HOT NEW REVIEWS
 UPDATED ON MAY 4 - 2008

BROTHER FIRETRIBE ‘HEART FULL OF FIRE’ (SPINEFARM RECORDS/UNIVERSAL MUSIC FINLAND)

In 2006 BROTHER FIRETRIBE released the best album of that year, a very sensational AOR Classic that even beat URBAN TALE's debut CD as being the best Finnish AOR/Melodic Rockalbum of all times. BROTHER FIRETRIBE features not only NIGHTWISH guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, but also lead singer Pekka Ansio Heino, who at the time of the debut CD had only just released his first CD with another band called LEVERAGE, so was basically a newcomer to the scene. Pekka being a fantastic vocalist and together with a strong musician backup, there was a lot to enjoy from this new band. Funny thing is Pekka now releases with both bands the follow-up. 'Heart full of fire' is the new BROTHER FIRETRIBE CD and without a doubt, this release is yet another very impressive AOR/Melodic Rock record. The sound is exactly the same as their debut, maybe even a bit more powerful and uplifting, with 2 familiar songs, the Finnish TV-Series anthem "I am Rock" and the classic 80s AOR soundtrack tune "Chasing the angels" (MIKE RENO). What remains are 9 original High Class pure AOR tunes, of which the most sensational are "Wildest Dreams" (uptempo with the classic VAN HALEN 'Dreams' touch), "Runaways" (uptempo), "Game They Call Love" (midtempo), "Play It from the Heart" (amazing semi-ballad), "Heart Full of Fire" (uptempo duet with new NIGHTWISH vocalist), "Going Out With a Bang" (uptempo a la HARLAN CAGE) and the midtempo "Out of My Head". Simply concluded, this is an AOR MASTERPIECE filled with songs that will make you smile all through the summer! Check out their sites at: www.brotherfiretribe.com  and www.myspace.com/brotherfiretribe 

(Points: 9.2 out of 10)

S.I.N. ‘THE 13TH APOSTLE’ (ARTISTWORXX/MUSIC BUY MAIL)

‘The 13th apostle’ is the 3rd album of the German/Norwegian band SIN and it seems this time they sound bigger than ever, a huge sound can be heard and musically a mix of classic melodic hardrock, some neo-classical progmetal and melodic metal, with strong vocals (4 different singers), huge riffs and catchy choruses, sorta like EVIDENCE ONE, EDEN’S CURSE, EYEWITNESS, LEVERAGE, JADED HEART, TALISMAN, MILLENNIUM and even some AVANTASIA. The CD is a concept album and after 13 songs you will be convinced that this is SIN’s strongest effort so far, with such great tracks like “Junia’s eyes” (reminding me a lot of LEVERAGE), “In your darkest hour” and “His 13th apostle”. Without a doubt, here we have a very impressive album that should be in your hands in case you are interested in hearing high quality Melodic Hardrock/Metal, especially if you enjoyed EDEN’S CURSE and LEVERAGE releases from the past few years! More info at: www.sin-band.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

SHANNON ‘ANGEL IN DISGUISE’ (ARTISTWORXX/MUSIC BUY MAIL)

Founded in 1998, the French band SHANNION released their debut CD in 2003, which saw them touring with JEFF SCOTT SOTO, PC’69 and AXXIS as well as playing before GOTTHARD on a big festival. Musically they play Melodic Hardrock the 80s way, kinda like JADED HEART, TALISMAN, PC’69, yet not as good as those acts, which becomes clear after hearing their new CD ‘Angel in disguise’, which is their 2nd CD and their first sign of life in 5 years (although I do remember a 2006 independent/demo release?). The result is a nice record, but only for die-hard Melodic Hardrockfans, as it is not consistent from start to finish. Songs like “Hungry for love” (uptempo melodic hardrock), “Winter night” (uptempo melodic hardrock), “On and one” (ballad), the midtempo “Road of desire” and “Love in your eyes” (now this is by far the best song, a very catchy uptempo melodic hardrocktune like JADED HEART meets EDEN’S CURSE) however are pretty good, very sensational and quite catchy, but overall the album is not as sensational as mentioned bands, also partly due to the rather standard vocalwork of singer Olivier Del Valle, who is not a STEVE LEE, JEFF SCOTT SOTO or MICHAEL BORMANN for that matter, but on the other hand he is not that bad and the album is a good listen for sure! It is more like the mentioned songs are making this album a winner after all, although songs like “Coming back to you”, “Hang on”, “Change your heart” and “Do you know” show that the band also make ok songs and these tunes are keeping the level down a bit, sort of the BONFIRE way, because they also release albums with sensational songs and ok songs. Anyway, Melodic Hardrockfans might definitely like the new SHANNON CD, as it has got some real highlights here and there. More info at: www.shannon-rock.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

JUNIUS ‘JUNIUS’ (MAKE MY DAY RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

JUNIUS is a Boston/USA based band playing very dark music that combines Alternative, 80s Poprock and Dark New Wave all together in a very Underground sounding DarkWaveRock approach that will probably never reach a large audience, but on the other hand might appeal to fans of bands like JOY DIVISION, THE DUTCH, ULTRAVOX, THE THE, THE MISSION and especially THE CURE. This is not for the masses and not for radio, but for people enjoying Alternative/Wave music that could also be heard on albums of THE CURE when they went into a slow dark way. Call it Post-Wave, call it Dark-Wave, call it Gothic-Rock, call it whatever you want, because this JUNIUS is a very nice band to check out if you like your music to sound slow, dark and sometimes quite noisy, yet always with typical 80s New Wave like vocalwork (ULTRAVOX meets CURE in a song like “Blood is bright”). More info at: http://www.juniusmusic.com  and http://www.myspace.com/junius 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

WHITECROSS ‘NINETEEN EIGHTY SEVEN’ (RETROACTIVE RECORDS/ARTISTWORXX/MUSIC BUY MAIL)

In 1987 the Christian Hardrockband released a self-titled debut album that sounded like the Christian version of bands like RATT, DOKKEN and ACCEPT. Now more than 20 years later the band re-recorded almost that complete album and released it as ‘Nineteen eighty-seven’, which also has a few bonustracks added. Musically it sounds a bit heavier, but keeps nicely in the classic 80s US Metalstyle of especially RATT, thanks to the guitarwork of REX CARROLL and the STEPHEN PEARCY like singing of SCOTT WENZEL. Of course WHITECROSS released a bunch more albums and also the 2 main members went their own way, doing side-projects and releasing solo-albums. However, somehow WHITECROSS will always be remembered for their 1987 debut album, which now has been re-recorded and released as ‘Nineteen eighty-seven’. Better check it out asap if you want to hear classic ballsy 80s US Metal! More info at: http://www.whitecrossmusic.com/ 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

BEYOND THE VOID ‘GLOOM IS A TRIP FOR TWO’ (ALTERNATIVE TENTACLES/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

Out of Germany comes BEYOND THE VOID, a band playing typical Finnish Gothic Metal sounding like a mix between HIM, THE NEGATIVE, CREMATORY and TYPE OF NEGATIVE. They were formed New Year 2000 and now 8 years later are about to release their 3rd album ‘Gloom is a trip for two’. They performed with many well-known acts in the Gothic Rock/Metal genre and are getting rave reviews all over the world and I must admit their new CD sounds quite impressive, basically pure Melodic Gothic Metal with very low dark vocalwork of singer DANIEL PHAROS. It’s like HIM being fronted by the TYPE O’NEGATIVE singer, that’s basically where BEYOND THE VOID’s music should be put and it would not surprise me if they will score big time with this new album in Finland and Germany, where this kind of music is extremely popular. Be sure to check out this band at: www.beyonddthevoid.com  and http://www.beyondthevoid.de 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

MARVEL ‘THUNDERBLOOD HEART’ (KILLER COBRA RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

Now this is what I would call ROCK AND ROLL! THE HELLACOPTERS, TURBONEGRO and HARDCORE SUPERSTAR are playing this kind of Rock and Roll, probably at least hundred bands more in Sweden alone. Worldwide this kind of music is becoming more and more popular, as it is real all-original no-compromise Rock and Roll based on the classic 70s guitar riffs. Now we have MARVEL, a band also playing pure Rock and Roll and they do it very very well, even better than the mentioned hugely popular bands and sounding like KISS meets THIN LIZZY actually. MARVEL are settled in Brooklyn, New York City and consist of the three super heroes Vocalo, Animalizer and The Ambassador. Actually this power trio is based around three young guys from Linköping, Sweden; John Steen, Ulrik Bostedt and Tony Samuelsson who founded the band Marvel during their high school exchange year in Colorado, USA., 2002. They released their debut album ‘Five Smell City’ in early summer 2005 and now follow that up with the next full-length CD ‘Thunderblood heart’. Songs like “So Good Together”, “Cagney Sans Lacey (The City Is Burning)”, “Mind over matter” and “Code Of The Road” show that this band is ready to take on the world, mixing an upbeat 70s Rock and Roll sound with catchy melodic choruses to sing-a-long and some fantastic guitarwork, basically mixing the best of Classic Hardrock, Stoner Rock and Melodic Poprock. A big surprise this record and one to check out asap at: http://www.myspace.com/marveltheband  and http://www.marvel.nu/ 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

STAMINA 'PERMANENT DAMAGE' (HEART OF STEEL RECORDS)

Actually I was a bit uncertain about STAMINA, because I thought this was a Punkband. Further googling learned me that there is a Finnish band called STAM1NA at the moment, whom are very popular in Finland, reaching a number 1 position with their new album, but that is a Punkrock based band. This STAMINA is coming out of Italy and founded by guitarist/songwriter Luca Sellitto in the summer of 2001. After some demos the band now releases their debut, which actually sounds pretty good and also quite diverse. Songs like "Tell The Truth", "Waiting For You" and "Wild Against The Flow" are typical 80s euro melodic rockers with cheerful fun keys and reminding of EUROPE (1986), DOMINOE, CRAAFT, DAYTONA, DOMAIN, DALTON, DAVINCI, etc. etc. however a song like "Seven Sins" is pure prog neo-classical doom, slow and more sounding like CANDLEMASS meets PAGAN'S MIND. The band has a high pitched singer (Giorgio Adamo), which can best be heard during a few songs later on the CD, when it sounds like IRON MAIDEN going FATES WARNING progrock/melodic rock ("Trapped In The Lions’ Cage") and with closing track "Here To Stay" the band even adds some calmer jazzy proggy 70s rock influences. So a very diverse album and maybe the best comparison possible is URIAH HEEP! Fans of that legendary band will absolutely love this STAMINA, especially since the STAMINA singer sounds a lot like the current URIAH HEEP singer. basically a great mixture of melodic rock, progrock and melodic metal can be heard on this URIAH HEEP sounding debut CD of the Italian band STAMINA. More info at: http://www.staminaband.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

MIDNATTSOL 'NORDLYS' (NAPALM RECORDS)

The German/Norwegian band MIDNATTSOL was formed in 2003 and are playing a mix of Symphonic metal and Folk metal, although it seems like their new CD 'Nordlys' is a little more going into Symphonic metal with female vocals, sounding like most female fronted Gothic bands. Maybe not really original, but definitely still quite impressive and nice to listen to. Their first full-length album 'Where Twilight Dwells' was released in 2005 and now the new CD has arrived. The bandname Midnattsol means "midnight sun" in Norwegia and members include singer Carmen Elise Espenæs (younger sister of Liv Kristine of LEAVES' EYES and ex-THEATRE OF TRAGEDY), Birgit Öllbrunner (R:I:P, ex-Commander) (bassist), Chris Merzinsky (ex-Into Darkness and ex-Penetralia) (drummer), Daniel Fischer (ex-Penetralia) (keyboard), Daniel Droste (Ahab, ex-Penetralia) (guitarist) and Christian Hector (Ahab, ex-Penetralia) (guitarist). The sound is huge, thanks to the Finnvox Studios in Finland and fans of bands like THEATRE OF TRAGEDY, LEAVES' EYES, EPICA, AFTER FOREVER, TRAIL OF TEARS, etc. will probably like this band a lot too. The Folk-Metal influences are actually rare and like I said before the band is mostly focused on uptempo bombastic Sympho-Metal. More info at: http://www.midnattsol.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

GUN BARREL 'OUTLAW INVASION' (LIMB MUSIC)

If bands like MOTORHEAD, RUNNING WILD, ROSE TATTOO, ROGUE MALE, THUNDERHEAD, AC/DC, MOTLEY CRUE and such are our kind of bands, then the German GUN BARREL will definitely appeal to you, because they play dirty mean sleazy Rock and Roll, bordering Metal and they have done that for quite a few years now, making their new album 'Outlaw invasion' their 4th CD. The band has had a line-up change, because in the middle of the preparations for the third album 'Bombard Your Soul', the band replaced singer Guido by newcomer Xaver Drexler. He is now also part of the 4th CD of the band 'Outlaw invasion', an album in the same style as the previous records, so mostly uptempo no-nonsense Hard Rock and Roll/Metal in the style of MOTORHEAD, ROSE TATTOO, ROGUE MALE, THUNDERHEAD, AC/DC, MOTLEY CRUE... Check them out for yourself at: http://www.myspace.com/yourgunbarrel 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

HEIDEVOLK 'WALHALLA WACHT' (NAPALM RECORDS)

For a band singing in a sort of old East-Dutch dialect with accent not even recognizable by the average Dutch citizen, the band HEIDEVOLK found it's way to fame and glory in the Underground Metalscene. They combine Medieval Folk themes with Classic Traditional Metal, sort of mixing FLAIRCK, FOCUS with IRON MAIDEN and HAMMERFALL. The result is very strong and surprisingly they have become quite popular outside Holland, especially in Germany. Their new CD 'Walhalla wacht' is a strong album that features a True Medieval Folk Melodic Metalstyle not many bands are able to produce. "Wodan heerst" is one of the highlights here, an uptempo song that sounds like you are a knight riding a horse in a deep Dutch forest of the 16th century, trying to find your way to the Ancient Castle where the Princess is waiting for you to fight the dragon (skip the last part as that belongs to the Power Metal genre). Be sure to check out this band, whom consist of Reamon Bomenbreker - guitar, Sebas Bloeddorst - guitar, Joris Boghtdrincker - vocals, Mark Splintervuyscht - vocals, Joost den Vellenknotscher - drums, Rowan Roodbaert - bass and Stefanie Speervrouw - violin. Names only a Dutchman will understand! I can easily add HEIDEVOLK to legendary other Dutch singing bands like VANDALE and PATATJE METAL. This is a very good band and their new release, first on a real label, should be heard by any Metalhead. Let's hope they can get some national press now. More info at: http://www.heidevolk.com/ 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

PSYCHOPUNCH 'MOONLIGHT CITY' (SILVERDUST RECORDS)

PSYCHOPUNCH from Västeras in Sweden are playing exactly the Rock and Rollstyle which has become so popular in especially the northern part of Europe with bands like BACKYARD BABIES, DANKO JONES, HARDCORE SUPERSTAR, TURBONEGRO, etc. Although PSYCHOPUNCH sounds quite raw and heavy at first, each of the 10 songs on their new album 'Moonlight city' features some strong melodies. The band celebrated their 10th anniversary recently and now have already released their 7th album with 'Moonlight City'. Just listen to songs like "On My Own", "No One Really Knows", "If You Say So" and "Lay Me Down" and I'm quite sure you're hooked. Must-have for fans of dirty mean sleazy Hard rock and roll a la mentioned bands, yet maybe this PSYCHOPUNCH is a bit more melodic. Check them out for yourself at: www.psychopunch.com  and http://www.myspace.com/psychopunchvst 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

ROMEO'S DAUGHTER 'ROMEO'S DAUGHTER' (ROCK CANDY RECORDS)

It's the mid 1980s and two of the Rock Business' biggest names are helping out a new band. It's produced ROBERT 'MUTT' LANGE and songwriter/performer JOHN PARR. Mutt had just turned DEF LEPPARD into a multi-million selling band, producing their 2 best-selling records and putting the band above any other 80s Rockband in the USA, despite they were British, reaching THE BEATLES kinda Hysteria around 1987! John on the other hand was a very sucessfull singer/songwriter in the USA, with his no.1 hitsingle "St. Elmo's fire" and also helping out MEATLOAF throughout the 1980s. Together they joined forces and wrote/produced the self titled debut album of the female fronted band ROMEO'S DAUGHTER back in the late 80's. The band was fronted by a great singer called LEIGH MATTY and despite all the big hopes and names associated with this originally JIVE RECORDS released album, the band did not had a breakthrough. The band released another album in the early 90s, but by then the music scene had drastically changed and ROMEO'S DAUGHTER's Melodic Rock that mixed HEART with JOHN PARR and DEF LEPPARD was not playable by the mainstream anymore. However, their 1989 debut has now been remastered and re-released by ROCK CANDY RECORDS, whom as always did a great job. The CD has a 4,000 word story of the making of the album, previously unpublished photos, this all spread out over a 16 page full colour booklet. With memorable songs like "Inside Out", "Don't Break My Heart" (hello DEF LEPPARD), "I Cry Myself To Sleep At Night" (hello JOHN PARR), and "Wild Child" (hello HEART), the band had definitely some great Melodic Rock material on their hands. This new re-release also has as bonustracks live versions of "Heaven In The Backseat", "Velvet Tongue" and "I cry Myself To Sleep At Night". Not a classic in the female fronted genre, but definitely one to own if you're a fan of HEART, LAOS, IF ONLY, WITNESS and such, especially due to this excellent re-release. More info at: http://www.rockcandyrecords.co.uk 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

MYLAND 'NO MAN'S LAND' (VALERY RECORDS)

Ever since Italy has profiled themselves with owning the most important label in the world for AOR and Melodic Rock music (FRONTIERS RECORDS), the country has been slowly introducing us the first couple of own bands in the genre. EVA and BRUNOROCK are definitely the best acts, but MYLAND also showed on their demos they are taking things serious. Now the band has released their official debut CD 'No man's land' and without a doubt, this is a very impressive album, breathing out the best in AOR, stylewise not far removed from STREET TALK, WORK OF ART, BROTHER FIRETRIBE, HUGO and of course, 80s JOURNEY/TOTO. Everything seems to sound and look the way the AOR fan demands, with catchy choruses, melodic vocal lines, keyboard and guitar perfection in Schon/Cain tradition and happily with a fantastic production/sound. This is definitely an AOR must-have, although I must say that the best songs can be found at the start of the CD, namely "Anytime", "The wind of late september", “Heat of emotion and "Love leaves you lonely". MYLAND was originally formed by ex- EVA,EXILIA,BRUNOROCK drummer Paolo Morbini, who met his AOR friends already in the early 90s, with whom he later would play as MYLAND, a bandname which probably is also refering to the place where it all began for them many years ago, Milan! Besides Paolo (who played in many Milan area rock bands performing original material and cover repertoire, credited around 1.800 dates year to date!), the other members in MYLAND are the brothers Stefano (keyboard) and Marco Andreasi (guitar), singer Guido Priori (vocal) and Adalberto Rizzoli (bass). The debut CD was mixed by Marco Barusso at Massive Studios in Milan and mastered by KEE MARCELLO (ex-EUROPE) in Sweden. The album also features some well-known special guests, such as Kee (of course), Swedish guitarist wizard TOMMY DENANDER, keyboardplayer Alex Del Vecchio (EDGE OF FOREVER, GLENN HUGHES) and guitarist Steve Angarthal (FIRE TRAILS). All I can add here is that it is a very impressive AOR record, not as good as WORK OF ART, but still a must-have if you're looking for something similar and clearly influenced by the Classic 80s AOR sound of FM, AGENT, AVIATOR, STRANGEWAYS, SIGNAL, etc. etc. More info at: http://www.mylandmusic.com/ and http://www.myspace.com/mylandproject 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

EDENBRIDGE 'MYEARTHDREAM' (NAPALM RECORDS)

The Austrian band EDENBRIDGE was formed in 1998 by guitarist and keyboardist Lanvall, bassist Kurt Bednarsky and vocalist Sabine Edelsbacher. After they got signed by MASSACRE RECORDS the following year, already in 2000 their debut CD 'Sunrise in Eden' was released and they have been very active ever since. They switched labels in 2007 and are now releasing their 8th CD 'Myearthdream' within 10 years, so this is clearly a busy band. Musically they have always been making the typical European Symphonic Melodic (Gothic) Metalstyle a la NIGHTWISH, XANDRIA, WITHIN TEMPTATION and such. Their new record 'MyEarthDream' also features the Czech Film Orchestra (comprising 65 musicians from the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and the Czech State Opera Orchestra) and is musically more uptempo Melodic Metal based than mentioned acts. It seems like the band has been working very hard in making this new CD sound bigger than any of their previous releases. Songs like "Remember me", "Paramount" and "Undying devotion " are actually quite impressive, so I think I am safe to say that this might indeed be EDENBRIDGE's best effort so far and a real must-have for any fan of the genre. More info at: http://www.edenbridge.org/  and http://www.myspace.com/edenbridge  and http://www.napalmrecords.com/promo/edenbridgep.html 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

RICK CUA 'WON'T FADE AWAY' (UCA RECORDS)

New York born Grammy Award-winning Christian rock singer/sngwriter/bassist has a long history behind him, which started in the very early 80s when he joined the Southern rock band THE OUTLAWS, which , The Outlaws, which he left in 1983 to pursue a solo career and within a few years he had released a string of albums, which musically were close to pure AOR/Poprock of the best 80s Mainstream US Arena Rock tradition, yet with positive lyrics and a Christian message. Think of a mixture between STAN BUSH and RICK SPRINGFIELD musically, so very catchy hooks and melodic memorable choruses to sing-a-long. His album 'You're my road' from 1985 is an instant classic that contains songs an AOR fan only dreams about. "Don't say suicide", "You're my road" and "Old man" are Classic AOR tunes and let's hope a remastered version of this and Rick's other albums will happen someday soon, because they should not be missed by any AOR fan. After 1988 Rick went into a calmer more Pop orientated style, so I think Rick's music should best be comparable to BOB CARLISLE, whom also was a dedicated AOR musician with ALLIES and SWEET COMFORT BAND, but went during the 1990s more and more into a Pop/MICHAEL BOLTON direction. Michael of course himself is also a good example of AOR rocker turning Pop, just like BRYAN ADAMS, RICHARD MARX and the list is endless. Anyway, RICK CUA now returns with a new CD 'Won't fade away', which happily rocks again and contains great songs like "Won’t fade away" (midtempo), "King of my world" and "I love my life" (uptempo). Maybe it is not AOR, it still sounds very melodic and catchy, it also rocks and it sounds updated, a real album to check out if you’re a rocker looking for strong melodies, because that can be heard on Rick’s 13th solo-CD. Actually it is musically not far away from something SUNRISE AVENUE is doing and also reminds me a lot of the RICK SPRINGFIELD CDs from the past few years! More info at: www.rickcua.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

SEVENTH AVENUE 'TERIUM' (MASSACRE RECORDS)

Formed way back in 1989, SEVENTH AVENUE has profiled themselves as the number 1 Christian Metalband of Germany through the years with many great releases. The band has been very keen on keep playing fast uptempo Melodic Power Metal with very catchy choruses and they do that very well actually, reaching the level of HELLOWEEN and BLIND GUARDIAN several times. So far they have released 7 albums and an EP, with their 2 albums on MASSACRE RECORDS, 'Between The Worlds' and 'Eternals' being the strongest releases, with in particular the song "Heaven can't wait" being an absolute gem of a song! The new album 'Terium' continues the style of their 2 previous releases on MASSACRE RECORDS, which means quite heavy but super melodic guitar orientated fast uptempo Power Metal with catchy hooks and memorable sing-a-long choruses, not far removed from NOCTURNAL RITES and MYSTIC PROPHECY, with influences of HELLOWEEN, BLIND GUARDIAN and ICED EARTH thrown in. I must say they have delivered a masterpiece here, with in total 15 songs and not one of them is a filler! Highlights are uptempo pieces like “Priests and servants”, "Two masters" (SUPERB!), "Brighter than the sun" and the semi-ballad "Hands of the king". So, this is sensational album number 3 from SEVENTH AVENUE this decade, putting them next to bands like MYSTIC PROPHECY and NOCTURNAL RITES. Website http://www.seventh-avenue.de 

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)

POWER QUEST 'MASTER OF ILLUSION' (NAPALM RECORDS)

The UK has 2 Power Metal bands to offer, namely DRAGONFORCE and POWER QUEST. POWER QUEST now delivers their first NAPALM RECORDS release, but in total 'Master of illusion' is their 4th CD. Musically nothing has changed and once again we can hear a good mix of melodic power metal and melodic rock, with as highlights "Cemetary Gates", "Human machine", “Civilised?” and "Save the world". There are guest appearances by members of THRESHOLD, POWER QUEST and CELLADOR and all together this new record sounds like POWER QUEST's strongest effort so far. Each song is blessed with catchy hooks and memorable choruses, like mixing SONATA ARCTICA with SHY Melodies with loads of harmonyvocals and high-pitched vocals. Without a doubt, this is a very impressive release that might attract both melodic rock and power metalfans! More info at: www.power-quest.co.uk 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

PRESENCE OF MIND ‘WORLDS COLLIDE’ (STF RECORDS)

The female fronted German band PRESENCE OF MIND was formed 7 years ago and are about to release their 3rd album with ‘Worlds collide’. Musically they are clearly in a sort of Melodic modern Emo-Rock movement, which does not sound bad at all actually. Most of the songs are uptempo and pretty catchy and comparable to PARAMORE. 11 songs are included and if you’re familiar with the band’s first 2 albums you will know what to expect from their new record. More info at: www.presenceofmind.de 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

PALACE ‘DIVINE INTERVENTION’ (STF RECORDS)

The German band PALACE was formed somewhere in the early 90s and ‘Divine intervention’ is their 4th CD. Musically they are pure 80s Teutonic German Heavy Metal reminding of classic days of ACCEPT, VETO, RESTLESS, RENEGADE, GRAVE DIGGER, UDO, STORMWTICH, GRAVESTONE, RUNNING WILD, etc. etc. Maybe not original, but without a doubt a must to check out if you’re a fan of these bands, because the 9 songs clearly reflect this style. More info at: www.palace-music.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

SAVAGE CROW ‘WAY OF THE CROSS’ (STF RECORDS)

From out of nowhere comes this very strong German band, which features a male and a female singer, both singing quite excellent and the band’s catchy Melodic Power Metal on their debut CD ‘Way of the cross’ is a must-hear for fans of DREAM EVIL, NOCTURNAL RITES, NOSTRADAMEUS, THE DOGMA, DREAMLAND, DESTYNATION, SAINT DEAMON, etc. etc. 12 songs are included and with songs like “No return”, “Without you”, “Looking for danger” and “Way of the cross” the band delivers exactly what a fan of Melodic (Power) Metal wants to hear, which is uptempo catchy sing-a-long choruses with superb melodic high-pitched and clean vocalwork from both the male (Pini) and female (Betty) singer and of course traditional melodic guitarwork in MAIDEN style. This SAVAGE CROW is actually a surprise and something you must check out if mentioned bands are up your alley! More info at: www.savage-crow.de 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

GHOST CIRCUS ‘ACROSS THE LINE’ (PROGROCK RECORDS/SPV)

GHOST CIRCUS is the story of 2 musicians meeting on a message board on the internet whom started to work on what would become a very impressive Progressive Rockband. The story started in 2004 and already 2 years later the 2 members of GHO0ST CIRCUS, the Dutch multi-instrumentalist RONALD WAHLE and American singer/guitarist CHRIS BROWN, had a CD finished. The album titled ‘Cycles’ was released on the American label PROGROCK RECORDS in 2006 and now 2 years later a follow-up has been released by the same label. ‘Across the line’ is without a doubt a great follow-up, showing the band’s Melodic heavy guitar riff driven Progressive Metalstyle that somehow reminds me of THRESHOLD, yet a bit rawer here and there and also sometimes drifting into classic 80s MARILLION type of Symphonic Progressive Rock (“To be” and “Losing time”). All together a very nice album mixing 80s Sympho with modern day Prog. More info at: www.ghostcircus.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

MOONGARDEN ‘SONGS FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE’ (PROGROCK RECORDS/SPV)

The Italian band MOONGARDEN started way back in the early 1990s and ‘Songs from the lighthouse’ is their 4th CD. Musically they are clearly pure Progressive Rock, 70s influenced, although their new record shows a more modern sort of Pop approach too, taking this of COLDPLAY and PINK FLOYD and mix it up with 70s prog, which for fans of those bands will absolutely be interesting, but I had rather heard some more classic FLOWER KINGS kinda 70s progrock, because at times it sounds a bit too modern. Nevertheless, it is a nice album to check out if you’re a fan of the more modern Progressive Rocksound. Check out all info at: www.myspace.com/moongardenband 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

EXPEDITION DELTA ‘EXPEDITION DELTA’ (PROGROCK RECORDS/SPV)

EXPEDITION DELTA is the name of a new project from guitarist Srdjan Brankovic, who is best known as one of the main members of the Serbian Progressive Metalband ALOGIA, whom released a couple of very strong albums. With this new project he takes things even bigger, because the same titled debut album of EXPEDITION DELTA is a superb album that has a lot of famous guest musicians involved, such as ERIK NORLANDER, JOOST VAN DEN BROEK (AFTER FOREVER), GARY WEHRKAMP (SHADOW GALLERY), RICHARD ANDERSSON (TIME REQUIEM), EDENBRIDGE vocalist Sabine Edelsbacher, members of LABYRINTH, SILENT FORCE, AGHORA and many more. Musically it is a mixture of AOR and Progressive Metal, with at the start songs that can be classified as cheerful uptempo Symphonic AOR rockers that somehow remind me of the Italian band ELEKTRADRIVE from many years ago, so yes they have taken AOR serious here and really gave it a sort of JOURNEY meets GTR meets ASIA meets 3 approach, which all together sounds very sensational on especially songs like “Reflection”, “Pathway”, “It needs a happy end” and “Move on” (TERRA NOVA style!). The vocals of the various (fantastic) singers are crystal clear and instrumental it is close to perfection. This album really surprised me as it is a very strong Sympho meets Prog meets AOR mixture that takes the best of these 3 worlds, which is Symphonic keyboards, AOR choruses and hooks with Progressive Rock riffs, so an album which will appeal to a diverse audience. Of course with 11 songs on offer here with many various members, there is also some clearly Progrock Opera like AYREON and KAYAK to be heard here throughout the CD (“Astral journey” being the prime example), with some instrumental adventures and all I can say that EXPEDITION DELTA really grabbed my attention for being one of the best and most original albums heard in a long time, sounding like a cross between ASIA and AYREON and really a must to check out! Although recorded in 2004/2005, the album was mastered in 2007 and finally now released in 2008 by PROGROCK RECORDS. More info at: www.myspace.com/expeditiondelta 

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)

SIMON SAYS ‘TARDIGRADE’ (PROGROCK RECORDS/SPV)

SIMON SAYS is a Swedish band formed in the early 1990s, with now their 3rd CD titled ‘Tardigrade’. Musically they play your typical Progrock, not far from bands like SYLVAN and other Swedish bands like ANEKDOTEN, LANDBERK and ANGLAGAARD. It took the band 6 years to release this follow-up to their 2002 release ‘Paradise square’. 10 songs are included on the new album, some very lengthy, with especially “Suddenly the rain”, “As the river runs” and “Brother where you bound?” (26 minutes!) being songs a progfan will absolutely love, as they feature some excellent musicianship. Check out the band at: www.gepr.net/simon.html 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

INVISIGOTH ‘NARCOTICA’ (PROGROCK RECORDS/SPV)

INVISIGOTH is a band formed around multi-instrumentalist CAGE and vocalist VIGGO DOMINO. Together they have created on the 2nd INVISIGOTH CD ‘Narcotica’ quite an experimental album that is actually hard to compare, as it combines elements of Progmetal, Epic, Gothic and Theatrical into an own sort of style that reminds me a bit of JON OLIVIA’S PAIN, which is ok, but not quite sensational, really something you have to hear a few times more before making a good judgment. Check it out for yourself at: www.myspace.com/invisigothmusic 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

SOUL SECRET ‘FLOWING PORTRAITS’ (PROGROCK RECORDS/SPV)

SOUL SECRET is a surprise, because this Italian band deliver a fantastic high quality Melodic Progmetalalbum with their debut ‘Flowing portraits’. The band was formed in 2004 and involved in their 2008 first CD recording are THRESHOLD guitarist KARL GROOM, who mastered the CD and as singer ex-MIND KEY vocalist MARK BASILE stepped in and did a terrific job. 6 long songs are included here and without a doubt, we can put this first SOUL SECRET CD next to albums of PAGAN’S MIND, MIND’S EYE, THRESHOLD… Closing track “Tears of Kalliroe” is a 17-minutes counting epic masterpiece and after repeated listens my conclusion is that this SOUL SECRET CD is a winner for any Progmetalfan out there! More info at: www.myspace.com.soulsecretband 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

PHARAOH ‘BE GONE’ (CRUZ DEL SUR MUSIC)

American Power Metalband PHARAOH returns with their 3rd CD ‘Be gone’, which might well be their strongest album since they were formed in 1997. A guest appearance by RIOT guitarists MARK REALE and MIKE FLYNTZ is also contributing to this fact. However, the band does it on their own of course here, playing high class Melodic Power Metal that reminds one of ICED EARTH a lot. The sound and production is huge and most of the songs are very impressive, focusing on real Power Metal with strong vocalwork of singer Tim Aymar and big guitar riffs of Matt Johnsen. Without a doubt, a must-have for fans of ICED EARTH, BLIND GUARDIAN, RIOT… More info at: www.cruzdelsurmusic.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

X-SINNER ‘FIRE IT UP’ (RETROACTIVE RECORDS/MUSIC BUY MAIL/ARTISTWORXX)

The band X-SINNER was formed almost 20 years ago and released their debut CD ‘Get it’ in 1989. The Christian Hardrockband went on releasing another album titled ‘Peace treaty’ a few years later, but eventually split up. Now in 2008 the band reunited and re-recorded that 2nd album ‘Peace treaty’, with the addition of a new song, “Fire it up”, which replaces the ballad “Hold on”. ‘Fire it up’ is the title of the album now released and it contains a nice re-recording of the band’s 1991 album, sounding up-to-date, yet still Classic Hardrock style that mixes the best of WHITECROSS, AC/DC, RATT and DEF LEPPARD, so still with the eyes on the 1980s. More info at: www.retroactiverecords.net 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

PAT TRAVERS BAND ‘CRASH AND BURN’ (KRESCENDO RECORDS)

PAT TRAVERS had a lot of re-issues the past few years and new UK label KRESCENDO RECORDS continues the legacy of this legendary guitarist. ‘Crash and burn’ is his 1980 album, which now has been re-issued. No bonustracks have been added, but of course a PAT TRAVERS fan will love this re-issue, which offers the man’s creativity combining elements of Hardrock, Funk, R&B and Blues, with even some Sympho/Prog in the epic instrumental “The big event”. The fans will know what to do with this re-issue of the PAT TRAVERS BAND from 1980. More info at: www.krescendorecords.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

ROBIN GEORGE/GLENN HUGHES ‘SWEET REVENGE’ (KRESCENDO RECORDS)

Back in 1990, ROBIN GEORGE recorded a bunch of demos together with GLENN HUGHES, which now 18 years later have been released on CD for the first time. The most striking fact is that the sound is huge and sounds like an official CD recording, so this is not some crappy demo release, but a real full-blown CD sound, where Mr. GLENN HUGHES shows his longpipes as usual. The music is edgy Hardrock, not sensational, but of course a fan of GLENN HUGHES will love this CD as it contains some rare material he recorded with ROBIN GEORGE a lifetime ago. It does not sound dated at all actually, really a CD that could have been something recently recorded. 10 songs can be found on the CD, with as highlights rockers like “Sweet revenge”, “Number one” and “Things have gotta change”. A real must-have for the GLENN HUGHES fans! More info at: www.krescendorecords.com 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

PRIDE 'PRIDE' (AOR FM RECORDS)

Not to be confused with the UK Melodic Hardrockband, because this PRIDE came out of Sweden and was active between 1987 and 1991. In fact, I remember doing a story on them way back in the late 90s and owning most of the material (including the rare 45" single with sexy cover!), it is now for the first time available on CD. The same titled CD is a collection of singles and demos the band recorded about 20 years ago. It has been released by a new UK label called AOR FM RECORDS, a label based in Scotland, founded by a good old friend of ours, namely BRUCE DONACHIE, who also wrote for us many years ago! Anyway, he has founded this great new label, which will focus on re-issueing old rare AOR/Melodic Rock, with PRIDE being their first release. THRILLS is following soon and I am sure this label is gonna do some great things, as their first release looks and sounds very impressive. It seems like nowadays it is easier and more interesting to start a label doing re-issues than release new material and that might be indeed how the future looks like now, because new AOR material is almost completely in the hands of FRONTIERS RECORDS. Re-issue labels pop up here and there and we welcome this AOR FM RECORDS. PRIDE played typical classic 80s Scandi Melodic Rock, TREAT being a very close comparison. Especially the first 4 songs "You're the only one" (AOR ballad), "Dreamer in the night (uptempo AOR rocker) and the melodic rockers "Playing with fire" and "Someones calling your name" are songs one will absolutely love when being a fan of DAVINCI, DALTON, HARLOT, TINDRUM, TREAT, ALIEN, FATE and that kind of late 80s Scandi Melodic Rock (or European, because I can also mention the Dutch bands ZINATRA, EMERGENCY, LINE, FIRST AVENUE and such). A rare piece here, one for the collector's among us, no doubt the limited run of 500 cds worldwide will be soldout in no time! Available through: www.aor-fm.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem) 

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