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The finest and most consistent AOR band of all times will always be the American band SURVIVOR. 7 Classic album releases were done throughout the 1980s and each of them featured nothing but classic tunes from start to finish. The golden duo of JIM PETERIK (keys/guitar)/ FRANKIE SULLIVAN (guitar) for the songwriting part, with either DAVE BICKLER or JIMI JAMISON on lead vocals and sometimes with RON NEVISON as producer, that combination turned all the 1980s SURVIVOR records into AOR masterpieces that will never be beaten by any AOR band. ‘Vital signs’ is definitely the greatest AOR record in history of mankind, without a doubt the ‘perfect ten’. Live on stage the band never managed to reach the untouchable high level of that other legendary AOR band JOURNEY, so in the end the band will always be remembered for their incredible studiowork. The past 5 years announcements were made many times that all the band’s releases would be remastered and re-released, but time and time again it was postponed, until now. The first 2 SURVIVOR albums have now been re-released on CD by ROCK CANDY RECORDS, complete with extensive liner notes and sounding better than any of the original releases. It was clear that these first 2 records saw the band searching for the right direction, as they sounded here and there quite raw and rough, which on the other hand is now 30 years later very interesting actually. The guitar-orientated Melodic Rock of the band’s 1980 same titled debut sounded clearly heavier than their mid 80s AOR Classics ‘Vital signs’ and ‘When seconds count’. In fact the keyboardwork was hardly present and so calling this debut AOR is actually wrong, because it is a Melodic Hardrockalbum with the spirit of the 1970s. Nevertheless, it is a superb record with a bunch of Classic tunes included and actually after listening to the album now through this re-release, it shows that even today even this first SURVIVOR album is better than any Melodic Hardrock record released in the past few years. Songs like “Somewhere In America”, “Can’t Getcha Offa My Mind”, “As Soon As Love Finds Me”, “Whole Town’s Talkin’”, “Nothing Can Shake Me (From Your Love)” and the bonus track “Rebel Girl” are of an incredible high level, basically just perfect melodic hardrocking tunes. RON NEVISON actually produced this record, but he clearly wanted to capture the 1970s guitar orientated Hardrocksound of his earlier productions of UFO and LED ZEPPELIN, along with vocal melodies and choruses a la CHICAGO, JOURNEY, FOREIGNER, KANSAS and THE BABYS. Of course Ron became keyboard-AOR superhero in the mid 80s when he started producing SURVIVOR again and also achieved fame and fortune with HEART’s productions. Anyway, this new re-release is definitely top-of-the-bill and should be in every melodic rockfan’s collections, perhaps one of the better sounding SURVIVOR albums next to the 1983-1986 triple-classic period, although 'Premonition' was slightly better, but that one is reviewed below as that 1981 record has also been re-released. More info at: 

(Points: 9.3 out of 10)


The 2nd SURVIVOR album ‘Premonition’ has also been re-released on ROCK CANDY RECORDS, fully remastered and with extensive liner notes included in the CD booklet. Just like their debut, also this album featured some incredible classics, getting closer to the band’s perfect AOR sound that would take place on their 4th, 5th and 6th album, all released between 1983 and 1986. In contrary to their debut, this album was definitely more AOR based, with as absolute highlight the superb “Runway Lights”, which belongs to the best tracks of all times! Other remarkable tracks are “Summer Nights”, “Poor Man’s Son”, “Light Of A Thousand Smiles” and “Hearts A Lonely Hunter”. Although not the band’s finest record, still this is one of the big 1980s 7 SURVIVOR records everyone must own, because musically it is of an incredible high level, easily reaching the FOREIGNER, TOTO and JOURNEY quality. The album that followed would bring SURVIVOR fame and fortune thanks to the titletrack ‘Eye of the tiger’ heavily featured in the movie ROCKY, but we all know that record itself was one of the weakest in the band’s career and the real peak was coming on the 3 following records. Nevertheless, the first 2 albums also featured some amazing material and now finally both of them are rereleased, sounding crystal clear to perfection. More info at: 

(Points: 9.4 out of 10)


The American band QUIET RIOT has a long history with many ups and downs behind them, including quite a lot line-up changes and reaching a very surprising huge success in 1983. Nevertheless, they were more a no-nonsense Party Rockband that was just lucky to be at the right place at the right time, because the band itself never made a real classic. What they did deliver was a great stage-act, thanks to the late KEVIN DUBROW and a whole string of high class musicians in their line-up, including the late RANDY RHOADS during the 1970s. Somehow it is strange that the band’s first 2 albums from the 1970s, only released in Japan, still have not been re-issued on CD worldwide, because those records really deserve to be heard, if only was it for Randy’s amazing guitarwork. The music itself at the time was catchy Melodic Poprock like the lates STARZ records. After a short hiatus, the band was back on track in 1983, releasing an album titled ‘Metal health’, which shot to number 1 in the USA, selling millions of records! The following album ‘Condition critical’ did not achieve the same result and so the band changed its Party Hardrockstyle of those 2 albums on the following record ‘QR3’, which ROCK CANDY RECORDS has now rereleased. This 1986 album saw them playing with keyboards, catchy hooks and memorable singable AOR choruses. The funny thing is that it actually worked, because the songs are really catchy, but now 25 years later perhaps a bit over-the-top-1980s sounding. On the other hand, it is definitely the band’s finest record, because songs like “Main Attraction”, “The Wild And The Young”, “Twilight Hotel” and the Semi-Ballad “Still Of The Night” are really strong catchy and memorable tunes. This rerelease sounds really good and shows once again this was the band’s best one, easily beating the overrated ‘Metal Health’. Sadly the album marked the temporary end of singer KEVIN DUBROW, because he was replaced by PAUL SHORTINO for a while. More info at: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


QUIET RIOT’S 6th album, simply titled ‘QR’ saw the band once again changing their style, this time it was due to the bluesy vocalwork of new singer PAUL SHORTINO, the band would move into heavy Bluesy Melodic Hardrock that had more in common with WHITESNAKE, a bluesier Y&T and BLUE MURDER than the keyboard friendly AOR of their previous album ‘III’ and the Party Hardrock of their 3rd and 4th albums. This originally 1988 released album saw another face of QUIET RIOT, which actually made them a very inconsistent band, but on the other hand, it was a change for the better, because this was the kind of album that was more in line with the Hard Rock community at the time and still sounds modern nowadays. Not a classic, but nevertheless a very strong album that gave such great bluesy MHR songs like “Stay With Me Tonight”, “Run To You” (a slightly semi AOR ballad a la WHITE SISTER somehow), "Don't wanna be your fool" (midtempo AOR ballad) and "Empty promises" (uptempo Y&Tish melodic rocker), all very much in a WHITESNAKE meets RAINBOW meets BADLANDS style. Rereleased now by ROCK CANDY RECORDS, this was actually a typical PAUL SHORTINO sounding album, because it had nothing to do with QUIET RIOT musically speaking. It was only temporary, because in the following years KEVIN DUBROW would return, release new records with the band during the 1990s, but eventually the band would never reach the same success and we all know what happened just recently, when Kevin committed suicide. A sad ending of a band that had its fifteen minutes of fame in Japan during the late 1970s and the USA in the early 1980s, brought some memorable individual characters in the Hardrock business that we will never forget, but on the other hand they will not be remembered for a real classic album release ('Metal Health' came close, but featured too many average tracks to make it a real classic!). ROCK CANDY RECORDS did justice to re-release the band’s most experimental records that saw a different QUIET RIOT than their earlier releases and therefore perhaps more interesting to check out now at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Here we go again…back to Sweden for some high class AOR the way it should sound. OK, these guys are not doing anything new, but what they deliver here is picture perfect AOR in the best 80s tradition without sounding dated. They are not far removed from H.E.AT. and add a lot of SURVIVORish keyboardwork along with JOURNEYesque melodies are thrown into their mostly fun uptempo pure AOR Rock. FRONTIERS RECORDS brought us many great new AOR bands the past few years, but this HOUSTON easily beats them all, except for perhaps WORK OF ART. HOUSTON consists of vocalist Hampus "Hank" Erix and drummer Freddie Allen. They were brought together by live-promoter Dave Laroxx (who also works as a club organizer, A&R and DJ in Stockholm) and along with a list of high profile Swedish guest musicians such as TOMMY DENANDER, THOMAS VIKSTROM, MATS OLAUSSON and producer RICKY DELIN, HOUSTON recorded a bloody awesome pure AOR record and especially since it’s their very first, they will make a huge impact on the AOR scene as they are even better sounding than H.E.A.T.!. 10 songs are included and all of them are AOR hits, as if JOURNEY circa 1983 was mixed with SURVIVOR circa 1986. Like mentioned, some of the material does make you wonder where you have heard that before, but nevertheless, this is as enjoyable and good as AOR is able to sound in the year 2010! This HOUSTON record could well become the finest AOR record of the year 2010! Songs like “Pride”, “Truth Slips”, “Hold On”, “She's A Mystery” and “Now” are already CLASSIC uptempo AOR tunes that will be loved by any AOR fan. This band deliver AOR the way it used to sound 25 years ago, including massive keys, catchy hooks and memorable choruses, along with a bombastic rhythm section, really SURVIVOR meets JOURNEY, yet with a slight typical Scandi AOR approach of the TREAT/BAD HABIT/DALTON/DAVINCI kind. You don’t wanna miss this album! More info at:  and 

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)


One of the greatest guitarists of all times releases a special vinyl release of his 2009 live album 'Where the wild things are'. This album was previously available on CD and DVD, but for the vinylfreaks among us, it has now also been released on vinyl. It concerns here a double vinyl record, one record is in the red color and the other one is in the blue color. This already makes it worth a purchase, because the looks are very appealing. The original release of the album on CD and DVD featured the full concert as recorded and filmed at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, MN as part of Vai’s “Sound Theories” world tour. The 2 hour and 40 minute set contained several new tracks and re-orchestrated pieces culled from Vai's catalog. Besides Steve, other musicians are Alex DePue (violin), Ann Marie Calhoun (violin), Bryan Beller (bass), Jeremy Colson (drums), Dave Weiner (guitar and sitar) and Zack Wiesinger (lap steel). This 2-LP set contains a selection of this concert, as of course it is impossible to put 240 minutes of music on 2 vinyl records. Nevertheless, the choice for the selected tracks is very good and features some of Vai's best works, but above all, the mixture of diverse styles can be heard very clearly, because basically you can hear a note of nearly every music genre on these 2 LPs. Side-A starts off quite heavy actually, going into a typical Neo-Classical almost Progmetal kinda direction, like an instrumental DREAM THEATER meets MALMSTEEN. The other 3 sides go for a more relaxed smoother direction that introduce influences ranging from Jazz, Fusion, Prog, classic R&B, Blues to Rock. Vai's incredible diversity on the guitar has always been admired by many people and what makes this release of course very interesting that it took more than 2 decades to hear Vai's amazing techniques on vinyl again, but happily it is now available on LP. The release took place on Vai's own label FAVORED NATIONS RECORDS. Available through:  and 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


Discovering old and new acts is definitely the nicest thing in the music business, because some acts are discovered by coincidence. For example the band ACTOR or should I say female singer JESSIE GALANTE, because she is the main topic of this review. It all started when I picked up a copy of a compilation vinyl record called 'Buffalo Rocks Volume 2' for a few bucks at a local record store. As I am huge fan of these rare local American radio early 80s compilations, it is always a pleasure to listen to them and finding out whatever happened to those mostly unknown local bands. One of the included bands was ACTOR, who delivered a lovely Melodic Rocksong titled "Checkin’ out". Upon checking the internet it provided me additional info about the band, as they apparently released 1 mini-LP in 1983 and the band's incredible female singer was called JESSIE GALANTE. She went on recording a superb demo with the band FIRE in the late 80s, produced by MICHAEL WAGENER and just recently started a very successful (partly in The Netherlands!) solo career. Her website also sells the ACTOR vinyl record, which is a very rare one, but definitely a fantastic mini-LP that featured high class Melodic Hardrock with blistering guitarwork and lovely vocalwork of Jessie. Sadly it remained an independent classic blast from the past, because now 27 years later the album still remains their only release. However, Jessie also released a few solo-CDs, of which 'Spitfire' is her latest album release. Musically quite different from ACTOR, but still very enjoyable, Jessie sounds and looks still very good some 27 years after the ACTOR record! The music on her latest solo-CD is bluesy Rock, kinda like a mix between SASS JORDAN and ALANNAH MYLES. Sometimes quite rocking, while here and there also very soulful, quite honest and also recommended to people who like for example the legendary JANIS JOPLIN. Both the fantastic ACTOR vinyl record as well as Jessie's solo-CDs are available through:  and  The ACTOR vinyl record is directly available via Jessie’s website, but also via a direct email request....subject line "Actor". E-mail Jessie at: 

(Points: ACTOR: 8.8 out of 10 / JESSIE GALANTE SOLO CD: 8.3 out of 10)


Who on earth would have thought that AMERICAN IDOL and PROGRESSIVE ROCK joined forces together in a band that also features a member of the CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (cellist Katinka Kleijn), but that has happened now on the debut CD of the Chicago based band DISTRICT 97. This band features 2007 American Idol finalist LESLIE HUNT on lead vocals and musically we are listening to pure Progressive Rock. Maybe it is not the best progalbum released in 2010, it definitely contains a bunch of high quality music that will be an easy target for any progrockfan out there! What we hear is perfectly played and constructed Progrock that combine influences from legendary bands like KING CRIMSON, YES, GENTLE GIANT, GENESIS, ELP, JETHRO TULL, DREAM THEATER, RUSH with the fantastic female vocals of Leslie. Progrockbands with a female singer are rare and progbands with an American Idol finalist and a member of a symphony orchestra is unique! For that reason and the fact that the music on their debut CD 'Hybrid child' really delivers, we can only conclude that this CD needs to be heard! More info at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Around the same time the first album of the American female fronted Progressive Rockband DISTRICT 97 was released, also the debut CD of the British female fronted 3-piece Progressive Rockband DELUSION SQUARED was released. Musically they both go for a pure Progrocksound with female vocals, but somehow this DELUSION SQUARED is better, because their songs are more memorable. They are also less keyboard orientated and more modern-day progrock sounding with some clear influences of bands like ANATHEMA, OPETH, PORCUPINE TREE, AMBEON and even some AYREON, but thanks to the female vocals giving it an own approach. Most of the material has a very relaxed feeling, with some nice atmospheric guitarwork (a la PINK FLOYD) and strong melodies a la MOSTLY AUTUMN, THE REASONING and KARNATAKA. In fact, fans of that typical British female fronted Progrocksound should really check out this DELUSION SQUARED, because their debut CD is definitely at the same high level of the mentioned bands. Quite a surprising release that lended on our desk from out of nowhere, so make sure to check them out for yourself at:  and 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


AWAKENUS is a band from Overland Park, Kansas, USA consisting of 5 male musicians and 3 female musicians. They are clearly a Christian band, but musically we are definitely listening to something very A.O.R. based. In fact, opener “Carry me” is a really beautiful semi AOR ballad that remind me a lot of the band BLUE RUIN (‘Just the beginning’) if anyone remembers them, but also ALLIES, WHITE HEART and even FAITH NATION come to mind here. The male vocals in this first song are very strong, but also the female vocalwork in following track “Awaken” are very impressive, while that song has some similarities to BURNS SISTERS/RACHEL RACHEL. The production is excellent and instrumental it rocks enough to be called a real Melodic Rock/AOR album, while as already mentioned before, the vocalwork is top-notch, although during the second part of the CD the vocals are weaker (not sure who handles the vocal duties on which songs, but it seems all members are able to sing). Despite the fact that some of the tracks on the CD are a bit so-and-so (“Sent”, “Will you?”, “Grace in action” and “Bend”) and not many uptempo rockers are included, quite a bunch of the tracks (especially the beginning of the CD and the closing 2 tracks) sound very good and for the AOR/Melodic Rockfans this band is definitely very interesting to check out. For the die-hard AOR fans, this CD sounds like a mix between a calmer RACHEL RACHEL, early CONNIE SCOTT, BLUE RUIN and BURNS SISTERS, yet with sometimes also a poppier approach of the AUDIO ADRENALINE kind. Still, make sure not to miss this ‘underground’ release of Christian AOR/Melodic (Pop) Rock at: 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Out of Los Angeles, California comes guitarist/vocalist DERIN DOW who sent me his CD ‘Retroactive’. Musically he is definitely a fan of the 80s, with his combination of pure AOR/Melodic Rock, clean melodic vocalwork and catchy choruses a la TRIUMPH/CONEY HATCH and actually quite superb shredding guitarwork (MALMSTEEN/VAN HALEN). Happily, it also sounds pretty good, both production wise and songwise speaking, because Derin’s voice is really good enough for this type of music, moving somewhere between the voice of the TRIUMPH drummer and CARL DIXON of CONEY HATCH fame, although some of the later songs on the CD are bringing him straight into STYXish TOMMY SHAW signature. Musically Derin’s songs go for a sound that makes me feel it’s 1983 all over again and CONEY HATCH, ALDO NOVA and TRIUMPH are really the best comparisons one can make here when the music is pure Melodic Rock (especially during the beginning of the CD), but some tracks also go for a more pure mid 80s AOR approach that remind me of RICK MATHEWS, a little MITCH MALLOY and JIMMY DAVIS, but most of the time there’s a lot of 70s American Midwestern Rock/Pomprock/Westcoast going on here (STYX, HEAD EAST, ROADMASTER, REO SPEEDWAGON and AMBROSIA). The song “Signature” is an excellent piece of pure early 80s AOR/Melodic Rock that could well be either on a SANTERS, CONEY HATCH or early 80s TRIUMPH record, easily reaching the same high level. A little STYXish TOMMY SHAW can be heard in the semi-Pomprockballad “Door to your heart” that rocks out classic 1970s style all the way towards the end with some amazing guitarwork. Other highlights are “Right side of the road” that mixes a classic 1970s groovy guitar lick a la JEFF BECK meets PAT TRAVERS with some superb vocal melodies that even reveal NELSON similarities, while once again the guitarwork is amazing. And also the song “Runnin to win” should be mentioned, because this song has a lot of similarities to 1970s ROADMASTER and more TOMMY SHAW – STYX period can be heard in the tunes “Highways” and the DAMN YANKEESish meets STYXish ballad “I do love you”. Actually each of the 12 tracks included here contain influences of so many of our well beloved AOR/Melodic Rockacts (with obviously 1970s STYXish TOMMY SHAW era being the best comparison in the end, although the harder rocking tracks can also be compared to 1970s TRIUMPH), but the funny thing is that DERIN DOW is doing it quite excellent and therefore I can really highly recommended his CD ‘Retroactive’, which just proves that there are still very talented musicians out there with a Classic American AOR/Melodic Rocksound. Do not miss this release… More info at: and 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


The 1970s brought us BOSTON, the band that defined the Melodic Rocksound as we know it today. They were the very first to create a real pure Melodic Rocksound and were therefore way ahead of any other band that would especially had their peak during the 1980s. If STYX and KANSAS invented Pomprock during the 1970s, JOURNEY, FOREIGNER and TOTO paved way for thousands of AOR bands in the early 80s, then BOSTON was absolutely the first real guitar based Melodic Rockband. Their sound was all-round melodic, guitarwise it stood way above any band that at the time called themselves a rockband, vocally it was top of the bill and both the guitar and vocalharmonies were unheard in the 1970s. It was no wonder their 1976 debut LP became one of the best selling debut records of all times in the USA alone! Yet the first record was hard to follow-up and although the next record arrived only 2 years later, 'Don't look back' even being a wonderful record, the band would forever be struggling to achieve the same kinda success as that debut. Only 1986's 'Third stage' was creating a lot of stir, but that was due to the fact that it took 8 years for that record to arrive. The sad story around BOSTON has always been the incredible length between their records and with the death of their original singer BRAD DELP, chances the band will ever have any major success will be very limited. That said, the band can always rely on their classics from the past, but for the real BOSTON fan, happily some side-projects popped up during the past 30 years, such as ORION, RTZ, ALLIANCE and the solo-album of guitarist BARRY GOUDREAU. His first solo-record dates back to 1980 and saw the appearance of quite a few BOSTON members, including lead singers BRAD DELP and SIB HASHIAN, along with future BOSTON vocalist FRAN COSMO. The result was definitely a great BOSTON like Melodic Rockalbum, with some excellent tunes here and there, such as "Nothin' to lose" (excellent uptempo melodic rocker, a little like ORION's one and only record - when's that re-issued by the way!?!), "Leavin' tonight" (superb uptempo melodic rocker, again like ORION) and the absolute highlight "Dreams" (a real BOSTON hookline chorus harmonyguitar driven Classic!). BOSTON 1970s all the way on this album and as usual with the ROCK CANDY RECORDS re-issues, all has been packed very well, with some additional liner notes and nicely looking booklet, so get it while you can. More info at: 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


KANSAS and STEVE WALSH will forever be connected with each other, despite the fact that I am personally still a huge fan of the short-lived ELEFANTE fronted KANSAS version of the early 80s. However, Steve also released a couple solo-records and did some side-projects, including the fantastic STREETS records during the 1980s. His first steps outside KANSAS can be heard on his 1980 solo record 'Schemer dreamer' that musically went into a slightly different direction than the prog/pomp of KANSAS, as straight-ahead Hardrock and shorter tracks were more part of the game here than on any previous KANSAS record. Although it is a good high quality record, it cannot compete with the 1970s KANSAS records for which STEVE WALSH is best known for. Nevertheless, the 7 included songs show that Steve was vocally at the time at his peak, as especially the past 20 years his voice cannot hit the high notes that easily anymore. This 1980 solo-record shows an incredible gifted vocalist, who delivered so many classics with KANSAS in the years prior to this release and just wanted to rock in a more easier direction on this album, which now 30 years later has been perfectly remastered and re-issued onto CD by ROCK CANDY RECORDS. More info at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF is a band from Los Angeles formed around the beautiful female singer/songwriter/guitarist THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF (not sure what her real name is). She was helped by a couple of male musicians for the rhythm section and the production/mastering of her mini-CD ‘Battle for the mind’, but it is clear that she is a very talented lady as she has done basically everything on her own (she wrote all the music, does all the guitars, both lead and rhythm guitar and vocals). 6 songs are included on the CD, which musically has a modern approach, Melodic Metal is a good description, although sometimes with slight Industrial Metal influences. It reminds me a bit of the 1990s/early 2000s albums of DORO somehow. The sound is huge and tough, while the vocalwork is quite strong and combined with the good looks, THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF is a musician to reckon with in the near future and don't let me forget to mention here that she is an excellent guitarplayer as well, so go figure we might have the next big thing here! Check out her sites at:  and 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


The band HARVESTBLOOM is a female fronted Christian Rock/Hardrockband from the US state of Maryland. Musically they are clearly playing high class catchy Melodic Rock with sometimes memories of LANA LANE. 6 songs are included on their new CD ‘Devil’s poison’, which has it’s highlights in the first 3 uptempo melodic rockers “Devil’s poison”, “Natural compulsion” and “Angel’s crying”. The other 3 songs are less appealing and not that strong, but all together this band really surprised me with their strong CD. The band’s female singer ANJI KALITA CORNETTE has a very strong voice and the melodies of most of the songs of HARVESTBLOOM are quite memorable. Definitely a band to check out if you’re a fan of female fronted melodic rock. More info at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


When you’re chosen to be the supportband for DREAM THEATER on the South American leg of their worldwide tour for their 2009 Tour, then you really need to be a high quality band that has something to offer. Indeed the Argentinian band FUGHU is a very strong band, which can be heard on their CD ‘Absence’. Musically not a DREAM THEATER clone at all, because their complex Progressive Rock sounds completelely different, even reminding a bit of a heavier version of the German bands SYLVAN and EVERON, but also a lot of FATES WARNING. A little theatrical in places, some dramatic high pitched vocals and lots of tempo changes, while the music is most of the time pure Progressive Rock, with Progmetal influences during the guitar riffs. Adding some other music genres as well (including a little Salsa in “Red V”) and you have an own sound. FUGHU brings it with joy and at a very high level. The only part that might need some improvement are memorable choruses, because the band is more focused on instrumental passages, which they do very well, but some more melodies in the vocal arrangements couldn’t heard, as for example the opening track “Ashes” has a very strong melodic chorus. Progrockfans will absolutely love this band a lot, so go check them out at:  and email at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


THE ROYAL KISS is a band from Florida playing raw energetic Rock and Roll, not far removed from most major label bands these days (such as AIRBOURNE, THE ANSWER and BUCKCHERRY). Delivered with a lot of passion, the 3 featured tracks are a sneak preview of a future full-length CD of the band, which will tell us more I think, because so far the best track is the uptempo rocking “Runaway”. To be continued… More info at: 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)


The Swedish band MAC BLAGICK are clearly going back in time on their first full-length CD ‘Ramadawn’, because what we get to hear is a late 1960s/early 1970s Power Rock/Hardrock sound. A little CREAM here, some THE DOORS there, a bit of LED ZEPPELIN and quite a lot 70s Melodic Hardrock of the MOXY/BAD COMPANY/RAINBOW/WHITESNAKE kind, combined with superstrong vocalwork of singer MARTIN WIBERG, then you have a remarkable band called MAC BLAGICK from Sweden. They are doing it very well on their first CD, which actually screams for a vinyl/LP release, because the sound is so identical to the 1970s Rock/Hardrock… For fans of this genre a must-have, then go to: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


EDENSONG is a band from New York, USA, of whom we reviewed a CD before, but as we review so many records sometimes a band is overlooked. In this case it must have happened, because the new CD of EDENSONG sounds really excellent and I did not remember reviewing something of them before (sorry!). 3 studio and 3 live tracks are included on this new CD ‘Echoes of Edensong’ and especially opener “Beneath the tide” is a beautiful Melodic Progressive Rocksong that reminds me a bit of ENCHANT, with superb melodies, terrific vocalwork and exceptional guitarwork, combined with some other instruments as the band’s line-up also features Flute and Cello. JAMES BYRON SCHOEN (of Dutch origin I think?) is the leader of EDENSONG, because he sings, plays guitar, wrote, produced and mixed everything. Also the 2 other studio tracks are of a very high level, the JETHRO TULLish calmer acoustic tingled “Lorelai” and the heavy RUSHish progrocker “To see but not believe”. The other 3 songs are live recorded and show that this 7(!)-piece band is an exceptional band to check out by any progrockfan! Hopefully a full-length CD will emerge soon, because EDENSONG is a sensational band that could deliver something amazing I think in the future. For now, check them out at: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


Now this is exactly the reason why I will always keep digging in the local scene, because there are still some great undiscovered bands out there. This has been the case ever since the early 1980s when in the USA and UK many local bands started to release recordings independently. Some made it and went on to sign with major labels, but most of them didn’t secure a deal and their music kept unknown to most people, despite the fact they also delivered high quality material. SILENT VICTORY is a band from the Northwestern part of the UK and they are an example of how well independent Melodic Rock can sound. These guys make the kind of Melodic Rock that is typically independent and has been created for the past 30 years by all kinds of bands around the world. Surely, this isn’t the major production sounding record, but for anyone familiar with the independent Melodic Rocksound of bands like KNOW ILLUSION, RECKLESS, BLUE RAIN, TALON, ROCK CANDY, BRITTON, VOXEN, VYPER, ANGEL EDGE, ANGEL HEART, SEVEN TEN, SACRED HEART, WALK THE SKY, etc. etc.… this is definitely a must-have release as everything sounds picture perfect here, combining memorable melodies, strong vocalwork, a classic 80s guitar approach and catchy hooks in mostly uptempo melodic rockin’ tunes… that is the name of the game on the debut record of SILENT VICTORY. Together with a professional looking lay-out of the CD and a very decent sound quality, this CD is a highly recommended piece for the fans of Classic Melodic Rock! Especially the beginning of the CD offers some great uptempo melodic rock, such as “Life is hard on your dreams”, “Adrenaline rush”, “Ain’t no shame in crying” and “Goodbye Mary”, filled with hooks and melodies, in a classic 80s tradition of mentioned bands. Although the band has a keyboardplayer in their line-up, the sound is guitar orientated Melodic Hardrock all the way (80s DOKKEN meets HEAVEN’S EDGE for more well-known comparisons). Make sure not to miss this band at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Guitarist/bassist BUGGSY ROCK had some of his past recordings reviewed by us at one point of time in the history of Strutter’zine. Now he has a project going called LOST KINGDOM with a CD release simply titled ‘2’. The included music is a mix of old style US based 70s and 80s Rock, such as Pomprock, AOR, Progressive Rock and Melodic Hardrock, sometimes laid-back (“I still love you” and “Home with you”) and at other times more rocking (“Good old daze”, “The journey” and “Tired”). It does sound like a strong combination of (hold your breath!) STONEBOLT (a lot!!!), ROADMASTER, BLUE OYSTER CULT, BOSTON and HEAD EAST. The vocalwork of WILLIAM COURSON is very good and he sounds at his best during the Pomprock epic of “Tired” that has clear STYX (TOMMY SHAW material) similarities… in fact, it almost made me think I was listening to something of the “Crystal ball” era, definitely an exceptional song here and if the whole CD had this level, who knows we could have mentioned here a new Pomprock Classic was recorded and released in 2010! Although not every song is as good as “Tired”, the whole CD is something you will definitely love if you’re into bands like HEAD EAST, STONEBOLT, ZON, STYX, BOSTON, etc. etc. as in general this is US 70s Melodic Rock meets Pomprock at it’s finest you can get on a ‘new’ recording… only possible in the USA. More info at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Certain ‘older’ bands in the scene give you memories of a long forgotten past. The UK based band BLACK ROSE (not to be confused with the Swedish or American same named bands) always had a soft spot in my heart. A long time ago I bought their rare mini-LP ‘Nightmare’ for a few bucks down in the cellar of a record store somewhere in the lovely Dutch city of Deventer. Happy as a small child getting an icecream, I played the record many times back in the late 80s, despite only a few songs were included. The band played high class catchy Melodic Hardrock, but little did I knew back then what I know now, as this band released many more records during the 1980s, even reforming in the 2000s with a best of CD release and now in the year 2010 eventually releasing an official new studio-CD titled ‘Cure for your disease’. Happily they haven’t changed a bit, although the Melodic Hardrock also has some touches of Glam/Party Hardrock and nowadays sounds not too far away from 80s VAN HALEN and also late 80s/early 90 US Major Labelish, kinda like a mix between SKID ROW, EVERY MOTHER’S NIGHTMARE, FIREHOUSE and JET RED. The highlights are definitely the more pure melodic (hard) rock orientated tunes “ Fight for your life” (uptempo, very strong chorus), “Doghouse” (midtempo) and “Baby believe me” (DOKKENish semi melodic rockballad). All together the CD is very much in the style of the 2nd DANGER DANGER, so a mix of somewhat groovy Hardrock with here and there a Melodic Rocker thrown in between. A little different than their ole mini record, but nevertheless still very enjoyable to check out at:  and 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


SWEETKISS MOMA is a new band from the US state of Washington and they play Classic American Southern Hardrock, not far removed from LYNYRD SKYNYRD, yet with a slight rawer edge. The band’s debut CD ‘Revival rock’ is a real must-have for fans of this genre, because it is all done vey well. Not groundbreaking, but definitely an album that will be loved by any fan of pure Southern Hardrock. Check out the band at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


3 years ago we reviewed the debut CD of the American Melodic Hardrockband GOODBYE THRILL and now they follow it up with ‘Outrageous’. Once again with Brazilian singer/guitarist MARC FERREIRA on board, it’s an enjoyable CD with a typical American late 80s Melodic Rocksound, sorta mixing elements of acts like DEF LEPPARD, 1st HAREM SCAREM, PAUL LAINE, KANE ROBERTS, FIREHOUSE, DANGER DANGER and BON JOVI, although actually it also reminds me so much of MAD MAX and DEMON DRIVE (including Marc’s vocals that are dangerously close to that of MICHAEL VOSS!), but then again a little more catchy and melodic than those German bands… OK, maybe not really original in the end, still with songs like the semi-ballad “Don’t want to miss a thing” (not the AEROSMITH tune!), the midtempo “Talk about it”, the uptempo “Disposable” (very catchy) and opener “Black book”, we have a bunch of great catchy Melodic Rockers that will appeal to fans of mentioned bands. Marc’s signature is very clear, as he released many more solo- and project albums in the past 15 years, which more or less are following the same similar melodic rock path. Besides this great new GOODBYE THRILL CD, he also sent me his new solo-CD ‘Better run!!!’, which is also a strong Melodic Rock/AOR album in the same style as this GOODBYE THRILL, although here and there that CD goes more into a Melodic Heavy Rock/Metal direction, but one way or the other, in 2010 Marco delivers 2 more great albums. All info at:  and 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


The Chicago/USA based band GYNGER LYNN was active between 1989 and 1994 and most of their material from 20+ years ago has now been released onto CD by EONIAN RECORDS. In 2009 the first CD of the band was released and now a follow-up in the shape of 'Baby's Gone Bad'. Musically slightly less melodic and more akin to the early 1990s Sleazy Hardrock with a touch of Glamrock of the ENUFF’Z’NUFF kind, this is another quality CD of the band. No less than 16 tracks are included here and right from the start this is Glamrock influenced Sleazy Hardrock like a mix between LA GUNS, ENUFF’Z’NUFF and VAIN. Back in 1991 they should have had the luck with a song like the catchy uptempo “Baby’s all talk” speeding up the charts, but that didn’t happen and now we are almost 20 years later hearing a song that could have been as big as a “Talk dirty to me”, but in fact remained a cult classic until now. This is definitely the most catchy tune on the disc, but furthermore there are quite a lot similar sounding tunes that make you long back to a time when Glamrock was the big thing on American TV. Sadly, GYNGER LYNN didn’t make it and have now 2 full CDs available, more info at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


EONIAN RECORDS keeps on digging up these rare bands from the late 80s/early 90s. Most of these bands missed the boat back then, but now get a second chance with a real CD release of their remastered material recorded 20 years ago. SWEET SYBIL is the next on the bill to get such an offer and their same titled CD release contains high class late 80s Glam inspired Hard Rock. VAIN, BEAU NASTY, DIRTY BLONDE, EVERY MOTHER‘S NIGHTMARE and a little ROXX GANG mixed together with ENUFF’Z’NUFF type of vocals and some flashy guitarwork is the deal made here on this record. Maybe not a classic with the big C, fans of these bands can easily eat this up alive The band was formed in Chicago and worked hard to get recognition. After winning a contest, they were able to record a demo, shop around and eventually record a real EP. This EP was released with success, even internationally, but due to the Grunge scene, the band couldn’t become bigger and so the split was inevitable. Almost 20 years they have a CD worthy of their old material released on EONIAN RECORDS. Songs like ”#69”, “Downtown suicide”, “Someone in your eyes” (a real Glam kinda classic, VAIN meets DIRTY BLONDE meets early POISON is the Bubblegum thread here) and semi-acoustic ballad “Alone with you” are a must to hear if mentioned bands are your favorite acts. This record shows that SWEET SYBIL was a great band that could have easily had a break somewhere someday if the Grunge scene had not struck so hard in the early/mid 90s. But it is never too late, so go check them out at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Out of nowhere comes a promo CDR with music by a band called SWIRL. They are produced by FRED COURY of CINDERELLA fame and their CD is going to be called ‘Timeline’. 9 tracks are included on this professional sounding band from California/USA. The first 2 songs are quite modern and groovy, a little like the recent albums of TESLA/LILLIAN AXE, with even some Industrial Metal touches and not really of interest for a melodic rockfan, in fact more reminding of ALICE IN CHAINS and such 90s Alternative Hardrock. Then a 180% change of style on the excellent “Adrenaline” and we’re into classic late 80s/early 90s US Melodic Hardrock, super catchy and reminding of bands like FARRCRY, the very first HAREM SCAREM, FARCRY, DANGER DANGER, MILLENIUM, PAUL LAINE, etc. The following track “Out of nowhere” is a midtempo melodic rocker that sounds like XENON meets early TESLA (in fact, SWIRL’s singer is sounding dangerously close to the TESLA singer). “Sleepwalker” is Melodic Hardrock the 2000s way, so big crunchy guitar riffs, a little like late TALISMAN. “Sweet love” follows and here it becomes clear there is a big leap in time somehow in the recording of these songs, because this is once again a step back in time, very early 90s type of groovy melodic rock, very much like the same period (let’s say 1991) records of LILLIAN AXE and TESLA. “Antfarm” sounds like a mid 90s light-Industrial type of Melodic Heavy Rocker, a lot like ALICE IN CHAINS and a tiny bit (there’s light at the end of the tunnel!) of the mid 90s records of German bands AXXIS, ANGEL HEART and SARGANT FURY with some distorted vocal lines here and there. The difference in styles continues, because we are back into groovy mid 90s TALISMAN Melodic Hardrock with “Time won’t be wasted”, a song also reminding me of WIDOWMAKER from 1993 if anyone remembers that short-lived DEE SNIDER fronted act. Closing track “Sail away” is harmonyvocal/semi-acoustic driven semi AOR/Melodic Rock like mixing NELSON, TYKETTO, INNUENDO, FIREHOUSE and FIREHOUSE, definitely one of the strongest songs here, some really amazing vocalwork here and easily reaching the high level of mentioned bands. A few incredible highlights here (“Adrenaline” and “Sail away”) that resemble an instant classic melodic rock band (if the whole record would have sounded like this, a melodic rockalbum of the year contender would be possible!), but further also some less interesting tracks, although still not bad, despite the fact that an ALICE IN CHAINS comparison comes around the corner then. Nevertheless, an interesting and diverse band to check out, as they combine the best of the past 20 years of American Rock/Hardrock. More info at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


In the past we have seen a lot of bands called GHOST, so that is not really original, but here we have nevertheless a very interesting band called GHOST from the Oslo/Norway area. They sent me 2 CDs they released the past few years and both of them sound good… and I mean really good. Doing this as a hobby is giving them some enjoyable nights every week and when judging their CDs I can hear a band that does understand how to do it at a very high level, because most hobby bands do not create such high quality music, believe me!!! In fact, this GHOST sounds as good or sometimes even better than most label signed bands! The band is playing 80s inspired Melodic Hardrock meets Melodic Metal, yet they do not sound dated at all. Strong raw lead vocals (a la PRETTY MAIDS/BLIND GUARDIAN singers), catchy melodic choruses and those big 80s guitar riffs make each and every song of their 2 CDs an interesting listen. Their full-length new CD ‘The engraving’ is offering 10 cuts and is the most professional release of the band so far. From start to finish this is high class Melodic Hardrock meets Melodic Metal, a little like a slower version of NOCTURNAL RITES meets PRETTY MAIDS meets 80s VICTORY meets SARGANT FURY and a little SHAKRA, that is where this band is somehere moving musically speaking. Songs like “The engraving”, “AWAT”, “Alive” (very catchy!), the semi-ballad “Independence day” and “One last favor” are very strong memorable songs that are quite a must to hear if mentioned bands are in your favorites schedule and I do think most Melodic Hardrock/Metalfans will easily love this GHOST from Norway. These guys are very good and who knows a label deal is just around the corner! More info at: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


BD GOTTFRIED are a band from Canada with a very original sound that combines elements of Southern Hardrock, 80s Wave Poprock, 70s Retro Rock, 80s Gothic, Blues, Progressive Rock and even some Punk. BLUE OYSTER CULT going mad is something that could be said about this band and in fact, they are doing it quite well actually on this CD called ‘The warden’s picnic’. Very experimental and definitely something completely different than the usual stuff we feature here. They go from one style to another, but that makes them a rather interesting band if you’re that open-minded, because that is the question you can ask yourself after listening to such a diverse record. Check them out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Nostalgica time for me personally here, because about 18+ years ago I saw a record with an extremely catchy frontcover somewhere in a bargain bin of a record store not far from where I live right now. Little did I knew this was a great Melodic Hardrock record, so I took the challenge and bought it for a few bucks, went home and loved this great debut record of the band BANGALORE CHOIR. Played it the summer of 1992 quite a lot, but nevertheless, I went on with my life and actually I hate to admit it, but the following 18 years I never listened to a single track of this album. The CD has been biting dust for almost 18 years, but I definitely will give it a respin soon, because it was really a great record. The band itself was a one-off project until 2010, because now AOR HEAVEN gave them the deal for a new record, the follow-up to that 1992 record is titled ‘Cadence’. From start to finish it’s a quality record, although a lot of the 14 included tracks are going in one ear and out the other, because after all the Melodic Hardrock is pretty standard. WHITESNAKE is the obvious comparison here, just listen to a song like “Survival of the fittest” and it’s almost like you’re listening to DAVID COVERDALE himself. Not saying this is a bad record, because songs like “Martyr”, “Surrender all your love”, “Tomorrow” and “Sweet temptation” are nice little MHR songs and also the guitarwork is very strong. David’s vocals you either love or hate, but the material is sadly most of the time just so and so, sorry, but not a classic in sight here. Only recommended to the absolute die-hard MHR fans. A lot of WHITESNAKE here, some Y&T there and add a little PAUL SHORTINO for the fun of it, that is what this record is all about, but sadly it does not reach the high level of those acts most of the time.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


T is the name of this German multi-instrumentalist, who releases his 3rd CD with ‘Anti matter poetry’. Musically a challenge for the Progfan, because T adds some different structures in the Progrocksound, inserting a lot of different music genres into each and every song included on the album. The overall style remains Progrock, but you can hear clear traces of Breakbeat/Minimal/Techno/Jazz and some other music genres. Happily, most of the time it is pure Progrock, just a little experimental here and there. T has done everything on his own and without a doubt, it is done very well. However, most recommended to open-minded progfans who like to take the challenge and discover a lot of new twists into their well beloved music. More info at: 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Guitarist PETER HANMER is coming out of South Africa and he has already been featured several times in the past, because he is a member of the AOR/Melodic Rockband OFF THE EDGE. This band has released 5 albums and are at the moment working on the 6th album that is going to be titled ‘Cast in stone’. I am very much looking forward to that new album, especially since this band always delivers high quality material on their records. In the meantime, guitarist Peter releases a solo record titled ‘Revelation’, which contains high quality instrumental music based around Peter’s guitar. The music is melodic rockballad orientated, kinda like TONY BORG, the ALIEN guitarist, who also released a similar sounding album many moons ago. Pretty good stuff if you ask me, really enjoyable and quite a must-have for fans of instrumental guitar based melodic rock. More info at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


LIS ER STILLE are a very experimental Danish band formed in 2004 and already releasing the 3rd album with ‘The collibro’. They sound modern and ready for the established Popular Music magazines, which is also mentioned in their bio that states that ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE likes the band. Not sure if that is a good thing of course, because that magazine is by far the most unreliable one in the world (!), disliking each genre we represent… Anyway, this time they are more or less right about the fact that this is an interesting band to check out, because LIS ER STILLE is playing a very original mix of Postrock, Progrock, Doom/Stoner and even Gothic. The music is slow and very depressing at times, but also quite proggy actually at other times, while almost the whole CD has a real bombastic approach. If you thought COHEED AND CAMBRIA or THE MARS VOLTA were unique, well then listen to LIS ER STILLE, because they are going against every thinkable scenario that the commercial world demands in today’s music genre. They will earn a lot of respect from the music critics and real music fans with this record and are perhaps the most original band since THE CURE and SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES emerged in the early 80s. Check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


The Japanese band AREA 51 already released 3 albums within the 7 years they exist now, with their latest offering being the CD ‘Goddess’. This album was released in March 2010 and it is by far their most professional sounding album. The CD was mixed and mastered by JENS BOGREN (OPETH, PARADISE LOST and SYMPHONY X), so you bet the sound is huge and high quality. The included material is of a very high level, basically picture perfect Neo-Classical Gothic Power Metal, very European orientated, yet due to the female vocals of singer KATE it has that typical Japanese touch (think MARI HAMADA). Instrumental it all sounds very impressive, thanks to the band’s guitarist YOICHIRI ISHINO. AREA 51 is definitely one of the better sounding bands from Japan. Vocally you may have to get used to it, but once you appreciate it, then you will absolutely love this band for sure. More info at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


The Polish band COMA is very popular in their home country, but outside Poland not many people know them. They have already released 3 albums, but with ‘Excess’ they release a full album in English for the first time. Musically they are playing typical modern Rock, not bad or anything, but not really melodic, as this style is more Melancholic Rock orientated, actually reminding me a bit of Dutch acts like INTWINE, GREEN LIZZARD and KANE. Heavy groovy riffs, distorted vocals and some screaming, so it is a band with a style that probably will not be of any interest for the ‘melodic’ fans. More info at: 

(Points: 6.4 out of 10)


HEAT FROM A DEADSTAR is a UK based band with their first full-length CD released on a US label. Musically we are heading into obscure Garage Rock, with a sound that is very low-budget orientated. Of course that also has it’s charm, but it is something one would expect if TED JENSEN mastered the CD at the famous STERLING SOUND in New York! Anyway, hard to compare this band, but it’s alternative and just as original as for example SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES, DEVO and THE CURE once were, so fans of those bands might wanna check out this band. More info at: 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


KROSSBREED is playing aggressive Metal, sorta like PANTERA meets METALLICA. What they do, they are doing quite well on their debut CD ‘3 cheers for the misery’, but I am afraid the ‘melodic’ fans will not find something of interest here, because it is very loud, raw, aggressive and Extreme Metal orientated. It is modern sounding, yet with the vibe of the 90s dark side of Metal, although some bits and pieces of classic Thrash Metal can also be traced. Anyway, only for those of you who are into bands like PANTERA, CHANNEL ZERO, CROWBAR…, they will probably like this band a lot… More info at: 

(Points: -)


FATINIZA is coming out of Colombia and definitely more interesting than SHAKIRA! In fact, she is the next big thing out of Colombia! The looks are equal to SHAKIRA, but musically speaking FATINIZA is definitely more interesting, because her debut CD ‘Confusion’ contains some very catchy Melodic Poprock. It’s not all the way typical Western Rock and Roll, because some of the songs clearly show traces of her Latin rhythms, but first and foremost of all this is a Rockrecord. Although FATINIZA is originally from Colombia, she has found a home in Dubai a long time ago. The vocals are raw, a little bluesy and very soulful, sometimes even reminding of SASS JORDAN in her best days, while some of the melodies of the songs are very Mainstream Rock orientated (a la KELLY CLARCKSON) and also some ROBIN BECKish AOR can be heard. It’s easy to make her a commercial hit worldwide, because with her looks and strong voice, accompanied by a bunch of catchy tunes, FATINIZA can indeed easily become huge! In fact, in the Middle East she has already earned a lot of recognition, but that is partly thanks to the fact she lives there, but now it is time for the rest of the world to discover this talented female singer! Check her out at:  and 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


2 years ago the Polish band UNSUN released their debut CD, but somehow that album completely passed me by. However, now they get a second chance on Polish label MYSTIC PRODUCTION with the release of their 2nd CD ‘Clinic for dolls’. Musically it is not very original, but happily it is done very well, so one can enjoy the album from start to finish. UNSUN is a female fronted band playing the typical Northern European Melodic Gothic Metal in the style of EPICA, DELAIN, WITHIN TEMPTATION, AFTER FOREVER, NIGHTWISH… Everything seems to sound perfect here, although do not expect any surprises, but well it is hard to deny that we have something very good here, because without any doubts, this is a CD one will absolutely love if the mentioned bands are among your favorite acts. UNSUN sounds actually even better than their countrymen of DELIGHT, a band that seems to have vanished into air the past few years. Anyway, UNSUN is doing their FF Gothic Metal style very well and therefore it is highly recommended to fans of mentioned bands! More info at: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


Do not confuse this ARK with the same named Norwegian Progressive Metalband whom also released a new CD this year, because here we have ARK from the UK with a debut CD release titled ‘Wild untamed imagining’ on PROGROCK RECORDS. The band features among others the well-known bassist JOHN JOWITT, who played with IQ, JADIS, FROST and ARENA. With ARK he definitely is staying in the Progressive Rock field, but this is happily not yet another Neo-Prog record, because this ARK is playing Progressive Hardrock without the standard keyboards as they are replaced by guitar synths and flutes, giving the band an own tougher identity. The music is mostly straight-ahead and quite melodic, imagine some URIAH HEEP similarities sometimes, yet a little more going for a sort of typical British light Folk touch (JEHTRO TULL), but then heavier and even a bit Melodic Rockish during opener “Boudicca” and several other tracks. An album that might easily find it’s way to both Melodic Rock and Progrock fans. Well done and for me personally more interesting than the Norwegian ARK releases and perhaps one of the most surprising releases in the Progressive Rock field in 2010, because already after a few spins one will note that this is a very impressive record! More info at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Another surprisingly excellent release on the PROGROCK RECORDS label, because the German band THE INTERSPHERE is playing some very original modern Progressive Rock that combines the classic elements of the genre and PETER GABRIELish lead vocals with Emo/Melodic Modern Rock melodies and this makes each and every of the 12 included tracks on their new CD ‘Interspheres >< atmospheres’ a true winner! It’s their 2nd album so far and they have slowly built up a reputation within Europe the past few years, especially after playing at the famous ROCK AM RING festival. At first sight the band sounds very modern on songs like “Prodigy composers”, “Snapshot”, “I have a place for you on google earth” and “Early bird”, but the catchy melodies are incredible here and will even appeal to the regular melodic rockfans. Although comparisons to MUSE, INCUBUS and other such modern bands will be made, the melodies presented here are stronger and more akin to Progrock meets Melodic Rock. A soriginal as COHEED AND CAMBIRA, this is a very nice release that might appeal to lots of different rockfans out there (prog, melodic rock, modern rock, emo...)! More info at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Now there were 2 bands called THE GODZ back in the 1970s, one from New York City and another from Columbus, Ohio, so both American bands. Here we will talk only about the Ohio based THE GODZ, the most well-known THE GODZ of course, whom delivered quite a few albums during the 1970s and 1980s. They split up for a while after their 1987 album ‘Mongolians’, but have been going strong since their last reunion in the mid 1990s, with as most important founding member vocalist/guitarist/bassist ERIC MOORE. Musically they were as close to 1970s Hardrock as you can get, not very far removed from KISS, TED NUGENT, GAMMA, MONTROSE and a heavier version of THE ROCKETS, that is how I would best describe the Rock and Roll sound of THE GODZ. Their very first same titled album from 1978 has now been re-issued onto CD by ROCK CANDY RECORDS, whom gave it their usual high quality touch, making it sound crystal clear (thanks to the remastering) and with extensive liner notes in the CD booklet interesting to read while listening. This re-issue does not contain any bonustracks, so it is all about the rather short debut album of THE GODZ, which consisted of only 7 tracks. Nevertheless, what we get to hear is pure 1970s Hardrock bliss, with as highlights the last 3 tracks of the record, which are “Under The Table”, “Cross Country” and the remarkable cover of the GOLDEN EARRING classic “Candy’s Going Bad”. That cover alone makes it worth checking out this excellent re-issue. The band released many more albums and who know they will also get a re-issue job someday soon. In the meantime, for more info go to:  ,  and 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


The American band 1994 were at the forefront of a new wave of female fronted rock/hardrockbands that would emerge during the 1980s. Bands like LA JETS, HEART, BIRTHA, THE RUNAWAYS and even SUZI QUATRO had showed the world women could rock hard during the 1970s, but 1994 made it all sound even better than those acts had done prior to them. In 1978 they released their same titled debut album (already re-issued by ROCK CANDY RECORDS 5 years ago) and one year later in 1979 followed it up with their finest record ‘Please stand by’, which also was their final record. This album has now also been re-issued and without a doubt 1994 recorded a fantastic album with this ‘Please stand by’ that blended the incredible vocalwork of KAREN LAWRENCE (who by the way fronted LA JETS before 1994) with biting guitarwork and superstrong melodies. This 2nd album was actually one of the very first female fronted melodic hardrockalbums, definitely stronger and better than their debut from one year earlier. ‘Please stand by’ can easily be considered a classic in this genre, because songs like “Our time will come”, “Please stand by”, “Stop this heartache” and “Wait for me” are even now 30+ years later still sounding fresh and supertight, really amazing Melodic Hardrocksongs. During the 1980s acts like VIXEN, LAOS, WITNESS, LITA FORD and many more would perfectionize the female fronted Melodic Hardrocksound, but 1994 paved their way during the late 1970s. Of course they drew their influences from HEART and AEROSMITH, but somehow this album showed an own face that should have turned them into superstars. The production by EDDIE LEONETTI (ANGEL, LEGS DIAMOND) and JACK DOUGLAS (AEROSMITH) turned this album into a true winner of its period, a real Classic Melodic Hardrockalbum. This superb re-issue by ROCK CANDY RECORDS gives it another chance, making it sound better than ever, along with extensive liner notes and above all, 4 unreleased bonus demo tracks. ROCK CANDY RECORDS also re-issued the similar sounding STORM albums from the same period, but this 2nd 1994 album was and still is definitely the tip of the iceberg when it comes down to classic female fronted Melodic Hardrock. Lead singer KAREN LAWRENCE went on to pursue a solo-career, which started off very New Wave ish and ended with a great AOR record titled ‘Rip and tear’. It became a little quiet around her throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, although she did continue making music, fronting a Bluesrockband called BLUE BY NATURE and singing on a SLASH’S SNAKEPIT track in the early 2000s. However, sadly it never came to a reunion of 1994, not even in 1994! Gladly we can now enjoy again the wonderful sounds of 1994 due to this re-issue of their 2nd and final classic album ‘Please stand by’! More info at:  and 

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)


The Californian band SNATCH MAGNET is a huge surprise, because the 7 tracks on their debut CD ‘Screw, nut and bolt’ are representing a very original mixture of all kinds of 80s reminding Rock and Metalstyles with a fresh clean updated Modern Rock approach. Opener “The widow” has melodies and riffs straight out of the 1980s AOR/Melodic Rock book, yet with a fresh up-to-date approach somehow a la THE MARS VOLTA. Next track “Multi-girl” is classic 80s lush Melodic Poprock as if GLASS TIGER, BYSTANDER and SHY TALK are still major label signed acts! The band’s diversity however is also very clear, because they almost go into a MANOWARish Melodic Metal direction with the excellent “Call of the maiden”. Another highlight is the catchy late 80s uptempo Melodic Rocker “Games” that will definitely wet the appetite of fans of bands like FIREHOUSE, JET RED, KNOW ILLUSION, DANGER DANGER…, with towards the end the song even speeding up into Melodic Metal bliss a la FIFTH ANGEL. The sound quality of the CD is superb, the vocals are very strong and instrumental it sounds crystal clear, while all 7 tracks are winners, mixing almost every possible 80s Rockstyle (although AOR meets Melodic Metal might be the best description!) with a fresh updated modern approach. This band could be huge, because they perform at such a high level! More info at:  and email at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


LOTUS EFFECT are coming out of Houston, Texas and play typical modern day Rock, like a THE MARS VOLTA and HOOBASTANK, yet a little more challenging and proggy at times. The melodies of their songs are quite strong actually. 5 tracks are included on their mini-CD, which overall sounds pretty good. Especially the song “Mercucio” sounds very catchy, combining modern distorted Rock with a very melodic chorus, while “Fireflies” shows that the band has a very good lead singer (DREMACEO GILES) and their guitarist (RICK MARQUEZ) can play some very nice guitar licks. A band with a future for sure, so let’s see if they can come up with a full-length CD next time. In the meantime, more info at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


CULTURE SHOCK is a band coming out of Ohio, USA and they present us some very nice late 1970s/early 80s Melodic Heavy Rock/Metal on their CD ‘Celebrity’. Although it all looks and sound very ‘independent’, I can assure you they bring it with a lot of joy and excitement and what they are doing here, they are doing very well, especially on tracks like “Poet or prophet” (URIAH HEEPish!), “Betrayal” (AORish, somehow reminding me of PHANTOM’S OPERA, remember them?), “I want love” (pure 80s Melodic Rock bliss), “Reach for the top” (80s AOR) and the 80s Melodic Metal Anthem “Heavy Metal Andriod”. The vocalwork is a little raw in places, but the harmonies make that up, while the guitarwork is quite excellent classic hardrock orientated and some of the songs are really catchy and super melodic! It all reminds me of a mix between RIGGS, the aforementioned PHANTOM’S OPERA, KEEL and a tiny bit of URIAH HEEP, yet all at a typical independent level, so not with the great sound quality of the major label acts. Nevertheless, for all independent melodic rock/hardrock collectors, this CULTURE SHOCK is definitely worth visiting at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Modern Progressive Rock is the name of the game here. Think of bands like PORCUPINE TREE, PINEAPPLE THIEF and MARS VOLTA, then you’re quite close to the sound of the debut record of this Gothenburg, Sweden based band KOI. Most of the 11 tracks included here are slow and very atmospheric, reminding a lot of mentioned bands as well as ‘older’ progacts like 90s/00s MARILLION and PINK FLOYD. Here and there they go for a slightly heavier approach, such as in the OPETH like “Navigated to the blank undrawn”, but most of the time this is a very dark slow atmospheric modern progalbum. The band was formed in 2001 and who knows this CD they have released could be the next big thing, because they are really moving at a same level of aforementioned bands sometimes. These are 5 young musicians whom have a bright future ahead of them, recommended to fans of bands like PORCUPINE TREE especially. More info at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


MORITZ was a band active in the 1980s, making the kind of Classic British 80s AOR we are all very familiar with, just think of bands like SHY, TOBRUK, PEROUX, FM, STRATUS, SARACEN, LIONHEART, a little MAGNUM, AIRRACE, EXPORT, BRONZ, AFTER HOURS, STATETROOPER, MONRO, SHOGUN, RIO, GRAND PRIX and we can go on for a little while. Anyway, like most of these acts, also MORITZ never made it big and only recorded a couple of EP’s before splitting up when the 1980s ended, so not making it through the second wave of AOR bands that emerged from the UK in the mid 90s (WALK THE WIRE, PASSION STREET, ATLANTIC, CHANGE OF HEART, HEARTLAND, etc. etc.). Anyway, in the late 2000s the band got some recognition after all those years (nearly 20 years!), because a CD with all their classic 80s material was released on CD. It gave them the spirit to start up again and now in 2010 a full new CD has been released and guess what… the band hasn’t changed a bit musically, so from start to finish this CD is filled with high class pure 80s AOR. It is like we are listening to a remastering of old material, but it does not sound dated at all, because these catchy AOR tunes could really work well, even this present day! It starts off very Pompous with the Melodic Rocker “Power of the music” and the AOR dut-dut keyboard orientated “Undivided” that sounds like a tougher SURVIVOR actually. The band really digs into the Classic AOR sound all the way here, which is a good thing for sure, because so many so-called new AOR bands forget the real hooks and the massive keyboardwork that were so clearly present during the 1980s. The midtempo AOR of “Should’ve been gone” is coming out of the big AOR book, streamlined and perfectly nailed to the bone, a real deadringer for fans of the old STARSHIP/JOHN WAITE “Missing you” style. “Who do you run to?” is the kind of uptempo AOR we all love so much and well do not forget to check out the JOURNEY/ALIENish AOR-Ballad “Can’t stop the angels” (could’ve also been on the CDs of JIM and STEVE THOMSON). Each and every song contains a beautiful melodic guitarsolo like we AOR fans want to hear it, very NEAL SCHONish, so well done GREG HART. PETE SCALLAN’s vocalwork is a little rough here and there, kinda like the PRETTY MAIDS singer, which is very notable during the Melodic Rocker “Same but different” that smells a lot like the PRETTY MAIDS classic album ‘Future world’. When spinning this CD it makes you wonder how many more bands from back in the day could actually record something new that is really worth checking out. MORITZ did it and clearly shows that they can do it, making a new Classic AOR record. For some it might all sound a little too 1980s, but one can not deny that this sounds so much better than all the new wanna-be 80s Melodic Rockbands. If you like H.E.A.T. for example, then why don’t you check out this MORITZ CD as well, because there’s a huge chance you might like it a lot! The second part of the CD continues the Classic 80s AOR/Melodic Rocksound of the previous tracks and so we can hear lots more catchy hookladen tunes, with as highlights “Without love” (definitely! AOR the way it should sound, like TWO FIRES!), “Never together” (hello SHY, only without the high-pitched vocals!) and the perfect 1983ish laid-back semi AOR ballad “Lonely without you” that sounds like a cross between the legendary FOREIGNER and RAINBOW ballads. MORITZ has got more attention these past 2 years than they had in the years when they were active, so it’s never too late! Concluded, their new CD is a must-have for any AOR fan out there! Finally a newly recorded British Rockalbum the people in Great Britain can actually be proud of! More info at:  and 

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)


BULLETPROOF MESSENGER is a band from New York formed in the early 2000 under the bandname GONE TO EARTH. Although they have the typical modern day Melodic Nu-Metalsound a la DISTURBED, they add a little PAPA ROACH/LIMP BIZKIT here and there, which is due to the fact that one of the founding members is DJ/Programmer Matt Litwin. This gives the band a sorta Trip-Hop touch here and there, but do not fear, because all together the 2 CDs of the band are filled with really strong typical American Modern Rock/Metal with a lot of incredible catchy melodies. It took BULLETPROOF MESSENGER a long time before they found a lead singer, but happily they found one and a really good one, because Marcus Klavan has an incredible strong vocal range. The band released their debut in 2006 and followed it up in 2009 with the impressive ‘Arm yourself’. Although released independently, this album sounds huge, as if it was a major label release. The sound is close to that of DISTURBED and a little SHINEDOWN and especially songs like “Lose It All” and “Arm Yourself” are featuring superstrong melodic choruses you won’t get out of your head that easily. Check them out asap: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem except where noted)