Rock Reviews - Classic. AOR. Prog. Metal.
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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!!!
So far in 2017, my reviewing ears have been
subjected to some tripe to say the least. I was hoping for some relief, and thankfully I
have found it!
I’d heard on the local jungle drums that
there was a (very) young North Wales band that’s been growing in reputation and
getting some serious attention. So when a mate of mine posted a FB Live video
of theirs over the Christmas period I was hooked like a salmon.
The band in question is a three piece
called Mad Haven hailing from Penrhyn Bay and Rhos On Sea. Neither yet known for being
hotbeds of metal, but I predict it soon will be. Mad Haven consist of brothers
Tom Rogowski – 15 (Guitar & lead Vocals), Alex Rogowski - 17 (Drums &
Backing Vocals), and Joe Fisher – 16 (Bass & Backing Vocals). They are that
young, their combined aged is just 48, and that’s still younger than this
reviewer! This proves that you’re never too young (or old) to kick ass
and rock. Mad Haven have been around since 2011, so just let that sink in a
minute.….I have gig tee-shirts older than these lads.
Their EP ‘Sound Of The Music’ is an
impressive one for such young musicians, which can only bode well as they
develop further. Not only that, its their 5th EP which puts them in
BCC territory! Straight off the bat, the intro leaves you in no doubt as to who
they want to emulate – its kick-ass riffs straight out of the Aussie school of
rock like AC/DC and Airbourne. ‘Running Far’ sees Tom channel his inner Lemmy
for some throaty JD soaked vocals. God only knows what he will sound like when
he is finally allowed to drink! The chorus immediately sinks in and requires no
additional listen. The playing is as tight as a nut and if you closed your eyes
the age does not come into his playing, as its mature, hits the spot and all
down excellent. The rhythm section of Tom and Alex combine to make it one
excellent intro into the world of Mad Haven.
Title track ‘Sound Of The Music’ leads you
in a few directions before settling in. Its certainly straight out of the heavy
metal songbook….’rock and roll is the sound of the music’. It leads itself to a
15 minute rocking live version I imagine as it allows the guys to go off in all
directions. For me the best is kept until last. ‘Watcha’ Gonna’’ includes a
line ‘all you think is what's for tea tonight’. The song is lifted by a
refrain/bridge/chorus that experienced professional bands would love, make that 'kill' to write.
Its all about the melody and Mad Haven have this in abundance.
So, despite my ‘young’ remarks, MH are as
professional as they come. DO NOT dismiss this band as they are going places.
If you like your metal to be tight, rock hard, balls to the wall, and tinged
with the Aussie influence then look no further than Mad Haven.
Mad Haven have an EP launch party at The
Marine Hotel, Old Colwyn, Sat, 11th Feb. £5 entry and you get a copy
of the CD!!
After the disappointment of Jack Russell’s
Great White, I’m hoping that Stephen Pearcy fares better. I think (in the
distance, somewhere near Milan) I can hear the bottom of barrels being
Best known as the
original vocalist and founding member of the platinum rock band RATT, Stephen
Pearcy has been working hard to complete his highly anticipated fourth solo
album, while at the same time keeping busy performing shows across the U.S.
“I am very happy with the new music and the diversity
of the songs. It's taken some time. I'm sure all the fans will be excited too,”
says Stephen about the new album.
“Smash” was mixed and mastered by none other than the
legendary Beau Hill, the producer of RATT's first four albums, among many other
hit records. Stephen will be supporting "SMASH" with live dates in
the U.S. and internationally.
With over 15 million records and gold and platinum long
form videos sold in the U.S. alone with RATT, touring the world with over (20)
albums to his credit with other ventures, solo projects, compilations, best of
records, and other bands he created, there is no slowing Pearcy down.
Beau Hill has weaved his magic over the years, but not
even he has enough polish to buff this one into and decent shape. Give yourself
a gold star if you thought I was going to say ‘turd’.
On first inspection,
Pearcy doesn’t sound too bad. I was flinching a in anticipation as some of the
Ratt stuff I’ve seen on YouTube is rough to say the least.A good producer can obviously add some spit
and polish to proceedings. Not possessing the finest set of pipes, he used them
very well and to his advantage in the 1980s. He’s certainly made the best out
of an average voice.
‘I know I’m Crazy’
comes off as a plodding grunge track, which would have been fine in 1992, but
some 25yrs later, its off the mark by some distance.‘Ten Miles Wide’ fares a lot better as it’s
more in Ratt territory, but not quite there. ‘Shut Down Baby’ is a song that
could have gone in a different direction with its decent sounding riff, but
gets lost. ‘Dead Roses’ has a bit of a Velvet Revolver vibe and is the best of
the bunch so far. ‘Lollipop’ is one of the worst named songs in rock history
and screams ‘meh!’.
‘Rain’ has an 80s
based riff, but doesn’t have the legendary Ratt bridge or chorus to lift it.
‘Want To Much’ is a decent enough song, but given everything that precedes it,
its not that hard to be good, but it does have elements of vintage Pearcy. Just
‘Jamie’ out of the last five songs deserves any credit, but unfortunately, the
rest are just uninspired and unforgettable. If this or Jack Russell’s albums
are in any Top 10 lists come the end of the year, I will definitely show my
arse in Woolies window! Or whatever the equivalent is in 2017 – ‘Home Bargains?’
Smash is aptly
titled, as that’s what I’d probably like to do to it.
When I first
heard ‘Infestation’ in 2010 I was very impressed as this was VINTAGE Ratt. ‘Smash’
on the other hand is instantly forgettable unfortunately. It reminds me of
Journey’s last jaunt to the UK, it looked like they just wanted to not just
take the money and run, but count it on stage in front of you to piss you right
off. Pearcy is the same here, probably not believing that someone has given him
a wad of money for someone who peaked musically some time ago. That hurts for
me to say that to a person who sang classics like ‘Back For More’, ‘Round And
Round’, “Wanted Man’ and ‘Lay It Down’
Come on Frontiers, pull
your finger out. I’m hoping Pride Of Lions wont let me down….?
Michael Schenker Fest "Live" Tokyo released 24 March ft. Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet & Robin McAuley
RELEASED FRIDAY 24th
MARCH 2017 Available on 2CD, 2CD+DVD Combo, LP, DVD, Blu-ray, Digital
Friday 24th March 2017, rock guitarist legendMichael
Schenker and in-akustikwill release Michael
Schenker Fest “Live” Tokyo - a stunning new
live recording and filmed concert released on 2CD, 2CD+DVD Combo, LP, DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital.
Filmed and recorded TokyoInternational Forum on
August 24, 2016, this historic
concert features guest appearances from some of the greatest rock vocalists who
have worked with Schenker
including M.S.G.’sGary Barden and Graham Bonnet, and Robin
McAuley of the McAuley Schenker
Group. 5000 fans
witnessed an anthology moment of quintessential hard rock music of the highest
Says Schenker, “It’s a miracle that after all these years,
something like this took place with the original band members of M.S.G. Being
able to go back to those days and celebrate the music is an exciting experience
for us, as well as for old and new fans. To being able to re-experience, and
for the new audience to get a feel of what it was like, is incredibly
1.Intro: Searching For Freedom
2.Into The Arena
3.Attack Of The Mad Axeman ft. Gary Barden
4.Victim Of Illusion ft. Gary Barden
5.Cry For The Nations ft. Gary Barden
Dogs Lie ft. Gary Barden
Attack ft. Graham Bonnet
10.Desert Song ft.
13.This Is My
Yourself ft. Robin McAuley
15.Love Is Not
A Game ft. Robin McAuley
16.Shoot Shoot ft.
17.Rock Bottom ft.
Doctor ft. Gary
Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley
January sees Frontiers release albums from
two of the 1980s stalwarts rock vocalists. First up is Jack Russell with his
version of Great White. I have to admit that most of the time, any version of a
split band will see me go for the singers version as that’s where a lot of the
iconic sounds emanate from. One exception to the rule is Queensryche – where
I’m on the side of the Todd version.
In December 2011,
Jack Russell’s Great White first bared its teeth. Since its inception, the
front man welcomed back longtime bassist and friend Tony Montana—this time as a
guitar player and keyboardist—lead guitarist Robby Lochner, and drummer Dicki
Fliszar. Now, this group has a sharp, soaring and slick new album ready, boasting
the bluesy Hard Rock stomp that made Russell and Montana icons in the first
“It’s a powerful band,” Russell proclaims. “The music
comes across very dynamically. It’s what I always wanted it to be. Tony was a
catalyst for moving forward. I was never as close to him as I am now. We never
had the opportunity to write music together before. I also never knew he played
guitar. When I first heard him, I nearly fell of my chair. He’s my copilot.
He’s one of my best friends. I wish we would’ve been this close back in the
“It’s natural for all of us,” adds Montana. “There’s a
solid chemistry, and we’re having a lot of fun.”“We want the new material to blow people’s ears back,”
Russell goes on. “It has the elements of the best Great White music ever
written, but there’s an edge. Tony brings that validity, while Robby, Dan and
Dicki add a new life. It’s going to surprise people.” Montana agrees, “It’s got the classic sound. The first
element is Jack’s voice. No other band sounds like this one ever did or does
I would love to say
that HSIC is up there with their 80’s heyday albums, I don’t even think its up
there with the albums they released in the 90s – and they were not the
To be honest,
listening to the opening track ‘Sign Of The Times’, it took me straight back to
the 80s. Russell sounds no different as he did back then, even if he looks
nothing like he did back then! It’s the only song that’s decent enough to grace
the Great White name and legacy. It is a cracking tour de force with a riff
that’s oh so simple but oh so effective. In fact its more Dokken than Great
White, but I aint complaining.
After such a
crunching opener, they take their foot off the gas with the low key ‘She Moves
Me’. I was wanting, wishing,even hoping
another song that would hit me right between the eyes (and ears), and we get
this subdued, mid paced number. The pace is picked up a bit with ‘Crazy’ a cross between DLR era
Skyscraper and Great White. But the good stuff ends here. ‘Love Don’t Live
Here’ is a ‘go through the motions’, music by numbers song. I almost hate
myself for writing this as there’s few positives to be gleaned from this. (and
I love 80s Great White)
‘My Addiction’ lacks any real substance. I
suppose it is a subject very close to Jack Russell and deserves kudos for
writing about it. The man has been through more in 56 years than most have to
endure in 10 lifetimes. ‘He Saw It Coming’ is the second highlight here. A good
song that takes snippets of Queen, Styx and Lieber/Stoller’s ‘Trouble’, and has
some decent harmonies and is well structured and is a sprinkle of stardust
amongst some garbage.
From here to the end its
not so much as the wheels have fallen off, its more like the car has been
impounded, crushed into a small cube, and then set fire to….and to make matters
worse, the radio still works, just like Christine! There’s not a lot to say
about the remaining four songs as they are just standard fodder that will
generally be listened to once, then confined to the bin on your fruit based, or
robot based listening device.
Two good songs out of eleven just isn’t a
good enough return. I don’t know if Frontiers have any quality control over the
bands he is putting out, but this one certainly didn’t get any additional input.
On the plus side, theres ‘Sign Of The Times’,
‘He Saw It Coming’, and Jack Russell’s still got a decent set of pipes.
The negatives are some bland songs that
just plod along and offer no great vehicle for Jacks voice to shine. Its probably the poorest Frontiers release in quite some time.
Now, lets see if Stephen Pearcy fares any
This is just a list of my personal favourites of 2016. As a classic rock/AOR/Prog fan theres not exactly a lot of Metal on show here. Come to think of it, there no metal whatsoever here. Ah well. it my list and Im sticking to it
In a year when 2016 has seen some truly outstanding heroes pass on, if there is an afterlife then there one hell of a party going on. The music this year has seen some great releases. When Ive reviewed albums, Ive never given anything top marks as ot would have to be pretty damn faultless, and, whilst there are some great albums in this list, its hard to say if any will be revered as absolute classics in years to come
I started off with a list of 64 albums that I have either bought or reviewed in 2016, or both. I've decided upon a Top 50.....
50. Big Big Train - Folklore
49. Ricky Warwick & The Fighting Hearts - Hearts On Trees / When Patsy Cline Was Crazy......
48. Rage Of Angels - The Devils New Tricks
47. Epic - Like A Phoenix
46. Hand Of Dimes - Raise
45. Headspace - All That You Fear Is Gone
44. O'Regan - Polymorphic Tragedy
43. Doomsday Outlaw - Suffer More
42. Star Chase - The New Day
41. Cranston - Treat - Ghost Of Graceland
40. Whitford / St.Holmes - Reunion
39. Airbourne - Breakin' Outta Hell
38. Overland - Contagious
37. Whiskey Myers - Mud
36. Legion - Last Man Standing
35. The Radio Sun - Outside Looking In
34. Cheap Trick - Bang, Zoom, Crazy....Hello
33. Letters From The Fire - Worth The Pain
32. The Answer - Solas
31. Tyketto - Reach
30. Delain - Moonbathers
29. Gene The Werewolf - The Loner
28. Ted Poley - Beyond The Fade
27. Nitroville - Cheating The Hangman
26. Treat - Ghost Of Graceland
25. First Signal - One Step Over The Line
24. Violet Janine - Between Red & Blue
Read a mate raving about it. Bought it, but you wouldn't buy it from the cover! Reminds me a bit of Romeos Daughter (if they were Swedish). Anything with Tony Martin dueting on a country rock song (So Much More) isn't going to be bad...
23. Steven Wilson - 41/2
Releasing an album of alleged cast-offs, which are still better than most proggers can muster up as their best stuff. The undoubted King of Prog!
22. Michael Sweet - One Sided War
As prolific as a prolific thing, this is Michael Sweets heaviest album to date. Choc full of 80s inspiration, and introduces a new starlet to the fold, he's that nice a bloke
21. Chris Shayne - Turning Stomes
Part Skynyrd, part Black Stone Cherry, part Cadillac Three, and just as good as any of the above if given half a chance. A cracking country rock album. If you're reading this Chris, you owe me the CD!!
20. Almah - EVO
This came a bit left field to be honest. Didn't know what to expect, and was very surprised indeed. Its their 5th album (a concept), and where the hell had they been. Power Metal, melodic, uplifting and could win Eurovision given half a chance
19. Hardline - Human Nature
Keeping Italian musicians employed since 2013, Gioeli had pulled this one out of the bag. Their best since the debut all those years ago. Don't give up when you're on a roll...
18. Dante Fox - Breathless
Never given up, and getting better all the time (which is saying something). Breathless is superb. For me it had one of the tracks of the year in Dynamite. It certainly blew my ears off!
17. Myrath - Legacy
A Tunisian progressive, oriental, power melodic metal feast. One of the best songs (and videos) in 2016 in 'Believer'. A belting album
16. The Cadillac Three - Bury me In My Boots
Its a lot more country Nashville rock that the debut, but its not a bad thing. Should be massive in the US considering the audience for country. Bourbon and beer soaked vocals and instantly singable tunes!
15. Sons Of Icarus - Beyond The Sun
The album took and age to be released (about 5 years) and proved too late to save them. Now departed, but they have left a mark and a half with some of the best riffs this side of Tony Iommi's moustache. Check out the South Park inspired video for 'Make Amends'
14. Volbeat - Seal The Deal & Boogie
A bit of a Marmite band for me (and I friggin' hate Marmite). But STD&B was the one that changed my opinion. I think it was seeing them live recently that literally 'sealed the deal'. As the St Winifreds Choir once sang...'theres no one quite like Volbeat!'
13. Alter Bridge - The Last Hero
heaver than anything previous, it doesnt quite have the cutting edge of Blackbird. Theres still some great songs on here, especially 'My Champion', 'Show Me A Leader' and 'The Last Hero'.
12. Tremonti - Dust
The nearest Tremonti album to sound more like an Alter Bridge album. Not as brutal as the previous two, its my fave of the Tremonti bunch so far.
11. Dream Theater - The Astonishing
And astonishing it was. At first I thought it was tripe, but after forced repeated listens down our local nick for shoplifting, it grew on me like 'Easy Street' on The Walking Dead
10. Vega - Who We Are
If you thought 'WTH' was good, 'WWR' knocked it out of the park. I don't think the Martin brothers leave the house unless they have written a huge anthem. Couple this with the incendiary guitar riffage of Marcus Thurston, and Nick Workman's vocals, and its anthem heaven. 'Explode' is one of the songs of the year without a doubt. The other 10 aren't bad either!
9. Scorpion Child - Acid Roulette
Huge 70s boogie riffs couples with 80s metal and a slab of prog. I know it sounds as if it doesn't work, but it does, trust me. With Aryn Jonathan Black running the show, they have a truly enigmatic front man with a voice that could strip varnish off timber from 50 paces. One of THE BEST BANDS you haven't listened to yet. Its a concept album, but all I know is that its a damn good album
8. The Defiants - S/T
For most of 2016 it was my fave melodic rock album of 2016. A stunning debut that hasn't turned out to be just a project for Frontiers head honcho Serafino Perugino. It was his most inspired grouping of any to date. Paul Laine is on FIRE! 'Love And Bullets' and 'Waiting On A Heartbreak' are modern day (or any day) classics. More please!!
7. Angels Or Kings - Go Ask The Moon
Tony Bell has both feet planted firmly in the 80s and it shows with this fine collection of songs. Too many bands don't listen to the classics and try to replicate what made them good in the first place, AOK are an exception. If 'Heartbreak Railroad Company' was written by a certain Jon Bon Jovi or Eric Church for example, we would all be waxing lyrical. Songs like this don't come out of the North West of England. Thank God they don't listen. My melodic rock album of the year!
6. The Temperance Movement - White Bear
Their EP, and debut set tongues wagging, and their live gigs just reeled
the punters into their brand of music. The last year or so supporting
the likes of the Rolling Stones and Blackberry Smoke has done them a
world of good. White bear is superb, and in Phil Campbell they have a
truly great singer. Its good to see a band pushing on from their
excellent debut and producing an excellent piece of work
5. Glenn Hughes - Resonate
If I had a voice like Glenn,
I'd certainly believe the hype and call myself 'The Voice Of Rock'.
Probably the finest singer of his or anyone else's generation. Its his
first solo album in quite some time, and boy, he certainly knocked it
out of the park. Its THE BEST ALBUM he has done since Burn - its that
4. Opeth - Sorceress
The signs that Akerfeldt was moving away from the grunting. death metal style that bought so many to the fold all those years ago. Its mellower prog direction has been coming for quite some time, probably since 'Watershed'. With 'Sorceress', its the one album that has nailed his way to the cross for the masses. Like it, or lump it, he and this style are here to stay (I think). Its complex compositions balanced with melancholy, only if it were done in part by the Scorpions!
3. Dorothy - ST
This one came at me out of the blue whilst trawling through YouTube for musical inspiration. I found it, and with a voice that's one of the best Ive ever heard, and a drop dead beauty in Dorothy Martin. I'll forgive them a bit, as some of the songs follow the same formula, but a little gripe aside, the songs are delicious. Someone at the BBC likes them, because if you've followed TV series in the UK like Poldark, Dorothy's music has been all over it, and other preview clips like a rash.
2. Inglorious - ST
One of the finest debut albums in this or any other year. A true rock god has been launched in Nathan James (TSO, Uli Jon Roth). Not may people can sing like they can in the studio, James is one of the few who can, and he can do it better than most. A classic rock band in the making, I cannot wait for album No.2 . The first album I reviewed in 2016 and its been pipped to the post by this.....
1. Rival Sons - Hollow Bones
Rival Sons have gotten better with each passing year. When I first saw them in 2010 they were very good, their tour with Sabbath has seen them come on leaps and bounds. In Jay Buchanan they have one of the best singers and focal points of any band plying their trade today. A much shorter album than 'GWV', 'Hollow Bones' still oozes quality. Written and recorded in double quick time, you wouldn't think so. Rival Sons pay homage to the 70s greats and add their own stardust and flair. 'Hollow Bones', 'Fade Out' and 'Black Coffee' are all excellent, but just a little more excellent than the rest of the album and all the others on my list