MACBETH ‘EYE OF THE MOON’ (UNION DE MUSICOS INDEPENDIENTES/IMPORT ARGENTINA)
LADY MACBETH is a band from Argentina whom are clearly focused on bringing 80s inspired AOR/Melodic Rock and I must say it all looks and sound very professional on their debut CD ‘Eye of the moon’. The additional and rather cool keyboards to their sound are making them very AORish and some of the songs are very catchy as well, such as the opener “Fight for love”, “Tears”, “Into my heart” or “Number one”, all strong uptempo AOR/Melodic Rockers that actually remind me a lot of bands like HEAVEN’S TOUCH, ELYTE, GOLDEN FARM, TERRA NOVA, PURPLE HEART, PURPLE CROSS and such independent European 90s/00s AOR acts. Although influenced by bands like HAREM SCAREM, FAIR WARNING, DRIVE SHE SAID and HOUSE OF LORDS, the band needs to do a little more homework to reach that high level. Mainly the lead vocalwork really needs to undergo a treatment, because this is ‘accent’ heavy at the moment (actually more akin to an 80s German Teutonic Metal band a la RESTLESS/ACCEPT/TYRANT than an AOR singer!), but reading through their bio it mentions that they have switched vocalists and backing vocalists have been added through the years, so who knows that will improve on a future CD. The female backing singer adds a lot of extra dimension to the band’s overall sound, so that is a good move and perhaps we can hear her more on a next album, also doing leads hopefully. The CD itself has a high quality production and the artwork as well as the rest of the booklet of the CD are professional to make an impression. Not an absolute winner here, but still showing that also in Argentina AOR is alive and well. More info at: www.ladymacbeth.com.ar
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
THIRD EYE ‘RECIPE FOR DISASTER’ (ESCAPE MUSIC)
THIRD EYE is the next Metalband signed to ESCAPE MUSIC. The band features FATE lead singer PER JOHANSSON and is musically playing actually a very experimental way of Metal that combines Power, Prog and Epic Metal, ending up sounding like a KING DIAMOND out of control. Although it’s not bad at all what we get to hear, this is one of those albums you either love or hate, because it is sometimes quite experimental in especially the vocal department, with Per sometimes talking, then screaming and doing all kinds of way to impress the listener, just like good ole KING DIAMOND. Like I said already before, it’s something you have to appreciate and therefore I think MERCYFUL FATE or KING DIAMOND fans will most likely love this first CD of THIRD EYE, but for the regular ‘melodic’ fans there is not much of interest to be found here…
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
JOEY SUMMER ‘WRITTEN ON THE HORIZON’ (AVENUE OF ALLIES MUSIC)
Brazil was never a 'melodic rock' orientated country, but the past 10 years we have seen many great new pure AOR based bands and projects being established in the land of Samba and Soccer, such as recently AURAS, NOW, HIGHEST DREAM and the projects of MARCO FERREIRA. Now we can add JOEY SUMMER, who is a Brazilian Rock producer and vocalist/guitarist who gathered a bunch of well-known European musicians to work with him on his project, although the main line-up of the band consists of Brazilian musicians, responsible for most of the songs. The CD is titled 'Written on the horizon' and it is filled with high class Melodic Rock/AOR that sounds like a mix between JADED HEART at the start of the record and some more JOURNEY/STREET TALKish AOR towards the end. The album has been released by AVENUE OF ALLIES MUSIC, a German label, which seems to become one of the new leading AOR labels here in Europe, as they have done quite some great releases recently in the AOR direction. This album sounds very European, partly thanks to the contribution of members of STREET TALK, GLORY and (ex-) JADED HEART. If you have GORAN EDMAN (STREET TALK and thousand other acts!), FREDRIK BERGH (STREET TALK) and MICHAEL BORMANN (ex-JADED HEART) on board, then you can not go wrong and that said, this is definitely an awesome AOR/Melodic Rockalbum from start to finish. Joey sings quite well and instrumental speaking it sounds picture perfect, with Joey playing excellent guitar licks. The melodies are super tight, the hooks are most of the time very catchy and the choruses of most tracks are quite excellent. Actually, some of the included songs are almost pure Classic AOR/Melodic Rock, just listen to “Anymore”, “Written on the horizon” (both midtempo like a mix between early TALISMAN and early JADED HEART), “Lorea” (lovely midtempo AOR hit, even a bit like the very first ALIAS!), the superb pure AOR of “Brand new day” and the huge sounding early 90s FIREHOUSEish ballad “I’ll never be alone again”. This is the way to go and perhaps from all Brazilian Melodic Rock releases recently JOEY SUMMER’s 2nd album ‘Written on the horizon’ is one of the finest. A big surprise and just make sure not to miss this gem at: www.joeysummer.com
(Points: 8.9 out of 10)
It is the year 2010, but when putting on the CD of this Swedish outfit called STATE COWS, it almost seems unreal, because what we hear on this disc is pure early 1980s US/L.A. session-Westcoast AOR, just a few steps away from legendary acts like AIRPLAY, LE ROUX, ALLIANCE 1982, FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS, TOTO, DAVID ROBERTS, DAKOTA, PAGES and you name it further... I have heard some similar stuff over the years, but none of them came as close to that classic early 80s sound of mentioned bands as this STATE COWS. Opener of the band’s debut CD is “I’ve changed” and this song alone is making you feel like you have stepped into a Time Machine and went back to the year 1982, when this kind of stuff was put out by all the US Major Labels and Radio in the USA were playing non-stop such Westcoast-AOR. Ok, admitted, it is not really heavy or rocking, so people who are unfamiliar with this genre within AOR might be a little surprised, but if any of the aforementioned acts are in your collection you will understand what the fuzz is all about. Legendary JAY GRAYDON makes a guest appearance on the CD, but apart from him, this is a real new Swedish duo (vocalist/guitarist DANIEL ANDERSSON and keyboardplayer/bassist STEFAN OLOFSSON) putting out an amazing album that sounds exactly like a Classic 1982 Westcoast-AOR record somewhere between the 1979 AIRPLAY record, the 1982 ALLIANCE album, the classic DAVID ROBERTS from 1982 and DAKOTA’s ‘Runaway’ from 1984, but of course also the first 4 or 5 TOTO albums. STATE COWS can easily be put into this section and although it is hard to believe, but songs like “I’ve changed”, “New York Town”, “Mystery Jane” (if only this was released in 1979, then it would have surely been a major US Hitsingle) and “Tunisian nights” are just as good as those Classic releases. This is the kind of AOR we have missed all those years, because the melodies here are incredible, from start to finish. In the past 10 years I have only been overwhelmed a few times by a new AOR release and this STATE COWS is definitely one of them, although it is actually a Westcoast-AOR release, but if you like DAKOTA, TOTO and AIRPLAY, then you will go crazy over this release! More info at: www.statecows.com and www.facebook.com/statecows
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
The Swedish band 8 POINT ROSE was formed less than a year ago and already now releases their debut CD on ESCAPE MUSIC. The band members have an average age of just 20 years, so this must be something extraordinary you might think by now. Well, their debut CD is indeed a superb piece of high class Melodic Metal like only the Swedish are able to produce. Think NOCTURNAL RITES meets EVERGREY meets TAD MOROSE meets BLOODBOUND and then you’re close to what this 8 POINT ROSE is all about. The production is huge, the lead vocals of singer MARCUS NYGREN are superstrong, instrumental it sounds incredible heavy but melodic and well organized, while the included material is of a super high level, sometimes easily reaching the level of aforementioned bands. Especially songs like “Resolve” (hello NOCTURNAL RITES!!!), “Out of the shadows”, “When chaos rules our lives” (incredible chorus!) and “The shadow” are really fantastic and any fan of Melodic Metal (NOCTURNAL RITES in particular!) should get this record immediately. The choruses of the songs are sticking in your head, which of course is a good thing. This band has a real bright future ahead of them if they are at this young age are already able to make such a sensational record. Thumbs up for both the band and of course the label for releasing this gem! More at: www.8pointrose.com
(Points: 9.2 out of 10)
RANSOM ‘BETTER DAYS’ (YESTERROCK/GERMUSICA)
I think it is now about 15 years ago when we reviewed the first RANSOM CD ‘Trouble in paradise’. This was a very good original AOR album that clearly stood the test of time, because even today it sounds fresh. Although now a follow-up has been released in the shape of ‘Better days’, I am afraid this album is a little less interesting for the fans of the debut, because the AOR has been replaced by a more standard pop/rock approach. Not saying this is a bad release, but personally I had higher expectations of this new RANSOM album. The 11 included songs are just a nice collection of pop/rock orientated material like BRYAN ADAMS has been bringing us the past 15 years, but what truly is missing here are the strong AOR melodies of their wonderful mid 90s debut. Not sure if this release will appeal to any AOR fan out there, but if you’re more in for some moody pop/rock, then this might be your disc…
(Points: 7.8 out of 10)
WHEELS OF FIRE ‘HOLLYWOOD ROCKS’ (AVENUE OF ALLIES MUSIC)
WHEELS OF FIRE is a new Italian band playing catchy 80s inspired AOR/Melodic Rock. OK, maybe nothing original is brought here, but happily it is done very well and the 11 songs on their debut CD ‘Hollywood rocks’ go back to a time when bands like JET RED, DANGER DANGER, BLONZ, VALENTINE, NELSON, FIREHOUSE and countless others were signed to major labels. MICHELE LUPPI of VISION DIVINE, LOS ANGELES and KILLING TOUCH fame produced the CD and I must say it does remind a bit of LOS ANGELES, KILLING TOUCH and other legendary Italian AOR bands, such as ELEKTRADRIVE and HEAVEN’S TOUCH, although also the Brazilian way of AOR/Melodic Rock comes to mind here (read: CARTOON, HIGHEST DREAM, AURAS). The band’s singer DAVIDE BARBIERI has a typical Italian style voice, which actually sounds pretty good and uptempo AOR/Melodic Rockers like “Hollywood rocks”, “You’re so cool”, “Everywhere I go” and “The reason” are really cool to listen to (and easy to sing-a-long, because the lyrics are as cliché as you want them!) and quite Summerish (when you drive your car just open the windows!), reminding of the good old Classic Mainstream Melodic Rock days in the US of A of the 1980s! This is the kind of stuff BON JOVI made on his first 3 records, so I guess you’ll understand what to expect here! Done very well and an easy winner for fans of catchy 80s US Melodic Rock! More info at: www.myspace.com/daveroxmusic
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
DJIZOES ‘ICHI TEN DAI’ (OUTBREAK RECORDS)
We already reviewed a couple of records of the band DJIZOES in the past and on their new album (out on the Japanese label OUTBREAK RECORDS) we can hear once again fast raw, mean and nasty heavy rock and roll with metal and punk riffs, close to what MOTORHEAD has been doing the past 30 years! Nothing spectacular, but also nothing too complain as these 3 guys are doing it very well and fans of MOTORHEAD or TURBONEGRO will probably love this. More info at: www.djizoes.com
(Points: 7.9 out of 10)
HOPE TO FIND ‘STILL CONSTANT’ (INDEPENDENT/IMPORT TURKEY)
HOPE TO FIND is a band from Turkey and most of the time bands from that country are marketed in the extreme Metal genre. This time however we are proud to announce a real Progressive Rockband. They have a sorta RUSH kinda approach, yet a little heavier. The band consists of 5 well-experiences musicians whom, together recorded this very nice 4-songs counting CD that was mastered all the way in Australia. It sounds pretty good and as they are one of the very first Progbands ever to hail from Turkey I can easily recommend them to you to check out as they sound really tight! More at: www.hopetofind.net
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
DRAGON’S CAVE ‘ELEKTRO MOTION’ (ASGHARD MUSIC/TSM SLW PROMOTIONS)
Guitarist STEVE ANGARTHAL is best known as a member of the Italian Hardrockband FIRE TRAILS. Now he has a new side-project called DRAGON’S CAVE, which musically is not too far removed from FIRE TRAILS, because the 16 included tracks on the first DRAGON’S CAVE CD are also Classic Melodic Hardrock orientated pieces, with influences from RAINBOW, THIN LIZZY, URIAH HEEP and DEEP PURPLE, so definitely in the British style of the 1970s. Not bad, but also not a classic. The addition of some instrumental progrock pieces makes the album a little more diverse and if you are a fan of FIRE TRAILS and also VANADIUM, this DRAGON’S CAVE might be your cup of tea! More info at: www.dragonscave.it
(Points: 7.8 out of 10)
ANGELINE ‘CONFESSIONS’ (AVENUE OF ALLIES MUSIC)
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: http://www.angelinetheband.se
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
VARIOUS RELEASES ‘FASTBALL MUSIC’ (FASTBALL MUSIC/SONY MUSIC GERMANY)
FASTBALL MUSIC is a German label, distributed through SONY MUSIC and with a couple of interesting releases, which we already reviewed separately. However, a quick look through their catalogue learns they have already released quite a few releases, such as the debut CD of the Swiss band MAXWELL, entitled ‘Dogz on hope’. This album contains quality groovy Melodic Hardrock, a little like a heavier version of SHAKRA. Live on stage this band can easily grab your attention with their ballsy rough in your face uptempo Hardrock, but between the 11 included tracks, the band also found time to come up with a melodic rockballad called “Tomorrow”. The band also reminds a bit of SARGANT FURY, yet the melodies are a little less stronger than that band. Nevertheless, a recommended band to check out at: www.maxwell.ch (Points: 8.2). 3 CDs of the German band PUMP were received at our desk, released between 2004 and 2009. This band from the Stuttgart area plays late 80s inspired Hair Metal with German Melodic Hardrock influences, sounding like a mix between early SKID ROW, VICTORY, BONFIRE, JADED HEART and SHAKRA. Their latest release ‘Sonic ecstasy’ is the band’s strongest effort so far, also reminding a lot of VENGEANCE, so fans of high quality big guitar riff driven Melodic Hardrock with a slight groovy and 80s Hair Metal touch will absolutely love this band. Highlight is the catchy big sounding uptempo Melodic Hardrocksong “Never”, a definite winner for fans of the genre! More info at: www.pump-rocks.net (Points: 8.4). BLOWSIGHT is a Swedish band with a typical modern day American Rock approach, which is very melodic, mostly midtempo material, always with the distorted big groovy guitarsound and some aggressive screams here and there. DISTURBED meets THREE DAYS GRACE meets SHINEDOWN would be a good description, yet with some DAUGHTRY melodies also thrown in for good measure. A song like “If you were me” sums it up perfectly, because this semi-ballad is absolutely Billboard hit ready, an absolute guarantee radiohit for the US market. The best song however is the uptempo catchy “The simple art”, which has some Punkpop influences (with Melodic Metal guitar riffs) and is the song a band like SUM 41 or SIMPLE PLAN would be jealous of. What is clear that the band’s debut album ‘Destination terrorville’ is a very high quality album that is as good as the US Major Label releases of mentioned bands, so if you’re a fan of that genre, well then grab this one asap at: www.blowsight.com (Points: 8.5). Raw dirty mean Rock and Roll a la TURBONEGRO, AC/DC, VOLBEAT, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, GLUECIFER, TRIGGERFINGER, PETER PAN SPEEDROCK, etc. etc. is the name of the game on the debut CD ‘Rise of the machine’ by the German band ROCKETCHIEF. They do it very well through the 13 tracks and fans of this genre should asap check them out at: www.rocketchief.de (Points: 8.2). The Swiss band TEMPESTA is as American orientated as one can get. However, this time, this concerns the more Country based side of the USA, because TEMPESTA is mixing Country with Southern Rock and Hardrock, sounding dangerously close to KID ROCK, although also comparisons to LYNYRD SKYNYRD, BLACKFOOT and especially DOC HOLLIDAY are also notable. The band already released a few CDs, but with this new album they hired producer AL SUTTON (of KID ROCK, R. KELLY, SHERYL CROW fame) for the mixing and mastering, while MICHAEL BORMANN of BONFIRE, JADED HEART produced the album. Therefore the sound is excellent and in the end the new TEMPESTA album is definitely something that would not be out of place in the American market. More info at: www.tempesta.ch (Points: 8.3). More info on this great label at: www.myspace.com/fastballmusiclabel
TBC ’28 DAYS’ (STF RECORDS)
OK, the debut CD of the German band TBC is not sounding original and some people will probably callt his band a second-rate NIGHTWISH or EDENBRIDGE, but nevertheless, they put a lot of effort in their CD ’28 days’, which should be appreciated. The band is playing Symphonic Melodic Metal and they do it quite well. The sound and production could have been better, but still between the included tracks we can find some nice material to check out. The combination of female and male vocals work quite well, although I would have preferred that female singer NATASCHA BLATT would have sung from start to finish. She definitely has the strongest voice and really gives the band a push in the right direction (EPICA style), but due to the weaker male vocals this is slightly stopped. The keyboardwork of the male singer STEFAN WOHROR is however pretty good and much at the forefront of TBC’s music. Also the guitarwork of RUDOLF HADERER is quite impressive, so all together this band could surprise us on a future album when they go into a major studio with a major producer and also focus on the female vocals… perhaps drop the male vocals. More at: www.tbc.cc
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
MARIO PERCUDANI ‘NEW DAY’ (TANZAN MUSIC/INTERGROOVE/FASTBALL MUSIC/SONY MUSIC GERMANY)
Lead vocalist/guitarist MARIO PERCUDANI is already active in the Italian musicscene since the late 1980s, although he’s only 31 years old! He founded during the 1990s the Melodic Rockband HUNGRYHEART, of whom we reviewed their 2nd CD recently. Now he also releases his first solo-CD ‘New day’, which musically has not much to do with Rock, but goes into a singer/songwriter style, with a Westcoast flow here and there and a Blues riff sometimes. However, it is done very well and can easily touch some of the legendary work of well-established acts like RYAN ADAMS, JACKSON BROWNE, JAMES TAYLOR, ROBBEN FORD, STEELY DAN, JOHN MAYER and you name it further. This kind of acoustic tingled music with beautiful vocals/harmonyvocals is loved by the Pop critics, so who knows this could be Mario’s break in the Popscene. It’s completely different than the Melodic Hardrock of his band HUNGRYHEART, but definitely of a same quality, probably even better. Thanks to a mastering at Sterling Sound, New York by Greg Calbi (JAMES TAYLOR, BOB DYLAN, JOHN MAYER, LENNY KRAVITZ), this album has all the potential to become the next big thing! More at: www.mariopercudani.it
(Points: 8.4 out of 10)
FRACTURE ‘DOMINATE AND OVERLOAD’ (INDEPENDENT/IMPORT NORWAY)
It is almost unbelievable, but the debut CD of the Norwegian band FRACTURE is an independent release, because after a few spins of ‘Dominate and overload’ is becomes clear that this record has all the ingredients a major label release also contains. The sound and production are equal and the included music is of a very high level. The first song had somehow a slight modern US Metal touch, kinda like DISTURBED meets NEVERMORE, but the following songs are breathing out the Classic 80s US Melodic Power Metal sound a la OMEN, FATES WARNING, VICIOUS RUMORS, VIRGIN STEELE, SANCTUARY, HELSTAR, METAL CHURCH, HADES and you name it further. The band also reminds me a lot of the 90s US scene with bands like SYRUS, ONWARD, STEEL PROPHET, JAG PANZER, SEVEN WITCHES, CAGE, JACOB’S DREAM, BALANCE OF POWER, WINTER’S BANE… and they add Progmetal and classic 80s MAIDEN melodies as finishing touch! I think you’ll get the picture by now, but trust me that FRACTURE is playing this genre perfectly and this CD is perhaps one of the finest this genre has offered in ages. High-pitched vocals, incredible neo-classical guitarwork, big sounding drums, thundering bass and some incredible old school melodies of the very early QUEENSYRCHE kind, that is the name of the game here and with songs like “Apple of Eden”, “Soulcatcher” and especially “Stranger within” and the superb titletrack (IRON MAIDEN would wish to ever write a song like this!), they offer some truly sensational songs. Must-have for fans of mentioned bands… incredible high level is reached here!!! More at: www.fracture.no and email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Points: 8.9 out of 10)
VARIOUS ARTISTS/BANDS ‘RETROACTIVE RECORDS’ (RETROACTIVE RECORDS/USA IMPORT)
RETROACTIVE RECORDS is a great US label specialized in doing CD re-issues of long lost (mostly American) Classic Christian Music albums that musically go from AOR, Progmetal, Thrash Metal, Melodic Metal, Heavy Metal to even some Pop/Rock. They have done about 120+ releases so far, of which we recently had a close look at their wonderful re-issues of the SWEET COMFORT BAND and GUARDIAN re-issues, but in this review we go through their catalogue, which is quite extensive. Besides a lot of re-issues also here and there some new releases are done of new Christian bands. ARNION from Brazil is one of them, as their album ‘Fall like rain’ is a new album with a style that is best descriped as Bay Area Thrash metal and remind a lot of Christian fellow band DELIVERANCE, whom also had about 4 releases on RETROACTIVE RECORDS, all firmly rooted in the Classic Bay Area Thrash Metal style, yet with Christian lyrics. Furthermore some out of the league releases as well on the label, such as the Industrial Metal of CIRCLE OF DUST and the Death Metal of ULTIMATUM (3 releases: ‘Into the pit’, ‘Symphonic extremeties’ and ‘Lex Metalus’).
Leaving the Extreme Metal behind us, we concentrate on other more interesting genre releases on the label. TITANIC is a great Christian Metalband carrying the flag for the classic 80s pure Metalsound of bands like BARREN CROSS, BLOODGOOD, JUDAS PRIEST, ARMORED SAINT and METAL CHURCH. Fit them in somewhere between these bands. The band was formed in 1995 and now 15 years releases their 3 studio-albums along with a best of CD are all released through RETROACTIVE RECORDS. Definitely quality Metal stuff and highly recommended to fans of mentioned bands. Guitarist BILL MENCHEN is also responsible for quite a few other releases on the label, such as the FINAL AXE releases (musically in the same style, however better and dating back to the 1980s, really great Classic 80s US Power Metal), 2 SEVENTH POWER CDs (with STRYPER drummer ROBERT SWEET) and MENCHEN (also with Robert on drums), all in a classic Melodic Metal style.
Traditional Heavy Metal can be heard on the CD ‘The world hates me’ of the Italian band THE BOARDERS, nothing sensational, but just good old standard Metal. HIS WITNESS’ CD ‘Kingdom come’ contains material recorded by RANDY THOMAS of SWEET COMFORT BAND way back in 1988, but now the first time available on CD. Musically this is also 80s inspired Hardrock/Metal, a bit cliché tingled now 20+ years later, but still decent enough to listen to and a little reminding of LEVITICUS, with as highlights the more melodic rocking “Call on him” (a la MASS) and the MAIDENish “Guard your heart”. Next up is SARDONYX and their CD ‘Majestic serenity’, which musically goes into a complex Techno-Progmetal style a la WATCHTOWER, good stuff and for the time (recorded in the late 80s/early 90s) quite an impressive band, so an interesting release now 2 decades later.
ARMAGEDDON was a typical 80s Melodic Metalband, somewhere balancing between standardized 80s Heavy Metal and Bay Area Thrash Metal, sounding a bit like . Not a bad band at all, but also not the finest release, although their 2-CD set offers quite a lot material.
The label’s finest releases however are the ones from the rare early/mid 80s Christian AOR/Poprock/Melodic Rock genre, with bands like SERVANT, DANIEL BAND, ROSANNA’S RAIDERS, SEVENTH SEAL and RESSURRECTION BAND. I had never heard anything of the band SERVANT, but I am definitely going to dig deep into this band’s music career, because the 2 albums re-issued are both high class catchy early 80s female/male shared vocal based AOR/Melodic Rock records. ‘Caught in the act of loving him’ and ‘World of sand’ are both featuring some really great catchy AOR tingled material, with as highlights the songs “Burning bridges”, “Fall out”, “Now is the time”, “Tied down”, “Cheap talk” and “Gauges”. The band actually came out of Canada, was active during the 1980s, releasing 7 albums in total, so a very productive band 25+ years ago. Hands down this is classic early 80s Poprock/AOR stuff here, makes me look for their other recordings as well. ‘Caught’ is a slightly better album than their ‘World of sand’ record, which suffers from a less aor driven sound than it’s follow-up record.
Out of Norway came the band SEVENTH SEAL, a typical 80s European Melodic Hardrockband that was clearly influenced by bands like UFO, MSG, EUROPE, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and especially TNT. They were active for only a few years during the 1980s, released an album of which only 1,000 copies were pressed. Now 20+ years later the album has been re-issued and it’s a shame because this TNTish Melodic Hardrockalbum should have deserved a lot of more attention back then. Not a classic maybe, but definitely a good deal of 80s Melodic Hardrock is offered here. TNT meets EUROPE meets SCORPIONS is the name of the game here, so highly recommended if you’re into that. The only minor part might be the fact that the high-pitched vocals of MARK BJORVAND are not as good as those of the similar singers of TNT and SHY. Nevertheless, this small Norwegian band offered quality material on their one and only album ‘Messengers of love”, which is now on CD available.
ROSANNA’S RAIDERS is perhaps even more interesting as this Australian band was playing high class Melodic Hardrock (and some AOR) with very strong female lead vocals, sometimes reminding a lot of that classic band VXN. The band’s female singer ROSANNA PALMER also played all guitars, so I guess you can say she was the Christian LITA FORD musically speaking, as she could also sing very well and play some excellent guitar riffs, just like Lita. I remember seeing one of their LPs about 20 years ago down in a local store here in Rotterdam, but I didn’t bought it and so it took until the summer of 2010 before I would ever hear something of this band. It’s not just something, because RETROACTIVE RECORDS released a 2-CD set that contains 3 full albums of the band, ‘Calling down fire’, ‘Clothed in fire’ and ‘We are raiders’. The sound is excellent and why this band was never featured elsewhere before is a question I can not answer, because the simple truth is that this should have happened in the past, because these 3 albums showed a fantastic high class band, right up there with the best. About 32 tracks are included here and this 2-CD set is a must-have for any fan of 80s female fronted Melodic Hardrock/AOR, especially if you like VXN, ENVY, early 80s LEE AARON, 80s LITA FORD, then you will adore this band too! Highlights? Almost all tracks, but definitely “Serve someone”, “So far away” (touching Classic AOR here!) , “”Breakaway”, “Not gonna let you again” (even WITNESS style here), “Blind eyes” (SUPERB!!!) and “Crying in the night”, concluded MUST-HAVE MUST-HAVE MUST-HAVE!!! Together with the SWEET COMFORT BAND re-issues, this 2-disc set ‘Fire from heaven – the collective works’ of ROSANNA’S RAIDERS belongs to the best releases on RETROACTIVE RECORDS.. in fact the best Christian Rock re-issues ever I think!
RESURRECTION BAND or REZ or REZ BAND was formed way back in 1972 and have been for a long time the loudest Christian Hardrockband, even touching pure fast NWOBHMish Heavy Metal during the 1980s, such as can be heard in the song “First degree apathy” that sounds like a mix between RIOT, LOUDNESS and the very first TWISTED SISTER, with excellent female screaming vocals. This song can be found on one of their re-issued albums ‘Mommy don’t love daddy anymore’ that RETROACTIVE RECORDS re-issued. Released way back in 1981, this male/female vocal driven Hardrock/Metal album was very diverse actually and sounds like a mix between all kinds of popular Rock, Bluesrock, AOR, Hardrock and Metal bands of that period, yet with a Christian message. Besides the already mentioned fast Metal piece, the band also dives into pure AOR of the early 80s kind in the song “Mommy don’t love daddy anymore” (a la AXE, with a THIN LIZZY guitar riff). I had never heard anything of the band before despite the fact they released about 15 albums until now, so this first attempt was a very good one, because from start to finish this is a very strong hardrocking album, very very powerful for sure. The vocals were handled by a male and female singer, namely the married couple WENDI and GLENN KAISER. Both could sing very well and together with a strong instrumental rocking back-up, this band offered on this record some very interesting music that only makes me very hungry for their other albums.
The DANIEL BAND released quite a lot albums during the 1980s, which all featured some high class Guitar orientated Melodic Hardrock like DOKKEN, CONEY HATCH, RAIL, a straight-ahead RUSH and TRIUMPH. ‘On rock’ for example was a pretty good album and now available on CD. Not their finest release, but a must-have for fans of that late 1970s guitar based Hardrocksound of mentioned bands, although this album was released in 1982 actually.
FAITH FACTOR’s CD ‘Against a darkened sky’ is filled with high quality Melodic (Power) Metal with some slight Thrash Metal influences, a little IRON MAIDEN here, some HELSTAR there and as finishing touch a METAL CHURCH touch, ending up sounding like a True Metal album. All sounding very well and all together, this FAITH FACTOR is a nice new band from the New Jersey/USA area.
The band ZION was a band from the 1980s playing strong Melodic Hardrock in the style of DOKKEN, early GUARDIAN, MELIDIAN, HEAVEN’S EDGE, etc. The band never made it big, but managed to release some material. However, a lot of their demos and released material is quite hard to get, so the release of ‘Thrillseeker’ is a nice sort of best of ZION release that contains their most popular tunes, in original album version, live and demo versions, it’s a mixed bag of all sorts of recordings the band made during the 1980s, also some radio promos. Their finest song, the catchy Melodic Rocker “Who pulls the strings” kicks of the record and is definitely the highlight, here included in a live version. The band’s regular albums are of course more interesting, but this nice little compilation CD is perhaps easier to get.
WHITECROSS is one of those legendary Hardrockbands that gained a lot of popularity within the Christian Hardrock community, with their typical 80s American Hardrocksound, a little like a cross between DOKKEN and RATT. Their 1980s albums offered some great material, but the 1990s were struggling releases that could not compete with their earlier albums. During the 2000s the band recognized their 80s work as their finest and re-recorded a bunch of material. ‘Nineteen eighty seven’ from 1987 was re-recorded in 2005 and released in the same year and actually it sounds stronger than ever. Thanks to the fantastic guitarwork of REX CARROLL, this is a really great Melodic Hardrockalbum… maybe not a classic, but definitely one you can easily put on and blast out of your window loud and proud. DOKKEN meets RATT, with an updated approach, that is the spirit, yet of course with Christian lyrics!
ELECTRIK and their release ‘Love buzz harmony’ is featuring music recorded in the very early 1990s and now 20 years later it still sounds quite fresh actually. GUARDIAN meets EXTREME meets NELSON is the name of the game here. Nice groovy very melodic rockmusic with strong TRIXTERish vocalwork and quite a lot acoustic guitarwork, so not too heavy either. This CD contains the band’s 1989 demo as bonus and a couple of 2003 recorded tracks, besides their 1993 album ‘Love buzz harmony’. Recommended to fans of mentioned bands for sure!
Not exactly sure, but I think we reviewed the EMOTION album ‘Taste of grapes’ back when it was first released in 1996, so that is almost 15 years ago! Anyway, now in 2010 the CD has been re-released, with as bonus their 1994 EP ‘Tip to toe’. The band came out of Sweden and played a little typical Scandi Melodic Heavy Rock like a mix between BALTIMOORE and 220 VOLT, yet with some strange adventures here and there slipped through. Not bad at all, but vocally not more than o.k. and also songwise speaking not really strong most of the time, so a CD only to be checked if you’re a die-hard collector.
The Heavy Metalband SAINT has been part of the Christian Metalscene for a long time now and they have released their last bunch of studio-albums on RETROACTIVE RECORDS the past decade, of which their 2010 release ‘Hellblade’ is their latest offering. The CD is filled with high class JUDAS PRIEST style Heavy Metal from start to finish. Not sensational, but still a very good quality record that can despite Christian lyrics surely be highly recommended to fans of real Heavy Metal!
HERO is a bandname used many times in the past and I am even aware of a 80s Swedish band named HERO, which should not be confused with the same named band on RETROACTIVE RECORDS, because this new Swedish band HERO and their album ‘Immortal’ is musically Melodic (Power) Metal with a melancholic dark approach like the Scandi and in particular Finnish bands are known for. They have a typical 2000s sound, not bad, but also not groundbreaking…
KREYSON is a Czech Republic band that exists for 20 years now and to celebrate that, the band has rerecorded their finest songs and collected that together on this CD ’20 years of Kreyson’. The material is Melodic Metal with a typical 80s approach, quality stuff for sure, with some great guitarwork as well, MAIDEN meets SCORPIONS meets PRIEST is the final judgement, yet not of such a high level, but on the other hand perhaps the best Czech Metalband ever!
I actually didn’t knew JACOB’S DREAM was a Christian band, but the new CD they released clearly shows their love for God. Musically they are pure US Power Metal a la METAL CHURCH, ARMORED SAINT, JAG PANZER, VIRGIN STEELE, etc. and their new CD ‘Beneath the shadows’ is definitely a fine example of this sound, so quite a must-have for fans of mentioned bands. Highlight is the fantastic “Stain” that is one of the finest pure US Power Metal tunes of the past years!
BRIDE started as a LED ZEPPELIN/TESLA/GREAT WHITE type of Bluesy Hardrockband, but halfway the 1990s they changed to a more alternative metalband musically speaking and now their new album ‘Tsar bomba’ offers more or less modern groovy Metal. They sound up-to-date, but sadly also not really interesting I am afraid. Would rather prefer their earlier records to be re-issued…
CHILDREN OF THE DAY is a real rare one, a 1971 release that musically is kinda MAMA’S AND THE PAPA’S orientated, so quite soft and based on close-harmony acoustic tingled material, with of course Christian lyrics.
Besides a lot of re-issues, the label also has some real new releases, such as LIBERTY N JUSTICE, which is a project that already saw quite a few releases in the past and ‘Light it up’ is the latest one and perhaps the finest release so far in the series, because included is a very strong Melodic Metal orientated sound. Members of FIREHOUSE, ALICE COOPER, TWISTED SISTER, BRIDE, HAREM SCAREM, WARRANT, WASP and many more make their appearance here and highlights of the 14 included tracks are “Uncle sam” (SUPERB song, one of the best Melodic Metal tunes of 2010!), “Blink” (with new VIXEN female lead singer Lynn Louise Lowrey), the FIREHOUSEish semi melodic rock ballad “Do what you believe” (with also CJ SNARE of FIREHOUSE on vocals), the lovely AOR ballad “For better or worse” (excellent vocals by a singer from a band called WAKING JONAH, checked out their myspace site and heard a new sensational AOR band in the making – need to get in touch with them very soon as apparently they are working on a CD!) and “Wrestling with God” (uptempo Melodic Hardrock). There are also some groovy modern touches here and there, but mainly this CD is filled with a good deal of Classic 80s inspired guitar orientated Melodic Hardrock/Metal.
More info at: www.retroactiverecords.net
(Points: - out of 10)
CHAUD ‘THE BLACK MARKET REVEALED’ (SPRIG OF ACACIA MUSIC/USA IMPORT)
Female singer/songwriter CHAUD looks like a pin-up from the R&B world, but her 4 tracks counting mini-CD ‘The black market revealed’ is definitely much more interesting than that, because what we can hear is quality Nu-Heavy Rock/Metal with a modern approach and mostly midtempo orientated material (except the JEFFERSON STARSHIP cover “Somebody to love”), sorta like a mix between DISTURBED, SHINEDOWN and HALESTORM, but then a little different. A little rough around the edges, also production wise, but who knows with the image and looks besides a great voice, this CHAUD from California will be signed by a major label someday soon. More info at: www.chaudmusic.com
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
AGE OF EVIL ‘GET DEAD EP’ (CHIPSTER/USA IMPORT)
AGE OF EVIL is the next teenage Metalband with a quality CD release, although ‘Get dead’ is not their debut, because this new EP CD is the follow-up to their 2007 release ‘Living a sick dream’. The band combines Classic Melodic Metal with Bay Area Thrash Metal, mixing agressive vocals and gang-vocals borrowed from ANTHRAX and FORBIDDEN with superb shredding guitarwork. Guitarist JORDAN ZIFF is definitely the winner on this CD, because his shredding is very impressive and makes AGE OF EVIL standout, because the songs on the album are just your typical Metal kinda tunes. If a major Metalband falls a guitarplayer short someday soon, then this Jordan guy could easily step forward as replacement, but with his own band AGE OF EVIL he might also work his way up to the top, although that will take some time I’m afraid, because with this new EP they have now launched their name worldwide, however a sensational record it ain’t… yet… Nevertheless, a fine welcome to this youngsters… check them out at: http://www.ageofevil.com
(Points: 8.2 out of 10)
PAUL CUSICK ‘FOCAL POINT’ (Q ROCK RECORDS/UK IMPORT)
PAUL CUSICK is a multi-instrumentalist/songwriter from the UK who releases his debut solo-CD with ‘Focal point’. Musically speaking we are heading into modern day Progressive Rock. The guitarwork of Paul is very classic 70s prog orientated, not far removed from STEVE HACKETT and DAVID GILMOUR, yet the songs itself go for the more modern approach of bands like PORCUPINE TREE. And it definitely works here… as Paul’s a gifted musician with an enormous talent that comes alive on this disc. Progfans will absolutely love this record from start to finish.. that I am quite certain of… The album has been released on Q ROCK RECORDS, a small label, but when hearing the high quality of songs like “Everblue”, “Soul words”, “Scared to dream” (best song, very Neo-Prog orientated a la ENCHANT, very melodic) and “Hold on”, this CD is as good as many major label prog releases out there. Check it out for yourself at: http://www.paulcusick.co.uk
(Points: 8.4 out of 10)
ELOAH ‘SILICON RHYTHM’ (INDEPENDENT)
ELOAH is a project from The Netherlands, mainly focused around musician Elmar C. Fuchs, who is originally from Austria, but somehow found his way into the northern part of The Netherlands. Although there’s some good quality musicianship to be heard here, it really feels like an independent CD release. The music is actually quite experimental and throws all kinds of styles together. The result is therefore a bit incoherent, however that does not mean it is not interesting, because we can hear here and there some great electric guitar (very good!) and keyboardwork, such as the New Age meets Prog instrumentalsound of “Fingers in the sky”. On the other hand, the bass and drum programming makes the overall sound a bit empty, but for a start ELOAH has released an interesting CD for people who like to hear a mix of ambient, new age, prog, gothic and rockmusic and even some ULTRAVOXish New Wave (“Somehow extraordinary”) … not easy to compare… so check it out at: www.eloah.at and e-mail at: email@example.com
(Points: 7.2 out of 10)
DOG HOUSE SWINE ‘FASTER SIDE OF NORMAL’ (BANNED RECORDS/USA IMPORT)
Pure raw to the bone American Southern Hardrock and Roll is the name of the game here. AC/DC meets MOTORHEAD meets ZZ TOP meets a little Punkrock a la DICTATORS and there you have the New Jersey threesome DOG HOUSE SWINE. Honest, loud and proud, going for the ‘Bar’ approach… this band is ready to give you an enjoyable fridaynight down at your local pub after a long week of hardwork! Sing-a-long to these uptempo anthems that somehow even remind me of SHAM 69, yet DOG HOUSE SWINE are more Rock and Roll than Punk. Anyway, check them out at: www.doghouseswine.com as they have a full-length CD out!
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
EPICRENEL ‘THE CRYSTAL THRONE’ (DEMO CDR)
EPICRENEL is a new Finnish band playing high quality Melodic Power Metal. Of course bands like THUNDERSTONE, OLYMPOS MONS, SONATA ARTICA, TWILIGHTNING, etc. etc. come to mind when hearing their mini-demo EP CD ‘The crystal throne’, but happily EPICRENEL does do justice to the typical European Power Metalsound, because the 5 included songs of the band are very impressive and bring some great melodies here and there, especially during “To cursed lands again” and especially ”Floating souls”. Without a doubt, if this band gets signed and go into a major studio with a major producer, there’s a big chance we have a winner here. By the way, bassist/keyboardplayer JUKKA HOFFREN also is a member of COVENTHRALL, reviewed somewhere else on our site… In the meantime check out EPICRENEL at: www.myspace.com/epicrenel
(Points: 8.1 out of 10)
COVENTHRALL ‘PROMO 2010’ (DEMO CDR)
Guitarist/bassist/keyboardplayer JUKKA HOFFREN of the Finnish band COVENTHRALL is also a member of EPICRENEL, a band we also reviewed recently. Just like that band, also COVENTHRALL is an unsigned band with only a demo CD out. Also this band sounds very impressive, musically the same as EPICRENEL, however thanks to a bigger sound, superb neo-classical guitarwork and also much better vocalwork (singer SAMI ILVONEN), this COVENTHRALL is definitely better. The band’s lyrics are based around a Sci-Fi theme and musically the Melodic European Power Metal is a winner for fans of FALCONER meets SONATA ARTICA meets especially BLIND GUARDIAN. Opener “Nova burst” is the kind of anthem every fan of Melodic Power Metal will absolutely fall in love with instantly. A very nice almost sensational journey that lasts sadly only 4 songs, so hopefully this band will head into a major studio someday soon to record a full-length CD, because they have the potential to become a major player. Highlights are the already mentioned “Nova burst” and especially “Morfuidra”, but all tracks are a must-hear for fans of mentioned bands. More info at: www.myspace.com/coventhrall
(Points: 8.7 out of 10)
(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem except where noted)