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 28 May 2020

Vega - 'Grit Your Teeth' Album Review


VEGA’s sixth album, “Grit Your Teeth” will be released on June 12th, 2020 and according to the PR bumf, is set to “blow the roof off”. Working with “The Graves Brothers” (Asking Alexandria, Funeral for Friend, The Family Ruin), they’ve pulled out all the stops, disconnected the brakes, and produced their biggest songs for their biggest sounding album yet. Theirs is a brand of music that is as rewarding as it is challenging. This is not the end, but the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the history of Vega.

They’ve toured over the years with Skid Row, Last in Line, FM, Magnum, Joe Elliott’s Down and Outz, Dan Reed Network, and have had festival appearances at DOWNLOAD, Planet Rockstock, Steelhouse, HRH AOR, Rockingham, and the Frontiers Rock Festival in Milan, that have all gone into shaping them into one of the UK’s finest melodic rock bands. The fact that they are not more widely recognised is more down to bad luck than anything else, as anyone that has witnessed them live recently will testify. 
VEGA’s members have a rich history, including stints with Kick, Sugartown, and Paul Dianno, but it was their meeting of musical minds back in 2009 that would lead to the melodic rock genre receiving one of the finest releases of that year in the form of their debut album, “Kiss Of Life”.

I think Vega are a bit of a marmite band. I asked recently if one of the other guys would like to review them as it’s always been me, and I wasn’t exactly met with enthusiasm from any of them. After many cracking albums, I must admit that I’ve expected them to kick on a bit. But even gigs the last few years have been poorly attended, and I cant put my finger on it as when faced with an audience like HRH etc, they go down a storm. And rightly so.

So what do we have with ‘GYT’?

Well, on first inspection I’m met with a certain amount of moistness in the nether regions. I don’t know if it’s a concerted effort from the Vegaboys, or if it’s a combination of the partnership with the brothers Graves. Although for me, not knowing who they are at all (Graves Bros - sounds like a removal firm!), I will put it down to a combination of efforts. 

With ‘Blind’, Vega jump out of the starting blocks like a stabbed rat with a fire cracker shoved up its arse. There’s a certain amount of vim and vigour that’s being applied, still maintaining the strong melody, but with a bit of welly. ‘(I Don’t Need) Perfection’ proves that the opener is not just a one off. There’s a substance and style here that shows that Vega mean big business with a capital B.I.G. The melodic sensibilities are still there for the fans that expect the anthems, but they are proving that this crocodile definitely has bite! In fact its probably the best Nick Workman has sounded (and he always sounded good!). Title track ‘Grit Your Teeth’ is a stormer, and Jon Bon Jovi should be getting on the phone begging to cover this. No one does anthems like Vega! ‘Man On A Mission’ has a southern drawl opening line before evoking latter day Shinedown, and that’s not a bad comparison to make. ‘Don't Fool Yourself Again’ is probably the best song on the album. It’s a very infectious number, and I strongly suggest you check out the video below, because if you don’t like this, then there is no hope….


‘Consequence….’ Digs deep into the 80s for a Tears For Fears ‘Mad World’ influenced section that I’m sure people of my age will pick up on instantly. ‘This Ones For You’ is yet another positive track, and ‘Battles Ain’t A War’ is a ballad of sorts and is nicely layered and assembled. It’s a very cool track, and I particularly think Thurston’s playing on this is exceptional. Before you know it we are at the sharp end, and there’s still no slack on the horizon - ‘Save Me From Myself’ airs on the side of pop and deserves mainstream radio play; the positive and uplifting ‘How We Live’, and finally ‘Done With Me’  is short, snappy, punchy and rounds of a sterling performance.

I’m not going to single anyone in particular out as all the guys are on VERY top form. A new bar has been set for 2020 and any competition to the Vega throne will need to up their game. ‘The Vega is dead. Long live the Vega’

Could this be the one? I’d certainly like to think so. It’s all anthems and I expected nothing less. It’s such a great listen, that I needed a good old rest at the end as I got cramp in my hand for singing into Gills hairbrush for the whole album.

For me, it’s mainly about the melody, then the lyrics, but without the melody you have nothing. Thankfully Vega get their melody delivered by the truckload. With previous albums not being embraced as they probably should be a (much) wider audience, I was wondering what the next chapter would be in Vega’s history. In the case of ‘Grit Your Teeth’ the new chapter is a blockbuster. If you hanker for the glory days of Leppard and Bon Jovi, look no further, as this is the album JBJ and Elliott would love to be able to make.

9/10       The best album of 2020 so far. I’m leaving room for further listens.

Tracklisting
Blind
(I Don’t Need) Perfection
Grit Your Teeth
Man On A Mission
Don’t Fool Yourself
Consequence Of Having A Heart
This One’s For You
Battles Ain’t A War
Save Me From Yourself
How We Live
Done with Me

Released - 12th June


Tuesday 26 May 2020

McStine & Minnemann - 'S/T' Album Review


 McStine & Minnemann - S/T

McStine & Minnemann is a new band consisting of Randy McStine (Lo-Fi Resistance) and Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats). Pre-orders for their debut album began on Friday May 1st, along with the release of their first single “Program” and its brand new music video. See further below.

The duo initially met in 2018 while working with other artists, but as they discovered their shared passion for an assortment of Rock, Pop, and Punk artists, they decided to embark on a collaborative project together. Although McStine and Minnemann initially set out to record an EP, they quickly shifted to making an album as their musical ideas and chemistry flourished. 

Im a (sort of) fan of both people here. I first came to notice Minnemenn when he auditioned for the vacant Dream Theater position - I thought his was the best audition; and I love the Lo-Fi Resistance album ‘A Deep Breath’ (I know that there are more. ADB is my favourite of them). I never thought a collaboration of the two would be on the cards, as I think Minnemann is more of a technical drummer and think of him more of a proggy kind of member in bands like The Mute Gods, The Sea Within, and Levin Minnemann Rudess. And his splendid work with one of my all-time favourite artistes, Steven Wilson.

Let just say that both of these guys have a bit of form, therefore I suppose it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that they got together, should it, Paul?

If ‘all over the place’ is a musical style, then opener ‘Program” falls into this style, in a good ‘all over the place’ kind of way. It chops and changes from rhythmic drumming, clanging guitar work, and overlaid with McStines vocals, ranging from prog to pop in a matter of a single line. Its part Queen, Rush, ELO and everything in-between. They certainly won’t get pigeon-holed, that’s for certain. ‘Falling From Grace’ kicks off with a drill, clanging, and a pulsating bass and guitar riff, with some eclectic, and choppy vocal phrasing. It's the kind of song people won’t be having as a first dance at a wedding, put it that way. Its a strange listen at first, but it definitely plants seeds as there’s a hell of a lot to take in with just a single listen. I'm sure at one point, someone is playing a 1960s boiled egg slicer! ‘Your Offenses’ (thankfully) gives my mind and ears a rest, and it is more of a ‘standard’ song, if that description applies to McStine & Minneman. It’s a very prog/pop song with some cracking drumming and guitar work. ‘Catrina’ gets us back on the ‘eclectic’ road. It’s definitely a challenging listen so far, but there’s enough going on to make me think ‘WTF?’, and I really like the tone of McStines vocals. ‘Top Of The Bucket’ again is more of a ‘sensible’ offering from Marco and randy, as in it is not that mental. ‘Tear The Walls Down’ is traditional, as in its Pantera jamming with Rush, but with Dream Theater's singer (it isn’t by the way, it just sounds like LaBrie). It is my second favourite of the album so far after ‘Your Offenses’ (I’m offended by the non English spelling of ‘offences’).


‘Fly’ pulsates along on a grabbing base and synthesiser and is definitely an ear worm in the making. ‘Activate’ is another song that makes the album worthwhile for my more melodic sensibilities. ‘The Closer’ starts like a ballad, piano and layered vocals. I’m expecting a change in tempo, and the change is…..nothing, just a piano, lap steel guitar and vocals. Its rather nice. Quickly we are onto the final track ‘Voyager’, a darker song that only Minnemann and McStine can meld dark and dirty riffing with Beatles/ELO style harmonies! This typifies the album in one song.

In conclusion…..

If you remember that period that Tom and Jerry’s studio did when they tried to save money and went to Gene Deitch in the Czech Republic in 1961/62? Well the music is like that. Its two blokes with a love of time changes, ambient sounds, progressive boundary pushing, with some pop/pock melody interspersed with some great (and strange) playing! And a bit of noise thrown in for good measure.I am sure they will think different to me (a heathen).

The songs are all quite short which is something I found appealing, because if they were in the ‘prog’ mould of being 10-15mins long, I think I’d have given up the ghost long ago. I think that if you love the outer reaches of prog then you will love this. Or if you’re off your tits (or anywhere in-between the two come to think of it). I have to admit that I found it challenging, but Ive still ordered it, if that makes any sense. 

OK, all those bands that brought me here - Lo-Fi, The Sea Within, Steven Wilson, The Mute Gods, well…most of it is nothing like any of that. But….for ‘Your Offenses’, ‘Program’, ‘Activate’, ‘Tear The Walls Down’, ‘The Closer’ and ‘Voyager’ alone are worth the 7.5 score. The rest I am hoping will grow on me.

7.5/10

Tracklisting
Program
Falling From Grace
Your Offenses
Catrina
Top Of The Bucket
Tear The Walls Down
Fly 
Activate
The Closer
Vogager


Pre-Orders for McStine & Minnemann are now available on Bandcamp with several packages to choose from - PRE-ORDER HERE NOW

$8 Digital Download
$13 CD + digital download (shipping exc.)
$25 ‘Deluxe Version’ CD + digital download (shipping exc.) with exclusive bonus content -
          Private stream release of 1 new song per week (every Friday) from May 1st to July 3rd (in order of album sequence), as well as a Randy/Marco commentary track and Marco drum playthrough video per song

A Limited Edition Vinyl version is also available - PRE-ORDER HERE NOW

Friday 22 May 2020

Dennis DeYoung -‘26 East: Volume 1’ Review

It was the novelty of the world’s first laser etched single, “The Best of Times”, which first drew my attention to Styx. From the moment the needle hit the record, I was well and truly hooked. The singer of that song was Dennis DeYoung, who together with his band mates, made up of one of the most successful American rock bands of the era.

There are, therefore, two ways to approach a new album by Dennis DeYoung – the first is as a solo performer and the second is as a former member Styx. DeYoung is rightly proud of his legacy of Styx music, and his solo work is faultless to a tee, but there is always bound to be some crossover in the subconscious mind unless you have no prior knowledge of the history.

So, what was I to expect from DeYoung’s first studio offering in 13 years: “26 East: Volume 1”?

The opening cut, “East of Midnight”, is a promising start to the album with a fanfare most beloved by the Pomp Rock brigade! The chugging autobiographic verses lead into a trademark Stygian chorus and an instrumental section which includes dual lead guitars, a church organ and synth solos! This is prime-time DeYoung!

“With All Due Respect” continues the theme of “Turn off CNN” from his previous album “One Hundred Years From Now” although the vitriol this time seems more evenly matched against both left and right-wing media channels.

DeYoung’s ear for effective light and shade gives us some of the album’s best moments, notably with the superb “A Kingdom Ablaze” with its eerily atmospheric introduction morphing into a dynamic rocker with a memorable hook.

The inevitable romantic ballad comes in the form of “You My Love”, and as much maligned as he has been for the likes of “Babe” and “First Time”, you have to give the man credit - he really does write a great love song!

“Run For The Roses” and “The Promise Of This Land” showcase DeYoung’s versatility as a songwriter and performer, harking back to theatrical style and vocal delivery employed on his mid-nineties “10 on Broadway” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” albums.

Opening in a light mood, “Unbroken”, lopes into an uplifting harmony-laden chorus while “Damn That Dream” exhibits a series of attractive musical facets and clever lyrics as it runs its course.

The infectious, celebratory tone of “To The Good Old Days”, a duet with Julian Lennon, is a big highlight. The more you listen, the more you enjoy and appreciate what’s going on here! It will never replace “Come Sail Away” in the concert set-list, but be sure that your lighter is fully loaded with fuel, or at least that your cell phone battery now has enough power to last for two songs! It’s almost forty years since he toured on this side of the pond - let’s hope European audiences get the opportunity to witness this great performer again before he calls time.

The album’s closing song, “A.D. 2020” retreads old ground using a familiar musical theme from the “Paradise Theatre” album but this time it’s far more impacting. Knowing that DeYoung said that this was going to be his last album, this becomes far more personal, and it’s sad ...

This album brings his career full circle. The album title “26 East” is the address in Roseland on the south side of Chicago where the genesis of Styx began in 1962 with a band called Tradewinds which he formed with twins John and Chuck Panozzo who lived just across the street. At the group’s inception, Dennis played the accordion. When you know the history, hearing him play one on “A.D. 2020” this song makes it all the more poignant.

Thankfully, so much material had been written, Serafino Perugino, CEO of Frontiers Music, suggested splitting it between two albums, hence “26 East: Volume 1” – so we can now all anticipate what Volume 2 holds in store – personally, I can’t wait to hear it!

8.5/10

Tracklisting:
East Of Midnight
With All Due Respect
A Kingdom Ablaze
You My Love
Run For The Roses
Damn That Dream
Unbroken
The Promise Of This Land
To The Good Old Days
A.D. 2020

Thursday 21 May 2020

Room Experience - 'Another Time And Place' Review


Room Experience - Another Time And Place

This Friday sees the release of the sophomore album from Room Experience, more of those pesky Italians single handedly (as a nation) trying to keep melodic rocks flame burning - not as a flicker, but a full on Gas Mark 9. It’s still the brain child of Gianluca Firmo, who again plays keys, BV’s and has one song of his own to sing (Euro bonus track), and he has blackmailed his friends for another outing of melodic mayhem. Back in the hot seat is David Readman, and he is a fine choice of vocalist for any project. Also along for the ride again are Davide Barbieri (keys and BVs), Steve De Biasi (guitars), Pierpaolo Monti (drums) and noob to the set up, Simon Dredo (bass)


There’s also a hosts of guest itching to get involved, such as Ivan Gonzalez, Sven Larsson, Stefano Zeni, Chitarra Matteo Serra, Lorenzo Fodda, Marcello Sperra, and no Italian project would be complete without the addition of Alessandro Del Vecchio.

I think the title of the album (Another Place And Time) is obviously a nod to days gone by where an album project like this would probably have been lapped up had it been 1986, but unfortunately those days are long gone. Even now (May) and the rest of the year will be a completely different time to what it was in February. We are in strange times indeed. Thankfully people are still producing music even if gigging is off the table for the time being. At least more of us are sitting at home able to listen and discover bands like Room Experience. A couple of years down the line, the name still hasn’t grown on me!

Take note other bands to up your game, the PR info that was issued with this album states that Room Experience is powered by Blåkläder Workwear. (I wonder if spandex and leg warmers are considered as workwear?). I expect Vega to respond and announce a deal with ‘Betty’s’

Anyway, onto the frivolity that is ‘APAT’. I’ve only had the chance to listen to it a couple of times and there’s some good stuff going on here. ‘Hear Another Song’ is a powerful opener. I was expecting to be overladen with layered keyboards, but its not the case here as is very much a pulsating rocker. ‘Wild Heart’ goes very much for the 80s keyboard style opening intro and settles into its groove. There a good enough mix of songs to keep the listener entertained - from the power ballads ‘The Distance’, ‘A Thousand Lands’ and the closer which is very Gary Moore guitar influenced, ‘Your Voice Inside’; uplifting ‘The Night Goes On’; strong choruses in ‘Disappointed’, and ‘The Miles That Make A Road’, and my personal favourites the 80s style powerful rockers ‘A Thousand Lies’, Another Place And Time’, ‘Shout’ and ‘Hear Another Song’.

All in all its a good album, the paying is strong, Readman is a good choice for handling vocals, the guitar playing is excellent, and production polished, but not overly. Theres not a great deal to cheer us all up presently, but albums like this certainly can lift your spirits. Its nice for them to include a European bonus track for once, instead of the Japanese hogging the market!

7.5/10

Tracklisting

Hear Another Song
Wild Heart
Disappointed
Strangers In The Night
The Distance
Shout
Another Place And Time
The Miles That Make A Road
The Night Goes On
A Thousand Lies
Your Voice Inside
The Distance (Lead Vocals Gianluca Firmo - European Bonus Track)

Saturday 16 May 2020

McStine & Minnemann new single “Program”

MCSTINE & MINNEMANN

“PROGRAM” – THE FIRST SINGLE FROM THEIR DEBUT ALBUM – VIDEO NOW ONLINE

PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW – OFFICIAL ALBUM RELEASE ON JULY 3RD 2020

McStine & Minnemann is a new band consisting of Randy McStine (Lo-Fi Resistance) and Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats). Pre-orders for their debut album began on Friday May 1st, along with the release of their first single “Program” and its brand new music video.

The duo initially met in 2018 while working with other artists, but as they discovered their shared passion for an assortment of Rock, Pop, and Punk artists, they decided to embark on a collaborative project together. Although McStine and Minnemann initially set out to record an EP, they quickly shifted to making an album as their musical ideas and chemistry flourished. 

The result of their self-titled debut, McStine & Minnemann, is a high-energy collection of ten compact, yet expansive Rock songs that sit well next to the likes of XTC, Mr. Bungle, The Knack, Queen, and Frank Zappa. As both men are prolific multi-instrumentalists and writers, they have created a space for each other to showcase their incomparable instrumental talents, while infusing them with an incredible mix of melodic and lyrical depth.



The first single from the album “Program” explores the impact of technology in the modern world, and the duo worked closely with videographer Christian Rios (who has also directed videos for Flying Colors and Sons of Apollo) to create an unique music video to represent the concept. Randy remembers: “I sent the song to Christian to gauge his interest in doing a music video for it, and he came back with a concept to have the whole thing feel as if our phones are communicating and directing us. The lyrics are somewhat abstract, but he picked up on a theme of tech addiction, which is something I think about often.”

“I first recorded ‘Program’ in 2013 but only started playing it again with my trio about a year ago” continues Randy. “And I thought this would be really great to do [with Marco] if we kick up the energy a bit and take it to a Devo-esque sound. I’m super excited about how it came out! The way Marco approached the instrumental section completely took it to a new level, making it very tight and rhythmic.”

Marco adds: “The whole track has a real driving energy to it and I think, as an album opener, it sets the stage for most of the musical elements that are to follow.”

McStine & Minnemann was produced by the duo, and mixed by Forrester Savell (Karnivool, SikTh). 

McStine & Minnemann Tracklist:

01. Program
02. Falling From Grace
03. Your Offenses
04. Catrina
05. Top Of The Bucket
06. Tear The Walls Down (No Memories)
07.  Fly
08. Activate
09. The Closer
10.  Voyager

Pre-Orders for McStine & Minnemann are now available on Bandcamp with several packages to choose from - PRE-ORDER HERE NOW

$8 Digital Download
$13 CD + digital download (shipping exc.)
$25 ‘Deluxe Version’ CD + digital download (shipping exc.) with exclusive bonus content -
          Private stream release of 1 new song per week (every Friday) from May 1st to July 3rd (in order of album sequence), as well as a Randy/Marco commentary track and Marco drum playthrough video per song

A Limited Edition Vinyl version is also available - PRE-ORDER HERE NOW

$25 Special limited 140 grams Collectors Vinyl Album, only 100 pressed

Follow McStine Minnemann:


10 MINUTE SAMPLER OF THE NEW ALBUM (Below)


Tuesday 5 May 2020

One Desire - 'Midnight Empire' Review


One Desire – Midnight Empire

I was first aware of One Desire a few years ago and was lucky enough to see them in The Cathouse in Glasgow supporting Eclipse. Word was they were decent and the first album imaginatively called One Desire was superb, I loved it and loved them playing live.

A couple of things struck me, they were called One Desire just as some band called One Direction were still making it big in the world. Luckily they were nothing like One Direction. The second thing was that lead singer André Linman could not only sing well but had hair that a shampoo advert would die for.

Their 30 minute set was superb, tight and I was left well impressed. Sadly I missed out when a few mates went to see them in Finland, I’d have loved to see these lads on home soil.

And so I was lucky enough to get a link to the new album Midnight Empire. Actually lucky doesn’t cover it, I was blessed!
Shadowman – starts with a haunting recorded intro with crackles from the record it’s taken from before the music kicks in and it kicks in with style. A thumping driving beat, the vocals clear and the backing vocals full of menace as it builds to a great chorus. It’s full of energy, keyboards and atmosphere, it sets a standard. “The Shadow in the window hiding”…..

After You’re Gone – what a tune, it’s catchier than a pandemic (too soon?), it just drags you along with a massive smile on your face. Simply WOW! One Desire for me was this track not to end (see what I did there……). It’s definitely nods towards Eclipse which can never be bad thing in my opinion, totally love it, no wonder it was released to highlight the album.

Down and Dirty – completes a hat trick of 3 catchy melodic tracks of real style. Rather than Down and Dirty it’s more “Upbeat and Clean”. It’s got another great chorus and layered backing vocals that just simply work.

The vocals of André Linman complement the solos of Jimmy Westerlund superbly. The talent of both for me matches if not exceeds the original CD. I say CD because I’m old and still love a CD mainly to blast out in the car.

Godsent Extasy – Even though the title sounds like a dodgy porn channel it’s another track that hits you with another full on melodic rock cracker, key changes and continues the feel of the preceding tracks nicely.

Through the Fire – acoustic guitar start, vocals exposed and wonderfully haunting. What a beautiful slow burner this is. It grows into a magnificent atmospheric track, One Desire certainly aren’t a one trick pony. This takes them to another level. There’s a touch of Rush, a bit of Eclipse and the guitar solo at the end could only sound more magnificent if backed by an orchestra and choir. Sublime.

Heroes – another gentle build up that bursts into life. It fits in with the previous songs seamlessly. Again the musicianship is top.


Rio – a cracking ballad, the piano intro sets the tone, the vocals of André lead into a slow builder, by slow I don’t mean bad, they just let the song build and let the guitar solo take over in a note perfect way until Andre’s vocals end it beautifully.

Battlefield of Love – the way OD use an acoustic guitar to lead into a full-on electric high tempo piece makes their sound well, well just their own. A clever use of keyboards (which are across a lot of the tracks) just adds to the feel.

Killer Queen – another superb full on piece of Scandinavian rock – it zips, it’s not Queen but it’s still a royal song. Sorry, I’ll get my coat.

Only When I Breathe – the rain fall backdrop leads to a classic finish to what is a bloody decent album. Again it starts showcasing the vocals of Andre on top of a gentle guitar. A superb ballad again and the vocals are stunningly good. “Now it only hurts when I breathe”.

If you love melodic rock and especially with the Scandinavian feel then you won’t be disappointed, it’s a belter and the best I’ve had the pleasure to hear this year. I’ve not mentioned Ossi Sivula on drums and Jonas Kuhlberg on bass guitar but they are just as important to the sound because they just do their bit, no frills but 100% behind the whole sound. Also the use of keyboards just works perfectly.

In conclusion Midnight Empire is a little gem, the band deserve a much bigger audience. They were superb live and I can’t wait to see these songs with a large appreciative audience. Totally loved it with so many earworms in the CD. The faster stuff is immense but for me “Through The Fire” just hits every button although my favourite will always be After You’re Gone, up there with the best of Eclipse, HEAT and Perfect Plan, it is simply that good.

I would say check the band out live on their European tour with The Night Flight Orchestra in March 2020 but that won’t happen, instead buy this, dream and wait until they play Scotland, I’ll see you there, I’ll be big idiot with a smile on my face. They won’t disappoint.

One Desire – take a bow lads. Magnificent.

9.5/10 Easy. 

*Tracklist:*
1. Shadowman
2. Heroes
3. Down And Dirty
4. Godsent Extasy
5. Through The Fire
6. After You’ve Gone (Separate Ways)
7. Killer Queen
8. Was It Love?
9. Battlefield Of Love
10. Rio


*Line-up:*
Jimmy Westerlund – guitars
André Linman – lead vocals
Ossi Sivula – drums
Jonas Kuhlberg – bass guitar

Friday 1 May 2020

FM - 'Synchronised' Album Review

FM - Synchronised

In what currently seems like a pre-cursor to an impeding real-life zombie apocalypse where a strain jumps from animals to humans and mutates to kill 98% of the worlds pollution, its a bloody good job I can rely on certain things to comfort me - such as a new release from my all time faves, FM!

Its been a good 12-13 years since they returned for a headline gig at 2007s Firefest, and after the second-life release of ‘Metropolis’ in 2010 its been steady ahead and a consistent team for those onboard HMS FM. In fact, the output has been more prolific than it was and they are probably more in control of their destiny that at an other point since 1984, and has seen them grace stages they probably never thought was possible (Donington, Sweden Rock, and a long awaited debut in the US), and tours with luminaries such as Foreigner,  Heart and Lizzy. Its a good time to be a fan!

For FM Part II, ‘Synchronized’ is this lines ups seventh studio release, their twelfth in total. It’s some going. If you’re a fan already then there’s a lot to like. ‘Synchronized’ is rightly the first song to be picked as a single, as its in the same vein as a ‘Blood and Gasoline’, ‘Tough Love’, ‘Tough it Out’ and fires along at a strong pace, led by Kirkpartick’s guitar and Davis’ keyboard. All of which is enveloped in Overlands vocals and the ‘gang of fives’ harmonies. It’s a cert for addition for the live shows. ‘Superstar’ is almost a departure for FM, its a mellow, pop-fuelled number that is certain of coverage on Radio 2 I suspect. I found it a bit too bland at first, but after a few spins it’s a definite grower, and more ‘one for the ladies’? I can already visage the video - filmed in Arizona (Blackpool) with a sweeping shot, (drone, not helicopter), followed by a top down Jag racing across Route 66 (A6). ‘Best Of Times’ follows on from ‘Superstar,’ and has a bit more vim and vigour, and without Overland singing his arse off, it would be average in any other hands. ‘Ghosts Of You And I’ is the first ballad, and its still very un-FM like. It’s not a bad thing, Im just taken a bit aback by the first few numbers being a shift from the norm. ‘Broken’ is upbeat and akin to what hit the Billboard charts mid-80s, and is ear candy of the highest order.

‘Change For The Better’ is a classy number and definitely channels Don Henley’s ‘Boys Of Summer’. ‘End Of Days’ goes for a ‘BIG’ sound from the off, with a nice ‘choppy’ guitar sound running through the whole song. ‘Pray’ sees Overland channeling his inner Sam Cooke and has all the hallmarks of a soulful/Blues STAX record from the 60s with a modern twist. It’s only missing a horns section and Steve ‘The Colonel’ Cropper, and it is a firm favourite for me. I.Loved. It. ‘Walk Through The Fire’ is bound to bring comparisons to Mr. Misters ‘Broken Wings’ thanks to Jem Davis’ ivory tinkling. It’s as 80s as a pair of Coverdale’s leg warmers and its all about the bridge and chorus, thus proving that the second half of ‘Synchronized’ is definitely on a roll.

‘Hell Or High Water’ is one of the heavier songs (in FMs world), it is built around the infectious chorus. ‘Angels Cried’ has a slide opening riff before settling into a bluesy, almost gospel ballad, with a side of Bon Jovi thrown in. Only, when BJ was good! Finally we are on to ‘Ready For Me’ is like FM of old, when every album or single had a B side like a Bad Company cover or BC inspired dong, and RFM is no exception and it finished the album on a positive.

Basically I take away my comment at the top of this review. Yes its a comfort for a new FM album, but it’s very different to anything they have put out before. That has thrown me a bit, which is both good, and also slightly puzzling to me. That in itself I think is a good thing, and that deserves a round of applause. It’s definitely a stronger period for me in the second half, as a few of the first half made me question if there was a pattern or new sound they were going after. It’s almost akin to when I heard SO for the first time. However, I’m positive that after many more listens, it will be a big hit with me. One thing is certain, Steve Overland never sounded so good.

No doubt Dave Ling will wank himself into a frenzy.

8/10

Tracklisting
Synchronised
Superstar
Best Of Times
Ghosts Of You And I
Broken
Change For The Better
End Of Days
Pray
Walk Through The Fire
Hell Or High Water
Angels Cried
Ready For Me