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DIRTY SWEET is a very original American band, formed in 2003 in the San Diego area and their 2nd CD ‘American spiritual’ sounds really good. Opener “Rest, sniper rest” for example has all the elements in becoming a huge US Radiohit, because it sounds catchy, modern and still like some Classic Rock tune. Also following track “You’ve been warned” sounds like a soon-to-be classic and actually the whole CD sounds like a Classic Rock album made in the 1970s, yet made for modern perfection. If THE STROKES, JET, KAISER CHIEFS, WOLFMOTHER, THE ANSWER and whatever they are called are making it big worldwide, then DIRTY SWEET truly deserves the same destiny with this fantastic new album ‘American spiritual’. What makes them so good are the infectious melodies of their songs, the slightly unusual rhythms and also the strong vocalwork of singer RYAN KOONTZ. This band stands out clearly above the rest and if only they have that lucky break, who knows how big they could become. Go check them out at: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


The early 90s saw a revival of AC/DC in the shape of ‘Money talks’ and ‘Thundestruck’, which also led to a lot of soundalike bands being signed to major labels and DIRTY LOOKS, SMACK, KINGS OF THE SUN, KIX and such are good examples, but also RHINO BUCKET had a brief success during that period. After 3 albums they split up in the mid 1990s, but in the 2000s a successful comeback in the shape of live shows and new CDs gave them a second chance and now they release their latest CD ‘The hardest town’. Without a doubt, the sound is AC/DC/KROKUS/AIRBOURNE/KIX/HELIX/ FASTWAY orientated, so raw to the bone straight-ahead real Hardrock. 11 songs are included and backed up by the label ACETATE RECORDS, it all looks and sounds very professional, so this is a must-have for all fans of AC/DC soundalike kinda bands. More info at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Recently we had the band BREATHING SPACE’s new CD reviewed and now it’s up to another MOSTLY AUTUMN spin-off in the shape of PARADE. However, PARADE is actually made up of members whom are also still active in MOSTLY AUTUMN, but also worked with FISH and PANIC ROOM in the past. Anyway, their debut CD ‘The fabric’ sounds less melodic and catchy as the sensational BREATHING SPACE ‘Below the radar’, so do not expect here another MOSTLY AUTUMN, THE REASONING, KARANATAKA, GLASS HAMMER or TOUCHSTONE sound-alike record, because PARADE is darker and moodier, closer to PINK FLOYD than MOSTLY AUTUMN ever was actually, but also RADIOHEAD comes to mind here and there. Although of course there are still similarities to MOSTLY AUTUMN, this first PARADE album is definitely a record one needs to hear a few times before making up a real good judgment. It’s epic and proggy, but also quite dark sounding here and there, a bit like RIVERSIDE and PORCUPINE TREE sometimes, yet thanks to the additional female vocals of ANNE-MARIE HELDER (PANIC ROOM/MOSTLY AUTUMN) a clear melodic touch is given to the sound as well and I have to say that a lot of times the music is very calm as in a COLDPLAY/RADIOHEAD kinda way. They have a strong 70s touch sometimes, but on a song like “Start again” the band goes for a more modern uptempo rock approach and “Feedline” even touches RADIOHEAD. So in the end, it’s quite a diverse CD that has a lot to offer and more importantly, it is very different from any MOSTLY AUTUMN record! More info at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Keyboardplayer JOHN CAMELOT from Illinois, USA used to play in the Powerpoprock/AOR/ Pomprockband SQUADRON, of whom we even reviewed a CD many years ago, but in his 30+ years spanning career he played in several bands and he now releases a sort of best of CD that includes some great AOR tracks by SQUADRON, some nice 70s Pop/Rock of FLYER, a few good instrumentals and 2 lovely AOR tracks by THE BUCKINGHAMS and THE BREAKERS as well as a lot of other diverse music genres (Jazz, Blues, Techno, Country…) are presented, but those are less interesting. So a very diverse CD that shows John is a real talent, but I definitely prefer the AORish Power/Pomprock of SQUADRON (or THE BUCKINGHAMS) and luckily the accompanied DVD sent to me consists of rare 30 year old videomaterial of SQUADRON. Musically they were close to a ROADMASTER, HOBBIT, MPG or a THRILLS, with here and there a goofy track, but definitely a high quality band that can be seen here on the rare footage on a DVD. Hopefully a full CD of THE BUCKINGHAMS or THE BREAKERS will also see the light of day someday, but in the meantime both the best of CD and the SQUADRON DVD are available through: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


HIGH ROAD EASY is a German band formed around vocalist JAN KNOPF and multi-instrumentalist SVEN HORLEMANN. They released a strong full-length CD titled ‘Hotter than a thousand suns’, which contains some great AOR/Melodic Hardrock tunes, such as opener “Don’t wait for me” that reminds a bit of FAIR WARNING, but also the titletrack, “Better place” (best song, kinda BON JOVIish!) and “Play our part” are examples of the band’s AOR type of material. However, the band also throws in a lot of heavy Bluesy Hardrock orientated material in between that has some DEEP PURPLE/LED ZEPPELIN influences, ending up sounding like KINGDOM COME actually, yet due to the AOR touch the band in general could be labeled as Melodic Hardrock. The sound/production is very good for an independent CD and if they could concentrate on creating more uptempo Melodic Hardrock based tunes next time, who knows… HIGH ROAD EASY has definitely potential, so go check them out at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


A hidden gem? MORRE is a Toronto/Canada based band and somehow I have not read much about this little known act and that is a pity, because from out of nowhere they sent me their CD ‘Out there’, which contains very strong original Melodic Rock. It actually reminds me a bit of the Canadian AOR band SHAYLE if anyone can remember them, but also NOISEWORKS comes a lot of times to my mind when hearing MORRE. Meaning they play original clever rockmusic with clear AOR melodies, yet the difference with many AOR bands is that their arrangements in each and every song are not at all standard melodic rock based, because the tempo changes a lot and the use of acoustic guitars is giving MORRE a rather unique overall sound. I am quite sure the AOR fans will love this band a lot, but I think they can easily reach a wider audience thanks to their QUEEN meets LED ZEPPELIN meets PINK FLOYD kinda arrangements. A song like “Playing with fire” even reminds me of INXS in their best years, so be aware that MORRE is not a real pure AOR band, but nevertheless very interesting to check out. Opener “The moment” as well as the lovely semi-ballad “In my vein” (with excellent guitarwork) have incredible catchy melodies that will be loved by the AOR fans for sure and I think I can best compare this MORRE with the bands NEVERLAND, TALL STORIES and the already mentioned NOISEWORKS. Make sure not to miss this very original Rock/AOR band from Canada at:  and e-mail them at: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


In 2008 the big sensation was H.E.A.T., a new AOR/Melodic Rockband from Sweden whom hit it big time in their home native and even participated in the Swedish Eurovision Song Contest of 2009 with the catchy “1000 miles”. Now in 2010 they released a new CD-single containing 3 new songs, which is a sort of sneak preview of their upcoming new album ‘Freedom rock’ that could become the finest album of 2010! Back to the CD-single, which is titled ‘Beg beg beg’ and features 3 uptempo melodic rockers. Opener is the titletrack “Beg beg beg”, which is a nice little uptempo melodic heavy rocker, but not the strongest song here. Next track “Tonight” however is a superb catchy uptempo AOR/Melodic Rocker, a song that is an instant hit and sounds exactly the way we want to hear it! This is the kind of song you want to play loud and proud, sing-a-long and dance all night to, definitely a winner here! Closing track “Living in a memory” follows closely, because this is also a great uptempo Melodic Rocker with AOR touch, not far away from classic TALK OF THE TOWN. A fantastic sneak preview this CD-single and of course the upcoming new full-length CD of H.E.AT. is THE album to look out for the coming months. In the meantime you can go beg beg beg for more H.E.A.T. at: 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


A long instrumental piece as starting point on a new CD does not happen much, but the new CD of KARNATAKA is the exception to the rule, because after a short intro titled “The calling”, the next song “State of grace” is an almost 9 minutes counting instrumental piece that explorers the world of the magical Progressive Rock, but happily it is a beautiful song to listen to. However, the following track “Your world” brings back the pure magic of KARNATAKA of the past. This excellent midtempo Melodic Progressive Rocker has some really haunting melodies, sung by female singer LISA FURY and accompanied by the lovely instrumental back-up of especially bandleader IAN JONES (on keys and bass) and guitarist ENRICO PINNA, this song shows the band at their best. Imagine MOSTLY AUTUMN meets a calmer WITHIN TEMPTATION (like their acoustic album), then you’re close to KARNATAKA. Just listen to the amazing ballad “Moment in time”, a song that should be huge, a really beautiful piece of work… And the CD continues in this somewhat sensational direction… nothing but super high quality musicianship can be heard on this new album ‘The gathering light’, which might possibly be KARNATAKA’s finest work to date, showing once again that they are one of Britain’s best bands out there at the moment. The past 2 years seem to be very good regarding British female fronted melodic progrock, because just recently we had TOUCHSTONE, BREATHING SPACE and PARADE. Now we can add the new album of KARNATAKA, which by the way is a sort of comeback album, because already 7 years have passed by since the release of their 2003 album ‘Delicate flame of desire’. Let’s hope the band will now get much more recognition, because they truly deserve it! More info at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


In the past we have seen quite a few bands called SHOUT and most of them played Melodic Classic Hardrock, which is also the case on the new album of the German SHOUT. They were formed way back in 1997 and even managed to release 2 albums during the late 1990s. Now in 2010 the band makes a return with their 3rd album ‘A good stuff to rock and roll’. Musically it is filled with typical German style Melodic Hardrock, yet with a slight DEEP PURPLE/LED ZEPPELIN/WHITESNAKE/ RAINBOW touch here and there. In the beginning we can clearly hear the best songs, which are even a little AOR based, such as “Is this the right time”, the FAIR WARNINGish Ballad “Angel”, “Life ain’t easy”, “Make my day” and “Fortuneteller man”. The band’s vocalist has a typical German accent and not all songs are convincing, but the mentioned tunes are definitely worth checking out for the Melodic Rockfans! More info at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


KENNI DENILE is an independent musician from Tennessee/USA releasing a very strong mini-CD titled ‘Dreamer’ that musically is definitely 80s AOR/Melodic Radiorock inspired, because already on opener “We are the young” everyone will be singing-a-long and enjoying the JOURNEY melodies. It also reminds me big time of RICK MATHEWS and KANE ROBERTS, remember them??? 7 songs are included on the CD, of which the sound is very good and both instrumental and vocally KENNI DENILE is performing at a very high level. Some JOHNNY LIMA slipped through here and there and also DANNY VAUGHN/TYKETTO is a very good comparison, but some of the songs are also pure 80s AOR/Melodic Radiorock a la 707, BONRUD and the new Brazilian AOR bands we have seen on FRONTIERS RECORDS/ESCAPE MUSIC recently. Kenni really has a fantastic voice and can also play the guitar really well (melodies all over the place!) and all together this can best be heard during the finest song, which is the earlier mentioned “We are the young”, a real AOR killer. Although the rest of the CD does not reach the same kinda high level, I do think a future full-length CD might see an improvement with more of such sensational AOR material included and therefore I really believe Kenni could release a super sensational CD somewhere in the future. More info at: and 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


And here we have a small independent band from the 1980s/early 1990s called TITAN. Yes another band with that name, of which we have had at least 10 similar named bands in the past, with recently a sensational Swedish AOR outfit. Anyway, this TITAN hails from Australia and has recently reunited almost 20 years after their split. They were kind enough to share their old material with me and I must say it sounds damn sensational. They play(ed) high class Melodic Hardrock and right from the start of their demo you can hear this band could have easily gotten a record deal back then, because the 5 songs they offered me were recorded between 1987 and 1992 and they all sounds really superb, even after all these years! Actually they still sound very fresh and most of them are uptempo sensational melodic hardrock songs a la DOKKEN, FIFTH ANGEL, STRYPER (VERY MUCH!!!!!!), RIOT, FIREHOUSE and such… The song “Day after day” has been spinning in my head for days now… lovely stuff… Make sure not to miss this band and let’s hope they are able to release something official soon. More at:  and 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Way back in the 1980s Sweden was already one of the main countries for new melodic rockbands and ANGELINE was one of them. This band released a great mini-album titled ‘’Don’t settle for second best’ 20 years ago, but sadly after it’s release the band went through a lot of issues, including lead singer replacements a few times, with as most tragic event the death of their original lead singer Jörgen Sigvardsson. Eventually through the 1990s the band became more or less a cover band, but in 2001 ANGELINE was put on hold. However in 2004 a film about their original late singer premiered at the Gothenburg Film festival and this lead to renewed interest in ANGELINE. Now in 2010 the band is proud to release a new album, which is actually their first official full-length CD since their formation in 1987! Happily, it is a very strong album, which musically sounds up-to-date, so don’t expect some 80s wish-wash stuff, because here we have ballsy guitar orientated Melodic Hardrock of a very high level. The guys in the band do not look really old, despite they have already been almost 25 years in the music business, but that is due to the fact they were in their early/mid 10s when they originally formed ANGELINE. ‘Confessions’ sounds like a real damn good album that combines tough modern style guitar riffs with catchy melodies, which can best be heard during uptempo Melodic Hardrocksongs like “Confessions”, “Rock of Ages”, “Someday, somehow” and the midtempo “Another night (without you)”. Definitely a highly recommended album that sounds a bit like TALISMAN meets EYEWITNESS. More info at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


BRONZ is back! Who would have thought this UK band would ever make a comeback? Well, actually, ‘Carried by the storm’ is not really a new album, because it is the CD release of the band’s unreleased 2nd album that should have been the follow-up to their classic debut ‘Taken by storm’ 25 years ago. The label YOUR TUNE RECORDS did a great job releasing this AOR gem, because it is one of many hidden secrets from the 80s AOR vault that now have been opened and released to the public in a decent CD package. MAX BACON was the original lead singer for BRONZ back on their debut, but he was replaced on this ‘Carried by the storm’ album by IAN BAKER, who happily was/is also a great vocalist. “Send down an angel” will always be the song that BRONZ is remembered for, accompanied with the video that featured the actress EMMA THOMPSON, an unforgettable piece of video footage of the early 80s. Anyway, this CD continues the style of their debut, although a tad softer, poppier and more keyboard based, which is a pity, because therefore it can not compete with the legendary first record. Nevertheless, the typical mid 1980s UK style AOR a la MORITZ, AIRRACE, SHOGUN, MONRO, FM, SHY, LIONHEART and such is very enjoyable sometimes, especially during uptempo AOR rockers like opener “Can’t live without your love”, “Tell her”, “Figure in the dark”, “When the lights go down”, “One more time”, the RUSS BALLARD cover “Two silhouettes” and the AOR ballad “You and me”. Despite the production of MAX NORMAN (OZZY, LOUDNESS, Y&T, SAVATAGE, LIZZY BORDEN) and guest appearances of CHRIS THOMPSON, STEVE LANGE, PHIL LANZON and several other established British Rock musicians, the album was never released until now 25 years later by YOUR TUNE RECORDS. It will probably not reach the 200,000 (!!!) copies sold worldwide of the first BRONZ record, but it should definitely appeal to the fans of Classic 80s AOR/Melodic Rock, because there are some really gems to be heard here! More info at: and 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


LILLE MULDER is the name of the female singer of the Dutch project LILLE. Main members besides Lille Mulder are co-songwriters/guitarists CASPER VAN VULPEN from The Netherlands as well and KOSTEK ANDREEV from Poland. Together with a few other musicians and legendary VANDENBERG bassist DICK KEMPER as co-producer, they recorded ‘Traveling girl’. First of all, everything looks and sounds quite perfect here, a real high quality album, but without a doubt, it’s Lille herself who is stealing the show. Her voice is incredible… a high octave range far above most other singers and by far the best True Rock voice I have ever heard from a Dutch female singer! Actually she has got the perfect AOR Rock voice and reminds me so much of all the US female singers in that genre, of which probably ANN WILSON is the most notable to mention here, but for the true insiders Lille also sounds a lot like the singers of the underground 80s AOR bands THE STORM, RASCAL as well as HEADPINS, WITNESS and CHRISSY STEELE for that matter. Musically LILLE is less AOR/Melodic Rock based, although happily during the highlights of the album there are some clear traces of our beloved genre, such as during the rockers “Frozen black water”, “Come closer”, “Traveling girl” and “Flirting eyes & Little lies” and the ballads “Phobia” and “Don’t do this alone”, all clearly Classic Rock/AOR type of material. Some of the other tracks are lighter and also here and there very acoustic based, but thanks to the superb vocals a pleasure to listen to. Besides, the musicianship of the guitarists is also quite enjoyable, so all together we have a really interesting project going on here, which hopefully will lead to more in the future! I am sure if they put up the Rock elements next time a little more, then this could well become a really sensational project. Check out all info at:  and 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


The Swedish band DIVIDED MULTITUDE was formed way back in 1995 and already released 2 albums in the late 1990s/early 2000s, but somehow after the release of their 2nd album ‘Falling to pieces’ in 2002, it became very quiet around the band. In 2007 however they reformed and started working on new material, which now has been released in the shape of a 3rd album titled ‘Guardian angel’. Musically this is prime-time intelligent Progressive Metal with Neo-Classical Metal approach that sounds like a cross between EVERGREY, SAVATAGE, PAGAN’S MIND and TIME REQUIEM. The album was mastered by JACOB HANSEN (ANUBUS GATE, VOLBEAT, ROB ROCK, MERCENARY), who of course did a fantastic job and without a doubt, ‘Guardian angel’ sounds like the best DIVIDED MULTITUDE album ever recorded. A song like “Regrets” sounds huge, combining the best of EVERGREY and SAVATAGE, but basically any of the 11 included tunes are a must-hear for fans of well-thought Metal. “My dying hour” sounds upper aggressive, with Thrashy Power Metal parts, but then everything is let loose when the chorus kicks in, which basically kicks major melodic metal ass! After 15 years, this band truly deserves to be heard by every Metalhead, because they are simply sounding amazing on this new album. ‘Guardian angel’ could easily put them up the level of the ‘big boys’ in this genre. Make sure to check out their site at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


This is already the 4th CD of the New York based band CRIME IN STEREO, but for us the first time we get to hear and review something of them. The music of the band is light-Screamo meets Punky Rock and Roll meets Experimental Grungerock. Sometimes it works, but there are also enough occasions in which it gets a bit messy and can even be qualified as Noise. SMASHING PUMPKINS meets early NIRVANA sometimes comes to mind. To some this might sound very interesting, but for melodic rock/hardrock fans it is something to stay away from. Not a bad band, but a lot of times going for a slightly different Rock direction than what we usually review. Nevertheless, check them out at:  and 

(Points: 7.2 out of 10)


You’re never too old to rock and roll and to record a CD! ANGELINA VINNIE is a female singer/songwriter from Sweden, who started recording something musically when she turned 38 years of age. Nevertheless, now the album ‘Payback time’ is released and contains a nice mix of calmer acoustic bluesy rock, American Southern and Bluegrass type of music. Some countryish rock can also be heard and perhaps BONNIE RAITT is a good comparison. Not really rocking out hard, but still a pleasant listen for a hot summer night, especially live I think. Best song is definitely the uptempo “Lost and found”, which has some AOR influences and reminds me of LISA HARTMAN a tiny bit. More info at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


WOW, a band from Costa Rica and they are really good. TIME’S FORGOTTEN already releases their 2nd album with this ‘Danedelion’, which musically is pure Progressive Rock/Metal with clear influences from DREAM THEATER and RUSH. What they do, they are doing very well during the 9 included tracks on this new album. If somebody had told me this was either a US or European based band, I would have instantly agreed, but they are really from Costa Rica! Of course it is known that in any country in the world highly professional musicians are active, but most of the time, the lack of money does not allow them to release something as professional as this CD sounds, because the sound/production of ‘Dandelion’ is also right up there with the big boys. Fans of Melodic Progressive Rock/Metal will absolutely love this record! Therefore go for more info to: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


The German label 7 HARD releases the debut CD of the French band BLACK CANDY STORE. Musically this band is a pure Post-Grunge Rock sounding band, very close to the American wave of bands that was thrown at us during the mid 1990s. A little CREED here and sadly a lot of PEARL JAM and even NIRVANA there, that is the case with BLACK CANDY STORE. The band’s debut CD is not of interest for the Melodic Hardrockfans. Of course despite the Grunge factor, the band sounds modern and for the American market they are even quite interesting, but only fans of LIVE, PEARL JAM, ALICE IN CHAINS and such bands might really care about this CD, which by the way has a very good sound/production, thanks to DAVE COLLINS (SOUNDGARDEN, LINK PARK). More info at: 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


The city of Peterborough is a city somewhere in the middle of the UK. The town does not only count about 150,000 inhabitants and a beautiful cathedral, but also has musically speaking a rather extensive scene, with many underground bands playing all sorts of rock and punk. This is the 2nd compilation CD that covers the scene of Peterborough. Although not every singly band is interesting, because here and there the Screamo acts are quite annoying, the Punkrock type of bands are doing their thing very well (DUN2DEF, THE MARK and RADICUS) in the style of classic RANCID/IGNITE, but also some good old Rock and Roll is present by 925s and happily some nice female fronted modern rock by TWO CLICK WISH as well, although perhaps the best bands are I ONLY DATE MODELS, THE FAKE EXTERIOR (a la THE JAM) and CAFFEINE, whom are playing pure Melodic Pop/Rock that is radio-ready and they are the most catchy bands with the potential to really breakthrough! No real melodic (hard) rock or metal (ANGELS OF MALICE is very average) to be heard here, which 20 years ago would probably be completely different, but nevertheless a nice coverage of the scene over there. Always nice to listen through these kind of local compilations. More info at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Part 3 of our big mp3 review overview from the past few month’s releases, starting with FRONTIERS RECORDS and their bunch of new releases. KEEL has had 2 new releases on FRONTIERS RECORDS, of which ‘The right to rock’ is the re-issue of their 25 years ago released album and ‘Streets of rock and roll’ is the new cut. Both albums are really nothing special, because RON KEEL never was and never will become a great singer/songwriter. Their standard 80s Hardrock had it’s ups sometimes, but most of the time it sounded like a poor man’s GENE SIMMONS’ KISS. Not really sure why KEEL is signed to FRONTIERS RECORDS, because it all sounded (and on their new album it sounds) very average… (7.3). WIG WAM started off really great with an excellent debut album a few years ago that paved the way for many other bands to finally start playing Melodic Hardrock/Glam the 80s way and after participating in the Eurovision Song Contest with the excellent “In my dreams”, the band went on releasing another great album and doing some DVD’s. Now they are back and I think that is all we can say about the new album ‘Non stop rock and roll’. It’s not that it is a bad album, because it sounds huge and very 80s… but it all sounds a bit over-the-top and cheap, damn… the catchy melodies are missing somehow, except perhaps in “Rocket through my heart” (ROXETTE’s “Sleeping in my car” chorus has been borrowed here) and “Still ‘em burning”, 2 great uptempo melodic rockers… However, most of the time the album sounds like just another standard 80s glam rock and roll record… (8.0). BRUCE KULICK’s solo-album ‘BK3’ is another weird album on the AOR/Melodic Hardrock label FRONTIERS RECORDS, because the album is loaded with very weak groovy Hardrock. No catchy melodies to be found here, despite the fact that Bruce is of course an excellent ex-KISS guitarist. No idea why this average record has been released on FRONTIERS RECORDS (7.1). Perhaps not original, the debut CD of the new project THE MURDER OF MY SWEET sounds quite impressive. Formed by drummer, songwriter and producer DANIEL FLORES, he found the perfect match in the female singer Angelica Rylin, who is fronting this new project, which musically is typical female fronted melodic (gothic) metal a la EPICA, AFTER FOREVER, XANDRIA, DELAIN, WITHIN TEMPTATION, etc. etc. So it all sounds very familiar, but still the melodies are very strong, the production/sound is rather excellent and with a bunch of great songs, this one is still a must-have for fans of mentioned bands (8.4). In the early 80s RICK SPRINGFIELD released some of the greatest Poprock albums ever recorded in music history. 30 years later they still sound very fresh and Rick himself also stood the test of time, because at 60+ years old he still rocks, not only in the studio, but also live, which can be seen on the DVD that has been added as bonus to the re-release of his great 2009 album ‘Venus in overdrive’. Re-released by FRONTIERS RECORDS, the same label also released an album of Rick worthy of unreleased material from the past, titled ‘From the vault’, still none of the release come close to the early 80s records ‘Working class dog’ and ‘Living in Oz’. Nevertheless, Springfield fans will be delighted with these 2 releases… (-). BRIAN HOWE is of course ex-BAD COMPANY and a great LOU GRAMM soundalike, but also released some solo albums in the past. Somehow this guy never released a classic, despite being a great singer! Also his new album ‘Circus bar’ also isn’t a classic record I’m afraid, it does on the other hand sounds like the best thing he did since he left BAD COMPANY. The album is filled with radio-ready catchy little AOR/Poprock that sounds dangerously close to the early 90s records of especially DAN LUCAS (very much!!!), STAN BUSH, MITCH MALLOY, and some DANNY WILDE/TOM KARR with of course a pure LOU GRAMM voice singing it! Not really anything new is brought to life here, but it is on the other hand a real nice album to play and sing-a-long with during… the summer! Quality record, must-have if you like DAN LUCAS/STAN BUSH/LOU GRAMM… (8.3). Biggest surprise release on FRONTIERS RECORDS is definitely GIANT ! What to say about this new release of GIANT, because where on earth is DANN HUFF?!?!?! GIANT = DANN HUFF, DANN HUFF = GIANT !!! Anyway, replacements TERRY BROCK –STRANGEWAYS/SEVENTH KEY (vocals) and JOHN ROTH - WINGER (guitars) of course do a great job and this new record ‘Promise land’ is even sounding like a sensational AOR album, but please why on earth call it GIANT, as minus 2 of the main members (guitarist ALAN PASQUA is also missing), it doesn’t make any sense. Besides, the AOR fans would have been interested nevertheless, whatever it is called, because the album itself really sounds excellent. This album is filled with really superb pure AOR and is close to TERRY BROCK’s solo ventures, some JOURNEY/SURVIVOR and also SEVENTH KEY, with as highlights “Believer”, “Promise land”, “Never surrender” and “Two worlds collide”, all truly superb uptempo AOR Rockers. Still, this album has nothing to do with GIANT, but on the other hand it’s also a must-have for the AOR fans… that my friend you can take for granted! (8.9).

March will probably be the best FRONTIERS RECORDS month of 2010, because they are doing some really stunning releases in this month. AURAS is a new Brazilian band whom are doing pure AOR a la JOURNEY/STRANGEWAYS on their debut CD ‘New generation’, sometimes sounding dangerously close actually to JOURNEY and HUGO. The band’s CD has a huge sound/production, a superb lead singer who is a STEVE PERRY clone and also instrumental it all sounds picture perfect. Songwise however they are not always reaching AOR HEAVEN. If only they could improve and write some stronger choruses, then they could easily become the best AOR band ever to hail from South America! For now, their songs are most of the time a bit too much sounding like ‘AOR by the numbers’, but here and there we can also already smell the taste of a winner, such as during the songs “Hungry hearts”, “Beauty of dreams” and “Reach out”. Not a super-must-have, but still definitely a CD one should check out if you’re into JOURNEY/STRANGEWAYS/ROXUSesque pure AOR, because these Brazilian guys are doing it at a very high level. On the other hand I think a follow-up CD might really show how good these guys are able to sound… (8.5). CRAZY LIXX from Sweden is a surprise signing to FRONTIERS, because they are closer to a Glamrockband at first sight and that’s not really the label’s idea. However the CD ‘New religion’ they have released is more the Melodic Hardrock type of Glamrock we have seen from WIG WAM in the past few years, injected with a lot of DEF LEPPARD meets DANGER DANGER kinda choruses and also adding a WARRANT/WINGER vibe. What they do, they do very well and if they had recorded this album in 1989, probably the whole US Major label had been fighting in order to sign them. Anyway, despite a few standard POISON meets LEPPARDish tracks, there are also some really sensational tunes to be heard here, such as the uptempo Melodic Hardrocksongs “Blame it on love”, “Children of the cross” and “Lock up your daughter” and the 80s Power ballad “What of our love” (remember “I saw red”/”Heaven”/High enough, etc. etc.). Songs like these will definitely wet the appetite of all the fans of late 80s sing-a-long mainstream US melodic rock a la SLAUGHTER, FIREHOUSE, DANGER DANGER, TINDRUM, SLYBOYZ, KANE ROBERTS (this band sounds identical to his 2nd ‘Saints and sinners’ album!)… Sing-along and party all night is the name of the game here! All together a strong album of this band and once again showing that the real talent nowadays is very much concentrated in Sweden. It’s absolutely not original, very cliché tingled and completely over the top here and there a la WIG WAM/STEEL PANTHER, but on the other hand it sounds damn catchy and it’s all done very well, so just turn up the volume and sing-a-long! (8.6). ALAN PARSONS PROJECT is the biggest surprise signing of FRONTIERS in ages, but their first release is only a live-CD, which however contains some of their finest tunes, including the much hated 80s Classic “Don’t answer me”, which for me personally is very dear to me, due to the fact it was one of the first 45” singles I ever bought 25 years ago, so played it 100 times a week back then! Anyway, hopefully this CD will also be followed by a DVD and hopefully also a strong real comeback record of ALAN PARSONS, who knows… (8.3). And the 4th release on FRONTIERS in march 2010 is the long awaited comeback album of legendary Swedish Melodic Rockers TREAT, whom are giving us a ‘Coup of grace’. Well, they sound very fresh and up-to-date on this new album, really not far away from WIG WAM, BROTHER FIRETRIBE and THE POODLES, so a little different than their 80s sound. Although I am a huge fan of the 80s records of TREAT, I must say that ‘Coup of grace’ is definitely not just a cash-in record to continue their past sound, because the album sounds bigger and more guitar-orientated than the old records. However, they have been faithful to their melodies of their past records, because the same kind of catchy melodic rock choruses can also be heard on this new CD. Songs like “The war is over”, “Paper tiger”, “Skies of Mongolia”, “Breathless”, “All for love”, “I’m not runnin’” (definitely the best song, SING-A-LONG SONG of the year 2010, all join together and party all night long to this song!) and “No way without you” are really great catchy uptempo melodic rockers in the style of THE POODLES, H.E.A.T. and BROTHER FIRETRIBE, so typical melodic rock of the 21st century. Also do not miss the midtempo “We own the night” which sounds like classic mid 80s TREAT! Great album and must-have for fans of mentioned bands! (8.8).

PITCH BLACK RECORDS is a rather new label from Cyprus and they released 3 albums in early 2010. Although I was aware the band ARRYAN PATH was a very good band, I did not expect that their new CD ‘Terra incognita’ was such a sensational Melodic Metal record! The band released their debut 6 years ago and now follow it up with a record that could perhaps become THE Metal album of the year 2010! Strong vocals and melodies are all over the place here, sounding like a cross between 80s TONY MARTIN fronted BLACK SABBATH, DOMINE/DUNGEON mixed with a lot KAMELOT and VISION DIVINE most of the time, which can be best heard in songs like opener “Cassiopeia”, the midtempo “Ishtar”, “The blood remains on the believer”, “Elegy” and “Angel with no destination”. Those songs offer some of the best Melodic Metal I heard in ages! Definitely a huge and highly recommendable CD! More info at:  and  (9.0). The second record on PITCH BLACK RECORDS is the debut CD of the band LETHAL SAINT, whom sound as close to a 1985 record as one possibly can get! In fact, it’s like I turned on some old vinyl record of a German Teutonic Metal band, because this band sounds dangerously close to the legendary GEMA/SCRATCH records of the 1980s, bands like VOX, NOISEHUNTER, GRAVESTONE, KILLER mixed with some NWOBHM a la TOKYO BLADE… it’s basically fitting exactly in between these bands! Together with songtitles like “Chains of the Devil”, “Thunder Strikes”, “Heavy Metal Knights”, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Survivor”, “Midnight Warriors” and “Wild in the Night”, this is the kind of Metal that one banged their heads one full concert long. Check it out for yourself at:  and  (8.2). Not all the releases on the label are from Cyprus based bands, because the 3rd release is coming from a French band called SILENT FALL. Musically they play Symphonic Melodic Power Metal, which sounds a bit thin due to an average production and an ‘ok’ lead singer, but musically their songs are nice to listen to, although nothing sensational can be heard here. They are nowhere near the big boys of HEAVENLY for example and are at this moment in the lower league of Melodic Power Metal, but I do feel they can do much better. Perhaps just a matter of time and experience… More info at:  and 

LION MUSIC goes AOR/Melodic Rock with ACACIA AVENUE, a project formed around Danish guitarist TORBEN ENEVOLDSEN, featuring some great lead singers, such as TONY MILLS (TNT, SHY) and GEIR RONNING (RADIOACTIVE). Not as good as RADIOACTIVE, the style of the album is very close to TOMMY DENANDER’s past AOR project. Not really a classic I am afraid, because it’s all done by the familiar numbers, with here and there a nice tune. Most of the material goes in one ear and out the other, so don’t expect a classic a la RADIOACTIVE, just a nice standard record is the deal here… (7.8). LION MUSIC is much better in belting out instrumental releases, because any fan of instrumental guitar based neo-classical hardrock will love the new release of BORISLAV MITIC (8.3), however the finest releases of the Finnish label are the Progressive/Melodic Metal orientated albums and we have been surprised by a few really sensational ones lately, such as the new CD of IRON MASK, which is truly an amazing record, filled with super high quality Melodic Neo-Classical Power Metal. The album is titled ‘Shadow of the red baron’ and thanks to the superb guitarwork of MALMSTEENsoundalike DUSHAN PETROSSI and wonderful lead vocals of singer VALHALLA JR, this album stands like a rock, so without a doubt a true winner of the year 2010! (8.8). Also the new CD of Japanese virtuoso KELLY SIMONZ (‘The rule of right’) smells like the album MALMSTEEN has not created the past 2 decades, so a really great melodic neo-classical (prog/power) metalalbum, not as good as IRON MASK, but still not one you want to miss I think (8.5). A little disappointing is the new MASTERMIND album ‘Insomnia’… Despite some great female vocalwork and also good instrumental back-up, the album sounds a little too modern and it somehow misses something the band’s previous albums did capture, which was… melodies! The progrock on this new record sounds more experimental than before and therefore only really interesting for the open-minded progfans (7.6). CHARLY SAHONA is the guitarist of the French Progmetalband VENTURIA and he releases his solo-debut CD, which is a quality modern sounding record that wants to sound prog and modern, but ends up sounding like a typical American record of today’s major label’s, of which 30 SECONDS TO MARS is a good comparison… not bad at all… but also not a winner at all… (8.0). French guitarist CYRIL ACHARD releases a nice new record in the shape of ‘Violenica’, which contains once more nice instrumental guitar orientated rockmusic (8.0). One of the more interesting releases on LION MUSIC is the new CD of one of the first female fronted Gothic/Industrial bands ever from The Netherlands, namely THE DREAMSIDE. Their new CD ‘Lunar nature’ is a beautiful lengthy Melodic Gothic Rock/Metal album that is sounding like THE GATHERING once sounded, but due to the current popular Dutch Symphonic female fronted Melodic Metal sound, THE DREAMSIDE has now also added a piece of that into their music. They started as a sort of Gothic Industrial band in the early 80s, but especially during the 2000s it all became more and more a sort of Gothic Metal affair, which also starts to sound better and better with every new release. This new album is a very nice one to check out, although it is not as instantly catchy as for example DELAIN or EPICA, because THE DREAMSIDE is of course different and that makes them even more interesting. They have a sound of their own, which is actually impossible to compare, because they also take a lot of 80s Industrial/Gothic Wave in their final sound, with the light EPICAish “Higher ground” as highlight. Make sure not to miss their original release… (8.5).

LIMB MUSIC releases the new album of BURNING BLACK, a band which harkens back to the classic 80s US Power Metal sound of bands like VIRGIN STEELE, JAG PANZER and especially MALICE. Sometimes going for a slightly more up-to-date Power Metal sound in a MANOWAR kinda way, but on other times really going for a classic 80s US Melodic Metal sound, just check out the awesome “Purgatory child”, which not only does have a great chorus, but also a very nice guitarsound and reminding me a bit of FIFTH ANGEL meets Q5 meets PRETTY MAIDS! What they do is very good and if you mix all mentioned bands with CRIMSON GLORY, well then you can go for BURNING BLACK’s new record ‘Mechanichell’. (8.3). However LIMB MUSIC also released a really fantastic new CD of EXCALION. Although it sounds very cliché and standard at first sight, the Finnish band has put out their strongest effort so far with their 3rd CD ‘High time’. STRATOVARIUS, DIONYSUS, DESTYNATION, EDGUY, DREAMTALE, DREAMLAND and SONATA ARCTICA are very clear comparisons that can be made throughout the record, so do not expect anything new. On the other hand, the band is doing this really good and most of the included songs are deadly catchy, such as the first couple of songs (“Enter a life”, “From somewhere to anywhere”, “The flags in line” and also later tracks such as “Lifetime” and “Foreversong”) and actually it is a pleasure to listen to the album from start to finish. Must-have for any fan of Northern European Melodic (Power) Metal! (8.8). Also on LIMB MUSIC we can find the new CD of the Northern Ireland based band SANDSTONE, whom we reviewed a few years ago when they released their debut ‘Tides of opinion’, which is now followed up by this new record titled ‘Purging the past’. The band once again delivers high quality Melodic Progressive Metal with some well crafted melodies and biting top-notch guitarwork. The song that personally made a huge impact is the lovely midtempo “Hiding in the shadows”, which features a haunting melodic chorus! Glad to say that the whole CD sounds very strong and is recommended to fans of MIND’S EYE, PAGAN’S MIND, VANDENPLAS… Without a doubt, when thinking of Northern Ireland, GARY MOORE, THIN LIZZY, U2 and RORY GALLAGHER are the common names to mention, but SANDSTONE deserve to be mentioned in the future as well, because they are truly a superstrong band, which can best be heard on this wonderful new CD! (8.8).

MASSACRE RECORDS releases a nice female fronted Gothic Metal album in the shape of CORONATUS, but sadly after a few songs it becomes a little annoying as it is constantly high pitched soprano like vocals sung in German and believe me… one can not stand that longer than 10 minutes… (7.5). On NIGHTMARE RECORDS we find a CD of the Atlanta/USA based band HALCYONE, whom sound like an ok Thrashy Power Metalband a la NEVERMORE, but sadly nothing really to be raving about on their CD ‘A manifesto for domination’ (7.8). The debut CD of HOUSE OF HEAVY on the same label is then much better, because their same titled album sounds quite big and attractive. It is filled with high quality Melodic Progressive Metal, done by ex-members of the Melodic Hardrockband MASQUERADE from Sweden, which can clearly be heard in some of the catchy melodic choruses between the 15 included tracks. Not a classic, but still also not an album you need to avoid, because it clearly has a lot of strong moments (8.5). Also on NIGHTMARE RECORDS is the new CD of the Ohio/USA based band PERSPECTIVE X IV, which is titled ‘Shadow of doubt’. A very strong original Progressive Rockalbum with melodies a la RUSH/KANSAS, yet with big Modern Metalish thundering drums (although they also sound a bit Industrialized a la TOOL). Blend them all together and you have this album as result, which is actually done very nice, although when the band goes for a more melodic rockish sound (pure ELEFANTEish KANSAS actually) on a song like “Carry on” they go for an almost sensational direction. In the end, still this is a highly recommended album to any progfan out there! (8.3).

AFM RECORDS deliver us the new album of French Power Metal fanatics HEAVENLY. Live this band is pretty good, but in the studio a lot of work is done to make them sound a bit too perfect. RHAPSODY meets HELLOWEEN is their favorite style to play and fans of these both bands will be dancing and singing all night long to the anthem “Ode to Joy”, included on this new album, as this is the perfect fast Melodic Power Metal tune and probably the finest of the year 2010! The album itself is a nice record, nothing new under the French Riviera, but definitely worth checking out if you like mentioned bands (8.2). The new album of the Swedish Melodic (Power) Metalband NOSTRADAMEUS is titled ‘Illusion’s parade’ and it seems like they are unstoppable, because once again they deliver high quality stuff. The band is not far removed from their countrymen of NOCTURNAL RITES, especially on the fantastic opener “Walk of pain”, which is a sensational Melodic Power Metal tune with a huge guitar wall of sound as well as a deadly catchy melodic chorus. Happily, the CD continues in this style, although the band also throws in some Thrash and Progmetal riffs here and there, but always go for the melodic chorus, which will be well appreciated by the fans. Concluded, another strong album of NOSTRADAMEUS, whom never seem to give up! (8.4).

The Greek label SLEASZY RIDER RECORDS also makes a return with a bunch of new ‘quality’ releases. LIPSTICK’N’BULLETZ from Sweden play some cool pure late 80s uptempo Melodic Glam/Hardrock and they are not far away from CRAZY LIXX, WIG WAM, THE POODLES, BACKYARD BABIES and classic POISON, PRETTY BOY FLOYD and FASTER PUSSYCAT. The sound of their new CD ‘Bang your head’ is huge and most of the songs are very catchy. Not original at all, but who cares if it is done as well as on this record, so go out and party all night to the feel-good hardrock of this band! (8.4). RE-VISION is a German band which was formed way back in the early 90s, managed to released a few albums in the following years, but things really became interesting when they hired a new female lead singer, namely Anke Willnat. She has got a fantastic superstrong voice, which can be heard all through the band’s new CD ‘Chapter 4: All for the sake of love’. The music is very impressive Melodic Metal and especially thanks to the lovely female vocals, this CD is a winner for any fan of female fronted Hardrock/Metal. The CD DORO, LEE AARON and LITA FORD could not deliver the past 20 years!!! Highly recommended album!!! (8.8). The Italian band SO COLD is made up of members whom played in a Death Metal band, but also were part of RHAPSODY at some point in history. However, now they release an album as SO COLD, which is titled ‘Gone with the storm’. Musically speaking we are deep down in HIMish Melodic Gothic Hardrock. Not really original, but the songs sound sometimes catchy and are very listenable. However, only for die-hard HIM fans, with more raw vocalwork! (8.1). SORROWFUL ANGELS is playing really Dark Gothic Metal with a sound that comes close to that of TIAMAT and actually what they do on their new album ‘Ship in your trip’ they are doing very well, so fans of typical Dark male fronted Gothic Metal will be enjoying this new album of SORROWFUL ANGELS a lot! (8.1).

BROTHER FIRETRIBE released a Live-CD/DVD on SPINEFARM RECORDS and sadly I only was able to track down the CD version, which of course sounds very good, but I think the DVD version is more recommended, perhaps a full review if we receive the DVD release of ‘Live at Apollo’ (8.5)

(Points mentioned at the end of each short review)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem except where noted)