About Me

My photo
Born in the late 60's, Chesy hails from a Welsh mining village with a long name and was pretty glad when he got the Hell out of there. He got into Rock/Metal in about 1980, thanks to a TISWAS related incident (Rainbow video for All Night Long) and thankfully has never looked back. Chesy often sang solo in the school choir, but thanks to a puberty related incident his voice is now completely bolloxed, although in his own head Paul thinks he sounds like a blend of Coverdale and Dio (R.I.P). He was brought up on the classics - Deep Purple, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Rush, Whitesnake and loved melodic rock and the Hair Bands of the 80's. (Nowadays, he has progressed a little and prefers a more technical and/or progressive metal - Dream Theater, Rush, Symphony X, Porcupine Tree, Pain Of Salvation, Spock's Beard. He hates Black and Death Metal (can't stand the grunting) but for some unknown reason loves the magnificent Opeth! He wont stop this blog until his beloved FM finally play the likes of the NEC as a headlining act!!!

Monday, 16 April 2018

Ross The Boss - 'By Blood Sworn' Album Review


Ross The Boss – By Blood Sworn

Review by Sty

Guitarist Ross the Boss’ stature in the history of hard rock and heavy metal has been well-solidified for decades, with a resume including some of the most influential and hardest-hitting bands of all-time, particularly both the Dictators and Manowar. And he continues to rock - as a member of the group DeathDealer, and also, as the leader of his own solo outfit, which has issued such stellar releases as ‘Hailstorm,’ ‘New Metal Leader,’ and this latest offering, ‘By Blood Sworn.’
Joined by Marc Lopes on vocals and keys, Mike LePond on bass, and Lance Barnewold on drums for the sessions (Steve Bolognese will beat the skins on the album’s tour), ‘By Blood Sworn’ was produced by Dean Rispler, and will be released April 20th via AFM Records.

The only way to appreciate this album’s superb production is to crank it up!! I’ll be 100% honest in saying that I had never heard of these guys but I am so glad I got to review this album. The opening Iron Maiden Transylvania-esq riff of album titled ‘By Blood Sworn’ sets the mood just perfectly. A great opening track which scuttles along just nicely. ‘Among Them Bones’ opening riff will warp you straight back to the late 1980’s / 1990’s rock era. It’s speed changes will keep your foot tapping and head nodding. Sublime stuff.

‘This is Vengeance’ reminds me in parts of Holy Terror’s ‘Judas reward’ from their ‘Mind Wars’ album of 1988. ‘We Are the Night’ is another angry double-bass led thumping track with a great opening riff. Things slow down for ‘Faith Of The Fallen’, an epic ballad of synth, melodies and great acoustic trickery with a great chorus. The guitar solo will just suck you in.

‘Devil’s Day’ picks things up again superbly by cranking out rock and roll at it’s very best. Being a bass player myself, the opening riff of ‘Lilith’ was met with great appreciation and I just love the way the rest of the band follow. A great doomy, moody verse to this tune that builds slowly and superbly into the chorus, with a fantastic speed change and a great Black Sabbath type riff thrown in for good measure.

What I’m loving about this album is that the music does the talking as well as the lyrics. Iron Maiden were the first band that I felt that with. ‘Play Among the Gods’ hits hard and fast, as does ‘Circle Of Damnation’, although these latter two sound slightly more mainstream than the rest of the album. Nothing wrong with that of course, and ‘Circle’ is sure an arena anthem to rock to and a potential great Radio airplay tune. Lots of Iron Maiden sounding riffs in this. It’s brilliant stuff.

‘Fistful Of Hate’ rounds things off with it’s Native American intro. Very ‘Indians’ by Anthrax, as is the opening riff which follows. This speeds along just nicely to an unexpected abrupt ending which for me, works well. See you, good night, Bang!! I feel thoroughly entertained.


So, would I recommend you buy this album? 100% YES!! Would I go and see these guys if they hit these shores?? ABSOLUTELY!!!

Score – 9/10

Tracklisting:

1 – By Blood Sworn
2 – Among The Bones
3 – This Is Vengeance
4 – We Are The Night
5 – Faith Of The Fallen
6 – Devils Day
7 – Lilith
8 – Play Among The Godz
9 – Circle Of Damnation
10 – Fistful Of Hate

Line-up:
Marc Lopez (Vocals), Ross Friedman (Guitars), Mike LePond (Bass), Lance Barnewold (Drums)

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Issa - 'Run With The Pack' Album Review


Issa - Run With The Pack

Review by Dean Buckley
 
Norwegian/ Brit ISSA returns with what is her fifth and probably best album to date ‘Run With The Pack’, I've always preferred ISSA live than her recorded albums. Im finding past efforts struggled with a ‘style over substance’ issue but on ‘RWTP’ all is forgiven . The new line up includes Mr Frontiers himself Alessandro Del Vecchio tinkling the ivories, the monster guitar work of Simone Mularoni from progressive metal band DGM . The album is rounded out by Andrea ToWer Torricini from Vision Divine on bass dutis, and Marco Di Salvia from hot new band Kee of Hearts on the drum stool.  This is by far, Issa’s best line up yet.  It's brought a new cohesiveness and drive to what might be ISSA's most consistent release .

ISSA is no stranger to the odd duet this time around with the sublime ‘Sacrifice Me’ featuring the mighty Deen Castronovo (he of Revolution Saints fame) , the gorgeous balladry of ‘How Long’ showcasing ISSA’s vocal prowess to it's fullest or the much harder hitting ‘Closer To You’ with a huge guitar solo . ‘Run With The Pack’ is ‘all killer no filler’. Production is handled by Mr Del Vecchio so the sound is crisp and punchy . If you’re a fan of quality melodic rock or just female fronted rock in general you will love this release I certainly did.

Rating 8/10

TRACKLISTING:

1. Am I Losin’ You 
2. Run With The Pack
3. Sacrifice Me (feat. Deen Castronovo)
4. How Long
5. The Sound Of Yesterday
6. Come Back Again Now
7. Talk To Your Heart
8. Bittersweet
9. Closer To You
10. Irreplaceable
11. Everything To Me

PRODUCED BY: Alessandro Del Vecchio, Executive producer Serafino Perugino
STUDIO: Ivorytears Music Works Studios, Somma Lombardo, IT, Domination Studio, San Marino, ToWer’s Dungeon, Florence, IT, Hardcore Studio, York, UK
RECORDED BY: Alessandro Del Vecchio, Andrea Seveso
MIXED BY: Alessandro Del Vecchio
MASTERED BY: Alessandro Del Vecchio

BAND MEMBERS:
Issa Oversveen – vocals
Simone Mularoni – guitars
Alessandro Del Vecchio – keyboards
Andrea ToWer Torricini - bass,
Marco Di Salvia - drums

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Kim Wilde - The Old Fruit Market, Glasgow, 2nd April 2018 LIVE REVIEW


Kim Wilde – The Old Fruit Market, Glasgow – 2 April 2018

After being disappointed at the Greta Van Fleet gig in Glasgow the night before, I headed back in to Glasgow with managed down expectations to see Kim Wilde. “Yes THAT Kim Wilde” I explained to bemused mates.

A couple of beers in the Beer Caffe, a quick wander around in the rain and snow and we finally found the Old Fruit Market hidden in the City Halls but well worth the find, it is a stunning venue. Why more rock bands don’t use it is beyond me.

The crowd was an impressive size and on the mature side, not that I’m saying that there was a smell of rose water, Brut and biscuits J

I had been lucky enough to hear the new Kim Wilde album and as an 80’s hair rock fan I thought I knew roughly what to expect. I was wrong in a really good way.

KW walked out on stage around 9 o’clock as her impressively sized band took up their places. The band has 2 drummers, 2 guitarists, bass player and keyboards and a backing singer to ably support the main lady. It’s basically a family thing.

What became apparent was the stage set up and the stunning backing lighting that let KW walk up to the mic and Stereo Shot kicked off the show.
Kim Wilde may be 57 but boy does she rock a white leather biker jacket with tassels and she went into Water on Glass seamlessly to keep the 80s fans happy.

The switch between new and old stuff worked like a dream. The white jacket was ditched and the full black leather rock ensemble caused gasps (mainly by me and I felt my wife’s elbow’s full effect).

KW seemed genuinely taken aback by the crowd size and reaction and she thanked Glasgow for being the only place in the UK to have “Here Come the Aliens” in the top 10. Her modesty and thanks went down well as did Kandy Krush and Cambodia and a crowd member gave her a teddy bear with obligatory saltire.

Now some of my less educated/kind friends had been sneering about our attendance at the gig stating that 2 weeks ago I went to Hard Rock Hell AOR and now this. Well KW would not only hold her own at a melodic rock gig, she’d blow it to pieces. I’ve seen Lee Aaron and Lita Ford in the last 2 years, neither hold a candle to the latest KW show.

She oozes quality, professionalism, has stage presence and the full set list to back it up. Her band are tight and seemed to be having a ball. Scarlett Wilde sang her own lead and her support of her aunt would bring a tear to a glass eye.

The acoustic section of slower songs was a superb change of pace and showcased the KW vocal along with brother Ricky.

“It’s time to rock it up a bit” (or words to that effect) led into an upbeat Birthday and Chequered Love which is pure melodic rock with the 80’s pop edge. This bounced into You Came, You Keep me Hanging On before 1969 (the elephant in the room she told the crowd, due to her alien sighting) ended the set. Superb stuff.

The guitar solos were pure melodic rock joy (I think the phrase used is “they shredded it”.) The 2 drummers were a nice touch, the bass drove along the rockier songs and KW led her troops like a modern day Boadicea.

Her harmonies with Ricky and Scarlett are done superbly and the choreography with the band showed how much time and effort has gone into this show.

Pop Don’t Stop and the iconic Kids in America ended a brilliant night on a high with a massively appreciative crowd. I left with a very impressed if more green eyed wife than I arrived with, we both had smiles as wide as the Clyde.

The mix of 80’s classics with fresh breath breathed into them and the latest album tracks was masterfully delivered. A top, top gig.

Would we go to see Kim again? Well as it happens we’re on a 2 night break in York in 10 days’ time……..no prizes for who’s playing the venue next to our apartment and as my wife planned the break I’m totally innocent……for once!! J J

Review by Lawrie Willcox



 

Tokyo Storm - 'Optimistic State Of Mind' Album Review

Tokyo Storm - Optimistic State Of Mind
Review by Dean Buckley


Aor is dead!  They say not if Tokyo Storm, a new Midlands based rock quartet have got anything to say about it.  I say, don't get me wrong here, its not reinventing the wheel or it isn't anything you've heard before; it is however like an old pair of slippers - familiar, comforting to listen to and dare I say it warming for the soul. 

The opening track sets the tone for the album and as titled even for a jaded old Melodic rock listener like myself leaves me in an 'Optimistic State Of Mind', (see what I did there). A delightful mixture of mid paced rockers, the likes of 'Is This Love' with a great vocal performance from Ben Green, or the tasteful power ballad 'Stormy Nights' (the woman who slept with Donald Trump) with some nifty fretwork from guitarist Joe Bartnicki. 

The rhythm section of Jason Edwards and Bob Peach keep the whole record positively bouncing along. A personal favorite is the delightful 'Silent Obsession'. Comparisons I'll leave to others, but what I will say is that Tokyo Storm have a classic Brit AOR sound think along the lines of Lost Weekend or Iconic Eye for example, all the songs are self penned originals, and the craftsmanship for a new band is top notch. The production is quality, leaving the listener to enjoy a warm rich sound that suits the Melodic fare on offer. 

However I offer a word of warning....avoid the last track the 11 minute instrumental 'Signals'.  I can only assume writers block had set in by this point and honestly it's a damn shame such a great album should end in this way. The track is about as welcome as a fart in a lift ....Don't let that however put you off what is a nice addition to the UK ranks of AOR/ Melodic rock bands . 

Rating 7/10 



Tokyo Storm –
Bob Peach – Drums
Joe Bartnicki – Guitar
Ben Green – Vocals
Jason Edwards – Bass (Live shows)
 
Tracklisting –
Optimistic State Of Mind
Is This Love
Tune
Stormy Night
Kill The Machines
Silent Obsession
Fire In Your Eyes
Lady Darkness
Summer Feeling
Signals
 
 Review by Dean Buckley

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Stryper - 'God Damn Evil' Album Review


Stryper – God Damn Evil

In the 80s and 90s, it was almost embarrassing (just for me) to say that I liked Stryper. Almost anyone I knew in my field of friends hated them. When it used to come up in conversations, I would be slated for listening to ‘wimpy, poodle perm, Jesus loving, rock!’ Harsh words indeed. Way back then, and to this day I gave never faltered with my love of this band. OK, so not all of the albums have been brilliant, as I sort of lost interest with the early noughties output. I still own everything they have made, even when I wasn’t exactly over enamoured with the output. But then, in 2011 began the comeback, they eased their way back in with a covers album, and an album of re-recorded Stryper classics. This saw Stryper entering a golden period that I honestly didn’t see coming. Call it the 'second coming' (What do you mean they’ve done it? Bollox!). 'No More Hell To Pay' rocked me to the core. It was full on metal and a great way to resurrect their career. Not that they ever went away of course. Soppy ballads were replaced with hard-edged rockers, and they sounder better than ever.

We jump to 2018 and this is their 10th studio album, 'God Damn Evil'. Since 2015s 'Fallen', Tim Gains has left which is a crying shame for me, but I wish him luck and success. In comes Perry Richardson (Firehouse) as a full time member.

Opening song ‘Take It To The Cross’ completely took me by surprise. I didn’t think they had it in them. A proper old school thrash riff, with complimenting thrash-tastic chorus, complete with death growls, courtesy of Matt Bachand (Shadows Fall, Act Of Defiance). I love it when a band regenerates and keeps you guessing. What would be the fun in just trying to write in the style of ‘Soldiers Under Command’?

‘Sorry’ and ‘Lost’ are more in line with what would be their ‘sound’ to be these past few albums, edgier, heavier, but with all the harmonics that you love them for, but for ‘Lost’ you have MS hitting notes he hit in his twenties. It seems as if a certain Mr Sweet is able to poop riffs and lyrics for fun. Title track ‘God Damn Evil’ is so planted in the 80s, I think it was brought into the studio as a demo on cassette in a 1983 Camaro! Its one of Stryper’s best anthems…..to date.  Its sing-a-long-a-metal at its finest.


‘You Don’t Even Know’ has a double layer of Sweets vocals, with a nice throaty wail for the chorus. ‘The Valley’ kicks off with a short passage from the 23rd Psalm, and continues in that vein throughout. ‘Beautiful’ is a definite grower, the chorus being the hook here. ‘Can’t Live Without Your Love’ is the nearest thing to a ballad, thankfully its not one in the style of the saccharin coated ones from the 80s and builds nicely to its climax. Closer “The Devil Doesn’t Live here’ is the fast paced rocker on show here, and reminds me a bit of Tooth & Nail era Dokken.

First song aside, which could divide some Stryper fans (not me) it’s a very strong album from the get go. Where lots of bands are plodding along with ‘average’ albums, Stryper are relevant, and pushing forward with every release. Few bands from the 80s are doing this, and Stryper are rightly proud of their output and position as one of rocks finest.

MS has recently gone on record stating that he feels that this is their best album, do you know what, he’s not far wrong. I still love all the classics from the 80s, but his writing, and the consistency of his writing have improved with age.

Score 8.5/10

Tracklisting
Take It To The Cross
Sorry
Lost
God Damn Evil
You Don’t Even Know
The Valley
Sea Of Thieves
Beautiful
Can’t Live Without Your Love
Own Up
The Devil Doesn’t Live Here

Stryper are -
Michael Sweet
Oz Fox
Robert Sweet
Perry Richardson

OUT- 20th April 2018

Headlining Day 1 of Frontiers Festival, Milan 5th April


Thursday, 29 March 2018

Palace Of The King - 'Get Right With Your Maker' Album Review


Palace Of The King – Get Right With Your Maker

Every now and then, a band fires a shot across my boughs, one that I’ve never had the pleasure of hearing before, and proves to be an absolute delight. This is Palace of the King, with their third album ‘Get Right With Your Maker’. They are an Aussie band and hail from Melbourne, they average 100 gigs a year and it shows here. They have also supported fellow rockers Airbourne.

Not many bands would have the confidence or balls to open up with a seven minute epic scale song, but POTK have no such worries. Is pure, unadulterated classic rock – and I am immediately reminded of a similarity to Scorpion Child – as POTK throw all their musical classic rock weaponry into ‘I Am The Storm’. It has some great organ and guitar work, joining Tim Henwood’s great vocals for an aural soundscape, of 70s sounding rock. On this Henwood even sounds similar to Scorpion Childs Aryn Jonathon Black. Even the mid section ivory tinkling shows touches of The Doors, giving it a psychedelic feel.

'It's Been A Long Time Coming' is the second single from GRWYM, its drenched in nostalgia, with a bit of a Nuff Z’Nuff sound to vocals. They show that its not a single track sound, and show they have more strings to their bow on ‘Sold Me Down The River’ which has a 70s funk sound, as does ‘Dog With A Bone’. Its like being hit with a one-two sucker punch, as the songs come thick and fast, with not a drop in quality to be seen (or heard), ‘Said The Spider To The Bird’, ‘Move Through The Fire’, and ‘The Serpent’ all have the hallmarks of band who are as tight as a nut that been tightened with superglue! Its all pretty damn good as the rhythm section of Travis Dragani and Anthony Licciardi drive this beast forward. It’s the kind of band and music, that would sound fucking huge at a live gig. Scrub that, the riff and bass line on the song Horizon are mega. I could feel it moving my trousers, in a good way!!! The pacing of the album is excellent, ‘Fly Like An Eagle is short and sweet, but what they cram into a song under 3 minute is just great,  a pounding at your core effort. Finally we get a POTK showcase with ‘Back On My Feet Again’.  Its only 3.46 short, but its  type of song that could easily take up half a set!

Where’s the other five minutes of song gone? Bands used to do this quite often, but we actually get a hidden track, a title track ‘Get Right With Your Maker’, a song that lends to The Black Crowes, or The Temperance Movement in an acoustic blues style.

The album cover even bears more than a passing resemblance to Scorpion Childs last album to the point of plagiarism!

If you’re new to them, like me, then you’re in for a fucking treat. If you’re already a fan, what are you waiting for. For fans of 70s influenced rock, and the likes of Rival Sons The Black Crowes and Scorpion Child. As you can tell, what they are doing isn’t exactly new (what is?), but what they do, they do it so fucking well!!

Rock is meant to be played loud, but none more than this dirty, and beautiful beast. Crank it up and enjoy!!

Score 9/10

Tracklisting
I Am The Storm
It’s Been A Long Time Coming
Sold Me Down The River
A Dog With A Bone
Said The Spider To The Bird
Move Through The Fire
The Serpent
Horizon
Fly Like An Evil
Back On My Feet Again (+ hidden track)


Palace Of The King Are
Tim Henwood – Vocals/Guitar
Sean Johnston – Keys/Guitar
Travis Dragani – Drums
Anthony Licciardi – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/palaceofthekingmusic/
https://twitter.com/PalaceOfTheKing?lang=en-gb
https://palaceofthekingmusic.com/
https://soundcloud.com/palace-of-the-king/
https://www.youtube.com/user/PalaceOfTheKing
https://palaceoftheking.bandcamp.com/


See what I mean????


Perfect Plan - 'All Rise' Album Review


Perfect Plan – All Rise

There are a few certainties in life – the obvious ones like death, taxes, nurses and Sunderland AFC to let you down. Then there’s the others such as Sweden produces probably the best melodic rock bands in the world.



Please don’t scream out “Nurses? You misogynist sexist git #metoo” because it was a nurse that told me that. I forget his name.



Anyway bands such as Europe, H.E.A.T, Eclipse are prime examples of classic Swedish Melodic Rock and there are times when I think I might have some Swedish blood in me because I am a massive fan despite the irony of many having such a US soft rock style.



When I received the latest release from Sweden by a band from Örnsköldsvik called Perfect Plan I was at a loss. Apparently Örnsköldsvik is halfway up the coast from Stockholm (I’d been there once) and on the coast across from Finland. Perfect Plan? Never heard of them.



The blurb I got with the album told me the band had been going since 2014 but this was their first album. The picture of the band gave no real clues but if this was going to be a death metal album I wouldn’t have been shocked, how bloody wrong was I.


First impressions and all that went out the window as ‘Bad City Woman’ blasts off with a piece of awesome melodic rock, the guitar riff sets the tone and then the vocal of Kent Hilli comes blasting in. His voice is sublime, it has range, depth and power. The song is a triumph, it has a superb hook of a chorus and the voice of Hilli is outstanding. It was so good I replayed it again immediately to double check it was that good. Trust me it is.



My fear that they had played their ace too soon was dispelled as the keyboards of Leif Ehlin kicked off ‘In and Out of Love’. A slower but layered song with real depth to the music that builds to a superb sing-a-long chorus. As with ‘Bad City Woman’ the guitar solo of Rolf Nordström compliments the songs showing his undoubted skill but not taking over the feel of the song.



‘Stone Cold Lover’ maintains the feel of the album with the backing vocals supporting the outstanding Hilli voice. Another superb melodic rock song, decent stuff indeed.



By now I was captured and mesmerised. The keyboards and kinda bluesy feel to Gone too Far reminded me of something the new Whitesnake only sniffed at. This was cemented by ‘What Goes Around’ with a chorus of “She’s breaking me, taking me, bringing me down, what goes around comes around” snapped out in time to fit the music perfectly.



‘Too Late’ opens with a Europe-esque keyboard intro. It’s then I realised how the keyboards had underpinned the songs in an unobtrusive way but without them the tracks wouldn’t be as multi-dimensional as they are. Also top marks for using the correct version of “Too” as opposed to “to” or “two”. Grammatically and musically excellent.



‘Can’t Turn Back’ is a wonderfully upbeat song with typical melodic rock style. “We Can’t Turn back to love that’s gone” should surely be miserable but oh no, this is a bouncing tune that back in the 80s would have had me screaming it out with real life experience passion. The guitar sounds, vibe and feel actually make it a song of hope for the future (or maybe that’s just my warped memories!).



‘Never Surrender’ is not a cover of the song by Saxon with the same name. Don’t get me wrong the Saxon song is raw and from the heart, this song is a modern more polished tune from the heart but definitely not British Heavy Metal. It has a driving rock sound but Saxon doing wonderful backing vocals and a keyboard? Not that I remember.



‘1985’ sums up All Rise as an album and its massive nod to how albums by AOR bands in 1985 sounded. It has the overtly US rock style lyrics but with a superb modern sound. The Hilli voice and range is immense, where the f*ck has he been all this time?

‘What Can I Do’ is another superbly crafted piece of the 80s sound and again I just feel a Whitesnake influence, the chorus and backing vocals, key change and keyboard solo just simply make me smile and take me back to a more innocent (and personally a more stupid) time of my life.



‘Heaven In Your Eyes’ ends 11 tracks of wonderful nostalgia mixed with a modern sound, yet another melodic bounce along “if you have a pulse” track.



Perfect Plan are not quite a breath of fresh air but they are certainly refreshing. Judging by their picture they aren’t a bunch of kids, instead I get the feeling these are a bunch of well accomplished musicians who have taken their time to release an album of pure melodic quality. The 3 years from formation to All Rise has been well worth waiting for.



Oh maybe the song titles and lyrics may be slightly clichéd but I tell you what, a cliché doesn’t mean a lack of quality and it definitely isn’t second rate or wrong. This is a release that I know many of my AOR friends will wet their pants over (no pun intended) because it is that good.



To those going to Frontiers in Milan, don’t you dare miss these, they are proper quality and you won’t be disappointed. If Kent Hilli is as awesome as he is on this album you’re in for a treat.




Given that it’s Easter I think a solid 8.5 that will “All Rise” to a 9 on Easter Sunday is appropriate. See what I did there, badly?

Score - 8.5/10

Review by - Lawrie Willcox 

Tracklisting
Bad City Woman
In And Out Of Love
Stone Cold Lover
Gone Too Far
What Goes Around
Too Late
Can’t Turn Back
Never Surrender
1985
What Can I Do
Heaven In Your Eyes