Archived Reviews: # A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Reviews Index

BB STEAL: "On The Edge"

Warner/Cheppel 1991
Review by Endre "Bandi" Hübner

Def Leppard fans disappointed by Slang, bored by Euphoria, attention! Here's a band for you. BB Steal came out with this album and this is more Def Lep than the original. Some people say it's pure cloning but if you don't mind that the Bryan Adams and the Def Leppard albums of the late eighties all sound exactly the same you won't mind BB Steal either. It's just perfectionist melodic rock with bombastic sound, great vocals, guitar playing, great riffs, great songs.

"On The Edge" opens the album, it is probably the least "Leppish" song of the album, its acoustic intro is almost Bon Jovi like. Craig Csongrady (obviously of Hungarian origin, I'm so proud to have another brother in the mighty AOR army) sounds exactly like Joe Elliot and Warren Mason's technically perfect tricky playing also reminds me of Def Leppard, especially of the Steve Clark-Phil Collen characterized Hysteria album. By the end of the opening song (when the arrangement changes from acoustic to the typical guitar riffing orientated melodic rock arrangement) the similarity is quite obvious.

"Big Love" the second track could have made it to Adrenalize or Hysteria without any modification and nobody would have recognized the trick. I assume you all know that characteristic Robert John Mutt Lunge (the producer) vocal sound you get from the Leppard-Adams albums. You have the same here. I can't really say this album has highlights or weak points. All the songs are top quality tunes and very enjoyable. They all have a great sound, the mix is very balanced and if you liked those "crystal clear" guitar sounds from Phil Collen you'll love the ones Warren Mason has. If I wanted to show the black side of my humor I'd say that the only difference between Def Leppard and BB Steal is that this drummer has two hands. Actually, here we only have one guitarist but you do not miss a second one because most of the songs feature multiple guitar tracks and the sound (due to the tons of vocals) is very thick.

Though the album is long time out of print, be sure to pick it up if you see it in a bargain bin or on Ebay because you simply can't go wrong with this one.

Reb BEACH: "Masquerade" 6

Frontiers 2002

Review by 02-03-15

Reb Beach may not be a household name in the hardrock biz, when it comes to being a vocalist that is. However, I must admit that he's doing a pretty darn good performance here. His voice actually sounds like a mixture of Kip Winger & Don Dokken from time to time. Not quite as good though!

I expected this to be a (more) instrumental guitar album, since Beach been playing some really flashy solos with Dokken, Winger, Fiona, Alice Cooper etc. in the past. To my surprise "Masquerade" only includes one all instrumental track here, the rest are all blessed with vocals.

You can really find a varied set of songs here! Everything from the modern "dark" rock of "Dark Places" or "Fanatic" complete with distorted vocals and all, to the fantastic, smooth pop/rock of "Ghost" with a really catchy chorus, I may add. The title track "Masquerade" and "Red" are both more like the rock of Dokken, only with Glenn Hughes as frontman, since the blues influences do shine through a lot here. Nice indeed! You'll have to spin this disc a couple of times on your CD-player, to really appreciate some of the tracks though. To be honest, some of them are too "dark" for me and I miss some "party" tunes here. In the end, music should lift you up in times of trouble and not bring you further down [hint, to why I've never enjoyed Black or Death Metal :-)]. On the other hand, the instrumental "Get Out And Walk" is very 'uplifting'.


Swamp Records 1999
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

First of all, I must say that the packaging of this album has to be the best that I have seen for some time. Lots of great-looking rendered landscapes and nice graphic details all over the booklet! Designer Tristan Greatrex must have spent a lot of time accomplishing this.

Now, the music... Beat Working are a British band, and apparently they have been around for some time, as "Calm" is their sixth album. Not surprising then that they sound very professional. Their style lies somewhere between Dire Straits, Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd - guitar-oriented rock with progressive elements. It is not the kind of music that appeals to me, hence the low rating. However, if those bands strike a chord with you, check this out, because these guys have nothing to be ashamed with the big names of the genre!

My favourite songs here are "One Man" with its catchy keyboard riff and "Pathway To Your Heart" that reminds me of Dire Straits. I also quite liked the instrumental "Circles", where guitarists John Hardman and Simon Prickett rip it up, but the rest of the songs seem to pass me by without much impact...

Jean BEAUVOIR: "Bare to the bones" 8

Voodoo Island Records 2001

Review by 01-08-23

Punk rocker Jean Beauvoir is back with his first solo album since Jacknified, 1988. An album he by the way recorded while still living in my homeland, Sweden. Punk rocker you say? Sure, he first recorded and played bass with Plasmatics, the punk/metal band fronted by the late Wendy O´Williams (R.I.P.) in the early 80s. He has since made a name for himself as a songwriter for everything from KISS to N´Sync and of course as frontman for Voodoo X and in later days Crown Of Thorns.

"Bare To The Bone" is as the title says a stripped down, acoustic album which includes a couple of old classics from his past work (no songs from his Voodoo X days though) mixed with some new songs. Well, it´s not totally "acoustic" as you´ll get keyboards, bass, drums etc. everything really... except there´s no electric guitars to be found here.

I say, this is indeed a fun album as you can really focus on how good some of the old songs really are, and the fact that Beauvoir is a very underrated vocalist. I´m not in general a fan of "acoustic" albums but these versions of "Feel The Heat" and "Same Song Plays On And On" (which From the Fire also did) are great fun to listen to. Not a "party" album maybe, but even Crown of Thorn songs such as "Lying To Myself" and "The Night" sound pretty fresh here. "Monday" sounds very modern and retro at the same time, like a rock version of a boy band doing ABBA stuff (not kidding). The old Beach Boys cover "California dreaming" sounds a bit outta place though, or maybe it´s just too much 60´s stuff for me? Nevermind, you can't ignore the fact that "Open Arms" is a killer song! One thing´s for sure, I´ll be playing this disc a lot the next couple of weeks. Recommended , when you´re in the mood for some "laidback" rock that is.

Jason BECKER: "The Blackberry Jams" 4

Shrapnel 2003
Review by Endre "Bandi" Hübner 25 April 2003

Let me put it straight: the only reason I could chew myself through this record was that I know the story behind it. As many of you may know Jason Becker was diagnosed with ALS when he was playing with David Lee Roth and had to give up playing more than eleven years ago. Now Shrapnel Records collected all the old demos he was making for his various instrumental projects, for the two Cacophony albums with Marty Friedman and for his "Perpetual Burn" solo. To give you a perfect picture: these short musical ideas were recorded on a four-track Tascam and were never intended to be released…

Since I can't hear any post-editing on these tracks, I assume they were simply digitalized from the tapes (maybe some noise was removed, not much though cuz the whole thing is quite "noisy" anyway) and put on a CD. As a result of this you get 31 tracks, most of them around 1 minute or so, pure virtuoso shredding that may be entertaining for die hards and for guitarists looking for inspiration but not for anybody else.

Honestly if I didn't know that this album can be regarded as some kind of a continuation of the "Warmth in the Wilderness" project that aimed to support Jason in his fight against the disease I would put it into the usual "cheapo cash-in" category. Knowing what it's all about I'd say it serves a good purpose and I hope those who buy the album won't be disappointed because they realize what it was all about.
Shrapnel Records website

Warmth In The Wilderness: "A tribute to JASON BECKER"

Lion Music 2001

Review by 01-08-06

Jason Becker is one of the most exciting musicians that ever came out of the 80´s and without a doubt a big inspiration for many guitarists all over the world. His technique was far beyond his teen years when he started out in the hardrock band Cacaphony along side with Marty Friedman actually, later Megadeth´s string bender. Discovered by Mike Varney he would later record three solo albums and the album "A little ain´t enough" with ex.Van Halen vocalist David Lee Roth, before his illness took control over his body.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a nerve disease that at first did not prevent him from touring with Roth, but it´s unfortunately an incurable (so far?) disease and things got only worse over the years. Today Becker can only communicate with the use of a computer scanner that read his eyes. "Warmth in the wilderness" is not your typical tribute album but a benefit album where all the musicians are performing for free. All royalties are going direct to the family of Jason Becker.

This is a 2-CD project with 31 tracks and over 156 minutes of music containing covers of music he did in the past, as well as a couple of originals dedicated to Becker. It´s an impressive lineup and some of all the musicians here are: Stormwind, Lars Eric Mattsson, Ron Keel, Vinnie Moore, Chris Poland, Jeff Watson, Phantom Blue, Lance King, Mark Boals, Jeff Pilson, Ted Poley, Mattias IA Eklund, Mark Mangold, Kenny Aaronson, Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert, Anders Johansson, Alex Masi, Robin MacAuley, Johnny Lima etc.

Some of the "highlights" would be Stormwind´s version of "A little ain´t enough", Torben Enevoldsen doing "Altitudes", The Cosmosquad featuring Jeff Kollman, Vinnie Moore, Chris Poland, Jeff Watson and Steve Morse doing "A jam for Jason", an original composing. "Dogtown shuffle" are here performed by Rolf Munke´s Empire including the superb vocalist Lance King. Mark Boals (Yngwie vocalist) and Lars Eric Mattsson do a mean "Hammerhead shark", Jeff Scheetz plays an cool instrumental version of "Sensible shoes". Jeff Pilson (Dokken) handles "Becker´s bolero", Marty Fieldman smokes with "Black stallion jam", and Paul "Mr.Big" Gilbert is "Hawking". Not to forget "Tell the truth" which here features the excellent (female) vocalist Pamme of the band Haven, Robin McAuley (MSG) Johnny Lima, Alex Masi and Lars Eric Mattsson. Bottomline, this is of course a must have for fans of Becker, instrumental and "normal" rock, as 11 out of the 31 tracks features vocals. Best of all? ... your money will be used for something good this time !!! and a Vol. 2 is in the [Note from Bandi: If you only have money for one CD to buy, let it be this one. I don't think I need to explain why...]

BEETHOVEN R: "El Legado de Judas" 4

Avispa 2004
Review by Jorge Antonaya,
24 May 2004

This is already the third album by this Madrid based hard rockers. One of the most popular acts in the Spanish rock underground scene, Beethoven R suffered a lot after the departure of their former vocalist Ivan Urbistondo, now in Cuatro Gatos. Finally they found a replacement in Kiko Hagall and headed into the studio to record this new album. Again, misfortune happened in the form of several problems and delays that ended up making a huge gap (3 years) between their former album, Un Poco Más, and this one. Pity, since they were then at the top of their fame and will have to overcome this long absence. And I’m afraid El Legado de Judas won’t help to bring them back as good as we all would have liked.

Beethoven R were always a band with catchy sing-along songs, and indeed there are some of those in the new album. The Whitesnake guitar oriented Larga Vida is a good proof of that. So are La Ley Del Látigo, No Permitas Que Esto Llegue Al Fín, Siempre Unidos Al Rock & Roll, No Puedo Esperar, or the nice ballad Qué Quieres De Mí, all of them with good backing vocals (one of the band’s strengths both live and on studio) and catchy hooks. Problem here is the horrible production and one of the most horrible vocal performances I have listened to in years, because sadly, Kiko is not up to the level Beethoven R music requires. Don’t get me wrong, the band is not the quintessence of technical skill, of course, but nonetheless, they had achieved a certain status that cannot be maintained with such poor vocals as they got on this album, as simple as that. But the only problem doesn’t lay only in the lead vocals as the band fails to keep the songwriting quality level throughout the record. Along with the good songs above mentioned, there are quite a few sub par tracks, like the title track, El Tren De La Inocencia, El Amo Del Harem (probably the worst song in the album), Viviré or Si Quieres Otro Más that simply shouldn’t be on the album for quality reasons.

As I said, a real pity, since with a better lead vocal performance, a production up to the quality of the songs and a more consistent songwriting, (namely, a better choice of the tracks included), this could have been a good album. Let’s hope the guys can overcome adversities once more. Maybe next time!

BEGGARS & THIEVES: "Beggars & Thieves" 7

Atlantic 1990
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Thieves? There are certainly more than a few "recycled" riffs and melodies here... The intro to "No More Broken Dreams" is probably the most obvious theft, as it is quite similar to the intro of "She Sells Sanctuary" by The Cult. The track itself is a bit more original, and actually one of the better tracks on this album.

I'd describe this album as one of those typical late eighties/early nineties hard rock albums with all the trademarks; anthemic rockers and power ballads. Closest comparisons might be Babylon A.D., Kiss, and Crown Of Thorns, as vocalist Louie Merlino sounds a bit like Jean Beauvoir. What separates B & T from the aforementioned bands is their slightly more bluesy vibe.

The best songs for me are the two huge power ballads "Kill Me" and "Beggars & Thieves". The bluesy ballad "Your Love Is In Vain" isn't too bad either. Unfortunately there are a few songs that I would consider fillers, like "Love Junkie", the song co-written by Desmond Child, which surprisingly enough has a very poor chorus. All in all this is an OK album but not essential.

BEGGARS & THIEVES: "The Grey Album" 7

MTM Music 1999
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

With their third album, Beggars & Thieves have come up with a modern-sounding hard rock album, that just might be their ticket to bigger things. Occasionally their new style is a bit too contemporary for me, but when the modern influences are in balance with the classic hard rock sounds, the results are impressive.

The very traditional and straight-forward "Don't Call It Love" opens the album, a simple rocker in the Aerosmith-vein, with Louie Merlino displaying some vocal tricks borrowed from Robert Plant. A decent, if not a really memorable track. That can not be said of the next track "Cost Ya Nothing To Love", which is a great example of their new sound at its best. Very melodic, yet with a fresh, modern sound. A potential hit there... "Complicate It" introduces a new, funky influence to the album, sounding a bit like The Red Hot Chili Peppers during the verses. The chorus is melodic again... do we have another potential hit here?

"Piece Of My Heart" is good rocker, one of the more "old-style B & T" tracks. Merlino's vocals remind me of Paul Stanley or Jean Beauvoir here. Then it's time to slow it down, as it's time for the ballad "The Closer". Great vocal again from Merlino, and the track itself is one of the highlights. Is this their soon-to-be hit ballad?

"Done" is another perfect marriage of modern rock sound and older influnces (Cheap Trick maybe?), a very melodic and catchy song... almost as good is "Beady Eyes", even though its brilliant and flowing chorus is almost spoilt at the end by the weird grungy part.

Apart from those aforementioned two tracks, I must admit that I tend to lose interest during the last half of the album. The uptempo tracks are rather average, and the mid-tempo "In Between" is just way too Seattle-sounding for me. However, I have a feeling that this band is destined for bigger things, and if it doesn't happen with this album, just look out for the next one...


George BELLAS: "Venomous Fingers" 9

Lion Music 2003

Review by Endre "Bandi" Hübner,
25 January 2004

The world of instrumental (guitar) music is a small one. Last week I reviewed Tom Hess' Opus 2 and this week it's his ex- teacher George Bellas here. Though George's name may also be known for his teaching or for his music educational softwares, I think it's best known for his work with keyboard virtuoso Vitalij Kuprij in Ring of Fire or for his participation in another progressive rock project Magellan. UFO fans may also remember him playing in the UFO side-project Moggway. This time it's a solo record and the music is exactly what's you'd expect from Bellas: progressive instrumental rock music with classical touches.

George handled all the instruments and I'm stunned by his performance on the guitars and the keyboards and also the production. The Bellas' guitar sound (and approach) is probably closest to the early Malmsteen and MacAlpine sound and brilliance of the keyboard tracks and the diversity of the sounds used makes me compare his music to Dream Theater's. I knew he was a great musician but what stroke me the most were the drums. I have never heard drums programmed so well before. When it comes to progressive rock, it's extremely hard to record programmed drums because of the many tempo changes and the complexity of the drum tracks. Most of the times programmed drums fail to live up to the complexity of the music. Well, definitely not here! Though the kick and snare sounds are a little too plastic sometimes, the drum tracks are simply stunning, I can't help enjoying them and I'm scared to imagine how much time and fuss it took to work on them till they ended up being as precise, complex, and diverse as they got.

My personal favorites were the more than 11- minute-long "Journey To The Stars" that along with the opening "Discovery" serving as an intro to "Journey..." sums pretty much up what George's music and the Bellas-sound are all about. I also loved "Lightspeed" that - as its title suggests - is pretty much like early, very fast Malmsteen, not to mention the widely-used harpsichord keyboard sound that is almost compulsory when it comes to neoclassical instrumental rock. Out of the shorter tracks the classical- flavored, guitar-only "Symphonia I and II" impressed me the most, serving a little as intros to "One Last Wish", a slow, memorable ballad. One can't help recognizing how much planning and thinking were put into the album with songs leading into each other, not only by simple fade-through between tracks but by musical ideas, themes, sounds, and moods flowing through the album leaving no gaps between tracks. Though the album is not promoted as a concept album one could easily listen to it as one. Anybody listening to this album must be deaf or a complete dilettante not to recognize the amount and quality of work put into it. Making perfect use of his own studio, experience, and creativity to show his own world of music, George Bellas proved he is among the best progressive musicians of our times.

BEYOND DARKNESS: "Deep Inside Of You"

Indie 2002

Review by 1 June 2002

Holy Cow! I've just spent the seven longest minutes of my life, desperately trying to understand the structure of opening track "Ebbing Tide". I never did get a hang on it though, it's like this never ending nightmare without a beginning, middle, or end.

OK, let's skip to the next track, shall we? Holy Crap! There goes another 9 ½ minutes of my life, which I'd rather spend watching wet paint dry, I may add. I'm sorry to say, but "Moisten Me" (???!!!) can only be described as a total waste of time.

Beyond Darkness is a melodic hardrock band from Japan. They are indeed good musicians and they all know how to handle their instruments. Sadly the song material is completely lacking of melodies, harmonies and hooklines. My advice would be to write shorter songs, focus more attention on the chorus, and give the singer a bunch of English lessons (not that my English is perfect in any way, but still). Bad English, huh? Now there's a good band...


BEYOND TWILIGHT: "The Devil's Hall Of Fame" 8

Massacre Records 2001

Review by 12 September 2001

When I started listening to this cd the first thought about the singer was this MUST be Jorn Lande. As I didn't get any information with the cd I went to the net and found out it actually is Jorn himself singing here (of Millenium, Ark, The Snakes). The rest of the band is Finn Zierler - Keyboards, Anders Lindgren - Bass, Anders Ericson - Guitars and Thomas Freden - Drums.

This album is a concept story set in the past and the future. Very interesting, but I was expecting more from this Scandinavian band. There are very interesting moments on the album and my fave songs were "Shadowland" with Jorn's Coverdale-like vocals, violin, catchy parts and a generally good "feel", "The devil's Waltz", a two minute instrumental with touches of madness, "Crying" with progressive influences that also lasts over 7 minutes, "Closing the circle" which is slow and also an instrumental that starts with a man talking: "I had this dream that I was married. I was married to this beautiful woman. I really miss her. Is that ok ? Can I miss her now ? Thank you." Then comes a beautiful piano. I could compare this to Dream Theater's "Space-Dye Vest" which is also a love story, but Beyond Twilight doesn't get quite that close to the amazing and sad feeling I get when I listen to Space. Still very impressive. I also like the 8th and last song "Perfect dark", it starts slowly and has a haunting feeling to it, tearing vocals and orchestration. The other songs are the 8-minute beginner "Hellfire", "Godless and wicked" and the title track which is also over 8 minutes long with Latin choirs.

You get to experience all of the human feelings while listening to this album and mostly it is kinda scary and "creepy" with its various sounds throughout the album. But I like this scary world and the story behind it. It could've been even better, but I won't complain any more. You need a few listens to get into this album, but it's worth it. I'm just wondering why Jorn hasn't still hit the jackpot 'cos he's got such an awesome voice. Though in Millenium he's quite near where I see him. You might know Finn and Thomas from their former band named simply - what else - "Twilight"!

BFE: "Born In A Barn"

Indie 2001
Review by Endre "Bandi" Hübner 20 February 2002

With such a title an album can only be Christian wimp stuff or pure fun Southern rock! Thank God… errr… thank Lynyrd Skynyrd… BFE is from the second category and very good at that! This album really brings back the fun to rock n' roll. Songs like the title track or "Hounddog Woman", "Drunk Hillbilly", "See How You Are Prick" and "Chokin' My Chicken" suggest what the band is all about. All loud Gibson-Marshall sounding party Southern guitar rock, add that there are six guys, 2 lead guitarists in the band and the singer also plays some guitar at times, and you'll get a thick sound and a big doze of great party feeling.

Although the band is selling the album from their site the sound quality isn't up to today's standards. The feeling gets through and their playing is quite good (well, good to the standards of the genre, don't expect any progressive stuff!) but I think it's safe to say that this music comes to life when it is played in a bar somewhere in Tennessee for an audience of some hundreds of drunken bikers. As the band also plays dozens of cover tunes their live performances must be something to watch for.

So if you live in the States look for them live; Europeans will have to do it with the website I'm afraid:

BIG BAD WILLIE: "Wishin my day away" 3

bbw 2000

Review by Endre "Bandi" Hübner 01-04-15

Big Bad Willie is an unsigned band releasing their debut from own resources. According to their bio they are into heavy gigging and promoting themselves through various radio stations in Florida. The artwork of an album always tells a lot about the band/music for me. The guys are pictured in straitjackets on the front cover, in the inside photos they are showing stupid faces just like Ugly Kid Joe used to, and there are ten songs on the album still the overall running time is not more than 30 minutes. All these things stand as exclamation marks for me saying: Bandi, beware; this band might not be for you! Unfortunately, the music didn’t appeal to me either. Most of the songs are some strange mixture of different styles that do not really lead anywhere (for me at least). I have to admit I have never been any fan of the nineties sound and Big Bad Willie shows all the symptoms, sounds, music writing patterns of those years. I wouldn’t say they are grungy but sound a bit like that to my ears. I wouldn’t say they do not play well but I can’t really respect this kind of playing. So the problem might be with me.

However I’m afraid (errrm, actually I’m glad knowing that) most of the readers of Catchy Hooks share the same musical taste as I do and they are looking for more melodic and a lot more polished music. And still in the endless flow of grungy sounding rockers with that almost off-key singing/shouting there are two little pearls that would satisfy any listener. “Something We Missed”, a haunting ballad with acoustic guitar and awesome vocal melodies. My only thought is if these guys can write such gems, and if the singer can sing so well, how the hell come that they do not do it this way all through the album?! Till you get to this song you have to eat yourself through three rather simple rockers with grungy guitar sound and falsetto vocals and a horrible cover of The Beatles’ “Elanor Rigby”. Not that the original were that (any?) good…

The other highlight of the album is “Hang On” for me. A 1-4-5 typo blues tune with an entertaining harmonica solo. Not that playing a song like that were such a big thing, any band with some musical talent can jam a song like this anytime but still it was fine for my ears that aren’t used to the treatment the rest of the album gave them. All in all these two gems showed the band HAS talent but they are using it for the wrong purpose. I think I have to stop here after this comment. The truth would be: they are using it for the right purpose in case they want to get signed to a big label, want to get to MTV, want their one minute fame. Unfortunately, today’s music business seems to be more interested in this kind of music, so I have to say to the guys: you are on the right way, right on! But if you want to please the readers of Catchy Hooks and reach a faithful audience who stick to music they like, who are not into “here today, gone tomorrow” bands then look rather in the direction of “Something We Missed”, “Hang On” and the intro of “Fullforce”./ (EDITORS note: This CD was produced by DAVID MIKAEL (David/MPG) at the Difference Studio in Florida)


BIG BAD WILLIE: "Wishin' My Day Away" 5

Self-financed? 2000
Review by Vesa Nuorala 3-11-00

After reading first all the stuff that came with this CD I was waiting to hear something like Blackfish (Blackfish where are you?), but no. The type of music that's played here is it all mixed together. There is funk, there is a Beatles cover which really rocks, and even some army-style singing in the song "Johnny". A band that plays this kind of music must be a really popular band in bars when they can play in all styles pretty well.

Even though there are various styles here I still prefer bands that have found their own sound, and are not messing around too much. It should be rock or funk or something else but too much mixing the styles, it isn't to my liking. The album has pretty much all that a good album should have, but the styles are not combined well enough. One can have your own influences but they still should make them into a sound of their own. Best songs on the album are "Rollin' Hard" and "Wishin' My Day Away". This one gets supportive 2½ stars. I only give them this much, because I believe the guys might have a change to make it out there, but only when "the mix" is ready.

BIG BANG BABIES: "3 Chords and the Truth" 9

Perris Records 2000
Review by 01-03-16

I can tell you right away, The Ultimate collection with the BIG BANG BABIES is a must have for fans of sugar sweet 80´s Glam Rock as you can find some really catchy stuff here!!! Never heard of them before? Not that strange maybe as BBB never did get the big break they so rightly deserved, but they recorded two albums in the early 90´s and had a pretty huge following of fans in L.A.´s underground scene.

Mainman/Guitarist/Songwriter KERI KELLY has since managed to make a name outta himself as he´s now playing with RATT and you might also recognize him from his work in: Pretty Boy Floyd, Warrant, Poison, Shameless etc. This compilation has been re-mixed by Mike Slamer (Steelhouse Lane, Streets, City Boy) and you can find 11 lovely Power Pop/Glam Rock anthems with influences from bands such as Cheap Trick, Poison, Enuff Z´Nuff, PBF, etc. + you´ll get a fun version of the old x-mas smasher: Winter Wonderland. Fans of Pretty Boy Floyd might also recognize the song "Everybody needs a Hero" as they later re-recorded the smash hit, here you can find the original version and it´s a great glam rocker with a catchy chorus.

I actually luv almost all the songs on this disc from the Pop-ish/Glam opener "8 Arms" to the closing track "Bubble Gum Town". The second track "Hear You Say" is an unbelievable good glam/pop song that should have been a world wide # 1 hit if there had been any justice in this world. Take a big dose of Cheap Trick (at their best) mix it with some Def Leppard (Hysteria) and blend in some POP influences and you´re pretty close to the sound of this lovely song! Vocalist "Kit Ashley" together with the rest of the boys have created some great vocal harmonies straight from Glam Rock/Power Pop heaven. "Stop the World" reminds me of Paul Stanley´s (Kiss) solo album, "Everybody Loves My baby" is a superb ballad, "Saturday Night" is the best song that Poison never did and "C´Mon" simple kixx azz!!! This is what music are all about... great fun and a lotta catchy hooks! You can (and should) buy this CD from Buy or Die dude!!!!!

BIG METHUSELAH: "Human Sacrifice"

Indie 2001

Review by 01-12-12

Big who? Methuselah of course! Never heard about the dude? Well, seek and you shall find! Hint, take a closer look at the good book. Formed in April of 1999, This 'Big Methuselah' project is made up of Ted Pearce (vocals/guitars) and Mario Torres (guitars) using various drummers and bassists.

This is 'modern' Rock/Pop a-la Matchbox Twenty, John Waite, Jars Of Clay, Steven Curtis Chapman. Very laid-back, yet pretty catchy music with some Christian lyrics. Though I´m sure many of the 'metal-heads' out here may find this kind of music too soft or wimpy.

To my surprise... One of the guest guitarists on this album is Andy Timmons (ex. Danger Danger) and it may attract some attention from the hardrock fans? Then again, don´t expect this to be metal. Even if "Forgotten People" is indeed a great hardrock/rock tune, with a sound that could best be described, as a mix of Led Zeppelin and Matchbox Twenty. Very catchy and Ted Pearce proves to be a gifted singer/songwriter. In fact, he reminds me of a better version of John Waite from time to time. When it comes to singing that is. He can still improve his song writing skills some more. "Remember" is a lovely song though, with a lot of John Waite influences and a catchy chorus. Great!!! "My Self" has the word 'Pop hit' written all over it and Timmons delivers a really flashy solo. "Thorns" could have been from any of John Waite´s solo albums in the late 90´s or nowadays. And songs like "Psalm 2", "My Child" and "Face To Face" are all nice songs to just sit back, close your eyes and relax to. You really can´t go wrong with this release, if you enjoy modern-soft rock. Even if it´s neither a 'groundbreaking' record. A couple of more catchy hooks and this would have been even more fun. Make sure to check ´em out at:

BIGELF: "Money Machine" 9

Record Heaven 2000

Review by Urban “Wally” Wallstrom 01-03-16

Have you ever asked yourself how BEATLES would have sounded with Tony Iommi from BLACK SABBATH on guitar & Jon Lord from DEEP PURPLE on organ? Then the answer is BIG ELF! Yeah... that´s how the record company wants us to think that BIG ELF sounds like and guess what? I must say that I "almost" agree! This is BEATLES meets 70´s PROG music.

This is the second release from the L.A. based BIG ELF and after some minor setbacks due to the fact that 2 of the original band members are no longer with the band (dont worry... both Damon Fox /Vocals/keys/ & Butler-Jones /Vocals/guitar/ are still in the band) are they now back with a BANG. If you liked their first album "Closer to doom" you´re going to LOVE this 1.

Maybe this is how BEATLES would have sounded like if they had played in the early 70´s PROG scene??? Who knows, but the songs by FOX/BUTLER-JONES are filled with lovely melodies, vocal harmonies, complex chords and not to forget a FAT, MEAN organ (hammond) over it all. Opener "Money machine" is a superb song a-la Sg.Pepper (Beatles) or why not some influences from KING CRIMSON but with a more 70´s Hardrock sound, it´s 7 minutes of pure joy. "SELLOUT" is a more direct song with a good chorus and superb "Jon Lord" solo by DAMON FOX. Same goes with "SIDE EFFECTS" this is also a more straight ahead Beatles rocker with a good chorus. These guys are as much the PROGRESSIVE/ART Rock´s answer to BEATLES as ENUFF´ZNUFF are for GLAM/Rockers and they really should be more famous! Just listen to the last track "THE BITTER END" a superb sentimental ballad with great lyrics and a guitar solo that keeps going on to the bitter end! This is a CD that I would recommend to ALL fans of Beatles & early 70´s Prog! You can buy it direct from the label at: or in USA

BILOXI: "Right The Music" 8

MTM Music 2002
Review by 1 November 2002

Do you guys remember "Let The Games Begin" from the early 90's??? A pretty obscure release by a band that disappered from the melodic scene way too fast, in my opinion. Some nine years later down the road and the return of Biloxi has finally come true. Bandleader, vocalist/bassist Clyde Holly is the only original member left, but at least he's the most important dude... dude!!!

Formed in L.A back in 1989, Biloxi released above mentioned album and a Japan only EP before disappering into obscurity. Actually, it all began with the tragic death of their guitarist and the band decided to pull the brakes for a while. Holly returned to his hometown and band's namesake, Biloxi, Mississippi. He opened the HollyHouse Recording Studio and has recorded over 135 CD's up to date. Including the original 3 Doors Down CD which produced the Grammy nominated song "Kryptonite" I may add. Atlantic Records, 20th Century Fox, Babylon A.D., Jeff Scott Soto, Tom Werman, Arista Records, Zero Corp Records, C.C. Deville, Survivor, Filter, Edgar Winter, Crowbar are only some of his other 'clients'.

"Right The Music" pretty much continues where "Let The Games Begin" left off, some ten years ago. Not that strange really as a couple of the songs here are originally from the Jap only EP. The sound is not Melodic Hardrock throughout the whole album though as they blend in some Prog & Blues influences here and there. "Far From Home" and "Diggin Up Bones" comes to mind as very progressive (the first), while the latter is just plain weird. Without a doubt, the weakest link in this chain and not a favorite of mine. The rest is pretty much, top class, Melodic Hardrock though and Holly really sings his heart out here. Opener "Out On The Streets" rides on the wave of 'Let The Games Begin's success and "Listen" is a marvelous semi-ballad with a chorus that hits ya' right between the eyes. Check out Holly's performence here as he's one underrated vocalist for sure. "Have You Ever Since The Rain" is of course the old Credence hit from the 60's and me think they've done a smashing cover here. "Someone" is a catchy, melodic uptempo rocker while "Vampire" is a dramatic song in the progressive genre. Lots of piano and an almost epic vibe over it all, makes this one scary story. Not quite as much "AOR" as the debut, but still a pleasant suprise from a band that deserves all the attention they can get. Did anyone say pro - from head to toe???

BLACK'N'BLUE: "The Ultimate Collection" 9

Hip-O Records 2001
Review by 6 September 2001

Ok, this is a dream come true for me. I got all their records on vinyl but this is actually all I need. In my opinion this band should have been much bigger than it ever got to be. This has all the elements of good ol' hard rock. Songs like "Rockin' On Heavens Door" and "School Of Hard Knocks" just are truely great hard rock. When I hear the spit in the beginning of "Nasty, Nasty" I just can't help to think that it just doesn't get any better than this. All the songs are great and sadly not every hard rock fan found this band back then in the eighties but with this record one gets the chance to rediscover Black'n'Blue if one missed them during their time in the limelight.

The booklet has the history of the band and it really fills in the blanks that I ever had about this band. A job well done by former Metal Edge Chief, Gerri Miller. This is how a collection should be done, something from the band itself and then some outside writer to do the text. This gets extra point for the booklet, which really doesn't have anything to do with the music, but well, the music speaks for itself [Kimmo: and we're reviewing the whole product here...]. Get this, and hopefully some lucky ones will see this band live again.


BLACK MAJESTY: "Sands Of Time"

Promo 2003
Review by 9 march 2003

WOW !! Now can I finish my review to this word ? But really, I haven’t been this thrilled for a while. Well, that is if I don’t count the cd’s I’ve personally bought lately (DragonForce and Masterplan), but only the promos. This Australian band hails from Melbourne, the same city that has previously brought us the amazing melodic metal/prog maestros Vanishing Point for instance. Black Majesty are along the same musical lines, though they describe their music as melodic heavy metal, owing much to bands such as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and further influences coming from Helloween, Blind Guardian, Dream Theater and Queensrÿche. So in the end it’s not just melodic heavy metal these guys play, but a mixture of that and prog.

And it’s a masterpiece this promo. Everything just clicks perfectly together, the band is great and I really love the singers voice. Now I have to admit John Cavaliere sounds a lot like Silvio Massaro of VP, but who cares, I’m a huge Massaro fan and John also has that perfect powerful voice. I’m all goosebumps every time when he opens his mouth ! Even that he is such a powerful singer, he still has a vigourous and tempting side in his vocals too. I could listen to this man forever. The opener „Fall Of The Reich” is just sheer power, melodies and progcatchiness and probably the best song here, it’s instantly putting an evil party spell on you, this is just the powerprog fix I needed to lighten up my day !

On „Guardian” this band isn’t getting any worse, they’re just loosening up „a little”. But still my feet keep going their own ways as I sit here and write this. Even in it’s 7 minutes I’m not getting the least bored and that is a major achievement from a band. This song is a vocal duet with ex-Pegazus, current Eyefear vocalist Danny Cecati. The last song „Beyond Reality” is the longest one here, over seven minutes, and is the slowest track here. This is along the lines of some of the slowest tracks from VP. Sorry to compare, but this band is like a twin brother of VP, they’re quite alike. And these guys do have something else in common too. John „Gio” did a quest appearance on VP’s „Surreal” and has been a guest for VP’s shows now and then and Silvio will be doing a guest appearance on Black Majesty’s album, on song „Colliding Worlds”. The other guys in the band are Steve Janevski-guitar (ex-Cyclone Tracy), Hanny Mohamed-guitar (bassist for Pegazus), drummer Pavel Konvalinka (has played with Kryptor and Leprocide) and bassist Joe Fata (ex-Black Star/Radioactive).

Now I’m not wondering at all why everyone has had only good things to say about this band, they’re definately a band you should check out. Now if Melbourne keeps bringing out more of these brilliant bands I have only one option left, to move there ! I’ve been in love with Melbourne ever since I saw Vanishing Point the first time and this love is only growing now. And I’ve never even been to Australia before, hah ! Must be a great atmosphere there, if it brings out bands like these. Too bad this cd only has 3 tracks, it’s not enough. But until you have a chance to get your greedy fingers to this bands debut cd, you can feed your hunger at

BLACK ROSE: "A New Beginning" 6

Demo 2000

Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom 01-03-16

A new demo from BLACK ROSE is always interesting to hear as this Swedish band has been around for a while now (actually 10 years) and I pretty much know by now that they´ll always deliver some solid material. This time maybe the song material is a little bit weaker than the last couple of demos.

A NEW BEGINNING is the first demo with the two new members Ola Carlsson (Guitars) & Magnus Vesterlund (Keyboards) both are great musicians so there are no problems there. But maybe they can both do better in the future when it comes to songwriting? Both "Spacewalk" and "No way out" are written by the new members and I can´t really say that any of the songs impressed me that much.

"Spacewalk" is not that bad actually the verse is really cool and the chorus is okay I guess, but I miss some fat background vocals and a catchy hook. "No way out" on the other hand is not that much to talk about, some superb guitarwork by Carlsson but that´s about it. "Wild Child" written by Anders Haga (bass) and vocalist "Johan Spinord" begins with a cool Keyboard/Guitar intro a-la RAINBOW / YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and Ola Carlsson seems to be a new guitar hero as he plays some really lovely riffs right from the start. This is a song with a really strong chorus and a sound a-la early 80´s Hardrock from Sweden. The band are currently recording material for a full length release later this year and I´m sure that we´ll hear some more catchy hooks from the boys. For more info go to their site at: and Email:

BLACK ROSE: "Demo 2001"
Review by 01-12-10

"Belong together, Be strong forever" The enchanting words blast out through my loudspeaker and all over the neighborhood, as I turn up the stereo to full volume!!! Believe it or not! I even did the old 'air-guitar' pose a couple of times. And my neck is sore from all the headbanging. (ouch! whiplash)

Sixteen tracks are included on the new "Black Rose" promo CD. And it´s actually a pretty impressive list of Melodic Hardrock songs. This Swedish band was formed already back in 1990. And you may remember their first and only CD (Fortune Favors The Brave - 1993) released on the Danish label 'Bums'. A label with the reputation of never paying their artists. (shhhh... its a secret!)

Vocalist Johan Spinord and the Haga brothers (Peter - drums, Anders - bass) are still with the band, since the very beginning. While the new members are Ola Carlsson (guitar) & Magnus Vesterlund (keys). The music is still 'typical' Scando rock with similarities to bands such as Europe, Yngwie Malmsteen or Million. Even if vocalist 'Spinord' has a raucous voice, more in the style of Paul DiAnno (Iron Maiden) than Joey Tempest (Europe). Older songs like "Night And Day", "Wild Child" or "Always Tomorrow" all included on later years demo´s. Are still very enjoyable to listen to, and has been followed up by a bunch of pretty good tracks. Highlights are uptempo tracks such as "Lying Eyes" and "Belong Together" with a catchy sing-a-long chorus. Not to forget the lovely ballad "Forever Lost", goosebumps warning for sure. Black Rose, should be very close to being offered a new record contract. Let´s hope for the best this time around. I´m not really convinced though.

BLACKHAWK: "Love & Gravity" 8

Arista 1997
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Yes, they are a country group, but all it took was one look at the songwriting credits and my curiousity took over. Van Stephenson, Mutt Lange, Jim Peterik, Desmond Child... Now this has to be a good album! Not to mention the fact that Van Stephenson is a member of the band... And Dann Huff of Giant plays the guitar...

The first three tunes didn't quite live up to my high expectations, even though they're rather likeable country tunes, and are still growing on me. Track number 4, however, is the Mutt Lange song "Will You Be There (In The Morning)", a song covered by Heart on their last studio album. The Blackhawk version is a bit more "countryfied", but just as good if not even better. The AOCR (Adult Oriented Counry Rock - let's not start using this term!) theme continues nicely with "It Ain't About Love" (Co-written by D. Child) and "Nobody's Fool" (a Jim Peterik collaboration), both good songs where the great harmony vocals of the band get to shine. "If That Was A Lie" is the only song sung by Van Stephenson, and a very good song it is too. It's a shame that he doesn't get to sing more, because I think his is voice better than Henry Paul's (or Dave Robbins', I am not sure about the other singer). Paul (or Robbins) has more of a traditional countryish singing style, which at times is quite annoying. Those weird yelps...

The rest of the songs are almost as good, the catchy "Hold Me Harmless" being probably the best song of them. Overall, there is something that really touches me in these songs, I guess it's the fact that these guys really sound honest and true. Van Stephenson has come a long way from his glory days, but thankfully he hasn't drifted further away from AOR. Hey, did someone mention Michael Bolton?

[NOTE, July 2001: Van Stephenson passed away recently. We at AOR-Europe send our regards to his family and friends. The memory lives on forever.]

BLACKMORE'S CASTLE: "A Tribute To Deep Purple & Rainbow" 4

LionMusic 2003
Review by 16 November 2003

A tribute to the man in black (and I'm not talking about the late Johnny Cash here), with mostly unknown-ish and unheard of musicians (at least for the big masses), can only lead to this conclusion... don't!!! Ritchie Blackmore is probably laughing all the way to his bank though. I must confess I'm kind of fed up with all these tribute albums right now. Why bother recording them if the artists doesn't bother to bring *something* new or fresh to the table? I love it when they managed to create their own version of an old classic. However, if the only result becomes my flaming desire to play the original cut... then you've failed miserable in my eyes.

Deep Purple tracks: To be honest... it's not an easy task to sing what Ian Gillan sung in the past. The man is ab fab and while listening to Transcendence's version of "Perfect Stranger", you almost feel like crying. God! This is simply horrible! No-one should be allowed to sing Gillan without some sense of timing and soul. I actually had to play Deep Purple's version afterwards, just to get rid of the bitter after taste. Mister Kite handle "Bloodsucker" and Wemmenlind (vocals) doesn't even bother to hit Gillan's notes, probably for the best too. Headline with female vocalist Sylvie Grare, covers the "newly" recorded "The Battle Rages On", and it's yet another downer I'm afraid. Best of the bunch - Torben Enevolden, with a nice version of "Space Truckin", with the help of Mats Leven (vocals) and Anders Johanssson (drums).

Rainbow tracks: Only Dio songs and after Arabesque's butchering of "Stargazer", I'm preperd to call it a day. Things are looking brighter ahead though as Lars Eric Mattsson paints a nice "Self Portrait", and Iron Mask's version of "Gates Of Babylon" is darn fine actually. The Rainbow tracks are better covered, recorded, and dealt with overall. Best of the bunch - Reign Of Terror, with a smashing version of "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves". Mike Vescera (Malmsteen, Loudness, solo, etc) sings his heart out and Joe Stump (guitar), does a mean Blackmore impression. Bottomline, a couple of killer tracks won't save this record from below average in the end.

BLACKMORE´S NIGHT: "Fires at midnight" 8+

SPV/Steamhammer 2001

Review by 01-07-11

I don´t believe it´s necessary to introduce Mr. Ritchie Blackmore to any of our readers out there. The man is a living legend and has been around for more than thirty years and i indeed a BIG part of the hardrock history. Never heard about the man? Well .. maybe you should just surf on, my friend as this site´s music reviews seem to be nothing for you.

The third album with his partner, the lovely vocalist Candice Night, continues on the same path as the previous two with major influences from the middle ages with a touch of more "modern" day (classic) rock music. We can of course also find some of the virtuoso guitar work by Blackmore that we´ve enjoyed so much in the past with both Deep Purple & Rainbow.

I must say, I do like this mixture of folk and rock music! Renaissance instruments like hurdy gurdy, bagpipes, flutes together with acoustic and electric guitars, combined with Night´s angelic voice make this album a winner. It might not be hardrock or even rock done by the books... and maybe that´s why I enjoy this so much?! How can you not enjoy songs like "Written in the stars or I still remember" or the absolutely marvelous "Home again" The enchanting vocals by Candice on "Crowing of the king" are almost magical and title track "Fires at midnight" is so beautiful that it almost hurts! Can you fall in love with a voice ? Well ... my heart belongs to Candice from now on (well, she is also very good lookin'). Even the old and boring Bob Dylan classic "The times they are a changing" sounds good here. By far the best Blackmore´s Night album yet and recommended to all that enjoys some romanticism, mysticism, and enthusiasm from the medieval ages.


Edel Records 2003
Review by 27 July 2003

It's once again time to bring up your bagpipe, hurdy gurdy, and flutes from the basement. Get rid of all that dust and start playing along to the medieval songs. Indeed, the renaissance will rise again and the mysticism of long past days will surely bring to life with this "Best Of" CD with Blackmore's Night... or???!!!

To be honest... this is a very strange release and I simply can't understand the intention of it all. Ritchie Blackmore (ex-Deep Purple, Rainbow) and the lovely Candice "Candy" Night, have obviously not been involved with this release whatsoever. Edel Records decided to put together a "Best Of" compilation, considing of 17 tracks from the first two albums only (Shadows Of The Moon - 1997 & Under A Violet Moon - 1999). I'm not sure you could name this as "The Best Of" Blackmore's Night, with not a single track from "Fires At Midnight (2001)" included. The correct title should of course have been "The Best Of Shadows Of The Moon & Under A Violent Moon". This could however be a nice pick up, if you never bought the above mentioned albums. Otherwise... don't bother.

BLACKSHINE: "Soulless & Proud" 7

SPV/Steamhammer 2002

Review by 01-12-19

Take a large dose of Rock´N´Roll, mix it with a smaller dose of Gothic Metal. Throw it all into the blender for about an hour and what do ya get? Blackshine, of course and the music style: Goth´N´Roll. Originally formed as the Death Metal band 'Hetshead' during the late 80´s. "Soulless And Proud" is the third album by the mighty Swedes.

It´s their first CD since the 1997 release 'Our Pain Is Your Pleasure' And you can really tell, that these guys have grown a lot (musically) over the years. Hardrock acts, such as The Hellacopters or Backyard Babies have dominated the harder rock scene in Sweden lately. And Blackshine do have a lot in common to above mentioned bands. Add some dark, Gothic Metal and you're even closer to the core.

I really do enjoy the pure energy of this album, the loud guitars and the banging drums. Together with Anders Strokirk´s (vocals/guitar) raunchy voice, they make this a smashing party album. The touch of distortion on the vocals adds an extra dimension to the songs. Especially on tracks like "Sacrifice" or the Motörhead inspired "Light The Fuse" where the vocals sound very creepy (in a good way that is). Other highlights are "Servants Of Harvest", opening track "Love Our Hell". Not to forget the superb title track "Soulless And Proud" Kick ass rock´n´roll ! Gotta love the twin guitar work here. The downside would be that many of the songs do sound alike after awhile.

Release: January the 28th 2002

Jack BLADES: "Jack Blades" 7

Frontiers 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallström,
25 January 2004

Jack is back! And it was only a matter of time really as we all expected him to record a solo album one of these days. Not to mention that Frontiers Records had already released solo albums with almost all of the other 'Night Ranger' members anyways.

You may also remember Jack Blades from such great movies... ehem... bands as 'Damn Yankees', with Ted 'Gonzo' Nugent and Tommy Shaw (Styx). The latter helps out with lead vocals on "Shine On", which originally was supposed to be included on the third Damn Yankees CD. Other guests include Neal Schon (Journey), Warren DeMartini (Ratt), Michael Lardie (Great White), and his Night Ranger buddies, Brad Gillis, Kelly Keagy, and Jeff Watson.

You could say that many of these tracks are leftover from major projects as Journey, Shaw/Blades, and Damn Yankees. Blades (and Shaw) co-wrote songs with Schon for the latest Journey album (Arrival), and I know for a fact that at least "To Touch The Sky", was originally written for that purpose and album. A really fine uptempo rocker with that special flow that goes hand in hand with Journey rock. I'm guessing that opener "Sea Of Emotions", and "Alone Tonight", were also written for Arrival? as both are the co-work of Neal Schon. Quality material however where the latter is a fine ballad. The slow rocker "Someday" has Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers written all over it with a touch of Cheap Trick. "Breaking It Down" was co-written with Jack's son Colin, and it's atucally more in the George Harrison (R.I.P.) territory, with a so-so chorus and a modern approach. There's actually a lot of different styles on this CD as Blades tend to mix everything from laidback pop-ish tunes, to modern rock influences, and back to classic, melodic hardrock again. You really need to spin this several times as far from everything is an instant hit. Not bad at all in the end, even though it helps if you're open minded about rock music and different styles.

BLAZE: "Tenth Dimension" 7

SPV/Steamhammer 2001

Review by 02-02-20

I won't even mention Iron Maiden here! OK... I lied and I will, since British, vocalist 'Blaze Bayley' will (sadly) forever be recognized as the man who 'destroyed' Metal England's pride & joy #1. To his defense should be said that either 'X-Factor' or 'Virtual XI', were Steve Harris' best work, when it comes to the song material.

This is all in the past now, as Blaze returns with his second solo release. "Tenth Dimension" is based around a futuristic concept, far beyond the stars. Produced once again by Andy Sneap (Machine Head, Stuck Mojo etc.) this is his best solo effort. And by far better than his 'Wolfsbane' days, even if 'Paint The Town Red' always made me smile.

The band: Blaze (vocals), John Slater & Steve Wray (guitars), Rob Naylor (bass) and Jeff Singer (drums) have managed to come up with a very solid metal album, that combines their 'crunch meets melody' style to the max. Funny how things can change really, as I absolutely hated his voice as frontman for Iron Maiden. While here, it does sound more natural towards the music. The CD kicks off with "Kill And Destroy" a great 'straight-in-your-face' metal anthem. With... ehh... typical metal lyrics to fit the description. The title track, included some great guitar work by Slater/Wray. It sounds a lot like a 'Maiden' epic and the track ticks way over six minutes here. "Nothing Will Stop Me" has one of those riffs/choruses that stick like glue at once. "Leap Of Faith" has a very catchy chorus and is yet another winner. "Meant To Be" is a nice ballad that reminded me a of Queensryche!? during their 'Empire' days. Blaze shows a completely different 'dimension' (he!) of himself as a vocalist here. Finally, a solid metal album again.

BLAZE: "Blood And Belief" 7

SPV 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
20 April 2004

The former Iron Maiden, Wolfsbane, vocalist has once again returned to the scene of the crime with his third album "Blood And Belief". It's yet another solo album in the Blaze Bailey tradition, which basically means uncompromised metal in your face. Andy Sneap (Machine Head, Stuck Mojo), is still the man behind the production and it's all very cozy and familiar somehow.

It lays a rather gloomy story behind the making of this record. The experience of suffering from severe alcohol problems has gone straight into the lyrics. Not to mention that a serious depression made it all worse and even darker than before. Blaze pretty much hit rock bottom and "Blood And Belief", is all about his self-destructive streak and the long way back.

The song titles actually speaks for themselves and "Alive", "Ten Seconds", "Blood And Belief", "Life And Death", "Tearing Myself Apart", "Hollow Head", "Will To Win", "Regret", "The Path & The Way", and "Soundtrack Of My Life", tells the story about his last couple of years. You could say it's musical self-therapy that we're talking about here. The lyrics are indeed autobiographical and sometimes even too? upfront and honest. I'm not sure if we're supposed to feel sorry about the bloke? It's after all his own doing and desicions in life. Nevermind, it's all about the music and "Blood And Belief" is a solid metal album indeed. That includes crunching guitar work by his old team mates Slater & Wray. Fast paced numbers and indeed slower ones like "Life And Death" or "Tearing Myself To Pieces", gives the drunken story meaning and life. The latter reminded me of "Ordinary World" in some twisted way. I especially enjoyed the catchy power metal of "Will To Win" and "Soundtrack Of My Life". One words sums it all up somehow: Solid!

BLIND ALLEY: "Infinity Ends" 9

Aor Heaven 2004
Review by 14 december 2003

Blind Alley are probably one of the finest acts coming from Sweden in the aor department. The first song ”All Figured Out” already shows the best of this band and what aor and melodic rock is all about. The band is formed by members Magnus Olsson, Hans Dimberg and Pierre Glans and the background for these guys can be found in bands such as Fortune, Shadow Play, Bad Breath, Far Out and Stargazer. Blind Alley materialized already in 1996, when the band recorded their first song ”Walk On Water” and after that their songs on a debut album called ”On The Way” found their way to in 2001. And the story continues with Aor Heaven signing the band in 2003.

It’s no wonder they got signed. The guys definately have captured the refreshing, cheerful, yet longing mood music like this needs. All the songs stand out on their own and are damn close to complete as they are, the band could already be categorized into classics, being a mixture of bands like Journey, Richard Marx, Praying Mantis and Toto, even Thin Lizzy, having the best parts of all those bands and succeeding in the vocal department too, as all the members sing here both lead and backing vocals. And their voices really fit into their music. The production is also good. The songs carry a nice, relaxing tempo, only one real ballad can be found here ”From Now On” and the rest of them are rocking nicely; ”All Figured Out”, ”One Life”, ”S.O.S.”, ”Shadow From My Heart”, ”Here Comes The Heartache”, ”Hunter”, ”Stay The Night”, ”Payback Time”, ”Wild Rose”, and the two bonus tracks ”Internal Affairs” and ”In Your Hand”. It’s hard to believe that only three members in the band can sound this perfect. Definately one of the best aor albums for the beginning of year 2004.

BLOODSTAINED: "Greetings From Hell" 6

CultMetalClassics 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
5 June 2004

How original... a Power Metal act from Athens, Greece!!! Like, do they play anything else down there anyway? Well, I can't recall a single new Greek band lately, that hasn't been raving about plastic sword fighting, dungeons, or dragons for that matter. There must be something in the water I guess, since they're all steeped into this "true metal" formula.

Bloodstained was formed in the year of 2000 by veteran drummer Agelos Tsouklas. He's been bashing the skins for Greek bands like Phantom Lord, Power Crue, and Vice Human, in the past. The other metal warriors here are: vocalist Theodoros Gourlomatis (ex-Secret Show), guitarist Giorgos Kalavrezos (ex-Secret Show), and bassist Stavros Aivaliotis (ex-Fading Reality).

Their debut album "Greetings From Hell", isn't all bad really. It's rather raw and primitive US metal in the mid-80's tradition of Jag Panzer, Manowar, Virgin Steele, or Omen. I must say it's actually rather refreshing to discover a band, that doesn't necessarily play the "German" version of this genre. God knows there's too many of them out there already. With song titles like "Die By The Sword", "Bloodstain", "Sacrifice", "Son Of The Damned", and not to forget the impressive "Greetings From Hell", you already know what to expect somehow. Over the top metal with lyrics in the tradition of Manowar and other true metal acts. Check out "Prisoners Of Time" for a blueprint of Manowar during their "Into Glory Ride" era. The whole album sounds like if it was recorded during those days back in the 80's too. Vocalist Gourlomatis may not be as impressive as Eric Adams (and that's a a kind remark), but at least you can't find any accent whatsoever in his singing voice. It's raw metal that some will find quite iressistible and others will call crap. I'm on the fence here actually as I do enjoy approx. half of their album and true metal melodies. Let's hope they will progress even more until their next effort.

BLUDGEON: "Crucified Live" 6

Magic Circle Music/Nuclear Blast 2003
Review by 26 October 2003

Here's a nice DVD/CD package for the real headbanger with his/her roots in the thrash/death metal scene. Bludgeon was the first band signed to Manowar's 'Magic Circle Music' and the first project, outside of Manowar of course, to be produced by bassist Joey DeMaio. In other words, wimps and posers better leave this review alone [:-)].

The CD includes the entire studio album "Crucify The Priest" + 7 bonus live versions of songs where "Hatred" is previously unreleased. The DVD is approx. 45 minutes and reveals last years mind-numbing European tour with Manowar. "Crucified Live" was filmed in 12 countries with cuts taken from 35 different perfromances, shot with 6 cameras. You'll get the live songs "Last Rites", Zero Tolerence", "Hatred", Bound", Abandoned", "Stained In Blood", "Smoke Screens", and the music video of "Crucify The Priest". It's chaos and disorder into one blistering performance which can only be described as heavy metal armageddon.

You could say that Bludgeon is borderline Thrash/Death with one feet in each camp. I absolutely prefer them when they managed to stay closely to what Slayer did in the late 80's/early 90's. However, there's unfortunately too much of later days Sepultura/Slayer every now and then, to truly please this metal head. It seems like Joey DeMaio has declared bassist Eric "E" Karol "a monster on the bass", and I guess his statement pretty much agrees with my opinion. Then again... which label owner would name any of his musicians as "the crappiest bassplayer I've ever met" ??? Yeah right!!! I'm actually very impressed by the whole rhythm section as "Chevy" beats the living daylights outta' his poor drums. It's brutal, extreme metal, only recommended to the sickest and wildest fans of the genre. Arrrrrrggghhhhhhh !!!!!! I only wish they could tone down the nu-death influences a bit and 'Thrash' the place entirely. Mosh!

Vick Lecar's BLUE MOON: "Vick Lecar's Blue Moon" 8

Record Heaven 2001

Review by 01-03-16

I must say that I always believed that VICK LECAR and the band would get a contract sooner or later. Thank God that Johannes and the boys at the Record Heaven label shared my feelings for the band as this kinda music really needs to get out to the people. Some of you might remember my review of their independent CD that came out last year and I still stand by my words.

In fact ... I enjoy this release more now even if it's the same songs except from the Grand Funk Railroad cover "Shinin'On" that you can also find on the GFR tribute. But the whole package is so much better with a great front cover, pictures, lyrics and not to forget the Thank You notes.

Forget about the latest releases from Joe Lynn Turner, Rainbow or Glenn Hughes as Vick LeCar's Blue Moon racer, leaves them all way behind to eat the dust from the Rock'n'Roll highway. This is indeed back to the roots, back to basic, solid 70's kinda hardrock with a whole lotta soul and a bunch of groovy songs. Recommended to all fans of late 70's hardrock, you can get hold of the CD at: Email:

BLUE TEARS: "Blue Tears"

MCA 1990
Review by Endre "Bandi" Hübner

Now if there is an epitome what "radio friendly AOR" is it can easily be the self titled Blue Tears album. These guys managed to capture everything we all love about this music in one album. Unfortunately they haven't released anything else under this name. Greg Fulkerson was working on a Michael Sweet album later which was also awesome.

I assume it that MCA albums have bigger budget than a small label should have (the sound of the album is great so probably they weren't in shortage of studio time) so I don't really understand the extremely bland and tasteless artwork. The photo of the inside cover shows musicians with the typical melodic rocker image of the late 80s. It's far more promising than the cover art. Anyway the music is what matters and it's fantastic.

If buy this album in a store without having heard it before, you push this album in a CD player, listen to the first 5 seconds and you'll know you didn't make a mistake buying it. "Rocking With The Radio" opens the album. What can one say about a track like this?! These guys caught the sunshiny hours of 1000 days of the Californian summers and put them all in a four and a half minute song. The choirs remind me of Mutt Lange (the album was produced by David Cole) or any of the Def Leppard albums. The hooks are big enough to slide on them. We - Europeans - having to lack rock radios should sing this song like "We were rocking with the tape recorder." or something, anyway it's one of the biggest party refrains you can hear. Go for it (and drive out of the world with a speed of 120 mph).

"Crush" has an even bigger refrain (if possible). Gimme this tune any day than the Bon Jovi newie!! (Okay, I know ten years have passed since than and Bon Jovi was on the top back then but the word "Crush" made me spit this "faithless" comment). "Blue Tears" is the third track. This one is a ballad in Def Lep vein. I could compare it to "Love Bites". If you liked that tune you'll love this one too. There's such a big chorus in the refrain that it sounds as if a whole stadium sang it with the boys. "Take This Heart" follows. Okay, I have to admit that the lyrics do not show too much originality (especially compared to Soul Kitchen also reviewed here). But please note that Blue Tears is a completely different genre and they are on top of theirs! The song is as good as for example anything you can hear on a Stan Bush album. If you hid this one on one of his albums no one would ever recognize the trick.

"Halfway To Heaven" follows in the row of the "songs with biggest cliché titles". This one is the second ballad of the album. "Blue Tears" is more powerful, this one is rather for sensitive type of girls. Still it is enjoyable with its' giant refrain. "Innocent Kiss" opens up with the refrain chorus. These guys know how to write/sing catchy refrains. The lyrics are cliché again but the song is a great uptempo rocker built on keyboards and guitars. And the refrain?! Well, you simply have to sing it. No choice, these tunes get in your ears and stay there for hours. The next tune "Racing With The Moon" opens with choirs again. Typical "woo-oh" stuff. "Kiss Me Goodbye" brings a little difference with its brass section keyboards and midtempo rocking. I don't wanna repeat myself so it's enough to say: the refrain is as usual. "True Romance" is another ballad for female listeners. The album finishes with the ever-original-titled "Thunder In The Night". Re-read everything I have written so far and you get the review of this song too.

I have to admit that originality is not the strongest point of the album but if you are looking for something to cheer you up or to play at a party, or when driving down to the beach or just simply want to have a good time, this album will satisfy you from the very first note to the last. There aren't bad songs or fillers on this one. Any of the songs could have made big on MTV at the end of the 80s. You either fall in love with the album and play the hell out of it or just simply throw it away saying it's just a second rated cliché stuff. I hope most of you will choose the first option.

BLUEBERRYHILL: "Glandestine"

Demo 2002
Review by 26 november 2002

Blueberryhill comes from Seinäjoki, Finland and has been together since 1997, but I’m sure they are a new band to many, as they haven’t played much gigs in Finland at least by this name. Formerly known as Nightfall(playing mostly King Diamond/Mercyful Fate covers)and Isengard, Blueberryhill are opening this 5-song demo cd with “Odin’s Thunder”, with Virgin Steele-like singing and schizophrenical guitar sawing. The song starts off with a “kick in the butt”-rhythm and nice, clean vocals, which are a good way to start off with the cd, makes you wanting for more. But even if there’s good ideas here and this is working quite well, this would need some filling here and there, more power and the singing should be more powerful too and needs a bit more practise. You can expect a video from this track soon. Check out news about it from the guys homepage, URL below.

The second song “Demise” is a more traditional metal song and more straighter and simpler than “Odin’s Thunder”. There’s a nice pre-chorus and chorus and the song moves on smoothly with a good mood, but otherwise it doesn’t offer much. The keys sound very weak in the end, too “demoish” and would need a rougher sound.

“Stay As One” again has influence from Virgin Steele and it’s amazing how the guys have captured the simple power that Virgin Steele have bewitched their fans with. This sound and style also makes the band stand out from the rest, probably BBH too if they continue keeping this in their music. There aren’t too many bands that are copying VS and even in BBH’s case it’s not about copying, but rather adding some “VS-spice” to make the music more colourful. I like the screams here, which are really VS-like and they’ve got the power that this cd is missing here and there. The chorus is the best part here and the guitar solo.

“The Free Are Alive” is more straighter again, with a bit of doom elements, sounding so dark and medieval at times. Somehow this makes me think of the ‘80’ies Helloween, but I can’t exactly point out what it could be. Maybe it’s some of the rhythm parts or guitars. But you can forget this note, ‘cos it’s not at all the case here ! But this one’s a smooth song, it works well.

In the last song “Resurrection Calls” Mika Mustikkamäki (his last name means Blueberryhill) is defying very convincingly with his voice. The song is powerful, but the chorus not as much. This track is also a straighter one, but more darker (especially the chorus) in mood than the rest. There’s a good chance for these guys getting far. This package still needs a bit of work here and there, but not much. It’s just the case of filling some empty spaces. Finnish metal sure has changed since early ‘80’ies, when even recorded bands sounded more unfinished than todays demo bands.

BLUESTRAVELER: "Truth Be Told" 1

Sanctuary 2003
Review by 27 August 2003

Always critically acclaimed overseas while us Europeans seem to have something against these blues travelers. They probably couldn't make a living out of music alone here in Sweden. When in Rome huh? Nevertheless, "Truth Be Told" is their 7th release so far and I guess it'll sell a bunch of copies in the states.

This is not what yours truly would call "blues" though. I like it raw, simple, and with lots of slide guitar... the classic "road house" sound... if you know what I mean. John Popper and his New York gang never impressed me much in the past. The same goes with this CD I'm afraid, since most of the songs are like a bluesy, poor man's version, of REM anyway. Popper and the Travelers may be something of a housename overseas, but I simply can't understand their success at all. I've promised myself to never write a "next-please" review... but I can't find a single good thing to write about this. Next please! There... I told my truth now tell me yours.