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!!!

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Dare - 'Out Of The Silence II' - Album review

Dare – Out Of The Silence II

I know many of my reader has written in and asked, ‘does the world need another Dare album?’. Well, dear reader, please read on…..

Dare are probably best known for their singer/songwriter Darren Wharton (who first rose to fame in the early eighties playing keyboards with legendary Irish rock band Thin Lizzy). Today Dare are one of the most respected and innovative melodic rock bands on the AOR scene, and have gained cult status among AOR fans throughout Europe, the UK and the world. The band’s debut 1988 A&M album ‘Out Of The Silence’ recorded at Joni Mitchell’s Bel Air Studio in Los Angeles, and produced by Nickelback  producer Mike Shipley is still widely regarded today as one of the all time great AOR albums.

Darren joined Philip Lynott’s  Thin Lizzy  at the tender age of eighteen and enjoyed 5 great years with the band touring extensively, alongside  renowned guitarist Scott Gorham, drummer Brian Downey, guitarists Snowy White (Pink Floyd),  Gary Moore and John Sykes (Whitesnake).  Working closely with Philip Lynott, Darren also recorded classic Thin Lizzy albums, such as ‘Chinatown’, ‘Renegade’, and ‘Thunder and Lightning’ on which Wharton co-wrote 3 songs, including the hit single ‘The Sun Goes Down’.  Sadly, the latter was to be Thin Lizzy’s last studio album, and in 1986 Darren Wharton returned to his home town of Manchester where, as an outlet for his creative flare for song writing, working with young Oldham guitarist Vinny Burns, formed his own band, Dare.
Following the   debut ‘Out Of The Silence’, Dare’s second offering  was the explosive ‘Blood From Stone’ produced by Keith Olsen (Whitesnake, Scorpions).Sadly this was the last album recorded for A&M Records after the company was sold to Polygram in 1993.

Now 2018 promises to be another great chapter in the book of Dare, as the band celebrate their 30yr Anniversary with a Special Edition re-release of their debut classic album ‘Out Of The Silence’. Out Of The Silence II has been completely re-recorded and in Wharton’s own words “has taken on a new life”. 

FM did it a short while back with ‘Indiscreet’, and in this instance DWs made a good decision. I love the original album, but the production of this sounds so much better in parts and Vinny’s guitar frippery is right up front and centre. What’s not to bloody like??

So, whilst it isn’t anywhere near as heavy as ‘Blood…’, ‘Abandon’ has a decent production, and Vinny Burns’ guitars are front, back, left right and centre. Wharton’s voice has not changed since the 80s so that’s another good sign as it could have gone South. The original songs are a fresh as they were in the 80s, and that is all down to some great songwriting (and playing). ‘Into the Fire’ has better vocals than the original as they came across a little weak, but now the ‘boost’ button has been pressed and its all very good. ‘Nothing Is Stronger Than Love’ but I personally prefer the original chorus to this new version.

I can see the benefit of re-recording songs if they felt the originals were weak due to what was available at that time, and some songs here do benefit from the modern approach – ‘Into the Fire’, ‘Under The Sun’, ‘Runaway’, and ‘Return the Heart’, but the real classics from their debut – ‘Abandon’, ‘The Raindance’, ‘King Of Spades’ (even more Celtic-ier than before), ‘Don’t Let Go’ and ‘Heartbreaker’ don’t really feel as it theres any benefit as they are ingrained in my psyche.

And that’s part of the issue. The original album is so embedded in my mind that I go to sing the original versions. OK, it was not a perfect album, and production levels are better now and cheaper than the 80s, but it was an iconic album from that period. However, on that note I would say it’s definitely a worthy addition to a current Dare fans collection. I myself prefer to sit with the original. It's a great way yo celebrate the original album and give their fans something a little different to the original. Great songs are always great, they dont always require tweaking.

Does the World need a remake of a Dare album? Not really. But it’s better than a lot of the (more) Celtic influenced music that has been Dare the past few years. I got the Celtic/Lizzy influence in the earlier years, but it was time to separate from Lizzy and forge out a path of their own. I worked in Scotland for 6 months in 1989, but I don’t speak with a Scottish accent.

My only worry is that in 2021 we will see the 30th anniversary of the fantastic ‘Blood From Stone’, an album that Darren thought was 'too metal'. Just don’t go and revisit this and replace the great guitar work with frilly shirts and an additional parpy keyboard to ponce it back to the soft and fluffy AOR levels ofthe 80s. Darren, leave it!

Score 8.5/10
Original 9/10

Into The Fire
Nothing Is stronger Than Love
Under The Sun
The Raindance
King Of Spades
Return The Heart
Don’t let Go

Dare are
Darren Wharton
Vinny Burns
Kev Whitehead
Nigel Clutterbuck
Marc Roberts (live keys)

Orange Goblin - 'The Wolf Bites Back' Album Review

Orange Goblin – The Wolf Bites Back

Orange Goblin have been holed up at Orgone Studios with producer Jaime Gomez Arellano (Ghost, Grave Pleasures, Paradise Lost, Cathedral) to create their latest opus, titled The Wolf Bites Back. The resulting nine track album will be the band's ninth studio release and will be released via Candlelight/ Spinefarm Records worldwide on 15th June. Jesus, nine albums, and this is my first experience of the Orange Goblin. Despite going to shit loads of gigs every year, our paths have never crossed, and I’ve never gone looking for them….unfortunately. This is their debut for renowned label Spinefarm, and I guess they have been building up to this level and their moment that is fully deserved.

Vocalist, Ben Ward, commented:
"We are very excited about this new album. The Wolf Bites Back is our strongest and most diverse collection of songs to date, it’s certainly a lot darker both musically and lyrically. It is still definitely a distinct ORANGE GOBLIN album but we have incorporated a lot more variation on this record and there are hints of Can, Captain Beyond, Wishbone Ash and The Stooges nestling amongst the obvious Sabbath and Motorhead influences. Lyrically I have explored everything from alien serial killers to zombie biker gangs, Buddhist warriors through to descendants of the Salem witches!

"There was definitely a concerted effort to make sure all the songs could work in a live environment which gives the album a more raw, stripped back feel - something that I feel has been lacking from good rock and metal in recent years. Working with Jaime Gomez Arellano was really productive and a great experience, especially going back to tracking stuff to tape. I feel that he got the best out of all of us as musicians and songwriters and that really comes across in the songs, there is an air of confidence and experience. It was also a real honour for us to have Phil Campbell of Motorhead lending his hand to a couple of solos on there too!"

What can I say. If you’re a newcomer, then this is some seriously heavy shit! If you’re nine albums in, I’m guessing its tried and tested and you’re in it for the long haul. What immediately gets to me is the seriously heavy riffage, powerful, doom laden, with a bit of Sabbath thrown in for ‘Sons Of Salem’. More like Sons of Sabbath if you like. Ben Wards vocals are more on the growling side and the opener is the Ronseal style, its written on their sleeve and does what it says on the tin. ‘The Wolf Bites back’ takes me a bit by surprise as I wasn’t expecting a lilting beginning, but then….pow, in comes the guitars and we’re off again! It’s a fucking great track if I am honest – a cracking groove driven track. Coming from a diet of Classic Rock and AOR, Ward isn’t the best singer I’ve heard, but its all about attitude and style, and his vocals fit the music perfectly. ‘Renegade’ (not a Styx cover) again, grabs you to the throat and wrestles you to the ground. If you have a Motorhead sized hole in your life, then look no further than Renegade as it has Lemmy and Campbell running through it like a stick of rock. ‘Swords Of Fire’ kicks of with an extended bass riff, a bit too long at over half the song, before its back to some early Sabbath drum pounding, before letting go. It’s the weakest song for me so far, but that’s not necessarily a bad point. The others have been so good.

‘Ghosts Of The Primitives’ has a bit more class up its sleeve and is a but bluesy than anything so far. Its proper head-banging stuff, is this, before falling, rising, and again falling and segueing to the instrumental ‘In Bocca Al Lupo’ and serves as a welcome break and allows the ears to reset. Of course the rest isn’t and cannot be sustained, as ‘Suicide Division’ (a ballad, of course it isn’t a ballad!) out Motorhead’s Motorhead, for a couple of minutes of pure neck snapping metal, brutal. ‘The Stranger’ looks as if its about a killer. The lyrics are given extra menace as they are pretty much spoken and shouted by Ward, even as the track builds. ‘Burn The Ships’ sees the guys going back to the beginning of the album in style and substance. If Ward has never been in a Motorhead tribute band before then why not!? A voice as close to Lemmy’s as I’ve ever heard. Finally its onto ‘Zeitgeist’ and it’s a point that just sums up the whole of this album and the band themselves, its pulsating riffs, headbanging and horns, with some great guitar work  (dare I say Lizzy-esque) and driving rhythm. A great song to finish ‘The Wolf Bites Back’.

Orange Goblin certainly have the claws, bite, and wolf roar to make them stand out in the crowd. After 20 years, its their time in the sun, but I should say moon!

Whilst I’ve never been a fan, (up until now – how can you if you haven’t heard them) I cant wait to see this band live as I expect they would be explosive. I don’t know about any of the previous eight albums, but number nine is a perfect place to start.

The most times I’ve written Motorhead without reviewing a Motorhead album.

Score 8/10

Sons Of Salem
The Wolf Bites back
Swords Of Fire
Ghosts Of The Primitives
In Bocca Al Lupo
Suicide Division
The Stranger
Burn the Ships

Monday, 4 June 2018

Monster Truck Announce New Album 'True Rockers' + New Track 'Evolution'

Monster Truck return with their brand new album ‘True Rockers’, which will be released on Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group on 14th September 2018.

Return with new album ‘True Rockers’
Released: 14th September 2018
Mascot Records / Mascot Label Group

Check out the brand new track Evolution:

  It’s been two years since the mighty ‘Sittin’ Heavy’ came out and in the 18 months that followed its release, they played over 150 shows, which included arena tours with Nickelback, Billy Talent and for the final ever European Deep Purple tour - They also played with Black Stone Cherry, Volbeat, The Temperance Movement, Jane’s Addiction, Rob Zombie and Alter Bridge.

They  embarked on their biggest European headline tour to date selling out venues across the continent and thundered through main stage festival slots at RockPalast (Germany), Ramblin’ Man Fair (UK), Download (UK), Rock on the Range (US), Shiprocked (US) and Rock in Vienna (Austria) amongst others.

During the time on the road the band took a recording rig on tour and songs came together for what was to become ‘True Rockers’ and they began to send material back and forth to producer Dan Weller (SiKth, Young Guns, Enter Shikari). “When the inspiration strikes, use it, if you’re not gonna use it, you’re wasting it” says frontman/bassist Jon ‘Marv’ Harvey, “as soon as you think of something could be a good song, work on it, immediately. Inspiration is so valuable.” They then returned to Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, North Carolina in July 2017 to record the album.

True Rockers’ is the sound of a band letting lose and having fun. Harvey affirms, “We want people to listen to it and have fun, have as much fun as possible.” “Yeah, that’s what I was gonna say too,” adds guitarist Jeremy Widerman. “I mean right off the beginning of the album you hear me scream at Marv. That just kicks off the entire vibe of the album. Us in a room, having fun, joking and yelling at each other.”

Album opener ‘True Rocker’ is a statement of intent and features Mr ‘I Wanna Rock’ himself, Dee Snider (Twisted Sister). “He’s a true rocker, who’s more perfect than Dee Snider” says Harvey.   ‘Thundertruck’ is another juggernaut and was originally from the ‘Sittin’ Heavy’ sessions but was abandoned. Widerman says. “We had worked on that with me playing that lead part, and it left a big gaping hole in the heaviness of the song. Once we shifted that line over to the organ, we were like, this is awesome.”

‘Devil Don’t Care’ oozes blues-rock swagger and tackles the notion of people staunchly rooted in religion and  they explore real depth in the emotional ‘Undone’ which was written about people that struggle with addiction and the feeling of hopelessness, while album closer ‘The Howling’ poses the question, are spirits real?

The album had been put to bed but the band were still bouncing around ideas and they had the opportunity to work with award winning producers Gavin Brown and Maia Davies on songs ‘Evolution’, Young City Hearts’ and ‘Hurricane’. “We had a chance to work with some hit makers so we took the chance, and what came out is different than anything we have done. Gavin and Maia were fantastic to work with. It added a lot of colour to the record and allowed us the opportunity to take a risk and branch out a little,” explains Harvey.

Elaborating further Widerman adds, “It almost wouldn’t be a Monster Truck record if we didn’t reach the supposed end of the process and then double-back to track a few extra songs in order to strengthen what was already a strong record to us.

Harvey has become a father since the last record was released and this life changing moment had a real effect on the songwriting. Whereas ‘Sittin’ Heavy’ was a more “serious” record, ‘True Rockers’ is the sound of a band letting lose and having fun. Harvey affirms, “We want people to listen to it and have fun, have as much fun as possible.”

In 2019 they will celebrate their 10th Anniversary and for a band that wasn’t going to take things seriously, they have already achieved an incredible amount in that time. “I think you have to know where you came from, otherwise how do you know where you’re going.” Harvey says. “You can’t forget your roots, we started from such a pure place of just a party. I literally couldn’t ask for anything better. How am I so lucky that I get to do this, perseverance pays off.”

This is the essence that is pumping through ‘True Rockers’, a band that formed only for fun back in 2009 have toured the world because they connect with their fans who want that from them. Upon the release of ‘True Rockers’ they will be three albums in and are steamrolling through the world picking up people along the way that want that wild ride and its feels like they are only just getting started.

Widerman adds, “Looking back to the beginning I think in a way, I knew it, I really did. Within the first couple of rehearsals we ever did. I always think back to how I knew this was something different to anything else I’d ever done. It was weird because I had to manage how excited I was, we all agreed that this wasn’t gonna be a band that signs a record deal and goes on tour. I was like, holy shit, this is better than anything I’ve ever done before. How am I going to convince these guys to go with it?”
“I know who I am, A true rocker, I am a true rocker, I feel the music from inside baby, from within, I'm good to go on just about anything, No time for brakes we move full speed ahead, I know who I am, a true rocker”  True Rocker

Don’t tell Monster Truck that Rock is dead. Rock isn’t dead, it’s alive and burning a trail across the globe. Don’t fuck with the Truck.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

No Hot Ashes - Release new video, “Glow”

No Hot Ashes have released a brand new video (29th May) for “Glow”, one of the songs from their cracking debut album, which was released a mere 33years after their formation. Great things come to those who wait, I say. None more so than in this instance.

If you want further proof of why you need some No Hot Ashes in your life, and record collection, here’s a taster......

My review of No Hot Ashes debut album

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Hogjaw - 'Way Down Yonder' Album Review

Hogjaw – Way Down Yonder

Hogjaw hail from the deserts of Arizona, and are no strangers to European shores. Last year they played 40 plus headline shows supporting the release of their new album, ‘Way Down Yonder’, recently released by Snakefarm Records.

‘WDW’ is album number six, and I’m sorry to say I’ve not heard of them before now. If you are like me, and not a hardened fan, but a complete newcomer, here’s a quick low down on Hogjaw. I spent all of my teenage years in the 1980’s, and listened (still do) to the main players at that time – Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackfoot being a staple diet, alongside an entrée of Molly Hatchet and .38 Special.  If any of these 4 bands make you all nostalgic for the 70s and 80s, then please, please look no further than these guys, as they epitomize all that is good and was great about American Southern rock. Hogjaw wear their music on their sleeve (literally) – its creepy swamp water and is as Southern as moonshine. In fact, I’m guessing its what they had in their bottles as babies.

I have no point of reference with their previous output, just my 1980s upbringing. With opening song ‘Back Home Today’ one thing strikes me immediately, and that’s how good Jonboat Jones is (great forename, dude!). He reminds me of Darius Rucker of 90s band Hootie & The Blowfish. There’s also a running riff that very similar to Queen Of The Stoneage’s ‘No One Knows’. We’re  off to a good start.

There’s some song titles that could only come from a Southern Rock band – ‘Brown Water’, (I’m scared too to read the lyric sheet), ‘North Carolina Way’, ‘Talk About Fishin’’ and the un-mistakeable ‘Got A Pencil’.

‘To Hell With The Rest’ melds Skynyrd with ZZ Top with some pretty decent guitar playing, and Jones’ melody shining through. “Brown Water’ thankfully isn’t a song about the shits, its whisky, thankfully. It’s a faster paced rocker with plenty of energy. ‘North Carolina Way’ is 100% proof pure Lynyrd Skynyrd, with JJ sounding a lot like Van Zandt, with its relaxed verse, before unleashing a powerful chorus.  Title track, ‘Way Down Yonder’’s’ riff, is almost a toned back version of Rainbows Sixteenth Century Greensleeves (more to follow…). It has smokin’ and smoulderin’ guitar work, coupled with decent harmonies, and even some a capella with added handclaps for added effect. Its the best song on WDY by a country mile – its their Stargazer (Hint. Or is it?).

‘Dark Horse’ is a slow down, a chance to take stock and catch your breath, with its darker lyrical content. ‘I take back (almost) what I said about the title track, ‘Redemption’ is the best track on the album. It’s a sprawling, moody beast of a number. Like any good song its based around a great guitar sound, harmonies, and an anthemic like chorus. Played live, this will probably be a 15 minute opus! ‘Got A Pencil’ goes back to its Southern roots, slide guitar, machine gun drumming (like Brian Downey), and when combined, takes the song up a level or two. ‘Never Surrender’ has its riff come right out of the blocks at ya. It has more of a spoken word vocal for the verse, and shows that Hogjaw do not follow trends and do things their own way.

Tracks 1-9 are pretty much southern rock staples, until track ten. ‘Beast Of Burden (Roll On)’ made me do a double take at my computer as I thought I’d skipped a track or two. The riff for this almost note for note ‘Stargazer’ with new lyrics, make no bones about it. You could call it plagiarism, I prefer to call it a tribute to obviously one of their favourite bands. If they love it as much as I do, then good on ya. Try and get past the riff and it’s a good enough song. Finally its onto the last track ‘Talk About Fishin’’ which is bluegrass/country and like Star-Burden is far removed from the rest of the songs.

Despite know having a Scooby Doo about Hogjaw, it’s been a very pleasant surprise in hearing them six albums in. That said, I’ll be checking out my digital supplier of streamed music to check out their back catalogue, and if you’re a fan of any of the bands I discussed at the top of this review, then you should to.

Catch them on tour in the UK in October

Score 7/10

Back Home Today
To Hell With The Rest
Brown Water
North Carolina Way
Way Down Yonder
Dark Horse
Got A Pencil
Never Surrender
Beast Of Burden (Roll On)
Talk About Fishin’

Hogjaw are

Jonboat Jones – Vocals & Guitar
Jimmy Rose – Lead Guitar
Elvis DD – Bass
Kwall - Drums

Amanda Somerville's TRILLIUM - "Tectonic" Album Review

Review by - Hollywoodvampyre

Amanda Somerville is an American singer-songwriter best known for her collaborations with various European metal bands such as Avantasia, Epica, Kamelot, and After Forever. Since the late 90’s Amanda has worked mainly in Germany and the Netherlands. With a vocal range from tenor to soprano and stylistically diverse, Amanda s solo career has mostly comprised of pop/soft rock and hard rock but has experience over a wide selection of musical influences. In 2011 Amanda became the lead vocalist of the band Trillium who released their debut 'Alloy'.

After a seven year gap Amanda is ready to grace us with Trillium’s sophomore album 'Tectonic'.

'Tectonic' is a worthy follow up to 2011’s 'Alloy' and it’s a very good album. In my opinion  there isn’t actually a weak track on this album in fact the majority of the compositions are sublime.

Vocally Amanda has a phenomenal range and it doesn’t matter whether she’s singing gentle ballads, belting out  hard rock or soaring opera she changes between styles flawlessly. Instrumentally the band are on top form, symphonic keyboards, thunderous percussion and riffs that will make your toes curl with pleasure and when you put them all together you will experience multiple eargasms.

However despite all that praise there is a BUT and I think the majority of people will know what that is, whilst 'Tectonic' is an excellent album it’s nothing new there are simply far too many bands out there that sound the same. Trillium may not be breaking any boundaries but they are making excellent music and are keeping good company with bands such as Nightwish, Epica, Leaves Eyes, Within Temptation and Delain.

It’s such a shame that there is nothing unique about this album as that would have made it possible for me to give it a 10/10 score unfortunately because there isn’t I’m awarding it a measly 9/10

1. Time To Shine
2. Stand Up
3. Full Speed Ahead
4. Hit Me
5. Fighting Fate
6. Nocturna
7. Fatal Mistake
8. Shards
9. Cliché Freak Show
10. Eternal Spring

Produced by Amanda Somerville & Sander Gommans

Amanda Somerville – vocals
Sander Gommans - guitars & bass
Erik Van Ittersum – keyboards
Andre Borgman - drums

Except on:
“Full Speed Ahead”: bass by Mark Burnash, 2nd guitar solo by Paul Owsinski 

Saxon - Deluxe Reissues


25th MAY 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’s fourth album, Denim And Leather was originally released on 5th October 1981. It was recorded at Aquarius Studios in Geneva. Arguably their most successful record to date it spawned the classic singles ‘Princess Of The Night’, ‘Never Surrender’ and the song ‘And The Band’s Played On’, which was inspired by their appearance at the inaugural Monsters Of Rock festival in 1980. This edition contains the B Sides of the ‘Never Surrender’ single and seven live tracks recorded on the Denim And Leather tour of 1981.

1. Princess Of The Night
2. Never Surrender
3. Out Of Control
4. Rough And Ready
5. Play It Loud
6. And The Bands Played On
7. Midnight Rider
8. Fire In The Sky
9. Denim And Leather
CD Bonus Tracks
10. 20,000Ft (Remix)
11. Bap Shoo Ap (Live At Donington)
12. Intro / And The Bands Played On (Live)
13. Princess Of The Night (Live At The Rainbow ’81)
14. Midnight Rider (Live At Hammersmith ’81)
15. Never Surrender (Live At Hammersmith ’81)
16. Machine Gun (Live At Hammersmith ’81)
17. Play It Loud (Live At Hammersmith ’81

ORDER HERE - https://saxonband.lnk.to/Denim_Leather

Saxon’s fifth album, Power And The Glory was originally released on 21st March 1983 and was produced by Jeff Glixman at Axis Sound Studios in Atlanta. The album spawned two singles, ‘Nightmare’ and the title track, ‘Power And The Glory’ and also marked the replacement of drummer Pete Gill with Nigel Glockler, who remains a member of Saxon to this day. This version includes early working demos of songs from the album, recorded in 1982. Including tracks that didn’t make the final track listing

1. 1. Power And The Glory
2. Redline
3. Warrior
4. Nightmare
5. This Town Rocks
6. Watching The Sky
7. Midas Touch
8. The Eagle Has Landed
CD Bonus Tracks
9. Make Em Rock
10. Turn Out The Lights
11. Turn Out The Lights (Demo ’82)
12. Stand Up And Rock (Demo ’82)
13. Power And The Glory (Demo ’82)
14. Saturday Night (Demo ’82)
15. Midas Touch (Demo ’82)
16. Nightmare (Demo ’82)
17. Redline (Demo ’82)

Originally released on 16th April 1984, Saxon’s sixth album was produced by Kevin Beamish at the legendary Sound City Studios, in Los Angeles. It featured the band’s first recorded cover song, a version of the Sweet’s ‘Set Me Free’ and the singles’ Sailing To America’, ‘Just Let me Rock’ and ‘Do It All For You’. This version includes early working versions of some of the songs featured on the album and also the songs ‘Borderline’ and ‘Helter Skelter’ that didn’t make the final track listing of Crusader.

1. The Crusader Prelude
2. Crusader
3. A Little Bit Of What You Fancy
4. Sailing To America
5. Set Me Free
6. Just Let Me Rock
7. Bad Boys (Life To Rock N’Roll)
8. Do It All For You
9. Rock City
10. Run For Your Lives
CD Bonus Tracks
11. Borderline
12. Helter Skelter
13. Crusader
14. Do It All For You
15. A Little Bit Of What You Fancy
16. Sailing To America
17. Just Let Me Rock
18. Do It All For You (Intro) / Run For Your Lives
19. Living For The Weekend

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Ghost - 'Prequelle' Album Review

Ghost – Prequelle

Fans have come along for the ride for years, not knowing for certain who was behind the anonymous band… that is, until Tobias Forge recently revealed himself as the man behind Ghost. Each album is more like a film release than a record release. In addition to serving as director, Forge conceives the role of every character, and oversees everything from the screenplay to video to wardrobe design to artwork to cinematography to soundtrack.

For a brief Ghost 101 – Papa Emeritus I was singer on the first album. Papa II on Infintessimum, and Papa III on Meliora. Papa Emeritus Nil or Zero is the father of Papa’s II and III. II & III are brothers born three months apart! Papa Nil is considered too old for fronting Ghost, so in comes Cardinal Copia, who is an apprentice who needs to learn from the master, with a view to becoming Papa Emeritus IV and is vocalist for Prequelle.

Lyrically, Prequelle delves into the plague, the apocalypse, and dark ages.

Now, back at the beginning I thought that Ghost were a gimmick band (Think Kiss, only in robes and slightly less make up). I dismissed tham at my peril. I didn’t even want to know what they sounded like, as to me, it all looked shite. I would have closed the curtains had they been playing in my back yard (etc,.). Until last year…

I caught them on the ‘Meliora’ tour and was completely blown away, with their blend of metal riffs and a definite knack for melody, almost bordering on mainstream. So I went out and bought all the albums within days, on vinyl of course. I fully emersed myself in the history and wonderfulness that is Ghost.

On to ‘Prequelle’, and just like old school, we get an intro based on the plague, with “Ashes’, or as we Brits call it, ‘Ring a ring o roses’, before expanding into what becomes the unbelievably sing-a-long-a-tastic ‘Rats’. If anyone can make a poetic and infectious song about vermin, its Ghost. In fact, I cant tell the difference between Papa II and Copia. (That’s because they are all the same, dumbass!) Rats is based on 80s hair metal riffs, with the melody of J-pop! ‘Faith’ is old-metal neo-classical riffage, with their trade mark chugging riff overlaid,  and is the heaviest song on the album with some great harmonies – its probably the only song on ‘Prequelle’ that references their past. It ends with a choral passage leading into ‘See The Light’ and is gonna be a big hit for Ghost. The verse and chorus are opposites light and shade, with a delicate piano being the light, and powerful darkness of the chorus.

‘Miasma’ is a bit of a strange beast in todays World, an instrumental from a bygone age of the 70s and 80s when albums used to be full of the buggers. I always thought instrumentals were a lazy option, but in this instance, guitars, retro keyboard synth and even a saxaphone at the end all come to play their part, and it is glorious. ‘Dance Macabre’ is an old school rocker that would have blitzed the Billboard charts back in the day and is different to anything that Ghost have perviously given us, its something like Abba could have written back in the day, and is absolutely massive. ‘Pro Memoria’ starts as if it were a soundtrack piece, or written for a musical not to dissimilar from Jeff Wayne, and is like a old 70s prog song full of storytelling. Different, but in a great way. ‘Witch Image’s’ opening riff is just like klassik Kiss, and is catchy as Hell, with the keyboard and guitar riff interplaying with the melodic verse and chorus to great effect.

When you think one instrumental is one too many, then we get a second one. ‘Helvetesfonster’ is part X-Files intro, part Jethro Tull, and Ayreon, which is folky, earthy and just feels as if there are lyrics itching to reveal themselves, and for a 51 year old, brought up on shit like like this, is manna from Heaven. Its quickly onto the final song, ‘Life Eternal’, a more melancholic song for them and it proves to be a fitting end to this strange, different and beautiful album.

All the old elements are there from Ghosts past, but I think that this is an album that could get them even wider appeal as the songs of offer could, and should cross borders and open them up to a whole new audience. Its rock, metal, pop, prog, soundtrack and Broadway/West End musical running all they way through the veins, which is all down to the huge talent that is Tobias Forge.

Ghost  have announced their fourth sacred psalm Prequelle (pronounced prē-KWELL) will be released on June 1, 2018 via Spinefarm/Loma Vista Recordings. Limited edition bundles including 8-Tracks, Casettes and more are available exclusively in the Ghost shop HERE.

Score 9/10

Tracklisting -

See The Light
Dance Macabre
Pro Memoria
Witch Image
Life Eternal

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Refuge - 'Solitary Man' Album Review

Refuge – Solitary Man

Peavy Wagner, Manni Schmidt & Christos Efthimiadis released five critically acclaimed albums as one of the most successful line-ups of the German metal band RAGE and have now reunited under the name REFUGE to carry on the sonic assault they started back in ’87. What started out as a “fun thing” in 2014 has turned into a real band again! Refuge’s debut album, ‘Solitary Men’ will see the light of day in summer 2018. It will be the first album of original material from this classic Rage line-up in 25 years and will surely satisfy fans who remember those now legendary albums!

My initial thoughts when this album starts is how far stuck in the late 80’s these guys are. There’s a really nice slow bit towards the end of ‘Summer’s Winter’ but that’s all that pulls me in so far.
‘The Man In The Ivory Tower’s’ opening riff gives me some hope but vocally, for me, something isn’t right, it doesn’t gel with the music. ‘Bleeding From Inside’ kicks in and that’s exactly how I feel listening to it. The opening riff is great but as soon as the lyrics kick in the song is destroyed. These guys are typical mid 80’s Megadeth / Iron Maiden style heavy rock and if you’re from that era it may be right up your street. I’m from that era and it isn’t, but I’ll continue to listen and give my fair opinion.

‘From The Ashes’ offers hope with it’s Dave Mustaine inspired opening which is great, but again doesn’t live up to expectations. ‘Living On The Edge Of Time’ is the best offering so far, with it’s ‘South of Heaven’ style intro. It is a very Helloween-style song.

As the album progresses its fair to say that fans of RAGE will love this. ‘We Owe A Life To A Death’ confirms what I’ve been thinking. I’m hearing, Maiden, Sacred Reich, Holy Terror. Nothing wrong with that, however, most 80’s bands have been able to drag themselves and their music into our current era. These guys haven’t and it’s a shame.

‘Let Me Go’ gives us a more rock’n’roll feel to the album but lyrically it just doesn’t work.
Overall this album will be a great addition for RAGE fans, but I can’t see it attracting any new fans. There just isn’t any song that stands out and shouts to a new audience. If you love RAGE buy it, if you’ve never heard RAGE………………Don’t.

Score 4/10

Reviewed by Sty

Track Listing

1 - Summer's Winter
2 - The Man In The Ivory Tower
3 - Bleeding From Inside
4 - From The Ashes
5 - Living On The Edge Of Time
6 - We Owe A Life To Death
7 - Mind Over Matter
8 - Let Me Go
9 - Hell Freeze Over
10 - Waterfalls
11 - Another Kind Of Madness (Bonus Track)


Peavy Wagner –bass & vocals
Manni Schmidt - guitars
Christos Efthimiadis - drums