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
Shy returned in 2011 with their 10th studio album, and their first with their new singer Lee Small. Small ,who sang with the bands Phenomena and Surveillance, turns in an outstanding vocal performance, and have helped Shy create what is easily their best new album since 2002’s Unfinished Business.
This album isn’t the heaviest of Shy albums. What it lacks in heaviness, it has in melody. The keys of Joe Basketts greatly augments, but never over powers, the guitar work of Steve Harris. Some of my favorites on this album include the songs “Sanctuary”, a killer melodic tune that has some awesome progressive rock elements to it, and ‘Pray”, a killer tune with a great message. Some of the other album highlights are the rocking cuts “Land of a Thousand Lies”, and “Blood on the Line”. There really isn’t a bad song in the bunch.
I thought I would miss the vocals of Tony Mills with Shy, but I have to admit that I am loving what the band is doing with Lee Small. Both Shy and TNT can forge ahead with the excellent singers they employ.
Sadly, this album will be the swan song for guitarist Steve Harris who passed away in October from a brain tumor. His guitar work will be greatly missed by the melodic rock community. He leaves us with an outstanding melodic rock CD and a catalog of hard & melodic rock that will never be forgotten by music fans anywhere.
For more information on Shy, please visit the band’s website. You can purchase Shy’s new CD at this link. I recommend it!
Rating: Out of 10
01. Land of a Thousand Lies
02. So Many Tears
03. Ran Out of Time
05. Blood On the Line
07. Only for the Night
08. Live For Me
09. Over You
11. Save Me
12. Union of Souls
Lee Small – Vocals
Steve Harris – Guitars
Joe Basketts – Keyboards
Roy Davis – Bass
Bob Richards – Drums
On their latest release, Big Money, House of Lords reminds us yet again what an underrated band they are. Their last release (2009’s Cartesian Dreams) was so grand that it ranked on my top ten hard rock records of the year list (no easy feat). With singer James Christian still sounding magnificent on the microphone and his current bandmates following suit on their respective instruments, House of Lords prove once again that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Big Money opens with the hard rocking title track that immediate reminds the listener of why House of Lords is such a great band. Packed with strong guitar riffs, a heavy handed drum beat by B.J. Zampa, and some solid vocals by James Christian, “Big Money” is as strong an opener for a record as they come. James Christian can still pack a wallop when singing a tune. His voice sounds as magnificent today as it did back in 1989 when the band debuted. Father time has been very kind to James Christian’s voice.
Proving they can still belt out a ballad with the best of them, House of Lords included “The Next Time I Hold You,” on this record. A powerful love-fest of a song, cigarette lighters will be out in full force if the band decides to play this in concert. House of Lords was kind enough to remind us all what a power ballad should sound like and delivered a superb one in “The Next Time I Hold You.” With exceptional vocals, a solid guitar solo, and a classic arrangement, this is a fantastic ballad and one of the best tracks on the disc.
Synthesizers dominate the music throughout Big Money, making it sound like a harder edged Europe. While House of Lords has always had keyboards in their music, I can’t recall an album where they dominated the landscape of the music as much as they do on Big Money. The added element doesn’t take away from the music, but the disc may have benefited from more guitar solos and less synth work. There are areas on the record screaming for a guitar solo, only to be filled in by some keyboards. That’s not to take away from the great work that keyboardist Jeff Kent has done, but some more solos from Jimi Bell would have helped on certain songs.
Following the mantra of “always leave them wanting more,” House of Lords waited for the final track of the disc to unleash their best song. “Blood” is a hard rocking masterpiece that includes outstanding vocals, a ripping guitar solo, and arena pounding drums. The synthesizers were reduced to a background rhythm section, making “Blood” a much heavier song than most of the album.
Overall, House of Lords have produced another solid record that is worth seeking out and adding to your collection. With any luck, we may see this band on some of the festival bills in 2012. A stop at M3 would be real nice! With new music to support, I suppose that anything is possible.
Rating: Out of 10
- Big Money
- One Man Down
- First To Cry
- Someday When
- Livin’ In A Dream World
- The Next Time I Hold You
- Run For Your Life
- Once Twice
House Of Lords Is:
James Christian – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Jimi Bell – Guitar
Chris McCarvill – Bass Guitar
B. J. Zampa – Drums
Jeff Kent – Keyboards
Since this past summer when I started writing reviews here at HRH there has been so much good music that it became impossible to keep up with everything that was being released. Now I am going to try and catch up with some of the albums I missed. I can not think of a better band to start with than H.E.A.T. of course they are another kick ass Swedish band, but where the majority of Swedish bands are following the sleaze glam route H.E.A.T. decided to follow a different path from their counter-parts. This six man band from Stockholm decided to take a more melodic approach to their music in the vein of such bands as Europe, Giant, Unruly Child, Bangalore Choir, and Hardline. There are 13 tracks but 12 actual songs on this album and every one of them are stellar.
Vocalist Kenny Leckremo reminds me a lot of former Unruly Child vocalist Mark Free mixed with Bangalore Choir’s David Reece thrown in with his approach and delivery of the songs. His voice is powerful without being overbearing to the music, I don’t think he has even began to test the limits of his vocal range. The twin guitar attack of Dave Dalone and Eric Rivers also stand out both could stand their own ground against many players both from today and the past. Keyboardist Jona Tee probably made the best impression on me out of anyone in the band simply because he playing is outstanding and it enhances the songs instead of overpowering them which tends to happen quite a lot with melodic rock. Bassist Jimmy Jay and drummer Crash round out the band and are an extremely capable rhythm section that keep everyone else tight and in line.
After a short intro everything gets started with “There For You” which is a great song to kick off the album, as it is a prime example of what H.E.A.T. has in store for the listeners on this album. Straight up perfect arena rock anthem, a great solo from Dave Dalone, and a very solid performance from the rhythm section that will have you tapping your feet and bobbing your head as you sing along. Second track “Never Let Go” follows the same recipe with the same great results.
If H.E.A.T. are able to hit the arenas here in the States “Keep On Dreaming” will have everyone flicking their Bics and lighting up their cell phones for this outstanding anthem. “Follow Me” slows things down a bit with it nice piano entrance before it picks up at the chrous with soaring vocals both lead and background “Straight For Your Heart” is another kick ass song with a great performance from the entire band but drummer Crash really stands out with his playing. “Cry” and “Feel It Again” are two more outstanding songs “Cry” is mid tempo while “Feel It Again” is a more rocking song. “Straight Up” starts out with a slow burning bluesy groove to it before it kicks in at the chrous. “Bring The Stars” besides being my favorite song on the album is another arena ready anthem with a great performance from both Jimmy Jay and Jona Tee.
“You’re Lying” and “Feel The Heat” finish up the album on a very strong note. For any fans of the bands mentioned above this album is an absolute must have but for fans of just straight up arena ready melodic rock you can’t go wrong with purchasing this album either. I got H.E.A.T. to late for them to be included on my best of ’08 but they will definitely be on my best of ’09 list.
2. There For You
3. Never Let Go
4. Late Night Lady
5. Keep On Dreaming
6. Follow Me
7. Straight For Your Heart
9. Feel It Again
10. Straight Up
11. Bring The Stars
12. You’re Lying
13. Feel The Heat
Kenny Leckremo – Vocals
Dave Dalone – Guitars
Eric Rivers – Guitars
Jona Tee – Keyboards
Jimmy Jay – Bass
Crash – Drums
Nightwish has a brand new single, The Islander. This song is off of the 2007 Nightwish CD, Dark Passion Play.
Boston native, David Vaccaro returns in 2008 with his second output called New Machine. On this release he gets a little bit of help from former MSG front man, Robin McAuley, who sings on four tracks on this disc.
Vaccaro wrote and plays the majority of the music on this disc. While New Machine may not be a true band offering, it certainly sounds like it is.
Robin McAuley does a fine job on the songs he sings on, in fact his presence really gives the songs on New Machine a lift.
Exit Sign is a really good opener and shows off Vaccaro’s six string talents.
Somebody Like You has a cool 70’s rock vibe about it.
The Stake is a cover of the Steve Miller band song. I can’t say that I am familiar with the original, but this song has a cool Foghat style to it.
Disclaimer is a well written, catchy tune about product disclaimers. You have to hear this song to appreciate it.
Time To Move On is a simple but infectious tune that has a Beatles feel to it.
I am not really sure what to make of Desert Run. Some of guitar parts sound synthesized, and mixed with a lead Spanish guitar. This instrumental track is interesting but not essential.
Robin McAuley takes back over the vocals on You Don’t Care. This song has a flamenco style about it, with a keyboard mix. A good song but not great.
McAuley’s final appearance on New Machine is on the song, Tangled In Your Web. This song has a funky groove that gets its hooks into you.
The guitar riff on the song, On Yer Way, reminds me a lot of the Bad Company song, Feel Like Making Love. Vaccaro mixes a little bit of slide guitar in, for this cool sounding tune.
Back to My Baby is a another pleasing rocker, with an upbeat swing. This song has a little bit of saxophone mixed in. All in all, this is an enjoyable tune, and a good way to close out this disc.
The Bottom line: V-Project is a solid disc, with some very good guitar work, and excellent vocals by Robin McAuley. This disc is not too hard, and not too heavy, but has enough in common with 80’s classic rock to make it listenable for most rock fans. Diehard McAuley fans will want to pick this up. Others may want to check the tunes out before buying.
You can preview V-Project’s music, and purchase their CD, at this link for DMV Music.com
1. Exit Sign
2. Somebody Like You
3. The Stake
5. Time To Move On
6. Desert Run
7. You Don’t Care
8. Tangled In Your Web
9. On Yer Way
10. Back To My Baby
David Vaccaro – Lead and Backing Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards and Drum Machine programming
Robin McAuley – Vocals (Exit Sign, Somebody Like You, You Don’t Care, Tangled In Your Web)
Frontiers Records is truly excited to announce the release of the highly anticipated CROWN OF THORNS come back album “Faith” on September 19th 2008.
Releasing their now legendary self titled debut album in April 1994, Crown Of Thorns have steadily become one of the favourite bands of the Melodic Rock resurgence in the late nineties. With amazing albums such as “Breakthrough”, “Lost Cathedral”, “Destiny Unknown and “Karma” and relentless touring that brought them to play in support of Bon Jovi and Van Halen for three months throughout all of Europe, Crown of Thorns remain one of the leading bands of the Melodic Hard Rock genre.
Formed at the dawn of the 90’s by former Plasmatics and songwriter for KISS, Ramones, Lionel Ritchie, John Waite and many others, Jean Beauvoir with Tony Thompson of Chic and The Powerstation, Micki Free of Shalamar and top session bassist Michael Paige, Crown Of Thorns underwent some personnel changes during the early years, with Tommy Lafferty taking place on guitar and Hawk Lopez on drums.
This line-up reconvened during 2007 when Jean Beauvoir connected with Frontiers Records President Serafino Perugino about working on a brand new studio album.
Jean collaborated this time with Bob ClearmountainMark Plati (David Bowie) for the mix, and the result is probably the best sounding CoT album ever! “Faith” is an album that brings back the trademark Crown of Thorns sound as defined in the debut album and “Lost Cathedral”, still keeping intact all the elements of infectious guitar riffs, soaring hooklines and great melodies. (Bryan Adams, Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi) in the recording sessions and
“Faith” final tracklisting will include:
I must admit that Journey is a band that has fallen off of my musical radar for quite some time. I wasn’t a big fan of Steve Augeri’s work in the band, but was I glad that Journey kept going. Like the majority of Journey fans out there, I too am a fan of the Steve Perry era of the band. I had no plans to check out Journey’s new CD, Revelation at all.
I recently read Andrew McNiece’s review at Melodic Rock.com giving this release high marks. I have come to trust Andrew’s opinion over the years, so I decided to give Journey another chance.
In the U.S., Revelation is a Walmart Exclusive release, and is two CD/ 1 DVD set, for the price of one CD. Yes, you read that correctly. Journey is giving you a chance to check out the latest version of the band, with a CD of new material, a CD of re-recorded hits with Arnel Pineda on vocals, and a DVD covering some live footage with the band.
There have been quite a few bands as of late trying to recapture the magic of their old sound. Some of them have done it well (Whitesnake) and some of them not so well (Dokken). I can honestly that with Revelation, Journey has finally put out a release that rivals those of their hit making years with Steve Perry.
By now, I am sure you know that Journey found Arnel Pineda via a You Tube video. They must have been impressed with what they saw and heard, and I have to second that opinion with his work on Revelation. Make no bones about it, Pineda doesn’t try to inject a new sound into Journey’s music. He is almost a dead ringer for Steve Perry vocally.
I don’t know if Pineda’s vocals have breathed new life into Journey, but the whole band seems re-energized. Neal Schon’s guitar work on this album is nothing short of superb. Cain, Vallory and Castronova also sound inspired.
With Arnel Pineda, Journey can forge ahead with the sound their fans love. While it may be true that Journey isn’t breaking any new ground here, I don’t think too many people will care. Revelation is going to please a hell of a lot of Journey fans, as well as the Steve Perry diehard fans out there.
Revelation is one of the highlights of 2008, and one of the best Melodic Rock discs so far this year. Highly recommended!
1. Never Walk Away
2. Like A Sunshower
3. Change For The Better
4. Wildest Dream
5. Faith In The Heartland
6. After All These Years
7. Where Did I Lose Your Love
8. What I Needed
9. What It Takes To Win
10.Turn Down The World Tonight
11.The Journey (Revelation)
1. Only The Young
2. Don’t Stop Believin’
3. Wheel In The Sky
5. Any Way You Want It
6. Who’s Crying Now
7. Separate Ways
9. Open Arms
10.Be Good To Yourself
11.Stone In Love
Arnel Pineda – Vocals
Neal Schon – Guitars and Backing Vocals
Jonathan Cain – Keyboards and Backing Vocals
Ross Vallory – Bass and Backing Vocals
Deen Castronova – Drums and Backing Vocals
In 1993, Takara released their debut album through the now defunct, Now and Then Records.
This release was largely not know in the U.S. as this disc was primarily released in Europe and Japan. I may not have found this disc myself, but saw that this was one of the earlier works by Jeff Scott Soto, and I was on a mission to find it.
Those of you not familiar with Soto’s work would be surprised at how many acts and bands he has been involved with over the years, including most recently, Journey. I have always been a fan of his vocals and he was the main draw for me to pick up Takara’s Eternal Faith.
On Eternal Faith, Soto works as both producer and singer, and he does a pretty good job in both roles. He wasn’t supposed to sing on this record, but Takara’s original singer flaked out in the studio and Soto took over.
Soto has a keen ear for great melodic rock, and Takara’s Eternal Faith is a fine example of this. This record is filled with ten upbeat keyboard laden tunes, that melodic rock fans will truly enjoy.
While Eternal Faith isn’t the best disc I have ever heard, fans of Jeff Scott Soto will certainly want to pick this up. The best tracks are Spotlight, Two Hearts Together, I Don’t Believe, and Fallen Angel.
Rating:Out of 10
Jeff Scott Soto – lead vocals, keyboards
Gary Schutt – bass
Neal Grusky – guitar
Robert Duda – drums
Frontiers Records is excited to announce all details surrounding the forthcoming HOUSE OF LORDS album “Come To My Kingdom” to be released on March 14th 2008.The band’s previous studio album “World Upside Down” was a real fan favourite, so James Christian and the guys went back to the recording with the precise task to create a true rock milestone which could pick up where “World Upside Down” left off.
With the help of the “Fifth Lord” Jeff Kent plus Tommy Denander and Chris Pelcer, the band’s songwriting talents of James Christian, BJ Zampa and Jimi Bell have been flourishing to reach some of the highest levels in the band’s career ever.
Written during the summer 2007, the album was recorded in the fall and mixed by Dennis Ward in November / December. The result is truly outstanding. From the signature intro of “Purgatorio Overtoure n.2” to the epic atmospheres of the title track through to soaring melodic numbers like “I Need To Fly” to the in-your-face attack of “One Foot in the Dark” and to the baroque ballad “Another Day From Heaven”, this record has truly everything the fans may want to ask to James Christian and his cohorts.
”Come to My Kingdom” will include the following songs: Purgatorio Overtoure n.2; Come To My Kingdom; I Need To Fly; I Don’t Wanna Wait All Night; Another Day From Heaven; In A Perfect World; The Dream; One Foot In The Dark; Your Every Move; I Believe; One Touch; Even Love Can Save Us; In The Light; Another Day From Heaven (Acoustic Version)*
* Exclusive Bonus Track for Europe
Click on the highlighted tracks above to preview the new songs!
House of Lords are already planning live appearances in the spring / summer 2008 with the plan to storm the European audiences. The band was also already confirmed for the ROCKLAHOMA festival 2008. Prepare to “Come to My Kingdom” to be released on Frontiers Records on March 14 with a release in Japan scheduled on King Records. Dates will be posted at the Frontiers Records website as well as www.jameschristianmusic.com