Monday, 22 May 2023

Future Elephants? – The Past Was A Blast… (CD/LP)

Future Elephants? Current Dinosaurs? I don’t know about the elephants, but these guys sure aren’t no dinosaurs. They may have been in the game since Jeebo walked around in shorts, but these guys manage to find ways to up the old game of prog-infused rock. This is the third outing from this band, and it sure doesn’t disappoint. Singer/guitarist Roger Holegård (of Neon Rose fame), guitarist Dante Holmberg (formerly of Uppåt Väggarna, Strix Q etc), bass player Anders Lundguist and drummer Sigvard Frenzel again being out a really nice slab of music. We get a nice variety of sounds and colors We have rockers like “Shake The Snake”, passing semi-soft almost pop-folksy songs like “Ground Floor Man” on to the classical sounding intro of “Walking With a Dead Man” that goes into some really cool heaviness with a touch of Jethro Tull. Side one of the vinyl ends with the odd semi-ballad “Rain” with moody, yet slightly proggy twists. Side two starts with another cool slightly proggy semi-heavy number named “Bring In The Judge” with a really powerful chorus. “The Planet’s Crusaders” goes in a different direction, bringing in some blues rock with a quirky guitar melody that really gets stuck in your head. For some reason it made me think of Dire Straits “Money For Nothing”, but better. “Peter’s Demons” takes us back to the proggier regions with a touch of vintage Blue Öyster Cult. Really cool guitar solo from Dante, too. The album ends with another killer straight ahead rocker entitled “Drink” with more of Roger’s excellent lyrics. He mixes tongue-in-cheek stuff with some deep meanings, which I really like. I’ve been a fan of his lyrics since back in the Neon Rose days. I also really like the analogue sounding production, very modern retro. The sound is great, the playing is stellar and Roger’s vocals fits the music like a glove. What’s not to like? Get it!

Janne Stark

Label: Rock Music Production
Year: 2023
Country: Sweden

Matti Norlin & Anders Norudde – Blåställ (CD)

Matti Norlin started his career in metal bands like Wizard and Ninja, but soon slided into the blues with solo releases and the excellent band Badge. Here’s another release in the blues school. This time together Anders Norudde on violin, bagpipe, cow horn (?), Willow flute and various odd instruments. ”Håll käft” (shut up) starts off with its cocky attitude dealing with the current machine based music. Cocky up-tempo blues with odd musical coloring. ”Aldrig riktigt nöjd” (never completely satisfied) reminds me of ”Come On In My Kitchen” by Robert Johnson, but when I checked the credits it was actually an old Muddy Waters number. “Flaska kär” (bottle dear) is a classic porch blues, where I kinda feel the fiddle is more in the way than helping. The guitar would be enough here. All in all I really like the songs, I love Mattis vocals and his guitar playing, but I do feel there are sometimes a bit too many instruments, where I feel some don’t really fit in, or at least get a bit too much space in the music. 

Janne Stark

Label: private release
Year: 2022
Country: Sweden

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Highproject – Highproject (CDr)

Highproject is a Swedish progressive rock band featuring former Zello keyboard player Anders Altzarfeldt. Opening track “1000 People” reminds me a bit of vintage Asia, but with a slightly heavier edge. This was a really nice surprise! The album was one of the many Corona albums where the members recorded each at their own home/studio. You honestly can’t hear it. It all sounds very “together”. Besides Anders, the band features Stefan Andersson (Sonic State Capital) on bass, Bjarne Forsbom on guitar, Mikael Grönroos (ARA) on drums and Robert Johansson Lind (ARA, Heathen’s Eye, Ability) on vocals, acoustic guitar and percussions, plus guest singer Lovisa “Loa” Pigani. “Trust In Me” continues in the same vein, but also draws close to vintage classic prog bands like Nektar and Yes, and even a bit of early Saga here and there. Robert is an excellent singer with a broad range and a strong voice. Great melodic feel, too! The arrangements are quite intricate and there are a lot of different themes and passages in the songs which makes this a really interesting listen. “Prime Time” initially offers some pretty heavy and intense guitar riffing, but it soon switches gears into a heavy, yet dynamic vein with really cool keyboard patterns coloring the musical landscape. This is really brilliant, I must say! “Rhayader Goes To Town” is the only cover out of the six numbers, originally written by Camel. Even though I’m a big fan of progressive rock and bands like Kayak, Nektar, Yes etc., but I’ve never really listened to Camel. Listening to this song, I realize I probably should. I don’t know how close to the original these guys do it, but this is a really intricate and interesting song, indeed. Quite playful and with some really cool twists. This album REALLY deserves a proper release!! I know lots of prog fans who would drool over this! 

Label: private release

Country: Sweden

Year: 2023


Craig Erickson – Modern Blues (CD)

Craig Erickson is a true groove master. He’s been true to the heavy, groovy blues rock since his debut “Roadhouse Stomp!” in 1992. It’s been a few years since his last physical album "Sky Train Galaxy", which was released in 2015. “Modern Blues” is really an example of what you read is what you get. Of course, “modern” can mean a lot of things. In this case it’s not about samples, machine generated grooves or auto tune abominations. It more the vibe. It’s blues and it’s rock and it doesn’t sound dated, which would qualify as “modern” in my book. The guitar is definitely in the forefront, and it’s Craig handling both guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals, only taking some help from drummer Jeff Sipe. I’ve always felt Craig has a pretty strong Robin Trower vibe to his vocals and playing, and it’s no different this time around. The vocals are pretty relaxed, yet rough, but no high pitch screaming, rather the missing link between James Dewar and Billy Gibbons. The guitar playing shines throughout the album and some songs that kinda stick out to me is the incredibly cool fuzzed out “Bring Love Back Again” with its funky vibe and brutal guitar licks and also the heavy, yet dynamic “Brokedown World” with its subtle but really beautiful Uni-Vibe Strat tone. I also can help to mention another song that sticks out a bit, which is “Wildfire”, which starts out a bit reminding of vintage southern rockers The Outlaws, but goes into a more funky direction. A really cool number with some intense and outstanding guitar solos with a cool fusion oriented vibe to them. Highly recommended!

Label: Fervor Records 

Country: USA

Year: 2023

A.C.T – Falling (MCD)

My favorite Swedish melodic progsters are back again! After two EPs, they now deliver what could be considered a classic 70s vinyl length album, clocking in a 30 minutes and 8 seconds, but would today be considered a mini-alnum. The album starts with the short “Fall In” intro which is just a short runway into the excellent heavy and melodic “Digging A Hole” with some really cool technical mid-sections. This is A.C.T in their prime. An outstanding song, indeed! Next up is “The Girl Without A Past” where we get to revisit Emilie who first had a song of her own on “Today’s Report”, and who still has problems with her memory. It’s a quirky song that starts out quite soft, but picks up into a pompy and theatrical chorus. There’s a lot of classic early Saga in the keyboard/synth arrangements, I feel. Lots of different vibes and parts, which really makes this listen experience a thrill. Next up we have the kinda stroll along, pretty straight forward and slightly poppy “Breathe”, a song you can’t help bobbing your head to. Despite being “straight forward”, it of course has some really cool and quirky passages, especially in the solo section. With A.C.T “straight forward” isn’t really the same as AC/DC “straight forward”. There are different levels , you know. “A Race Against Time” gets us into a heavy, energetic proggy intro with a pretty naked verse that moves into a power bridge. Another hard hitting number that shows A.C.T has so many more tricks to show us. This is brutal!! “One Last Goodbye” is really classic sounding A.C.T in their strutty, prog-pop vein. As usual the vocal layers and harmonies are exquisite, the musical technicalities and arrangements are out of this world. “The Earth Will Be Gone” gets us back into the theatrical and pompy world, of course with some reggae-infused parts thrown in for good measure. A very interesting vocal mid-section which really enhances the theatrics, and almost moves us into a Broadway musical. These guys never cease to surprise and amaze. Listening to this CD is definitely the best spent 30 minutes today! 

Janne Stark

Label: ACT World

Country: Sweden

Year: 2023

Monday, 19 December 2022

Top 19 of 2022



  1. King’s X - Three Sides Of One
  2. The Dead Daisies – Radiance
  3. Clutch – Sunrise On Slaughter Beach
  4. Slowtorch – The Machine Has Failed
  5. Deadeye Navigator – Lunar Hippies/The Great Binge
  6. ZZ Top – Raw
  7. Alter Bridge – Pawns & King
  8. Wolfnaut – III
  9. Mephistofeles - Violent Theatre
  10. Sahg – Born Demon
  11. Avatarium – Death, Where Is Your Sting
  12. Sahara – III: Hell On Earth
  13. Shinedown – Planet Zero
  14. Crobot – Feel This
  15. Mano De Mono – Chameleon Tongue
  16. Riot Act - Closer To The Flame
  17. Threshold – Dividing Lines
  18. Ghost – Impera
  19. Jethro Tull - The Zealot Gene

Some other albums not from 2022, but I've listened a LOT to:
  • Master Massive - Time Out Of Mind
  • Mount Carmel - Get Pure
  • Hippie Death Cult - Hippie death Cult
  • Mephistofeles - (((I*m Heroin)))
  • The Cold Stares - Heavy Shoes
  • Twenty Two Hundred - Carnaval de Venus
  • Dirty Honey - Dirty Honey
  • Chronus - Idols
  • Dunsmuir - Dunsmuir
  • Cloud Catcher - Trails Of Kozmic Dust
  • Bone Church - Acid Communion
  • Patriarch - First Hand: Second Verse
  • Prins Svart - Inte här för att stanna
  • Toehider - To Hide Her
  • Beastmaker - Inside The Skull

The Jolly Company – 10 Acts To Astound And Amaze (CD)

There has come quite a bunch of high-class progressive acts from the little country of ours such as ACT, Jono, Kharma, Add The Jolly Company to the list. “Hear The News” kicks off in the true pomp/prog mode with hints of bands like Klatuu, Queen, ACT, City Boy. “Paris Summer Love” certainly has some severe Queen overtones with multilayered harmony vocals from the extremely talented Göran Edman (Madison, Malmsteen, Kharma etc). The project was initiated (and written) by former Crossroad Jam/Backwood Spirit keyboardist Peter Emilsson. The line-up also features Peter’s former Crossroad Jam colleague Joje Lindskoog on drums, Jonathan Lindskoog also on drums, Stefan Jonsson on guitar, Niclas Boson on bass and Anneli Axelsson on backing vocals. If you’re into intricate, orchestrated, theatrical, melodic proggy pomp rock, this album is a MUST. The songs are top notch, the musicians brilliant and Göran’s vocals are really the icing on the cake. My only disappointment is in myself and that it took me so long to really listen to and review this masterpiece!

Janne Stark

Country: Sweden

Year: 2021

Label: Self-released