Saturday, February 26, 2011

SHAKRA - Back On Track (2011)

SHAKRA - Back On Track 2011

Swiss rockers Shakra are surely no strangers among fans of melodic hard rock. In a period of twelve years the band has released seven studio albums, a live album and a DVD, played countless and has grown out to be a hard value within the genre.
From the fifth studio album, ‘Rising’ (2003), vocalist/front man Mark Fox was the voice and the face of the band, and let’s be honest; he did a tremendous job.
So when he decided to leave the band after the fantastic ‘Everest’ album, I was afraid that Shakra would never be the same again.

A new vocalist was found in the yet-unknown John Prakesh and the band started working on a new album.
The eight studio cd is entitled "Back On Track" and they couldn’t have found a better-fitting title.
From the opening track, "B True B You", onward the band makes a strong start and shows not to have strayed from their musical path. The stronger guitar sound that they revealed on ‘Everest’ is again present and the song rocks delightfully.
As soon as Prakesh opens his throat he immediately blows all doubts and questions away with his beautiful voice and strong vocal performances. His voice does show a lot of similarity with Fox’s and the somewhat hoarse sound that Fox’s voice had – and which had been his trademark on Shakra’s music – can fortunately also be heard back in Prakesh.

This new album is packed full of '80s tinged melodic hard rockers such as the title track, "I’ll Be", "Brand New Day", "Stronger Than Ever" or the magnificent "Crazy" and see for yourself if it’s possible to sit still.
"MMTWGR" is maybe the more modern hard rock song of the entire disc, and last track "Stronger Than Ever" features an anthemic chorus which gets stuck in your head immediately.
These gentlemen however have also talent for ballads and fortunately we also get that with "When I See You", "Yesterday’s Gone" and the beautiful "Lonesomeness". And also in these songs Prakesh stands his ground and doesn’t drop any stitches.

"Back On Track" has again become a diverse album and has all the typical Shakra elements and influences: the 'americanized' Whitesnake, Gotthard, Pink Cream 69, Pretty Maids and many '80s hair / glam rock bands.
The music sounds very accessible with easy to sing-a-long choruses but strong riffing and some hard edge. Production is big and tight.
Everything put together makes this Shakra’s strongest album to date without doubt.

01 - B True B You
02 - I'll Be
03 - Crazy
04 - Back On Track
05 - When I See You
07 - Yesterday's Gone
08 - Someday
09 - Lonesomeness
10 - Unspoken Truth
11 - Brand New Day
12 - Stronger Than Ever

John Prakesh : Vocals
Thom Blunier : Guitars
Dominik Pfister : Bass, Keyboards
Thomas Muster : Guitars
Roger Tanner : Drums


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

VOODOO CIRCLE - Broken Heart Syndrome (2011)

VOODOO CIRCLE Broken Heart Syndrome 2011
bonus track digipak

"Broken Heart Syndrome" is the second album from Voodoo Circle, the brainchild of German guitar hero Alex Beyrodt (Silent Force/Primal Fear/Sinner), joined by his former Sinner & Primal Fear colleague Mat Sinner on bass, whilst vocal duties are taken care of by David Readman (Pink Cream 69, Khymera).
His mission is simple: to evoke the spirit of the late '70s / earlier '80s classic hard rock acts he holds dear to his heart, such as Deep Purple and Rainbow.

Beyrodt is clearly heavily influenced by Ritchie Blackmore and this legacy shines throughout this album.
The guitar work it top notch, and although his style is reminiscent of Blackmore, he isn't a mere Ritchie clone, and has enough of his own style to stamp on each track.
One influence that you can't fail to notice on this album is not Blackmore himself, but one of his former acquaintances: Mr. David Coverdale.
This is largely down to the vocal style of David Readman, whose rich, powerful and bluesy voice is at times a dead ringer for that of Coverdale.

A fair chunk of this album does sound very much in the vein of Whitesnake. Tracks like the hard rocking opener "No Solution Blues", "King Of Your Dreams" and "Don't Take My Heart" all bare the stamp of the 'Snake, but that's no bad thing.
In fact it could be argued that if the current incarnation of Whitesnake came up with material of this quality, they would be hailed as a real return to form.

One of the highlights of the album is the powerful and soulful "Devil's Daughter", where once again the spectre of Coverdale looms, but this time in the guise of his time in Deep Purple. The track has a very strong flavour of the material on the 'Come Taste The Band' album, with 'You Keep On Moving' springing to mind. Definitely an invitation for Coverdale / Hughes era Purple fans to come taste this band.

"Broken Heart Syndrome" is an album strong on dynamics. There's plenty of hard rocking moments and plenty of bluesy moments, but there's also some quality laid back softer moments too.
"Blind Man" -another highlight- is a good illustration of this; a bluesy ballad with some very fine Hendrix inspired guitar work, along the lines of 'Angel'.
Meanwhile, the awesome "When Destiny Calls" and "The Heavens Are Burning", both evoke the spirit of Blackmore's Rainbow / Joe Lynn Turner era.
The same can be said for "I'm In Heaven", which has an almost AOR feel to it.

Jimmy Kresic provides some good keyboard work throughout the album, with organ and synth sounds giving some of the tracks a Jon Lord feel to them, adding a touch of that authentic 70's rock sound into the mix.
Drummer Markus Kullmann consistently provides the kind of solid and powerful performance the album needs.

Although Voodoo Circle has made a great job successfully getting back the sound of classic '70s rock on some tracks, the most part of "Broken Heart Syndrome" is more evocative of the earlier '80s in style, with Whitesnake and Rainbow being obvious reference points.
The title track itself is more akin to Deep Purple's 'Perfect Strangers' than 'Machine Head' for example.
This album is a very fine, bluesy hard rock little gem, the performances are consistently strong throughout and the production is top class.
If, in a parallel universe, Ritchie Blackmore had ended up joining Whitesnake, it may not have sounded a million miles away from this.
The best album of the year so far.
Highly Recommended

01 - No Solution Blues
02 - King Of Your Dreams
03 - Devil's Daughter
04 - This Could Be Paradise
05 - Broken Heart Syndrome
06 - When Destiny Calls
07 - Blind Man
08 - Heal My Pain
09 - The Heavens Are Burning
10 - Don't Take My Heart
11 - I'm In Heaven
12 - Wings Of The Fury
13 - Strangers Lost In Time (Bonus Track)

David Readman - Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Alex Beyrodt - Guitars
Mat Sinner - Bass, Backing Vocals
Jimmy Kresic - Keyboards
Markus Kullmann - Drums


Thursday, February 17, 2011

THE TREATMENT - This Might Hurt (2011)

THE TREATMENT This Might Hurt (2011)

THE TREATMENT were formed in 2008, when founder member drummer Dhani Mansworth was still at school in Cambridge, UK. Although only 15 at the time he already had a clear vision of the kind of band he wanted to form.
Having grown up on a diet of AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith he began to put the band together under the watchful eye of his father guitarist and manager Laurie Mansworth (More, Airrace, Roadstar).

Having had little success with local musicians he decided to go further afield.
First to join the line up was 18 year old Ben Brookland from Tadley, he shared the same passion for classic bands as Dhani. Ben's unique guitar style suited the bill perfectly.
Soon after came bass player Rick Newman (aka Swoggle) also 15. Rick's enthusiasm and solid bass sound fitted perfectly.
Rick suggested that the band audition Tagore Grey, his school friend and guitarist from Petersfield. Rick's recommendation was spot on as Tag's guitar style was exactly what they had been looking for.
The boys passion for the band was proved when they all packed bags and moved to Cambridge were they shared a home with the Mansworth family so they could focus completely on the band and rehearse on a daily basis.

After a 6 month search they found the final piece of the jigsaw.
Matt Jones, a 17 year old wonder kid hailing from Norwich. His high energy rock vocals was exactly what the guys were looking for.
Matt moved to Cambridge within 1 week of joining the band and after locking themselves away to refine their sound, they emerged one year later, they were ready to showcase.

The Treatment did few gigs through UK as support act, a label executive saw them live and immediately signed the band.
Their debut album "This Might Hurt" was recorded at Iron Maiden's Steve Harris Barnyard studios, produced by Laurie Mansworth and mixed by Tony Newton of Voodoo Six.

Don't be fooled by the extremely young age of these boys. They're consumed professionals and skilled musicians.
They have an 80's hard rock sound but with a 70's hard rock vibe running through them. I mean, 'Real' British Hard Classic Rock.
Think Aerosmith mixed with early Def Leppard with some AC/DC and Tesla scent.

"This Might Hurt" is high-energy Rock 'N' Roll with hot guitars direct to the amp, mighty riffing which brings to mind '81 Def Leppard, blasting rhythm section ala Led Zepp and a vocalist that has the sort of raspy throat that should only be allowed after a decade of hard gigging and even harder drinking. Strongly remembers me Jeff Keith of Tesla on various tracks.
There's no single songs to highlight, all are killers, but maybe "Shake The Mountain" and "The Doctor" win the poll.

Don't miss these new UK wonders, they Rock!

01 - Departed
02 - The Doctor
03 - I Want Love
04 - Just Tell Me Why
05 - Lady Of The Light
06 - I Fear Nothing
07 - Winter Sun
08 - Shake The Mountain
09 - I Will Be There
10 - The Coldest Place On Earth
11 - Nothing To Lose (But Our Minds)
12 - Stone Cold Love [hidden track]

Matt Jones : Vocals
Ben Brookland : Guitars
Tagore Grey : Guitars
Rick 'Swoggle' Newman : Bass
Dhani Mansworth : Drums


Saturday, February 12, 2011

THE IDES OF MARCH (Jim Peterik) - Still 19 (2010)

THE IDES OF MARCH  Jim Peterik Still 19

The year was 1964. The place was the working-class Chicago neighborhood of Berwyn.
The British musical invasion was under way, but the homegrown schoolboys from the Chicago blue-collar western suburb had just formed a rock band of their own called THE IDES OF MARCH.
Turned out that one of them, a young Jimmy Peterik had a knack for songwriting. One of his early songs, 'You Wouldn't Listen' actually got played on radio and reached #7 in Chicago and #42 on Billboard Magazine's Top 100.
The dreams started getting bigger...

Then, fueled by the trials and tribulations of teenage love and the frustrations of high-school romance, he penned a little ditty called 'Vehicle".
In 1969, they recorded the song for W.B. records and their world changed. That song went to #2 on Billboard and #1 on Cashbox, the industry's other main publication.
The kids from Berwyn were suddenly on tour with the likes of Janis Joplin, The Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin. The Ides were a sensation.

Today, 46 years later, those four friends are still together, still playing music with each other, releasing a new album titled "Still 19", being the oldest notable classic rock band performing with its original members.
Two years in the making that found the boys from Berwyn reaching back into the past and drawing an arc into the future-standing up to the challenge of the 21st century.

Since leaving Survivor, Jim has been touring with the Ides in between his work with Pride of Lions, World Stage and solo work, but this is the first album of new material in quit some time.
Peterik is the main creative force behind the album as usual, and as usual the songs are first class.
There are a couple tracks that were re-recorded from his other work such as “Secrets of a Woman” and “Live Life” from his 2006 solo album 'Above the Storm' and the beautiful ballad “Come Dancing” from the recently released Lisa Mclowery album 'Time Signatures' which he wrote and produced.
The songs were re-recorded with the Ides of March signature classic rock sound and are still great.
Along with those we have 7 new Peterik penned masterpieces including the title track “Still 19” which is a recapping of the career of the Ides of March set to a great melody.

Like all of the other projects involving Jim, Ides of March’s “Still 19” is a wonderful album filled with great songs and melodies.
Jim Peterik himself slaved over the mix and mastering in intense sessions, resulting in a pristine document.
“Still 19” is a state of mind. It is the age this band feels when they play together, with energy, defying age, gravity and location - a sum of every mile they've traveled, every show they've played, and all the records they have made.

01 - Secrets Of A Woman
02 - Soul To Soul
03 - I Found Love
04 - Still 19
05 - For One Moment
06 - Live Life
07 - Come Dancing
08 - Keep Rocking
09 - Love Will Rock You
10 - A Day In The Life
11 - Vehicle [Vintage Mix]

Jim Peterik : Guitar, Lead Vocals, Songwriting
Larry Millas : Guitar, Bass and Vocals
Bob Bergland : Bass, Sax and Vocals
Mike Borch : Drums and Vocals
Chuck Soumar : Trumpet, Percussion and Vocals
John Larson : Trumpet and Vocals
Dave Stahlberg : Horns
Scott May : Hammond Organ, Keyboards and Vocals


DAN REED - Coming Up For Air (2010)

DAN REED Coming Up For Air
iTunes version + bonus

DAN REED NETWORK was at the second half of the '80s the 'next big thing'.
His mix of funk and polished hard rock, a kind of Mothers Finest meets Van Halen, cracked the Billboard Top 40 and was in heavy rotation on MTV.
In late 1993, The DRN went on hiatus and in the years to come Dan followed numerous paths, working on solo projects and pursuing opportunities to act in theatre and film, as well as extending into screenplay writing.
It's now almost 20 years since the last DRN album 'The Heat', times have changed and so have people.

After years walking on the darker side, fuelled by alcohol, drugs and ultimately burning out, Dan realised that a change was required in his life.
A travel to India changed things drastically.
Befriending a couple of tibetan monks, it was their request of Dan to teach them western music (specifically Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’), that gave Reed the motivation to once again return to writing music, with the track ‘On Your Side’ off his new CD, "Coming Up For Air" being the first track he wrote.
Encounters with Israeli musicians in India led to him venturing to Jerusalem, were further foundations for "Coming Up For Air" were laid.

This isn't the funked up Dan Reed Network, this is Dan Reed the solo singer/songwriter, in reflective mood and searching his soul through reflective lyrics and softly spoken sweet melodies and vocal harmonies.
Going on the contents of this disc, you'd have to say that Dan remains a very underrated songwriter and craftsman. These songs have a simplicity to them that few can achieve without over-complicating things.
There is a definite beauty to these tracks, stripped back to acoustic guitars, piano, steel guitar and an absolute ton of left of center instruments such as Turkish Kemence, Ude, Chinese Gu-zheng, lots of various percussion and even a couple of additional dialects in guest vocal appearances.

On “Brave New World” Dan quotes Ghandi, and there is a message of peace and hope.
“Dictator” has Charlie Chaplin’s voice mixed in giving his 'Great Dictator' speech from 1940 portraying the same uplifting message of peace. This displays a unique creativity that sets Dan Reed apart from the rest.
“Losing My Fear” is a feel good song and anyone who has had a trepidation about faith can relate to it.
This is just to name a few. All the tracks are equally amazing.

"Coming Up For Air" is a very spiritual album and will appeal to those that like intelligent acoustic based melodic pop, with authoritative vocals and a bit of world-music approach.
It's kind of like Eric Martin's 'Somewhere In The Middle' or Joey Tempest's 'Place To Call Home' and more recently Richard Page's 'Peculiar Life'. Just with more twists…
Lyrically the album follows Dan's inspiring personal ups and downs and his exploration of faith and a search for something deeper in life.
Soft and reflective, but if the mood suits, this will impress.
Those a little more open minded, with an appreciation for good songs and performances regardless of the style, will find "Coming Up For Air" a rewarding experience.

01 - Coming Up for Air
02 - Losing My Fear
03 - Closer
04 - On Your Side
05 - Brave New World
06 - Feels Like Home
07 - Middle of Nowhere
08 - Sacred Ground
09 - Reach for the Sun
10 - Candlelight
11 - Promised Land
12 - Pray for Rain
13 - The Dictator
14 - Rainbow Child (Live) [iTunes bonus]

Lead Vocals - Dan Reed
Bass - Dan Reed, Bengan Jonasson, Tommy Anthony, Rob Daiker
Drums - Joe Mengis, Kfir Shtivi, Tommy Anthony
Guitar - Dan Reed, Tommy Anthony, Rob Daiker
Keyboards - Dan Reed, Kfir Shtivi, Rob Daiker
Piano/Synthesizer - Clay Ostwald
Percussion - Mike Collins, Joe Mengis
Violin - Srour Saleeba


Friday, February 11, 2011

BLACK SABBATH - Dehumanizer deluxe edition 2CD (2011)

BLACK SABBATH - Dehumanizer Deluxe Edition

BLACK SABBATH - Dehumanizer Deluxe Edition notes
BLACK SABBATH - Dehumanizer Deluxe Edition tracks



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

TAKING DAWN - Time To Burn [Special Edition] (2010-11)

TAKING DAWN Time To Burn Special Edition
includes 3 bonus tracks

After checking out TAKING DAWN’s bio, you can tell Chris Babbitt (vocals/guitar), Mikey Cross (guitar), Andrew Cushing (bass) and Alan Doucette (drums) were born to rock; all of the band members hail from the sin-laden city of Las Vegas.
Both Babbitt and Cross worked as security at the Hard Rock Hotel; Babbitt’s hippie father played Black Sabbath while he vacuumed his son’s crib.
Taking Dawn just may be rock's premiere 'old meets new' band, as they could easily be a smash hit on current mainstream radio while at the same time impressing old-school hard rock fans.

Their debut "Time To Burn" has moments where the band rocks out as if they were seasoned Sunset Strip warriors, clearly influenced by the '80s L.A. scene with radio friendly tunes, good guitar shredding and catchy choruses, but also angst-laden numbers that make you feel you’re listening to two different bands on the same album.
Clearly, Taking Dawn draws from diverse influences and, like any band with only one album under its belt, those influences are still finding their proper place within the band’s songwriting capabilities.
Making up for the band’s uneven song delivery, instrumental prowess and melody come along as the album’s strongest points.
The Babbitt/Cross guitar combo never loses its flare and flash, not to mention the earth-rattling Cushing/Doucette rhythm combo.
Hooks, powerful riffs and catchy choruses are all over the album, which helps even the weakest songs on the CD have their shining moments.

The title track starts the album off with a bang. "Time To Burn" instantly sets the tone for the album. A hard-hitting scorcher with big, strong riffs.
"Take Me Away" it is just one of those hook-stuffed rock songs that'll take weeks before you can get it out of your head. It's the type of song you want to blast through your speakers and sing along to.
On "So Loud" the drums sound like the pistons of a hot rod revving up. Really loud.
"Save Me" is a commercial rocker with a catchy chorus featuring an interesting use of backing vocals through it.
"Close Your Eyes" slows down the pace a bit, the clean sound of the guitars and the passion of the vocals makes this one a powerful track to listen to. Reminds me Rubber / Harem Scarem of the 90's.

"Fight ‘Em With Your Rock" is one of most fast-paced rocker of the album, but it's a very accessible, very '80s track. Like the title says, this song is all about sticking it to the man with the power of rock ‘n’ roll. Prepare yourself for intense shredding, because the guitars here are hot.
"Endlessly" is all about crying your heart out because your girl left you and you are pathetically feeling sorry for yourself, but with its irresistible hook there’s nothing you can do but submit to it. Very melodic and anthemic.
"The Chain" is a Fleetwood Mac cover, very strange choice, but as said the band have diverse influences. Somehow this version works and features nice soloing.

"V" is the first of the 3 bonuses of this special version. It's the most heavy track on offer here, a clear tribute to the classic heavy metal bands of the early 80's.
On the other side, "Can't Leave You Alone" is extremely commercial, almost poppy at times. A gentle and catchy tune.
"Black Diamond" is a retro tribute to '70s hard rock. Yes, it's a Kiss cover... fans surely will hate this version. But the overall 'old' atmosphere it's pretty well done by the band and their producer.

Taking Dawn has a long way to go before its sound turns into something refined and focused. The band’s diverse influences could be deterring them from focusing on their strengths, but that is just something normal all bands go through; not getting lost in one’s own influences is the key to longevity though.
"Time To Burn" has the type of sound that could make them famous, even in an era that is mostly unreceptive to new rock music.
It mixes fist pumping sing along choruses and melodic harmonies with razor sharp riffs, screaming guitar solos and enough anti-religious / irreverent language to give Tipper Gore a heart attack.
It's hard to tell exactly what direction they'll end up going in the future, meanwhile, give it a shot.

01 - Time To Burn [Explicit]
02 - Like A Revolution
03 - Take Me Away
04 - So Loud [Explicit]
05 - Save Me
06 - Close Your Eyes
07 - Godless
08 - Fight 'Em With Your Rock [Explicit]
09 - Never Enough
10 - Endlessly
11 - The Chain [Fleetwood Mac cover]
12 - V (bonus track)
13 - Can't Leave You Alone (bonus track)
14 - Black Diamond [Kiss cover] (bonus track)

Chris Babbitt - vocals and guitar
Mikey Cross - guitar and backing vocals
Andrew Cushing - bass and backing vocals
Alan Doucette - drums and backing vocals
Additional Musicians:
Dave Holdredge - keyboards
Michael Baskette - ambient guitars, keyboards and backing vocals


Monday, February 7, 2011

V.A. - Siam Shade Tribute (2010)

V.A. Siam Shade Tribute

Siam Shade was a five-piece Japanese rock band, which broke onto the 'visual kei' scene alongside a multitude of other artists in the early 1990s.

Outside Japan, the group is best known as the band who performed "1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou", one of the many ending themes of 'Rurouni Kenshin', the popular anime series.

Siam Shade enjoyed a decade of great popularity on the Japanese music market before disbanding in early 2002.

Producer Marti Frederiksen, who is best known for his work with Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith and Def Leppard, was looking to do something creative with Japanese bands when he discovered Siam Shade, which popularity is unbroken until today.

Many famous occidental melodic hard rock musicians as Sebastian Bach (ex SKID ROW), Eric Martin (MR. BIG), John Corabi (ex MOTLEY CRUE), Mike Vescera (ex LOUDNESS, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN), George Lynch (DOKKEN)

were called to record a tribute album with lyrics translated to english.

The first thing that impressed me is the terrific production quality. All tracks are wonderfully recorded and mixed.

Besides, these japanese guys really know how to write good songs, and each occidental artist was perfectly chosen for each track.

"Don't Tell Lies" is a melting hard rock that fits like a glove to Sebastian Bach vocals, in his best performance in years here.

Nik Frost from the band The Bangkok Five (unknown to me) does a good job on "Get Out", a modern hard rocker with strong guitars.

The anime tune "1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou" is sung by ex Warrant Jani Lane. After hearing this catchy melodic track and the accurate performance by Jani, I am still wondering why this good singer isn't more active today. The mix on this particular track is awesome.

Next song is "Setsuna Yori mo Tooku e" and surely was reworked completely by Richie Kotzen. An amazing melodic rocker that sounds like a Mr. Big track. Seems Richie has been taking vocal lessons, he has improved his vocals abilities reaching a tone very close to Eric Martin's finest moments. A standout track, very very good.

Talking about Mr. Eric Martin, he shines on the following song "Love". A beautiful bluesy ballad fully of emotion. A must have for any melodic lover.

The raspy vocals of John Corabi are perfect for the midtempo "Life". Another great song written by these japanese guys from Siam Shade.

"Get A Life" is a hard rocker full of energy with dirty lyrics. Again, the pick of the singer was excellent. It's a pleasure listen Mike Vescera sing with melody and not gritty as his last works with metal bands.

"Kumori Nosa Hare" is an extremely melodic rock very well performed by Mark Slaugher. What a great tune.

Next, "Dreams" by Cinder Road's vocalist Mike Ruocco (another unknown to me). This track is a bit alternative but very melodic with a hooky chorus.

The crazy George Lynch plays the instrumental "Triptych". I don't know the original but George's version is great, featuring his typical fireworks but with sense and melody. Fat guitar tone and very interesting arrangements.

Last track has nothing to do with the rest of the disc. It's the japanese version of "1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou" by the local band Acid Black Cherry featuring ex-members of Siam Shade. A melodic pop/rocker version with some good guitar playing.

This album was an unexpected great surprise to me.

First of all, all these songs are like 'new' to us. The songwriting is melodic rock / hard rock oriented and skillfully arranged.

The artists performances are first rate, the best job they've done in recent years for the most part. And the production is excellent, crisp and glossy.

These tracks by your favorite artists won't be available on any other release, I strongly recommend you to grab this album now.

Very Good.

1. Don't Tell Lies / Sebastian Bach (ex - Skid Row)

2. Get Out / Nik Frost (The Bangkok Five)

3. 1/3 no Junjo na Kanjo (Alt Ver.) / Jani Lane (ex - Warrant)

4. Setsunasa yori mo Toku e / Richie Kotzen (ex - MR. BIG, Poison)

5. Love / Eric Martin (MR. BIG)

6. Life / John Corabi (ex - Motley Crue)

7. Get A Life / Mike Vescera (ex - Loudness, Yngwie Malmsteen)

8. Kumori nochi Hare / Mark Slaughter (Slaughter)

9. Dreams / Mike Ruocco (Cinder Road)

10. Triptych(Alt Ver.) / George Lynch (Dokken)

11. 1/3 no Junjo na Kanjo / Acid Black Cherry -Special Track-



Saturday, February 5, 2011

WILDSTREET - II …Faster…Louder (2011)


The self-titled debut release of New Yorkers WILDSTREET in 2009 received rave reviews around the globe.
Their glorious Def Leppard inspired affair with a hint of sleaze/glam, was one of the great surprises that year.
Now in 2011 WILDSTREET have just released their sophomore effort, a 5-track EP, “Wildstreet II …Faster…Louder”.

Wildstreet sound has changed slightly, and moulding themselves into a unit that best resembles Kix, Motley Crue and Def Leppard circa 'High And Dry'. The attitude and the energy is certainly here, and across the five tracks they let it all hang out.

Starting things off is "Shake It" that cranks things up from the get-go. If you like the riffing from bands like Kix or Sweden's hard rock heroes Bullet you'll love this. Big gang chant vocals on the chorus provide maximum impact.
"Poison Kiss" touches the sleaze genre in a slight way, with the slide guitar pushing this song into early 90's territory. Once again the harmonies show some whoop-ass chops. A very commercial, catchy tune.
Ramping the tempo up a few notches, "Hot Lixx" is less about hot women but more about the trials and tribulations of a kid getting his first guitar and learning how to play. To keep the rhyming scenario going, this song could be a Kix offcut!

I feel an early Van Halen / Def Leppard meets AC/DC style with "Cocked And Ready". The riff is one straight out of the Angus Young cookbook, though Erik Jayk's vocals sounds more like '70s era Aerosmith.
"Can't Stop The Rock" is probably the closest in feel to the debut album material, the production is a bit more spacious, the arrangement close to 'High N Dry' period Def Leppard. This track is made for the arenas.

This EP is another winner for WILDSTREET.
"Faster…Louder..." is a perfect party 'have a good time' collection of songs.
Their mix of straight ahead non compromising fun hard rock and singalong choruses makes this EP so easy to love.
Hopefully we'll see a full-blown CD release sometime soon.

01 - Shake It
02 - Poison Kiss
03 - Hot Lixx
04 - Cocked & Ready
05 - Can't Stop The Rock

Eric Jayk - Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar
Keith Roberts - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Ali Hassan - Bass, Vocals
Brian Beck - Drums


VIOLET SUN - Loneliness In Supremacy (2011)

VIOLET SUN Loneliness In Supremacy

The idea to create VIOLET SUN came in 2005 after multi-instrumentalist Dario Grillo (ex-Thy Majestie, Platens) heard the voice of female vocalist Alessandra Amata, a singer of great talent well known in the Sicilian musical circle.

Dario had some very interesting unpublished work that proposed to her.

Alessandra immediately showed herself to be very enthusiastic about the project and so in a few months they began to work to the drawing up and the realization of the songs contained in the debut album.

"Loneliness In Supremacy", the band's elegant debut, makes you dig through layers and layers of symphonic edges that draw up the blueprint, enough melodic & progressive hooks, and even a few gothic abstracts which give color to the darker sides of the album.

It abounds in creativity, variety and versatility. As a not so unfortunate side-effect, the album goes through several ups and downs; some parts will take you by storm while the more progressive parts are more resistant and engulfed in a thick blanket of fog to cut you off.

Various healing melodies are designed to appeal to the audience's emotions, but the next moment the more complex arrangements work repelling and push the listener around like a demented pinball.

And also the seducing interplay between the wide and dynamic range of clean male and female vocals works enchanting.

Alessandra Amata is blessed with a natural voice, which shines Violet Sun away from gothic-metal corners and gives the band a broader reach.

Officially a trio, Violet Sun also features a sax player (with an unexpectedly moving performance on "Falling In Love") and an opera choir.

But apart from the magnificent of the sound and arrangements, the approach of the band is commercial and melodic.

"Cross The Line" and "Pray On The Grave" come closest to the traditional female-fronted european hard rock sound.

"When The Lights Go Down" is even radiable, "Break Your Chains" has a catchy chorus, and "Inside Out" is almost a melodic rocker in its essence.

"Loneliness In Supremacy" is an evolving journey, a complex but interesting mixture of styles such as metal opera music, european hard rock, progressive, modern AOR, all perfectly blended together to create impactful melodies.

A colorful album that demands your attention and bridges the gap between melodic hard rock and symphonic metal.

01. Dust In The Wind

02. Inside Out

03. Midnight [Instrumental]

04. When The Lights Go Down

05. Cross The Line

06. Falling In Love

07. Where Is My Way Home

08. My Flame Still Burns

09. Pray On The Grave

10. Break Your Chains

11. Synthetic Pleasures

12. Loneliness In Supremacy [Instrumental]

Alessandra Amata - Lead Vocals & Piano

Alex Grillo - Drum & Percussions

Dario Grillo - Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Orchestral scores



Friday, February 4, 2011

MIKE TRAMP - Hymn To Ronnie (2010)

TOD HOWARTH Opposite Gods

Mike Tramp of White Lion fame has written a tribute to Ronnie James Dio called "Hymn To Ronnie".
Mike said: "The song always needed to stand by it self and I never felt that I could include it in any form of commercial album”.
“This song belongs to all of Ronnie’s fans, it’s not just a tribute, its a Hymn, something much higher to fit the man with the true voice of rock’n’roll."

"Hymn To Ronnie" clocking in at almost 8 minutes long, takes you through a magical journey of RJD’s life, and you will be left breathless at the end.
Keyboards were laid down by original RAINBOW keyboardist Tony Carey.
The song was recorded at Medley Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark by Søren Andersen and was mixed by Michael Voss at Kidroom Music in Germany.

Mike Tramp & the Rock’n’Roll Circuz - Hymn To Ronnie

Mike Tramp - vocals and guitar
Søren Andersen - guitar
Claus Langeskov - bass
Morten Hellborn - drums
Tony Carey - keyboards


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

PUSHKING - The World As We Love It (2011)

TOD HOWARTH Opposite Gods

Russian purveyors of classic rock PUSHKING have become cult stars in their native country with 15 albums since their formation in 1994.
The band's management, looking for a more global form of recognition, sent promo packages to producers in every corner of this rock 'n' roll world with one, L.A.-based Fabrizio Grossi whose credits include work with Alice Cooper, Toto, and Glenn Hughes, really taking to the band and suggesting that they should consider re-recording select songs from their back catalogue with true legends of the rock world in an attempt to raise the band's profile.

The result of this ambitious idea is 'The World As We Love It', the first Pushking album to have an international release, a nineteen song that features a startling 'who's-who' of hard rock and metal superstars.

Track one is a fourteen second intro that consists of the album title being sung on a full-on metal scream.
First song proper, "Nightrider", is an upbeat Meat Loaf-style rocker that features vocals from ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, as does track two, "It'll Be OK", which also features the guitar talent of Extreme's Nuno Bettencourt. Both tunes are easy on the ear and Gibbons does well - we're off to a good start.
"Troubled Love" features Keri Kelli on guitar and his sometime boss Alice Cooper on vocals and it's possibly the most commercial song that Alice has been involved with since the '80s. Peppered with female backing vocals and barroom piano, this is a really cool track.

"Stranger's Song" featuring vocals from John Lawton, formerly of Uriah Heep, is an anthemic mid-tempo with a melodious guitar by Steve Stevens.
On "Cut The Wire" the guest star is Paul Stanley. I am not sure if this was the best track choice for him. This song has a too low key to his voice, Paul sounds a bit forced here. But the work of Steve Salas on guitar is awesome.
"My Reflections After Seeing The Schindler's List Movie" offers Pushking vocalist Konstantin Shustarev the chance to show his vocals to the world around the guest guitar of Steve Vai.

Another seminal voice appears on "God Made Us Free"; ex Rainbow Graham Bonnet. His raspy vocals fits good to this classic rock style tune.
The first of the 3 tracks featuring 'The Voice Of Rock' Glenn Hughes, "Why Don't You?" could have been written for Hughes specially. That's not strange because Pushking vocalist is influenced by Glenn. This is a soul-ish tune, something of a departure for the album general sound but essential for the vocal performance alone.

"I Believe" is a melodic rocker with a mid-tempo pace. Jeff Scott Soto's vocals are consistent and tight as usual. The man is able to sing anything. One of the best tracks of this disc.
Another Glenn Hugues appearance; "Tonight" features the guitar work of Black Country Communion bandmate Joe Bonamassa and, again, slows the tempo but ups the quality.
"Private Own" sees Matt Filippini of italian rockers Moonstone guesting on guitar and Hughes yet again turning in a superior performance.

How do you follow a Glenn Hughes master class? By getting Mr. Big's Eric Martin to sing the next song, I guess.
"Open Letter To God' is a bit epic, a duo with Konstantin Shustarev, but Eric Martin steals the show.
Maybe you don't like the gritty vocals of ex-Accept Udo Dirkschneider, but his performance on the hard rockin' "Nature's Child" is what you'd expect from him.
There's still time for three more heavyweights of the rock world. Dan McCafferty of Nazareth might be the veteran of this collective but he rolls back the years with a couple of great vocal performances.
"I Love You" proves that the aged Scottish rocker could sing a greeting card and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, whilst "My Simple Song", refusing to really abandon the power ballad format of the aforementioned song, only strengthens my opinion of the man's talent.
Masterplan frontman Jorn Lande, famed for last year's Dio tribute album, brings the rock back to the record with "Heroin", a track that owes a lot to the pre-poodle permed Whitesnake, and a good song it is too.

Finally, former Rainbow member Joe Lynn Turner lays down his vocals on a song, "Head Shooter", that may not be particularly hair-raising but certainly gives the listener a chance to wig out in a classic rock stylee before the album's end.
However, before the album is truly over we get "Kukarracha", a party hardy tune that is the nearest that the album gets to hair metal with shared vocals from Turner, Stanley, Martin, Hughes and Bonnet, and guest six stringing from Toto's Steve Lukather. This, seriously, is a really good track and a perfect way to close out the project.

With several major fanbases sure to be intent on checking out and dissecting this album old legends, the aim of the project has surely been achieved.
Pushking will certainly be at the forefront of classic rock obsessed minds for several weeks around and beyond the release of "The World As We Love It".
A rock oddbox has been opened and, for curiosity value alone, I suggest that you take a look inside.

01. Intro
02. Nightrider (Billy Gibbons: vocals, guitar)
03. It'll Be OK (B. Gibbons: vocals, Nuno Bettencourt: guitar)
04. Trouble Love (Alice Cooper: vocals, Keri Kelli: guitar)
05. Strangers Song (John Lawton: vocals, Steve Stevens: guitar)
06. Cut The Wire (Paul Stanley: vocals, Steve Salas: guitar)
07. My Reflections After Seeing the Schindler's List Movie (S. Vai: guitar)
08. God Made Us Free (Graham Bonnet: vocals)
09. Why Don't You (Glenn Hughes: vocals)
10. I Believe (Jeff Scott Soto: vocals)
11. Tonight (G. Hughes: vocals, Joe Bonamassa: guitar)
12. Private Own (G. Hughes: vocals, Matt Filippini: guitar)
13. Open Letter To God (Eric Martin: vocals)
14. Nature's Child (Udo Dirkschneider: vocals)
15. I Love You (Dan McCafferty: vocals)
16. Head Shooter (Joe Lynn Turner: vocals)
17. Heroin (Jorn Lande: vocals)
18. My Simple Song (Dan McCafferty: vocals)
19. Kukarracha (All Stars: vocals, Steve Lukather: guitar)

Konstantin “Koha” Shustarev - Vocals
Nikolai Yegerev - Guitar
Dmitry Losev - GuitarValeriy Sadakov - Bass
Vicktor Drobysh - Keys
Andrey Kruglov - Drums


RAINBOW - Down To Earth deluxe edition 2CD (1979-2011)

Rainbow Down To Earth deluxe edition expanded 2cd 2011
Remastered + 14 bonus tracks

Rainbow Down To Earth deluxe edition expanded 2cd 2011 liner notes
Rainbow Down To Earth deluxe edition expanded 2cd 2011 tracklist

Rainbow Down To Earth deluxe edition expanded 2cd 2011 credits



Tuesday, February 1, 2011

INVERTIGO - Next Stop Vertigo (2010/11)

INVERTIGO Next Stop Vertigo

Formed back in 2008 in Germany's Ruhr area, InVertigo is officially throwing their hat into the neo-prog rock arena with their debut album "Next Stop Vertigo".
They take elements from modern neo-prog rock, mix it with art rock and come up with a blend of catchy, epicness and radio friendly rock.

The hardest thing to believe about this album is that it’s the band’s first effort .
From the quality of the musicianship, the great songwriting and the overall understanding of their subject matter everything here just screams professionalism.
The ability this band has to wrap mounds of melody around some progressive pieces together with the multilayered vocals and arrangements are a true testament to the band and their belief.

The first thing that comes to mind is Hogarth-era Marillion, It Bites, Spock's Beard and a bit of Yes and Genesis. So if that's not your bag, leave now but forever regret that choice.
With every off-beat key or time change the band give it their all and make it seem effortless.
Opening track "Vertigo" is pure neo-prog gold painted with a strong melodic sense.
The multi-layered "The Night" put listeners under their spell at once with its symphonic character.
The twelve minute long epic "Special" calls to mind Marillion and certainly has a bit of a Steve Hogarth vibe throughout. The versatility of the vocals and the complex arrangement should be emphasized, highlighted by the excellent melodic passages. This track shows the capabilities of the band, combining various elements into a coherent body of work.
On "Take Your Time" the bass sounds very jazzy, guitars and keyboards are moving in the spheres of neo prog and art rock and blend beautifully together.
"Night On Broadway" is undoubtedly reminiscent of Genesis with a modern approach.
Closing track "Saturday Evening" -which is a little different from the rest of the album- is beautifully arranged and really should get all neo-prog fans jumping out of their seats.

This is certainly a nice little surprise, a modern day neo-prog album that sounds neither too retro nor too fresh.
INVERTIGO split the middle and display songwriting skills that could one day challenge even some of the big guns of the genre.
"Next Stop Vertigo" is highly recommended to all neo-prog fans and pretty much listeners of any type of music that puts melody before showing-off.
This band can be compared to Marillion, It Bites, Spock’s Beard, Satellite and early day Genesis, injecting to their music a personal twist, good melodies and even some feel-good factor, without pomposity and exaggerated pathos.
Keep your ears open for these five talented musicians because as good as this one is, I think it's only a hint of what they're truly capable of.
Re-released. 1st press sold out.

1. Vertigo
2. The Night
3. Special
4. Take Your Time
5. Night On Broadway
6. Saturday Evening

Sebastian Brennert - Vocals, Keys
Jacques Moch - Guitars
Michael Kuchenbecker - Keys
Matthias Hommel - Bass
Carsten Dannert - Drums

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