S
July
 

Gabriel Sanchez – Immortal By Sound
(S/R – 2016)

Wow – just wow! This guy and his music are really something special here. It takes an awful lot to really impress me and believe me I was truly impressed with this man from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

It was ten years in the making and well worth it too with songs like the opening title track ‘Immortal By Sound’ that puts me in mind of Rush in the vocal department or the ballsy ‘Oh My My’. Then there’s the gorgeous and epic power ballad ‘Love That’s In Your Eyes’ that a dead-set radio hit if pushed right; the blues harp filled ‘Back woods’ or the closing blaster ‘L.Y.M.B.

A far cry from his day job as The Prince Experience – I prefer this way more to the late legend.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Brad Schecter – Live Your Dreams
(S/R – 2015)

A man from Sherman Oaks, California who has written some pretty intricate stuff and fires out a good few forms of styles on this nine track album.

He has a voice not unlike Meatloaf at times but doesn’t go O.T.T. like the said man does but hits the highs when needed. ‘’Blind Eye’ has an Iron Maiden feel to it and the last number says what Brad does ‘Live Your Dreams’.

Nice power ballad to be found in ‘Spring’ which is preceded with the sounds of birds and children. ‘Just In Case’ has some outstanding vocal qualities coupled with a beautiful piano that blows up into a large guitar filled riff of orchestrated quality – a true masterpiece!

Excellent and well worth checking out!

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

THE SHAMBOLIC - The Dead, The Dying & The Damned  
(Factory Fast Records - 2015)

Shambolic are, in spite of their sludgy, and not just a little Southern-sounding din, actually from sunny Manchester.

Al (guitar) and Lee (bass) share the songwriting and also vocal duties which is only awkward in that the two can't be tooooo easily told apart, as you might discover. Trying to cover their ground, they get a lot in, with grunge, prog and power pop peeping out from below their musical tarpaulin, though a punishing seventies metal approach overcasts the horizon.

Nasty, nippy numbers like 'Death Of Me', the groove of 'Jarhead' and Prong-esque 'Evil Gun' give you plenty to pick at, while the eleven minute title track closes off a little less cumbersomely than expected with some enthusiastic work from all instruments concerned and a enjoyably Korn-esque chorus part to boot, dissolving also into a Jethro Tull element in the middle.  Despite taking three different drummers into the studio with them, The Shambolic come out a solid performing machine, making a hugely rough, hullaballoo but one you can easily rattle the floor yourself to.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Monster Magnet, Cathedral, Trouble, Black Sabbath, Coheed and Cambria, Jello Biafra & Flower Kings.

NET: www.theshambolic.co.uk

Skin & Bone – Revenge
(Hot Box Music – 2015)

An 80’s hard rock band from the Sheffield area that have been at it a few years with a sound and style that reminds me of Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Saxon and Dokken etc – you get the picture right?

‘High Society’ reminds me of Extreme’s ‘Decadence Dance’ that has some David Lee Roth like shouty word section in the middle too. Great songs include the rocking ‘Like A River’ that is probably the best number on the album, followed by ‘Walking Shoes’ in quality. Johnny has an incredible range of voice too and would love to hear more of his mid and lower register.

Looking forward to the next release.

810

By Glenn Milligan

SMELL MY PILLOW - Strawberry Lipgloss
(Kwall Records - 2015)

Minneapolis's Smell My Pillow first wafted into my radar in late 2010 with an impressive first album (the review of which still remains on Metalliville).

In the intervening half decade in which they have since been hidden from our sight, these retro metal upstarts have not yet slung their somewhat unorthodox moniker although they have switched singer. Grittily-throated Amy Shaw-Valentin nicely layers a new punkier dimension to their drive with her sometime bloke-like output and angry choruses, specifically on 'Not Happy' and the the bass-rooted 'Rotting From The Inside'.

Lead guitarist and central innovator, Andy Kowalski evens the entire set over with appealing old fashioned solos, some of which are pretty southern-peppered. Turn in a few stirs with the seventies metal and also grunge-coloured spoons (safe, I assure you - they have done an album of it before), Smell My Pillow are not one you'd want to fall asleep on...and if I were to say otherwise, you might find that to be just an ever so slightly obvious insult.

Insulting.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:  Black Sabbath, Free, Pearl Jam & Girlschool.

S.O.T.O. – Divak
(Edel/ear Music – 2016)

The latest album from you’ve guessed it, Jeff Scott Soto that shows a more brutal side to him musically but always has that magnificently powerful voice in tact no matter what style he goes for with plenty of choral hooks thrown into the mix.

Highlights include the opening ‘D.I.V.A.K’; ‘Weight Of The World’; ‘FreakShow’, the bombastic ballad ‘Unblame;’; ‘In My Darkest Hour (not a Megadeth cover before you ask!)’ and ’Time’ especially for the chorus section Zakk Wylde like riffage.

Another great release from Jeff!

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

 

Surf Cowboys – Crossroads
(S/R – 2015)

A poppified rock band from Luxembourg who recorded this album in California alongside Producer, Maor Appelbaum (who’s accolade includes Faith No More!)

It’s very laid back and contemporary and doesn’t really grab your attention that much at all to be honest. ‘A Good Thing’ is like a cross between a Hall & Oates ballad and The Police – very 80’s film like. A nice bit of Kings X in a cover of ‘Groove Machine’ too. I do dig the instrumental closer that is ‘Superman’ though with its gutsy riffage.

Apart from these numbers it’s simply okay.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

 

Joey Sykes - Classic New Rock
(Purple Virgo Records – 2015)

Now you could be say that he plays what is written on the tin so to speak and you wouldn’t be far wrong either.

He came from New York and lives in Los Angeles and has worked with the likes of Tommy Henriksen (Alice Cooper); Meredith Brooks and currently plays guitar in the reformed version of The Babys. With the album featuring the likes of Josh Freese, Kenny Aronoff and Wally Stocker it indicates something good in stood musically at least.

Songwise it’s a good listen too with standouts on this 13 tracker include the opening happy ‘n’ bouncy ‘That’s American Life; the mid-paced ‘Everything Must Go’ with its infectious jabbery riff; the acoustic and piano led starting ‘Someone Like You’; the power ballad about ‘He Never Cried’ (about a Dad) and the closing questioning and answered ‘Just Like Us’.

Enjoyable album.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

January/February 2016

Aron Scott – Earthquake
(Nosferatunes – 2015)

An awesome Singer/Guitarist who also doubles up as a tattooist from Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada who has a great rhythm section too.

He was introduced on Rock music from the age of 2 when he first heard Elvis Presley from his mum and at six introduced to Alice Cooper and Kiss. Now talkingof those New Yorkers, you must here ‘Gimme Some Kiss’ which name checks loads of their songs with riffage to match as well while other great songs include the opening ‘Sunshine And Rock And Roll’ and the Lenny Kravitz like ‘Cosmic Hog’.

Then there’s the southern wailings of ‘Good N Gone’; the bluesy ‘Rattlesnake It’ or the very 70’s like ‘Rock And Roll’ where Aron sounds like Joe Walsh meets Davey Johnstone with a marvellous country solo in the middle or the kick-ass closing ‘Rock And Roll Dogs’ that reminds me of Ted Nugent meets Montrose!

Classic Stuff!

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

 

Seven Shots From Sober – Songs From Stephen Ave
(S/R – 2015)

Throaty and almost whisky soaked vocalled band from Calgary, Alberta, Canada who rock it up on these 11 numbers and having a fine time doing so too.

Some of it comes across rather stoner but there’s some really cooking cuts like the
Southern Blues Rock Romp of ‘Rattlesnake’, the AC/DC like guts of ‘Going For Broke’ and the wailing, Dixie sounds of ‘What Have You Done’.

Pretty decent.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Stiff Staff – Mean Machine
(Hammer Strike Sounds – 2015)

Sounds like Motley Crue, Poison & Kiss and other great hair bands who come from Basel, Switzerland.

They have a gruff voiced vocalist in Randy Andy with the line-up completed by Dick Fuxxx (Guitar/Backing Vocals); Lex Climax (Guitars); Nicky Sick (Drums) and Eddie Quicksilver (Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals) – I couldn’t resist listing them - hahaha. Very Steel Panther right?

It’s all crazy full-on rock ‘n’ roll with cooking cuts like ‘Scream My Name’; Rock This City’; ‘Mean Machine’ and ‘Down The Highway’ with an opening drumbeat that puts me in mind of Motorhead’s ‘Overkill’ or the Kiss meets Europe like closer ‘Stayin’ Young’.

Great band!

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

STRANDS OF REASON - Truth Sequence
(S/R - 2015)

Drummers releasing solo albums often makes one shudder...unless it is done within the prog genre, and all other instruments are as equally covered, in this case by the drummer.

Being taught his skins by Dream Theater/Annihilator man, Mike Mangini is a mighty push from behind for massively talented Chris Munton, as it is mightily brave to admit being both influenced by both Van Halen and Killswitch Engage on your promo sheet. Diversity knows but no barriers still, and this chap's debut mini album would have made plastic dust of them.
Metal-oriented rhythm guitar with a weighty ode to Metallica, Slayer, Korn and Deftones sets the tracks and lets the wheels that are run by Munton's smooth - and slightly Seattle-flavoured - range ride along.

Gritty tempos and chug-along blocks seem to take you away from the fact that this is a man schooled by a member of the world's no1 prog metal act but there is still the massively multifunctional feel that Labrie, Pretrucci and the boys lay down time after time. With guest vocals from sister Amanda, who has also lent her pipes to Lamb of God to date, this five track taster indeed promises to pull a few under for a further listen.

Nice start to things.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

AVAILABLE VIA: iTunes, Spotify & Amazon.

THE SURVIVAL CODE – MMXV
(IRL - 2015)

Music is a form of storytelling' can be quite a practically way of pushing your wares to peoples attention, especially if your story is one of nights spent with everything between Bush, Deftones, the Cure and Johnny Cash coming out the woofers.

Survival Code frontman/guitarist Gsry McGuiness stretches his musical sellotape tight round everything and wraps it tight with the result being eleven amiably concocted alternative rock cuts. Seattle-flavoured in the main, many of the    surprisingly widespread influences twinkle through on the glass as you go along with the brush. Strutty, driving guitar with good odes to prog grunge and pop alike cuts the London trio's sound into a catching shape although Gary's Grohl-meets Rossdale range smooth the glaze an extra bit on the top for measure.

Riveting cuts such as Burning, 'Living A Lie', 'Ratrace', 'This Feeling', 'Gave It All' and 'Centre of the Universe' sound notably youngster-friendly but the contemporary sound of twenty years ago seems to cling onto a sturdy tree, with old branches to support.

Tasty indeed.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: thesurvivalcode.co.uk

December

SAVATAGE - Return to Wacken
(Ear Music - 2015)

Them good old Savvers, you've got to hand it to them haven't you.

Eight years since they split up and it doesn't seem like a second ago as they reform for a bash at Germany's revered Wacken Fest. Except this is not a recording of said event, nor a live cd of any kind. It is in fact a studio collection craftily replicating the sets they performed at the '98 & '02 instalments. Just an excuse to put out these classics as if to reminding people they exist. ...and why not.

In a world worked by the harsh -gloved hands of fashion, anthems such as 'Hall of The Mountain King', Gutter Ballet', 'Edge Of Thorns' and 'Wake Of Magellan' need to be given the occasional flutter in front of people's eyes, to remind everyone of what this talented hand has produced across the last three decades. Sadly 'Sammy and Tex' and even more shockingly 'Sirens' were not on those sets ...so hopefully you rectified that this year, Mr Oliva. A sneaky but somewhat not un-worthwhile release if Savatage's music is still new to you.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Helloween, Queensryche, Wasp & Dio.

NET: ear-music.net

Shiraz Lane – Be The Slave Or Be The Change (E.P.)
(S/R – 2015)

An excellent young gang of Finnish Rockers who have remarkable chops and pipes to die for on this 5 track E.P.

Like it says on the lid, it’s a kind of story concept of life as a slave and then seeing that change occur. It’s got fantastic songs right the way through from the ballsy Skid Row like ‘Mental Slavery’ right through to ‘Story To tell’ with its marching drums and narrative.

One band to definitely look out for!

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

SILENT SNARE - Darken (E.P.)
(S/R - 2015)

Belgian Three-piece Silent start off less than promisingly but then suddenly improve, albeit up to a limit.

Deep, indecipherable vocals give way to a Cure like creen, only to be curdled by unnecessary screamcore noise. The four tunes sound well written themselves, set against a sweet sounding prog guitar layer with lush seventies-flavoured solo work.

Things improve again throughout 'Psycho' and 'Darken' but there is the occasional drag and the vocal alternations are less than perfectly structured in my opinion - the screaming element only really does justice on the former. An interesting idea, only a little more work could be applied in parts.

6/10 

By Dave Attrill

SOUTHERN FRIED GENOCIDE - Electric Mayhem
(Independently released, 2015)

Definitely a name for the years books there. They are indeed southern, hailing from the state of Florida as they do to deliver a dark, destructive stoner sound onto many an unsuspecting ear.

A dark destructive stoner sound that's quite the same as many thousand before them but still it's all good fun. The first few of the nine tracks seem to weld slowly into one wearisome lump after a while but the last half sees everything suddenly gel a little more. Rough and angry guitars and grunge-friendly patterns, solidly steeped in seventies American metal lend little parking space for their more diverse parts to become prominent but the blues and acoustic intervals are there along with a little drop of Deep Purple in the vapour. A recommended release for dedicated stoner-ites, some nice solo work sees Southern Fried Genocide sizzle with added accessibility, on and off.

For a full serving of fries on the side, checking them out live might still probably be best advised.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Black Sabbath, Soundgarden & Trouble.

STORMHOLD - Battle Of The Royal Halls
(Art Gates Records - 2015)

I often urge people to follow my example by not judging the album on its cover but some bands make it hard if not harder.

If it saves you investing further, yes they are Swedish, yes,they are power metal.and yes they are f**king good at it as are most other Scandinavian acts that have passed before them. Stormhold do frankly sound rawer and less operatic than a lot of other acts of their such ilk, carrying more of a direct hard rock approach in their vocals. Still dealing in epic choruses, the tunes stay modest, mostly clocking in at 4-5 minutes apiece and without keyboards, the twin guitar sonics have extra duties which their solos ably substitute.

'Destiny's Calling', 'Journeybook', 'The Final Decision', 'Aeise', 'Godric Hammerfist', ' Stormhold', Fear Your Death'  and the immense title track are tunes that will surprise those expecting something more along the Hammerfall/Stratovarious side of the room yet carry enough to be caught with wide open arms. Sturdy yet surprisingly fresh, Stormhold's full length debut album is a defining signal of what their clouds might be carrying along into 2016... which includes seriously forked lightning.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Helloween, Primal Fear & Kamelot.

NET: www.stormhold.se

Styx – Live At The Orleans Arena Las Vegas
(Eagle Records – 2015)

A fantastic show recorded for us all to enjoy from one of America’s finest AOR bands – Styx – love or hate ‘em they are one of those at the top level of the game.

Plenty of fun-time banter with mentions of Betty Ford, Montgomery Alabama and much more. They and the audience are in fine form with classics like ‘Come Sail Away’; ‘Too Much Time On My Hands’ and ‘Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) featuring ex-Eagle, Don Felder’ which finishes off with the amazing ‘Renegade’.

They still have pipes to die for and by the looks of it they always will. Join the Las Vegas crowd and fire up Styx on your stereo. You know it makes sense.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

SWEETALK - Picturesque
(S/R - 2015)

Sweetalk are a Winsconsin-based threesome, making a sometime sweet, sometime...well, not sure about sour but pretty bitter type of sound.

Dirty, in-your face alternative rock, geared up the Foo Fighters way, with an added stoner peppering gives you an urge to advance from each track onward to the next. Dancy hooklines and hard-hitting chordy strums sit neck and neck as singer Jame Koebe's gravely delivery yields a somewhat nostalgic Seattle foam. 'Moments of Clarity', 'Weather The Strom', 'The Right Kind of Empathy', 'Come a Little Closer, Closer', 'Diamonds on The Floor' and 'Light My Way' fail to make ST stick  out as a one-trick pony, showcasing as they do, subtle signs aplenty amongst the surrounding speed and grit.

Trampolining paces pound up, down and about, with an apt  amalgam of technique by Jame at all the suitable spots and spaces, scattering things in between the extremes. Slick but with little  of the slack, SweeTalking yourself  into snapping up a copy of 'Picturesque' will save them  the job, although that's hoping we at Metalliville already have.

Fabulous.  

8/10

By Dave Attrill 

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Bush & Nirvana.

NET: www.wearesweetalk.com

July

SHADED GREY - Constellations Collide 
(S/R - 2015)

Vermont four-piece Shaded Grey claim never to have heard of the similarly named book at the time of the naming themselves, although appropriately speaking, they scarcely slot in either end of music's blacks and whites.

Swish indie/pop elements with scatter punk and progressive flavourings on the top is how you could describe most of these twelve tracks. At least half of the ideas here are instant, with a catchy hook part and don't outstay their parking limit although others do over-use their samples and they sound slapped in their place whilst occasional pairs seem to weld from one number into the next.

Decent stuff indeed but some of it is better suited to be heard in a live set.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:  Republica, Pretenders & Pink Floyd.

NET: www.shadedgray.com

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators – Live At The Roxy 25.9.14
(Armoury Records – 2015)

Last September Slash made a historic return to the Sunset Strip of West Hollywood with Myles and co playing the venues one night after another much to the delight of his old new fans he’s picked up along the way.

It’s a cross section of songs from his time with Myles with a few cuts from the Guns ‘N’ Roses such as ‘Night Train’ and ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and the Velvet Revolver days which is represented by ‘Slither’ that I always like to hear the solo of. Various highlights include the opener ‘Ghost’; ‘Back From Cali’; ’30 Years To Life’; ‘You’re A Lie’ and ‘Anastasia’ mainly for Slash’s outstanding signature guitar work.

My gripe is that there’s nothing from the Slash’s Snakepit period at all which apart from GNR was by far my fave period of the guitar god since I preferred the vocals of Eric Dove and Rod Jackson or even Axl on a bad day to the post-grunge whining of Myles Kennedy who has too much Scott Stapp going down at times for my liking.

Halfway house to be honest with you and personally I am waiting for the day when Guns ‘N’ Roses reform in the original line-up.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

SPIRALING SUNS - Accidental Truths
(Laughing Apsis Productions - 2015)

Heavy melodic rock, calls out the promo genre description - as in Trivium and Tyketto on some sort of overnight jamming collaboration thing?

Come to the point of listening, and we catch Michigan trio Spiraling Suns out as being a bouncy prog/aor hybrid. Opener 'One Less Thing' is a hookless, multifaceted rhythmical structure that allows a couple of plays to take it in better before 'Skin That Sleeps' skips up and down in a respectably Primus-like  pace. The rest of the album sets itself into a chequered template of the two styles, with super precise playing and songs that become more instant as you amble through the eight, 'The Thing Is', 'Tomorrow Burns' and 'Silence Is Sweeter' starting to draw me in further on first blast.

Technically speaking, Spiralling Suns can not be slated any more than the best, and despite twenty five percent of this debut being a bit of a clamour, they are certainly spiralling more in an upward direction as opposed to the other.

Amiable work, lads.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Porcupine Tree & Rush.

NET: www.spiralingsuns.com

The Static Shift – Windsor Street
(S/R – 2014)

A power blues rock trio from Canada who know how to crank it up and make a solid impact who even score a 5 on i-tunes with this album.

As the CD inlay stats ‘recorded live off the floor in Revelstoke, BC at Phil’s Place (this being Phil Gregory who also lays down some harmonica work too. Straight away they got my attention especially when lead vocalist & guitarist, Mitchell Brady is a deadringer for Robert Plant backed up by Keone Friesen on bass/harmonica/backing vocals and Isaiah Stonehouse on drums/backup vocals.

Some cracking numbers to be found here including the opening ‘Gates Of Dawn’; the epic lengthly ‘I Won’t Don’t That’ which not be out of place on an early Led Zeppelin album or the groovin’ funky ‘You Don’t Know Me’. Then there’s the stomping ‘White Car’ and the closing acoustic to electric ‘Shades Of Light’.

Excellent stuff.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

The Sticky Fingers Ltd – S/T
(Logic(Il)Logic – 2014)

A band from Vignola, Modena, Italy who are influenced by the rock sounds of the 70’s with an 80’s vibe as well, not to mention several nods to the Southern sounds of the USA.

Standouts here include the opening ‘(Do You Feel My) Sticky Fingers’ that has a Sabbath crunch to it as well as being Bowie’ish; ‘Rain Keeps Falling’ which puts me in mind of Ian Hunter; the blues to 12-bar rocking ‘Jailhouse Tonight’; the banshee wailing chorused ‘Standing On The Ruins Of Your Life’. To sum them up, imagine mixing Led Zeppelin with elements of Smokie, Mott The Hoople and a sprinkling of ELO now and again and you are somewhere kinda close to what’s on offer from The Sticky Fingers Ltd.

Pretty decent actually! Now does Bill Wyman and the rest of the ‘Stones know about these guys?

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Strongheart – Scream Out Loud
(Epos MD – 2014)

Before you ask this is a totally different band to the one fronted by Wilbur Hess and have a female on lead vocals called Jessica Nordstrom who leads one hell of an exciting raunchy sleazy sounding group from Umea, Sweden.

With elements of Heart and Joan Jett they will appeal to a big audience indeed and have already played shows in New York and New Jersey and little wonder when they rock the hell out with cuts like the opening ‘Friday Night; ‘Lady Lynn’; ‘Touch’ ‘Rebel Queen’ and the ballad ‘Withered White Rose’.

These could go far I reckon.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

May

S.O.T.O. – Inside The Vertigo
(Edel/ear Music – 2015)

Wow this totally is the heavier side of Soto without a doubt with the odd ballad thrown in to keep us on our toes.

It’s dark, powerful and nasty and is only missing some bombastic Malmsteen of latter years at times. It’s mastered damn loud and extremely in your face – there’s no escaping this baby! All the songs really are top grade and not a filler inside in here with fluent, flowing fresh arrangements.

Highlights include the opening ‘Final Say’; the supercharged ‘Wrath’; the epic ballad to blasting ‘End Of Days’ that even has a childrens choir on there and sinister orchestral moment. Great chuggery guitar to be found in ‘Jealousy’ with a very sing-a-long chorus or the straight to the point closing ‘Fall To Pieces’.

Outstanding and easily matches the songs he did for ‘Rock Star’.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Spelled Moon – Forsaken Spells (E.P.)
(S/R – 2013)

Now this is a band that I remember being put together since as Claudio Pesavento (Keyboards), a good buddy of mine told me that he was laying down his parts for it. Then there’s a Metal king of the skins here in the form of Patrick Johansson manning the kit.

This three tracker has two symphonic, balladeering numbers in ‘Hidden In the Winds’ and ‘Soul Mates’ and the closing bombastic to quiet ‘n’ beautiful at times ‘A War Of Shadows’ that comes across rather Malmsteenesque via Helloween.

This is damn fine stuff and I look forward to hearing a full length album.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

Spirit Level - Kollosi Blues
(S/R – 2014)

A duo made up of two blues dudes both called Chris plus some additional musicians to make a full band. We have Chris Louvieris on lead vocals, dobro slide guitar and lead guitar on 1 number that is ‘Feel The Blues’ alongside Chris Kyriacou on lead and rhythm guitars number.

Baseed in Cyprus they let the blues flow and are entitled to it after a series of bad luck over the years such as a house fire, losing the use of your left hand for a number of years or having your work shelved due to a company going out of business.

Nothing short of excellence is to be found on this album with stand-outs being the classic Robert Johnson like riffed ;It’s Gone’; the chicken and dobro opening title track ‘Kolossi Blues’; the loss feeling of ‘Sarah; or the southern delta riffery of ‘Foolish Pride’.

Just get it on!

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

Status Quo – Aquostic Live @ The Roundhouse
(ear Music/BBC – 2015)

Yes it’s the audio release of that show where you were invited to press the red button a few months ago to witness what will be considered a classic concert in years to come.

Who’d have thought that Rick & Francis would put their Telecasters down and strum the acoustics for a full show? Well here’s proof right here which has all the songs featured on the studio album plus a cracking version of 1986’s ‘Rolling Home’.

Opening up with Hello’s ‘And It’s Better Now’ that is proceeded by the famous drone the beauty just goes on and on and is a pure joy. Seems strange to hear Rick Parfitt in a lower octave on ‘Again & Again’ but it works well all the same or the mysterious (scuse the pun) violin intro of ‘Mystery Song’.

Awesome to hear Bob Young on there cranking up the harmonica on ‘Softer Ride’ and ‘Down The Dustpipe’. Man, those violins really make ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ come alive even more since they sound so vibrant in the mix. That’s some real cooking piano from Andy Bown on ‘Reason Living’ and then there’s that death nell song that is the country vibe of ‘Marguerita Time’; the percussive opening ‘Whatever You Want’ or the beautiful ballad ‘Rock ‘Til You Drop’ before finishing on that Celtic blasting of ‘Burning Bridges’.

Definitely opening the band to a whole new audience here and holding onto the open-minded established fan base too.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

April

SPIT RUSTY - Tin Foil Hats & Magic
(Independent - 2014)

Denmark's Spit Rusty start off in a time-forgotten fashion of opening with a chorus.

Saying that, lead-off track Givin It All is a belter all over with a bouncing verse section that brings you back into the hookline from up high. 'Underwhelmed', 'I Don't Need To', 'Nothing Comes Across' and 'An Uphill Battle' come across as good, as do most of the seven others that follow behind, trading trad metal, hard rock and contemporary guitar styles off against one another and the result is some masterly calibre songwriting from yet more of those erm...masterful Europeans.

Set against a tough-wired,twin guitar net, the leathery, old-school vocals of Martin Arthur just land in without too much bounce but still allow the songs yo spring with their rhythm. Moderate-sized solos and strong tempos still set the space aside for some acoustic-flavoured product, and there is a pinch of Queensryche to be picked upon in places. Superb work from this spirited fivesome's first long-player...first of many to follow behind her.

Avoid letting the rust rot this one away...buy!

9/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.spitrusty.com

SULLEN - Post Human
(S/R - 2015)

Portugese proggies Sullen arose from the ashes of defunct scene act Oblique Rain and obviously wasted no time as it has taken only two years for this debut album to come our way.

Using a metal/alternative base to begin on, they build together with every coloured brick as each song shoots up from the groundwork. Crisp guitar and drum noise as well as production gives this sixpiece the ability to showcase every note they are playing and allow us savour it back with struggling.

'Devata', 'Broken Path', 'Redondo Vocabulo', 'Become', 'Exult', 'The Mounder' and 'Place Of Time' hide quite a few surprises, some of which extreme metal fans should also cock an ear to although if you like it deep and diverse, then the work of 'Post Human' most likely outweighs on this.

Search it out and try.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.sullenpt.bandcamp.com

February/March

DAN SANDMAN - Rochyrax
(S/R - 2014)

Not by any means associated by Metallica as far as we know, British guitarist/singer Dan's sound is not far off how James, Lars and the lads ended up, a few years on from then.

Not being a bad thing, Mr Sandman's slick fuse-age of fuzz-laden seventies guitar and gritty folk based boppiness still keeps me listening until all twelve numbers are done, including nine-and-a-half-minute closer 'The History Of Robert Smith'. There is a a shortfall in instant-ness across the early few tracks as one tune starts to sound like the two either side but his in-out solos soon boost the pace.

Surprisingly in your face for an acoustic -led record, Dan's seventh (would you believe) long player runs by with its own little signs of tripping, but never tumbling completely down.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Jethro Tull

NET: www.dansandman.co.uk

SARIS - Until We Have Faces
(Duck Dive Music - 2014)

You'd think that this Gerry dual -vocal prog metal combo were another hot new name steaming up from the European soil.

Saris have in fact been around the block, a ball-bashing thirty four years and certainly sound well for it. Although 'Until We Have Faces' is only their third ever album it shows how strong a band can stay with such long durations amidst discs, the secret possibly lying with its magnificent male /female alternation between singers Henrik Wager and Anja Gunther. UK-born Henrik has the pipes that you could place on power metal heavyweights Kamelot, and they would still climb out sounding giant.

Despite the variable lengths of the tracks, between standard and epic, they still consist and avoiding forcing themselves to sound different just for the sake of it. There is however a lot of natural flexibility in Saris's show, with speed metal, pop, hard rock, progressive, and even a little reggae in the form of 'Run Away Now' to wave your net at.

Tightly performed and prepared tunes that display the abilities of each of their members, Saris's catalogue may well as we've seen looked a bit sporadic but this one should easily stretch over the wider gap.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.saris.website

KEVIN SERRA - Mirage Reflection
(S/R - 2014)

Kevin Serra is a young guitarist from Italy and an effing good one at that (maybe his being left-handed even has some relation to that).

Dropping the biased flattery to the side, if I might, Mr Serra is one of very few musicians who manages to make you disappointed that an instrumental album lasts only five tracks. From.the beginning of 'Honour The Brave' this bloke means business, swinging straight in and out again with an ambient AOR sound that seems to last only half its five minute and seven second span.

The subsequent four cuts come over as an interesting crop, keeping the momentum strongly up. From the riveting prog of 'Rising Aura' and the Petrucci-esque technicality of the title track, across to the metal-motivated 'Optic Red' Kevin never lets up the pace and I'm still pinned for the sixth piece that sadly is not to ensue. Well we've heard, and we've savoured to say the least.

Talented display from another European maestro in the making, or in fact made, 'Mirage Reflection' is hopefully the beginning of a beautiful catalogue for this chap.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.kevinserra.wix.com/kevinserraofficial

SOUND OF SILENCE - S/T (EP)
(S/R - 2014)

Sound of Silence are Canadian one-man band Marc Antoine Leblanc, who handles all instruments plus voice on this viciously jumpy 7-track debut ep.

Adding alternative and hardcore together with a little prog sauce on top, Mr LB is eager to show the world a little taste of what he's tried. Dirty chords and crabby, Foo Fighters -like chorus parts still seem to float many a boat today and with this bloke you might not need a life jacket too instantly if 'Erase You', 'Money', 'Take One' or 'Sound Of Silence' hit the waves.

Superb.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: facebook.com/soundofsilenceband

SPINNING JAMY - Guilty Victims
(Tetraktys Music - 2014)

Swiss fivesome Spinning Jamy are a unique combination. Knocking off the shackles they start from the grid mark with gritty girl fronted trad rock noise, sharp and vitriolic as you like.

Come halfway through the first number at they curve away into a progressive valley and still I find myself listening away, hoping all the following twelve numbers stay with these standards. They do, mostly too. Welded strips of various metal forms make a lethal, multi bladed weapon of a contemporary European metal album with the edges serrated to harm.

Moving the gearstick over to the blues side for the lead solos on 'Tick Tock' amongst others, and slamming in some sweetening saxophone after, crafts a classy sound from modern day clays. Superb work from a country we should hear much more by.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Girlschool & Pink Floyd.

NET: www.spinningjamy.com

SQUONK OPERA - Pneumatica
(S/R - 2014)

US instrumental veterans Squonk Opera introduce themselves to moi for the first ever time, nine albums into their 20-year run.

With Radiohead, the Beatles, Gary Numan and Rush being just four influences amongst the twenty-odd on the promo, I was trained to expect the...well somewhat unpredictable from these five crazy lads. Suffice to say I more or less got it in the shape of these eight slabs of sound, driven together by about seven times more different elements shoved together than I would say was healthy.

Use of a progressive baseboard to place the rest on is pretty easy to anticipate but then this lot play around as if it can take any weight. Electro, indie, synth, piano, bagpipes and Irish flute amongst others supply enough tastes to last a lifetime, and the ambient approach takes on a whole new avenue.

Word of warning, this one is not for love-at-first-listen but after a second or third listen, you should be prepared to hear what else Squonk Opera have got up to in their time.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.squonkopera.org

SUMO CYCO - Welcome To Sumo City
(S/R - 2014)

Another great female Canadian talent, hot on the heels of Avril Lavigne and Alanis Morrissette, former pop singer Skye 'Sever' Sweetman reinvents her approach via this vicious, industro-crusted contemporary metal outfit who have, as I speak already brought their show across the pond.

Difficult to get into at first dig, great choruses come out to give you a helping hand, notably flagship single 'Fighter' and help you also hear what huge pipes this young lady has. Stuttery drum breaks do normally great with me but after putting up with bands like Limp Bizkit this last near-two decades some things can now pass.

Sharp and unremitting with enough clubfloor crunch to cripple the foundations, Sumo City's debut deserves a huge live repertoire in its name but but you will learn what's to come by listening here first.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.sumocyco.com

SUNLESS SKY - Firebreather
(Pure Steel Records - 2014)

Accusing melodic metal bands of ripping off Iron Maiden seems almost the norm nowadays, as annoying as I find this.

Still when Cleveland's Sunless Sky introduce themselves with a sound slap identical to the said Brit outfit, I cannot help but become momentarily brainwashed. Doing it innocently well is another kettle of fish though and these boys boil the books  hotter than others care to cook them. Meaty, shredsome guitars screech along behind Juan Ricardo's scarily Bruce-like croon that turns slowly into Rob Halford as the album rolls on (he has the hairstyle to suit, coincidentally).

Applying a few Megadeth tricks to the likes of tracks like 'Immortality', 'Pandemonium', 'Grind You Down' and 'Air Raid' is overkill, some might tell you yet there is a lot of Blitz and the boys going on in some places here as well. Lacking originality but loaded with class to the rafters, Sunless Sky will rain down hail sized lumps of metal from every live stage they play.

You need to buy this one just to believe what they get away with, then I'd acquit them of their particular crimes any day.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Gamma Ray, Helloween, Primal Fear, Metallica & Wolfsbane.

NET: www.sunlesssky.com

January 2015

SEPULTURA - Metal Veins - Alive At Rock In Rio
(Armoury Records - 2014)

Still going strong after 30 years, Sepultura justifiably celebrate with this live release, recorded at their home country's signature metal-fest.

Despite down to one original member, lead guitarist Andreas Kisser , the Brazilian metal legends still know how to serve the noise. Assisting them are French drumming combo Tambours du Bronx who add a timely tribal dimension to their timeless thrash nuggets. Scarce few numbers from the Cavalera days come up, only 'Refuse/Resist', Territory' and 'Roots Bloody Roots' to note, but with Derek Green having donned the mike for seventeen years, searing latter day classics such as 'Sepulnation', 'Requiem' and 'Structure Violence' have long settled into the spaces.

Shoving in a fearsomely tight rendition of Prodigy's 'Firestarter' showcases Mr Greens's growing prowess, not to mention his proven likeness to his predecessor, vocally. It's always always murder to convince purists to move on and embrace a band for what they are today, but that bloke's brutal performance each time out doesn't make it easy.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Slayer, Morbid Angel & Metallica.

NET: www. eaglerock.com / www. Mzamusic.com/br

STORMHOLD - The Lost World
(Total Metal Records - 2014)

There seems to be a brand of bands in the Eastern bloc, intent on making extreme metal a listener-amiable product.

Trying what fellow Ukrainians Red Hills have but with huger finesse, Stormhold attach symphonic metal bases to their structures, then build up with a death metal coloured wall and windows. Smooth cut keyboard and guitar performances, side by side don't advertise it as a dark gargly assault of a record at all, until vocalist Alexey Gasakov fires off his first words.

Beyond then it's still quite a musical box of chocolates, in big parts of this seven track disc. Concentrated twin guitar work trips over itself slightly at only scarce occasions as the vocal and rhythmical intensity itself overpowers it yet it never collapses by a brick.

Constructed well and with a love for all subgenres combined, Stormhold are in their own World, yet haven't Lost us as successfully as they might.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: vk.com/stormholdband

Swirl - S/T (E.P.)
(S/R - 2013)

Excellent LA based Rockers who have the gift of sounding like the 80's, 90's and of the now on this seven tracker.

Highlights include the hooking you immediately opner, 'Fourth Of July' that even quotes Johnny Cash and the Soundgarden like 'Mad Disease' both musically and vocally. Then there's the gutsy 'Rise Up' with Zakk Wylde like urping as I like to call it that has that big hair like arena sound going down or the slammy 'n' agressive 'We Are Alive'.

Excellent.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

NET: http://www.swirltheband.com/

December

Status Quo – Aquostic
(Warner Music UK Ltd – 2014)

Well this is a real turn up for the books – an acoustic Quo album – clever title lads, not to mention the nakedness of the cover too – hahaha – proving the band never lose their sense of humour.

Two dozen tracks in all that range from the late 60’s to the early 90’s recorded in a bare bones kinda way. There are added textures of zydeco and classy female backing vocals when appropriate and even some strings in some like the opening ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ which is an award winning performance.

It’s a well chosen cross section of material that fit well with the acoustic style and the fact that they have included numbers that we haven’t heard in years makes it so, so special. These include album favourites like the beautiful ‘And It’s Better Now’ that is so atmospheric and calm; the humourous 12-bar groover ‘Reason For Living’ and the not heard for many years gorgeous hit ballad ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll that personally made my day.

Rick Parfitt’s voice sounds a bit dry and worn on ‘All The Reasons’ but those strings sound so gorgeous and make up for it and hits like ‘Caroline’; ‘Whatever You Want’; ‘Again And Again’; ‘What You’re Proposing’ or ‘Down Down’ adapt perfectly for the occasion. I can see this release opening up the band to an even bigger fan-base especially when the BBC made the Roundhouse show available by pressing the red button.

It’s an album that deserves awards and to be frank with you one of the best they have ever made. I’ve played it so, so much and it grabs me every time. Can’t wait to see it played live on the Aquostic Tour in April 2015!

Bare, Bare, Bare – Sorry I mean Buy, Buy Buy……

10/10

B Glenn Milligan

Status Quo – The Frantic Four’s Final Fling
(Fourth Chord Records – 2014)

Well what can be said about this line-up that hasn’t already been said on numerous occasions. The Frantic Four are legendary so this release is a fitting finish to their reunion tour which will never happen again.

This 2-CD set is now even more special to me since I saw the show 6 days earlier at Manchester’s Apollo which proved to be a milestone occasion. This show indeed is too and packed with all those early hard-hitting heavier more leaning to the blues with material like ‘In My Chair’; ‘Gotta Go Home’ (April) Spring, Summer And Wednesdays’ or ‘Junior’s Wailing’. Of course there are some well known faves too in ‘Caroline’; ‘Big Fat Mama’; ‘Down Down’ and ‘Roadhouse Blues’ that still make it to the bands current set lists.

I get the impression that the band are putting every last grain of energy into this show as they know it’s the end of the road for them – though many fans wish otherwise it seems and the appreciation from the Quo Army here is utterly ecstatic throughout the show.

The Final Fling is well worth a spin and it’s also available on DVD too.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

October

Scarlet – S/T
(FNA Records – 2010)

Classic piece of White Hair Metal from a band who came from Tampa, Florida, playing and paying their due in the central part of the state from ‘83 to ‘88.

Imagine bands like London and Trixter singing about God and Jesus – well that more or less is them style and topic to be found here with numbers like ‘Right Reason’; ‘We’re Gonna Rock’ and ‘Treasure’.

File somewhere near Stryper.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

SEEDS OF PERDITION - From Within
(Born Of Chaos Records - 2013)

Philadelphian metal supergroup Seeds of Perdition pledge something different on the sleeve of their debut mini album.

Depending on the interpretation of different here I was probably not born yesterday, yet also neither was I born too late to still appreciate a seven -track slab of pure old school US thrash.

Sharp, fast and frantic dual guitars and a vocal that veers between gut-altercating gargles and a respectable reminiscence to Testament's Chick Billy, use the songs to sell a sound we've heard maybe a zousand times across the preceding 30 years but still proves capable of shedding off the stale spots when it wants to.

With a few interesting interludes, sadly too brief as they are, the Perdition's Seeds appear sown in time for the following spring though some could do with a reasonable amount of watering.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Exodus, Evile & Slayer.

NET: www.reverbnation/seedsofperdition

SEVEN THORNS - II
(Sonic Revolution - 2014)

Just to clear the air, no member of Metallica are involved in this project. Yes they are Danish and have a drummer named Lars...and they play fast metal (well that makes it doubly hard to convince you now doesn't it, doh!)

Seven Thorns - yes there are seven in their number - ricochet their rich and razor fine melodic metal through every unclouded air particle in its path. Thin but tough twin guitar lines and swish synthesiser melodies match up along the span of every song and whilst giving solos more than their fair share of time on occasion.

No one’s bound to be let down by 'Eye Of The Storm', Revelation', 'Justice', Night Of Temptation', Redemption' and 'A Joker's Game' marching out of the amps in all their majesty. Not a play on the name of their first album, this confusingly titled third demonstrates where to jump on midway through their crusade.

Don't get these Thorns in your side..buy!

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Kamelot, Stratovarius & Queensryche.

NET: www. seventhorns.com

SHADOW MERCHANT - The Tunnel
(S/R - 2014)

US of A have never had a,gigantic hold on the prog tree, or either fallen away from it totally.

While the genre remains a significantly British invention, Shadow Merchant make bold moves to ensure they manage a bite of this never-ageing cake. Clinging on to cliches - two songs staying round for 11 and 13+ minutes respectively - along with the tradition shrill seventies organ lining every crack, these lads have had to been nippers when their daddies stuck on the 'new one from Procul Harum' one Sunday lunchtime, beer in hand.

Tradition never dies and when you take numbers like 'Noah', 'Architect', Selfless Devotion', Judgement Day' and 'The Kindness Of A Stranger' tight into your hearts, you recognise how healthy this genre still is. Strong, slick and slightly less on pretence than certain other household prog names, the solos and vocals both throw their weight at each other as well as just our ears. These Merchants are set to show the genre still long off becoming a Shadow of itself.

Fabulous.

9.5/10

Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Dream Theater, Yes, Jadis, Rainbow & Deep Purple.

NET: shadowmerchant.net

SHAFT OF STEEL - S/T (E.P.)
(S/R - 2014)

London is less known for AOR nowadays as it is for alternative musos still ambling after one bandwagon or another.

Shaft Of Steel seem to have had enough as they're suddenly out here repairing that damage. Possessing a sound just slightly likeable to capital-sprouted legends Blue Blud and of course FM, this six-some set their eyes more on the sharply produced melodic hard rock style of today. Using the silky, upbeat approach of Swedish giants Work of Art, they stick a strong guitar-based rod into the musical fission holes as well, which should somehow account for the power metal comparisons I've been clocking onto around this group.

Second track 'Spinning Vortex of Love' pretty much succeeds to win both scenes over with its swirly keyboards while 'Steel Avenger' stomps in and across the room with its near Helloween-like hammer-pound. Definitely a revival on the strength of a single act if it takes off, the only disappointment out of Shaft Of Steel's debut is the fact we've only four tracks to make do with for now.

Wonderful stuff all the same.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: shaftofsteel.com

SHIFT - Lead, Judge & Jury
(S/R - 2014)

Shift are a hard rock...hold on, maybe that's a typing error on the ol' promo there because this band sound almost totally like a hardcore machine.

Not the worst of sins I've seen committed in publicity fields, this Baltimore fivesome might sound just like everything nasty and noisy you'd hear crawling out of New York's shady backstreets instead at first blast but bring your car along the pavement a but further and you'll find a few more musical doors wide open and waving.

Goth, alt, power pop and scarce intrusions of symphonic metal even (I kid you not) take their try at this apple and the taste is one quite gratifying Granny Smith of an aggro metal album. Maybe seven years since their first disc has seen this diversity start to flutter but whichever way, 'Lead Judge and Jury' does its justice, if no so your speakers.

Court dismissed.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Earth Crisis, Hatebreed & Slayer.

NET: shiftmetal.com

The Sidney Green Street Band – S/R
(S/R – 2014)

Clear sounding blues band from Northern New Jersey with a singer/guitarist in Lance Doss (from Alabama) who has a voice not unlike the guys in ZZ Top which is no bad deal at all.

Excellent funky blues opener in ‘Bye Bye Bye’ with many cool numbers on offer throughout like ‘Get It Back’ which is rather Southern and Allman Brothers like and the laid back ‘Some Things Ain’t Gonna Change’ that is kinda like Ronnie Wood meets Steve Miller.

Then there’s the vocal duetted coolness of ‘My Pride’ or a closer that is a pure epic in both length and style – proper drawn out boogie brilliance and goes by title of ‘Consumer’. I was also real pleased to find out the bands drummer is none other than Steve Holley, formerly of Wings!

This is awesome!

9.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

SOLEDOWN – Mudbox
(Sonic Revolution - 2014)

You can tell from the name Mudbox aren't going to merrily lash songs about sex and sunset strip out over all and sundry. And indeed they do not.

The German quintet drive their depressed (very peed off more like) grunge assault in like drills into scarcely sustainable plaster. Rough twin guitars start trampolining up and down on top of the tight-as-buggery bass line and let the rest lie either wide till it moulds. One or two tracks amongst the eleven see frontman Thorsten Willer switch from Layne Staley to something dangerously James Hetfield.

Don't by any means cite that as a bad thing as selections such as 'Nothing To Fear', 'My Sanity', 'Burning', 'One Way', 'Bridges To Burn' and All The Way' yield more metal than the promo description now somewhat vainly concealed. Dirty, raw and alternative in a very appealing fashion, Soledown have their foot flat on your face with their own finesse for weight.

Advice: try buying this album before yours become the next.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Nickelback, Soundgarden & Bush

NET: www.soledown.com

Starblind – Darkest Horrors
(Stormspell Records – 2014)

As it says on the CD itself, ‘Old farts stuck in the 80’s and proud of it’ with songs that sound like a mash of King Diamond, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest oh and maybe some Spinal Tap in there too.

Can’t beat the title track ‘Darkest Horrors’ that is like Skyclad meets Bruce and Rob’s bunch or ‘I Stand Alone’ which is a dead ringer at times for ‘The Evil That Med Do’ from ‘Maiden’s ‘Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son album.

Elsewhere from these Stockholm based Metalheads you get 200 mile an hour numbers with interstellar like vocals not unlike KD himself in ‘Blood In The Night’ & Helloweenesque ‘At The Mountain Of Madness’ or ‘The Great Hunt’ with a riff that reminds me of Steel Panther’s ‘Critter’.

Pure proof that Sweden can still stick Metal Up Your *ss!

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Sunwheel Psychedelic - Wise As Serpents
(S/R – 2014)

Beefy Metal from Chicago, Illinois who are rather dark and not that original to be honest although I do like the instrumental ‘Bastonido’ that comes in two parts.

Elsewhere its rather negative, boomy and tedious but no doubt thy will rock somebodies boat somewhere. Not great.

Personally I’d avoid this but I’ll leave that up to you.

5/10

By Glenn Milligan

August

SOLAMNIA - Those of Honour
(Internet Released - 2014)

Finlands Solamnia conceal a brand of melodic metal ...phrasing in other words that it creeps up on you just as you're expecting something different.

Diving through these five cuts sees you swimming through a few slightly scented musical waters and the sultry female vocals are finely woven in with their frontman's feral garglings. Settling in amidst some sweet acoustic feeds and and an almost Eastern departure for one minute, 'Those Of Honour' sounds perfect enough to be contrived but not contrived enough to offend.

Good.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrilll

AVAILABLE VIA : Amazon, Spotify, iTunes and other good online sources

SPEAKS OF RAIN - Home in Bluffdale
(S/R - 2014)

US duo Speaks of Rain are a couple of old college mates who met up after many decades, still sharing their penchant for all things progular and British.

Seriously spurred on by a little too much Jethro Tull to listen to cuts like 'Black Widows' and 'Orionids 19', their semi instrumental ambient workouts suffer a lot of accessibility issues - under not circumstances should you expect to gel with too many of these ten tracks in just a single lap.

Placing guitars, bass, xylophone, African bells and Irish flute together in one room, messrs Godfrey and Rogers sacrifice little and if you live for any of the late sixties cornerstones of psychedelic rock,critically more than casually you should eventually lap these lads up.

Put as plainly as I can, this cd is destined to drive you to do one of two likely things - yawn gratuitously, ripping the disc from the deck and slinging it as far as you can see, or better still otherwise, set up your paint kit and easel on some quiet English coastal promenade and let your mind together with the atmosphere escort you.

Worth giving a chance.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Porcupine Tree, World Music, Genesis (Peter Gabriel era)

NET: speaksofrain.com

July

Sacred Wind – S/R
(S/R – 2014)

A cheesy tale about farting set to the style of Metal all the way from Wales – hahaha in fact you can even download the story that comes in four volumes.

It’s like Hellween meets the Vikings. High ended vocals and good ole cheesy Metal sounds that really sends it up into the air and begins with an funny opening narrative with Grandson & Grandad in ‘A Time For Magic’ before going on with the earthy heavy 80’s like power metal and then some… Humour filled ditties ensure for you with ‘Hurricane Ass’ ‘Drag Ships & Women’s Hips’ & Metal & Curry’.

Too funny!

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

 

Sons Of Merrick – Of English Execution
(S/R – 2014)

In your face brutal stoner and sludgy sounding metal from these English boys.

9 blasting tracks to be found here that are sure to rip out the cones of your speakers if you play it loud enough with songs like the opening ‘Valley’d And Thunder’d’; the air-raid siren starting ‘Of Dusky Pallor’ that is dirty down-tuned misery or the joyfully titled ‘Bowels Of Britain’.

A bit of tedious listen to be honest with you.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan

SPACE RAFT - S/T
(Dusty Medical Records / Bachelor Records - 2014)

Diversity is the key to Space Raft, says the small line at the end of the promo, and to give my honest opinion its unlocked a lethal beast onto the musical world.

Driving retro-etched rock is the rule of the mill for these four fiery young Americans, slicing it up big and strong-heartedly in nine simple lumps. Stringing it along the sassy guitars of Jordan Davis, his solos and the pumping pianos of TJay Christenson try to play each other off the table but neither lose the battle as they back up the huge hookular flow.

‘We're Not Alone', ‘Evening Glow', ‘Venus In Transit', ‘Anything Is Possible' and ‘Humboldt Reservoir Blues' seem barely above random picks as the whole album itself impresses. Straight, no nonsense guitar pop cut with an alternative knife, Space Raft drift in to us with a mighty first catch.

Fantastic.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Kings Of Leon, Black Sabbath & Procul Harum.

Spiritz – Perfect Sides
(S/R – 2014)

An okay band from the Ukraine who come across rather generic and wallpaperish and sound like many other bands that are around spreading the angst and depression but do an ability to play extremely well all the same.

There’s brutalish nu-metally songs like ‘Not For You’ wioth throatal rawping of Screw You, Screw you’ etc; ‘Stop The Rain’ or the opening

Not for me but there’s an audience for this kinda thing all the same.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan

March/April 2014

Seven Shots From Sober – South On Sierra (E.P.)
(S/R – 2013)

Ballsy Rockin’ trio from Calgary, Alberta, Canada with a few other styles trhthat really take you by surprise as they look so frikkin’ ordinary on the cover itself – proves you can’t judge artists by their image alone.

There’s stoner in ‘South On Sierra’; a gutsy bit of Southerness on ‘Insomniac’ and slutzy coolness on ‘Your Beautiful’ and a total stealing of the riff from ‘Roadhouse Blues’ in ‘Concrete Monster’ while the riff of the closer ‘Not Going’ reminds me totally of Rod Stewart’s ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’.

Decent.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Derek Sherinian – Mythology
(Armoury Records – 2004/14)

An array of stars playing with Derek – most notably being Zakk Wylde who throbs, urps and wails through much of the album in the way that only he can do along guys like Steve Stevens, Brian Tichy and Marco Mendoza.

It’s a solid release with gargantuan arrangements and melodies with many belters such as the opening ‘Day Of The Dead’; ‘Gods Of War’; the gospel coolness and cool ballady bluesness of ‘Goin To Church’ (feat. Steve Lukather on guitar); ‘Trojan Horse’ featuring some guitar galloping craziness from Brian Tichy (Guitar) & Marco Mendoza (Bass) and the closer ‘The River Song’ with the blonde haired axeman on vocals too.

There’s also some cool liner notes from Steve Stevens to top it off too.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Derek Sherinian – Blood Of The Snake
(Armoury Records – 2006/14)

An absolutely astounding album from Derek that features as you can guess some top dollar names playing on these outstanding pieces.

An album you need to give several spins on order to fully appreciate the amount of excellence as you’ll miss things otherwise since there’s so much going on here musically such as the immensely gutsy ‘Man With No Name’ with Zakk Wylde on Vocals/Guitar and the atmospheric instrumental ballad ‘Been Here Before’ feat. the likes of Brad Gillis, Simon Phillips, Tony Franklin and Jerry Goodman.

Now if you ever wondered what Zakk Wylde and Yngwie Malmsteen would sound like together then look no further than the powered up mindf*ck*ng ‘Blood Of The Snake’ with riffs firing on all cylinders as you can no doubt imagine that also has Tony Franklin on Fretless Bass and Brian Tichy on drums or Yngwies motherwatering and to die for fretbusting on ‘Viking Massacre’ that has many of his famous trademarks.

Proving that Derek has a sense of humour about him too he brings in Billy Idol and Slash for a pleaurable romp through Mungo Jerry’s cheesy old classic ‘In The Summertime’ which so frikkin’ cool and needs to be heard to be believed.

Needed in any good Rock CD Collection.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Derek Sherinian – Molecular Heinosity
(Armoury Records – 2009/14)

This is definitely an album aimed at musicians as opposed to the general public as it is not basic 2’s and 4’s that you would hear in your local rock club (if you are still lucky to have one that is).

There’s some real complex material on here such as the opening Atlantis like Trilogy that is ‘Antarctica’; ‘Ascension’ and Primal Eleven with drummer , Virgil Donati all over it with his syncopated off-beat drumming and Derek throwing in unnerving notes to place you off course too.

The interest really grabs me when it gets away from all the wirly keyboard stuff (sorry Derek) and gets more in your face and gutsy when Zakk Wylde plugs in on ‘Wings Of Insanity’ (with some mind-blowing drum thrashing from Brian Tichy); the sick sounds in the title track itself ‘Molecular Heinosity’ or the closing sinister song that ends the album (cool it’s Zakk again!) that is ‘So Far Gone’.

A mixed bag that isn’t a half hearted listen by any means of the phrase.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Kevin Simnacher – Window Of Opportunity
(S/R / SimRock Publishing – 2013)

This man is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA and after being in many cover bands decided to create his own album at fifty – good on him too.

Highlights include the eastern vibed ‘Gypsy Girl’; the folkified ‘Sky Is Falling’; the fast rocker with killer guitar that ‘Time Machine’; the cracking title track itself ‘Window Of Opportunity’ not to mention the outstanding power-driven closer ‘On Our Way To Jupiter’.

Pretty excellent this one!

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

SIPARIO POWER METAL ACT - Oblivion - Dark Thorns
(S/R - 2014)

Here's a lesson in keeping up with the Trade Descriptions Act for you kids....spell out the genre in your own bands name.

Female fronted, Italians Sipario don't disappoint at that, despite fourteen tracks meaning nine actual songs and several spoken interludes in and amongst them. Then I did neglect to mention this is a rock opera (tsk, tsk). Leviathan guitar pieces and perpetuating keyboard lines sweep you away from the start of 'Oblivion' and take you sailing on an epic melodic metal journey you might well be used to but never tire of living.

The instrumentation never becomes one-sided, with solos and keys all stealing it back and forth amist bolshy rockers and ballads alike. Long songs are not a huge speciality here with a verse-chorus-verse and out approach but a shortfall in that is less time to enjoy listening to vocalists Meg and Mari's magnificent performance sliding gracefully along the heads of it all.

Lush continental metal with class and grace - why concept albums seem to suffer such ridicule remains behind me, when they come on this strong.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Mostly Autumn, Nightwish & Ten.

NET: www.reverbnation.com/spariometal

SIRENS LEGACY -The Kraken
(Wacken Foundation - 2013)

Sirens Legacy have been around six years, sweeping the European metal mainland off its mighty studded boots long already before they came to do the same with Metalliville.

Lousy great shame as they are admittedly ra-a-a-ather good, even though I say that about a lot of girl-fronted bands. So this German foursome feature a female leader and oh yes Jennifer Thome can sing the roof off a reinforced nuclear bunker but the other three lads behind her know how to fire a few nuclear sized symphonic metal warheads into the sky as well. 'Ghostship', 'Sacrificed', 'Last Farewell', 'Phoenixflight', 'Sailors', 'Fallen Knight' and 'Mistress Wind' destructively ignite with majesty and mighty harmonies, superb keyboard lasting like a fragrantic fallout after each track is finished straight into the next.

Doing the Dream Theater thang of flicking between rhythms, shredder Michael Firmont cuts everthing finely the same size, with the aptly sufficient solos smelling of a Petrucci trick or two themselves. 'Damned' includes a dangerously Bond sounding intro but its a good sign that these agents have been spying on the best inspirations they can find. Mission accomplished, 'The Kraken' is a collection must, with all the moves in places.

Seek and buy, and support another awesome Teutonic machine.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Mostly Autumn, Epica & Nightwish.

NET: www.sirens-legacy.de

Six Days Til Sunday – Predetermined
(S/R – 2014)

A new band from Los Angeles that features ex-Murderdoll member, Eric Griffin on guitar that far exceeds many acts I’ve heard from the area for a while with a debut release – not to mention an incredibly professional sound and overall mix too.

The album has a real abrasive Marilyn Manson feel and style to it and more with some really well constructed songs indeed. Highlights include the extremely strong ‘My World Would Change’; ‘Afraid To Win’ with an exceptionally good racing melody and solo section.

Then there’s the pummelling drum work found on ‘Before Tomorrow Comes’ and even a surprise in a really excellent guitar meets orchestral styled take of Jeff Buckley’s ‘Hallelujah.

Watch this band get big in the Metal World as it’s only a matter of time I think.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Skookum – Pleasure Cruz
(Fugly Music – 2013)

Interesting name indeed who present some classic rock sounds from Vancouver, Canada.

It’s very crunchy at times with wailing guitar and throaty vocals through the cd that has 14 songs in all. There are a handful of great songs on here such as the opening rocker ‘Pleasure Cruz’; the acoustic ‘Aydan’s Song’ that reminds me of early 70’s Led Zeppelin; the slidin’ guitar on ‘I Got’ or the humourous ‘Growing Up’s a Bitch’.

Okay.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

SORIZON – Somnus
(S/R -2013)

Radical metal is what South California's Sorizon are swiftly introduced to us as by the promo.

Radical indeed the word - these five lads strech their tape to take in a lot of subgenres often prefered seperate. Take opener 'Captor of Dreams' with its catapult between Kamelot influenced melodic metal and an all too familiar aggresive deathcore roar. Running on hooks, the song plus most of the subsequent eight deal in decent chori apiece as Keith McIntosh soars aloft with operatic amiability.

Using solos as their second most effective weapon, guitarists Danny and Tim attack at force, smashing down your city via speed metal shells as 'Escaping The Witch', 'Morpheus', 'Slumber Into Death' and 'Twisted Hands of Fate' in an hugely enjoyable Annihilator-meets-Metallica blitz.

Strangely they have their subtle side on display too with 'Second Betrayal' and the ballad oriented 'Illusions' but Sorizon sound so full of those, they should be forgiven by the purists amongst us. Strong, unflinching old school metal melded into a hybrid by the hottest of irons, 'Somnus' is head and shoulders above other examples of styles crossed over with this degree of panache.

Suggesting you broaden your erm... Sorizons and seek this mother out on the shelves.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Forbidden, Megadeth, Morbid Angel, Dio, & Stratovarius

NET: www.Sorizon.net

THE SPECTACLE - Traitors (E.P.)
(DoForIt Records - 2013)

The Spectactle are a Texan fivesome who make a noise that is, well frankly spectacularly noisy but also little else.

Skewering together the staple elements of fellow statesmen Ministry and Pantera aims to please a few but Phil and Al probably took a lot more time and care preparing their works than this act. Tight as the playing is, this five track mini- album suffers most of its minutes tripping up on its own shoelaces as speed metal, death, industrial, grunge and grindcore all cram into a space scarcely intended for two.

With undistinguishable rhythm changes and seemingly pretentious progressive moments that stop and go all over the place, theres no argument that like the rest they are out to forge themselves a niche.

Sadly though, these guys succeed only in making a ...erm, Spectacle of themselves.

4/10

By Dave Attrill

Stardust Circus – Monkeys Of XXI
(S/R – 2013)

Cracking glam band from Belaruse who have some corking songs on offer despite the strangest of titles with strong 80’s like lead vocals and a style that puts me in mind of Dangerous Toys crossed with Bang Tango & Zodica Mindwarp plus other cool things thrown in there too like a bit of industrial groove.

They’ve got some real grabbing hooks, killer bv’s and all round excellence and
outstanders on here include the opening industrial bizarreness of ‘War Overture’; the tell it how it is, ‘Keep On Rockin’ and the very Joe Leste likeness of ‘I Won’t Save The World’ that has a sinsister like Skid Row ambience to it as well. Then there’s the pounding sleazefest of ‘Red Light’ and the excellent Led Zep meets Bang Tango like closer ‘Heaven No1’.

You’ll dig ‘em.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Status Quo – Piledriver (Deluxe Edition)
(Universal – 2014)

And it’s down memory lane from some 1972 Quo which has been re-released in a 2-cd package of the the original album and a bonus Cd with BBC Session tracks and the Paris Theatre from 1st March 1973.

Always been a great album which I got in mid 80’s on vinyl as a reissue. How can you not like an album with classics like ‘Don’t Waste My Time’; ‘Big Fat Mama’ ‘Paper Plane’ or ‘Roadhouse Blues’ which are all live staples to this day, not mention fantastic album tracks like the ballads ‘A Year’ & the beautiful ‘All The Reasons’.

Okay, I managed to get some of us have a lot of the second cd already on bootleg or recorded from 'The Saturday Rock Show' back in the day hosted by the late, great Alan Freeman but it’s cool to actually own it officially. The band are so good that at times you can’t tell the BBC Peel Session versions from those on the Piledriver album itself such as ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ which appears twice – 2 different sessions and a pre-listening to ‘Softer Ride’ too from the forthcoming ‘Hello! album.

That Live show is an absolute joy and Francis had his tongue-in-cheek cocky confidence back then, heckling and taking the piss out the audience as some knew the new album and others obviously didn’t. Yes there’s the odd wrong note bleeping out now and again but it just simply adds to the raw, simplistic charm of it. ‘In My Chair’ is so damn cool, deep and dirty and ‘Railroad’ rocks so hard as we expect the Quo to do.

They don’t half sing parts of ‘Paper Plane’ high and it’s so good to hear ‘Someone’s Learning’ that’s never done these days. The banter is so funny in ‘Roadhouse Blues’ – like “There’s a lady picking her nose there!” & “Go on my son!”. Holy Hell ‘Bye Bye Johnny’ has some sheer guts from Alan Lancaster and we’ll let him off for forgetting the words at one point.

I look forward to more deluxe re-releases of all things ‘Frantic Four’ in the coming months – if that is the case.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

STRUCTURAL DISORDER - The Edge Of Sanity
(S/R - 2014)

Was beginning to think these Swedes are suffering that themselves, and for a large part of their debut long player I'm not entirely convinced I'm wrong on this.

Sickly industrial-tinged deathcore fusion meets folk-crusted technical prog metal, greets me for opening track 'I 1.18' and threatens to stay beyond its welcome for most of the album. Meaty progressions and samples have many places amongst today's modern metal industry but they don't often come parked so clumsily together, the result being I keep starting to enjoy the momentum at times until they switch to poor-man's-Linkin Park mode mid-tune and the whole thing is turned frankly t*ts-up.

Proceeding to prove me mistaken that this is the direction of the whole album, they put in as many grippy moments such as 'Child In The Ocean' plus the hugely Dream Theater-like 'Corpse Candles'. Utilisising some masterly guitar/keyboard talent, and also tasty accordion work while I'm at it, the second half of 'T.E.O.S.' sits with me well but I would have preferred a whole album of those against their other typical product any time. Might just report this as 'metal experiment nearly ended disastrously due to some chemicals frothing over on bunsen burner.'

Whew...close!

6/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.structuraldisorder.com

Suns Of Stone – S/T
(Bad Reputation – 2014)

Cookin’ rockers that have a Southern feel to them but are actually from Ottawa, Canada.

Their songs are solid and they’ve been established on and off as a unit over the years with these debut album making a great impact on my ears with their gutsy and earthy rock that has element of The Black Crowes, Rival Sons and older bands like Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynrd in eaqual quantities.

Certain songs really grab my tabs like the opening almost funk riffed ‘Hold On Me’ that opens up into a 70’s delight; ‘Rise Up’ that reminds you of ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynrd combine – not to mention that John Bonham like opening.

And about the cool as hell ‘Another Dollar’ that is Gary Rossington and Steve Gaines to a Tee in the axe department or the closing sure –to-be Dixie epic from up North that is ‘Piece Of Mind’ that is a real heartfelt ballad with some bluesy guitar sounds to die for.

These Canadians are well worth a listen.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

Sweetkiss Momma - A Reckoning Is Coming
(S/R – 2013)

Absolutely outstanding Southern Rockers who tick every single box with strong songs, purely authentic sounds and riffs to die for – this is pure Dixie excellence.

‘A Reckoning Is Coming’ stands up next to albums by The Black Crowes, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Black Stone Cherry at their finest moments where you can literally land on any song and be blown away.

Wow so many knockout numbers on here such as the gutsy opener ‘Fix My Hair’ that immediately sets the stall out from the start; the early like ZZ Toppish title track ‘A Reckoning Is Coming’; ‘Dirty Uncle Deezer’ with cooking harmonica shrieks and gospel like backing vocals.

Then there’s the slipper stonging ‘Get Some Love’ with a sound akin to good ole Rev. Billy G and other cool bluesy rock icons not to mention electric and acoustic versions of a song titled ‘Breath Rebel’ that talks about who you are and what you stand for.

Truly Magical.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Switchblade – Heavy Weapons
(Killer Metal Records – 2013)

Full on old school Heavy Metal from Israel believe it or not that instantly puts you in mind of artists like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and even Accept at times.

It don’t let up hardly for a second from the opening title track that is ‘Heavy Weapons’ right through to the closing ‘Endless War’. Highlights in all things leather include ‘Metalista’; the ballad ‘Lost Lovers Unite’ that is so Bruce Dickinson in the vocal dept to say the least.

Then there’s the fast tempo’d beating at ya ‘Curse Of The Father, Sins Of The Son’ that is very Priest-like with even a bit of Dio creeping in. An excellent way to spend Sunday afternoon indeed especially when you get galloping cool *ss riffs like ‘Into The Unknown’ to devour.

It’s 1986 all over again so dig out that black leather studded, tassle jacket and crank these guys up!

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

December

Stone Diamond – We Stole The Stars From The Black Night
(Davin Enterprises – 2013)

Excellent Rock band from Cologne, New York that go into commercial territories at times and remind me of bands like U2 or INXS during points of the album.

There’s some well worked out melodies on here and terrific bright songs overall and I really like the opener bouncy ‘Love Stays’; the cheesey simple and to the point number ‘Let It Roll’ (not a cover of the UFO song); the U2 like ‘When We Were Young’ & the sad sounding ‘Traumatised’.

On the up and up for sure and it shouldn’t be long before they make an impact on the chart on both sides of the Atlantic. The sound is incredible and this album is definitely a grower.

Oh by the way guys, can we have the stars back.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Sweet – The Answer
(Angel Air – 2013)

This is Sweet in name only because the only member here is Andy Scott on guitar, lead and backing vocals which needs stating from the start as this is more of a mid 80’s rock band than 70’s Glam band that Sweet were famous for.

Mal McNulty here takes over on vocals from Brian Connolly though the line-up of the band has altered a fair bit since this was originally released back in 1984 and even has Bodo Schopf of Falco (Rock Me Amadeus) fame on drums/percussion and effects.There some great numbers on here though Quo like ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’; the cheesey hard rocker ‘Marshall Stack’ that’s a tribute to Jim Marshall’ or the hilarious parody going by the name of ‘Crudely Mott’ that turns into Hungarian sounding folk music.

‘Natural’ is a beautiful ballad with soft tranquil vocals that matches the mood of the song perfectly with some fabulous orchestral instrumental like qualities in there too and ‘Mind’ has got a real beatle-phased brilliance to the vocals with the song itself being rather Europe meets US Arena Soft Rock.

The opener ‘Do As I Say’ reminds me of Queen’s ‘One Vision’ with regard to the intro but it predates it by two years and is a great Deep Purple meets US Radio friendly Pomp when the song gets going. I can’t help but like the Spinal Tap’ish ‘Stand Up’ that’s a really joyous rocker all the same with a cool riff and chorus that has grandiose spandex written all over it.

Decent enough for its time but I think it’d favour better if the band had a different name altogether – just my personal opinion.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

November
Seventh Veil – White Trash Attitude
(Street Symphonies – 2013)

Decent enough rockers from Verona that blend 80’s classic rock to hair metal with a gruff sounding lead vocalist in Steven who sings in English but still very much holds onto his own accent.

Highlights on the album include the intro that is the title of the release itself, the first song ‘Red Light In Your Eyes’; ‘Nasty Skin’; ‘Are You Ready To Die?’ and the American DJ introduced secret song ‘Jack ‘n’ Roll’.

Good.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Sons Of Hippies – Griffons At The Gates Of Heaven
(Cleopatra Records – 2013)

Now this is a quirky band from Florida that sound like a cross between Hawkwind, Toyah, Brigitte Wishart and Siouxsie And The Banshees all rolled into one with a wacky indie flair to them too.

The name is confusing since they have female fronting the trio in Katherine Kelly that has additional musicians there too on things like moog, audio oscillation and acoustic guitar that makes for an interesting listen as you can no doubt imagine.

Amazing sounds in the opening ‘Forward’ with its phaser-like cosmicness; the atmospheric choral ‘Rosie’ that has a cracking melody to it; the oscillating ‘Spaceship Ride’ that is kinda like U2 meets Suuz that has a real attractive bassline to it or the ballsy rocked up ‘Minute x Minute’ that is like what would happen if you met Toyah & Kate Bush on an acid trip.

Intriguing and need to be heard.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

SPIRITROW - The Signs
(S/R - 2013)

The signs are already there - warning me to expect dark angry, growling...or perhaps screaming noisy metal stuff.

Except it appears to be a bit more and better than that. Driven not by trends and bandwagon spaces going begging but instead by class, Italy's Spiritrow play it astoundingly old school and accessibly astute instead.

Trading away aimless alternative metal in place of Metallica-meets-Cathedral crunch, the game here is evidently to get into a groove and hold it right to the line. Knocking rocks off the hill top with a hammer continuously swung in circles, slick rhythm guitars ratchet away round typically guttural vocal noises set in a rhythm and reedeemingly decipherable.

Ten molten tablets of menacing metal are the result and despite some awkward death overpours down the side, they drip away in their archaic heat. Touching 'Even Stars Cry', 'Said F**k', 'Voice of Nothing', 'Inflictions', 'EPF' and 'On Time ' minus gloves is strictly ill- advised but missing out on this unknown metal treat is a serious hazard of disappointment.

Check it out and enjoy extreme metal as it should still be played.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Testament, Slayer, Orange Goblin & Sepultura.

NET: www.myspace.com/spiritrow

State Of Insomnia - American Psycho
(Bloodshot Productions – 2013)

These are a new madcap bunch who fall somewhere between Slipknot, Pantera and even have elements of Biohazard and Mushroomhead and loads more who come out of Bakersfield, California.

So much on here that got my attention as they have incredible playing abilities once you get over the bawly vocals and overdone up-to-date moshiy nu-metal riffs since they have a lot going on. Love the banjo intro’d ‘Get My Drink On’; the cracking short ballad that is ‘Mother’s Cry’; the outstanding powerful loud ballad called ‘Lost Inside’ that has a killer guitar solo in, not to mention is also duet with Ellie Enns.

Then there’s the hilarious ‘WTF’ that is literally a phone call from a buddy concerning a chick that he won’t touch no matter how much whiskey he can down that is followed by the hilarious ditty aptly titled ‘Whiskey Dick’ – no doubt influenced by the phone call – hahaha. Or what about the hardcore sounds of ‘Rearranging’ that Scott Ian would totally dig!

Check out the crazy phone messages at the end of the album too – jesus!

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

STONE ORANGE - The Dreamcatcher
(Street Symphonies Records - 2013)

Cross between mainstream rock and hard edged guitar driven sound, bordering to metal, the promo states.

Slovenia's Stone Orange do exactly what they say on the tin and a bell of a lot on top. From punk-oriented pop rock power of opener 'Broken Man' and the stomping crunch of 'I Am Whatever', to the solo-laced 'Lovetron' these four lads give melodic rock fans of all shapes and sizes a spin for their money. Yet while straight ahead hard rockers like the keyboard-peppered 'Pride of Pain', 'Scare Me', 'Nobody Cares' and 'Whites of their Eyes' steal a garganutan part of the glory, my personal standout would definitely be ballad 'It Keeps on Raining' with a chorus you just would not see coming... though you can also see it appealing to a few Nickelback fans.

Stealing a slight bit from 'Highway Star', the solo along with chorus of 'Nobody Cares' seem to work end to end as one continuous slide, though singer Marko Erjavec's shrill, updated range sets the vocal segments well apart to the ear, reminiscing Offspring's Dexter Holland as he does, a tad. Deep and innovative with the adequate eighties element, Stone Orange deliver a wholly unexpected tour de force of traditional rock cut in with contemporary chisels.

'Dream Catcher’ is a serious surge of East European electricity that should definetely not be touched withwet hands.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: The Cult, Tyketto & Bon Jovi.

NET:www.stoneorange.com

September

SAGA - Spin it Again Live (CD/DVD)
(Ear Music - 2013)

With all these prog acts foaring into the old revival thang, Canadian legends, Saga could stay there on the sidelines could they.

Especially when original and best man Michael Sadler showed back up at the door wanting (or wanted) back into the action again. Even after a mere half decade away, he shows how much he was missed with the might of this double cd show, captured in Munich earlier this year. Opening with 'Anywhere You Wanna Go' a track from the amiably received '20/20' comeback, the crowd are warmed up as wildly as Germans can get. Time for the classics to come, 'Mouse in a Maze' leads a dozen plus paramount favourites, fast and furious.

Sadler hasn't been damaged one single iota by the winds of time, his sweet, regal range laying it down to them mightily as it does on disc. Keeping up the razory eighties chord sound that connected them with metal audiences seems none too uncomfortable for Ian Crichton as he slams it down throughout 'Careful Where You Step' and plenty of other cornerstones to come. Most unusually only four numbers from the timeless 'Worlds Apart' album feature (possibly to do with the fact they played the entire bleeder on their previous tour) but the treble-header of 'On the loose', 'Wind Him Up' and 'Framed' do make for a handsome brace late in the set.

Two further newbies show up, but I think 'Spin it Again' and 'Six Feet Under' are robustly fine Saga numbers, they are swallowed up by the likes of 'Flyer', 'The Cross' 'Humble Stance' and 'Tired World', just as they are swallowed practically whole by the hordes of adoring Deutsch folk without choking. As the closing crescendo of 'Don't Be Late' finally rolls out time's up for this titanium hour-and-three quarters of a restlessly vibrant career - not to mention a hugely successful, sold out tour. At 36 years active these guys have been around as long as I have been breathing air and I'm pretty much out of it by now myself.

The accompanying live DVD covers the same show, and shows all original members, bar current drummer Mike Thorne up and pumping away the powerful harmonies. Seventy five percent of the material comes massively further to life on screen, including instrumental track 'Corkentallis' showcasing Mr Sadler's multi-instrumentalism to the hilt amongst many tracks.

That he can also play guitar, bass, keyboard and drums does beckon wondering why he needs a full band doing the rest around him. That said his charismatic duets and duels with keyboard mainstay Jim Gilmour steal the gig, as does their newly shorn leader's commendable likeness to Sir Ben Kingsley these days. Whilst Crichton compliments his playing with the classic neck in the air posing at every turn Mike handles the drums on solo cut 'Fish Beat' as a bold initiation into the ranks, attracting again a lot more attention visually with the assisting coloured light display. I don't happen to have twigged on any British dates (sadly) in the Saga itinerary as yet but Germany's enthusiasm might just propel these lads along this way if enough pay the money. You can help by investing in this stonking package.

Harem Scarem and Von Groove might hog much of the glory nowadays but don't forget where Canada's seeds on the melodic rock field were sown the biggest beforehand.

10/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Rush, Styx, Queensryche, Genesis & Asia.

NET: www.sagaontour.ca

THE SEED - Pull the Trigger... and Bite This Bullet
(S/R - 2013)

Not Nick Cave coming out of hiding with a cut-length band name, these Spaniards however are very bad seeds making a big bad noise.

Straight-cut thrash in towering twin guitar tradition knocks you off your perch, as if sounding to make the predictable actually less so when you've been sat with your eyes half open for a while. Lethal repeating riffs and real choruses slay and skewer your cynicisms as the Europeans show their current day US counterparts how good they used to do it themselves.

Vocalist Koko brings a sturdy leg to the table with an extreme metal growl that's impressively decipherable, mixing Cavalera and Anselmo elements. The result - ten solid metal slabs that wont stand to break on your head too easily - live or in the studio - are dropped to form a punishingly hard patio below.

Might be worth watching this seed grow, peoples.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Slayer, Sepultura, Evile, Pantera, Machine Head & Biohazard.

NET : www. myspace.com/theseedmusica

SEPUKU - Demo & Live Perversions
(S/R)

The year is 2013. Deep into the digital age, as I look into the latest heap of cds and suddenly I fish out something shaped uncannily like a...CASSETTE!!!

Kudos in absolute cupped handloads to the chaps that call themselves Sepuku for this unprecedented two-fingers at modern day technology requirements. Sadly that's about as far as the praise for this three, piece extends, other than that their paltry death metal enjoys a superb production job.

There are worse bands but these tunes still suffer under the shadow of averageness and also an awkward stop -go pace setting that irritates at best. Third track 'Deathcrust' takes to a slightly more palatable punk corner for a pinch of its duration but the rest of the way its all an average day in the extreme metal mill.

Live, they seem to have it together which from the four tracks on the second side seems the best way to see them, otherwise this cassette make for little more than a worthwhile museum piece.

5/10 (Music) / 10/10 (Format)

By

Dave Attrill

Shadowqueen – Don’t Tell
(Bad Reputation – 2013)

Slutzy hard rocking trio with a fabulous female vocalist in Robbi Zana who is selling the songs to us who has a voice that immediately makes me think of Alanis Morissette & Anastasia’s finest moments and more...

It’s awesome to find that some of the best bands seem to come from Melbourne, Australia – where my buddies Dead City Ruins also hail from. Numbers like the opening blistery blues ‘n’ rock of ‘Best Of Me’ really set the level of gripping solid riffery and very believable vocals. Robbi is also the bands bassist with the musical triangle completed with guitarist, Si Hopman and drummer, Alex Deegan.

So many highlights on the album such as ‘Don’t Tell’ about a erotic sexual encounter; the not giving easily ‘What You Want’ that has a really strong sing-along chorus; the hard ‘n’ ballsy ‘Karma’ & the funktified ‘Paint Your Face’. They have a real zest to them and plenty old school appeal too – a real melting pot of Black Sabbath, Muse, Pink and a general uptempo-ness overall.

Not a weak song or filler in the entire 11 song album and that’s a rarity these days indeed.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

SHEILAN - Para Toda La Eternidad
(Santo Grial - 2013)

Malaga - now there's a place we don't hear the name of on mother earth metal's satellites too frequently - will Sheilan now return to patch up the gaping hole? I use the word' return' to clear the air on the fact that this frenetic foursome have been at it since 1989.

Strangely enough they come cautiously updated in style here, abandoning most of what might have gone before. Layering melodic metal vocals in a sometimes-alternative,sometimes-power metal style along with the as-standard death growl, lead vocalist Carlos Jimenez gets away with all of this in Spanish, though on the weight of the harmonious side,the translations take less than a lot of guessing.

And thats before you get on to the subject of their music - make way as prog, extreme and just about every other contrastable metal form moves in like the doors are left negligently open.

Good Dream Theater vibrations shake third track 'Volver a Nacer' along with classy metal leads from guitar geezers Emilio Sanchez and Carlos Lorda, rebounding strongly into the start of the closing title number before a brutal thrash turn takes hold.

Devastatingly technical yet not tedious, this short, sharp mini-album shocks in positive channels. Whilst at least some small English detail on the sleeve wouldn't have hurt, the Latin talent for this type of music suffers no taint.

Total gracias for this, guys.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.sheilan.com

SILENTLIE - Blood Under Snow
(S/R - 2013)

I often wondered what might actually lay hidden beneath the old white winter fluff.... then some of my childhood sledging smashes were indeed quite nasty.

Chat over, there's absolutely no nasty surpises in this five-track mini album from Italy's Silentlie. The girl-fronted four-piece get it on with a gothic creaminess,straight-aimed song structures and emotional direction all together working the pistons. ‘Regret’, ‘While I Hurt Myself’ and ‘Cruel Look’ possess a slight Evanescence-ism about them whilst the title tune goes for a sharper metal edge with distinct prog dynamics in the centre.

Riveting stuff, with a feeling performance from vocalist Georgia Sacco Taz adding individual zest to it throughout, Silentlie should not stay too silent for a while if their sound begins to sell on our side of the channel.

Look out for this one.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE : Mostly Autumn, My Dying Bride & Queensryche.

NET: www.facebook.com/silentlieband

SKY POLICE - Entangled

(Interval Records - 2013)

No, not a dig at Sting's satellite TV meanderings, Sky Police still liken a weighty third of their approach to the eighties pop legends.

Slender, electric/acoustic flavoured alternative with ambient delivery instead of poor mans punk pretences are what these four boys called Boris, Tim, Rigo and Alex are about. With aded jazz and funk colourings, the smooth, airy vocals of Boris Polissky are almost a third guitar themselves but dont fall into the dissolve beyond their advisable depth.

The eleven numbers each offer feel and meaningfulness sent to you in silk envelopes labelled 'Run', 'Baby Let's Get Married', 'Entangled', 'WW1' and 'In The Morning' amongst them plus the sweet violin noises set to play if you open 'Watching You'. 'Essence' shows another side not seen coming with a Marillion shaped hand on the style switch but Polisky pulls off a fantastically polished job. Brilliantly performed and written with passion 'Entangled', despite being classed as rock, stands to merits solid crossover credibilty from many corners .

Sky Police are a band to savour without bias - buy or risk arrrest.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.skypolice.net

STARFIRE - The Way I Am
(Dynasty Records - 2013)

Los Angeles was once one of the hotbeds of melodic hard rock the world over.

Was should be rephrased IS as Starfire set the genre pleasantly alight with this perky album of pop-tinged songs and melodies as if they'd stored many years for an occasion. Now on reading further down the promo, it turns out I am right. The musical baby of guitarist/vocalist Dairenn Lombard, Starfire have actually been around since 2006, having begun as a backing band to begin with, the ten tunes having been written between 5-10 years previous. Sounding more like 20-30, the quality of Lombards craftmanship is without question either way as all of these tracks simply ooze class and passion both in playing and singing, including his stunning soloing.

Glimmering harmonies and huge choruses stay in the air even when the moths have got tired for the night, whilst Dairenns solos set the clocks back with superglue.'Circle of Misery', 'Temptation', 'Rock Your World', 'Lip Service', 'Did You Know', 'Pass Away' and the metallic closing title track showcase the strength and chemistry of this act as a unit, demonstrated heavily also by keyboardswoman/backing vocalist Neara Russel, a damn good player herself and with her own plausible pipes. Superbly arranged, simple rock numbers soaked in true Americanness, Starfire deliver me their first taste and leave me dying for more, let alone the release date of this baby.

Incredible stuff from a surefire discovery of 2013, I'd say recommended is an understatement here.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Def Leppard, Autograph, Honeymoon Suite, Rush, Styx & Kick

NET: www.starfire.com www.myspace.com/starfireband

Status Quo – Back2 SQ.1 - The Frantic Four Reunion 2013 (CD/DVD Box Set)

A boxed set that compiles 4 CDs and 2 DVD’s of that tour that every hardcore, old-school fan of the Quo wanted to see happen.

What you get is the audio of the Glasgow O2 Academy Gig and the Hammersmith Apollo Gig too which are both totally outstanding. Okay Rick Parfitt sounds a bit worn and strained at times but as he said himself in the inclusive documentary that is with the Wembley Arena DVD – this was very demanding material to perform at this stage of their lives and it took enough to do that as opposed to running and leaping around like back in the day.

The set-list for the shows are built around the seminal ‘Live’ album that was recorded at the Glasgow Apollo in 1976 so they have included the classic intro but took out the venue name so it worked at all the dates. Of course this makes for certain that you get killer songs that feature plenty of Alan Lancaster on vocals like ‘Backwater’; ‘Just Take Me’ and ‘Is There A Better Way?’. Brilliant to hear ‘Don’t Waste My Time’, ‘Most Of The Time’ and many others that appeared on that seminal.

Sound-wise it’s a lot more in your face and harsher and rawer because there are no keyboards at the shows because they didn’t use them in that period. It’s very authentic to say the least – in fact, shut your eyes and it’s the mid 70’s again. I mean how can you beat the hard-hitting straight to the point meat and potato drum work of John Coghlan or the throbbing gutsy heaviness bass playing of Alan Lancaster that has been missing for the best part of three decades.

What makes the set-list even more appealing than the Live album set was already is the inclusion of never played before or hardly played numbers since their release such as ‘Blue Eyed Lady’; ‘Oh Baby’ and ‘April Spring, Summer and Wednesdays’ but I just wish ‘Daughter’ had been added too – but you can’t have everything can you? Bob Young has been added to the table too who gets up on stage a couple of times too such as on ‘Roadhouse Blues’.

This set is an absolute must for a real Quo fan and even has voxpops from loads of fans, rehearsal footage and the view from Coghlan as well from the stage via a special camera.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

STEEL CITY - Now's the Time
(logic(il)logic - 2013)

Not from Sheffield, the band laying claim to the Steel City moniker this time out might have still proved a prided export, if only Bring Me The Horizon had had the kindness not to exist.

With an intro drum that reminds you of the start of Star Wars Episode III, these Italians sure waste no time in teasing you about their content. Takes little exploration before we find feral melodic metal core comfortably tucked herein. Not known for prolific activity as regarding this genre, SC's homeland hit you hard on the ol'cranium with a contemporary aggro metal album that impresses old and young like they're huddled together listening in the same room.

Meaty old-school metal solos seem quite ill fitting to this place but the commercial turn comes through a dissolved progression before punching you back in the face to make sure. Rough, sturdy twin guitars and strong drive make for substance in Steel City's music. Crappy it is indeed that they only have nine tunes worth, as this is a scarce example of a once great genre at its better, our European brothers handling the repairs.

Now's the time for a total resurrection, I reckon.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Biohazard & Machine Head.

NET: www.logicillogic.net

August

Steriod Freak Pussy - D.O.R / If it Ain't Broke (We're Gonna Break It)
(Sprocket Science Records - 2013)

Balls out Sleasze punk with bawling at ya vocals that reminds me of Motorhead & Zodiac Mindwarp with a little hint of Seb Bach era Skid Row.

It's a double A side single release from a band with a great name from Leads - no wonder they ring a bell as it's just up the road from me. The main two numbers come at you like a bag of dirty circular saws that can still cut ya to shreda no matter what filth they are covered in while the bonus track 'Genosha' takes you by surprise as it's a ballad telling you they aren't gonna die any more.

Bet they are awesome on stage.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

July

Screaming Eagles - From The Flames
(S/R - 2012)

Good ole rockin' stuff from Northern Ireland that's very much in the style of 70's AC/DC with elements of bands like Buckcherry and Tokyo Dragons too - much to my personal delight.

There's a real feel-good factor to these guys for sure that hits you immediately with 'All The Way'; that is followed up by 'Down The River' and later numbers like 'Rock N Roll Soul' 'Blood' and 'Take My Time' and the closer 'Blood'.

Pure Gibson rawness and high volume stacks is the name of the game here. It's little wonder that thy are making leaps and bounds and big headway on Interner radio stations. A band that deserves to be heard on a wider scale and on stage too.

Brilliant - these guys keep the real deal alive!

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Shanghai Guns - Seven Shots
(Bellaphon - 2012)

No there ain't a Japanese guy in sight in this band but this band is in fact from Germany and come across like Hair Metal meets Scorpions as there's song high ended vocals from Stefan Tudela and flash guitar work from ex-Roko axe slinger, Yves Leyvraz.

7 songs and an intro make up this mini album since it clocks in at just over 32 minutes with some killer cheesey 80's Rock moments in 'Hard Way Long Decision' and 'As Long As I Rock' and 'Party Animal Dude (PAD)' that has some slick double drumming on there from Sebastian Chave - this is very Van Halen meets Yngwie J. Malmsteen at times too.

Can't help thinking how this band would sound if fronted by an American vocalist as I keep thinking Klaus Mein too much while listening to this album.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Stark Raven - All We Want To Do Is Rock n' Roll
(S/R - 2013)

Clue in the title what this band are like - yep Chuck Berry meets Status Quo but with weak vocals.

There's two seperate CD's as well but I found it hard to get past the 1st one to be honest with you as there's not much to keep your attention really - truth be done. They mean well and are from Poughkeepsie, NY and are enjoying what they do.

They just don't have that oomph factor - they need a strong vocalist in there and move on as well as it's hard to get excited about an excessive amount of 12-bars - unless it's working for them in the venues they play.Major improvement is a no-brainer to stand a chance these days in the bigger field of things.

5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Status Quo - Bula Quo
(Fourth Chord Records - 2013)

Yes it's the soundtrack album to the movie the guys have got out but despite you thinking it's gonna be cocktails and cheesiness it actually surprises you with some extremely good cuts.

Split into two cds - the 1st of which has all brand new songs - 9 in all with some quality numbers the tropical authentic ballad 'Mystery Island' sung by Rick Parfitt in a gorgious real choir like voice as opposed to the balls out bawl we are all so used to. Another shiner is the hard-*ss 'Run & Hide (The Gun Song)' which sees Rhino take the mike and comes across more like Hugh Lloyd Langton Hawkwind as opposed to the usual Quo boogie. Then there's there's 'GoGoGo' with its James Bond like riffs.

The second CD is basically other songs featured on the soundtrack - an array of live & studio material that's already been released via the last album 'Quid Pro Quo' and a couple of numbers Live From Montreux - the standout being 'Pictures Of Matchstick Men' by far'. What really makes the second CD worth having is the beatiful Fiji styled 'Living On An Island' which I personally can't stop playing and should become a single or even the remake of 'Rockin' All Over The World (Bula Edit') is stellar too. Interesting album that opens the box to what else this band can do if they give themselves a chance.

Would like to see more varied styles on future releases as well.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

May

SURTR - Pulvis Et Umbra
(Altshphere Production - 2013)

France does a lot of things well. Does doom metal also appear on their list. To be honest probably yes.

Surtrs produce may not pillage the opposition as groundbreaking fare goes but still they like what they live for and audibly live for what they play, even if lyrics such as 'Satan Rise Again, Satan Lives Again' send you cringing. Good, basic Goth metal performance from guitarist/vocalist Jeff Maurer on more or less both his duties sets generic metal elements as a weapon still not to doubt the deadliness of in 2013.

Nice bounce up-and-down doom grooves such as those you are treated to on second track 'Three Winters Of War' endlessly reverberate old-school echoes throughout each tune of the seven.

Nice, dark music done with a pedestrian edge.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Candlemass & My Dying Bride.

NET. www.surtr.net

SWEET KENNY - Jennifer's Box Of Junk
(Waterfall Records - 2012)

Just hoping it isn't one itself, this Detroit act's debut is pretty far from becoming so at the best of moments.

Solid tunes instantly recognisable as a unique brand of hard rock called their own, Sweet Kenny mainman Ken Sutton and sidekick Scott Schroen knock all the best of seventies prog's smoother end and eighties rock's rough -edged areas together to see how they heat.
'America's Hottest Mom', 'Blackjack Moan', 'But Only To Find Out', 'Used, Hurt, Payback!' and 'Jennifer' send the froth foaming close to over the top with their gritty culmination of classic and ambient rock sounds plus a interesting rap/blues exploration on the Joe Cocker-esque 'Little Girl' that strangely works.

Unorthordox almost to the max, Sweet Kennys style is not to be ignored lightly after one single listen, Michigan multi-instrumentalist Ken getting a hypnotic lid over the little tat there is with his talents.

Give it a go.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.sweetkenny.com

April

Seven Nails - Factory Of Dreams
(S/R - 2013)

Progressive Symphonic Metal from Germany with both male and female fronted vocals that are in the Evanescense, Epica and Nightwish style of things.

Great riffing and operatic vocals throughout this album that keeps you thoroughly intriqued and entertained throughout the entire album with strings, chugging guitars and excellent musical arrangements. Highlights include the 1st real number that is 'Factory Of Dreams' that sets the bands stall out from the start; the epic 'Frozen Blue' or the egyptian vibed 'Pharoah's Call'.

Then there's the long instrumental intro'd 'Prisoner Of My Own'; the hard-hitting 'Msquerade' or the war sfx that fire off 'Choose Your Weapons Right'. Sometimes bands of this nature get self-indulgent and are less than pleasing to the ear but the Seven' have nailed it no problem.

Good well-planned material indeed - pure art.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Spill Sixteen - Let It All Hang Out
(S/R - 2012)

Probably the best band I have heard from Sheffield in many years on the rock front and to be honest I'd expect nothing less when you've got Guitarist, Andy Mewse & Bassist, Indy Chanda in the tight unit who were previously been in Silverjet .

The double S dudes really kick up the licks and have some well chosen polished songs on this debut album that they've exquisitely recorded with guitarist JJ Watt being the head controller of the desk. This debut has a real warm sound to it and gives damn good treatment to second to none songs like the opener 'Doing It Tonight' that makes me think Southern Rock meets Sheffield; the hard-hitting 'Damned' & 'All The Same'; the heartfelt ballad 'You Make Me Cry' & the stand-out live staple 'One Way To Go' that has a Cinderella like element to it.

Nothing short of brilliant. You won't find any filler on this at all and what a cracking high voice Steve Church has as well which has so much clarity and real emotion to it with Dave Byrne laying down some thunderous well-striked crashings on his kit. This brings an 80's Rock style up to date and you just know this band are doing what they feel. It all comes across so natural and flowing without comprimising quality one bit. Make sure you catch them live as they will astound you with their professionalism and sheer excellence.

Best band from Sheffield since Def Leppard - hands down.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

net: www.spillsixteen.com

February

SKINNER - The Enemy Within
(S/R - 2012)

Not to confuse with a certain German act of almost identical name, Skinner do nonetheless consist mostly of personnel familiar to one.

Formed by three fifths of past Metalliville favourites Imagika, a second pint of interest abounds in the inclusion of a father and son duo occupying the twin guitar mantle. Rob Kolowitz, the central engine of their previous esteemed vehicle is joined by his 14 year old son Grant on rhythm guitar detail whilst the remainder of the nucleus is made up by fellow ex 'Magika mates Norman Skinner (vocals) and Elena Repetta (bass).

Using a similar melodic thrash template this time, Mr Skinner's voice is recognisable in its uniquity hence probably why the band take his name for the side of their ship. Power metal at its most punishing end, angry yet hookladen aggression sets up all five of these tunes to give a fantastic taste from this revised menu. Wonderfully progressive, fast and sharp shredding by both Kolowitzes Snr and Jnr stops this style sinking to becoming a shadow of what stood before.

Rivetting numbers such as 'Sleepwalkers', 'Miss Agony' and 'Hell In My Hands' show us where old- fashioned metal still stands in the world plus use the all-too-soon demise of one promising outfit to progress forth into the next. Tasty mixes of Machine Head, Dio and latterday Metallica are welcome in a metal cd anyday, mini-album or full-length irrelevant.

I-magikal stuff guys...welcome back.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.skinnermetal.com

January 2013

Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion - Good Times
(33 Records - 2012)

A big helping of the blues with a female on top of the game is what you'll get here that'll suit old school fans the world over.

Plenty of harmonica & hammond sounds scattered all around the platter and solid songs to match this musical meal as well with good cuts including 'Beatitudes' that comes in full form and radio version; the slow harp filled 'Fine And Mellow' and the well vocalled and up tempo 'n' full brassed 'I'll Do Anything'.

Then there's the 12-barred humour of 'Too Darn Rich To Be Happy'; the excellent 'Blues Get Off My Shoulder' and the trad like 'I'm Leaving You'.
Decent helping of bluesiness.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

SHAMEYOURSELF - Wonderf**k
(Total Metal - 2012)

Something else crawls out from beneath the East European cloth that we hope is as promising as most of their other product.

Shame Yourself manage not to do as described by their moniker, making a healthily welcome racket in all the right departments. Stealing heavily from Sepultura an Metallica in vocal and rhythm guitar departments respectively, they get away with it, given their mix is exemplary for all extreme metal ears.
Even the use of a segment from ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ (Eh???!!) during ‘For All Your Sins’ is a forgivable one this time. Noisy, angry no-nonsense thrash with cracks of commerciality that come naturally leave ‘work is not over’, ‘Secrets’, ‘Jab C.O.’, ‘Metalheads’, ‘Your Creation’, ‘Redium’ and ‘Slave Of Masturbation’ for you to enjoy alone (no obligation to take the last one literally).

Highly destructive old school –de force with vengeance centred on the cynics, it is rather unwise to suggest this scene might have died, straight to Shame Yourself’s faces.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Death, Testament, Sepultura & Machine Head.

Shotgun Revolution - The Legacy Of The Childhood Dreams
(Target Records - 2012)

The current release from these Denmark Boys that's just as fine as the last two CD's I've been raving about.

In excellent form in every way possible too with a ten great tracks and a bonus too with hot as hell tunes including 'Driving Without Brakes' that got a nice helping of vocoder action in it; the power ballad 'Just Gettin' High' that's become a favourite of mine and the uplifting and reminiscing song title track 'The Legacy Of Childhood Dreams'.

Then there's the angst of 'Too Much Reality'; the hatred of 'Backstabber'; the illusion G'N'R & Slash like 'Blessed Be My Child' that's got some outstanding licks & riffs in there and just for fun there's the glory of the bonus number 'Superblonde Babe'.

Need to be heard and deserve to make it big.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Shotgun Revolution - Unplugged - The Jack Daniels Session (E.P.)
(Target Records - 2012)

An excellent 4 track E.P. from a brilliant band I struck upon at The Whisky when I was there in Nov. '12.

Pure proof (scuse the pun) that these guys write and perferm real atmospheric strong hooked songs as they stand up so well acoustically in a completely live environment. Imagine a Denmark version of the melodic rock band, Firehouse - well that's the style here - extremely beautiful. Highlights apart from all it would be 'Just Gettin' High' and the closing 'Hopefully'.

Brilliant.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Shotgun Revolution - Join The Revolution
(Target Records - 2010)

An outstanding album from Denmarks finest that everyone should know about around the world as they really have something special in both songs and performance overall.

This 13 tracker, a number unlucky for some but definately not in this bands case has some real popping out at ya songs that'll stand the test of time and become classics in the next year or two. You just fault tracks like 'Bleeding' with it's harmonious hooks both vocally and musically; the electric version of 'Hopefully' and the gorgious power ballad 'The Big Mistake'.

Shotgun Revolution really are one of those bands who appear to have no fillers at all but instead have astounding tracks that also include the angry 'Slipping Away'; the Southern Rock meets Melodic Rock poppiness of 'The Last Goodbye' and the closer 'Flipside' that has the excellence of a pime 'Guns 'N' Roses' ballad meets Lynyrd Skynyrd.

An album that cannot be better and I'd rate it as a milestone that needs discovering by millions.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

6th AWAKENING - Psycho Path
(S/R - 2012)

A girl-fronted Swedish metal act, and one who do all the things I love such outfits for, 6th Awakening elect however to sir the elements.

Singer Louisa Lundmark’s silky gothic voice sets the pulse going, only for it to alternate with the standard sickening gargle of extreme metal fare then switch back again in a Fear Factory –schooled way. Yet, for the dent in its commerciality bonnet, ‘Psycho Path’ throws up a heft-load of innovation and diversity to doodle with.

Thin wisps of alternative and doom metal smoke get in through the grates, smoothening up ‘Raw’, ‘Nightlife’, ‘Psychosane’, ‘one More Day’, ‘Demon’, ‘Shallow’ along with a creamy rich rendition of Type o’s ‘My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend’. Dual guitar grittiness from Messrs. Harnerud and Jonasson drives the vehicle with pristine momentum, and though minimal soloing is involved they do still supply an old-school substructure to ride on.

Nice music with na nasty side – nice to hear from time to time.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Arch Enemy & Lacuna Coil.

NET: myspace.com/6thawakening

Slander – Careless Talk Costs Lives
(Stormspell Records - 2012)

The band formed in 1990, with the initial tentative line-up, in order to participate in Blackpool's Rock Battle competition. They recorded various demos in 1990 and 1991, the best of which were compiled to form the debut LP, funded by founder and guitar player Andy Saxon-Lamb's parents. Only 500 copies were pressed.

The band relocated to Colchester in 1992, and broke up in 1993. They reunited in 2009. Slander are: Simon Staples (Vocals), Andy Saxon-Lamb (Guitars), Pete Hewitt (Bass) and Andy 'Eddie' Edwards (Drums). This version of 'Careless Talks Cost Lives' is a two-disc set comprising of the 0riginal 1991 version and the second disc contains consists of re-recordings of some of those older songs, alongside some newer tunes and / or songs that didn’t make the initial release. Not all of the original 'Careless Talk Cost Lives' made the re-recording cut, but most of it did – eight of its twelve tunes are reprised, with 'Shadow In The Night' and 'Lay Down The Law' renamed to 'Shadows' and 'This Time You Lose', respectively.

'Fighting Talk' opens both discs, by far the band’s best tune and the first of many dead ringers for some overlooked NWOBHM act like Savage or Witchfynde, all riffs and youthful exuberance and street-level swagger topped with an instantly sing-along chorus. Steve Slater’s vocals inhabit a warm midrange, but it’s the catchy melodies and Andy Lamb’s riffs that really push the tunes forward. In true NWOBHM spirit, Slander just did what they did, rocked hard, and wrote some good tunes and are still doing it to this day.

The closest Slander comes to a ballad is the opening of 'Passion Crime', which quickly shifts to mid-tempo and then a step further. The eight tracks that appear on both discs are clearly the bands best -- with other highlights in 'On The Run', 'Colour Of Your Money', and the fist-pumping 'Lay Down The Law'.
For the obvious reasons, the second disc, the newer material, sounds more modern, although it’s not exactly slick. Truthfully, some of Careless Talk Cost Lives' best cuts lose the earlier fiery enthusiasm in the transition – most notably, 'Fighting Talk' is preferable in its earlier form – although the majority benefit from the update, if only in the thickened tones and stouter feel.

The band are currently writing and demoing tracks for their 2nd studio album and have just finished recording a mini covers album just to introduce the new voice of Slander that is Si Staples and the top class bass playing of Pete Hewitt.

9/10

By Andy Turner

Net: www.slandermetal.com www.myspace.com/slandermetal www.youtube.com/user/slandermetal www.facebook.com/pages/Slander-UK
www.reverbnation.com/slandermetal

SOAPBOX ARMY - Reactor
(S/R - 2012)

Noo Yawk alt rockers Soapbox army surfaced on the scene in 2008 with a seemingly well-received debut album.

Their second full-length player puts in little doubt about the fuss over this talented young US act. Typecast for its hardcore/punk contributions, the Big Apple does also vend mellow alternated acts, Soapbox Army sitting on the melody and panache buttons of their song-building machines instead. You can hear countless Britpop names shimmering above as these nine catchy little numbers cook the air.

The razor-fine vocals of frontman Dan Tucker do come across more a Chad Kroeger/Kurt Cobain fusion than a Tim Wheeler/Gavin Rossdale one but it can’t be said that doesn’t shift the appeal-o-meter up a distance in their department. Dainty driving guitars with funk, elector and jazz diversions in on the journey, plus Tucker’s eloquent piano performance on track 5, this is one album fans new and existing will react to hugely on the whole.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: soapboxarmy.com

The Spokes - In My Head
(S/R - 2012)

A straight up rock band from Sweden with no frills 'n' spills but plenty of roll to attract your attention instead with such crackin' 70's like cuts with plenty of hookiness in them.

You can't halp but like this band as soon as you hear them with fun-time cuts like 'Centrefold Girl'; the bluesy 'Don't Feed The Fire' & 'In My Head'; the gorgious 'Love Will Never Last' that's one hell of a nice ballad that's very southern complete with cookin' organ sounds as well.

Other highlights include 'Tell Me Why' with awesome harmonica or the Stonesy meets Black Crowesiness of closer 'Hard Life'.

Top Dollar Baby!

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

THE STOMPCRASH - Directions
(Dreamcell 11 Entertainment - 2012)

More Italian madness! Stompcrash come, er… stomping out from Milan with a very interesting delivery.

Resting on the new wave seat, their synth-saturated alt rock is sweet, melodic noise that no one should have realistically believed to been concocted on the continent. High-soaring harmonies from both guitarist Christian Celsi and Keyboardswoman Daniela Palermo duel for the dominating element, whilst electro- layering sets the eighties needle to full.

‘Awaken From Uneasy Dream’, ‘The Leaves Begin To Fall’, ‘The Black Dahlia’, ‘Memories’, ‘Cats Eyes’, ‘Enemy At Your Gate’ and ‘Hazel’ contain more surprises than a car-load of lucky bags. Hooks aren’t too difficult to hunt down within these numbers either and the instantness in these sells the album on its own hands. Admirable retro-pop nostalgia, from a nationality already generous with many things musical.

Please stop it Italy, you’re spoiling us.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.thestompcrash.com

Suicide Bombers - Criminal Record
(S/R - 2012)

Hmm, nice name for a band that - go down well going through customs to say the least. That aside this is hard edged sleazy rock 'n' roll from Oslo, Norway.

It's full on from these guys with highlight in the 1st real song on the album that is 'Let's Rock 'N' Roll'; 'High On Explosives' 'Electric Fire' 'Teenage Breakdown' that are tear *ss numbers with throaty vocals.

Not a bad album.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

SYMPHONY OF SHADOWS - Stupefying Belief
(Metal Scrap Records - 2012)

Symphony of Shadows sounded really encouraging when I first began my listen.

62 minutes on though, and hell was I struggling. Much as I love prog metal, and don’t mind a bit of the ol’ deathular stuff from time to time either, a accident has indeed happened here for Hungarians here. Overcooking the ingredients is as bad in music as it is in the gastronomic environment and ‘Stupefying Belief’ is what the title says, with a thick dark smoke emanating from the kitchen windows. Well handled instruments save it a fingerful of its points.

Sadly overused and directionless signature and time changes only proceed to confuse as who’s trying to play which and each track becomes a several minute rabble of random metal rhythms. Sreamcore exceprts only serve to irritate, making things worse. Applause must go to the drummer in particular whilst vocalist Hajnali Sardo hasn’t the least decipherable of death voices on him, bless the man.

Frankly a space fronting Sepultura or Machine Head might suit his talents more adequately.

4/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.symphonyofsymbols.hu

SYMURAN - Syklus Av Helheim
(Metal Scrap Records - 2012)

More metal madness erupts from the East European end of the surface.

Symuran are quite frankly somewhat demented sounding themselves. Sadly they are also rather so-so sounding, peddling extreme metal by numbers that destroys the hope held up by that bludgeoning riff at the beginning. Little to set these six tracks apart, the playing is as able-fingered as you can find it, otherwise screaming bloodbaths of brutal musical noise signal business at its boring usual.

Live, it should still be quite an animal.

5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Hatebreed, Nile & Cannibal Corpse.

October

SIVA’S ADDICTION - Bad Decisions
(S/R - 2012)

Going by my history with fancy band names, Siva’s Addiction could for all I care indicate a so-so’s-ville screamcore machine nestling in the midst of my headlights.

On ze contrare, S.A. are a hugely un-average, in fact excellent, female-fronted four-piece metal act from Oaklahoma. Throwing grunge, metal and all that may hang reachable in between, have got it all and give it to you from start to finish, plus fill out the middle with magnificent quality tunes as well. ‘Bad Dreams’, ‘One-Night Rodeo’, ‘Gone Away’, ‘When Its Over’, ‘Get On Out’, ‘More Than Memory’ and ‘Night To 5’ are not songs for wimps – stereotyping girl-fronted metal acts as all being soft is something you do strictly at your own risk here.

Huge rhythm guitar lines shunt each of these ten mighty musical engines into their own individual sidings, set to run you over if you dare stand in the way. Awesome, angst-creosoted vocal performance from leader Bridgette Oliver ride along against seventies blues leads from stringsman Andy Hopkins plus the pulsating bass breaks you hear from Jesse Slone , in particular on ‘Take Me Home’.

Nice, meaty keyboards sit behind doing their job but on some heavier cuts, where drummer Brandon Fields’s sledgehammer poundings steal the backdrop, they begin to suffer redundancy, with ‘When Its Over’ and ‘Freedom’ coming through strongly in their inaudible eighties feel. Large riffs, larger choruses, larger than life songs and sound make Siva’s an Addiction that applies without saying.

Struggling myself to put this disc away, after one listen yourself to Bad Decision you’ll probably find turning this titanium treat of an album off one itself. The Europeans may hazve stolen most of metal’s up and coming thunder of late but you’d be foolish indeed to believe the good old US of have forgotten how its done.

10/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Evanescence, Nickelback, Skunk Anansie, Mostly Autumn & My Ruin.

NET: www.siva-addiction.com

SKYSENT LU - 2 Seconds Late
(S/R - 2012)

Greek rockers SKysent Lu leave you wondering if you are still playing the same album at the end that you started with.

Fair to say it changes colours a bit over its nine-track course. From wiry blues grunger ‘Bob’s Adventures’, mighty Maiden-esque stomper ‘Loneliness Of My Heart’, trad metal trudger ‘Few Moments’ and nineties-schooled swirler ‘Follow Me’ through to deeper-thought cuts like ‘Last Man’s Cry’, ‘Two Seconds Late’ and nine-minute masterpiece ‘Into The Night’, take your pick is the word…or words.

Twin guitarists Costas Karapetsas and ~Christos Spyropoulos both seek their own respective routes in synchrony through the course of each song, with Nondas Emmanouil arriving equipped with a voice suited pristinely to metal and alternative rock alike Unpretentious and versatile, unlike a lot commonly encountered bands still orbiting planet rocks atmosphere.

Skysent Lu are their own band start to end, and this first taste of this promsing Greek act’s attitude is a herald of huge things to come.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.myspace.com/skysentlu
www.skysentlu.com

The Southern Experience Band - Where I'm From
(S/T - 2012)

Cool laid back Southern Rockers from North Carolina who don't totally look the part at all but they do when it comes to the musical aspect of it.

Highlights on here include the 1st song on the album 'Where I'm From' (since the opener is an intro with some classic snippets culled from the radio or so they make it seem) which tells youy about people of the south and their way of life or the very Lynyrd Skynrd/Charlie Daniels like ballad about what I presume is about fighting in Iraq or Vietnam called 'Fight The Fight' with some very deep and honest lyrics.

Later on you'll find the wholesome coutrified love ballad with beautiful piano that goes by the name of 'You And Me'; the totally nailed version of Stevie Wonder's 'Superstition' and the secret song at the end of the CD about being in 'North Carolina in the Morning' that's totally ad-lib and acoustic.

Brilliant Stuff.

8.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

St. Prostitute - Here Come The Prostitutes
(S/R - 2012)

Great gutsy hard rock almost sleaze from these Danish boys who burst out of Copenhagen and unleash some killer tunes on us.

Highlights on here include the opening rocker, 'Here Come The Prostitutes'; the Dogs D'Amour meets Def Leppard like ballad that is 'Dreaming Of You'; a full-on 'The Highway Hitcher Murder Blues' and the sad but atmospheric acoustica of 'A Bitter Man's Lullaby'.

Worth a buy.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

September

Snew - What's It To Ya
(Maman Music - 2012)

Well what can I say, I just love these guys and their fired up brand of dirty rock 'n' roll splendour.

Pure tongue in cheek kinda stuff of the AC/DC vein with songs like 'I Got A Rocket' and 'Pull My Stinger' - wonder what they are about? - lol. This is packed with fun loving stuff of the party nature as you can imagine. There's a song about a hoover in 'Electrolux' or what about the funky coming complete with cowbell 'Unglued'.

"A ballad?", you exclaim, "A ballad?" - well kinda I suppose in the southern sounding 'Bad Words' but then it revs back up with the country rockin' Young-brother riff-like title track 'What's It To Ya' and the bluesy boogie based 'All Over You' that closes the album.

Another fine album from one of California's best bands that you all need to know about!

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Son Of A Bitch - Victim You
(Angel Air Records - 2012)

An outstanding album that has just been re-released that originally saw the light of day back in 1995 featuring ex-members of Saxon in Steve Dawson (Bass), Graham Oliver (Guitar) & Pete Gill (Drums) alongside Haydn Conway (ex-Guitarist of Saracen) and Ted Bullet (Vocalist of Thunderhead).

I was really suprised at the high standard of the songs and which come across like Saxon meets AOR in all the right places. Love the song about bejng blown off while driving and being caught by a cop that is 'Drivin' Sideways'; the great ballad in 'Treacherous Times' & the fast Heavy Metal almost 80's Thrash 'Love Your Misery'. I thnk Poison and Bon Jovi will want royalties for the melody of the ballad 'I Still Care' as this is very much 'I'll be There For You' meets 'Every Rose Has It's Thorn' - lol - great tune all the same. Love the slipper stomping 'Old School' - hanging with the old crew - yeah!!!

Or what about the singalong 'Evil Sweet Evil'; the pummeling 'Victim You' and even a bonus cut in the form of 'Running Away' that's got ballsy Saxon written all over it with hard-hitting drums, excellent melody and killer guitar riffery with nice tones to that put me in mind of 'Rock 'N' Roll Gypsy'; 'We Will Remember' and other songs of that ilk.

A real pity this band didn't carry on in this format as this is totally excellent in every way. How about a reformation guys?

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

August

SURREAL - Someday Was Today
(S/R - 2012)

Don’t we get tired of all this twee male/female-vocalled summertime pop peddled at us ten-to-a-penny?

Well after ages of hardly hearing a note of it, I try very hard not to and succeed dramatically. Surreal as it sounds, erm…Surreal make a difference. Soft, sharp and instant alternative rock anthems and melodies rain down in cloud –crippling abundance, and that’s just the male-fronted elements. Julie Holmes, also the band’s bassist, dominates her songs, sugaring them without letting any hit the sickening level too precariously, and lets leader/guitarist Corey Lennox set the rest of them alight his way.

Youthful as ever these albums are, piano and solo guitar performances within are not those of overnight wannabe workouts. Setting out from the start with a solid passion in hand, ‘Want’, ‘About To Be Out There’, ‘Plans’, ‘Come With Me’, ‘Surrounded’ and ‘The Impossible’ let you listen without testing them for honesty – these lads, and one girl, know what they like and what we will like to hear someday. Then again, I think that particular day’s already been through today and out the other side.

Don’t know about surreal exactly but definitely do about great.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.myspace.com/surrealband

July

Staind - Live from Mohegan Sun
(Eagle Rock Entertainment - 2012)

Not a massive fan of Stained as I found them to be too repetitive and boring after the prolonged playing of Outside, and the monotone vocals of Mike Mushok.

The CD is a single disc containing 16 tracks recorded 25th November, 2011 at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, capsulizing the raw energy of Staind and the hard work they put into their music and live performances. The CD is clear, giving the listener every in depth pick up, tone and crunch that has driven the band to the status they have today.

Staind have expressed themselves well on the disc, without all the ruffles of a live performance, which has been taken out in the production and engineering. Overall it’s an enjoyable listen but I feel it won’t be one that is kept in the player. After listening on more than a few times, I didn’t feel like opening up my CD collection and placing them back on the decks.

Sorry!!!

6/10

By Tony Watson

June

Johnny Scaramanga - Listen
(S/R - 2012)

Fresh young artist from Sweden who grabbed my attention immediately with the opening number 'It's Good To Be Alive' since it mentions going to LA and heading down the Strip (Sunset that is) - which I love to do as much as I can.

Other great songs on this six tracker include the Who like title track 'Listen' and the power ballad brilliance of 'What If I'm Not Enough'. What a great voice this guy has - sorta like a smoother metallic Bryan Adams sound going down there but on a high register all the time.

Check him out.

8.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Staind - Live From Mohegan Sun
(Eagle/Armoury Records - 2011)

Miserable, depressing, noisy bawling flavour of the last few years band caught live who at times appear to be Tool wannabe's and nothing but.

It's all very downtuned and it gets me wondering if there lives are really as negative as this or is it all for show? Surely music should be escapism away all the bad things we have to contend with in days in our life. Turgid, banal, tedious and f*ck*n' unentertaining - why kids like this band is so beyond me altogether. I'm done after about 15 seconds of each song. In fact I couldn't even make it halfway through the album.

Totally avoid unless you are suicidal and want a good musical recipe to kill yourself to.

4/10

By Glenn Milligan

SUNRUNNER - Eyes Of The Master
(Illegal Eagle Productions 2011)

USA and prog rock seldom come attached in the same sentence in comparison to what they used to… but when they do succeed…they do indeed succeed in delivering a quality album.

Not to be mislead by the title, into the expectation of an epic melodic metal platter, Portland’s Sunrunner span their soundscape between 1965-1975 strictly speaking and great they sound for it too. Electrically based, Jazz, folk and occasional blues tastes take their positions to act out an eccentrically swish piece of psychedelic rock utopia.
Accenting their acoustic-capped laid back swagger with occasional metal visitations, songs come, sit around for as long as they are needed and leave for the next anyone has time to become tired. ‘Throne In the Twilight’, ‘Air and light’, ‘Iron Hawk’, ‘Globalazilla’, ‘The Seige’ and ‘This Colossal Show’ are amonst surprisingly accessible numbers that sit on verse-chorus-verse- shaped chair and rock merrily back and forth.

Thinking music for the thinking person… and I do advise one thinks about buying this album.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Porcupine Tree & Procol Harum.

NET: www.myspace.com/sunrunnermusic

SYNE - Boundaries of Hope
(Inshane Productions - 2012)

Their should be a poster ad campaign played around Europe, reading ‘Prog rock album writing is fun, come on everybody, let’s all make one'.

Mind you of course, they are rather that, Italians Syne being the latest to become tempted. Doing a swerve from the usual Dream Theater fireworks, these four chaps fuse the more modern technical elements together, adding the staple ingredients only ot their bowl. Largely more an alternative flavoured combination, their cross of grungy electric/acoustic guitars, emotional gravely vocals and light keyboard backdrops stay as atmospheric as the old school line while inviting new fans into this cautiously approached musical patch.

‘Hurting Words’, ‘Brand New Breathe’, ‘Sleepless’, ‘So What’, ‘No Use In Wonders’, ‘and ‘Slow Me Down’ are superbly shaped tunes that don’t stay outside their time limit and take you for a journey you feel often abandoned by at the end. Endearing choruses and catchy pop-rock structures shape
'Boundaries of Hope' into something very hopeful itself for this promising continental combo.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Coheed and Cambria, Crash Test Dummies & Porcupine Tree.

NET: www.syne.it

April

Michael Paul Scally - America
(Salvation Rock Music Company - 2011)

My fave subject as friends of mine will no doubt tell you - hahaha - It's obviously Mr. Scally's favourite one too and rightly so bro!

Michael sounds like a cross between Cat Stevens that dude who fronted Family - oh yeah Roger Chapman. There's some good Americana sounds on here with highlights including the opening 'There'll Be Times'; the southern like 'Stars In Orion'and the ballad 'Light Of The World'.

Very Christian like but very wholesome stuff on here.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

SEVEN7 - Under Eye
(MGP Records - 2011)

Unsure whether their name is intended to translate as twice-lucky or a fancy way of writing ‘fourteen’ is irrelevant against the interest that I find in this original sounding Brit combo.

With their first album having been entitled ‘Try Something Different, Seven7 go on not so much as to practise what they already preached but to ram it rather forcibly down the listener’s proverbial laughing hole. Trippy technical and tribal guitar rhythms strut and stutter angrily along without solos in abundance to help although there are still some there in the background for strictly harmony purposes, it sounds.Singer, Dave Brown, a man who seems to have benefit from practising to too many Pearl Jam and Korn numbers at the same time in his teen years showcases his strong angst entrenched display to devastating aplomb along the top of a hard-molten, modern metal sound wall.


Melodic and upset at something or other in equal balance across the running order, ‘The Iceman’, ‘Boy Drowns Girl’, ‘Three Days’, ‘Blood Stains’, ‘You Can Have It’, ‘Forgive’ and ‘Under Eye’ are nine furious sounded metal numbers, set in thought and soul beating-depth that echoes after every track finishes. Seven7 are going to be a lucky find this year with this second album bringing their attack loaded to annihlate all in its way.

Awesome!

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Machine Head, Metallica, Disturbed & Korn.

NET: myspace.com/thesevenband

SILENCE - City (Days)/City (Nights)
(Perris Records - 2012)

Not to confuse with Escape faves Radio Silence under a radical name trimmage, Silence are a French/Belgian duo with a deliciously similar sound in places but put more ably close to all AOR’s significant names.

Releasing two albums at once is a somewhat fabled rarity, famed by a band called Guns and..somebody- or-other but these two discs sure come with some corkers. ‘City’ (Days) shows their Nelson like tendencies in swift clarity and on the subject of such, Ben Venet’s Bon Jovi - moulded mega-range sets in a pleasant journey ahead. From upbeat pop rockers like ‘Beggars Day’ , ‘Father’, ‘Brand New Start’, ‘Guardian Angel’ , ‘The End Of The Day’ and 'Business' to Tyketto -carved ballad ‘Jenny’ and the female-vocalled ‘Lift Me Up’ you couldn’t have blamed these boys for spying on the US scene this last twenty years to accumulate their research.

Guitarist, Bruno Levesque’s solo an piano work here is a silky delectable Peterik-influenced powerhouse that sets the listener up ready for ‘City’ (Nights’) before the first phase is even halfway finished. Few might have actually been that ready for how the second disc rumbles in from the start, rocking mightily hard in contrast to the predecessor. ’Drifting Away’ picks up where we left off halfway in but on a hard plane, a strong Dokken /Winger accent over that riffing there.

Harmonies reminiscent of Swedish hotshots Work Of Art are the established norm by this stage, semi acoustic lushness of ‘Ghosts’ getting it interesting in the familiar ol’ style. As form ‘Taste Of The Past’ onwards, the start becomes a sweet mislead as the sugary summer lustfulness picks up exactly where left off, great huge semi-acoustic AOR emotion all the way forward. ’Crashing Down’, ’Memory of Blue Eyes’, 'Someday', and 'Promised Land' are the tunes Europeans get so good at writing nowadays they leave their Stateside and Canadian counterparts almost crawling in the mud to keep with.

A revisit to the harder-crusted end of their catalogue with 'Just One Kiss on Your Heart' before ending with awesome ballads ‘Out of The Dream’ and 'Goodbye to The Good Old Days' makes up for a fitting culminative trio that takes us back all twenty two numbers once again to see if we were just dreaming. I’d safely say that in truth it feels so much the case, Silence showing one and hopefully sundry how melodic rock lives to be played here on in 2012. If you trust the continent for a lesson or twenty two, let these two lads educate you with this pair of treats.

Tres excellent, monsieurs!

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Bon Jovi, Mitch Malloy, Journey, Street Talk, Def Leppard, Drive She Said & Nelson.

NET: www.myspace.com/silenceaor

SILVERDOLLAR - Morte
(Massacre Records - 2011)

Not the glammed-up Southern-oriented rock n’ roll experience you might have had your ears set on, the label should be a clue as to what’s coming.

Silverdollar’s sharp pumpy line in power metal isn’t anything drastically new but it does seem to stand its own little way aside for admiring inspection. An angry, scowlier side to the style lands in place of the usual high-pitched operatic though this outift’s frontman has a voice equipped with the standard melodic metal capabilities all the same. Some unexpected Whitesnake-esque flickers across occasional tunes do a welcome flavouring on this mixture more centred to please fans of the heavier machines the trad metal spectrum.

‘Damage Done’, ‘Eternal Glory’, ‘Evil Good’, ‘Hear Me’, ‘Morte’ and ‘Raging Eyes’ are pure fist-prodding heavy metal anthems of the kind it was compulsory to write twenty five years ago.. .and sadly mandatory under musical fashion laws not to nowadays. Swift ‘eff off’ uttered to the Kerrang -pandering pleboreans, ‘Morte’ is proof of the immortality of this genre, and of Massacre bringing the goods up once more in great shiny parcels.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Stratavarious, Tad Morose & Metallica.

NET: www.massacre records.com

THE SKYS - Colours of The Desert
(S/R - 2011)

Lithuanian proggies Skys have witnessed a sporadic discography with four albums spread almost evenly across fifteen years… obviously a case of Def Leppard disease getting about in the European metal scene.

Sadly iti s difficult who to deicde is th best waiting five years for, then separate subgenres are unwisely compared. While holding on for the next Dream Theater record to surface, this one is a sure-bet treat. Of course the tunes aren’t promised to be short though three of the nine surprisingly od clock in at a standard tune duration. Seventies is the decade to swill around on your lips this time. Massive guitar lines in the true league of Clapton and Blackmore meet head first with female-alternated vocals , combusting an incendiary retrospective engine.

Chugging fast through numbers up to nine and a half minutes long like they were over in four, these fellas do not mess with that many fancy elements as expected and delve into the simple pages of the prog rock cook book. Keeping it modern with gothic touch , there is little doubt that ‘Colours Of The Desert’, ‘Is This The Way’, ‘I.. He..’, ‘When The Western Wind Blows’, ‘Calling Out Your Name’ and ‘Lethal Kiss’ will see a combined and colossal following from over the spectrum. All said, the Skys surely qualify as one band to get up in the air about if not having done already.

Try.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Yes, Jadis, Magellan, Deep Purple & Led Zeppelin.

NET: www.myspace.com/dangai www.theskys.com

SLIDESHOW - S/T
(S/R - 2011)

Sweden doing what they’re best at once more, namely swaggery rock with no quarter given to rules, except the ones that require you kick some serious portions of backside with every guitar chord stricken.

Slideshow may not be the first let alone the last to live by the principle but they’re no different on the accessibility side. Guided into the track along a guitar-friendly alternative streak, the quartet’s fast paced pop rock is aggressive and very catchy. Highlights include ‘Strung-out Liar’, ‘Horizon’, ‘Big Chief’, ‘In your Veins’, ‘When Your Goal is Gone’, ‘Straight Ahead’ and ’Stoned Ripped and Twisted’ getting the attitude full on and the feel-good sensation motoring. Superbly played with rock n’rolling solos aplenty, Slideshow put on indeed an entertaining movie.

I repeat it again- the Swedes doing what they do best.. And you’d best not forget it here.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
New York Dolls, Backyard Babies, Hellacopters, Dogs D’Amour, Goo Goo Dolls, Diaomond Dogs & Buckcherry.

NET: ww.mypsace.com/slideshowrocks

Ringo Starr - 2012
(Universal - 2012)

Ok not the most imaginitive title for an album but it tells it like it is, Ringo's album for the year - or should that be mini-album since it only clocks into just over 28 minutes.

There are brand new songs on here such as the peace and love filled opener 'Anthem; or the beautiful looking back into yesteryear ballad that is 'In Livepool' that are mixed in with well done covers Buddy Holly's 'Think In Over' and Lonnie Donegan's 'Rock Island Line' that certainly pay homage to their creators.

For the real Starkey fans out their we get an intriguing revamped version of one of my favourite songs of his that came out on the 1973 'Ringo' album - we are talking 'Step Lightly' - there's no tap dancing and other ex-Beatle backing vocals on this take though - nice all the same. 'Wonderful' is just that - a lovely ballad about looking back on his life with his wife Barbara Bach who is still by his side today. Listen out for some gorgious guitar from Kenny Wayne Shepherd on here too.

It closes with a cool, slow rocker aptly titled 'Slow Down' that features an instantly recognisable Joe Walsh on guitar throughout the song. I am hoping that Ringo releases another album as good as this later in the year as I am sure he's got some more great Starr-studded songs ready for us.

Nice release Ringo.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Street Light Suzie - The Red Album
(S/R - 2012)

A killer quartet from Austin, Texas hose albuym has been produced by no other than Gilby Clarke that excite you with some crunchin' meaty breatheren.

Frontman, Wiley Ross vocally is like a cross between Zakk Wylde and Billy Gibbons with the rest of the guys in Joe 'Oso' Morales, Scot Gibel and Rob Williamson complementing solidly on their chosen instruments too.

Highlights include the momentous guitar slidin' opener, 'Cowboy'; their cover of Chris Isaac's 'Wicked Game' proving it a masterpiece heavied up as well; the cool arranged 'Walls' - Limo's just aint this man's scene; the foot-stompin' 'Stand Up' and the serious but humourous 'Drunk 'N' Lonely' with its false quiet ending that catches you out everytime.

Get the boys round, crank open some beers and get a roast going and blast this one up. This is a great band who I hope will get pretty big one way or another.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

JOEY SUMMER - One Bite From Paradise
(Perris Records - 2012)

Rock in Rio normally refers to the festival but for once, it we might be able to translate it differently.

Joey Summer shoots from out of nowhere to deliver a stunning AOR disc that scarcely could be expected from a country so renowned for its extreme metal prowess. The 40-year old Greek-Brazilians superb voice is straight on you from ‘One Bite …’ setting your teeth into the other ten tracks to come with his silky Steve Perry/Steve Walsh hybrid of a voice. An accomplished guitarist, he handles almost all of the instrument duties bar drums with the matching panache. Powerful harmonies set tracks like ‘No Margin For Error’ and ‘Running Through The Night’ far apart from the rest, and not just also because the latter allows for a little gothic flavour on the icing.

Strong elements of many Scandinavian acts from the late nineties shoot unashamedly up in his style but he strikes through it with a sound proudly to call his own in ‘Addicted To Your Love’, attacking with a streamlined solo intro on entry to this exquisite power ballad. Piano-led pomper ‘From Miles Away’ demonstrates his dynamic talents as a pianist on top - the tile oh so slightly gives you an idea. From one personal fave to another, the tune’s feel-good AOR vibe follows onto the heavily Toto-inspired ‘Heaven To Earth’ while Mr Summer hits Mark Stanway mode for ‘That’s What I’m Waiting For’ which, in ways it probably is.

Soulful chorus lines fill the room here for such a long age after the number ends, that you’d almost need someone nearby has to remind you there are three numbers still to ensue. ‘Sailor on The Moon’ is almost a trip too close to so-so’s -ville but the chorus is as instant as always, saving it from a point loss. though ‘It’s Only Your Love’ would have relinquished it on the dot.The disc’s best ballad dominates nearly all numbers bygone for class and emotion with elephantine melodies form Summer’s strings as always.

‘The Prize of Love’ is probably the most uptempo number, played more hard rock than soft with rippling leads and sharp verse vocals sending you headlong into another of his superb choruses. Closing with a bonus track is a bad habit I’ve witness by bands lately when it’s a number as good as ‘No One’s Gonna Hurt Me Any More’ let alone the rest. Tommy Denander puts in his usual gargantuan work here as a guest performer, the legendary Swedish shredder slotting in a sound that would make for a colossal collaborative work one day in the future.

To the present again, this astounding cd will do more than very nicely while waiting. Joey Summer ‘s name is, well was an unknown quantity until this here day in ol’ April Twenty-Twelve… and after this one gets about, we’ll likely find him appearing on every Firefest bill for the next decade.

10/10

By Dave Attrill

VERY RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Journey, Michael Sembello, Survivor, Stan Meissner, Streets, Tyketto, Hardline, Boulevard, Harem Scarem, Magnum & Foreigner.

NET: www.joeysummer.com

March

ANDI STARR - The World Will Follow
(S/R - 2011)

Andi Starr is not a bloke but a woman and a wonderfully talented one at that.

Only due to the immense pile-over of my current Metalliville workload am I prevented from sinking into detail about how deliciously sweet this Portland lady’s strongly-held down harmonies transcend as being. Angled around an alternative/pop guitar base that is both suited both electrically and acoustically, her voice steals all the glory of numbers like ‘The World Will Follow’, ‘Little Bird’, ‘A Song That Never Dies’, ‘Delilah’s Response, ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ and ‘Happy Ballad’. Anthems as likely to go down well with the customers of a coffee bar as they would in front of a grossly over-populated Glastonbury field, the bigger the crowd the deserved.

Starr says it all in her name and we need say no more as regarding her future.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Cranberries, Tori Amos, Evanescence (softer version of)

NET: www.Andistarr.com

STONE COLLAR - Trial By Fire
(S/R - 2011)

Getting in on a hive of activity from the South African rock scene of late, Stonecollar are amongst its strongest exports over this last year.

Despite a familiar direction with their country’s dominantly alternative leanings recently, this Cape town quartet become a swiftly fantastic listen. Starting as they seem meaning to go on, each tune comes in nickelback style and somehow ends in Soundgarden mode, the vocals from Leshem Petersen most likely to blame… or preferably congratulate.

Twin guitar acts in this scene shoot up rather sporadically on the monitor so the aggro metal- tinged axery of messrs Tait and Jurgens is sweeter than its own disturbed brutality. ‘Not For Good’ ‘Trial By Fire’, ‘SQT’, ‘Poison the Well’, ‘Say Your Prayers’, ‘As The Crow Flies’ and ‘Dying Breed’ come deserving of attention very much both live and by cd.

My advice is to try both but not necessarily in that order. Impressive, muchly.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE Audioslave, Bush, Metallica, Black Sabbath & Helmet.

NET: www.stonecollar.za

February

SANGUINE - S/T
(Sanguine Records - 2011)

Devon does occasionally cough up a metal act believe it or not, Exeter’s Sanguine living proof of that and as a bonus for the county’s sporadic mention on the metal scene , it’s a girl fronted one.

Not to expect any songs about cream teas for these fervently noisy four youngsters, the sometimes sweet as scream - sometimes very peed-off screams of fronteuse Tarin Kerrey make every chorus what it is. Coming over frequently as a female Devin Townsend, her voice suits industrial -based numbers like ‘Anger Song’ ‘Contagious’ ‘Bangkok Nights’ and ‘Live Consume Drive’ like Savile-tailored gloves. Largely contemporary inspired produce the instrumentation is delivered in either realistic post-thrash brutality or airey alternative rock smoothness with style.

There are indeed plenty of relaxed interludes to choose from the list as well , ‘Given Up’, ‘In The Sky’ and ‘A Place That You Call Home’ allowing us to explore the purest of her pipes and share some more of guitarist Nick Mageee’s notably, rather variable chordery. Crisp as autumn leaves and crunchy as an Armadillo’s backside, Sanguine’s debut album delivers and damages and does more justice than a room of 200 judges.

Smashing stuff.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Tura Santana, Kittie, Andrew WK & Skunk Anansie.

NET: www.sanguineband.com

SAVATAGE -

Hall Of The Mountain King/Handful Of Rain/Ghost In The Ruins/Poets and Madmen
(Ear Music - 2011)

In case you’re wondering, Savatage did re-release more than just four parts of their twelve -strong back catalogue. The Floridian melodic metal king’s earliest entry of this latest selection, 'Hall Of The Mountain King', become one of their immediate benchmarks.

# Starting off on a stuttery note 24 hrs ago’ although firing off with a promising metal lick is a complex catastrophe of rhythm and Jon over-mixing vocal octaves and the chorus we wait for comes out bland and hookless. After this one major blip, ’Beyond The Doors of The Dark’ rocks along at Iron Maiden -schooled speed doing back the justice that the chuggish and slightly bluesier ‘Legions of the Damned’ caps off behind. 'Strange Wings', a traditional Savatage bruiser brings the best chorus thus far in, paired end-on-end with an unusually maintained, upper-pitch solo bend from Jon.

The middle sect of the album was always guaranteed to be confusing as ‘Prelude To Madness’ embodies an instrumental metal rendition of the classic with which the album shares name before the title cut follows, another classic Savvers standard that opens with sizzling Vai-like lead on entering and old-school groove the rest of the way out. 'The Price You Pay', brought us back to typical sweet Savatage metal as we know it while ‘White Witch’ was one of their convincing attempts at thrash, accented in a true Exodus sound of its time, both deeply soaked in traditional Oliva bends. Bravely affording a second instrumental again the album moves on from that to, of course closing cruncher ‘Devastation’, a bruising trad metal rocker that reeks far more of Britishness than its own Stateside composing.

Corking acoustic versions of 'Castles Burning' and 'Somewhere in Time' showcase Jon’s talents as not only a singer but also fine acoustic guitar operator, adding flavour to the top of a largely fine album we have been once again reminded of.

9/10

‘Handful Of Rain’ was an absolute new beginning even though for mixed reasons - anyone new to their music via this release would have been blameless for thinking they’d landed a different band who’d also poached the name.

The first album since Criss Oliva sadly departed for the big guitar shop in the sky, Zak Steven’s arrival brought a heavier and distinctively darker makeover wit his not-unlike-Metallica range. Explaining as much, Kriss’s brother remained within the ranks though swapped strings for ivories, allowing Testament departee Alex Skolnick to steal the reins. The tunes nonetheless remained to high standard along with being near-unrecognisably different but old Savatage soon peeps its way through the window. Opener 'Taunting Cobras' and the title number are thrashy-edged metal numbers that demonstrated the bands new central nucleus were here for business. Eight minute long ‘Chance’ is a typical Savs epic, the new formation trying out the band’s long running operatic tendencies to a fairly commendable outcome.. Thry still did ballads well if you were worried, ‘Staring Into The Sun’ driving into a recurring Dio like grind then pulling back for the next quiet verse line again.

Opening with an oh-so Skolnick slide line, 'Castles Burning' echoes deeply of his old group coming in strong with that fifth track that ends with a pounding finale played indeed far more Bay Area than Florida. Jon had to be given chance to show he still sat within the ranks , ‘Visions’ a short instrumental allowing his additional talents on piano an open door to gleam through. Taking them nearly into Toto mode’, ‘Watching You Fall’ alternates between a summery string line, and power-coated chorus attack and back again - easily the album’s smartest composition. 'Nothing’s Going On' seems the case itself with the rickety prog metal workout that follows, the only difficult listen of this disc, though you can’t help but enjoy the final vocal bend by Zak, going into the rideout, dragging traditional Tage back in by its heyday heels for a minute's glimpse.

‘Symmetry’ sounds promising with its building melody and bridge but the chorus ends blunt and disappointingly misconstructed - the ‘dying hard….’ part would have done a great job by itself. Jon holds helm for also lengthy closer 'Alone you Breathe' a power ballad that some might say plays at an overstretched length but holds a grandiose air over the album, as if it were still a to-be expected sign-out. Strong after such difficult time, Savatage proved the pieces were there for the picking-up and thy placed an every bit as might machine of a band together as previously. Acoustic bonuses ‘Summer’s Rain’ and ‘Believe’ once again reflect the past days with a swish new dynamic.

8/10

‘Ghost In The Ruins' (A Tribute to Criss Oliva), the band’s second live disc is what it says in its co-title. Commemorating the talents of Jon’s late and legendary brother, more than a year after his passing. This 1995 release was , to pacify the newly mislead, culled from live action across the ages as opposed to all within a single night on the stage, though in Iron Maiden fashion, they dissolve each track together giving it the feel of one. Paying - importantly - tribute to the hero, Criss Oliva’s claim to fame was easy to fathom out in his playing style, adjusting the solos as they were performed, to include astonishing varieties of techniques and could leave people hearing an almost half-different tune each time but at least it was always him. Shredding as majestically through 'City Beneath The Surface', ‘Legions’, ‘Strange Wings’, ‘Gutter Ballet’, ‘Of Rage and War’, ‘The Dungeons Are Calling’ and ‘Sirens’ all Savatage tunes are strongly played as they are on record with Jon never failing to force the roof almost off any venue they set foot in.

’24 Hours Ago’, one of my least favourite studio moments from the Savs legacy sounds much more wholesome in the live arena, Criss’s outstretched widdling livening it up from its stop-go stagger. Frankly only eleven full length songs may be a bit short from an outfit usually in the habit of delivering two-hour slots nightly, come the late eighties so that’s probably why an additional live cut ‘Devastation’ also adds its way onto the tracklist this time. Jon also grabs his acoustic to revisit ‘Stare Into The Sun’ though a thirteenth electric cut from the good old Criss Oliva days wouldn’t have gone amiss in its place.
Either way, the guy still probably appreciates being remembered, making ‘Ghost..’ an essential again if you missed out last time.

9/10

‘Poets and Madmen’ is frankly not my particular favourite Savatage release but it still scored big with followers. Largely so because of Zak Stevens relinquishing Jon the mike, there still however shows cracks of some desperation to delve into the glory days in too much a carbon copy fashion. It is not a bad album by my own opinion though beginning with ’Stay we Me’ which goes from a haunting piano-based verse to a clumsily dragged chorus rhythm doesn’t give m the greatest of turn ons until the wistful solo arrives late in the tune. ‘There in The Silence’ is back where its at for the Savs or perhaps Sabs, as those Ronnie vibes come volleying in. The blandly operatic 'Commissar' is my next skip-through, listenable but treads its water at five and a half minutes. Momentum regained once more, 'I Seek Power' is a catchy modern ballad catching Jon Oliva still at his vocal best while it continues into short but spirited rocker 'Drive' - tunes lasting three minutes haven’t been that heard of on the Savatage line since the Sirens days.

Songs lasting ten minutes are more understandable, 'Morphine Child' being an effective reply of the entire 'Streets' and 'Gutter Ballet’ albums in a single tune, to hear. We love it, oh yes and despite some cheesy moments in the middle eight, it is one of their best, as is ‘The Rumour’ comprising of some grooves that spread over the entire tune itself to consume the chorus. Guitarists Chris Cafffery and the legendary Al Pitrelli give I some plentiful grinds, driving the chorus on its own old-school metal wheels to a fine acoustic close. ‘Man in the Mirror’, thankfully not a Jacko cover is though as catchy, with a fairly Megadeth-like hook, ‘Surrender’ then attacking Anthrax style but leads into a disappointingly flat chorus, stumbling over the stuttery rhythm line that lies underneath.

Another weak point of the record over with, ’Awaken’ hits back with one of these classy one word choruses that allows Jon to exercise his mouthular muscles, creating a great live singalong feed. Despite the solo being way too short and undignified, it is one of my favourites form this list. Piano-led ballad, ’Back to A Reason’ is one more respectable outing from the fantastically talented frontman, and hopefully a recommended live inclusion on their next return. Routine acoustic extras, ’Tonight He Grins Again’ and 'Sleep' pass over me afterward - excellently played but seem tame by comparison. As said, not the most memorable chapter of the Savatage story, it remained a fairly worthwhile signout and the tunes promise to be terrifyingly stronger onstage than on plastic.

Where Savatages destiny lies, here eleven years on no one can quite be sure but Jon Oliva is a man never to believe in resting, so til that time we…shan’t, shall we kids?

7.5/10

by Dave Attrill

NET: www.ear-music.net

SHIFT - Watch It Burn
(S/R - 2011)

Picture that classic scenario quite easily cant you - someone asks me the name of the band currently on my deck and I answer “Shift” only to merit comeback in the vein of ‘”Ok mate, was just asking”.

US duo Shift do that plenty enough themselves, between every angry and loud style and sound available around the table. Already onto the hint that they might be the sort to built on ingenuity with one chap handling most of the instrument parts plus lead voice, Shift mainman Rob Lambert doesn’t exactly lead me to think otherwise, shredding his way into ’Stand Against’ with a rippley lead sustain. The tunes work across a common trend of capping over crunchy grunge/hardcore guitar rhythms with a healthily intensified vocal that only irritates when he tries to venture down screamcoresville.

Ignoring the sole thumbs-downer, ‘The March’, ’Watch…’ , ‘The Brink’ and ‘2 Minutes Of Hate’ are brilliant, repeatable slabs of modern alternative metal creativity on a cd written and recorded with not one single live performance to herald it. Strangely they opt to refer to this release as en EP, though it is made up to nine tracks by the two bonus covers , including Anthrax’s ‘In My World’ ( although I can’t argue against Rob’s range and ex ‘Thraxie man John Bush being somewhat an impeccable match on occasion) If you like a bit of everything in your biscuit, let Shift’s windmills stir you the oats.

Great.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Bush & Bring Me The Horizon.

Skinny Molly - No Good Deed...
(Moss Rose Records - 2008)

The debut album from the Southern Rock band fronted by Mike Estes (an ex-guitarist of Lynyrd Skynrd) who also plays mandolin that I've wanted to get my ears around for a couple of years.

Seen the band live a couple of times at Sheffield's Boardwalk but now it's brilliant to hear the CD of nine great cookin' numbers that come to us via the 3 States that are Tennessee, Florida and Ohio. The quartet is completed by Kurt Piertro on drums & percussion; Luke Bradshaw on bass and Chris Walker also on guitar to complete the line-up. Highlights include the dixie brilliance that are the opener 'Better Than I Should' with its strong melody and chrous; the bluesy ballad 'Just Me'; the cool titled 'Whiskey, Cocaine and Blues' with it's dirty slow guitar riff and the closing 'Miss Fortune'.

Good sounds of the South. Looking forward to the new album.

8.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

STEMM - Crossroads
(Catch 22 Records - 2011)

US foursome Stemm play a very attractive style of old school thrash/hardcore noise which knocks and bruises you about over eleven sturdy tracks and stays largely consistent as well.

More riff -developed than solo-dominant, the decade in echo here is certainly the nineties more than anything else twitch to mention though latterday Bay Area outfits I dare not mention do frequently bypass in the vibe department. Melodic, more than monotonous guttural garglings, ‘Salvation’, ‘Fleur De Lis’, ‘Monster’, ‘What Do You Think Of Me Now’, ‘Left Behind’, ‘Smile & Wave’ and 'Pulling Teeth' are placed at a naturally commercial side to the thrash shelf that defunct Brit favourites Dearly Beheaded also occupied.

Easily decipherable lyrics most of the trip and even a notable hook or so alongside a grindy-as-f**k rendition of Sabbath's 'Supernaut' show up here to treasure taking you headlong straight into the depth of this record, ultimately an all-round decent piece of metal.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Recommended IF YOU LIKE: Machine Head, Prong, Pantera & Skinlab.

NET: www.stemm.net

STRAYLINGS - Entertainment
(Deadpan Records - 2011)

Though girl-vocalled acts do tend to specialise in a more retro-oriented rock sound seventy-five-percent of the time, its still often carried off in perfectly voiced panache.

Brit youngsters The Straylings sure don’t let the pedal up on that premise, setting frontwoman Dana Zeera’s zesty young harmonies along to catchily seventies-driven instrument age. Sometimes taking to the edge paralleling a female-fronted Led Zep whilst at most other times, Bad Company the widening influential abilities of this band tiptoe into the tunes, sitars also an becoming occasional part of the mix.

Strengthened by the shrill harmonies as found in ‘Carver’s Kicks’, ‘Sleep Shapes’, ‘The Spoils’, ‘Bitter Face’, ‘Kings Of The Mire’, ‘Arcadian Moon’ and ‘To Lay Down Roots’, Straylings are entertainment from beginning to end on their debut and deserve big things their way in 2012. Let’s entertain that possibility.

Buy.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Pretenders, Mostly Autumn, Siouxie and the Banshees & Blondie.

NET: www.facebook.com/straylings

Stretch - That's The Way The Wind Blows - A Collection
(Repetoire - 2011)

The Rockin' Blues dudes from the 70's who had that good olenow famous funky pub rock song 'Why Did You Do It?' are featured on a 20 track compilation with a bonus EP as well.

There are some amazing cuts on here from a band who once blew Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow off stage with their fine form of R'N'B - hearing this it's little wonder why - who out me in mind of Led Zep, the Stones at the rootsiest and Humble Pie. You just can't argue with this when you hear songs like 'Fixin' to Die with some excellent slide work and gutsy vocals; the full of percusssion funk of 'Miss Jones'; the Ronnie Wood like guitar work found on ' Showbiz Blues' and the Wings-like 'Miss Dizzy'; the rather famous rocker that LA Guns covered that is 'Rock And Roll Hoochie-Coo'. Then there's ballsy Humble Pie meets Nazareth like 'If The Cap Fits' and the outstanding title track of the compilation 'That's The Way The Wind Blows'. The best number though has got to be the closing light, spacey ballad 'Slip Away'.

Well worth checking out with even an alternate mix of 'Why Did You Do It?' on the bones E.P.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

SYFT - New Beginning
(S/R - 2011)

And tonight’s band are from .. Ooh, we have a Seattle entry here! Being a long time since I saw the likes of this, it’s rather justifiable to wonder whether we should expect something reminiscing Nirvana, Alice in Chains and the like or perhaps more down in Queensryche’s department.

Strictly 99.99999% the former, this loud foursome combine Kurt’s general gravely agitation with Cornell/Cantrell-schooled guitar through messrs Ingalls and Kise respectively and it is devastating. Grunge and Thrash were hardly paired as the ideal combination, especially with one being partly responsible for the commercial downfall of the other but the right guitar element of the extreme side dissolve in safely to see this band’s chemistry froth to the top.

Placing an ounce of scream core in, sometimes outside necessity in my opinion, the sound is lusciously angry and drives along at mid-beat rhythm, grooves and grind holding either side of the scales with matched weight combinations. See if ‘Ten Ton Brick’, ‘Scream At Me’, ‘Tonight’, ‘New Beginning’, ‘Dead Like Yesterday’ or ‘Sold Me Out’ leave you with your skull in place afterwards.

Brilliant!

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Faith No More, Alice In …..like-you-don’t- know-who, Alter Bridge, Bring Me The Horizon, At The Drive In & Life of Agony.

NET: www.myspace.com/syft

January 2012

SHOOT THE BREEZE - Nomadism - The Sonny Terrence Brentwood Story… Final Chapters
(S/R - 2011)

Another outfit trying to jump on the ‘tommy’ bandwagon, Norway’s Shoot The breeze have actually split their epic tale across more than one album and we appear to have landed down with the last instead here.

Set coincidentally in the sixties, you wouldn’t tell it immediately to be a conceptual piece on just listening alone as these four boys set their tale of rock n’ roll and tragedy to hard-driving, no messing, melodic hard rock. Twin guitars and strapping upper tempo rhythms dominate as do choruses and catchy hook repeats both vocally and in the solos alike.

Definetely no groove-ophobics, these guys know how to lock into a line then leave it smouldering with the vibrations. ‘Bad Blood and Beef’, ‘Redrocks Longest Tale’, ‘Gutterfly’, ‘Scale Of C’ and ‘Contrapazzo’ are powerful hard rock numbers fully of class and crunch with all the popular hair metal elements added.

Excellent stuff from the Scandinvavian shores once again.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Danger Danger, Dokken, Bon Jovi & Ratt.

NET: www.myspace.com/rockwithshootthebreeeze

Sickstring Outlaws - S/T Sampler
(S/R - 2011)

It's funny who you get chatting away if you walk into the Raibow around 12.00 midday in mid November - there's always a musician and a character or two kicking around.

On this occasion I got talking away to a dude who had a cool baseball cap that just happened to be the name of the band he was in from San Diego, California called 'Sick String Outlaws' so gave me this 'ere CD to check out. I was blown away by it - good ole country music with plenty of banjo on it with tunes about listening to artists like getting stoned, writing cool songs and having a good time with your friends. There's a killer tribute to Johnny Cash called 'Johnny Drank Black'. This is rootsy county bluegrass with masses of southerness at its finest.

I urge everyone to check out these guys.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Recommended if you like: David Allen Coe, Merle Haggard, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Johnny Cash.

Net: http://www.thesickstringoutlaws.com & http://www.myspace.com/sickstringoutlaws

SOMA DARK - Begin
(Casket Records - 2011)

Although the north-western sect of our great nation is known largely for its AOR associations in recent years, its contributions over to the heavier side of our home grown produce stand undisputed, Kill II This and Dearly Beheaded amongst the best of names.

Stand forward, Soma Dark if you will, another potential English metal monster in the box, and boy does this one need some seriously large nails to keep locked down from escaping. These Mancunian lads muscle and maraud their way through ten highly primed cuts of melodic contemporary metal in a set cleverly separated into its four parts. Thrashing their way through opening duo ‘Passengers of Time’ and ‘Lies Behind’ they become dispensers of pure headbang juice, bopping and bashing in a very Beheaded-esque way themselves, abeit along with some even more catchier choruses one is already chanting along before the first play is done. Taking on a softer direction, ‘Mauna Kea’, and ‘Breathe’ are deeper slower numbers with plenty of mellow angst set to smoothly waving chord lines that crack back into position only at the particularly needed time.

Quite abruptly, the guys switch straight across to the side marked hardcore for a couple of gritty outings, ‘Faultline’ and ‘Resolute’ blending in a major proportion of new metal influence into the style as well but sufficient street attitude gets in well on the latter, creating a genuinely Biohazard-schooled bruiser. Neither mode seems any difficulty for vocalist Michael Hardman as he adapts back and forth between the brutally rasp and laid back refrains of ’A Tone Set For The Lace Skyline’.

‘Forsaken and Falling’ concludes the segment with the heaviest number of the album and a powerful classic hardcore hook. ‘2505’ and ‘Sundowns Last Rise’ close things off for good on a smoothish prog metal note in near absolute contrast, boasting great multi dimensional movement by guitairsts Arun Kamath and Stuart Armriding and an ounce or two of Seattle topping on the end of the last track. ‘Begin’ is the beginning of many great things to strike the metal core of mother earth with very hard for this lively UK act whom ‘promising’ can‘t even begin to describe.


Rarely do we get a modern metal act on the isle with the ambition and the potential that soma Dark have planted the seeds to grow and these lads kept a full watering can on standby very early.

10/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Pantera, Machine Head, Fear Factory, Metallica, In Flames, Agnostic Front & Korn.

NET: www.myspace.com/somadark

Soul Sign - Life In the Dark
(Grand Mercy Records - 2011)

Well I've waited about 2 or 3 years for this release and finally it's here - the debut from the double 'S' - Soul Sign in this case.

They are a band that feature the frontman of Leatherwolf, Michael Olivieri; Yngwie Malmsteen's Concert Bassist, Bjorn Englen, Guitar, Maestro Rob Math and superonic stickman, Mike Taylor completing the lineup. Music-wise it's decent metal that has elements of Metallica, Nickelback, Rising Force and a variety of other bits and pieces moulded together creating a unique supreme style.

Songs that really stand out to my ears at least are the crunchy Queensryche meets funk-like opener, 'I'm Bleeding'; the Sabbathy like 'Breaking Down Ourselves' & 'Sign Of Your Soul'; the sinister 'In Pain' and the gorgious epic closing ballad 'In The Presence Of You' that is a sure-fine radio hit for defo.

I predict this to be a band with one hell of a great future ahead of them.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Net: www.soulsign.us

STRATOVARIUS - Intermission
(Ear Music - 2011)

Stratovarius like to release something at least once a year when they can, even if it's an odds and sods package.

Or craftily re-release an old one. Ha, gotcha there! ‘Intermission was first subject to the light of day ten years beforehand but the Finnish metal giants seemed under the impression some may have just missed out so heres to trying not to miss again. Seventeen tracks instead of fifteen this time, the rarities are more huge rollicking slabs of symphonic metal, varying from studio titbits like ‘Falling into Fantasy’, ‘The Curtains Are Falling’, ‘Keep the Flame’, ‘What Can I say’, ‘When The Night Meets The Day’ and ‘It’s A Mystery’ to live meltouts of Strats classic ’Hunting High and Low’ and Rainbow’s ‘I Surrender’ plus the worthy demos of ‘Freedom‘ and ‘Neon Light Child‘, ending proceedings..

Never the lads to let the pedals up, Messers Kotipelto and Tollki inject each and every their all into these as much as they do into their regular album material and the solos are amongst TT’s might best while Kot’ does Rob Halford’s efforts awaited justice on their punchy rendition of ’Bloodstone’. Not to neglect the other men, Jens Johansen is equally in there with the fully maintained finesse you’d expect of a chap who supplied the ivories for Yngwie Malmsteen many moons ago, his authentically-produced performance on ‘Kill the King’ rendering one’s neglect to catch this disc on the previous occasion ever more regrettable. Well you have it now.. or should have.

A Stratters fan essential - excellent.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE : Rhapsody, Helloween, Queensryche & Dream Theater.

NET: www.stratovarius.com

SU-TA-GAR - Ametsak Piltatzen
(Jo Ta Ke/Ekoizpenak - 2011)

Another band already long in the graft at it before we got wind, Basque boys Su-Ta-Gar are seemingly obvious craftsmen at their chosen field.. That of course being heavy metal.

Which they do very well and with flagrant pilfering of their influences along to a sometimes, almost alternative beat. Uttering their anger and angst in four languages, including French and English, the old fashioned rhythms and guitar hooks steal the show even when as lot of them are as I said stolen themselves.

Lead guitarist Aitor Gorosabel loves to ladel on the classy speed solo vibe like a well simmered soup itself while spitting out his husky vocal assault that still entertains even without being able to understand the language. Adding some swish AOR interludes in the middle of a few later tracks , its sounds occasionally cut and glued but the attitude is all there and these boys belt home an impressive lump of traditional metal fury with the trimmings.

Sufficient to indicate a few Basque-et cases may be loose on the scene.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Iron Maiden, Metallica & Nirvana.

NET: www.myspace.com/sutagar

December

SAVATAGE -

Sirens/Power Of the Night/Gutter Ballet/Streets (A Rock Opera)
(Ear Music - 2011)

Kerrang and Rock sound would be lining up at the door to give albums from metal’s heyday a jolly good ol’ hiding the moment they set foot through the letterbox. We fine chappies at Metalliville HQ meanwhile are already down on our knees to Jon Oliva and the lads for gifting people another chance to hear these much seasoned old metal gems once again. Debut album ‘Sirens’ was a commendable entry shot into the eighties metal market back in its 1983 heyday and it's NWOBHM -matched production along with their upbeat metal approach would look to have been a likely inspiration for Californian thrash goliaths Megadeth Testament and Exodus.

Capturing some very Mustaine-ish soloing moves through ‘Holocaust’, ‘I Believe’ and ‘Rage’, the inevitable glam sound dissolved in by halfway with ‘On The Run‘ and ’Twisted Little Sister’’ while the rest sounded audaciously closer to Dee’s army themselves, especially ‘Living For The Night’. As a bonus treat for twenty-eight years of patience, you get the whole ‘The Dungeons Are Calling’ platter on the end. Not quite the anti-climax you dread, their original 7-track spinner delivers unexpectedly gritty material with the same primal prowess and stompy tempos as their earliest full-lengthers to ensue.

9/10

‘Power of the Night’ would be above blatantly ridiculed as a title in today’s musical climate if not re-pronounced ’Power Of The Sh*te’ by aforementioned trendy-schmendy Brit metal rags with no ear for true rock n ’roll. The Savvers only serious liberty taken here is the dangerous similarity to Def Lep’s ’Wasted’ on the titular opening number though as a fan of both this and the Sheffield act’s early classic it is fully forgiven.

Belty straight-ahead metal is however the foundation as set for all the nine tunes that follow while the shredding guitars of Jon’s legendary brother, the late, very great Criss Oliva stirred a cement guaranteed to set faster than Blue Circle could ever dream up. Still yet acquainted with doing the epic thang at this stage in their tender young age, most tracks range from 2-3-4 minutes of album space apiece with ferociously fast and short cuts like ’Washed Out’, ’Skull Session’ and ’Stuck On You’ feeling longer even when they fly past.

Excellent live versions of ’City Beneath The Surface’ and ’Hounds’ make up for that in the bonus track department this time, this particular rendition of the latter also appeared once before on a Metal Forces sampler way-y-y back in 1992.

9/10

Gutter Ballet’ which saw the ‘Tage by now working under Paul O’Neill’s production helm was where their musical versatility experienced its real daybreak as explained by Jon on the sleeves liner notes. No longer required to specialise in purist-pandering traditional metal styles throughout, Florida’s finest flexed all muscles and the variations in sound that resulted was genuinely merited route to the spotlight. 'Of Rage And War', ‘Gutter….’, ’When The Crowds Are Gone’ and ’She’s In Love’ are immediately seen to be their own song, the frontman also reminds us of how they group the songs by type to compare tempo in the studio though some tunes being a mix of more than two of these become confusing.

'Hounds' is and always be my personal Savatage favourite with its legendary high-speed exit demonstrating Criss’s mental-fretting finesse the way he is still remembered for after these many years, while two decent instrumentals showcase both brothers integral talents , Jon also the band’s pianist duetting very sweetly against the strings. Departing through that subject, bonus acoustic runs of 'Alone You Breathe' and 'Handful Of Rain' have a gritty blues sensation about them, that you can ’t begin to ignore. Rver one of their defining moments in their fourteen-strong discography, 'Gutter Ballet' is one to grab without fail this time if you kneel deep in the shame of not having already done.

9.5/10

Sucker as I am for concept albums, ‘Streets’ was a struggle for me to lap up. Whilst the band, now down to a four-piece again continued to exercise their educated tread across diverse waters , Savatage had considerably slowed their tempo by this time but also, sadly their instantness too. The rock opera storyline, echoing pleasantly of The Who’s ‘Tommy’ as would WASP’s astounding Crimson Idol a year later was barely above the only thing serving to maintain my interest as the album certainly dragged its seventy minutes.

Certainly not missing on decent numbers ‘Jesus Saves’ was already an instant hitter before I heard the full long-player but until now few other tracks, really tempted me to touch the repeat. However, two decade on, there is an appreciable freshness to this classic with ‘Sammy and Tex’, 'Tonight He Grins Again', Strange Reality’, 'Can You Hear Me Now', 'Ghost in The Ruins' and ‘If I Go Away’ catching on strangely bigger than before. Solos still typically strong of Oliva’s standard never took a day out and his brother once again cackles his Cooper-like throat across the lines. More worth a listen now than before the deadly escapades of DT Jesus are no longer the only thing keeping my ears open.

7.5/10

All Reviews by Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Gamma Ray, Overkill, AC/DC, Megadeth, Dokken & Black Sabbath.

NET: www.savatage.com www.ear-music.net
*Ten further album re-issues from this series also available - contact above site addresses for more info.

Solsikk - S/T
(Femme Metal Records - 2011)

Female fronted band from the UK who have a very much generic metal sound a lot of the time - think System Of A Down and the like with a girl on vocals with a ton of chug a chug and what sounds like triggered drumming.

Well the 1st 4 songs are rather uninteresting from 'Relish In Nervous Delights' through to 'Freefall' but the ballad 'Cut A Little Deeper' is in a different league altogether proving that they do have something passionate and heartfelt to give as Tairri B like stuff does get damn tedious when it's on a collision course with Lacuna Coil and Machine Head like sounds. 'Volatile Territory' does have some killer Priest like guitar work and then some but they let themselves down by trying to be way too commercially generic in other parts of the song.

Wish they'd kick the down-tuned nu-metalness as it's overdone and unoriginal as they've got a lot of talent here but it's not being channelled which blurs them in with more bands of the same nature that are as boring and tuneless.

Shame.

5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Stretch - Unfinished Business
(Repetoire Records - 2011)

The reformed 70's combo of vocalist Elmer Gantry and Guitarist Kirby Gregory give us an album of blues covers that you've heard too many times already.

A lot of it are songs you'd hear by the average old men covers band like 'Live The Life I Love'; 'Need Your Love So Bad' and 'I've Got My Mojo Working' so it's killer to hear an excellent rendition of 'Down In The Bottom' or 'See That My GravenIs Kept Clean' or a remake of their 'Why Did You Do It' - so that's who originally did this song.

Ok but not essential unless you are a blues completist of the highest order.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan

Styx - Regeneration Volume 1 & 2
(Eagle Records - 2011)

Without getting all smart about things, this is simply a load of re-recordings of Styx's best songs and a couple of Damn Yankee classics spread out onto 2 discs - hence Volume 1 & Volume 2.

The production is stellar and crystal clear as we are in the digital age and the guys sound as good as they did way back then - utterly faultless with storming singing and effortless precision musicianship all round. Highlights include the remakes of 'The Grand Illusion'; 'Lorelei'; 'Come Sail Away'; Renegade' and 'Too Much Time On My Hands' - not to mention an incredible version of Damn Yankee's 'High Enough' - one the best hair metal ballads ever! Also worth getting for the brand new number 'Difference In The World'.

Well needed by all AOR and Rock Fans Worldwide.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

October

Shift – Watch It Burn
(S/R - 2011)

Shift add together heavy music and not-so-heavy music to create a unique album.

Their guitar riffs go well with the more melodic sounds that they produce. As this is only the bands second EP, there is definitely room for improvement, but it’s a very good EP nonetheless!

The band used the media to build up a strong fanbase, who are ready for a live show. Including two covers, this EP looks set to gain Shift even more fans throughout their quest to dominate the music industry.

7/10

By Sam Hutchinson

IVAN SMIRNOV - Privet Earth
(S/R - 2011)

No relation to any heir of a popular Vodka firm, this Mr Smirnov is a talented young chappie from Moscow called Ivan.

Second mistake to avoid is being put off by the pics of him sporting his guitar in that sinisterly familiar eighties way - although a hot property on his six-string he does not resort to sometimes pretentious euro-metal or epic instrumentals to showcase his abilities. Conniseurs will call him a traitor for dishing out alternative -spangled punk metal to peddle his noises but Ivan Smirnov is one diverse young gent who tries it all out between ‘A Phuken Angel’, ‘On & Off’, ‘She Dreams Big’, ‘Take It To Mars’, ‘Ice Orkestra’, ‘Rebelz’ and ‘Big City’ amongst his other impressive samples.

Mr S’s pipes come out in clean sound with Soul, funk, pop, prog, AOR, metal and hard rock all sit their place round the table, taking their equal throw in support. With enough already there to clarify how this guy came by a Grammy nomination or two this year , the two singles - ‘Saddest Boy In The World’ and ‘Sunshine Never Cries’ which saw him towards the accolade also feature within.

A recommended look at a largely deserving new star in action. Smirnov served on extra rocks!

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Foo Fighters, Queen & David Bowie.

NET: http://www.smirnovmusic.com/Music.html

SPLIT SOFA - The Gathering
(S/R - 2011)

Another name of those who have been hovering on my never -unmoving musical lips since 2000-and-something, East Midlanders Split Sofa will be seeing me making noises aplenty between them from tonight onwards.

This brand of seventies- strung psychedelic sweetness has been aching for me to meet it ear-on a long time. I will make no lies of the fact they have toyed with every major household name’s sound within the quintessential reaches of the genre but the authenticity of mainman Lewie Docksey’s style is a massive treat fro the retro-desperate. Adding the guy’s excellent Floyd-esque keyboard harmonisations to the fantastic electric/acoustic duels of messsrs Nicklin and Gilman, the whole shebang stops by the line marked consistent from track one to ten.

Lewie, a massively talented multi-instrumentalist himself, includes in the parcel, his own gravely husk that would front many a thousand bands of the era, his rich, sometime Lennon-like voice spelling the words ‘astounding live performer’ right across his chest. In ‘Circles’, ‘U Will C Me’, ‘I’m Following’, ‘Take Me There’, ‘So Long Ago’ and especially ‘Shadowman’ you will hear a fistful of choruses you think you’ll recognise but then after three or four plays of this beauty you will indeed be rightful to claim that accolade.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Grateful Dead, Spock’s Beard, Pink Floyd & Porcupine Tree.

NET: www.myspace.com/splitsofa www.splitsofa.co.uk

S.Y.F.T. – New Beginning
(S/R - 2011)

The album starts with a deafening scream from lead vocalist, Sean Ingalls.

He explodes into vocals and adds various screams throughout the album. With heavy backing music, the album stays as intense as ever all the way through. The Seattle boys certainly know how to play music! New Beginning is an album to keep you awake on a long night, because you won’t want to fall asleep while listening to this.

Killer!

9/10

By Sam Hutchinson

September

SECRET ILLUSION - Illusion
(Rising Records - 2011)

Greece’s Secret illusion have been in demand by way of a debut album for the entire four years since formation.

The wait over and very so worth it, ‘Illusion’ performs just that, conjuring up creatively exquisite melodic metal that at only nine songs is below enough for this type of stuff. Fluttery keyboards place their pristine melodies along well-disciplined guitars that wait til their own turn to start. Although comparably pedestrian stuff, the deep-voiced range of their frontman, cast more in the mould of a modern day Geoff Tate supplies the outermost attraction and an AOR feel you immediately pick up on listening in.

'Silent Voices', 'Hold On Forever', 'Beauty Of A Lie', 'Light On Your Way', 'Endless Flight' and 'Serenity' house every preferable element and leave little else out without passing it once over at least. Fabulously written and played, 'Illusion' is the first of hopefully many from another Mediterranean talent machine whirring on its lights.

Excellent.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Kamelot, Last Tribe, Artension & Helloween.

NET: www.myspace.com/secretillusionband

SKILLER - Follow The Siren (EP)
(S/R – 2011)

More Nordic metal magic afoot, Skiller are, well, pretty skilled at what they do and straight away get attention for reasons right and…well, ok if it’s what you wish to hear.

Angry hatecore laid atop lush symphonic metal keyboards and melodic chorus hooks are always sweet ear candy flavour to me especially put together in one bag. Shame indeed that there’s only three tracks full today as I’m roped up by the peppery speed guitar lines, specifically of middle number ’The Crowning’ and the substance is again big in numbers.

Just a case of asking… more please.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.Skiller.se

ST PIERRE SNAKE INVASION - Flesh
(S/R - 2011)

They’re from Bristol but don’t drink cider unless its been possibly spiked. Then again, these five young men must have been confused as to what actually did come in the can as I am about what their music on this debut mini-album intends to do for them.

Clumsy prog-beat alternative, a couple of so-so-scream core laden outings and two damn decent numbers. After struggling my way through the dreary title track that just never wants to take off, 'Ales From the Crypt' is a bouncy rock n' roller of a number which is worth half a dozen repeat itself before I eventually move on to the rest.

'Safe and Sound' and 'Innocent' seem tailored to please Bring Me the Horizon fans who pass it by, the latter becoming tolerable after second listen. 'Last Words Of A Bent Cop’ come over as a cross between 'Ales' itself and these two, kicking up a near-Motorhead -esque anarchy metal racket that shit’s the momentum up a few notches at the final advisable moment.

Snake with a definite bite but the tongue likely forked at too crooked an angle to effectively apply the poison.

5.5/10

By Dave Attrill

SUBVERSION - What We Are Entitled (Single)
(Rising Records - 2011)

Noisy as f**k Brits Subversion handily remind a few heathens who foolishly ignored the advent of their debut album with one of its mightiest, most brutal cuts.

‘WWAE’ with initials that sound like a wrestling contest brawl with all the best of metal’s elements as do all the other cuts on ’Lest we Forget’ and let you enjoy a hook or two amidst it.

Disappointing only in there being no second tune to follow, (thanks bl**din' loads, Rising peeps) these Suvvern geezers are sure of letting no one down as this cut destroys and devours all the way to the repeat button.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

ALSO RECOMMENDED: SUBVERSION - Lest We Forget (Subversion Records)
*See review further back up page for this album.

August

Seks – Harder ThanYou
(Hard As A Rock Music – 2011)

A Norwegian based kinda Glammy/Arena rock styled band who are in their early and mid 20’s.

This is an album which has its ups and its downs. Upside is that is has a handful of great songs such as the opener ‘Rich Girl’; ‘On The Inside’; the ballad ‘Hangin’ On’; the humourous ‘I Wanna Be Your Bitch’ & ‘Get Out Now’. It’s just that his vocal sound gets on your nerves of frontman Rock Hart get a bit annoying especially when he wails really girly.

OK but not essential listening.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan

SMALLTOWN NOBODIES - 20 More Steps
(S/R - 2011)

Probably called so because nobody knows quite what to categorize them as, Smalltown Nobodies step across the stones marked prog, thrash, metal and industrial with legs defiantly spread, completely fearless of the daunting chasm underneath.

Not that they look young enough to be trying their hand at any bar one of those four, these Dutch chaps do indeed do a marvellous job of musical creativity. ‘20 More Steps’, ‘Drowning’, ‘This City’, ‘So Called Friends’, ‘How It Feels’, ‘Ugly’ & Once The Faith Is Broken’ and a crushing cover of Faith No More’s ’Ashes to Ashes’ are the eight, stood strongest amongst ten tunes amalgamating the soulful deep throat of Lain Barbier with might twin guitars of recent Metallica mouldings, which also run off ecstatic solos to compliment each piece.

Taking on board their additional electronic stylings, that sound placed in for the sake of diversity STN are a strongly wholesome band with big ambitions and even bigger potential stage prowess.

Fabulous!

9/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.smalltownnobodies.com www.myspace.com/570452860

Spike - Gods Hotel
(Floating World – 2011)

A heavier side of Spike that was done after the Quireboys originally split up. Recorded in LA with Alex Kane (of Anti-Product) on some guitar and other peeps from that neck of the woods too such as Ted Hutt (Guitar), Dominique Davalos (Bass/Vocals) and Doni Gray (Drums/Percussion).

It’s a heavier side of Spike that many aren’t used to hearing – as opposed to his retro Faces/Stones thang you expect from that famous band he fronts. There’s touch of scary, surfy pschobillness on ‘Beauty Queen’; some laid-back reggae grooving on ‘Mercy Or Metal’ and not much like the original cover of ‘Fool For A Pretty Face’.

Or what about some Beatley likeness in ‘Dead Without You’ ( a la Lennon & Harrison in solo mode). Then there’s the mad vibed Pistol/GNR rocker ‘Chiva’; the fun-time ‘Hesitation Blues’ and the excellent closing ballad ‘You’re Gonna Die’.

One hell of an inspiring album showing what else Spike’s capable of.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

Status Quo - Quid Pro Quo
(Fouth Chord Records – 2011)

An album that we’ve expected for a bit since this was the name of the Tour late last year.

It opens up with a really promising number called ‘Two Way Traffic’ that remind me of a cross between the Quo, Motorhead & Hawkwind – the heaviest I’ve heard them in a while and then up comes ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll ‘n’ You’ that’s very old school (think 77/78) but with keyboards thrown in – the one that was never off Radio 2 in May/June.

Love the catchy ‘Leave A Light On’ & the dark lyrics with the chirpy frantic guitar solo in ‘Frozen Hero’. Good to hear Andy Bown’s harp playing in ‘It’s All About You’ and then best of all is a remake and partly re-written version ‘In The Army Now’ done in 2010.

Also included is an extra CD that makes up for it a bit that has classic hits live from Amsterdam and Australia from 2010 – which is stated next to each of the 10 songs that include ‘Down Down’; ‘Ice In The Sun’ and the younger ‘Beginning Of The End’.

Not their best but it's a decent enough effort.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

June
Sange:Main:Machine - Ready For The Show
(Logic(III)Logic/Street Symphonies Records - 2010)

Very tight outfit from a dude called Luigi Sange Sangermano from Italy. Melodic Hard Kickin Rock with plenty of punches is what you'll find here.

The sound prouction is loud and quite excellent with some real good songs all over the album that include the 1st real song on the album that sets the standard in the ballsy 'Hate Sower'; the full-on metal assalt complete with Wylde like urps that is 'Master Of The Grief' - love that riffing indeed my son! Then there's the quiet acoustic ballad 'Goodbye' that reminds me of Metallica in their lighter moments or the killer soloing and excellent vocal harmonies that are to be found in 'Shock Down The System' as well as 'Overturned By Nature' that again has a metallica feel but also is reminiscent of AC/DC's 'Hells Bells' as well.

Top Notch Quality Offerings here.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

SHEAR - In Solitude
(S/R - 2011)

’In solitude’ is the debut EP from Finnish six piece sensation Shear.. And they sound darn quite sensational to me right from the start.

Their female fronted melodic metal is easy to taste all ingredients within right into the opening title track. ’Scorched’ leaves a little more with their power metal prowess to discover, where front woman Alex’s beautifully operatic lines come to recognition while the remaining two tunes explore a continued progressive thrash direction but all is pleasantly done and wonderfully clean.

Creative and hugely enjoyable equally in guitars and keys as well as voice, this is one of most technical without pretence to have come to me for quite a while, no one here trying too hard to be better than what they are although these six musicians are evidently as talented as it gets, to start.. More gold lies discovered at the end of the Scandinavian rainbow.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Kamelot, Edguy, Evanescence, Mostly Autumn, Gamma Ray, Dream Theater
NET: www.myspace.com/shearofficial

SILVERJET - En route (EP)
(S/R - 2011)

The long in coming/forthcoming third album from Silverjet finally yields its first berries from a still not yet ripened tree, but these three taste sweet of their old fashioned v southern flavour.

‘Machine’ is an excellently ballsy hard rocker with an opening lick dodgily alike to The Almighty’s ‘Takin’ Hold’. The most unlikely direction I’ve ever known Dave Kerr to take, ‘What it Takes’ is an awesome tour de grunge of a groover with a smooth upbeat main progression the chorus just rides like a wave. ‘Take My Pills' is also a familiar inclusion from the last couple of live sets I’ve attended and the closest arced to their very early days.

Four impressively cool acoustic cuts make up the remaineder of seven-tracker, one each from their previous three releases plus unreleased newie ’The Answer’. ’Won’t See Me Bleedin’ is particularly gutsy with Dave’s re-laid vocal lines living up to their original bite every bit…. (like they wouldn’t). Can’t wait for the album.. and for those others of you equally impatient SJ faithful, let's just hope this one will keep you quiet for a week or two til then.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Guns N‘ Roses, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith & Faces.
NET: www.myspace.com/silverjet

SKINDRED - Union Black
(BMG - 2011)

First time I believe Metalliville’s received a disc from ex-Dub War man Benji’s present-day rap metal juggernaut (2nd time actually as Tony Watson reviewed the last one).

The first impressions I hear in opener ‘Warning’ are that he may want to put his Limp Bizkit cds away in the loft for a bit… just listen to that chorus - omg!. Still off on a high though plagiaristic plain, the following ten numbers take the welsh outfit right to the max of their musical prowess. ‘Cult Dem’, ‘Doom Rif’, ’Living a Lie’, ‘Own Ya‘, ‘Make Your Mark‘, ‘Get it Now‘ and ‘’Death to Spies‘ are the anthems of a man so insane you are instantly sent behind the bed for cover yet want to worship the ground he stomps, screams and slams himself from wall to walk on at the same time.

Aggressive melodic and often both the two at one time this band blend their reggae and their rock 'n’roll faultlessly with big punchy pop-like chorus lines you could get in hundreds of other commercial rock genres yet remain brutal mode the rest of every tune. Terrifying, but not terrible, Skindred not so much skin but mercilessly flay on the bone with this latest album. Modern-day UK metal at its finest.

Buy!

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill


RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Dub War, Stuck Mojo, Limp Bizkit, Boy Count, Biohazard, Strapping young Lad & White Zombie.
NET: www.skindred.net www.myspace.com/skindred

THE 16 DEADLY IMPROVS - The Triumph of The…
(Rosemont Recordings - 2011)

The Sixteen Deadly Improvs are six very talented sounding chappies from sunny old California state who house a huge pedigree of prog and classic rock names on their influence roster and boy they strive to make most of them at least half proud.

Having as many as sixteen tracks on the list itself allows for a balanced of all that’s in their store, and they share it out like everyone listening seems after something different from their spectrum. For every vocal number there’s an instrumental, for every intriguing guitar arrangement, threes a tastily flute or keyboard melody hiding behind to impress with all heads focused on substance even though it does occasionally slip to just aimless noise as all instruments clash at the edge.

‘Spirit or Matter’, ‘Torpedo’, ‘Invincible Pole Fighters’, ‘Into Another time’, ‘Gargantua’, ‘Sand Palm’, ‘Dear Me’, ‘You’d Make A Lot Of Money’, ‘Death To Disco’ and ‘The Burrowers Beneath’ won't gain them the greatest area of commercial musical ground but on their own merit matches them up with the mightier pillars holding up the prog temple.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Spock’s Beard, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, Rush & Jethro Tull.
NET: www.myspace.com/thesixteendeadlyimprovs

SOWN AMONG THORNS - Journey Of A Life
(Dual Nature Records - 2011)

You wonder.. How does a vocal/keyboard only act qualify for its place in the pages of a hard rock ‘zine? Well it happened before and it deserves to happen again - at least for Sworn Among Thorns.

The US-based duo’s sweet AOR/alternative amalgam is largely delectable even with no guitars (I do lie, there is the occasional piece of rhythm/lead where seems legitimate for good measure) and serves up some wonderful keyboard anthems from messrs Lapchon and Fratelli. The Christian-themed concept is fully evident in the titles list but ’What Will You Be’, ’, ’Hurry Up & Wait’, ’’Someone Else’, ‘But I Can Praise‘, ’Don’t Take My Light Away’, ’Biblical Blues’ and ’Just A Prayer Away’ are allowed to be enjoyed as lush melodic rock tunes whatever ones own beliefs dictate.

Frankly, Michael Lapchon hasn’t got the most exemplary set of pipes I’ve heard put to use but stands notable for his vocal clarity - thee is not one word you’ll fail to decipher throughout the whole twelve numbers. Put together with co-conspirator Nick Fratelli, they form an undisputedly talented musical team on the ol ‘ tinklers. Songwriting done to perfection, ‘J.O.A.L’ is worth at least half one good listen before judging.

Great.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Toto, Pink Floyd & Steely Dan
NET: www.sownamongthorns.com

SPEED LIMIT - Moneyshot

(Pure Rock Records - 2011)

Such love people harbour for classic hard rock styles that some particular genres become misguidedly aligned as one and the same.

The PR for Speed Limit’s label almost fall under a guilty card by labelling them as melodic hard rock whereas they actually storm in on you in with a sound more the desire of Primal Fear and Helloween fans alike, before then adapting across onto the format as advertised… and back and forth along the whole ride.

One is confused indeed, though frankly whichever noise the Austrian veterans have opted to trade in along their extensive career span ’Broken Mirror’, ’Done with Dreamin’, ’Too Old To Dye Young’, ’Don’t Fear the Dark Lanes’, ’Fly Like an Eagle’ and ’Lady’ are timeless ear candy for the old fashioned hard rock lover who refuses to budge his musical bubble behind 1987. Extend. That ol ’fabled diversity factor, so often bypassed allows them to throw in one pleasantly modern acoustic ballad , the excellent, ‘I Came I Saw‘, but the palate is satisfied with or without the additional wines.

If ratchety twin guitars and slick blues - crusted solos, all trimmed with a sharply-cut metal edge, plus an ever-so slightly European-sounding vocal are your bag then hold yours open and hope it handles the weight ten times over. A band years overlong in the coming to British attention, &&&& is just a warning of what we’ve been unduly forced to miss by the fashion barbarians.

Worth breaking the speed limit for.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Europe, Saxon

NET: www.myspace.com/speedlimit www.speedlimit.at

STREETKIND - Ocean Grown

(S/R - 2011)

Grown thankfully on this side of the ocean, this young combo deal in a pleasantly chirpy brand of pop/ska/new wave fused noise that probably offend metalheads no end but for the non-purists will give you plenty to bounce up and down to on your bedroom chair unit l it breaks.

Letting no boundaries go uncrossed, there’s a welcome rap element in between sweetly melodic hooks that also enjoy a Latin overtone, notably opener ‘ole’. Potential hits loom throughout in other favourites like ‘This Is Love’, ‘Lay It On Me’, and ‘Alt Diggin’, although the momentum is hampered in between by a brace of three tracks that go uncomfortably into boy band territory and almost begin to damage my faith levels.

‘Heat Rises’ finally set the wheels back on course just in time but its almost a struggle if you’ve not been put off al little by now. If you are partial to a good ol’ blast of UB40 with added rock balls, for six of these nine tunes, this comes especially for you. Streetkind if not a little too just street occasionally, this band are hugely tipped for greatness if they keep up albums more dominant style.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED (Except tracks 6-8) IF YOU LIKE: UB40

May

SNAFU - S/T
(Repetoire - 2010)

Their debut that came out in 1973 - a classic early 70's band that featured Micky Moody on guitar who was later to be in the 1st incarnation of Whitesnake, but let's not jump the gun.

These guys were a funky outfit who also deleved into country aspects because that's basically what they were into and managed to get signed on what they dug doing and got a deal with Vertigo and this 8 tracker has really got some beauties such as the opening funkyness of 'Long Gone'; the gospel edged rocker 'That's The Song'; a cover of the soulful 'Drowning In The Sea Of Love'; the autobiographical 'Goodbye U.S.A' (something I can always identify with) and the countriness of 'Morning, Morning' (feat. Micky on Mandolin) and 'Country Nest'.

Wish you got bands like this now - sounds perfect to me!

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Status Quo - Under The Influence

(Edel/ear Music - 2011)

A really together album from the Quo that originally got released in 99, but now it's out as a deluxe copy with bonus numbers. Cool thing is, is that I got all the other albums, bar this one so I was rather impressed when this landed in the mailbox.

It has everything you'd want from this nearly 50 year old band - yes it really is getting to 5 decades of the UK Rock Legends. Man, I love the Quo and have done since '78 and there's some real gems on here such as the opening 'twenty Wild Horses'; 'Shine On' that reminds of a slower version of 'Creepin' Up On You' and the fast 'n' rockin' 'Making Waves'.

Then there's the beautiful and loving acoustic ballad 'Blessed Are The Meek'; the coutried up version of Buddy Holly's 'Not Fade Away' with some excellent guitar pickin' on there. Then there's the excellent bonus numbers like the 2 great covers of 'Sea Cruise' and 'I Knew The Bride' and a live version of the opening number from Antwerp in 1999.

Anotherr fine Quo album.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

March

SAUL - Embrace The Rain
(S/R - 2010)

Not an unforseen shock decision by ex Gun n’ Roses man Slash to use his natural name on the front of a release for a change, this Iowa trio are quite a pleasing combination of most styles he’s peddled out elsewhere since 1995.

For fans of Velvet Revolver in particular the grunge/hard rock fusions of 'Atrocious Ra', 'Intimacy' and 'Take It From Me' will be appetising and their whole sound, whilst precariously below par with originality, is tastily solid. Punchy guitar drives and a gravely Stayley -schooled throat from Blake Bedsaul add to favourable a reception these five tunes will earn them.

Worth trying.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Metallica & Bush
NET: www.myspace.com/saul_music

SCRATCHED MATINEE - Notes From The Incurable
(S/R - 2010)

Although an unknown band name the principal founder’s is an instantly familiar one. Chris Francis, former lead shredder for Manc AOR goliaths, Ten resurfaces with a new project that will surprise or shock fans of his earlier catalogue of musical wonder-stuffs or both.

For the latest thirteen songs he has created Chris takes a clipping of every hedge round the musical lawn and planted them to create his own pretty sounding shrubs. Metal, blues, 60's, grunge, industrial and the inevitable very hard rock edge all come up in their equal cut of the action substantiating tunes like ‘The Scarlet Ice’, ‘Those Long Winter Evenings’, ‘Horror Show’, ‘New Moon Monday’, 'Mother Medicine', ‘Ward 19’ and 'Mr Spencer’ to a delightful hilt.

The unmistakable Francis solo sound is still about, make on mistake , his own retro twist taking advantage of having his own machine to drive and he proves to have been benefiting from listening to his Tom Jones collection before writing. Its not unusual, well maybe again it is but ‘N.F.T.I.’ is unusually great for it and with an impressive Kroeger -like delivery from Phil Pilsworth, Chris’ career continues to mount a high rung.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Queen ,Nickelback, Bush, Beatles & Madness.

NET: www.myspace.com/scratchdmatinee

SKIN TRADE - The Heretic
(S/R - 2010)

LA Rockers, Skin Trade might have been mistaken as having originated from that good ol’ town up the road beginning ‘S’ and ending ‘e’ with the sound they have.

It’s nonethelesss very refreshing and pleasing to pick up on the style of pure grunge again a couple of decades down the line. Eclipsing a brace of other diverse titbits into their sound, ST run off eleven tasty slices from the musical sausage. Based around the three-chord thang as expected, the hooks and instant-ness of their tunes is constant from start to end with fast flying choruses and no endless solos if practically any at all.

With ehoes of Stone temple Pilots and also the Stooges sounding amidst their cheerful noise, these guys will be great fun live for everything including their music.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Nirvana, Alice In Chains & Soundgarden

NET: www.myspace.com/skintrade

SUBVERSION - Lest We Forget
(Subversion Records - 2010)

A band who impressed me ten months ago with their ‘Treason ‘EP Brit extreme metal innovators Subversion look to have been very busy fulfilling their promise as their debut long-player finally makes it to my door, packed with a whopping fifteen.

Their angry deathcore noise transpired to be an unexpected helping of ear candy when I listened to them last time , and it so continues without disappointment. Heavy with hammer -verses- skull degrees of intensity , the melodic chorus breaks make themselves a mainstay of Subversion’s sound, as do hooks plus there’s even a vaguely Celtic turn to one or two parts. ’The City I Here’, ’’into The City’, ’Butchered’, ’To Gain Your Gain’, ’In Order To Live’, ’What We Are Entitled’, along with personal favourites ’Bypass’ and the title track are powerful and strong tunes for more than basic reasons , also needing to mention nice keyboard touches from Chaz Barnes -when audible- and the provocative war theme of the lyric.

Ad-libbing actual sound footage from our fellas on the frontline pays dividends for the dramatic concept of the disc and the solo at the entry to ’Treason’ itself is circumstantially majestic in its harmony with a victorious overtone. Totally upholding and surpassing the expectations laid in my last review of their work, Subversion come on strong on their first full-length spinner, supplying their live set with more than the menace and power it requires. Incredible and inventive ’LWF’ is an example for formative death acts to follow instead of letting themselves become dragged down that other deathly hole.

(Anybody notice I said ‘death’ twice there?)

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Killswitch Engage, Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad, Messuggah & Black Sabbath.

February

SAMANDRIEL - Awakening
(S/R - 2010)

As the girl-fronted metal overload of late continues to seduce us, I try hard to ignore the fact that you can have too much of a good thing. In fact, sod all that - this band are beautifully schooled in their melodic metal craft and give you everything you want from the scene and all the more surprising, they’re not Polish or Scandinavian even but Canadian.

Strongly operatic and boldly enriched in the essences of progression, the Alberta five-piece are led by the powerfully sweet-pitched tones of Doneka Reid who must have spent all of her previous lives in a school choir to have brought it up to the stunning octave-roving range topping the swish instrumental mix throughout this six-tracker. Messrs Jankovic and Black bring it on with solidly smooth performances on strings and keys apiece and create a stunningly accessible feel that doesn’t allow one to feel like skipping any of the longer tracks.

Fabulous music from another Canadian machine, Awakening is just what the hard orck scene is doing over there, not that it ever laid totally dormant.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Nightwish, Anathema & Stratovarious
NET: myspace.com/samandriel

Ritchie Sambora - Shark Frenzy
(Retro World/Floating World Records - 2010)

Way back before Bon Jovi came to be Bruce Foster discovered an unknown guitarist called Ritchie Sambora and to cut a long story short a band called Shark Frenzy was created. Here for the 1st time you get volumes 1 and 2 of that band and I can tell you I was pleasantly surprised with how good this band was - they ought to reform in fact.

There are elements of different bands here such as 'Come Saturday Night' (Hanoi Rocks & Cheap Trick), 'Law Of the Jungle (Humble Pie), 'Southern Belle' (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Platinum Heros (The Beatles), 'I'll Play The Fool (Meatloaf & Smokie) - you get the picture - various styles of rock ranging from Southern Rock right throught to New Wave.

Brilliant to hear one of the 1st ever Ritchie Sambora songs where he takes care of lead vocals also on the rocker entitled 'A Good Life'. Other great songs include the 12-bar 'Til The Walls Come Down' and a brilliant cover of The Beatles 'Golden Slumbers'. Kinda makes me wonder why this band didn't make it - probably because record companies couldn't label them into a particular genre and pigeonhole them.

Well worth hearing how it all began for the future Bon Jovi Guitarist.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

SEARCHING FOR CALM - Celestial Greetings
(Mystic Production - 2010)

Polish alt rock experimentalists Searching for Calm appear dangerously multi dimensional in what they get up to. With opening track ’Screens’ they proceed to tease me at first with a hardcore noise before going into a pleasant prog rock sound and we are immensely stewed as to what is to follow for the rest of the disc space.

A Police like thread weaves its loom through the earlier numbers, especially, ‘Follow’ and ’ Transformation’ plus ballad ‘Celestial’ and this provides the more comfortable part of the record. Other areas see the sound adapting back to the earlier forecast aggro-metal format which is not all that bad either, but some rather shaky examples, especially the badly sung mess that is ‘Airs and Graces’, a number I feel is a little out of place amongst this platter.

The lattter three tunes drag their feet a considerable iota but the impressive experimental guitars hold the substance there and the overall vibe from the disc is positive. Sounding good but capable of being put together, Searching for Calm are at least doing a lot of that.

Not bad, boys.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: myspace.com/searchingforcalm

Smoking Bird - Survivors
(Osopho Productions - 2010)

Great country rock sounding dudes with elements of The Rolling Stones & The Georgia Satellites in there and more laid backness as well. Coming from Spain, they've actually been at it since 1997 and originally called Junk whose vocalist reminds me of Davey Vain of Vain.

This latest release of theres features 8 cookin' songs with highlights including the well vocal harmonied 'Everybody Knows'; the beautiful piano and echoing guitar leading 'What We Really Need is' and the official closer 'Survivors' that's got some really nice acoustic guitar work on it.

Good, tight 'n' together band.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

STRATOVARIUS -Infinite (Special Edition)
(Armoury Records - 2010)

By rights a ‘Blast From The Past’ item, Stradivarius’s significant masterpiece is never undeserving of a second round of recognition once more Obviously a kind of tenth anniversary re-release, this double-disc version of the Finish melodic metallers first incendiary lp is an important opportunity for those with the excuse of ever being able to find it on their HMV shelves.

From the moment ‘Hunting High and Low’ steams into action with that first majestic chorus the standards are weighed and set to be judged by. ‘Millenium‘, ‘Phoenix‘, ‘Million Light Years Away’ and ’Why Are We Here?’ should’ve, by all perceivable rights been as huge as ‘I Want Out’ or ‘Run to the Hills’. These twelve numbers marked their scorch on the floor not only not only because of incendiary performances from guitarist Timo Tolkki and ex-Yngwie key-ster Jens Johnansson but also because they have hooks in all of their songs which vocal tornado Timo Kotipelto proceeds to do above justice to.

Promisingly produced demos of ’Hunting..’ and ’Millienium are included amongst the bonuses, the four freebies also made up by live versions of ’Phoenix’ and ’Infinity’ from one of the countless European tours Scandinavian metal’s most hardest working sons never seem to see the end of. A generously reincarnated gift for those still after the greatest tasting sounds symphonic metal has to offer.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Helloween, Gamma Ray, Rhapsody, Dragon Force, Magnum, Primal Fear, Dream Theater, Judas Priest & Saga.

SWORN - S/T (E.P.)
(S/R - 2010)

French foursome Sworn hide their four-track mini album behind some interesting Salvador Dali-esque doodles on the sleeve artwork, also forecasting an unorthodox sound to come within.

Kicking off the first number with a powerful old school thrash riff, they turn out to be more of a prog vehicle, yet maintain the thrash prowess. Unusually for the style its strong Cobain vibes in the vocal department but there is no interference on the scope between this and their prettily strummed solo lines. The purists will approves of most elements , especially with the tunes being quite on the long side as well but the whole collection is mostly fun for the connoisseur.

Commendable offering from another undiscovered name, I swear this lot are worth a listen.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Dream Theater, Threshold, Spock’s Beard, Porcupine Tree & Nirvana.
NET: myspace.com/swornfr

SYMPHONY CULT - Rewind to Fast Forward
(Copro - 2010)

Riding the plethora of new girl-fronted acts, London’s Symphony Cult are plucked from amongst the finest of the current new crop.

Diving in with energy from the press of play to the final note, riffs, chorus and treble laden angst workouts waste no time in coming and send you straight into another track before you even think to stop listening. Putting the common three, punk, metal and hard rock all into the modern musical shamrock, the leaves grow fast from seeds well watered seeds such as ’You’, ’This Devastation’, ’Breaking Free’, ’Under the Lights’ ’The Riddle’, ’Speak’ and ’Goodbye and Goodnight. Like many fantastic versatile female voices we are graced with nowadays Charlotte Lubbock unleashes her harmonies with that loveably universal range typically suited as much to a Goth outfit as to a hard rock or alt act.

One would have to regard that twin guitarists John and Barney steal their half of the show with tight rigid lines and progressions still allowing for flow with the mood direction of each tune, and putting an impressive job on the sliding as well. Three years in the coming, Symphony Cult’s debut LP justifies all its manic anticipations with a brutal performance right across the board, hopefully another one across the boards will be a possibility before long.

Fantastic - a Cult classic and potentially more than, our beloved island has finally done it again.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Evanescence, Alter Bridge, Anathema, Doro & Lita Ford

NET: myspace.com/symphonycult

January 2011

Joe Satriani - Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards
(Sony Music - 2010)

11 slabs of instrumental music brilliance from satch that start with the church bells of the rockin' 'Premonition' and end on the funky space-age groove of 'God Is Crying'.

In between these you get hightlights on the album include the epic positivieness of 'Pyrric Victoira'; the bluesy at times like 'Littleworth Lane'; the excellent, pumping 'Wormhole Wizards' with the opening mysterious orchestration and the amazing balladeering 'Wind In The Trees'. Every track is beautifully crafted and produced to say the least.

You really got to be in the right mood for an album by Joe so pour yourself a few drinks, switch off the light and chill out to some top-notch axe warming tones and knockout rifferey. It really makes you wonder where all these amazing tunes come from at times.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Scarlet Viper - Roll The Dice (Single)
(S/R - 2010)

From Italy, we get a decent enough hard rock sleazy sounding single with the only drawback being the vocals which are a bit too throaty and got fully glam enough to make a big impact. They kinda remind me of 'Dear Superstar'.

Could be a good support band by the sounds of their material - if memory serves me right they've played with one of our locals, Silverjet.

File under - could get well known in time.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Senes - De-Evolution Of Theory
(Global Music - 2010)

The 1st instrumental album on the the label. He goes by the name of Steve Senes and is pretty damn good I have to say - close to the Satriani kinda league without all the mad space-age sounds going off.

Plenty of guitar highlights here include excellent opener 'The Swami' with its killer wailing notation; the beautiful acoustic 'Ruth'; the madcap 'Cop Show' that get's all funky on us; the ballsy rocker that is 'Facecheck'; the sliding away cooly sounding 'High & Mighty' that reminds me of Satch and such icons. Then there's the acoustic likable 'Angel' and gorgious closer 'The Afterglow'.

A promising artist indeed.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Skin - Breaking The Silence
(S/R - 2010)

Comeback and final album from one of the finest hard rock bands of the UK - Skin.

It's an incredle strong album with 'Stronger' saying it all (with it's gospel like harmonies) because it's 'Good To Be Back'. There's a gorgious ballad in 'When I'm With You'; the hard-hitting 'Trigger Inside'; the gospelling powerful ballad 'Redemption' and the excellent epic powerful rocking closer 'Born To Rock 'N' Roll. It's brilliantly well recorded and Myke and the guys have done themselves proud on each and every single song here.

Pity they aren't gonna be here on a long term basis as this album is outstanding.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

SMELL MY PILLOW - Off Switch
(Kwall Records - 2010)

As a writer for Metalliville, one is used of course to friendly people grilling me on bands I have written up on in recent times. A question I am usually happy to answer; however when the band’s name happens to be Smell The Pillow…. boy am I going to have trouble.

As you expect from the name, they sound…well, unique, serving up a indie/prog sounding infusion that is in most places good but on first play goes totally over my head. Hunting out the hooks, the subsequent listen sends up a few gems amongst ‘Free‘, ‘Debbie‘, , ’Katelyn’, ‘Walkin’ Tall‘, ’Urban Decay package’ and’ ’Kissing The Ground’ even if they are a bit long in coming.

The electro -peppered vocal production is an addition one over necessary for diversity’s sake and I’ve heard better vocalists in my time, the strains very much cellar on at least a third of the numbers. Still ’Off Switch’ is no switch off - SMP smell of promise rustling amongst the feathers.

Pretty impressive.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: smellmypillow.com

Superhorrorf*ck - Livingdeadstars
(Street Symphonies Records - 2010)

Great rock 'n' roll band who allegedly were a band called Morphin and on the way to a gig, the car crashed into a tree and the bodies dissapeared - lol - whatever. Anyway the tale goes that these zombies did the gig and the rest is history so to speak.

Overall this is your Italian equivalent of Wednesday 13 or Murderdolls basing their songs on horror, sickness, sex and the macabre. It's entertaining and pack 11 songs in to just over 35 minutes including a cover of Kate Perry's 'Hot N Cold'; a cool song called 'Holy Zombie' about Jesus Christ - oh the Bible thumpers will love this - lol; then there's the multi-riffin' excellence of 'Welcome To My F***k Show' or the rappy wild rockin' punkish closer 'The Texas Chainsaw Ranger'.

Come to the UK - you guys kick ass!!

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

SWEET JAMES - Multitrack Drifting (EP)
(S/R - 2010)

A Canadian band - where have you guys been hiding? A country I was inundated with bands from almost a decade ago have been relatively quiet in Metalliville circles lately.

Though still a loyal spinner of all discs with the names Honeymoon Suite, Von Groove (or that other chap called Bryan) on the sleeve, its always …welcome of them to bring something as exciting but different to the table and these …. lads don’t let me down. Filling up their tanks with fuel dated 1970, they deliver a smooth retro/alternative conglomeration that is constantly infectious for all five cuts, most notably Skynrd -accented rock n’ rollers ‘The Wanderer’ and ’Movin‘ On’.

You don’t seem to see it coming at all , listening to opening numbers ‘Better for The Crime’ and ‘Get on Something Good’ with their totally contrastable prog /indie feel and begin to wonder if there are two different bands with same name playing this album. At least we know one thing, they’re great. Both ways.

Classify and original together this is a great slab of summertime music despite the fact I’m reviewing it during a wintry January day.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Eagles, Blackfoot, Lynryd Skynyrd, ELO, Steely Dan & Faces.

NET: myspace.com/sweetjames www.sweeetjames.ca

December

THE SINS - The Undone
(SINister Records/TSM - 2010)

Some bands do come across the best of solutions to quarrelling over styles or sitting on a fence between bandwagon jumping and being your own thing completely.

The answer as always, do the whole bloody lot of ‘em…. The styles that is, not the principles, Seattle’s The Sins have done more or less that ever since their incarnation in 2001. This being their third album means we have missed out on some serious treats fro m their first tow as they guys are superb. Attacking every available corner of the rock n’ roll spectrum, including that style itself, literally, plus throwing a violin into it for interesting measure there’s little this manic fivesome are afraid to explore and these twelve tracks are going to rub it right into the faces of the shallow of you.

From Motorhead-spurred punk metal opener ‘El Guitarro’ through Misssion-like ‘Abigail‘, ’Stone Goes Cold, fantastic prog ballad ’Chi Chi’ and the near -glam chorus vocals of ’No Tomorrow’ to soulful acoustic fare like ‘Don‘t You Cry‘ and ’Western’ blueser ’Sin Town’ there is plenty for everyone to peck at without the pretentiousness needle going even halfway. ’Wrapped’ annoys a little with its vaguely over used distortion line but the excellent rapid-fire rhyming couplets on the vocal part make it one of my clearest favourites.

Extremely short on sticky moments, only ’Arms of Devoria’ and ‘Tonight’ get vaguely stuck in the dirt but the rest fly past and get individually noticed. ‘The Undone’ is my first and sweet tastes of an incredibly diverse, talented and wholesome rock band who carve a niche deeper than a breadknife through treacle.

Brilliant stuff - it should be a sin not to check out this one.


9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Eeerm…. List is too long to fit ,- just try ‘em , it’ll be worth it.

NET: myspace.com/thesins thesinsband.com reverbation.com/thesins

Stray - Valhalla
(Angel Air - 2010)

Del Bronhams awesome blues rockin' trios latest release and it's damn good too.

Highlights include the blazing opener hard rocking reminiscent of Humble Pie 'Move A Mountain'; the murderous power ballad almost military like at times that goes by the title of '1600 Pennsylvania Avenue' and the plodding funkyish (reminding me of Saxon) 'Skin' about being the same really but just different skin.

Then there's the funky 'Double Six'; 'Sing (The Song)' and 'Ghostwriter' that has elements of that famous Blue Oyster Cult number as well then atmospherics of the Pink Floyd (both of which flow and revolved taking it in turns throughout the song); the souly and bluesy 'Rainy Day Blues' and the alomost late 60's like Beatley closer 'You'

Cracking album well worth checking and seeing Stray play songs off live.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Sweetkiss Momma - Revival Rock
(Sonic Boom Records - 2010)

Decent earthy rock band from Puyallup, Washington that remind me of younger guys on a southern trip and more.

It's totally retro throughout the album - no wonder that that album's titled 'Revival Rock'. Highlights include 'Son Of the Mountain'; the exquisite 'Mercy Love' that has a bit of 'Sweet Home Alabama' riffage and much more in it; 'Rocket Ride' - not be confused with the Kiss number - lol.

Then there's 'Strange Fire' that reminds me of Lynyrd Skynyrd's'Tuesday's Gone'; 'Sugar In The Raw' that comes complete with vocoder and elements of The Steve Miller Band; the Crowesy meet a certain Bad Company ballad 'Good God Woman' and the closing Allmansy vibed 'To Help A Man' that has so much dixie sweetness to it.

F*ck*n' Excellent.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

October

SHELLCASE - Dead Memories
(Monzoo Music/Universal - 2010)

Not that we’re sure if their name is a softer version of headcase, the musical approach of this trio is somewhat along such lines - but believe me when I say do not approach these guys without the balls to handle them.

Shellcase belt out a fearsome twelve shot volley of battering punk metal -oriented ammunition fused on a 50:50 rate between grunge and nu-metal’s better end and hit it home with testosterone-propelled fists. While a decent player, frontman Dave Varlet’s riffing is not always that unfamiliar with a lot of big names of the previous 15 years scene coming to mind but the mix is strong fare, wrapping around his anguished creening like high-quality cling wrap.

If you want to take a bad day at the office out on your bedroom .. but not yourself, play ’Faith’, ’F**ked Up’, ’Lobotomy’, ’’Cold’, ’Scars’, ’Pain’ or ‘Crash landing’ and ‘Fatigue’ if for easing it off in a more mellow demeanour - these guys have music for either mood. Either way, Europe’s best contemporary-rock offering of 2010 has just come crashing through your roof and should be made to stay till played; this album is jammed with strong tunes while weak on… well weak moments and pushes you into each next song with its driving chord lines.

Excellent stuff, boys, we hope to see you hit UK’s stages plenty a time in coming years - please don’t become a dead memory yourselves before you have the chance.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Therapy, Nickelback & Linkin Park

NET: Myspace.com/shellcase

Shush – Soundtrack Of My Life
(S/R – 2010)

Female fronted, London based band who have countless zesty rock ‘n’ roll energy from beginning to end.

2 dozen killer cuts on here that begin with ‘Do What I Want’ and end with ‘You Will Never Get’ with ecstacy in between like ‘You You Me Me’; ‘Got Caught In The Act’ & the poppy meets psychobillyish ‘Blues’.

This is what the UK needs to hear – not the usual drivvle that clogs up the radio– lol. Catch them at a local venue near you soon.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Snatch Magnet – Screw, Nut & Bolt
(S/R – 2010)

What do you get if you mix The Police, U2 with Iron Maiden and an array other influences plus wild metal? Snatch Magnet – that’s what.

An effective, well engineered and supreme class of musicians here who hail from Hollywood, CA. Their vocal harmonies are exceptional and it appears obvious they have individually put the work in an awful lot. Highlights include ‘MultiGirl’ that sounds like The Edge from U2 guested on it with a newer outfit or the Maidenesque titled funnily enough ‘Call Of The Maiden’. Then there’s early Def Leppard meets The Policeness of ‘Games’ or the intriguing building closer ‘Hybrid’.

Looking forward to catching these guys live sometime.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

SPIRIT OF THE DEAD - S/T
(White Elephant Records - 2010)

Norwegian foursome Spirit Of The Dead could have been easy to get into as many bands of their nationality usually are, but they frankly, aren’t.

A laid back pop/prog hybrid, their debut seven -tune selection lacks quite noticeably on the hook front and is wrecked by over piled electro-fuzz on parts ad in cases sends full tracks totally under the surface. Some impressive arrangements save it from complete doom but the excruciating chorus distortion used on the fifth number is a particularly unforgivable sin. What looked at first to be a stimulating taste leaves a very cloudy palate.

Pity.

5/10

By Dave Attrill

Stratovarius – Polaris (Re-release)
(Armoury Records – 2009)

Power Metal that reminds me of Mr. Malmsteen & Helloween combined.

The band don’t really need much introduction at all (so I’ll keep it short and sweet – since Tony reviewed the album earlier this year.Highlights include the opening ‘Deep Unknown’, ‘Blind’; ‘Emancipation Suite parts 1 and 2 and ends with the old English folk style of ‘When Mountains Fall’ that I can imagine Ritchie Blackmore taking a liking to these days.

Top Ranking Band of the Genre – be it a bit on the serious side or not.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

September

Sasquatch - Sasquatch III
(Smallstone Recordings – 2010)

Sasquatch were formed in Los Angeles in 2001 with a very distinctive style of stoner rock.

On the outskirt of things Sasquatch sound like Monster Magnet with their psychedelic style rock, which gives the listener a full blow rock pleasure. Oh and by the way a guest appearance from Ed Mundell on track 2 ‘Take Me away’

III is a 10 track CD full of the deep hard heavy stuff we all like as ‘Get Out Of Here’ starts rattling the tired bones of an old man. As the CD boulders its way through ‘Complicated’, ‘Walkin’ shoes’, the subtle ‘New Disguise’ and ‘Burning Bridges’ deep down you know we have something special with the taste of success.

If Monster Magnet is your mix then Sasquatch is the finished warm cake.

9/10

By Tony Watson

Sawol - Through Soil and Skin
(Bullroser Records – 2010)

Sawol started as a solo project, but Pekka realised there was more to the slow atmospheric music he was creating.

Sawol are on the verge of Godflesh mixed with Black Sabbath and Opeth. Through Soil and Skin is a 9 track collection of beep, hard pounding, solid metal music. As ‘Furor’ hit the airwaves, Sawol have hit you in the face so hard, only the bright light can lift you and take you to another dimension.

As Through Soil and Skin trudges its way through the CD, Sawol get harder and heavier with every passing second. This atmospheric feel you receive is only the beginning of this epic journey as Sawol engulfs you in their presence.

A very dark and mysterious collection of tunes.

Marvellous.

9/10

By Tony Watson

Serial Obsession - Shotgun Opera

(S/R – 2010)

Serial Obsession have released a full length CD after great press reports from their self-released EP ‘Sexy But Useless’.

Serial Obsession are a mixture of Cheap Trick and Velvet Revolver so you know from the start we have the old school guitar riffs and melodies. Shotgun Opera is a 10 track CD with a disappointing 37 minutes of good solid rock music. As the Cd winds its way through ‘All the way’ to ‘Edge of The Blade’ and to finish with ‘So Cold’ you can’t help but feel there is something missing. Not sure what it is but the excitement is lost slightly.

These guys are talented and play a good tune, which leaves the CD in a very listenable state, but that’s as far as it goes. Unlike Velvet Revolver the passion has been lost but the enthusiasm still remains.

7/10

By Tony Watson

SHOT - S/T
(TSM- 2010)

Not to be confused with nu-metal types Snot, (did these guys have to print their name in lower case), Shot are a five-piece hard rock outfit from Noo Yoik city with an album already under their belt which while turning out to be only five-tunes strong, provides a sweetening example of what they are up to.

Imagine Hanoi rocks, GNR, Sex Pistols and Goo Goo Dolls, - plus another band with ‘Dolls’ in their name - and any disappointment is swept instantly aside. Dirtier than twenty-year old laundry, ’Don’t Come Round Here’, ’Bodies in The Trunk’ and ’In The Streets’ are menacing ieces of sleaze rock and ’Axegrinder’, ideally re-named Axl- grinder is about as close as law allows to the Gunners ’Lies/Appetite’ era.

Bolshy solo fills all the way through some tunes make up the infectiousness elements, close behind the hooks, kicking just about every available backside in the house. Excellent stuff from another hot unknown act hopefully to make bigger waves over the future.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Skanska Mord - The Last Supper
(Smallstone Recordings – 2010)

Unlike most stoner rock bands Skanska Mord are so laid back they are horizontal. Skanska Mord from Sweden formed in 2006 from a breakdown of bands Half Man and Mothercake.

You know what to expect with a stoner rock band, but these guys have added a small laid back and relaxed vibe to the slow deep riffs that are on the verge of early Deep Purple, Ian Gillan with a hint of Soundgarden.

The Last supper as my partner described is like being at a last supper, there is more excitement in a morgue. No real disrespect to this 10 track collaboration, but the slow laid back production is a little too much for everyday listening. As we are filled with the doom and gloom of ‘Under The Volcano’ which rolls into ‘Things are quiet out there’, ‘Doghouse’ and ‘Daybreak’ all you feel like doing is getting a splif out and passing it around the room to help you sink back into the sofa of psychedelic relaxation.

I feel this CD is one for an evening of friends dining and chatting away with a glass of fine wine as it quietly plays in the back ground, without it becoming part of the evening entertainment.

6/10

By Tony Watson

Solace - A.D.
(Small Stone Recordings – 2010)

A small surprise from Small Stone Recordings, unlike previous releases, Solace from New Jersey have generated a fast tempo stoner rock style.

A.D. is a 9 track CD and 59 minutes of fast up tempo beats, dark deep riffs and pounding drums as we enter a world of new stoner rock. Like Monster Magnet, Solace have an excitement, passion and enthusiasm about them as they produce a sound that gets you off your ass.

A.D. hits the ears with ‘The Disillusioned Prophet’ which then transpires into ‘The Immortal, The Dead and The Nothing’ which both exceed 6 minutes of rock pleasure. The only track that is under 5 minutes is ‘The Skull of the Head of a Man’ at a mere 2.47 minutes and you will know why, as the track is played with such speed and force, it makes me wonder if these guys are a metal band.

Solace have a firm base, pace and style to go with it and maybe the next episode will bring another delightful twist

8/10

By Tony Watson

Svolk - Svolk
(Tuba Records – 2009)

Svolk are from Norway with a very distinctive solid rock sound.

As they like to call it Svolk are the first Bear Metal band from the depths of the eastern Norwegian forest.

The self-title CD is 9 track collaboration of solid, fast and furious rock and metal with an entertaining value to go with it. As ‘52’ hits the airwaves you know this big bear isn’t going to stop for nothing as it tears its way through ‘This is it’, ‘Anchor’, ‘Sweet Agony’ to finish with a blood bath of pure pleasure of ‘Dead:30’.

A very exciting band and one with a lot of energy that will come across in their live performances.

9/10

By Tony Watson

August

Snew – Snew You
(Maman Music – 2008)

The band debut that I just had to hear after getting excited over their 2nd release ‘We Do What We Want’.

This is again what the doctor ordered – good ole ballsy rockin’ roll of the Young Brothers and O’Keeffe & McMasters variety. I expected nothing less to be honest with you.

Highlights from the album inlclude the opening ‘Stand Up High’; ‘She’s A Real Gunslinger’; the balladeering but hard-hitting ‘Head Trauma’; the rollicking ‘Get It To Go’ and ballbusting ‘Heavy Water’.

F*ck*ng Bang On Baby !

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Sonic Rebellion – Heads We Win…Tails You Lose
(S/R – 2010)

One hell of a great 4-piece hard rock band from New York City that incorporate varied styles of bands throughout the album – some of them being their influences as well.

Highlights include the Kiss-like opener ‘Awake Now’; ‘I Got Mine’ that’s very Buckcherry; the acoustic southernish brilliance of ‘Find My Way’ and the bluesy and funky ‘Bad Trip’.

One band I urge you to go and check out one way or another.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

July

Sahara Steel – S/T
(Perris Records – 2010)

Young dudes from the United States with one hell of a high ended vocalist who rips the roof off big style in the good old style of Mike from Steelheart!

Highlights include the opening ‘Fatal Heartbreaker’; ‘Booze, Tattoos & Rock ‘n’ Roll’; ‘Man On The Run’ & ‘Push Comes To Shove’. These guys sound dead set for a big support slot on an arena tour or something that calibre because they have definitely got the confidence in the quality of the perfomance and songs over.

They may be unknowns at the mo but by the sounds of this I don’t that will be a long lasting occasion. Proper Hard Rockin indeed.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

SNAKESTORM - Choose Your Finger
(Kabuki Records - 2010)

Sweden. Not literally an anagram for great metal bands but nonetheless always treated as one, as ever.

Another sweet seed from the Scandinavian rock poppy, SnakeStorm storm out and coil round you in an indeed viper like grip. Straight ahead rock is a crime to many young metalheads today but SS couldn’t give a flying eff, their finger is well chosen - I think it’s the middle one - with their intense punk meets hard rock attack.

Brought to the barrel by J Meiton’s Lemmy-voiced spit, ’D.T.P.’ , ’Clean Cuts And Leather’, ’The Calling’, ’Black Saints’, ’Swallowed’ and ’Partners In Crime’ are the rock n’ roll produce of a band taking less shit than a toilet blocked by hardened cement. Awesome thrash- meets garage punk guitar fusions alongside their impressive vocalists classy barking assault gives this album its recommendation on a plate. More Nordic without the charm but plenty of the chop.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Motorhead, AC/DC, Metallica, The Clash, The Almighty & Black Sabbath.

NET: myspace.com/snakestorm

Snew – We Do What We Want
(Maman Music – 2010)

Brand new band that are purely in the style of Airbourne, AC/DC, Broken Teeth, Rhinobucket & Cherry St – classic riffing and sqwaky rocking vocals.

They hail from Hollywood and the album is a pure no brainer of rock 'n' rolling brilliance with plenty of highlights throughout that include the titled track ‘We Do What We Want’; ‘Private Stash’; ‘Power Pack’ & ‘Shinebox’.

Wanna good time – this is a perfect way to start.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

SORA - Desire And Truth
(Avenue Of Allies - 2010)

Erol Sora, the chappie who lends his name to the outfit is a Canadian born, UK-bred guitarist /vocalist …. and a bloody good one at that. Brought up on British rock of his seventies youth, he saved all the sweet bits to shape into the perfectly crisp cut melodic rock sound you finally hear in 2010.

Through guitar -driven AOR of ’Taste of Rock ’n Roll’, ’The Storm Has Just Begun’, and ’When You’re Gone’ , ’Diamonds In The Wind’ to more old fashioned foot in the air fodder like ’Rock and Roll Dog’ and ’Stop Messin Around’ this fella leaves no one out. Those grooves are ready to get everyone dancing ad though featuring some very familiar sounding licks it’s the fu of the thing that counts here. Great rollicky solos and decent Meniketti -esque pipes from Mr Sora compound into a lethal mixture than fires off the sparks then sends the bangs flying.

Awesome work from Erol throughout what as it happens is his second album, this must mean we have undiscovered treasure from this talent to dig out .

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Survivor, Whitesnake, Y&T, Led Zeppelin & Giant.

NET: www.erolsora.com
myspace.com/erolsora

SPARKLING BOMBS - Spray Paint Prayers
(Nicotine Records - 2010)

Glitter punk is a scene that has bored me almost more often than entertained me, with only an elite minority of outfits actually coming on stronger with a sound to remember them by.

One outfit guaranteed a place in that small but happier fraction has to be this French fivesome. Not quite at either the Faster pussycat or Fratellis end of the equation, these guys - and one girl - sit in the middle line and send any train not only pulling frantically on the brakes but flying backwards halfway down the line.

The colourful, mid-paced glam pop you get from ‘ Beauty Hides The Lies’, ‘Birthday’, ‘Spattered Spider’, ‘Down’, ‘50s Fallen Heroes’, ‘G.O.N.E.’ and ‘Motown Junk’ is a golden departure from the tedious 200mph pop/punk with slightly glammed up vocal I get tricked into hearing time and time again.

If you seek to hear a genuine slice of sleaze infested rock n’ roll crafted for the 21st century, the infectious hooks and incessant melodies and pace of the ten tunes on this second album (What, you telling me I’ve missed one already?) are almost as good as first stop as your last.

Let’s give these Sparkling young talents a chance before they end up Bombing, for there are plenty other bands of this genre I wish did instead.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Tokyo Dragons, Towers of London, The Darkness, Hanoi Rocks

NET: www.sparklingbombs.com myspace.com/sparklingbombs

STAIRWAY - Interregnum
(S/R – 2010)

Veteran Brit trio Stairway are another of the umpteen classic rock outfits who many on this isle appear to have been denied the liberty of listening to, due to ignorance by certain mainstream rock rags, one beginning ‘K’ coming to mind as usual.

Stairway, now on their fifth elpee are consistent from start to end, serving traditional 70’s British hard rock on a plate and enjoying every second of it as we do along with them. ’The Suffering Servant’, ’I’m Calling’, Born To Die‘, ‘New Life‘, ‘Enter The Light‘. and ’The Battle’s Over’ feature timelessly built hooks and solos from messrs Leslie and Jennens respectively and inject an overall flavour that smacks brilliantly of defunct UK old-schoolers Demon and Dirty Deeds.

Strong if not exactly complex song arrangements keep up the interest factor right across the span and the disc on substantial repeat plays before the review is finally completed. Excellent stuff from another outfit that we deserve to hear a lot sooner that we do.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Rainbow, UFO, Deep Purple & Demon.

NET: myspace.com/stairway

STARFIRE - Eye Of The Storm
(S/R - 2010)

It’s time for one of those bands that you just don’t know what to call- apart from their name.

Starfire are fronted by veteran US guitarist/singer Dairennn Lombard can’t in any way be called metal and barely touch on ’rock’ for that matter but for what they are, at least to the open minded, I could say ’good’. ’Distance’ would pass as something off a seventies romantic movie but it gives you a good first taste of Daireenn’s clean soulful range, and also pleasant piano talents. ’Thinking bout you ’ ‘Waiting’ and the title song continue as the like and though rarely do we review an album with this many guitarless entries these guys come through with some promising progressive vibes.

Very little conventional electric hard rock stringage is involved in the remainder of the nine tunes either, ‘Open’, ’No One But You’, and the Van Halen-like ’I’m On My Way’ being the only ones but the sweet acoustic funk lines we enjoy in ’In The End’ and ’Genie’ make them personal favourites in their full right. Messrs Lombard, Pajer, James and Paulson are a strongly innovative team, whatever you make of their style, and swipe their kudos very much from that as they do form their talent and material itself.

’Different with a capital ’D’ they may be, these chaps are worth a try.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Rush, ELO, Pink Floyd & Kings X.

NET: www.starfire.com myspace.com/starfiretheband

Stray – New Dawn/Alive & Giggin’
(Angel Air – 2010)

A 2 CD set from Del Bronham’s power rockin’ trio that is made of the man himself on lead vocals & guitar, Phil McKee on drums and vocals and Dusty Miller on bass and vocals.

Highlights of ‘New Dawn’ include the opening intro ‘Dawn Rising’ that puts you in mind of a Celtic battle that’s about to begin; the bluesy rock of ‘No Future’; ‘Maybe You Want Me, light Quo-like ‘Further To Fall’; ‘Rock Steady’ with the cool use of the vocoder and the gorgious acoustic ‘I Want More’ with plenty of percussion.

As the title of the 2nd cd suggests it’s a concert where Stray were recorded live at The Robin Hood R&B Club, Brierely Hill West Midlands, England on 21st August 1996 with great cuts including ‘Leave It Down To Us’; ‘Take A Life’; ‘I Believe It’; ‘Buying Time’ and the closing epic ‘All In Your Mind’.

Check ‘em out at a venue you – I will nest time they hit my local.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

June

SadDolls - About Darkness…
(Emotion Art Music – 2009)

Once in a while the world is blessed by a band that just sweeps you off your feet. SadDolls enter the dark and mysterious depths of Goth metal, similar to Type O Negative, The Fields of Nephilim but slightly heavier.

With a more brutal Goth style, SadDolls have laid down a platform for a new wave of music with their heavy riffs, electronic interludes and deep drum beats. From the intro of ‘Space Loneliness’, SadDolls open up their miserable lives to the public with ‘Bleed All I Can’, ‘Misery’ and ‘Life Equals Zero’.

As the 12 track CD produces more misery and sadness to our lives, ‘Don’t say Goodbye’ throws us down to the bottom of the pit with a very emotional and depressing thump.

This CD is one of the best I have heard for a long time. I hope this hasn’t put a smile on their faces.

10/10

By Tony Watson

Sedona - Golden Valley
(Avenue of Allies Music – 2010)

Sedona have the sound of 80’s California but with a full on French attack from the mid 90’s. This is the first time Golden Valley has ever been released internationally including bonus tracks from the original recording.

Golden Valley is a journey into good rock music with a touch of that country feel that will relax any tired muscle after a hard day at work.

This 12 track CD engulfs the air with pleasant vibes and rocking sounds with a lazy French attitude. As the CD starts with Magic Dream, and surfs into Surfing State of mind, you know exactly what you are in for and as long as you have that in mind, you won’t go wrong.

A very pleasing 49 minutes.

8/10

By Tony Watson

7 Months - In Time
(Active Mind Productions – 2009)

On first reflection I wouldn’t have said 7 Months were a band from LA due to their prog rock style. In Time is a 70’s fiasco of YES, Genesis, Hawkwind, Pink Floyd and Rush but with a 2000 twist.

7 Months are an extremely complex of musical talent of rock and jazz with a soft undertone of progressive metal that sets a new style of commercial rock.

In Time is a 10 track accolade of things that have gone before. Throughout the 55 minutes I struggled to get to terms with the complexity of the sound and the intense feel to the whole production. It’s good to have people who are talented and play their instruments, but occasionally there come to a point where their skills get in the way, which causes a chaos of sound.

Unlike the early prog rock or even the modern rock music, 7 Months fail to produce something new and exciting, which is a dam shame. Due to all the musical content of the tracks with the same style and tone I struggled to find the tracks that stood out.

5/10

By Tony Watson

Skindred - Shark Bites and Dog Fights
(Bieler Bros/Atlantic – 2009)

Skindred are one of those bands that you hear in the club, go home, sleep off the beer and wake up the next day forgetting what the hell you did last night. Which is a damn shame? They aren’t a band that get the publicity they deserve, and ‘Shark Bites and Dog Fights’ is one of those CD’s.

Skindred have released a classic of a CD, with their metal/reggae/punk/alternative style, is this the confusion for most simple minded people? I don’t know! But what I can comment on is the brilliance of this compact CD.

‘Shark Bites and Dog Fights’ is playful, energetic and joyful. With tracks that are straight to the point, no messing about and there to be enjoyed by all. As ‘Stand For Something’ gets your ass on to the dance floor ‘You Can’t Stop It’ does exactly what is says on the tin as you then are spun into an Eddie Grants ‘Electric Avenue’, which is one of the best cover versions I have ever heard. And if that doesn’t get you up, you must be dead.

Skindred have probably released their best CD to date and the energy throughout will only leave you wanting more.

10/10

By Tony Watson

SONIQ THEATER - Unknown Realities
(TSM - 2010)

Why is it that great surprises are so good at the habit of being spoilt, these days?

While a veteran of ten albums, Alfred Mueller should know that any use of the word ‘Theater ‘ on his band name will give away the game especially for the new generation of young proggies after a first try. With this in the air, my first taste of his long-running one-man show Soniq Theater melts pleasantly in the mouth.

Performing a verse-chorus-verse tune on a keyboard as opposed to vocally is something very few can ever pray to carry off but Alfred is clearly a master of the art, with harmonies than most half -decent vocalists level up to, and he even creates hooks too on quite few of the eleven cuts. Not exactly a one-trick pony of his trade, his guitar work is as strongly polished with decent bends and Vai/Yngwie-esque moments aplenty, though not as overwrought and playing its portion without blanketing the remaining instruments.

While the synth effect becomes uncomfortably boy-band like on one track, it is rendered a superficial blot on his copy book by the overall consistence of the disc, - some of the astounding workouts he pulls off on his ivories will have any people called Sherinian or Rudess running for cover.

Unknown reality from an unknown genius.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.soniqtheater.de

SorrowfulAngels - Ship In Your Trip (EP)
(Emotion Art Music – 2009)

Greek gothic rock band with a Sisters of Mercy, Paradise Lost and The Mission feel.

SorrowfulAngels have generated a new style of goth/rock genre with a dark mystical overtone and powerful undertones.

Ship In Your Trip is a 10 track collection of fresh new music that engulfs the darker side of goth, which is not only catchy but also an absolute pleasure to listen to. The dark feel has you caught in a magical mystical venture as ‘Denial’, ‘Red Sunrise’ and ‘A Long Stay’ takes over your mind.

Although the EP is released as a 5 track, the presence it has placed is an arms wide open welcome for the rest to enter.

8/10

By Tony Watson

Spitfire - Die Fighting
(Emotion Art Music – 2009)

Greek metal band that have been around since the middle eighties, but have only released 4 albums, with the latest ‘Die Fighting’ riding a storm into the UK.

Spitfire are a solid rock/metal band with precise vocals, steady drums and bass and tons of guitar solos, licks and flicks.This style of metal is the old Judas Priest and Metal Church that comes across load and clear as ‘The King of a Mountain’ pounds its way through the thick fog of the 90’s to land on your lap with an energetic big wig head bang performance.

The 13 track CD has some delightful tracks such as ‘Die Fighting’, ‘Macedonia’ and ‘Danger in the World’, but there are also ballads such as ‘Icarus’ and a live acoustic track to finish the CD off quite nicely.

Unfortunately the CD fails to reach out to the masses due to the lack of power that Judas Priest and Metal Church have.

5/10

By Tony Watson

Steelgar - Xenocide
(Pegada Brutal – 2010)

Exodus, Testament and Overkill watch out Steelgar have hit these shores with their 80’s style thrash/speed metal and plan to take on the world.

Xenocide is a 10 track solid thrash CD from start to finish as they churn out the power chords and furious riffs. As soon as ‘Injected’ hits the ears a sudden flash back to the 80’s big wigs, leather bike jackets, Hitec Hitops and skin tight jeans come into view with a pungent smell of sweat, bear and bike oil.

Steelgar start well with the speed and thrash but as the CD continues, it’s like the speed slows down slightly which is a bit of a shame, but overall you can’t knock the songs of ‘Retaliator’, ‘Raiders of the Sand’ and ‘Thrashing Knights’.

A blast from the past but a disappointment for today as the excitement disappears.

7/10

By Tony Watson

April
SOULCAGE - Soul For Sale
(Hellas Records - 2010)

You’d think I was about to open the caser to find a blues rock album sitting in front of me, with that kind of title sitting on the front sleeve and not the symphonic metal approach these Finns take.

These chaps have many interesting surprises to unleash onto the unsuspecting listener, with their debut album some indeed sizeably matched with countrymen Stratovarius yet they take to more than a couple of vague directions off the usual route. ’My Canvas My skin’ is a pretty alt rock paced work out but the strong progressive feel links it with the rest of the chain, and ‘I see' comes in with a pretty bluesy edged verse part before a galloping piano interlude jumps on it from behind.

The melodic metal format is by no means neglected, ‘Ride On’ , ‘You Get So Alone’ and ‘Flaming flowers’ being fan pleasers to the very max though with strong AOR choruses and with excellent harmonies its impossible to leave the room without humming. Another excellent Scandinavian outfit arrive and are hopefully here to stay.

Competent guitars as normal but allowing the keyboards and vocals a distinctively prominent side in this album give it its best kudos and make Soul For Sale’ another welcome catch for the scene this time

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Quennsryche, Magnum, Journey, Helloween

SUBVERSION - Treason (3-Track E.P.)
(S/R – 2010)

You can have too much of a good thing, but just on occasion you find out you’ve wanted too little of a bad one.

UK extremities Subversion pleasantly surprise with their progressive death core noise which places them rungs up the ladder from other more so-so acts we have to endure daily. A good three/four different vocal formats can be found throughout this trio of songs with impressive multitude of guitar parts , one or two almost indie sounding solo bits to select from for inspiration values.

Impressive guys, I hope to hear more of the same from the album.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

March

Surefire – S/T
(Newkirk Records – 2009)

Surefire are from Brooklyn, New York United States, who have released a self titled debut CD with a Beatles, Oasis and Black Crowes sort of feel.

This melodic rock band embraces the world of rock with open arms of love and hope that gives the whole CD a pleasant feel with an ora of pure white.

As the CD glides through its 10 tracks as you get a sense of a warm feeling as tracks such as ‘Stone Fox’, ‘Hold On To The Feeling’ and ‘By My Side’ wraps you up in a warm blanket of unforgettable tunes.

As a debut CD, Surfire have released a masterpiece.

9/10

By Tony Watson

Sun Gods In Exile - Black Light, White Lines
(Small Stone Records – 2009)

Sun Gods in Exile formed in 2008 gathering a multitude of followers with their mellow stoner rock style music before the elease of Black Light, White Lines.

This four piece band release their energy in their music as they would play a live performance, creating a raw un-interfered style production.

Black Light, White Lines has a different energy to the styles of stoner rock that’s on the market at the moment, with its tamer approach. The CD is not full of hard heavy beats, but is full of good classic rock style influences.

Although some people may put them in the stoner rock category, I would personally give a good solid rock feel as you venture through the world of ‘Eye for an Eye’, ‘Heaven Help us all’ and ‘The Gripper’ to name a few.

Unfortunately it’s nothing new and nothing exciting jumps out and bites you in the balls.

5/10

By Tony Watson

SWORN AMONGST - Severance
(Rising Records – 2009)

Hull thrashers Sworn Amongst bounce back with their second album to answer their already paved reputation and are prepared to stop at zero to size it up to the maximum line.

If you’re 16, have been sent upstairs for being bad- though you know you haven’t done anything - this is the album for you to trash your bedroom to. At twice that age, myself I feel like doing the same for not having checked out these guys enough before. ’Severance’, ’Out Of Line’, and ’Exploited’ are enough to have your desk and wardrobe lying on the floor in smithereens, alone as they fill you up with that steaming fluid of hate not seen since the last sizeable brace of promising extreme metal machines storming the scene.

Rarely have I heard any band - let alone a British one -perform thrash with the brutality and unrelenting ferocity of these four rather angry sounding young men since about 1994 and the technical aptitude the boys utilise in their pleasantly technical twin guitar assault separates them from bandwagon-hopping wannabes easily. You only have to sit once through ’Scratch The Surface’, ’Useless’, ’The Storm’, ’Crimson’ and ’Numb’ - if you can stay sat that long- to over satisfy one’s thirst for pure unpretentious metal noise in one big dirty slab, as it will otherwise land right on your skull from directly above if you even think to doubt Sworn Amongst’s musical might.

Moshpits of Britain be on standby as these lads may have major fistfuls of live stops inked for some stage in 2010 and at least half of this album’s content if not all can be safely predicted as likely to feature on the setlists. Strongly recommended, whether they’re due at a town near you or not, SA keep up the good work Evile and Gamma Bomb have begun and force it into serious over time with this beast of an album.

Play and prepare to be brutalized.

10/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Pantera, Machine Head, Slayer, Exodus, Dark Angel, Sepultura, Testament, Metallica

January 2010
Santeria – Year Of The Knife
(Golar Wash Labs & Records – 2008)

Cracking band from Louisiana who blend in a lot of elements like Stoner Rock ‘Come On Baby’ from but they have other aspects as well, especially in the song ‘Mexico’. In parts they kinda remind me of Counting Crows, Simple Minds & U2

Love the countriness of the bluesy ‘My Right Can’t Do No Wrong’; the gutsy ‘You got what I need’ that is like Stoner meets Kiss; ‘Haunted Dub’ with it’s retro Jim Morrison like spoken word and Pink Floyd riff in there and the cracking title track itself, ‘Year Of the Knife’.

A band you need to hear.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Santeria – House Of The Dying Sun
(S/R – 2003)

Countrified with a southern feel at times and also sinister and modern sounding as well with dark elements of some stoner and more harsher moments.

Haunting melodies and painfully deep lyrics entwined throughout the album with good examples of brilliance being the bulldozering fast riffed ‘Deathtrip’; the acoustic ‘Laredo’; & bluesy ‘Hellbent Woman’.

Then there’s the epic lengthly closer that comes complete with bullfrogs and all kinds of creatures with glockenspiel percussion towards the end that is ‘Zixox’ – worth having for this track alone.

Like to see these guys live as they are no doubt one hell of a great trip to Louisiana and beyond!!

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Seasons Lost - After the Storm
(Silverwolf Productions – 2009)

After the storm is a good solid debut rock CD from Seasons Lost, who are a five piece band formed in 2005 Fort Lauderdale Florida.

We have the subtle tones of Stained, the darkness of Alice in Chains and the enthusiasm of Breaking Point. This 10 track CD floats from track to track expressing the passion and the love of rock music Seasons Lost has to offer, as the grab the listener in a solid state moment and then release them back into the real world with a feather like drop.

After the Storm is full of passion that is felt throughout each track as they progress from 'To hell and back', 'Confession' and 'The Big Empty' to finish with 'Predanatural' and 'Grave Shift' that finishes off a very thought out and intriguing CD.

I'm not saying Seasons Lost are a here now gone tomorrow band as I do expect several more CD coming our way, with a progression to go with it.

8/10

By Tony Watson

Seventh Rise – Full Moon
(Perris Records – 2009)

Old dudes who have an album of gutsy rock that is both Classic styled as well as Southern. This is hard, heavy rooted, dirty blues-laden stuff which is all excellent on musical, lyrical and vocal levels.

It sounds totally natural and it is with most of it being done in single takes virtually and a song sorted in 90 mins! A brilliant album that you can’t highlight one song from another from the opening 70’s bulldozering rock of ‘Full Moon’; the gutsy riffed ‘Torn’; the gorgeous ballad ‘One More Time’ (with some lyrics by Foreigner’s Bruce Turgon) that kind reminds me of Kiss’s ‘Hard Luck Woman’ but slowed down with amazing vocal atmospherics and the equally as gorgeous ‘I’ll Be There’.

Then there’s the southern feeling of ‘Grey’ and drivin’ guitarrin’ and bass ‘n’ drum throbbin’ and pumpin’ ‘Roller Coaster’ and the hot ‘n’ keeps getting’ hotter ‘Dirty Livin’

Kin’ Brilliant album !

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

S.E.X. Department – Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide
(Perris Records – 2009)

The 2nd is album is out – bang on !! carrying on from where the debut left off – some of this is no-brainer good ole rock ‘n’ roll party madness and some is less so.

Highlights include the do it too much ‘Wasted In Texas’; the wacky dance remix of ‘S.E.X.. Department’ (as it’s so unexpected and different to the rest of the album); the crazy zany ‘Sexy Cab’ & ‘Gypsy Nazi’ and the more serious ‘Back My Uniform’. They’ve even written and recorded a song about their homeland as well – the rockin’ ‘L ‘Italiano’.

Good Job.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Acey Slade & The Dark Party – S/T
(Trashpit Records – 2009)

Rock, Metal & Electronica from the man who emersed from The Murderdolls, Dope & Trashlight Vision. This is catchy and very dancable material and puts me in mind of artists like Placebo on a Marilyn Manson trip while taking in some Gary Numan and Hawkwind along the way.

The musical and vocal arrangements are excellent and show Acey Slade to be somewhat of an atmospherical genious with hooking songs like ‘She Brings Down The Moon’ with outatanding female backing vocals; a splendid version of The Cult’s ‘She Sells Santuary’; the explicit bass-heavy ‘Sugarcum’; ‘Nothing’s Gonna Change’ with it’s great racing funky pop groove & the closing number ‘Reptile House’ with it’s massive sounding chorus and sinister piano intro.

This is a masterpiece of an album.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Sound Storm - Twilight Opera
(Rising Records – 2009)

This debut CD from Sound Storm has a operatic feel with a majestic overtone released within a power metal blanket.

Musical wise this CD has the power, the punch and the aggression to entice any power metal fan but the vocals have something of a operatic feel that needs a bit of time to get use too. As the CD is titled Twilight Opera, that is what you get. Imagine Phantom of the Opera meets power metal and there you have Sound Storm.

I would say an acquired taste is needed here with an open mind to alternative metal as the 11 tracks rattles through its progressive theme to tell its story to the world of good, evil and true love.

Sorry to say the true love for this CD did not pull my heart strings, which leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.

4/10

By Tony Watson

Star Gazer – S/T
(Avenue Of Allies – 2009)

Melodic Hard Rock from Norway – it’s good stuff and there’s gonna be plenty of Hard AOR fans that are gonna love this band and album of the same name.

They are essentially a duo made up of Tore Andre Helgemo (Vocals) & Guitarist/Keyboardist, William Ernstsen with rhythm section Morten “Monty Black” Skaget on Bass and Drummer, Steinar Krokstad completing the line-up for the album.

Highlights on here include the funky ‘n’ dirty ‘Push Me’; the sweet hard riffin’ ‘Brother Against Brother’; the hard rockin’ Europe-esque ‘Keep The Good Times’; the acoustic ballad entiteld ‘The Cage’ and the stadium rockin’ ‘Dancing On Your Grave’.

Great album.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Star*Rats – Screw The Consequences
((Swedmetal Records – 2009)

Sleazy rock from Malmoehagen, Sweden that play out enjoyable raunchy numbers with ‘to die for’ guitar solos.

Kinda like a heavier Backyard Babies meets something like Velvet Revolver but without any STP influences. Killer fast punky version of Bon Jovi’s ‘I’ll be there for you on here’ that’ll grab your attention for sure.

Just land anywhere at all on this CD as it all positively rocks from opener ‘Who Cares’ right down to ‘Boozehound’ – now just ‘Raise Your Hands To Rock’ and get this one spinning.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Sycronomica - Sycroscope
(Silverwolf Productions – 2009)

Death metal has returned with a violent blast that puts Cradle of Filth to shame. Sycronomica rage their way through the realm of death to enlighten the cold dark earth with a sophisticated, melodic and complex death metal. As the world dies around us Sycronomica enters our doom and gloom with such force, the world can only surrender to their wants and needs.

Sycroscope grabs your balls so hard that your vocal screams can only be heard by dogs as this 9 track epic drags us into a world of pain and pleasure as they rip their way through 'Kaleidoscope', 'Realm of Dust and Ashes', 'The Call' and 'Embers' to name a few. The vocal growls are so cold, the shiver down your spine stays with you forever, the complicated guitar riffs churn your blood as the pounding drums stop the heart with a curse of no return.

Unlike most death metal bands Sycronomica bring in a touch of classical, progressive, atmospheric and technical influences that stands them out from the rest. Forget about Gorgoroth and Cradle of Filth, Sycronomica is the way forward.

8/10

By Tony Watson

October
Sakura Drops - Painting Legs on A Snake
(S/R – 2009)

Sakura Drops have released a 4 track EP for their debut to the metal scene. As a four piece metal band these guys have developed a hard grunge style over the 5 years of being together.

Painting Legs on A Snake, gives the listener a sneak preview into the talents this band possesses. Sakura Drops encapsulate the airwaves with rumbling bass, chugging guitars mixed with melodic fills, not so complicated drums that beat out the tracks in a firm style and completed with an off scream core style of vocal content.

Overall this EP is worth the listen to help support good British bands.

Support your local bands.

8/10

By Tony Watson

Senser - How To Do Battle
(Imprint Music – 2009)

Just when you think Senser have given up the ghost chasing their platinum selling debut album ‘Stacked Up’, Senser have hit the decks with an astonishing forth CD.

If you are not familiar with Senser, they are a techno/electronic/fusion rock/hip hop/metal band. Yes it’s all these put into one tin and shook up with a big shake to produce wonderful music. How To Do Battle is as good or better than Stacked Up. I don’t think I can’t say there is a bad song on it. We hit an intro ‘Wake up you’re on fire’ for 45 seconds that then rips into the metal side of Senser with ‘Resistance Now’ that wakes up the living dead.

Throughout these 13 tracks we get everything as mentioned above and more, from the fast and furious tracks of ‘2 3 Clear’ to the dance floor of ‘End of The World Show’, Senser mean business and business it shall be. One of the best CD I have heard all year

SENSER ARE BACK.

10/10

By Tony Watson

69 Chambers - War On The Inside
(SPV – 2009)

This is a debut CD from this Swiss metal trio, who know haw to kick ass.

69 Chambers are Nina Tremi on guitar and vocals, Mandy Madarasz on bass and Michi Bruggei on drums, and as a trio this works very well. The guitars are clear the bass is deep and the drums don’t sound like tin cans. With most trio bands they can kind of get lost in the racket, but Nina has cracked the whip and produced an astonishing mixture of good solid rock with melodic undertones and ballads.

War On The Inside releases so much power, if the twin towers falling wasn’t a shock, 69 Chambers will be. From the offset 69 Chambers, kick ass with a sweet kiss on the cheek.

War On The Inside is a 13-track release that will want you wanting more after 55 minutes. Very hard, very pure and extremely remarkable.

10/10

By Tony Watson

Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats – Meet The Meatbats
(Ear Music/Edel – 2009)

I know what you are gonna say – what the f*ck !! Well let me tell you that if you like jazz-rock fusion and funk then this kinda stuff then this is right up your street – not for all I know.

The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s drummer has got together with half of one of my favourite sadly missed my those in the know old bands, Edwin Dare – these being Guitarist, Jeff Kollman and Bassist, Kevin Chown alongside keyboard player, Ed Roth.

Excellent melodies and musicianship throughout and highlights include the opening funky ‘Need Strange’; the humourous ‘Oh I spilled my beer’ –wonder whose beer it was?; ‘Pig Feet’ that reminds me of a famous tune from somewhere; the bluesy ‘Bread Rolls’ and ‘Into the Floyd’ where you’ll be awarded no prizes for guessing which band this is a salute to.

A real pleasant change of an album that’ll really grow on you. Hope I get chance to see this spectacular outfit live one day.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Surfaces - EP
(S/R - 2009)

Although this is a three track EP, Surfaces have developed a technical death metal/thrashy style that is very entertaining to listen too.

They rate themselves in the same league as Meshuggah, Textures, BTBAM and Suicide Silence. With their deep sound, grunge guitars, cruel and evil vocals and their jackhammer drums. It’s a shame I have only 3 tracks ‘Voices and Lies’, ‘This Broken Black’ and ‘Icy Trails’ as I wanted more.

Keep it up lads.

9/10

By Tony Watson

Swampdawamp – Rock This Country
(Big Penny Entertainment – 2009)

The name says it all – yep this band are the mecca of whskey soaked vocals and the best sounding deep rooted ballsy southern rock of all southern rock – quite a statement I know and can easily sit on par with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchett and the like.

There’s deep bluesy guitarwork and basswork that come across so real from the heart and then theirs those loud, crackly, throaty vocals of Gig Michaels (imagine Zakk Wylde meets David Lee Roth and then some...) plus some killer drums and sexy ebony and ivory sounds too.

Highlights include the opening ‘Lady’ who sounds like my perfect woman; the countrified 12-bar like ‘Helluva Night’; ‘Double Or Nuthin’ that came from a story from buddy Jill actually and the be loud and proudness of ‘American Man’. Then there’s the groovin’ and a truckin’; ‘Good God’ with it’s gorgious chorus and pre-chorus; the heartfelt tribute ‘Daddy Said’ that’s simply beatiful and tearful; title track ‘Rock This Country and the humourous ‘Stoned’.

Man, I’ wish they’d come over and rock our country. Don’t just take my word of how good these guys are – go check out and get the album via www.swampdawamp.com

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

September
Sabinas Rex - Rock Opera Highlights
(S/T – 2009)

Well what can I say; the two and a half minute intro had me cringing with so much pain and ear ache. The intro is a church organ, with a ninety year old man banging away at the keys trying to make the ‘Wedding March’ sound good.

Once this had passed the band went into a subtle melodic mode that is quite soothing and gives the listener an understanding of what this CD maybe about.

Sabinas Rex come across as Kate Bush mixed with a dark and eerie sound of Phantom of the Opera, and ‘Dead Can Dance’, releasing an exciting energy that paralyses the soul into a dreamy darkness of fear.

Although this is an 8 track compilation of soothing sounds giving the listener 34 minutes fear, Rock Opera would have been better being released without the intro as this let the whole thing down.

6/10

By Tony Watson

Scelerata - Skeletons Domination
(Nightmare Records – 2009)

A Brazilian power metal band that has the influences of Iron Maiden, Angra, Gamma Ray to release a turbulent energy metal at its best.

Like most power metal bands the speed is second to none with their fast guitar playing, pounding double bass drums and high pitched vocal content.

Unlike the likes of Helloween, Gamma Ray and Angra, Scelerata have produced a Brazilian equivalent that will give these guys a good run for their money. The disappointing thing is, is that it’s nothing new, we could put these guys in the same league as Dragon Force due to the same tempo, style and mix.

Although we have 11 track and 53 minutes of nonstop speed, thrash and power metal. I feel it’s nothing new but I’m not saying these guys will get a good following, because they will so I would expect to see them supporting the bands mentioned above.

I think power metal needs something different to bring the style of music back to the forefront of metal music, otherwise I feel it will disappear into the abyss, which will be a shame.

7/10

By Tony Watson

August
Shrine Of The Monkey – Under Blackened Skies
(S/R - 2009)

Living out their love for the Sabbath Stoner Sounds, the lads are back with their 1st length album.

‘Suicide Machine’ has become a firm fave on the album with its deep-trodden, dirty Iommi/Butler like riffage with the same that can be said for several tracks like ‘No One Knows’ and ‘Take It From Me’ that has bluesier elements as well.

Good to hear a new brand new version of ‘Anthem’ that featured on their self-titled ep or the don’t take yourselves too serious Tapness meets Sabbathness of ‘She Sells Suicide’.

One of those bands that could easily have come out in the late 70’s or early 80’s – timeless metal.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Silverjet – S/T
(Kerosine Records – 2008)

Second album from the ‘jet that seems them go into that Quireboys/Black Crowes forte again a lot but they do it well e.g. ‘Crazy’; ‘Hell Yeah’ and ‘Off To Dry’.

There are a few good highlights on here worth noting such as as ‘Broken’ that has more of deep southern style to it at times – not to mention the dry radio effect or whatever it is on vocalist dave Kerr’s voice. ‘Lie With Me’ is easily one of the best songs to be found on here – a nice ballad where it sounds like a really young Spike at the mike.

‘Just Another Rock Show’ is a great example of what they guys can do when they go into a more melodic rock field and is a bona-fide radio hit alongside ‘Live With Me’ if it got the right breaks. ‘220’ is a killer southern-like sounding almost 12-bar rocker that’s got plenty of guts to it without sounding too cliche. ‘Toe The Line’ has really got it too and all it could really do with is a bigger sound and some gospel singers – a la Black Crowes style on the chorus.

This album shows where Silverjet are heading and their heartfelt ballads I feel are more musically there and original like the closing piano ‘The Final Chapter’ than a lot of the rock ‘n’ roll stuff on the album.

Keep the original styles coming lads.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

SINNOCENCE - Scar Obscura
(SPV - 2009)

Sinnocence are a four –piece from Northern Ireland and have a sound I’ve not failed to come across about 100,000 times previously (from four-pieces from North America) but their melodic metalcore sound is fun by the time you’re about 3 tracks in.

Possibly its down to a tasty serving of Slayer/Metallica rhythm alternations throughout the tunes - plus some unexpectedly good solos - that they impress but it’s satisfying to not be put to sleep by what could have another modern-metal-by-numbers workout.

‘Metal Box’, ‘Art Of Separation’, ’Eviscerate’, and ‘Rule As One’ have their own token identities amongst the rest of the pack with a good Drowning Pool/Boy Sets Fire scent in the air and for once I find something amongst the noise, to make noise about here.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

SUCIOPERRO - Pain Agency
(Maybe Records - 2009)

Took me hours to figure out how this lot’s name was properly pronounced before I finally gave in and whacked the f**k*r on.

Shows what lengths bands go to, to try and sound interesting doesn’t it if these lads don’t look like they’ll succeed in doing so with their paint by numbers indie-pop efforts. Breaking some rules with my full approval though, they create guitar breaks of some pretty strong substance and tracks like ‘Mum’s Bad punk Music’, ‘Are you Convinced’, ‘Hate Filters’ and the acoustic driven ‘Conception Territory’ which sounds like its got five different guitars battling it out, help the bad apples fall from the cart.

Obviously im not going to pretend that I thought the album is awesome throughout as there are still the good few so-so tunes amongst the ten but it fails to uphold the negative reputation of the alt rock genre thankfully.

Worth a try.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

June
SCYTHE OF ORION - X Lives
(S/R - 2009)

Scandinavian unknowns Scythe Of Orion’s poetic name is, unlike a lot of acts, no cheap gimmick engineered to warrant attention for these guys have deservedly got the job done without it, through honest intention.

The female fronted six-piece glide through five clouds of blissfully smooth melodic goth metal with feel that buries its hands deep in you and never bores. Treated to exquisite guitar and violin melodies throughout and topped by Anu Kaunistos’s awesome choir-coached pipery, they are not the longest of miles apart from every other act of like for like product but they still create a class of their own for themselves to sit in.

Awesome.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Serpico - We Own The Night (Single)
(Wesayso Records – 2009)

A three track Scottish slap in the face, that has the attitude of the modern punk scene that is filling the air at this moment in time.

We have Misfits mixed with Green day and Offspring slapped about a bit with Blink 182 and Weezer, that will get all the school kids loving them from the start with their catchy lyrics and disco pop tunes.

Enjoyable to listen to but I do feel they will be boring after a few listens but at this moment I am quite enjoying the party feel.

7/10

By Tony Watson

Seven Year Kismet - Not Without Incident
(Rising Records – 2009)

Probably one of the evilest bands I have heard from the UK. Seven Year Kismet are hard, fast and dark.

With an average age of twenty, this fivesum leave no stone unturned. Not Without Incident is their debut album, which will reach the depths of hell with a big bang.

A 10 track CD of pure evil that brings the blood to boiling point with their growls, jack hammering drums and screeching guitars. This 48 minute episode relates closely to their idols of Machine Head, Killswitch Engage, Testament and Parkway Drive.

A violent, energetic CD that will bring the scum out of the wood work, a CD that has been carefully put together to release the beast from these guys

Very dark and heavy… keep it up.

7/10

By Tony Watson

S.E.X. Department - S.E.X. Department
(Perris Records – 2008)

On receiving this CD, you look at the cover and you know straight away this a cock rock/American glam rock style band, you may think I’m daft by saying they are on the front cover, no they’re not.

If you think Motley Crue, Poison, Pretty Boy Floyd have had their day, you may be right, but S.E.X. Department have released a new energy into this style of rock.

A superb 10 track debut CD that last a pitiful 40 minutes, but never mind, this is a recording that will constantly be playing in the machine with a different twist to each track with every listen.

Like most glam bands you know we are going to get songs about girls, getting laid, eating pussy and all the other good things we like about women, and that is true, but the musical content adds that little excitement to the whole making love thing.

S.E.X. Department have shown that glam rock is still alive by producing a CD so full of energy and life, which makes us all happy, lets sit back on the saddle and ride off into the sunset with our own cow girl.

10/10

By Tony Watson

SPANK - Get Bent
(S/R - 2009)

Oh come on, this is getting silly. Were it not for my rockular expertise, I would have assumed this North Carolina quartet’s moniker advertised some corny sleaze-punk wannabes hiding beyond the bushes, and the equally risque title hardly helps.

Yet on commencing my exploration of the musical content, I find oneself pleasantly surprised to discover some rather delightful melodic rock greeting me out of the speakers. The opening two numbers, ‘Turkey Leg’ and ‘Gravity’ are good enough for starters but ‘Back To Me’ is where it takes off. A strongly Scandinavian–edged sound .....oh yeah...fires away down the track, ‘Breathing’, ‘Terrified’ and ‘In Time’ the three other hook-fuelled rockers that follow closely behind. Kept alive by luscious guitar lines and great blues licks, the twin lead vocals of their two six-stringers provide a welcome Nelson element and, into the bargain, ballad ‘Hard To Understand’ brings the brothers themselves to mind.

Maintaining regard fro the requirements of diversity, Space’ is a mid –paced sludger with prog metal feel, and the lads close with punk feel on ‘Step Out Of Line’ . Why this album, the Charlotte outfit’s second, spans only a measly 33 minutes, 47 seconds tests me as it is to most extents quite a beaut. A practically unknown force in the UK< Spank nonetheless have something here that will certainly give melodic rock doubters six of the best but I myself will turn that ‘6’ upside down for a more accurate rating.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

STEEL PANTHER - Feel The Steel
(Island Records - 2009)

I know a lot of people are under the strong impression that the eighties have made a near-come back of late but aren’t this lot rubbing it in a bit? Steel Panther could clearly not give an eff less than they already do…or don’t about that or being the most convincing Motley Crue / Poison clones ever to have scraped the earth’s rock n’ roll encrusted surface.

Their opening cut, already an established dance floor hit, ‘Death But All But Metal’ says it loud an proud. ‘Asian Hooker’ and ‘Community’ almost nudge the ball rolling downhill though with some precariously corny chorus lines . How one can presume most people are likely to take a lyric to the words of ‘my dick is community property’ seriously is a worry though the song would have fitted like a glove on the ‘Team America’ soundtrack.

‘Eyes Of A Panther’ rocks with octane and has a practically stolen Iron Maiden lick at the off but apart from that stands on its own…as one of the major stand out cuts. In tandem, ‘Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)’ is a hand crafted cock -rock rehash of Whitesnake’s ‘Here I Go again’ and Mike Starr’s husky range makes for a fitting glove for this number in particular. The following three numbers are nothing other than purely flawless party metal of its heyday generation, ‘Eatin Ain’t Cheatin’ being set to steal the show live.

‘The Shocker’ is pure hard rock 89-style once again then the acoustic guitar line from Extreme’s ‘More Than Words’ or something uncannily…and ‘un-legally’ alike, puts in an appearance at the start of ‘Girl From Oklahoma’. Turning almost power metal for the final fling, ‘Hell’s On Fire’ is a fitting denouement to the vibe felt throughout the record. Whatever these four lads think they were playing at here, I’ve only one thing to say to you young men……more please and plenty of!

The minor marks are visible, most notably the over- employment of various four-letter favourites lacing virtually all 12 tracks, but the marks with which I honour this album stay huge on merit of their defiant approach to a musical style too long tabooed.

Excellent…dudezzzzz!

10/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
MotleyCrue, Every Mother‘s Nightmare, Poison, LA Guns, Danger Danger, Enuff Z’nuff, Ratt.

Stone Gods – Start Of Something (Single)
(PIAS UK – 2009)

The bright brand new single from Stone Gods. It’s modern but at the same time a retro-rock ballad that’s got a kinda uplifiting electric folkiness about it. It truly is the ‘Start of Something’ and where these guys are concerned it’s something positive and damn good.

It’s coupled with 3 upbeat acoustic numbers – 2 tunes that are electric on the album ‘Don’t Drink The Water’ & ‘Where You comin’ from’ as well as the currently unreleased ‘Things Could Be Worse’ – now I wonder if we’ll get an electric version on the 2nd album – reminds me of Paul McCartney & Wings sat around the campfire.

Brilliant.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Stone Gods – Silver Spoons & Broken Bones
(PIAS UK – 2008)

Ex-members of The Darkness who have now have a band that sounds nothing much like the last outing at all – this is a real mixed bag of styles – making each song stand out with its own merit alone.

On this here album they comprise of Richie Edwards (Lead Vocals/Guitar); Toby McFarlaine (Bass/Backing Vocals); Dan Hawkins (Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals) & Ed Graham (Drums) - since then though ex-Bush Drummer Robin Goodridge is now the full-time stickman.

Every single song is f*ck*n’ outstanding and there’s little wonder why it got nomiated as one of the best Rock Albums at Classic Rock Awards in 2008. Theres Rock ‘n’ Thrash in the opening ‘Burn The Witch’; the literally, haunting acoustic ‘Magdalen Street’ with harmonious beautiful backing vocals; the AC/DC like legendary tour story taled addictive ‘I’m With The Band’ with a killer solo from Dan & the positiveness of ‘Start Of Something’.

Then there’s the Status Quo like rocker ‘Making It Hard’; the autobiographical ‘Wasting Time’ about working it up in rock ‘n’ roll no matter what the odds are with a wonderful musical and vocal arrangement – well they do do it everynight or the dry-mouthed, oh sh*t we’ve missed last orders tonightness of the excellent closer ‘Oh Where ‘O My Beero’ that’s a political stand about pub opening times.

A tremendously amazing album that will be played again and again – I think this will go down as a Classic Album in years to come.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Stratovarious – Polaris
(Edel Entertainment – 2009)

One of the forerunners of what’s known throughout the world as power metal flair out their latest release – in fact the 1st one ever to be graced with a metalliville review.

As these types of albums go it has all the usual trademarks for this type of album – high ended big vocals with choral harmony, crunchy loud solos and tons of keyboards flowing through a lot of it.

All the usual positivity aspects are there too and mentions of the elements as well which we become to expect from bands of this nature. Highlights on the album include the ballad ‘Winter Skies’; the heavy ‘Higher We Go’; the power-riffed opener ‘Deep Unknown’; the epic ‘Emancipation Suite – Part 1:Dusk’ and the sad but beautiful almost medieval closer ‘When Mountains Fall’.

Pity I missed them in concert as I was on vacation in the USA at the time.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

March
Saxon – Into The Labyrinth
(SPV – 2009)

This is an album that should please Saxon fans old and new as it’s got a happy medium of fun time 80’s sounding stuff as well that current abrasive thrash faced style that they used for the last few albums.

Highlights include the opening majestic, medieval and powerful ‘Battalions Of Steel’; the bottleneck version of ‘Comin’ Home’ that in its original format is to be found on the ‘Killing Ground’ album; ‘Live To Rock’ that is pure old school Saxon; ‘Slow Lane Blues’ about being caught by a Speed Camera and the gorgious ballad that goes by the name of ‘Voice’.

A Splendid Saxon Release. They just keep getting better these guys.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

Silver Dirt – Sonic Boom
(S/R – 2006)

Dirt-filled sleazy rock ‘n’ roll from Switzerland – imagine Hanoi Rocks meets Backyard Babies, Early AC/DC and slutziness of the Faces and Stones all rolled into one and you’re somwhere near to what Silver Dirt are about.

Original compositions are pretty damn good and meaty with knockouters being opener ‘Go! She Said’; the cheesey lyriced ‘About Rock ‘n’ Roll’ that quotes a few classic songs; the southern sounding ‘Angel with Silver Wings’ – now that’s a killer riff right there boys – more please!; he Ramonesy ‘Room 666’ and closer ‘Freedom Haven’ that rips of The Beatles ‘Come Together’ quite a bit – lol.

They are sure to liven up a party somewhere.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Spirit – The Archive ....An Introduction
(Floating World/Evangeline Records Ltd – 2008)

A band that didn’t make the biggest of impacts over herein the UK to be honest, they kinda vanished into thin air - more of a cult status, but Randy California, who with Jay Ferguson & Mark Andes, formerly of Jo Jo Gunne made his mark right here all the same.

It’s a kind of compilation of archived material that’s already been released recently. There’s different types of music here – psychedelia in ‘His Love’; Patriotic Pop-Folk or something of this realm in ‘Son Of America’; acoustic classical material on ‘French Apartment’ and great electric blues in ‘Miss This Train’. Alternatively there’s the weirdness in ‘Shock Values’ that comes complete with sound fx and other zany stuff; cool later 60’d retro-ness in ‘My Friend’; quirky jazz-rock prog in ‘Victim Of Society’.


A good way to start finding out about a cool almost forgotten band. Safer than the stuff of the same name on the top shelf.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

Syrym – S/T
(Hatrix Records – 2008)

Great Hard Rock band that features the ex-Babylon AD member (anyone remember them?). It’s like heading back to the mid to late 80’s with what these have got on offer here.

Killer songs, great vocals and top notch musicianship – then again, I’d expect nothing less from well-experience men of this nature. Highlights include the opening rocker ‘Foul Mouth Blues’; the exquisite autobiographical love number ‘Torn In Two’; ‘Brokedown’; the cheesey sounding rock club poser pleaser ’30 & Dirty’; the great sounding hard n harsh at times ‘Alive In The Real World’ and the closing piano led ballad ‘What I’m trying to Say’ that comes complete with its own reprisal.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan


February 2009
Sepultura - A-Lex
(SPV – 2009)

This is the eleventh studio album from the Brazilian Thrash metallers that will bring the house down with its extreme aggressive assault. The CD concept has been inspired by the book ‘A Clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess.

It’s been a few albums where I can honestly say Sepultura have produced an album that in on the verge of ‘Roots’ or even ‘Beneath the Remains’. This CD has definitely gone back to its roots with the Sepultura that we loved in the early years.

The CD has been divided into 4 parts with each part telling the story of the chapter. The 18 tracks tell the story, as it should which also includes the last chapter, which was never released in the film.

This new composition also includes a new drummer Jean Dolabella who has bought new energy with him that has come across in the band and the material they have written.

10/10

By Tony Watson

Seraphin - Start to Live
(Bad Land Records – 2008)

First impressions of the cover made me think of country boy rock, and yes I was right in one sense, there is a country style to it that Bon Jovi can put in but Seraphin are lacking in creativity to establish whether they are a country boy band or a rock band. I’m not sure where the band are from or where they are wanting to go but I would look towards Denmark

Seraphin have released a 14 track CD, which droned on for 50 minutes with no sparkle, no enthusiasm and no will to listen. ‘Start To Live’ has got some intricate guitar licks and solos but it’s not your Def Leppard or Thunder style who get you up and rocking. The most surprising thing of all is that the track ‘Yellow Dragon’ hit into a different genre that hit the power metal side and if the rest of the CD were built around this track then we would have had a marvellous CD to listen too.

Sort yourself out lads as the power metal side was enjoyable.

4/10

By Tony Watson

Serial Obsession – S/T (E.P.)
(S/R – 2009)

Not many bands self produce or even self-release debut EP’s or even albums, but these guys have. With this in mind, Serial Obsession are confident in what they are doing or they can’t get the back up to push them forward. After listening to the 6 track CD, these guys are highly talented and want to do things their way.

Serial Obsession are a good solid old school soft rock band that have merged together from several parts of America, to produce an exciting sound, which could be on the verge of ‘Cold Play’ and ‘U2’ with a slight musical influence of ‘Aerosmith’.

Overall the guitar licks and solos as well as the soft vocal content bring the whole CD together, which makes it very enjoyable to listen too.


7/10

By Tony Watson

Silverlane - My Inner Demon
(Drakkar Records – 2009)

A six piece band from Forchheim Southern Germany release what I can only call ‘Power Metal’ with the likes of Helloween, Gamma Ray and Kamelot.

If you like this type of metal and are not board of the style, you know exactly what you are going to get. You have the power horse vocals, fast and furious clinical guitars, fast drums and of course the classic keyboard.

Although Silverlane claim they are heavy metal, they are influenced by medieval folk, hard rock, which puts a little variety into their power metal.

This twelve track 50 minute CD rattles through each track as if you were listening to Helloween or Gamma Ray, but songs like the opener ‘Wings Of Eternity’ engulf the ear canal with such power you know you will enjoy the rest of the CD with so much enthusiasm the 50 minuets fly by.

8/10

By Tony Watson

Smooth Reunion - Cleaning Up The Business
(Zink Music – 2008)

From the title of the band name you have a rough idea what to expect. Smooth Reunion are a young Swedish act whose taste in music is the Westcoast to Jazz.

This CD is for those people who have an interest in Steely Dan and I’m sorry to say that’s not me. As a compilation of classic Jazz with a funky upbeat sound ‘Cleaning Up the Business’ is a very complicated and complex CD which I find very difficult to follow.

Although the CD has been thought out and produced to the highest class I can’t knock what they have produced

6/10

By Tony Watson

Sonic Syndicate - Eden Fire
(Pivotal Recordings - 2005)

Sonic Syndicate are a Swedish based band who have been doing the circuits and claiming recognition for their extreme and scream core metal.

‘Eden Fire’ was released in September 2005 and comprises of ten tracks broken down into three different segments, ‘Helix Reign, ‘Extinction’ and ‘Black Lotvs’. The album also features the operatic and soaring vocals of bassist Karin Axelsson on the track ‘Enhance My Nightmare’.

Like most extreme metal bands from Europe, you either hate them or you love them and Sonic Syndicate are a band that deserve a truthful listen with a truthful opinion.

Aggressive, violent, brutal but different.

7/10

By Tony Watson

The Sorrow - Origin Of The Storm
(Drakkar Records – 2009)

This is the second storm from the band who are based in the Voralberg region of Austria. Like most music that comes from Europe, you either get power metal or extreme thrash/death metal, but these guys have placed themselves between the mainstreams of metal.

The Sorrow are as raw as Trivium, In Flames and Slipknot but with an added twist of Killswitch Engage to add a sparkle to the violent sound that pounds through the 13 tracks.

Like Lamb Of God, and Children Of Bodom, The Sorrow attack the CD like they are involved in an out raged assault of Europe, but this leaves something out of the music which I think they is a real shame. I feel the CD should be like the song ‘Scars’ which has a lot of twists and turns, power and violence, pain and agony as well as and interesting chorus.

As a second attempt this CD is going to start to make a good name for the band, and I feel as there confidence grows with what they are doing, there will be more to come.

8/10

By Tony Watson

The Spit Knee Loons - Loon Knee Tunes
(Angel Air Records – 2008)

This is the biggest load of sh*t I have ever heard, in fact it is that bad I am going to send it back to the record company so they can recycle it.

THIS IS NOT WORTH THE TIME OR EFFORT TO CONTINUE ANYTHING ELSE WITH REGARDS THIS B*LL*CKS, WHAT A WAIST OF PLASTIC, PAPER AND ENERGY TO PRODUCE IT.

-100/10

By Tony Watson

Stigma – When Midnight Strikes
(Pivotal Recordings - 2008)

Italy’s contribution to the extreme metal scene has come in the form of Stigma who are more than happy to relate their music to the passions of werewolves, vampires and anything else that may appear in the night.

‘When Midnight Strikes’ is a compilation of the night secrets that threaten our lives Fans of The Black Dahlia Murder, Himsa, Bring Me the Horizon and At the Gates are sure to find something to get fired up over in Stigma. Their aggressive attack and bulldozing riffs will surely threaten any audience out in the night.

Violent, aggressive and brutal.

7/10

By Tony Watson

December

Seventh Son – Spirit World
(Iron Pages – 2008)

Seems strange that a UK label haven’t picked up on this exceptional authentic Rock & Metal band and instead a German Record Company have seen the light that those over here seemed to have missed.

A quintet of well-seasoned musicians who come from the same areas as Artic Monkeys, Human League & Def Leppard, Saxon and Charlie Williams (well I couldn’t think of any other Barnsley bands worth mentioning – lol) Highlights included the opener ‘Spirit World’; the Purple-Rainbowness of ‘Unfinished Business’; the acoustic guitar-led ‘One Strange Summer’; ‘Dangerous Kiss’ & the closer ‘Haunted By The Past’ with its church bells opening and string section.

Can’t get over the fact that this band never made it big!

8.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

SLICK’S KITCHEN - Half Evil - Half Album’
(S/R – 2008)

The word ‘kitchen’, preceded by an apostrophized‘s’ is not been unknown to appear on the end of a band’s name in recent years but been known not to show up on the moniker owned by such an unexplainable machine as these rowdy young men.

German Trio Slick’s Kitchen thrown every different crust of the contemporary rock loaf they can for some very appreciative birds to eat. Trying to be Blink 182, Kaiser Chiefs, Wildhearts, Andrew WK, Feeder, Hellacopters and Nickelback all in the space of one disc ,and then only six songs remains a tall order but one these lads carry out impeccably well even if they place vibes of about four of the aforementioned names in about each and every of these admittedly catchy numbers.

Modern dirt n’ Roll with attitude, it may well be new year’s eve as I sit here now scribbling this review but at least 2008 still had time to introduce one more sensational new band.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

SQEALER - The Circle Shuts
(AFM - 2008)

Encounter a German metal label and you’re about twice more than likely to find a truckload of national acts on its roster. That’s not to say quantity gets the upper hand over quality on AFM’s turf, and Teutonic thrash vets Sqealer are around to peddle strictly the latter of those two.

Formerly sporting ‘A.D.’ on the end of their moniker, the change of sound that comes with it is really one of sorts back to the classic edge from their heyday, but not a total throwback in itself. New vocalist Norbert Vornam, who fills the shoes stepped out of by ex-Grip Inc man Gus Chambers has a kind of Joey Belladonna-meets-Chuck Billy throat to fill in the top layer above those tow placed firmly in position already by the considerably diverse work of their two guitarists.

Messrs Schiel and Doring’s CD cases haven’t missed out totally on some current-day content - there’s a lot of the contemporary thrash scene to be heard in most of these songs, on top of the nostalgia elements. Less old school -purified than label mates Tankard they may be, but Squealer also have a well-conditioned engine on which to run, with no black smoke coming out the back quite yet.

Good stuff.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill


RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Evile, Anthrax

Stick It Out – S/T
(S/R – 2008)

Sleaziness that's in your face straight from the 1st note right to the end and comes all the way from Italy. Reminds me Hardcore Superstar without the handclaps, Toilet Boys and a zillion other similar bands – it’s all good though.

Highlights have got to be ‘Jack The B*st*rd’ with the squawky Megaphone sound effects on the vocals (like Velvet Revolvers ex-front Scott Weiland); the rather excellent ‘Slippin’ Away’ that sees vocalist Freddie sing lower than in previous numbers.

There’s a killer cover of The Damned’s ‘Neat, Neat, Neat’ and the ballad ‘Touch’ is a great song too. I reckon he thinks he is Seb in the vocal dept on the acoustic live closer ‘Wooden Spoon’ and fires out a ton of high bum notes – pity about that – do it a key or 2 lower next time.

I like these guys but they are only let down by vocal clarity at times – apart from that it's good stuff.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

November

S-Core - Gust of Rage
(Drakkar Records/Sony BMG -2008)

A Hardcore, speed power, thrash metal band from Eastern France, yes that’s right from eastern France, no realy! Yes, this surprised me, I fact I will say it again, these guys are from FRANCE.

I must admit not much with regards metal music comes out of France but this has come as a bit of a shock. The power generated within their music is clearly displayed throughout the CD. A solid thrash feel that isn’t new but has a different edge to it. I would say they maybe nearly on the same verge as Bloodbath with a mixture of Machinehead but without the years of experience.

As you delve through ‘Greaser One’, ‘Requiem for a dying race’, ‘Buried’ and ‘Pangenesis’, the solid stable sound stays throughout with no massive alteration to their concept.

As this is nothing new, I do believe they will get a good following within Europe and I do wish them all the best for the future.

7/10

By Tony Watson

Signum Regis - Signum Regis
(Locomotive Records - 2008)

This self-titled CD is on the verge of power metal, but not quite, there is something missing, although you would expect this type of metal to be of Swedish origin. The style is more of a melodic metal with shredding guitars, but with an influence of Yngwie Malmsteen, Rainbow, Impellitteri and Helloween.

This 11 track CD provides 50 minutes of good solid European metal which is a bit of a disappointment, although this style of metal is big in Sweden, Germany and other neighbouring countries, it’s not so big in the UK especially when it nearly all sounds very similar in style.

Although tracks such as ‘Fields of stars’ ‘For Ever and a day’, ‘The Rain’ and ‘Mountain Haze’ weren’t too bad there seamed to be lacking variation throughout the CD and on that note I found the CD becoming very boring.

4/10

By Tony Watson

SIKH - One More Piece
(Drakkar Records/Sony BMG - 2008)

How strange, you don’t hear anything from France for a while and then they all turn up at once. Sikh are a band from Nice who have a good solid metal feel to them, in fact I would say they are on the verge of the same style as Drowning Pool.

This band has a good future if they keep writing and producing metal music like this. We have melodic starts, thrashy middles with great choruses and a power that melts the national grid. The power that is produced throughout the CD, rolls through as if it’s on a lighting bolt. ‘The Quake’ is a great title for the first track as it sets the pace for the rest of the CD as we venture into ‘Halcyon Days’, ‘Hammering The Sun’, ‘Psychotro’ to finish off with ‘Slaves of the 70’s (wisky)’.

Overall give this one a good listen, if the likes of Drowning Pool is your kind of thing, you will enjoy every minute.

9/10

By Tony Watson

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes - 1978: Live In Boston
(Fuel 2000 Records - 2008)

Within the inlay card the first sentence ended with the words ‘are a dying breed’, I am sorry to say when this was recorded in the Christmas period of 1978 I think they were already dead.

The sound is old-fashioned R&B (rhythm & blues), with the typical uptown rock and roll. If you are a big fan of early Springsteen, then you will probably enjoy this, but if you were more in tune with the times, then I would give this one a miss.

Overall this bored me and it drained the life and soul out of my party.

2/10

The 2 is for the production.

By Tony Watson

SpeedTheory - Blood Money
(Ant Hill Records - 2008)

This is what good fast metal music is all about, SpeedTheory have taken the British metal scene by the balls and squeezed them hard.

Although there is only 6 tracks lasting under 30 minutes, 'Blood Money' is a raging water that rips the hell out of everything in its path, and still has the thirst to devour the planet of the filth we cover it in.

This British band will definitely leave their mark no matter where they are in the world and it’s a band that I feel will be around for some time to come, with their new twist to the British heavy metal scene.

10/10

By Tony Watson

Stonewall Noise Orchestra - Constants In An Ever Changing Universe
(The Unit Music Co. - 2008)

This second release (Debut for the UK) from the Swedish hard rockers have released a powerful, melodic and double guitar riffed CD with a vocalist that sound like Chris Cornell. This band bought back memories of Soundgarden, Monster Magnet and Black Sabbath but also have the influence Audioslave, Alter Bridge and Black Stone Cherry.

With band like Soundgarden, Monster Magnet and Tool being their main influences you know exactly what you are getting, a deep stoner rock grunge style that accompanies the vocals if they were a match made in heaven.

From ‘Skyscraper moment’ to ‘The Inventor’ through ‘Clone Baby’ to end with ‘Unknown of Me’ the power and enthusiasm of this band isn’t lost, which generates a fresh feel to every track.

If someone played this to you without mentioning the band name, I would guess you would say it’s Soundgarden and the scary thing is that I think this is where Soundgarden were heading.

If you feel like something new to listen too, then I would say this is the CD to get, I don’t believe this CD will ever be put on the shelf to rot.

Brilliant.

10/10

By Tony Watson

The Sound EX - Palomino
(DR2 Records - 2008)

From a bunch of lads from Newcastle upon Tyne, would of expected anger, violence, death and murder or even a band like Venom, but no, we get what’s going around the scene at the moment with the likes of Keiser Chiefs and Razorlight.

I would expect this CD not to pull any punches in the indie world of pop rock and I would not expect this band to be anymore than a support act.

After giving this CD several listens in the car I just couldn’t relate to it at all, I was bored from start to finish and I feel most people would feel the same way after several listens.

2/10

By Tony Watson

September
SISTER SIN - Switchblade Serenades
(Metal Heaven - 2008)

Girl-fronted hard rock acts have always been a proud speciality from the mainland and even though many seem to stop at ‘they all sound the same’ some including us chappies at Metalliville, see right in past rumour-driven obstacles as such.

Good thing we do or we’d have been accidentally denied access to one of the greatest releases of such type for nearly a decade Swedish four-piece Sister Sin do exactly as described with their relentless eighties -driven trad rock onslaught bringing to mind, all the major players from metal’s golden era, Crue and Motorhead being just two.

As always, the case withy female hard rock vocals, Sisters’ resident chanteuse Liv unleashes the might of her pipes with that expectably punk-ish edge but if you’ve queued up to hear something you can file alongside Lita, Warlock or Lee Aaron in your CD collection, you’re still best leaving this one peeping out, to remind you to play it more often than once a day.

’Beat the Street’, ’One Out Of Ten’, ’Breaking New Ground’, ’On Parade’, ’Make My Day’, ’Hostile Violent’ and ’all Systems Go’ are just cases of name-dropping with tiles here as all eleven are at least decent but most are absolute solid hard rockers, of the sort welcome on my woofers, any hour of the 24.

With my only disappointment being ‘Switchblade Serenade’ sadly turning out not to be some potentially corking rendition of the classic Spread Eagle belter, there is almost strictly little else to complain about with S.S.’s incredible debut full-lengther.

Forgive them or not, father, these guys are about to sin, and then some!

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECIOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE
Doro, Lana Lane, Wasp, Dokken, Vixen, Motley Crue.

August
Sacred Dawn - Gears Of The Machine- A New Beginning
(Nightmare Records - 2008)

Sacred Dawn are a very powerful traditional metal band that don’t overkill themselves with fast power metal riffs, but stay on a level that produces hard but steady rock that can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone.

The power that is exuberated from ‘Gears of the machine-a new beginning’ puts the band in the same league as Judas Priest, Cold, Drowning pool, Alice in Chains and Seether to name but a few.

‘Gears of the machine-a new beginning’ enters with a melodic guitar riff of ‘(worlds apart)-The desire’ that is then accompanied by pounding drums which builds up to a collection of fast power cords, which lays the foundation for the rest of the CD. With ripping tracks such as ‘Master of thought’, ‘Walls of Jericho’, ‘Time will tell (the man)’ and of course ‘Gears of the machine’. But I must admit I have never heard a thrashed up version of ‘Devil went down to Georgia’, which is absolutely marvellous and very entertaining.

Overall it was an exciting CD to listen to and one that will be played for months to come.

9/10

By Tony Watson

Oliver Dawson’s Saxon - Re-landed… Plus
(Angel Air Records - 2008)

I must admit it’s the first time I have heard Oliver/Dawson’s Saxon and it was a damn shame it was a live CD with all the classic Saxon tracks, but the best thing is that at the end of the CD there are three new tracks that give you a taste of what Oliver/ Dawson are about.

I’m not going to go too much into the live performance, as it’s Saxon live but without Biff Byford and a Karaoke pub singer in his place.

What I will talk about is the three studio tracks that put Saxon back on the map, if you are a big fan of Rammstein then ‘One Sour Krout’ is a must. This track releases so much energy you want to go on a death march through Europe. ‘Nursery Crimes’ and ‘Worlds Gone Crazy’ is a good step forward to promote good solid metal with its guitar licks and heavy pounding drums and angry vocals.

It’s a shame the rest of the CD isn’t like the ending but never mind, it gave me an good insight into Oliver/Dawson’s Saxon.

Due to the poor live set I will give the CD and if you are fortunate enough (or should that be unfortunate - lol) you may get to pick up the Bonus DVD.

5/10

By Tony Watson

SIMON SAYS - Tardigrade
(SPV - 2008)

Only prog rock acts would take their name from a popular kiddies game - well I’ve never heard of a thrash metal act called Hopscotch to date, I can safely say for the record.

Choosing to liken their sound to Marillion rather than Dream Theater, these guys do still have a distinctively Rudess-oriented sound to their ivory department and aren’t too different when it comes to song duration either.

The Fish-like range of the lead vocalist here is what twigs in the biggest way and thankfully in some cases kills potential monotony offered by tunes like ’Suddenly Te Rain’ and the 27-minute ’Brother Where You Bound’ which certainly outstays its welcome. Spock’s Beard seem to carry it off a lot better so it seems acceptable from others. The standard length cuts are mostly very good with ‘Chosen One’, ‘Moon Mountain’ and ‘Circle’s End’ liable most to keep the listener inspired but for those less fussy about the scene, I’d stick with the aforementioned giants for starters.

Good but not constant enough to merit essential listening. I think Simon would say ‘….mmmm. OK then….‘ to this one.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

SINNER - Crash n’ Burn
(AFM - 2008)

Mike Exley’s magnificent metal flying machine soars through the skies of planet metal with great ease once more, displaying their latest signing feat.

Please lets hear it everyone for the amazing, the incredible, the one and only Mr Mat Sinner everyone. Who not only busy wowing the European metal world with Primal Fear he has also by magic brought another even bigger old lion back into the tent.

Yep, you’ve guessed it, the band he leant his name to many a lifetime ago return to town to celebrate their 25th anniversary and what better a way to do it folks than with the most awesome musical creation he has probably ever conjured up.

Putting the circus act aside (I’m laughing my *rs* off, Dave) Sinner have indeed clocked up a quarter century in the trade in a bigger way than expected. Rather than opting fro some live or greatest hits effort just to remind people they once existed, MS has teamed up with old mainstay Henry Wolter alongside current men Klaus Sperling and Christof Leim to fix up a monster serving of classic traditional heavy metal of the very sort that was infallible at the time of their initial formation.

‘Crash…’ itself sees guitars act totally under the title’s dictation, the chorus turning out a little longer than expected but still a brill start, and ’Break The Silence’ brings up the rear in roaring form, also bringing present-day Swiss favourites Shakra to the conscience.

‘The Dog’ barks in a more mainstream direction with a good blues bend by Wolter on that solo line there, sharing a tune with one of the album’s top choruses to boot. ‘Heart Of Darkness’ is thev first truly German sounding moment of the record and a particularly strong stand-out point for that alone.

’Revolution’ is the bluesiest number within the album’s confines and leaves Mat’s power metal tendencies totally behind for a dance along moment instead. Resident anthem ’Unbreakable’ follows with an incendiary shred and another immortal hook that seems to remind me of a number Bodycount once did somewhere down the years.

‘Fist To Face’ a great Motorhead injected speeder of a metal song is given away on such a note by that title in more ways than the one while ‘Until It Hurts’ is pure perfect unspoilt modern-day Sinner as you would expect-and-hope to hear them do it. Another pair of the strongest cuts ensue next - uptempo AOR edged pop rocker ’Little Head’ is something only Mat Sinner can get away with when he pulls it off his way and it sits amongst the best he’s written, and to say that ’Connection’ is reminiscent of Thin Lizzy, (which it actually does on the promo paper) one would need to reset the world record books on the ‘understatements’ page.

‘Like A Rock’ closes things off in the most vital manner by being as Teutonically-toned as it gets YES- see those studded fists hit the sky here, everyone! And that means that now its finished, we can play this beauty again. Which I think I will a few times as well. A lot of groups this old have made many a bungled attempt at brining up past glories after years out of service but Mat Sinner seems to have done the best thing and not thought too hard about it - because they and us have learned that the greatest of things do tend to come to those who wait.

Sinner may have actually warmed up to this with their last two releases but the heat has just turned on unexpectedly higher this time - more than enough to light the 25 candles on their cake. Get those beers out as well guys - your party is going to be a long one and with this stunning album to your name, an extremely well earned double-celebration.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

Six Minute Century - Time Capsule
(Nightmare Records - 2008)

Six Minute Century is a power/prog metal combining heavy metal and classical orchestrations featuring melodious vocals, guitars, with heavy hitting bass and drums.

Although the band is from America, they do have that European power metal feel to them, which I do feel will go down very well in our neighbouring countries.

Time Capsule releases passion and power form the start of ‘Under the moonlight’ to ‘One mans dream’, through ‘Saved in time’ to finish off with ‘Seven seas’ with a mixture of power ballads ‘Zero Hour’ and ‘Guitar Concerto’ thrown in the middle to calm the seas before the wind makes its appearance again.

A very well produced CD that captures every note, which makes it a very clean and clinical sound to their performance.

7/10

By Tony Watson

SOULITUDE - The Crawlian Supermancy
(Self Released - 2007)

For the uninformed -that was also yours truly as well in this case - Soulitude is a project of Spanish guitarist Jevo, known better for his duites as part of metal act Valhalla.

Familiar already with said outfit and their impressive though dangerously Maiden-alike vocal edge, being on his todd here has allowed him to experiment. Straight in, we notice there is something different going on as we ae bombarded by a gwoly thrash-oriented noise but his guitar sound points him out soon enough.

A little further in and hes’ doing the power metal thang once more and proceeds to mix it ande many other styles together, and there are a few quite Malmsteen-esque moments to enjoy around the ride. Good stuff.

Surprising then to find he’s giving this away free online - I wouldn’t.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

Soundshok - The Bringers Of Bloodshed
(Rising Records - 2008)

As they profess their influences as ‘Sepultura’, ‘Slayer’, ‘Lamb of God’ and ‘Decapitated’ to name but a few, you have a rough idea what Soundshok are about.

If you love the early Sepultura era of Schizophrenia, Beneath the remains, Arise and Chaos AD, you virtually have Soundshok and then all of a sudden you get a Slayer guitar riff that creeps in from out of nowhere and bites your balls.

Overall as much of a Sepultura and Slayer fan that I am, it’s just not working for me but I do believe they could end up with a good solid fan base around the Scottish highlands where they bellow out there hatred for the world.

6/10

By Tony Watson

STARBREAKER - Love’s Dying Wish
(Frontiers - 2008)

Tony Harnell seemed to have disappeared from the radar following his departure from the reformed TNT. Was he giving Westworld or Morning Wood another go, albeit on a more full-time scale?

While the Norwegian legends forged on with another Tony at the mike (Ex-Shy man Mr Mills, that being) all is not lost for the big T.H. as he teamed up with one of Europe’s top melodic metal six-stringers, Primal Fear man Magnus Karlsson, and the satisfying result this latest venute,, namely Starbreaker.

Sounding not unlike the Westies themselves, the guy has moved forward and injected a more progressive feel into the mould this time round with a lot of these keyboard lines setting the vibe for the whole disc.

’End Of Alone’, ’Evaporate’, ’Unknown Superstar’, ’Hide’, ’Beautiful Distaster’, ’Hello Are You Listennig’ and ’Day belongs To Us’ between them should house enough to please fans of any of Tony’s past acts even though his still impressive voice sees to that as it is. Not TNT itself but could blow a few away.

Nice one Tone.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE
TNT, Helloween, Edguy

Stonelake - Uncharted Souls
(Unlimited Music Production - 2008)

A brilliant Swedish quarted who have a sound that meshes in elements of Guns 'N' Roses, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden with a vocalist in Peter Grundstrom who can sound very similar at times to all three of those bands frontmen.

I completely relish in this band because I've not heard a band who can pull this off and pull this off well without sounding tedious and strained to the point of stocking filler. Every one of these numbers is well worth lending your ears to several times over. The sound quality is rather poor and mushy but I'll let them off for that somewhat due to the musical and vocal quality exceeding it.

Highlights include the opening title track 'Uncharted Souls'; '(Tonight) You're Beyond The Shadows'; the Piesty Painkiller-like 'Higher'; 'Eyes Of The World' and the gutsy Hard Edged AOR'ness of 'White Flame'.

Check them out.

8.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

July

SWORN AMONGST - And So It Begins
(Rising Records - 2008)

After all the not-exactly-poor press that young Brit Metal hotties Sworn Amongst have earned and enjoyed from umpteen other British rags it comes our turn to decipher the reason for their appeal. Clues in the title (track) as the few likely cynics are sent scrambling for cover the very moment that ‘A.S.I.B.’ itself rages its way into the ring and a melodic sustained lead along the span of the intro pleasantly surprises into listening with both lobes pinned further ajar.

Only lacking experimental abilities where one or two song titles are concerned - ‘Unleash The Power’ and ‘Lord Of War’ are two of my favourite cuts as well, - they try plenty of moves that fellow national newies Evile didn’t dare to.

Frighteningly mainstream and in one or two cases almost AOR-ish vocal lines duel with guitars that prefer to be more Iron Maiden and Annihilator than Slayer or Pantera but their frontman’s Anselmo-like range keeps the match with the advertised description of their sound safely honest. Rarely a downer within the 55 minutes, these ten lumps of pure molten old-school metal magma guarantee a lethal injury when thrown.

You put your head in the way purely at your own risk here.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

June

SACRED MOTHER TONGUE - Two Thousand-Eight Hundred (Single)

(Transcend Records -2008)

 Noisy Northampton youngsters Sacred Mother Tongue have already paved in their reputation as an act to be reckoned with over the preceding two years and support slots for Evile, another of our proudest national metal scoops of recent times has inevitably helped things.

Sounding like typal scream-core metal on first entry, it is superbly subtle for the larger remainder of the cut with the flowing chorus harmony taking me along first time.  With the performance of newly acquired guitarist Andy James -  who says you’re not allowed solos in modern metal now.

These lads are put on a higher step from most of the rest, and only the debut album itself remains to take them to the uppermost rung.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

May
Saints Of The Underground – Love The Sin, Hate The Sinner
(Warrior Records – 2008)

A brand new supergroup (can I call them that, well I just did – doh!) made up of established names in Rock – the brainchild of Ratt drummer, Bobby Blotzer and Alice Cooper Guitarist, Keri Kelli who brought in original Warrant Vocalist, Jani Lane & Ratt Bassist, Robbie Crane to complete the line-up.

So what do they sound like? Well they sort of a mix of all 3 bands they come from but with a modern twist to them and dare I say it, even a bit of 90’s Kiss as well. All are on top form, second to none musicianship from Robbie, Keri and Bobby with Jani back form where he belongs and looking really well again too, I’m delighted to say.

Some projects fall on their arse with only the line-up alone being impressive, but not in this case at all - luvvery, rockin’ zesty songs with beautiful harmony backing vocals and the sound production simply don’t come better than this – digitally dynamic yet really warm as well like vinyl used top be.

Highlights in no apparent order are the almost Sabbathy ‘Signs Of Life’; the opener ‘Dead Man Shoes’; the close to my heart ‘American Girl’ (cos I luv ‘em); the uplifting closer ‘Jimmy’ and the 80’s retro-ish ‘Tommorow Never Comes’.

I fully recommend this album to real rockers worldwide.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Shenaniganz – Four Finger Fist Fight
(Silverwolf Productions – 2008)

An unknown fun-time rock ‘n’ sleaze bunch of newcomings that deserve your time of day and night for that matter. They’ll hook you and f*ck your mind for defo – this is what’s its all about anyway ain’t it.

They formed as a school band in 2006 – now why don’t we get school bands of this standard in UK – f*ck emo – this is the real music. Imagine a European Buckcherry with the zest of the Quireboys, Status Quo & The Rolling Stones and that’s somewhere close.

Tight, slick, dirty and mouthwateringly good is the soundz from Shenaniganz – every song is dynamite from ‘Punk that Rocks’ to ‘The Frankey Commercial Song’. Highlights include ‘Andy Warhol’; ‘Pissing In The Wind’; & ‘Jesus Was A Rock ‘N’ Roller’ and he also rode a Harley.

Hope these guys hit the UK shores soon – we need it for sure.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Spike – It’s A Treat To Be Alive
(Demolition Records – 2007)

The Quireboys man in solo mode makes your mouthwater with this release. It’s like a chilled out version of his dayjob that even features members of that band too.

He ain’t shortchanged us either as there’s 14 feel-good numbers including a cover of Slade’s ‘Everyday’ – nailed it as well! Other masterpieces include the retro mandolin country folk a la Ronnie Lane like ‘Won’t You Stick Around’ and the very tempting opener ‘Have a Drink with me’.

One of the best solo albums I ever heard from a famous frontman ever especially when you’ve got songs as good as the epic Southern Rocking ‘Lady And Her Daughter’; lovely duet in’So Far, So Good’ – is that Spike’s wife by any chance? And how could I not mention the country of ‘7/11 Roses’ that sounds like it was recorded in Nashville TN.

Spike points it right home and hits the bullseye with this album – be proud of this one boy, be proud.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

January 2008
Scarlet Viper – S/T (EP)
(S/R -2007)

Sleazy mother effers from over the pond – no not LA, USA but over the other pond – so a kind of young Hanoi Rocks in true sunset strip style.

Killer cookin’ cuts will guarantee boundless joy from those tabbies of yours especially opener ‘Back On The Bends’; the Pretty Boy Floyd like ‘Dirty Little Whore’ and also the closer ‘Ready To Rock’.

More of this sorta stuff – yes f*ck*n’ please.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

Sex Department – S/T
(Perris Records – 2007)

Italian sleazy hot-rockin’ all-girl threesome that sandwiches together Kelly “Trash” Mendess on Vocals, Guitar & Harmonica; Chantal Holidays on Bass & Vocals with Boby “Bang” Beukers on Drums & Vocals.

It’s good passable stuff but at times Kelly could do with some training in the high ended vocal department as she struggles at times. That aside, there’s some great party-up-like-hell numbers like band named song ‘S.E.X. Department’, ‘Call Me Baby Call Me’; the great acoustic ‘Italian Cowboy’ and ‘Drive Me Insane’.

These chicks can rock.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Spiders & Snakes – Melodrama
(Sansei Records – 2008)

I remember these dudes from a while ago when they released as I got the ‘Don’t Cry Wolf’ album on vinyl under an old line-up as ‘London’ – this to me is an introduction to where they are at now.

It’s like sleazy Alice Cooper meets WASP at times in party mode and gets real quirky at other points in the album – if that makes any sense – fun, fun, fun throughout the minutes when it blares out of your speakers. A very likeable band – love the honesty of the lyrics in ‘Friends like you’; does ‘Fear Of Flying’ sound like an old Blondie tune or what? ‘Another Lonely Day’ is a killer ballad and there appears a nice lyrical reference to ‘All the young dudes’ in the poppyness of ‘Dream Girl’.

Here’s a real turn up for the books – a cover that I’ve never heard the original of before, I have read about ‘Yesterday’s Hero’ by The Easybeats but this is the first time for me – wahay – I’m impressed. Must check out the original some time. There is one we all know though ‘Dream a little dream’ – made famous by Mama Cass – cool and close to the master as well – but with Bloiks singin’ instead.

The DVD is well… hmm… what can I say, like watching a mix of Bad News, Spinal Tap & elements of WASP in places – it’s filmed on amateur cam (or seems to be) and there’s the odd notes dropped here and there to say the least. It’s brilliant to see the band perform the old London classic ‘Public Enemy No. 1” with Billy Foxx on lead vocals – a song that Lizzie Grey co-wrote Nikki Sixx who needs no introduction.

Here’s a band that don’t take themselves at all seriously.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

ST. DEAMON - In Shadows Lost From the Brave
(Frontiers Records - 2008)

St Deamon are a four-piece power metal act from Sweden - ‘come off it, Dave I know a German band when I hear one’ you probably all argue right now.

Justly so with the product within being a near amalgam of every outfit to have involved people called Scheepers, Hansen or Kusch, past and present - yes, that little band beginning with ‘H’ included. Three quarters of S.D are familair names, with messrs Noberg and Milianowicz having been the rhythm section for fellow Swedes, the also Metalliville-approved Dionysus while vocalist Jan Thore Grefstad’s name has popped up on a project with TNT’s Ronnie Le Tekro in the past.

Poor old Toya Johansson is however no less important as his classy and more than a little Malmsteen-schooled guitar work makes the following three-quarter-hour we are graced with, the monster it turns out to be. One oddity in application here, is that it’s the first half that the chequered area of their material falls within, this time, with ‘In Shadows....., ‘My Heart’ and ‘No Man’s Land’ being the only three of the first six that bite me by the first chorus without need of a repeat play. The surviving trio, opener ‘My Judas’, ‘The Burden’ and Manowar-esquely titled ‘Ride Forever’ still later become fun after another listen, while the final five are where it’s at, even if one or two of the numbers are ballads.

‘’Black Symphony’, ‘Deamons’, ‘The Brave Never Bleeds’, ‘My Sorrow’ and ‘Run For Your Life’ are the full meat and potatoes of what melodic power metal should be, even if they astonish many with their absence of epics - 5 minutes 14 being the longest anything lasts this time. Quality, not quantity is stringently what these lads preach in and on a live set, these four chaps will rule. Zero to find for the seeker of originality, may be that usual one minor bone to pick but one I can safely throw in the direction of a hungry canine to enjoy, while I enjoy this album once again.

A very Saintly effort, indeed.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

VERY RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE
Hellow.....you-know-effin-well-who, Gamma Ray, Last Tribe, Stratovarius, Primal Fear, Royal Hunt, Jorn


ALSO RECOMMENDED - (See reviews also on site)
LEVERAGE Blind Fire (Frontiers)
RIDE THE SKY New Protection (Nuclear Blast)

Strapps – Live At The Rainbow 1977
(Angel Air – 2008)

A band that’s rather obscure to say the very least – they had 3 studio albums out but vanished into thin air when Drummer, Mick Underwood joined the band that they were supporting on this night (the last nght of a 5 day) Tour - this being Gillan.

The vocalist has got a rather weird voice and to me sounds Rory Gallagher on a rough day crossed with Bryan Ferry & David Bowie trip with his froggy sound and almost poshness (well it appears that way anyway – but you never can tell).

Hardly the best thing I have heard from this era but I guess you can do worse as the backing band sound pretty damn good. Highlights include ‘Child Of the City’; ‘Voilent Love/Secret Damage’; the Gallagher meets Humble Pie & Family of ‘Down To You’.

Sorry to say it’s not much to write home about and rather skippable – after listening to this I totally agree that Mick Underwood made the right choice when he jumped ship from this art-rock or whatever you wanna call it and joined forces with the Deep Purple screamer.

Average.

5.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Substitutes – The Exploding Plastic Inevitable
(S/R – 2005)

Sleazin’ Rockin’ Bluesin’ Biker friendly band who you will warm to immediately – well I did anyway – my cuppa tea for sure.

Throaty voiced gravelly Britt on vocals who has a strange but interesting appeal who is backed up by Joel Proto (Guitar); Mike McShane (Guitar/Vocals) and Every song on this album deserves to be on here – imagine Zakk Wylde’s ‘Pride & Glory’ with a glint of LA sounds in them and you are getting somewhere to what The Substitutes are like – yep this good dudes.

Highlights on here include opener ‘Taken A Lifetime’; the humourously titled ‘Down On My Lady’; ‘In The City’ (the best one on here with it’s wailin’ slide guitar work and hot backing vocals; ‘God Is Cocaine’ – well it is in some parts of the USA for sure and to tie it in nicely, the throbbin’ ‘Hardcore California.

This band are nobody’s substitutes let me tell ya!

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

SUDDYN GRAVITY - Gravity
(S/R – 2007)

Why the effin ‘ H are the most interesting new bands to dock at Planet Metal’s bays nearly always the same ones who give us one measly song on which to decide their initial merits, eh?

Sudden Gravity, it is muchly hoped, have a catalogue of others at least as good as this, as ‘Gravity’ is despite its title, product of a clearly less than down-to-earth act. Goth-Pop is the closest I can draw the line at here with a strong eighties flavour both on the outside and in the centre.

This power ballad-structured tune is a blinding song but two or three on the disc would have helped, even if just to make sure.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

November

SAMAEL - Solar Soul
(Nuclear Blast - 2007)

Glad to find them still round after all these years, Samael haven’t let up in the time since I last heard from them about a decade back, their respectable ranking in the doom metal genre keeping unflinchingly intact.

Here’s another disc that will probably ensure that stays the case, as ‘Solar Soul’ brings us another helping of their dark but overall commercial extreme metal that also has potentially as much appeal to Metallica fans and perhaps a White Zombie follower or two, a top the gothic body of their sound that keeps things otherwise done by the book for their scene once again. ‘Solar...’, ‘Slavocracy, ‘Western Ground’, ‘On The Rise’ and ‘Suspended Time’ fall amongst the good ones and although no live dates seem planned in the UK, there’s time to get used to some of these impressively constructed numbers that rely on straight rhythms instead of messy death metal string mingling.

It’s worth having anything at all from these lads nowadays if just to prove bands like this still exist even though the album has been out a few months.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

SODOM - The Final Sign of Evil
(SPV – 2007)

Well what can I say; it’s been twenty-three years since their debut EP ‘In The Sign Of Evil’ landed in our record shops and as a young lad in 1984 I can remember the EP coming out and being the best thing within the thrash/death metal scene since Venom’s ‘Black Metal’, Metallica’s ‘Kill ‘em All and Bathory ‘Bathory’.

“The Final Sign of Evil” has gone one better, Sodom have finally finished off the EP with 7 additional tracks to release a twelve track album, which is a must buy, for all you devoted metal heads. Although the original EP was a milestone within the music industry, selling over 150,000 copies world wide, I do feel it to be a shame that this album is a re-recording of the original EP, which has been produced with the original members of the band Chtis Dudek-drummer and Josef Dominic-guitarist.

I feel it may have been more rewarding for the hardcore fans to have had some unreleased tracks as a bonus surprise, but non the less it’s an album that is very enjoyable with such knuckle crunching tracks as ‘The Sin of Sodom’, to empty the wax out of your ears followed by ‘Blasphemer’, ‘Bloody Corpse’, ‘Sons of Hell’, ‘Where Angels Die’, ‘Outbreak Of Evil’ and ‘Defloration’ to name a few that shakes the cobweb’s from your head, which you thought was grey hair.

It’s time to wake up as this is the sound of Sodom at their evilest.

8/10

By Tony Watson

Status Quo – In Search of The Fourth Chord
(Fourth Chord Records – 2007)

The ultimate boogie bands latest – they don’t take themselves seriously - well they can’t do with an album title like that – which is a play on Indiana Jones tied in with the fact that the runnin’ laugh that Quo only play 3 chords – well actually they play 5 or 6 – lol.

Being a fan since 1977, they play right into my palms and I have most of their albums. This one is very old-school but the only difference being that their original bass player don’t feature on the songs – but we’ve been used to that since 1984. I like the fact that the voices are nice n high in the mix – just the way it used to be in the heyday – up there with every word audible – unlike many artists these days.

They’ve pulled out the stops and presented us with 14 songs (that’s including the stereotypical 12-bar bonus track ‘I ain’t wasting my time’). Highlights include the single ‘Beginning Of The End’ – I hope it ain’t as you always need the Quo !!; the ballad ‘Electric Arena’ & the very Ma Kelly/2 Head sounder ‘Gravy Train’;

Other great songs include ‘You’re the one for me’ (that's very ‘Quo’/On The Level/Hello!’) – the real fans will know what I am talking about there and the acoustic well-worn voiced ‘Tongue Tied’ that’s very unexpected after a full electric album – ‘Livin On An Island/Rock ‘n’ Roll’ anyone – well I’m a taker for a start – ya can’t beat Quo like this for beauty and contrast.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

SUBLIMINAL FEAR - Uncoloured World Dying
(Burning Star - 2007)

Intense melodic death metal is what Italy’s Subliminal Fear are billed as brining us. Intense, yep, but the directionless thrash racket that accounts for opening cut ‘Insane Archetype’ lumbers past, almost bereft of any tunefulness.

As I see that the remaining eight vary mostly between 5 and 8 minutes in length rather than the 2-3 we are more accustomed to, something strange happens. ‘Destroy My Ruins’ is a much more accesible number with singer Carmine showing us his nice pipes for the job, and fro the remaining three quarters of the disc, it’s a chequered platter, just marginally listing towards the more favourable element.

‘The Silence That Remains’, ‘Leave Our Eyes In The Burning Sky’, ‘I’ve Lost My Control’ and the epic closing title cut have substance even if not always instant – it’s just a shome the others don’t quite stay in the same mould, and just go over my head.

Still, the guitar work’s nice, boys.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

September
Seasons Of The Wolf – Once In A Blue Moon
(Earth Mother Music/SOTW Tunes – 2007)

A heavy metal outfit from Florida now on their 3rd album which took as many years to put together due to not having a fully fixed bassist and drummer – they got it sorted though and this is the result.

They’ve stuck to their guns with their uptempo Judas Priest-like style although other influences appear to have crept in a wee bit like King Diamond and Queensryche – some would say it’s cheesey, simply by looking at the titles – but that’s the way a lot of Metalheads like it. I mean, let’s face it – who wants to be serious all the time.

Highlights include the opener ‘Wings of Doom’; ‘Ghost Woman’ with it’s scary organ intro; the reggae-like come rockin’ (yes you heard that right) of ‘In The Shadows’; the intriguing instrumental ‘Alien Landscapes’ with it’s rewardious guitar solo that works well with those keyboard sounds and drums and ‘Peace On Earth’ with the harrowing intro.

Decent album.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

SCORCH - A Genoux
(Syncope)

More tasty European offerings in our midst, Scorch’s name may be the only English I encountered on the sleeve but this French metalcore foursome’s delivery in their native tongue puts not a single hole in my enjoyment of their debut long-player.

France and Hardcore don’t often get mentioned in the same sentence with the last gallic outfit of the genre known to us being the sadly defunct Kickback who emerged nearly a decade ago, so the fact that ‘A.G.’ is the bruiser it is, is probably their way of apology.

Stuck Mojo and Strife are the two established names that connect to my conscience the most, albeit in a chequered patter that weaves in and out of rap-metal and rage-core with alarming bludgeon, instrumentation pounding along with it in a more Metallica-edged manner, but flattening may a skull en route. Substance put firmly in front of speed, these guys execute their duty flawlessly in producing what a modern extreme metal album should sound like.

Scorch leave some serious marks with this disc - ones that don’t come off.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

St. Madness – Vampires In The Church
(Evil Me Music/Nasty Prick Record – 2006)

A band who are very dark ‘n’ thrashy metal band who mix in some blues and southern rock on this album – take the excellent ‘Covered In Blood Again’ and ‘Arizona’ as former and latter cracking examples.

Theres humour on here such as ‘Carl The Clown’ that comes complete with circus music, ‘Head’ about wanting just exactly that…. More tea vicar. Great version of Pantera’s ‘Walk’.

Many of the songs on here are obsession with death or dying with good ones being ‘Kill’ and ‘Until Death’. A happy bunch of geezers they are too who wear King Diamond like make-up in concert.

An album and band worth checking out for those heavier angry moments.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

August
SACHTA – Anasognosie

Not to confuse with the star of ‘Borat’, Sachta may also be loud and European but sadly less entertaining.

Hard as I find it to say considering the volume of impressive French talent coming our way of late, their line in almost one-dimensional deathcore struggles to gel although with a reasonable variation in speeds at not quite rare intervals, there are many worse bands out there.

The situation is brightened towards the end a fair bit with some generous use of keyboards and unusually lush for the type of metal within the disc so the day is saved – along with another half point but little else exists to inspire. Do NOT treat this as an incentive to avoid this album by any means but plenty other albums have given me a better reason to write home.

Definitely a take-or- leave affair here, I reckon.

6/10

By Dave Attrill

SHELLSHOCK - In For The Kill
(1-track promo)

The old crime of conglomerating as many metal genres as possible but in too higgeldy-piggeldy a manner, is something Shellshock are guilty as sin of.

Thrash, industrial and rap are the three key ingredients in their sound but someone’s gone and put all the bits in the wrong places here and ruined what could have been a much better tune.

Oops.....

5.5/10

By Dave Attrill

JAKE STIGERS AND THE VELVET ROOTS - Do You Feel High

(Lil Pony Records - 2007)

No relation of Curtis by any chance? Strangely enough this fella sounds just as pleasantly American with his multi-dimensional brand of sunshine rock that encapsulates everything from AOR ad alternative to blues and funk in the capacity of these twelve tunes, the bulk portion of which are deservingly guaranteed some loyal radio space.

Jake’s hooks reach out and grab you at all corners on top of the sort of lush sun-burned guitar sounds you expect to hear while playing pool in a bar downtown one lunchtime - in fact, the other geezer might craftily grab his cue again and sink every one of mine whilst waiting for me to finish listening to one of these lovely numbers for long enough to hum.

A more diverse offering, one reiterates, than you may be lead to think, especially towards the end of the running, there are no holes in the accessibility wall with this record. Where this chap appeared from I don’t know but from the volume of the crowd on the bonus live disc, he’s doing well on this side of the pond already.

And rightfully so.


8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

SUBCYDE – S/T
(Last Entertainment – 2007)

Swede Thrashers Subcyde join that elite team i.e. those whose debut album takes ten years in the coming but it’s all just a case of getting the chemistry right, musically, in addition to the right label being around, to be interested.

While their label Last Entertainment have shone already with the discs from Machinery and Flagellation, these young men may had, as regarding the chemistry however tipped in a bit too much from the bottle that reads Sepulturarium carbonate - enough to be dangerous, (almost, legally speaking) at that. Their vocalist’s almost Cavalera-carbon print voice is only the icing on this still highly sweet cake however and despite the guitars having a stella resemblance to Sao Paolo’s finest at the prime, S.C. ‘s playing can after a track or two be told to differ.

Opting for upper mid tempo rhythms more than lightning-speed shredding, there is quite an Orange Goblin vibe along the way, but thrash and Death fans will still not be disappointed by any means. A predictable, and at the same time no so predictable album, this album is worth chasing. From a genre that will never die, (and it had better not even try) Subcyde uphold that immortal Nordic pride once more - how they manage it by sounding exactly like a Brazilian outfit baffles me.

But if you WERE actually trying to get a bad review out of me you’ve failed this time, lads.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDEDIFYOU LIKE
Sep…..you-know-who (‘Beneath The Remains’ era), Skinlab, Machine Head,
Killswitch Engage

SUN CAGED – Artemisia
(Lion Music – 2007)

It’s the curse of the CD sleeve with a blank inner side again – the perpertrators being Lion-signed Dutch outfit Sun Caged. In consolation it makes for a more pleasant surprise as ten prime lashings of melodic prog metal are ladled onto our plate and one of the genre’s most revered labels continue to redeem themselves after being away from Metalliville’s shores for so long.

Not relying exclusively on infinite length keyboard treks - though there are some – the guitar and vocal elements steal the scene with powerful gymnastic from both that bring most of the Scandinavian groups to mind as well as one or two from elsewhere round the world. Neither shorter numbers like ‘Painted Eyes’ and ‘Englebert The InchWorm’ - the only two numbers less than five minutes long here - or the obligatory epic durations of ‘Bloodlines’, ‘Departing Words’ or ‘Dialogue’ manage to bore with all ten songs multi-structured so well and adapting to the verse-chorus critiera pays all the better .

Relatively hot on the back of reviewing the blistering offering by fellow Netherlands newcomers Delphian (see elsewhere on the site), this one ups the ladder on Lion’s roster a little further. By no means on of the most original sounding albums, I have to be honest, sticking to what works makes for sweet listening al the same.

No extra sugar required here.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE
Dream Theater, Vanden Plas, Threshold, Enchant, Last Tribe, Royal Hunt

SILENTREE - Tree Of Silence

Very corny title lads, not that the music’s exactly silent though, is it. Italian four-piece ‘Silent Tree’ delight in dealing in a brand of old-school thrash that sadly only receives praise from devoted metal fanzine but from Kerrang, oodles of scathing ridicule accompanying a one-K rating.

Solos are as we know effectively forbidden by the laws of fashion, which makes S.T’s defiantly generous utilisation of them through these ten mostly quite impressive tracks all the more appreciable. Hard as I find to say this, there are tunes that etch in too when you listen to these chaps – ‘Beyond The Eternal Illusion’, ‘Grevious’, ‘A Broken Dream’, ‘The Butcher’ and an interesting acoustic run of Slayer’s ‘Seasons In The Abyss’ the five I particularly listen out for the second time round.

Quite surprising to find they have only one guitarist but the muscular aggression of an extreme metal act at the top of the ladder is evident. Pity this stuff doesn’t grow on trees, nowadays, as it would be awkward if it stayed silent.

Good!

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

SITE www.silentree.it

SIMPLE REASON - S/T
(Crash Records – 2007)

Like it were timetabled, another trainload of scream-when-you’re-winning anger-core antics chugs into Metalliville’s platform, this time all the way from.... Buckinghamshire?

Unlikely as pairings get and while in no way implying however that they’re actually losing when they sing, as there are a fair pipe or two audible inside frontman Josh Rumble, the growling intervals are wasted, and nearly hide a few decent hooks along the course of this six-track mini album, but the damage would have to be a lot worse for me to diss this one.

Versatile work from the two guitarists that takes in all the flavours of established scene-stealers but blended how they like it themsleves, turns their debut offering into something worth spinning.

True British and not without the odd bit of grit here and there either.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

Pre-July 2007

SHOWSTRIPSILENCE - Monsters and Humans


Italy’s metal invasion of late makes another deadly advance by way of a bit of the ol’ punk rawk this time. Put off maybe by the word punk, you needn’t worry at the thought of another bunch of ten-to-a-penny Green Day wannabes inflicted upon the unsuspecting...or probably suspecting world.

Signs for the Romagna quartet are good from the start, as opener ‘But Evil Lives Again’ launches with a surprising as you might think it, Iron Maiden assault- then you know you are in for some serious leather-clad aggression, but the time two more numbers are done. These lads may more-than-likely count the Cro-mags amongst their inspirations, the format is almost identical as they layer the aggro-punk and thrash essentialities repeatedly through, so that you take both in with every bite, but tunes like ‘Nightmare’, ‘Revenge Of The Swampthing’, ‘The Cage’, ‘Growing Fire’, ‘A Place In Hell’ and ‘Swallowed’ bear bigger teeth themselves. I understand we’re not the only source of positive press for this disc, but Showstrip look set to Silence a few more critics in their life.

A Monster itself.

8/10

By Dave Attill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE
Sick of It All, Motorhead

SHAKRA – Infected
(AFM - 2006)

I have to do a bit of apologising to Swiss hard rock maestroes Shakra having missed their previous album ‘Fall’. My first taste came with preceding belter, ‘Rising’ already nearly four years ago and I was pulled from then on. So thanks to Mr Exley’s help I am a little more fortunate to obtain a copy of sixth album ‘Infected’ and boy would I have been heartbroken if this one had passed me by as well.

Europe’s no1 Bonfire-alikes bite back with teeth and leave a hell of a load of marks with these thirteen numbers. Frontman, Mark Fox’s Leissman-like rasp propels these numbers along as much a part of the team as the four chaps who surround him, and tunes like ‘Vertigo,’, ‘Inferno’, ‘Love Will Find A Way’, ‘The Other Side’ and ‘Look At Me’ sustain the higher octane hard rock onslaught of their previous records.

The guitarists rhythm lines continue to keep an on-off Metallica-ish edge from before but this seems to be a unproblematic factor in their formula as they do have quite a sizeable metal following on the mainland. They have recently played in 12 different countries supporting Stratovarious and have also opened for Iron Maiden, and while Bruce and the boys have since been back over here again, the following needs to be a bit larger to finance a Shakra tour on this side of the channel. If a few (...thousand) of you treat yourselves to a copy of this beauty however, that may still be likely.

Lovely!

9.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Saxon – The Inner Sanctum
(SPV – 2007)

Our boys are back with another class album of 10 cookin’ pedal to the metal stormers – Ok, so there’s 11 numbers on the album due to the inclusion of the single version of ‘If I was you’.

We don’t need no CH4 TV show to inform us who Saxon are – this band is a f*ck*n’ legend and here they do us proud with songs such as the opening ‘State of Grace’ (with it’s Accapella Monks introduction); the thunderous ‘Need for Speed’ & ‘Ashes to Ashes’; the fabulous riffin’ and a rockin’ ‘I’ve got to rock (to stay alive)’ that’s like old school styled Saxon – wahey !!

This is Biff, Paul, Doug, Nibbs and Nigel (nice one – he’s back!) at their best – ‘Lionheart’ was a killer album but this one beats it to the finishing line for sure – more of this, yes please !

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Sequel – Back
(Perris Records – 2007)

A band that features Todd Jensen on lead vocals/bass who has worked alongside rock staples such as Alice Cooper & David Lee Roth with Greg Georgeson (Tommy TuTone) on guitar/vocals and writing roles together with David Wall (guitar) and drummer Grant Roholt.

This is tremendously encouraging hard rock which is great for radio (well should be but you know what commercial radio is like on the old wireless these days). It’s done, tried and tested stuff that has elements a lot of 80’s styles to be found in there – see opener rocking ‘All Right All Right’ all about being out on Saturday night or the ‘The Good Stuff’ with its Thunder like riff a la ‘Back Street Symphony’ with an American flavouring of bands like Warrant ‘n’ Firehouse; the power balladry of ‘The Best I Can’ that put me in mind of Mr. Big crossed with the sophistication of Queensryche.

There’s the happy rhythmic style of Enuff Znuff on ‘Heart on the line’ or the dirty grinding ‘Hard Love’ that is like so many artists of the day who have a show-stopping AC/DC riffery goin’ down with enough pzzazz to go with the clothes, hair and make-up.

Just over half an hours worth excellent rock – it’s quality not quantity.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

"Blast from the Past"

Slayer - South Of Heaven
(Def Jam Records - 1988)

Follow-up from the classic "Reign In Blood" I'd have to admit that when I first heard it years ago I didn't much care for it at all. They slowed down a helluva lot here but after many listens to I began to like it. At first, I didn't even think that Slayer would put out such a slower release but of course I was wrong on that part.

The title track intro ("South Of Heaven") is quite slow but still original sounding as are the vocals. Lombardo's drum display is good but as I mentioned it's much more of a "moderate" Slayer release. The songs to download would be "Silent Scream", "Ghosts Of War" and "Spill The Blood". A good cover on here is of Judas Priest's "Dissident Aggressor". Very well job Slayer did on this song.

The production to this release was decent everything mixed together pretty well thanks to Andy Wallace and Rick Rubin as producer. If you like Thrash Metal that's more mellow not entirely but overall then this release is for you.

Nothing Slayer has put out now and then has been better than "Reign In Blood". But "South Of Heaven" still a unique array of songs just not as aggressive as it's predecessor. Check out those tracks that I mentioned if you've never hear this release. I'd say it's still a classic in the genre of Thrash Metal.

Track listing:

"South of Heaven" (Lyrics: Araya) (Music: Hanneman) – 5:00
"Silent Scream" (Lyrics: Araya) (Music: Hanneman/King) – 3:13
"Live Undead" (Lyrics: Araya/King)(Music: Hanneman) – 3:58
"Behind The Crooked Cross" (Lyrics & Music: Hanneman) – 3:12
"Mandatory Suicide" (Lyrics: Araya) (Music: Hanneman/King) – 4:03
"Ghosts Of War" (Lyrics: King) (Music: Hanneman/King) – 4:00
"Read Between The Lies" (Lyrics: Araya/King) (Music: Hanneman) – 3:21
"Cleanse The Soul" (Lyrics: Araya/King) (Music: Hanneman) – 3:01
"Dissident Aggressor" (Judas Priest) – 2:34
"Spill The Blood" (Lyrics & Music: Hanneman) – 4:48

Band Lineup:

Tom Araya – Bass, Vocals
Jeff Hanneman – Lead guitars
Kerry King – Lead guitars
Dave Lombardo – Drums

7.5/10

By Death8699 (MethylinInfo@aol.com)

"Blast from the Past"

Slayer - Show No Mercy
(Metal Blade Records - 1983)

Quite a gutsy debut each track on here deserves praise really since at the time Slayer was pretty new at the Thrash Metal genre. Of course the production sound could've been a bit better but overall the mixing was good.

Slayer's Satanic imagery in their beginning career in Thrash Metal was just a gimmick not to be taken literally in terms of the lyrics. The music is phenomenal for a debut kind of like Metallica's "Kill 'Em All" but in my opinion not as good as theirs. You'll find every track to be unique as did I especially when I first heard the album maybe a good 15 years ago.

Tom's vocals range from a hoarseness mixed with screams so it's not all just one monotonous bout of just heaviness or screams. Slayer being new with the music as I mentioned were also pretty new to the lead guitar playing. You'll still find Hanneman more technical on lead and King just a little bit sloppier.

Tracks to check out first and foremost would be "Black Magic", "Die By The Sword", and "The Antichrist". Those to me are their best tracks even though the others as I mentioned still rule! I would not get freaked out by the lyrical content as I said Slayer made note of it too that they are not Satanists and that the lyrics are a gimmick.

Over 30 minutes of some intense Thrash Metal. The mixing/production done by Slayer was decent not their best but still good. To me this is still a classic in the genre of Thrash Metal and deserves an honorary mention because it to me was entirely original music wise.

Track listing:

1. Evil Has No Boundaries
2. The Antichrist
3. Die By The Sword
4. Fight Till Death
5. Metal Storm/Face The Slayer
6. Black Magic
7. Tormentor
8. The Final Command
9. Crionics
10. Show No Mercy

Lineup:

Tom Araya – Bass/Vocals
Jeff Hanneman – Lead Guitars
Kerry King – Lead Guitars
Dave Lombardo – Drums

7/10

By Death8699 (MethylinInfo@aol.com)

"Blast from the Past"

Slayer - Reign In Blood
(Def Jam Records - 1996)

This still remains in my opinion to be the BEST Slayer release ever! Gutsy rhythm guitar frenzies and solos along with Tom Araya's screams plus Dave Lombardo's insane beats behind the drum set. The whole songwriting issue in regards to the anti-Christ was just a gimmick for Slayer the lyrics not to be taken literally (they are NOT Satanists).

Thrash Metal at it's best there isn't a track on here that doesn't simply rule! If you've never heard this album check out these songs "Angel Of Death", "Raining Blood" and "Jesus Saves" for starters. This release is one that you can play out and never get sick of (well as the case is for me). The guitars are lightning fast and solo guitar work is simply insane!

When this came out Slayer was viewed as a Satanic Thrash Metal act which was the persona it seemed like they wanted to be characterized as. But in reality the songwriting on this release is like I said just a gimmick. But the music is amazing! Both Hanneman and King show their talent as lead guitar player undoubtedly. Though when you open up the insert and it reads "Solo: King or Hanneman" it's because Jeff didn't want his solos to be confused with Kerry King's. Not to say that King lacks in this department but Jeff is a little more technical on lead.

I think that this is one of the best Thrash Metal albums ever to be released. It deserves honorary mention and to be listed as a sure Classic Thrash Metal release. No band before them was able to come up with such an amazing release at the time (1980's) even though Metallica of the 80's was also an outstanding Thrash Metal act before they went sour and abandoned their Thrash Metal Roots.

Suggested downloads before purchasing this release are again: "Angel Of Death", "Raining Blood" and "Jesus Saves". Prepare for some serious Thrash Metal played at amazing tempos!

Track listing:

1. Angel of Death
2. Piece By Piece
3. Necrophobic
4. Altar Of Sacrifice
5. Jesus Saves
6. Criminally Insane
7. Reborn
8. Epidemic
9. Postmortem
10. Raining Blood
11. Aggressive Perfector (1998 Reissue Bonus Track)
12. Criminally Insane (1998 Reissue Bonus Track)

667/10

By Death8699 (MethylinInfo@aol.com)

STRAIN - Strain
(Total Impact Records)

It was about a mere month ago that I reviewed an impressive little four-track taster by this British outfit. My last sentence was that I hoped the album were was good if I were lucky enough to come by a copy. Ironically enough, it dropped through my door three weeks later, and yes, on having listened to it I can safely say these lads have made it out the other side.

‘Strain’ is a might piece of modern metal that is as nearly as predictable as it isn’t. The Iron Monkey-meets In-Flames screams of frontman P.C. (whatever the hell that stands for) are the only perpetuating elements of the fivesome’s mixture that combines commercial metal riffs of all corners together for a fearsome end result. You hear everything in the strings here - Pantera, Cathedral, Floodgate, Orange Goblin and Monster Magnet five reasons amongst many for anyone listening to grab a guitar and grind in time the way messrs Soudah and Chiswala once did and haven’t stopped since.

Seldom moments where I think I was listening to the same tune a second time, it’s the middle five numbers that primarily hijack my attention rather than the opener but with a major shortage of weak moments - unlike a lot of acts I hear that share this vocal style - Strain’s debut long-player is a prime chunk of pure brutal British steel to boot.

Nothing in the way of Judas Priest distinctively audible in their output, for anyone misled by that last bit, but for those who enjoy their extreme noise with an adequate dose of experimentalism thrown in layers amongst the anger factors, this is one strain you’re guaranteed to collapse under, big time.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE - Pantera, In Flames, Iron Monkey

Susperia – Cut From Stone
(TABU Records – 2007)

Heavy Riff driven mighty monster songs that come from a band hailing from Oslo, Norway who sound like a cross between Fear Factory, Machine Head, Pantera & even elements of Type O Negative. This is thrash metal brought up to date – bombastic, loud and extremely addictive to the listener.

Every cut from ‘Cut From Stone’ is real stormer of number ranging from opener ‘More’ right through to the title track itself. ‘Distant Memory’ is an epic which starts off as an acoustic quiet ballad before turning into a metal onslaught and then quiets back to some acoustic guitar. Love the speedin’ old school thrash at 200 miles an hour (at times) of ‘Life Deprived’ that’s got some immensely good soloing on the quieter melodic moments of the song. ‘Under’ is a great pacey song that is very much in the doom mould of the metal realm – the sort of track that I can imagine Pete Steele of Type O Negative getting excited about. What an album ! What an album !

Susperia have recently been in the UK supporting WASP and will be back backing up the newly reformed Onslaught with Evile – believe me, on-stage they will definitely mean business.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Switchblade – Rock ‘n’ Roll 4Ever
(Perris Records – 2007)

You like Zodiac Mindwarp, Circus of Power or The Four Horsemen, then dig this as well, the latest & release from Switchblade – rock ‘n’ rollin’ whiskey soaked drawlin’ sounds with humour and plenty of sleaze to please y’all with.

Lead Vocalist, Ken Anthony kinda puts me in mind of Mark Manning meets Lemmy Kilmister with a smoked too many and done a ton of Jack ‘n’ Cokes that would usually kill the mere mortal sorta geezer.

Many a highlight you’ll find such as ‘Rocker’; ‘Show me all your stuff’; Bad Morning Blues’ and ‘Face Your God’ & ‘Cocksuckin Suzie’.

Should be more bands around like this!

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

Saxon – If I Was You (CD Single)
(SPV – 2007)

A heavied up as hell new single from Saxon sees them going into the sad but true existence of Gun & Knife crime which has become a very worrying existence in the UK over the last 2 or 3 years.

It’s up to the max, putting all the equalizer lights to the top and hard-hitting. It comes in both Single and Album Version – the album version is a lot better – has an impressive intro. The song should have a good impact that ought to be used for an Anti-Gun & Anti-Knife advert by the Government.

‘If I was you, and you was me, would you live your life differently’ – no doubt they would – no-one wants to be on the receiving end that could lead to dead for a few quid.

Looking forward to the new album ‘The Inner Sanctum’ out 3rd March in the UK.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

John Southworth – Yosemite
(Double Dragon – 2006)

Beats the hell outta me why they sent us this – it’s like easy listening Bacharach influenced Nursery Rhymes – it’s as quirky and zany as f*ck – he’s from Canada. He’s got a weedy sounding voice too – very geeky – lol – unless that’s basically the idea for this release and he is actually a cooky monster vocalist for an underground grindcore band – lmao – I doubt that though.

Has this album been done for a joke or what?– the songs sound like they belong on Sesame Street ?!?! or the mad stuff that was featured on ‘This is Spinal Tap’ before they went Rock. Whatever !

Choose from catchy tunes and be prepared to hold a puzzle look on the face through out. Go on be a devil and play numbers like ‘Applecart’; ‘Small Country Airport’; ‘Fall Coloured Girl’ or ‘Gentle Giant’ if you make it as far as that. The wackiest CD we’ve ever received.

5/10 – 10/10 to you if you make it all the way through.

By Glenn Milligan

Sweet Seduction – New Demo
(S/R – 2006)

Carries on from where the last one left off – this time the production is extremely professional – nice one lads – more in your face than before. Songwise this is a lot stronger and they ooze more confidence on here like on ‘Down in the City’ or ‘Sweet Seduction’.

See ‘em somewhere at a UK venue near you or beyond.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

Sweet Seduction – White Knuckle Ride (E.P.)
(S/R – 2005)

British Glammers that were previously known as The Wild Roses show us how it should be done - the songs I mean. I’ll let ‘em off for the bedroom sounding production work – the drums do sound rather cardboard boxy – but what the hell – it’s the songs that count and opener ‘Good Time Girl’ rocks with the best of them and is actually the best track on here.

They squawk, they rock and they mean it. Love the ‘Wow Wow’ backing vocals on ‘1, 2, Fell You’ – classic sexy track. And then theirs the Pussycatesque closer ‘Rattle My Bones’.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

2006
SPEEDFREAKS - Out For Kicks
(Mondongo Canibale Records - 2006)

Speadfreaks, you say? That means they play fast, does it? The answer, a lot of the time and sound similar - in voice – to another band who used to play fast almost all the time, Metallica. S.F’s raucous road rock is as every bit as the dragster theming on the CD sleeve describes, fast, rough, rowdy and loaded with premium testosterone to the hilt.

Classy seventies edged solos instill a punk feel to their pure rock n’ roll overdrive – just get that geetar on and get one foot kickin’ the sky, that’s all the advice you’ll ever want with this mean machine of an album No one would ever in their right mind guess that this lot were actually Scandinavian. A sure-fire blinder from the start to the finishing line.

Awesome.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Paul Samson – PS….
(Angel Air – 2006)

The last recordings of a highly regarded guitarist that have been made available after some passionate work from his close friend John McCoy since Paul sadly passed away in August 2002 after a short illness.

The album was originally going to be under the Samson banner and titled ‘Brand New Day’ but with full agreement of the band members it was released as we get it now as a fitting tribute to such a great talented person. What a tremendously good album it is too with highlights including the opening metal splendour of ‘No Way Out’; where Billy Fleming shines out on the drums like a steamin’ powerhouse; the outstanding rocker ‘Brand New Day’ what an arrangement – such a positive outlook to the song as well.

The bass sounds amazing on the outstanding ‘Mean Woman’ (don’t know if it’s Ian Ellis or John McCoy though – credit to the basswork elsewhere as well) – it’s so heavy and clangy like a and vocalist Nicky Moore even reminds me of Leslie West on this hot number too. Other highlights include ‘It’s Going Wrong’; the melodic rock like ‘When Tomorrow Comes’ and the closing beautiful, atmospheric questioning ballad ‘Shooting for the moon’.

This is an excellent album and was well worth releasing.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

SANCTORUM - The Heavens Shall Burn
(Rising Records - 2006)

You may be surprised at this (just a little) if you’ve already played or heard this album but Sanctorum are British. Extremely confusing since their particular sound says San Francisco all over it.

Decent extreme metal from our side of the pond doesn’t come ten to a penny but these four young men know the ideal recipe to righten that potential embarrassment. Of the Get-beyond-a-guitar and growl format, it is indeed but being british, they’ve found time to put some …time into what they’re writing and you can actually enjoy the end results even if Aaron Sly and Ash Lewis’s guitars make some brain minglingly Bay Area like noises and frontman Aaron in particular replicates Rob Flynn’s works in more ways than the one.

Razor sharp rhythms and classic eighties metal solos dominate the duration of the album and there are hooks to listen out for too (in a thrash album - give over, Dave - Ed). A recommended introduction to another fine noisy new British scoop.

The speakers shall burn as well I’d think, when this one’s been spun.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

WEBSITES www.sanctorum.co.uk www.myspace.com/sanctorum

SEVEN CIRCLES – S/T (Demo E.P.)
(S/R)
I personally thought this disc was a load of sh… (old cobblers don’t you mean, Dave?) when I first heard it. A second spin merited a second opinion though and for three quarters of the way, their melodic goth metal with a slight punk tinge to it worked and I soon began to like it.

Only the final track falls flat, the almost unlistenable sounding like Sparks drunkenly trying to sing Twisted Sister classic ‘Captain Howdy’ which is something of a pity as the guitar work is quite good.

Good effort overall lads, just do some adjustments on that one song before it comes out on an album.’

7/10

By Dave Attrill

SKID ROW - Revolutions Per Minute
(SPV - 2006)

New Jersey legends Skid Row received a surprisingly warm welcome on their return three years ago, by their (remaining) fans… the ones who remained after hearing disappointing comeback album ‘Thickskin’ that being. I must admit, after having heard it myself though, I found it was at least listenable and there were one or two decent numbers on offer.

Anyway, here they try again and just about do it this time as ‘Revolutions’ is about as close to their Seb Bach era sound as they’re going to get it. You’d be thinking largely ‘Subhuman Race’ at first but a punkier sounding ‘Slave…’ era noise also come to the conscience and they are more melodic again now. Johnny Sollinger makes himself more at home, his range creeping close to that of his Canadian predecessor and in synchrony, the guitar work actually sounds like that of messrs Hill and Sabo once more…. Thank f***.

The songs are shorter nowadays, with the twelve here amounting to about thirty-five minutes between them, but getting better again as this once great band begin to (re-)find their feet. Hooks at no shortage, ‘Revolutions Per Minute’ may still fall a way short of satisfying those waiting for another ’18 and Life’ or ‘Rattlesnake Shake’ but they are once more starting to steer in the right direction.

Recommended for anyone prepared to give them a second chance, but still worth trying, if a new fan, The Row have hit the Skids of late but are now just about comfortably back on the road.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

Jeff Scott Soto – Essential Ballads
(Frontiers Records – 2006)

I gotta say that I wasn’t sure if they this was gonna be a good listen – an album full of nothing but ballads was kinda off-putting. I should have known better as this is Jeff Scott Soto who insists on quality or it don’t get a look in on an album.

13 main songs and 3 as bonus tracks as well. The man is an inspiration as a musician, vocalist and how to live your life – even making you wanna write songs that can touch people like these songs definitely do – right to the heart.

Every number stands out in its own right for their lyrical, vocal and musical quality take for instance ‘If this is the end’; ‘Send her my love’; ‘This ain’t the love’; ‘Don’t wanna say goodbye’; ‘Till the end of time’; ‘Sacred Eyes’ or ‘By you side’.

His talent is greatly overlooked in the global musical world as an artist because he makes people like Robbie Williams look like a club act. It’s about time that many realised just what they were missing – this man and album is exceptional.

Absolutely Essential.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Southern Gentlemen – Third Time Is The Charm
(Leviathan Records - 2006)

The 3rd release from David T. Chastain’s blues rock band ‘Southern Gentleman’ that I remember from a while ago as I reviewed their ‘Exotic Dancer Blues’ album. This continues where the last one left on – gutsy rockin’ blues, ZZ Top/Hendrixy riffs and some metal licking as well to keep all ears happy.

Unlike the last 2 albums, David sticks to guitar and hands the vocal duties to ex-Simple Aggression singer Eric Johns, who has his buddy in the band too - this being bassist Dave Swart (also from Simple Aggression). Mike Haid is still there manning the drums and rightly so as he is such a chameleon and snugly fits anywhere that drums are required.

The Gents are loved both sides of the pond and it’s no surprise when you are pleasured with songs like ‘Caught You Red Handed’; ‘Even Now’; the bass/guitar led ‘Going Down To Texas’; the slow to fast rousing ‘Reflections’ and closer ‘Ladies Of The Night’ with its awesome Chastain cuttin’ edge playin.

Coming to a bar room near you and beyond.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Substitutes – The Exploding Plastic Inevitable
(S/R – 2006)

South San Francisco based gutsy biker-like rock band that have got that extra something to excited about.

It’s a party on the 5” platter that’s goin’ down here and plenty to get your teeth into such as the slidin’ bluesy rock ‘In the City’, the ironic honesty of ‘First thing I want’ (is the last thing I need); the Hendrixy tingling almost southern blues-like ‘God is Cocaine’ or the rockin ‘Hardcore California’.

A likable bunch that deserve to get some success.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Samson – Tomorrow and Yesterday
(Angel Air – 2006)

When I first this CD on I was rather disappointed as there was no Bruce Bruce as he called himself then on there (as in Bruce Dickinson) but alas there’s other interesting stuff to get those metal molars into that make you realise what a good guitarist Mr. Samson was.

Nicky Moore has got a rawry waily voice which really suits the style of the band with its shouty tenor sound with the best numbers being the ballads ‘Red Skies’; ‘No Turning Back’; the pacin’ Saxon like ‘Good to see you’ with Mick White on vocals and the rather excellent ‘Look to the future’ featuring Peter Scallan on the mike. ‘Room 109’ is a cracking instrumental track that reminds me of mid 80’s Def Leppard with its sound and style and the blues-based rock of ‘It ain’t fair’ or the closing live rockin’ brilliance of ‘Brand New Day’

A decent enough album.

6.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Sweet Cheater – Eatin’ Ain’t Cheatin’
(Perris Records – 2006)

A band from the 80’s who reformed – good ole classic glammy hair rock done in the best way possible with songs that have delectable arrangements and will get them pistons-a-pumping and have you gasping for more. So get that Slippery When Wet Bon Jovi hairstyle grown back, slip on those tight black leather slacks, slap on the cowboy boots and finish it off with a classy black leather jacket.

Sweet Cheater bring all the memories back and it makes you wonder if they still look the same – let’s hope they ain’t got old fat bald and borin’ as this band in their prime were a ‘Crue/Poison/Vain/Kiss styled band with lead and backing vocals that you’ll find yourself singing along to. Take the one about everyone’s fave season ‘Summer’; the prom time again ‘All fired up’ (not the Pat Benator song I assure you); the ‘Calling Dr. Love’ like ‘Money’s Tough’ – well I suppose it is if it’s spent on crack (as in a lyric of the song – not a direct reference to the band) or the partying ‘Dancin’ on my grave’; the lovin’ ballad ‘I Got You’ (get your ciggy lighters out for that one) and the goin’ down of the rockin’ ‘Subway Train’.

These cats have definitely got it.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

June
SAGA - Trust
(Inside Out - 2006)

Prog legends Saga have proved their continued strength in the scene with last year’s live album and who’s to say their studio work shouldn’t be up to scratch either.

Hovering quite respectably above, Canada’s answer to Magnum, their sound gets precariously close to that of their Brummie counterparts (though a big fan of Catley and co, you won’t find me complaining) but the hooks remain distinctively theirs with Mike Sadler’s heavenly vocal histrionics dominating the fold throughout.
Keyboard and guitar performances by messrs Gilmour and Crichton respectively remain flawless however with both getting their turn whenever Sadler holds off for the slightest second.

Saga have perhaps seen better releases than this in their thirty years of function but Trust boasts quite a few strong numbers that follow their best known form and will keep them friends with their fans.

Worth getting.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

SURVIVOR – Reach
(Frontiers - 2006)

So how are these lads surviving these days without the mighty Mr Peterik to move them along any more? Messrs Jamison and Sullivan still sail on the ship so it looks like they’re still going somewhere all these 30 years later and all without going alternative as has their erstwhile bandmates’ somewhat patchy latest solo effort.

Facing harsh winds from the music industry obviously, they stick to their guns with classy rockers like ‘Fire Makes Steel’, ‘Seconds Away’, ‘One More Chance’, ‘Give Me The Word’, ‘Half Of My Heart’ and ‘Talkin’ ‘Bout Love’ which house more of Jimi Jamison’s earth-melting melodies. Yep, the guy still has as powerful a throat now as ever to deliver those hooklines with mesmerising force and more of Frankie Sullivan’s super-smooth solos in tandem, and makes you wonder where all this time since ‘Vital Signs’ has gone.

Not their very best but still a strong effort, Survivor’s name lacks an ‘s’ on the end as they are just that, against the odds, and like few other top name acts of their age, forge on along the same old path knowing that almost assured perfection still lies on it somewhere near the end. I think Mr. Peterik ought to pop back sometime and have a look at what’s going on.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

May
Neal Schon – I on U
(Favoured Nations – 2005)

The guitarist/leader of Journey/Soul Sirkus in an instrumental solo mode, bringing to the boil a wide array of fusioned rock, contemporary sounds that intrigue your ears from track to track.

Take the exquisite title song ‘I On U’; the spaciness of ‘The Chamber’ with its electronic flavour; the poppy funkiness og Loner’s Dream’ or the relaxed and laid backness of ‘Father’.

This is an album that Neal can be proud of making and one that I urge people to purchase.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

SEVENDUST – Ugly (1-track promo)
(7 Bros Records)

Nu-metal vets Sevendust never quite managed to draw level on the league table of success shared by Korn, Deftones and Limp Bizkit but they’ve stayed in the game and remained a respected team to today.

This catchy and melodic number shows their continued ability to pen decent and durable material and maintain the same level of relevance they were swiftly graced with on their arrival in the late 90’s. Either way, I like this..

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

Billy Sheehan – Cosmic Troubador
(Favored Nations – 2005)

The master of the bass booms back with his latest album with Billy’s trio of musos made up of Billy of course, no sh*t Sherlock, (Bass, Vocals, 12 String Electric Guitar and Baritone 6 String Electric Guitar), Ray Luzier (Drums) and Simone Sollo on extra Guitars, Programming and Electronics.

It’s an album that has plenty of fast lickin’ throbbin’ solos on that four string guitar of his with good uns being ‘The suspense is killing me’ Indisputable Truth #1; ‘Dream of Discontent and the funky groovin’ ‘Long Walk Home’. There’s also a good few great songs are on here also like the opener ‘Toss it on the flame’ ‘The lift’ and the blues-rock of ‘Dig A Hole’.

Get it spinning under that digital laser of yours. Wonder if the Billy Sheehan band will ever do some dates near us?

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Shrine Of The Monkey - S/T

(Self-Released Demo - 2005/2006)

Early Sabbath-like Solid, Sheffield Trio wailing it out and melodicating your mind (if there is such a word as 'melodicating' - well there is now). 'In Gods Name' concerns killing and is slabbily heavy with quiet moments. 'Oblivion' is certainly not to be confused with a song of the same name by a recently reformed for a while brand band that starts with a 'T' at all and has more in common with 'Electric Funeral' with its throbbing bass and guitar grooves.

'Anthem' sounds like a Sabbath unreleased track - love that guitar solo and I'm sure Tony would too. while 'Take it from me' is a riffin rockin' deep ditty that comes across like a culmination of what would happen if the Edgar Broughton Band teamed up with the 71 incarnation of Humble Pie.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

SILENCER - Death Of Awe
(Mausoleum)

Something I may be suffering right now, regarding this label. While my initial doubts about the Hyades CD soon came to nothing, Silencer’s disc proves more of a struggle to get into.

An industrial/thrash hybrid of some sort, it is, for about eighty percent of its thankfully short 36 minute stretch, that ol’ story of speed over substance and even the noticeable changes in rhythms are still just predictable pap and sound like Strapping Young Lad jamming with some old 80’s thrash has been borrowing the mike. (like Devin would let him have it.).

I’m sure these guys have a lot of respect for the numerous names that have inspired their musical direction but have frankly overcooked things in the course of showing it.

Ergo what could have been an interesting and creatively instigated collection of tunes turns out virtually anything but, even thought there are plenty of even less-listenable albums on shop shelves today.

4/10

By Dave Attrill

Skwad – S/T
(S/R – 2005)

The band that features Phil Campbell of Motorhead’s sons – Todd (on Guitar/Vocals) and on Dane on Drums and Vocals plus Bass Player Mike Cox who have an aggressive style – almost an American Punkish sound mixed in with the charms of Foo Fighters and at times the quirky arrangements of System of a Down.

Highlights on the cd include the chargin’ opener ‘Jimmy and Mary’; the Anthrax come Ramones like ‘Hail to the King’ with its grinding Motorhead bass-lin sound in places; ‘The Usleless’; the metallin’ it up ‘Assh*l*’ and the strangely ending but appropriately titled finishing track ‘Draw to a close’.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

SLAVE TO THE SYSTEM - S/T
(Spitfire Records - 2006)


A name that says ‘Agnostic Front/Sick Of It All – type act’ all over it but no…. it’s a totally different product inside. Think of a throw-in between Velvet Revolver, that other band Slash used to be in - Guns n’ … something wasn’t it – and Pearl Jam and that should set you on the right tracks. Not the full reason for the latter comparison, the vocals are suitably Vedder-like for the style which more or less balances equal parts hard rock and alternative.

Quite ironically it turns out we are listening to ex Brother Cane man Damon Johnson along with a supergroup that includes Queensrychers Scott Rockenfield and Kelly Gray. Possessing the soul-laden flair of both those two bands but leaning almost totally towards Cane’s popular 90’s outfit, this still makes for absorbing listening.

One to hear.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

SITE www.slavetothesystem.com

Slunt – Get a load of this
(Reposession Records – 2005)

California 4 piece – 2 guys, 2 girls who come over full of attitude and zest – a la Girlschool, Broadzilla, Crucified style.

The songs are explicitly done, slutty, hard hitting and very sexy. T*ts and Ars* on a mission if that makes any sense – the blokes fit in the band somewhere too.

It’s simply fast , furious with plenty of highs along the way.

Highlights include ‘OK OK’; ‘Loved by You’; ‘Never Say Never’; ‘HAWG’; ‘Fast City Girls’ and ‘Cliché Rock N Roll Party Song’. If you missed their set at Download 2005 then you dropped a real big b*ll*ck.

Get this album and be sure to see ‘em next time they hit the UK.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Anvil Corp Proudly Presents ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Riot – Suckerstarz/Sonic Dollz
(Anvil Corp – 2004)

Slammin’ punkified glam from France – Suckerstarz that is – DIY just about held together by the scruff of the neck – I like the version of Hanoi Rocks ‘Malibu Beach’.

Sonic Dollz are Ramones-like, belting out hard-hitting songs with Heartbreaker being a good example – love the opening for ‘Broken’ with the infant going crazy with the machine gun.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Sonic Syndicate – Eden Fire

A melting mix of Nu-Metal, Industrial stuff that’s plunged into some Gothic Doom. Imagine Fear Factory meets Cradle of Filth complete with female backing vocals.

Split into3 sections – tho it’s all very similar as its all harsh, loud sqwawky rawping and both the well established black metal fans and young up and coming metal kids will take a liking to this.

Make a choice from cuts like ‘Enhance my nightmare’; ‘Misanthropic Coil; or ‘Crowned in Despair’ – hmmm – don’t think ya granny would like this much – lol.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

Spit like this – Sleaze Sells … But Who’s Buying (E.P.)
(Megabucks Music – 2005)

Quirky Glam band from London who are entertaining with a capital E. 4 numbers that vary in style. ‘Trick or Mistreat’ wouldn’t be out of place on ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’.

I can’t help but like ‘Dragged kicked and screaming’ has that ‘NA NA NA NA NA’ thing about it. ‘Gay Man’ sums peoples opinions up good as well.

Good stuff.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Ringo Starr – Choose Love
(Koch records – 2005)

Yes, it’s the man with the dark glasses and beard with his band, The Roundheads funning it up happy, loving songs in good ole Starkey style.

This is a pleasure of a platter and features Mark Hudson in the band on bass and various guitar – yeah that beret-wearing dude who looks a whacky Billy Connolly character with a multi-coloured beard that many will recognize from Pop Idol and even guest appearance from Chrissy Hynde on the Beatley waiting- for-the-van-to-come-number ‘Don’t Hang Up’. He even gets a little help from one of his long term friends - Billy Preston who hits the ebony and ivory’s or lends vocals to a track or two.

Ringo always brings his old band back in the lyrics from time to time, especially in the appropriate title track ‘Choose Love’ - see how many Fab 4 tunes you can spot.

Other highlights, well apart from the whole album that is in general are ‘Fading in, Fading Out’; ‘Some People’ and ‘The Turnaround’. It really is a fantastic release – it’s almost like a Travelling Wilbury’s CD with Ringo doing all the main vocals.

Tremendous material of the highest order.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

SANDALINAS - Living On The Edge
(Nightmare Records - 2005)


Another week, another band arrive, and from Europe’s hyperactive hard rock/metal scene another shining gem for the collection.

Centred round guitar discovery Jordi Sandalinas, his band/project, - whichever he classes it as – herald the continent’s reputation of getting the formula just right with this genre. Joining the Ozzy-meets-Geoff Tate shaped tones of vocalist Apollo Papanthansio, this chap needs no telling how to do things and purists are guaranteed paradise from his quite often Maiden- influenced performances.

The odd bit of diversity of course does little if no damage to the surface, hence Sandalinas sees fit to add a bit of funk and Prog into the odd space and chorus here and there over the area of the album, but this is a strong and virtually flawless release nonetheless with hooks and solos both doubling as selling points. If you can find it on sale anywhere in the UK, buy!!!

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE
Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Dio, Magnum, Ten

SOULGRIND - S/T
(Holy Records - 2005)

Put a bet on what Euro goth-metallers Soulgrind are going to sound like and as long as the gamble’s secret from other potential competitors, you’d probably expect to swipe such a wager hands down. Barely a mite’s hand-span into the CD however reveals things aren’t quite like that. S.G. are an above average example of their scene owing mainly to their male/female split vocal contingent and with the fairer half mainly handling the unusually melodic choruses, most of which are hooks, the fella’s more common-or-garden gurnings are given more restricted space to bore us in.

This sort of rock music often sees it as a crime to let it be commercialised but the mainstream feel you get out of this unknown chanteuse’s tones finds them guilty of a crime I’d incite them to commit anyday of the weak if it helps make outfits of this genre a bit more listenable.

One of the few CDs of this type I have the privilege of giving a good review to.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

SUPERSONIC WINDS OF NEPTUNE – Swonsong
(Self-Released - 2005)

Dale Radcliffe, one of Sheffield’s hardest working rock vocalists could be forgiven for thinking Metalliville are getting just as bad as the Paparazzi nowadays, us having let rip on about every move – musically - of his over the last year or so.

The price of fame is happily still not too much of one to pay for the ex-Tikaboo Peak frontman, seeing as his latest outfit, not counting Deadline, have been on the go for about a year at time of speaking even if S.W.O.N are the furthest ever departure from his usual criteria.

Introduced to me before I first heard it, as eighties hair metal there is actually more to point this in most Motorhead fans’ directions. Resting on Ratt/Motley Crue riff styles by guitarist Meat Beak - nice solos by the way – , Dale, for some reason or other decides to adopt a Lemmy-esque bark for the length of this offering and against likelihood, this infrequently-heard-today conglomeration comes good in the end run.

I haven’t picked all my faves properly as of yet but ‘Crazy For Love’ and the manic rehash of Stones classic ‘Brown Sugar’ have already become reasons to press the repeat button. With several loudly received live sets on their scorecard already, S.W.O.N. do not look to be just the one-off novelty act I initially mistook them fro being.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

SILENT EDGE - The Eyes Of The Shadow
(DVS Records - 2005)

Dutch melodic metal recruits Silent edge are ambushed by those two cruel constraints immediately on reporting to the rock n’ roll barracks. Those of course are the tasks of sounding both good and original, which we all know how hard are to juggle.

The good news is that for fans of Last Tribe’s sound, this comes as a sneaky bonus but for those still yet to snap up a copy of said Swedish act’s ‘Witchdance’ album - see 10/10 review on site, I’d just enjoy a taste of things to come, courtesy of windmill land’s latest musical wonders. More keyboard is involved in S.E’s mix but the guitars and vocals still lead the show and the elements of Artension, Royal Hunt and Ring Of Fire that we hear are predicable though still seperable from the band’s own style.

More or less all of the ten songs have a strong hook or chorus to speak of rather than just relying on technical histrionics to shift the load and this is why the album works as well as it does, despite how much it clones their Scandi counterparts. A treat both for anyone trying this scene out or those already in the game, ‘T. E. O. T. S’ might be likely to break about as much ground as a chocolate sledgehammer but should keep the genre’s fans weak at the knees fro quite a while.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill


ALSO (HIGHLY) RECOMMENDED
LAST TRIBE Witchdance (Frontiers 2002)
POWERQUEST Neverworld (Frontiers/Now and Then 2004)

Scary Hairy – Intent to Deliver
(Karma Records Group – 2004)

Ozzy/Dio like 5 piece from Arizona with a Geoff Tate soundalike (Michael Thomas Beck) on vocals.

It’s a pleasurable listen of an album especially the ballad ‘Lady Chidren’ the great ‘Show, Place or Win’ or the closer ‘Looking after your Life’.

Worth checking out.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

SCENES - Call Us At The Number You Provide
(Escapi - 2005)

If I remember rightly, 'Scenes' was also the name of a prog-oriented solo effort from Megadeth chappie Marty Friedman back in 1993, that no one really seemed to care about. Another signing that this label can add to their proud accolades alongside Dutch newcomers Mennen, Scenes do happen to tread the prog-ular surface themselves but make it fun for most at the same time.

Basing it round mostly straight-ahead structures, they combine every precious element of Threshold, Enchant, Saga and Dream you-know-who into their formulas and burn the combustion off into a sweet smell that fills the musical air. The guitar work does sound a little borrowed here and there even if equally well tutored but some things in life you are allowed to enjoy more than your share of.

Catchy in both vocal and instrumental perspectives, I think I'm actually tempted to call them, though I'd prefer it if they'd kindly provide the number this time.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

SILVER JET - Honour Amongst Thieves
(Self - Produced 2005)

I've reviewed about five (dozen?) live slots and an Ep by this lot all in the last six months and for all my troubles I finally get to assess their first full lengther. Several, Several tunes are already established live favourites of mine, 'Deuce', 'Ode To Spike', 'Face To Face' and 'Over The Hill' amongst them but many of these ten slabs of southern rawk n' roll splendour prove Sheffield's current retro-rock kings' credibility with the scene well earned.

Elsewhere on the map, 'Like A Fool', 'Honour…', 'Hangin' On' and 'Get Me Up' parade their Stones/Black Crowes-and-beyond inspirations all the way round town, and should stop a fair ol' amount of traffic en route. More or less specialising in rough n' ready rhythms, the realistic guitar sound that propels them, crafted precisely by messrs Kerr and Mewse carries a subliminal message that reads 'It's 1965 again, folks' and you will begin just to wonder how old these lads were exactly, when they first started pinching their dads' lps.

Pleasant stuff all round and with impressive vocal performances from Dave, 'H.A.T.' is quite an incendiary introduction to one of Steel City's most promising hard rock acts of late, and one with the possible potential to play D*f L*pp**d at their own game. Why they only want eight quid per copy of this nice little disc baffles me a tad.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Silver Mountain - Breakin' Chains
(Reality Entertainment - 2003)

Deep Purple and Rainbow like offerings from this Swedish band that are expertly achieved on this here planner judging by the galloping arrangements on songs like 'Before the Storm'; 'Axeman and the Virgin'; the title track 'Breakin' Chains' and many more.

Great to hear plenty of hammond organ too wailing away with the guitars and kickin' of the drums too - well this is Blackmore esque and the rest - so what else would you expect - a high pipin' vocalist - granted.

Plenty of highlights amass for Purple perverts out there, I mean Purveyors - what am I saying - oh, got carried with the music I guess like the stunning pumping instrumental 'The Butterfly' or the 'Scarlet Pimpernel with it's nicked from from the Kinks line (bot not intentional), 'They seek him here, they seek him there' from that song about following fashion and all that.

Classic 70's Rock that blokes aged 50+ won't be able to get enough of, that's unless they haven't had enough already.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

The Suffrajets – Sold (1 track promo)

Rockin’ aroma with attitude – there’s a touch of old glam mixed with punk, funk all at the same time.

If this is an indication of what’s coming up on the album then I’m impressed.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

SUICIDE WATCH - Global Warning
(Mausoleum - 2005)

More lashings of all scream but thankfully better than no substance, Brit metal-core newcomers Suicide Watch aren’t quite oblivious to what is required of them in the scene. Featuring former members of Stampin’ Ground, their sound does match and differ in equal measures pleasing both the followers of the defunct Middlesborough act and those who savour the scene in its entirety.

The vocals are like a more mature and guttural version of those on the disappointing Gizmachi CD but the guitar sound is sharper and faster, favouring the genre’s heavier side and showing the Brits are still well in on this game.

A good start to things, they should build up their fan base pretty fast.

7.5

By Dave Attrill

SUMMER’S END – S/T

As miserable as the name depicts, their sound is also as predictable as British weather… well almost. Four tracks in and I notice there’s something not quite wrong here.

Anthrax-y guitar riffs aside, they do have a noticed versatility in vocal format, helped in the main by a guest performance by Misfits singer Michael Graves whose Ozzy-like tones add an instant sweetener to another otherwise bland tasting cup brewed in the metal teapot.

Calling themselves a ‘horror-core’ outfit is a clever idea as they do tend to lean towards one of their neighbouring genres but I’d rather enjoy this for what it is, one on the better side of average.

6.5/10

By Dave Attrill

2004

Southern Rock All-Stars - Trouble's Comin' Live !
(Tazer Records - 2004)

It's Southern and it rocks with a band made up of ex-members of Molly Hatchett; Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot who play some of their best gritz live and then some! Pure rebellious arousery on 2 Cd's and recorded at various gigs around the USA that has been 4 years in the making.

The band are absolutely loving it throughout, not to mention their fans and friends. And before you ask, no there are no overdubs or additional sound added to the album - it's been cut straight from the stage to the CD.

How can you argue with Molly Hatchett numbers like 'Gator Country'; 'Whiskey Man' and 'Flirtin' with Disaster' or versions of Blackfoot's epic 'Highway Song' and 'Stars/Run and Hide' plus covers like 'Train Train' and 'Wishing Well' (as done by Blackfoot); Mountain's 'Mississippi Queen'; 'Morning Dew' by Tim Rose that has a U2 'Where the streets have no name feel' to it'.

There's literally so much on here to choose from with other faves being the tribute to Shorty Medlocke, where you hear the man himself singing and playing the banjo - it's moving material indeed amd especially so is The Allman Brother's 'Dreams (I'll never see)'.

This set proves that the south has well and truly risen.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Southern Souls - Live 2004
(Demo S/R - 2004)

Swedish Southern Rock tribute who pay homage here to well done Lynyrd Skynyrd songs.

Their take of 'That Smell' burns brilliantly and very like the original and even the accent nearly convinces you that these guys come from a deep part of Florida. It's nice to hear the backing vocals on 'Simple Man' as they get it spot on. 'I know a little' is played well but the female backing vocals just don't like sound like southern belles enough.

Overall it's good and no doubt exceptional in concert.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

SLOW ROOSEVELT - Weightless
(Reality - 2004)

A name that I vaguely remember hearing beforehand, Slow Roosevelt's debut album (that is right, by the way?) unfortunately bears a title that describes about half of its content. Rarely to be too harsh without due cause, they do have meaning expressed in their material but their deal in shriek-laden metalcore is too borderline owing chiefly to a shortage of hooks or any memorable elements for that fact.

If a Third-rate Rage Against The Machine or Downset mixed with some of Boy Sets Fire's infrequent weak moments to avoid a total lack of direction, is your perfect cup of tea, enjoy. For those less informed of the scene, leave this one on the shelf and look elsewhere because Slow Roosevelt didn't brew quite enough bags in their pot.

Sad.

5/10

By Dave Attrill

Switchblade - Switchblade Serenade
(Perris Records - 2004)

80's Glam sleaze from Denmark that as the bio sez, is like a cross of The Four Horsemen, Circus of Power and Junkyard - you better believe it.

Not afraid to keep their accents despite odd this sounds on cd as you don't get that high octane vocal style associated with this music but gravely baritone instead. A lot of it is rather corny lyrically especially the Status Quo like 'Live it Up'. 'Down 'n' Dirty' is a pretty cool number though and so is the cracking 'Fall' - just a pity about those awful backing vocals.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan

October
SAGA - Network
(SPV/Inside Out - 2004)

True survivors in rock music's most criminally ridiculed genre today, Canadian prog legends Saga still manage to steer successfully clear of the machine printing the 'has been' and 'underdog' labels after these 25 years.

'Keep It Real' is one example showing Dream Theater in particular who the envelope containing the style royalties should be addressed to. Ironically, Michael Sadler's voice, fro any new Saga-tarians reading, reads clear as a lower-strung LaBrie but the Theater frontman, also Canadian quite coincidentally, stuffs this chap's range by many degrees. That's not to say this veteran Toronto quintet underperform, far from it, matey. With a new drummer, Christian Simpson in the firm, Saga continue to bring the milk to the doorstep on a daily basis.

Living on the side of the fence favouring straight forward verse-chorus principles, 'Network' delivers ten pretty-damn fine tunes, all differentiable yet almost all fitted with hooks amidst Ian Crichton's short but sweet solo breaks. 'If I were you', 'Don't look Now', 'Live At Five' and 'Back Where We Started' complete the album's better half, the latter taking quite an 80's electro/New Romantic leaning, an affordable act of diversity at this stage in their stretch. Another great chapter in this wait for it. Sag... (Shut It!!!).

9/10

By Dave Attrill

SILVERJET - Amalgam Sessions 2004
(Self-Released Demo - 2004)

I picked this up immediately after enjoying their 30-minute debut set at the Boardwalk and on the volume of that performance expected quite high things. No disappointments then as the three numbers all deliver the goods in ways big and small and I know even more where their collective heart lies musically. This is somewhere between Black Crowes, GNR, Jellyfish, The Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd, veering from one closer to others on each of these catch little tunes.

Guitarist Dave doubles as lead singer for the time and quite truthfully though he's put down his own vocal abilities in the past, I didn't notice too much fault in his performance especially as his love of southern rock n' roll has probably motivated him at least a little part of the way with this venture. Formed in late '02, the band take their name from one of the instruments in Dave's prized guitar collection and has quite a prized song collection to churn out with them too.

Seriously - even though Dave's a mate of mine - these three tracks, all immediately impressive themselves, are only the introduction to another promising Steel City outfit who deserve a chance after the less than smoothly-running times some may be aware they've had over the last year or so.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

Jeff Scott Soto - Lost in the Translation
(Frontiers - 2004)

He's got loads to offer has Jeff, he's the frontman of 'Talisman' and that band's guitarist 'Howie Simon' appears on this solo outing too as well as 'Neal Schon' of Journey.

As the bio says, he is the vocalist of melodic hard rock as well as being a very confident, enthusiastic performer - and those who've seen him will completely agree - me being one of the many. This album does Jeff justice and far outdoes his previous release 'Prism'. It may sound lazy to simply say it's a masterpiece but it is just that.

You've got the brilliant melodic vocal harmonies in 'Soul Devine' that's like a look back at Extreme (that band that featured Gary Cherone on vocals). The song 'Drowning is a rocking bolt from the blue where the exquisite vocal harmonies ring out as amazing as ever. A splendid ballad ins found in the relationship breakdown of 'If this is the end' but you don't get too long to feel down as the title track 'Lost in the translation' blasts you up to the moon again.; same with 'Doin' Time' and 'High Time' that have all the necessary ingredients to be pumpin' thumpin' Soto standards. I am sure that 'On my own' is a follow-up to 'Is this the end?' - so has Jeff just split with his other half or something because 'Find our Way' is another inclination to where his head could be at the moment. The closer, 'Sacred Eyes' is an acoustic beauty that is reminiscent of Extreme's 'Hole Hearted' that again has those mesmerising harmonies.

This album is a pure X factor for melodic rock and Jeff is rightfully receiving the credit and appreciation he deserves.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Stampede Queen - A Night of the Cockfights
(Perris Records - 2004)

Good ole fun partyness that matches in the gutsy filth of AC/DC with the sleazey hipness of Kiss, not to mention having a frontman who has the Gene-like voice on many occasions with 'Woman in a fast car' being a class example.

The single itself is an anthem, the tell-it-how-it-is and stand up for your rights of 'Never turn your back on rock 'n' roll' as well as the full-on 'Mister Saturday Night' or the tribute to the best cut-off denim shorts wearing beauty in the USA 'Dasie May', from 'The Dukes of Hazzard'. Another great track is 'Dee Dee Dominator' - just can't think what that's about.

Basically land anywhere on this album and you'll scuse the pun, come across a nice slab of erotic gratification.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

STRATA - S/T
(Wind Up - 2004)

With an approving couple of listens to 'The Panic' on a recent 1-track sampler, I was expecting fireworks from metal hotshots Strata on this much discussed debut. Thankfully, most of this material ignited on lighting the fuse with next to no damp squibs in the display today. That said they still sound too much like many of the other respected names on the roster but they do have their own moments even if rather too few of them.

The guitar work is none too idle and some distinctive grooves support the gutsy BoySetsFire-esque vocal melodies. That and not exactly a major shortage of hooks plays to their favour, even more so when these tunes hit the stages but in the long run, I can only see them as Drowning Pool's cute little brother who bites.

Still worth checking out, before you get worried.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

September
St. Madness - The Best of… We Make Evil Fun
(Nasty Pr*ck Records - 2004)

Cheesy OTT metal band that blend daft Manowar like lyrics with the power of Anthrax and come off like Spinal Tap trying to make out they are serious - yeah right!!

It really is a bombastic comedy album if ever there was such a thing with a song called 'Sexual Abuse' coming complete with female porno wailing, a cover of The Trogg's 'Wild Thing' (you make my d*ck swing!!); 'Hey Joe' and a send up of 'God Bless America' or the silly 'Evil Elvis' all you can do is laugh.

Tongue in cheek throughout from a bunch of Arizonians who resemble Kiss, King Diamond and then some.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

August
Gene Simmons - Asshole
(Sanctuary - 2004)

He's out on his own again like he was in '78 - welcome to 'The Demon's' second solo album which is worth the buy alone to see all the scantily clad hotties pictured with him on the cover.

The Jewish dark lord burns us up with a cover of The Prodigy's 'Firestarter' that even features 'Gizz Butt' on the guitar - it's got as much atmosphere as the original - if not more - it's like the song was written for him.

There's compositions with Bob Dylan and the late Frank Zappa and let me tell you that there are plenty of rock genres covered here and it ain't like a Kiss album with Gene doing all the vocals (although 'Sick and dirty love' could fit snugly on one of his day-job releases). He's not lost his sick, twisted, arrogant touch either - check out the title track 'ASSHOLE' for a major example. Nice bit of kiddie singing on 'Now that you're god' and the poppy humorous 'If I had a gun' suits his nature too.

Is it a coincidence that this album has 13 tracks - well it appears to be a lucky number for Gene. Like to see his do them live some time.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

July
STRATA - The Panic (1-track promo single)
(Wind-Up Records 2004)

And onto yet another of those interesting little names with little of great substance to support its cause, we go, this turning out to be just another four minutes of nu-metal by numbers. Coming straight after reviewing the EP by fellow newcomers Brody, it's practically another of their tunes but lacking the same quality hook. Don't get me wrong, it's only one track we're talking here, but they probably have plenty of better ones that I've so far missed. There's always next time lads.

5.5/10

By Dave Attrill

June
Seven Wiser - Take me as I am (Advance Promo CD)
(Wind-Up Entertainment - 2004)

Typical crashing, ten a penny US Rock band that you'd expect to hear on the 'Buffy the Vampire' TV series. This song is melodic and bawling with a bashing big chorus that's got the title of the song in it. Like the fact that it's got a banjo in it.

Artists like Bush, Seether and Nickleback can look out because Seven Wiser are on their trail. They are perfect fodder for an update teen film.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Spit Like This - Anarchy For Two
(Megabucks Music - 2003)

4 London based glam rockers who are simply tryin' to bring back rock 'n' roll despite what else the British media says is big because they are probably being payed to plug it.

Made up of T3 (Keyboards/Guitar); Vile Gilez (Percussion); Stevie Lee (Lead Guitar); Lord Zion (Vocals/Guitar) and Vikki Spit (Bass) they are a band who sure as hell show you what you are missing out on throughout with cuts like 'Trust your instinct' and 'Not dead yet'.

No doubt they'll be travellin' up north to see us soon. F*ck commerciality, get into a band like 'Spit like this.'

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

April/May
STEREOCHRIST - Dead River Blues

The name rang alarms at first but thankfully false ones as Hungary's Stereochrist sound nothing at all whatsoever like the Welsh Britpop act of a name not too different. After my first taste of Hungarian decibels in the shape of Attila Csihar's 'Best Of..' failed to impress, I was still not without reason to exercise a little caution.

These boys cut short my worries with their deep grinding' and also slightly progressive brand of stoner metal which should especially appeal to those who appreciated recent offerings such as Hidden Hand's 'Divine Propaganda' disc. Strong melodies and stabbing grooves are only on occasion slightly ruined by the sometime indecipherably manic vocal style but it is more or less 38 minutes of raw rock n' roll for its own enjoyment.

Do try it.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE
Monster Magnet, Corrosion of Conformity, Floodgate, Cathedral

Syanide Kick - S/T
(Perris Records - 2004)

A band who should have got signed but sadly got ignored. They featured the bassist of the orginal Tuff line-up, Jaime Fonte' as well as the drummer from the Big Bang Babies. Their vocalist, Joey Martell has made this album available for the 1st time and good on him too as this is Hollywood glam in the vein of The Bullet Boys, Black 'n' Blue and Tora Tora.

Get your ears round some unsophisticated soundz like the explicit 'In you or on you'; 'Legs up High' and 'Hollywood Angel' to name but a few.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

March
Sinn - Jailbait
(Perris Records - 2004)

When sleaze fans heard 'Sinn' on the 'Hollywood Hairspray II' with their bashing 'Stepsister' they wanted more of 'em so Tom Mathers of Perris Records sorted it. I guarantee that you won't be grumbling either with what he's packed together on this cd collection.

A main highlight is their stab at Poison's 'Look what the cat dragged in' (that they must have played during the various gigs along the LA Sunset Strip. Other highlights include 'Freak' about wearing your friends mums clothes; 'Science Girl' about what to do with a particular girl who wears tight red pants; the cowbellesque cock-rock of 'Outlaw' and 'Sexy Sweet' and the Pretty Boy Floydy 'Almost 16'.

If there's any more of this bands material around, I've got to hear it!! Be sure to buy it if you love the early sounds of Motley Crue, Faster Pussycat and Poison

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Skew Siskin - Album of the Year
(Ulftone - 2003)

Now the last band who gave their album this title disintegrated but I just can't see that happening to Skew Siskin who are fired up and ready for action on a different label with a new drummer.

The ballsy Motorhead hit is still there (like the track 'We Hate') and the sound appears to be more high-ended than the previous album 'Spend the night' in '99. Their way is still heavy AC/DC riffage with a Girlschool attitude like on 'Shake Me' that's rather 'Let there be rock' and has Lemmy on backing vocals. There's plenty of good ole 'wham bam thank you mam' with songs like 'Lips'; 'White Trash' and '2 much 4 U' and 'The Goddess'. 'War and Peace Song' sees 'Siskin ket serious on us and 'Strike me blind' and a Bryan Adams'y styled song has been thrown in too - this being the closer 'Torn Apart'.

A cracking album by a crackingly good band - do I smell a headline tour on its way?

8.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Steelheart - Wait
(Z Records - 2003)

A band who house one of the strongest Rock vocalists of the 80's - this being Mike Majevic. The opener 'We all die young' will be instantly recognisable - well that's if you have seen the film, 'Rockstar' (the song appears in the audition segment of the film).

It's overall a strong album with the funky tracks like 'Live to die' and the moderately tempo'd 'Take a little time' with its killer chorus but I can't help feeling that they are simply trying to emulate Led Zeppelin because Mike sounds so much like Percy Plant especially in 'The Ahh Song'; 'Electric Chair' and 'Shangrila' instead of proving what they can achieve as a more original composition - if all the numbers were as good as the opener then the album would stand up next to AC/DC's 'Highway to Hell' but it wasn't to be.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan

February
SEVENTH KEY - The Raging Fire
(Frontiers/Now & Then 2004)

This vehicle for Steelhouse Lane/Streets guitarist Mike Slamer and former Kansas/Sign bassist Billy Greer was one of the scene's big talking points with their debut three years back. Ballsy melodic rock of the sort that keeps the scene alive n' pounding in todays fashion controlled rock n' roll world, the disc immediately made them their fair share of fans and obviously one disc didn't seem enough. So these two jolly chappies got together and scratched their heads once more, hence another masterwork was created.

From the very off, you know again where they are both coming from, with Slamer's distinctive guitar sound, fresh from his main day project dominating the structures of all the tunes, coupled with Greer's quite impressively Hess-like vocal contributions. Quite a surprisingly varied album in styles at most times, but rarely stooping from expectations, 'Sun Will Rise', 'You Cross The Line', 'Sin City', 'It Should Have Been You' and 'Run' keep the wheels going round at full throttle, and if they are billed on the slot for this year's Gods fest, I hope at least three or four of those aforementioned are included on the set list.

Another fine showing from two of AOR's revered figures. Now Mike, about that next St**lh***e L**e album.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE
Steelhouse Lane, Harem Sacrem, Winger, Giant and definitely Seventh Key's first album.

STILLE VOLK - Maudat
(Holy Records - 2004)

They've impressed with a couple of the releases they sent us to scrutinise but we appear to have run into problems here. Whatever this is, it's different, it's unusual and it's only interesting for a couple of numbers. Coming on like some Jethro Tull wannabe trying to mix various other elements, mostly folk and medieval into the style, and removing the electric guitars in the process.

France's Still Volk carry it off adequately enough but the songs do very little before long and there is about that in it for me and more definitely for anyone who is not a fan of the works of Mr Anderson and his cohorts. No points get knocked off for singing in the band's native language, and they have zero problems with the performance of duties involving their respective instruments, but they could have tried, in many ways to make some of these numbers a bit more memorable because they are quite frankly flat as a car tyre on a nailbed.

If you want to give this disc a go, be my guest but I can't see many followers of the rock n' roll scene finding a great amount of appeal in this material. Disappointing.

3.5/10

By Dave Attrill

SUN OF WEAKNESS - S/T (5-track EP)
(Self-Produced - 2003)

The European continent's Latin quarter has always been a keen contributor to the goth/doom metal fraternity. Latest arrivals, Italians 'Sun Of Weakness' maintain this repute with this promising quintet of interesting tunes that not only look to My Dying Bride and Anathema amongst more expected influences but a fair bit of Paradise lost and surprisingly enough Dream Theater vibe also traceable.

Quite progressive itself in areas, a vague mixture of symphonic elements might not be too bad an idea to protect this act's material from likely accusations of sameiness. Still without a deal at present, there is enough here to convince several labels and I hope one of them has the manners to give Sun Of Weakness their chance.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

Jan. 2004
Andy Anderson Sartori's 'Andy's Force' - Dragon's Fire (E.P.)
(Self-Released Demo - 2003)

Andy Sartori is an unknown shredder type neo-classical guitarist whose influences include Johan Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi and Nicolo Paganini (who also happen to be Yngwie Malmsteen's main influences) plus Yngwie himself and Rainbow. Isn't the name similar to Yngwie's band as well - Rising Force !!! - Surely it's a p*ss-take calling your band 'Andy's Force'.

It's very Malmsteen styled (but he uses different tunings or keys according to my mate Alex Kotziamanis). If you like wailing, high-end vocal power metal then this is right up your street like the opener of the four tracker, 'Castle of lost souls' or 'One Distant heart' with its plodding melodic riff and widdly guitar solo.

It's ok and no doubt he'll do well in parts of Europe and Japan.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan

Ritchie Scarlett - The Insanity of Life
(Gem Three Productions - 2003)

The solo album from the ex-Seb Bach band, now of Mountain bassist, Ritchie Scarlett who's got a real throaty, elaborate kinda Peter Criss meets Ace Frehley sorta voice.

This is positive American Rock 'n' Roll that features a host of stars including his head honcho boss, Leslie West (of Mountain) on the drivin' 'Who's to blame'; Ace Frehley on the leaving the gang and getting married and going borin' joe public on the CD opener 'Johnny's in love' and Too Far Gone' about a chick who grew up listening to the New York Dolls, The Sex Pistols and Nirvana. There's even King X's lead guitarist 'Ty Tybor' on the rockin' 'Tin Soldiers' about recalling your childhood that has backing vocals in the Smokie style (70's Rock band from Bradford, UK).

Ritchie pays tribute to that dead, blonde stone in 'The Ghost of Brian Jones' who will haunt Mick, Keith, Anita and Andrew forever!! It's a wee bit creepy but oh so true and I like the touch off adding a few Stones riffs in there too - I'll you work out which ones they are when you get hold of the album yourselves.

Enuff Znuff fans will delight in Ritchie's cover of 'Fly High Michelle' and Bowie lovers will no doubt dig his version of 'Moonage Daydream'.

It's a very enjoyable album and it grabs you after a couple of listens.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Michael Schenker - Forever and More
(SPV - 2003)

A two disk set retrospective of the forever-disappearing UFO/MSG guitarist, Michael Schenker. 2 dozen ditties that include live versions of classics such as 'Doctor Doctor'; 'Armed and Ready' and 'Lights Out' which certainly need no introduction at all plus other lesser-known songs as well. Instrumentals are included here like the beautiful acoustic 'Reflection of my soul' and the electric 'Open Gate'.

I can't help wondering if this collection was simply stocking filler for the festive period for his many fans in Europe or a contractual obligation for the record company. That said, when you get a knockout version of the cover of Mott The Hooples 'All the way from Memphis' and many other enjoyable rockin' numbers - you tend not to care either way.

Next stop - with Michael Schenker, who the f*ck can tell? - Even his band members can't answer that one!!

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

SHADOWDROP - Shadow Drop
(Self-Produced - 2004)

Not to be confused with the other similarly monikered US metal sensations, these four San Diego twentysomethings are however of a noticeably similar pedigree but steeped further into diversity. Every one of these fifteen songs is immediately distinguishable from its fourteen fellow occupants of disc, and about as many different styles are evident.

Imagine the guitar work of Metallica, Corrosion of Conformity, Trouble, Pantera and Machine Head and vocals that seem to do the rounds between Devin Townsend, Phil Anselmo, Rob Zombie, Dave Wyndorf. and all between. On looking at the bands dossier do I find out why - it's possibly something to do with the fact that guitarists Brian Clark and Casey Barmakian and bassist Daniel Camara all take turns behind the mike, just annoyingly, I don't know which chap's voice is which, but it is well laid out with the structures of the tunes. Head mashingly heavy and at the bulk of times melodic, Shadow Drop may to some just be another US metal act but another decent US metal act, if no one minds.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

Skid Row - Thickskin
(SPV - 2003)

Well they are back, well some of the band anyway - for better, for worse. It's like a different band now and new vocalist, Johnny Solinger sounds nothing like Seb Bach. Musically it's more current and has more in common with artists like Nickleback, Alice in Chains and Staind than what made them big in the 1st place and I can't see the original fan-base warming to it very well - you never know, I could be wring but I don't think I will be.

'Ghost' is a nice track and comes across like a groovin' slice of the Spitfire signed band 'Four Star Mary'. It's just that the material doesn't sit comfortable together and you feel on edge listening to it. The new speeded up pop-punked slammin' version of 'I remember you' is a complete insult to the original in my opinion and the vocals are a complete travesty.

I await Seb Bach's new album with pleasure. I smell a reunion somewhere down the line.

5/10

By Glenn Milligan

SWARM OF THE LOTUS - When White Becomes Black
(At A Loss Recordings - 2003)

'W.W.B.B' is, believe it or not the second album from noisy Americans Swarm Of The Lotus. Yes, what happened to the first one then, what's that like, etc , etc, you all whine. Well to save you much hass', on examination of the musical content herein, we're probably listening to either a slightly better or slightly not as good version of it right now.

Typically samey metalcore that offers next to nothing new apart from an on-occasions vaguely distinguishable guitar channel but other than that, it's another anti-climax lurking under such a promisingly interesting name. Fun for the fans and I was one myself once but it quite largely for reasons like this that I gradually drifted from the genre.

5.5/10

By Dave Attrill

Dec. 2003

Sanity - The Demo
(Self-Released - 2003)

European sophisticated symphonic metal of all things serious. Sanity are a tight quintet that'll please fans of artists like Yngwie Malmsteen and Helloween etc plus the many old-school metal bands about.

They are long songs to say the least like the epic 'Together as one' or the live tracks such as 'Lonely at the world' that starts off like an acoustic slice of Metallica.

Vocally it's very on-the-ball and very church choir like at that.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

MICHAEL SEMBELLO - The Lost Years
(Frontiers/Now & Then - 2003)

A name new to me but as I'm feeling guilt about learning only now, known by many
who've followed the US AOR scene for the last 15-20 years. This assortment
spanning the two bygone decades is a totally two-halves divided set through one
half, containing the quieter selections is sandwiched halfway amidst the more
upbeat other two-quarters. The former category are cheerful enough but shakily
over-pop-styled tracks that sound like a talented version of the many musical
abominations marring the UK charts today.

Nothing abominable at all, of course, about this fellow's playing and writing directions, the rest of his tunes are scrumptious eighties West Coast melodic rock (yes they were mostly recorded in that actual period) and are in vogue with about 75% of the acts on Escape's roster.

With Cameos from Jeff Paris and also Michael Jackson guitarist Jennifer
Batten along the way, a man of many gifts delivers what he regards as one to his
fans here but we'll let him off for forgetting the wrapping paper. Great guitar
work throughout, Michael, but putting all of those aforementioned 'pop' styled
numbers in one solid lump in the middle, thus cutting up the rest of the album
like that was a bit ill-advised.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

SERAFIN - No Push Collide (Promo Sampler)
(Bad Taste Records - 2003)

Hear we go again, interesting name but the music…. Oh dear. No monumentally poor but how many times do we have to listen to another load of bland, bandwagon-tailored punk pop todge by more misguided wannabes who believe that true rock music was invented on two or three chords?

Thankfully only six, this time but even then what happens? We only seem to qualify for the first minute or so of each number, which denies me of the chance to hear further in for any faintly possible surprises lurking about. Another point gone for that and my hopes of escape from the pain of having to have dished out anything less than three for the first time in Metalliville history sadly dashed in the process ( well, I at least managed to defend that record for over two years).

Hopefully, we should soon bring someone into the team who's a fan of this sort of stuff, but if you're one yourself, as usual don't let this review deter you.

2/10

By Dave Attrill

Seven Years Dead - S/T
(Self-Released)

A four piece from the UK who are like a mish-mash of Pantera (vocal style), Metallica (grove and vibe) and Black Label Society (guitar harmonics).

They are perfect for the hard heavy old school fans and the brutal nu-metal-heads (the new kids who love a lot of the newer sounds) alike.

Best numbers are the hard-hitting 'Threadbare' and the bursting 'n' fast 'Postrend Generation.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

SHAKRA - Rising
(Point Music - 2003)

Only just prior to stating my opinions on this, the Swiss rockers' fourth album, did I read with some disgust the slating inflicted on it by the 'Powerplay' mag in which the bulk of Richard Blundell's consternation centered on power ballad 'I Will be There'. Now wait a minute, let's hear it ourselves, first….. mm, well it is a predictable enough number as its title warns….

However, sod it, the only thing that makes me feel sick here is the attitude of said so-called 'critic' who thinks that the flaws of one track dominantly necessitate a 3/10
review. Benefit of the doubt for Shakra is due and more to the point, 'Rising'
f***in' rocks in all its clichéd, predictable, etc 80's glory. You should know that when the hooks are sharp enough, the worn traditions burying them in you bear little concern. Built round lead guitarist Thom Blunier's fret-friendly workouts, new singer Mark Fox's Joe Elliot/Klaus Leissmann-esque rasp and some sharply-produced poundings from Roger Tanner's kit, this line of fist-inducing hard rock keeps most of the scene's fans in the mood for more, staying melodic all the way whilst kicking hard at the time.

'Now Or Never', 'Done me Wrong', 'Too Good For Me', 'Rising High', 'My Life-My World', 'Sign In The Sky', 'Fight The Fire' and 'Anything' are all classic slabs of good ol' fashioned guitar abusing, tailored for an audience still in existence today, unbelievable as it seems. In summary, you can digest this quite easily as the most solid elements of Dokken, Bonfire and Talisman all rolled into one lovely lump. Y' see, no matter how many times it's been done and dumped (in some cases) before, this stuff still, at plenty times of the day, deserves a good review.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

SHRINE OF SCARS - Violence Is The Answer
(Disfigured Records - 2003)

As we all know, some things are best left as they are, but moving about a bit with the confines still pays. That's where Shrine Of Scars fall somewhat slightly foul-ish of the mark. Whilst I did not have to approach this with too much caution, little surprise lay in store amongst the standard issue shred-fest topped with high pitched gurgling accounting for another black metal album of the heard-one,- heard'-em-all variety.

I can't be too harsh - the last four of the thirteen tunes spread their wings, but after the bygone bulk of the disc seldom left me in fits of over-excitement, these seemed to almost go totally over my head. Nothing bad but devoted fans of the scene are more likely to stick another two marks on this review.

6.5/10

By Dave Attrill

Spiritual Beggars - Ad Astra
(Music For Nations - 2000)

Music that'll have you been for more. It's crushin' and wailin' stonerish 70's retro-rocker. Twelve songs fitted into 55 minutes that'll blast your tabs like 'Escaping the fools' and 'Wonderful World'.

It's a cd that's got plenty of crunching fazed guitar especially during 'Angel of Betrayal' and 'Save your soul'. There's a bluesy cut that's in the style of T-Rex's '20th Century Boy' called 'In dark rivers'. You can take yourself off into the Rhodes organ journey of the Zeppy No Quarter'ish 'Mantra' as well.

Recommended.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

SPOCK'S BEARD - Feel Euphoria
(Inside-Out/SPV - 2003)

'Feel Euphoria' is the first album by prog legends Spock's Beard that I've been privileged to hear. And I'd be mistaken for thinking that this is Transatlantic (Morse's side project) as the grooves and guitar work are both similar. The strong creative guitar sound comes through as a really fresh sound, combined with the catchy rhythms and quirky, confident lyrics. This is great stuff, changing and shifting through an array of styles that are easy on the ear.

The only downside is that some of the more contemporary moments do come across as having no point to them, although they aren't prominent enough to spoil what is a fresh sound with plenty of hook-lines.

9/10

By Steve Windle

Staind - 14 Shades of Grey
(Flip Records - Elekra - 2003)

They got the title right anyway. 14 songs that are as miserable as sin from a band that are huge and it beats me why - maybe it's got something to do with the fact that they were brought into the limelight by Limp Bizkit's, Fred Durst.

It's all so average - not that they can't play or anything but it's like listening to 3rd rate Alice in Chains on downers without a guitar solo in sight. The vocals aren't exactly exciting either - a load of moaning, whining talk throughout although there are nice harmonies on occasions.

The stand-out tracks are the 'Fill me up' and the single, 'Price to pay' but there's too much filler and too little highlight that greys your day and gets in the way.

4.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Joe Stump - A Shred Odyssey
(Leviathan Records - 2001)

An instrumental album by a man who idolises Malmsteen (especially on 'The Haunting') and Blackmore which overtly comes out in his work - in fact he's even covered the Rainbow interpretation of The Yardbirds 'Still I'm Sad'.

Joe jumps into the blues with the wailin' 'Big Bad Groove' that has a self-said 'Hendrix' vibe as does 'Tear it up' that also happens to very Satriani as well. He also gets all classical on us when he delights with 'Porta No. 1 in A minor' by Bach.

Like Malmsteen (who incidentally hates the term shred - "You shred carrots!", said Yngwie in a guitar magazine a few years back) this guy Joe is a master at it too.

8.5/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

SIR HEDGEHOG - S/T
(Lunasound Records - 2003)

Strange name. Strange sound. A not at all uncommon equation in rock n' roll circles, Sir Hedgehog are today's offenders. Not though, that any particular crime has been committed on their account as I took a liking to this album from the off. Again, a case of letters that can't be all posted into a particular box, their style mixes many, taking in Metallica's latest guitar sound, lashings of both contemporary and old school metal arrangements, and supports a voice that wouldn't sound too alien in a European symphonic metal act doing well at the moment.

Surprising as you may find it, it is Canada from whence this lot come, where once Mr D. Townsend is said nation's no1 metal experimentalist but nothing is there to prevent another keen act from spreading their wings albeit on a saner scale. I won't name any particular numbers here as the strong majority of them should sink in first time round, so my advice to interested metal fans is by all means, try it and buy it - they deserve a chance, if we give them one.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

THE SONS - One Man Floats (3-track - EP)

And I'm afraid one man sinks (back in his chair, yawning) after listening to all nine minutes or so of this heard-it-all-before-and-much-better indie drivel. While I don't mind bands of this type, I don't like all bands of this type either.

Although a just about memorable chorus helps the title track slightly further up the steps, the whole thing does next to sod all for me, the 'can't sing' feeling I get occasionally on listening to this chap's voice only serves to exacerbate matters. This stuff does have its fans across the world but I'm afraid I'm not one. A case of all pop and no circumstance.

3/10

By Dave Attrill

MARK SPIRO - King Of the Crows
(Artenzia Records - 2003)

With Brian 'Wind It Up' McDonald having only just shifted seats to melodic rock's hottest new label, fellow MTM exile Mark Spiro has also sniffed an aroma of appeal in the Artenzia cologne, too. And the appeal in the legendary Mr S. should smell as sweet. The man whose previous pennings have helped Giant, Bad English and Heart amongst numerous, on their routes likes to cater for this own musical needs too, you know. 'K.O.T.C' is prime-order AOR that swings through styles - as most acts on this label seem obliged to do - and while a few numbers lean too much on the pop end of the musical panel for one's comfort, at times almost bringing those dreaded words 'boy band' to conscience, the general bulk of the disc rocks.

'Always' is American-made AOR to die for and at four minutes and five seconds long, just not long enough. 'Crows', 'Julia', the Bob Catley-esque vocal hook of 'Saving Grace', 'One Horse Town' and the Street Talk-ish subtlety of 'It's All About You' serve the same justice to the album's cause. A bit take-or-leave on a few tracks, Mark Spiro's singing/songwriting talent remains unflawed and a chap who deserves a slot at the Gods as much as most who've played it over the last four years, demonstrates just why through most of this material.

A man who continues to make his Mark on the musical scene in permanent ink.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

STAIND - Price To Play (1-track sampler)
(Flip Records - 2003)

As my finger made contact with the play button following insertion of this disc, I was expecting some monotonous nu-metal dirge, all the more reason I was glad this was only a one-track promo. How more wrong could I have been. 'Price' is a superb song with a powerfully dominant chorus hook, hitting high notes to addictive effect. I've heard very little other of this group's material but if it's mostly this good, I wouldn't mind.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Derek Sherinian - Black Utopia
(Inside Out - 2003)

Back with his second solo attack, Derek Sherinian gives us 'Black Utopia' that again features Zakk Wylde who duets alongside 'Yngwie Malmsteen' - in fact Yngwie starts it off with a small slice of 'Fury' - well Derek did play all the black and White keys on the Attack album didn't he!!

The album is full of exceptional music and highlights include the Miami Vicey 'Starcycle'; the crunching 'Nightmare/Cinema' and the title track itself 'Black Utopia' and loads of others that you'll discover when you get your dannys on it.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Jeff Scott Soto - Live at the Gods 2002
(Now and Then/Frontiers - 2003)

After seeing Jeff with Talisman on 24th May, 2003 at The Gods (Penningtons) I was real pleased when this fell out of the envelope. This set is the ultimate and includes a mass of different material from his 20 year career and packs in as much as he possibly can. Opening up with Queen's 'Let me entertain you' that he covered for a recent tribute album it's a bunch of songs that just continues to explode with an energetic dynamite filled brilliance.

The Yngwie Malmsteen fans are rewarded with a medley of 'I'm a viking' and 'I see the light tonight'; a segment of the soul filled 'Crazy' by Seal that Talisman covered and best of the bunch, the monster that is 'Stand up and shout' from the panned by the critics but hailed by the Metalheads film 'Rockstar' - the parody of Tim 'Ripper' Owens joining Judas Priest.

Pontus Norgren also joins Jeff for a song which they'd only rehearsed that afternoon - now that's professionalism (but to find out which one, you'll have to buy the CD and/or DVD).

An absolute must for JSS fans everywhere.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Geoff Starr Rock 'n' Roll Band - Don't blame me (Single)

(Sew Knee Records - 2003)

London's answer to Hanoi Rocks 'Michael Monroe' who has extremely similar on-stage presence, style and attitude.

'Don't blame me' is full on sleazy, punching punk rock which is damn lively I can tell ya. The other two tracks are vibed up to f*ck as well, these being the driving snare spittin' 'Kickin' in the dirt' and the party riffin' singalonger 'King of Fools' that I can see fans waling into the early hours of the morning surrounded by a few caseloads of beer.

Can't wait to hear a full length album.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

July 2003

SARACEN - Red Sky Frontiers
(Now & Then/Frontiers - 2003)

One of the chief reasons that have garnered Frontiers and Z their credibility is their interest in reviving bands from the 80's New Wave of British Heavy Metal Scene, from the ashes once feared lost to. Brit melodic metallers Saracen have been graced such a privilege courtesy of Mr. Ashton in the shape of not a one, but a three album deal.

First fruit of the contract comes in the shape of this half-cast offering that is partly a new album and partly old gems from their heyday revamped for what interest (I hope) still lies around for them in 2003 AD. I must state that the new-look 'We Have Arrived' immediately registers as superior to the original and is the first time I've rushed back to the 'repeat' button for a further spin of this cut. Not being that much of an expert on this act's catalogue, I'll just say that the material is damn near decent, no matter what period of time in space it was written, and I enjoyed the older tunes like 'Heroes, Saints & Fools', 'Follow The Piper' as much as the pick of the recent compositions.

The band maintain three of the original members, Steve Bettney (vocals), Rob Bendelow (Guitar) and Richard Lowe (Keys) with new members Rob's brother on bass, replacing the late Barry Yates and Jamie Little now the man on the stool and this new line-up seems no less capable than the previous grouping, especially with a strong return like this. Here's to giving it another go, lads and I look forward to chasing up more of your past material.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

SLUDGEFEAST - It's On (Single)

(Must Destroy Music - 2003)

As you who have logged on to Metalliville for most of its active life might probably be aware, alt rock and nu-metal are rather shaky trees when I'm the one climbing them and chances are that I might not like this cd but as I have some interest for practically all sides of the rock spectrum, chances are also likely that I do. Happily this little three-tracker squeezes into the latter category.

Practically it's above the average alt rock of today's lines but the sort that comes embossed in an industrial layering of hefty proportions, and on hearing it -or trying to - it is immediately apparent that they've overfed the distortion channels in this case, which is a less than good idea as you've got three good short little bursts of rock n' roll hiding behind that wall of fuzz.

I have no particularly heavy bias against this sort of stuff, but too many cakes in the hamper can ruin the picnic a bit. Do check it out though.

6/10

By Dave Attrill

Shadows Fall - The Art Of Balance
(Century Media - 2003)

Heavy as f*ck, old school 80's Metal - think Slayer meets Anthrax with throaty bawling vocals with god examples of this being 'Idle Hands' and 'Thoughts without words'.

Hailing from Massachussett's Shadows Fall have recently toured the UK with Soilworks and Children of Bodom and also played the Download Festival in Donnington Park, early June, 2003.

They are having a ball in popularity and no wonder with an album like this.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Pre-July 2003
Oliver/Dawson's Saxon - It's Alive
(Angel Air - 2003)

The O/D version of Saxon recorded live at Penningtons, Bradford, Dec. 2001. All the main hits are here like Dallas 1PM, 747 (Strangers in the night) and Wheels of Steel but I've gotta say, I much prefer the vocals of Biff Byford to the bawlings of John Ward (but that's a personal bias I guess - make your own mind up on that score).

With regard to sound quality it just isn't good and it's as though it's been recorded off Medium Wave Radio and sounds mushy and almost mono. Another question - where the hell is the sound of the audience? - this lack of realness gives the impression that it's a soundcheck as opposed to a real gig.

It's a shame because track-wise and musically it has the elements to have been a cracking live album but it's completely let down by the mix and overall production.

5/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Shadows Fall - Stepping Outside The Circle/Thoughts Without Words (2-track Sampler)

(Century Media - 2003)

Yet another great new band straight out of the woodwork and believe me, the woodwork is sure in danger of needing replacing after this two track aural onslaught of early/mid nineties -themed aggro metal intensity. Yep, they are a new metal band, but that's as in new band who play metal as there is very little bandwagon jumping to be heard here. In fact, I think they have waved down a vehicle headed in the other direction with this genuine helping of breakneck brutality of the Pantera/Machine Head brand, with vocals switching, as if programmed, between the standard exteme metal roar and a contemporary melodic range.

The guitar work is of the sort you don't often expect from a metal band of this sort today - they've had the balls to do solos and bl**din' decent ones at that, too. Piecing it all together, there is a clear current day vibe sensed through it all and younger metal fans of this day and age should find some appeal in it all. Bring on the album lads, it's got to be a good 'un.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Shot to Hell - Grand Finale
(Self-Released - 2002)

Psychobilly from Hollywood that at times makes you feel like you are upside down and going backwards with a massive hangover due to some of the minor keyed sickly sounding riffage found on the album - especially numbers like 'City Boys' and 'Screamin' End', whereas elsewhere it's fun-loving Rock 'n' Roll meshed in with a fair old mashing of Punk.

Totally unsophisticated sounds that's perfect for a Saturday night out with some of the classiest girls in LA (you know who you are!!!). It's pumped full of highlights that include the Pipeline inspired 'Rusty Nuts' about being on the road or the G 'n' R meets Faster Pussycat attitude 12-bar 'Soul for Sale' and the heavy 70's Status Quo goes Hanoi Rocks styled 'Nobody's Fool'.

Chris, Mark. Phil and Pimp will certainly give you a good time.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Solace - 13
(Meteor City - 2003)

These guys were originally known as 'Godspeed' and supported well known bands like Cathedral, Dio and Black Sabbath - let's see who they will be supporting this time around.

No it's not their 13th album but actually their second. Stoner standing with weird twists such as opener 'Love Sickness/Burning Fuel' with awesome blues harp then there's the excerpt from an old film in 'Once around the Sun (deep through time)' about beggars and kings. What about the spiral effects on 'Theme…' - a weird instrumental that sounds like they are experimenting with a new gadget.

Good stoner sounds.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Sometimes X - Zero 2 Hero
(Chavis Records - 2003)

A bang up to date band who who elements of Indie, Grunge, Stoner and even a bit of Glam - so you think I'm making that up - well actually - it's really like that and that's all in the opening track 'Guilty as Sin'. HMV just wouldn't know which section to stick these guys in but I guess they'd just bung 'em in the rock section.

Tommy, Monty and Mickey will rock your boat with tracks like 'Guilty as Sin'; the stonerish 'Step Down' that has elements of Southern blues (well they are from Georgia). You can also mellow out with the excellent 'Take' with its cooking acoustic guitar and rimshot intro that's kinda Alice in Chains.

Like 'em.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Spiritual Beggars - On Fire
(Music For Nations - 2002)

The day jobs of Arch Enemy's Michael Amott (Guitar) and Firebird's Ludwig Witt (Drums). The renowned band 'Spiritual Beggars' have immersed us with 11 new delights of thrustic 70's influenced that feature plenty of Hammond Organ inspired Rock.

'On Fire' is an album which guarantees numerous plays especially with cuts like the percussion and siren starting 'Street Fighting Saviours'; the Sabbathy 'Killing Time'; sounds from a Submarine on 'Fools Gold'; the bulberous Hammond/Guitar duel play of 'Beneath the Skin' or the lighter, folky '(The) Lunatic Fringe'.

Just brilliant. Make sure you get this album now.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD - SYL
(Century Media - 2003)

Devin Townsend is one chap seemingly bordering on impossible to get rid of. That isn't actually to say we do want to see the back of him but where the Canadian metal wizard gets it all from takes some thinking. With so many great projects and discs already under his belt he now decides to reform his flagship outfit Strapping Young Lad, last seen in action five years back with the 'No Sleep Til Bedtime' live disc.

From opening intro cut 'Dire', you know that Dev means 'back in business' when he says it. 'Consequence' is structured to a traditional old-style death metal rhythm, with Devin exercising his tonsils capabilities almost straight from go. Speeding its way through afterward, comes 'Relentless' which picks up where 'All Hail The New Flesh' left off, the arrangements and melodies being at least 65% alike. Oh, what a lovely title this next one's got, eh: 'Rape Song'. Only ol' Dev could do it, eh though through the song, is not making any attempt to glorify said atrocity and just gets on with his token delivery of speed and aggression as only we like it.

'Aftermath' is the resident epic of the disc but through its seven-minute duration, uses its time well in various styles and some well-decorated mid tempo chugging but the party piece is saved for the sudden pause halfway along and then.. Brooofff!!!! Just suddenly tears along at top speed from out of nowhere in the trademark Townsend manner before calming down towards the end of the tune with more of his searing melodic delivery, bring the end to probably the most interesting song on the album.

It's back to the style we last heard on 'Consequence' for the next one coming up. 'Devour' is a less melodic number so D.T. is obviously craving the ol' bit of no -bones nuttiness on that score and so it continues into 'Last Minute'.. well until he changes down the speed again - Dev you awkward thing. You can tell he's been listening to some Sepultura of late, if that opening riff to 'Force Fed' is any testimony, but after that its pure Townsend creativity for the rest of the tune, combing all the strongest fluids of the last two albums into a volatile concoction but not without harmony. This has to be one of the very best ones he's ever put pen to, similar in places to the material on the 'Ocean Machine' album.

'Dirt Pride' is another two-and-a-half minute Townsend tantrum not too unlike 'Underneath The Waves' and never changes the gears for a second. 'Bring on the Young' is one of Strapping's slower numbers, grinding and rumbling its way by again in the ways of yonder but it makes for vending this incredible album on an unpredictable note.

Devin Townsend - a man who just doesn't know when to draw breath, but since when did writing such great and innovative material kill anyone? So, another Ocean Machine album, while you're at it then, Dev?

10/10

By Dave Attrill

Sugar Coma - Becoming Something Else
(Music For Nations - 2002)

Nu-metally simplistic grooves with a vocalist who'd be better if she'd stick to singing sweet, rather than ruining it by bawling like a sheep with a throat infection and constipation.

In fact if you've heard the gothic styled 'Zero Star' then listen no further - this is the only good track on the entire album.

3/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

SAXON - HEAVY METAL THUNDER
(STEAMHAMMER/SPV - 085-74482 DCD-E)

UK's rock giants of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal are proud to present a double CD full of re-recorded classic material and the second CD having five live tracks recorded live in san Antonio and a live video track live from Waken 2001, if this does not pound that head that does not pound then that head must be dead.

Saxon hit you with their distinctive sound of British metal with classic material such as 'Strong arm of the law', Dallas 1pm', 'Wheels Of Steel', 747 (Strangers in the night)' and 'Motorcycle man' to name but a few of these wonderful re-recordings. It's not surprising that Saxon are still one of the most adored rock legends still travelling the earth with their eagle and landing to play for massive audiences throughout the world.

If denim and leather, motorbikes, fast chicks and loud rock music is still your forte, then Heavy Metal Thunder is your CD. NWOBHM still rocks!!!

9/10

By Tony Watson

SHIVA - S/T
(Z Records - 2002)

It's been quiet on the Swedish side of the Z Records spectrum of late, ain't it. Then there aren't that many left really, are there. Snakes In Paradise have tucked tail and run off to MTM, Scuderio have bit the dust altogether whilst Human Race, Jekyll & Hyde, Great King Rat and Amaze Me appear to have vanished from sight for various other reasons. Seven Wishes, Dreamhunter, Prisoner, Damned Nation and Humanimal have been left to keep the flag flying until lately as another killer new act from Europe's quality melodic rock band capital have risen from out of nowhere.

Female fronted outfit Shiva came to my attention less than a year back when their name appeared on the Z website and even that seems now too long a wait to taste the talent of one of the Liverpudlian label's greatest signings in the last couple of years.

Mixing Dokken, Firehouse, Tesla, Warrant, Hardline and Danger Danger elements and topping them with a fantastic-sounding female voice, courtesy of - well due to a lack of info on the sleeve, I don't quite know the name this young lady goes by - but whoever she may be, there is as always more in one's musicianship than in a name. It would also have been nice to have the name of the chap who plays guitar as he knows the roads himself and the duo make for a dangerously powerful musical machine together.

'Would You Lie To Me', 'Marilyn', 'Free My Soul', 'Another Man's Wife', 'Right On Time' and 'One More Day' plus the Metallica-mode onslaught of 'Lead You On' are simply random pickings as hardly any stand out as superior. Having recently acquired Adrian Gale on the back of their phenomenal 'Reprogram' album, I sense even less quieter times for Mr Alger ahead as this disc is going to guarantee the label ever-increasing attention from the very day it strike the shop shelves. With stunning vocal melodies, monumental choruses, and its fair share of guitar style versatility, you only have to listen one minute into any one of the eleven tracks, to get the picture.

10/10

By Dave Attrill

Sirens - Global Killers

(Old Suede Records - 2001)

Maidenesque Metal or dare I say it, 'Power Metal' or 'True Metal' as Leader/Vocalist, Dragon Power prefers to call it. Plenty of Metal anyhow is up for the grab of the ears including covers of Iron Maiden's 'Children of the Damned' and Scott McKenzie's 'San Francisco' - a strange choice you may say, but it works. Vocally, Dragon Power sounds kind of like strange bellowing German baritone who can wail pretty high and penetrate mountain ranges for many a mile.

There are quite a few highlights such as the above mentioned covers as well as the long instrumental 'Dragonless World' or should that be 'Dragon-powerless Song' - sorry - bad joke on my pad. This instrumental is extremely melodic and shifts up and down in tempo, not to mention the rather brilliant, 'Very Last Breath'.

You are also treated to a bonus best of CD entitled 'Spark, Torch and Dragonfire - Dragonblood 1996-2000' that includes live tracks from 2000 including a thrashy song that stuck in my memory called 'Celestial Kingdom'. Dragon Power obviously has a sense of humour as he's included a demo sounding version of A-ha's 'Take On Me' with force bawling vocals and AC/DC'S 'Touch Top Much' that fairs a lot better. Best track of all comes in two forms - 'Edit 2000' and 'Altered 2000' - a killer of a cut called 'Free Your Mind' that's sounds extremely autobiographical and goes into detail what you need to do to succeed in a band.

For lovers of True Metal the Globe over.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

SKINLAB - REVOLTING ROOM
(CENTRY MEDIA - CD77365-2)

The culmination of three years worth of writing, recording and touring, Skinlab release not only the heaviest album to date but also a mature and focused CD called 'Revolting Room'.

The bay area thrashers through their years in the music business express themselves through the art of music and the quest to express their knowledge of the world through their music comes across very load and clear. Revolting Room releases the full onslaught of energy that has built up throughout the months and years of hard work and enjoyment of expression.

As you enter the delights of 'Come Get It', which rips through 'Slave the Way' to 'Anthem for a fallen star' into 'Disturbing the art of expression', Skinlab opens the soul of contempt to release the revolution inside everyone.

As a third album Skinlab's Revolting Room is an exciting, intriguing and collectively a sonic expression that shouldn't be messed with.

9/10

By Tony Watson

Sparkling Bombs - From Bubblegum fun to Glittered Depression
(Co-existence Obscure Records - 2002)

Glammy pop-punkers from France who have been in full-force since November, 2001. Comprising of Joker (Guitar), Laur (Drums), Lady Bittersweet (Lead guitar) and Alice (Vocals).

'Hellbent Loser' kicks things off with elements of the 'pistols especially during the guitar break on the chorus. Second track 'It hurt me' is very similar but 'Starry eyed space boy' is far more abrasive glam rock with a banging 2,3,4 style to it, complete with distortive guitars. 'I confess' in my opinion is the best number - a moderate rocker whereas 'Take two bits of the cherry' sees a good deal of good old thrammy punk glam complete with guitar twiddling.

Nothing fancy but it ain't meant to be.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

2 Blasts from the Past: Strongheart

Hard Wired
(Atlantic Records - 2002)

AC/DC influenced US trio's debut who were actually a big noise in the North of the UK. Thought by many to be their best release, 'Hard Wired' is like the Australian big boys brought more up to date and was even produced by George Young (Angus and Malcolm's older brother). The two singles are there, 'The Kids are Wired' and 'Smooth as Silk' where Guitarist/vocalist squawks for all he's worth.

It's quite simply an album full of highlights like the bluesy 'Freight Train'; the slow screaming 'Rising of the Phoenix; the epic 'Whiskey River' or the riffing brilliance of 'Hot Jersey Nights'.

You must live this album again and again - good on you if you witnessed them on their recent Tour in November 2002.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

 

Ritual
(Hengest Records - 1997)

A five year gap between albums 1 and 2 gave Strongheart chance to mature somewhat. There are more styles found here as compared to the bluesy, AC/DC sounds of 'Hard Wired' and far more adventurous vocal dynamics have been are given a chance to shine - Nice One Wilbur!

Grab a slice of funk metal in 'Murder of Crows', a track that gives Billy Evans (bassist) the spotlight, some autobiographic felt ballad brilliance in 'FIy on Little One' (my favourite Strongheart song I have to say) - in fact, I'm convinced that it influenced the song, 'We all die Young' as featured in the movie 'Rock Star'. Another major stand-out is 'Immortal with a Kiss' - especially live and goes for the dirty cock-rockin' groove where Bobby Erechiga rings out the cymbal bells.

I must give a mention to the gorgeous ballad 'Freedom Town' that has a strong Beatley bridge as well as the story of wanting to become a great guitarist entitled 'Drop Dead Money'- is this one about you Wilbur by any chance ? It's just a pity that album number 3 never happened - maybe one day it will. Strongheart come back to a venue near you in June 2003 - Wilbur permitting!!

9/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

SUBSONIC - SUPER-VEL
(OUTLAW ENTERTAINMENT - OECD07)

Former Celtic Frost guitarist/composer Ron Marks has released his most ambitious release to date. Super-Vel enters your soul and takes you on one hell of a musical ride that lifts your expectation of a musical genius that has more to offer than God himself.

Super-Vel is a twelve-track masterpiece that is full of originality, compassion, blood, guts and sweat. From 'Lick the lie' to 'Just hit Pomona' through the semi acoustic tear jerker of 'A day late' to the pounding head breaker of 'Be your sky', Subsonic release so much energy you won't want the fire on in the cold nights.

If Super-Vel is the start of things to come then the twenty first century is going to be full of excitement and surprises, keep them coming.

10/10

By Tony Watson

SYMPHONY X - THE ODYSSEY
(INSIDE OUT - 085-65342)


The undisputed kings of progressive and symphonic metal have returned with their sixth studio release that fills the air around you with one of the biggest sounds in modern metal.

The Odyssey is based on classic work by Homer, which continues to display the bands fascination with the fabled heroes of the days of yore. With their brutal metal, sublime interludes and gargantuan orchestral epic battles that give the listener a sonic adventure between good and evil.

This eight track progressive masterpiece fulfils you with excitement from the first track 'Inferno (Unleash the fire)', to Symphony X's heaviest song to date 'King of terror' which is based on a book by Edgar Allen Poe to the twenty-four minute eight-part track of 'The Odyssey' that thrills any unexpected new audience to progressive metal.

For the fans of Symphony X this CD is more powerful, more aggressive and raw and more in your face compared with the previous releases of melodic rock albums.

7/10

By Tony Watson

JEFF SCOTT SOTO - Prism
(Frontiers/Now & Then - 2002)

Mr Face-of-many-bands Jeff Scott Soto has had a less than disappointing last year or two. The Humanimal album and the Z-Rock show with said latest act featuring some of his old Swedish pals of his musical past was followed by his def-defying solo bash at Bradford, featuring songs from every corner of his career, dominantly Talisman*, Takara, Eyes, Humanimal and Yngwie Malmsteen. In fact, Sote's the third ex-Malmsteen mouthster on the Frontiers Roster, Mark Boals and John West the other two.

The set also included material from this rather fine latest solo effort from the New Yorker, snd I'm hoping it finds itself a slot firmly amongst the other established classics he's been a part of. 'Eyes Of Love', 'Don't Wanna Say Goodbye', 'Holding On' and '2 Late For Goodbyes' (he's still replacing words with numbers, eh?) are merely a quartet picked from the eleven tunes that form this fabulous curriculum vitae of a truly crushing career in the melodic hard rock world. Til the End Of Time' is another that bears its brand of significance, if not for its Danny Danzi likeliness but is a live recommendation from heroin in as is 'How Long' about as close to Takara as he gets in one song, even though that bridge does steal from Steelhouse Lane's 'Give It All To Me', a tad.

The duet with Glenn Hughes on Sly and the Family Stone's 'I Wanna Take You Higher' is good fun too. A double bill of top-rate ballads 'By Your Side' and 'Don't Walk Away' finishes off a good day's work as only Jeff Scott Soto knows it should be and there is very little that has disappointed me in the last fifty-two minutes of music to have passed through my ever-smouldering speakers.

Mr Soto is one man who never seems to know how to let the standards slip (as if he would) and a line-up that includes gifted ex-tamplin guitarist Howie Simon, handpicked for his abilities of diversity in style, and old Takara mate Gary Schutt, sees that set in concrete.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

*Just as this review went to press, we've learnt that Jeff has been negotiating a deal with the Frontiers label for a new Talisman album, possibly likely to feature original guitarist Frederik Akesson in the line-up.

Ralph Santolla - Shaolin Monks in the Temple of Metal
(Frontiers/Now & Then Records - 2002)

This must be one of the oddest titles I've come across for an instrumental Rock album! Ralph Santolla started off at the age of 7 as a Kiss enthusiast before getting embedded into the style of Michael Schenker.

Unlike many guitar album |s this isn't your usual shredding '5 million notes a second' stuf. There's beautiful harmonies and melodies of various rock and metal styles that'll please the ears of many rock 'n' metal fans who wouldn't be seen dead with an instrumental album.

From 'Red Baron' to 'What might have been' it's a sparkling journey of melodic rock riffage.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

7 MONTHS - S/T
(Frontiers/Now & Then - 2002)

Another arrival on the Frontiers roster is quite a welcome one, as 7 months have something of a mixed load aboard their boat. The key element is the radio friendly sound as made big by AOR acts from the band's native LA through the eighties. Now take some of Dream Theater and Marillion's progressive vibes and chuck in a pinch of Royal Hunt's Euro metal prowess and you ave quite a cleverly conceived disc in your system.

Sadly, none of the five musicians beyond the making of this entertaining album ring any immediate bells in the name department though I'm sure Barry Magnuson (drummer) has cropped up somewhere recently. Singer Joe Booe clearly knows the score through his performances here and guitar and keyboard duties are expertly handled by two magnificent chaps called Chris M. Jacobson and Garegin Kalajian.

'Say Goodbye' is the perfect example of your modern age, multi-dimensional melodic hard rock tune, with classic hooks that flank a contemporary structure, whilst 'Change' does the West Coast thing, but again wearing experimenting gloves. 'You & Me' is the No1 song - even if it's accompanied by a number 6 on the track-listing order - and although less experimental than other tracks, a true piece of melodic rock class and if Whitesnake's 'Love Ain't No Stranger' had been written by Survivor instead, this'd have quite resembled the result.

Closing epic 'Senorita Serenade' shows what this band are made of at their best as it effectively compiles the other eight songs you've heard, into one so if you've missed one or two bits or bobs earlier here's near enough another chance to catch them again. Me? I'd just play this whole album itself over again. And again.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

SLAV SIMANIC - Let It Go
(Frontiers/Now & Then - 2002)

The world never seems to fall short of guitar geniuses these days and it's not just the States, Sweden, or Canada that provide the talents either. Yugoslavian Slav Simanic has gone for a more commercial format, though, with mostly vocal fronted songs rather than just an instrumental-laden offering - not that rock albums without vox are strictly bad, by the way. And the hired voice… well oi never, that sounds loike that there Phil Naro. The bloke seems to make a living out of singing with world class status -deserving guitarists having fronted 24K alongside Von Groove man Mladen and now he's impressed Mr Simanic, currently a resident in Naro's native Toronto, enough to earn another leg to an impressive career.

The songs are lyrically, Christian-concepted matter, a style as originally established to the mainstream by 80's legends Stryper - not that they were bad, mind.

Religious rock lyrics, however, have matured a bit since Michael Sweet and mob ruled the roost, and a wide blend of attitudes, views and vibes dominate the songs along with passages quoted from the bible being used to appropriate effect. Exactly the same approaches can be used to assess Slav's stunning frettery, which by rights puts him straight up there with the major league virtuosos.

'Going Up Higher', 'Let It Go', 'The Fallen Angel', 'People Say' and 'Heaven Waits For You' are amongst the greatest tracks on this not exactly un-great CD. Steve Vai tried a similar idea with his 'Sex & Religion' album about a decade ago, a decent work as it was, but Simanic demonstrates a more skilful grip on the Christian handle.

This copy of the album also contained a disc of the first album 'Water Of Life', from back in 2000. A largely instrumental piece, it again still offered some damn fine melodic rock tunes, with or without vocals and I couldn't positively identify the singer, it sounded very much like Mr. Naro again.

I can only hope that after 'L.I.G.', Slav Simanic's third album won't be another two whole years or so in waiting. The man must get a slot at the Gods fest: he is a neglected talent who deserves more notice than he gets.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Sixty Watt Shaman - Reason To Live
(Spitfire Records - 2002)

Kickin' off where the debut 'Seeds of Decades' ended this here is more blues-rock edged stoner performed with an abrasive attitude that's becoming a 'Shaman trademark' and produced by ex-bassist of Unida and Kyuss, Scott Reeder.

Addictive sounds all round is a guarantee and vocal rasper, Dan Forrester is as brash as ever as openers 'Nomad' and 'Reason to live' show. Sixty Watt Shaman has chilled out on a few of the numbers as well especially on tracks like 'The Mill Wheel' - a quiet country 'n' blues acoustic track and 'When the morning comes' that a lot in common with the mellowed American folk style of Crosby, Stills and Nash and Led Zeppelin in relaxed unplugged mode.

Other sections are a Sabbath fan's heaven as new drummer 'Minnesota' Pete Campbell crashes around the arrangements of Joe Selby's angry guitar and the almighty bass-lines of Reverend Jim Forrester on blasters like 'One good leg and bottle of booze' and 'When I'm alone'. It's great to see that Jim has even paid homage to his favourite bass-player, the late, great Cliff Burton during the bass solo track 'All my love' reminding me of Cliff's 'Anaethesia (Pulling Teeth)' from Metallica's 'Ride the Lightning' album.

Overall, it's a heavy well stocked album from one of America's finest Stoner Rock bands.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Spiritu - S/T
(Meteor City - 2002)

Old fashioned dirty rock slabbin' sounds that go grungey in parts. Somewhat drawn-out is some of this stuff and it's easy to forget what happened in the arrangement of a song a few bars ago. Throughout, it's a doomy journey that breaks crosses the forgings of Sixty Watt Shaman with Soundgarden and such like bands.

The New Mexicans crank out 6 numbers of the heroic stoner nature like 'Fat Man in Thailand' or 'Clean Livin' with its ultimately wailing guitar solo - I can dig that. The material gets way too samey at times though and lacks stand-out character to pull Spiritu from the pack of what's become rather large in this breed of rock. That said, there's plenty of dark groove to please a good handful of Black Sabbath fans.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

STREET TALK - Restoration
(MTM - 2002)

Sweden's Street Talk are a band I've been aware of for a good two or three years up to the time of writing, and it's a privilege to finally hear one of this talked-about band's fine albums. I'd imply that, twofold, as here in my hands (and hears) is a high order slice of AOR utopia. The two names sticking out like thumbs are Goran Edman (ex-Malmsteen) who sings the majority of this excellent disc, and their very special guest performer Hugo, who lends his lungs for the other two.

Opening duo 'Give me A Reason' and 'Hare And Hounds' define all that's great about this genre, (the latter, quite coincidentally, shares names with my local pub) and 'Language Of Love, just about upholds the standards. 'Tables Turning' is a pretty House of Shakira-ish number, with a syringe-full of soul fluid injected and is an immediate stand-out selection, despite totally thieving the intro riff from Leppard's 'Stand Up - Kick Love into Motion'.

Hugo-fronted numbers 'My Heart Beats For You' and 'Why Is My Heart Feeling Lonely Tonight' are very laid-back popish affairs with the guy obviously quite eager on bringing his own work here with him rather than leaving it on his solo shelves. And so what if he does, eh? This is Hugo, after all, innit?.

The bulk of the remaining tracks are up-tempo summer-oriented belters with 'A Place In The Sun' and 'Forever By Your Side' melting the most ice creams. True European melodic rock grit, with attitude, depth, passion and talent, and we don't just mean Hugo. One to keep this market alive, or preferably, alive-er.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

SEETHER - DISCLAIMER
(WIND-UP WADV 103068-2 - 2002)

This trio of talent from South Africa (originally named Saron Gas) magically craft their knowledge into undying love for the music industry; these guys create songs that speak of bleak and miserable moments that turns into a type of therapy that offers a massive relieve to the un-preached.

This 12 track CD, which is produced and mixed by Jay Baumgardner (Drowning Pool, Coal Chamber and Papa Roach) vergers on the same style as 'Creed' and 'Breaking Point' with a touch of early 'Stone Temple Pilots', which adds to the overall sound that has been created within the energy of the band.

From 'Gasoline' to the wonderful heart crushing 'Driven Under' through 'Pride' and 'Sympathetic' to finish with 'Broken' Seether have compiled a CD that will make your emotions run away and brings home the truth of our personal problems.

9/10

By Tony Watson

SEMPER FI - Strong Weakness
(Self-Released - 2002)

Norway. A country that has seen some decent acts in its time. Sons Of Angels, Stage Dolls, Street Legal, Hush and I suppose we can just about get away with A-Ha. Plus's there's the legendary black metal scene. And we now have excellent youngsters to add to the nation's pride as well.

So what are these lads up to here then, eh? Well, it does sound like a crushing crossover goth/metalcore album, leaning mainly to the latter, but they do long songs. Interesting. A nine-song album from this genre usually lasts about 30 minutes if that but this little beaut' gives us all of 49. What I like in particular is their own outlook on life, and moral perspectives which each individual song explains on the sleeve notes. It impresses me just as much that you can make out, quite a bit at times, of what vocalist Stian Pedersen is saying, via his growlsome onslaught.

The riffing is surprisingly melodic too for what they are supposed to be, which I presume is the fruit of the fusion with gothic harmonies throughout the album. There are practically no guitar solos on this record so they are seemingly trying to keep things fashionable, there, but the varied layouts of time changes and mood swings that the songs provide a baseboard for are indeed to their credit.

Another warm welcome to the European H.C. roster.


9/10

By Dave Attrill

Silent Force - Infatuator
(Massacre Records - 2001)

Engrossing Power Metal from Germany featuring all the trimmings you'd expect - explosive drum work, firing guitar and blazing vocals from the famed Royal Hunt vocalist, DC Cooper. These guys have got what it takes and recently performed tours with U.D.O. and Angra.

Filled with thunderbolts of enthusiasm the songs emulate the classic 'We Will Win' attitude. The Judas Priest vein, 'Infactuator', the title track itself, starts off the album grand and leaves you wondering how they manage to keep this pace up for an entire live set. If you want a mammoth epic then tey out the seven song set entitled 'Trilogy'. Gargantuan forces are at your heel hear and you won't be able to tear yourself away. There's some unbelievable beautiful accapella vocals in 'The Empire of the Future' and you'll cease to be amazed by the strength of what's on offer such as 'We must use the power' and 'All Guns Blazing'.

The 'Prog-Power Festival' in November 2002 is gonna be quite something if these guys are on the bill.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Sixty Watt Shaman - Seed Of Decades
(Spitfire Records - 2001)

We witnessed these guys live at Sheffield Foundry, Dec. 2001 and this, their debut album cooks up as well as they do in concert. It's Stoner Rock with harsh, throaty Eddie Vedder meets Layne Stayley vocals from frontman, Dan Kerzwick. Real raw 'n' earthy grooves are in high abundence and quite notable is the fact that it's a surprisingly long album for a debut.

The gritty hard-hitting opener 'Fear Death by Water' holds your attention with its pounding drums (from C.J. Dukehart III) and grating guitar deliveries (from Joe Selby) that wrench alongside Dans vocals. Throughout the album there's balls and there's ballads - one ballad of a particularly likeable nature is 'Poor Robert Henry' about starting your life when someone elses has ended. There's a number that's almost Soundgarden in the shape of 'Devil in the Details - Parts 1 & 2' and what about the folky effort entitled 'Roll the Stone' featuring Dan on mandolin - think Led Zep's 'The Battle of Evermore'.

There's some top-notch material on here - I've just got to mention 'Busy Dying' - nice title for a start with the dittie coming across as negative sounding AC/DC or the slide guitar blues jam 'I've been down', coming complete with female backing vocals (from Paula Delvca) fitting well with the Reverend Jim Forresters bass playing. A perfect way to finish off the album. You just can't beat a bit of the blues.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

St. James - American Man

(Melodic Mayhem Music (Metal Mayhem) - 2001)

Now this is what I call good ole fun-time music, LA style - big hair and cowboy boots - pure 80's brilliance without a care for the current scene - whatever that happens to be - and who cares anyway. St. James is the new outfit from ex-Black 'n' Blue frontman, Jamie St.James. Musically you can play a game of - now what famous song does this number sound like which becomes apparent early on but what the hell - these sounds are entertainin' from the first note of 'Testify' (with it's Wing's Girlschool riff) right the way through to 'Aliens'.

It's a magical journey, reminding you that listening to albums can be a pleasurable experience and disagree after hearing rockin' tracks like 'American Man', 'Light of Love', 'Magical Taxi Cab' and 'Die like a Star'.

Now I hope these guys get to support somebody in the UK sometime - it's about time we got bands as good as this to enjoy all the time - pack up your troubles - chuck 'em in the canal and put this album on. More of this is a damn good thing.

Looking forward to album number 2.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Seasons of the Wolf - Nocturnal Revelation
(Snakenet Records - 2001)

I've been looking forward to the release of this album for about 6 months since the brothers in the band 'Barry 'n' Wes Waddell informed me about it in November 2001 during an interview.

If you haven't read the review of their 'Lost in Hell' - then let me introduce to the world of 'the Wolf - the world of True Metal. This is great symphonic 'keyboardy' Heavy Metal of the Judas Priest vein that's played with a very intense vibe. This Tampa Bay, based band cover real serious topics about the political system (New Age Revolution), Psychic Powers (Dead Zone) and other non-lightweight affars that'll see you looking rather deeper into what's happening in your life than the average cock rock or boy band record will. Fancy a bit of Egyptian magic that's full of eastern promise, then play ' Dark and Lonely People' - all you want are the belly dancers and the turkish delights.

'NR3' has that Led Zep 'No Quarter' feel and is about about being lost in all matters of the word. The closer, 'Transmission' sees the 'Wolf back in classic Priest territory again - with strict digga digga guitar riffage and interstellar vocals. Love the incredible keyboard solo from Dennis Ristow.

Like to see Nu-metal bands attempt any of this - Sum 41 maybe - but that's about it.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Silent Rage - Still Alive
(Z Records - 2002)

Review 1 -

Another set of past faces show their faces for the first time in even longer than Hardline or Sons Of Angels. LA's Silent Rage's last album til now was the classic 'Don't Touch Me There', some thirteen years ago, and now they're back in style and still with their style, come to mention it.

Picking up almost as they left off, the line-up still consisting of guitarists Mark Hawkins and Jesse Damon, bassist EJ Curse and drummer Brian James landed the deal with Z in.late 2001 which as part of the package included 'Don't Touch…' and the 1988 debut. To put another way, 'Still Alive' is only the band's third album in the decade and a half since the four-piece was first conglomerated - and still alive they are indeed as the concrete slab fight style guitar heaviness of the opening title track lay down to fact, from the start. Then the crunch comes and all the more devastatingly slow with 'Unchained', the album's best track, equally guttural but more melodic than the previous tune.

'Whiskey Woman' is a classic-styled blues-varnished ballad of the mould usually favoured by 'big hair' acts during the scene's heyday and no less welcome today. 'Livin' For The Moment' and 'When The Night Is Over' complete my top four of the ten and the cover of Alice Cooper's 'Is It My Body' isn't exactly a waste of space either. A couple or so tracks on the album give me less to write home about and the lyrics to 'At My Command' are at danger of raising a few laughs for the wrong reasons but as a unit, the album is that of a band returning, every bit like they mean it.

Let's hope they stop around for a good couple of discs more before disappearing again.


9/10

By Dave Attrill

Review 2 -

Hard Rock of the 80's - think Kiss, in fact Silent Rage go as far as stating that they were inspired by Gene Simmons. Produced by the legend Bob Ezrin, the quartet have a thick sound with plenty of bass and high notes. Vocalist, has the texture of Gene Simmonds with his hard, feroious, throaty rasp - even the music is Kiss orientated, especially the opening title track, 'I'm Alive', the chorus section particularly.

Silent Rage have that ability to warm your heart so tenderly with the most epic ballad called 'Whiskey Woman' that easily falls into that high class category that includes classics like 'Every Rose has its thorn' By Poison, 'I Remember You' by Skid Row and 'Wanted Dead or Alive' by Bon Jovi - incredible acoustic come electric material that you'll play again and again - thanks awfully for including an extra version at the end of the album.

An excellent cover of Alice Cooper's 'Is it my body?' has also been accomplished and talking of Mr. Furnier, their own track 'Mr. Hunger' is rather reminiscent of 'I love the dead'. 'Remember Me' is a really cool song that goes into Billy Idol territory in more ways than one.

Overall, it's an awesome album crammed full of delectable hard rock.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

SILENT RAGE - Don't Touch Me There
(Originally released in 1989 - Re-Released by Z Records - 2001)

By rights, this should be under our 'Blasts From The Past' banner but as it's just had a new release of sorts, what the hell. The band's benchmark album, 'Don't Touch…' was pressed in 1989 before the LA quartet first faded from view as the grunge clouds began to loom over.

Messrs Curse, Damon, Hawkins and James reunited in 2001, and had this and their fist album reissued on the label plus storming newie 'Still Alive' and before they knew it, netted a slot at that most prestigious of annual melodic rock events, the Z-Rock festival. Despite the quality of the new pressing, it's equally if not more vital that new followers know about this earlier record.

Songs likes 'Running On Love' and 'Touch Me' signify the trademark guttural hard rock onslaught that the Rage labelled their exclusive brand. Having three cover tunes on an eleven track studio album may turn heads for less than auspicious reasons but S.R's versions of 'I Wanna Feel It Again', 'Can't Get Here Out Of My Head' and 'All Night Long' dissolve so elegantly into the flow of the album -you'd swear these were also of the band's own creation.

'Rebel With A Cause' is the song that would have stood where Skid Row's 'Youth Gone Wild' stands, had the said New Jersey act's ubiquitous tearaway anthem not got their first. It's a slice of pure timeless unashamed heavy rock than and it's lyrics read out for themselves, encouraging you to stand up for what you believe in and not let anyone straddle your path, whatsoever. Or maybe, that's what this whole album's about, musically anyway. Plus, of course, quality guitar work and all round top rung musicianship which fashion seems to forbid nowadays.

If you don't own this album, I don't see why you should call yourself a fan of this terrific band. It is still possible to become one, though. To qualify as a fan - get this album bought right now.

10/10

By Dave Attrill

Snakes in Paradise - Dangerous Love
(MTM - 2002)

Stefan Berggren has been an extremely busy bloke indeed - he's not long since toured and recorded with The Company of Snakes (ex-Whitesnake/Rainbow members). He's now back in his original band, 'Snakes in Paradise' with another 12 melodic hard rock songs.

What's here is ok - but it won't exactly set the world alight - it's a bit too safe and doesn't have enough balls at times. Some songs have potential such as the moving 'Calm before the storm' (especially the guitar solo) and 'Come and join the party', but I can't help feeling that some zest and energy is definitely missing. 'Give and Take' has a nice Whitesnake Cock-Rock riffage as well as ecstatic vocal harmonies and melodics and 'Move On' is a nice ballad as well. A DC-10 bass-line cries out in 'House of Fire' (very reminiscent of The Who's John Entwistle but it's spoilt with its gay ballad style.

Overall, it's an ok album - but far more preferable is the other Snake band he is the lead vocalist for. Snakes in Paradise are too much like many other bands of the the same nature -safe melodic rock - they appear to be a great band with a lot of togetherness - but they don't stand out enough from the rest of the pack.

5/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

The Spitts - Cut the Circulation Off
(I Used to F*ck People like you in Prison Records - 2002)

At last we've found a band that is easy listening snd so different from everything else. The Spitts adopt a mixture of Genres from Rock 'n' Roll to Blues. 'Idiot Boy' is the song that's going to sell this album - it should be released as a single. The song has got that anthem feel and all in all it makes the listener feel good. Everytime you her it, you just wanna jump and shout! So that's what I did!

In conclusion, this album is a very happy, feel-good, easy listening CD and that is what music's about isn't it.

Excellent.

8/10

By Simon Moorhouse

Staind - For You (Single)
(Flip Records - 2002)

This is a very emotional and powerful piece of music. I've been going through a rough time just recently (hence this review is rather late - Ed.). Upon listening to this song - everything is placed into perspective. The song changes its form constantly - loud to quiet, fast to slow. That's what a song of this magnitude needs to do.

The drums and vocals compliment each other fluently and eventually come together and there you have it - a beautiful and profound song.

When you've listened to this song - you feel strong and powerful - in fact, I'd go as far as saying that it's like no-one can stop you.

I class this song as 'PP' for 'Pure Poetry'. Brilliant

9/10

By Simon Moorhouse

Sugar Coma - The First 2 Singles

Crazy (Debut Single)
(Music For Nations - 2002)

This debut single is well - not very good. When it starts, you think you're in for a good time - wrong. On this song Sugar Coma sound like a monkey being castrated by a donkey with asma!

The fact that it's a cover of the Britney Spears song (You drive me...) Crazy" makes matters worse. Just imagine the sort of political this fashion could out the rock community in.

Better luck next time. This is classified as "1" - if you listen to it more than 1 minute, you go crazy.

2/10

By Simon Moorhouse

 

Zero Star (2nd Single)

(Music For Nations - 2002)

Is this the same band that released 'Crazy'? - christ, it is as well !!- What a make-over!! I now have something good to say about this fresh new band. 'Zero Star' adopts a dark and gothic feel - a bit like that created by Type O Negative, as well as being easy listening.

The harmony is basic yet effective and creates a chilled out and subdued mood for the listener. Their previous single didn't live up to expectations - where they sounded like a poor mans 'Defenestration' - who are appaling at the best of times. 'Zero Star' is everything that a song should be - easy listening, singable and not a health risk.

The flow changes every so often which makes this song stand out. As soon as you see this single - get it bought - you'll have it coming into your hearts and ears soon.

Brilliant.

9/10

By Simon Moorhouse

Sahara Steel - S/T
(Perris Records - 2001)

Waaw yeah !!! - let's get back to the dynamic piercing high vocal cries made famous by front-men from Dokken, Steelheart and Bullet Boys - Sahara Steel's Jack Klunder is the man who'd win the Olympic Vocal Gymnastics Gold Medal.

From Michigan, Sahara Steel are a squealin' slice of metal power. Echoey fill-an- arena drum slamming (Brian Eckhart) together with wailing guitars (Patrick Shepard) and thunderous bass (Mark Moore) topped off with those already mentioned unbelievable vocals.

It's a solid presence throughout the platter that oozes gallons of Rock like the opener, 'Fatal Heartbreak' or the ballsy power of 'Booze, Tattoos and Rock 'n' Roll'. 'Hearts of Fire', a glorious ballad, is one of those numbers that'd fit snugly on a romantic leaving scene of any film released in the late 80's. If you prefer the Pyromania period of Def Leppard then 'Man on the Run' is a strong contender; all Van Halen fans must check out 'Overexposure' and many Cinderella fans will stick 'Push comes to shove' close to their hearts as well.

It's the sorta stuff that makes me proud to be a fan of 80's Rock - this band has all the elements that glued me to the genre in the first place - class musicianship, quality singing and above all - the real deal - full-on Rock 'n' Roll Fun.

Good to know that this kinda music is still being piped out in large measures - Just f*ckin buy it.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Southern Gentlemen - Exotic Dancer Blues
(Leviathan Records - 2000)

The Southern Gentlemen are a tight, high precision Blues-Rock trio from Atlanta, Georgia, featuring famed Chastain guitarist, David T. Chastain (President of Leviathan Records) alongside Drummer, Dennis Lesh and Bassist, Kevin Kekes.

Jimi Hendrix and ZZ Top are paid homage to here in large doses - 'Drive Me Wild' and 'Exotic Dancer Blues' stink to high hell of Billy Gibbons.

It's a safe bet to say that both Texas Blues and Hard Rock fans will be drawn to this release in no uncertain terms. Take the strip club ecstasy of 'Too Hot For Love' that's held together with a strong dirty blues-funk riff or 'Come and make me whole' with it's exquisite six string phrasings and out-of -the-blue instrumental Jazz section.

Okay, so you've heard many of these riffs before played by numerous other enthusiasts but did they cook the 'Mojo' as classy as these three cats?

7/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

February 2002

SCAR CULTURE - INSCRIBE
(CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS - 2002)

 

One can only describe this four piece Brooklyn based band as and I quote from AntiMTV.com 'an amalgamation of the technical skill of death metal, the brutality of grindcore and the groove of hardcore'. The band itself, a cultural blend of Indian, Russian and American backgrounds has tried to give back to the city through the music what they have taken out. 'Inscribe' was recorded and has been produced by the one and only Billy Milano at his Blue Meenie studios in Hoboken, New Jersey, Billy himself can only describe them in two words 'F*cking Brutal'.

Scar Culture through their different cultural backgrounds have tried to create a common goal of artistic expression through each individual and to an extent I think it has got lost somewhere, if you are still mad on this brutal grindcore, death metal, what ever you may call it, 'Inscribe' is a forty minute thirteen track CD that from start of the 'Intro' to 'Vision' through to finish of 'S.Y.D', which is a cover version of Faith No Mores 'Surprise You're Dead' pounds at your soul and life, which end up melting your ears with its extreme noise of terror.

Scar Culture are nothing new, it's the sort of music that started to develop in the eighties with bands like Napalm Death, Venom, Paradise Lost, Cannibal Corpse and Deicide to mention but a few, 'Inscribe' is a CD that will only be enjoyed by a minority, but will be loved by the few.


4/10

It did nothing for me

By

Tony Watson

SHADOWS FALL - FEAR WILL DRAG YOU DOWN
(CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS - 2002)

 

Shadow Falls are a five Piece band from Massachusetts who express themselves through hardcore noise scene and thrash metal; one can only describe them as a mixture of Testament, Iron Maiden and Pantera with a hint of Helloween.

'Fear Will Drag You Down' is their third release that is a seventy minute fifteen track (three extra live tracks) CD, which is exciting and at the same time interesting, for every vocal growl there is also a note sung in key and two talented guitarists who have the ability to go from thrash to melodic interludes and back with no problem at all.

With the start of 'Deadworld' through to the last studio track 'Pain Glass Vision' Shadows Fall let you hear what they are capable of without loosing the feel for what they are doing, Shadows Fall as a band would be accepted more throughout the metal industry if Brian Fair (lead vocals) cut out the unnecessary over growling of the vocals, when he sings he does it well. The three live tracks at the end of the CD helps you capture the ambience of how they perform when out on stage, which gives you the reassurance that what they do in the studio can be duplicated live.

Ignoring the vocal content of Brian 'Fear Will Drag You Down' is an extremely wonderful CD that will have you playing it for month if not for years to come.

 

Sorry Brian

7/10

By Tony Watson

Billy Sheehan - Compression
(Favored Nations - Cat no. FN 2120-2 - 2001)

This breathtaking bass player has now left Mr. Big (the guys who brought you 'Green Tinted Sixties Mind' and the overplayed on MTV hit ballad 'To be with you') - so what's next - a solo career - and a successful one at that if this debut album, entitled 'Compression' is anything to go by. It even features his old sidekick, Steve Vain on guitar on the track 'Chameleon' (well, it is Steve's record label after all).

Billy's a great singer - it's a pleasant surprise as Eric Martin did the lead vocal work in Mr. Big. His voice ain't the high squawk of Martin, but has more in common with Layne Stayley meets Phil Lynott with a sharpness reminiscent of Gary Moore. Mr. Sheehan has played just about everything on each of these 11 tracks - although there are 3 guests on board also - the already mentioned Vai, as well as Terry Bozio (Drums) and Simone Sello (buy the album to find out what this guy does !!!).

The album is part bluesy, part melodic and is a thoroughly enjoyable album where Billy can freely pack out each number with plenty of Bass twiddling note phrases but doesn't come across as though he's trying to drown out the rest of the instrumentation and melody.

It seems that Billy's musical scope is pretty much endless. There's so much to take in on here - you are left nearly speechless. The opener 'Bleed along the way' is a perfect way to start the album as it's a pacey rocker with crisp solo spots from each of the instruments. The song is about doing a disappearing act. The slow grooving blues of 'Somethin's Gotta Give' which lyrically concerns how much you like a certain woman a lot and features gripping lead guitar and bass solos. Or what about the negative, atmospheric, slide guitar led, 'Perfect Groove' which is almost 'Grunge goes Stoner Rock' with its slappin' drum rhythm and stringin' all over the place guitar solos.

All in all, this album is a fine start to a go all the way solo career.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

SKIN TAG - Beauty Mark
(Frontiers/Now & Then - 2001)

Cast your mind back about three years and an album called 'The World Is Round'. The man behind that impressive little offering, Mr Jimmy Lawrence esquire, seemingly manages to escape the clutches of obscurity. Not to mention a few new dimensions on the melodic rock module.

Recent Frontiers sampler fave, 'Just Another Rainy Monday' gave too many pleasant surprises away, too soon, at such an early point in the album's production stages. 'Forever In My Life' sees Jimmy and his new chums taking taking a peek at Hugo's books and together with grungy but graceful opening track 'Brother', make for joint second fave dishes off this ten-song menu. Looking... or perhaps listening further afield on the album, there's plenty of blues fuelled banter to enjoy, particularly on 'Standing In The Rain' which contains some smashing soloing courtesy of resident widdler, Dave Tsien - wherever this chap may have cropped up from.

Our first unplugged trek of the evening reaches our eager ear'oles on track 9, 'Nothing Left But Time' - sh*t, there's some electric stuff in use on this one on the latter half . Another track enjoyed on a constant-pressing-of-repeat-button basis. . We finish on a high (tempo) note with 'On The Run' although I don't know why Mr Lawrence should need to be after giving us an album like this.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

SLAYER - GOD HATES US ALL
(AMERICAN RECORDS - 2002- Cat. No. 586 331-2

 

Well, Slayer have done it again, 'God Hates Us All' is probably the heaviest, hardest and fastest CD since 'Reign in Blood'.

The Band have been pushed to their limits from the start of 'Darkness of Christ' to the last track 'Payback', with their fast furious drum and guitar riffs as well as the distinctive vocal screams of Tom Araya that sends your soul into the depths of hell.

At a first glance you think the cover is white with four crosses pointing north, east, south and west with Slayer and 'God Hates Us All' in bold letters, this to my amazement is an outer sleeve inside hidden away from the bible bashers is what I can only describe should be the bible pinned down with nails, Slayer burnt into it and blood pouring out of the wounds. It's a cover that comes across very load and clear.

'God Hates Us All' is an unlucky for some thirteen track CD with its intelligent lyrics, fast guitar riffs and hammering of drums, there isn't and I cannot pick one track that stands out from any other with regards to brilliance, they all have the same affect that only Slayer can get away with.

From Slayer you don't expect long CD's and again you haven't got it here, twelve of the thirteen tracks are under four minutes and one track is only one and a half minutes, but Slayer seem to get everything across in a short period of time. What more would you expect from Slayer, they start fast and hard and finish fast and hard.

People were saying that Slayer should have done the new Entombed CD 'Morning Star', I say, people who say this shouldn't take Slayer for granted. There are no words I can use to explain the way I personally feel about 'God Hates Us All'.

 

10/10

By Tony Watson

Slipknot - Slipknot (debut)

I don't think most people would have enough balls to say anything bad about Slipknot - okay, not to their faces anyway. The idea of eight men in masks and boiler suits is bad enough, but I have it under good authority that these guys are huge, and upon listening to their album you know they wouldn't lie back and take criticism kindly. Added with the fact that front man Corey swears like his just learnt how (think Limp Bizkit's '…Hotdog…' and you're there) and you wouldn't really take them home and introduce them to your granny.

At first listen Slipknot almost sound like good old genuine metal - heavy bass, lots of screaming etc, but the disturbingly catchy riffs, sampling and one large set of decks sets it straight to the refined area of nu-metal. Slipknot however do 'nu' in style, they manage to sound raw, write all their own music and lyrics and have produced a nicely polished album thank you very much. I like it, their I'm annoyed and I'm going to scream about it attitude works - for some unbeknown reason even thirteen year old in the country likes it too…well this is one I claim back for the adults (cough), the way nu-metal should progress.

9/10

By Caroline Landrygan

SLODUST - Twisted Ahead
(Black Mark Productions 2001)


Getting quite a bit of notice on the underground nu-metal scene at the moment are Slodust. They don't come from America as one might have wagered but from Sweden, the same country who brought us the excellent Psycore a few years ago. Sadly, excellent is not qu-i-i-i-i-i-te the word I'd use to describe an hour of angry death-core growling over typically brutal but formulaic extreme metal riffage. Crap isn't a worthy description either, as I'm looking at something almost in between here though leaning towards the less derogatory end of the line between good and bad. 'Twisted Ahead' has all the elements important to such a style with vocals alternating between guttural ranting and depressed geezer singing in the same manner as that probably sparked off by vocalists like Fear Factory's Burton C.Bell, years ago.

What Slodust has, it appears is also the dreaded songwriter's manual, the tool that all too often kills any trace of originality in a band's sound. One of the songs has a sentimentally melodic opening to it but this soon gets buried and forgotten by the rest of the tune. Not a particularly bad CD, and not strictly a deterrent from hearing further material they have to offer but if they are to show Entombed, Clawfinger or Psycore who's boss in the Swedish metal scene they are going to have to try harder to stand out from the pack.

 

6/10

By Dave Attrill

Dee Snider - Never let the B*stards Grind You Down
(Koch Records - 2001)

 

Dee is the holder of the hard, aggressive metal bawling crown who makes the earth tremor as soon as he opens his mouth. This aptly titled album brings together a collection of rare unheard Dee ditties that hit where it hurts - they really should have been aired years ago - it beats me why they aren't.

There are songs on here that are reminiscent of Twisted Sister classics like 'Our voice will be heard' that could be the younger brother of 'The Kids are back'. It's an album that re-enforces the hard rock metal glory back in your veins and makes you realise what drew you to this un-compromising musical genre in the first place because there's plenty of aggressively hit drums, loud deafening guitars polished of with what can only be described as ferocious in-your-face hell-bound vocals. Saying this though, the ballad 'Cry you a rainbow' (a Desperados O/T - co-written with Bernie Torme) just shows that there's more to Sir Snider than bombastic venom spitting. It's a beauty of a number - so makes sure that you ciggy lighter in your pocket if Dee decides to do the odd gig and announces this one.

Lemmy gets accoladed on the album opener 'Hardcore (which I had heard previously on a Classic Rock (UK Rock Mag) Sampler CD. It's got that classic 'head riff (you know - the beating of the bass that the Grandmaster Lem is legendary for). Something that really makes the CD worth getting is the excellent liner notes from Dee - stating where the ideas of the songs came from, who recorded them and why they were left to gather dust !!!

His band is thoroughly exceptional - his old 'Sister skin basher pal, AJ Pero is the drummer throughout the album and the rest of the line-up is completed by Derek Tailen and guitarists Tony Palmucci and Dan McCafferty. Why other bands can't release an album as killer as this is beyond me - but then again - not everyone has the talent and staying power of Dee Snider - who'll only pick the best of the cream of the crop to work with - and believe me it's paid off !!

 

9/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Solarized - Driven
(Meteor City - 2001 Cat. no. - MCY 018)

Top class stoner rock in the great forceful dirty style of all things late 60's/early 70's of the progressive rock-blues sense. These guys could easily pass as Edgar Broughton's love children or perhaps generous illegitimate offerings of Jimi H. or Geezer B.

Man, this label has got some great acts - I heard this band on the 'Scene Killer' project album a couple of months ago and was really into 'em. It's definitely killer to hear a full album from Solarized (it's their second release as well - so I must get my hands on the first album).

The short spacey cd starting intro sucks you in immediately and 'Dig The Ride' causes you to rock uncontrollably. It's a song which is either about being high on drugs (20 miles high at that) or being in some sort of craft - or maybe it's both !!! - it's got a rollicking bashy groove which'll rub you into ecstasy. In fact - most of the album does a good job to achieve this.

James Hogan (lyricist/vocalist/bassist and guitarist), Dave Topolenski (Guitarist), Regina Satana (Drummer) and Mike Fiore (Bassist) are the ones to hail for the album.

'The track, 'Angel' is a punchy blaster about a woman who seems to be an angel (funnily enough) - it's real beefy and blues - the way I like it!! Solarized have even covered an old Damned song, 'Stab your back' (written by Rat Scabies - all 1 minute 2 seconds of it) - I'd like to hear this one back to back with 'Last Caress' or 'Attitude' by The Misfits.

Pack Solarized onto a plane and send 'em over here to my neck of the woods
- the U.K..

Solarized Stoner Rock kicks Ass!!!.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

SONS OF ANGELS - Slumber With The Lion
(Z Records - 2001)

You know, time's a funny thing. A band crop up during a rock scene that's still at its peak, make a well received album for the genre, tour a bit round the islands of the world, and a few pages in national rock rags helps to promote them further in the fame industry but then all of a sudden...... they're gone. A few years later they're back but musically a shadow of their past selves, usually in order to keep themselves in vogue with the ever-changing fashion trend climate that over shadows rock music all the time, and still find themselves few new fans to replace the ones who have moved on.

Rest assured however that should there be an 'After They Were Famous' devoted to hard rock, then Danish returnees 'Sons Of Angels' are definitely guaranteed not to be featured on it because with the looming likelihood of a commercial resurgence for melodic rock, this lot will definitely be at the top for a second chance. The only tool required: this proverbial backside-booter of a CD. I first enjoyed a sneak preview of this, their second album when I heard 'Love You Too Much' on Z's 'Rock The Nations' sampler earlier this year, and to be quite honest, despite it being - as it still is - one of my fave tunes of the year, I was thinking ' ....Come on, it's something left over from the last one - how could they come back, still sounding just like this, eleven years later?' Then I got the Cd and sure enough, said song was on the track listing.

Unbelievably to modern man, the Copenhagen quintet have managed to perfectly replicate a sound they last recorded more than a decade earlier, having now reformed after such a long time to a rock scene practically unrecognisable from the one they once knew. Dreamhunter recorded the best big hair party metal album of 2,000, Sons Of Angels do likewise and then some in 2001 - Scandinavian success bagged for this category, two years running. F***ing incredible hard rock hooks, meaty suss and everything else on the shopping list accounted. Sped up rock n' roll like 'Burning Childhood' via plenty of raunchy mid-tempo groovers (yip, there's a few Shotton-and-co style numbers audible throughout the running) to emotive AOR like 'Gimme Love' -one of THE ballads of this year, despite being ruined a tad by that choir-style chanting bit after the solo.

Bonus cut 'Baby Wanna Ride' is about as Cinderella-meets-Enuff Z'nuff as we will hear this year - watch out lads, remember Donnie and the lads are on the same label as you. 'Love You Too Much' I've already mentioned and is the standout song, closely rivalled by 'Gimme...' but all twelve songs are equally essential of your attention. More tea, vicar?... Yeah please, and make it two bags this time if it's not of too much trouble.

10/10

By Dave Attrill

Southfork - Straight Ahead
(Blackmark Records - 2001)

 

These guys are Psychedelic Blues Rockers from Germany. It's like the last 2 1/2 decades never existed when you get a head-full of this quartet. These four don't half sock the groove to ya - it's a fazed out late 60's/early 60's styled album that's killer!!!

Southfork and bands like 'em should rule the stages that are being cluttered up by spikey haired, just got outta school nu-metal rap-rock types (mentioning no names of course - because you know who they are anyway).

Call me biased but I love the whole album a lot - all the way from the Indianish 'Blame it on me' to the Sabbathy 'n' Trippyness of 'Evocation Blues' - this 5" er is a musical treat from the country that treats Rock and Metal with the respect it deserves. The track, 'A different kid' is very like early Status Quo (and I'm talkin '...Matchstick Men' era) with its driving melody and swirly whirly guitar effects and even gets me thinking of The Small Faces classic 'Song of a baker'. Elsewhere you'll be spoilt silly with ballsy riffing ecstasy like the blinding 'Nothing to say'.

This album is 'The Dogs B*ll*cks'. Buy as soon as you see it - you know it
makes perfect sense!!!

 

9/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

STABBING WESTWARD - STABBING WESTWARD
(Koch Records KOC-CD-8204)

 

It has come to no surprise that Stabbing Westward have at last created a ten-track melodic rock masterpiece. They have progressed musically, as well as both vocally and lyrically over the few CD's they have on the market. If you have heard the others, you will understand what I mean. They have come away from trying to be a hard metal band to something they are good at.

Stabbing Westward seemed to have spent a lot of time and effort writing and perfecting this CD, which has been produced exceptionally well by Ed Buller. From the start of 'So Far Away' track one, too the end of 'Television' track ten, you get a relaxing calm ambiance throughout that you would only get from wonderful ballads written by the Scorpions.

With tracks like 'So Far Away', 'I Remember', 'Happy', 'Breathe You In', 'High' and the brilliant 'Television' with it's eerie synthesiser intro that starts off probably the best track on the CD. Stabbing Westward have suppressed themselves to that higher level, without no matter of doubt this is a CD that will be played again, again and again and with every listen you seem to pick up something else out of the wonderful tunes that fill the room. It's a CD that would get great benefit from a good sound system.

 

9/10

By Tony Watson

STAIND - OUTSIDE
FLIP RECORDS/ELEKTRA E7277CD (2001)

This is a three track single CD with the 'Outside' Enhanced video, this CD has the original album version, an acoustic version featuring Fred Durst and Aaron Lewis and the original album version of 'Mudshovel'. If you don't usually buy single CD's then I would advise you to purchase it for the enhanced video it's wicked.

Although I slated the full Album when I reviewed it, I have to admit this is probably the best track on the album, it's one of those ballads that everyone loves whether they hate the band or not and due to this it will do well.

10/10

By Tony Watson

Sum 41 - All Killer No Filler

The fact when I put this disk in my CD-ROM drive it had a totally ballistic fit might have been trying to warn me of something. Obviously, I heard the smash hit 'Fat Lip' - Okay, it's silly and reeks of teenage stupidity, but hey, I can live with that its amusing. Though the albums supposed to be 'killer' it really is mostly filler… if you can tell the end of one song from the beginning of another your doing well.

Although most songs are catchy I like good lyrics, after listening to the album I was relieved to find out they write their own lyrics. I say this because I would dread to think of anyone paying money for someone to come up with this, and I quote: "can't pretend on doubt until the end. It seems like losing friends has become this years trend and though I can't pretend." What the be-jesus is that all about? In my opinion, simply buy the singles because the album is just a bad extension of these.

4/10

By Caroline Landrygan

January - 2002

SAVANNAH - Forever's Come And Gone
(Z Records - 2001)

In the two years or so that they've been away, they've obviously been doing a few adjustments to their sound, as the song, 'One More For The Road' has a fresh and much more bluesier style to it.

'All Or Nothing' sees the band back in 1st album territory again - that's the sort of Danger Danger/Tyketto-y type territory in case you missed it. 'Last to Know' is a mixture of those two songs. 'Live To See Tomorrow' doesn't break any new ground, being just a standard, slow beat AOR tune, but with a hint of soul in the vocals. The title track is a practically identically styled tune, and despite the musicianship not letting up for a millisecond, this is where I am starting to reach for the skip button.

'Backs Against The Wall' was my favourite selection from the album, that they played in Wigan last year and doesn't appear to have lost any of its slickness on CD. Rockin' on as we do.... and we do, 'Day After Day and Night' is another of this disc's punchier moments, but then we lose track of things again as 'Make Time' is just sub-House Of Shakira semi acoustic fodder though keyboardsman Marty Olga's work is worth hearing before shooting off on to the following tune.) 'Fight Your Way Out Of Love' is probably the most golden nugget of the mine and another live treat to look forward to when/if they tread UK boards once more.

Mr Olga brings things to his seemingly planned-all-along grandoise climax in 'The Questions', another rather too run of the mill ballad, and the 42-minutes is already up for the Massasuchets fivesome - an album which does have its ballsy moments but not as many as its predecessor, and its clear the band have decided to slow things down a little too much for their own good.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

Scene Killer ~ Jersey Devils
(Meteor City Records - 2001)



This is a stoner project from the Meteor City label that features members of Monster Magnet, Solace, The Atomic Bitchwax, Core, Giant Sloth, Daisycutter and umpteen others who have thrown in their glorious talent for the whole world to warm to.

It's a collaboration of great distortive late 60's/early 70's grooved out jams that rule almighty on this mammoth beast that has been recorded over a period of several years.

There are many, many highlights on this album - here's just a small glimpse of what's in store.

One that's very notable is the track 'Back of my mind' that features Tim Cronin (on percussion and vocals) and Ed Mundell (on guitar) from the mighty Monster Magnet. 'Back of..' is a slavvering havy-laden rocker that was an out-take from a 'Solarized' session. 'Aurora' is a notable number and clocks in at around the 10 minutes mark from the band 'Drag Pack' who sadly broke up. Jimi Hendrix would probably have wanted to be part of this track as his influence is stamped all over it. If you can imagine a good and bad LSD trip then this ditty would serve as a pretty good soundtrack. I well recommend the bluesed-up instrumental 'Midnight Snack' with rhythmic capabilities and soaring lead guitar stabs - again in the Hendrix mode - which again is another number from 'Drag Pack'.

I especially like the pacey jam entitled 'Buckshot' that dives headfirst into wading slow solos before kickin' into some class rock - it's got a wicked arse-slappin' or should I say 'butt-bangin' groove that does it for me.

There's even an introduction and a musical interlude from 'Rotgut' that gives that added character to an album that's already buzzing with stacks of personality.

Get stuck into this Baby.


8.5/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Shy - Breakaway (E.P.)
(Z Records - 2001)



At last, a new release from the Birmingham, U.K. band - those state-of-the-art melodic rockers, Shy, where the crack a wine glass at half a mile frontman, Tony Mills makes a well-wanted return to the vocal helm. Shy are the band who give it all they've got and are never gonna stop (and let's hope they never do if this release is anything to go by).

And what a release it is - a 5-track nifty teaser to the high standard we can expect to be greeted with on their forthcoming studio album 'Unfinished Business'. The first two numbers (which are alternate takes from the forthcoming album) are 'Breakaway' - a smashing, zooming up there rocker and the gutsy AOR future classic 'No Other Way' which has an awesome chorus (it's like 'Journey' at their ballsiest best) and urrping whammy bar guitar phrases, not to mention plenty of keyboards to give the number that extra something.

The remaining 3 tracks are acoustic beauties that show the real power of Tony's voice - the stand-out being 'Emergency' (about the need for a particular woman's love), which to put the cards on the table is an absolutely gorgeous listen.

Can't wait for the new album - it'll be a scorcher for sure !!!


7/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

SODOM - M-16
SPV 085-72442 (2001)

Like most of the thrash metal bands in the middle eighties they came and went, that was the impression I got with Sodom. After the first full-length studio album 'Obsessed By Cruelty' released in 1986, I didn't hear much about them after this date until surprisingly the CD landed on my doormat. Sodom still appear to have stayed with the thrash metal, this German three-piece thrash metal band have definitely matured with age.

The lyrical content of M-16 deals with the barbarity and effects of the Vietnam War, this CD has been written after visiting Asian countries and traveling through Thailand and South Vietnam, the band saw the devastation and the scars left from the war during the sixties where they met victims of the napalm bomb and visiting the famous war criminal museum in Saigon.

Eleven tracks and forty-nine minutes of pure thrash metal rattles through your bones harder than a nuclear bomb, with the opening track 'Among the Weirdcong' to the catchy tune of 'Napalm in the Morning' through 'Genocide', 'M-16' and 'Marines' to the last track 'Surfin' Bird' fills you with a picture of what happened in and through Vietnam during the sixties.

The band have tried to capture through their music and controversial lyrical content
the ups and downs and devastation of what war does and they have done a really good job interpreting what they have seen. Brilliant!

9/10

By Tony Watson

SOLEFALD - Pills Against The Ageless Ills
(Century Media Records -2001)

Ain't it amazing how innovative a two-piece band can be, eh? Norwegian duo, Solefald, consisting of Cornelius (lead vox, guitars & bass) and Lazare (lead vox, drums & keyboards) are climbing the same walls of experimentation as fellow current Metalliville reviewees Maudlin Of The Well, here, even if their approach is a bit less immediately hard-hitting. Yes, it does give me a bit of a seen-it-done-better-already sensation, but they dodge their way out of a dissing quite easily actually, with their range of ideas stretching about as wide as it gets. The spectrum swings from guttural death metal, e.g. 'Hyperhuman' to out and out goth punk rocker "The USA Don't Exist" and encapsulates almost everything between. Worth taking on board too is that it is a concept album, based on the story of two people called Pornographer Cain and Philosopher F**k who start to recognise the increasingly grim future they have in front of them.

It somehow vaguely echoes the theme behind Ten's far superior 'Babylon' album yet has less of a rock opera structure, just a straight set of full length cuts. For all its efforts, most of these ideas and combinations have been tried before, by Maudlin in particular of late, and quite a few by a certain excellent New York Prog Metal act I dare not mention again just now on pain of death. Not the most mind-boggling releases of late but recommended for the right pairs of ears nonetheless.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

Saxon - Killing Ground
(Steamhammer/SPV - 2001)

Biff's boys are back with a stunning new album 'Killing Ground' where in the fold now you'll find long-stays Paul Quinn (Lead Guitar) and Nibbs Carter (Bass) plus new members, drummer Fritz Rainbow (ex- Sinner/Victory) and second guitarist Doug Scaratt.

Saxon sell bucket-loads in Europe and the U.K. has been taking notice in the last couple of years - this album could do well also (especially when there's the promise of a second CD with some re-recorded classics).

The title track, 'Killing Ground' is an illuminating number in True Heavy Metal Heaven Saxon style; a sure to be classic anthem in 'Comin' Home' and then there's the unspoilt cover of King Crimson's 'Court of the Crimson King' (it's got an awesome instrumental section and even carries that Saxon trademark without ruining the atmosphere of the song - it's like an original Saxon song, the way they've arranged it.)

If you love heavy melodic 80's Metal then Saxon are still the band you
should be listening to if you aren't already. There's smokin' guitar solos from Quinny and Scarrat - just check out the closer 'Rock is our Life' (that's built over a storming rhythm section) for a brilliant example.

Talking of Rock - what else is life for - apart from the obvious !!!

7/10

By

Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Seasons of the Wolf - Lost In Hell
(Adrenaline Records/Earth Mother Music 1999)

Imagine crossing a full on all the time balls out Judas Priest styled band that has symphonic keyboards (courtesy of Dennis Ristow who also doubles up a top-notch backing singer) and some incredibly powerful lead vocals from Wes Waddell (who has that high pitched screaming style of Rob Halford and sleaziness of AC/DC's great late Bon Scott). Then there's the great rock-god guitar work/backing vocals of Barry Waddell (brother of Wes), the evil droning of Chris Whitfords blasting bass and lastly, but by no means least, the thunderously dark super-slammery of drummer Wayne Hoffe. And you'll find all this and more in the opening title track, 'Lost in Hell'.

The twelve track album is an absolute stormer featuring awesome numbers like 'Abandoned City', with it's strong gothic instrumental overtones and no-compromise 80's Heavy Metal approach; the space-age madness of 'S.O.S' (which reminds me of Hawkwind trying out the atmospheric in-your-face styles of DIO and Rainbow - and that's interesting - let me tell ya!!) and then there's 'Interstellar', which somehow reminds me of Pink Floyd in a Hawkwind kind of way - in fact the guitar-work of Barry Waddell is so precisionly brilliant that you could easily mistake him for Dave Gilmour (Pink Floyd) or (Huw Lloyd-Langton - ex-Hawkwind) as his playing is so passionately warm and uplifting.

The track 'Witchfinder' is most definitely a top class psychedelic metal moment about searching out a good and bad witch - those vocal/musical phrases in the chorus section are f*c**ng unbelievable - it's like going back to the late 60's/early 70's again - but at the same time sticking to the Heavy Metal Roots.

If you like good old cheesy Dio-like songs that concern black magic, spells, swords, stones and dragons then you'll love 'Voodoo Master' and 'One Land, One King' - which the Elf himself would have wished he'd written. Finishing off with a live bonus track entitled, 'Land of the Dead' recorded live at the State Theatre, St. Petersburg which is shi*-hot - god, I'd love to witness 'Season Of The Wolf' live in the U.K.

This album is worth having for the cover alone.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Seventh Key - Seventh Key

(2001 Frontiers/Now and Then Records)

Billy Greer, the Bassist of Kansas is the man who has brought this up-lifting group together. Seventh Key really pull together a bag of stupendous talent, take deep Purple's Steve Morse for example, who plays guitar on two tracks including 'Everytime It Rains' - a haunting laid back - but at the same time pacey rocker (believe it or not) about missing a girl (and features some wonderful drumming from Kansas' Phil Ehart).

The band plays melodic hard rock at its ultimate peak. Sincere sparks of energy come at you like crazy with a good example being 'The Kid Could Play' which is a bright positive number about a lad trying to make it as a professional guitarist in the music business. This number goes to show how outstanding Billy Greer's voice is - he has such an outstanding singing quality - Imagine Steve Perry ex-Journeys put with a stronger more powerful sound.

'Only the Brave' has become a firm favourite of mine - it's a scary, ballsy guitar-injected rocker with big vocals on the chorus. Taking chances is what the song is lyrically all about - 'Only the brave are free' sings Billy - and how right he is with those words.

I can honestly say that every single song is out of this world - both in terms of performance and imaginative lyrical content. It's just quite impossible to place one song above another because they are all at the same high quality level. You'll find no fillers on this album.

If you love Kansas, Steelhouse Lane and Streets - then you'll adore and cherish this debut from Seventh Key - which features members of all those bands plus many more like Terry Brock (who recently released his debut 'Back to Eden' on the same label). There are also some brilliant songwriters who have contributed lyrically as well like Dave Manion, Ron Mitler and Mark Spiro.

Seventh key are evidence that this genre is alive and kicking- they are a band that illustrate just how well Melodic Rock can sound given the right musicians, singers and lyricists present.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

SEVEN WISHES - Utopia
(Z Records - 2001)

We welcome very warmly back a Swedish four piece that also did the previous two-year's Z-Rock Festivals who now have a seriously fit bird on drums. Seven Wishes look set for things even higher than the sky.

Their Dokken-meets-Helloween influenced melodic trad metal as heard on their first album has won them a deserved following the world over and they have now repaid their followers tenfold with more of the same but on a grander scale. 'Face That Evil' and 'Unchain The Night', their cover of the Dokken classic, are instantly remembered from the Z2000 set. The opening trio of 'Out Of Sight', 'Take My Heart', and 'Holyman' are picture perfect old-school 'evvy metal' coming across as Dio meets Pan Ram in the best of places. 'Holyman' actually has structural similarities with 'Can You Feel It' by fellow Z-signed Scandies Great King Rat, particularly visible in the main riff work. 'Justify' is a slower and somewhat emotionally tinged number, so obviously allowing for a breath of fresh air there but the quality of song writing doesn't take a rest, and that's four great songs so far.

We then get their terrific cover of 'Unchain The Night' - which has actually been getting some airplay at the Nottingham Rock City 'Rig' of late. We are spared the usual mid-album mischief that is also known as the 'filler' section as 'Too Late For Tears', 'Restless Heart' and 'Don't Fade Away' hold the pedals down to the floor. With help not least from Anthony Cedergren's roof-rattling riffs, and his solos also see a man with a mission, nigh on being accomplished. 'Face That Evil' is my choice from the CD, with singer Pelle Anderson's vocal talents displayed at their peak. 'Not So Innocent' turns out to be more of the very excellent same with those high pitched vocal chords jumping on you from the dark, part-way into the chorus, and Cedergren's guitar again hogging the middle lane in this magnificent hard rock motorway.

'Prodigal Son' is another groove-directed ditty but is a good enough tune that it should not be segregated as some limited edition bonus, as it is here. Anyway, let's save talk about all things 'groove' for the following review, as I haven't summed this album up yet.... oh yes, I forgot. BRILLIA-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-NT!!!!

10/10

By Dave Attrill

Derek Sherinian - Inertia
(Inside Out/SPV - 2001)

Derek Sherinian (the Dream Theatre/Planet X Keyboard wizard) has now unleashed his 1st solo release. It's an album that comes across as pure session-fusion fun featuring a stellar cast of muso's, including super-sticksman, Simon Phillips (who's played with the likes of The Who. Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck and Judas Priest), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne/Pride & Glory/Black Label Society), Toto's 'Steve Lukather' and Tony Franklin (of Blue Murder and The Firm). Derek comments that, "The reason that I chose all the different players that I did is that each of them has a very distinct sound. You can identify them immediately when you hear them and that's exactly what I'm striving for in my own playing to have that same kind of command in my instrument".

If you especially cry out for those Jazz-Rock-Fusion artists you often find on German Satellite channels then this is an album that will satisfy your needs. Notable tracks on the album of this nature to please the ears are 'Hari Kari', the title track 'Inertia' and 'Astroglide'. If you like the Charlie Mingus then you'll be delighted with the version of 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat' featuring some excellent nifty guitar playing from Steve Lukather. Also to be found is the metal and rock material like Edgar Winter's 'Frankenstein (which has Zakk Wylde's wild phrasing stamped all over it) or 'Evel Knieval' (which even reminds me of 'Fear Factory' who are trying their hands at wacky rock-jazz fusion). It's extremely enlightening stuff, and has a lot of potential. Derek really crosses over to a lot of different fans of music - and I reckon it's gonna work - Big Style!! With regard the musical styles, Derek comments that,

"Overall, there are some similarities to Planet X in the progressive nature of the album, but it's a departure from the stuff I've been doing over the last few years. There's a lot more tapping into my rock roots …"


All in all, 'Inertia' is a notable album that refuses to go over the heads of non-musicians, which many instrumental albums of this standard are often guilty of. Derek Sherinian has most definitely made a mark in the history of music with this release. He's a man who has more to offer than just metal. He says the album is "a landmark in my career, given the material and the players I've surrounded myself with, definitely my best work" and even includes 5 songs that are co-written with Simon Phillips (who also engineered the album as well).

A fine piece of artwork, Indeed.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Snowball (feat. Lorraine Lewis) - Snowball
(Jack Factor Records - 2000)

She's back - the voice of Femme Fatale; Lorraine Lewis, in her latest band 'Snowball' - an experimental project that I greatly approve of. Released on Jack Factor Records, 'Snowball' is an interesting collaboration brought to you by Lorraine and Dave Hillis (who's produced albums for grunge giants such as Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Blind Melon, to name but a few).


It's an inspiring album that opens up with the industrial rock sounds of 'High'. You'll find incredible tunes like 'Loose Groove' (arguably one of the most innovative modern tracks of the year). It has a texture that appears to blend in the power of Hawkwind with the zaniness of Kraftwerk and pays great homage to the disco classic, 'I feel love' by Donna Summer. Wow - talk about the dream-state quality of this number with the weightless, tranquil groove that's incorporated throughout - it's completely engagable.


There's an elegant helping of radio-friendly rock such - an exuberant illustration of this has got to be 'Candy Pop', which at times is reminiscent of classic U2. Another notable seranader is the hard-edged blaster called 'L.O.V.E'. which could erupt at any given moment. It put me in mind of 'Hole' who happens to be one of Lorraine's major inspirations. The fantastic song, titled 'Indian Summer' features some top-notch cheesy Sci-Fi B-Movie samples about the earth being roamed on by mutants and bizarrely enough it comes across as an Alicia's Attic styled ditty with splatterings of Courtney Love bled all over it.
'Snowball' is an album that has got so much going for it. Lorraine's voice at times reminds of Madonna as it has such a stunningly bright quality to it.


Be sure to buy it from her site - www.lorrainecafe.com


8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Staind - Break the Cycle
(2001)

To tell you the truth, I didn't know what to expect. I had previously heard 'Outside' featuring Fred Durst (of Limp Bizkit), which eventually grew on me.

From the CD there were only two tracks that stood out and grew on me - 'It's been a while' and 'Epiphany'. These stood out from the start and are the ballads on the album. The rest of it sees Staind trying to be a mixture of 'Linkin Park', 'Limp Bizkit' and 'Deftones' and it isn't working for them. In my opinion, it's nothing new. If you are a little death-banger who hasn't got a musical knowledge and still at school you'll love it (especially since it features Fred Durst - the album will also probably sell well due to this fact alone).

The album bored me to say the least . One for the kids!!!!

5/10 for what it is (for the kids) or 2/10 for what it did for me !!!

By Tony Watson

STARFLYER 59- Leave Here A Stranger

Ten tracks of solid laid back sixties influenced indie rock. Nice melodies and
gentle guitars mixed with moody haunting atmospheric orchestration. Extremely
influenced by sixties bands like The Byrds and The Beach Boys (in their Pet
Sounds phase). Fans of The Stone Roses and Travis may find this band
interesting. The opening track is quite superb, it shows great promise as a
possible radio friendly single.


Other notable references would be the current popular band Embrace. If you
find this album seems too laid back on your first listen, play it a few more
times and you'll begin to feel its prescence floating around in your head for
ages. This is a great promising new band with a cracking album to prove it.

8/10

By David Roberts, BA Hons FS

Chris Steberl/Project Alcazar - Reasons For A Decade
(Lion Music 2001)

Chris Steberl - is the man behind this breathtaking instrumental paradise (who's actually been playing since the age of 8). He's a master on Guitar, Bass and Keyboards and has supported maestros like Tony McCalpine, Greg Howe and Dream Theatre as well as working alongside Robert Sweet (of 'Stryper'. For this CD outing John Horman (who plays drums and percussion in a spectacular fashion) is his other half.

If you like your music to be of the classical nature but enjoy a nice dosage of rock then Project Alcazar more than fit the bill. I've never heard Mozart sound so good - the gripping rendition of the '25th Symphony in GM (Amadeus) is just up there when it comes to class. Vivaldi's Summer Concerto (3rd Movement) is as entertaining (if only the majority of classically based music sounded as good as this - I'd listen to it all the time if it did!!).

Included as part of the package are the man's own compositions like the bouncy, fun-inspiring 'Silk 'n' Honey' and the mind-blowing power-metal styled 'Transmission' which is like listening to a mix of Led Zep's John Bonham and Joe Satriani on Speed.

This album goes into my Top 10 favourite instrumental albums at No. 1 position for sure - the best I've heard so far.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Next Page