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If there’s one singer/songwriter in the world who never changed his style it is Mr. STAN ‘The man’ BUSH. Funny thing is that the first record I heard him singing on was the album he cut with the band BOULDER in the late 1970s. I bought that particular LP as a young kid way back in 1990 for a few bucks, but little did I know one of the members actually had started a whole solo career after BOULDER. It was around 1993 I first got to know Stan’s solo music when he released his ‘Every beat of my heart’ CD, which got a favorable review some 17 years ago. Ever since that album I was hooked onto Stan’s music and discovered he had already put out 2 AOR Classics during the 1980s. Every 3 years a new album of Stan is released and every time it is a joy to listen to it, because he always comes up with high quality stuff. In 2007 he released his 3rd favorite album of mine, ‘In this life’, which contained a few classic tunes, right up there with his 2 1980s records, which remain to be his finest albums in his career. Anyway, now Stan is back with a new CD titled ‘Dream the dream’, which has been released by FRONTIERS RECORDS worldwide, although Stan also released it independently through his own label LA RECORDS. Musically nothing has changed luckily and so we can once again enjoy some awesome AOR/Melodic Rock, just like on his previous 10 studio albums. Songs like the great uptempo AOR rockers “Never hold back”, “I’m still here”, the excellent midtempo AOR “Don’t give up on love”, the semi-AOR ballad “Dream the dream” (one of those picture perfect winning sports event soundtrack) and the superb Classic AOR sounding “Love is the road” are timeless AOR/Melodic Rock tunes that will instantly be loved by the STAN BUSH or any AOR/Melodic Rockfan. The STAN BUSH sound continues also on this excellent new record, which shows again the man’s hunger and desire to keep recording material in our beloved genre. The CD also contains the recent remake of the legendary THE TOUCH song from TRANSFORMERS, which was also recently used in the sequel to the movie made of the classic cartoon. Welcome back again STAN BUSH and thank you for delivering another AOR masterpiece! More info at: 

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)


Multi-instrumentalist DAVID MINASIAN is a well-known film and video director, with a back catalogue of over 60 movies and DVDs, but now takes a challenge to record a full-CD on his own. The included music is semi-instrumental Progressive Rock with a clear focus on typical proggish keyboardwork and lovely melodic calm guitarwork that will be appreciated by both prog and aor fans out there. A few vocal tracks are included between the 7 tracks, but the main focus is long instrumental passages that sound very atmospheric, calm and laid-back. Highly recommended to fans of old GENESIS, CAMEL, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST and PINK FLOYD. More info at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


UNWRITTEN PAGES is a very ambitious project featuring some very well-known names, but also a few lesser known names from mainly the Progrock/Progmetal scene. Apparantly the members of the project were really eager to create something, because the first album is a 2-CD set which is also called 'part 1: Noah', so more will follow probably. The album is a concept-based record that more or less is Science-fiction orientated as it is settled in the fictional city of Utopia. None other than DAMIAN WILSON (THRESHOLD, AYREON), KARL GROOM (THRESHOLD, SHADOWLAND), DAVY MICKERS (STREAM OF PASSION, AYREON) and AJEANDRO MILLAN (STREAM OF PASSION) are part of this project and if you're familiar with their other bands and projects, then you can be assured that also this UNWRITTEN PAGES is in the same high league. The female vocals are very nice and some of the melodies are really quite strong. Instrumental it sounds pretty much perfect and crystal clear, reminding of a heavier SAGA, a more experimental THRESHOLD and even a tiny bit of KAYAK, but even a lighter version of SAVATAGE comes to mind, but actually mix up these 4 bands and you come close to UNWRITTEN PAGES. Some of the highlights are "Prologue (This New World) (chorus is excellent here) and the uptempo pieces "In the name of Ishmael", "The Uranium machine" and "Solar blast" (dark Progmetal at it's best!). Most of the songs are slowtempo and it really takes some time to get used to the band’s sound that is mixing several vocal styles. It is a little dark sounding and even a bit modern, but still very much based on the classic concept prog stuff of acts like AYREON, SAVATAGE, KAYAK and SHADOWLAND, but actuallt trust me when I say they have a sound of their own that is sometimes heavy and modern, then again pure classic progrock/progmetal, but happily always melodic. Really one of those cds you need to listen s few times before making up a good judgement. More info at: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


The UK based TOUCHSTONE has rapidly built up a strong reputation and can now be considered as a 'stayer' in the female fronted classic rock genre, right alongside other similar sounding female fronted bands, such as MOSTLY AUTUMN, THE REASONING, KARNATAKA, etc. etc. The band stands out between the rest as being more uptempo Melodic Rock orientated with a Symphonic touch to make it sound quite bombastic and energetic. The band already released 3 great studio-albums and now in 2010 it is time to release a live-CD, which contains recorded material of their US Tour from 2009. Selected songs from 2 of their gigs in California and Philadelphia are featured on this 2-CD set, which is definitely high quality stuff and shows that TOUCHSTONE belongs to one of the best new UK bands at the moment. The double-live CD of TOUCHSTONE has been released on PROGROCK RECORDS and it is a pleasure to listen to the incredible high level of musicianship performed on both discs. If you haven’t heard this band yet, then this is a great CD to hear them at their very best. More info at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


The band CANADA is not coming out of Canada as the bandname might indicate, but are actually an Italian band formed way back in the 1980s. They recorded a handfull of demos and a vinyl record, but sadly it had to wait until now before something official would be released. The CD that has been released now is a retrospective of their past works, recorded 20-25 years ago. The leader of the band is MASSIMO CILLO, who plays bass, keys, guitar, mandolin and also sings. Musically the band is playing 80s type of AOR/Melodic Rock, despite the fact they play live on stage a RUSH tribute sometimes and also played at several Progfestivals. The material one can hear on this CD was recorded back in the 1980s, so it is clear that the included music is also very much reminding of the glorious 80s AOR/Melodic Rocksound of especially UK bands like TOBRUK, GRAND PRIX, STATETROOPER, etc. but just recently the band also started working on new material that might see them sound more up-to-date and perhaps going for a more prog orientated style. Anyway, although the songs are quite strong and nicely played AOR/Melodic Rock, it is not in the same high level range as mentioned bands. Main issue I think is that the vocals need to sound better, as there's some struggling going on here. Funny thing however is that the bonustracks are sung in Italian and somehow they sound much better vocally. However, 80s AOR/Melodic Rockfans might wanna check out this band, although perhaps a future new CD release might see some improvements. More info at:  and 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


Of course Melodic Power Metal was invented by the Italians and they also brought the finest examples in this genre, but through the years some other countries (Sweden and Finland in particular) also delivered great acts in this genre. Now it is time for a Polish equivalent in the shape of PATHFINDER. This band is playing pure Italo Power Metal and happily they do it very well on their debut CD 'Beyond the space beyond the time'. In fact, they deliver here something quite sensational, especially considering the fact this is just a small label release. Songs like “The demon awakens”, “Undiscoverd dreams”, “To the Island of immortal fire” and the titletrack are offering some great Melodic Power Metal that lyrically is dangerously close to something that could have been written by DRAGONFORCE. A little bit of RHAPSODY here, a little bit of LABYRINTH there and also KAMELOT comes to mind a lot of times. Combined with impressive vocalwork of vocalist SIMON KRISTO (especially for a Polish band), some great tunes and guest appearances of even LABYRINTH singer ROBERTO TIRANTI and keyboardplayer BOB KATSIONIS, this first PATHFINDER CD is quite a journey. The album is quite lenghty, but it never gets boring, so the fans of mentioned bands will be enjoying this record from start to finish. More info at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


The female fronted US band HYDROGYN already released 2 albums, so 'Judgement' will be their 3rd effort. However this follow-up to 2008's 'Deadly passions' had it's fair share of problems during the recording process. Ex-MEGADETH guitarist JEFF YOUNG for example was part of the band, but after 5 months of recording, things didn't turn out to work out as well as planned and he was let go of the band. Starting from scratch from there, the band eventually managed to record a very strong decent new CD that even had MICHAEL WAGENER mixing one of the tunes. Anyway, the CD starts off very heavy, modern and groovy with the least interesting song "Lost reality" that even introduce some male screaming. Happily, it all gets much more classic Melodic Hardrock orientated as of the following tracks, especially during great tunes like "Alone" (very 80s Melodic Hardrock based), "Too late" (very strong chorus), the acoustic ballad "Don’t be my judge" and the fantastic "Assault attack". In the end, this new HYDROGYN CD is a great piece of Classic Melodic Hard/Heavy Rock, although here and there a few modern spots are to be heard as well. More info at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


CHRIS stands for Christiaan Bruin, a Dutch musician, producer and songwriter who is actually a member of the Rotterdam based SKY ARCHITECT, a band which recently released a great debut CD filled with high quality Progressive Rock. Meanwhile he also has a solo project, which brought us a first CD in 2009 and now already a follow-up in the shape of 'Making sense'. This new CD tells the story of the meaning of life, something we are all thinking about at one point in life itself. Chris did everything on his own here and it still does sound like a band release. The music reminds of SPOCKS BEARD, GENTLE GIANT, THE BEATLES, KLAATU, so to speak experimental 70s type of Progrock with a different approach to it, call it humoristic or theatrical (early GENESIS), but it is very 1970s with still an up to date sound (SPOCK'S BEARD), quite nice actually, although not as good as SPOCK’S BEARD. It sounds more like their support act, although for someone doing everything on his own, this is very imporessive. Vocally a bit hard to get used to sometimes, while some bits even remind me of KAYAK, but think you'll get the picture now what to expect from this CD. Nice little record and recommended to fans of mentioned bands. More info at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


The band BLACK SAND from Austria has already released a few albums in the past and now unleash their latest CD ‘Abbey road’. Musically it is a mix of AOR, Southern Rock, Pop and Poprock, very 70s meets 80s orientated, however the bluesy low sounding male vocals give it a sort of Classic 70s Rock vibe. It’s a pity the female singer isn’t singing more leads, because she really has potential, while the male vocals are definitely not everyone’s taste and clearly not suitable for AORish music (think more JOE COCKER without reaching that man’s soul) Check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 6.2 out of 10)


How is it possible that for 40 years a band’s one and only recording is kept hidden from the world to hear. Well it happened with the band WAX from Philadelphia, who created live in the studio an album’s worth of material together with the now legendary JOHN KALODNER in New York City back in May 1971. John of course became well-known for his discoveries and A&R work for acts like AEROSMITH, FOREIGNER, AC/DC, etc. etc. Well, his first discovery was a band called WAX, but sadly that band’s recordings never left his home, that is until now, because now fully restored almost 40 years later, a CD of WAX has been released. It is clear that this was a very innovative band whom more or less offered an interesting mix of typical 70s Rock, some Philadelphia ish Soul, a little Country and some Midwestern Melodic Pop/Rock. Funny thing is that the band’s lead singer DAVID KEGAN and keyboardplayer ROB HYMAN both formed a band called BABY GRAND a few years after WAX, whom released 2 records during the 1970s and coincidence or not, but just recently I bought one of these records for a few bucks. Musically this WAX was definitely in the same vein as BABY GRAND. Rob by the way went on forming 80s rockers THE HOOTERS, while David gave up his music dreams in becoming a superstar, but became succesfull in the magazine/advertising industry. The other members of WAX also each had their fifteen minutes of fame, especially drummer RICK CHERTOFF, who went on becoming a very succesfull producer (BILLY JOEL, CYNDI LAUPER, etc.). Anyway, with WAX they recorded some nice honestly performed American Midwestern rock that sounds a bit dated now, but for fans of let’s say very very early REO SPEEDWAGON, THE OUTLAWS, very very early ROADMASTER, some ARGENT, this kind of boogie rock and roll with light country and Midwestern rock influences, it definitely is something worth checking out at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Around 1989 it was all quite normal, a Melodic Hardrock or Melodic Metalband signed to a major label in the USA, but when Grunge took over in 1991, it was all over in a flash. It took the whole 1990s decade before any band would be signed again by a major label, but ever since the 2000s started here and there the first signs of a return to the good old major label Hardrock/Metal times was visible. Especially the past few years have been very interesting (see HINDER, BUCKCHERRY and STEEL PANTHER) and now in 2010 a real pure 80s sounding new Hair Metalband from Chicago has been signed by major label, namely by the mighty ATLANTIC RECORDS, which is nowadays a prt of the WARNER MUSIC GROUP. The band is called BAD CITY, consists of 5 very young guys and they are probably ATLANTIC RECORDS’ answer to UNIVERSAL MUSIC whom have a lot of success with their STEEL PANTHER, a similar sounding band. However, BAD CITY is more serious business and play the kinda Glam meets 80s Hair Metal meets Melodic Hardrock we have heard from WIG WAM and THE POODLES in Europe, yet with a tiny bit of typical American Rock influences of the present day. Maybe not original and also with big references to the 1980s (DEF LEPPARDish harmonyvocals, LED ZEPPELIN/AEROSMITH guitar riffs, flashy guitarsolo’s and songs called “Do you believe in rock and roll” and “Call Paul Stanley”), this band sounds huge and seem to be ready to take the 80s Hair Metal sound a step further. Both the American and European teenagers seem to suck up this kind of music nowadays and so it is like we have stepped into a time machine and set it back at 1989, but big difference is that this time it will probably not change in an overnight, as the new bands do not care about image and are playing their Rock and Roll at a very honest and serious level. So no drugs and no image, but just play Rock and Roll and enjoy the women of course! 10 songs are included and between all the rockers we can even find ourselves a classic SKID ROW/WARRANT sounding Mainstream Melodic Rockballad titled “Fire in the pouring rain”. However of course it is all about Rock and Roll and that’s exactly what you get, with some really catchy tunes here and there, of which “Call Paul Stanley” is not only a tribute to the KISS vocalist/guitarist, but also the kinda catchy sing-a-long Glamrock/Poser Rock tune fans of bands like SLAUGHTER, TINDRUM and such can dance all night to! Also do check out the super catchy uptempo “Heatwave” that sounds like a modern version of classic CHEAP TRICK and closing track “Straight the grave”, which you will be singing all night after you heard the infectious chorus for the first time! BAD CITY is a must-have for fans of WIG WAM, CRASH DIET, THE POODLES… The band’s debut CD ‘Welcome to the wasteland’ is by far one of the best Glam/Sleaze/Hair Metal releases of the past few years and thanks to the production of modern rock/metal producer JOHNNY K (DISTURBED, SEVENDUST, STAIND…), the album sounds up-to-date and radio-ready for the whole world! More info at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


GRIMLORD is a Polish band and they do sound quite different than the usual Metalbands out there. On their latest CD ‘Dolce vita sath-an as’ they seem to be a Black Metalband at first sight, but despite the incredible fast 1000 beats per minute drumming and Black Metalish looking artwork, the band actually is vocally more melodic and are more or less a Power Metalband in disguise. Although they might not have released the Metalalbum of the year, they definitely show they are capable of mixing True Metal a la GRAVE DIGGER/MANOWAR with Black Metal. Done very well and more info can be found at: 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)


Also in France there are classic Hair Metal sounding bands. The Paris based band AESTHESIA is playing pure 80s Hair Metal with also clear AC/DC and Sleazy Metal influences. The band’s 2nd CD ‘Shattered idols’ was mastered by BJORN ENGLEMANN (IN FLAMES, RAMMSTEIN, HELLACOPTERS, BACKYARD BABIES) and actually the whole Hair Metal sound is also not that far away from HELLACOPTERS and BACKYARD BABIES here and there, although AESTHESIA is more going for a classic MOTLEY CRUE meets SKID ROW meets FASTER PUSSYCAT approach, so the 80s LA way! What they do here they are doing very well, although far from original of course, but fans of mentioned bands will eat this alive, I am quite sure of that… More info at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


After only a few seconds of listening to the same titled debut CD of the Italian band IBRIDOMA one can hear that they come out of Italy, because somehow this country’s singers have such a typical accent. That does not mean you should avoid the Italian bands, because in some cases it definitely has it’s charm as we have seen in the bands with bands like LABYRINTH, VISION DIVINE, WONDERLAND, ELEKTRADRIVE, etc. IBRIDOMA can be put in this line-up, as they have released a high quality CD, filled with catchy Melodic Hard/Heavy Rock. 9 songs are included and everything sounds pretty good here, including some really excellent memorable melodies. The band’s music reminds a lot of ELEKTRADRIVE, yet a little heavier here and there, with some Metal riffs. The guitarwork is very impressive and songs like “Ibrida” (only song sung in the Italian language), “Night of Crow”, “Alone in the wind” and the closing epic lengthy “Lady of darkness” are very nice to listen to. All together a nice recommended band to check out at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


WITCHCURSE are a band from Thessaloniki, Greece, formed in 2005 and now releasing their debut CD on the French label INFERNO RECORDS. Musically they definitely go for the early 1980s NWOBHM style, fast as lightning and loaded with classy guitar riffs straight out of the ANGEL WITCH and TOKYO BLADE book. Vocally they are a bit raw and more going for the MANILLA ROAD, OMEN and OZ direction, but fans of the classic NWOBHM sound will love this record for sure. Check out all info on this band at: 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


TRUE METAL meets a little Thrash Metal is the name of the game here and believe it or not, but this band was formed all the way back in 1986! They hail from Chile and have released already quite a lot albums in the past and now are back with a new CD, their first on their new French label INFERNO RECORDS. The guitarwork of FELIPE HERNANDEZ is phenomenal and for that reason alone this CD is worth listening. Vocally SR. DIAZ is going for a ROB HALFORD/PRIEST approach a lot of times, while musically PRIEST is mixed with MAIDEN and MERCYFUL FATE most of the time. The sound is very 1980s Metal orientated and perhaps the best song is “The Gods give no reply”, but that might be due to the fact that VERONICA FREEMAN (of BENEDICTUM) is singing lead vocals here and she is of course one of THE METAL QUEENs at the moment. Like already mentioned, the guitarwork is really amazing and actually I think I am in love with the ripping guitar style, as it sounds picture perfect. This guy must be one of the top guitarplayers from South America, perhaps as good as GUS G.! The songs are good enough to explore if you wanna hear PRIEST meets AGENT STEEL meets MAIDEN, but what makes this band really interesting is the guitarwork. More info at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


The finest release on the French label INFERNO RECORDS is probably the 2nd album of the French band CRUSHING BLOW. This band was formed back in 1997 and released their debut CD ‘Far away’ 6 years later on BRENNUS RECORDS. We also reviewed that record, but I can’t recall what our rating was. Anyway, it took the band 7 years to release a follow-up, but they have now put out their ‘comeback’ record, which by the way also features new female singer VALENE. She has a pretty good strong ‘Metal Queen’ type of voice that is very suitable for the Melodic Metal of CRUSHING BOW. The band sounds a bit like a more melodic clean version of BENEDICTUM, although actually they got a more Melodic Metal approach (so less Power Metal orientated) and only a few times go for a really fast tune (like opener “The Wizard’s tale”) a la BENEDICTUM. Nevertheless, they are sounding very sensational and are for me personally even more interesting than BENEDICTUM. I think DORO/WARLOCK is perhaps a better comparison, but after sitting with this album for a while, it is actually better than anything WARLOCK released back in the day, so without a doubt, this is a very strong release and highly recommended to the Melodic Metal fans out there! An epic tune like “Shadow” immediately grabs my attention for being a song that could once end up as a ‘Metal Classic’ as it contains some very nice tempo changes combined with superstrong melodies vocally speaking and really great guitar riffs. This song is definitely the best song, but the whole CD really has got a typical ‘yes’ feeling, which makes you look forward to push the rewind button (also check out for that matter the faster catchy “Dreams”!). A surprisingly excellent release of this French band and hopefully we will not have to wait another 7 years for a new album and even more important, they really need to make sure they keep their new female lead singer in the line-up, because she gives CRUSHING BLOW an extra dimension! Highly recommended female Melodic Metal Masterpiece is what we get here! Truly wish I could witness this band live on stage someday soon! More info at: 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


Italian keyboard mastermind MISTHERIA releases a new album, 6 years after his last effort ‘Messenger Of The Gods’. The new CD is titled ‘Dragon fire’ and it is a very strong album actually, Neo-Classical Melodic (Power) Metal is the name of the game here. ROYAL HUNT and ARTENSION are 2 clear comparisons and some of the songs are even reaching that high level, although therefore MISTHERIA has to thank the incredible list of guest singers and musicians for, because JOHN WEST, MARK BOALS, ROB ROCK, LANCE KING, NEIL ZAZA, GEORGE BELLAS, ROGER STAFFELBACH, JOHN MACALUSO and many others stepped in here and they all come from the major bands in the Neo-Classical Power Metal genre (MALMSTEEN, ROYAL HUNT, IMPELLITTERI, RING OF FIRE, ARTENSION, ARK, etc. etc.), so then it is not really strange when MISTHERIA’s new album sounds that good. Highly recommended to fans of mentioned acts! A true winner in the Neo-Classical Melodic (Power) Metal genre and perhaps one of the finest releases in the past few years and believe me that it easily beats the last couple of average ROYAL HUNT and MALMSTEEN albums and they were once the leaders of this genre!

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


SEARCHING FOR CALM is a Polish band, which has a very original sound actually that combines a lot of different genres. One could compare them to a band like THE MARS VOLTA, but still they do capture an own approach, which is more or less very experimental Post-Punk Progressive Rock. Sometimes aggressive and very experimental, but also at times throwing some great melodies into the songs, which in the end makes this band interesting to a lot of people I think. A song like “Follow” is an easy target for the radio, as this is a more polished rocker that also bands like FRANZ FERDINAND, THE EDITORS, KAISER CHIEFS or PANIC AT THE DISCO FLOOR deliver, but most of the time SEARCHING FOR CALM is experimenting with the rhythm structure, the vocalwork and the melodies of the songs. One can even hear some early THE CURE/JOY DIVISION and such in the material, so in the end you have a very original non-mainstream Post-Punksound that also contains influences from Progrock, some 80s Gothic elements and experimental Modern Rock. Although the band hails from Poland, they sound like they are from either the UK or the USA, so quality proof! Check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


The Polish Thrash Metal band ACID DRINKERS exists for many years now and their latest release ‘Fishdick zwei’ contains cover tunes of a bunch of well-known Pop, Rock and Metal classic tunes. First single and video is the cover of the B-52’s song “Love shack”, which is done very well. In total 16 tracks are covered and it is definitely a very nice record if you want to hear legendary songs such as “Detroit rock city”, “2000 man”, “Nothing else matters”, “Hot stuff”, etc. in a complete different version! More info at: 

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


Not entirely sure what to do with this release, but this live recorded album sounds really bizarre. If it was due to the recording of this record or it really should sound this way I am not sure, but fact is that the vocals of the female singer are sounding like if she was singing in a bathroom. I really can not make anything of this, sorry! What I could hear was a Rockish band making a sort of SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES type of underground/80s Gothic Rock, but due to the weird mixing it is hard to make up a good judgement and therefore it does not come anywhere near the level of that legendary band.

(Points: -)


HALF PAST FOUR is a band from Ontario, Canada and they have released a high quality debut CD titled ‘Rabbit in the vestibule’. Musically quite experimental and combining Progressive Rock from the 1970s with early 1980s British Art/Gothic Rock, sorta mixing RUSH and SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES. After listening to the CD a couple of times it becomes clear that this band is very original, really doing something completely new and at a very high level musically speaking. It is not an easy album to listen to, but on the other hand very interesting to replay a few times before it grabs you and I can inform you that after a while this band really is keeping you entertained. The band is blessed with a great female singer called KYREE VIBRANT, who looks and sounds like she has stepped out of an early 80s British New Wave/Art-rockband, while the guitarist (CONSTANTIN NECRASOV) has got all the typical moves and licks one usually hears in a Progressive Rockband. The rhythm and keyboard section add a clear varied music approach to all of this that does not only include Rockmusic, but also takes a bit of Jazz, Fusion and even some Latin grooves. Nevertheless, in the end Progrockfans might be the absolute winners to enjoy this release, as HALF PAST FOUR is all together a real proggy sounding band (which can best be heard during the fantastic “Biel”). A very nice surprise this HALF PAST FOUR, which you can check out at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA comes BAD THINGS, a typical Southern Rockband from the USA. Comparisons to LYNYRD SKYNYRD and MOLLY HATCHET are very easy to make here and I have to admit that what they are doing on their first CD is pretty well done and fans of mentioned bands will definitely love this band for sure. 10 tracks are included and luckily it was produced at a high level, so it is an easy listen from start to finish. Maybe not a classic in the genre, still a recommended Southern Hardrockalbum. More info at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


The name CHRIS FRANCIS will probably not ring a bell for most of us, but when mentioning the name of his former band TEN, the eyebrows of most AOR/Melodic Rockfans out there will be raised. Chris also has a solo career going, with 2 previous albums and now the British Guitarist/Songwriter returns with his 3rd CD ‘Notes from the incurable’, although this time as a project called SCRATCHED MATINEE. Musically speaking it is different than TEN, but still rocks quite hard here and there. The Rock however is a little more experimental than the TEN sound, as in fact it sounds like a cross between MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE and QUEEN, so more modern sounding most of the time, although the songs also contain some nice melodic choruses. Actually the sound may be labeled as Melodic Hardrock, yet with a different approach. The guitarwork of Chris is very impressive and in the end it somehow reminds me a bit of the late 90s HAREM SCAREM albums (and a little DEF LEPPARD due to the multi-layered harmonyvocals being used – although QUEEN might then as well again be mentioned here of course). Quality stuff for sure and recommended to check out at: 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


The Dutch band MOTHER OF SIN released their debut CD ‘Apathy’ back in 2005 on the Italian label ADRENALINE/STEELHEART RECORDS. Although it received a lot of positive press, sadly the band split up and all seemed to end, but happily the core members EDUARD HOVINGA (guitar, lead vocals) and GERRY DE GRAAF (drums) carried on and recorded a full new album with bassist/keyboardplayer PETER GROEN in 2009. This album entitled ‘Absolution’ was produced once again by DICK KEMPER (bassist of legendary Dutch bands such as VANDENBERG, NO EXQZE, TURBO, UNDERCOVER, but since 1993 leading the well-known S&K STUDIOS where this new MOTHER OF SIN was perfectly produced). The CD has been released independently, but I must add here that it sounds as if it was a major label release. You can definitely hear that a lot of efforts have been put into the overall sound of the individual songs, because the high-pitched vocals are pushed forward, while the choruses are crystal clear super melodic and clean harmonyvocal driven and instrumental it is prime-time Melodic Rock meets Progressive Metal (guitarwork is phenomenal!). This record sounds like a perfect mix between ELEGY (Eduard sang in that band!), TNT and KAMELOT, with a strong focus on tight melodies in both the guitar- and vocal department. Songs like “Everlasting”, “Heaven is burning”, “Stone” and “Braced” (the chorus somehow sounds dangerously close to early SLAUGHTER!!!) are actually quite excellent and sensational uptempo tunes that combine the best of Melodic Rock and Progressive Metal. This album is an easy winner for fans of both Melodic Rock and Progressive Metal. Combine 80s TNT, 90s ELEGY and 00s KAMELOT, then you have MOTHER OF SIN’s new record ‘Absolution’, which is a hidden gem that is as good as that other independent Dutch Prog/Symphometal release (PENNY'S TWISTED FLAVOUR) from a few months ago! More info at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


If TIERRA SANTA is not able anymore to make new strong Spanish language Melodic Metal albums, then other bands need to do it and happily in Spain (and a greater part of South America) each year some great material that can be qualified as high quality typical Spanish sung Melodic Metal is delivered. The latest addition is the Spanish band SANTELMO, whom are making their debut here with a very strong sensational album that easily reaches the strength of albums by bands like AVALANCH, SARATOGA, TIERRA SANTA, RATA BLANCA and such. One listen and you’re hooked, if you’re of course a fan of mentioned bands. It is all done very well and especially songs like the uptempo pieces “Bosque de hojas muertas”, “Junio del 44” and the beautiful AOR ballad “Daria lo que fuera” are very catchy and memorable. This is Spanish sung Melodic Metal at it’s very best and therefore anyone who is into this genre, I can only say, get this record as soon as possible! The mastering took place at the famous Finnvox Studios in Helsinki, Finland by MIKA JUSSILA, who gave it his usual picture perfect sound. More info on SANTELMO can be found at: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


How cool is this! ‘Minstrels, poets and vagabonds’ is a book about Rock Music in Glasgow, Scotland! Definitely the first time this area is covered and if I am correct, this is in fact the first time Scottish Rock is being discussed this extensive in a book. The book holds together 250 pages that are all about five decades of Rock Music in Glasgow. It’s not a typical encyclopedia with an A-Z formula, neither is it only about Scottish Rock actually, because for example URIAH HEEP and OZZY’s visits to Glasgow are also discussed, so actually this book is all about Rock music in general, but it all took place in the Scottish city of Glasgow. Of course the majority of the book tells the stories of a lot of unknown but rather interesting Rock and Hardrockbands, including a lot of other interesting 80s Melodic Hardrockbands even I had never heard of (names like RANSOM, TRIDENT, MONKEY SEE, CRISIS, DOLPHINS, BLIND ALLEZ, WILDCAT and many more). Of course Glasgow also offered their fair share of bands and acts that did make a name within the Rock community, such as AORsters GLASGOW, DEF LEPPARD wannabies HEAVY PETTIN’, GUN, MIDNIGHT BLUE, NAZARETH’s BILLY RANKIN, Proggies ABEL GANZ and several others. The book is divided into all kinds of short stories that are chronically told, so from the 1960s right up to the 2000s, handling about each and every important rock moment that cocured in Glasgow the past 50 years. No matter if a band was huge or not, it is all revealed here, which makes it an unique and interesting read. The book was written by ROBERT FIELDS, who experienced every Rock related event in his hometown Glasgow the past 50 years, either as musician himself or as DJ, promoter, band manager or club owner. He knows it all and reveals it all in this great book. More info at:  where you can also listen to a lot of rare tracks with the free code mpv1967 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Formed 10 years ago, the German band THE CLAYMORE has steadily built up a reputation within the European Metal community. We reviewed one of their earlier demos, which we already praised for it’s high quality back in the early 2000s and now 10 years later the band releases their 3rd CD ‘Damnation reigns’. Included is very strong Melodic (Power) Metal that is not far removed from PRIMAL FEAR, BALANCE OF POWER, ICED EARTH, SILENT FORCE, CLOUDSCAPE and such. The band has got a very strong lead singer called ANDREAS GRUNDMANN and the sound/production of their new album is of a very high level. 2 songs feature guest performances by TIM ‘RIPPER’ OWENS and VICTOR SMOLSKI, so the dedicated pure Melodic Metal fans know this album is gonna be good from start to finish and without a doubt it is a highly recommended album to fans of mentioned bands. Absolute highlight is the fantastic midtempo and slightly Progressive Melodic Metal tune “Oblivion” that has a very infectious chorus. All together a very impressive new album of THE CLAYMORE! More info at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


For 25 years the Chicago/USA based band 7TH HEAVEN has been making music and also performing throughout the USA whole year round, ever since the mid 1980s! In between they released a bunch of CDs and DVDs, which we mostly reviewed in the past. However, now it is the year 2010 and to celebrate the fact that the band has been on the scene for 25 years, they released a JUKEBOX. There are 5 versions available (20-25 traditional CDs, data DVD, flash drive, Internet store and Appple I-Pod) of this so-called Jukebox, but they all have in common that it contains 500+ original songs the band recorded the past 25 years! Which band on earth is able to tell the same story, because these guys really recorded this many songs in their career and a lot of them have been unreleased until now. They are also known for their covers, of which even a DVD has been released and basically they are the ultimate 80s band to experience. This JUKEBOX set is giving you the best tribute to the 80s you ever wanted, because 7TH HEAVEN throws in 500+ original songs that most of the time have the classic 80s Melodic Rocksound, while their covers and medleys of classic 80s tunes are also included here, definitely suitable for having a very long good time. Nice to see the band develop so quickly in their early years from a standard 80s Melodic Metal band around 1985 to a high profile AOR/Melodic Rockband in the early 90s. A lot of songs come from their golden era around 1990-1992, in which they recorded a few hundred great AOR/Melodic Rocksongs that sound like a perfect cross between BON JOVI, DEF LEPPARD and DANGER DANGER. Throughout the 1990s they changed their sound a bit, with even some Boyband and Industrial type of material, but especially the past few years they have gone Melodic Rock all the way, partly thanks to a new lead singer, who happens to have a great voice and won the UK version of POPSTARS. Anyway, there’s so much to enjoy here and better yet, to discover, because we can find some really awesome tracks here and there. As mentioned before the best material dates from the early 90s and from just recently. The early material suffers a bit from a weaker sound quality, but in general speaking most of the material has a very good sound/production that could be a standard label release, so this is not just a collection of demos, but a real quality boxset! Any Melodic Rockfan should own this Boxset, in which format you prefer, but I would go for the traditional CD Box set. Go check out all info on one of the most prestigious Boxsets in melodic rockhistory at:

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


The band HELJAREYGA is already the 2nd band from the Faroe Islands! Well not really, because actually it is a side-project of TYR frontman (Vocalist/guitarist) HERI JOENSEN and musically it is also quite the same as TYR. Actually it is as good as and sometimes even better than TYR, as the Melodic Viking Metal of HELJAREYGA sounds very melodic and memorable, despite the fact probably no Metalhead around the world will understand a single word from what they are singing about, because it is all sung in the Faeroese language! Nevertheless, what we get to hear is of such a high level that it really does not matter at all wether we can understand the lyrics. Maybe nothing new is brought here and also the fact that this album can actually be seen as a new TYR record, it still is a very strong Melodic Metal album that should not go unnoticed. Don’t be fooled by the fact only 5 tracks are included on the CD, because on average each of the tracks has a playing length of nearly 10 minutes filled with exciting epic Melodic Metal Masterness! More info at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


THE SOULBREAKER COMPANY is a Spanish band whom are releasing their 3rd album with ‘Itaca’. Musically speaking we go back to the 1970s long Progressive Rocksounds of PINK FLOYD here and there, but the band also throws in heavier Psychedelica Rock a la HAWKWIND, some BLUE OYSTER CULT, even a little BUDGIE and to make it complete, even add some Krautrock a la AMON DUUL and VANDERGRAAF GENERATOR. All together they sound like a pure 1970s band, with several music genres included in each of the 11 included tracks. Only vocally there are references to today’s way of singing, which is hard to describe, but when you carefully listen you can easily tell this is a 2010 release and not a 1970s release, although instrumental it is as close to the 1970s as you can get! Sound/production is excellent and so if you want to hear a mix of prog, psychedelica and krautrock, then this is the CD to look up. Also available as vinyl record by the way! More info at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


TIDE is a Slovenian band which was formed back in 1998 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. They have already released a few albums in the past, making this new album ‘Regeneration’ their 3rd one so far and once again it was recorded in The Netherlands. Musically speaking we go back into the early 80s, because TIDE is playing pure early 80s New Wave meets Gothic Rock the British way, reminding of very early U2, some ULTRAVOX, a tiny THE CURE, some DEPECHE MODE, JOY DIVISION, THE SISTERS OF MERCY, THE MISSION and such. There’s some excellent material on this album, such as “Waste no time”, “Best friend” and “You” that all truly capture the so-much missed 80s uptempo British New Wave sound of mentioned bands. Vocally it is dangerously close to DAVID BOWIE and although most people will call this band a sorta THE EDITORS type of band, I am convinced this TIDE is much better than that and could actually have a major breakthrough, because the Dutch pop critics (wake up GIEL BEELEN and LEO BLOKHUIS!) absolutely adore this kind of music and when it is done as well as on this record, a big future for this band is definitely possible! When putting on the CD, skip the first track, which is the only weak track here and it does not represent the rest of the record, although also the T-REX type of Glamrocker “To be your lover” also completely falls out of place here and perhaps the AC/DC rhythm “Love train” is perhaps more interesting for a THE CULT fan. However, most of the tracks reveal the earlier described sound, with only a few ballads slowing down the tempo. More info at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


HEATHEN FORAY is a band from Austria playing Pagan Metal in the best possible way, so fans of the genre will absolutely love this record. Instrumental it sounds picture perfect, but vocally it is something you either love or hate, as it is constantly the typical Pagan way of growling. ‘Armored bards’ is their 2nd record and for the fans of strong melodies only the instrumental parts offer something of interest, because the vocal department belongs in the Extreme Metal field. More info at: 

(Points: 7.6 out of 10)


Every bandname that starts with STRATO is of course easily confused with STRATOVARIUS and when you also find yourself in the same kinda Symphonic Melodic Metal direction, well then it becomes a bit awkward, but happily this new band STRATOSPHERE is much more interesting than to write them off as a STRATOVARIUS copycat, because they are definitely doing things differently on their first record. First of all they have one of the best Swedish lead singers on vocals (GORAN EDMAN), while the material is typical Swedish orientated Melodic Rock/Metal, very much sounding like classic 80s YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, yet of a very high level. So, despite the fact nothing new is brought here, the musicianship and material of STRATOSPHERE is top-notch and combines faster uptempo, midtempo and semi-ballads like only the Swedish bands could deliver back in the 1980s (and also still do!!!). A faster track like “The battle within” is a song MALMSTEEN forgot to record the past 20 years, while the semi-ballad “Enemy of soul” is the song EUROPE does not want to record anymore as it is too 80s orientated and the midtempo AOR/Melodic Rocker “Street of Moscow” is the absolute highlight of this rather fantastic CD. Fans of classic Swedish Melodic Rock/Metal of the MALMSTEEN/EUROPE kind will instantly fall in love with this Swedish/Danish band STRATOSPHERE! More info at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem except where noted)