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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!!!

Thursday 14 December 2017

CRR's Top 10 Melodic Rock AOR Albums of 2017

Top 10 AOR / melodic Rock Albums of 2017

Another year, another list to compile.....but one thing is certain to me, and that is that for every decent AOR album this year, there seems to be at least 10 average ones, or even shite ones.  The market is full of Melodic Rock/AOR bands vying for our attention.

So....'whats brite, and whats shite?' For this list, its all 'brite'

10. Styx - The Mission
Do Styx still need to be making albums? Probably not. Are we glad that they still wanna? Oh yes. Is it just like many others from that era that who are making albums in the 21st Century and settling for 'meh'? Not on your nelly. One of the very nice surprises of the year

9. Tony Mills - Streets Of Chance
When you have such luminaries as Paul Sabu and the Vega twins wading in with songs, then your starting point is a good one. Couple this with musicians such as Joel Hoekstra and Tommy Denander. Theres some good stuff to be had on here. If I were Craig Joiner (Romeos Daughter), Id check my back pocket to see if any riffs have gone missing as the chorus to 'Battleground' is basically Tony singing a Romeos Daughter track!

8. Raintimes - S/T
Those pesky Italians are trying to corner the market in AOR. They make no bones about it either. Pierpaolo wanted an album that sits alongside the first two of The Storm albums, and to be fair to the bloke, with songs like 'Forever Gone' and 'Together As Friends' he's not far wrong.

7. Midnite City -S/T
Basically a vehicle for Rob Wylde to take on the Italians, Swedish and Americans and beat them at their own game. Do you know what? He hasn't half succeeded. Similar to Vega, hes gone for the 'anthem' route when writing his songs, and with killers like 'We Belong', 'Last Beat Of My Heart' and 'One Step Away' this debut makes for a cracking album.

6. The Radio Sun - Unstoppable
The Radio Sun seem to live by the mantra 'if it aint broke, dont fix it'. 'Unstoppable' is  basically a succession of the previous three albums. If you are a fan of pop-rock, great harmonies, great riffs and instantly hummable choruses then look no further than Australia. There is a good reason these guys are 3 for 3 with the good people at HRH AOR and its with albums like this. They are that prolific I expect a album No.5 from them before the aforementioned HRH AOR in March 18!

5. H.E.A.T. - Into The Great Unknown
This album has divided many H.E.A.T. fans. In fact, its fair to say that its a Marmite album. Me? I cant stand the stuff, but I loved 'ITGU'. They locked themselves away, old skool (for 18 months) - halfway around the World. The title track, along with 'Bastard Of Society' and 'Time On Our Side' are good examples of a band on the up.
P.S. I won a years supply of Marmite once.....one jar!

4. Eclipse - Momentum
I was expecting great things of this album, and they almost did it. Dont get me wrong, its a bloody good album, but so was Armaggedonize. I was expecting Mr Martensson to go one step further and become the Whitesnake 87 for the 21st century. It was very close. Songs like 'Born To Lead' and 'Black Rain' are just devine. The next big step is surely just around the corner

=2. Moritz - About Time Too
Theres been a bit of a personnel change for 'ATT' and it hasnt done them any harm. Peter Scallan has removed the reins and the bluesier sound is a perfect fit. 'Moon And Back' is catchier than a wicketkeepers glove dipped in treacle, 'Chance Of A Lifetime' was born straight out of the 1980s, and the killer song for me is 'You Dont Know What Love Is'.

=2. Tokyo Motor Fist - ST
Its a vehicle for Ted Poley, and bugger me, he hasnt half put a band together - Greg Smith, Chuck Burgi and Steve brown, and the result is brilliant. Hardly a shite song to be found, with 'Shameless', and 'Put Me To Shame' are killers. (he likes the word 'shame'). I just hope that there will be a second album on the cards, and not just this, as it really would be a 'shame'

1. Lionheart - Second Nature
Ok, so its not exactly 'AOR', more 'classic rock'. The fact that its on AOR Heaven makes it on the list for me. Lionheart have made a comeback of massive proportions (30 yrs in the wilderness, it obviously made them hungry). They came back for a festival appearance and it was that good, they thought they would write an album. With founding fathers Dennis Stratton, Steve Mann, Rocky Newton and Clive Edwards, they went for THE 'go to' guy for quality vocals, one Lee Small, the Aldi version of Glenn Hughes ('Aldi' in a very good way. Lets face it, Glenn is Glenn). '30 Years' is instantly memorable, 'Angels With Dirty Faces' is melodic rock at its finest, and they even throw in a cover of 'Dont Pay The Ferryman'. I keep stating on reviews the past few years that Lee Small has eclipsed himself with his performances. He's done it yet again with Lionheart.

I never thought that a Chris De Burgh cover would sound as good as this....!

Tuesday 12 December 2017

CRRs Top 10 Albums of 2017

Chesyrockreviews Top 10 Albums of 2017

Its that time of year again where lists are coming out of everyone's blog, website, twitter polls, etc etc etc

What I have here is a list of my favourite albums of 2017. One thing that I stand by is that all of these albums have been bought. Over 50% were from labels in stream format, but as I enjoyed them so much, they were purchased, with the remainder being bought without the request to review.

Here goes the Top 10

10. Inglorious - 'II'
I sware that someday soon, Nathan James and Inglorious (hopefully) will be a household name. They are building up momentum and I feel that their next album could be make or break for them. The big league is beckoning guys. Stand out songs are 'High Class Woman', 'Making Me Pay', 'I Dont need No Loving' and 'Taking the Blame'. If the next album (probably called 'III') can consistently match or pass these four songs then huge rewards await them.

9. Black Star Riders - Heavy Fire
The guys have truly laid the Thin Lizzy jibes to rest. This third album which hit the heady heights of No 6 proves that there more in them than just a glorified tribute band. The first three songs alone are worth the fee alone. 'When The Night Comes In' is one of the anthems of the year.

8. Thunder - Rip It Up
Considering a few years back I witnessed them on their farewell tour, Thunder have since gone from strength to strength. 'Wonder Days' was good, this on the other hand is great, and second only to their debut.

7. Daniel Cavanagh - Monochrome
Anathema have been around for donkeys, and its taken all this time for main man Daniel Cavanagh to bring out his first solo album. It's an album that is just delightful, emotional, deep and upbeat. He brings in one of his best mates Anneka Van Giersbergen on three tracks and in its entirety Monochrome is simply a beautiful album.


6.Steven Wilson - To The Bone
I don't think that there's many people as prolific as SW. When he's not remastering iconic bands back catalogues, he churns out music for fun. I just can't believe that this is only his fourth solo release. The Independent stated he was 'The most successful British musician most people have never heard of'. True, but those who know his work will follow him to the edges of the world. 'Permanating' is an Abba style song dedicated to his mum, there's the moody 'People Who Eat Darkness', and the wonderful duet with Ninet Tayeb, 'Pariah'. Brilliant stuff.

5. Black Country Communion - BCCIV
I never thought these guys would get back together after their Twitter spat a couple of years back. Last year Hughes made the best album since his Purple days and I was not exactly expecting another morsel out of BCC. Thankfully they did, and the result is one to weep over. 'Collide' is akin to Zep's 'Black Dog', and 'Over My Head' is a calling card to all the young guns that BCC are one of the bands to beat. Not bad for a combined age of 208! Bands don't make albums like this any more! Of course they do. Its only BCC though.

4. Anathema - The Optimist
Remember when Anathema were a Doom band? I do. Their breakthough for me came with 2010's 'We're Here Because We're Here', and since then they have gotten bigger and better which is something you cannot say of a lot of bands from the early 90s. I could run out of adjectives describing Anathema. So I will settle for just the one...beautiful. The following statement is easily banded about, but I really do believe Anathema deserve to be huge. Songs such as 'The Optimist', 'Springfield' and 'Back To The Start' are wonderful.

3. Chris Stapleton - From A Room - Vol 2 (and Vol 1) !!
If you haven't heard of Chris Stapleton before, stop reading, and check out the pipes on this fella. He is well known within country rock circles penning tunes for big hitters such as Luke Bryan and Darius Rucker, and songs of his have appeared on albums by Brad Paisley, Tim Mc Graw, Dierks Bentley and Adele. A master of his work he is bridging the gap between country and Southern Rock with ease. Along with his wife on songs like 'Millionaire' its pure ear candy.

2. Lionheart - Second Nature
Lionheart have made a comeback of massive proportions. They came back for a festival appearance and it was that good, they thought they would write an album. In comes the 'go to' guy for vocals, one Lee Small, the Aldi version of Glenn Hughes (in a very good way. Lets face it, Glenn is Glenn). '30 Years' is instantly memorable, 'Angels With Dirty Faces' is melodic rock at its finest, and they even throw in a cover of 'Dont Pay The Ferryman'. I keep stating on reviews the past few years that Lee Small has eclipsed himself. He's done it yet again with Lionheart.

1. Ayreon - The Source
The brainchild of one Arjen Lucassen, Ayreon has been around for some 22 years now, building momentum with every passing release. He has an address book (or a blackmail book) to die for - Simone Simons, Floor Jansen, Tommy Karevik, Hansi Kürsh, Russell Allen, Tobias Sammet, and James LaBrie (and more!). It's a proggers wet dream I tell ya. The album that Dream Theater should have made instead of 'The Astonishing' one we got! Epic stuff from start to finish. I dont tend to follow the story (many will), but I just like a good foot tapper/headbanger/air guitar & drums kind of song. If you like the opening track, the rest is like feeding candy to a baby.

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Blood Red Saints - 'Love Hate Conspiracies' Album Review

Blood Red Saints – Love Hate Conspiracies

Do ya believe in fate? Nah, me neither! But I write this up on the second anniversary of Blood Red Saint’s debut album launch. Spooky!

Now then, this may put the cat amongst the pigeons, but BRS are no longer a nice pink and fluffy melodic rock/AOR band. With ‘Love Hate Conspiracies’, it brings a new direction for them, and I have to say….. It’s a bloody good one! In fact it’s not good, it’s fantastic!!

The new album also sees two new Saints baptised to join original members Pete Godfrey, Rob Naylor (bass) and Lee Revill (guitars). Neil Hibbs (formerly of Arkhams Razor, Shy) joins to add a harder edge with crunching guitars for a tougher approach for both live and studio work. Andy Chemney (drums) was an obvious choice having worked with Rob in their previous band 'Angels Or Kings'.

Rob Naylor takes up the story. "I've known Andy nearly all my life, he was the guy I wanted for our band and we are so pleased to have finally got our man"
So, what can we expect from 'Love Hate Conspiracies?' Lee Revill …"it's musically in a heavier direction than Speedway. We still wanted big melodic choruses but we wanted to toughen them up a bit too. We've got such a strong set of songs here and we are all excited to finally let people hear them, on the album and also live, these songs are gonna kick ass"

This collection of songs certainly does live up to its Ronseal guarantee….the songs kick ass. Opening song ‘Another Freak’ it is more US than UK as its style sits somewhere between Shinedown and Red Sun Rising  with the verse modeling itself on Nickleback’s’ ‘Burn It To The Ground’, and is heavier and metal(er) than anything they did on their debut. There’s still a lot of melody to be found here and its the type of song that would get major play on US rock radio, especially if the guys were from Manchester NH, than Manchester, UK.

‘Live & Die’ also follows suit with its heavy groove, and they have made the correct decision in going for the jugular, as Pete Godfrey has never sounded better. ‘Wake Up’ sounds just like a companion piece to ‘Dangerous’ from the debut. ‘Exit Wounds’ is all about the harmonies, and had it been 1985, the lads would be onto a sure-fire winner. ‘Something In Your Kiss’ is a song that has seen BRS take snippets from the 80s and Def Leppard in particular and uses them to great effect. In fact, it’s more Leppard than Leppard! ‘Love Hate Conspiracies’ is wonderfully executed with its multi-layered harmonies and newsreel action in the mid section. ‘Arms Wide Open’ you’ll be please to know, isn’t a Creed cover, it’s a full on ballad. It’s a good one, don’t get me wrong, but I’d have loved an album full of rockers, but as a live song I can really see it ‘Kickin’ Up Dust’ (see what I did there? No? Oh well!).

‘It Is Over’ sees one of our Antipodean singers take the mic (and co-wrote), and that’s one Paul Laine. Both Paul and Pete’s vocals sit very well together for the chorus and side by side for a duet of sorts, and is definitely one of the bigger songs on LHC. The guitar and keyboard riff is as infectious as it is to music, as Ebola is to humans. ‘Sometimes’ is a song that is the closest they get to anything on their debut, and ‘Rise Again’ is a bit darker and moodier before resetting the dial back to ‘melodic’ for the chorus. We are quickly to the sharp end for the final track ‘Turn On The Night’ a song written by Steve Brown of Trixter and Tokyo Motor Fist. It’s probably the most positive and ‘happy’ song on the whole album. A definite summertime listen with the top down anthem and the closest they come to a Bon Jovi sound.

 If it were me, I would grab the audience at next years HRH by the balls and play this in its entirety. Its that good, and worthy.

I’ve noticed there’s a bit of Pete talking on this album, I don’t know if he is subliminally putting himself out there as a voice over artiste?

Final verdict, it’s a little firecracker of an album. So, dig out your denims, leg warmers, Union Jack tee shirt, layered wig and rock out to one of the best rock albums of 2018. Harder IS better.

Score 90/100

Tracklisting -

Another Freak
Live & Die
Wake Up
Exit Wounds
Something In Your Kiss
Love Hate Conspiracies
Arms Wide Open
It Is Over
Rise Again
Turn On The Night

Blood Red Saints –

Pete Godfrey – Vocals
Rob Naylor – Bass
Lee Revill – Guitars
Neil Hibbs – Guitars
Andy Chemney – Drums

The album is released Jan 26 2018  through AOR Heaven and there is also an album launch at Manchester Academy 3, Friday 9th Feb 2018. Tickets £8 ADV/£10 OTD