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HOT NEW REVIEWS
 UPDATED ON JUNE THE 21st - 2010

ROSWELL SIX ‘TERRA INCOGNITA – A LINE IN THE SAND’ (PROGROCK RECORDS/BERTUS)

ROSWELL SIX is a project of multi-instrumentalist HENNING PAULY, which started in 2009 with a first CD and is already now, just one year later, followed up by a second release in the shape of ‘Terra incognita – A line in the sand’. Once again on Proglabel PROGROCK RECORDS, this CD is a very diverse and quite heavy epic concept style release based once again on a novel written by well-known Sci-Fi bestseller author KEVIN J. ANDERSON. All the instruments on the album are played by Henning, who also produced the CD, while Kevin wrote all the lyrics together with Rebecca Moesta. The vocal department reveals remarkable guest appearances by STEVE WALSH (KANSAS), MICHAEL SADLER (SAGA), SASS JORDAN, AYREON mastermind ARJEN LUCASSEN, the original DREAM THEATER vocalist CHARLIE DOMINICI and the singers of THE THIRD ENDING and FRAMESHIFT. All together it is one of those strong pure concept style epic releases filled with music that mixed progrock, heavy rock and metal, not far away from AYREON actually. One can not go wrong with this release, although personally I would have preferred vocals only by MICHAEL SADLER and SASS JORDAN, who are the main vocal stars on this CD. More info at: http://www.progrockrecords.com and www.myspace.com/roswellsix 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

WOLFSPRING ‘WOLFSPRING’ (PROGROCK RECORDS/BERTUS)

WOLFSPRING is a band formed around guitarist/vocalist JP LOUVETON, who is also a member of the French Neo-Progband NEMO. With his new band WOLFSPRING he is heading into a slightly heavier Progressive Rock direction, with even some Progmetal riffs here and there. The included 8 songs are sounding quite huge and for a French band, this CD is truly a gift to listen to from start to finish, because we normally do not receive such high quality releases much from that country. The sound is also a bit modern and even experimental at times, but always focused on pure Progrock/Progmetal, with some slight comparisons to PORCUPINE TREE and at times also sounding like a progversion of OPETH, yet with clean vocals only. Definitely a surprise here, a high quality CD release that will be appreciated by any Progfan out there. Besides a lot of excellent instrumental sections within the songs, the melodies of the songs are also very strong, such as during “24/7”, “Train’s gone” (superb harmonies!), “Mutation” (PAGAN’S MIND style) and “Now or never”. This is Progrock/Progmetal at it’s best, not even far removed from a DREAM THEATER level, so be sure to check out this high quality progalbum at: http://www.progrockrecords.com and www.myspace.com/wolfspringband 

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)

PB2 ‘PLASTIC SOUP’ (PROGROCK RECORDS/BERTUS)

PLACKBAND was a legendary Dutch progband, who wanted to become the Dutch GENESIS, but sadly their records and live performances were just so and so, so they never reached a reasonable level to even come close to become the best Dutch progband ever and due to many line-up changes and long pauses, the band never became that successful, although they definitely had a cult following. Anyway, now in 2010 the band is called PB2 and release their new CD ‘Plastic soup’ on PROGROCK RECORDS. The band now sounds better than ever, finally releasing a real strong Progrockalbum. Maybe not a sensational release, still something worth checking out if you’re a progfan. SPOCK’S BEARD and FROST influences and comparisons are very clear and although that incredible high level is not reached all throughout the CD, I must admit that PB2 is doing a great job here. Vocally it could have been better (or should I say differently), because somehow their singer MICHEL VAN WASSEM does remind me a lot of ALICE COOPER (or the SAVATAGE singer!), so very theatrical and nasal sounding, just a little different than for example PETER GABRIEL, who also sounded theatrical when he was in GENESIS 40 years ago. The music is also nothing like GENESIS in their heydays, because the keyboardsound is taking them straight into pure NEO-PROG heaven a la IQ/PENDRAGON, so after all these years, the GENESIS comparisons should really be put aside now with this new record and I guess that is a good thing, because now PB2 has sorta created an own sound which combines Neo-Prog with more modern complex parts and a vocalist who sounds like ALICE COOPER (only vocally, not musically!). This is a very nice release actually and one to check out if you’re a proghead! More at: http://www.progrockrecords.com and www.pb2.nl 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

SKY ARCHITECT ‘EXCAVATIONS OF THE MIND’ (PROGROCK RECORDS/BERTUS)

The most interesting thing about this release for me personally is the fact that SKY ARCHITECT is coming from my hometown city of Rotterdam! They are a young five-piece band formed at the well-known CODARTS, which is a school/university for music students and that is also the place where they recorded their debut CD ‘Excavations of the mind’ in 2008. Now the album has been released on the big PROGROCK RECORDS label and for me it is also the first time I get to hear this talented band. Finally, 5 young guys playing pure Progressive Rock a la 1970s GENESIS, FLAMBOROUGH HEAD, THE FLOWER KINGS, PORCUPINE TREE, KING CRIMSON, GENTLE GIANT, so with a slight theatrical quirky part added here and there. They do it very well and are mainly focused on the complex instrumental parts in each of the 8 included songs on the CD. The first 4 songs form together the concept ‘Deep chasm’, with some long instrumental passages in between, while the other 4 tracks are the typical one-off Progrocktracks. One way or the other, all together this is a very strong pure Progrock CD, which will be loved by fans of the mentioned bands and it is by far one of the best Rotterdam based recordings in a long time! Also check out the beautiful artwork of MAIDEN/PRIEST/MARILLION rock-illustrator MARK WILKINSON, of whom we reviewed recently a fantastic book filled with all his work. More info on this band at: http://www.progrockrecords.com and www.skyarchitect.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

FRAMEPICTURES ‘REMEMBER IT’ (PROGROCK RECORDS/BERTUS)

‘Remember it’ is the debut CD of the Portuguese band FRAMEPICTURES. The band is formed around a group of high-skilled session musicians, who decided to start this band already 6 years ago. During this period they added a lead singer to their line-up and now they are your typical Progressive Rockband. ‘Remember it’ might not become the best or most original progalbum of 2010, it still offers some great music. The band is playing pure Progressive Rock, with the usual Progmetal influences here and there, so the band has an edgy approach most of the time, kinda like a lightweight DREAM THEATER. The result is a good little album that is nice to listen to and with as absolute highlight the concept-epic 26 minutes closing track “My will to live”, although the melodic “Call for me” is also memorable. The band’s vocals are very clean and melodic, making them interesting for any progfan out there. Check them out at: http://www.progrockrecords.com and www.myspace.com/framepicturesband 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

DANTE ‘SATURNINE’ (PROGROCK RECORDS/BERTUS)

DANTE is a German Progressive Metalband making their debut with this CD titled ‘Saturnine’. The band has an aggressive approach vocally here and there, which might put off some of the fans of the more melodic progmetal style, although on the other hand DREAM THEATER sometimes does the same (METALLICA style) the past 10 years and easily gets away with it. The sound of DANTE’s first CD is impressive and has a major label feeling, like a heavier DREAM THEATER most of the time, although I do feel it is not always as strong as their heroes, because a song like “Last” sounds just OK, but “Never return” on the other hand is sounding very impressive. For a first CD very well done, but I do feel DANTE can deliver an even better album in the future. Progmetalfans might wanna check out DANTE at: http://www.progrockrecords.com and www.danteband.de 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

GUITAR WORLD ‘GUITAR WORLD PRESENTS VAN HALEN BOOK’ (BACKBEAT BOOKS)

Another flashy looking book by BACKBEAT BOOKS and this time it concerns a book put together by the popular magazine GUITAR WORLD. Actually it is more a compilation of all the interviews guitarist EDDIE VAN HALEN did for this magazine through the years, although a few were lost and a story has been added, so all together it makes it an enjoyable read, especially if you haven’t bought any GUITAR WORLD magazine in the past. Fans of EDDIE VAN HALEN will of course have already read the interviews, but here’s a good chance to get them all together in one book and read once again the fascinating words this genius belted out the past 30 years. It’s a pity Eddie has not done much the past 10 years, because VAN HALEN was a very influential bands in the 1970s and 1980s, but after SAMMY HAGAR was put aside somewhere in the 1990s, VAN HALEN as a band were finished sadly. If you consider the fact they were one of the few Arena Rockbands to truly survive the 1990s and maintain the same popularity as AEROSMITH, BON JOVI, AC/DC and METALLICA worldwide, one will always wonder how much more people they could have reached if they had continued in the 2000s. They could have done at least 5 World Tours and probably could have established themselves Megastardom into eternity! Instead Eddie went down the drain and was fighting a battle with alcohol. Such a shame… Of course VAN HALEN was a major band, but it feels like this story must not end like this and we can only Eddie gets his act together again and VAN HALEN will be back on the road and in the studio somewhere in the 2000s! This book definitely gives you a good view on the thoughts Eddie has had in the past decades. And what about the future? Guess what… Eddie doesn’t know either… Available through: www.backbeatbooks.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

SILENT CALL ‘GREED’ (ESCAPE MUSIC)

The Swedish band SILENT CALL released their debut ‘Creations from a chosen path’ in 2008 and now follow it up with the new album ‘Greed’, released on ESCAPE MUSIC. Without a doubt, this album sounds like a masterpiece, basically picture perfect and a must-have for any fan of Melodic Progressive Metal. It sounds typical Swedish, really not far away from COLDSPELL and SEVENTH WONDER, with amazing vocalwork of ANDI KRAVLJACA, who sounds a bit like THOMAS VIKSTROM meets MARK BOALS. Vocally, instrumentally, the songs, the choruses… basically everything sounds superb, so a true winner we have here! Songs like “Dream tomorrow”, “Every day”, “Unbreakable” or “The wages of greed”, it’s all super sensational Melodic Progmetal at it’s very best! Perhaps one of the highlights in 2010 in this never-ending genre! More info at: www.silentcall.se 

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

PETER BLECHA ‘SONIC BOOM – THE HISTORY OF NORTHWEST ROCK BOOK’ (BACKBEAT BOOKS)

Some parts in the USA have a real Rock and Roll history and of course places like the Detroit, San Francisco, L.A., New York, Cleveland, Louisiana, Nashville and Chicago area all have their books written about this topic, but the Northwest of the USA also has a long history of Rockmusic. Long before Seattle became the Grunge capital of the world in the 1990s, this part of the USA already had a lot of Rock to offer. It all started with this tune called “Louie Louie” and the first 200 pages of this new book are all about the classic decades of early blues and rock and roll in the Northwest of the USA, but of course for us hard rockers it all becomes really interesting when the book is reaching the 1970s and HEART is by far the most popular band ever to come out of the Northwestern region of the United States. It is therefore obvious that HEART has a bunch of pages included in this book. It is remarkable to read the WILSON sisters actually never formed HEART themselves, despite the fact they are now more or less the only members left from the first LP recording line-up. The book focuses not that much on the Metal side of the scene, but happily bands like Q5, CULPRIT, BLACK’N’BLUE, FIFTH ANGEL, TKO and RAIL do get an honorable mention here and also be sure to read the part on QUEENSRYCHE and METAL CHURCH, the 2 most successful Metalbands from the area, but of course it was the Grunge scene in the 1990s that put Seattle on the map with horrible bands like NIRVANA and PEARL JAM as well as quality bands such as ALICE IN CHAINS and SOUNDGARDEN. But each trend comes to an end and so by the end of the 1990s Grunge had died and actually besides the established acts, not many new bands have appeared from the northwestern part of the USA ever since, although I am sure there are still quite a lot out there. You can read the entire story of the past 50 + years of rock and roll in the Northwest of the USA in this book… let’s just hope the US state of California will also get their book someday, because that is by far the most productive US state when it comes down to AOR/Melodic Rock and as far as I know there are only a few books about LA and San Francisco out there, but not a pure Californian Rockbook. Anyway, the book about the history of Northwest Rock is available through: www.backbeatbooks.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

SEM HADLAND ‘THE ILLUSTRATED COLLECTOR’S GUIDE TO METALLICA: FUEL AND FIRE BOOK’ (COLLECTOR’S GUIDE PUBLISHING/GAZELLE BOOKS)

By far the most popular Metalband ever… METALLICA. Of course they also started as just another band, playing the clubs night after night, recording badly sounding demos and being disappointed every time when they tried to get signed by a label. Eventually the band got their break in Europe and from there on it went pretty quickly, reaching superstardom during the 1990s worldwide and now the biggest Metalband on the planet, even beating IRON MAIDEN. Anyway, this book is a collector’s guide, in a same we have seen from KISS and ALICE COOPER in recent years. The book is a real collector’s kind of book, because included are facts, figures and a full discography of METALLICA, not missing out one single red coloured picture disc of a release of the band. All put together by a METALLICA fanatic called SEM HADLAND. He did a pretty good job of course, because he went down deep in the band’s roots, talking about some strange demos they recorded when they were called OBSESSION. The facts in the beginning look simple, but are really nice to read through as they are being mentioned beneath each other on just a few pages and it really gives you a good chronological description of events that took place in the early years of the band. JAMES HETFIELD was and is METALLICA actually, because his first steps in the music business in the late 70s is the beginning of what would later become METALLICA. However, it wasn’t until Danish born LARS ULRICH joined James before the band would really define it’s sound. James’ love for ZEPPELIN/SABBATH mixed with Lars’s NWOBHM knowledge and the speed of Californian Hardcore sound of the early 80s… this all combined brought forward the Speed/Thrash Metalsound which would METALLICA basically introduce to the masses. A new genre was born, but as time went by, so did METALLICA change their sound and by the 1990s not much of that was left. Nevertheless, the band did bring a new genre, the San Francisco Bay Area Thrash Metal sound, which would generate thousands of METALLICA wanna-bees during the late 1980s. This book however is showing that one band stood out in this genre and the incredible discography of bootleg releases reflected in this book are one you will easily enjoy looking at. The only minor fact is that this book is already more than 10 years old, so the facts and figures stop somewhere around 1998. Nevertheless, a must-have for METAL(LICA) fans. The book is available at: www.gazellebooks.co.uk 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

ALAN MANN ‘THE A-Z OF BUDDY HOLLY AND THE CRICKETS BOOK’ (MUSIC MENTOR BOOKS/GAZELLE BOOKS)

Listening to all those new Rock and Metal releases sometimes makes you think back where it all started. Well, BUDDY HOLLY surely was one of the pioneers of Rock and Roll. During the 1950s he created a string of hits that even now 60 years later are still regarded as Rock and Roll Classics. Of course he died much too young, only 22 years old of age, not even making it to the glorious 1960s! ALAN MANN is someone who is a big fan of BUDDY HOLLY and in 1994 he put together the book ‘A-Z of BYDDY HOLLY AND THE CRICKETS’, which now 16 years later has been fully revised and expanded, as it is now 50 (actually 51 as this book was published in 2009) years ago that BUDDY HOLLY died in a tragic plane crash. The book itself is a real must-have for the fans of BUDDY HOLLY as everyone, every song and every fact concerning BUDDY HOLLY is alphabetically put together here. A whopping 300+ pages are in this book and it is quite remarkable one can fill up a book this much, because after all BUDDY HOLLY only was active for just a couple of years. What if he had survived the fatal crash, could we have seen 60 years of recordings from this hugely talented musician? I guess we will never know, but this book gives you a slight idea of the big impact BUDDY HOLLY already achieved in the few years he was active in the 1950s. The book is available at: www.gazellebooks.co.uk 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

DAVID CUTLER ‘THE SAVVY MUSICIAN BOOK’ (HELIUS PRESS/GAZELLE BOOKS)

Now this is a really an incredible book, not only if you are a musician, but also recommended to anyone in the music business, just to understand what a musician actually needs to know about the business he is involved with. Of course most musicians have their passion for their music, but it’s not just your music you must think about, because there are a thousand aspects more to take care of. This book contains each detail other than the music itself a musician has to think about and then we’re talking about press, promotion material, websites, gigs, networking, gear, managers, advertising, labels, radio, marketing, investing, budget, etc. etc. This book gives you the answer how to deal with rejections, how to market yourself, how to built up a reputation, how to become well-known in the music business, how to be in control of your own music, etc. etc. However, the most important question a musician needs to ask himself, how on earth can I make a living out of my music? If you are able to do that, then you are definitely on the right track, but this book might help you a little further probably. Also recommended to the non-musicians among us, because it gives you an inside look of the complicated life a professional musician, because there are so many things to take care of. Read it in this book, available at: www.gazellebooks.co.uk 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

PASTOR BRAD ‘BREAK OUT!’ (ROXX RECORDS)

Guitarist PASTOR BRAD has released 4 independent instrumental guitar-shred releases in the past, but now released a CD on ROXX RECORDS, which contains lead vocals and not just by one guest singer, because PASTOR BRAD’s CD ‘Break out!’ features vocals by Rachel Anne (IRON MAJESTY), KEN TAMPLIN, Norman “Ski” Kiersznowski (FAITH FACTOR), Chaz Bond (JACOBS DREAM), Les Carlson (BLOODGOOD), Richie Z (BLIND SEVEN), Jim Griffin (GRIFFIN X) and Dave Merriwether (STRICKEN). Musically we are deep down into classic 80s Melodic Metal with a Prog touch here and there, with as highlights are “Break out”, “Turn up the light”, “He loves me” (DIOish), “Gethsemene” and “Beating the flesh”. The production could have been a little better, including some more thundering drums and a better mixing of the vocals, but nevertheless this is a nice BLOODGOOD/JACOBS DREAM style record by PASTOR BRAD! More info at: http://www.storenvy.com/products/9341-pastor-brad-break-out-cd 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

WISER TIME ‘BEGGARS AND THIEVES’ (WISERTIME RECORDS/TSM SLW PROMOTIONS)

Vocalist/guitarist CARMEN SCLAFANI from New Jersey is the leader of the band WISER TIME and ‘Beggars and thieves’ is their 3rd CD so far, with musically a mix of Americana, Bluesrock and Rootsrock included. Strip-down BLACK CROWES and BADLANDS, add some AEROSMITH and LED ZEPPELIN, but also do not forget about the STONES, then you probably end up with the sound of WISER TIME. Original true bluesy rock and roll with a deep Midwestern American feeling all over the place. Must-have for fans of mentioned bands! Make sure to check them out at: www.wiser-time.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

BAIL ‘A BOLT FROM THE BLUE’ (INDEPENDENT)

BAIL is a Dutch band with a strong pure American sound that combines the best of Southern Rock, Hardrock and Stoner Rock, with some slight Post-Grunge here and there, sorta mixing ALICE IN CHAINS, LYNYRD SKYNYRD and KYUSS, with also a bit Rock and Roll a la ROSE TATTOO touch sometimes. All together their official full-length debut CD ‘A bolt from the blue’ really rocks and the 10 included tracks contain some great groovy guitar riffs that will please any fan of the mentioned bands. They also remind me very much of their fellow Dutchmen of SEQUOYAH, a band we reviewed a few times in the past. Be sure to check out this upcoming Dutch Rock and Roll band at: www.bail.nl  and e-mail them at: info@bail.nl 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

FEEDING THE FIRE ‘DISINFONATION’ (INDEPENDENT/TSM SLW PROMOTIONS)

Although at first sight, one might think this North Carolina, USA based band FEEDING THE FIRE sounds like yet another typical American band, with an Emo kinda sound, when listening to their first full-length-CD ‘Disinfonation’ it becomes clear they are as original as COHEED AND CAMBRIA. Therefore it is a very interesting band to check out. Opener and titletrack “Disinfonation” has a very strong melody (a la ENCHANT) and is a sorta modern sounding Progrocker, with elements of bands like MARS VOLTA, MUSE, TOOL and RADIOHEAD. The band’s lead singer has a British type of accent in his voice and the music is proggy, but modern and moody and if only one of the main TV or Radio shows would pick up this FEEDING THE FIRE, who knows how big they would be able to become. This band has a sound that is original and still appealing to a lot of diverse music fans out there. They certainly would be able to please a Pinkpop crowd! Check them out for yourself at: www.feedingthefire.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

UBERKID ‘THEY HATE US IN NEW YORK’ (STF RECORDS)

UBERKID are a band from Berlin and Hannover, Germany and were formed 2 years ago. Now they release their debut CD ‘They hate us in New York’ on STF RECORDS. The included pure American mix of Emo, Hardcore, Metal and Screamocore might attract fans of the well-known bands in this genre, I do think only those type of rockers (FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND, AFI) will be enjoying this lot, because melodic rockfans can not do anything with this album. Check for yourself at: www.uberkid.de 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

PENTAPHONE ‘NEVERTHELESS’ (STF RECORDS)

PENTAPHONE are a Berlin, Germany based band with a pure American Post-Grunge/Nu-Metal sound that is only a few blocks away from bands like CREED, NICKELBACK and DISTURBED. Maybe not original, still this band is doing it quite well, just listen to songs like “Ad’N’useless”, “Wondering”, “Rest in peace” and “To die for”. Most of the songs are midtempo with a big guitarsound and strong melodic choruses, but what truly sets them apart from most other wanna-be bands of earlier mentioned Northern American acts is the fact that PENTAPHONE has a strong lead singer called PETER BAUMANN. With a bit of luck, this band might have a break someday soon, but of course with so much competition that will be hard. Anyway, check out their site at: www.pentaphone.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

FIVE STAR PRISON CELL ‘MATRIARCH’ (MRM AND MUSIC/RIOT!/WARNER MUSIC AUSTRALIA)

FIVE STAR PRISON CELL are a band from Australia and sadly for us that is where the interesting part ends, because their CD ‘Matriarch’ is filled with a mix of some Prog rhythms, Extreme Screamocore, Death/Black Metal and Nu-Metal, although some songs could better be labeled as Noise with a lot of screaming. It’s incredible heavy, insane, extreme and confusing sounding and only interesting for people who want to hear something completely out-of-control. SYSTEM OF A DOWN going completely mad is what I would describe this FIVE STAR PRISON CELL. More at: www.myspace.com/fivestarprisoncell 

(Points: -)

JOHNNY MORGAN AND BEN WARDLE ‘THE ART OF LP – CLASSIC ALBUM COVERS 1955 – 1995 BOOK (STERLING PUBLISHING)

The past 10 years we have seen many books that were based around the classic album covers of mostly 1970s and 1980s LPs, but the latest release in this field will be ‘the mother of all album cover books’, because that is basically what this ‘The Art Of LP’ book is all about. The design, lay-out and size is unbeatable. Admitted, the book is a little heavy to carry with you, but when you have it stored at home you will find yourself enjoying it every time you see it standing on your desk. A massive book that contains 400 pages of color pictures of a little less than 400 classic album covers that were originally created between 1955 and 1995 by many various designers for classic albums in all kinds of genres. Nowadays the cover of an album is nowhere near reaching the cover of the album covers of the past art wise, but also impact wise, because especially in the 1970s and 1980s the cover artwork of an LP could mean a huge success by forehand, even sometimes without the fact if the music was good or not. A lot of people just bought the records for the artwork and some bands even became big thanks to just that. Of course those pre-internet days made it harder to get to know new acts and so a wild guess when buying a new record could either mean you had a winner or a miss. Nevertheless, the impact of the artwork of an LP cover during the LP timeline of 1955 – 1995 is even nowadays a topic music critics and music fans love to discuss. ‘The Art Of LP’ is an incredible book that gives you a very diverse idea of what 40 years of LP artwork was all about. Both BEN WARDLE (a music journalist who writes regularly for BBC Radio, THE GUARDIAN and THE LONDON PAPER, besides having done a lot of other music related business) and JOHNNY MORGAN (also an editor, author and journalist in the music business, wrote a few books) did a really great job here, because you got to have some knowledge to create a book as massive as this. The book is divided into 10 chapters, each handling a different topic (Rock and Roll, Sex, Art, Identity, Drugs, Ego, Real World, Escape, Politics and Death). The authors really had to dig deep in the past, because a lot of rare covers from the 1950s and 1960s are included here, but also the fact that on each two pages that are next to each other when opening up the book, two album covers that more or less have something in common are portrayed. And that last thing makes this book even more interesting and enjoyable, because album covers of 2 complete different music genres are being put next to each other, as they look-a-like, but further more they do not have anything in common. That is the beauty of art if you ask me and not one single book did this as magnificent as this ‘The Art Of LP’ book. Each page contains 1 album cover, with a short written review of the artist/band, about the music and of course the album cover. Rock and Metal are not the main genres here, as mentioned before it is a very diverse book, because the music genres go from 1950s Rockabilly and Jazz, 1960s Rock and Roll, 1970s Singer-Songwriter and AOR, 1980s Pop to 1990s Alternative Rock, so each genre is presented here, also including album covers of our beloved bands, such as SCORPIONS (quite a lot of them actually!), TOTO, KISS, JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, BOSTON, BLUE OYSTER CULT, AC/DC, THIN LIZZY, MANOWAR, FOREIGNER, UFO, etc. etc. but I think any fan of the ole classic vinyl artwork will absolutely love this book and therefore you have to either go to your local book store to order under ISBN 978-1-4027-7113-2 or just go to: http://www.sterlingpublishing.com  and http://www.essentialworks.co.uk  MUST-HAVE BOOK!

(Points: 9.3 out of 10)

TONY BACON ‘60 YEARS OF FENDER – SIX DECADES OF THE GREATEST ELECTRIC GUITARS BOOK’ (BACKBEAT BOOKS)

60 years ago a man called LEO FENDER introduced the world a new electric guitar and from then on it became one of Rock’s favorite instruments. Through the years all the legendary guitarists in the Rock World played or do still play a Fender Guitar, from JIMI HENDRIX and ERIC CLAPTON to YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and JIMMY PAGE. To celebrate the 60 year-anniversary of the guitar, there is now a book available, which tells all about this legendary guitar brand. The book is divided into 6 chapters, each covering a decade, but actually the book reads like a timeline, because it basically covers on each 2 pages 1 year, starting from scratch in 1950 when the Fender was invented and made public, until the current year 2010. So, basically you have a great story here, perfectly told chronically, year by year and about each type of Fender guitar is being mentioned and pictured, just to get a good glance of how beauty and art are combined in one instrument, because after all Fender was always a very modern looking guitar, in contrast to some of the older ‘classic’ looking guitar brands out there. Of course a fan of the Fender Guitar will absolutely love this book, but for any music fan it is interesting to read the uprising of an important instrument into the music world. Be sure to check out this book, which is available through: www.backbeatbooks.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

ASBJORN GRONSTAD AN OYVIND VAGNES ‘COVERSCAPING BOOK’ (MUSEUM TUSCULANUM PRESS/GAZELLE BOOKS)

‘Coverscaping’ is a very fascinating book that focuses on a completely different subject than any other book out there. At first you think this is yet another book portraying a bunch of pictures of legendary album covers, but none of that is true, because this book is discussing and discovering the aesthetics of classic album covers. This means the authors dig down deep into the music history and are talking about the semiotics, poetics and rhetoric of album covers, because after all, we have seen some shocking covers in the past many times, especially in the Rock and Metal scene. The 2 authors of this book are both working at the University of Bergen, one even being a Professor of Visual Culture, so actually they are not judging the music that is included on an album, but are more or less giving their view on the album cover and that aspect makes it is a very interesting read, whether you’re a fan of the music or not. Like already mentioned Rock and Metal album covers have always been a hot topic to discuss, as a lot of them were very shocking (to some people of course) and in this book of course here and there, such as SLADE, KISS, CHRISTIAN DEATH, THE CLASH, etc. are being discussed, but be aware that this is not just a simple book to read through, as the whole book is more or less told from a theoretical point of view. Actually it is a book one could expected to read at a University, because included are mostly essays that are very in-depth and not that easy to read. The book is available at: www.gazellebooks.co.uk 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

WILD SIDE 'SPEED DEVIL' (ESCAPE MUSIC)

Do not confuse this WILD SIDE with the same named US Party Hardrockband from the early 90s, because this 2005 formed WILD SIDE from Norway has just released their debut CD 'Speed devil' on ESCAPE MUSIC. The past few years ESCAPE MUSIC has been widen their horizon and new hardrock, prog and even power metal releases entered their mainly AOR based schedule of the past and with WILD SIDE they go for guitar orientated classic 80s melodic hardrock. The band does a great job here, especially on songs like “Live forever”, “Won’t let U go”, “Always be me” and “Speed devil” (all uptempo melodic heavy rockers like SARGANT FURY, very good stuff) and “Mine tonight” (excellent big midtempo melodic hardrock). Together with a tight production and superb mixing by KING DIAMOND guitarist Andy LaRoque at his Sonic Train Studios in Sweden, this CD surely sounds like a must-have for the fans of late 80s US Arena Hair Metal a la DOKKEN, HEAVEN’S EDGE, DANGER DANGER and such. Maybe not a classic, but definitely a nice start for this band, so make sure to check them out at: http://www.wildsidetheband.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

WICKED SENSATION 'CRYSTALLIZED' (METAL HEAVEN/ROUGH TRADE)

'Crystallized' is the 3rd album of the German Melodic Hardrockband WICKED SENSATION, a band which released 2 albums in the early 2000s, but took a break after their 2004 2nd album 'Exceptional'. Although they switched from lead singer between the first and the second album (Robert Soeterboek was replaced by Fernando Garcia), now in 2010 Robert Soeterbeek returns and the band is sounding better than ever on the new album 'Crystallized'. The band's tough guitar orientated Melodic Hardrock sounds like a perfect cross between WHITESNAKE ansd PINK CREAM 69. Thanks to the wonderful production of DENNIS WARD (PINK CREAM 69), the band has released an album to be proud of and who knows this return could be the beginning of a longer validity. Check them out at: www.myspace.com/wickedsensationmusic  and www.wickedsensation.de 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

BAD HABIT 'TIMELESS' (METAL HEAVEN/ROUGH TRADE)

The Swedish band BAD HABIT has had a long history behind them, which started way back in 1987 when they released their debut 'Young and innocent'. Despite the constant changing music climate through the years, they have never changed their style and every new album they released featured the same kinda high class 80s AOR. Maybe not original and clearly keen on becoming the next TREAT, ALIEN, FATE, ZINATRA or EUROPE, one can not deny this band ever let their fans down, because they released 8 great AOR/Melodic Rockalbums the past 25 years. METAL HEAVEN thought it was time to release a compilation that featured some of their finest material of the past and together with a couple of new tracks added, this is surely a nice record to check out. Especially if you never bought anything of BAD HABIT, this compilation CD is a good way to get to know this band. Songs like "Heart Of mine", "Rowena", "Hunger", "Winner Takes It All", "Everytime I See You", "Another Night", "I Don't Want You and "Need Somebody" are timeless 80s AOR/Melodic Rock style tracks. Be sure to check out the band at: http://badhabitvip.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

ASTRUM ET ABYSSUM ‘RITUAL’ (STF RECORDS)

ASTRUM ET ABYSSUM is not your typical Rock or Metal band, because they mix up the classic Metal sound with instruments from ethnical cultures, such as the Australian didgeridoo and African like drums. Combined with powerful vocals of female singer BEATE SCHERER and German lyrics, ASTRUM ET ABYSSUM is hard to compare with any other band, but still the 12 tracks on their CD ‘Ritual’ can be classified as Melodic Heavy Rock/Metal that is sometimes quite catchy as well. The sound is quite huge and all together this is a nice album to check out if you want something a little different. More info at: www.astrum-et-abyssum.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

DISTANT PAST ‘ALPHA DRACONIS’ (INDEPENDENT)

DISTANT PAST is a band from Switzerland, already 2 albums released before this ‘Alpha draconis’, which took the band 2 years to finish. One of the bandmembers of DISTANT PAST is also a member of the band EMERALD, of whom we reviewed several CDs in the past. Anyway, with DISTANT PAST he goes also in the Classic Melodic (Power) Metal direction, yet a little heavier and rawer here and there, as well as a few growls here and there, but after repeated listens this 3rd CD of DISTANT PAST is a great piece of Melodic Metal (a la WOLF, DOMINE, CAULDRON, CELTIC LEGACY and WHITE WIZZARD), with as highlights “The new lordship”, “Trial and error” (awesome-o!) and “Spare my life”. However, also the instrumentals are pretty good and that’s where the band’s strength is hidden, because instrumentally speaking they are excellent, belting out some awesome Melodic Metal riffs. Check them out at: www.distant-past.ch 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

EXPORT 'LIVING IN THE FEAR OF THE PRIVATE EYE' (ROCK CANDY RECORDS)

The 1980s saw many British bands adopting an Americanised Melodic Rock/AOR sound, but not one of them actually managed to reach some success. A pity, because some of these bands really made some sensational records, especially bands like PEROUX, MORITZ, FM (Ok, they survived the 80s more or less a bit), LIONHEART, TOBRUK, MONRO, SHOGUN, AIRRACE, RIO, VIRGINIA WOLF, SHY, etc. etc. However, America was a step too far away and eventually now a mere 20 years later only the AOR scene remembers these bands. EXPORT was one of those bands, although they were actually formed already during the NWOBHM. As the 1980s progressed, the band went more and more into the AOR/Melodic Rock direction, with as highlight their 'Living in the fear of the private eye' record, which was originally released in 1985 on major label EPIC RECORDS. The album featured song writing co-credits of BOB HALLIGAN JNR and was recorded in Philadelphia, USA by LANCE QUINN (BON JOVI, LITA FORD). Musically speaking this album was picture perfect AOR/Melodic Rock, with some incredible hooklines, sounding as good as their American counterparts. Thanks to excellent vocalwork of singer HARRY SHAW, this album more or less saw the band grow into a keyboardfriendly and super melodic band that did not just deliver standard uptempo rockers, but gave almost each song a sorta MAGNUM kinda touch, although the melodies and the choruses came straight out of the big American AOR Book. Songs like "Living In The Fear Of The Private Eye", "Running Back (For More)", "Airwaves", "Closer To You" and "Tear Me Apart" are semi AOR Classics that feature some incredible melodies and compared to most other bands of that era, EXPORT had somehow something more to offer. Sadly they never made it and 'Living in the fear of the private eye' was their final record. Each of the members went their own direction, where guitarist Steve Morris would carry on the AOR flag for the UK in the future in the bands HEARTLAND and SHADOWMAN. Better check out this amazing re-issue of an album that should not be forgotten... www.rockcandyrecords.com 

(Points: 9.1 out of 10)

EXPORT 'CONTRABAND' (ROCK CANDY RECORDS)

ROCK CANDY RECORDS re-issued the last 2 major label albums from the 1980s of the British Melodic Rockband EXPORT. This band was formed way back in the late 1970s and after an independent LP release in the very early 80s, they managed to get signed to major label EPIC RECORDS, for whom they recorded 2 albums. 'Contraband' from 1984 was their first go at an Americanised Melodic Rocksound, but it was actually the final album 'Living In The Fear Of The Private Eye' which brought them fame and fortune within the AOR community, although I do think this is still a highly underrated album. Anyway, ROCK CANDY also re-issued the band's 2nd album 'Contraband', which was a nice Melodic Rockalbum that clearly had 1 foot in the NWOBHM sand. Songs like "Rockin' For You", "Destiny", "Roll Little Sister", "You Gotta Rock" and "On The Run" showed a progressing band that offered good tough melodic rock, but as already mentioned, the real classic stuff came alive on the following album, which saw them move from guitar straight-ahead orientated band to a keyboard hookladen melodic chorus driven band and then to think of the fact that the 2 albums were released within a 1 1/2 years time frame! 'Contraband' was a good album (a little dated sounding now), but their next 'Living In The Fear Of The Private Eye' is a semi-classic that still sounds as fresh as the taste of Mentos! More at: www.rockcandyrecords.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

LITTLE CEASAR 'REDEMPTION' (GRIND THAT AXE/ROCK CANDY RECORDS)

LITTLE CEASAR was one of the major label bands from the late 1980s/early 1990s that somehow were unnoticed by the majority of both press and audience back then. Eventually they split up and one could have thought this was end of story and so be it, but just recently they reformed and now finally they seem to be getting recognition. First of all, the band releases a new CD on a new sublabel of major re-issue label ROCK CANDY RECORDS and secondly this shapes renewed interest in the band's earlier albums, because after listening to 'Redemption' it becomes clear LITTLE CEASAR was a band that should have had a breakthrough back in the Hair Metal days. Their bluesy hardrocksound was not too far away from BADLANDS and BLUE MURDER, although LITTLE CEASAR went a bit more into Classic Soul/R&B, thanks to the amazing voice of singer RON YOUNG. They looked like another Sleaze band, but this was musically not the case at all and in the end, their image tore them apart eventually, leaving behind a couple of releases 20 years ago. However, now they return with 'Redemption', a very impressive album that offers some incredible soulful bluesy rock and roll, which should definitely get a lot of attention due to the high quality. Songs like "Same Old Story", "Loving You Is Killing Me", "Sick And Tired" and "Real Rock Drive" clearly show that this band deserves a second life and right here with this new album 'Redemption' is where it will start. More info at: http://www.myspace.com/littlecaesarband 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

ENUFF'Z'NUFF 'DISSONANCE' (GRIND THAT AXE/ROCK CANDY RECORDS)

When the band ENUFF'Z'NUFF started back in the late 1980s, they were clearly a band with an own image and sound, unlike many other bands of that era. I even bought their first 2 LPs at the time when they were released, after watching videos of their songs "Fly High Michelle", "New Thing and "Baby Loves You" that were all regularly played on MTV in those days. However, the band did not survive the 'major label dishing period of bands' during the Grunge years and therefore were destined to become a local independent band. Unlike other bands from the 1980s, they did continue and kept a small loyal fanbase, whom were pleased with many albums throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Now in 2010 they have finally a real European label backing them up, because their 12th studio album 'Dissonance' has been released on a new sublabel of ROCK CANDY RECORDS. The album itself has been out in Japan for over a year now, but European audience can now easily get this new album of a band that never changed their sound, despite all the trends that passed by through the years. Included is once again early 70s T-REX type of Glamrock with an injection of late 60s Flower Power Popmusic. The fans are gonna love this record and for anyone who never heard this band before, this is a nice way to start with. The current line-up of the band features legendary guitarist JAKE E. LEE, which is quite remarkable, because after all he comes out of a completely different genre musically speaking. Anyway, for more info go to: www.enuffznuff.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem except where noted) 

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