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It must have been around 1991 or something when I found in a bargain bin a CD of a band called CRY WOLF. I bought it because the guys in the band all had long hair and when playing the album at home I was pleased to hear some great Melodic Hardrock a la DOKKEN. The following 19 years I actually never played the record again, which now looking back is a damn shame, because this was really a good band. It was perhaps also due to the fact that I never saw the bandname again mentioned during the 1990s and 2000s that I never listened to the band again, but now in 2010 the band returns with a full new CD titled ‘Twenty ten’, so that gave me the opportunity to check them out again. 19 years have passed and well, the long hair is gone, so no more Hair Metal and also musically, the band has changed a bit. It all sounds more modern and groovy and not as pure Melodic Hardrock orientated as their past recordings, although happily, the band still has the same great singer (TIM HALL) and when looking at their line-up, everything seems to be the same as in the past. Also the guitarwork is still excellent, while the music is deep dark slow and groovy Hardrock. Songs like “Everywhere”, “Stones of yesterday” and the uptempo rockers “Angel fly” and “Graduation day” are the best songs on this new CD of the band. Like mentioned before, it all sounds a little bit different than their earlier work, so no easy going stuff here, but a little more well-thought groovy Hardrock record. Interesting for fans of WHITESNAKE, BADLANDS, KINGDOM COME and such. Check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


A new label brings new hope in the hearts of the few thousand dedicated AOR hearts around the globe. The label is called AOR BLVD RECORDS, formed by Kelv Hellrazer (an editor from the AOR scene, wrote for HARD ROXX) and firmly settled in the UK, with the release 'Strange world' of PUSH being their first adventure. Luckily we have something quite good here, as the first release of any new label is very important in order to put yourself on the map in the dedicated genre. PUSH is indeed pure 80s AOR, so the label name is correctly chosen. However, do not confuse this PUSH with countless other bands called PUSH, because we are here talking about an 80s UK band which is probably unfamiliar as they only managed to release a bunch of demos in the late 1980s. All remastered and collected now on 1 single CD, this PUSH release is very interesting to check out, especially if you're a fan of Classic 80s keyboard/hookladen friendly AOR/Melodic Rock. The sound is typical 80s British AOR, not far away from bands like AIRRACE, SHY, early FM, MORITZ, PEROUX, GRAFITI, TOBRUK, BRONZ, STATETROOPER, etc. etc. Perhaps not original, the quality of the songs is sometimes amazing and it makes you wonder why 80s recorded AOR always contains better melodies than present day AOR. For instance, songs like "Man On The Other Side" (a midtempo slightly proggy AOR song a la GTR, with a superstrong chorus that you will be singing for days after hearing it), "The Miracle of love" (an incredible catchy uptempo AOR rocker a la early FM), "Hannah" and the AOR ballad " Secret Lover (which is included twice on the disc, also in an enjoyable Spanish version). 20 years after the split of the band, a dedicated AOR fan released their demos on 1 CD on his own label AOR BLVD RECORDS, so finally we can now all enjoy the Classic 80s AOR this band once created in a time when this kind of music was very popular, although PUSH never got the push it deserved, perhaps due to the fact they weren't the only one playing the genre. Now their CD is easily one of the better releases in the AOR field, as most other new releases in this genre nowadays are very much by-the-numbers. The PUSH members went on doing other things, even working with RICKY MARTIN and ENRIQUE IGLESIAS!!! However, PUSH with 'Strange world' is a must-have for any AOR fan out there! More info at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


During the 1990s a German band called FRONTLINE caused quite a stir in the small AOR/Melodic Rock community. Especially their debut CD 'The state of rock' from 1994 is now 16 years still seen as a Classic and it was one of the very first albums I personally reviewed for Strutter'zine and it also gave me the push to continue writing. Before 1994 however there was another band called FRONTLINE, which lasted between 1983 and 1993, but the AOR community just recently became aware of this American FRONTLINE, when the US label RETROSPECT RECORDS released a CD filled with material of this rather unknown band from the 1980s. Although the bandmembers were highly respected musicians and played with and in front of many well-known artists/acts (HALL AND OATES, DON HENLEY, QUINCY JONES, MICHAEL MCDONALD, BRUCE HORNSBY) in the Bay Area/Northern California area during the 1980s, as a full-time recording band they never passed the demo/independent stage. Happily, that's where RETROSPECT RECORDS stepped in recently to release for the first time officially a full CD with FRONTLINE songs recorded between 1983 and 1993. About 5 songs were previously released, but the greater part of the 24 included tracks were unreleased until now. Musically speaking FRONTLINE moved into a superb high class Westcoast-AOR style that should be put somewhere between BOULEVARD and ADRENALIN (hence the Saxes), 80s TOTO, AGENT, TIM FEEHAN, 80s CHICAGO (hence the Horns) and some bit of LE ROUX/JOURNEYesque pure AOR. The sound is very 80s, including many keyboards, synths and soulful vocals, with happily also excellent precise guitarwork in the style of Lukather/Gaitsch... Like already mentioned, a bulk of 24 (!) songs are included on 2 separate discs and the material is of a very high level. This could have been 2 major label released back in 1988, but somehow it had to wait more than 20 years before an official CD release. Happily, now it is available and especially pay keen attention to wonderful Westcoast-AOR tracks like "Nadine", "Don't Look Down", the beautiful "Change Of Season", "Fire In Her Eyes" and "Always Changing". Somehow Disc 1 contains the better tracks, although both albums are without a doubt a must-have for any fan of Westcoast-AOR a la AIRPLAY, TOTO, CHICAGO, DAKOTA, AMBROSIA, JOE PASQUALE, MODESTY, GREGG GUIDRY, ROBBIE DUPREE, RICHARD MARX, BILL CHAMPLIN, SPIN GALLERY, JAY GRAYDON, PLANET 3, etc. etc. etc. More info at:  and 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


TOM ZONA is a singer/songwriter from New York, USA who has released a full-length CD titled ‘All’, which musically is somewhat a typical American style rootsy rock and roll with some acoustic American Folk influences in the tradition of JOHN COUGAR, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, TOM PETTY and such. Here and there some slight AOR/Poprock influences can be heard, reminding me of TOM KIMMEL, JOHN KILZER and DANNY WILDE, especially during the catchy “BT;DT”, which rocks a little harder than the rest and has a good melodic chorus. However, it does remind most of all of earlier mentioned acts, done very well and highly recommended to fans of that genre. Better make sure to check out his site at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


BASANOS is playing Metalcore, which instrumental sounds pretty good, but as most of the time within this genre you either love or hate it when it comes down to the vocal department, which is endless screaming and growling… This is also the case with the CD of BASANOS and therefore only interesting if you like a band such as CROWBAR. More info at: 

(Points: -)


Chicago based singer/songwriter JEFFREY ALTERGOTT already released 4 CDs in the past, so ‘Balloons’ is already his fifth CD. The included music is very calm singer/songwriter American based popmusic. Very laid-back, this is one of those CDs you can play on late-nights when you’re in a relaxing mood. It mixes also Jazz, Folk and Westcoast and ends up being a very nice calm semi-acoustic based pop record in a sorta 70s laid-back style. Check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


The American band SUPER 400 sounds like the next big thing, because their 4th CD ‘Sweet fist’ contains heavy bluesrock/power rock in the style of LED ZEPPELIN, CREAM, BLIND FAITH, BAD COMPANY, FREE… Besides a huge groovy guitar riff sound and a fantastic major label like production, most remarkable thing here are the superb soulful vocals of singer/guitarist Kenny Hohman, who sounds dangerously close to GLENN HUGHES and also musically a song like “Another heavy word” could have been a GLENN HUGHES song due to it’s kinda groovy bluesy hardrock sound with deep soulful vocals. It’s actually almost unbelievable this band has not yet had a breakthrough, because everything seems to sound perfect here, just breathing out classic early 1970s UK Bluesy Heavy Rock at it’s best! All together this CD is a big surprise and definitely highly recommended if you want to hear GLENN HUGHES meets CREAM meets FREE. More info at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Garage Punk Rock and Roll in the style of especially NEW YORK DOLLS and MC5 is the name of the game here. THE MASONS are a band from Kansas formed back in the mid 1990s and on their latest effort we can hear a bunch of live tracks as well as a bunch of studio recordings. The live stuff sounds very Garage Rock like, with a big distorted approach, an almost Fuzz like guitar wall of sound, as if this was recorded in a basement with the volume all the way up to 11! The studio recordings are more organized and even reminding of classic ROLLING STONES. A band you will love if MC5 meets THE STONES is something you’re looking for, because what they do they are doing very well actually. Check them out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


In the past a lot of bands named THE INNOCENTS, THE INNOCENT or simply INNOCENT slipped through my various audio players, but somehow I had never heard of the Australian band THE INNOCENTS. This Tasmania based band were originally called BEATHOVEN and sounded a lot like classic 1960s THE BEATLES, meaning short uptempo Powerpop tunes. However, when KIM FOWLEY (THE RUNAWAYS, STEEL BREEZE, THE ORCHIDS…) came on board around 1979, the band’s name was changed to THE INNOCENTS and their sound became rockier, resulting in a couple of hits, of which “Sooner or later” is their 15 minutes of fame in the music history. This song is one of those deadly catchy late 70s/early 80s uptempo Powerpoprockers with a chorus one will never get out of the head after hearing it. A song that should have become as huge as RICK SPRINGFIELD’s “Jessie’s girl” or THE KNACK’s “My sharona”, but that did not happen outside of Australia and so here we are 30 years later asking the question why this song is so little known. If you’re on YOUTUBE just search for the song and trust me, you will not be disappointed as this Powerpop gem is picture perfect, reminding me a lot of 2 other songs that never became big: “Where have you been all my life” by a band called FOTOMAKER and “How Do You Live” by THE A’S (just google/youtube and check it out!). Anyway, in 2002 the Australian label RIP RECORDS released an amazing 2-disc anthology of the band and gladly I received a copy 8 years later to tell you about it, because the 2 discs are filled with some gorgeous material, such as this “Sooner or later”. The first disc consists of mainly BEATHOVEN material, recorded in the 1970s, which was more 1960s based, including calmer acoustic guitar orientated arrangements, yet with super smooth melodies a la classic 60s BEATLES/HOLLIES… However, disc 2 rocks harder and is filled with some incredible Powerpoprock in the best 80s tradition, kinda like the first THE BOYS record, THE POP, THE RECORDS, THE PLIMSOULS, THE JAM, THE A’S, CHEAP TRICK, early 80s RICK SPRINGFIELD etc. etc. including catchy melodies and some cool guitar riffs that are put together in short uptempo rocking tunes. Why this band did not reach huge success is beyond me, but this disc 2 is from start to finish a pleasure to listen to, with as highlights “Sooner or later”, “Come tonight” and “Answer me”, which showcase Powerpop perfection! This 2-CD set is sold out, so very hard to get at the moment, but gladly the band recorded new material 20+ years after the final recording on these discs, because in 2006 the band recorded a new album titled ‘Pop factory’. This album mixed their 70s BEATLESesque sound with the catchy rockier Powerpop of their later (early 80s) material, ending up sounding pretty good, with some perfect melodic harmonies all over the place, although me personally still prefers their early 80s pure Powerpoprock material. Nice to have heard now this material after all these years, more info at:  and 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


The Arkansas, USA based band A GOOD FIGHT already has had their fifteen minutes of fame on MTV with some of their material and while listening to their first full-length CD, it becomes clear that this is another high quality band. Maybe musically not offering anything new, what they are doing is very impressive and deadly catchy at times. A GOOD FIGHT is playing modern day American Melodic Poprock, a few steps away from bands like BOWLING FOR SOUP, WEEZER, GOOD CHARLOTTE, SIMPLE PLAN, THE CLICK FIVE and such, but somehow with a wink to the 1980s in the guitar riff department, such as the HAIR METAL riff in the song “Rips like a motor”. However, the music is really typical American Highschool catchy day catchy Melodic Poprock, short but sweet and sometimes quite good. The band also released a mini-CD, but with this same titled full-length CD they show they are ready for the major labels, because also the sound/production is of a high level, despite this is an independent release. Check out this band at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Remember the 1980s when the UK and USA delivered thousands of bands playing Melodic Hardrock, AOR, Poprock or Glamrock? Well, nowadays only a few are left, but happily all over the world new bands in these genres pop up since the turn of the century thanks to the internet and the UK now also delivers a great new (and very young) band called SILK AND STEEL. They sent me a very strong promo CDR that contains 4 songs they recorded the past 2 years. Musically a mix of Melodic Hardrock and Glamrock, this lot reminds one of those glorious 80s bands that never made it as big as BON JOVI and DEF LEPPARD. The 2009 recorded tunes sound a little so and so (although the catchy pure AORish “Set this town alight” has some nice memories of bands like TRYX, TOBRUK, OUTSIDE EDGE, AIRRACE and such, screaming for a major production actually!), but the 2010 tracks are very well structured, such as the uptempo DOKKEN/VYPERish Melodic Hardrock of “Shoot you down” and the Glamrocker “When I first met you” a la TIGERTAILZ/WRATHCHILD. The guitarwork is very strong and perhaps we can welcome a full-length CD of this band in the near future. For now check them out at:  and e-mail them at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


WEAPON HEAD is an Australian band, with a debut full-length CD titled ‘Surgical smile’ that was produced by STEVE JAMES (THE ANGELS, COLD CHISEL, SCREAMING JETS, AIRBOURNE…). The band even played support act for BLACK SABBATH with DIO and ALICE COOPER in the USA in 2007, so they are definitely making their way towards stardom. The CD sounds modern and combines Hardrock and Metal with some Rock and Roll influences. “Got no money” is for example modern Metal, while a song like “Bring me home” is pure Rock and Roll like a heavier INXS, so the band is actually quite diverse. It could be that the band is searching for the right direction, although most of the time they sound like a modern groovy Heavy Rock and Roll band a la THE ANSWER, yet with some more edge to the overall sound. Check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Multi-instrumentalist GRADY TRUCHELUT is coming out of Texas, USA and is playing typical American Singer/Songwriter Pop/Rock, mainly acoustic based and done with a lot of passion. Do not expect any rockers, as the material is very calm and laid-back. Better check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)


STEF is a female singer from Bulgaria, who does not only look very good, but is also able to sing very well. Her debut CD is titled ‘Outspoken’, which is filled with lightweight Poprock, very Summerish and reminding of LENITA ERICKSON, ZIA LINDBERG, LENA MARLIN, later PAT BENATAR… The music is pretty soft and mainly a mix of acoustic guitars and the strong vocalwork of STEF. She has however the voice that would be perfectly suitable for AOR and here and there we can even hear an AORish tune, such as the catchy uptempo “You can be” that reminds a bit of CHALLENGE, PATTY SMYTH and ROBIN BECK. If a future CD would bring a slightly rockier approach, who knows, STEF could release a pure AOR-Rock album. Now it is only interesting for die-hard female fronted rockfans I think, although I really must add here that STEF is a fantastic singer, making it a pleasure to listen to her first CD ‘Outspoken’ and also the music is of a very high level. More info at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


The band LAUGHING SKULL is coming out of Slovenia and is actually formed around one person (his real name I could not trace…) called LAUGHING SKULL. He started playing violin at 7, switched to guitar one year later, but eventually gave that up until 20 years later when he re-discovered the instrument, which happened after he was hit by the Lyme disease. From 2005 he started working on his project LAUGHING SKULL and the result is this CD, which musically contains high quality guitar based instrumental Progressive Metal. ‘Labyrinths Of The Soul’ is one of those records a guitar freak will love for sure and a little STEVE VAI can clearly be heard in here. Not a groundbreaking instrumental CD, but still definitely one to check out if you’re a fan of this genre. More info at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


It’s a pity the THE REVENGE PROJECT from Bulgaria adds the screaming elements of Thrash/Death Metal into their sound, because their Progmetal side sounds very good. Sadly, most of the time the band goes for the aggressive Extreme side of Metal and then the melodies are hard to find. Nevertheless, their CD is a quality CD, which will probably be appreciated by fans of the Extreme Metal genre. See for yourself at: 

(Points: -)


Here we have a band based in Kansas City, Missouri, USA called ALICE SWEET ALICE and their 2nd CD titled ‘Moloko ultraviolence’, which musically goes deeply into 80s Underground New Wave/Gothic Poprock in the style of a JOY DIVISION, SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES, THE CURE and a tiny bit of PINK FLOYD, combining both male and female vocals. It is quite an adventure their album and feeling so much like classic 80s British Gothic Wave, one can only think this is some sort of re-issue, but ALICE SWEET ALICE is really a new band and what they do they are doing very well. If you’re a fan of this dark 80s Gothic British Wave sound, complete with the weird synths and somewhat depressive vocalwork of both the male and female singer, then this is surely a must-have! More info at: 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


This is what Rock and Roll is all about, loud, raw and straight-ahead. BLACK EYED BETTY is coming out of Colombus, Ohio and their first CD ‘Take it all’ is filled with strong pure Rock and Roll, a little punky here and there, yet with very strong vocals of female singer AMEE BELLWANZO. The sound of the CD is very independent orientated, so no major label productions here, but it definitely has it’s charm on the other hand and for fans of honest real Rock and Roll of course very interesting. This band is doing their Rock and Roll very well and I can easily recommend you to check them out at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


2 of the members of the Canadian band NAIL used to play in HELIX, the legendary Hair Metal band from Canada (“Rock you”, “Heavy Metal love”), but they decided to start a new band and after hearing the first song of their first CD ‘Power and greed’, I think they did the right thing, because it sounds very impressive. First of all, the guitarwork is excellent and the melodies of the songs are very strong, while the overall sound of NAIL is mixing a modern day almost DISTURBEDish groovy Metal sound with classic 80s melodies/choruses of Melodic Hardrock/Metal. The band has a female singer CINDY WEICHMANN and she is making this album a winner, because her voice is Metal Queenish a la LEE AARON, DARBY MILLS, HOLLY WOODS and CHRISSY STEELE, so in the classic female fronted Canadian style, but the music is mixing the old with the new like already mentioned. Highlights are opener “King of fools” (excellent chorus, very melodic), the ROUGH/DORO/WARLOCKish “Superhuman”, “Bottom feeder” (with BLACK SABBATH riffs, combined with a strong intelligent melodic chorus) and the uptempo “Power and greed”. Quite a surprise this Canadian band… very sensational actually and of a very high level! Female fronted, yet different than any other ff band at the moment, as they have a huge modern Metal approach that combines heavy groovy guitar riffs and a funky bass with superstrong Melodic Rock vocals and choruses straight out of the Classic Hardrock/Metal book. Check them out asap at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


1476 is a band from New Jersey, USA, yet do not expect a typical New Jersey Melodic Rockband, because they play fast Melodic Hardcore a la IGNITE. Meaning the fast Punk/Hardcore is combined with classic MAIDENish Melodic Metal guitarwork and clean vocalwork from start to finish, while the choruses of each song are pretty catchy and very melodic. At first sight I really thought this was either a Death/Black Metal or a Doom Metal band when looking at the artwork of their CD, but they really play a la IGNITE and they do it very well on the 14 included tracks of their CD. Check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Out of San Francisco comes OMINOS, a band playing a sort of mix of Thrash Metal from the classic late 80s Bay Area period (TESTAMENT, MEGADETH, DARK ANGEL…) and MAIDENish Melodic Metal. The result can be heard on 5 songs on their demo CDR, which sounds pretty good for an independent band. Vocally it is a bit raw and very Thrash Metal orientated, but like already mentioned, instrumental this band offers some great Metal riffs and guitarsolo’s, ripping as if it was still 1987. The production/sound is of course not as good as you would like it to be, but look further and you see a potential band. More info at: 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


RICK STEPHENSON is a singer/songwriter from Wisconsin, USA, who has come a long way before he would release his debut CD ‘Sanctuary of my heart’, which was already released in 2007, but now finally it has reached our headquarters. Rick first worked for 8 years as an accountant, travelling all over the world, but somewhere in the mid 1990s he started a new mission. He became a minister and worship leader, while musically he started working on his first CD, which was released a few years ago on his own label N-SITEFUL MUSIC. Included is music that is in the typical 80s inspired American Christian AOR/Pop format, here and there reminding of RICK CUA, ALLIES and MICHAEL W. SMITH, so most of the time a bit too poppy for regular AOR fns, although one can clearly hear Rick has been influenced by bands like STYX, JOURNEY and REO SPEEDWAGON, which he also admits. Most of the songs are (semi) ballad orientated and thanks to the strong vocalwork of Rick a pleasure to listen to. Actually everything looks and sounds quite impressive for an independent release and I am quite sure AOR fans might find some interesting stuff here, because the midtempo AOR of “You gave”, the semi-ballad “Endless fields of mercy” and the semi-rockers “Praise him” and “I’m gonna try” are really recommended to people who like the early records of TIM FEEHAN, JUST JAY, JOHN TAGLIERI, DAVID KUHN, RON COLLINS, although the material here is a little lighter and sometimes akin to BOB CARLISLE, although with a more 80s approach in the keyboard department. The best comparisons are perhaps artists like DAVID MEECE, STEVE CAMP, RUSS TAFF, RICH MULLINS, MATTHEW WARD, BILLY SPRAGUE… guess you’ll get the picture by now, more info at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


The American band STARFIRE is formed around multi-instrumentalist DAIRENN LOMBARD, who takes care of the keyboards, guitars as well as writing all the songs on the first CD the band has released. Besides, he also produced, engineered, mixed and mastered the album, but he also sings and sadly that part is not convincing enough. The music is nice lightweight keyboard orientated 80s AOR/Poprock, reminding me of JIMMY MARTIN, but the vocals are not strong enough to make this a memorable album. Dairenn is able to write and create nice 80s sounding Poprock, but vocally something has got to change in the future I am afraid… Songwise it is ok, but only 3 songs are on this CDR, so can’t judge if the full album will be in a similar approach. More info at: 

(Points: 6.3 out of 10)


Experimental Pop/Rock is the name of the game here on the 2008 released CD ‘Until your breath is over’ from the Italian band MOVIN’ K. We can hear similarities to 1990s U2 (circa “Mysterious ways”) somehow and even 1980s Gothic Rock influences can be heard, but it still all sounds quite modern and updated. I have to inform that it sounds a little lightweight here and there, but when the band rocks hard, it really sounds great, such as the Melodic Hardrocksong “Animal”. More songs like this on a new CD and we have a great Italian band. In fact, they are recording new material as we speak, so more info on that later this year. Although I mention Melodic Hardrock for the odd song here, the band is more mixing elements of 80s Gothic underground Rock with 90s Pop/Rock. If that sounds interesting, then check out this band at:  and e-mail them at: 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)


The band THE RABBLE is coming out of Auckland, New Zealand and they have released their CD ‘The battle’s almost over’ on the German label GORDEON MUSIC. They were formed in 2001 and their album sounds like a quality Punk record, some Hardcore influences and kinda DROPKICK MURPHYS orientated. In it’s genre, this CD might do well among fans of GBH/EXPLOITED, although happily the material is a little more diverse than those 2 legendary mainly Hardcore bands. There are even guitarsolo’s to be heard, so this THE RABBLE definitely more than just another aggressive Punk/Hardcore band. Check them out for yourselves at: 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


THE SACRIFICED is a Christian Metalband from Florida and they released their CD ‘2012’ on ROXX RECORDS, a label that releases qutie a lot rare 80s Christian Metal onto CD. Although this band also sounds dangerously close to Classic 80s Melodic US Power Metal a la RUFFIANS, very early QUEENSRYCHE, very early FATES WARNING, METAL CHURCH, HELSTAR and such, this is truly a new recorded CD of a new band. What they have done is creating a record that captures everything afforementioned bands were known for, meaning uptempo powerful Metal songs with high-pitched vocals and screaming guitars all over the place. This CD contains music that fits exactly the Classic 80s US Melodic Power Metalsound, which was loved so much here in Europe. Make sure to get a copy of this CD if this is your favorite style! More info at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Now this is the kind of music which is very popular in Northern Europe, where acts like KATIE MELUA, ALISON KRAUSS and AMY MCDONALD are top of the bill. M BIRD from Nashville does it at a same high level, playing a sorta of sweet pop version of a mix of Singer/Songwriter, Country, Rockabilly and Jazz music. Who knows, she will be the next big thing, check it out at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Well-thought Poprock is what we get to hear on the CD of CHRIS SCHUTZ and his band THE TOURISTS. They remind a little of ROY ORBISON actually, yet a little rockier, some comparisons to CHEAP TRICK might even be possible, but singer CHRIS SCHUTZ does also a good JOHN LENNON imitation sometimes. “Spinning wheel” is a damn catchy uptempo 1980sish US Poprocker that sounds like a mix between CHEAP TRICK and THE CARS, but the more well-thought singer/songwriter approach comes to mind more on this CD, as a lot of the tracks are lightweight semi-pop/rock, reminding of the already mentioned ROY ORBISON and even some of the 80s UK Wave bands come to mind like during the catchy song “Livin’ on yer own”, which could have been a number 1 hitsingle in Britain if it had been 1985! So all together this Philadelphia, USA based act is very diverse and quite interesting, check them out at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


The Canadian multi-instrumentalist CARY CLOUSER did most of the work on his CD ‘Finger paintings’ on his own and I must admit that the records sounds very impressive. This is a real high quality CD, released on the Florida/US based label MELODIC REVOLUTION RECORDS. The music is Classic Progressive Rock, a little JETHRO TULL based, yet with an American approach to it, so a little more accessible and melodic, even some STYXish parts like in “Ship of pride”. Cary is a veteran in the music industry, with 25 years of experience, so it is not that strange we can hear quality music only! Definitely a recommended album to any Progfan… a surprising release and as good as major releases of bands like SPOCK’S BEARD and TRANSATLANTIC. More info at:  and 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


The story behind the first song on the CD of vocalist/guitarist DAVID OLNEY is more interesting than the included music on his CD, because “Train wreck” is based on the worst train wreck in American history that happened almost 100 years ago (known as DUTCHMAN’S CURVE). Musically however this is American Country music as it was played in the American Midwestern of the 1930s, sorta reminding of JOHNNY CASH, so not of interest for us at all I’m afraid. More info at: 

(Points: -)


MIKE CAMPESE is a great guitar virtuoso from New York, who just released a new CD titled ‘Electric city’, which is already his 7th CD. He is best known as member of TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, but throughout the 2000s he built an extensive catalogue of solo-material. Included on his new CD is mainly instrumental guitar riffs from Mike, although a few songs also feature vocals. He’s ripping 76 minutes long, with as background uptempo or progressive tempo’s, although a ballad is also included. Definitely a must-have for guitar virtuoso fans! More info at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


PJ RAUTIAINEN is coming out of Finland and he just released his first solo-album ‘Secret isle’ independently. PJ (Pekka) sang on 2 excellent Melodic Rockalbums with the band HOUSE OF MIRRORS throughout the 2000s, but left that band to start a solo career, which now resulted in a full-length debut CD that musically goes into a different direction, although it is also in the melodic field. PJ offers on this CD high quality hookladen Westcoast-AOR in the best early 80s L.A. tradition of acts like TOTO, DAVID ROBERTS, JOE PIZZULO, JAY GRUSKA, PLANET 3, MAKR SPIRO, TIME GALLERY, although also URBAN TALE, CROSSFADE, HEART PLAY come to mind, while CHICAGO and even some DAKOTA similarities can be heard here and there. It’s lightweight and sometimes very late 70s/early 80s Westcoast-Pop orientated (CHRISTOPHER CROSS), but here and there also very AORish, such as during the wonderful “Everytime when it rains”, the poprocker “Clarity” and the superb “This burden” that has JOURNEY influences written all over and some of these tracks are just pure AOR. PJ also throws in some STEVIE WONDERish Soulful Funk influences in a song like “Burning” and so in the end, this CD might not attract every AOR fan, one can not deny the incredible high level of musicianship. The excellent vocalwork of PJ, along with some beautiful harmonyvocals makes this CD an absolute delight for anyone who appreciated quality music and Westcoast-AOR fans will most definitely instantly fall in love with the record. Perhaps one of the finest Westcoast-AOR releases of the past few years, should be labeled right next to DAVID ROBERTS, TOTO and AOR for that matter. Go check it out for yourself at:  and  and e-mail at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


The Californian band THY LAST SCREAM is a very diverse band based around one person, so actually this is an one man’s band. The multi-instrumentalist involved here is T.L. SURA, who did almost everything on his own on his debut CD ‘Still the nightmare’. The music is a mix of classic Melodic Rock (vocally), Progressive Rock/Metal (the structure of the songs) and some Experimental Grungy Metal in the Guitar Riff department. It reminds me a little of PHIL VINCENT, yet a little heavier and more progressive at times. Opener “The silence in between” is a superb Melodic semi-Progressive rocker with an haunting chorus, a little ENCHANTish actually. Following tracks are a little moving towards depressive slow ALICE IN CHAINS/SOUNDGARDEN Grunge-Metal (including the depressing vocalwork), with some light Doom Metal influences (big BLACK SABBATHish guitar riffs), especially in a song like “Bleed away”, not bad at all, but I personally prefer the more melodic rock based material of the first track. Other highlights are the slow but very melodic chorus driven “Enemy of my mind”, “Between you and the deep blue sea” (SUPERB melodic almost AORish chorus), the melodic rockballad “Still the nightmare”, “Send me over” and the lovely closing track “The ending is over”. Songs like these show that this band (or in this case T.L. SURA) are a very sensational band actually, really offering something of interest for the melodic rockfans, yet with a slight sorta 90s American down-tuned Metal approach here, THY LAST SCREAM also throws in a lot of memorable melodies in their overall sound and in the end it reminds me a lot of a band like THE KING’S MACHINE (if anyone remembers them?) and even some TEER (like their independent mid 90s debut CD), combined with ALICE IN CHAINS and even ENCHANT similarities can be heard here and there, so all together a nice mixture here to check out at:  and e-mail at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


TEARS are a band from Los Angeles and on their latest CD ‘Memories of things unnecessary’ we can hear European style experimental music that combines elements of 80s instrumental Gothic, Ambient and Progressive Metal. The band’s CD was mastered by JENS BOGREN (PARADISE LOST, AMON AMARTH and PAIN OF SALVATION) and musically we can hear some similarities to ANATHEMA, PINK FLOYD and PAIN OF SALVATION as well as 90s QUEENSRYCHE, so it is really very diverse. Actually only 2 real vocal tracks are included here, the Progmetal tune “I just want to forget” and the semi-ballad “Things imaginary”, because the other tracks are instrumental, even reminding of KLAUS SCHULZE/TANGERINE DREAM at times. Definitely quality stuff, but not easy to label and perhaps that makes this TEARS interesting for music fans with an open-mind. Check it out at:  and e-mail at: 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


SISTER SIN is a tough Swedish female fronted Melodic Metalband whom are now following up their 2008 debut ‘Switchblade serenades’ with the new CD ‘True sound of the underground’. Without a doubt, this is a high quality release, which musically sounds different than the standard female fronted releases, which are either radio-ready sweet Poprock a la KELLY CLARCKSON, folkish pop/rock a la AMY MCDONALD or Gothic Metal a la AFTER FOREVER/EPICA/WITHIN TEMPTATION… SISTER SIN is completely different, namely guitar orientated straight-ahead uptempo Melodic Power Metal, reminding of BENEDICTUM and WARLOCK. 12 songs are included and from start to finish, it is a pleasure to listen to. Definitely an album to be proud of, thanks to a great huge sound/production, well-crafted musicianship, fantastic vocalwork of singer LIV and a lot of excellent tunes. More at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Some big names make their appearance on the debut CD of the Greek band MINUETUM, but both TIMO TOLLKI (STRATOVARIUS) for the mixing and mastering as well as BOB KATSIONIS (FIREWIND, OUTLOUD) for the production can not help that this CD will not go down in history as a classic. It is not bad at all what we get to hear, but I am afraid the Melodic Prog/Sympho Metal is a little bit too standard to make a real impact between the KAMELOT’s, SONATA ARTICA’s, HELLOWEEN’s and STRATOVARIUS’ of this world. The band when at best sounds like the typical Italian (UNDERGROUND SYMPHONY RECORDS) Power Metal bands, reminding in fact a lot of SKYLARK. Fans of that band will definitely appreciate this a lot, but be aware that this album of MINUETUM is not a classic, just another nice melodic power metal release. More at: 

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)


Now here we have a very interesting album that features a bunch of great various lead singers, such as MIKE VESCARA, ZAK STEVENS, STEVE GRIMMETT and several others. EMPIRES OF EDEN is a band formed around multi-instrumentalist STU MARSHALL, who gathered around him a few legendary vocalists of bands like SAVATAGE, LOUDNESS, GRIM REAPER, LIONSHEART, CIRCLE 2 CIRCLE, MALMSTEEN, etc…, although 3 of the songs are sung by original EMPIRES OF EDEN singer LOUIE GORGIEVSKI (but happily this guy has a great voice too!). In 2009 we already reviewed the debut CD of Aussie Stu and now he follows that up with a new full-length CD titled ‘Reborn in fire’, released on the German label 7 HARD RECORDS. We have here a true winner on our hands, because from the very first few seconds until the very end, we are pleased with high quality picture perfect Melodic (Power) Metal in the best classic tradition, like a mix between FIFTH ANGEL, RIOT, MALMSTEEN, SAVATAGE and newer bands like LORD/DUNGEON, MYSTIC PROPHECY and BALANCE OF POWER. Especially songs like “Enter the storm” and “Prognatus Ut Obscurum” are soon-to-be Melodic Metal Classics and therefore I can only conclude that this new EMPIRES OF EDEN is a must-have for any fan of quality Metal! More at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Shredding is the name of the game here. CONSTANTINE is the name of the project by guitarist KONSTANTINOS KOTZAMANIS, who also plays in MYSTIC PROPHECY and NIGHTRAGE. He released his solo-debut CD, on which he shreds his way through 9 tracks. He is not the new GUS G for that matter yet, but after hearing his incredible shredding on this CD he might as well become the next big guitarist in the Metal World in the near future. For now, check him out at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


ZZG is an Australian band and unlike most other bands from that country they have nothing in common with the standard AC/DC inspired Hardrock. ZZG is a semi progressive hardrockband a la RUSH, with a lot of groovy 70s rock influences as well, but especially the somewhat British New Wave type of singing (BRYAN FERRY/DAVID BOWIE) of vocalist/guitarist DANIEL ROBERTS is making them a rather unique band in the Australian rockscene. 7 songs are included on the CD and although this is a new record, it surely sounds like if it was created somewhere in 1978 in the UK, because 32 years ago a lot of bands sounded like ZZG does now. This does not mean it is a dated sounding album, in contrary, they do things a little different and for that reason they should be heard and you can do that by going to: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


ORIZ is a band from Sweden featuring guitarist ALEANDER ORIZ, who previously was a member of the band SANCHEZ (AOR/Melodic Rockoutfit with a release sometime ago). The band’s same titled debut CD contains nicely performed Melodic Hardrock, nothing more, nothing less… The band has been influenced by RAINBOW, WHITESNAKE, DIO, SCORPIONS and such Classic Hardrock, but in the end it has a sorta Dutch touch and reminds me of a more melodic VENGEANCE, a softer PICTURE and a heavier NO EXQZE. Not bad at all, but also not something that will go down in history as a Classic, because therefore it all sounds too cliché and standard I am afraid. Hear for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


The Swedish band THE MOVERS deliver a debut album that musically draws influences of 60s and 70s Powerpop, reminding a little of classic bands such as THE RASPBERRIES, the Australian THE INNOCENTS, FOTOMAKER, PLIMSOULS, THE RECORDS, etc. etc. Especially songs like “Love and electricity”, “Hard to keep” and “My troubled mind” are catchy little uptempo Powerpoprockers that remind of the glorious late 1970s sound of mentioned bands. Definitely an album you must check out if that is your genre and I must admit that this THE MOVERS did move me a bit with their first CD as it really is a good one! Go to:  for more info on this interesting band!

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


MODEST MIDGET is a Dutch band with a sound that is clearly influenced by the 1970s. One can hear Progrock and Psychedelic Rock influences in MODEST MIDGET’s music as well as some 1960s British Beatmusic (especially vocally), ending up sounding like a mix between MOODY BLUES, PROCOL HARUM, very early PINK FLOYD, THE HOLLIES (“Troubles in heaven”) and 1960s FLEETWOOD MAC (“Coffee from yesterday”), with some KAYAKish guitarwork (such as in the songs “Back from my trip” and “Jorge knows how difficult…”). The band rocks uptempo during the album’s highlight “Buy me!”, which is a rather catchy tune. THE BEATLES influences are also all over the place, just listen to the calm epic semi-ballad “Home seek”. All together a nice very diverse album that combines a big of everything, but is most of the time a tribute to the classic later 1960s and early 70s British way of Pop/Rock, yet with a touch of light 1970s progrock of the YES kind here and there (especially during the lovely calm “The last straw” that features some nice synths/keys). MODEST MIDGET is a very innovative band and perhaps they will be big in 10 years time, because they truly offer something unique and different than any other band out there! More at:  and e-mail at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


In the past we already reviewed 4 CDs of American multi-instrumentalist DAVID NEIL CLINE. The CDs were in a few occasions even re-issues of material David recorded way back in the mid 1980s, so I guess you can say that David has had a long career so far, with now a new CD release titled ‘Flying in a cloud of controversy’. The guitars have been tuned down a bit, vocally it all sounds way more experimental than in the past, with some distorted vocals here and there, some talking and here and there an aggressive almost HENRY ROLLINS kinda screaming… Put that aside, one still can appreciate the excellent guitarwork of David, especially during the instrumental pieces. However, musically it is a more American groovy Nu-Metal approach sometimes, although here and there with a melodic touch, such as during “Planet damnation” that has some DISTURBED/SHINEDOWN similarities. Check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem except where noted)