Friday, 28 November 2014

DUST – Tequila Shiver (CD)


I’ve seen this band has been in the starting blocks for quite some time, trying to build up a sort of hype around the upcoming album. Can’t say I usually fall for that, so I kept my expectations at a moderate level. Well, I truly wasn’t prepared to be blown away, but man, I WAS! Already from the opening track “Bad Boy” this Stockholm foursome show they mean business! There’s a pretty strong Badlands aura hovering over this band, and I honestly don’t mind that at all! There’s a band I truly miss. Dust do an impeccable job carrying that torch. Roger Solander has a knife sharp, outstanding rock voice, a bit similar to Ray Gillen when he goes for the high notes, Johan Niskanen’s brutal, crunchy guitar-work is wailing all over the place while bass player Bernt Ek holds the lower frequencies down with heaviness and precision and drummer Örjan “Dr Rock” Englin does his best to keep the Bonham legacy alive, and does really well. I love the way he makes the title track groove with the Bonhamish ghost strokes. This one does owe a bit more to Zeppelin, which Solander also shows vocally. “Stranger” kicks off with a mean, angry riff and then struts off in a cool, groovy way. “Black Dressed Woman” brings us back to Badlands territory with Englin grooving like a beast. “Changing Colours” is a cool bluesy acoustic, also with a Zeppelinish vibe to it. “Keltic Wheel” draws us back into the heavier Zeppelin territory, but only in the verse, I’d say. Dust are by no means any Zeppelin clones, even though the influences are quite clear. They have their personality and they also have the songs to show for. “Lies To Tell” is a prime example of Dust taking on a more personal sound. The riffs rule, Solander sings his ass off and I just love that groovy verse and the crushing chorus. Not really sure about a guitar solo “song”, "Mojo", on an album though, even if Niskanen is a great guitarist. Apart from this one I must say, I love every track on this album! Definitely one of the strongest debut albums this year has had to offer! Highly recommended!
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden
Year: 2014
Label: private
 

BAILEY – Long Way Down (CD)


Nigel Bailey is foremost known for fronting UK melodic rockers Three Lions. This solo album was actually recorded before Three Lions, and I guess with the success of the lions this one was a no-brainer to release. Thank you for that! When Bailey does his own thing there’s a bit more edge to it, heavier guitars and a more power. We already know Nigel’s vocals are outstanding. So, all I can say is - This is a bloody brilliant album! Opener “Feed The Flames” gave me a vibe of Dave Bickler (Survivor) in the vocal delivery, while the song could be a Peterik penned thing, this one is slightly more guitar dominated in its direction. Love that! “In The Name Of The King” kicks off with a powerful detuned guitar riff that immediately catches my attention. Yet, another heavy and melodic hard rocker that just hits me right in the face. The production, by Allesandro del Vecchio is fat and big, yet dynamic. “Dirty Little Secret” reminds me even more of Bickler-era Survivor, which is great in my book. “Bad Reputation” is yet another great, catchy, straight ahead melodic hard rocker. “Stay”, even though it’s a really good song, feels a bit more run-of-the-mill. However that being said, this album’s weakest song is stronger than a lot of today’s albums strongest songs, which says a lot. “Somewhere In Oslo” is the album’s poppy moment, while “Long Way Down” brings back the heavy guitars and pounding rhythms. It makes me think of the same perfect balance of melody and heavy edge guitar riffs that can be found on the outstanding debut by Hardline. No need to go though each song I guess, but deliver the conclusion – this is a damn great melodic rock album and actually the reason I will still go to Frontiers Rock festival next summer! So far, one of my favorites this year! The UK has actually delivered some really strong stuff in that area!
Janne Stark
Country: UK

Year: 2014
Label: Frontiers Records

WHITE TRASH PRESIDENTS – s/t (CD)


If you’re into heavy Swedish sleaze rockers such as Hardcore Superstar, Crazy Lixx and Crashdïet, you simply have to check out the new SweDane unit: White Trash Presidents and I’m sure they will be added to your list. This band’s 8-track debut will hit you like a ton of bricks! With their roots in bands like Starats and Crazy Lixx these four guys takes the best from their previous bands and mix it into something that kicks their background firmly in the ass! “White Trash Presidents” and “One Fuse Left” will hit you like a ton of bricks! The band features former Starrats singer Magnus MP Möller and guitarist Dennis Post, flanked by former Crazy Lixx bassist Loke Rivano and drummer Brion Wekin. “Smack Me Around” is a bit mellower, closer to Enuff Z’nuff, which is ok by me. “Pushin’ Daisies” gets the power machine back in action with its heavy and grinding riffing. Every album needs a ballad, right? Well, I don’t think they do, but when they do they better bring me something that hits me. Well, this one contains two. “Cryin’” starts out pretty cool, but hell does break loose and it becomes a pretty bluesy powerful thing in the end. Nice soloing indeed by Mr Post! “Lovesong” finishes the album and this one is a pretty epic piano ballad with a pretty cool arrangement. I really like this one, indeed! “Lovers & Haters” and “Psycho Dad” also offer the, by now obligatory, punch in the face! The production and sound reminds me quite a bit of Hardcore Superstar, but to be honest White Trash Presidents hit me harder. This is really good stuff!
Janne Stark
Year: 2014
Label: WTP Music (private)
Country: Sweden


AXENSTAR – Where Dreams Are Forgotten (CD)


Swedish power metal band Axenstar have been around for quite some time now. They started out as a cover band back in 1998 and made their first album in 2002. I must say they have evolved quite nicely by each album. Singer Magnus Winterwild started out as the band’s keyboardist, but his decision to become a singer was a really good one as his clean and strong voice fits the slightly progressive power metal perfectly. To be honest, my interest for power metal has more or less vanished the last couple of years, due to over exposure, probably ;-). However, while listening to “When Dreams Are Forgotten” I do realize there’s actually still some good power metal out there as well. The reason why Axenstar slips my through the net for me, is probably because 1. They lean a bit more towards the proggier side, which gives me a vibe of Pagan’s Mind. 2. They skip all the major scale happy lucky sing-a-long choruses that give me the shivers. A great and fat production by the band and Pelle Saether also gives the album a bump in the right direction. Then there are songs like the excellent “Curse Of The Tyrant” which sounds a bit like if you would mix Candlemass and Helloween, power metal with quite doomy riffs. Nice! Not bad at all, especially for a power metal album.
Janne Stark

Year: 2014
Label: Inner Wound
Country: Sweden

LOMMI – Horse (CD)



2013 saw the debut release “Life In Sepia” by Gothenburg brutality trio Lommi. A self-release in paper pocket format. The follow-up has however received a proper release by Rambo Music. The band follows the beaten path with their brick heavy, riff-oriented groovy metal. They sound a bit like a mix of Black Label Society and Pantera, actually not that far from fellows Transport League. Detuned riffs and crude, but still vocals that have enough melody to make it sound melodic. The sound is heavy as concrete with powerful thundering drums, a bass that fills out every crevice and a wall of guitars (even though there’s only one) right in your face. Outstanding production, by Sven Jensen! So far, so good. My only complaint this time is, the songs. They could have had it all going form them if they had only got me with the songs as well. If only a song like “Back Of My Head” had been the low point of the album. I’ve listened through the album three times and there’s unfortunately not one song I remember after wards. Love the sound, love the band, but miss the memorable hooks.
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden

Year: 2014
Label: Rambo Music

CAPTAIN BLACK BEARD – Before Plastic (CD)


I have bit of a hard time deciding what I really think of this album. On one hand it’s a bit too poppy and happy for what I’m mostly into. The opening track “Please Come Home” reminds me of Swedish colleagues The Gloria Story, but I do like the Black Beards better. The song does have some cool intricate moments in the mid section. I’ve however always had a problem with “wooohooohoohooh” singalong vocals. “Somebody” sounds a bit Cheap Trick, which is ok by me, but I think it’s the vocals that lack the attitude that lifts the song for me. It’s by no means bad, just a little too mainstream. “Bad Girl” however is a really nice classic AOR number with a killer chorus and a nice melodic guitar solo. Not sure if the band really needed the lead guitar help of Tommy Denander, Mats Karlsson (220 Volt) and Bruce Kulick, but it is of course some added value. “Music Man” is also a nice melodic hard rocker with a touch of Kiss. There are some tracks that really stick out for me, in a positive way. I really love the riffy, intense hard rocker “Shout”, the boogie-oriented “Life’s What You Make It” and “Takin’ You Out” that also has quite a Kiss sounding pre-verse riff. Despite some moments that are a bit too slick and poppy for yours truly, this album does have its bright moments.
Janne Stark
Year: 2014
Country: Sweden

Label: Dead End Exit

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

FREAK KITCHEN – Cooking With Pagans (CD)


Freak Kitchen, this institute of Swedish retrofuturisticontemporary musical madness and melodic mayhem, is again back with another collection of mind-boggling songs. Lyrically the band’s ironic, cunning and satirical lyrics are the antithesis of Steel Panther. But the similarity is that you sit there and happily sing along to lyrics you would normally not even speak out loud, such as “(Saving Up For An) Anal Bleach”. However, in this case you actually get a second layer that gets you thinking. Think, yes, as a musician I am thinking when I listen to songs like “I Don’t Want To Golf” and the whacky rhythmic things going on, where you as a “normal” listener just groove to the rhythm. Well, don’t be fooled by the easy going surface, there are weird things happening under the surface. It does however surface a bit more in songs like “Mathematics Of Defeat”, which is proggy to the max. Except for the chorus, which is pure pop melodies. I just love the mix of the wackiness and the simple melodies in perfect symbiosis. “Private Property”, written and sung by bassist Christer Örtefors is another cool straight-ahead ditty. There has often been simple yet really cool simple but effective riffs coming out of Mr Eklundh and you get those here as well, just check out opener “Professional Help”, “Come Back To Comeback” and the catchy “Sloppy”. To me this feels like the most even Freak Kitchen since “Spanking Hour”, and this has quite quickly become my favorite since then as well! The only question mark of the album has to be the odd cover of “Goody Goody”, but what the hell… we’ve heard “La Bamba” coming out of this man before so why should I be surprised? All in all this is a damn great album! 
Janne Stark

Year: 2014
Country: Sweden
Label: Thunderstruck

TAD MOROSE – Revenant (CD)


Wow, that was an album long coming! 10 years since the last one! What immediately strikes me is that the band sounds darker and heavier than their previous efforts. I have no problem with that, none at all. The band delivers a big chunk of riff-oriented powerful metal in the vein of bands like Nevermore, Judas Priest (think "Painkiller"),  Former singer Urban Breed has now been replaced by Ronny Hemlin, who does an excellent job and at times actually reminds me a bit of Ripper Owen. I really love it when the band slows down a bit and digs a bit deeper into the more evil sounding tonalities and then mix them with classic power chords, like in “Within A Dream” which reminds me a bit of a marriage between Testament and Evergrey. New guitarist Kenneth Jonsson (The Citadel) does an outstanding job! The production is also fat and powerful, and brings out the best of the music. They actually now remind me of a band I’ve really missed: Pathos! And, that’s really good coming from me ;-).
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden

Year: 2014
Label: Despotz

TONGUE – Look! It’s Rock ‘N Roll (CD)


Tongue is a new project formed by the masterminds of Ola Karlsson and Börje Reinholdsson, formerly of Balthazar’s Machine and X-Union. This is the guys' tribute to good old hard rock and their love for the seventies. “Find My Way Back Home” starts out with a great crunchy riff that promises really great stuff. The song itself however wanders off more to Cheap Trick’s power poppy hard rock, which is ok, but maybe not what I expected. “Hair Of The Dog” starts out with an equally interesting cool riff and a promising intro solo, and also becomes more of straight rock ‘n’ roller. In the song “The 70’s” the band sings praise to bands like Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy. But a chorus with “nananananana” in a pop vein... This is unfortunately, to me, more pop with some distorted guitars. Sorry boys, but you lost me there. “Sun” is a cool rocker with a touch of “Kashmir” and it’s definitely my favorite on the album together with the crunchy rocker “Back To Reality”. Unfortunately the chorus is also what brings it down for me, which is a pity. “The Music Takes Control” has a touch of Lenny Kravitz funky rock, while “Speak Louder” owes a bit to AC/DC. I’m afraid the title and the cool artwork promised a bit more than what the music delivered. There were some highlights, but too few and far between to save it for me.
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden

Year: 2014
label: Wobbling Wart

M.O.B – Out From The Dark (CD)


I think M.O.B has been around since before Adam and Eve wore leaves, and they are still going strong. I will start by saying I think the band’s new album “Out From The Dark” is their best effort so far! The album opens with the dark, heavy and stomping “The Beast In Me”. The words dark and heavy actually come to mind quite often. It may be the fact that singer Fredrik Notling has struggled with cancer which has put a prominent stamp on both the music and the lyrics. Well, it seems like something good actually can come out of the bad. This new dark side fits the band perfectly. The title track continues in the dark vein, but also has a nice major scale guitar harmony part as a nice counterpart. “Legions Of The Antichrist” is true crushing metal in the vein of latter day Priest or Accept! The heaviest I’ve heard from this band. “Nightmare”, I would have thought would continue the battering metal ram. But, oh no. It is a melodic, almost poppy hard rock number. Not my favorite, but still ok. “By My Side” also shows a different side of the band. It is a beautiful, melancholic, fragile, almost Freddie Mercury:ish piano ballad. “The Dark Defender” brings back the metal and we are on track again. “Nowhere” is a heavy, almost doomy number, but with melodic vocals that gives it a totally different vibe. A cool song, indeed! This is by far the most “metal” album M.O.B have ever produced, and to be honest, they do it really well! Great job, boys!
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden
Year: 2014
label: Mobrockz
Link: www.mobrockz.com



ASTRAL DOORS – Notes From The Shadows (CD)


Astral Doors have been around for quite some time now and even though singer Patrik Johansson is now fronting post-Sabaton band Civil War, he still delivers the goods on the new Astral Doors release. He still puts on his best vocal Ronnie Dio suite, which I did have some problems with initially, but I’ve actually grown to like the guy. He’s also taken on a more personal approach and it’s become more of his own style now. Conclusion: I really like it! The musical delivery is also top notch. The track “Disciples Of The Dragon Lord” actually reminds me quite a lot of Accept, especially the powerful guitars and the “Balls To The Wall” style choir. This is a really good piece of classic hard rock/metal like they it’s supposed to be done. Power chords straight between the eyes, a wall of guitars, keyboards filling out the voids in the background, stomping drums and powerful vocals. “Wailing Wall” is a perfect example, and it also has an element of Jake E Lee style “Bark At The Moon” chugging. Great lead work from guitarist Joachim Nordlund!  Shadowchaser” has a riff way too reminiscent of “Man Of The Silver Mountain” for comfort, but ok, I’ll look away as the rest of the songs is no where close. “Die Alone” is a really great, epic and powerful song in the vein of UK band Tytan (probably my first comparison because I just listened to the excellent “Blind Men And Fools”). The intro riff of “Walker And Stalker” bears quite a big resemblance with the riff in Ozzy’s “Miracle Man”. It seems like Astral Doors have, quite deliberately, snuck in their influences in each of the songs. I have no problem with that. It does instead have its charm, since it’s only brief stuff here and there. This is a really good album indeed!
Janne Stark

Label: Metalville
Year: 2014
Country: Sweden
Link: www.astraldoors.com

SKULL PARADE – Sound Of Corruption (CD)


Sound Of Corruption” is the debut by heavy rockers Skull Parade.  They stem from Gothenburg, just like Mustasch, In Flames, LOK, Transport League and Illwill, and for some reason they actually sound a bit like a mix of all of these. Well, to narrow it down a bit I’d go for a mix between today’s Transport League and Illwill. Heavy, crushing groove metal with a touch of thrash and US power metal (which is what Pantera used to be labelled). Erik Anell has a rough and angry, but still a bit melodic voice that fits the concrete heavy musical delivery perfect. One of my favorite tracks is the heavy and groovy “Man” where Erik really delivers the goods. Great chorus as well! The punchy, heavy production really helps bring out the best of the band, too. I don’t really get the artwork, but I do get the music! Great stuff!
Janne Stark
Label: private

Year: 2014
Country: Sweden

(GAELERI) – Gates Of Rome (CD)


Heldingborg based melodic hard rockers (gaeleri) was formed under the name Shooting Gallery back in 1992, shortened the name to the phonetic (gaeleri) and made their debut back in 1996, followed by Still Here in 1999 and A Brighter Day in 2002. The first two were classic melodic hard rock with hints of bands like Whitesnake and Zeppelin, while the last one was very commercial and a far cry from the first two. The band disappeared, but suddenly a new album has now seen the light of day. To my great joy I find the band has returned to their early, heavier sound again. The album kicks off with the two kick ass rockers “Ready Or Not” and “Queen Of Time”, followed by the more mainstream AOR number “Wannabe”. The title track puts the balls back in place with its chunky rhythm and cool rocking, but still melodic, vibe.”Let Your Love Bleed” opens with rifforama in the vein of 1987 Whitesnake, with a cool bluesy verse and singer Anders Vidhav sounding quite reminiscent of Stefan Berggren (Company Of Snakes, Snakes In Paradise etc). Good stuff, indeed! The mix, by Anders “Theo” Theander is ambient and quite analogue sounding. If you’re into what Swedish colleagues Angeline and Colorstone are doing, check this bunch out as well! Great melodic, guitar-based hard rock!
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden

Year: 2014
Label: TBM Records

Thursday, 30 October 2014

IN FAITH – There’s A Storm Coming (CD)


This marks, together with the album Albion by Ten, the first release of UK based melodic rock label Rocktopia. I’d say that’s quite an impressive start. Who are In Faith then? Drummer Pete Newdeck is a man who is out and about, singing in Tainted Nation and playing drums in Eden’s Curse. The vocals are handled by Pete Godfrey, a singer that has previously flown under my radar, which is beyond my belief! The guitar department (and bass on the album) is handled by former Contagious guitarist Tony Marshall. Marshall and Newdeck also handled the production. Well, first of all, being a big fan of AOR with some biting guitars and bands like Hardline, Harem Scarem, Axe etc., I’m a happy camper. This album offers some great riffing, killer solos from Marshall and a big production. The vocals are top notch with Godfrey placing himself up there with guys like Hess and Vaughn. He’s got a strong and clean, yet sometimes a bit raspy voice which I absolutely love! The song material on the album offers no fillers in my book. I may like some more than others, but there’s not a single dull moment. The album kicks off with the intense rocker “Radio”, which made me think of Harem Scarem. Very cool vocals arrangements and powerful guitars and a guest solo from former Furion guitarist Pat Heath. The opening riff of Church Of Rock ‘N Roll made me think of one of my favorite songs by Tall Stories; Sister Of Mercy, which ain’t bad at all. The UK has offered a whole bunch of great melodic rock albums through the years, but this one is a notch above most of them. It’s not too late for another AOR classic and this one if definitely among my favorites of this year!
Janne Stark
Label: Rocktopia
Year: 2014
Country: UK

Link: www.infaithofficial.com

WEST HILL – Rockin’ In The West Hill (CD)


Brazil isn’t just Angra and Sepultura. The country does harbor have some pretty good melodic rockers as well. Last year saw the release of one great example. West Hill plays great melodic hard rock/AOR with a strong southern touch. Not overwhelmingly heavy, but with really cool blues guitars and keyboards with a strong 80s touch. Like in One More Night In Heaven, the keyboards could have been sampled from an old Styx album. Singer Alamo Balzer has a clean, melodic and really pleasant voice. They remind me of US 70s band Thunder at times, but with a more contemporary vibe. Highly recommended for fans of melodic rock!
Janne Stark
Label: self-released
Year: 2013
Country: Brazil

CORRODED – X Years Of Anger


Now we’re talking. Corroded has always been on my good side when it comes to modern hard rock, especially since they’re a great live band as well. Great heavy riffing, outstanding vocals and explosive power! X Years Of Anger marks the band’s ten-year anniversary and this is a compilation of previously released tracks plus an entire CD with unreleased demo tracks and an entire live concert featuring the Nordic Chamber Orchestra. If you have missed out the band, this is a great way to get acquainted with these powerful northerners!
Janne Stark
Label: NineTone

Year: 2014
Country: Sweden

SHERLOCK BROTHERS – Monkey Made Nation (CD)


NineTone is foremost releasing modern sounding bands, with the exception of Electric Boys that is. One band that have a few releases out and which I quite like, is, despite the slightly naff name – Sherlock Brothers. It’s modern sounding and very melodic, but it’s on the right side of slickness and it’s not by far as poppy as label mates Self Deception. Sherlock Brothers are closer to bands like Corroded and Aggressive Chill, with clever arrangements and more intricate guitar patterns. Just listen to a song like Beautiful, which almost progressive at times. Last Night On Earth mixes heavy powerful guitar riffs with a laid back verse and quite intense vocals. I like the bands previous efforts, and this one is no exception. It may not be one on my top 10 of the year, but it’s definitely worth checking out.
Janne Stark
Label: NineTone
Year: 2014

Country: Sweden

TRANSPORT LEAGUE – Boogie From Hell (CD)


It’s been over ten years since the band’s previous album Multiple Organ Harvest. So has the power weakened, or are they still a force to be reckoned with? Time to check out this Boogie From Hell then. Suck me sideways!! This album is really a musical kick in the joint! Swing Satanic Swing starts off with a punch in the nose and continues like a steamroller with its power-stomp! This is brutal! Transport League has always been a Swedish institution of powerful metal, but I think I may have really re-discovered this Gothenburg foursome on this album. The sound is like a ton of bricks, with Roberto Laghi providing his usual powerful mix! The songs are really groovy for being so heavy, which really makes the title appropriate. Tony is a vocal power plant with a brutal, throaty, raspy voice that fits the music like a glove. He sounds a bit like James Richard Anderson of Texas Hippie Coalition on steroids. What I really love is that it’s not just chord-crunching, but lots of cool heavy riffs being thrown around. I also hear a strong southern touch, which may interest fans of bands like Hell Yeah, THD and Anti-Mortem. This is a bloody great album, indeed!
Janne Stark
Label: Metalville
Year: 2014

Country: Sweden

SELF DECEPTION – These Walls (CD)



This is unfortunately the type of boy band pop metal I really hate. The biggest self-deception here would be if the band actually thinks they are metal. This is just slick pop coated with some distorted guitars as an excuse to try to appeal to a metal audience.  Even Nickelback are closer to Pantera in comparison. They check all the boxes for prime time radio play and young girl attraction. Sweet, poppy lead vocals, self-adhesive hooks and all the right effects in the right places. They can surely go a long way in the right circles, but for me it goes straight in the bin.
Janne Stark
Label: NineTone
Year: 2014

Country: Sweden

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

JOHNNY HUNKINS – Down In Flames (CD)



In 2011 American blues rocker Johnny Hunkins released his debut Talladega Pile-Up on Grooveyard Records, fitting in well with the labels armada of killer blues heavy rock guitarists. Now it’s time for the follow-up and I must say I’m positively surprised. The debut was great, but this album feels like it’s on a different level. Both the song writing and production has elevated. Johnny is still a kick-ass guitarist, so nothing different there. He’s also a great singer, but this time he has however invited some prominent colleagues to share that bit. First up is Nugent/St. Paradise singer Derek St. Holmes, whose voice I totally love. He does really well here as well, even though I do miss some of his juvenile power. This part is however definitely totally killed by Rufus Huff powerhouse Jarrod England, who lends his raspy, bluesy awesome vocal cords to the song Gonna Have A Party. Man, this guy really gives me goosebumps (no, I f***ing refuse to say “goosies”!). Jarrod returns in the outstanding riff rocker River Is Risin’, where I swear his vocal cords must be all curled up. This track also features former Blue Murder/The Firm bassist Tony Franklin, who really complements Ryan Hoyle’s groovy drumming and then, of course, Hunkins riffing and cool solo wailing all over the song. This one almost has a Zeppelinish vibe to it with some cool tempo changes giving it a nice broad spectrum. Hats off to you Mr Hunkins for a top-notch delivery. Next time, eh? ;-).
Janne Stark
Year: 2014
Country: USA

Label: Grooveyard Records

AMERICAN MAFIA – Rock N’ Roll Hit Machine (CD)



From what I gather this is based around guitarist Tom Jude (ex-Doro), bassist Freddy Villano (ex-Quiet Riot/Widowmaker) and drummer Bobby Marks, while prominent guests fill the other spots. When I see names like Jimmy Kunes (Cactus), John West (Artension, Badlands) and Mike DiMeo (Riot, The Lizards etc) I instantly get interested. Well, I’m happy to say the album opener Obsession features singer Ed Terry, who is just as interesting. The track is a cool riff-oriented hard rocker with a funky touch. It also shows the band has a cool groove and a tight sound, plus guitarist Tom really rips the leads! Great stuff! Second track Every Time is a more straight ahead southern rocker with Kunes stretching his vocal cords like only he can. Next up is John West, whose voice may not be as raspy, but instead he adorns this Bad Company style Brit rocker with a more Paul Rodgers:y blues feel. Up-tempo blues rocker Death & Destruction introduces another outstanding singer in Don Chaffin (Red Lamb), who sounds confusingly close to Rufus Huff’s Jarrod England, whose voice I totally love! So far, four outta four! And, it just keeps on! This is top-notch bluesy melodic rock with a strong British seventies vibe. There’s also a cover of Stevie Wonder’s Living For The City, featuring singer Dave Knight, who sadly committed suicide in 2014. This one sounds as if the mid-seventies Foreigner had put their teeth into it. A total ripper! There’s even a hit hidden in there! The Sky Is Falling sounds like something fans of late seventies melodic rock, such as Balance, early Survivor or the aforementioned Foreigner, would embrace. Nice melodic hooks indeed! This is really an awesome album which made this a throwback Wednesday reminding me of the great late seventies melodic rock and the long forgotten odd gems by bands like Buxx, Target, Morningstar, Hero, Fortnox, Russia, Oakley etc. You won’t see this one leaving my CD player any time soon!
Janne Stark
Year: 2014
Country: USA

Label: Grooveyard Records

BULLFROG – Clearwater (CD)



I’ve had my eyes and ears on this Italian power unit for some time and I do own two of their three previous discs (the fourth is of course on my list of discs to purchase). They had my full attention from the first time I heard their 2004 release The Road To Santiago, with their riff-driven powerful heavy rock. Some Italian bands have a pretty strong accent (like us Swedes sometimes do), but this power trio sounds like they were born and bred in the American south. This album is even stronger than its predecessors! The riffs, the power, the earthy analogue sound and the raspy vocals from Francesco. But most of all – the songs! Ok, this may not be rocket science, but that’s also what makes it much harder. With rocket science you’ve got way more possibilities and ways to be unique, while here you have to work with what you got and make the best of it, which is just what Bullfrog does. Simple, classic, but so damn good! If you grew up on the classic riffs of the seventies with the bluesy roots still intact, for heaven’s sake, don’t miss out on this one!
Janne Stark
Year: 2014
Country: Italy

Label: Grooveyard Records

SOUL SHINE SOCIETY – Back Where You Belong (CD)



Grooveyard Records are really vacuuming the market for new (and old) unsung high quality bands. Soul Shine Society from our neighbour country Finland has released one previous album, which I have completely missed, and now must be checked out. This six-piece plays rootsy, bluesy, southern rock with a strong touch of vintage Lynyrd Skynyrd, especially on the title track. Well, Finland is in my book quite well known for crafting this particular style really well with bands like Gringos Locos, Five Fifteen, Havana Black etc. Lead singer Jonne Sassi has a nice rasp to his voice and a cool feel. The album is quite consistent in its style, but one song that sticks out a bit is the almost Beatlesque ballad Love Won’t Wait. There are also plenty of Outlaws-style harmony guitars, like in the opening of Reasons. I should point out that Soul Shine Society doesn’t really belong in the heavier regions, but they still rock it out pretty well, which they show in the stonkin’ As I Make My Way, which sounds a bit like classic Status Quo meets Molly Hatchet. A really cool album, indeed!
Janne Stark
Year: 2014
Country: Finland

Label: Grooveyard Records

THE HIDDEN – Fearful Symmetry (CD)



Long time, no see, but NOW finally - see! The Hidden was a powerful technical thrash project that recorded an album back in 2000, which was never released. I featured one of the songs on the bonus CD of my third encyclopedia since I felt it just HAD to be heard! Well, now the guys finally took matters into their own hands and released this hidden (noooo, no pun intended) gem. The band features Patrik Sporrong, drummer Matte Modin, singer/guitarist Teddy Möller and bassist Peter Laitinen. Names I guess you all know from bands like F.K.Ü, Lost Souls, Midas Touch, Dark Funeral, Defleshed and Imperial Domain. If you’re into mind-crumbling, technical power thrash with Iron Maiden style guitars, high pitch vocals and energizer bunny drums, this is for you. I personally love it! Musically it’s like a mix of furious thrash, classic heavy metal and progressive metal. It’s like if Agent Steel, Iron Maiden, Death and Dream Theater had group sex and this little bastard was the result of it. Ten powerful and great songs with not a second wasted on nonsense. A shovel in the face feels like a summer breeze in comparison. Kick ass stuff!
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden
Year: 2014
Label: Divebomb Records


Thursday, 3 July 2014

ELECTRIC RELIGIONS – The Awakening (MCD digi 5tr)


Steven Anderson is a Swedish guitar extraordinaire, who released an excellent solo album entitled Gypsy Power in the nineties. He has since recorded with bands such as Iubar, which not really belong to the heavier genres. Now he suddenly returns with the band Electric Religions. After a short intro, the song 1000 Battles (Know Thy Self) kicks off, giving Black Label Society a run for their money! Heavy, powerful and a real crusher, lightened up by the melodic, yet powerful, vocal delivery of female singer Neili Bjerring. Lee Chao-Long takes the journey on a different route, here with a cool, but heavy, oriental sounding touch. Good Fortune starts off almost a bit Hendrixy, to kick off in full-on doom mode, also here with a strong oriental touch. The EP rounds off with yet another cool, but heavy crusher. Son Of Confusious also has a slightly psychedelic feel to it, blending heavy doomy riffs, an oriental vibe and long swirling sections with effect-style guitars. The song is mostly instrumental with some really great melodic playing from Steven. All in all this was a really great surprise, and a really great release! Much heavier than I anticipated! Now I’m looking forward to a full-length album. Yes, sir!
Janne Stark
Year: 2014
Label: Psychic Eye
Country: Sweden

Link: www.electricreligions.se

PONTUS SNIBB – Wreck Of Blues (CD digi)



Pontus Snibb is probably most publically known for his work as singer/guitarist with diesel rockers Bonafide or as drummer in Jason & The Scorchers, but he actually started out playing straight ahead blues and has released some great stuff in that genre as well, such as Admiral Street Recordings I and II. He recently also released a riff rocker under the moniker Pontus Snibb 3, or PS3. Wreck Of Blues is however released under his own name and here he goes back to the down and dirty blues roots. It’s not your average white-guy-trying-to-mimik-Robert-Johnson style blues, but heavy and dirty blues rock with a twist. The sound is organic and earthy, but still mud-filled and shit-stained in the finest of ways. The album kicks off with the chugging, upper mid-tempo More Blues And Blue Songs, with a touch of Eric Clapton in the chorus. Same Same draws more from old classic blues foxes such as BB King and John Lee Hooker mixed with early ZZ Top. The same goes for No Peace Of Mind which also makes me think of the first ZZ Top album, actually with a touch of Louder Than This by Aussie rockers Tracer. You should of course also check this album out of you’re into current blues rockers such as Philip Sayce, Gugun Power Trio, Craig Erickson or Vdelli. A high-quality blues rock effort from beginning to end, featuring Pontus’ raw-edged killer voice and first class guitar playing. Drums are handled by his dad, Håkan Nyberg (Nationalteatern) and the bass work by former Bonafider Micke Nilsson. Highly recommended!
Janne Stark
Label: Off Yer Rocka
Country: Sweden
Year: 2014

Link: www.offyerrocka.com