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!!!
Like clouds forming on the horizon, the impending storm and thunder of USA Metal band Benedictum once again loom before us with the release of their 3rd album “Dominion”.
Surging forward as they are driven by the powerful momentum of front woman Veronica Freeman - whose unique (if you call sounding more like a bloke for most songs unique) and powerful style has been called one of the truly most extraordinary voices in Metal - and the guitar pyrotechnics of writer and guitarist Pete Wells, the time has come for the world to be on notice. Benedictum is again upon us.
Formed in 2005 and quickly noticed by Dio guitarist Craig Goldy, the wheels were soon set in motion for their great debut album ‘Uncreation’. Their driving music and energetic shows allowed Benedictum to grace the stage of many festivals including Wacken, Gods of Metal, HRH and a tour with DORO, with whom Freeman can now be talked about in the same breath as! Only Freeman has the much better voice.
Benedictum are off on a new and exciting musical episode as they have signed a contract with Frontiers Records. Building upon their great foundation Benedictum has recruited Grammy Award winning producer Ryan Greene (Megadeth, 5, MXPX, NOFX) and are firing on all cylinders. With members Chris Shrum now on bass, Mike Pannone on drums and Tony Diaz on keyboards the new music promises to continue to expand the horizon for Benedictum and is sure to please current fans as well. Adding to the already explosive sound of Dominion are guest appearances by Jeff Pilson, Craig Goldy and none other than Rudy Sarzo on the fist pumping track Bang.
One thing is for certain, Pete Wells prays purely at the altar of British metal, namely the likes of guitar Gods such as Iommi, The 2 Priest dudes, and Murray n Smith!
Opening track ‘Dominion’ literally explodes into action, a blend of Dio, Dirksneider, and Rock(I couldn’t come up with another D beginning surname!). Power metal to blow away the strongest of cobwebs, this is an album definitely required to play loud to piss of the neighbours. The first few lines of ‘Seer’ and ‘Dark Heart’ allows you to listen to what Freemans natural (and quite cool) singing voice is, before her guttural trademark wail kicks in once again. ‘At The Gates’ shows Benedictum at their lightest, and ‘Prodigal Son’ has both feet planted in the RJD book of metal. ‘Epsilon’ follows in the same vein as ‘Valkyrie Rising’ and ‘Seasons Of Tragedy’ as their now staple EPIC number for each album.
The last two albums have seen Benedictum cover songs by Dio-era Sabbath, and Accept. The trend for covers continues with a brave attempt to cover Rush's '2112' epic ‘Overture/The Temples Of Syrinx’. As a huge Rush fan, covering 'TTOS' is never going to be pretty for me as I’m so used to Lee’s tone and pitch. Freeman has a good stab at it, but she’d be better covering Dio or Quiet Riot. I’m not won over by this version, but it’s not a deal clincher as far as the rest of the album goes thankfully.
Freeman and Wells will no doubt pick up all the plaudits, but the others all play their parts very well and deserve to be recognised. Benedictum are a band definitely on the rise. Dominion is their finest yet, and Benedictum will be around for some time yet. Drop the cover versions and become your own band. It’s time to let other bands cover your songs. There’s hardly a bloke alive who can touch Freemans vocal stylings. So, other women wannabee Rock Goddesses, pack it in now, you’ve got no chance. Veronica Freeman is a Metal Minx
Multinational Melodic Metallers EDEN`S CURSE return with their brand new studio album “Trinity”, their first since the critically acclaimed 2008 release “The Second Coming”. Aptly titled, ‘’Trinity’’ the third album in the group, is the best yet from Eden’s Curse and possibly is as good an album as you’re likely to hear all year. No doubt album #4 will be subtlety titled ‘Quadraphonic’ or something equally similar
Produced once again by the bands long term engineer Dennis Ward (Krokus, Angra, Allen & Lande, Pink Cream 69), “Trinity” picks up where “The Second Coming” left off, but with a certain added oomph! Packed with all their traditional trademarks, “Trinity” is arguably the most powerful sounding EDEN`S CURSE record to date. From Thorsten Koehne’s wall of razor sharp guitars, to Messrs Logue and Newdeck’s pounding rhythm section, Dennis Ward’s sublime production has allowed these songs to explode from the speakers in a sonic assault wrapped around the instantly recognisable sound of Michael Eden’s powerful yet crystalline vocals.
“Trinity” also marks the bands recorded debut with new keyboard player Alessandro Del Vecchio (Glenn Hughes / Ian Paice / Edge Of Forever / Moonstone Project) whose contemporary approach to the keyboards harks at hints of Kamelot thanks to the huge orchestral passages throughout, yet never detracts from the signature EDEN`S CURSE sound. As has become accustomed with each EDEN`S CURSE release the band have once again recruited some outstanding guest vocalists to collaborate alongside, and this time they have truly outdone themselves.
Duetting with Eden on the epic Melodic Metal anthem “No Holy Man” is none other than Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie, who also contributes backing vocals on the whole album. Elsewhere Andi Deris of Helloween duets on the bruising “Black Widow” which is the band´s heaviest track to date, somehow managing to marry power and melody perfectly.
The opening intro ‘Trinitas Sanctus’ gives the feel of a concept album. Those expecting a ‘Mindcrime’ needn’t bother. Concept it aint, but powerful melodic rock it certainly is. ‘Trinity’ sets the stall out for what is to follow, Eden’s higher registered and Marmite trademarked vocal stylings (certainly a voice that does not match his look), but gives Eden’s Curse a very distinctive sound. ‘Saints of Tomorrow’ is akin to a Firewind groove, great playing, cool harmonies, and good chorus. Pulling James LaBrie for ‘No Holy Man’ is a bit of a coup. Some may remember him for his melodic pre DT role in Winters Rose, and proves again he can sing comfortable in a range of styles – even the video has a NADS feel to it.
‘Can’t Fool The Devil’ is one of the faster tracks on offer, edging more towards metal than their usual melodic-ness. Andi Deris’ duet on ‘Black Widow’ proves to be one of the fastest and heaviest songs, and works well with both vocalists.
The band also closes the album with a recorded tribute to one of their idols, the late Ronnie James Dio, with their rendition of “Rock ‘N’ Roll Children”. I look forward to cover versions, but Eden tackling Dio is not the best of bets. True to the original, but passable as a cover
“Trinity” is a classy affair that sees EDEN`S CURSE once again take steps forward and cements their place alongside many of their contemporaries in today´s European Melodic Metal scene. After two successful and extremely well received albums, now “Trinity” shows EDEN`S CURSE even more improved and powerful than ever before.
For me the key to the whole album is the brilliance of guitarist Thorsten Koehne, whose playing ranges from subtle to killer, and is the shining star of ‘Trinity’ without a shadow of a doubt. More Whitesnake than Queensryche, EC have an album in Trinity of which they can be truly proud. It won’t necessarily bring in shitloads of new fans, but those already bought into the band will not be disappointed
Well fellow melodic lovers, do I have a saccharin coated nugget of a band for you. Hopefully some of you will remember Moritz from a few years ago. Formed in 1986 in London, UK, the band consisted of guitar player and main song writer Greg Hart, bassist Ian Edwards, keyboardist Andy Stewart, guitarist Mike Nolan, vocalist Pete Scallan, but now have new drummer Mick Neaves
Split in 1988 and Ian, Greg & Andy became the core of AOR band If Only while Peter went onto join Samson. The band returned in 2008 after the long awaited City Streets finally gained a release via the Harmony Factory label. The album consisted of the sought after so called Shadows of a Dream EP and some unreleased recordings. It received critical acclaim, prompting the guys to get back together. The band has reformed with the (almost) original line-up, and now MORITZ ARE BACK! Recording for the first time since 1988 with their eagerly anticipated album UNDIVIDED. Check out the band now and the guys haven’t aged well from the poodle haired mullets of their pics from their debut 20-odd yrs ago. But don’t let the pics put you off as the quality of the songs on offer is pretty damn excellent.
From the opening bars of the Boston-esque and 70s sounding ‘Power Of The Music’ to the utterly catchy title track, Moritz have perfected the long lost art of 80s AOR that many have forgotten. Radio friendly ballads come thick and fast in the form of ‘Should’ve Been Gone’ (reminds me of Phil Christians Big Mouth - another AOR classic), and ‘Cant’ Stop The Angels’. There is also the Laurence Archer penned ‘Can’t Get Away’ which was apparently sung by Phil Lynott originally, which I struggle to get my head around, on hearing Scallan’s version
Yes I know it was released in 2010, but music of this legendary quality deserves its day in the spotlight and I’m trying to make sure AOR releases like this, don’t get the opportunity to fade into the sunset like so many of their contemporaries have in the 21st century. Moritz have proven with Undivided that in this modern technological arena, you don’t need to harp back to the 80s and,
a) spend half a million pounds recording an album over 2 years, and
b) waste your time employing a Beau Hill, Neil Kernon or a John Kalodner to come up with the goods.
The only down side is that, if this was the 80s, Undivided would be heralded as one of the best AOR/melodic rock albums of all time, as it would have undoubtedly sold by the shitload, and today would be a multi platinum selling album, spoken in the same breath as ‘1987’, or ‘Slippery When Wet’. However this is 2011 and AOR, even though this genre is in a major resurgence, the music is still pretty much dead on its arse despite the genres best efforts. But albums like this can change the tone. Moritz did four fifths of fuck all in the 80s when their mega talented EP was released, but now, they deserve all the plaudits that this will undoubtedly bring them. UNDIVIDED is an absolutely superb piece of melodic rock and stands tall against some of the classic albums of yesteryear, even if some of the production values are a little dated in sound. This gives it more of a 80s sound than was probably planned. Despite that smidge of a gripe, UNDIVIDED is utterly aor-tastic!