I4NI: "It's All Fun And Games" 7
Crook'd Records 2001
Fans of 80's Bay Area Thrash/Metal better pay some attention now, since this CD features a dream-team of old school rockers. Indeed, I4NI (Eye For An Eye?) was formed back in 1993 and recorded two demos, before they sadly, broke up. The US label Crook'd Records bring us the 1994 and the 1995 demo in one fun package.
The musicians involved here were: Tom Haunting - drums/vocals (ex. Exodus, Angel Witch), Jon Torres - guitars (ex. Laaz Rockit, Angel Witch), Bobby Gustavson - guitar/vocals (ex. Overkill) with various bass players.
The production sound may be mid to high demo quality. Still, it's darn nice to hear some quality Thrash again. Not to mention that this was recorded during the dark ages (aka the grunge & depressive rock era). The style is basically a mixture of all the above mentioned bands, with some Megadeath or Testament influences. The first three songs were recorded as a three piece act, under the name of 'Pleasure And Pain'. Opening track "M.U.D.D." and track two "Letters In Lunacy" are both great 80's stuff, with melodies and hooks. The latter reminds me, somehow of Ozzy, even if it also could have been a Exodus/Angel Witch tune. "Vow Of Vengeance" now also with Bobby Gustavson at the mike is very much like Megadeth and could have been from any of their albums in the 80's. Too bad that we can only find seven tracks though. Still, I'm sure fans of above bands will enjoy this a lot.
ICE AGE "Liberation" 6|
Magna Carta 2001
|Review by Christian Rupay 01-04-06|
This is as far as my musical appreciation goes; hopefully I made justice to ICE AGE. And now back to listen to some wimpy and mellow stuff... PS: And Kimmo; no matter how much you insist, the Magna Carta guys will not send you free ROYAL HUNT merchandise ;P [K the Ed: that remark means that you'll have the "pleasure" of reviewing something even more challenging the next time... more widdlywiddly prog coming your way!]
ICE BLUE: Ice Blue 6
Vinny Records 2002
Finally, after almost a year long delay, the debut album by these Zaragoza based melodic hard rockers is here. The album was recorded at Oasis Studios, Madrid and mastered by Carlos Creator at Rockstudios, Bilbao. Production was done by Tony López (who worked previously with Hiroshima and Tokio, back in the 80's, and lately with SKA-P). Line up is: Salva Insa (vocals), Carlos Agustín (Keyboards), Miguel Bravo (guitars, vocals), Sergio Camin (bass, vocals), Sergio García (drums). They were helped on backing vocals by Julio Rubio and Pablo León (Elyte). Additional guitars by Pablo León and Carlos (Hiroshima).
The band plays hard rock in a retro mood very much in an early Bon Jovi style. Notice Salva won a contest at local karaokes nailing down Jon Bon Jovi's voice. Songwritingwise the album is quite good for a debut. Good ideas, by no means original, but well done. Salva Insa tries his best with his English accent, but is not yet well achieved, first of the weak points of the album. The CD opens with "Sweet Dreams", which has an amazing resemblance to Treat's "Fallen Angel" [thanks for the hint, Kimmo] a keyboard driven track which could have been nice with better back-up vocals. The solo is also a bit boring, but anyway not a bad song to start the album with. Up next is "I Live For You", with a nice keyboard intro. A good rocker that somehow lacks a more dynamic guitar sound as both acoustic and electric ones sound a bit weak for my taste. It works much better live, I tell ya. "Vampire" is one of the highlights of the CD being an uptempo rocker with very catchy chorus that could have been on 7800º F, (my fave Bon Jovi album, btw). Good solo by Pablo León, who is a tasteful guitar player. Again, the back up vocals lack energy, sounding weak on the mix, (something endemic of the album, sadly), except towards the end of the track. "You Just Wait" is the most clearly Bon Jovi-influenced song of the CD, and a really good one, a melancholic chorus, sung with feeling, in an "Only Lonely"/"Come Back" vein, by a way of comparison, (not meaning this is a rip off, but in that style). A very Sambora-like solo does nothing but making clearer where these guys took their influences from. "Angel Of The Night" starts as a mid tempo track soon to evolve into a hard rocker tune in which we can hear one of the best achieved sound on the entire album, here the backing vocals sound decent enough, and the guitar finally cranks up the way it should. The song itself is not one of my faves, but to each their own, it sounds really good compared to others on the album. "No More" is yet another mid tempo tune in a very AORish style and has got a guitar riff before the solo that Sambora would have signed problem free. By now one could start thinking there's nothing really new in here, but it is well done, however. "You'll Never Die" is more of the same, good vocal work by Salva, who sings with his heart and soul (you can argue whether succesfully or not) as he really feels this Bon Jovi-esque style, and thumbs up for that! "I Still Breathe" has always been a song that I liked ever since their demo in Spanish with their previous singer (in Spanish), and is still ok, but I liked it better the way it sounded back then (same with "I Live For You"). "It's The Time" is a hard rocker with no big sustance in it, a bit on the filler side. "Don't Close Your Eyes" doesn't do it for me either as is a bit dull, even boring at places. Finally "One More Time" is another mid tempo that fails to thrill or impress me in any way.
Sadly, both the production and the last 3 tracks prevent me from giving them a higher rating. I can't understand how the producer, who had previous experience with melodic rock bands, has failed in such a way to achieve the proper sound for this album. Overall the sound is weak, specially the backing vocal dept. So are the guitars and drums. With some more work this album could have sounded much better. As I said, songwriting is good in a bunch of tracks (6-7 tracks out of 11). Not original at all, very 80's but still good. One would feel tempted to dismiss this album as way dated, some of you will probably do so, but if you take this album for what it is, an unpretentious, vintage, retro album or kinda early Bon Jovi revisited, it is a quite decent one. Maybe they should have tried to add a more personal approach to the stuff, but again it's a debut album and ideas are not yet well defined (or at least that's my guess). What they definitely need to work hard on is on the accent issue (Salva has worked really hard, I'm aware of that, but needs to improve anyway) and above all they need a much better production for a next album. Should this album had a proper sound, it would be much more appealing to early Bon Jovi fans like me. And to the rest of the fans, me guess, as so many times we have listened to bands who do this kind of approach to big 80's names (Bon Jovi, Leppard, Journey, etc) and liked them cause they were good at it, Ice Blue are good, I've seen them a couple of times live and can assure you so, but need a better studio sound. If you're in Spain go and see them live as they are worthy, IMHO. And wherever you are, give them a chance, as this is a decent debut, could have been better, but still worth a spin if you are in a retro mood.
ICED EARTH: "The Reckoning"
"The Reckoning" is near... I reckon??!! This is just a taster of things to come really as the new CD... wont see the light of day until January 2004. I'm sure you're all familiar by the new metal situation by now (unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last couple of months). Ex-Judas Priest vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens, is the new frontman of Iced Earth and the hype is bigger than ever... I believe?
The release date of "The Reckoning" is the 27th of October and this is a 4-track single from the forth coming album "The Glourious Burden". This is indeed a new chapter in the Iced Earth history as Matthew Barlow is no longer the singer. Barlow reminded me a bit of Paul Stanley (KISS) actually, even if he wasn't exactly a deadringer or anything. With Ripper the material gets a new demension and "The Reckoning", "When The Eagles Cries", "Valley Forge", and "Hallow Man", are all fine metal tracks in the good, old, tradition. Both "When The Eagle Cries" (unplugged version for this single only) and "Hallow Man" are power ballads and especially the latter is their best since "I Die For You". I'm looking forward to hearing the full CD later on as this only made me hungry for more. I believe Iron Maiden would like to have their "The Trooper" artcover back, by the way.
ICED EARTH: "The Glorious Burden" 9
Jon Schaffer wrote these songs as a result of the 11 September attacks in New York. All the eleven songs that are on this ambitious epic deal with the world history in a nutshell. The songs were first recorded with Matt Barlow on vocals, but because of personal reasons he left Iced Earth, and Jon had a bit of a problem; namely to find a new singer. Fortunately Tim “Ripper” Owens just got the sack from Judas Priest, so he was available and willing. If I listen to the fantastic vocals on this album I think that Judas Priest is going to be very sorry to let Tim walk away...
The cd starts with the American national anthem “The Star -Spangled Banner” played on electric guitar(maybe a bit too patriotic to start with??), followed by the great power metal track “Declaration Day”. That song is loaded with superb vocals by Tim, so hear the only suitable comment would be: Matt Barlow and Rob Halford eat your heart out!!! “When The Eagle Cries”, is about the actual attack on the twin towers and it is a power ballad hymn like I have never heard from Iced Earth before. However “The Reckoning” sounds like an “old” Iced Earth track, fast, heavy, brutal guitar riffs and great “shouting” by Tim. If you like high-pitched screaming, like Rob H., in his best days, check out “Greenface”. “Atilla” shows a very bombastic beginning and has some outstanding refrains and choruses, whereas the semi-ballad proves that Tim can do more than just scream and shout. You can also enjoy a very crisp and melodic guitar solo from Jon in the latter.
However, the best is still to come. On the second cd you can listen to the absolute highlight of this album: “GettysBurg”. A heavy metal epos second to none; words cannot describe this musical experience...which lasts for almost 32 minutes!! This is without any doubt the best Jon has ever come up with, inspiring, intriguing, musically amazing and the story is heart breaking. One piece of advice: check out and read the comments from Jon about this power metal high light of 2004. Because I know for sure that this album will be in my top five of this year. Buy or die!!!
ICON: "Night of The Crime" 10
One of the greatest albums ever. I remember when I first heard this
album and didn't think much about it, but as the years passed I really
started to get into it. However, I sold my vinyl copy of it a few years
ago, and for a couple of years I didn't even have a tape of it! Thanks
to Christian from USA I have had a CD version of the album for some time
There aren't too many albums that have stood the test of time as well
as "NOTC". The production still sounds good, and the songs put most
of the newcomers to shame. "Naked Eyes", "Missing", "Frozen Tears",
"Shot At My Heart"... This is the kind of stuff that should please any
AOR fan! Some credit must go to Bob Halligan Jr., who wrote or co-wrote
six of the ten songs. And believe me, these songs are in my books six
of the best songs he has ever written.
Icon made two albums after this one, the very average "Right Between
The Eyes" in 1989 and the cassette-only album "A More Perfect Union"
in 1987, which I haven't heard. It has been released on CD with extra
tracks as "An Even More Perfect Union"... Does anyone have a spare copy?
One of the greatest albums ever. I remember when I first heard this album and didn't think much about it, but as the years passed I really started to get into it. However, I sold my vinyl copy of it a few years ago, and for a couple of years I didn't even have a tape of it! Thanks to Christian from USA I have had a CD version of the album for some time now.
There aren't too many albums that have stood the test of time as well as "NOTC". The production still sounds good, and the songs put most of the newcomers to shame. "Naked Eyes", "Missing", "Frozen Tears", "Shot At My Heart"... This is the kind of stuff that should please any AOR fan! Some credit must go to Bob Halligan Jr., who wrote or co-wrote six of the ten songs. And believe me, these songs are in my books six of the best songs he has ever written.
Icon made two albums after this one, the very average "Right Between The Eyes" in 1989 and the cassette-only album "A More Perfect Union" in 1987, which I haven't heard. It has been released on CD with extra tracks as "An Even More Perfect Union"... Does anyone have a spare copy?
IGNITION: "Ignition" 10
Atenzia Records 2003
2003 is shaping up to be a great year, if the first two releases from Atenzia are anything to go by. Jim Jidhed's album is reviewed elsewhere, and this one's even better! Following in the footsteps of such magnificent artists as Giant, House Of Lords, Unruly Child and Steelhouse Lane, Ignition delivers us a near perfect album of majestic, melodic hard rock with a production to match the classics. Granted, the band members have only written two of the eleven songs here, but since the others aren't some recycled leftovers, but absolute gems from top-notch writers like Billy Sherwood, Clif Magness and Mark Baker, you cannot really hold it against them.
The band consists of vocalist Jan Johansen, drummer Johan Kullberg, bassist Pontus Egberg and guitarist/keyboardist/producer Peter Söderström, who has worked with a lot of Scandinavian pop and rock artists. Johansen has also a number of pop hits under his belt, but it doesn't mean that this album is a lame attempt at hard rock by jaded pop artists, far from it! As most of us know, there's not a lot of money to be made at AOR or melodic rock, so the guys are obviously in it for the love of music.
"Down On My Luck" starts the album in grand fashion, a big hard rock anthem penned by Martin Briley and Baton Rouge's Kelly Keeling and Lance Bulen. The curiously spelled "Tell Me Your Mine" is a bit more in the AOR vein, brilliant moody melodic track. "Father (Save Me)" is the heaviest track of the album, and one that reminds me of House Of Lords - this one could have been lifted off any of their albums. "Fire With Fire" is a step towards the moody AOR style again, and one of the finest tracks here I might add.
Söderström's own composition "You Can't Fool Me No More" proves that Ignition is more than a vehicle for other people's songs, while "Babylon" will be ear candy for anyone into Steelhouse Lane and the likes, with it's subtle progressive touches. Hard rocking Sherwood/Allison-collaboration "Night After Night" is naturally a bit in the vein of Unruly Child (their main band), quite heavy though. Even though the title might be misleading, the uplifting and uptempo "Goodbye To The Good Times" starts a triple treat of melodic gems. "Should Have Done You Right" is the obligatory - but excellent - ballad, while Mark Baker's "First To Cry" might just be the best AOR track you'll get to hear this year, very much in the vein of Signal, for whom Baker wrote several songs. I was instantly hooked to this one! Last but not least, there's "Time Is Running Out", a good uptempo rocker co-written by Söderström and Matti Alfonzetti.
There you have it. It's going to take one hell of an album if this one isn't on the top of my list of 2003.
Did anyone say Children Of Bodom or Nightwish? Well, I’m all ears ! This Finnish Helsinki-based Imperanon is following the footsteps of those two, mixing the best sides of both bands and doing it damn well too. This demo has only three songs, but when the first song ”Wild One” kicks in, you don’t have to think twice if you like this band or not. Imperanon was formed back in 1999 and the guys are fairly young, from 17 to 24 years of age, but they’ve all been playing for years and it shows. They’ve been influenced by a variety of bands, but COB is the one that comes out the strongest here. Even more so when the singer, Alexi Sihvonen, is a male too and growls like a pro.
The other two tracks are ”Vein (I Bleed)” and ”Shadowsouls”, both continuing with the same power and speed the first song took off with. The cd was recorded by Janne Saksa (Wooden Bone/ex-Sancnity) in Sound Supreme Studios and this guy knows what he’s doing, you can play this on ten and nothing screams out from here. One thing did bother me a bit though (well, I’m a critic for godsakes !) and that was the guest female singer Leonna Aho’s voice. Now she’s almost there with the angelic voice, but it came out too on top of it all and sounding too dry. But this one is a really minor thing here. You gotta check this band out if you like your COB and I’m sure they’ve got a record deal quicker than I can say jeepers creepers. But I wouldn’t recommend everyone going on this same bandwagon, on a longer run copying other bands starts getting really annoying. And with this in mind, I’m sure Imperanon will get their share of people who will have their say on this, hating the guts out of it and the ones who won’t mind at all and love every second of it. I’m still up for this and hope all the best for the band, this kind of talent shouldn’t be wasted. And I’m not talking about copying here. Go and listen to it yourself from: www.imperanon.ca.tc
IMPERIAL CROWNS: "Hymn Book" 6
Ruf Records 2004
Imperial Crowns, with a name like that you almost expect it to be black metal, right? Dead wrong as these geezers play some marvelous old time blues (every once in a while). This is swamp music recorded in the spirit of Blind Willie Johnson or even Otis Redding. With a slightly more updated sound quality of course [:-)].
It's raw, down'n'dirty music, with a touch of soul and the pyschedelic groove of Captain Beefheart. You wont find any musical influences beyond the late 60's on this disc. In fact, "(Simply) Just A Dream", with its Rolling Stones similarities a'la 1966, is the most 'up-to-date' music to be found here. The Stones similarities isn't that strange really as they 'stole' all their music from the old blues masters. The three gringos Jimmie Wood (vocals/harmonica), J.J. Holiday (guitars), and Billy Sullivan (drums), has jam packed their "Hymn Book", with slide guitar, smokey vocals, harmonica, and overall nice groove. "Mr. Jinx" could actually have been a ZZ Top tune in the early 70's. The rest of the tracks have more in common with old timers from the 30's, 40's, and indeed some of the 50's blues.
While I do enjoy the blues, I must admit that "Hymn Book", gets a bit boring in the long run. Not enough uptempo songs in my opinion as they tend to play that sloooooow blues. I guess you're not supposed to take a catnap while listening to tracks like "The River". But believe me, it's hard to stay awake during 4 minutes (though it feels like 30 minutes) of slow-motion music. They're good at what they do and could be worth checking out, if you don't mind the slow blues.
IN FLAMES: "Soundtrack To Your Escape" 7
Nuclear Blast 2004
In Flames do it again, without denying their roots they create thrilling metal in the right balance of classical death origins and modernity. This album is immense, extreme and mind blowing; this is how metal supposed to sound in 2004.
„Friend"is a very heavy opener with screaming vocals and devastating guitar riffs, followed by the first single "The Quiet Place", a song with keyboard samples and rather "melodic" singing. "Evil In A Closet" sounds mysterious and dark; it could almost be a gothic track. In fact it is a semi-ballad that could do well on a Marilyn Manson album. "In Search For I" is a good old school speedster song, fast and furious, a real neck breaker. "Touch Of Red" is filled with guitar walls and "Superhero Of The Computer Rage" is again very speedy and brutal; mind that duo singing in there.
All in all, not a very easy album to listen to, but it grows on you the more you hear it. The production is superb, all the tracks groove like hell, but where are the instrumental passages, where are the solos and where’s the diversity?? But, this is an essential album in this genre; this is In Flames, this is the future.
INFINITE DREAMS: "Touch My Skin" 6
TTS Media Musik/Al!ve, 2003
"This is okay, I guess". This was the first thing that I could come up with after listening to this album. There's nothing particulary wrong with it, but that "something special" is missing, which prevents me from raving about the band...but they're okay, take my word for it.
The band's been compared to Bon Jovi, which isn't hard to believe since any band playing melodic rock is going to get that comparison, but I don't really hear much Jovi in their music. In fact I'd be so bold that I'd compare them to a more hard rock-flavoured HIM with a female vocalist. Take tracks like "Touch My Skin" and "Lost In Your Arms" for instance, if one added a bit of Goth seasoning to it, we'd be talking about a feminine version of HIM (would it be HER then?).
Other things worth mentioning? Well, vocalist Miriam reminds me a lot of the girl in Alyson Avenue...the songs that were more to my liking seemed to be on the second half of the album, with "Is It A Sin?" (track number 7) being the first one that really made me stop and listen..."Call Of The Road" sounds a bit like Poison's "Fallen Angel" (similar riff)...there's something about the lyrics that bothers me, not the content but the fact that some of the songs just seem to have too many words, and therefore are a bit of a mouthful to sing...the word "Passionately" (track "Touch My Skin") just doesn't work in a song, at least not in this one, it's doesn't roll out comfortably...that's enough random thoughts.
All in all, as I said before, an okay album from an okay band. Let's hope that in a few years we can look back on this and say "the first album was okay, but they really got things together with the second album!". Just a little bit of fine-tuning and Infinite Dreams will be more than "okay".
INFINITY: "Infinity" 8
Drakkar Records 2002
Mike Oldfield goes Heavy Metal? I'm not sure if it's the best way to describe this CD. Then again, I guess it's not that far away from his 'Moonlight Shadow' hit with metal guitars. One thing's for sure though, 'Infinity' is a lovely project by Argentinean (!) songwriter/bass player Beto Vazquez (ex. Nepal). Very bombastic and melodic at the same time with tons of keyboards included.
Fronted by the three women: Tarja Turunen (Nightwish), Sabine Edelsbacher (Edenbridge) & Candice Night (Blackmore's Night) this is really a "something out of the ordinary" metal project. The arrangements of the songs are based around a medieval concept, with the 'typical' story of a King & a Queen throughout wars and conquests. It's very beautiful, melancholic, atmospheric music, with harmonies and melodies not of this world. It's about a past and lost world really! And in a way, it's almost like watching a movie about the renaissance days. Just close your eyes and you're a part of the story! [The rest of the AOR-E team: come back, Urban! You are not the Price Valiant! :)]
Add that my favorite (female) vocalist Candice Night, sounds more angelic than ever here. Her songs are reminiscent of the Blackmore's Night stuff. However, here they are more 'powerful' and the keyboards are an even bigger part of the sound. "Promises Under The Sun" with the opera voice of Tarja in the background, is perfect bliss. Same goes with the three other songs sung by Candice, they are all simply magical. I can't say I'm too crazy about Tarja's opera voice, in all the songs included here though (or in Nightwish for that matter). Opener "Until Dawn" is way too much 'opera' for me and her voice gets a bit annoying in the long run. On the other hand, "Wizard" is a superb duet between Tarja & Sabine that goes straight to the heart. "Infinity Space" is a nice instrumental piece with a wicked bass solo by Vazquez and power drums by Jörg Michael (Stratovarius, Running Wild etc.) "The Laws Of The Future" is a marvelous uptempo track, again a duet between Tarja & Sabine. While closing track "The Battle Of The Past" is sung by the only male singer, Fabio Leone (Rhapsody). Recommended to both fans of rock and metal, since this is very melodic and powerful at the same time.
INFLUENCES AND CONNECTIONS: "Vol. 1: MR. BIG"
Believe it or not Frontiers also caught the tribute-epidemic many of the smaller labels of the genre "suffer" from. However - since Frontier is obviously the market leading label of the genre - the line- up for this Mr. Big tribute is as impressive as it can only get. Still the whole thing smells as fishy as all those other "tribute" albums, especially if we take into account that 3 musicians of the latest Mr. Big line-up are featured on the album.
Having to go through countless tribute albums lately I have developed a measurement system for their tracks. If the track is better (it happens VERY rarely) than the original it is a plus, if it's different but still enjoyable it's zero and if it's worse than the original it's a minus. Yet this system was absolutely useless with Mr. Big because it's almost impossible to make a Mr. Big song better than the original. So there was only one way to do this review: going through the album track by track trying to list their strengths (if they had any) and their weaknesses.
One very positive thing to mention is the production of the album (by Pat Regan) that - unlike 90% of the tribute albums - is really great, the tracks sound as good as the originals. "Mr. Big" opens the album with Paul Rodgers on vocals (and the rest of the musicians of Mr. Big on it). Youngsters may not be aware that it's the cover of a cover of a cover (yes, it's as crappy as it sounds!) and Paul was the vocalist of the band Free who wrote this song. This is the only excuse I can think of for this version of the track. This song was made come to life by the way Mr. Big played it and mostly because of Eric Martin's extraordinary vocal talent. It's not easy to fill Eric's shoes and it was unfair to make Paul try to do so because the comparison is inevitable. Bad choice. Not to mention that it's the worst possible choice for an opener as the song is dragging its leg anyway. Thankfully "Take Cover" featuring Doug Pinnick and Ty Tabor of King's X washes the bad taste away. These guys never fail to impress and they add a special and rather enjoyable flavor to the original song making it live up to the original. "Colorado Bulldog" brings a musically different version again with Marty Friedman and Lanny Cordolla re- working the guitar tracks. I adore them as players and the changes are okay, interesting, technically brilliant, it's just a personal taste thing that I prefer Paul Gilbert's version. Joe Lynn Turner on vox does justice to the song. [Dare I say he sounds better than he did on his own albums in the last couple of years?!] It's nice to hear the man rip again!
I could have definitely done without "Wild World" especially because musically this version is even more simple as the cover of the original. John Waite's minimizing vocal style suits it perfectly. [For as long as I can remember I've always had a strange feeling about Waite. Whenever I hear him singing I always want to shout something like: "Man, you can give much more than this. Come on and let it out! Work a little!" Well, this is the first song he sang where I felt there was no need to give more than that. One couldn't make it any better. The song sucks, no matter what the vocalist does.] If I had the feeling that JLT did better here than he had done on his own albums, I had the very same feeling with Glenn Hughes. Somehow his albums failed to impress me but his contribution to the rock opera Nostradamus and here to "Price You Gotta Pay" are just awesome. Chuck Wright's raunchy bass-lines and Lanny's tricky guitar-work spiced up with Steve Lukather's solo make it another welcome addition to the album. But the real breakthrough is "Promise Her the Moon" featuring Ann Wilson of Heart. It's one of the most soulful Mr. Big ballads anyway and I know it may sound like a blasphemy but this version is even better than the original. Ann sounds as good as ever; her voice makes the song shine, and the extra female backing vocals along with Ann's own interpretation of the vocal lines add a whole new dimension to the song. This one track alone was worth all the fuss about this whole project and it makes the album a must buy not only for Mr. Big but for Heart fans as well.
The big smile was wiped quite fast off my face with Billy Sheehan taking the
lead vocals on "Addicted to that Rush", one of my favorite Mr. Big rockers.
Though I like the way Richie Kotzen refreshed the guitar parts (the
complementary harmonica-like parts are really cool) but I can't get past
Sheehan's vocal performance. It's flat, boring, emotionless, awful, you name it!
Hell, the original was Eric Martin! While Billy keeps saying during the solo
"That's it, play it like that", I wanna shout "That's NOT it, DON'T sing it like
that!". It's okay to snap instruments at a rehearsal or at the end of a long
tour just for fun but it's another thing to record and release it. What a
shame?! Thankfully Mickey Thomas does a better job on "Just Take My Heart",
musically it's very faithful to the original, the vocals are rather okay, I even
like the high-pitched parts towards the end, yet it's still nowhere near the
original, mainly because of some insecure parts. The song is too difficult just
to get into the studio and sing it off the top of your head. A little more
practice upfront would have helped it, Mickey! I have no idea what Dogstar
(Keanu Reeves band or what?!) is doing here, though he had "Shine", a relatively
easy track to sing, one can't help comparing him to the original. You'd better
not try to compare anything, just push the skip button. [The backing vocals are
good though.] Another relatively easy track, "Crawl Over Me" was taken by Pat
Thorpey and I have the same feeling as I had with Billy Sheehan. These guys have
played with Eric Martin for over a decade. Haven't they paid any attention to
the man's abilities? Haven't they compared them with their own? And if they
have, then how the hell do they have the nerve/confidence/ego/(you name it) to
try to sing what Eric had sung before them?? Richie Kotzen tried his wings on
"To Be With You" too and though I like the way he is singing on his own albums,
this one just plain old fails again because one can't help comparing it to the
original. The full-electric version also takes the feeling from the track. I
would have loved to hear Richie doing one of the rockers instead. Another bad
choice. Far too many so far. The guys managed to ruin "Green Tinted Sixties
Mind" as well, though it starts with a moody, sitar-like guitar fill-in part,
Donnie Vie's vocals are simply awful. Again: you can't sing an Eric Martin tune
unless you prepare for it meekly with respect and that takes time and practice.
After all those weak tracks the album finishes with a ripping version of "Daddy,
Brother, Lover, Little Boy" with Yngwie on guitars and JLT on vocals. This is as
good as you'd expect from these names. Bottom line and the moral of the story:
talent and respect [towards music] shine through no matter what so does
indolence, oversized ego, and overrating your abilities.
INNUENDO: "Raining In Mexico"
XLR8 Records 2002
I'm sure the title 'Raining In Mexico - An Acoustic Collection' gives you an idea or two, what this is all about. Indeed, the Phoenix, Arizona based band 'Innuendo' returns with their 4th release on XLR8 Records. To my very surprise (!) this is a 17 track collection of acoustic based material. Nine completely new tracks are mixed with eight songs from their first three albums
I must say that I find this compilation a bit strange! Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy many of the tracks here! But why release an acoustic collection when you're already playing very mellow, acoustic/electric rock in the first place? It's not like the eight tracks from earlier albums, do sound 'that' different from others here.
Still, in these days of aggressive music with negative message (?) Innuendo is for sure like a breath of fresh air. You surely can't blame them for jumping on the bandwagon. How to describe their music? Well, simply put.. if you enjoy the acoustic rock of the NELSON bros. I'm pretty sure you'd also enjoy the Innuendo guys. However, I'd like to point out, this ain't no wannabe band though! Even if you can for sure find similarities with the Nelson twins. Great vocal harmonies by Andy Watts (lead vocals, bass) & Brett Richey (guitar, keys, bg vocals) are mixed with lovely (mellow) melodies. New songs like "Little Less Grey", "Raining In Mexico", The Real Me" and "The Call" are mellow rock at its best! Especially the latter, which could easily melt a heart of stone. However, in the end, I find myself humming along alot more, to the songs from their previous album "Three". Which I believe to be a pure masterpiece of mellow, catchy rock. Bottomline: This may be nice compilation, while "Three" is a must have. You can get hold of both CD's at:
INSANIA : "Sunrise In Riverland" 7
No Fashion 2001
26 April 2001
Hot on the heels of such melodic metal giants as Helloween, Stratovarius and Royal Hunt comes Insania from Sweden. This is their second album, and it has been recorded in Finland under the guidance of famed Finnish producer Mikko Karmila. What Insania has to offer is traditional melodic metal with all the trademarks: highpitched vocals, frantic doublebassdrum-driven rhythms and sing-along choruses.
While I might not be the biggest fan of the euro-metal genre, I have to say that this is a perfectly excecuted and a very enjoyable album. Although hard and fast enough to keep a hardened euro metal fan happy, there's still plenty of melody here, which I of course applaud, the wimp rock fan that I am...
I can find traces of all of the above mentioned bands there, and just like for most of the bands of the genre, I would say that the "Keeper Of The Seven Keys"-albums by Helloween have gotten a spin or two from these guys. Not that it's that awful, those albums are milestones when it comes to melodic metal.
What this album could have used is a bit more variety. The first half offers that, with a catchy instrumental opener ("Finlandia" - and these are Swedish guys!), then a fastpaced metal anthem, a more of a midtempo track ("Heaven Or Hell", one of my favourites, touches of Queensrÿche here), another fast paced metal anthem and then a fine metal ballad called "Angels In The Sky". "Lost In Time" is a very good track too, a catchy anthemic track á la prime time Helloween. But then...the remaining tracks fall mostly into the category of "frantic melodic metal". They're not bad, but 6 of these celebrations of the joys of double bass drums in a row are a bit too much for me. Anyway, I would still rate this album above most of the other classic/traditional/power/melodic metal albums I've heard lately.
INSANIA Stockholm: "Fantasy - A New Dimension" 7
No Fashion Records 2003
The swedish/finnish group Insania has been around since 1992 and the line-up today is: Henrik Juhano/Lead Guitars, Niklas Dahlin/Lead Guitars, Tomas Stolt/Bass, Patrik Västilä/Keyboards, Mikko Korsbäck /Drums and they found a new singer in Ola Halén last year after they departed ways with David Henriksson. Ola fits Insania well and even sounds like Michael Kiske at times. The expectations from this album were quite high after hearing their song “Carry On” at Finnvox Studios and their “Sunrise In Riverland” album being such great power metal from start to finish.
“Fantasy” doesn’t have quite the same kind of stuff you would’ve expected to hear though. This one isn’t giving you the space for a breather! From the “Introduction” it’s pure blasting all along the way till the very end, no ballads for you gals out there! “Life After Life” is the second song starting with helluva speed and high vocals and has a catchy chorus, which made this one the best songs here along with “Carry On” and “Universe”. “Life After Life” is a smooth song and the sounds are great all over of course and this also applies to the rest of the songs too. “Fantasy” is a great album to listen to.
“Illusion” is a bit faster one with even higher vocals, but a bit boring in its flatness. The song is over five minutes and that’s where the band decided to stay in this album, most of the songs are over five minutes in length. “Carry On” is also quite flat, but has the kind of spirit I would’ve wanted to hear more from the guys, there’s ghostlike background singing that is leading to the catchy chorus with keys in the background adding their own thing. The keys/guitar solos are also nice ones, very longing. I wish I only would’ve gotten the lyrics with the cd, so I could’ve gotten more out of the music. The lyrics are part of the music in the end. At least they count a lot for me and get you more closer to the music.
“Master Of My Mind” starts with Halloween-like keys (the movie)and goes to “heavy picking” guitar (sorry, I’ve totally forgotten my guitar-vocabulary), that also is kind of a longing song at the mood and yet pretty flat again. In the end there’s a choir and an instrumental part that is just too long. “Universe” is more traditional metal in the style of Stratovarius, which is also showing in a lot of other songs. This one is of course a little slower, a gigantic one at over eight minutes with orchestra, beautiful, airy guitar solo and the “testosterone / church” choir. I say testosterone/church, because both have their dramatic features and the power. “Face The King” also has a few dramatic features with the keys, something Children Of Bodom do in their music, but in the end it is too smooth to be an outstanding song. There’s nice bass parts though. “Fantasy”,“Vengeance” and “Reflections Of Mine” are continuing in the same style, all have their little tricky moments and are ok party tunes if you heard them seperately somewhere. “Mankind” is a little bit slower song, eight minutes long again, having slower parts, Strato-style guitar solo/ orchestral part and a bit more variety than the rest of the songs.
Insania are a strong band and the album is very well done. Even Roland Grapow did some guitar solos for this album. But in the end it is too smooth, monotonous and the songs aren’t standing out from the rest enough. I wish they still have other tricks in their sleeves, ‘cos power metal isn’t only about being powerful and fast. If you go there, you will only end up sounding like every other band in the neighbourhood. Though I liked the yearning atmosphere that ruled all over in “Fantasy”, the orchestral parts, the more powerful sound and the fact that Insania also sounds better here than before, I’m sorry to say I still enjoyed “Sunrise” much more. In the end “Sunrise” had more twists and turns to keep the listeners attention from the beginning to the end, even if it wasn’t as tight package as this one.
INTERNATIONAL POP OVERTHROW: "S/T" 7
The lads of International Pop Overthrow are obviously very inspired by the four gentlemen from Liverpool. In fact, their selftitled album is absolutely jam packed with Pop/Rock or Nu-Breed melodies in the tradition of The Beatles. Very nicely done I must say and this power trio consisting of Chris Lund (vocals/guitars), Sean Lund (vocals/drums) & Don Allen (bass), are all gifted musicians and songwriters.
I actually believe that a majority of the Enuff Z'Nuff fans will truly appriciate this kind of music too. They will recognize both the harmonies and most melodies anyway, even if this is of course the 'lighter' version of it all. Not that 'light' actually as famed producer John Plum (Candlebox, Pearl Jam, Queensryche), manage to squeeze out the best of the band.
There's even a bit of Swede Pop/Rocker Anders Johansson into the music and you can even throw in some Jellyfish and Cheap Trick. International Pop Overthrow do however stay closely to the Beatles stuff most of the time and you can't help to hum along to each and every track. You can't help to wonder why these guys aren't more famous too. This is timeless music with lovely hooks and beautiful arranged harmonies that dates all the way back to the 60's. "The Last One" and especially "New Horizions" could easily have been included on any of the latest efforts by Enuff Z'Nuff. Songs like "The Only One", "X-Tended Care", "Big Deal", and "Cain & Abel" are all winners in my book. Not everything that glitters is gold but you'll find enough of nuggest to keep you going for a while. Could definitly be worth cehcing into if you're into above mentioned music.
INTO THE LIGHT: "Into The Light" 4Frontiers/Now & Then 2000
|Review by 18-01-01|
Into The Light is Tim Donahue's project featuring Kelly Hansen on
vocals. Tim is most probably best known for the fact he is playing
fretless electric guitars which is quite common when it comes to
bassists but still very unique among guitar players. As for the music
on this album the best comparison would probably be Nikolo Kotzev's
Brazen Abbott or Marcel Jacob's and Jeff Scott Soto's Human Clay
projects, most probably because those two mentioned efforts also
passed me by without leaving any really memorable moments behind. So
did this one.
The album starts out with "No Turning Away", an up-tempo rocker with a
speeding guitar riff but the song passes by with the speed of light
making you want to ask: so what?! The upcoming tracks do not answer
the question either. Though the title track, a mid-tempo, almost
ballad-like track with a bit more memorable arrangement than the
opener almost makes me interested in the album, the only memory that
is left after the song is that the drum tracks break the refrain into
pieces. Tim is responsible for the drum sampling and as for the sound
he has done a great job, the album sounds exactly as if real drums had
been used. This is the first album in years where I couldn't tell it
was just sampled, so congratulations for this! As for the drum
themes, lots of unnecessary breaks and tricks make some of the riffs
and especially the refrains very choppy and take the energy of the
songs away. This is especially true for the title track. "Time To Run"
falls into the same category as the opener.
I was hoping for something earthshaking with "Acceleron", the first instrumental song of the
album but the only thing I could really enjoy were the guitar/effect
sounds and the balance of the mix. I have played the album numerous
times and by getting to the half of it I always had to draw the
following conclusion. Although Tim is a great guitarist and as a
producer he has done a tremendous job with the album and Kelly Hansen
does a perfect job too, the songs are simply weak and they are lacking
memorable moments. An outside songwriter or a real band approach with
other musicians contributing to the songwriting process could have
helped a lot.
The most memorable songs of the album are the ballads
and the ballad-like mid-tempo tracks, namely the title track; the
acoustic "Live Today" that features the first really good vocal
melodies of the album, and very tasty acoustic guitar leads. The
following "Tonight" has great multiple vocal tracks, the arrangement
leaves enough room for Kelly's voice to shine, and the guitar-bass
parts of the bridge are a pure gem. This is probably the most
AOR-esque track of the album. Unfortunately, "Devil In Her Eyes" takes
us back to the standard form of the album I was ranting about,
repetitive guitar riff, drums very much in the front of the mix,
breaking it into zillion pieces, and a flat vocal line on top of it.
"No Regrets" is the second highlight of the album, another acoustic
pearl with beautiful vocal melodies and the hooks of the refrain are
catchy enough to satisfy my ears longing for melodies since the
beginning of the album. Neither "To Your Heart" nor the closing
instrumental "Alien Talk" did so. There's something missing from this
album, some tracks show some potentials but the majority of the album
does not live up to my expectations.
The album starts out with "No Turning Away", an up-tempo rocker with a speeding guitar riff but the song passes by with the speed of light making you want to ask: so what?! The upcoming tracks do not answer the question either. Though the title track, a mid-tempo, almost ballad-like track with a bit more memorable arrangement than the opener almost makes me interested in the album, the only memory that is left after the song is that the drum tracks break the refrain into pieces. Tim is responsible for the drum sampling and as for the sound he has done a great job, the album sounds exactly as if real drums had been used. This is the first album in years where I couldn't tell it was just sampled, so congratulations for this! As for the drum themes, lots of unnecessary breaks and tricks make some of the riffs and especially the refrains very choppy and take the energy of the songs away. This is especially true for the title track. "Time To Run" falls into the same category as the opener.
I was hoping for something earthshaking with "Acceleron", the first instrumental song of the album but the only thing I could really enjoy were the guitar/effect sounds and the balance of the mix. I have played the album numerous times and by getting to the half of it I always had to draw the following conclusion. Although Tim is a great guitarist and as a producer he has done a tremendous job with the album and Kelly Hansen does a perfect job too, the songs are simply weak and they are lacking memorable moments. An outside songwriter or a real band approach with other musicians contributing to the songwriting process could have helped a lot.
The most memorable songs of the album are the ballads and the ballad-like mid-tempo tracks, namely the title track; the acoustic "Live Today" that features the first really good vocal melodies of the album, and very tasty acoustic guitar leads. The following "Tonight" has great multiple vocal tracks, the arrangement leaves enough room for Kelly's voice to shine, and the guitar-bass parts of the bridge are a pure gem. This is probably the most AOR-esque track of the album. Unfortunately, "Devil In Her Eyes" takes us back to the standard form of the album I was ranting about, repetitive guitar riff, drums very much in the front of the mix, breaking it into zillion pieces, and a flat vocal line on top of it. "No Regrets" is the second highlight of the album, another acoustic pearl with beautiful vocal melodies and the hooks of the refrain are catchy enough to satisfy my ears longing for melodies since the beginning of the album. Neither "To Your Heart" nor the closing instrumental "Alien Talk" did so. There's something missing from this album, some tracks show some potentials but the majority of the album does not live up to my expectations.
INTUITION: "Turn It On"
Hey, label people! Are you sure the album cover isn't misprinted? Are you sure it's not some unreleased Danger Danger album? Isn't it Ted Poley on vox? What year is it at all??? 1988? And why does the sun start to shine right away when playing this album? Why do I feel the need to shout all the refrains out in the void while cruising in this unexpected sunshine?
How come I don't really care that I have already heard "these songs", "these albums" a million times? How come I don't mind that for the first listening I can finish the lines of the lyrics? Didn't Chris McCoy buy new synthesizers since 1985 or so? Is Dave Messenger using Richie Sambora's gear he used for "Slippery When Wet"? Is there anyone out there who minds it at all? Why does this sound make me so happy? What's this big smile doing on my face?
How many million times have I heard a song with the title "Going Crazy"? But did any of them have as big hooks and chorus in the refrain as this one? Why does "Don't Let Me Go" remind me of Mötley Crüe's "Home Sweet Home"? Maybe because of the plain piano, and Dean Jason's almost off-key, definitely not really confident, high-pitched vocals? Was Dave Messenger taking lessons from Vito Bratta (White Lion) before writing "In Love Again"? Or were these guys just grown up on Poison, Mötley Crüe, White Lion and those great glam/melodic rock bands of the 80s just like me? Is this the only reason I like this album so much?
Hey, people at the music faculty of the Teacher Training College! How come that the piano theme of "Don't Let Me Go" isn't compulsory literature yet? Now that we've surfaced the field of education: How could I get rid of that kindergarten picture in my mind when listening to "Night by Night"? Hey, Kindergarten Teacher! Where are my nappies?? And why did you forget to teach me these nursery rhymes? I want to sing them along with the boys!
Would the world be better if we still had tons of albums like this coming out? But then why does it make me so happy that this one is still to find in 2000? "Are you ever gonna grow up?"...Hey, you shut up, Mom! What the hell are you doing here anyway??? Is this supposed to be an album review or what?!
INVERTIGO: "Forum" 9
Standard Records 2001
Once again a nice surprise that I found from the selection of AorHeaven. These guys come from Australia. I guess that these guys are doing pretty good in Australia (Need to check that out). This is not as rock as Marvelous 3 and not as soft as Savage Garden but right there in the middle.
This album is full of great pop rock songs and the songs that I really like are “Desensitized”, “Chances Are”, Blame It On The Stars” and “It’s Getting Personal”. There is no a weak track on this album and I hit reply buttom right after the last song has played. Some of the songs are pretty computerized - those are the ones that remind me of Savage Garden. When the music sounds more natural then it’s the M3 comparison.
I’ve been known to have a softer side to my taste in music and this band fits there perfectly. I really like some of the songs that Savage Garden and M3 have made so it is no surprise that I like this one too. A very good band in my opinion and I hope that this only is not th album they put out and don’t fade away right when there is some more intrest in them.
I really need to learn more about these guys and off to the web I go on to www.invertigo.com.au. Do yourself a favour and check these guys out if you happen to like SG and M3 mixed together. And do tell your fiends about this band. This might be considered girly music by some but I don’t care as long as it’s good it’s fine with me.
IRON MAIDEN: "Brave new world" 6
|Review by Urban “Wally” Wallstrom 01-03-16|
One thing's for sure the album gets better and better with each time that you play it and it´s much better than their last two CDs. The production by KEVIN SHIRLEY is pretty good and I think that HARRIS should leave that task in the future! Cuz he´s at his best as a bass-player & song writer.
First single "THE WICKER MAN" is one of the highlights on the CD and I think it´s strange that ALAN SMITH (old guitarist-back again) only co-writes two of the songs! Cuz after all it was during his time in the band that they did their best and most classic anthems! Many of them were also co-written by SMITH. "GHOST OF THE NAVIGATOR" is also a good song with some great bass-work as usual by STEVE HARRIS and a pretty catchy chorus. The title track "BRAVE NEW WORLD" starts pretty mellow before it kicks off into another great IRON MAIDEN rocker and "THE MERCENARY" sounds a lot like the good old days with a roaring bass and great twin... well... it´s now triple guitar work. It´s not as good as their albums in the 80´s but it´s better than "Fear of the dark" and at least as good as "No prayer for the dying". Can´t wait to see them live again!!
IRON MASK: "Revenge Is My Name" 6
Holy cow!!! Belgium's #1 guitar hero Dushan Petrossi, is obviously very influenced by Yngwie J Malmsteen on this CD. Like this wasn't already enough, Dushan is also a real deadringer for the fast shredding guitarist. Did I mention that he's actually a look-a-like to Yngwie, some 15 years or 15 pounds of donuts ago.
Iron Mask is actually a side project to Petrossi's full-time(?) band, Magic Kingdom. The other members here are bassist Vassili Moltchanov (also Magic Kingdom), Youri Degroote (keyboards) and vocalist Phil Letawe (ex-Cryme). The whole situation gets even more confusing(?), when you hear this Letawe sing. He's singing voice reminds me a bit of Mark Boals from time to time. Not a real deadringer though, but you can surely spot some similarities.
Is this a good or bad thing? Well, I must admit that I'm really hooked by Dushan's guitarwork. It's not the most original sounding album in the hardrock history. But one thing's for sure though, you can't go wrong here if you're into neo-classical music. "Revenge Is My Name" is absolutely filled with guitar licks, tricks, and massive riffing. The five minute long instrumental track "Morgana's Castle", is technically, perfect performed, from start to finish [5 of 12 tracks are instrumental]. Some really dull songs like "The Witch Burner" etc. leaves a bitter after taste though. The rest of the material is a nice mixture of above mentioned guitar hero and the music of At Vance. "Hold The Light" is a darn catchy tune, with flashing solo's and big chorus. Nice but no cigar would be the final verdict here..
IRON SAVIOR: "Battering Ram" 8
I think I'll fast rewind past the opening and title track "Battering Ram" from now on. Kudos to Iron Savior, for at least trying to come up with something original or out of ordinary here. However, the song takes a nose dive... worse than anything you've seen Pippo "The Human Sub-Marine" Inzaghi do inside of the penalty area lately... or anywhere else on the pitch for that matter [sport - a soccer player at Milan/Italy - RockUnited].
It's otherwise a very solid performance by the German Power Metal outfit. All the important ingrediences, which in the end makes a tasty metal dinner, are indeed present here. You have those powerful guitar riffs in the tradition of Running Wild, Judas Priest, along side the sing-a-long refrains of Helloween and Accept. Yeah I know... but it works in theory.
Vocalist/guitarist Piet Sielck, was mostly known for his work as big shot producer in the past. You can find him at the helm of things with acts like Saxon, Blind Guardian, etc. "Battering Ram" is however their 6th album already and the material gets better with each one of them. "Stand Against The King" is very similar to the fellow German's of Running Wild, during their "Death And Glory" days (their best album). Add a touch of Primal Fear to that and you're even closer to the core. "Tyranny Of Steel" had me shouting along with fist in the air and constant sore neck of all the headbanging. "Time Will Tell" and "Wings Of Deliverance" are both blessed with those "easy-to-remember, hard-to-forget", refrains. Something which 'Blind Guardian' did lots of during their best days and time (Somewhere Far Beyond - 1992). "Break The Curse" simply kicks azz! with its Accept/U.D.O. chorus and attitude. Check out the flashy twin guitar work by Sielck/Küster here. Bottomline, remove the poor opener and you'll end up with a good metal experience in the German tradition.
IQ: "Subterranea - The Concert" DVD
3 May 2002
It takes a fool to remain sane and it takes a passionate musician to devote three years of his life to a DVD project. Only to later realize that some of the DVD players in the States simply can't play the freakin' disc. Oh well, that's life I guess... sometimes it hits ya' where it hurts.
Nevermind the sad story as "Subterranea - The Concert" is an impressive show with glitter that sparks like a radioactive cat in the dark [miau?]. This is actually the complete recording of a Subterranea concert in Holland, 1999. Indeed, what you end up with here is 2 ½ hours of pure, magical, prog rock with the Brittish (classic) band: IQ.
Not only do you get all the best songs [there are 19 of them here] but also the pleasure of seing everything the band experienced on tour. They filmed pretty much everything and do a 'show and tell', at the big screen video wall, during the whole conecert. Indeed, the stunning stage show together with the lovely song material, makes this one of the better DVD's in my collection. Not to mention that you'll get some extra stuff like: presentation, encores, band commentary, the making of Subterrane etc. etc. A must have if you're a IQ or Prog-Rock fan [do notice that I said Prog-Rock and NOT Prog-Metal]. You can get hold of it at:
IQ: "The Seveth House" 8
2 May 2002
It has actually been twenty one years ago, since 'The Saints' from Southampton [Go Le Tissier Go!], decided to ditch 'The Lens' and focus all their attention on IQ. Their latest release "The Seventh House" is a good craftmanship of complex, yet very melodic, progressive rock.
I must admit that I've lost touch with this English band over the years. Looking back now, it seems to have been a major mistake though. They often had to play in the shadows of Marillion during the 80's, while the 90' saw mainly a bunch of live albums and re-releases come true. The Subterranea CD was a masterpiece though.
However, last years release is a big step in the right direction. For example, I find this to be way better than any of Marillion's latest effords. This is the way 'Mature Prog-Rock' should be done. Fat layered keyboards by Martin Orford (ex. The Lens), an impressive performance by vocalist Peter Nicholls, together with lovely melodies, makes this a pure joy to listen, when you're in the right mood for atmospheric rock that is. You'll have to be there to 100% with both mind and soul, to really appreciate this CD. And it's not every day you're in the mood for ten minutes of pure, progressive rock. This said, I would highly recommend this to each and every one of you out there. The title track "The Seventh House" may actually be the best song they've ever written. Add that all the other five tracks (yes, this IS prog-rock you know) are all very enjoyable. A nice surprise indeed and I'm glad to be back among the IQ fans again.
IVORY KNIGHT: "Voices in your Nightmare" 7
IVORY KNIGHT is a melodic heavy metal band from Ottawa/Canada that was originally formed in 1988 by mainman "John D.Perinbam (Vocals/Bass) and drummer Paul Malek" ex.ANNIHILATOR. They recorded this 5-track demo and broke up shortly after, but Perinbam is now back again with a new lineup.
This is great 80´s metal with influences from bands such as JUDAS PRIEST, DOKKEN, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN & IRON MAIDEN and they are right now hard at work with their new demo CD that will be completed by early summer.
Opener "Turn of the wheel" is a great melodic metal rocker a-la DOKKEN & YNGWIE, with some crunching guitars and some really good vocals by John Perinbam. It´s really catchy and powerful stuff from the lovely 80´s. Title track "Voices in your nightmare" is a bit rougher metal song a-la JUDAS PRIEST & ANNIHILATOR, but still very catchy. "The Cage" is a great uptempo melodic metal song and "Out on the streets" is a superb semi-ballad with some lovely acoustic guitars. Last track "Inferno" is a bit more "brutal" and a little weaker than the rest, but I guess that nobody´s perfect? The vocals are really great though. I must say that it´s really nice to hear some good metal again and let´s hope that their new demo will be even better. Find out more about this Canadian band and buy their demo at: www.ivoryknight.com. Great stuff. Rock On !
IVORY TOWER: "Heart Of The City" 7
Chavis Records 2002
'Are You Ready To Roll, Are You Ready To Roll? Put The Pedal To The Metal, Cause I'm Ready To Roll'. To be honest... judgeing by the poor opener with its lame chorus and goofy lyrics, I guess I'm not ready to rock either. At least not to the opening track by New Jersey's white elephant... the underground band from the 80's, Ivory Tower.
It only gets better with each track though as the first two songs are actually the weakest of the bunch. The Jersey boys of Ivory Tower recorded and released their self produced, independent LP, "Heart Of The City" in the late 80's. Throught hard work and ruthless promotion they sold over 10.000 copies back in the days.
This is a re-release of their debut album by popular demand and it's overall a pretty good CD, I guess. Nothing remarkable new maybe or anything that goes way beyond the run of the mill hardrock form. However, the more you spin the disc, the better it actually gets. One thing's for sure though, once you've heard that "Ready To Roll" track, you simply can't get it out of your head... for better and worse. Seriously though, the marvelous ballad "Givin' It All To You" is one of the highlights here with its catchy chorus, "Love Is A Game" is blessed with some lovely AOR keys a-la early Bon Jovi and the chorus is darn catchy. "Jump Into The Fire" is meat and potato rock a-la Twisted Sister or Keel rather than slick, melodic rock. I really enjoy the bump and grind of "Fallin' In Love Again" while they completely turn the tables around with the power ballad "Holding On To The Night". This track has more to do with Reo Speedwagon than anything! "Raise Some Hell" is again back to the meat and potato stuff before they go back to wimp-land with the ballad "The Pain Lives Forever". There's a big sound difference between the rockier and the mellow tracks as they simply turn the tables more than once here. This doesn't have to be a bad thing as long as you're fan of both music styles. The final verdict will have to be not bad at all. Check out the label for more info:
TOWER PROJECT: "Red Hot" 7
Guerilla Records 2003
Ivory Tower Project takes the listener to a real time trip to early nineties with this 4-track EP. Their music is unashamedly old-fashioned, with a sound firmly rooted in classic rock/AOR of the said era. As soon as one pops this EP into the CD player, memories of acts such as Styx, Legs Diamond, Aldo Nova and Kansas might come up. Swirling keyboards, pompous arrangements and big hooks galore! Seriously, if someone had told me that these are some old recordings from 1982, I would have bought the story - every aspect of these songs and the production is so convincingly "early eighties".
The band is working on a new album, and it remains to be seen whether it is as retro-sounding as this EP. Personally, i don't mind at all - there certainly aren't too many bands working in this genre right now. There's still room for improvement though, some early eighties' elements could be toned down and the songwriting isn't 100 per cent "there" yet, especially some of the lyrics ("fire - higher - desire" rhyming should be against the law these days). Anyway, you can check out soundbytes of these songs from the bands' website, if you're in the mood from some classic AOR sounds!