About Me

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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!!!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

James LaBrie - I Will Not Break EP Review

James Labrie has really found his stride away from his day job with his solo projects. More in your face metal than anything he’s previously done over the last 25yrs, and I was one who thought he didn’t have this side in him!

He is following up his successful latest solo album, "Impermanent Resonance", with a Digital EP.
- Released with the start of a massive European headlining tour by Dream Theater.
- EP contains 9 Tracks and 38 minutes playing time for a special low-price.
The EP includes the title track "I Will Not Break" as well as 8 previously digitally unreleased (demo/bonus/re-mix) songs.
- Featuring 3 dub-step/electro re-mixes by US DJ's Jason Miller, Mutrix and NeonGenesis. - Cover artwork by Gustavo Sazes / abstrata.net (Arch Enemy, Firewind, Dream Evil, etc.).
On the good old days an EP was 4 songs on a 12” or 7” single (Vinyl). Nowadays it’s the trend to produce EPs that are longer than albums were in the 70s and 80s
The first two thirds of the EP are of definite value to a DT fan like myself with bonus tracks from his 2 solo albums, demo tracks taken from the Static Impulse sessions and an alternate mix track (Coming Home taken from Static Impulse).
I do admit to liking JLBs direction for his solo work, but I’m not overly fussed with the alternate growling/shouty/Cookie Monster vocals of Wildoer as I’ve expressed in the past. The last 3 songs are all Re-mixed versions of SI songs. Whilst not far away from the original, ‘I Tried’ is a pain in the arse with its Ministry Of Sound drumbeat.
Whilst not my cup of tea, it’s a different slant on what I'd prefer to listen to, and ‘Over The Edge’ and ‘Euphoric’ are more manageable than I thought, but they are not exactly songs I’d go back to in the future. I’d have preferred a live track or two with possibly a complete rework of one or two songs in a toned down format.
If anything it proves how versatile a performer JLB is, from the rip yer face off songs like ‘I Will Not Break’, and ‘Jekyll & Hyde to the subtle balladry of the excellent ‘Coming Home’, and the melodic musings of ‘Why’.
Its definitely for LaBrie fans only!

Score 70/100

James LaBrie - I Will Not Break EP (38:03) 1. I Will Not Break (3:52)
2. Unraveling (3:31)
3. Why (3:45)
4. Coming Home (Alternate Mix) (4:23)
5. Jekyll Or Hyde (Demo) (3:48)
6. Just Watch Me (Demo) (4:17)
7. I Tried (Jason Miller Re-mix) (5:13)
8. Over The Edge (Mutrix Re-mix) (4:33) 9. Euphoric (NeonGenesis Re-mix) (4:41)

Song notes:
- Song 1 is the title track and an album version taken off the "Impermanent Resonance" album 2013.

- Songs 2 and 3 were previously released as physical European Digipak bonus tracks (not digitally!) for the "Impermanent Resonance" album 2013.

- Song 4 is an alternate mix version previously released as physical European Digipak and Japan bonustracks (not digitally!) for the "Static Impulse" album 2010.

- Songs 5 and 6 are demo version previously released as physical European Digipak and Japan bonustrack (not digitally!) for the "Static Impulse" album 2010.

- Songs 7, 8 and 9 are special dub step / electro re-mixes of "Static Impulse" songs (2010), previously unreleased (Song 7 only available physically as Japan bonus before).

James LaBrie - Lead Vocals

Matt Guillory - Keyboards, Background Vocals 
Marco Sfogli - Guitars

Ray Riendeau - Bass

Peter Wildoer - Drums, Screams

Transatlantic - Kaleidoscope Album Review

There aren’t that many bands, or come to think of it, so called “super-groups’ with the pedigree of Transatlantic. A fully-fledged band despite all members having day jobs, Transatlantic are fully fledged members of the prog fraternity. All have bought in with their heart and soul to the modern masters making prog accessible and de rigueur!

It’s been 5 years since the single-track album that was The Whirlwind. That does not mean that Kaleidoscope is any less epic. To be honest it doesn’t matter if a son is 2 minutes or 32 minutes in length, as long as it’s a good one (we have the last track weighing in at almost 32).

Despite the guys all having other day jobs its great that they still want to get together to make great music. Despite a hiatus when Morse left SB to find God, it’s a band that has vowed to continue to make music as long as time allows. These 4 lads are probably some of the hardest working guys in the musical world. Its been the continued partnership of Morse and Portnoy that led them back together for The Whirlwind. The prog world would have a hole in it if these four were not to record together. All are great in their own individual parts, but there’s a definite spark when the are together as Transatlantic.

Only Shine on the new album was written outside of Transatlantic. Morse wrote this before his excellent Momentum album was released and it screamed to him of Transatlantic. This aside, the rest come together purely as their songs and not leftovers from their main bands work.

It’s a mere 5 songs in total, with three shorts songs sandwiched in-between 2 epic length tracks. Opener, ‘Into The Blue’ is a mere 25mins long and takes you on a long journey with the music rising, falling, and rising again continuously throughout the whole piece. Daniel Gildenlow of Pain Of Salvation makes a very welcome cameo ¾ thru. Lyrically it references St Paul’s writings, but it’s not per se religious and in your face. “Shine’ was the pre launch track that is a Neal Morse gem, and is as close as Transatlantic come to being commercial as they dare, and even at 7 mins it just speeds along, and a special mention to Roine Stolt’s wonderful guitar playing.

‘Black As The Sky’ is Transatlantics upbeat track with more than a passing nod given to Yes in their heyday, with a touch of Dream Theater thrown in for added measure, and is a heavy a song as they have ever performed as Transatlantic. ‘Beyond The Sun’ brings Rich Mouser in on pedal steel guitar, and it is an emotional ballad, with a continuum brining an added haunting feel to proceedings. Title track ‘Kaleidoscope’ is typical of then, with an instrumental beginning, and reminds me of Spock's Beard's lengthy and fine opuses. Stolt takes over vocal duties in the middle section before vocals depart and the music entwines its crescendo for the final 9 minutes and it really is a monumental and epic track.

Very few bands have the capacity or audacity to perform songs in the true vein of progressive rock. Thankfully Transatlantic do, and their sheer class turn it into an Olympic event. Everything is thrown at the audience, but not just for pompousness, all is being done for good reason, to take you of a wondrous and fantastic aural journey.

Kaleidoscope is aptly named, as it brings together the rich colours that are the 4 guys individual personalities, background and influences, and entwine all this into a sonic tapestry, and it makes for a very unique band and listening experience.

Existing fans will lap this gem up in droves. Its definitely worth the added money for the 3 disc Deluxe set which includes a DVD, and covers by the likes of Yes, ELO, Focus, King Crimson, Procul Harum, Elton John and The Moody Blues.

Score 90/100

Tracklisting -

Into The Blue
Black As The Sky
Beyond The Sun

Transatlantic -

Roine Stolt
Mike Portnoy
Pete Trewavas
Neal Morse

Monday, 20 January 2014

Interview with Michael Sweet of Stryper

We talk about...

The new album 'No More Hell To Pay'
Writing and production
Life with Frontiers Records
The supergroup with George Lynch, Brian Tichy and James Lomenzo
Keeping the Faith
The Covering 2
And introducing Michaels dog!!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Overland - Epic Album Review

Steve Overland is back! a legend in his own lifetime (so easy to say lunchtime!). Is there anyone out there who is not familiar with his name? Unfortunately…yes! But I have to agree with their sentiments…because when you have a bloke this damn good, who has been churning out quality tunes that Americans would eat their own weight in McDonalds to get hold of,  Mr Overland should be up there with the Buble’s, Boltons, and Bon Jovi’s of the world. He has a history that goes way back into the late seventies, his first major recording was with the band “Wildlife” in 1980. After the demise of “Wildlife” Steve went on to form the cult British melodic rock band “FM”, a band that released many great albums throughout the eighties and nineties and more recently in 2013. Their popularity has always been at the forefront of British Hard Rock.

Steve has also fronted two releases by “The Ladder”, which is a dream come true for all fans of FM as the band is an extension of the great FM themselves. “Future Miracles” was welcome by fans old and new and it was hailed by many as the best album of 2004. More recently “Sacred” is an album that hones the identity of “The Ladder”, but with added oomph!

Steve’s first solo album “Break Away” had fans divided as it was so much different from his work with FM, but many grew to love it as it was something different from the norm. Steve gave us a more classic approach to melodic rock with “Diamond Dealer”, with great songs that have feeling and depth.

It’s now time for one of the finest starts to 2014 you could possible want to wish for, the album “Epic” which is the brand new release from SO. Could it be aptly named, or is it a false prophecy? Well, what with Mike Slamer and Billy Greer of Kansas involved in the proceedings then we are in for a big and crackin’ album.

“Radio Radio” is one of the most radio-friendly tracks you could ever wish to hear, and has all the Overland hallmarks, great vocals, with chorus as catchy as the Ebola virus, and has a bit of added welly to boot. The good rockin’ continues with “If Looks Could Kill”. Overland has the melodic rock songbook nailed to a tee – so what if music is sometime formulaic – if you have the right recipe, why tamer and bollox the whole thing up. SO is the Michel Roux of melodic rock. “Rags To Riches” is a little belter of a track, heavy and a typical layered chorus that grabs from the off, as is “Down Comes The Night” which will have AOR fans salivating into their pint glasses. Its almost getting too difficult to pick alternate praise as Im speeding thru the album, its just one after another after another slice of quality. ‘If your hearts not in it” sounds like it could be a biographical nod to the early 90s! “Rock Me’ comes over like a harder Wildlife track from all those years back. Theres loads of Bolton-esque ‘Whoo-oohs” which should be trademarks as his own.

I always used to think that when Ronnie left Sabbath he kept all the really good stuff for Holy Diver, I wonder if the temptations the same here. Or is it that SO can just turn the tap on for whatever suits him.

 To be honest I just don’t know how the bloke fits it all in. Over they years he’s been as prolific and anyone else I can think of. In the last 10 years I dread to think how many quality songs he has written and performed whether it be FM, Solo duty, Shadowman etc.

Its finely written, superbly performed, and has the production values that scream quality. Surround yourself with like minded individuals and the net result is “Epic”.

This is a grand album from Steve, if you are expecting something entirely different then look elsewhere, but Epic is as Epic does, and it’s a mighty fine testament to one of the finest singer songwriters the UK has produced…EVER, and I guarantee will be right up there for the end of year best of lists.

Score 95/100

Release: 21. February 2014

Specials: Billy Greer (Kansas / Seventh Key), Fredrik Bergh, Billy Trudel, produced, arranged and mixed by Mike Slamer (Seventh Key),  

1-Radio Radio
2- If Looks Could kill
3- Stranded
4- Rags To Riches
5- Liberate My Heart 
6-Down Comes The Night
7- If Your Heart's Not In It
8- Rock Me
9- So This Is Love
10- Wild 
11-  The End Of The Road
12- Time For Letting Go

Billy Greer (Kansas / Seventh Key) - Background Vocals
Billy Trudel - Background Vocals
Fredrik Bergh, Additional Keys on "Liberate My Heart" and "Down Comes The Night"

Produced and arranged by Mike Slamer
co- produced by: Christian Wolff
Mixed and mastered by Mike Slamer at Shattered Studios ,Valencia CA
Executive Producer: Khalil Turk for Escape Music ltd.