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!!!

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Stardust - 'Highway to Heartbreak' Album Review

 

Stardust – Highway to Heartbreak



Lockdown has been a bitch eh? For me cancelled gigs and no Solid Rock in Glasgow has been the hardest part of the “new normal”. Let’s be serious it is not the new normal, it’s a temporary state. Anyway music for me has been a lifeline but despite that I’ve wallowed in nostalgia and not reviewed anything new for months. I couldn’t be ar*ed and when I gave myself a massive kick up the butt I was too late for the new Perfect Plan album, I was a bit in despair and then Frontiers via Gary Levermore sent another chance.
Well let’s just say the wait for me personally was worth it and I was intrigued by the first album by a Hungarian band called Stardust.

As an enthusiastic amateur I review bands by just listening to the tracks, will read the Frontiers blurb but do nothing else than just listen rather than a forensic search which will undoubtedly influence my listening.

Well thank you Gary (and Paul Chesworth for nagging me to actually write something). Stardust is the AOR/Melodic album of the year, name a year it will be still be up there. A stunningly wonderful piece of music.

The Frontiers promo said “hooky choruses, beautiful keyboards and vocal harmonies”. Hooky to me reminds me of Only Fools and Horses as meaning “dodgy, not quite legal”. Well I would describe the choruses as being sublime, pristine and more catchy than a disease off a hooker. I played the album the first time working from home to drown out my wife doing her contact centre job. Headphones in, sound turned up and BANG. What the actual fu*k was I hearing? I was blown away and after 3 or 4 songs thought that this has to bottom out but no, it just kept coming and I repeated it numerous times. My wife took the huff, “Would you rather spend your lunchbreak listening to that stuff rather than talk to me?” – Er yes.

So don’t feel the need to read my clumsy attempts to describe each track, just buy the bloody thing, you will not be disappointed.

I’m left with a few questions and thoughts:

- Since when did Hungary name kids: Adam Stewart, Ben Martin, Dave Legrand, Facey and Tim Keeley?
- After finally tracking the band on Google how are they not better known?
- Also I now understand how good the sound is, they’re basically classically trained musicians. Every one of the band contributes to make this album a classic.
- I also now get the Toto vibe.
- Ben Martin the bass player’s first album was ACDC – Black Ice, I have underpants older than that album.
- Oh and my wife saw the promo pics and now thinks she might want to visit Hungary.

Anyway my thoughts on the tracks are as follows:

Runaway – A dramatic intro of atmospheric haunting sci-fi effects launches into classic melodic rock vocals over a heavier than expected bass and guitar although the keyboards are used to great effect to layer the song nicely. And we’re off, a touch of multiple melodic sounds and it’s better than decent.
Heartbreaker – Yes, that ‘Heartbreaker’ by Pat Benatar. Its got nice drum intro, menacing “Heartbreaker” chant and again a heavy guitar and bass line with the drum intro setting the tone, with drum driven vibe. “Heartbreaker, Dream maker, love maker, don’t you mess around with me”.

Bullet To My Heart – wow by now I’m getting seriously into this band, the screaming guitar note reminiscent of a Van Halen guitar scream before the song slams into some AOR layered sounds, the vocals wouldn’t be out of place on a Journey track and the chorus is as catchy as f..k. The vocals of Adam Stewart sit nicely and rule the roost.

Perfect Obsession – Acoustic sounding guitar with a wonderful jangle to the riff and smoky vocal that would sit comfortably on any melodic masterpiece, I’m racking my head to link it to other bands, it certainly has the 80’s US AOR vibe and I’m loathe to mention the likes of Toto, Age of Reflection, Poison, Warrant etc but I will.

2nd Hand Love – a lovely gentle guitar solo beginning and then we’re away again. I still think of Don Henley and Bryan Adams feel especially the lead into the chorus. The lyrics are cleverly written not clichés. Another guitar solo that compliments the song and doesn’t take over.


Shout It Out – rockier but with a classic chorus as if a title like Shout It Out could have anything else, catchy with the backing vocals pure class. It did remind somewhat of Myke Gray and his track Shout which is no bad thing in my book. It will be a classic played live.

Can’t Stop Loving You – a solid ballad with Stewart’s vocals just perfect. The harmonies again, are spot on.

Eye To Eye – let’s rock. A full on blast of rock, keyboard and guitar solo and a real quirky vibe.

Hey Mother – Styx/Toto feel with the real melodic feel of the guitars in the background. Top guitar solo and to me it reminded me of Work of Art as the keyboards are superb. “Hey Mother can you rescue me”, well sorry Mum, that ship has sailed. It as if Lars Safsund, Tommy Shaw and Steve Lukather had a ménage a trots and the resulting baby would be this!

Blue Jeans Eyes (Bonus Track) – I always wonder what a bonus track is. To me it fits in nicely, “time after time” as a lyric reminds me of Cyndi Lauper but that’s where the comparison ends. The guitar sound is punchy and the chorus is nearly as good as the wonderful guitar solo. Blue Jeans Eyes is a great description to use

The River Is Rollin’ – As there is no “G” on Rollin you know this gonna have a real Americana vibe, it doesn’t disappoint. A great end to what is a wonderful piece of AOR/melodic rock. If you close your eyes you are back to Boys Of Summer and the lyric of a young girl growing up with the attention of jerks in leather jackets who just want to jump her bones but she’s independent and is uninterested is wonderful.

Stunning stuff and cap doffed.

10/10 – it’s a classic.

Review by Lawrie

Track list:
Runaway
Heartbreaker
Bullet To My Heart
Perfect Obsession
2nd Hand Love
Shout It Out
Can’t Stop Loving You
Eye To Eye
Hey Mother
Blue Jeans Eyes (Bonus Track)
The River Is Rollin’
Line-up:
Adam Stewart - Vocals, rhythm guitars
Ben Martin - Bass
Dave Legrand - Keyboards
Facey - Guitars
Tim Keeley - Drums


Thursday, 3 September 2020

Landfall - 'The Turning Point' Album Review

 


Landfall - ‘The Turning Point’


According to the PR bumf that comes through, Landfails singer, Gui Oliver (ex-Auras) is a ringer for Steve Perry. You know the people that you hear about in the news that get a knock on the head which causes anmesia, then when they come around, speak in a French accent. Well this fella got a right pounding and come back round with Steve Perrys clothes but Eric Martins voice, if Eric was singing in the bathroom next to you with the bathroom door shut. Its Eric, but not quite Eric if you see what I am getting at. This is the Trumpness that you sometimes having to contend with when emailed a press pack.




“I’m really glad to be back with Frontiers with a new band and new songs in a new perspective. I believe this is my best album so far. I was really impressed when I met the band for the first time. They are truly amazing, gifted and very prepared to do this with me,” says Gui Oliver.


Landfall was originally started by drummer Felipe Souzza and guitarist Marcelo Gelbcke, who are childhood friends and have been playing together since they were about 15 years old. Some years later, bassist Thiago Forbeci joined up with them, adding new musical input and influences and the band decided to go in a new direction. 


They began writing their songs and creating their own music repertoire to work off of and it was during this period that they recorded a few albums together and performed several concerts around Brazil, including opening for acts like Glenn Hughes and Mike Vescera. 


Opening track ‘Rush Hour’ certainly gets ‘TTP’ off to a cracking start. It’s a pace number that skips along and had a decent crunchy riff and an instantly singable chorus. ‘No Way Out’ ticks some boxes and is catchy enough. ‘Jane's Carousel’ follows a similar path. ‘Across The Street’ shows Landfall at their best and reminds me of early Ten, and ‘Don’t Come Easy’ is one of the more pleasant ballads Ive heard recently, considering I’m not a massive fan of ballads any more.




Its basically ‘wash-rinse-repeat’ from here on in. ‘Roundabout’ and ‘Sound Of The City’ stand out in the second half of the album, and ‘Hope Hill’ offers up a singalong moment for the listener. Beyond that, its bang average, in a sort of an half decent way. The songs are pleasant, a couple are very decent, but there’s not enough here to tempt me in for a second or third listen. Some people will think Im talking out of my Covid-larger-than-normal arse, but I just feel it has all been done before, and in a lot of cases, much better


Half of the album is good, but the balance is basically melodic rock by numbers. The production is good though, the playing for all is what I’d expect from a Frontiers AOR signed band.


I jest when I say that Oliver doesn’t sound like Steve Perry, but really, he doesn’t. Ok, maybe a few notes here and there, but he is not in the same sounding universe as Hugo Valenti or Arnel Pineda. Now those two are Perry ringers. 


Score 6.5/10


Review by Paul Chesworth



Landfall 

Gui Oliver - Vocals

Felipe Souzza - Drums

Marcelo Gelbcke - Guitars

Thiago Forbeci - Bass


Tracklisting - 

Rush Hour *

No Way Out *

Jane’s Carousel

Across The Street*

Don’t Come Easy 

Taxi Driver

Distant Love

Roundabout *

Road Of Dreams

Hope Hill

Sound Of The City *


* worth a listen





Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Perfect Plan - 'Time For A Miracle' Album Review

 


Perfect Plan - Time For A Miracle


Blummin’ ‘eck. Two years have shot by since the delights of the Perfect Plan debut, and in ‘In And Out Of Love’ it was one of the melodic rock anthems of 2018. So has two years done anything for them? Well, its No.2/sophomore album/2nd album syndrome, where you can soon tell if the songs on the second are not as finely tuned or honed as the originals as they (the debut songs) could have been in development for years. I'm a firm believer that cream rises to the top, and with a singer like Kent Hilli on board, that Perfect Plan will have no such problems. So. fingers crossed, eh?


Well, if you’re going to rip off a band, then you might as well take a song from 1985 and hope the likeness isn’t remembered due to bands and fans either being dead now, suffering from early onset dementia, or just punch drunk because of Covid. Well you can’t fool me, you pesky Scandinavians! If you think you’ve heard the drum into to ‘Time For A Miracle’ it’s because you have. It’s pretty damn similar to the Scorps ‘Crossfire’ and nearly sent me round the twist thinking where I’d heard it before. The similarity ends there though, as beyond the drum intro is a finely executed song with single written all over it. ‘Better Walk Alone’ is upbeat and raids Lou Gramms note book (almost) for ‘When we make love you know it’s all understood’. OK so I’m a bit picky, but ‘BWA’ is Giant, Steelhouse Lane and Survivor all rolled into one. The sound is great considering its probably on a shoestring compared to budgets of the 80s. Two songs in, its heavier than the debut, and that for me is fooking great!



‘Heart To Stone’ evokes memories of Bon Jovi’s ‘Runaway’ and that dear reader, is no bad place to pitch your tent. ‘Fighting To Win’ is the inevitable ballad. Piano and vocals kick it off, before everyone wades in for the chorus. I’m getting less tolerant of ballads as I’m getting older, but its part and parcel pretty much of most melodic bands so I admit its my problem. It's like Dave Bickley got the call. ‘Every Time We Cry’ gets PP back on track with more pace and some decent vocals from Hilli. More guitar, less parpy-ness. ‘What About Love’ again follows a music by numbers and is good, but I’m looking for ‘great’ And half-way through I don’t yet have a stand out or goose-bumpy moment. That is until ‘Nobody’s Fool’ it’s a blues tinged number that is more rock n roll than anything so far, and rocks more than it rolls. ‘Living On The Run’ picks up the torch from ‘Nobody’s’ and had these two been on ‘Side 1’ to use an analogy, my appetite would be well and truly whetted!! ‘Just One Wish’ evokes Robin Beck and Signal to good effect. ‘Don’t Blame It On Love Again’ is anthem enough to make another single choice and Hilli’s vocals are superb. ‘Give A Little Lovin’’ is energetic enough and Hilli again sings his arse off. Let’s face it, when doesn’t he? ‘Don’t Leave Me Here Alone’ has more vim and vigour and is more of a stirring ballad with a nice guitar solo. 




To be honest, Hilli sounds great, the production excellent, and its because of the heavier songs in the latter half of ‘TFAM’ that make it for me. Its polished AOR by numbers, and it will easily make lots of fans Top 10 lists come the year end. 


To make a comparison, if you currently have a Survivor/Jim Peterik sized hole in your life, then Perfect Plan have the shovel. 


8.5/10


Tracklisting-

Time For A Miracle

Better Walk Alone

Heart To Stone

Fighting To Win

Every Time We Cry

What About Love

Nobody’s Fool

Living On The Run

Just One Wish

Don’t Blame It On Love Again

Give A Little Lovin’

Don’t Leave Me Here Alone


Perfect Plan - 

Kent Hilli - Vocals

Rolf Nordström - Guitar

Leif Ehlin - Keys

Frederik Forsberg - Drums

Mats Byström - Bass


Saturday, 29 August 2020

Stryper - 'Even The Devil Believes' Album Review

 


Stryper - Even The Devil Believes


Back in the mid 80s a good friend of mine used to go to a good friend of his (who back then had a stellar record collection, and still does) to make me some mix tapes. It was his attempt to get me into what was basically hair metal. Ratt, Tesla, Loudness, TT Quick, Fifth Angel, Cinderella, Joshua, etc., etc., Its a long list of bands! It took me years to track down the albums of these bands for myself. I loved all the bands, and I particularly liked Stryper. The cassette tape introduced me to ‘Make Me Wanna Sing’, ‘Battle Hymn Of The Republic’, and ‘Loud And Clear’. I have been a fan ever since. Few bands to this day from that 80s period are making new music, even less are turning out good stuff. In fact I think Stryper are on a (rock that makes me) roll as their last 3 albums have been some of their heaviest, most consistent and dare I say it, some of their best. They would even make the hardiest of fans give up lent in favour of these three (now make the four!)


Its always been a hard sell to your peers that you like Stryper. I don’t know why. I’m not religious, though I would like to have faith. Is it because of the religion? The wardrobe? Or some of the ballads that graced MTV back in the day? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. I’ve never been one to be taken in my a lyric. I do have a few, but this is where I probably sell myself short as I go for melody, riffs and how a song makes me feel rather than delving into the meaning. Whilst I don’t go for the faith aspect, I have however absorbed their music almost religiously. I’ve bought every album, I read Michael’s book (we both have a best way of having toilet roll presented), and that was a honest and open story. I saw them in Italy, something I never thought I would ever do, and sang the first three songs in a harmony with Rob Evans and Sweets wife (!) and have interviewed Michael and his dog a few years back.



Anyway, I am in the camp of Stryper maintaining the heaviness of the past few albums. I’m not against the ballads, but they were always on the sugar sweet side for me, too sugary. The recent 3  albums have kicked some serious balls, so I’m hoping for the trend to continue here with ‘Even The Devil Believes’. What can I say? Well, my hope and wish is well and truly granted. Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse Stryper come galloping over the horizon ready to conquer with a gut wrenching riff and banshee wail courtesy of Michael Sweet. As you would expect, harmonies are a thankful given, and there’s added welly from the prince of pound and the new bass groove in Perry Richardson. Its a sterling opening track and is 80s metal personified. ‘Make Love Great Again’ should be subliminally played across the US to combat the hate and division that seems rife, without getting too political. We all need some love in our lives, right? Sweet (M) has his feet firmly planted in the 80s as the guitar work is worthy of this period when bands like Stryper ruled the waves - both FM and UHF!


‘Let Him In’ is short and snappy and gets to the point, sharply with its simple but effective chorus. ‘Do Unto Others’ is the lightest song so far in, but even this rocks, and I particularly like the guitar solo. If you’re going to go big, then it should be on the track that the album bares its name, and ‘Even The Devil Believes’ almost gets there. The guitar tone ifrom Sweet and Fox s great and has some fab harmonies as you would expect, but I just wanted more, going for the jugular in length and scale. It’s still a good song, but I want them to deliver a ‘Heaven And Hell’ moment for me. ‘How To Fly’ dips its toes into the 70s for a section that is very ELO/The Beatles inspired and delivers in both its modern and past sound. ‘Divider’ is a cool song, and brings all the best parts of Stryper into one song. I know that’s every song, numbnuts, but very much so here. ‘This I Pray’ goes very Bon Jovi/Poison, with the stirring cowboy ballad. As Stryper ballads go, this one goes to eleven. Give me a song like this over the syrupy ones every day of the week. In fact, for ‘This I Pray’ Micael Sweet out-Jovi’s Bon Jovi!!



‘Invitation Only’ is bright, and ‘pop-py’ and its the chorus and harmonies that bring this up to what could have been a bit standard affair. ‘For God - Rock ’n’ Roll’ makes me want to dig out my spandex, foil covered cucumber, leg warmers and guy-liner as this would be welcome on any of their 80s output. It’s a little belter. In fact, I think it’s my favourite, and it should be an immediate addition to their live set. ‘Middle Finger Messiah’ is fast and frenetic and is I great title and a great song to finish off the album with. 


With ‘Even The Devil Believes’ if this were the last album, then it would be some way to finish off as I/we can’t really expect our 80s heroes to be producing music some 35-40 years later. The fact that Stryper are, and are doing so at such a level, and absolutely kicking arse is a (new) testament to their being. If they do continue then I look forward to being in the front seat and preaching from the hilltop as to how great they are.


Michael Sweet cant hit the high notes as regular as he did in the 80s and that suits me. The voice has mellowed, it’s still one of the best in metal and he can pick his battle (hymn of the republic) when he goes high. When he does, it still makes me go all goosebumpy. He still remains one of my favourites. I’m a firm believer that a lot of the output from 80s bands hasn’t been as good as it was back in the day (thats nostalgia for you), but even the blind, and deaf can see/hear that Stryper are in the best period of their career. 


After listening to this, I get it. Even The Devil Believes.


8.5/10


Tracklisting

Blood From Above

Make Love Great Again

Let Him In

Do Unto Others

Even The Devil Believes

How To Fly 

Divider

This I Pray

Invitation Only

For God - Rock ’n’ Roll

Middle Finger Messiah


Stryper are - 

Michael Sweet - Lead Vocals / Lead & Rhythm Guitar

Robert Sweet - Drums / Vocals

Oz Fox - Lead and Rhythm Guitar / Vocals

Perry Richardson - Bass /  Vocals


Also

Paul MacNamara - Keys/Moog/Organ

Keith Pittman - Additional Background Vocals


Thursday, 25 June 2020

Read Out Loud ' 'Read Out Loud' Album Review

Read Out Loud


If you’ve ever been to gigs across the North West, and especially the wonderful venue that is Eleven, there’s usually a guy in attendance that you know is a bit of a kindred spirit and looks the part like he should be in a band. Tim has had his talons into some very decent bands, such as Demon, Chrome Molly and probably the best tribute band I’ve ever witnessed, Limehouse Lizzy. The bloke has got some serious chops….and a black book to kill for.


If you’re going to do a debut album then why not drag in some great mates to join the party. First to be in on the act was Demon drummer Neil Ogden, then they enlisted the services of producer and Demon member Paul Hume (owner of Eleven), and the three laid down the basic tracks for the album. Once completed the final pieces of the jigsaw were made, with FM’s keyboard tinkler supreme, Jim Davis joining the ranks. And last, but by no means least the band is rounded out with Josh Williams. Before I’ve heard the album (apart from the live launch), I’m excited to listen to it as I’m expecting harmonies to die for as all the guys involved in Tim’s band can certainly sing.


‘Surrender’ opens up as bit like FM’s ‘Tough it Out’ with police sirens wailing, before an ‘ever so 80s’ sound that makes me go info a comfort zone of wonderfulness of bands like Only Child, Blue Murder et al……and as expected there’s harmonies a-plenty. Read has a gravel and gruffness to his tone that does not detract from the songs. I was expecting more polish in his style, but its a good contrast. Read delves deep into his musical influences - from the Valley Of The Kings/Kashmir/Judgment Day influenced  ‘Nowhere To Run’, to Down To Earth era Rainbow (oooh I love me a Hammond organ) ‘Close To You’, Theres a full red blooded high octane Malmsteen like ‘The Girl Is Trouble’, ‘Playing With Fire’ has undertones of April Wine’s classic ‘I Like To Rock’, only with more menace and thunder, and there’s the classy ‘In My Heart’. Six songs in and Read is cooking with gas!


If you ever wondered what it would sound like if Phil Lynott made a band with Steve Harris (Iron Lizzy?), the outcome is ‘Are You Out There?’  A good homage to a great guy. ‘Staring At The Sun’ is the ‘big’ track on the album for me, it has that Blackmore, Kotzev guitar with the underlying organ. As a big rainbow fan, it ticks a lot of boxes for me, and it is fab. ‘Talk To Me’ opens up like it could be metalised Abba! ‘Take No More From You’ pulls everyone in for a highlight of their talents. ‘You’re My Angel’s’ piano sound evokes Styx, and is the poppiest sounding song on the album. ‘Don’t Go’ is apt for a final song, as I found I wanted to listen to it all again.  This shows another side to Reads persona, it’s a ballad that screams ‘class’ from high and Read plays like one of his Lizzy cohorts Brian Robertson on the solo. Its a great ending for a great debut. I’ve changed my mind. THIS is the big song on the album!


I was VERY pleased with this cracking debut from Read. A mix of influences but with both his feet firmly planted in the golden era of rock. Unless Ive got it all wrong of course! Read has himself some great songs, pulled together one hell of a blackmail list of participants, and plays his part like any leader should. It’s not called ‘Read Out Loud’ for nothing. In fact it does exactly what it says on the tin. Only sing it loud!


In the current Covid-19 crisis it’s a difficult time for everyone, musicians in particular. If you can spare the money I can think of no better way of supporting the music we love and send some of it Read’s way. 


8/10


Surrender

Waiting For The Sun

Close To You

The Girl Is Trouble

Playing With Fire

In My Heart

Are You Out There?

Staring At The Sun

Talk To Me

Nowhere To Run

Take No More From You

You’re My Angel

Don’t Go




Sunday, 7 June 2020

Wicked Smile - 'Delirium' EP Review


Wicked Smile - EP 

Australian heavy rock band Wicked Smile will release their debut ep titled ‘Delirium’ on July 1st. 

The band is fronted by charismatic powerhouse lead vocalist Danny Cecati (ex Pegazus & Eyefear) with Stevie Janevski (The Radio Sun, ex Black Majesty) on guitars. The four song ep is produced by Paul Laine (The Defiants) who also plays bass and sings backing vocals on the ep. 

Danny and Stevie are no strangers to the world stage, having both toured around the world with their respective bands and performed at prestigious festivals such as Wacken Open Air, Masters Of Rock, Metal Universe, Hard Rock Hell, and Screamfest amongst others. The boys have released a whopping twenty- five full length albums combined. Match fitness? - Absolutely!!

Guitarist Stevie Janevski goes on to say, “because we’re a new band, we released our debut single ‘We Fall’, an in your face uptempo song to give everyone a taste of what we are about. It received such a fantastic response worldwide that people wanted to hear more right away. This was particularly pleasing to both Danny and I. We were both overwhelmed by the positive response. It was also fantastic to have so much support from Internet Radio who got behind us by playing our song, with some stations putting us on heavy rotation”.
Vocalist Danny says “I’ve really enjoyed putting my stamp on these songs. It’s allowed me to put my heart and soul into them and really capture the emotion of the lyrics. We cover important issues such as government and decision making in the song ‘We Fall’ and discuss the human state of mind in ‘Daze Of Delirium’. Another talking point is the track ‘Stronger’ which was written by Stevie to highlight the issue of bullying in schools and in society as a whole. 
We can’t wait to get out there and launch things in a live setting. Songs like ‘Love’s Got A Hold On You’ are going to sound huge. We’re going to be loud and proud!”

From the first few bars of ‘We Fall’ it’s what Ive been wanting (occasionally) from Stevie’s other band The Radio Sun. I knew he had ‘more metal’ in him, it just needed a likewise parter to bring it out. It blazes with an 80s style riff, and oh my God has he got a fine singer to deliver the vocals in Danny Cecati. Ive only heard a didgeridoo once on a record and that was Cryptex, but fair play in opening with an Aussie musical instrument. The chorus on the other hand is very European, like Avantasia. It’s a very good start. ‘Stronger’ digs deep into a Judas Priest vibe only with better harmonies. Its driven foremost my Janevskis metal riff, and its a song about Steves daughter Cassidy getting bullied. Well I guess they have both stuck two fingers up to the bullies, and is a great message for anyone you use for their armour. Stevie and myself both have a love of Rainbow, and I wonder if there’s a bit of ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ coming into play for the riff of ’Love’s Got A Hold On You’ ?  It’s a bit lighter than the other two but that doesn’t mean its any less effective, and have a very catchy and immediacy remembered chorus. Well done Ritchie, I mean Stevie! Finally, it’s ‘Daze Of Delrium’ again delivery a driving, pulsating beat, with some great backing vocals (all courtesy of Paul Laine). Laine also weighs in with bass on all four songs , and produced it, with catering by Bruno Ravel


I wasn’t too sure what to expect as Im so used to The radio Sun, but Stevie and Danny have definitely pulled a massive rabbit out of the hat. Its four infectious songs all delivered in an 80s vibe that RAWK. 


If this is an entree for what’s to come, then my appetite is well and truly whetted! Bring it on

Score 8.5/10

Wicked Smile Are 
Stevie Janevski - Guitar
Danny Cecati - Vocals

Additional musicians
Paul Laine - Bass and BVs
TBR - Drums






Contact Wicked Smile

Email : wickedsmileband@outlook.com 
YouTube : Wicked Smile (please subscribe)
Merchandise : official merchandise available via : https://store21429008.ecwid.com/

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Cryptex - 'One Upon A Time' Album Review

 
Cryptex - Once Upon A Time

You know that feeling you get when you go and see a band, but have no idea who the support act is, then get completely blown away by said support band. Well Cryptex was one such surprise back in 2012. A very nice surprise, in fact. I was reviewing and interviewing Pain Of Salvation for another site, and thankfully made it just in time to see Cryptex perform. There was nothing ‘normal’ about these three guys, and it made for one the best gigs of the year.

To describe them is like trying to decide which one of your two children is the favourite! As a bit of a broad example, think Meat Loaf, crossed with Jethro Tull and they made up the threesome with Queen, or Coheed and you might be getting somewhere close. They also look as if they might be the offspring of Fraggle Rock and a Tim Burton movie. Even with all this comparing, there’s still no one quite like Cryptex.

To call Cryptex a rock band is like calling Queen a bit ‘glam’. Like Queen, there’s a lot more going on with Cryptex than a run of the mill band. Sure, there are couple of downright heavy songs in ‘Reptiles‘ and ‘The Promise Keeper‘, where Mertens lets rip with some serious riffage. Most if not all of the ideas come from Simon Moskon. And it’s his vocals, and piano playing that come right to the fore.  It's a big smorgasbord of ideas all clashing and colliding like the CERN particle accelerator, sometimes in just one song. How he puts it all down into a song only he knows, but the songs range from progressive (but not in a snotty prog rock way), but in pushing the envelope, to theatrical, to pomp. It took me about four songs to realise that there is hardly a guitar solo in sight, I was swept up in the storytelling and emotion to care about a traditional guitar solo. That’s what I like about Cryptex. Theres no ‘ tradition’, theres no formula. Rules, formulas and tradition are ripped up and spat out, and are all broken.

‘Once Upon A Time’ is a belting opener, with a pulsating bridge, before a gospel/choral choir style chorus. ‘Because The Reason Is You’ is folky at the off before expanding outwards into porosity and grandeur. ‘Bloodmoon’ is one of my favourites. One of the few 5min plus songs it really shows Cryptex at their finest moments, Moskon builds the tempo from his piano, with some wonderful harmonies and a great riff from Mertens. Also I feel that Simon Schroders drumming is carefully placed, and intricate. It is fair to say that Cryptex throw in the kitchen sink with regularity, but in this instance, it’s the sink, fridge, washing machine, and the mix coming out the other end is lovely. Mid ‘Body Language’ we get a bit of Moskon’s narrative, and it’s not on the side of parody, but Tenacious D almost came to mind.

‘Two Horned Crown’ errs on the side of bands like Epica, Avantasia and Nightwish, again with some great layered vocals and harmonies. Greta Leona Hasenberg adds contrast to Moskon’s vocals on the middle eastern sounding ‘Haunted’. ‘Reptiles’ is the other long number, and it opens with a Tremonti style riff. It also highlights why the Cryptex harmonies are so good as also taking on lead vocals is Mertens, a pretty useful singer in his own right. Andrejkovits weighing in with BV prove Cryptex are not to be messed with. It is probably the closest to the term ‘prog’ as they come. I tell a lie, its the one song with a guitar solo, a song where you don’t know where exactly it is going, but that make it part of the fun. ‘I Dont Know Why’ is where musical theatre meets Jethro Tull, with a nice electric piano refrain, and is another example of their diversity in a single song. ‘The Promise Keeper’ is an out and out rock song for the guys, and prove they can rock it out when the desire takes them. 

‘I See It In Your Eyes’ is mainly Moskon and his piano. Its a reflective, and sombre piece. It even ends with whistling, which in itself is haunting and poignant. Who’s have thought it? ‘Leaving’ is the final track, and it’s a spoken word that Simon Moskon narrates with dramatic effect. It builds into a crescendo over the second half, and is quite atmospheric. Then ends. Suddenly. It leaves you wanting more, so I'll add the bonus track which isn’t on my vinyl, ‘Closer’ which is definitely in the realm of bands like Porcupine Tree and Pain Of Salvation. It would have been a highlight of a (excuse the pun)….’Closer’ had it been included.

‘Once Upon A Time’ isn’t the most accessible album you will hear this year, but if you open your ears and your mind to these guys then a world of delights await you. I promise you. Cryptex are my favourite three piece this side of Rush.


Score 9/10

Review by Paul Chesworth

Cryptex are 
Simon Moskon - Lead Vocals / Piano & Keys
André Jean Henri Mertens - Guitars and Background Vocals
Marc Andrejkovits - Bass & Background Vocals

Simon Schröder - Drums & Percussion

Tracklisting
Once Upon A time
Because The reason Is You
Bloodmoon
Body Language
Two Horned Crown
Haunted
Reptiles
I Don’t Know Why
The Promise Keeper
I See It In Your Eyes
A Mo(u)rning
Leaving

Bonus track - Closer