HOT NEW REVIEWS
 UPDATED ON MARCH 10 - 2008

THE CHRONICLES OF ISRAFEL 'STARBORN' (BRIDGE OF HANDS ENTERTAINMENT)

Canada has always been a very innovative country for new rockstyles, because RUSH practically invented progressive rock, while a band like INTO ETERNITY has no borders and mixes almost every possible existing rock and metalstyle. Now we can add another very original act called THE CHRONICLES OF ISRAFEL from Montreal, whom are playing very experimental Progressive Rock, yet still with very strong melodies, almost as original as COHEED AND CAMBRIA. The band released a CD titled 'Starborn', which if promoted well, could turn out to something huge, due to the incredible high level of musicianship. Leader of the band is Dominic Cifarelli and as THE CHRONICLES OF ISRAFEL he recorded a great semi-instrumental guitar piece, which will absolutely be loved by fans of Progressive Rock with an own identity. The few vocal songs are also very strong too, such as "Burning day", "The Equinigma" (very melodic a la RIVERSIDE) and "Born Fighting" (some COHEED AND CAMBRIA), although instrumental this CD offers some very interesting moments for the progfan. Check it out for yourself at: http://myspace.com/thechroniclesofisrafel  and http://cdbaby.com/cd/chroniclesofisrafel 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

CINDER ROAD 'SUPERHUMAN' (CAROLINE RECORDS/EMI RECORDS USA)

EMI RECORDS USA, yes you read it well and CINDER ROAD is their baby and I must say we have here a winner on our hands. This band is mixing the classic 80s Hair Metal/Pop Metal with the modern day rocksound and basically they are close to HAREM SCAREM's final records. Many bands try to do something modern and melodic, but fail desperately. HAREM SCAREM was the big exception and CINDER ROAD is the future, because their CD is a very strong record that sounds modern, melodic and refreshing, combining DEF LEPPARDish 80s catchy choruses with modern distorted guitars in a classic uptempo Rock'n'Roll approach. The band comes out of Baltimore, Maryland, USA and is under the guidance of Union Entertainment Group, the management team behind multi-platinum selling Canadian Band NICKELBACK. The band's debut CD was recorded with veteran producer Marti Frederiksen (AEROSMITH, DEF LEPPARD, OZZY). Actually they beat the multi-mellion selling albums of HINDER and NICKELBACK with fantastic catchy tunes like "Should've Known Better", "Sorry" and "Bad excuse" (very sensational catchy classic 80s uptempo melodic rocker). Especially the first 4 songs are amazing, uptempo rocking all over the place. Later on the CD we can find a few disappointments, such as the NICKELBACK copycat “Get in get out” and the AEROSMITH meets LENNY KRAVITZ semi-ballad “Learning to love”, both not really original sounding. However, most of the CD rocks and is super melodic and is also recommended to people who enjoyed the STEREOSIDE release from last year and it also is very close to the 2nd LOUD AND CLEAR album ‘Disconnected’ as well as some DANGER DANGER references in songs like the uptempo “Feels so good to me” and the midtempo “One”! Better check out this CINDER ROAD asap. More info at: http://www.myspace.com/cinderroad  and www.cinderroadmusic.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

TIM BURNESS 'VISION ON' (EXPANDING CONSCIOUSNESS)

British Vocalist/Guitarist and Keyboardplayer TIM BURNESS has been active since the 1970s musically and has already released quite a lot solo-albums, of which the latest is titled 'Vision on'. Also this album is filled with high class Neo-Prog. With the help of several other musicians, Tim made another strong record, which should be checked by fans of Neo-Prog a la IQ, JADIS, MARILLION. 10 songs are included in total and it is a very nice record to listen to from start to finish, no skipping through necessary, just quality stuff all the way, so definitely recommended to the Neo-Progfans! More info at: www.timburness.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

STRAPPS 'LIVE AT THE RAINBOW 1977' (ANGEL AIR RECORDS)

Somewhat regarded as a cultband, releasing 4 albums in the 1970s, this UK based band played typical 70s Heavy Rock and Roll, with some Biker influences. STRAPPS was formed by drummer Mick Underwood, who later joined the band led by Ian Gillan (DEEP PURPLE, BLACK SABBATH). A cross between STATUS QUO and WISHBONE ASH, with a dash of heavy guitar here and there is what describes this band best. 30 years later it sounds quite dated, although long-time fans of the band or anyone into 70s rock and roll might want to check out the re-issue of this 1977 live album of them, because performed at the famous Rainbow Club are their best tracks, such as "Pain Of Love", "Child Of The City", "School Girl Funk" etc. The CD also contains the 3 bonustracks "Rikki" (studio recording/alt. mix), "Suffer" (studio recording/alt. mix) and "Rita B" (studio recording/alt. mix). More info at: www.angelair.co.uk 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

COMBINATION HEAD 'PROGRESS?' (SAM RECORDS)

COMBINATION HEAD is an UK based band, which already released a CD in the past (which we also reviewed) and is now following that up with a new CD titled Progress?'. Although the band is mainly an instrumental band a la ELP, YES, CAMEL, meaning really high quality instrumental Sympho/Prog, the band also features some vocalists on the new CD. And these are really fantastic singer, although they are not really well-known. COMBINATION HEAD consists of Paul Birchall (keyboards) and Keith Ashcroft (basses, guitars and effects), with drum and percussion duties being shared by Paul Burgess, Carl Hutchison and Phil Knight. If we go through the songs, starting with "New City" (instrumental a la IQ), then "Glass and Steel" (lovely lead vocals by GARETH MOULTON, very impressive calm melodic Neo-Prog ala KAYAK), 3 instrumentals follow ("Liquid", "Smoking Tree" and "Future Wisdom") and "Anthem" contains great lead vocals by NEIL FAIRCLOUGH a la Steve Perry/John Farnham, a calmer 80s aor/poprocker. The CD continues with "Solid Ground" (Lead vocals by Nick van Eede, excellent keys, great progrocker), "Tomorrows World" (Lovely lead vocals by GARETH MOULTON, nice calmer balladish), "The Great Escape" (lead vocals by Sheila Gott a la JEFFERSON STARSHIP/GRACE SLICK and some DORO references in this uptempo heavy rocker) and closing track "Cloud Covertry" (Lovely lead vocals by GARETH MOULTON, beautiful laid back ALAN PARSONS PROJECT meets TOTOish AOR/Sympho ballad). Concluded, a very impressive album and not just an instrumental piece, because with some great lead vocals also interesting for many other fans, in fact, it is a very diverse album now. Highly recommended! More info at: www.myspace.com/combinationheaduk  and http://www.combinationhead.com/  and http://cdbaby.com/cd/combinationhead2  and e-mail them at: info@combinationhead.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

VARIOUS ARTISTS 'HEAVY METAL NATION 4' (QUAM LIBET RECORDS)

Now this is a very interesting compilation CD. It's compilation number 4 in the Heavy Metal Nation series and here featured are Swiss bands only, musically all in the Metal field, yet still very diverse, because all Metal styles are featured. Especially the beginning is very interesting, with some great bands in the Melodic Metal/Power Metal field, while later on the CD there are more Extreme Metal based bands, so less interesting. Quick summary of all bands... 1. Gonoreas http://www.gonoreas.ch  = great straight-ahead rock and roll a la GOTTHARD/SHAKRA, excellent guitarist, 2. Dystera http://www.dystera.com = Female fronted European fast Melodic Power Metal a la NIGHTWISH/RHAPSODY, ok singer, 3. Pertness http://www.pertness.ch = SABATON meets MANOWAR, True Metal Anthem, 4 Soul Line http://www.soulline.ch = Progressive Metal with strong vocals, 5 Endoras http://www.endoras.ch = Melodic Metal MANOWAR, bit ok vocals high pitched, 6 Emerald http://www.emerald.ch  = melodic metal maiden, but vocals ok teutonic German style, 7 Lordren http://www.Lordren.ch = very strong Melodic Rocker, EDGUY/ROYAL HUNT, great band!, 8 Grey Monday http://www.greymonday.ch  = ok groovy American rock/metal, 9 Secondhand Child http://www.secondhandchild.ch  = weak metal, 10 Silver Dirt http://www.silverdirt.com  = ok straight-ahead Hardrock, simple QUIREBOYS, 11 Bulwark http://www.bulwark.ch = Aggressive metal weak, 12 Surrealist http://www.myspace.com/surrealisttheband  = ok Thrash, 13 Shadow’s Far http://www.s-i-f.ch  = Black-metal, 14 Total Annihilation http://www.total-annihilation.ch.vu  = Grind Death, 15 Minsk Security http://www.minsk-security.ch   = weak vocals Doom Deathish Metal, 16 Aggressive Sound Painters http://www.soundpainters.ch  = very modern Americanish Metal, 17 Mostly Harmless http://www.mostlyharmless.ch  = typical American Melodic Nu-Metal a la RA/DISTURBED some screams and 18 November-7 http://www.n-7.ch  = female Gothic Metal, typical, pretty good. That's all folks, more info at: http://www.quamlibetrecords.ch/de/sampler/heavy-metal-nation-iv.asp 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

DEGREED 'THESE BLACK EYES’ (DEMO CDR)

It's raining demos in Sweden and not just demos, because almost every week we receive sensational demos from the Scandi's. DEGREED is a band out of the deepest forests of Sweden, the village of Kopparberg. Formed a few years ago, with only 3 songs on their demo, the incredible high level of them is making it a must-have for any rock/metal fan keen on strong melodies. The production is fantastic and the band's mixture of Prog, Melodic Rock/Metal and AOR choruses should gain them a lot of respect among many rock/metalfans. Especially opener "Catch The Feeling" is an amazing song that sounds so refreshing, reminding me of a mix between CITA and ACT. The other 2 songs ("My fall" and "Arms of misery") are also very good of course, bringing out the best melodies possible in the melodic rock/metal sound nowadays. The band has a very good lead singer, Robin Ericsson, who also plays Bass. All together, this DEGREED is another band with an amazing demo. It's not a question if they are signed soon... the question is which label will sign this superb band this year! More info at: www.degreedmusic.com  and e-mail at: mats.ericsson@hotmail.com  and roytokk@hotmail.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

CREMATORY 'PRAY' (MASSACRE RECORDS)

Although CREMATORY is a very well-known band, maybe Germany’s most successful Gothic Metal-band ever, this new CD (their 12th I believe) of them titled 'Pray' is perhaps the first time I actually hear their music. The band was formed 15 years ago and 'Pray' is the follow-up to their comeback-album 'Revolution' from 2004. In 2005 they released the DVD/CD-package 'Liverevolution' and now in 2008 a complete new studio-album in English. The Gothic Metal of CREMATORY sounds very strong actually, with some great songs on their new album, such as "When Darkness Falls", "Left The Ground", "Alone" and "Burning Bridges". The CD reminds me a lot of SENTENCED, TO/DIE/FOR and such typical Goth Metal from Finland, but CREMATORY raise the flag for Germany for more than 15 years and the fans of the band may be proud of this great new album of their favorite band. Without a doubt, a must-have for any Gothic Metalfan as well! For more info, check out their sites at: http://www.crematory.de  and http://www.myspace.com/crematorymusic 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

NEVERLAND ‘REVERSING TIME’ (AFM RECORDS/ROCK INC)

Out of Turkey comes NEVERLAND, which is actually the band DREAMTONE along with a Turkish female singer called Iris Mavraki. The band got some help from members of BLIND GUARDIAN, EVERGREY and SHADOW GALLERY. The result is a quality release, although far from original, because the song “To lose the sun” is as close to BLIND GUARDIAN as you can get. Nevertheless, it sounds quite nice, although I don’t think the male singer Oganalp Canatan is a real extra element to NEVERLAND’s music, because his voice is not as strong as some of the major Metal bands out there and also the female singer is not as good as for example the AFTER FOREVER/EPICA singers. Although the vocals are not as good as one hopes for, still the sound is of a very high level and the 10 tracks which are included here are for fans of ICED EARTH, BLIND GUARDIAN, EVERGREY, PRETTY MAIDS, HAMMERFALL, DREAM EVIL and such Melodic Metal nice to have a listen to, although do not expect a CD of the same class, because that is definitely not the case here and also the songs with the female vocals are drifting into a much calmer style. Check this band out for yourself at: www.in-neverland.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

STORMWARRIOR 'HEADING NORTHE' (DOCKYARD 1/ROCK INC)

The German band STORMWARRIOR is a classic 80s orientated Teutonic Heavy Metal band formed in 1998 by vocalist and guitar player Lars Ramcke and drummer Andre Schumann, adding later in the same year guitarist Scott Bolter and bass player Tim Zienert. The sound is not far away from RUNNING WILD, HELLOWEEN, GRAVE DIGGER and such typical German Metalbands. Their debut full length-CD 'Stormwarrior' from 2002, and their 2004 follow-up 'Northern Rage' were both produced by Kai Hansen of HELLOWEEN/GAMMA RAY fame, who also appears as a guest musician on some songs. Their new CD, which is their 3rd so far (excluding their 2006 live record), is the album 'Heading Northe', which continues the style of their earlier records, so we get to hear typical German Heavy Metal a la PRIMAL FEAR, SINNER, ACCEPT/UDO, RUNNING WILD, HELLOWEEN, GRAVE DIGGER... The album was recorded in the band's own Thunderhall Studios, mixed together with Piet Sielck (SAVAGE CIRCUS, IRON SAVIOR) and mastered by Tommy Hansen (HELLOWEEN, HAMMERFALL, PRETTY MAIDS) at Jailhouse Studios in Denmark. All together a huge sound and highly recommended to fans of mentioned bands, with as highlights “Heading Northe”, “Metal Legacy”, “The Holy Cross” and “Iron Gods”, fast and super melodic, like GAMMA RAY on speed, better check it out asap if Melodic Power Metal is your thing! More info at: http://www.stormwarrior.de/ 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

STEVE LUKATHER 'EVER CHANGING TIMES' (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

Of course best known as the TOTO guitarist/vocalist, but STEVE LUKATHER has done a zillion other things in his music career. Especially as a session-musician, Steve appeared on a lot of albums, maybe 1,000 up till now. However, he also released a few solo-records, of which is his debut is still the best, a real AOR/Melodic Rock masterpiece. Now Steve has a new solo-CD out on FRONTIERS RECORDS and I can inform you it is a very strong album that has a lot of TOTO elements, especially during the ballads, but on a few songs Steve also goes way rockier. Nevertheless, the TOTO type of tunes are definitely the best ones, with the first 3 tracks on the CD being the strongest tracks, namely "Ever changing times", "The letting go" and "New world". I think it's a great thing to hear a full-CD with nothing but Steve's voice and guitar, because these 2 instruments (yes, his voice I consider an instrument too, so relaxing and smoothly Steve sings) are making it all worth to listen to CDs like these from start to finish, because some of the TOTO CDs contain moments you want to push the skip button, but that's not the case here. The legendary songwriter Randy Goodrum co-wrote most of the songs with Steve, with guest appearances of son Trev Lukather - guitars, bgv's, John Pierce - bass, Phil Soussan - bass, Steve Porcaro - keys, orchestration and arrangement, Joseph Williams - bgv's, Bill Champlin - bgv's and several others. More info on Steve at: www.stevelukather.net 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

ADASTREIA 'THAT WHICH LIES WITHIN' (INDEPENDENT)

The UK also has their female fronted Goth Metal bands, with ADASTREIA being a very interesting new band in this genre. Their singer is called Alexandra Martin (vocals) and the London based band around her was established in July 2004. A four track demo and single followed in the next 2 years and after supporting EDENBRIDGE on their UK 2006 November concerts, the band went into the studio and released in 2007 their debut full-length CD 'That Which Lies Within'. Maybe musically not really original, because we have heard it before from EPICA, AFTER FOREVER, WITHIN TEMPTATION, EDENBRIDGE, XANDRIA, NIGHTWISH, etc. etc. but on the other hand it is of a very high level and the 7 songs on 'That Which Lies Within' will be adored by fans of the genre. ADASTREIA is a little heavier and more uptempo based than most other bands in the genre, making their independent CD quite interesting to check out. E-mail them at: Band@adastreia.com  and for more info go to: www.adastreia.com  and http://www.myspace.com/adastreia 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

RADIOCRAFT 'CATCH YOUR DEATH' (INDEPENDENT)

With already 2 albums released, of which I remember reviewing 'Red' a few years ago, the Detroit/Michigan based female fronted band RADIOCRAFT returns with a very impressive new mini-CD. 7 songs are included, musically excellent classic female fronted melodic rock with a slight bluesy and aor touch, sort of ALANNAH MYLES meets HEART, very catchy indeed with superb vocalwork of singer Suzie Ferro. The new CD was produced by Rick Parashar (PEARL JAM, BON JOVI, NICKELBACK, etc.). Recorded in Seattle, WA, at the legendary London Bridge Studios, the band's new CD has a high quality sound and happily, also musically it is very impressive. The material is quite diverse, uptempo and slow to midtempo rockers as well as a ballad. Best songs are the uptempo rockers "Red (Remix)" and "The Burning Blanket" (a la CINDY CRUSE circa 'The edge'), the semi ballad "Butterflies" (a fantastic song) and the PAT BENATARish "Bakersfield (Remix)" (slower bluesy, very relaxing). The other 3 songs are a bit less sensational, namely "Hurricanes" and "Bribe The Guards", both groovier a la ALANNAH MYLES and closing track "The Stars Song" is an acoustic calmer ballad. What makes this band very interesting are the excellent vocals of Suzie, who has a raw voice reminding of PAT BENATAR and their songs which are definitely in the classic rock style, very very very impressive... Check it out for yourself at: http://www.myspace.com/radiocraft  and http://www.radiocraftmusic.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

ANTHERIUS '2008-03' (DECURSUS MEDIA)

Fans of instrumental keyboard/synthesizer only based music should pay attention here, because ANTHERIUS is a one-man's band from Texas with a CD that musically comes close to what KLAUS SCHULZE, MIKE OLDFIELD, RICK WAKEMAN and TANGERINE DREAM and such Keyboard Wizzards have been doing the past 35 years. All instruments are played by Antherius, which mainly consists of keyboards, synthesizers and a computer, still making a nice quality sound recording with this first CD '2008-03'. 11 songs can be found on the CD and for fans of KRAFTWERK, KLAUS SCHULZE, MIKE OLDFIELD, RICK WAKEMAN and TANGERINE DREAM a must-have! More info at: http://www.antherius.com/  and http://www.myspace.com/antherius 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

ARREZT ‘DON’T RUN’ (CSD/GERMAN IMPORT)

ARREZT is a German band playing Melodic Hardrock the old fashioned way, reminding a lot of BONFIRE, WILD FRONTIER, VICE, BOYZVOICE and such. Not really original, a bit dated sounding, but well enough to listen to and perhaps live a great band. The band’s singer Mathias has got a typical German accent, so that makes them not really a sensational band, also due to a lot of covers (KISS, GOLDEN EARRING, DEAD BANG, MICHAEL SEMBELLO) included on their first CD ‘Don’t run’. It would have been more interesting to see more own compositions a la their uptempo melodic rockers “Jeany” (pretty catchy, not the FALCO song), “Price of love” and “You bring me down”, 2 good tunes a la WHITE LION, WILD FRONTIER and SARGANT FURY… Check them out for yourself at: www.myspace.com/arrezt  and you can buy the CD through: www.targetrecords.de 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

DANIEL NELSON ‘DANIEL NELSON’ (AVA MUSIC DISTRIBUTION)

Very calm early 80s Westcoast-Pop/AOR a la AIRPLAY, CHRISTOPHER CROSS, AMBROSIA, DAVID PACK, PAGES, SNEAKER, CHICAGO, JOHN O’BANION, MAXUS, TIM FEEHAN, GREG GUIDRY, TOTO, JAY GRUSKA, JAY GRAYDON, TOMMY KEENE, etc. is what to expect on the 5 tracks counting CD of singer/songwriter DANIEL NELSON. I am almost thinking this is a re-issue of some early 80s major US label release, because back then this type of music was huge! However, DANIEL NELSON is a new singer and the 5 songs are new, with especially the ballads “Camarillo” and “Emily” (a la RICHARD MARX) and the midtempo Poprocker “Here in LA” being the most Westcoast early 80s US type of AOR/Pop songs I have heard in ages. Daniel has got a fantastic voice and fans of mentioned artists will absolutely love DANIEL NELSON’s mini-CD, which is available at: www.targetrecords.de  and more info at: http://www.myspace.com/nelsontunes 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

MICHAEL MOORCOCK AND DEEP FIX ‘THE NEW WORLDS FAIR’ (ESOTERIC RECORDINGS/CHERRY RED RECORDS)

MICHAEL MOORCOCK was a 1970s author of sci-fi novels, selling millions of books and during that period he collaborated a lot with UK Psych-Rockband HAWKWIND, but also formed an own project featuring members of HAWKWIND and guitarist SNOWY WHITE. The result was a 1975 record titled ‘The new worlds fair’, which now has been re-issued by ESOTERIC RECORDS, a sublabel of CHERRY RED RECORDS. Together with 7 bonustracks, this 18 tracks counting CD is a must for anyone who has the original LP of the recording, because the sound on this CD is of course much better. Musically typical 1970s Psychedelic Rock that sounded like a mix between FRANK ZAPPA, ALICE COOPER and HAWKWIND, quite weird, wicked and bizarre actually, but nevertheless very interesting for people into the experimental 1970s rock. More info at: www.cherryred.co.uk 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

SAMURAI ‘SAMURAI’ (ESOTERIC RECORDINGS/CHERRY RED RECORDS)

In the 1980s there were some Heavy Metalbands with the bandname SAMURAI, but way back in the early 1970s there was this little UK based band with a 1972 same titled LP, which now 36 years later has been re-issued onto CD, with a large booklet accompanied with the release. Musically experimental light Progressive Rock (with Sax here and there) a la KING CRIMSON, GENTLE GIANT, PINK FLOYD, etc. 7 long tracks that feature instrumental passages typical early 70s style, maybe dated for some of you, without a doubt, this CD release makes sense for the fans of mentioned bands and if anyone still knows about SAMURAI, then this is the chance to hear it clean and without scratches on CD again! More info at: www.cherryred.co.uk 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

BOOMERANG ‘SOUND OF SIRENS’ (PURE STEEL RECORDS)

The German band BOOMERANG is playing typical Teutonic MANOWAResque Heavy Metal like actually only the German side of the world is able to do. Comparisons to legendary bands, such as TYRANT, TALON, RESTLESS, ACCEPT, STEELER, RUNNING WILD, MAJESTY, GRAVE DIGGER and such are so easy to make here. BOOMERANG sounds like a real cult/underground band, a must-have for fans of mentioned bands! ‘Sound of sirens’ is their 3rd CD and definitely one to check out if you like MANOWAR being covered by a German band. Not original, but Teutonic Metal at it’s best for sure, with songs like “One night to remember”, “Sleeping titans” and “Of fire”. Check it out for yourself at: http://www.puresteel-records.com/ 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

CASEY HAYES ‘THE IRON YEAR’ (PERENNIAL RECORDS)

Singer/songwriter/guitarist CASEY HAYES is coming out of Louisiana, USA and playing a sort of Westcoast-AOR/Poprockstyle, sounding like a cross between DAVE BALDWIN and STEVE PERRY. Especially vocally Casey is quite close to STEVE PERRY, HUGO… Musically a bit calm, not really rocking, but a sort of mellow semi-ballad AOR type of style, with some great songs here and there, such as the great midtempo “Valediction”. I can’t help feeling like I am listening to a STEVE PERRY solo-CD, the way it would sound today I guess, because Steve would probably also record a more laid-back album instead of a rockalbum. So it would have been nice if Casey would have added some rockers, although towards the end it gets rockier and these are also the best songs on the CD, namely “Violet” and “61&49” (sorta 80s touch in the TOTOish pianowork), both fetauring an uptempoish AOR rock approach a la HUGO, but still some more uptempo rockers would have been interesting. Nevertheless, fans of HUGO, DAVE BALDWIN, DAVID KUHN, MATT GARBO, KYLE VINCENT, STEVE PERRY and such will really like this CD a lot. More info at: www.caseyhayesmusic.com  and e-mail at: caseyhayes2004@yahoo.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

ENCHANTER ‘SECRETS VOLUME 1 – SYMBOLS IN STONE’ (PURE STEEL RECORDS)

ENCHANTER is a band from New England, USA and some time ago they released their debut album independently. That record was titled ‘Symbols in stone’ and now the German label PURE STEEL RECORDS has re-issued the record, along with a new album, both retitled now as 1 CD titled ‘Secrets volume 1 – Symbols in stone’. Musically we are heading into cult-underground 80s US Melodic Epic Metal in the style of BROCAS HELM, MANILLA ROAD, OMEN, WARLORD, PENTAGRAM, CIRITH UNGOL and such classic bands that never made it big, although each of these bands have a large cult following. ENCHANTER perfectly resembles the sound of these bands, so this is definitely not another standard Metalband, because instead we get really epic songs, with calm starts, modest vocalwork and still very metalish, especially when you listen to each song from start to the rockier Metalish finish. It is quite melodic too, although at first sight the CD is mostly recommended to fans of mentioned bands. Check it out for yourself at: http://www.puresteel-records.com/ 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

GORGONS EYES ‘INGLORIOUS BIRTH’ (PURE STEEL RECORDS)

GORGONS EYES is a German band, but not a real new band if you consider the fact that they were formed way back in 1992. It took them until 2003 before they recorded a full-length CD. Now they have a follow-up in the shape of ‘Inglorious birth’. Musically it sounds like it was recorded in 1985, typical European LP Metal of the independent kind you could hear 20 years ago from especially German bands. They remind of the legendary Italian bands CRYING STEEL however a lot and also the legendary German bands VOX and VETO come to mind on different occasions, so imagine a lesser version of PRIEST meets MANOWAR, because especially the vocal department is not strong enough to lift GORGONS EYES above all the other Metal releases worldwide. Nevertheless, if you like Undergroundish 80s Euro Metal you will like this new CD of GORGONS EYES. Check it out for yourself at: http://www.puresteel-records.com/ 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

STEEL RAISER ‘RACE OF STEEL’ (PURE STEEL RECORDS)

The German label PURE STEEL RECORDS is focused on Underground pure 80s sounding European Metal and STEEL RAISER from Italy are sounding as Classic 80s Euro Metal as you possibly can get, but they do it quite well actually. Armed with a twin-guitarsound and some strong melodies, this band formed around members of VALKIJA and NOBLE SAVAGE (both released CDs in the 2000s), well they have released a very tight pure Metal album that will wet the appetite of anyone wanting to hear True Metal, which PRIEST forgot to make the past 20 years. Highly recommended and one of the better True Metal releases of the past few years! Check it out for yourself at: http://www.puresteel-records.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

SENCIROW ‘THE NIGHTMARE WITHIN’ (PURE STEEL RECORDS)

Probably the most professional and most modern sounding band on PURE STEEL RECORDS. SENCIROW are coming out of Siegen, Germany and have already released 3 albums, making ‘The nightmare within’ their 4th effort. Musically they are playing Thrashy Power Metal, which at first sight (opener “Demon inside”) sounds very heavy and aggressive, but while going throughout the rest of the CD, it becomes more and more melodic, kinda like mixing BRAINSTORM, ICED EARTH, SYMPHORCE and especially MYSTIC PROPHECY, because that is the best description to give this SENCIROW. Highlights are the Melodic Power Metal monsters “Palace of Bones”, “Curse of Lying” and the sort of epic semi-ballad (although it gets really heavy after a while) and “The Nightmare within”. Any fan of modern day Melodic thrashy Power Metal, guitar riff based, but still driving on strong melodies and high quality vocalwork (read: MYSTIC PROPHECY), well they should check out the new CD of SENCIROW. More info at: http://www.puresteel-records.com/ 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

EMERALD ‘HYMNS TO STEEL’ (PURE STEEL RECORDS)

The Swiss band EMERALD has been active for over 10 years now and with already 3 released CDs, the band has been quite active. Now they are releasing their 4th CD ‘Hymns to steel’, which is a little less True Metal than before, because I believe they sounded like MANOWAR on past releases. However, the new album throws in a bunch of keys, but don’t let that put you off, because we can still hear pure Melodic Powerish Metal, just a little more akin to VISION DIVINE/LABYRINTH especially on the very catchy “Blind mass”, which is a fast song with a great melodic chorus. However, still the vocals are not without an accent, because you have to think of ELEGY, TNT and AXXIS when comparing Jvo Julmy’s rather high pitched vocals, but in the ballad “Will you ever returns” he actually sounds pretty good, a song which has 80s MADISON written all over the place! Anyway, what you basically have here is a nice decent Melodic Power Metal record with keys and mostly high-pitched vocals, some catchy choruses, like VISION DIVINE, but then a few levels lower and also with more 80s Metal guitar riffs than that Italian act. More info at: http://www.puresteel-records.com/ 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

SAATTUE ‘JAAHYVASTI’ (SPIKEFARM RECORDS)

Very slow Doom Metal with Death Metal male growls is what to expect on the first full-length CD of the Finnish band JAAHYVASTI. A band formed in 2001 and although it is not that interesting, happily also the 7 songs feature a sort of melodic touch during the chorus, although this band is actually only interested if you want to hear a cross between MY DYING BRIDE and CANDLEMASS, with loads of Death Metal growls. More info at: www.saattue.net 

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

MYGRAIN ‘SIGNS OF EXISTENCE’ (SPINEFARM RECORDS)

Melodic Death Metal is indeed what we get to hear on the 2nd CD of the Finnish band MYGRAIN, yet with some American Nu-Metalcore influences too, so not really interesting I am afraid, although the sound and production is huge and fans of Extreme Metal will probably eat this alive. More info at: www.mygrain1.com 

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)

JET AIRLINER 'PUSH ON THRU TILL DAWN' (SIDE BY SIDE RECORDS)

Although the Swedish band JET AIRLINER is already working on their 2nd album, here is a review of their first album. The amazing thing is that the band has a sound, which almost no band plays nowadays, because they are making a sort of late 70s US Pomp/Melodic Rockstyle that reminds one of glorious days of HEAD EAST, ROADMASTER, STARZ, TROOPER and such, combining harmonyvocals, twin-guitars and spacey keys into an exciting catchy sound, with memorable choruses. If we make our way through the included songs on their debut, it starts with opener "I'll sing my songs" (has some 60s influences), but with "Heaven's waiting" it's like a complete step back in time, as if it was 1979 and we're listening to a record of either HEAD EAST, STARCASTLE, ANGEL, ROADMASTER or whatever. It's really like this band is doing a mix of late 70s Pomprock, pure US style with some BEATLES harmonyvocals. The good thing is that it goes like this for the rest of the CD, MOXYish "I'm coming home", STARZish "Atlantic city" (great catchy chorus and twin-guitarsound) and so it goes on with pure late 70s US Melodic Pomprock. I really don't know what these guys have done, but somehow it's like they went back to 1979 New York City, because that was the place where this kind of music was heavily played by local rockbands. "What it takes" is very BEATLESish, so is "You are looking so fine, but then more akin to early 80s US Poprock a la THE KNACK, although the chorus lacks a bit. "Bouncing ball" is once again classic HEAD EAST, STARCASTLE or ANGEL, ROADMASTER, late 70s Pomprock with even the dut-dut keys. THE BEATLES are back again in the midtempo ballad "Nobody's perfect", also reminding of SPOCK'S BEARD a bit. "Go leave it all behind" starts with the keys of SUPERTRAMP's "Logical song" all over the place, although the song itself is pure late 70s AOR ish Poprock with catchy harmonyvocals, HEAD EAST meets THE BEATLES. "Outside my window" is a slow bluesy rocker at first sight, kinda different than the rest of the album, some CROWDED HOUSE at start even, but the chorus is melodic rock bliss again. Closing track is "Eleven", some BEATLES again, nice rocker. Can't wait for the 2nd album, in the meantime check out this very original band at: http://www.myspace.com/jetairliner 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

MACHINAE SUPREMACY 'OVERWORLD' (SPINEFARM RECORDS)

The Swedish band MACHINAE SUPREMACY has become quite popular in the underground Metal scene, but the big break has not happened yet. The band was formed in 2000 in the north of Sweden and are combining typical Euro SONATA Power Metal with American Nu-Metal and a lot of retro-style video game music of the 1980s, as you can clearly hear parts of those cheesy Casio-like sounding SUPER MARIO BROS/PACMEN games. So they sound rather original, kinda like mixing the American DISTURBED with the Finnish SONATA ARCTICA with the Japanese band ANIMETAL. Catchy, modern, retro, all at the same time, it is possible on this great new album 'Overworld' of this Swedish band. In 2006 they released 'Redeemer' and only 2 years later there is a follow-up titled 'Overworld', a very strong album, with many great uptempo songs, such as "Radio Future", "Skin", "Conveyer" and "Sid Icarus". Imagine Nintendo keys with SONATA ARCTICA melodies and DISTURBED modernish guitars in a mostly uptempo Power Metal sound and you're quite close to MACHINAE SUPREMACY's sound. More info at: www.myspace.com/machinaesupremacy  and http://www.machinaesupremacy.com/ 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

MORGBL 'GROTESK' (LASER'S EDGE)

MORGBL was formed in 1997. This French act is featuring Christophe Godin on Guitar, Ivan Rougny on Bass and Jean-Pierre Frelezeau on Drums. They play as they call it themselves funny power-jazz-metal instrumental music, with plenty of room for limitless experimentation and expression for Jean-Pierre's (jazz ministry), Ivan's (groove ministry) and Christophe's (Grrrrr ministry) virtuosity. Basically it is instrumental experimental progressive rock with a lot of Jazz/Fusion elements and some Metal riffs. The band has so far released 2 albums ('Ze Mörglbl Trio' in 1998 and 'Bienvenue ā Mörglbl Land' in 1999), disbanded in 2002, but returned in 2005 with now their 3rd cd called 'Grötesk'. It's a good album and especially fans of exp. progrock might like this a lot. Check it out for yourself at: http://profile.myspace.com/morglbl and http://www.christophegodin.com/english/projects.html 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

SEAN MALONE 'CORTLANDT' (LASER'S EDGE)

Originally released in 1996, 'Cortlandt' was the first solo CD by bassist/composer Sean Malone. It has now been re-released on the American label LASER'S EDGE. The album contains a rich variety of musical styles, from fusion, to world music, to the Baroque. It contains, as Sean puts it "a lot of the bits and pieces that never made it to the setlists of the groups I've played in". He then refers to the bands CYNIC and GORDIAN KNOT, in which he played and fans of these bands will definitely love this solo-CD, but probably have been aware of it for over 12 years now. However, this new re-release makes everyone aware again of a very underrated semi-instrumental record that contains a nice mixture of prog, jazz and fusion. Besides Sean Reinert, other musicians are Bob Bunin, Geoff Caputo, Trey Gunn (KING CRIMSON) and Reeves Gabrels (DAVID BOWIE). Check out all info at: www.seanmalone.net 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

RATTLESNAKE REMEDY 'MAGIC MAN' (BAD REPUTATION RECORDS)

Here's the latest British Rockband playing a retro 70s Classic Rockstyle, with clear influences from bands like LED ZEPPELIN and BAD COMPANY. 'Magic Man' is the band's debut album and without a doubt, if you enjoy the likes of WOLFMOTHER, THUNDER, GREAT WHITE, TESLA, KINGDOM COME, then you can easily get yourself a copy of the first RATTLESNAKE REMEDY CD. Still I miss a bit the catchiness and uptempo rock based material, which all these bands seem to forget, because the music is more guitar riff based and (need to admit) the ROBERT PLANTish vocalwork instead of a memorable choruses. For some, this is just the reason why they would rather want to check out a band, hearing a catchy chorus, while for others the rock and roll needs to sound raw and unpolished and to those people I can really recommend RATTLESNAKE REMEDY. More info at: http://www.rattlesnakeremedy.com/  and http://www.myspace.com/rattlesnakeremedy 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM 'IMPRESSIONS ~ THE VERY BEST OF LAD+LIVE IN GERMANY' (ESCAPE MUSIC)

Besides the excellent new CD of Swedish supergroup LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM, there is also a best of release, which contains the best tracks of their first 4 albums and some unreleased European bonustracks for the Japanese market, because the best of was already released mid 2007 in Japan. However, this European release comes along with a bonus-CD that contains a live performance of the band in Germany last year. All together a very nice package of a great underrated band, which features the likes of singer Mikael Erlandsson, guitar player Andy Malecek (FAIR WARNING) and TALISMAN members Marcel Jacob - bass and Jamie Borger - drums, whom replaced the former EUROPE members Ian Haugland, Mic Michaeli and John Leven after their self titled debut album from 2004. Musically it is basically pure 80s Scandi Melodic Rock, loved in Japan, but sadly ignored in the rest of the world outside the melodic rock community. The band sounds like a mix between EUROPE, TREAT, THE POODLES, FAIR WARNING and RAINBOW. The best of features of course LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM classics like "Again And Again", “Love to go”, "Winter In Paradise" and "After Tomorrow's Gone", an MIKAEL ERLANDSSON solo classic “It’s alright” and a ZENO cover in the shape of “Heat of emotion”. And the European fans are delighted with a high quality bonus live-CD of the band, which shows this band is also able to perform their catchy melodic rock live on stage. Must-have for melodic rockfans, especially if you haven't got any of their releases in your collection! More info at: http://www.myspace.com/lastautumnsdream 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM 'RAINBOW SKY' (ESCAPE MUSIC)

Already the 5th CD so far and maybe even their best CD so far. Since 2004 LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM has been releasing every year a CD, making 'Rainbow sky' their 5th CD. It seems like the band finally has reached the sound they wanted so much, which is mainly uptempo melodic rock with catchy choruses in pure 80s style, reminding of EUROPE, TREAT, THE POODLES and RAINBOW. The supergroup 2008 version features singer Mikael Erlandsson, guitar player Andy Malecek (FAIR WARNING) and TALISMAN members Marcel Jacob - bass and Jamie Borger - drums. 11 songs are included and especially the uptempo melodic rockers (FAIR WARNING meets TALISMAN meets TREAT/TALK OF THE TOWN meets THE POODLES!!!) "Strange Operation", "Rainbow Sky", "My Alibi", "Lost In Moscow", "Serenity", "War Of Your Worlds" (best song) and "Overnight Sensation" are very impressive. The remaining songs are the semi AOR ballad/Midtempo songs "I'm Not Supposed To Love You Anymore" and "Every Beat Of My Heart" and the RAINBOWish Melodic Heavy Rockers "R U Ready To Rock'n Roll" and "Save Our Love". All together a great album and showing this band at their best, highly recommended to fans of 80s uptempo catchy Scandi Melodic Rock and also fans of THE POODLES might wanna grab this album, which has no fillers and is a melodic rock dream for this spring, making you remember a wonderful dream you had last autumn! More info at: http://www.myspace.com/lastautumnsdream 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

NUMBER ONE GUN 'THE NORTH POLE PROJECT' (TOOTH AND NAIL RECORDS/EMI MUSIC USA)

The American Christian band NUMBER ONE GUN released their self-released debut EP in 2002, before the Californian rockers were signed to FLOODGATE RECORDS, on which they released their first full-length CD 'Delebrate mistakes'. 2 years later they signed to TOOTH AND NAIL RECORDS and released their 2nd CD titled 'Promises for the Imperfect', now in 2008 followed up by 'The North Pole Project'. Musically the band is playing your typical Americanised Melodic Emo/Punkrock style that doesn't sound bad at all, very catchy actually. Although mentioned and named as a band, NUMBER ONE GUN is formed around Jeff Schneeweis, who basically does everything on his own. Songs like "The Massacre" and "Million" are typical American emo melodic rock, but rather good and although most of the CD is in this style, the band also throws in some different kinda tunes, such as the calmer keyboard orientated CLICK FIVE sounding "The Best Of You And Me". However, the fans of typical Emo/Rock the American way will love this new NUMBER ONE GUN album. More info at: http://www.myspace.com/numberonegun 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

THE SECRET SIX 'THE SECRET SIX' (INDEPENDENT)

The Cleveland/USA based band THE SECRET SIX was founded as an original studio project in June 2003 and is basically the baby of Jay Youngless, a drummer, keyboardist, and vocalist who spent time in several Cleveland-area bands, most notably the hard rock trio TIC. Together with his brother Chris and guitarist/bassist/vocalist Nate Nieding he recorded some demos and sometime later put them out as CD. Musically a mix of Progressive Rock and Hardrock, so a little proggy, but also a bit modern here and there, even reminding of SPOCK'S BEARD and ENCHANT when THE SECRET SIX are at their best, such as in the great songs "Heidi's Eyes" and "Charade (In Your World), but especially "Be Here I Am (Part II)" is very impressive, kinda pure prog a la KANSAS. Some of the material is also a bit just straight-ahead modern rock, although always with a prog touch. Check it out for yourself at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/secretsix/from/garage  and http://www.myspace.com/thesecretsix  and e-mail at: secretsix@hotmail.com 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

BACK 'MIGHT OF DREAMS' (INDEPENDENT)

The German band BACK released this mini-CD 6 years ago, so you can not call it really recent, but who cares if the included music is good, because ‘Might of dreams’ is a very good 80s orientated AOR/Melodic Rockalbum in the style of CRAAFT, DOMINOE, ZENO, BOYSVOICE, BONFIRE and such typical German styled big sounding melodic hardrock with strong harmonyvocals and catchy choruses, especially the songs “Use your fantasy” and “True love waits”. Sadly only 4 songs are included, but they are very good and also sound/production is of a high level, so without a doubt, we have here a great product of a little German band called BACK. The band has been making music since the mid 1980s and it’s about time to get themselves a deal, because similar acts like DOMAIN, SHYLOCK and BONFIRE are still able to release new records year after year, so why not BACK. Give them a chance at: www.back-online.net  and www.cdbaby.com/cd/back  and e-mail at: info@back-online.net 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

REISSUE ‘NOT FOR SALE’ (CREAM RECORDS)

Swedish band playing typical Melodic Hardrock, reminding a bit of 220 VOLT, MADISON and old EUROPE, with a modern high quality production, which is not that strange if you consider the fact it was recorded at Sonic Train Studios by ANDY LA ROCQUE (KING DIAMOND) and Joachim Lundberg (DREAMLAND). 3 songs are on their well-produced mini-CD ‘Not for sale’ and especially the fantastic melodic rockballad “Am I to blame” makes a rather strong impression. The 2 other songs (“Save my soul” and “Evil in you”) are nice Hardrocksongs in a sort of 80s style, also reminding of long lost bands, such as AXE WITCH, KEEL and TOKYO BLADE. Check it out for yourself at: www.reissue.se  and e-mail at: contact@reissue.se 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

NOSOUND ‘LIGHTDARK’ (INDEPENDENT)

‘Lightdark’ is the 2nd CD of the Italian band NOSOUND. The album is a very calm peaceful and rather depressing progressive ambient rock CD, which is sounding like a mix between PORCUPINE TREE, PINK FLOYD and COLDPLAY. Although the band started as a one-man’s band, it now is evolving into a real band, although bandleader GIANCARLO ERRA is still the main man for NOSOUND, playing guitar, keys and singing. 7 tracks are included on the new CD, of which are quite lengthy and especially “From silence to noise” with it’s 15 minutes playing length is a must-hear for fans of experimental modern progrock, although I must say here that NOSOUND does not really rock, but is more focused on long peaceful parts that really have that PINK FLOYD spirit. Check out more info on the band at: www.nosound.net  and e-mail at: giancarloerra@mac.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

MOTHER'S FINEST 'MOTHER'S FINEST' (ROCK CANDY RECORDS)

MOTHER'S FINEST were unique, because they combined the funk-rock of SLY & THE FAMILY STONE, EARTH, WIND AND FIRE, GRAND FUNK RAILROAD with the groovy Hardrock riffs of LED ZEPPELIN, MONTROSE and AEROSMITH, making them one of the first multi racial bands to really rock hard. MOTHER'S FINEST came out of Macon, Georgia and were discovered by well-known hard rock producer TOM WERMAN (CHEAP TRICK, TED NUGENT, MOTLEY CRUE), who signed them to Epic Records. It was the mid 1970s and of course this was a time when Black people were either singing sweet-love songs or Reggae, which was actually quite sad, because 10 years earlier a certain JIMI HENDRIX basically invented Hardrock. Anyway, MOTHER'S FINEST were fronted by the amazing female singer Joyce 'Baby Jean' Kennedy, but also male singer Glenn Murdock. They delivered in 1976 their debut-LP, which now more than 30 years later has been re-issued onto CD, completely remastered with a couple live bonus tracks and some fine looking artwork and liner notes. Still sounding fresh, this was a Hardrocking album in best 70s spirit, with anthems like "Fire" and "Niggizz Can't Sang Rock & Roll". Anyone wishing to check out one of the most important, if not the only real long-lasting, Black Hardrockband in history (although have to add that the guitarplayer and drummer were white). Be sure to check out their amazing debut, now available again on CD. More info at: http://www.rockcandyrecords.co.uk 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

RECKLESS 'RECKLESS' (ROCK CANDY RECORDS)

A bandname like RECKLESS is quite misleading, as many bands share that name, however the RECKLESS here is coming out of Canada and started up in the late 70s with a female singer, later to be replaced by a male singer. Musically the Toronto-based RECKLESS played straight-ahead guitar orientated Melodic Hardrock, based around the riffs of guitarist/composer Steve Madden and the excellent vocals of female singer Jan Melanson, actually sounding a bit like TANTRUM, VXN and a heavier HEART, but also DOKKEN comes to mind, although they were not really active at the time of this recording. The band's debut was released on EMI in Europe back in 1979, produced by Paul Gross (SAGA) at Phase One Studios in Toronto. Now almost 30 years later the rare RECKLESS record has been re-issued onto CD, remastered and with some nice artwork/liner notes, sounding and looking very impressive, with such great tracks like "Victim Of Time", "Heartache Rock And Roll", "Child Of The Night" and "Could This Be Love", as well as a bunch of unreleased demos, in the shape of bonus Tracks "Can't Loose Anymore (Unreleased demo)", "Midnight Reign" (Unreleased demo) and "Tonight Tonight" (Unreleased demo). Without a doubt, worth checking out! More info at: http://www.rockcandyrecords.co.uk 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

MONEY 'FIRST INVESTMENT' (ROCK CANDY RECORDS)

In the mid 1970s out of the Midlands/UK came a band called MONEY, which were active before the big MWOBHM explosion. Musically they were somewhere between the classic Hardrock of BAD COMPANY, LED ZEPPELIN and the NWOBHM sound of SAXON, rocking quite hard here and there, with a typical 70s rock approach however, also adding some extraordinary parts, even a bit QUEEN here and there, although mostly reminding of very early Y&T. A reference to that band is easy to make, because the band's producer, Chris Tsangarides, would later go on to work with Y&T, PRIEST, GARY MOORE and OZZY, however MONEY was where it all started for him. The band's debut was released on the UK independent label Gull Records, home at the time to none other than JUDAS PRIEST. 'First Investment' was actually quite an unusual album, desperately failing to make any impact, which now almost 30 years later seems to be a pity, because it all sounded quite different than anything else out there back then. 24-bit remastering from original source tapes, 4,000 word story of the making of the album, previously unpublished photos are all spread out over a 16 page full blown colour booklet. One bonustrack is included, namely "Where Have All The Dancers Gone?" and with great songs like “Mari-Anna”, “(Aren't We All) Searching” and “Opening Night”, this album is something you have to check out if you want to hear an undiscovered gem from the 1970s filled with very original Hardrock. More info at: http://www.rockcandyrecords.co.uk 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

HEAVEN ‘HEAVEN BRASS ROCK 1’ (ESOTERIC RECORDINGS/SONY BMG/CHERRY RED RECORDS)

HEAVEN is a bandname used by loads of groups as a bandname in the past, such as the Norwegian AOR band or the Aussie Hardrockers, but also back in 1970 when an original UK band used the name. They hailed from Portsmouth and played a mix of Jazz and Rock, Fusion with a lot of brass besides guitars, making them sound like CHICAGO meets GRAND FUNK RAILROAD. Sometimes very Jazzy, very Proggy and very interesting for fans who like that typical early 70s experimental sound, because it might sound dated now, there are people out there loving this kind of stuff and the band’s debut CD has now been released for the first time on CD after 37 years! They appeared at the legendary Isle Of Wight Festival alongside THE WHO, THE DOORS and JIMI HENDRIX, long before they had a deal and an album out, but looking back now almost 40 years later, HEAVEN did not make a huge impact, but like said before for many among us this new CD release is a nice memory of the late 60s/early 70s experimental Jazz-Rock Fusion thing going on in the UK. More info at: www.esotericrecordings.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

ETHEREAL ARCHITECT ‘DISSENSION’ (INDEPENDENT)

ETHEREAL ARCHITECT is a band from Texas and they play high quality Progressive Metal, which sounds very melodic and reminds one of SHADOW GALLERY. The band’s leader is guitarist DAVID GLASS, who wrote, recorded, produced, mixed, mastered, etc. the recordings of their full-length debut CD ‘Dissension’. The band’s lead singer ADAM CONTRERAS has a very strong voice and songs like “|Still waiting”, “Slip” and “Undone” are very strong Melodic Prog Metal pieces, recommended to fans of THRESHOLD, VANDENPLAS, SHADOW GALLERY, SYMPHONY X, DREAMSCAPE (a lot!), PAGAN’S MIND, MIND’S EYE, so this is Prog Metal at it’s very best! More info at: http://www.myspace.com/etherealarchitect  and e-mail at: etherealarchitect@yahoo.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

GARY FARR ‘STRANGE FRUIT’ (ESOTERIC RECORDINGS/SONY BMG/CHERRY RED RECORDS)

Originally released in 1970, the album of the singer/songwriter GARY FARR has now been re-issued onto CD, looking quite nice, although musically this is only to those into typical 1970s singer/songwriter poetic acoustic guitar tingled music with sad lyrics and very sad vocals, BOB DYLANish here and there, some TIM HARDIN like material and THE ANIMALS kinda rock/vocalwork when at his best, such as during “Revolution of the season”, which is a strong song, but sadly one of the few more uptempo rockers. Gary did some more recordings, but his final album was released in 1973, before disappearing into obscurity and sadly dying in 1994. This is his legacy, now released on CD at: www.esotericrecordings.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

ADMIRAL TWIN ‘THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE’ (THE POP COLLECTIVE)

ADMIRAL TWIN play the sort of Poprock popular among US College Radio Stations, which means BEATLES like harmonies are combined with CHEAP TRICKish quirkiness, catchy and still not something you would hear on National Top 40 stations. Comparisons to FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE, WEEZER and such are easy to make and the band’s new album ‘The center of the universe’ is no exception to the rule. Once again 15 catchy tunes, not as rocking as one would like, but here and there some nice catchy poprockers, such as “In my veins”, “Smash it up” and “The best at being lonely”. Recommended to fans of mentioned bands! More info at: http://www.myspace.com/admiraltwin  and http://www.admiraltwin.com/ 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

SPIDER ‘ROUGH JUSTICE/ROCK’N’ROLL GYPSIES’ (KRESCENDO RECORDS)

What do you get when you mix SLADE, STATUS QUO and SPINAL TAP, yes another band with a bandname starting with an “s” and coming out of the UK, namely SPIDER, not to be confused with the same named US female fronted AOR/Poprockband active around the same time, the early 80s. The UK SPIDER was active in the early 80s and released 3 albums, of which 2 have now been fully remastered and released on CD. Both sound and look pretty good, although musically the band never had any diversity, with in total on these 2 CDs, released by KRESCENDO RECORDS, 25 tracks, all sounding the same, uptempo Boogie Rock and Roll like SLADE doing STATUS QUO covers, with as highlights “Martyred” (a slight THIN LIZZY meets URIAH HEEP touch here), “The minstrel”, “Til I’m certain” and “Breakaway”. The band scored a string of minor UK hitsingles, but after their 1986 ‘Raise the banner’ album it was over and out for SPIDER, with now 22 years finally some recognition for a truly ‘lost’ band, with these 2 CD releases, which come along with a bunch of bonustracks and some nice liner notes/artwork. More info at: www.krescendorecords.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem) 

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