pdf backup - Jeff Scott Soto



pdf backup - Jeff Scott Soto
You can find older reviews and everything else in the Reviews Archive .
The ratings range from 1 to 10, with 1 being utterly horrible and 10 a classic in the making! Singles, EPs and compilations will not be rated.
Note to labels, promoters etc: Please do not bother sending us CD's with voiceovers. We will not review them. If you want us to review your
product, please send us the product, not some inferior version of it!
REVIEWS ADDED 19 February, 2009
JSS: "Beautiful Mess" 10
Frontiers 2009
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
18 February 2009
Let me get this straight: I'm positively biased when it comes to Jeff Scott Soto's (or JSS's, as he prefers to ne
known these days) work and if he ever decided to sing the phone book, I'd still be interested. With that said we
might as well take a closer look at his new effort. I guess the title is more than fitting in case Jeff wanted to
emphasize that the album is a huge melting pot of various influences but most importantly those of funky, hard
rock, and some blues. The first may be the problem for the "average" rock fan but personally I don't mind it at
all as he does justice to funky with an unbelievable ease and smoothness with regards to vocal performance.
Fans of his earlier albums will not be disappointed either as the album starts of with "21st Century" just where
"Lost in the Translation" left off. "Cry Me a River" is another cool rocker and both opening tracks have a really
cool vibe and a groove to get to your bones. That's the blessing effect of Jeff's funky interest and it really gives
a special spice to this album. It is to taste throughout the entire album yet it does not get too much, at least not
for my taste. "Mountain" or "Bring It Home" may be a bit too much for the majority as those are pure old
school funky stuff but haunting ballads like "Gin & Tonic Sky" or "Eye" and midtempo rockers like "Wherever
You Wanna Go" or "Hey" will please those more into straightforward melodic rock.
Most of the instruments were handled by Paulo Mendoca who did a stunning job both as musician and as
producer. Nothing's really overplayed here, solos are tasty, the arrangements are just very well-planned, lots of
acoustic guitars spice up the slow and midtempo tunes and the backing vocals are as good as ever. To be honest
at first I automatically gave the album 9 points as I normally do not hand out perfect 10s ever so often, then I
took another look and tried to find any reasons for the deduction but taking a second look at musicianship,
vocal performance, songwriting, and production I found no flaws, so there you go, I took a deep sigh and yours
truly went for the 10. All you have to do is to go for the album.
TENTH PLANET: "Everything Is Never Over" 9
TPP 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
16 February 2009
Bittersweet, definitely bittersweet... plus a huge friggin' production by Jeff Martin of The Tea Party fame and
Mike Turner (Our Lady Peace). Indeed, "Everything Is Never Over" is simply put a marvelous, marvelous, (dark
& moody) melodic album and it's merely a shame we didn't receive this until now for review. Yep, it's
unfortunately a 2008 release and it would easily have been at the very top of my list of the year.
Tenth Planet are from Canada and they've created a monster CD full of top notch melodies and emotional
vocals. The band consisting of Martin Ouellette (vocals), Brian Paul (guitars), Johnny Pegg (bass) and Mauro
Scatozza (drums) are actually mixing the best of both worlds. They have somehow managed to control the
power of STP, Soundgarden (era ' Super Unknown') with the pure genius rock stuff of acts such as David Bowie,
U2, Tea Party, and just a hint of Nickelback and Savage Garden.
The CD simply oozes of sheer class and it r-e-a -l -l -y annoys me that Tenth Planet is an unsigned band. What
the heck is wrong with the music industry of today if they can't even find gold nuggets such as these??? These
lads have succeeded in both heaviness and commerical approach and should be every A&R's wet dream. Not to
mention they have a great vocalist (check out "Dissolution Meditation" where Ouellette sings at the lower
register in a similar style as a certain David Bowie) as well as the image. I can't even single out any track as
they're all part of this must-have CD (yeah, I know, I'm starting to sound like a fan-boy).
Highly recommended and darn close to a perfect 10 rating. Make sure to ckeck out the band at either itunes or
the links below.
MySpace site
HARDREAMS: "The Road Goes On" 8
Perris Records 2008
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
18 February 2009
When getting this album I was surprised to see it's already the band's second album and the first one was out
on Vinny Records, a small label that bit the dust right after the release of the band's debut. Too bad cuz I have
to track that down somehow, judging from this release it can't be all that bad either as "The Road Goes On" is
good-time melodic rock with a decent touch of Alias, Danger Danger, Nelson, etc. As Hardreams are Spanish 91
Suite or Nexx also come to mind as obvious comparisons.
These guys write damn good hooks, the vocal melodies are catchy, the balance of guitar riffs and keyboard lines
is just perfect and as a result we get an easy-to-digest melodic rock album. Manu Esteve's vocals are absolutely
top notch, Göran Edman comes to mind as an obvious reference and David Agüra's guitar work is also really
enjoyable, simple but well-written riffs support the good vocal melodies. Sergi Segarra's keyboards are not
overplayed, they are not mixed too much in the front either, and therefore the overall balance of the sound is
just what you expect from an AOR album.
It's hard to name any highlights as all the songs are very well-written. There are two reasons for not giving
them a better rating: (normally song titles like "Rebel Heart" or "Too Late" mean minus one point… at least
they didn't include a "Hold On" or a "Rock Me") It's hard to forgive the far too obvious resemblance of the title
track to Mr Big's "Promise Her the Moon". Furthermore Manu needs to work on his accent a lot. The lyrics are
barely understandable, not that the above-mentioned song titles or the title track suggest such deep messages
anyway, yet unless we talk about an instrumental album or some death metal growl lyrics might be somewhat
of interest for some listeners. Other than that it's an absolutely well done album, highly recommended indeed.
[Gotta wonder how many porn search hits their website gets with this name… Check the site out for a listen:]
KINGDOM COME: "Magnified" 6
Planet Music 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
17 February 2009
We all know the story of Kingdom Come. Their superb debut album had Led Zeppelin influences on about half of
the songs. Something which were considered as sacrilege and way out of order according to U.K. journalists
(they basically told the band to feck off and die). Back in those days (1988, pre-internet) cranky, old fart
journos, pretty much ruled the industry with their words and opinions... and soon enough the trusty mob of
"highly respected" musicians and other tools were to follow.
Yeah, right, Page/Plant, never stole, copied, or borrowed, any riffs or melodies from earlier blues musicians?
Nah, surely not [sarcastic mode off]. Then again, they mostly copied "black" artists, so... no-one gives a damn,
huh? Anyhow, fast forward to present date and Lenny Wolf are now building a bridge between the 2009
industrial and mystery elements, and yet still providing us the the typical KC (or should that read LZ?) riff
oriented guitarwork. "Magnified" is a rather 'groovy' effort and at times, too overwhelming in its desire to be
contemporary. I'm one of them who'd rather have a basic platter 'ala the debut, but alas, no such luck.
A quick track by track: opener, "Living Dynamite", kicks off things with R&B percussions and a funky beat. Yeah,
me too, however, it's a real grower and the refrain is typical KC/Zeppelin. "No Murderer I Kiss", ultra -heavy
rock with dark lyrics and a grungy approach. Great groove, sadly, no killer hook nor refrain. "24 Hours" is a fine
ballad with goth-like keyboards in the background. "So Unreal", could just as easily have been an early 70's
rock tune. "When I Was" isn't so much a song rather than a studio groove. "Over You" is a great slow song and
the refrain smells like The Beatles (great). "Sweet Killing", trip, club, rave, keyboards in the background.
"Unwritten Language" is a semi-ballad done in a style made popular by the Scorpions in Germany. "Hey Mama"
is again, very groove, not as much catchy. "The Machine Inside", the real uptempo winner of the bunch.
Smashing goth/club keyboards and a refrain that basically kicks like a mule to the head. Closing track, "Feeding
The Flame", yet another fine guitar ballad.
Final verdict: very groovy, great ballads, a couple of great uptempo rockers. Again, a rather solid effort by
Lenny & The Wolves. I seriously doubt you'd be howling at the moon afterwards though.
MySpace site
REVIEWS ADDED 11 February, 2009
SIXTY 8: "Before The Fall" 8
TSM 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
30 January 2009
Sixty 8, a band deeply involved in the onset of what we know as 80's Metal, has perserved through the trails of
the dodgy music industry as well as their absolute lack of image. Seriously, it's like they've all been recently
released from prison (hey, what do I know?) doing time for all the most horrible things possible by mankind.
Vocalist, Trig Bundgaard (huh ?) have the 'I-eat -children' tag around his neck and his brothers in arms aren't
exactly looking the part either.
Nevertheless, the music doesn't sound half as bad... and at first listen, it's just another humanrian display of
rock in the vein of G N' R and Skid Row (their most aggressive work). The menacing, thrilling, guitarwork, and
the strong and upfront vocals by Trig (really?) does add an extra spice and style of their own. The smashing
tunes, "The Race Goes On" and "I Won't Play", captures their raw energy right down to the core. What was
bottled up for years and years comes screaming out with all the control and rage of Trig and his powerful
Ladies, no need to worry, there's something smooth and sweet in between all the male aggressive rock songs.
"All She's Ever Known" and "Confessions", are a fine guitar ballads with Trig doing his best 'Axl Rose'
impression without sounding like a total jerk, I may add. The latter is a real tear-jerker though. Final Verdict:
these geezers are definitely worthy of your attention, if you should fancy the raw and mean sound of Guns N'
Roses, Skid Row, and just a small hint of Pantera 'ala their 'Cowboys From Hell' period (when they were still
great, not the awful albums that came out later on). Kikk -azz. Check 'em out at MySpace (link below).
MySpace site
HUNGRYHEART: "HungryHeart" 7
Tanzan 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
10 February 2009
The Boss once sang: 'everybodys got a hungry heart' - so... how's your appetite for some pure hairmetal or if
you prefer melodic hardrock? Good, yeah, well, keep on reading as the lads are working the clichés in a rather
favourable way and style. Don't expect anything brand new or 'fresh' (whatever that means), than somewhat
fun, guitar orientied, 80's/early 90's rock in the vein of Firehouse, White Lion, Guardian (their selftitled debut)
and Giant.
It's a bit too obvious at times. Their influences are showing on their sleeves and most tracks will have you in a
constant state of deja vú. "The Only One" and especially the chorus part (hook/guitarwork) will definitely
remind you of White Lion and their 'Broken Heart' (simply replace 'only one' with 'broken heart' and you'll
notice it too). "River Of Soul" will have you seriously thinking about Tattoo Rodeo, and "It Takes Two", with its
'Fallen Angel' (Poison) riff is nuthin' bout a minor rip-off. It's all good fun though and Josh Zighetti is an Italian
power vocalist if ever.
Not to mention that Mario Percudani is simply put a well crafted guitarist. Check out the song, "Innocent Tears",
where Mario pulls off a nice little number á la Kee Marcello during, 'Out Of This World'. I'd say that Kee and Vito
Bratta are some of this blokes biggest heroes and influences. Hardly as flawless nor great, but he's pretty flashy
at both rhythm and solo parts and this goes on throughout the CD. Definitely a CD to check out if you enjoy
above mentioned acts. Just don't come running to me if you've heard it all before. It's catchy though...
MySpace site
HOT LEG: "Red Light Fever" 7
Barbecue Rock 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
9th February 2009
Well, this one’s gonna divide opinion like the new Doctor Who, although the good Doctor doesn’t have to win
people over with a love it/hate it squeaky rock voice, just floppy hair And a big chin. In case you didn’t know,
Hot Leg is the new venture from one time Darkness front man Justin Hawkins, and let me make it clear that if
you didn’t like The Darkness you certainly won’t like Hot leg.
Me? I liked The Darkness, once I’d got used to his voice, so was ready to like Hot Leg without too much fuss.
The recent single “I’ve Met Jesus” floated my boat with it’s catchy refrain and rock funk guitar, and opener
“Chickens” confirmed that all is okay in Justin’s overblown rock world. Vocally, it’s a case of him using the same
tricks as before, his falsetto squawk climbing higher and higher until windows crack. There’s some cool licks and
solos from Hawkins and Pete Rinaldi, and plenty of catchy, upbeat cock rock that drips irony and sarcasm like a
leak in an Irony & Sarcasm factory.
The thing is, has this sort of thing been and gone with The Darkness ? Do we really need Hawkins to sing about
being “Gay In the 80s”, or how shit reality pop shows are in “Ashamed” ? Well, the answer is a definite No,
because we don’t actually need this. Then again, we don’t need beer, but that doesn’t make it any less
enjoyable, and the same is true for Hot Leg. The aforementioned “Ashamed” is a cracking song with good lyrics,
and it’s joined by some lively friends that combine to make an enjoyably silly album.
As I’ve said, “Red Light Fever” is unlikely to make Justin Hawkins any new friends, but all his old ones should
have a blast. For me, it’s not as good as The Darkness albums, missing the partnership with brother Dan
Hawkins perhaps. Nonetheless, it’s a happy little slice of cock rock, accompanied by awful haircuts, tacky
headbands and much pouting. Let’s hope they continue, because it would be a drabber world without them.
H.A.R.D: "Traveler" 6
Hammer/TSM 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
10 February 2009
Ask around about which band member is the most important one in a group and you'll get a lot of different
answers. You obviously need a decent songwriter or two, a wicked guitar player, and why not a gifted singer,
especially since he's the front person of your band and everything (unless you're a hang -around on the Yngwie
Malmsteen 'donuts-on-tour' spectacle).
I'd say it's all depending on type of music. Take H.A.R.D. for instance, they're from Budapest, Hungary, they
play a rather pink'n fluffy type of hardrock (aka melodic rock). Undoubtably the most important member in this
case - the singer - as you need to have a certain kind of range to be able to work along the lines of the old
masters of the genre. If you, like the singer of this particular band, have a minor problem with the lower
register, do not, I repeat, do not try and 'talk' yourself out of trouble. Zoltan 'BZ' is a fine vocalist indeed, but,
strangely enough, more comfortable on a slightly higher scale and the vocals are sort of flat during the 'talky'
verse of the opening track, "Forever Hard". Not a biggie, you say, but it's the very first track of the CD and first
impressions last.
They have recently received an invitation for collaboration from producer, Beau Hill (Winger, Europe, Ratt, Alice
Cooper, etc). The band has re-recorded a few songs that has been remixed by Beau, so there is a three-song
promo pack now avilable to meet international level. Well, I'm not sure if they're doing themselves any favours
by sending out this version w/o the re-recorded stuff to writers and labels. However, there are some cracking
tunes to be found.
For starters, "Stay" is the real winner of the bunch with its mega catchy refrain and infectious groove. Eat your
heart out Tyketto. Ehem, kinda. Secondly, you'll also find Whitesnake and Deep Purple influences on several of
the tracks. "Voices" is a tribute to all the great vocalists and the refrain simply recites the names of Gillan,
Plant, Tyler, Mercury, Hagar, Stanley, Hughes, and Coverdale. Too bad the melody is straight from the latters
songbook and more precisely, "Give Me All Your Love" (1987). Nontheless, H.A.R.D. show potential and I'm sure
we'll hear a lot more from them in the future to come.
MySpace site
NICO'S ALCHEMY: "Fundamental Darkness" 5
Dirty Dog Records 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
19th January 2009
I was all excited at the prospect of an album by a brand new virtuoso rock guitarist, ready for Italian Nico
Tamburella and his cohorts to give me something to grin about, something to get animated about. Unfortunately
all “Fundamental Darkness” has given me is something to yawn about, even something to moan about.
Whatever I decide to do, getting excited had been put firmly on the backburner until someone comes along who
not only is a guitar virtuoso but can also write some decent bloody songs.
Let me say, to start with, that Nico is certainly not without talent in the guitar playing stakes. Four of the ten
tracks on the album are instrumentals, and they’re all pretty darned good. “A Leap In Space”, for example, is a
well balanced bluesy piece, whilst “Sleeping With The Devil” shows Nico’s talent for more straightforward rock
guitar heroics. The problems start when the vocals come in, as these songs just don’t cut it. Vocalist Candido
has a very Eighties style, a bit like Joe Lynn Turner, but he has none of Turner’s power and is not helped by
being totally under produced. The song structures, so well balanced in the instrumentals, are not coherent and
for the most part leave no lasting impression in your mind. By far the best tune is the fast, rocky “Fading Away”,
but the production lets it down, and I feel it would be a better song with some better vocals thrown at it. Then
again, we wouldn’t want to take anything away from the widdling guitar, would we?
Nico Tamburella may be a virtuoso, but it seems that he’s been built up higher than his talent would reach here.
There’s plenty of great guitarists out there in better bands with better songs, and until Nico gets his act together
he will remain, deservedly, a minority act attracting only those guitar freaks who want to sit and adore his
every chord. For those of us that want decent songs to go with our shredding, we’ll wait for the next album
with fingers crossed, because there’s every chance it will be much better.
ProgRock/SPV 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
8 February 2009
To be honest... I had not heard a single note from Parallel Or Ninety Degrees (PO90 from now on) before and
yes, that's merely ONE band and not, eh, two, as their rather dodgy monicker may at first suggest. Lo and
behold, they have recorded no less than five albums between the years of 1996 to 2001... and we've managed to
ignore them all. Wicked... and they say ignorence is bliss after all.
We're opening up "A Can Of Worms" here as this is a double-disc release with the best of PO90, plus previously
unreleased material. Like any proud progressive rock band would gladly point out, the four bonus tracks, that's
yet another 38 minutes of music (ehhh... wankers). And that's including the original version of "Four Egos One
War", which The Tangent recorded for their 2007 release, 'Not As Good As The Book'.
Indeed, PO90 was fronted by Andy Tillison of The Tangent and it's good, old, U.K. prog, heavily inspired by the
old masters of Pink Floyd. Then again, you try and come up with a single prog-rock band (rock, not metal) that
hasn't been inspired by 'The Dark Side Of The Moon'. They have/had a rock solid rhythm section, not to mention
Floyd-ish like guitar solos, and ground shaking vocals. Tillison and Sam Baine worked together like a pair of
well-oiled keyboard machines (huh ?) through all of the songs.
The time changes and key movements are darn good at times, and the band members worked vigorously with
each other, keeping the tempo and prog going. Do not expect PO90 to be as "commercial" (in lack of a more
suited word) as The Tangent. RPWL and Pink Floyd fans should feel right at home.
MySpace site
Bullroser 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
8 February 2009
Scandinavian Metal Praise - various artists doing metal covers of the old gospel. It's worship from the word go
and we're talking about hymns and psalms of new and old. Where else could you find such as Christian Metal
recording than Finland? The land of millions (not quite, but...) lakes and possible as many hardrock and metal
acts. Tell your local church band to jump on the bandwagon of rock praise albums as well, yes, no?
Not a printed word about who's who on this CD and it's difficult to find any info about the musicians. Not much
to give from the packaging either as the band wish to remain anonymous. If the female vocalist gives off
anything with this CD, it sure ain't silence though. With a power-like cadence, she comes across as bold as
David versus Goliath. If I can be as bold in saying she sounds more like a Swedish (such as Anette of Nightwish
fame) vocalist. Keeping in mind that Swedish is one of the two official languages in Finland.
The guitars are really crunching and they're using a similar amp sound as Bob Hartman did on the latest and
last (?) Petra album, "Jekyll & Hyde". However, they are hardly any solos to be found and that's a shame. Some
of the tunes, such as the trusty old, "When The Spirit Of The Lord", doesn't really work as metal and falls flat to
the ground. Others, such as "Great In Power", "Praise Adonai", Worthy Is The Lamb", are really uplifting and do
wonder for your body, mind, and soul. Nicely played keyboards add a melodic touch and you probably need to
be open-minded to the religion thingy to fully appreciate this CD.
MySpace site
REVIEWS ADDED 05 February, 2009
COLD TRUTH: "Do Watcha Do" 9
CT 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
27 January 2009
Here's the Cold Truth about 'Do Watcha Do'. You're in 'Bad Company', but the 'Thunder' will set you all 'Free'.
Oh the irony, the irony, I really should be writing jokes for Saturday Night Live, you know. But sure, I guess I
could pen down a note or two about these geezers while I'am waiting for the SNL phone call.
Cold Truth are actually one of my fave indie rock acts as of lately and should be treated with respect (or
whatever). They're damn good at what they do and they certainly keep things nice and clean. Simplicity rules
after all and they're keeping the flame burning for the rock steady groove of the above mentioned acts (that's:
Bad Company, Thunder, Free - just in case you're having problem with the "irony").
I doubt you'll find a single note of 'originality' within these thirtheen tracks of classic rock. It's four chords,
heads down, and hold on to your hats. Yup, Thane Shearon (vocals, guitar), Kurt Menck (guitar), Abe White
(bass) and Matt Green (drums), are all about cheers, beers, and burning the midnight oil. The production is ok but wouldn't hurt to be re-mixed. "Set Me Free" is the best new Thunder song since their debut, and "Peace
With Me", wow, talk about instant classic. The song is easily as good as the best of Paul Rodgers' Bad Company.
Shearon is one of those singers who can lift a song to higher places with sheer emotion and attitude. Perhaps
not the best technical shouter out there, but you can help to applaud the dude for at least trying to be the next
Paul Rodgers. And he's not poor at all, mark my words. So what if Thunder decided to give it a rest? Simply
sign up these guys to Frontiers Records instead and problem solved. Yeah, I know that some will merely think of
this as typical 'bar' and 'pub' rock. But you should at least check out sound clips and judge for yourself.
MySpace site
VOTUM: "Time Must Have A Stop" 8
Progrock 2008
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
2 February 2009
Votum was formed in 2003 and have performed regularly in clubs in Warsaw and other places in Poland. Really,
why in the world would they... oh, it's their actual homeland, my bad, my bad. For the first minute of opener,
"Me In The Dark", I thought this was just another progressive rock/metal band. After the first minute I started
noticing a complexity and emotional expression, which had little to do with prog, rather than just atmospheric
and very moody metal.
You can simplify things by saying, there's some fast progressive stuff with lots of rhythm changes, and slow
stuff like the kind Type O'Negative or Veni Domine would do. "Time Must Have A Stop" is sort of a concept
album focused on madman turning his vision into reality, a crippled soul who has found a way to release his
urge. It's basically a dark story of obsessive craving to be loved of perverse affection that leaves the main
characters both physically and emotionally scarred and leads into gloomy spaces of their mind. It's basically like
any friday night down-town at the local hut, huh?
A very professional record I'd say. Very crafted musicians with clear ideas about how to perform their material
at their very best. They have a strong vocalist in Maciej Kosinski (hardly any accent in this singing voice) and a
keyboardist (Zbigniew Szatkowski) who knows how to keep things atmospheric and suitable to the whole sound
picture of this perverted little story.
PHIL VINCENT: "Passion & Pain" 7
Phil Vincent Music 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
4th February 2009
yYou can’t, as the saying goes, keep a good man down. Phil Vincent may well be the living embodiment of this
sentiment, returning time after time to chuck good albums at the public whether they want them or not.
When I get a new album from Phil it’s hard to get really excited, as he’s never really produced anything that’s
made me jump up and down with excitement. That said, I’ve yet to listen to one of his albums and go ‘meh’.
“Passion & Pain” is his eleventh solo release, and as usual he just about does everything apart from a few guest
guitarists. It’s got some great tunes on it, very melodic and backed up with the sort of exceptional soloing that
I’ve come to expect from Phil. Musically, he isn’t a million miles away from the likes of Harem Scarem, Dokken
and Talisman, not afraid to inject a bit of grunt into the melodic framework.
When Phil Vincent is good, he makes some great, memorable melodic rock, but “Passion & Pain” also contains
some less than stellar tunes. When he slows down it can seem like time is standing still. “Rumours” is six
minutes plus that should really have been cut in half, and “One Chance” drags like a dog with no legs being
taken for a ‘walk’. It’s like when Dio stopped giving us fast rockers and decided that plodding mediocrity was
the best way to go.
Aside from the two slower tracks, however, “Passion & Pain” stands up well against Vincent’s other albums,
with plenty of melodic hard rocking tunes to enjoy. It’s good to see this result of his own passion bringing the
minimum of pain, and it’s never too late to discover this talented artist for yourself.
MAEVEN: "Maeven" 7
Review by Alan Holloway,
3rd February 2009
Maeven are four girls from Sheffield who released this album last year themselves, but it’s been picked up by
TSM for a ‘proper’ push, which is why it’s found it’s way into my sweaty paws, and I’m glad it did, because
Maeven may have something pretty special here.
To get your head around Maeven, picture The Ramones, add a bit more musical talent, throw in bits of Hanoi
Rocks, Backyard Babies and Gren Day, then sprinkle with the attitude of McQueen. Oh, and their tits as well,
because Maeven are a girly band. From the sleeve they all look pretty young, and pretty cool, and I can imagine
many a young man getting a bit hot under the collar at a live show.
Musically, Maeven don’t exactly exude sophistication, belting out four minute wonders like “Queen Of Hearts”
and “One Night In Hollywood” like a load of other bands out there. The thing is, Maeven seem to have that
special something that allows them to stick their heads above the crowd and stand out. It’s not because they’re
girls, it’s because they’re girls who write some bloody good kick ass rock and roll music, dripping with sleaze
and attitude. If you want some good old straightforward sleazy punk, then this is a good place to start.
VISION DIVINE: "9 Degrees West Of The Moon" 6
Frontiers 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
28 January 2009
Great intro - check, wicked keyboards - check, massive female choir - check, marvelous guitar riffing - check.
Allright, we're all set for some serious headbanging and an overall fun music experience. Excellent... what the
f**k... who let the cat in behind the microphone???
Don't get me wrong, the cat can sing, but the vocals are hi-hi-hi higher range and quite annoying on a couple of
the tracks (such as the opener due to the singers heavy accent). Vision Divine are a melodic metal band,
flowing through the same stylistic style and dimension as a truck-load of other acts in the 'german' field of
things. We certainly did/do enjoy our early Helloween albums and this platter contains nothing that hasn't been
done before. Not necessarily a bad thing, especially since we're dealing with a tight unit of musicians here.
This well crafted CD contains eleven tracks of traditional melodic "speed" metal (the german style), wailing
solos, football choirs, double-bass drumming, and pretty much everything else that goes along with lederhosen
and Yngwie metal. The melodies may seem uncannily familiar at times and fans of Freedom Call and Rhapsody
should feel right at home (the latter mostly due to the vocals of Fabio Lione).
But I dunno, they're almost too melodic to be a real 'metal' act, and yet too "heavy" for the real soft rocker
fans. Sticky, icky, power ballads, are mixed with 'true metal' tunes and it's mostly a weird rollercoaster ride of
emotional outbursts. Are we metal or are we wimps ? Are we men or people wearing tight spandex? Are we
using the word 'are' a little too much lately ? Well... are we? probably, yes, but at least we are aware of our
problem. Not quite as sure when it comes to Vision Divine and their music. Nice, but no cigar... and they're at
least a lot better than Rhapsody.
MAD MAX: "Here We Are" 6
A Minor Records 2008
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
31 January 2009
Mad Max are celebrating their 25th anniversary with this album, a unique collection of songs. Instead of
releasing a "Best Of" or a live album, the band approached the anniversary album idea a bit differently. The
asked their friends in the "biz" to co-write with them, in order to put together something special. 13 of their
friends provided bits and pieces of songs, of which Michael Voss and Jürgen Breforth carved out the songs for
this album. An interesting idea, but not a complete success.
The pros first: the list of co-writers is impressive, and the album doesn't sound one-dimensional. The idea is an
original one, and probably draws some extra attention to the album. A good move marketing-wise.
The cons: the album sounds like a covers album, with too many styles and not enough Mad Max. Some of the
songs are frankly quite sub -standard, as if the co-writer has just dug out some second rate riffs and melodies
for them. I'm quite sure that Voss & Breforth could've come up with better songs themselves.
The tracks on which the "interactive songwriting" system works include the opening track "Caravan", co-written
by Joe Lynn Turner, the modern-rock sounding title track (co-written by jan Loechel) and the rather excellent
"Mad Gone Blind", co-written by Pink Cream 69's David Readman. The latter is actually a song about the school
Tormé are also quite good.
Don Airey's "Where The Winds Blow" is a stylish bluesy rocker, but sounds more like The Law or Chris Rea than
Mad Max, while "Down To Babylon", co-written by Jeff Scott Soto, is a groovy rocker á la Talisman but with a
forgettable chorus. The Ox Fox -co-write "Love Walks Lonely" is one of the worst offenders here, a dull,
plodding track with a boring chorus. "Stop One Minute" is a lightweight pop rocker with additional vocals from
Pearl, one of the band's labelmates. This song, co-written by Ken Tamplin, could probably be re-arranged into a
pop-country track quite easily...
The collaboration with Axel Rudi Pell starts out with a solid riff and driving beat, but again, the chorus is just
way too average. The weirdest moment of the album is Wolf Hoffman's "All Of My Heart", which is a pure
country ballad... and do I hear Voss attempting to do that "country yelp"? Hopefully this country influnce isn't
creeping into the band's sound - hands off the banjos and lay down the stetsons!
Next... "Keep You Alive" and "Hell On Heels"... the first
and the latter is a traditional "classic rock" track we've
the only "Voss -original" of the album, an athmospheric
really grab me but still rates as one of the better songs
one has its' moments but the chorus just annoys me,
all hear a million times before. The album is closed with
ballad "Say Goodbye To Hollywood", which doesn't
Having transformed into a Christian Rock band a few years ago, Mad Max aren't strangers to surpising career
moves. Interestingly enough, the promo material for this album doesn't mention the Christian thing at all,
although it's evident in some of the lyrics. Whether their next album has a Christian theme or not isn't that big a
deal, I just hope that they come up with a selection of songs much stronger than this set. A boxed set of the
hard-to-find 80'ies releases with a bonus disc of rarities and the best ones of these new songs might've been a
better tribute to the band's long career.
DAEDALUS: "The Never Ending Illusion" 6
Progrock 2008
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
3 February 2009
Do you recall 'The Never Ending Story' by Limahl??? Well... quickly try and erase that particular picture out of
your head as Daedalus' periphrastical painting will hardly remind you of kajagoogoo. "The Never Ending
Illusion" [blimey, stop singing the limahl tune over these lyrics already, and someone please remove the fuzzy
white dragon from the video/film out of my frame picture, thanks] is another bloody 'concept' story where each
of the ten tracks deals with a different way of being concerned with the dualism between reality and
Yes, yes, thank you very much. Yet another fascinating story that needs some serious mind tweaking and
imagination beyond belief. For example, "A Journey To Myself", and its lyrics will need no further explanation
and I quote: "I'm trying to fight back the sleep, I see my face inside the glass. The image blends with my
remembrance, sudden as a wave the dark wall starts to fade and lets me wander through my past. Hidden
inside my mind it's me I have to find", end quote. Yes, yes, of course it's bloody you... and what's wrong with
Torquey anyhow?? take a stroll down the pier and back home again.
They're getting lost in their self-indulging nonsense at times and even though they're all great musicians, it
seems like they've forget all about the basic meaning of music. It's meant to work as a brief escape from your
daily struggle and not as yet another place where you'd like to kick your neighbour in the nuts. Their peculiar
style draws similarities to other acts of the prog-rock genre. However, "The Never Ending Illusion" shows
promising tendencies, but not more than that, mainly because of their lack of coming up with some truly
interesting refrains and/or choruses. Some great structure and guitar/keyboards passages doesn't really make
up for all the boring melodies.
Final verdict: great musicians, great sounding record (Roland Grapow of Helloween fame mixed it). Songwriting
improvement and more focus on the actual tunes would however do the trick next time, thanks.
NASHVILLE PUSSY: "From Hell To Texas" 5
SPV/Steamhammer 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
3rd February 2009
Time for a bit of psychobilly southern rock now, as Nashville Pussy roll out another album full of clichés that
won’t win any new fans but should keep the existing ones happy. In case you weren’t aware of them, Nashville
Pussy are your atypical Texan booze n’ blooze merchants, throwing catchy riffs and hardcore lyrics all over the
place without ever doing anything to set themselves apart from the herd.
It’s been three years since the last album, though I doubt that many people have lost sleep waiting for the
arrival of “From Hell To Texas”. At a basic level, it’s not too bad, with twelve tracks of solid, southern rock that
you could hear in any one of a hundred bars across Texas, most likely the sort of bars with sawdust instead of
carpet and ‘humorous’ bathroom signs. The song titles will give you an idea of the level that Nashville Pussy
operate at, with “Drink Driving Man”, “I’m So High”, “Dead men Can’t Get Drunk” and “Pray For The Devil”
telling you all you need to know.
get the feeling that Nashville Pussy are more a live band than a studio one, with drinking, fighting and fucking
parties all over the place. “From Hell To Texas” isn’t a bad album, but it’s not exactly a good one either,
straddling the fence with a six gun down it’s pants and two middle finders raised. I know darned well that I’m
not going to be listening to it again, because it thinks it’s much more fun and badass than it actually is, but if
you own some NP albums and love ‘em to bits you’ll probably get a kick out of it.
CORNERSTONE: "Head Over Heels" 5
Atom 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
23 January 2009
This particular Cornerstone will hardly even shake your foundation... if you're merely into hardrock and things
that goes b-o-o-m in the night. In fact, the monicker could possible be the one and only thing they have in
common with Doogie White of Rainbow fame. These lads and lassies (two of each) are from Austria and they
play a ecliptic mix of Pop, alternative, and soft rock.
They have a strong and charming vocalist in Anja Schirmer, who(m) seems to be into Chrissy Hyde and The
Pretenders as she works in a similar style and approach. However, it could just be a strange coincidence of
course, what do I know. They are clearly another one of those frustrating outfits who are undoubtedly talanted
but are still desperately searching for the right material. I frankly do not find their songs all that interesting and
they could need a extra pair of hands to help them along with their writing.
They will most certainly find gigs and places to play with the material they have today. However, like any
honest person would say, give me more focus, stronger hooks, and I'll give you the world (minus the 95% of
the cash which the record company will grab of course).
BALANCE: "Equilibrium" 5
Frontiers 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
28 January 2009
Straight to the point - the voice is gone, alas, the magic is gone. Balance were mostly about Peppy's out-ofordinary vocals and those marvelous soft-soft harmonies. Sure, the bald avenger aka the unmasked guitarist,
Bob Kulick (Meat Loaf), certainly had sumthin' to do with their overall sound picture as well. However, Castro
was the main attraction and he's merely half the vocalist of his heydays and prime.
It's a shame really as the songs aren't too shabby. Catchy, poppy, hardly as good as the first two albums, but
not poorly whatsoever. Soaring guitarwork by Kulick and nicely played keyboards by Doug Katsaros. The latter
is unfortunately not as much at the front of the soundpicture as one could wish at times. The production on the
other hand is quite disasterous in comparsion to their previous efforts (and the standard of modern technology
really). Very muddy and like it's still waiting to be mixed properly really.
Final verdict: sure, you can still sing 'Heavy Metal' with a voice like that, not a problem whatsoever, but poppy,
hi-pitched AOR? I don't think so. Well, at least not without some serious tweaking afterwards in the studio by a
decent producer. Way too off-balance for my liking and yours too, no doubt. In for the count? - down for the
TAKARA: "Invitation To Forever" 4
Progrock 2008
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
17 January 2009
'Featuring Jeff Scott Soto on backing vocals' - Arggghhh!!!! what's the point really? Bad move if you ask me,
since it'll only remind us further on how superior the old singer was in comparison to their new frontman, Gus
Monsanto (Adagio, Revolution Renaissance, etc). Iron Maiden never invited Bruce to sing back-up on their Blaze
records, did they? For a damn good reason too, I'd say.
There's no real bangers to pep things up either. Just pure blandness and ten seconds moments of the work of a
sheer genius in between. Final Verdict: this particular piece of pie is merely half-baked and could need another
half hour in the owen..
CONFUSED 5: "Out Of Confusion" 4
Sellaband 2008
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
17 January 2009
Have we been feeling confused lately ? Blimey, we are not actually going to perform that tune, are we? Oh, yes
we are (crap, there's no escape from the axxis of evil, is there?). Okie-dokie, let's all get inside the old time
machine and travel right back to the era of procol and harum.
Yep, these lads are more or less a poor man's version of the above mentioned 'PH' band. I'm not even sure why
the info-sheet is filled of references to seventies stadium rock and acts like Foreigner, Styx, Deep Purple and
REO Speedwagon!!!??? The person who wrote it must have a completely different view from his ivory tower
than the rest of us.
I could possible pick up a little BJH (that's Barclay James Harvest) and with a bit of imagination, a hint of early
Lucifer's Friend, but we're really reaching and stretching for things here. Poor man's Procol Harum, no doubt,
and very stale and boring material.
MySpace site
REVIEWS ADDED 27 January, 2009
PLACE VENDOME: "Streets Of Fire" 9
Frontiers 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
26 January 2009
If the first signs are anything to go by, 2009 is shaping up to be a good year for AOR. It isn't even February, yet
"Streets Of Fire" is already the third excellent AOR album I've encountered this year (Bad Habit and Places Of
Power being the other two). Not too bad!
The first Place Vendome album a couple of years ago was a decent platter, but I'd say that this is far better.
The idea of having ex-Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske singing AOR might sound a bit weird, but that's what
makes this a special album - an unlikely combination that works like a charm! Add a selection of superbly
crafted melodic rock songs, the musicianship of Pink Cream 69 members and a flawless production by Dennis
Ward to that, and you've got a winner.
The majestic title track opens the album, followed by the ultra -melodic "My Guardian Angel", the track that was
chosen to be the first video'ed one (see link below). "Completely Breathless" has a bit of a modern pop/rock
vibe, and it showcases the incredible range of Mr. Kiske. A highly melodic track that sounds like a potential
crossover radio hit. Next up we've got a more traditional AOR track called "Follow Me" with a hook that'll have
you... well, hooked probably. "Set Me Free" is a less instant track and to be honest, after a dozen plays or so,
it's yet to leave it's mark on me.
The bouncy, Journeyesque "Believer" contains some rather cool axework and a familiar sounding hook, while
"Valerie" sounds like Michael Kiske fronting Toto, if you can imagine that! "A Scene In Replay" is one of my
favourite tracks, a stunning display of glorious melodies and a killer chorus. The pre-chorus reminds me of
Abba, but that's not a bad thing at all - Andersson and Ulvaeus were masters of melody.
"Changes" is another pure AOR track, reminding me strongly of Valentine's first album. Pure AOR is something
that could be said of "Surrender Your Soul", another very Journey-like track ("Higher Place" anyone?). The
album's most hard-edged track is probably "Dancer", a superb slice of melodic, metallic AOR. As it is stated in
the Golden Book Of AOR Glory, "An AOR album is to be closed with a dramatic ballad", a track that can be
described as such closes the album. "I'd Die For You" isn't a Bon Jovi cover but a delicate ballad with a
surprising foray into Pomp territory in the end.
By taking a look at the songwriting credits, it's interesting to notice that Leverage's Torsti Spoof has written a
third of the album. Although he has penned a track or two for Leverage, I didn't have any idea that he is a very
capable AOR songwriter. Hopefully we'll get to hear more of his stuff in the future. Ronny Milianowicz might be
known more as a metal writer (Primal Fear, Saint Deamon etc), but on this album, he proves that he can create
AOR masterpieces as well.
"My Guardian Angel" video
DORO: "Fear No Evil" 8
AFM Records 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
19th January 2009
My God, it doesn’t seem like 25 years since Doro Pesch first joined Warlock and proceeded to knock everyone’s
preconceptions of what a female vocalist should be right out of the park. Petite and pretty, Doro revealed that
underneath the sweet looking exterior was a powerhouse vocalist with a passion for heavy metal that remains
strong to this day. Legal shenannigans took the Warlock name away, but the Doro name has served her and the
band well for far more years now, with this album a long overdue follow up to 2006’s “Warrior Soul”.
Not for the first time, and hopefully not the last, Doro and co have basically thrown up an album for anybody
that likes heavy metal. It isn’t power metal, melodic metal or any of those other sub genres. Like her heroes
Judas Priest, Doro is a metal singer, and that means she is at her best singing metal songs. “Fear No Evil”
features 11 tracks that deliver big riffs, pounding bass and drums along with the sort of melodies that first
attracted you (and me) to metal in the first place.
Unsurprisingly there’s no attempt here to stray away from cliché, with the album struggling to come up with any
fresh ideas. Nonetheless it’s full of well written and well played metal that invites shaggy haired people to bang
their heads and wave their fists. Sometimes it’s okay to just stand up and do what you enjoy, and Doro’s
enjoyment of her music has never been in doubt. Vocally, she’s as good as ever, particularly on the excellent
album opener “Night of The Warlock” and the German language track “Herzblut”.
Doro fans will certainly not be disappointed by this album, as it delivers exactly what they want, with Doro
showing no signs of slowing down after 25 metal years. The production is crisp and clear, the band handle
everything with aplomb, and the whole thing leaps out at you like a mad hamster with a machete. Whilst you’re
mulling over that image, I’m going to listen to it again, because sometimes I just want to listen to heavy metal
with no pretension.
VJ Records 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
19th January 2009
It’s taken a while for Heaven’s Basement to release product, and this EP has been put together to satiate the
slavering hordes that gravitate around the band after each gig. The band seem to have new songs written every
week, and they’ve done a good job in picking six of the best for their first ever release.
It seems like I have been writing about this band every other week, either reviewing one of their many gigs or
throwing their name into someone else’s review as a point of comparison. Well, there may be several cool bands
out there who have a sprinkling of the HB magic, but believe me when I say there’s no one out there who comes
close to them in terms of pure energy and musical talent.
The highlight is, unsurprisingly, the superb “Executioners Day”, an immensely catchy, full on rock slammer that
combines melody with massive riffs and a killer guitar solo. It’s a perfect signature tune for the band and
hopefully will remain a live favourite for a while to come. That’s not to say the other songs are left behind, as
it’s hard to ignore the likes of “Tear Your Heart Out” or “Reign On My Parade”. All in all, there’s six excellent
songs on offer here, based around solid blues ideas and allowed to flourish. Heaven’s Basement have a unique
sound thanks to some original song writing and a magical chemistry within the band.
This is easily the best EP I have come across in a few years, showcasing a band that are content to wait awhile
before taking on the rock world. You really won’t regret taking a trip to Heaven’s Basement, because I’ll see
you there and we’ll all have a hell of a time.
VENGEANCE: "Soul Collector" 8
Metal Heaven 2009
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
26 January 2009
The 25th anniversary album of these Dutch rockers is pretty much an "all in" one. It features songs from Arjen
Lucassen, Matt Sinner, Angel Schleifer, as well as Michael Voss of Casanova/Mad Max who was also responsible
for the production. The pedigree of the musicians is flawless and the list of contributors is more than promising
for sure. Yet the album turned out to be a bit too eclectic for my taste.
It starts out with "Cross in the Rain", a heavy rock stomper, not bad but nothing fancy. The following "Wait
Until the Sun Goes Down" is a lot more promising with its catchy refrain, one of the best tracks of the album.
And after that comes the title track which… ahem… which has a main riff that bears undeniable similarities to
[read: is a brutal rip-off of] Megadeth's "Symphony of Destruction". The drum and bass lines don't help either,
as they are almost identical to the Megadeth tune. Unbelievable. The cool refrain lines can't save the day. Then
there's a track called "Samurai" that would not sound out of place on any Manowar album and its lyrics are
almost as bad any Manowar song. And just when I almost gave up on the album things took a turn for the
better: "What the Hell" is a damn good track in the vein of classic melodic rock, sounds as good as any
Casanova tune from "Casanova" or "One Night Stand".
"Myspace Freak" has cool lyrics but musically failed to grab me, cool shout-out refrain though. The following "I
Never Felt That Way Before" got me excited again, a very well-written tune, another highlight of the album with
a sticky refrain. Then we get some more midtempo rock ("Dance"), some simple rock n' roll ("Rock n' Roll Band"
that will definitely be a concert favorite), more midtempo rockers ("So Many Times") that grab you by their
excellent production and damn thick sound and a catchy acoustic ballad ("Lean On Me") closes the album which
has a bit too "German" beer metal ballad refrain to my taste (you know when towards the end of the gig semidrunk guys with big bellies lean on each other left then right with their beer mugs raised high). If I get past the
inconsistency factor and the Megadeth thing and focus on the different songwriting input and the bombastic
overall sound I have to say this one is a really good album.
F5: "The Reckoning" 8
Silverwolf 2009
Review by Martien Koolen,
20 January 2009
F5 strated back in 2003 and their debut album "A Drug For All Seasons" came out in 2005(for a review see our
archives). THis second CD sounds almost the same as their great debut which means: a lot of guitar hooks, riffs,
melodies and short solos, tight metal staccatto tempos and sometimes even trashy musical elements. The new
drummer Jimmy DeGrasso does an excellent job and the rhythm section - together with bassplayer David
Ellefson - is even more tighter with his drumming.
The best tracks are without any doubt: Love Is Dead(trashy power metal), Wake Up (great guitar solos) and I
Am The Taker, rather melodic trashy. The guitars truly dominate on this impressive metal album, sadly this cd is
only 41 minutes long; too short in fact. The music really reminds me of a notorious band called Damn The
Listening tip: Final Hour!!!
Victor GANN: "The Devil's Been Busy" 8
Indie 2008
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
26 January 2009
When you read in a guitarist's bio that he's a G.I.T. graduate you expect quality, when he lists Satch among his
main influence you expect digestibility, and when you learn that he uses almost the same equipment you do you
rise your eyebrows and get very curious. This is exactly what happened to me with Victor Gann's "The Devil's
Been Busy".
It was quite obvious that there won't be any technical problems here, the sound quality is also very good for an
independent release so the only question was the songwriting. Well, the album does not lack on that part either.
The songs are easy to digest, melodies are memorable, and fretboard acrobatics do not overshadow
songwriting. The Satriani influence is obvious from the first track of the album and I mean the "Extremist"-era
Satch, not the high-tech space freak one of the 21st century. Actually "A.R.O." sounds a lot like a poor man's
"Satch Boogie".
Victor is one of the few instrumental guitarists who believes simplicity is sometimes more entertaining than
complexity and less can be a lot more sometimes. Rightfully so. Tracks like "Shannon and Victoria" or "Lullaby
For Victoria" prove that well. My personal favorites were still the ones with various guitar sounds and a big
bunch of memorable melodies like "Beyond the Sun" or the soulful "A Walk with God". All in all this is a very
strong independent effort, a mature album with obvious influences but enough originality and songwriting skills
not having to rely on flashy technicalities only. Recommended indeed.
VJ Records 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
19th January 2009
"Voodoo Johnson have some great songs” - so says Kevin Shirley, a man who should know, having produced the
likes of Aerosmith, Zep and Maiden. Of course, it’s not the most enthusiastic quote ever printed, but it’s
strangely accurate. You see, Voodoo Johnson do have some great songs, and sometimes that’s all you want.
“Into the Red” is the Birmingham five piece’s second EP, although the first that I’ve heard. There’s a sense here
that a lot of effort has been put into it, with each of the five tracks showing a band that knows what they’re
about. Musically, they’re a cunning fusion of Aerosmith, The Black Crowes, Guns n Roses and the likes of
Heaven’s Basement (with whom they really should tour). It’s ballsy, bluesy and very well done, with the
maddest thing being that they’re not actually signed. Despite this, they seem to be creating more buzz than a
wasp in a matchbox and it’s not hard to see why.
Voodoo Johnson are a bandwagon that’s just waiting to be jumped on, and I think I’m going to enjoy the ride.
Silverwolf 2009
Review by Martien Koolen,
20 January 2009
This album is NOT my cup of tea as the songs are all very speedy, trashy and loud. But my main criticism is that
almost all of the songs sound a like and that is due to the raw, sometimes grunty, vocals of newcomer Matthias
Kupka. In my opinion is it true, boring German trash metal and the fact that they will go on tour with such
notorious bands like Kreator, Caliban and Eluveitie says it all.
Only for lovers of old-fashioned trash!
iRonica: "Dive" single
Poko 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
26 January 2009
iRonica released a decent debut album in 2007, but it didn't have that much of an impact on the scene. Their
label is showing respectable faith in them though, and they're about to release a new album later this year.
What's more, they've gotten the much-in-demand producer Hiili Hiilesmaa to produce the said album.
"Dive" is the first single, a hard hitting number with cool keyboards and a driving beat. The chorus doesn't have
the impact to make this an instant hit I'm afraid, but all in all, a good song. On the single you'll find the normal
album version of the song, as well as a single edit and an acoustic version.
iRonica MySpace
Jeff Scott SOTO: "Luxury Package Reissues"
Frontiers 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
26 January 2009
Now that Jeff Scott Soto is in the spotlight again with a new album to be released, Frontiers Records have
decided to reissue his previous two albums as "Luxury Package Reissues", with several bonustracks on both
discs. We'll take a look at the bonus tracks, but here's a little reminder of my original reviews of the albums:
"Prism": "The one and only Jeff Scott Soto, one of the most productive melodic rock vocalists of all time, has
decided to go for it alone this time. All songs (except one cover) have been written and produced by Mr. Soto
himself, and what's more, he has also played keys and bass on this album. And you know what? This album just
as good or actually better than most of the albums JSS has been involved with..."
The full review
"Lost In The Translation":"The new JSS platter in a nutshell...melodic rockers "High Time" and "Find My Way"
raise above as the highlights, with the two ballads and "Drowning" and "Believe In Me" following close behind.
Out of the groovy, slightly funky tracks my vote would go for the title track. Compared to "Prism" this album
works better as a whole, even though the best tracks of that album may have been just a little bit better than
the highlights of this one..."
The full review
The additional tracks on "Prism" seem to be stuff that's been available in some format or other. The soul ballad
"Good Love" was on some editions of "Prism" I believe, not on my promo copy though. It's a departure of the
album's sound, a vintage sounding 60'ies soul track, showing off Jeff's musical roots. The curiously titled
"2012" was the bonustrack on the Japanese edition of "The Essential Ballads", and while it's nice enough, it's
hardly essential. "Send Her My Love" is of course the Journey classic, proving that JSS could do a decent job as
a frontman for that band. Oh wait...he's been there, done that! "Again 2 B Found" and "Stand Up" are both
culled from "Gods live", while "4 U" shows that JSS can sing horrendous, whiny falsetto r'n'b like the best of
'em, even though I'd rather he didn't...
The bonustracks on "LITT" offer more added value than the ones on "Prism". "Dulce Lady" was featured on
some versions, not on my promo though, and it's a decent rocker, as is the original Japanese bonus track
"Turned The Page". "As I Do 2 U", "This Ain't The Love" and "Lonely Shade Of Blue" were featured on the
"Essential Ballads", but the acoustic live version of "Soul Divine" is apparently previously unreleased.
In a nutshell, if you don't have the albums, these editions are worth picking up, but if you already have the
originals, it's up 2 U (JSS-lingo!) whether you need them for the additional unreleased track or two.
JSS MySpace
REVIEWS ADDED 17 January, 2009
HB: "Piikki Lihassa" 8
Bullroser Records 2008
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
16 January 2009
Finnish Christian Metal act HB made some noise last year with "Frozen Inside", their first english-sung album.
Even our very own Alan Holloway was quite impressed and wrote that their "symphonic metal songs show real
songwriting talent". In November they released their latest album "Piikki Lihassa", which sees them going back
to their native language. Whether it will be released with english lyrics I do not know, but considering the
quality of the songs, that wouldn't be a bad move.
Even compared to other Christian bands, HB's lyrics are more upfront and biblical. That might earn them the
respect of some hardcore Christian fans, but it won't make it any easier for them to attract casual metal fans to
check out their music. That might not be their mission, but I think it's a bit of a shame, because musically the
band is starting to reach the very highest level of the genre.
The songs range from powerful, thunderous metal tracks to very delicate and sensitive ballads, but the lyrics
never stray away from biblical themes. The weirdest song has to be "Sana", sung by songwriter/keyboard
player Antti Niskala. It is lyrically almost like a "cast of characters" of the Bible! It's probably the one song I
like the least because it's not that interesting musically. The last 30 seconds or so are quite hilarious though.
The album's highlights for me are the hard-hitting "Minä Olen", the melodic yet heavy titletrack and "Ilo
Herrassa", to name a few. The latter two showcase the impressive lower range of vocalist Johanna Aaltonen,
who otherwise sings in a higher register. What else? Well, the production is terrific and the arrangements are of
the highest calibre. I especially liked the choirs and the orchestration. At times the full-on bible lessons of the
lyrics tend to be a bit overwhelming and I can't relate to them, but overall this is a very good album. If you're
into Nightwish and Within Temptation, look into this!
Metal Heaven 2009
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
12 January 2009
When reading the title with this spelling I automatically associated Queensryche yet knew this Finnish band
would have had to take a huge turn from their previous stuff to be anything like the guys from Seattle. Well,
they didn't. They still play melodic heavy metal the VERY European way. Depending on your taste this may as
well be both their most positive or most negative characteristic.
After countless member-changes and legal problems the band finally released a full-length album with decent
production. A metal version of the Godfather movie theme opens the album; it's funny but a bit reminds me of
my high-school bands' dead-end streets. Anyway it quickly turns into the title track that sets the pace both
tempo -wise and musically. You get 46 minutes of uptempo metal crush. What makes Burning Point better then
the majority of their league is the fresh guitar playing by Pete Ahonen and Pekka Kolivuori and Jussi Ontero's
tricky drum themes. I have to mention the other part of the rhythm section: Jukka Jokikokko, man that's the
greatest rock n' roll name ever, fuck Johnny Cash or Blackie Lawless.
However I'm rather dissatisfied with Pete's vocals, the complexity of the music calls out for a wider vocal range.
He was well aware of his range and did not push it beyond its limits therefore he is on-key and confident
throughout the entire album (and I respect that a great deal) but a vocalist with a wider ranger could have
brought a lot more out of this song-material. All in all there are no mistakes or miscues here, the band
delivered a solid melodic metal album, slightly better than the majority of the genre but nothing really
extraordinary or outstanding. Recommended indeed.
HERMAN FRANK: "Loyal To None" 7
Metal Heaven 2009
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
12 January 2009
I was hoping for Herman Frank's first solo album to be a melodic, guitar oriented one but it turned out to be
your average German heavy metal with stomping rhythms, brain-destroying simple metal riffs and brutally
shouting vocals. I was hoping for memorable melodies and catchy hooks but I got a very aggressive vocal
approach and absolutely no hooks to remember. The whole thing is more about brutality than memorability.
The production is unbelievably good but one would expect that from a producer-studio owner anyway, the
sound is very balanced, thick, all instruments crawl into your face. The musicians can obviously all play, they
are seasoned veterans, so I guess the problem boils down to the song material and Jiotis Parachidis' (the throat
of the last Victory album) vocal tracks. They are just very average hence the 7/10 points rating. I can't even
name any highlights or fillers of the album, as even after close to a dozen spins I can't really remember any of
the songs well enough.
I may be missing a clue here but the album cover mentions Stefan Kaufmann (Helloween/Krokus) while the
promo flyer says Stefan Schwarzmann (Running Wild/UDO) on drums. Neither the label's nor Herman's website
carries any info on the musicians so I'm stuck. Not being a big German metal expert the two guys may as well
be the same but I doubt… Production -wise it's an album to show everyone "how to", songwriting-wise it's the
typical "how not to" one. The rest is up to you.
TALL STORIES: "Skyscraper" 5
Frontiers 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
14 January 2009
The first Tall Stories album back in 1991 was something different than all the dozens of hard rock releases of
its' era. The band's AOR sound had a bit of an eclectic, alternative vibe, which made it fresh and exciting. Some
hailed it as the best thing since sliced bread, but while I wouldn't go that far, I have to say that the album still
sounds quite fresh.
Almost 18 years have passed since the first album and a lot of things have happened. Vocalist Steve Augeri had
a brief fling with Tyketto, until making it to the big league as Steve Perry's replacement in Journey. A couple of
years ago he suffered severe vocal problems, and that marked the end of his era in the band. As his health
improved, Augeri and the rest of the Stories decided that their story isn't over, and started to work on a new
It certainly is a pleasure to hear Augeri again, he has a fine voice and he seems to have overcome his
problems. But... where the first album was AOR with alternative overtones, Tall Stories '09 is an opposite of that
- alternative, modern rock with AOR touches. Perhaps Augeri wants to distance himself from the classic AOR
sounds of his former band, as some of these songs have more in common with Stone Temple Pilots or U2 than
Journey. In a way it's understandable, but I can't pretend to like it.
I've played this album quite a few times, and everytime I've noticed that around track seven or eight I realize
that none of the melodies have left an impression. That's not a sign of a good album, especially when the
situation doesn't improve much with the remaining few songs. Okay, the album's standout track "Stay" is among
them, but that's about it.
I was expecting a "different" album, but hoping for a melodic and catchy one at the same time. Unfortunately
that wasn't in the cards, and "Skyscraper" has to be classified as a disappointment. I'm sure that it'll do
reasonably well on the strength of the band's cult status and Augeri's pedigree, but I don't think that it'll be
rated as one of the better albums of 2009 by many.
REVIEWS ADDED 9 January, 2009
BAD HABIT: "Above And Beyond" 9
AOR Heaven 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
01 January 2009
After their heavier previous album "Hearsay" (2005), Swedish rockers Bad Habit promised to return to the more
melodic style of their earlier material. The "we're going back to the roots with the next album"-song has been
heard so many times before and unsually the results have been far from satisfying, bands merely going through
the motions with half-hearted attempts to capture their former glory. But... NOT SO with "Above And Beyond"!
What you'll get is an album from a focused band, who succeeds in both sounding contemporary AND going back
to their roots. While "Hearsay" sounded great and modern, the band's melodic sensibilities were a bit lost on
the album. No such worries here, Hal Marabel has written a strong selection of songs with loads of melody and
some big, shiny, dangerously sharp hooks. The production (by Jonas Reingold) is flawless, and the same goes
for the performances. Especially vocalist Bax Fehling does a great job - his voice might not be to everyone's
liking, but one can't argue about its' unmistakeable identity. He doesn't sound like anyone else but himself, and
that's quite a feat these days.
The album gets a fine start with some of the strongest songs early in the tracklisting. "I Don't Want You" has
already been released as video, and it's strong opener that showcases what this album is all about - perfectly
crafted melodic rock with big choruses. "Just A Heartbeat Away" is another favourite of mine, kicking off with a
heavy riff, yet dripping with melody and boasting a true "pop hit chorus" that would take this song to the top of
the charts if recorded by some major label pop sensation. The more uptempo "I Don't Want To Say Goodbye" is
another winner and another potential hit.
"Let Me Be The One" is an okay balladic track, but I prefer the breezy "A Lot To Learn" and "I Believe", which is
another highly melodic track yet driven by a monster riff. The title track brings back memories of the first fulllength Bad Habit album "After Hours", as it has the same kind of an Autograph-like vibe as some of the tracks
on that album. And so it goes on... "My Confession" and "Let Me Tell You" are both good uptempo songs, while
"Surrender" is a cool, darker track.
The next two tracks aren't bad by any means, but I find them to be the weakest ones on the album. "Calling
Your Name" is very Journeyesque track with a chorus that reminds me a bit too much of "Send Her My Love",
while "Never Gonna Give You Up" is pleasant enough, but somewhat bland. The last track "I Need Someone"
ends the album on a positive note, although the chorus sounds very familiar again... possibly it's similar to one
of the bands' older songs.
If there's something to criticize, it would be the band's song titles and lyrics, which rely on the familiar AOR
vocabulary. I think that each one of these songtitles has been used at least once before. Even the band
themselves have a song called "Need Somebody", yet they felt that "I Need Someone" isn't too bad a title...
Bad Habit Website
Bad Habit Myspace
SAXON: "Into The Labyrinth" 9
SPV/Steamhammer 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
8th Januaty 2009
It’s now thirty years since Saxon broke on to the NWOBHM scene with their debut, self titled album. “Into The
Labyrinth” is studio album number 18, incredibly, and it should come as no surprise that Saxon show no signs
of either getting old or slowing down.
For the last ten years or so, Saxon have been reinventing themselves from a classic heavy rock band into a
mighty metal machine, and this has gone down well, especially in metal mad Europe. They moved away from the
likes of “Wheels Of Steel”, coming back with “Metalhead” and “Lionheart”, full blooded metal screamers that
still contained the core element of the band we all loved. With the new album, the band have taken the
interesting step of melding the two styles, creating an album that will delight fans both new and old.
For an insight into what’s making Saxon tick these days, look no further than the single “Live To Rock”, a full
blooded, simple ode to all things ROCK with a hook to die for. This and tracks like the melodic yet heavy “Come
Rock Of Ages” certainly hearken back to the Saxon of old, and not in a bad way. There’s also the cracking full
tilt stormer “Demon Sweeney Todd”, which takes 21st century Saxon and injects a slice of “Motorcycle Man” for
good measure. There’s even a shot at the blues in “Slow Lane Blues”, about being nicked for speeding, which
ends up as a decent song that to be honest isn’t all that bluesy.
“Into The Labyrinth” is possibly the most well rounded Saxon album for twenty years, delivering a solid shot of
liquid metal and rock straight into the veins. Biff Byford and co are a well oiled machine that does just what you
want it to, yet each album seems fresh and innovative. Iron Maiden may have the stadium gigs, but Saxon have
the grit and talent that defined a genre and continues to do so.
PLACES OF POWER: "Now Is The Hour" 9
Frontiers 2009
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
08 January 2009
Places Of Power is a union of two talented melodic rock artists. Bruce Turgon is a superb songwriter/multiinstrumentalist who is most known for his work with Lou Gramm, while Phil Bardowell has sung with Magdalen
and Unruly Child. They both released fine solo albums on Frontiers label back in 2005, but Places Of Power tops
them both. While Turgon is a good singer as his solo album proves, his songs benefit of the truly great vocals of
Phil Bardowell, who should establish himself as one of the top AOR vocalists of today with this album. It really
was a stroke of genius from Frontiers' Serafino Perugino to dream up this combination!
The songs on "Now Is The Hour" carry the trademarks of Turgon's writing - he tends to favour athmospheric,
dark and intense melodies. This album is chock full of those, and with Bardowell's very Gramm-like vocals,
there's no escaping the comparisons to Turgon's previous work. I can't help but think that some of these songs
would have been perfect for Foreigner or Shadow King. That should be a recommendation in itself.
The highlights for me include the lead-off track "In Your Wildest Dream" with its' brilliant, pulsating keyboards
and a killer hook, the catchy and keyboard -driven "Secrets" and the balladic "Light Of My World" which reminds
me a lot of Foreigner's ballads on the "Mr. Moonlight" album. Actually, apart from a two or three slightly less
impressive tracks, the whole album is excellent. I especially enjoy the keyboard work, which is quite
imaginative. Turgon, who is responsible for all the instruments except for the solo guitar (played by Scott
McKinstry), has obviously taken a lot of time to perfect the arrangements and the production, and Bardowell's
vocal performance gives the album that extra spark. Yes, I believe we have a Top 10 of 2009 contender here,
although we've only just said farewell to 2008...
CORONATUS: "Porta Obscura" 9
Massacre Records 2008
Review by Alan Holloway,
23rd December 2008
You have to wonder if Nightwish had any idea of how big a can of worms they opened by becoming a successful
crossover of rock and opera. They have given rise to many copycat artistes, some staggeringly good, some
embarrassingly awful, and some blander than a British Prime Minister. Germany’s Coronatus are happy to throw
their hats into the ring with their second album, and if nothing else have brought their own identity to the goth
themed party (please leave your cloaks at the door).
The old chestnut of dual vocalists is dragged out on ‘Porta Obscura’, but in an interesting and effective twist
Coronatus have gone for two female vocalists, one operatic (Carmen Schafer) and one more traditional (Ada
Flechtner). Flechtner has a bit of an average voice, if I’m honest, but it doesn’t affect the enjoyment of the
Latin, so you won’t have much of a clue what’s being sung about (I like to think it’s an opera about toilets, but
then I’m strange), but it doesn’t matter much, as like a grown up opera it’s all about the music.
Emphasis is placed firmly on the operatic side of the songs, and as a result ‘Porta Obscura’ (lit: ‘Where’s My
Toilet?’) will repel as many as it attracts. To the uninitiated it will seem like it’s stuffed firmly up it’s own arse,
but those who appreciate Night wish’s ‘ Poet & The Pendulum’ will get a real kick out of this whole album, as
taken as a whole it’s not far away from a feature length version of that song with added Latin and opera.
Reviews for the album have certainly been mixed, and I was quite prepared for another disappointing Nightwish
copy, but ‘Porta Obscura’ is a wonderful, epic album, and listening to it at full volume will really blow you away.
It’s metal, it’s opera, it’s great.
THE NEW BLACK: "The New Black" 8
AFM Records 2009
Review by Martien Koolen,
3 January 2009
The bio of this band opens with the following statement: "The New Black play rock, real rock, really heavy, with
all the good stuff that comes along with it: hooklines, leads and riffs galore." well, that says it all in fact! The
New Black is a new five piece rock band with very good vocal parts from singer Fludid (what the hell??). You
could compare his throat sound like being a mix of Hetfield, Wylde, Anselmo and Patton, in other words: a great
metal/hard rock voice! The music on this album is filled with catchy guitar riffs and melodies reminding me of
Thin Lizzy, Black Label Society, Creed, Soundgarden and sometimes even the rather "commercial" Nickelback.
The CD starts with a Thin Lizzy-like twin guitar intro, followed by a very catchy chorus, while follow -up "Why I
Burn" is rather heavy and dark, like e.g. Soundgarden or BLS; check out the "dirty" guitar solo there! "Ballad Of
The Broken Angels" has a certain southern, bluesy feeling and is maybe one of my favourites on this album.
"Welcome To Point Blank" is a straightforward metal track with a great guitarsolo, while the last song "Wound"
features acoustic guitar, BLS-like vocals and the best howling guitar solo of the entire CD.
However, there are also a couple of rather mediocre tracks, like e.g.: "The Man Who Saw The Universe"
(uptempo rock), "Coming Home"(rather commercial, catchy) or "More Than A Man". But, all in all, this debut
album is certainly worth listening to if you like melodic, metallic rock and it is real music, well played, well
written, catchy and most of the times rather heavy! So check it out; listening tip: "Why I Burn".
STEVEN WILSON: "Insurgentes" 6
Kscope Records 2009
Review by Martien Koolen,
3 January 2009
Workaholic Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, No-Man, Bass Communion and IEM) comes up with his
first real solo album. My expectations were high, very high, as I am a true and very devoted Porcupine Tree fan
but "Insurgentes" is nothing like PT, in fact it is a truly disappointing album... If this album would be the debut
album of an unknown rockband nobody would even listen to it, least of all write a decent review about it.
"Insurgentes" lacks Wilson's individual trademark, however if you are a fan of all the earlier mentioned Wilson
bands/projects then you will probably like some of this stuff as well.
The album kicks off with "Harmony Korine", a rather dark, spacy track with a couple of PT and Blackfield
influences; not bad, but not really surprising according to Wilson standards. Follow up "Abandoner" is truly
boring, filled with electronics and drum computers and the same accounts for "Veneno Para Las Hadas"; an
ambient-like track with too many soundscapes and not enough real music! "Salvaging" is at least four minutes
too long as the same melody is repeated over and over and over without any interesting musical breaks. The
absolute highlight, and the only one in fact, of the album is called: "No Twilight Within The Courts Of The Sun".
It is a spectacular song with an amazing bass line played by Tony Levin and an outstanding, long, Zappa-like
guitar solo played by Mike Outram. The second part of the song is filled with half-spoken vocals, quiet drums
and bass guitar, before the end explodes with the distorded guitars again! Why not more of this kind of stuff on
the album??? "Significant Other" is melancholic and reminds me of Blackfield sometimes.. As for "Only Child" I
can only say that this song goes nowhere actually; it makes no impression whatsoever.

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