/MALMSTEENish Melodic Heavy Rock with heavy modern production is not really going anywhere I am afraid. We have to wait until track number 7 until we can hear something really memorable, because this is the ballad “The thorns” and also following track “Invasion”, a melodic rocker with vocals by the mighty MARK BOALS, is good enough to go and check out. However, I am really afraid this CD will not make a huge impact, only recommended to die-hard guitarfreaks, because the guitarwork is very impressive, but songwise there’s nothing really shocking to be found here. More info at: 

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


THESE MONSTERS are a band from the UK with a very non-commercial sound that combines big riffs of the 1970s a la BLACK SABBATH with the underground Noise of the late 80s/early 90s (some SMASHING PUMPKINS) and add some PORCUPINE TREE meets TOOL kinda modern semi-Prog. The band is instrumental, so apart from some screams here and there, no vocals can be heard. Fans of instrumental experimental Progressive Rock might wanna check this band out, because what they do on this record is quite impressive. More info at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


The band WILD CHAMPAGNE has quite a lengthy history, because I remember well reviewing their LONG ISLAND RECORDS released CD from 1993 17 (!!!) years ago in one of the first printed issues of Strutter’zine. And… that was it… Now from out of nowhere for the first time in those 17 years their bandname appears again in Strutter’zine, because the German band releases a new CD titled ‘Fire and water’. Although the world has changed quite a lot since 1993, WILD CHAMPAGNE is doing exactly the same thing as what they did on their ‘Wipe of your tears’ CD, which is typical German uptempo Hardrock, reminding of SINNER, VENGEANCE, KILLER, VICTORY, TYRAN PACE, VETO, KROKUS, AXXIS and such bands. Apparently they released more albums in between this period, but this was really the first time I have written about them, thanks to STF RECORDS for this trip down memory lane. Not bad at all what we get to hear, but only interesting for the die-hard Teutonic Metalfans out there! More info at: 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


The very first original lead singer of AC/DC has been busy the past few years with new solo-CD releases and ‘Sinner’ is the latest attack, although I believe this is a re-release of his 2007 release. Musically straight-ahead no-nonsense uptempo AC/DC meets ROSE TATTOO meets KROKUS Hardrock is the name of the game here. Done well, Dave sounding pretty good and the included material is raw Rock and Roll the way it should. Nothing new and nothing really sensational to be heard here, but nevertheless a good deal of Rock and Roll can be heard from head to toe. Check it out at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


The Hungarian Melodic Rockband H.A.R.D. released a very good melodic rockalbum in 2008 titled ‘Traveller’, which was their first album with English lyrics after releasing 2 albums in the Hungarian language a few years earlier. However in 2 years time a lot has changed, because first of all they got signed to ESCAPE MUSIC, on which they now release ‘Time is waiting for no one’. However the most important change is that they somewhat changed their music style, because they go for a late 80s US Party Hardrock approach reminding of KIX, RATT, AEROSMITH, EVERY MOTHER’S NIGHTMARE, boogie woogie VAN HALEN, etc. etc. This is thanks to the production of BEAU HILL, who was big in producing such acts 20 years ago, but also the band has joined forces with Swedish guitarist/vocalist/producer BJORN LODIN of BALTIMOORE. He sings on all the songs and all this combined turned HARD in a completely different band that has not much in common with the AOR/Melodic Rock of their previous record. Not saying it sounds bad, because after all, they now sound very international minded, but I do feel this sounds more like an early BALTIMOORE record from the early 90s than a Hungarian band called HARD. OK, the sound/production is top-notch and this kind of Poser Hardrock is nowadays very popular, see AIRBORNE for example, but somehow I miss the click and the strong melodies… Nevertheless, fans of mentioned bands will think differently, because they will probably love this raw to the bone Party Hardy Hardrock album…

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


H.E.A.T., W.E.T. and now we have simply N.O.W.! Musically speaking the 3 bands are all playing 80s influenced catchy AOR/Melodic Rock and although the first two bands mentioned have released some really amazing albums, maybe N.O.W. gets away releasing the finest of all 3! N.O.W. is a band set up by Brazilian bassist ALEC MENDONCA, who together with 4 other (Brazilian) musicians recorded a superb CD, which has been released on ESCAPE MUSIC. Although the sound, the instrumental department and the songs are all top-notch, it is all thanks to the wonderful vocal duties of PHILIP BARDOWELL that this CD sounds like an absolute winner! Philip stepped in to help out the Brazilians and whenever he sings, one can except something sensational, because Philip is blessed with an absolute amazing Classic AOR voice, which can best be heard on the solo-album he released on FRONTIERS RECORDS several years ago, as well as the recent PLACES OF POWER album. Anyway, on this first N.O.W. CD he shines again on 12 AOR/Melodic Rock monsters that are not far away from PLACES OF POWER or PLACE VENDOME, but also reminds of SHADOW KING/FOREIGNER and ATLANTIC here and there. Songs like “Can’t make it (how can I?)”, “Lonely soul”, “Idol’s grace”, “Midnight call”, “Hail Mary” (A.O.R. song of the year 2010???) and “Peace of mind” are all prime-time soon-to-be AOR Classic Rockers in the style of mentioned bands. Like already mentioned, the sound is absolute stunning as well, so without a doubt, this album is a must-have for any fan of high class AOR. More info at: 

(Points: 9.1 out of 10)


Bands from China are very rare, despite the fact that more than a billion people are living over there. Problem is that there is no history in Rock and Metal and there never has been any band that broke through inside and/or outside of China. Therefore the influence of Rock and Metal on the young generation is not much and this has lead to only a handful of bands playing these genres. I am afraid M.I.C. from Chengdu, China will also not have a huge impact, despite they have released a nice record titled ‘Out 2 Rock’, which is actually a compilation of their earlier albums. Although sounding very cliché and reminding very much of the 80s British wanna-bee Melodic Hardrockstars of CHROME MOLLY and MARSEILLE with some US Southern fried Melodic Rock a la HEAD EAST, 38 SPECIAL and STRANGER mixed straight through, M.I.C. still has released a quality album and for me personally the best one ever to hail from China, but as I have only heard and reviewed a few in the past, that on the other hand is not really a big deal. The band actually is not a real Chinese band, because an American female guitarist/backing vocalist is included in the band and more importantly, the bandleader YVON SERRE is of Canadian origin. He has written more than 300 songs so far and has been in the music business since 1975 (!!!). Anyway, here and there we can hear some great 80s type of Melodic Rock, such as the catchy “Who do you love” (a la TALAS), “What your doing” (very close to the American band STRANGER) and “Between the eyes”. For a Chinese band groundbreaking, but for the Melodic Rockfans just another band you only might wanna check out if you’re a die-hard collector of the genre, although this best of CD does have it’s moments for sure! More info at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


80s FISH fronted MARILLION and Symphonic Rock/Neo-Prog will forever be combined with those beautiful paintings of the cover artwork of their legendary albums. The artwork was delivered by MARK WILKINSON, who in his 30-year career has painted a lot more and finally, this can be viewed in this amazing book of this hugely talented artist. Mark also did the cover artwork for JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, JOHN WESLEY, BLOODBOUND, EUROPE’s ‘Prisoners in paradise’, HIGHLAND GLORY, MEDUSA, THE DARKNESS, FISH and several concert posters including the legendary MONSTERS OF ROCK, but also went further than just music related artwork, because he also did artwork for all sorts of items related to the well-known JUDGE DREDD SF-movie and for the RED DWARF TV Series, which was a very popular 1990s BBC SF-Sitcom. This book called ‘Shadowplay’ is a beautifully designed piece of work that holds all MARK WILKINSON related artwork spread on 168 pages, in full colour and with additional words from the man himself about a particular painting. Mark has an own style, which is very much appreciated in especially the Progrock and Metal community, where this kind of fantasy like artwork is very common to use for the frontcover of a new album. There are quite a lot of artists active in the same style, but Mark is definitely one of the finest and therefore purchasing a copy of his wonderful book is definitely recommended. Available through:  and 

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)


This is really sensational stuff… Last year we reviewed a really great band from India called MOTHER JANE, but now we have another band which sounds even better! SLAIN is an India based band and they play really excellent big time Western European Melodic Hardrock with a slight Progmetal and AOR touch, reminding of a mix between 1980s TNT, ANGRA, ELEGY, SHY, JOURNEY, SYMPHONY X and 7 MONTHS. Actually they also remind me so much of that legendary Puerto Rico based band called MATTADOR mixed with a little early PROPHET and a tiny bit of 80s QUEENSRYCHE. Sadly only 4 songs are on their first EP album, so after the 16 minutes you definitely want to hear more of such a talented band, but the most important thing is that everything sounds perfect on the first EP CD of SLAIN. The sound/production, the songs and especially both the vocals and guitars are sounding incredible, so we have something really interesting on our hands here. A band that could easily be signed to one of the European labels someday soon and hopefully we’ll get a full-length CD next time, because I am convinced enough here that this band could release one of the finest albums in the AOR/Melodic Rock/Progmetal field at the moment if they continue the incredible high level of the 4 songs on this EP recording, which by the way has it’s highlight in the superb uptempo AORish rocker “More than conquerors” that sounds dangerously catchy and close to TNT circa ‘Intuition’ meets classic early SHY. Keep your eyes wide open for this band in the near future, because they might as well become the next big thing! More info at: 

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)


‘VR’ is the 2nd album of the British band FURY UK. Musically they go for a sort of NWOBHM influenced Melodic Metal approach, reminding however of MEGADETH here and there, as the vocals are not really melodic, but more raw a la DAVE MUSTAINE. The sound/production is pretty good and apart from the vocalwork, this band does not sound too far away from WHITE WIZZARD actually. Not as good as them, still they have the potential to become big among the current young generation of headbangers. They remind me a lot of the early sound of JAGUAR and TYGERS OF PAN TANG circa 1980 with some excellent MAIDENish guitarwork. If only the songs would feature some catchier melodies, this FURY UK could be the next big thing. On the other hand, this band is a winner for the fans of the major label signed US band BLACK TIDE, because their sound is identical to this band! For now, more info at: 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Hard-hitting big guitar riff based straight-ahead Hardrock/Heavy Rock is the name of the game here and thanks to the superstrong vocals of female singer FOFI ROUSSOS, this is a band to watch out for. 4BITTEN comes out of Greece and they signed with the UK based label ROCKSECTOR RECORDS, on which they have released their debut CD ‘No more sins’. The band was formed in 2002 and it took a while before they would have their breakthrough, but the past 2 years it all went pretty quick, thanks to some support gigs for TYGERS OF PAN TANG, BLAZE BAYLEY and DAN REED and a KISS TRIBUTE track they did for ROCK HARD MAGAZINE. Now in 2010 they have an album ready to go and happily the CD ‘No more sins’ sounds very strong. Fofi has a great voice and the big guitar riffs combined with some very nice melodies are making each of the 10 included songs winners. This is the CD LITA FORD and LEE AARON have not created since the mid 80s, but should have done definitely. 4BITTEN sounds like the next big thing in Female Fronted Hardrock/Metal. Some comparisons to the Finnish LULLACRY are possible, but I think very early LEE AARON/HEADPINS/SHAKIN’ STREET are the best comparisons here, especially during the album’s highlight track “In the shadows”. Be sure to check out this band at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


It took a while before I could get my hands on the 2nd CD of the Spanish band ZENOBIA, but here it is finally. The album ‘Alma de fuego’ has been out for a while, since april 2009, but here is our review of one of the finest Spanish Melodic Metal albums released in 2009. TIERRA SANTA were always the leaders of fast super melodic power metal with Spanish lyrics, but the past few years that band has been very quiet and when they released a new CD it was not as good as it once was, but they now have a follow-up band whom are doing things as good or even better than TIERRA SANTA once did. ZENOBIA already released a CD in 2005, but their 2009 CD ‘Alma de fuego’ hits like a hammer, a stunning super catchy record with many awesome fast uptempo Melodic Power Metal tunes, such as “La Tormenta”, “Ícaro”, “Alma de Fuego”, “La historia termino” and “La traición”, but also the more Melodic Hardrock orientated tracks are very impressive, like “Dentro de mi” and “Enterrado en vida” as well as the ballad “Si no estás junto a mi”. This is by far the best Melodic Metal album with Spanish lyrics of the past 10 years, a must-have for all fans of TIERRA SANTA, SARATOGA, AVALANCH, MAGO DE OZ, RATA BLANCA…! More info at: 

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)


All the way back in 1995 I reviewed in one of the earliest issues of Strutter’zine a very strong Melodic Rockalbum of the band LYNN ALLEN titled ‘We laugh at you’. Sadly I had to wait 13 years before I would write again about this band, because in 2008 I reviewed their CD ‘And the horse…’, which was released on ESCAPE MUSIC. The band still played catchy 80s Melodic Rock a la LOVERBOY, NIGHT RANGER, 38 SPECIAL, STRANGER (USA) and 2 years later we are surprised by ‘Nine’, which the band released on a small label. A new CD which is the sign they are still very much alive happily and also show they keep on doing the same kinda catchy 80s Melodic Rock as on their earlier records. In fact, this new album sounds very sensational and belongs to their best records so far, which sorta surprised me, because not many US bands play their melodic rock as pure 80s orienated as LYNN ALLEN does on their new record, which by the way is their 9th CD! Sometimes it’s like we stepped in a time machine and went back to 1985! Everything seems to sound pure 80s here… the hooks… the choruses… the guitar riffs… LOVERBOY… NIGHT RANGER… 39 SPECIAL… STEEL BREEZE… early 80s RICK SPRINGFIELD… and a lot CONEY HATCH like on their final record ‘Friction’. Do not get me wrong here, because the CD sounds fresh and clean, so not dated at all, but very radio-airplay ready with such wonderful catchy uptempo AOR/Melodic Rockers like “Change the world”, “Quicksand”, “The walk of shame”, “This time”, “Romeo”, “When we’re alone” and “What she don’t know” or the midtempo “I don’t want to”. It’s fun.. it’s catchy…it’s done very well and just puts a smile on your face… LYNN ALLEN exactly knows how Melodic Rock should sound like! Check them out at: and

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)


Not sure how on earth I found out about this band, but RAGE AND BEYOND are an independent band from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They are sounding a bit like the early 90s movement in the USA, which was the time that Hair Metal was fading away and bands were doing a slightly groovier approach to their sound and the past few years this groovy guitar riff based yet Melodic Hardrock orientated kinda style returned in the music scene. RAGE AND BEYOND are doing it very well, thanks to superb vocals of lead singer ED TERRY (who sounds like a cross between JEFF PARIS and JEAN BEAUVOIR), a big fat groovy guitarsound and also a really great rhythm section (especially their drummer BOBBY MARKS hits the plates quite perfect). The band reminds me a bit of EVERY MOTHER’S NIGHTMARE, SAINTS AND SINNERS and a lot CROWN OF THORNS (a la their debut!), but sometimes they actually sound better than those bands! Highlights are the midtempo tunes “Not gonna try”, “Desire” (fantastic almost AORish tune, makes me think of JEFF PARIS, incredible lead vocals here!), “No resolution” and “Tryin’ to be”. Also some VAN HALEN can be heard here and there (“Nice and easy” and “Say no more”). It just shows how many great unsigned bands are still out there… RAGE AND BEYOND is definitely one of them! More info at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


The name MANUEL SEOANE does not only remind of an Argentine football striker from the 1930s, but it’s also the name of a sensational guitarist from Madrid, Spain. Manuel is actually a member of the Folk Melodic Metal band ARS AMANDI, with whom he recorded several albums. However, now he releases a solo-CD titled ’Burning kingdom’ that clearly shows his love for 1980s Melodic Hardrock and YNGWIE MALMSTEEN in particular. Lead vocals are sung by DAGAROD, who I am not familiar with, but he sounds pretty good and despite a few instrumental tracks, the record is most of the time very song based. Musically speaking we are definitely going back to the late 80s US Mainstream Melodic Hardrocksound of bands like DANGER DANGER, FIREHOUSE, KNOW ILLUSION, BRITTON and such… The sound of the CD is huge 9thanks to M .ARIAS of NIAGARA) and the album really feels good to listen to, with especially the first 4 songs “Livin’ now”, “Big bang”, “Who do you love?” and “Rock on the radio” being real crowd-pleasers and filled with sing-a-long choruses on which fans of FIREHOUSE, LOUD AND CLEAR, AUTOGRAPH and SLAUGHTER can dance all night! Manuel however also shows in each and every song he is an incredible gifted guitarist, who easily can throw in some MALMSTEENesque licks, for that check out the instrumental tracks and the beautiful melody line of “Good times”. Quite a surprising release for sure and definitely one to own if you’re a fan of any of the mentioned US Style late 80s catchy hookladen Melodic Hardrock. More info at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


PEARL ADAY is the name of the female singer behind PEARL and for those unfamiliar with her name, I can inform you that this is not just another singer. First of all, she is the stepdaughter of MEAT LOAF (!!!), has a half sister called AMANDA ADAY, who played in one of the finest TV-series of the 2000s (CARNIVALE) and she is married to legendary ANTHRAX guitarist SCOTT IAN (who also plays guitar in her band PEARL)! Besides, she appeared as backing singer for MEAT LOAF and MOTLEY CRUE in the past and now finally releases her first real CD with her own band PEARL. However, more importantly, she is also a fantastic singer and that is something you can clearly hear on this CD. 34 years old, she had to wait a long time before she would release a CD on her own, which is a pity, because she really sounds very strong. 11 songs are included and the music is a mix of Classic Hard/Heavy Rock with some typical American Bluesy/Groovy/Southern Rock rhythms and riffs. Especially songs like “Rock child”, “Nobody”, “Worth defending”, “Whore” and the TINA TURNER cover “Nutbush city limits” show PEARL ADAY could be the next Rock Queen, sounding a bit like classic LITA FORD and LEE AARON, yet then with a rawer bluesier approach here and there. She also looks very good and let’s hope she will now step out of the light of her famous stepfather, because she truly deserves it to be heard by a larger community, thanks to this excellent debut CD of her band PEARL. The album will be released on POWERAGE RECORDS (CLASSIC ROCK MAGAZINE’s label) in Europe/UK and I almost forgot to mention TED NUGENT and JERRY CANTRELL make a guest appearance here, but the real star in the end if PEARL ADAY herself! More info at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


The last 2 CDs of the Massachusetts/USA based band CEMETERY SUPERFLY were sent to me and I have to say both have an own sound, because 2008’s ‘No commercial potential’ has a sort of 1960s Beat/Garage Rock approach, while 2009’s ‘Ghost on the radio’ has a very experimental modern approach that also has clear Progressive Rock elements a la PORCUPINE TREE/TOOL. Both records have in common the slight Post-Grunge approach, but each differently in it’s final setting. The band was formed way back in 1994, but really started to get some success in the past few years. Like mentioned before, the ‘Ghost on the radio’ album is a very experimental piece of work that might find it’s way to the Progrockfans, because the included 6 tracks are very challenging, with as highlights “Fireflys” and “What will be”. Together with the best and most extensive press map I have received in ages, this CEMETERY SUPERFLY has something of their own that could turn them into a much appreciated band. More info at: 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Here we have a small independent band from Toronto, Canada with a strong mini-EP CD debut that musically goes into a sort of 1960s Garage Rock meets THE KNACKish Powerpop sorta direction. The result can be heard on 5 catchy uptempo rockers that sound like raw Rock and Roll should sound like. Maybe not groundbreaking, this MASS ASSEMBLY is definitely a great pure Rockband to check out and for those longing back to the days of THE STOOGES, CHEAP TRICK, THE STONES, THE KINKS and such, this band is highly recommended! More info at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


RED LETTER MERCHANT is a Classic Hardrock band based in the US state of Illinois. Although they have the slight typical American touch (groovy and a little southern like DAUGHTRY meets BO BICE meets LYNYRD SKYNYRD, yet also with the typical Post-Grunge approach of ALICE IN CHAINS), the band has an own sound and could well become the next big thing in America, where they absolutely love these kinda bands. Songs like semi-rockers “Words are weapons”, “Simple vision”, “As I feel” and the uptempo “Burning alive” are very strong with really memorable melodies. Fans of mentioned acts will like this a lot for sure. The CD does sound as good as any of the similar sounding major US Label releases. More info at: 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


The CD titled and frontcover of the album of the Japanese band IMARI TONES is a little misleading, because this band is playing Progressive Hardrock a la RUSH. This CD was surprisingly produced by SASCHA PAETH and especially instrumental it does sound very good. The high-pitched vocals are not as good as GEDDY LEE, but for a RUSH fan, this is a nice Japanese soundalike band, although IMARI TONES also have a slight 80s Hardrock touch in their music, even going for a melodic rocksound here and there. The album was released in 2007 and in the meantime the band changed drastically, because now they are a Christian Rockband. However, not sure if their music itself still sounds the same. Go check them out at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem except where noted)