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!!!

Friday, 16 February 2018

SAXON Re-release First Three Albums on March 30th 2018



** Re-Issue Album Release ****** Re-Issue Album Release **


REISSUE FIRST THREE ALBUMS ON 30TH MARCH 2018


Saxon, over the decades have gone from being pioneers of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, to becoming one of the most successful UK rock acts of all time. The truth, though, is that Saxon have always transcended trends and eras. From 1979's 'Saxon' album to new album ‘Thunderbolt’, the band have enjoyed considerable success. Five Top 40 albums in the UK, with four Top 20 singles. And they were similarly successful in other parts of the world as well. It's no wonder their influence spread across the globe, and played a crucial role in the way we look at hard rock and heavy metal today.



SAXON








Saxon’s self-titled debut album was originally released on 21st May 1979 and is arguably the first NWOBHM album to be committed to tape. It took the new sound of NWOBHM and paired it up with their early progressive and glam rock influences. It was the band in their infancy but ultimately put them on the map as one of the bands spearheading the heavy metal revival that was sweeping the nation at that the end of the seventies. This version includes their early demo when the band were called Son Of A Bitch, some early BBC session tracks and some live songs from the inaugural Monsters of Rock festival.


Both CD & LP contain original lyrics, rare photos & memorabilia. The vinyl versions will be coloured splatter/swirl vinyl. The CD version will be a 24 page media book.Tracklist:
1. Rainbow Theme
2. Frozen Rainbow
3. Big Teaser
4. Judgement Day
5. Stallions Of The Highway
6. Backs To The Wall
7. Still Fit To Boogie
8. Militia Guard
CD Bonus Tracks
9. Big Teaser (demo 1978)
10. Stallions Of The Highway (demo 1978)
11. Backs To The Wall (demo 1978)
12. Rainbow Theme (demo 1978)
13. Frozen Rainbow (demo 1978)
14. Backs To The Wall (BBC session 1980)
15. Stallions Of The Highway (BBC session 1980)
16. Motorcycle Man (BBC session 1980)
17. Still Fit To Boogie (BBC session 1980)
18. 747 (Strangers In The Night) (BBC session 1980)
19. Judgement Day (BBC session 1980)
20. Still Fit To Boogie (Live at Donington 1980)
21. Backs To The Wall (BBC session 1980)
22. Stallions Of The Highway (BBC session 1980)



WHEELS OF STEEL







Saxon’s second album, Wheels Of Steel was originally released in 1980 and propelled the band to stardom, going gold in the UK and spawning two top 40 singles – ‘747 (Strangers In The Night) and Wheels Of Steel’, which have remained live favourites to this day. Wheels Of Steel is hailed as a heavy metal classic and a genre defining moment. This version includes some rare demos and live tracks from the inaugural Monsters Of Rock festival, held at Castle Donington in 1980.


Both CD & LP contain original lyrics, rare photos & memorabilia. The vinyl versions will be coloured splatter/swirl vinyl. The CD version will be a 24 page media book.
Tracklist:
1. Motorcycle Man
2. Stand Up And Be Counted
3. 747 (Strangers In The Night)
4. Wheels Of Steel
5. Freeway Mad
6. See The Light Coming
7. Street Fighting Gang
8. Suzie Hold On
9. Machine Gun
CD Bonus Tracks
10. Suzie Hold On (1980 demo rehearsals)
11. Wheels Of Steel (1980 demo rehearsals)
12. Stallions Of The Highway (Live B-side)
13. Motorcycle Man (Live at Donington 1980)
14. Freeway Mad (Live at Donington 1980)
15. Wheels Of Steel (Live at Donington 1980)
16. 747 (Strangers In The Night) (Live at Donington 1980)
17. Machine Gun (Live at Donington 1980)



STRONG ARM OF THE LAW



Strong Arm of The Law was originally released in 1980, a mere six months after Saxon’s second album Wheels Of Steel to capitalise on the bands rollercoaster success. Like its predecessor this album is heralded as a timeless, heavy metal classic and many of its songs remain live favourites today, over 30 years after its initial release. This version includes a BBC session, some remixes and an early demos.


Both CD & LP contain original lyrics, rare photos & memorabilia. The vinyl versions will be coloured splatter/swirl vinyl. The CD version will be a 24 page media book.
Tracklist:
1. Heavy Metal Thunder
2. To Hell And Back Again
3. Strong Arm Of The Law
4. Taking Your Chances
5. 20,000 FT
6. Hungry Years
7. Sixth Form Girls
8. Dallas 1PM
CD Bonus Tracks
9. 20,000 FT (BBC session 1982)
10. Dallas 1PM (BBC session 1982)
11. The Eagle Had Landed (BBC session 1982)
12. 747 (Strangers In The Night) (BBC session 1982)
13. To Hell And Back Again (Abbey Road mix)
14. 20,000FT (Abbey Road mix)
15. Mandy (Early version of Sixth Form Girls)
16. Heavy Metal Thunder (Abbey Road mix)



You can pre-order the albums now from https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/saxon-reissues


Check out this short video teaser: https://youtu.be/8OjG_bqIiZU


Out on 30th March


Saxon – Saxon
CD – BMGCAT158CD
LP – BMGCAT158LP


Saxon – Wheels Of Steel
CD – BMGCAT159CD
LP – BMGCAT159LP


Saxon – Strong Arm Of The Law
CD – BMGCAT160CD
LP – BMGCAT160LP




Sunday, 11 February 2018

Ostura - 'The Room' Album Review



OSTURA – THE ROOM

Six years is a long time between album releases. A lot can happen in that time, the biggest issue being the fan-base. In today's throwaway music era, where songs are disposed for having a 20 second intro by the ‘millennials’, but thankfully us rock fans are of a more discerning disposition and made of sterner stuff.  Six years is nothing in the scale of rock bands, but I had to admit that even I was a bit worried that this album would never see the light of day. It was written immediately after the debut ‘Ashes Of The Reborn) from 2013 up and through to 2016…..and here it is (finally) in 2018! Top marks to Ostura for not losing faith and getting ‘The Room’ out there. I for one am bloody glad that they have persevered.

They probably feel like a cat with 10 lives, as it has been picked up by Universal Music MENA, when it could have literally gone south and not got released at all.  There have been some Ostura casualties along the way. Gone are Tony Ghanem (vocals) and Chris Naimeh (drums), and in comes Alain Ibrahim (guitars), and Alexander Abi Chaker (drums – live, and additional percussions, and he wrote all the drum parts for The Room’). For the album, Thomas Lang is behind the kit and has quite an extensive CV; and I have to say, he IS ON FIRE here.  

The 12 songs were written in chronological order and work as a score for an equally cinematic storyline about a social recluse girl who takes refuge in a room. Locked in with her thoughts, fears and ambitions, the girl’s imagination turns the room into an endless universe where she is the creator. Soon after, the creation gains the ability to create and ask the right questions. The story tackles the notions of fear, perfection, social anxiety, ambitions, rage, power, and the struggle between the creator and the creation.

'The Room' is a massive production with performers from 12 countries, alongside the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and the core band. The premise has a lot to live up to. So, do Ostura live up to this high bar they have set for themselves?

Emphatically, yes! Where the debut was more ‘Metal’, and a mix between something like Avantasia and Kamelot, ‘The Room’ is a different experience entirely. The sound now is more cinematic and falls partly on the side of Ayreon. The sound (track) is like that of a film, it’s filled out and sounds huge, partly due to the involvement of The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, a choir, string quartet, and an electric triangle (one of these isn't true). The whole concept has been so carefully constructed that the Orchestra and band are not overwhelming each other or jockeying for position. It’s a perfect balance of band and orchestra coming together for probably THE release of the year.

After a very long wait, I can wholeheartedly, 100% state that ‘The Room’ is worth it, and then some! Opening track ‘The Room’ starts with this pulsating and growing riff that explodes into action. The contrast in vocals between Erosion (Monsef) and The Girl (Jreissata) works a treat, you have the roughness/industrial vs. the angelic, its light vs. dark, and they also have the wonderfully melodic metal vocals of Utopia (Michael Mills, Toehider). ‘Escape’ has hall the hallmarks of symphonic metal that you could wish for. Mills proves to be the Ace in the pack as his vocals are ear-splittingly phenomenal. The Room is more than just Within Temptation with a couple of extra sets of balls, as Ostura throw everything into the mix, both vocally and musically, there is even the daddy of them all, a Hammond organ.

In case you are worried, the three-pronged (trident) vocal assault that was seen on the debut is still here. Only this time, Monsef and Jreissata have seriously upped their game, and have in Mills a singer of the highest quality. Mills is immense, his vocals are up there with early Queesnryche’s Geoff Tate. Its not just the Mills show - Monsef glides from low to high with ease, and Jreissati' vocals are just simply divine. The three together are pure perfection.

‘Beyond’ is where the cinematic soundtrack comes to the fore.  Alan Ibrahim’s and Marco Sfogli’s guitar playing collides with the PSO – electric vs. an orchestra, industrial riffs dueling against violins  (An orchestra is just the heavy metal of the 1600s to the present day, without a Marshall), all coming together for this huge soundscape of noise.  ‘Erosion’ is one of those songs that I wish I could play through a PA. It’s a track that you just can’t play loud enough. It mixes the brutality of guitars that Dream Theater used to do so well, with a male baritone choir! Ostura have so much faith in what they are doing that the orchestra parts come to the fore and throw in a choir for good measure adding further to the already pomp-tastic sound.

‘Mourning Light’ is the first chance to catch your breath as its just The Girl, and a small accompaniment in comparison. We have just witnessed the beautiful calm and serenity of The Girl, you know there’s something sinister just around the corner.  It doesn’t half deliver with ‘Deathless’. It’s the kind of intro that you would see on a film like Godzilla, or Cloverfield, dark and looming with a sense of impending danger. The final third of ‘The Room’ has two of the biggest songs in both ‘Darker Shape Of Black’ in which Ostura have roped in 'he who shall not be named!' The other being a 12-minute magnum opus ‘Duality’.  'The 'International Man of Mystery's' style is so distinctive that it is bound to draw comparisons. The song has everything – huge riffs, against a Middle Eastern backdrop, and with the orchestra adding an overall massive sound. The filling in the middle of these two monsters is ‘The Surge’ and is solely a vehicle for ‘Erosion’ and Monsef to take centre stage.

In fact I’m going to leave it right there. It would be a poor read if all I did was wax lyrical about every song in a similar manner. I blame Danny Bou-Maroun and Elia Monsef. Its their bloody fault that the ‘The Room’ is so damn good!

I simply cannot fully express in words how good ‘The Room’ is. If you’re a fan of Ayreon, and I know there are quite a few of you out there, you absolutely positively need this in your collection. There’s a lot to absorb here, as ‘The Room’ will require several listens as its like being bombarded with a wall of sound. You will pick up on things you didn't hear the first time, and so on. The end result though is seriously worth the wait. In the world of cinematic rock, Ostura stand-alone, no one can touch them. Purely as an album it is up there with Ayreon’s ‘01011001’ and possibly Dream Theater’s ‘Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory’. I'm not kidding.

Credit also needs to go to Jens Bogren. Ostura have a hell of a lot going on here, and to get the production so ‘right’ has taken one huge effort. To mix the sound and multiple layers are not an easy task to make it sound as good as this, and he has done a superb job, where others could easily have failed.

Honestly, very few albums hit my inbox that are this good.  If anything peaks this in 2018 whether it be metal, prog, AOR and everything in between, I will be very surprised indeed. This is without doubt, awesome!

NOTE – Universal are not releasing this on CD as it’s a dying format. This is a shocking decision considering they have a potential ‘Ostura’ of an album in their possession. Criminal. Here’s hoping the band can offer up something via a Pledge campaign.

Score – Awesome!

Tracklisting –
The Room
Escape
Beyond (The New World)
Let There Be
Erosion
Mourning Light
Deathless
Darker Shade Of Black
The Surge
Duality
Exit The Room

Ostura
Youmna Jreissati – Vocals as ‘The Girl’
Elia Monsef – Vocals as ‘Erosion’ Charango, Additional Acoustic Guitar, Programming, Engineering, Media
Danny Bou-Maroun – Piano, Keyboards, Orchestration, Programming, Cubase Operation, Additional Percussions
Alain Ibrahim – Acoustic guitar, Rhythm Guitars, Guitar Co-arrangements
Alexander Abi Chaker –Additional percussions, Drums Co-arrangements on tracks (1,2,4,5,8)

Guest Musicians

Michael Mills – Vocals as ‘Utopia’
Thomas Lang – Drums
Dan Veall – Bass
Marco Sfogli – Lead Guitar on tracks (1.2.3.5.8.11)
He who shall not be named, yet!! – Lead Guitar on Track 9
Ōzgūr Abbak – Lead Guitar on Track 6
The City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Danny Bou-Maroun
The Lebanese Filmscoring  Ensemble – Choirs, String Quartet
Yamane Al Hage – Violin Solo on Tracks (3,8,9)
Jokine Solban – Violin Solo on Track 2
Nobuko Miyazaki – Flutes on Tracks (9,11)
Mohannad Nassar -  Oud on Tracks (5,10)
Roger Smith – Cello on Tracks (1,10,12)

Mixed, mastered and re-amped by Jens Bogren at fascination Street Studio, Sweden
Alexandre Moreira – Editing
All vocals, piano, violins, percussions, recorded at the Citadel, Dlebta, Lebanon

Twitter - @Ostruraband
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/osturaband/








Saturday, 10 February 2018

Soundstate - 'The Face Of Rock N' Roll'


Soundstate - 'The Face Of Rock N' Roll'

Soundstate are a 4 x piece alternative rock group from the North Wales / Neston area.
 
Formed in 2004, the band gigged and recorded up until 2009 when they eventually dis-banded. Most likely to the dreaded 'musical differences!'. The band consists of - Ste Daintree (Vocals & Guitar), Carl Ashton (lead Guitar), Jez Taylor (Drums), and Sty (Bass & BVs)


After 8 years apart, they re-united in July 2017 for a ‘bit of fun’. But, six months down the line the 'bit of fun' has morphed into the recording a new mini album/EP. The band now realise that their potential is still there. Not being aware of their original output, Soundstate describe their new music as 'the most aggressive thing we've ever done'.

For a demo, and made at a low cost, the production is pretty damn good. It's hard to define them, which isn't a bad thing, as too many bands get pigeonholed into a specific genre that they don't fit in. The opening and title track  'The Face Of Rock N' Roll' is the best on offer here, Sty's pulsating bass intro sets you up for a enjoyable ride. Its the combined rhythm section of bass and drum line that really drives this song forward. The chorus reminds me of the early grunge bands like Mother Love Bone, and Temple Of The Dog. That is a good comparison in my book. 'Blackmail' follows in a very similar vein. Its a bit of slow burner for me, and improves with a couple of listens. In the end it turns out to be one of those songs that gets right under your skin - in a good way!!. Vocalist Ste Daintree has his distinctive own style, and uses his style to the advantage of Soundstate's music. 'Backstabber's' riff is similar to that of Iggy Pop's 'Passenger' and scurries along. 'My Friend' is recorded twice, firstly as an electric, and also as an acoustic re-titled as 'My Friend (Alwena's Song). For me, the acoustic version wins hands down as it has more emotion in this version and this highlights Daintree's vocals. 'Bees' is the first song to have what I would call a proper guitar solo, and this gets heavier as it progresses. All in all its good stuff, and considering it was recorded on a shoestring, its all come out really well 'in the mix' as the phrase goes.

You can get hold of the CD from the guys themselves, or via Bandcamp for the price of a pint. (£3). (Links below). Go on, you know you want to.

Facebook - @thesoundstateband
Twitter – @Soundstate1



Soundstate are playing a benefit gig on the 31st march at the esteemed 'The Tiv' in Buckley.
Flintshire’s favourite legendary rockers B4 Time reform for this one-off fundraiser in aid of their drummer Andy Jones, who has been bravely battling a Grade 4 brain tumour for a number of years. Andy has undergone numerous operations and still shows incredible strength and resilience to carry on regardless. Following his latest operation at Christmas, he will need specialist treatment for a better quality of life, a treatment not available on the NHS. All his family and hundreds of friends are collectively aiming to raise £30,000 so Andy can obtain the help he needs - http://tivolivenue.com/events/b4-time-present-charity-rock-night-saturday-31st-march-2018/



Sainted Sinners - 'Back With A Vengeance' Album Review


Sainted Sinners – ‘Back With A Vengeance’

Just one year after their highly praised, self-titled debut album, SAINTED SINNERS return with their second effort ‘Back With A Vengeance’. Like other bands that were born in the 70’s Sainted Sinners have wasted no time whatsoever in releasing ‘BWAV’.

Their debut really took me by surprise. It was a full-blown rock album following in the style of some of the greats. I’m here again, less than 12 months later, with some very high expectations.

Fronted by the soul-driven voice of American born vocalist David Reece (ex-ACCEPT) and guitarist Frank Pané (BONFIRE), SAINTED SINNERS are completed by the rhythm section of the two former PURPENDICULAR members Malte Frederik Burkert (bass) and the Hungarian drum maestro Berci Hirleman.

‘Opening track ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ has a repetitive and lackluster opening, and takes over a minute to get to the riff. When it does happen, ‘RLAP’ paces along with an Iron Maiden rhythm. The only thing is, Maiden does it better. The saving grace here is David Reece’s vocals. The bloke has still clearly ‘got it’. Burning the Candle’ is in itself is straight out of the iSpy ‘Rock and Roll’ music by numbers (£12.99 from all good bookshops). ‘left out in the cold’, ‘turned over every stone’, ‘too hot to handle’, ‘down in flames’. Yup, they are all here folks.  Title track ‘Back With A Vengeance’ kicks off like a Van Halen track. In fact, I am so sure that its Van Halen that I expect Mr Roth wit the lyric… "Oh wow, man !" "Wait a second man. Whaddaya think the teacher's gonna look like this year ?" The guitar riff, and drum pattern are so close to Hot For Teacher its unreal. I am half expecting Sainted Sinners to receive a ‘cease and desist’ letter.

‘Tell me I Was Wrong’ is the first song on the album that I’ve liked for being themselves. The BVs add to the song, with its bluesy tone. It’s here that Reece shines brightly. ‘Nothin Left To Lose’ goes back to the reference book. Its got a Middle Eastern sound. Following behind the likes of Rainbow’s ‘Stargazer’, Dio’s ‘Egypt’, and Blue Murders ‘Valley Of The Kings’ it falls short in comparison to these three songs. The guys do up the ante with ‘Waitin’ ‘till the Countdown Begins’ –I’m a sucker for a Hammond Organ. Oo-er!

‘Let It Go’ follows on nicely. NOW the guys are in their classic rock groove with guitars, keys, vocals and backing vocals all coming together to great effect. ‘When The Hammer Falls’ falls on Dio territory. ‘Pretty Little Lies’ and ‘Gone But Not Forgotten’ both have a nice bluesy Whitesnake vibe. Both are songs that sit firmly alongside anything on the debut.

Clearly, Frank pane is a talented guitarist. He tries to be Eddie Van Halen on a lot of the songs here, when all I want him to do is to be Frank Pané. With their Debut, SS weren’t trying to be anyone, here they are trying too hard to sound like other bands.

For me, the second half is a lot stronger than the first as there are too many similarities to other bands songs in that first 25 minutes. Looking at other comments around the web, I’m clearly missing something here, as there’s some really positive comments regarding ‘BWAV’ .

I’m not saying its crap, it just that the guys set the bar really high with their debut. However, there are some positives to be had. Pané’s guitar playing when he isn’t trying to be EVH is excellent, the use of the classic Hammond sound is here in abundance once again, and Reece still has a bloody great voice. I just think I’ve been expecting too much.

70/100

Tracklisting
Rise Like A Phoenix
Burnin’ The Candle
Back With A Vengeance
Tell Me I was Wrong
Nothin’ Left to Lose
Waitin’ Till The Countdown Begins
Let It Go
When The Hammer Falls
Pretty Little Lies
Gone But Not Forgotten