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!!!
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......
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’reoff 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
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.
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'.
is a worthy follow up to 2011’s 'Alloy' and it’s a very good album. In my
opinionthere isn’t actually a weak
track on this album in fact the majority of the compositions are sublime.
Amanda has a phenomenal range and it doesn’t matter whether she’s singing
gentle ballads, belting outhard 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.
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.
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
Time To Shine
Full Speed Ahead
Cliché Freak Show
by Amanda Somerville & Sander Gommans
Somerville – vocals
Gommans - guitars & bass
Van Ittersum – keyboards
Borgman - drums
Speed Ahead”: bass by Mark Burnash, 2nd guitar solo by Paul Owsinski
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.
DENIM AND LEATHER
Saxons 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 Bands
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)
Saxons 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 didnt make the final track
Originally released on 16th
April 1984, Saxons sixth album was produced by Kevin Beamish at the
legendary Sound City Studios, in Los Angeles. It featured the bands
first recorded cover song, a version of the Sweets 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 didnt make the final track listing of Crusader.
1. The Crusader Prelude
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 NRoll)
8. Do It All For You
9. Rock City
10. Run For Your Lives
CD Bonus Tracks
12. Helter Skelter
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
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
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.
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
‘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
‘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.
What’s in a name? For me, I like the
musicality of Ken-dell Mar-vell, with added inflection on the dell & vel.
I'm probably wrong, but its a great name. Lowdown & Lonesome is KM’s debut
album and is released through Snakefarm Records today, May 18th.
I've had a love of what Id call ‘true
country’ right from the early 70s as a young child, where my mum and dad would
watch what would become and annual country fest out of the Wembley Arena with
the likes of Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Don Williams and George Hamilton IV.
It was supposed to be a dead genre, but ran in the UK well into the 80s and in
recent years has been resurrected. I’ve been a fan ever since. Enough of ‘lil
‘ol me, over to Kendell...
Says KM ‘I’m really looking forward to the
release of my debut record. It was produced by Keith Gattis, and I refer to it
as ZZ Top meets Merle Haggard’, and THAT is a damn good description of where to
start. He has a pretty incredible back story – he moved from his native
Illinois to Music City in 1998 intent on pursuing a music career. On his first
day working in the city, he wrote ‘Right Where I need To Be’ - a huge Top 5 hit
for country music singer Gary Allan. Putting his dreams of being an artiste on
the back-burner, he continued to build his career and reputation, penning hits
for and with famed artists such as George Strait, Jake Owen, Blake Shelton
(U.S., The Voice), and Chris Stapleton. Now, some 20 years down the line,
Marvel is thriving as a singer songwriter in his own right. He hosts his own
monthly show in Nashville, and is one of the hottest tickets in town, thanks to
a wide range of guest appearances from the like of Alison Krauss, Foo Fighters,
The Black Crowes and Brothers Osbourne. You don’t get that kind of help and
support if you’re not very good!
To be honest, if you are a fan of any of
the aforementioned names, Nashville, Country Rock, and the likes of Johnny
Cash, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Rayna James, Deacon
Claybourne, and The Good ‘Ol Boys (I could keep going for some time), mixed
with a great knack of story telling and instantly memorable songs then you need
look no further than Kendell Marvell and ‘Lowdown & Lonesome’.
Its a mixed bag of songs that range from
what I’d call ‘proper old school country’ to more mainstream country rock and
all the above with a hint of blues. Opening track and title track ‘Lowdown
& Lonesome’ is a great country rock n roll song. Full stop. It draws on
Johnny Cash (think ‘Man Comes Around’) to the heavier end of country such as
Eric Church. Its a country check list of lyrics - ‘Fulsom’, ‘Walk The Line’,
‘Whiskey River’ etc. You could play a drinking game to the country metaphors
listed here in this one song. ’Marvell’s vocals have a gritty and gravelly
sound that just draws you in for the long haul. ‘Gypsy Woman’ is acoustical and
just so achingly good. Especially with its little Hammond lilts, and has a
warmth due to is really cool harmonies. ‘Heartache Off My Back’ just powers
forward and just makes you want to get up out of your chair and dance! ‘Watch
Your Heart’ showcases KM’s vocals, a slow burner where the first half shows off
his lower register, then it soars on the latter half. There is a mid-section of
songs that makes me sit up as they are co-written with Chris Stapleton amongst
others. ‘Untangle My Mind’ with its honky-tonk piano transports me to ‘Bobs
Country Bunker’ chock full of beer-swillers and whiskey drinkers.
‘Tryin’ Not To Love You’ I think will be a
big hit for Marvell. It covers all the bases by a ‘country mile’ (yup, that was
intentional). ‘Hurtin’ Gets Hard’ is a country ballad that sticks its head
above the others on this record. Complete with harmonies from Melonie Cannon,
they work together really nicely, just like Mr & Mrs Stapleton. ‘Closer To
Hell’ is sung with enough tongue-in-cheek ‘so I started confessing, and he
started sweating till he had to get up and leave, I guess the preacher
agrees...’. ‘That Seat’s Saved’ finished the originals with a pure bottled
country track, steel gee-tar, spoken word and all, sung about a love waiting to
return ‘sit anywhere you want to, mister, anywhere but there….it’ll have her
name on it till I don’t have a prayer’. It will have aficionados crying into
their beers for sure. The final track is a more upbeat note, a cover of a
classic from Charlie Daniels ‘Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye’ (Feat. Jamey Johnson)
Kendell clearly has some friends in very
high places – most of whom have turned out to play on this album, and he has
used them to great effect. If you think county is a bit ‘samey’ and jaded, then
look at Kendell, he is trying to break free of the chains. He is cut from the
same cloth as some of the greats. Whilst he is no spring chicken, he has an
even greater future ahead of him as a performer. There’s enough variation on
offer here to keep a wide ranging country fan invested, both classic and modern
I'm just pissed off that I only found out
about him this week, just one week after he has toured the UK with Brothers
Tracks – (Are there no words ending in ‘g’
Hartmann burst on to the hard rock scene in
2005 with their well received debut album 'Out In The Cold', since then the band
have worked tirelessly releasing an impressive 6 albums consisting of 1 live
and 5 studio albums the last being 2016’s 'Shadows And Silhouettes'.When not in the studio the band were busy
building an impressive touring resume playing with the likes of
Toto,Y&Tand House Of Lords.
Jumping forward to 2018 and Hartmann are
getting ready to unleash their latest album 'Hands On The Wheel'.
In my opinion 'Hands on The Wheel' is for the
most part an excellent album but I felt that there was something missing. 'Don’t
Want Back Down' is an excellent opener
and sets the tone for the majority of the album, 'Your Best Excuse' and 'Cold As
Stone' are solid rock anthems that will have you reaching for the volume and
introducing your neighboursto the band.
'Simple Man' is an extremely well put together track and the opening actually
sent shivers down my spine. 'Last Plane Out' will transport you back in time to
the late 80’s early 90’s when poodle perms and leather trousers were all the
The next track however is where things seem to go south, 'Soulmates' is a
song that when played live will have lighters in the air but I found it
extremely dull and sleep inducing however hearing the opening of 'The Harder
They Come' soon pulled me out of the stupor, it’s the type of track that makes
you sit up and start pumping your fist in time, 'Dream World' carries on in the
same vein and will have you screaming 'Dream World' at the top of your lungs. 'I
Remember' and 'Lost In Translation' were decent enough tracks however they just don’t
belong on this album, listening to them actually made me think of Queensryche’s
Empire. 'The Sky Is Falling' is a typical power ballad with a steady build up
before the soaring vocals and would have been an excellent closer to this album
but sadly that was left to 'Heart Of Gold', just like 'Soulmates', 'Heart Of Gold' is
a lighter waving ballad but just like 'Soulmates' I found it extremely boring.
'Hands On The Wheel' gets a solid 7/10 it’s a
good album just not as good as their earlier material.
Rose Tattoo will be
kicking off their Blood Brothers
2018 tour at the end of March with the 2018 bonus re-issue edition
of their classic 2007 album set for release on 18th May through
Golden Robot Records.
The re-issue features killer live versions
of some of the albums finest tracks, including Man About Town, Black Eyed Bruiser, Once in A Lifetime, Sweat Meat,
Standover Man and Nothing
to Lose recorded live in all their glory and captured on disc. This
is the Tats at their best. Raw, rough and ready for a fight, but also tight as
a fist and sounding bigger than ever.
Opening track ‘Black Eyed Bruiser’ is a
very welcomed mixture of The Kinks ‘You really got me’ with vocals reminiscent
of AC/DC’s Brian Johnson. Having never heard Rose Tattoo before, that’s the
first thing that hit me. A great opening track. Proper Rock. And this continues
into ‘Slipping Away’, an Aerosmith type rock n roll classic with some nice
The album progresses into ‘Once in A Lifetime’,
which has a fantastic drop chord for the chorus that keeps it chugging along
just nicely. This is proper driving rock, with the window down, arm out.
I’m hearing lots of bands from my teenage
days here. AC/DC, Aerosmith, Thunder, Kiss, even Little Angels to an extent.
All of which make this album more enjoyable as it rolls on. ‘City Blues’ is a
nice, dark, crawler of a song which slows the album down a touch, and probably
at the right time too, concentrating on some more nice slide work and clever guitar
riffs, which allows ‘Sweet Meat’ to unleash it’s opening chords with venom.
This is a classic rock and blues number with a killer riff. ‘Man About Town’
has a Kiss ‘Cold Gin’ feel to it which works well. What’s great about Rose
Tattoo is that when a lot of these songs start, your initial impression is that
the song is just ‘ok’, but as each chorus kicks in, it changes everything. They
become really good songs. ‘Nothing To Lose’ is probably the weakest song on the
album in my opinion. Not much going on in this song to be fair, nothing that
really stands out and makes me take notice, which is why I’m surprised that
this was chosen as one of the bonus live tracks. The album concludes with six
live tracks from the album which capture the live element of the band really
well. A good addition to this re-issue.
Fans of AC/DC, Aerosmith etc will love this
album. It’s a great rock and roll album, but slightly lacking in originality
but enjoyable none the less.