- 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!!!
Saturday, 31 October 2015
Def Leppard (album title) is their first album in seven years since the much praised ‘Songs From The Sparkle Lounge’. Seven! In most peoples/ bands timescales, seven years is an eternity. Some bands have formed, disbanded and reformed in seven years. For the Leps though it’s a (Yorkshire) Tea break.
Apparently the band got together with the idea of putting a three track EP out. Before you could say ‘Up The Blades!’ twelve songs had been written. It’s the first time ever that the lads have not had the backing of a record deal in place and because of the freedom in doing something for themselves (and the fans of course) the early word on the streets is that it is a return to form. It’s on release via earMUSIC
The early word on the streets is spot on. Def Leppard is probably their finest release since those heady days of the 80s. Lets face it Leppard don’t need to release a new album. They certainly don’t need the money. It’s a huge testament to them that they wanted to release an album, because anyone that goes to see them in the 21st Century probably isn’t interested on hearing anything after Hysteria. They are sitting on a back catalogue of songs that are massive anthems. I get a sneaky feeling that one or two at least are good enough to break into this ‘classic’ set list they have generated for themselves over their (almost) 40 years together.
There’s a couple of songs on there that could have done with being cut from the album, but there’s a nucleus of songs at the early end of the album that sound as if they belonged to the Pyromania era. In particular, the gorgeous ‘Dangerous’, the funky ‘Man Enough’, and the guitar laden ‘Sea Of Love’ with its Lynyrd-esque backing vocals. Opener ‘Lets Go’ has the hallmarks of ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ flowing through the riff. On the ballad ‘We Belong’ is a cool track as all five get a shot at lead vocals. It’s uncanny as to how close they all sound, which is why the harmonies are always so bloody good! ‘All Time High’ adds some welly back into proceedings; It’s a high energy full on rocker, choc full of Leppard’s layered vocals (pat.pending). ‘Battle Of My Own’ is an interesting mix of Led Zep, Coverdale Page and Chris Cornell’s ‘Seasons’.
Why this hasn’t happened with earlier albums is a mystery. Finally Def Leppard have played firmly to their strengths -huge harmonies, and even bigger riffs.
The ‘older guard’ of rock music has certainly played their part in the music of 2015. Thunder have given us one of their finest ever albums, Bands such as FM Romeos Daughter and Europe have all made considerable valuable contributions – all of whom are proving that rock certainly aint dead.
Def Leppard have produced an album that few in 2015 would have thought was possible. Its got Def Leppard running through it like a stick of rock, but is still modern and fresh in its approach
If this is to be their final album, then this is one decent way to go out. Def Leppard will certainly be lapped up by their existing fan base and deservedly so. The live gigs will/should be around for some time yet, in the meantime, get onto the retailer of your choice, sit back and enjoy the ride.
Sea Of Love
All Time High
Battle Of My Own
Broke ‘N’ Brokenhearted
Wings Of An Angel
There’s been a bit of a rebuttal from Serafino Perugino, owner of Frontiers Records very recently in the world of Facebook. He wrote an interesting personal note to the fans who are knocking the Frontiers ‘projects’ that will never see the light of day in a live setting – I strongly suggest you read it, as it’s a passionate plea to fans about his work, and most importantly, he does this because he is a fan.
I admit myself that I have been guilty of stating that some of these projects are a whim, but lets face it, if it were not for Serafino, the melodic rock genre would definitely be a poorer place in which we live. It costs a lot of money to bring people from all over the world to play for us. The recording costs are fairly low, but getting it altogether in a studio or a live setting is probably a logistical nightmare. If one person is capable then its Perugino. Especially as he has his labels own festival that could make it happen?
The melodic rock genre is probably in the best place its been in years, but lets not get carried away here, its still very much a minority spectator sport. When compared to RnB for example, Heavy Metal is a minority. So where the fuck does that place melodic rock /AOR music in the scale of things?
So thank you SP for your sterling work.
The above sets me up as Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall is the exact ‘project/supergroup’ type band that’s been in the news this week. In my eyes, if you’re going to go for it, do it with style, and in this instance the vocalists involved here are some of the communities finest – jus look at the assembled cast – Jorn Lande, Jakob Samuel, Joe Lynn Turner. JLT will turn up for the opening of a crisp packet for the right money, but ITS STILL JOE LYNN TURNER FFS! Also there’s Tony Martin, Tony Harnell, David Readman, Rick Altzi and Harry Hess. That’s quite a stellar cast of singers I’m sure you will agree. Backing up the accomplished pack is Karlsson himself on 2 songs, and Rebecca De La Motte, so Im sure you will agree, its quite a collection (a ‘warble’ of singers perhaps?)
Consider Karlsson an artist, rather than artiste. He uses singers like an artist would choose colours. The right singer is picked for the right song. Opener and title track Kingdom Of Rock is pure Power Metal, with Norwegian JornLande channeling his inner Dio and is akin to his Allen-Lande music. One of my recent and newly acquired singers (well, new to me!) Jacob Samuel certainly delivers the goods on ‘Out Of The Dark’. Both JLT (No Control) and Hess (A Heart So Cold) get the more relaxed and straight down the middle melodic rock songs to cover. Turners vocals are aging very well I have to say. Tony Martin’s vocal chords get a good ‘ol airing on the epic and huge sounding ‘When The Sky Falls’ and is the standout track on the whole shebang. PC69s David Readman (Angel Of The Night) and Masterplan’s Rick Altzi (Another Life) are responsible for ‘KoRs’ more powerful and pulsating Power Metal songs. Tony Harnell’s voice as hardly changed in over 30 years and add his unmistakable tone to the ultra catchy ‘Never Look Away’.
Props to Karlsson for gathering such a cracking troupe to perform his songs, but the main plaudit must go to Magnus Karlsson himself, as its HIS songs, HIS, production, and HIS playing that knits the whole concert together like the strongest of glues. It’s a testament that Karlsson holds his own when singing on ‘I Am Coming For You’ and ‘Walk This Road Alone’. That speaks strongly of the guy considering the company he keeps.
If you like your metal enthralling, pulsating, powerful and melodic at the same time then look no further than ‘Kingdom Of Rock’
The last word goes to Karlsson himself….Magnus Karlsson says, “When I made the first Free Fall album I had a wish list of my favorite singers. The list just got longer and longer and I realized that one album just wasn’t enough. I knew that some of the names on the list would be almost impossible to get but hey it’s ok to dream right? I started to work harder than ever before on new songs specially written for each singer. Well sometimes dreams come true and now some of the greatest singers in the world joined the dream team. This is not about having big names on the album, this is simply about making the best music I possibly can for the best singers I know!” Do you know what, he is spot on!
Kingdom Of Rock (Jorn Lande)
Out Of The Dark (Jacob Samuel)
No Control (Joe Lynn Turner)
When The Sky Falls (Tony Martin)
Angel Of The Night (David Readman)
I Am Coming For You (Magnus Karlsson)
Another Life (Rick Altzi)
Never Look Away (Tony Harnell)
A Heart So Cold (Harry Hess)
The Right Moment (Rebecca De La Motte)
Walki This Road Alone (Magnus Karlsson)
Sunday, 25 October 2015
Already in the early eighties, Mika Grönholm showed his first deeper interest for the world of music by listening to bands like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Yes and Van Halen (to name a few) ... so inspired, he began to play guitar himself. Over the next decades and with a lot of studio and live experiences, he formed his own band GRÖNHOLM to realize all his musical and lyrical ideas. With drummer Tom Rask and singer Markku Kuikka the right comrades were quickly found and the impressive results of this combination are recorded in the two albums "Eyewitness Of Life" 2010) and "Silent Out Loud" (2011). I have to admit that Grönholm are a new band to me despite my love for a lots of things melodic.
The upcoming third album "Relativity Code For Love" is an appreciation, study and musical journey about love, all told in the language of melodic rock. With British exceptional singer Lee Small, rock fans worldwide best known as the voice of Shy, Tom Galley's Phenomena, Skyscraper and many others, one of the most appropriate artists was taken on board to give this mission the right refinement.
Watching Small live is not one of the best things as his rapport has always been that of devoid of eye contact. But, this isn’t live, and you judge him on his vocals. The very first listen is one of absolute quality. Lee Small has a soulful and bluesy tone. Now if I said that he was a poor mans Glenn Hughes, the praise is still high as Hughes is an absolute ROCK GOD! His voice is one of the smoothest around. If you love the lives of Overland and Ousey then Lee Small should be high on your list.
‘Reasons’ opens the show and its one that instantly grabs your attention. Small shows subtle Glenn Hughes tendencies, but the overall result is one that is of a high calibre and very polished. ‘Home In Our Hearts’ has a bubbling under feel to it, and after a couple of listens its one of the best AOR songs of the year! It undoubtedly shows the strength of Grönholm’s writing. ‘Like An Angel’ is more direct, a powering riff duelling with Smalls vocals.
Small is the glue that holds Grönholm’s music together. Sure the songs are well written and produced but what are good songs without someone who can add style and substance to them. Small does this in abundance. I’ve heard his work with Shy, Lifeline, and United Nations, and this is undoubtedly his best work to date
The result is a concise and entertaining piece of Hard Rock/Melodic Rock/AOR with fine progressive influences and resounding catchy melodies which will grab the audience with a unique style and higher musical claims. The fresh dynamic mixing and mastering of Janne Tolsa (Nightwish, Tarot, Eternal Tears Of Sorrow ...) has completed the whole release to one of the forthcoming rock highlights this year.
This is an album for any discerning fan of AOR/ Melodic Rock. I urge you strongly to beg, steal or borrow a copy of this cracking album.
02. Home In Our Hearts
03. Like An Angel
Sunday, 4 October 2015
Now (the present, if I didn’t make myself clear) is a great time to be a Stryper fan. They really have come out of the blocks at speed, and come out fighting, if that’s a Christian thing to do. Maybe not, but it’s a good example of their progression since the original foursome got back together.
Where some bands are treading water, Michael Sweet et al are pushing their boundaries further than most. Sure, albums like ‘In God We Trust’, ‘Soldiers Under Command’ and ‘Yellow and Black Attack’ have classic Stryper moments, the sound production wasn’t always at its best. Jump forward 25 years and both ‘No More Hell To Pay, and now ‘Fallen’ have production levels that befit their sound and quality. All of that is down to their leader, Michael Sweet.
I’m a big fan of Stryper, ever since I heard ‘Winter Wonderland’ to be honest, and it grew from there. Back in the 80s, wearing a Stryper tee-shirt was the equivalent of a Hells Angel turning up in a Hello Kitty jump suit. It was something that you hid from your mates. Well, not any more! I’ve always stood up for these guys, no more so than now. Yes, the religious references are there for all to hear, but (and this is a huge but), this album takes Stryper up to new levels of greatness in my eyes.
Sugar sweetness has (mostly) been vacated for the heaviest sound that Stryper have ever achieved. Ok, so its not Pantera/Motorhead levels, but Stryper are massive fans themselves of Heavy Metal, and ‘Fallen’ is a cracking example of modern metal.
‘Yahweh’ is the national God of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and is also a divine warrior who leads the heavenly army against Israel’s enemies (for those of us who are not religious). In this instance its in reference to Jesus’ crucifixion. References aside, the song itself is a great opener. Stryper’s harmonies are completely off the ‘StJoSt’ harmony scale! (StJoSt is the industry measurement scale based on the harmonies of Styx, Journey and Stryper) Michael only hits these heady high notes on albums nowadays, but at least he can still do it in small doses. Couple this with the twin thrash guitar attack of Fox and Sweet and it is a match made in Heaven. Parts of ‘Yahweh’ are akin to the ‘Powerslave’ era Iron Maiden.
‘Fallen’ yet again highlights the power of harmonies. Sweet screams his arse off and once again there is great power and muscle in the riff. Again it has religious content, but don’t let that sway your decision. I defy any listener of Metal to tell me that this isn’t heavy and bloody good!! ‘Pride’ is a simpler but still a pulsating number, with Sweet’s rasping vocals taking centre stage in the chorus in particular. ‘Love You Like I Do’ is straight out of the 80s Stryper songbook, with layered vocals and sounds as if it were originally planned for ‘IGWT.’
‘All Over Again’ is Stryper’s only calm moment. It’s a ballad, but not in the Stryper sense. Its more country than the ‘hair-ballad-wedding-dance’ songs they used to do. I can see this being a firm favourite with the 777 faithful out on the road. ‘After Forever’ is a very good cover of Black Sabbath’s Christian song, and was one they probably thought about for ‘The Covering’. Stryper are not afraid to show their influences, and ‘After Forever’ is definitely not a filler. Neither is it controversial. Good music, is good music after all.
Fallen ends strongly with ‘Let There Be Light’ and ‘The Calling’ in particular grabbing the attention with their powerful riffs. A true testament (yes it is blatant) is that some of these songs need to be added to the faithful set list. In doing this, their live shows will be even better than before.
This is the most energetic that Stryper have ever been. Mushy ballads have all but disappeared and in their place comes power, strength and positivity. That is a great recipe for success. Long may they continue!
(Christian references have been intentional)
Stryper – Fallen
Big Screen Lies
Love You Like I Do
All Over Again
Till I Get What I Need
Let There Be Light
King Of Kings