You wanted the best, you got the best! The hottest band in the world! Kiss! Kiss is back with their 20th studio album, Monster, the follow up to 2009’s fabulous Sonic Boom. Can Kiss repeat their spectacular performance from their last album, or will Monster fall flat on its face? That is a question that many die hard Kiss fans were wondering. Do these aging rockers still have what it takes to produce a record that fans are going to want to listen to over and over again?
If the album were judged solely on the strength of the first single (and first track), “Hell Or Hallelujah,” then the answer is no. “Hell Or Hallelujah” is not a strong song. It’s not a terrible piece of music, it is just plain, which is not something that one would expect from Kiss. Fortunately for fans all over the world, Monster contains more than just the lead track.
Monster is armed with typical Kiss themes of girls, music, girls, parties, girls, rock and roll, and girls. And even though they are aging rockers, they still make singing about girls and rock music a whole lot of fun. Kiss has delivered a phenomenal package of rock music that both long time fans and newcomers alike are going to love. After nearly 40 years in the business, Kiss still has what it takes to make a significant rock record that music lovers will want to hear.
“Wall Of Sound” is a terrific, hard rocker featuring lead vocals by Gene Simmons. Thankfully, this is not a self-centered Gene Simmons song about sleeping with thousands of women, or being the greatest human being alive. On “Wall Of Sound,” Gene reached a little deeper to not flaunt himself, but to sing about rock and roll and the wall of sound that makes fans excited. “Wall Of Sound,” can also be used as a metaphor for life, showing how the harder you try at something, the better you are going to be. It all comes down to the amount of effort a person is willing to put in. With slick solos by Tommy Thayer, and beautiful musical arrangements and chord changes, “Wall Of Sound” is one of the better songs to be found on Monster.
Tommy Thayer takes over lead vocals for the tantalizing “Outta This World.” This is a superb song with terrific solos, excellent changes, and a great beat. Hearing Tommy sing lead vocals is a real treat as well and left me wanting to hear Thayer sing lead on more songs. Thayer has a solid voice, is adept at crafting a song, and creates al highly enjoyable experience for the listener. I would much rather see Tommy Thayer perform “Outta This World” live, instead of “Shock Me.” Let’s hope that Kiss let’s Tommy’s original songs speak for themselves on the next tour.
“Long Way Down” is a nice melodic rocker composed and sung by Paul Stanley. The harmony vocals from Tommy Thayer add a nice touch and provide a pleasing balance with Paul’s voice. “Long Way Down,” is another of those great Kiss rock and roll songs, telling stories about the crowd, the music business, and continuing to make a significant contribution in rock and roll after many years. It’s always enjoyable when Paul writes from the heart, and “Long Way Down” feels like a song that Stanley really put all of his emotions into as a thank you to the fans.
“Take Me Down,” is one of the best tracks that Monster has to offer. Not surprisingly, this is a song about loving women and the sexual escapades that can only happen to a member of a rock band. What makes “Take Me Down” so grand is the depth provided in the music. While the lyrics are playful and light, the musical composition is deep and meaningful. It’s quite obvious that the addition of Tommy Thayer to the band has had a profound effect on Kiss. The extra layers of depth and creativity that Thayer provides has not gone unnoticed. He has been able to elevate Kiss to continue to make significant music.
“All For The Love Of Rock & Roll” finds Eric Singer on lead vocals, doing a fine job. While his voice is reminiscent of Peter Criss, Singer provides enough of his own personality to help “All For The Love Of Rock & Roll” stand out as his own song. Singing about performing the music for love, not for fame or girls, is a tired theme that has been revisited countless times by endless bands, but hearing Eric Singer give his take on the theme is still a treat for the ears. This is another song that I hope Kiss will consider performing in concert.
Once again, Kiss has delivered another high quality record. Monster is better than Sonic Boom, better than Psycho Circus, and rivals their albums of the 70s for greatest Kiss albums ever. Once again, Kiss has recorded music for the masses that already has fans wondering when they will release more. Because when something is this good, you just can’t get enough!
Rating: Out of 10
- Hell Or Hallelujah
- Wall Of Sound
- Back To The Stone
- Shout Mercy
- Eat Your Heart Out
- Long Way Down
- The Devil Is Me
- Outta This World
- Take Me Down
- All For The Love Of Rock & Roll
- Last Chance
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass Guitar
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Tommy Thayer – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Eric Singer – Drums, Vocals
Heavy, powerful, dominate: all are good adjectives to describe Eve To Dawn, the latest record from Japan’s Loudness. This album is like a fresh kick to the groin in a world of stagnant metal. This is Iron Maiden meets Anthrax turned up to eleven! Even though they have been rocking the masses since 1981, Loudness proves that they still know how to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up while blowing out your eardrums in style.
If you haven’t followed Loudness in a while, Eve To Dawn is a good record to get you back into the band. If you’ve never listened to Loudness, Eve To Dawn is a great record to get you interested in the band (you may even seek out their back catalog after listening to this record). Innovation and style paint this disc in a musical landscape that is amazing to the ears of even the most seasoned heavy metal lover.
Songs like “Gonna Do It My Way” showcase how superb Eve To Dawn is. With smart lyrics, exceptional guitar solos, and gritty vocals from lead singer Minoru Niihara, “Gonna Do It My Way” reminds us all how much fun hard rock music can be. Blistering solos and fantastic finger work on “Hang Tough” are reminiscent of Nuno Bettencourt in his prime. “Hang Tough” is a hard and heavy rocker complete with some great rock screams, dark riffs, and mesmerizing guitar solos.
Guitarist Akira Takasaki provides chops that would put most modern guitar players to shame. The lead guitar work is some of the best that I’ve heard on any album released in 2012. Takasaki’s fret work is simply astonishing. If you are a fan of guitars, guitar solos, and a crisp thrash metal sound, Eve To Dawn should be added to your “must own” list.
The instrumental track, “Emotions” may be one of the best overall tracks on Eve To Dawn. Once again, it is Akira Takasaki’s guitar work that makes this song stand out. His playing is simply mind blowing on “Emotions.” Throughout Eve To Dawn, I continued to be amazed at the ability of Takasaki as a guitar player. The guitar work, changes, and musical prowess really helps solidify Eve To Dawn and raise it from mediocre levels to outstanding.
Eve To Dawn is a terrific record that I highly recommend for any fans of the hard rock/sleaze metal genre. It could be the biggest surprise of 2012. Just as I was blown away by the band’s M3 performance, I am once again blown away by their latest CD release. Hard rock has been made fun again thanks to Loudness and Eve To Dawn.
Rating: Out of 10
- A Light In The Dark
- The Power Of Truth
- Come Alive Again
- Keep You Burning
- Gonna Do It My Way
- Hang Tough
- Comes The Dawn
- Crazy! Crazy! Crazy!
Masayoshi Yamashita – Bass
Akira Takasaki – Guitar
Minoru Niihara – Vocals
Masayuki Suzuki – Drums
In this Moment is a band that I believe has potential to be a major force in the heavy metal world. The band has been on the cusp of being the next big metal band. The band has a very strong fan base, and I have always felt that they need one more successful album to push them up the METAL ladder. If their latest album Blood doesn’t get them there, it is going to take them a little bit closer.
Maria Brink is a super talented vocalist, and on Blood, her vocals takes the music of In this Moment to new heights. Blood is easily the band’s most creative output to date. The band is stretching its wings past its metalcore roots. I hear a lot of different musical elements and influences in the music, including Slipknot, Five Finger Death Punch, and maybe even a little bit of Nine Inch Nails. Many of the songs sound very mainstream radio ready, but this isn’t paint-by-numbers metal.
There are songs on Blood where Maria Brink’s voice seem to come from the depths of hell, and on others, she delights the auditory senses with her uncanny vocal ability. This is the first album without In the Moment founders Jeff Fabb and Blake Bunzel. I thought In This Moment’s sound might suffer from a shift in the lineup, but quite frankly the addition of Randy Weitzel, Travis Johnson, and Tom Hane have been an upgrade to In This Moment’s sound. Chris Howarth’s blazing guitars are still very present in Blood, but don’t expect a face melting solo in every song.
It took me a few spins to truly get into Blood, but I seem to like this album more with every listen. Some of the stand out tracks include “Adrenalize”, “You’re Gonna Listen”, the hit worthy “From the Ashes” and “The Blood Legion”. I am not a fan of the effects packed into the first single and title track “Blood”. I think this is a much better song live than the version that is on the album.
Overall, Blood is a very interesting and creative album from In This Moment. It isn’t a perfect album by any means, but it is entertaining, and that is why I listen to music.
Rating: Out of 10
1. Rise with Me
5. You’re Gonna’ Listen
6. It Is Written
10. From The Ashes
11. Beast Within
13. The Blood Legion
In This Moment is:
Maria Brink – Vocals
Chris Howorth – Lead Guitar
Travis Johnson – Bass
Randy Weitzel – Guitar
Tom Hane – Drums
I am always overjoyed when metal bands from the 80s are still taking the time and effort to record new music. It’s nice to know that they are still dedicated to their craft and don’t want to just fall back on their old hit records, touring only behind those songs, or worse, re-record their old hits (something that I’ve never understood). So, when I learned that Lita Ford had a new record out (Living Like A Runaway), I was excited. I was looking forward to listening what Lita had been up to recently. Then I heard the record. My excitement dissipated like the morning fog.
It’s not that Like A Runaway is a terrible record, it’s just not a very exciting album. There are few songs to rally behind and give multiple listens. Most of the album is rather pedestrian and boring. Sometimes that’s worse than putting out a horrendous record. Ford’s vocals are subpar and lack energy, on the songs where she actually sings (as opposed to talking through the vocals).
Lead track, “Branded,” and the follow up song “Hate,” are very weak introductions to the record and it isn’t until the title track (fourth on the album) that things pick up. Again, these songs aren’t terrible, but none of the first three tracks do anything to excite me. None of them make me want to sing along, or get stuck in my head. They all hang in the air and then quickly fade into the oblivion of forgotten.
“Love 2 Hate U” was a song that showed potential early on, but suffered from clichés and weak vocals by both Lita Ford and duet partner Gary Hoey. Add into the mix some lame lyrics (I gave you lovin/your first real lovin/in the backseat/on the night I bought your first real car). Ugh. There is almost no thought in those lyrics. And while the music is somewhat catchy and the guitar riffs rock hard, the terrible vocals and lyrics can’t be overcome.
There are some high points on Living Like A Runaway. A lot of the guitar work is above average, and some of the solos really rock hard. The title track of the album, “Like A Runaway” is a great, nostalgic song that harkens back to Ford’s earliest days as a rock musician in her former band The Runaways. The song has a nice arrangement and overall is quite enjoyable. Ford has a tendency to speak through rather than sing out on the song, which is a recurring problem on most of the album, but otherwise “Like A Runaway” is a solid tune. I expect that it will sell well as a single.
Recent news is that Lita has been getting together with old Runaways band mates, discussing the possibility of a reunion. And maybe there is a reason for that. If she continues to put out lackluster albums like Living Like A Runaway, there won’t be much of a solo career for Lita Ford to fall back on.
Rating: Out of 10
- The Mask
- Like A Runaway
- Devil In My Head
- Love To Hate You
- A Song To Slit Your Wrists By
Reviewed by Ryo Vie
Drawing strongly from their many years as hard rock veterans, The Cult have returned with a superb record, Choice Of Weapon. Filled with grand moments of classic rock, hard rock, dark sounds, metal celebration, and all the classic rock and roll elements that metal heads enjoy, Choice Of Weapon is a grand album that should help fans remember that The Cult are a premier hard rock act.
The Cult has always been one of those bands stuck on the cusp of greatness. In the 80s they had plenty of modest hits, but lacked what would be considered a breakthrough song. With the release of 1989’s Sonic Temple, and their massive hit “Fire Woman” it appeared that The Cult was finally going to take their turn basking in the limelight of the hard rock elite. However, for some reason, that didn’t happen, and the band drifted into the background again. This is something I’ve never been able to figure out regarding The Cult. They are an extremely talented, enjoyable band. Why aren’t they more of a household name?
Hopefully, Choice Of Weapon will be the album that puts them back in print and brings the band to the forefront of recognized hard rock acts. It’s obvious from the wonderful product released, that The Cult only chose their best material when recording Choice Of Weapon.
Ian Astbury’s voice is still a sound of beauty, even though he’s been singing and touring for almost 30 years. Billy Duffy’s ability with the guitar has not faltered over the years either, and is still the perfect compliment to Astbury’s vocals. Astbury and Duffy together still make magic comparable to (or even better than) Tyler/Perry, Simmons/Stanley, and Jagger/Richards.
“Life>Death” is a powerful anthem and one of the best tracks on Choice Of Weapon. Reminiscent of a David Bowie song on steroids, “Life>Death” has a powerful hook and a chorus that draws the listener in and guarantees a hit of the repeat button on the MP3 player (or whatever device is being used to play this beauty). With a brilliant solo, stupendous vocals, and a perfect harmonic blend of assorted rock sounds and styles, “Life>Death” is one of the better rock songs that I have heard this year.
“Wilderness Now” is the first song on the album that I didn’t immediately love. Compared to the rest of the solid class of music, “Wilderness Now” is just boring. Astbury’s voice doesn’t sound as pleasing as on other songs, the guitar work is plain and pedestrian, and the overall beat is slow and lacking in creativity or originality. It is the only blemish on an otherwise amazing record.
“Lucifer” makes up for the lacking “Wilderness Now” by bringing back the punch and energy to Choice Of Weapon. A hard rocking, foot stomping, punch in the face reminiscent of a Rob Zombie anthem, “Lucifer” is an energetic tune packed with passion. Astbury’s voice is at its best and Duffy adds some intense guitar work to finish off this fantastic song. “Lucifer” could be the hit that paves the way for a whole new legion of Cult fans.
If you’ve missed The Cult, or if you are seeking a hard rock beauty to add to your stereo this summer, pick up a copy of Choice Of Weapon. You will not be disappointed. With magnificent riffs, fantastic vocals, and a whole lot of power, Choice Of Weapon satisfies as the choice of album for the summer.
Rating: Out of 10
- Honey From A Knife
- Elemental Light
- The Wolf
- For The Animals
- Wilderness Now
- A Pale Horse
- This Night In The City Forever
The Cult Is:
Ian Astbury – Vocals
Billy Duffy – Guitars
Chris Wyse – Bass
John Tempesta – Drums
Reviewed by Ryo Vie
While there is a few good tunes on the new CD, it did not live up to my expectations.
On the good side, Slash plays his ass off, and truly delivers some killer riffs. This might be his best playing since his Guns N’ Roses days.
On the bad side, I think I have seen (or heard) Myles Kennedy’s one weakness as a singer. On the mid tempo songs he sounds great! On the high tempo songs, he gets a little screachy, and in my opinion, his voice doesn’t work well on those songs. Luckily there aren’t many songs like this, but
there are a few that I want to skip over.
Apocalyptic Love really starts picking up steam with “You’re A Lie”. The best songs on the album start at this point on Apocalyptic Love.
With that being said, there are a few good songs worth checking out including the first single “You’re A Lie”, “No More Heroes”, “Anastasia”, “Hard Rain”, and “Shots Fired”.
My favorite track on Apocalyptic Love is “Anastasia”. This song starts off with a simple acoustic part which makes you
think this is going to be a simple or even a weak track. One listen, and you quickly find that is one of the strongest
songs on the album. (Check it out below).
“Far and Away” is the slowest number on Apocalyptic Love. This song has a blusier feel to it, and Kennedy’s voice shines on this track.
Apocalyptic Love isn’t a perfect CD, but it is still worth checking out. I enjoyed most of the songs on the album, and few stronger tracks and this could have been one of 2012′s best albums.
01. Apocalyptic Love
02. One Last Thrill
03. Standing In The Sun
04. You’re A Lie
05. No More Heroes
07. We Will Roam
09. Not For Me
10. Bad Rain
11. Hard And Fast
12. Far And Away
13. Shots Fired
Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators are:
Slash – Guitar
Myles Kennedy – Vocals
Todd Kerns – Bass
Brent Fitz – Drums
You can purchase Apocalyptic Love from Amazon.com at this link.
Rock veterans Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio) and Rex Brown (Pantera) have formed a stupendous band named Kill Devil Hill. Named after the town in North Carolina that was famous for pirating way back when, Kill Devil Hill has released their self-titled debut album. With a seasoned veteran like Appice at the helm, there is no doubt that Kill Devil Hill is going to be one amazing hard rock ride.
I really like vocalist Dewey Bragg’s voice on this record. Little is known (or at least, little is revealed) about his background and past musical accomplishments, but however his band mates found him, they should be proud of themselves. Dewey Bragg sings like a seasoned champion. He has a deep, dark voice that fits the melodies of 90s grunge (think Alice In Chains). His vocals are sharp and clear, and his voice adds plenty of depth to the great rhythms played by the rest of the band.
The overall mood on Kill Devil Hill is dark and eerie, yet highly enjoyable. It is doom and gloom meets modern rock minus all the filler. There are only choice cuts of hearty music to be had on this exciting debut record. Imagine a hybrid of Blue Murder and Alice In Chains and that will give you the best idea of what Kill Devil Hill sounds like. This music is fantastic!
With an infectious groove and sultry vocals from Bragg, “Voodoo Doll” is one of the strongest tracks on Kill Devil Hill. The song launches with a superb guitar solo from Mark Zavon (most recently a guitarist for WASP). It then kicks into overdrive as Bragg sings some of his best work on the record. Filled with exceptional time changes, powerful vocals, and incredible melodies, “Voodoo Doll” is a song that everyone is bound to fall in love with.
“We’re All Gonna Die” is another solid song that showcases not only Bragg’s ability, but also the intensity of rhythm section Vinny Appice (on drums) and Rex Brown (on bass guitar). Launching with a roaring drum beat then sliding into dark vocals from Bragg, “We’re All Gonna Die,” is a heavy, grunge-tinged song, very reminiscent of 90-s rock. This could be Appice’s best work on the record, as the drums are extraordinary. Rex Brown keeps pace with some superb bass playing and all tied together “We’re All Gonna Die” is an excellent song.
“Old Man” is a song that plays like a perfect session of love making. Fast and furious leads into slow and caring, then speeds up again before hitting the climax. The tune starts hard and heavy, like most sessions do, building to a rhythmic pace of excellence. When the hook comes, the song slows down, becoming melodic and deep. Then it’s back to the fast paced verse. The pacing of “Old Man” is the biggest part of what makes it such an attractive song. Kill Devil Hill could have a real hit on their hands if they were to release “Old Man” as a single.
With a great rhythm section, an astonishing lead singer, and some wicked guitars, Kill Devil Hill is a solid record that hard rock fans should add to their collection. If your ears hunger to hear some innovative, solid rock music, then grab a copy of Kill Devil Hill and let it play. You’re guaranteed some fantastic music created by some of the best in the business.
- War Machine
- Voodoo Doll
- Gates Of Hell
- Rise From The Shadows
- We’re All Gonna Die
- Time & Time Again
- Old Man
- Mysterious Ways
- Up In Flames
Kill Devil Hill Is:
Rex Brown – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums
Mark Zavon – Guitar
Dewey Bragg – Vocals
Buy your copy of Kill Devil Hill’s CD at Amazon.com at this link!
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear — if you are a fan of the harder side of Hard Rock Hideout, you are not going to have any interest in Donnie Vie’s solo effort, Wrapped Around My Middle Finger. That having been said, if you like the softer side of rock once in a while, then this is an album you will fall in love with. Even without his band mates from Enuff Z’Nuff, Donnie Vie has put out some spectacular, haunting, beautiful music.
As he has done for years in Enuff Z’Nuff, Donnie Vie writes sweet, smooth melodies overlaid with beautiful lyrics. On Wrapped Around My Middle Finger Vie tends to lean toward the ballads and moderate tempo songs, but they are so expertly crafted that it is a joy to hear them. While there may not be any cranking guitars or drum solos, there is still impressive, beautiful, melodic music.
Starting with the opening notes of the title track, “Wrapped Around My Middle Finger” sucks you in to hear more. The amazing “Lisa” and hook catchy “Now Ya Know” lead the way in anchoring the album as a solid record. After a few spins, every listener will find themselves singing along to “Now Ya Know.” “I Won’t Let You Down” is another love song done right. The changes and expert guitar playing mixed in with Vie’s raspy vocals create a fantastic song that is one of the best the album has to offer.
Vie continues to inspire. Even after more than 20 years of song writing, he is still able to craft fresh lyrics blended with perfect harmonies and melodies that never tire. Wrapped Around My Middle Finger is just another example of the great artist Donnie Vie is. If you are a fan of Enuff Z’Nuff’s softer side, exceptional lyrics, or superb soft melodies that are easy to sing along with, then you are going to love Wrapped Around My Middle Finger.
Rating: Out of 10
- Wrapped Around My Middle Finger
- Daddy’s Girl
- Now Ya Know
- No Escape
- Lil Wonder
- Flames Of Love
- Rattle On
- I Won’t Let You Down
Donnie Vie Band Is:
Donnie Vie – Vocals, Guitars
Jimmy Maguire – Guitars
Patrick Pulver – Bass
Randi Scott – Drums
Blasting out a sound that is a little Taddy Porter, a little Airbourne, and a little American Bang, The Treatment have released a solid hard rock debut entitled This Might Hurt. Although the members of this band are very young, they pack a talent that most veterans of the hard rock scene would kill to have. Formed in Cambridge in 2008, this UK band has unleashed an epic record that fans of hard rock are going to love. Although new to me, this amazing beauty was released in February of 2011, forcing me to wonder why I haven’t heard this great music sooner.
Led by the gritty, sleaze vocals of lead singer Matt Jones, This Might Hurt captures all of the elements that a great rock record should have; superb guitar riffs, a solid bass, mighty, rhythmic drums, and an energetic lead singer that puts his all into every song he sings. The twin guitar attack of Ben Brookland and Tag Grey is so magnificent that it’s hard to believe these young men are recently out of their adolescent years. The lead solos and riffs performed by Brookland and Grey are utterly superb and help to solidify each song on This Might Hurt as exceptional rock and roll fun.
My lone complaint centers on one of my favorite songs on the record. “Nothing To Lose But Our Minds” is certainly one of This Might Hurt’s best songs, but unfortunately, the opening riff is so eerily familiar of a Marvelous 3 tune, that it almost feels as if The Treatment borrowed too heavily from the great late 90s band. It may not be exactly the same, but it’s a little too close for me to call it original. However, Led Zeppelin made a living off “borrowing” riffs, so I suppose I can give The Treatment a pass. The rest of the song, as well as the rest of the album, is clearly theirs.
The rock never stops on This Might Hurt. From the opening notes of “Departed” to the ending of “I Will Be There,” The Treatment has structured each song as an incredible ride for the ears. Layered with plenty of ear candy, This Might Hurt is a strong debut record from a band with plenty of talent and skill.
Be sure to keep your eyes on The Treatment. As they start to gain more notoriety and name recognition, it is certain that everyone will be talking about them in the near future. This young, hungry band is too good to ignore. If they can put together some extensive tour dates, and continue to open for acts like KISS and Motley Crue (which they will be doing this summer), everyone will know who The Treatment is.
Key Tracks: Just Tell Me Why, Nothing To Lose But Our Minds, Winter Sun
Rating: Out of 10
02. The Doctor
03. I Want Love
04. Just Tell Me Why
05. D***k, F**k, F***t
06. Nothing To Lose But Our Minds
07. Shake The Mountain
08. I Fear Nothing
09. Winter Sun
10. Lady Of The Light
11. Road Rocket
12. Stone Cold Love
13. I Will Be There
14. Just Tell Me Why (Acoustic)
The Treatment Is:
Matt Jones – Vocals
Ben Brookland – Guitar
Tag Grey – Guitar
Dhani Mansworth – Drums
Swoggle – Bass
Reviewed by Ryo Vie
German rockers, Kissin’ Dynamite released their third CD, Money, Sex and Power in 2012. Their previous effort Addicted to Metal was my number one album of 2010, needless to say, I have been looking forward to this CD for months.
Money, Sex & Power picks up where Addicted to Metalleft off with more 80′s influenced retro rock. Jim Müller and Andre Braun dish out more killer guitar riffs, and Hannes Braun offers up another tremendous vocal performance. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite German hard rock singers.
I love the fact that Kissin’ Dynamite is keeping the rock music I enjoy alive, and they deliver with another batch of cool tunes on Money, Sex and Power. The CD isn’t without some pure cheese, (i.e. “Dinosaurs Are Still Alive”) but while some songs fail, others are too good to miss. “Sex Is War”, “She’s A Killer” and “I Will Be King” are amongst Kissin’ Dynamite’s best songs ever.
“Six Feet Under” is also a very cool tune, that could easily be released as a single on U.S. rock radio.
I don’t think Money, Sex & Power is better than Addicted to Metal, but it is still pretty good, and is a step above many of the hard rock releases of 2012.
If you enjoy 80′s style hard rock & hair metal, you need to check out Kissin’ Dynamite. They have delivered another fun CD, and I think you will enjoy it as much as I have.
You can grab a copy of Money, Sex and Power from Amazon.com at this link. Check it out!
Rating: Out of 10
01. Money, Sex & Power
02. I Will Be King
03. Operation Supernova
04. Sex Is War
05. Club 27
06. Dinosaurs Are Still Alive
07. She’s A Killer
08. Sleaze Deluxe
10. Six Feet Under
Kissin’ Dynamite is:
Hannes Braun – vocals
Ande Braun – guitar
Jim Muller – guitar
Steffen Haile – bass
Andreas Schnitzer – drums
On April 18th, Europe released their 9th CD, Bag of Bones. If your only knowledge of Europe is the band’s mega pop metal “The Final Countdown”, you may find yourself disappointed with the band’s latest opus. This is not a pop metal CD. This is a real rock record! For you classic rock fans, Europe has offered up a tasty block of well executed rock that will sound amazing on your turntables, or “gasp” mp3 players.
Europe’s latest long player has a classic, more bluesy feel to the music. There are moments when I hear little bits of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin influence in the music, and I think that is really cool. I love the classic approach that the band took for this album. John Norum dishes out some excellent riffs, but also offers up a variety of styles which shows just how versatile of guitarist he is. Joey Tempest’s voice is as strong as ever, but I think he smartly refrains from going after those super high notes. That makes no difference on the songs on Bag of Bones, as Tempest often proves he has plenty of gas in the tank. He delivers another great vocal performance.
Bag of Bones is more of a guitar oriented album, but the music also has some excellent keyboards in it too. Mic Michaeli’s playing reminds me a lot of Jon Lord on this album. His keys and bluesy approach really enhance the songs on Bag of Bones.
There are plenty of rockin’ cuts on this disc including “Riches to Rags”, “Not Supposed To Sing the Blues”, “Firebox” and my personal favorite “Doghouse”. There really isn’t a bad song in the bunch. This is the type of album that you can listen to beginning to end, and will want to hit repeat afterwards. Bag of Bones may be a bit of a grower for some, but if you give this one a fair chance, I think you will enjoy it quite a bit.
While Bag of Bones has not had an official release in United States, you can still purchase it at a reasonable price from Amazon.com at this link.
Rating: Out of 10
01. Riches to Rags
02. Not Supposed to Sing the Blues
04. Bag of Bones
06. My Woman My Friend
07. Demon Head
08. Drink and a Smile
10. Mercy You Mercy Me
11. Bring It All Home
Joey Tempest – lead and backing vocals
John Norum – guitars
John Levén – Bass
Mic Michaeli – keyboards and backing vocals
Ian Haugland – drums and backing vocals
Modern rock fans have a new reason to rejoice and that reason is The Wreckage, the debut album from Candlelight Red. This Pennsylvania quartet has been making their presence known on the hard rock scene, playing several festivals, and opening a number of hot tours in 2012. The Wreckage shows just why Candlelight Red is receiving much attention in the modern rock world. Put simply, Candlelight Red is a hard rock band that makes great music.
Filled with heavy and hard tunes, The Wreckage is a fun-filled album of rock music that satisfies. Any of us that love Three Days Grace, New Medicine, or other similar modern rock darlings are going to enjoy listening to The Wreckage. Candlelight Red have released an album of eight original goodies and one interesting cover song that is getting some airplay as of late.
The band’s original songs are real treasures to the ear. They are not overproduced, and they are not weak, which is usually a winning combination to making great music. And while The Wreckage does not contain any Earth shattering, ground breaking, innovative Pink Floyd-esque tracks, that hardly matters. What The Wreckage does contain is 8 original songs that are immensely enjoyable. And in the end, isn’t that what matters most?
The last track on the record is a cover of “The Look,” a big pop hit for the band Roxette in the late 80s. As a huge fan of the original song, I was curious to see what Candlelight Red would do with this cover. And while I commend them for choosing a more pop-oriented song to cover, I have to admit that I much prefer the band’s original material. I miss the falsetto of Marie Fredriksson, which I always felt made the song such a hit.
That’s not to say that “She’s Got The Look” is unbearable, because it is actually enjoyable from a nostalgic sense. However, it is not something that would have me buying The Wreckage. However, original songs like “The Dirt,” and “Medicated,” would. Perhaps it’s a chance for fans to sing along with the band at concerts while they get their name out there, but I would have much preferred one more original song on The Wreckage.
Cover song aside, Candlelight Red have released a solid album complete with creative, entertaining songs. If you’re looking for some hard rocking new music that will get multiple spins on your IPod, definitely check out Candlelight Red’s The Wreckage.
Rating: Out of 10
- The Dirt
- Gone Forever
- The Wreckage
- Bend And Break
- In Your Hands
- She’s Got The Look
Candlelight Red Is:
Jeremy Edge – Guitars
Ryan Hoke – Vocals
Jamie Morral – Bass
Brian Dugan – Drums
Reviewed by Ryo Vie
Any time a new band catapults onto the scene with loads of hype and praise, I am skeptical. Are the critics all desperately searching for the next darlings of rock? Is the music really as good as everyone claims, or is everyone just drinking the Kool-Aid? Needless to say, when the self-titled debut album from Dead Sara came across my desk, my skepticism was at an all time high. I had heard a lot of great things about this band from critics. It made me wonder if Dead Sara could live up to the hype. I am happy to report that not only can they handle the hype, Dead Sara is even better than any of the praise they have received.
The last time I heard a debut record this fantastic, it was by a little known band named Guns N Roses. We know their story and the fame that they went on to, the question is will Dead Sara do the same? What is most amazing about the debut album from Dead Sara is how every single song is a monster track. There is absolutely zero filler on this record. From “Whispers & Ashes” to “Sorry For It All” every song on this album is intense, rocking, and needs to be listened to multiple times.
If you can imagine the offspring of Evanescence and Flyleaf on steroids, then you have a good idea of what Dead Sara sounds like. The throaty, sultry vocals of Emily Armstrong are what help set Dead Sara apart. A hard rock band that performs incredible music, merged with a blues style powerful female lead singer is hard to come by, but Dead Sara fit that description. From the opening notes of lead track “Whispers & Ashes” it is apparent that something special is being heard. Dead Sara continues to serve mesmerizing songs with “We Are What You Say,” an ode to youth, and the hard hitting first single, “Weatherman.”
Guitarist Siouxsie Medley sets the pace on the harder tracks from Dead Sara. Her guitar playing is a blistering mix of Kurt Cobain, Keith Richards, and Slash, which is fitting when noting that Dead Sara’s influences range from the blues and classic rock to modern punk. Medley is as talented with the ax as Armstrong is with her vocals. Together these two are the most exciting front duo since Tyler/Perry. For anyone that yearns for their music to deliver more, there is now a solution—Dead Sara.
The ballads of the album “Dear Love,” “Face To Face,” and album closer “Sorry For It All,” draw heavy on the blues influence while staying grounded in modern rock. Dead Sara takes the classic power ballad and adds their own twists and turns, creating masterpieces. While the heavier tracks will find many fans banging their heads or jumping around like madmen, the ballads will no doubt find lighters a-plenty, and contain thought provoking lyrics to let the fans linger on the poetic beauty of Armstrong’s highly talented writing.
There is not one negative thing that can be said about Dead Sara. Not one constructive criticism can be made. Dead Sara is about as perfect as an album can be, and the fact that it is a rookie effort, only helps to confirm the fact that Dead Sara is the real deal. If there is only one record that you purchase this year, it needs to be the self titled debut from Dead Sara. You will not hear a better album in 2012.
Rating: Out of 10
Whispers & Ashes
We Are What You Say
I Said You Were Lucky
Face To Face
Test On My Patience
Sorry For It All
Dead Sara Is:
Emily Armstrong – Vocals
Siouxsie Medley – Guitar
Chris Null – Bass
Sean Friday – Drums
Reviewed By Ryo Vie
Baltimore rockers, Charm City Devils have released their sophomore effort, Sins. As much as I loved the band’s debut album, Let’s Rock N Roll, Sins simply blows that album out of the water.
“Man of Constant Sorrow” is the best cover song I have listened to in a long, long time. Charm City Devils have taken this 100 year old folk song, and turned into something completely their own. I think they did an outstanding job with this cover. While “Man of Constant Sorrow” may be the only song that many of you have heard from Sins, the album is much deeper than that.
John Allen and company have crafted a bunch of catchy tunes, many of which ought to be hits for Charm City Devils.
“Walk Away” is massively infectious tune that all rock fans need to hear. I am hopeful that this will be released as a single. This is a great song!
“Still Alive” is the type of song that you will find yourself singing to after the first play.
The opening tunes “Spite” and “Unstoppable” have more of a modern hard rock feel style. “Spite” has a great message, and is another cool tune. This song rocks hard!
If you want some high octane rockers, Sins has those too. Give the songs “Love N War” and “Unstoppable” a listen. You won’t be disappointed. “Love N War” is the heaviest song on the album, and the driving rhythm is completely infectious. I thought “Unstoppable” had a Godsmack like vibe to it, and is extremely cool too!
Overall, Sins is a great album! It is rare when you get an album where you don’t want to skip a song or two. There isn’t a bad tune on Sins. You won’t want to skip any of them! The CD hasn’t left my play list since I purchased it. Don’t miss out on one of the best hard rock albums of 2012! I love Sins, and I think you will too!
You can purchase your copy of Sins from CDBaby at this link!
For more information on Charm City Devils, please visit the band’s links below:
Rating: Out of 10
03. Man of Constant Sorrow
04. Still Alive
05. Walk Away
06. Devil Is A Woman
07. Start It Up
08. Love N War
11. All You’ll Ever Need
Charm City Devils Are:
Rock fans, rejoice! Hurt has returned with the follow up to 2009’s amazing Goodbye To The Machine. This time around, Hurt brings the rock with The Crux. While Goodbye To The Machine found the band leaning more toward the mainstream sound of modern day radio rock, The Crux is a closer return to the earlier, dark, heavy riffs found on Volume I and Volume II.
With a new lead guitarist and a new drummer in the band, it’s obvious that the sound of The Crux is going to vary from that of Goodbye To The Machine. Guitarist Paul Spatola was an exceptional talent that will be missed. And while Spatola’s guitar is absent from the current record, it allows Hurt the opportunity to venture toward a different direction, or in this case, a return to the sound of their earlier albums. If you like the darker side of Hurt, you will love The Crux.
While the first two tracks on The Crux (“So When” and “Eden”) are solid songs, it is the third track “Links & Waves” that really catches the listener’s attention. The unfortunate part is that this song clocks in at a mere 1:15 in length. All that did was leave me wanting more. It left me curious to know what would have happened had the band decided to expand this song and breathe more life into it.
“Caught In The Rain” is easily my favorite song on the record. As I tend to lean more toward the newer style of Hurt, it only makes sense that I would love this song. Also, the guitar solo ripped out by Michael Roberts is spectacular and worthy of some love. “Caught in the Rain” is a hard rocker with a modern edge, finding Hurt really hitting their groove.
“Cuffed” continues the more modern sounding music that I’ve grown to love from this band. More sharp guitar work from Roberts, and some expert changes overall, make this a powerful and enjoyable piece of music. J. Loren Wince’s rock screams can be heard deep into the track and adds plenty of replay value to the song. “Cuffed” finds Wince’s voice at its finest, and combined with the great Roberts guitar work, this track stands out as one of the best on the record.
“How We End Up Alone” is Hurt’s first single from The Crux. It is easy to understand why the band released this song. Starting out soft and melodic, “How We End Up Alone” builds in intensity to a crescendo bridge and chorus that unveils its true power. A darker, grittier tone is captured which adds character. Roberts solo sings on this song, and if he hadn’t earned his Hurt stripes up until that point, he definitely had them at the end of this song. “How We End Up Alone” is a superb track and one of the best cuts that Hurt has ever released.
As a follow up record, The Crux holds up well. Fans that are looking for more of the Goodbye To The Machine sound may find themselves disappointed. However, long time fans that enjoy early Hurt are going to find The Crux getting several replays on their IPods. The balancing act is the sound that lay between the two discs. Songs like “Caught In The Rain” and “How We End Up Alone” are the perfect hybrid of old and new Hurt. As the band continues to progress and grow, it is my hope that they will focus more on these types of hybrid creations. It could be the best sound Hurt has come up with.
The Crux will be released Tuesday, May 1st. Get Your copy of the CD here!
Rating: Out of 10
- So When
- Links & Waves
- Sally Slips
- When It’s Cold
- Caught In the Rain
- How We End Up alone
- The Seer
J. Loren Wince – Vocals/Guitar
Michael Roberts – Guitar
Rek Mohr – Bass
Victor Ribas – Drums
Like any vice, The Veer Union is enjoyed more and more over time. At first listen, Divide The Blackened Sky is a decent record that has some potential. After a few listens, it is recognized more as a great album that needs to be heard. After several listens, it is classified as one of the strongest modern rock releases this year that everyone needs to hear.
Divide The Blackened Sky is the sophomore effort for modern rock darlings, The Veer Union. Following up their successful debut, Against The Grain, The Veer Union have released another album filled with modern rock delights. Hard rocking power riffs, strong vocals, and excellent drum beats all combine to make Divide The Blackened Sky an excellent release.
“Borderline” starts the album and shows off The Veer Union’s strengths—powerful rock, with a heavy beat. This is modern rock with an edge. The influences of bands like Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace can be heard throughout the disc, but “Borderline” is where these influences stand out the most. If you are a Breaking Benjamin fan, you will love the lead track from Divide The Blackened Sky.
On their sophomore release, The Veer Union decided to go all power. No ballads made an appearance on this record, however, they aren’t missed. Usually modern rock records need balance between the hard rock hits, and the loving ballads. Divide The Blackened Sky mixes melody and power so well, that the lack of ballads isn’t a deterrent to the record.
“Inside Our Scars” is the strongest song on the disc and the most enjoyable track as well. Lead singer Crispin Earl has a chance to show off the true power of his vocals and sings like a siren. While the intro of the song might have listeners thinking that it is a ballad, the song kicks in so heavy halfway through, that the hard rock prevails. Drummer Neil Beaton shows off his talents as well, playing some of the best drums of the record on “Inside Our Scars.”
Divide The Blackened Sky is a strong release, especially considering the expectations following such a solid debut. The Veer Union didn’t shy away from the challenge and put out a heavy, dark, hard rocking record, worthy of being called the follow up to their first release. If you’ve been looking for a new band to add to your rotation, I highly recommend The Veer Union. Divide The Blackened Sky is an addictive record. The more you spin it, the more you want to hear it.
Rating: Out of 10
02. Bitter End
03. I Will Remain
04. Buried In The Ground
05. Inside Our Scars
06. Live Another Day
07. Divide The Blackened Sky
08. Silent Gun
09. Last Days Of Life
The Veer Union Is:
Crispin Earl – Vocals
James Fiddler – Lead Guitar
Eric Schraeder – Rhythm Guitar
Marc Roots – Bass
Neil Beaton – Drums
Reviewed by Ryo Vie
There have been so many great releases in March and April already, it is easy for some bands to get lost in the shuffle. A band that has been sandwiched between my recent playlist of Jack Blades, Van Halen, Shinedown, Accept, Halestorm, and Adrenaline Mob, is Santa Barbara, California’s Winchester Rebels.
Winchester Rebels released their debut, Three Sheets To the Wind last fall. With the release of their recent video clip, “Flying” (see video below), I knew I needed to check these guys out. After giving Three Sheets To the Wind a few plays, I hear a variety of influences. The best way I could describe the band is a modern rock band with classic influences. The band’s sound is bolstered by the big voice of Nick Hunt. Mr. Hunt has a clean vocal style with an above average range. . When his vocals soar, the songs really jump out at me. His voice is a pure pleasure to listen to. He isn’t the only talented musician in this band though. Guitarists Nick Fitzgerald and James Longoria are solid players. They may be guilty of playing the down tuned guitars a little bit, but they also sneak in some pretty cool riffs that make that tunes stand out.
I have read where Winchester Rebels have been compared to Stone Temple Pilots, and I would agree that there are some songs on Three Sheets to The Wind that could easily fit on an STP record. The songs “Loaded Gun”, “Taste of Hell” and “Silence” definitely fit that style.
Some of my favorites on this CD are “Private Angel”, “Down”,and “Dining With Devils” . There really isn’t a bad song in the bunch.
I wouldn’t be surprised if a major label signed the Winchester Rebels. They are far better than many of the bands you hear on FM radio today. I truly have been enjoying their CD Three Sheets To The Wind, and I think you will too.
For more information on Winchester Rebels, please visit the band’s Facebook page.
Rating: Out of 10
1. Private Angel
3. Loaded Gun
5. Dining With Devils
9. Taste Of Hell
Winchester Rebels are:
Nick Hunt – Vocals
Nick Fitzgerald – Guitar
James Longoria – Guitar
John Livergood – Bass
Barry Carter – Drums
I recently completed my collection of Saxon’s discography, and one of the last CD’s I picked up, turned out to be one of my favorite Saxon releases ever. I don’t know how I managed to miss Forever Free the first time around, but it has been a mainstay in my playlist since I received the CD.
From the opening number”Forever Free” to the final cut “Cloud Nine”, Forever Free rocks all the way through, without a bad tune in the bunch.
The title track “Forever Free” is one of the most powerful Saxon songs ever. I don’t know if they play this one live today (I have never seen Saxon live), but they should if they don’t.
Saxon’s cover of Willie Dixon’s “Just Wanna Make Love To You” is quite unique, and they made it completely their own. It is quite different from the version made famous by Foghat on their 1972 debut.
“Get Down and Dirty” has a touch of hair metal flair that is absolutely awesome. I love this song!
“Iron Wheels” is the only ballad on Forever Free, but is a solid tune that is worth many repeat plays.
Paul Quin and Graham Oliver really tear it up on “One Step Away”. Guitar lovers are going to love this track.
If there was a theme song that ever fit my life, “Can’t Stop Rockin” would be the song I would choose. I am dumbfounded at how I missed out on this song for nearly two decades.
Every time I hear “Nighthunter”, I want to crank the stereo up, and rip the knob off. This is another killer Saxon anthem.
The closing number “Cloud Nine” has music that sounds like an amalgam of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher”, and Sammy Hagar’s “There’s Only One Way To Rock”. This song closes out Forever Free the same way it started…..rockin’ out! I wouldn’t have it any other way!
July 2nd, 2012 is the 20th anniversary of Forever Free. I can’t believe it took me nearly twenty years to check this one out, but I am glad I did.
Forever Free was reissued in 2002 with two bonus live tracks, “Princess In The Night” and “Forever Free”. If you missed this CD the first time around like me, you can pick up a copy at this link. I highly recommend it!
Rating: Out of 10
01. Forever Free
02. Hole in the Sky
03. Just Wanna Make Love To You
04. Get Down and Dirty
05. Iron Wheels
06. One Step Away
07. Can’t Stop Rockin
10. Cloud Nine
Nibbs Carter – Bass
Paul Quinn – Guitar
Biff Byford – vocals
Graham Oliver – Guitar
Nigel Glockler – drums
I have to admit that I had no idea what to expect from the band, Adrenaline Mob. I figured the music would be good with Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and Russell Allen (Symphony X) involved. I have been a fan of Portnoy’s and Allen’s music for quite some time (I am still waiting for another Allen/Lande record). The real X Factor and surprise of Adrenaline Mob, is guitarist Mike Orlando. I knew nothing of Mr. Orlando prior to Adrenaline Mob. Needless to say, I am extremely impressed with his guitar work on this album. The music style ranges from modern hard rock to more classic styles (sorry, no prog rock here). There are some blood pumping hard rockers and a couple of slower numbers. Every song rocks and the riffs of Mike Orlando really make this album. Of course, Mike Portnoy’s drums are excellent, and Russell Allen’s vocals are top-notch, but it is Orlando’s fret work that really surprised me.
The opening number “Undaunted” (see video below) has a very modern feel that sounds like a blend of Godsmack and Disturbed. This is a heavy tune, and deserves a place on rock radio everywhere.
The next two tracks “Psychosane” and “Indifferent” are amongst my favorites on Omertà. “Psychosane” is a pretty catchy headbanger. When Orlando cuts loose on this song, look out! There are some impressive riffs on this tune. I liked the use of the voice coder too.
“Indifferent”isn’t quite as heavy as “Undaunted” or “Psychosane”, but it still a great song, and ought to be released as a single by Adrenaline Mob.
While “All On The Line” is one of the slower songs on Omertà, it might be the best song I have heard in 2012. This ought to be a huge hit for Adrenaline Mob.
The lyrics on “Feelin’ Me” are kind of silly (The main lyric is “Are you mother fuckers Feeeeeeeeeeeeelin Me”), but I still don’t dislike this song. It still rocks.
I have to admit that I am not a big fan of the Duran Duran song “Come Undone”. This song has been covered by far too many bands already, and I didn’t like it that much when Duran Duran did it. Adrenaline Mob’s version of this cover features the monster vocals of Lzzy Hale (from Halestorm). While this version is pretty cool, I still don’t love this song. Lzzy’s vocals do make it listenable though.
“Believe Me” is another song that falls into that modern hard rock style. It is Mike Orlando’s riffs that takes this song up a couple notches. If it wasn’t for his riffs, this song might get lost in a sea of modern rock sound alike tunes that you hear on most FM rock radio stations.
Another stand out tune is “Angel Sky”. This song has it all. Big riffs, big vocals, and yet it is probably the least heavy of all of the songs on Omertà. Russell Allen’s vocals truly shine on “Angel Sky”.
The bottom line – Omertà is easily one of the best hard rock releases this year, will easily find its way into my top 10 at the end of 2012. Don’t miss this!
You can pick up a copy of Omertà at this link!
Rating: Out of 10
04. All On The Line
05. Hit The Wall
06. Feelin’ Me
07. Come Undone
08. Believe Me
09. Down To the Floor
10. Angel Sky
11. Freight Train
Adrenaline Mob is:
Russell Allen – vocals
Mike Portnoy – drums
Mike Orlando – guitars, bass
When a band is recording the follow-up to one of the most popular albums of their career, the hype for the next release is always higher than it should be. Often times in these situations, a band tries to do much and either overproduces the art, or fails miserably in expectations. Thus, when Shinedown was set to release Amaryllis, the highly anticipated follow-up to their mega-smash album, The Sound Of Madness, the band was facing several of these aforementioned challenges. Fortunately, Shinedown found the middle ground where they could create an album that is enjoyable to the ears of fans.
Amaryllis kicks off with a three song punch that is a huge treat for any lover of hard rock music. The pulse pounding, foot stomping, rock song “Adrenaline,” kicks off the record in hard rocking style. The drums are crisp, the guitars are sharp, and the vocals from Brent Smith sound as great as ever. I’ve always been a fan of Brent Smith’s voice and he delivers immediately on the opening track.
The first single from Amaryllis, “Bully,” follows and packs quite a punch of its own. “Bully” is an anthem to a rising problem in modern day America that is starting to get a lot of media attention. Bullying is no longer going to be tolerated, and there are a lot of schools that have implemented zero tolerance policies to help combat this rising issue. Shinedown brings their own version to the party, singing about how the meek can overcome these bullies by banding together and deciding that they are no longer going to take the bullying. Anyone who has ever been picked on, made fun of, or otherwise humiliated, is going to feel great allegiance with this track.
The three pack ends with what is possibly the best Shinedown song ever recorded in Amaryllis. Every once in a while a song comes along that is so perfectly crafted that it can only be described as perfection. “Amaryllis” is one such song. The intro to the song provides a perfect lead up to the bridge, which then segues in perfect harmony to the chorus. With the addition of string instruments on top of the guitars and drums, Shinedown has produced a massive power ballad hit that fans and everyone else are going to love. The lyrics are expertly written and fit the music with a precision that can only be achieved when everything is in perfect alignment.
And while the rest of the album is strong, there isn’t one song that compares to “Amaryllis.” Overall, Amaryllis is a fantastic album, with hit after hit pelting the ears of the listener. Shinedown was able to overcome the high expectations that were laid on them following the success of The Sound Of Madness. They rose to the challenge and created a record that far exceeds their previous work. The only problem now is that they have set the bar even higher for the next record. Given the history of the band, I am sure they will be able to surpass that bar as well.
Amaryllis is available for sale at this link. Don’t miss this!
Rating: Out of 10
06. I’m Not Alright
07. Nowhere Kids
09 I’ll Follow You
10. For My Sake
11. My Name (Wearing Me Out)
12. Through The Ghost
Brent Smith – Vocals
Zach Myers – Guitars
Eric Bass – Bass
Barry Kerch – Drums
The musicians in Overkill are angry….. METAL Thrashin’ Angry. At least that is what
I have gathered from listening to Overkill’s newest release, The Electric Age. What is stoking the band’s fire? I don’t know. What I do know is, the music on The Electric Age is easily some of the best that Overkill has ever recorded.
From the thundering bass of D.D. Verni on the opening cut, “Come and Get It”, to the final notes of “Good Night”,Overkill have recorded what I consider, one of the best thrash metal albums of the last decade.
Dave Linsk has delivered some of the best guitar work of his career. From the high-speed riffs of “Come and Get It” to the semi slower paced, Testament like tune “Black Daze”, The Electric Age is packed full killer riffs that classic thrash fans are going to love. On the album closer Good Night, Linsk sounds as if he is channeling Dave Mustaine. Awesome! The furious growls and vocals of Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth have never sounded better.
There is no need to give you a song by song breakdown. You are going to want to hear all of the songs on this CD! Some of my personal favorites are “Electric Rattlesnake”, “Wish You Were Dead” “Black Daze” and “Drop the Hammer Down”
In my opinion, Overkill has recorded an album that not surpasses their previous effort, Ironbound, but also surpasses the recent offerings from Metallica, and Megadeth.
In the illustrious words of Mr. Ellsworth, The Electric Age is “More than you can take, make no mistake”. Don’t miss out on one of the best metal albums of 2012 so far! To my ears, Overkill has recorded a true thrashterpeace with The Electric Age. I can’t stop listening to this!
Highly recommended! Buy The Electric Age here!
Rating: Out of 10
- Come And Get It
- Electric Rattlesnake
- Wish You Were Dead
- Black Daze
- Save Yourself
- Drop The Hammer
- 21st Century Man
- Old Wounds, New Scars
- All Over but the Shouting
- Good Night
Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth – Vocals
D.D. Verni – Bass, Backing vocals
Derek “The Skull” Tailer – Rhythm guitar, Backing vocals
Dave Linsk – Lead guitar, Backing vocals
Ron Lipnicki – Drums
Although lead singer Joe Leste has put together a whole new incarnation of Bang Tango and remains the only original member of the group, the sound of sleaze rock is still strong on their latest effort, Pistol Whipped In The Bible Belt. As an added bonus, the new disc really kicks some hard rock ass! If you like your rock hard, sleazy, and mired in sex, drugs, and rock and roll, then Pistol Whipped In The Bible Belt is an album that should be added to your collection.
“Dick In The System” starts the record off. This song is an ode to a cheating girl, and sets the table for the sleazy sex tinged portraits painted on the rest of the record. Crunchy guitar and throaty, raspy vocals dominate, making the song enjoyable from the first note. Leste and company found a groove and used it to their advantage. “Dick In The System” is a great lead track and a perfect re-introduction to those of us who may have almost forgotten about the band, Bang Tango.
The band doesn’t just mire all of their tracks in sleaze and sex (not that there is anything wrong with that). They also show off their softer side on the album’s lone ballad “Have You Seen Her?” This is a solid, 80s style ballad that is bound to have cigarette lighters waving when the song is played in concert. Guitarist Scott LaFlamme handles the guitar work exceptionally well and his solo on this track stands out. I expect a lot of summer compilations to include “Have You Seen Her?” on the track list.
“Boom Box Séance” is without a doubt the best track on the record. Totally cool, unique title notwithstanding, this song is fantastic. Combining fresh, tongue-in-cheek lyrics with the best guitar work of the record, “Boom Box Séance” is invigorating in its ability to maintain originality. The underlying theme of sleaze is still present and accounted for, but the entire vibe of the song has a fresh feel not present on the other tracks. That does not mean the other tracks are bad, it just solidifies why “Boom Box Séance” is the best song on the record. If you like a foot stomping, funk and groove rock song, “Boom Box Séance” will be your choice for song of the record as well.
It’s been a while since Bang Tango was a common household name (okay, it’s been a while since some people might have heard of the band), but that doesn’t mean that they have been stale or disappeared. Pistol Whipped In The Bible Belt is a strong effort and hopefully Bang Tango will be on the road this summer so that fans can hear the great music Bang Tango recorded. Chock of full of sharp, hard hitting, rock and roll, Pistol Whipped In The Bible Belt is rock music for the sleaze enthusiast. Bring on the strippers and booze!
Rating: Out of 10
- Dick In The System
- Suck It Up
- Our Way
- Bring On The World
- Have You Seen Her
- Live Life
- I Like It
- Boom Box Séance
- Pistol Whipped In The Bible Belt
Bang Tango Is:
Joe Leste – Vocals
Scott LaFlamme – Guitars
Lance Eric – Bass
Trent Anderson – Drums
Jack Blades is back with his second solo CD, and to my ears, one of the greatest surprises of 2012. I have been a fan of Jack Blades for a long time, but to be honest, I didn’t expect his solo CD to be much. I can gladly say, I was wrong. Rock ‘N Roll Ride is a stronger album, in my opinion, than the latest Night Ranger CD, Somewhere in California. This CD has a good collection of classic rock numbers, with a few hard rock numbers sprinkled in for good measure.
For you hard rockers out there, Rock ‘N Roll Ride has plenty of music for you to check out.
The hardest numbers are “Back In The Game”, “Rock ‘N Roll Ride”, “Love Life”, “Say You Will” and “Rise and Shine”. All of these songs are excellent.”Love Life” sounds like it could have been a left over Night Ranger song. I like this better than anything off of Night Ranger’s recent album, Somewhere in California.
“Hardest Word To Say” is an acoustic guitar based number that gets better and better with every listen. This is another great song!
When I first heard “West Hollywood” I did a double take. Jack Blades almost sounds like Tom Petty in parts of this song. I thought the same thing about the song “Don’t Give Up” as well. They both have that classic Tom Petty style. The music is great, and Jack’s voice has never sounded better.
“Rise and Shine” might just be the catchiest song on Rock ‘N Roll Ride. I wish I could use this song as an alarm on my alarm clock every morning.
The album closes out with the song “Hey Now”. This song has a cool Rolling Stones type of vibe to it. This is one of my favorites on Rock ‘N Roll Ride.
Overall, Rock ‘N Roll Ride has been one of 2012′s great surprises. I love this album, and I think you will too!
You can pick up Rock ‘N Roll Ride at this link. Don’t miss this!
Rating: Out of 10
01. Back in the Game
02. Rock N Roll Ride
03. Hardest Word To Say
04. Anything For You
05. Love Life
06. West Hollywood
07. Born For This
08. Don’t Give Up
09. Say You Will
10. Rise and Shine
11. Hey Now
Jack Blades: Bass, guitar, acoustic guitar, lead and background vocals
Joel Hoekstra: Guitars and solos
Will Evankovich: Acoustic guitars, mandolin, add. guitars, Coral Sitar guitar, background vocals
Kelly Keagy and Brian Tichy: Drums
Eric Levy and Christian Matthew Cullen: Keyboards
Dutch rockers Vengeance have been rockin’ since 1983. Their lineup has changed many times over the years, but one thing has been constant, the band has been kicking ass on each and every release they have put out. In 2012, the band has released their ninth album, Crystal Eye. The new album features an All Star Lineup for Vengeance. Keri Kelli (Alice Cooper) handles the guitar work, Chris Glen is on bass, and former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade is pounding the skins for Vengeance. While its cool that Leon Goewie has put together a cool new lineup, it is vocals that is the true star of Vengeance. He has a distinct vocal style that falls somewhere between Brian Johnson & Udo Dirkschneider. His excellent vocals and metal growls help to deliver one cool album for Vengeance.
I really enjoyed the songs “Bad To The Bone”, “Shock Me Now”, and “Desperate Women” (“Desperate Women” is easily my favorite). These are just some of Crystal Eye’s highlights.
“Me and You” starts off Crystal Eye right with an upbeat, hard rockin’ anthem that should be a real crowd pleaser.
If you ever needed a theme song for your backyard BBQ, the song “Barbeque” is it. I thought this song was kind of silly at first, but I have to admit that it is pretty catchy.
Former Black Sabbath singer, Tony Martin wrote the song “Whole Lotta Metal” for Vengeance, and this is easily one of the best songs on Crystal Eye.
The album closes with the instrumental track “Jan`s End Piece” which features the last guitar solos recorded by Jan Somers before his unexpected death. ( Jan passed away from a heart attack on January 28th.)
Crystal Eye is easily the best Vengeance album since Back in the Ring. If you are a hard rock fan, you gotta check this one out!
Rating: Out of 10
1. Me And You 04:02
2. Bad To The Bone 04:51
3. Barbeque 03:31
4. Shock Me Now 03:28
5. Five Knuckle Shuffle 04:10
6. Desperate Women 04:03
7. Whole Lotta Metal 04:11
8. Promise Me 03:43
9. Crystal Eye 06:13
10. Missing 04:51
11. Jans End Piece 01:16
Leon Goewie – vocals
Keri Kelli – guitar
Chris Glen – bass
Chris Slade – drums
Guest musicians: Michael Voss – guitar, vocals / Timo Somers (Delain) – guitar
From Yngwie Malmsteen, Talisman, Eyes & even Skrapp Mettle, I have been listening to Jeff Scott Soto for what seems like forever. I have enjoyed every musical project and band he has been involved with. One thing is for certain, Mr. Soto doesn’t know how to put out a bad release. Needless to say, it was almost predestined that I would enjoy Jeff’s latest effort, Damage Control.
On Damage Control, Jeff Scott Soto doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and he doesn’t need to. Soto delivers his excellent and severely underrated vocals to another batch of great melodi, hard rock tunes. Chances are if you have enjoyed the music of JSS in the past, you are going to like Damage Control a lot. The CD is 100 % quality rock and roll, and it does not disappoint.
I prefer the harder edged numbers on the CD, “Krazy World”, “Afterworld”, and “Damage Control”. These songs are good, but they are not the best songs on Damage Control.
The opening song “Give a Little More” has a pretty good message, and is a great song too. “How To Love Again” is as close to melodic rock perfection as it gets. This song is easily one Jeff Scott Soto’s best tunes.
“Bonafide” is a massive ballad that should get tons of airplay everywhere. “Look Inside Your Heart” is another excellent song (see video below) that has been getting a ton of replays from me.
Overall, Damage Control is another outstanding album from Jeff Scott Soto that is going to please the majority of his fans. You should make a point to check it out, when it is released on March 27th.
If you buy any version of this CD, make sure you get the Deluxe Edition, which had three extra bonus tracks (“Afraid to Die”, “Take U Down”, and “Elena”) which are not on the standard version. You can pre-order Damage Control at this link!
Rating: Out of 10
01. Give A Little More
02. Damage Control
03. Look Inside Your Heart
04. Die A Little
05. Take U Down
06. If I Never Let Her Go
07. Tears That I Cry
10. Krazy World
11. How To Love Again
13. NeverEnding War
14. Afraid to Die (Bonus Track)
Mad Max might not be a familiar name amongst most U.S. rock fans, but maybe they should be. This band has been releasing new music since 1982! They haven’t made a major impact on the U.S. rock scene, but their music is very good, and they are a band worth checking out. I enjoyed Michael Voss’ vocals on the recent Michael Schenker album, Temple of Rock, so I have been looking forward to checking out his band, Mad Max. On their latest album, Another Night of Passion, the band has reunited with their 1987 lineup, to release an album that 80′s hard rock fans are sure to love.
If the Rocklahoma music festival ever needed a theme song, Mad Max has taken care of that with their song “Rocklahoma”. Fans of the music festival need to give this song a listen, you are sure to love it!
Another Night of Passion is packed full of catchy songs with plenty of hooks. Give the songs “40 Rock”, “You Decide” and “Welcome to Rock Bottom” a listen. You will likely be as hooked as I am.
If that is not enough to pique your curiosity, there are also a couple of excellent rockers with the songs, “Metal Edge” and “Back and Alive”. The album closes out on a strong note. with an excellent instrumental track, “True Blue”.
I have been enjoying Another Night of Passion, and I think you will too. Another Night of Passion will be released on March 26th, 2012. You can pre-order it at this link. Don’t miss out on one of the better releases of 2012!
Rating: Out of 10
2. 40 Rock
3. Metal Edge
4. You Decide
5. Welcome To Rock Bottom
6. Fallen From Grace
7. Black Swan
8. Back And Alive
9. The Chant
10. Fever Of Love
11. True Blue
Mad Max is:
Michael Voss – lead vocals, lead guitars
Jürgen Breforth – rhythm guitars
Roland Bergmann – bass, vocals
Axel Kruse – drums
In what could be his best release since Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Bruce Springsteen has returned with a magnificent album fueled by anger, poignant with insight, and offering a glimmer of hope for the future. That album is Wrecking Ball, and it is the first album Springsteen has recorded since the death of his dear friend, and founding E-Street Band member, Clarence (Big Man) Clemons.
While the last Springsteen album (2009’s Working On A Dream) was criticized as being too rushed, too polished, and too pop oriented, none of those comments can be regurgitated for this record. Wrecking Ball is the antithesis of Working On A Dream. Musically, the album is heavier. Lyrically, the album is angrier. Spiritually, the album is much more uplifting and inspiring. Wrecking Ball is a request to a nation; regain the fire that once burned bright in their belly.
If Working On A Dream was themed with hope, opportunity, and a chance for change, Wrecking Ball is a call to action for that change to happen now. The frustration and demand is felt in these songs written by a man mired in blue collar roots who is saddened by the current state of his America. The current situation has cheated us with empty promises and side mouth talking. The time to act upon those promises is now. It’s time for people to rebound and put in the hard work, as a group, not as individuals, required to take back the strength we all once commanded. There is hope in the future. The hope comes with a price though. We have to be willing to put in the sweat required today in order to receive a brighter tomorrow.
While not as patriotic as Born In The USA, Wrecking Ball speaks to the American public. The cynicism of modern day Bruce is immediately felt on opening track “We Take Care Of Our Own.” The lyrics cry out that we feel cheated. The promises of a better today have not arrived and need to. Springsteen sings that “the road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone,” letting us know that the time for talk is behind us and the time for immediate action is upon us. If we join together and take care of our own, we will be able to accomplish anything that we desire.
Calls of unity and group action (“We Take Care Of Our Own”), overcoming tragic loss and still moving forward (“This Depression”), taking the worst that comes and conquering (“Wrecking Ball”) and seeing hope in the future (“Land Of Hope And Dreams”) dominate this record. Springsteen has reached back to a style of writing reminiscent of his early, mid-70s career and composed music with a message and a meaning. The time to stand up and fight for what we believe in is now. There can be no tomorrow if we don’t take action today. The challenge is laid forth. We can overcome it and become greater than we ever imagined.
Recording this album also found Bruce Springsteen in the studio without his best friend and longtime band mate, Clarence Clemons. The trademark saxophone has been replaced by trumpets and horns, electronic drum tracking and plenty of fiddle. Songs like “Rocky Ground” and “This Depression” contain dual messages that not only center on the current state of our nation, but also describe the pain of moving forward after losing someone that has meant so much for so many years. How does a man move forward from that? Strength, determination, and remembering what the friendship stood for are some of the key ways.
Blending his 70s style blue collar rock with his more recent Irish folk flavor, and mixing in some good old fashioned classic guitar rock, Bruce Springsteen has struck gold with his latest release. There is something for everyone on Wrecking Ball. From ballads to blues, from guitar solos, to foot stomping folk songs, Wrecking Ball has it all. That is what makes it such a great treasure. After 40 years, Bruce Springsteen still knows how to rock and roll and Wrecking Ball is the current proof of his lasting musical genius.
Rating: Out of 10
- We Take Care Of Our Own
- Easy Money
- Shackled And Drawn
- Jack Of All Trades
- Death To My Hometown
- This Depression
- Wrecking Ball
- You’ve Got It
- Rocky Ground
- Land Of Hope And Dreams
- We Are Alive
Reach deep into the memory banks and recall such classic Survivor hits as “The Search Is Over” and “Burning Heart.” Once that image/sound is conjured into the cerebrum, the brain will be in tune with the sound of Mecca. Mecca is a strong band that performs Album Oriented Rock (AOR) and was considered to be one of the best in the business when their debut album was released in 2002.
Mecca is a melody waiting to erupt. Keyboard driven rock with blistering guitars serve as the footprint for Undeniable. There is a lot of passion to be felt on the songs contained within Undeniable. Strong vocals combined with solid guitars and layers of keyboards are what make Mecca’s Undeniable an enjoyable album. What’s most enjoyable about this disc is the positive, uplifting hope that the lyrics and melody provide.
Opening track, “Perfect World,” sets the stage for the good vibes that can be felt throughout the record. Lead singer Joey Vana sings of how a perfect world would contain harmony and bliss. There would be no war, no crime, and no anger. In a perfect world there would be no need for money or time, because everyone would have all that they need. The message in the song is clear—if we all try hard enough, we can live in this peaceful, perfect world.
“From The Start” is decidedly the best song on Undeniable and the real gem of the record. Vana’s voice sounds exceptional and the guitar work from both Vana and Mark Alano provides an incredible musical backdrop. The song can transport the listener back to the days of youth, when getting over a heartbreak was the worst thing in the world. If I were a lovesick teenager once again, “From The Start,” would be at the top of my playlist. A passionate song sung with power and feeling, dealing with heartache and loss, “From The Start,” is an incredible song that has “hit” written all over it.
It is absolutely clear that Joey Vana has a solid voice. His strong vocals and high octave range are worthy of a melodic rock lead singer and may even leave other singers in the genre a little jealous. Vana’s vocal chords deliver the goods in a most enjoyable way. Basically, the man can sing with the best of them. While it may have taken Mecca nine years to record and release this album, it was well worth the wait. Vana’s vocals never falter, the guitar solos are blistering and fantastic, and the keyboards/synthesizers tie the melodies together in perfect harmony. What more could you ask for in a record?
If you are a fan of the heavier side of rock (speed metal, thrash), then Undeniable is probably not for you. However, if you are looking to discover some darned good music from a band that you may not be familiar with, then you should definitely give Mecca’s Undeniable a try. It’s a solid record that will bring your ears some joy.
Rating: Out of 10
- Perfect World
- Closing Time
- Ten Lifetimes
- Life’s Too Short
- I Know
- Did It For Love
- From The Start
- Deceptive Cadence
- As I Walk Alone
Joey Vana – Vocals and Guitars
Brian Moritz – Keyboards
Paul Pisciotto – Synthesizers
Wally Hustin – Bass
Rick Vitek – Drums
Mark Alano – Guitars
Elegant, melodic rock is the first impression garnered when listening to On Top Of The World by Coastland Ride. On Top Of The World is the second release from Sweden’s Coastland Ride. Their self titled debut was released in 2003 and the band was finally able to release their sophomore effort late last year thanks to signing a new record deal with Avenue of Allies.
On Top Of The World contains all of the general flavor that one would expect from a melodic rock band. Leaning toward the softer side of rock, Coastland Ride and similar bands of the genre create a sound driven by keyboards and melody. While this is not something a listener will bang a head to, it is still good music to jam when the mood strikes.
Embracing the soft rock sound, Coastland Ride have gone heavy on the keys and melodies for On Top Of The World. Opening track “Act Of Faith (One Million Reasons)” sets the stage for what’s to come. Vocalist Markus Nordenberg’s voice hits the ears immediately and causes a slight smile to form. The smile grows as the album plays on. Songs like “Made Up My Mind” and “Lodestar” are bound to be regular spins once they’ve been heard just once.
“Made Up My Mind” is a terrific song of destiny and overcoming hard times and difficult challenges to achieve goals. There are always times when we want to give up and forget the goal we have in our hearts, but songs like “Made Up My Mind” are a great reminder that we shouldn’t give up and we should always give our all to achieve what our heart desires. A great track, with a solid guitar solo and a strong message, “Made Up My Mind” is one of the best cuts on this album.
The funk and groove of “Lodestar” makes it a stand out track from On Top Of The World. The beat is different from most of the other tracks and really has feet tapping. “Lodestar” is an enjoyable treat with a crisp bass line, tight vocals, and dancing keyboards that make the song come alive. “Lodestar” is certainly a favorite that may find you dancing along while the song plays on.
While it’s been a long time in between albums for Coastland Ride, it hasn’t made the quality of their music suffer. If you’re a fan of the softer side of rock, melodic melodies, or album oriented rock, Coastland Ride’s On Top Of The World is a good addition to your collection.
Rating: Out of 10
Act Of Faith (One Million Reasons)
On Top Of The World
Made Up My Mind
Save You From Yourself
Nail Me To The Cross
Coastland Ride Are:
Anders Rybank – keyboards, guitars, bass, & drums
Mikael Bohlin – keyboards, guitars
Markus Nordenberg – vocals
On their debut CD, Will Wallner & Vivien Vain have recruited some of hard rock’s finest musicians to help craft their songs. The end result is a remarkable hard rock CD that I can’t stop listening to. Will Wallner may not be a guitarist whose name you recognize. One listen to this CD, and I think he could possibly become an overnight sensation. Wallner delivers some of the best hard rock riffs I have heard in 2012, and that includes the recent works from Eddie Van Halen & Vinnie Moore (in UFO). Wallner’s style reminds me of a cross between Randy Rhoads & Jake E. Lee. That is pretty good company to be in, in my opinion.
Vivien Vain, where have you been hiding? Vain is easily one of the best new female hard rock vocalists that I have heard in quite some time. Her powerful pipes are a very good match for Wallner’s heavy riffs. Of course it doesn’t hurt when you attract the likes of Carmen Appice, Tony Franklin, Rudy Sarzo, Vinny Appice, Jimmy Bain, Tony Carey, Brian Tichy and Derek Sherinian to play on your songs. These hard rock legends help to craft some very cool tunes. I can’t begin to tell you how good it is to hear Tony Franklin and Carmine Appice (two-thirds of Blue Murder) playing on some songs together again. This is very cool stuff indeed!
The best songs on the CD are “Dreamstealer”, “Streets of Rage” & “Miles Ahead”, but there really isn’t a bad song in the bunch.
If you are a fan of 80′s hard rock, you ought to check out this CD. You won’t be disappointed!
Rating: Out of 10
- The Dream
- Streets Of Rage
- Fourteen Twenty Eight
- All That I Want
- Miles Ahead
- Soul Monster
Vivien Vain – Vocals
Will Wallner – Guitar
Tony Carey – Keys on Tracks 1, 2, 8, 9
Jimmy Bain – Bass on Track 2
Vinny Appice – Drums on Tracks 2, 3, 4, 6
Carmine Appice – Drums on Tracks 3, 5, 9
Tony Franklin – Bass on Tracks 3, 5, 7, 9
Rudy Sarzo – Bass on Tracks 4, 6
Brian Tichy – Drums on Track 7
Derek Sherinian – Keys on Track 7