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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!!!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Top 10 Gigs of 2013

Its been quite an active year again here at CRR towers with almost 40 gigs attended. These are just the paid ones! It’s a bit more difficult in nailing down a top 10 list of gigs, as generally most attended are pretty damn good in their own way. From a gig in a back room of a hotel or pub, to a massive show at an arena

All have been really enjoyable – except one or two who will get their notable mention….

Biggest Disappointment – Journey / Whitesnake – Phones4U Arena
An accident on the M56 put paid to getting to the gig in time to see the excellent Thunder. Whitesnake were much better than the last time I saw them, but I think sentimentality had more of a bearing on my perception. However Journey were just plain boring. One of my all time faves, it was bland, corporate cack. Pineda was the only plus, at least he made a concerted effort. Only Steve Perry will save the day…

Special mention goes out to Steel House Festival – excellent weekend, wonderfully organized, and a cracking line up to boot

10. Dan Reed – Railway Venue Bolton
Now its not very often you can stand 3 feet away from one of you fave artists who are still plying their trade from their heyday, and the Railway makes this happen. Just Dan and his guitar/ organ (f'narr!)banging out the tunes that should have made DRN gods. To top it all off, he is a genuinely nice fella

9. Alter Bridge – Phones4UArena, Manchester
Not my fave venue by far but the seats we had this time were pretty damn good. AB to be honest were very good, but I think that when you play an arena you need more than 4 guys on a stage with little lighting. They were very good like I said, but I want a little more ‘bang for my buck’ with a headliner such as AB. Halestorm were excellent, and despite the excellent review for Shinedown in Powerplay, they were pretty poor. Check            youtube PPlay dude for the evidence of miming!!!

8. Y&T Manchester Academy 2
Yes its only Dave Meniketti from the band we loved from the 80s, but bugger me the bloke is still on fire. Excellent voice, great guitar player and now well backed on this 2000s version. Currently a perennial tourer of the UK, but this wont be forever so I implore you to catch this excellent band while you can. Its two hours plus of pure Y&T magic

7. Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock – Parr Hall Warrington
How this venue isn’t used more by band’s is beyond me! Mad Mickey is bang on form, and with this current line up of Rarebell / Bucholz / White & Findlay theres plenty of life in this band yet. Its bit too UFO heavy for my liking, I'd have loved a bit more MSG to even out proceedings, but brilliant all the same. A special mention goes out to the support band of the year, Virgil & The Accelerators

6. Coheed & Cambria – O2 Liverpool
I just wish that C&C would tour as a 2 band line-up as yet again, its way too short a gig considering the amount of albums they have produced. For the hour and 15 they were awesome, Claudio is singing better than ever, and most of the anthems were played. Only thing is, I feel about 20 years out of my depth at a Coheed gig, but I don’t give a shit

5. FM – Bingley / Manchester / Ebbw Vale
Sill one of my all-time faves, I hope they stick around for a few more years yet, as their current line up is probably the best, and the output is both excellent and bloody plentiful. The Bingley gig shaded it, lovely little venue, and with the FM lads on form (to be fair Ive never seen them off form in over 30 gigs), they are tight as a nut and with harmonies to die for

4. Rush – Phones4U Arena, Manchester
Probably the biggest gig of the year. Despite not being too over enamoured with them on the last tour, they were bloody excellent here. More bands need to go down this route if they have the balls; drop the support and go for an all out assault. Even at £80 a ticket. It still represented great value for money for the 3 hrs on stage

3. Bonafide – Marine Hotel Colwyn Bay
Only decided on the day to go. Thankfully I think we had the last pair of tickets and the decision was totally justified. Bonafide are a red-hot live band. No frills AC/DC style in your face, pure unadulterated rock. Crammed in on a hot evening, whats the point in going around the audience to play you guitar when you have your timings sorted, and its easier to do a lap of the car park and come back in through the Marines reception area. And they are back in March…

2. Romeos Daughter – Railway Bolton / Assembly Rooms Derby
The Assembly Rooms proved to be the quaintest venue for a rock gig I’ve ever witnessed. Bijou, intimate, and closer to any band as you’re likely to get. The a crowd witnessed an excellent gig, with some rarely played songs (certainly not aired since the late 80s!), and it was also filmed for a DVD release. Gigs don’t come much better than this. Except maybe for this one.....

1. The Temperance Movement – O2 Liverpool / Ebbw Vale Steel House Festival
Closely pipped for my album of the year, there was no way that they were going to lose gig/s of the year. New band, but with guys that have all paid their dues and on a vast projecton to stardom. When you’re new you have no other option but to play the whole of the album, but when an album is this good, the live experience is a joy to behold. Phil Campbell is a God in waiting

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Mustasch - 'Thank You For The Demon' Album Review

So 2014 is off to a cracking start already!

Thankfully being a Chesworth, its not every time you fall into a bucket of tits that you come out sucking you thumb! This rarity happened back in 2007 (and my very early reviewing days) when I was given the task of reviewing a band I’d never ever head of...and that was Mustasch’s ‘Latest Version Of The Truth’. I must admit I was completely blown away by the Swedish Riff-Meisters, and I have been ever since! From the first bars of ‘In The Night’ that was me - (pick your idiom)…hooked like a salmon, rabbit/deer in the headlights, like a dog with 2 dicks, like a child on Jim’ll Fixit…ok so maybe not the last one, but I was sold!

I think that Mustasch have one of the best combination of styles in the world, heavy and crunching solos, a singer like Ian Astbury on steroids, but with a melody that gets under your skin like a nice Dracunculiasis! Look it up people, I had to!! This writing shit is not easy.

'Feared and Hated' starts off a little pub singer-y (whoa-oh-ohooohhhh) before unleashing a hellfire riff that Mark Tremonti would be proud of; a gun-fire burst of riffage! All this power and with a bridge/chorus that's instantly memorable.

Title track ‘Thank You For The Demon’ has a gently piano accompaniment, before the ‘Lords Of The Riff’  break out and shows the band evolving with a slightly different direction than normal.

'From Euphoria To Dystopia' sees Mustasch channel their inner Maiden/Lizzy, and then give Tony Iommi a run for his money with the doom laden ‘The Mauler’. One thing that stands out rather nicely after repeated listenings are the subtlety of the string arrangement they throw into many of their compositions. Its not just 4 blokes bludgeoning their instruments for pain and our pleasure, they are far more clever than that

'All My Life' is probably the closest the Swedes come to a ballad, or so you think. Its just 50% less metal than the norm.

Its short and sweet, weighing in at less than 37 minutes. Bur what 'TYFTD' lacks in minutes, it makes up for it in pure unadulterated quality. Not every album needs to fill 700Mb of data on a cd and be 75mins long.

To be fair to the guys, they have a formula that works, plain and simple. Its metal for us masses; powerful, brutal, and hellishly melodic to boot. 'Thank You For The Demon' is a stand out album in the Mustasch catalogue. It’s too early to be included in my top albums of 2013, as its not due out until Jan, but I can guarantee you already that it will be in my Top 10 of 2014 whatever happens.

Now PLEASE, get your asses over to the UK!



Feared And Hated
Thank You For The Demon
From Euphoria to Dystopia
The Mauler
All My Life
Lowlife Highlights
I Hate To Dance
Dont Want To Be Who I Am

Friday, 6 December 2013

Chesyrockreviews Top Rock Albums of 2013

Well folks its that time of year again for a totally (un)biased review of this years best albums. On a good month 2500-4000 visit CRR towers a month and I thank you sincerely for that. Why not subscribe like the 3 other people who fancy a regular dose of what chesyrockreviews has to offer. Go on, ya know ya wanna!!

2013 has been another decent year for fans of all genres of rock music, except if your name begins with 'I' and ends with 'an Watkins'. Shame about the poor fucker from Steps with the same name who was hounded off twitter recently (do your homework trolls!). All we have to do now is get AC/DC to the top of the UK charts for Xmas before some Simon Cowell controlled puppety mannequin fuckwitt hypnotizes every 8-15yr old girl (and also housewife) in the UK. Enough of the topical stuff heres a rundown of my Top albums of 2013.

To be totally honest to all the bands, 10 thru to 3 had nothing in them at all, they were all so close its merely a matter of personal preference. If you are in 10-3 then your albums been pretty awesome indeed!

So…to the list
Just bubbling under…..in no particular order….deserving an honourable mention are…

Lion Twin - Nashville – crackin 80s rock riffs
Edens Curse – now more of a band and the resulting album confirms this
Queensryche – the Todd-ryche version pisses over the Tate-ryche version.
King Bathmat – British Prog band deserving a greater audience
Anneke Van Giersbergen – Infectious and gorgeous in equal measure
Mystery – Belting 80s style rock from a bunch of kids who should know better!!
Laneslide – Mighty fine AOR from the voice of Mr. Vestry

20. Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock – Bridge The Gap
Probably the best piece of work from Mad Mickey since his best MSG days. A storming line-up means business right from the off. Its great to see (and hear) him back on fine form indeed

19. Sammy Hagar & Friends
The RED rocker is refusing to enter into his old age graciously and the result is rather splendid

18. Trucker Diablo –  Songs Of Iron
Irelands answer to Black Stone Cherry. These lads are on the path to greater things in 2014.

17. Dream Theater – ST
Now firmly established with Mike Mancini in the ranks the DT guys come out with all guns blazing and prove there's many a long like left in them after Portnoy

16. Vega –What The Hell
UK melodic rock starlets hit you with the Def Leppard playbook. Massive hooks and catchy choruses make for a plush listening experience. Time to make their own way as a major act in 2014

15. Volbeat –Outlaw Gentleman & Shady Ladies
Wonderfully strange and strangely wonderful. Mix Johnny Cash with Elvis, Country and Metal, and the end result is ‘OG&SL’

14. Bonafide  - Bombo
The Swedish AC/DC hit the ground running this year with Bombo. A straight shootin', no nonsense, rock ya between the eyes approach to metal

13. Charming Grace
Unusual approach saw Davide Barbieri duetting with many a well known (well in AOR circles) melodic rock starlet (most of them blokes). Thankfully an 80s passion for rock saw one of the interesting melodic rock releases of the year

12. WET - Rise UP
The 2nd album syndrome was easily brushed aside. It has more hooks than a fishing tackle box. On longer a 'project' WET are a bonafide band thanks to the Godfather of AOR at Frontiers!
11. Pamela Moore - Resurrect Me
Life after Queensryche? You bloody bet there is! Not a single ‘one trick pony’ (i.e Mindcrime Starlet) to be seen in the stable , Miss Moore comes out of the blocks sprinting for gold. Excellent metal from Sister Mary and one of the finest female metal vocalists plying their trade today

10. Von Hertzen Bros- Nine Lives
They’ve taken a while to get a foothold in the UK, but with Nine Lives, VHB have unleashed their finest album to date. Typically prog, but they mix this with a melodic-ness that many cant muster. King Crimson meets Genesis. As popular in Finland as 1D are over here, its just a matter of time before they break through into the mainstream

 Listen to - Insomniac / Flowers and Rust

9. FM – Rockville
In their most prolific form of their lives, FM prove they are not reformed just to make up the numbers. The finest of the melodic rock albums with not one, not two, but three classic tracks that fit nicely with their best work. After many a workout on BBC R2 FM can still make a go of it, and they bloody well deserve to

Listen to - Crosstown Train / Tough Love / Only Foolin'

8. Monster Truck – Furiosity
When young Chesy came home from Download, Monster Truck is one he said I should listen to. Bugger me, if you’re a fan of CLASSIC 70s rock in the vein of all your fave bands like Purple / Rainbow / Zep, then look no further than Monster Truck. Powerful stoner riffs, a melodic finesse, and with a singer in the classic style of Morrison/Cocker/with a bit of roughness for good measure, makes MTs debut a thing of beauty

Listen to - Sweet Mountain River / For The Sun / The Lion

7. Moritz – S.O.S.
How this band hasn’t got the backing of a label is beyond me. Also how the fuck didn’t they get on the unsigned Firefest 2014 bill?? I lose my faith in humanity sometimes. Anyway, SOS kicks off where Undivided left of, only with much better production, and a polished set of songs many an melodic rock band would swap their Granny for. The Americans have Journey, we in the UK have Moritz. The UK wins by a knockout!

Listen to - SOS / Fire / Cant Hide My Heart / Gonna Lose Her

6. Newman – Siren
Mr Newman’s not a man for writing in the “Melodic Rock I-Spy” book of songwriting. The songs are more personal, thought provoking which leads to a most enjoyable album. Self written, played and produced, its about time the world woke up to Newman. A hidden gem of a talent. Siren has hardly been out of the CD player since July. The reason? No its not stuck, its simply brilliant

Listen to - Scar Of Love / Arcadia / Had Enough

5. Black Sabbath – 13
Finally the UK market put Sabbath at the top of the charts. It wasn’t just for posterity, its because its Sabbaths best album with Ozzy since Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Iommi’s playing at his darkest and brilliant best, possibly because it could be his last album? I certainly hope not. I just wish they could have acted more like grown ups and got Ward back in the fold. I suppose they know best as the end result is Sab-tastic

Listen To - God Is Dead / Age Of Reason

4. Stryper – No More Hell To Pay
Yes I know that Sabbath should be higher than Stryper, but its my list! When they reformed a few years back I was quite sure if the punters were ready for another God Bothering. NMHTP sees Stryper at their very best. Gone are the sickly power ballads and in come a more consistent and metal approach. When you have one of the finest vocalists in Michael Sweet, the outcome is the unknown 11th Commandment ‘ Thou Shalt listen to Stryper’

 Listen to - No More Hell To Pay / Saved By Love / Legacy

3. The Winery Dogs
A bit of a Mega group going on here from Messers Portnoy, Sheehan, and…er…Ritchie Kotzen! OK so some may not have come across Mr Kotzens prowess, but he’s as good a singer as he is a guitarist, and whoevers idea it was to get him on board was an inspired choice. One of my fave albums of the year

Listen to -  Desire / I'M No Angel / Elevate

2. The Temperance Movement
My fave album for all of 4 days. A stunning debut from a bunch of lads who have paid their dues. In coming together as TTM, they are on their way to become one of the hottest and best bands the UK has to offer. They’ve been compared with The Faces, Black Crowes etc, but not for much longer. A gem of a singer in Phil Campbell, a slight Scot with the power of Joe Cocker on steroids and a imperious persona. My fave new band (and debut) of the year

Listen to - pretty much everything!

1.Alter Bridge – Fortress
One of my all time fave bands, but even I couldn’t see this one on the horizon. To be honest I thought they peaked with Blackbird, but Fortress picked up the baton, and ran off into the distance such is its quality. Tremonti’s riffs are downright pulverizing, and they have a perfect foil in Myles Kennedy’s vocals and guitar playing (Led Zep checked him out for a bloody good reason). Couple this with Flips drumming and a more dominant bass sound from Brian Marshall, and 'Fortress' is THE most powerful album of 2014, and its friggin awesome! AWESOME \m/

And heres what some of the others think........

Jim Kirkpartick - FM
1. Tedeschi Trucks Band - Made Up Mind
2. The Temperance Movement
3. FM - Rockville

Actually it will be interesting to see if TTB release an album in 2014 as Jim's picked them both last and this year as his fave. Big Fan of the Trucks (and Tedeschi) methinks, and I cant blame him for a second!

Allee Martell - Purrfect Timing Radio Host \m/eow!

Killer DWaRfs - Start @One 
Coldspell - Frozen Paradise 
A World With Heroes - Kiss 40th Anniversary Tribute Album 
Brett Walker - Straight Jacket Vacation

Alessandro Del Vecchio - Hardline / Ian Paice Band / Singer/ Songwriter / Producer and much more!
John Elefante - ON MY WAY TO THE SUN
Anneke van Giersbergen - DRIVE
Little River Band - CUTS LIKE A DIAMOND

Peter Scallan - Frontman for Moritz, and competitor for Rock Fusion!! And all round nice guy!!

Houston II (pure AOR), 
Rage of Angels - Dreamworld (Classic Rock) 
Stratovarios - Nemesis 

Matthew Gilmore - Bassist Extraordinare for Skam

1. Black Sabbath - 13, its great they made a classic "Sabbath" album, it could have gone so wrong 
2. Tracer - el Pistolero, its hard making album 2, but they nailed it! 
3. Freefall - Power & Volume - best new band of 2013, good old Rock n Roll.

Gareth Vanstone - Bassist for Welsh AOR big guns, Serpentine!

1) The Winery Dogs - The Winery Dogs 
2) FM - Rockville 
3) Deep Purple - What If

Heleno Vale - Soulspell founder and Brazils equivalent to Ayreon!


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Stryper - No More Hell To Pay Album Review

“No More Hell to Pay” is Stryper’s eighth original studio album. Produced by frontman/guitarist Michael Sweet himself, the set features some of Stryper’s strongest and heaviest material ever.  Sweet commented: “The new Stryper album, No More Hell To Pay, is the record we needed to make as a follow up to 'To Hell With The Devil'. Every song has a hooky guitar riff. Everything is in minor keys, so it's a little darker sounding and a little tougher. It's definitely our heaviest record and I think people will be pleasantly surprised. To reference, there is less songs like 'Calling On You' and more songs like 'To Hell With The Devil'. It's more in that vein than the poppier vein." All I can add to that is, thank God! I loved Stryper in the 80s. Yes they were seen by many as a novelty band, but when they were heavy, bugger me there weren’t that many who could touch them, because in Michael Sweet they had one of THE finest rock vocalist ever to grace a stage.

Stryper is one of the top Christian rock bands of all time.  Comprised of the original line-up of Michael Sweet (vocals/guitar), Oz Fox (guitar), Tim Gaines (bass), and Robert Sweet (drums), Stryper has been rocking since 1984, and is responsible for such '80s metal classic albums as SOLDIERS UNDER COMMAND, TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL, IN GOD WE TRUST and such MTV hit singles/videos as "Calling on You," "Free," and "Honestly." After a sabbatical for much of the 1990's, Stryper returned strong in the early 21st century.  To date, the band has sold upwards of 8 million records worldwide and is a Dove Award-winner and Grammy nominee.  Stryper is the first band to have two songs in MTV’s Top 10 simultaneously. The God botherers have been pretty active these past 10 years, with (including compilations and live albums),eight albums, with No More Hell To Pay, their fifth in just six years! Bills have to be paid people!

So, thankfully the schmaltz has gone. No-one did ballads like Stryper. But for me they always upset the flow of some great tunes. Whereas with the new opus, Hell To Pay has had all of the pink fluffiness removed and the end result proves to be Stryper’s heaviest, most consistent, and possibly their best album to date. They certainly chose a great title track to open their campaign, and reminds me a little of Queesnryche’s Take Hold Of The Flame (I did say a little), and has some great vocal dexterity from Mr Sweet. Only once do they get blatantly close to ‘Preachy’ and that’s on “Water Into Wine’ and ‘Jesus Is Just Alright’, the latter a hit by the Doobie Bros in the US in the 70, and is a song that’s been covered by many. They hit the full metal onslaught with ‘Legacy’, as song that would have many an old or new metal band chomping at the bit for. Cynics will take the piss, but it’s a face-melter and a half. Chunky riffs, and a metal-esque chorus to boot.

‘The One’ is the only track that comes close to a Styper ballad, and even that’s nowhere near as mushy as anything from their past. ‘Marching Into Battle’ harks back to the days of Yellow & Black Attack only with a meatier production.

A lot of 80s bands have come back to reminisce, but not Stryper, who have taken their successes from their earliest albums, and cranked the heaviness up to 11, and in doing so have pushed their own boundaries further than they thought possible. NMHTP without the sway of a major label has thrown Stryper’s hat into the ring for a top 5 contender come the end of 2013. Since the band reformed mid 200s its one resurrection that’s been well worth the wait.

Other reviews taken from the web.....

‘I could never part with it’, Moses
‘My wives loved it!’, Solomon
‘Great music for the Ark’s ipod’, Noah
‘It slayed me!’, Goliath
‘I couldn’t stop dancing’, Salome
SCORE - 90/100


Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals / Lead Guitar
Robert Sweet – Drums and Visual Timekeeping
Timothy Gaines – Bass / Vocals
Oz Fox – Lead Guitar / Vocals

Tracklisting: Revelation; No More Hell To Pay; Saved By Love; Jesus Is Just Alright; The One;
Legacy; Marching Into Battle; Te Amo; Sticks & Stones; Water Into Wine; Sympathy; Renewed.

Bonus DVD content: “Making of the Album” documentary; No More Hell to Pay (videoclip); Sympathy (videoclip).


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Sammy Hagar & Friends Album Review

OK - I want to make one thing clear from the start. I LOVE SAMMY HAGAR. This means that there may be a slight bias.

I have done since being introduced to the classic Loud and Clear live album by friends of mine in the VIth Form at skool. I was lucky enough to see him on his 1982 UK tour in Southampton, promoting the equally classic Standing Hampton album. Notwithstanding the bona fide classics he has been associated with, Montrose, Paper Money, 5150, and Loud and Clear itself,  It's fair to say that although some of his output over the years has been patchy, he's never produced an outright BAD album. Not one. Considering the volume of his output over the years, that is no mean achievement.

With that in mind I was greatly looking forward to getting my shell-likes around the Red Rocker's new masterwork - Sammy Hagar & Friends. I was not disappointed in the least.  The album opens up well with 'Winding Down' - a fine rocker, and the first of three songs with the word 'down' in the title - and is followed up by the tremendous 'Not Going Down' which has some great soul backing vocals from among others, the fantastically-named Omega Rae. Gotta love it. With Denny Carmassi and Bill Church playing on the same track, Sammy's assertion in the sleeve notes that it  'felt like I was back in '72 with Montrose'  is right on the money.

One thing - the final 'Down' song is 'Going Down' . Come on, Sam - which is it ? Are you Going Down or not ? Make your mind up !

Next up - a startlingly unusual cover - but one that really works - as they all do on the album. Ladies and gentlemen, Sammy Hagar sings Depeche Mode !
'Personal Jesus' should be relatively familiar as it was a hit single, and has even been covered by Johnny Cash. DM themselves have a bona fide star in Dave Gahan, and Sammy certainly puts his mark on the song. Better still - it wasn't  'Just Can't get Enough' !

Knockdown Dragout is Sammy and Kid Rock tearing the house down - the track should be familiar to Planet Rock listeners. It's been played enough ! Another effective cover of Bob Seger's Ramblin' Gamblin' Man leads to the excellent Bad on Fords and Chevrolets - with lead vocals shared with country singer Ronnie Dunn. Hard Rock meets Country in Rock n Roll's back yard - with some great lyrics.

Before getting to the musical climax of the album - Going Down - where the mighty Neal Schon really gets his heavy on with Michael Anthony and Chad Smith (BTW - rumours abound of the return of HSAS, and yes, the initials do work)   - the listener is blessed with two soothing tracks which work brilliantly as a sequential pair;  Margaritaville and All We Need is as Island. They put you with a cool drink watching the sun go down - with the latter song's lyrics making one pray for a lottery win. Sammy being Sammy has more than enough money to get an island - and indeed probably has one - but he sets the scene for those of us without one beautifully.

As an album that is akin to Slash's 'RnFnR' guest-filled solo effort, Sammy Hagar and Friends stacks up very well - covering a very varied  set of musical styles. A very listenable and enjoyable 8 1/2 out of 10.

One last thing - I did not expect to see it in my local HMV. But there it was - with a fair degree of promotion, too - not simply in the CD rack.  What am I gonna do - NOT buy it ?

Bearing in mind the dearth of proper music available on the high street nowadays, this is indicative of  a good album.  Stores won't get behind a 66 year-old rocker unless the output is hot.  Sammy's latest is certainly worthy of his illustrious canon, and in parts is RED hot.

Highly recommended - notwithstanding my personal bias.

Reviewer - HB

Score 75/100

Tracklisting :-
 1. Winding Down :
2. Not Going Down :
3. Personal Jesus :
4. Father Sun :
5. Knockdown Dragout :
6. Ramblin' Gamblin' Man :
7. Bad On Fords And Chevrolets :
8. Margaritaville :
9. All We Need Is An Island :
10. Going Down :

Friday, 27 September 2013

Anneke Van Giersbergen - Drive Album Review

Now somebody tell me please, how can you not be taken in by that face? Just look at her will ya, looking all gorgeous and stuff. Ok that’s my stalking moment over and done with. I first came across AVG fronting The Gathering a few years back and was particularly entranced by the ‘Mandylion’ track ‘Leaves’. I’ve followed her work closely ever since - from guesting as one of Arjen Lucassen’s muses on his Ayreon project, and more recently on her solo work and duet with Danny Cavanagh and as Agua De Annique

The woman has the voice of an angel. I’m not religious at all, but if I were then this is what the Angels would sound/sing like!!

On this follow-up to 2012’s 'Everything is Changing', Anneke collaborated with Dutch songwriter and producer Arno Krabman, enlisting the help of her live band to lay down the new tracks. In a time when bands are creating entire albums by transferring files online, Anneke explains that she was keen to do things the old-fashioned way: “I really wanted to record an album together with a group of musicians in a studio. Having toured extensively with the same tight-knit group of musicians, the result is an organic sound that perfectly captures our chemistry as a band.”

Having proven her credentials and immense vocal talent for 13 years as front woman of The Gathering, in 2007 Anneke felt it was time to begin her own solo career. Along with her new band Agua de Annique the charismatic singer quickly established herself as a solo artist, releasing several albums to critical and popular acclaim.

Anneke also found time to collaborate with some of her long-time friends and musical peers, lending her honey-sweet, yet powerful voice to the likes of Anathema (Falling Deeper), the eccentric Devin Townsend (Addicted!, Epicloud) and fellow Dutchmen Within Temptation (Black Symphony). 2012’s Everything is Changing was something of a milestone in Anneke’s solo career. The album, which was the first to be released under her own name without the Agua de Annique moniker, got her nominated for two Edison awards – Holland’s most prestigious music prize – in the categories ‘Best Female Artist’ and ‘Best Album’. Not only was it a success in her home country, Everything is Changing took Anneke all over the world as she toured over 25 different countries including the UK, Germany, France and throughout Latin America.

So what does 'Drive' behold? Well its certainly a mix of tracks to be honest. If its prog, or heavy rock you’re after than you’re looking in the wrong place. I suppose I could class it as radio friendly Euro pop rock, and there definitely are a couple of radio anthems in the waiting. Last years 'Everything is Changing' was a wonderful release, full of emotion and frailty, whereas 'Drive' has a more fun approach.  The first anthem is the opener ‘We Live On’ and really gives AVG chance to show off that vocal range. ‘Treat Me Like A Lady;’ has more of a meatier riff and is delivered with a bit of ‘oomph!’. ‘She’ starts off a little subtle, before again kicking in with a forceful chorus (a pattern is emerging). Onto the title track 'Drive' – Now, if there’s a more catchier song than this anywhere in Europe this year I sware I’ll refund the money for this album myself (just kidding!), but it is a killer of a track that deserves to be heard my millions, and that chorus is just instantly memorable.

‘My Mother Said’ is a beautiful number, just a piano and her, proving that AVG needs nothing more than her voice as a superb instrument. 'You Will Never Change' falls into the uplifting bracket of songs on 'Drive', before she takes a tangent for the Arabic influenced 'Mental Jungle' and is one of the interesting songs from her to date.

This has been made with essentially what is AVGs touring band and the writing together in an studio and as a band has paid dividends. Whilst is isn’t all excellent, its an album that I will always go back to for a very pleasurable listen…mainly down to THAT voice!


Track Listing:
1 We Live On (03:41)
2 Treat Me Like A Lady (04:00)
3 She (03:08)
4 Drive (03:43)
5 My Mother Said (03:21)
6 Forgive Me (03:11)
7 You Will Never Change (04:03)
8 Mental Jungle (03:44)
9 Shooting For The Stars (04:33)
10 The Best Is Yet To Come (04:04)

Anneke van Giersbergen - vocals, guitar
Gijs Coolen – guitar
Ferry Duijsens – guitar
Joost van Haaren – bass
Annelies Kuijsters - keyboards, backing vocals
Rob Snijders - drums

Gary Moore - Back On The Streets Album Review

Gary Moore is one of the underrated good guys. His tenure in Thin Lizzy was relatively short, but very, very sweet, yielding classics such as Do Anything You Want To, Waiting For An Alibi and the very underrated classic Black Rose.

Just before Black Rose, Moore released this lettuce (I mean little gem!). Back On The Streets saw Gary Moore collaborate with the Lizzy frontman, Phillip Lynott (bass guitar, double bass, acoustic guitar, percussion, backing vocals, vocals - Tracks 2, 3, 8, 9). Not only that, he surrounded himself with a quality set of musicians, such as Brian Downey , Thin Lizzy(Drums – tracks 2,3,8,9), Don Airey, Colosseum II (Keys tracks 1, 4-7), Simon Phillips, shitloads (Drums – tracks 1, 4-7), John Mole, Colosseum II – (Bass – tracks 4-7)

Opening track 'Back On The Streets' would have been good enough to grace any of the superior Thin Lizzy albums, and sees Moore ripping into a killer riff, with Lynott’s unmistakable vocals filing in the chorus, and it sees Moore throwing in all but the kitchen sink into his guitar playing. 'Don’t Believe a Word' is a very nice surprise, a slower more intimate version compared to the one on 'Johnny The Fox', with Moore and Lynott sharing the vocals. It works just as well at this slower blues pace as the heavier original, with the solo similar to 'Still in Love With You', proving Moore had the Blues at a very early stage in his career.

'Fanatical Fascists' is more of a rock/punk ditty that still holds up some 35 years later. Like many a guitar players solo albums, Moore is no different with the of the 8 being instrumentals, and out of these 3, the comically titled 'What Would You Rather Bee or A Wasp' shines above the rest, and has more of a jazz funk feel to it, and sees Moore shredding the arse off of his Gibson Les Paul.

'Song For Donna', is a little too laid back and slow ballad for my liking, but the album ends on an absolute killer and it quickly became THE Gary Moore tune of choice, 'Parisienne Walkways'. Anyone who has heard this live has probably never heard it better than the original with Lynnot’s vocals. Moore has a fine set of pipes, but can be a bit Marmite and screamy for some, but this is the definitive version that got unto the UK charts (No.8 in 1979), a haunting melody that was probably played at every Gary Moore encore since 1978

Whilst Universal have nailed the extended version series somewhat recently, it’s good to see that there’s some bonus material still available. Whilst not huge, it’s  essentially 2 songs ('Track Nine' and 'Spanish Guitar'), of which the latter is covered 3 times – version with Lynott, Moore and an instrumental version just so you can sing along in the shower

Yes, Moore had one of those faces that only a mother could love, but f*ck me, he was an excellent guitar player. I later likened him to the Lee Evans of Rock Music, as he was the only man who matched Evans in the sweat department.

'Back On The Streets' is a mighty fine album and one deserving of the re-release treatment for one of the finest guitarists ever produced


Tracklisting -
Back On The Streets
Dont Believe A Word
Fanatical Fascists
Flight Of The Snow Moose
Song For Donna
What Would You Rather Bee Or A Wasp
Parisienne Walkways

Track Nine
Spanish Guitar (Lynott vocals)
Spanish Guitar (Moore Vocals) 
Spanish Guitar (Instrumental)

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Arc Angel - Harlequins Of Light

Following a chance meeting with Paul on a Welsh mountain top;  cold and wet but certainly having a good time at the Steelhouse Festival , I am pleased to submit my first album review  - Arc Angel's Harlequins of Light.

The names of Jeff Cannata and Arc Angel are both synonymous and legendary within AOR circles and Frontiers must be delighted to have them on their roster of artists. Whilst being fully aware of both names, I was not overly familiar with their work and so was able to listen to the Harlequins of Light album with open ears and no preconceptions. Having now heard it 2 or 3 times I can say this : Jeff and Arc Angel have produced an aural banquet, but have still left room for improvement.

Making the assumption that (unfortunately) we will not see Harlequins of Light in any shops, there will be no casual acquisitions and  all purchasers will have sought the album out deliberately, confident in what they are investing in by virtue of their own tastes, and knowledge of the body of Jeff Cannata's work.  Thus - no-one buying the album will be disappointed - and the opening title track immediately justifies the purchase and grasps the listener with a great hook, (although for those of us on the British Isles, Mr. Cannata's pronounciation of the H-word does seem strange. Harleykins anyone ?)

Regardless of this minor quibble - and who is to say that JC isn't right -  the whole album has been truly beautifully produced, with a great guitar sound, magical keyboard flourishes on As Far as the Eye Can See amongst other tracks, and overall we are given a sumptuous AOR soundscape. The band Jeff has surrounded himself with can truly play, but as expected he burdens himself with drum, bass, keys, guitars and all of the vocals, which makes the album's all the more remarkable. One can hear musical nods to other great bands within the pomp/melodic rock sphere - particularly the mighty Styx - and even to the 1988 Arc Angel, with a re-recording of Fortune Teller.


The album could have been even better. Jeff is a good singer, but not a great singer - and the songs could benefit from a stronger voice with a greater range - I'm thinking Danny Vaughan here. The album is also somewhat one-paced, with the pieces blending into one another rendering it difficult to distinguish one from another. This may be a deliberate attempt to make the whole album a piece in itself, but IMHO the impact is diminished. The lyrics - there's nothing truly wrong with them - but they do seem contrived. Uriah Heep do the magical, mysterious and meaningless in a more believable manner.

There is no need for a 'caveat emptor' here, as ultimately, no owner of Harlequins of Light will be left disillusioned with what they HAVE acquired, only with what they have not - the missing pieces of 'what could have been'. What could have been is a 10/10 AOR-Pomp classic, what it is is a very solid 

Hugh Braddock


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Alter Bridge - Fortress Album Review

Well! That bloody lasted about 4 days. Less than a week ago I (wrongly) predicted that the debut album by The Temperance Movement was probably my album of the year. Damn you Alter Bridge for topping a fine debut album.

Fortress is the 4th album from the US quartet, who have now firmly shaken the Creed tag away for good. What I mean to say is that Creed was always hanging around the guys, but now that tag can be removed as Fortress is 100% Alter Bridge and is 100 miles removed from them (Creed). 

All I can say as an intro is that anyone of a slightly nervous disposition must undertake stringent medical tests from their doctor before proceeding to listen as this beast will make you look like an extra from World War Z / Walking Dead, as the ferocity of the riffs will splay your entrails for all to see. Yes it’s a brutal statement, but I didn’t think they would top ‘Blackbird’, but its been surpassed and then some’

Alter Bridge have definitely gone for the jugular this time around. The songs are fiercer, much heavier than all before, and downright pulverizing. You’re lulled into a nice sense of security with the opening classical/flamenco guitar on ‘Cry Of Achilles’ before Tremonti steps in and removes the wax from your ears. The bloke is a veritable riff machine. Its definitely Alter Bridge, but on steroids, and at six and a half minutes it feels like a three minute single. Tremonti and Marshall trade pounding licks with Kennedy’s multi octave wail playing a vocal fiddle to the metal orchestra.

‘Addicted To Pain’, is the first video and single, and sounds like it wouldn’t have been amiss if it was on Tremonti’s ‘All I Was’. ‘Bleed It Dry’ continues in the same  chugging style, before they tame it down slightly for ‘Lover.’ ‘Calm The Fire’ has the sound of a collaboration with Matt Bellamy of Muse as it has that pompous and overblown into that is a Muse trademark. Top marks to Marshall as his bass playing is really at the front of this album, and along with Phillips drives this album on at such a pace, I feel knackered just listening to it.

 ‘Waters Rising’ sees a nice change for Fortress with Tremonti taking over lead vocals in its entirety, and Kennedy chipping in on BVs. It sounds more vintage/classic rock Alter Bridge than the rest. A cool game change, but Alter Bridge wouldn’t be Alter Bridge without the vocal powerhouse of Myles Kennedy who just exceeds himself (and excels) with every passing album. Just when I think he’s peaked, he packs in another stellar performance. ‘Farther Than The Sun’ is a proper chest pounder and when played live will be an absolute tour de force. ‘Fortress’ is this albums ‘Blackbird’, with Alter Bridge ending on an all-conquering bombastic high. ‘All Ends Well’ is the one which sounds most like the Alter Bridge we have all come to love on the previous 3 albums. But music is about change and development, and Alter Bridge have definitely hit the ground running with ‘Fortress.’ I loved ‘ABIII’ and really thought the peak was with ‘Blackbird’, but Alter Bridge have an album here of such power and face melting force that it will undoubtedly be at the very top of many a magazine and reviewer’s lists come the end of the year.

2013 sees them become masters of their own destiny and the Creed references of the past have well and truly been terminated and laid to rest. With Fortress they simply can’t fail to bring in new fans, and drive on to become a huge band over the course of the next year or so. All the cards are firmly in place for metal domination. All hail Plankton! Er, I mean Alter Bridge!!!!

Its not very often I give an album full marks, but in this instance its fully deserving!! 


Tracklisting - 

Cry Of Achilles
Addicted To Pain
Bleed It Dry
The Uninvited
Peace Is Broken
Calm The Fire
Water's Rising
Father Than The Sun
Cry A River
All Ends Well

Upcoming UK Tour

The dates are: 
Wed 16th Oct - NOTTINGHAM Arena, 
Thu 17th Oct - BIRMINGHAM NIA, 
Fri 18th Oct - LONDON Wembley Arena, 
Sun 20th Oct - CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena, 
Mon 21st Oct - GLASGOW Hydro, and 
Tue 22nd Oct - MANCHESTER Arena.