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

MACALPINE: "Eyes Of The World"

Squawk 1990
Review by 18 August 2001

Tony MacAlpine might be familiar to many of you as a guitar virtuoso, but I doubt that all of you are familiar with "Eyes Of The World". Back in 1990 Tony decided to form a band and aim for a wider audience with an album full of melodic rock tracks. The band consisted of MacAlpine on guitars and keyboards, Alan Sehorn on vocals, Billy Carmassi on drums, Mike Jacques on bass and Mark Robertson on keyboards. They adopted Tony's last name as the monicker for the band, and enlisted some noteworthy guests to appear on the album: Kevin Chalfant (The Storm, Two Fires, The Vu) and Dave Pattison sung some backing vocals and Randy Jackson and John Aldrete played some of the bass tracks. The band also hired a hair stylist and a make-up person, but I guess that was required to make the band look "MTV Friendly"...I don't know whether they ever made a video though.

MacAlpine's solo albums have featured some tracks that many (me included) consider as classic instrumental rock tracks, but I still rate this album higher than any of his solo efforts. Unfortunately this album didn't set the charts alight, and Tony hasn't released anything like it since. As a melodic rock album, "EOTW" is definitely worth "digging up", as it includes several fine tracks.

The opener "The World We Live In" is a good midtempo track that sounds like a cross between TNT and Journey. It's an odd track to open the album with though, either of the next two tracks, the funky "The Hard Way" and the melodic hard rock of "Escape The Hell", might have been better openers.

Track number 4, "Heartache Calling" sounds like a reject from a Journey album, a plodding AOR track with a dull chorus. It is actually the only track that I don't particulary like, along with the next one, the complex but unmemorable "Tear It Down". The rest of the album is more in the line with the three first tracks qualitywise, with the "Stairway To Heaven"-influenced ballad "Take Me Back", furious but catchy hard rockers "Wild Ride" and "Urban Days", not to mention the AOR heavenly trio of "Cry A Tear", "Wrong To Love" and "Summer's Gone" somewhere in between.

As good as some of the MacAlpine's instrumental albums are, I find "EOTW" much more appealing. The guitar acrobatics do not dominate the songs like one might expect, and the focus is on the songwriting rather than the individual performances. Still, the technical ability of MacAlpine is at display here too, as some of brilliant solos prove. I can only hope that Mr. MacAlpine sees it as his business one day to return to this short-lived song-oriented approach.

Tony MACALPINE: "Chromaticity" 7

Shrapnel 2001

Review by 23 July 2001

When buying a new MacAlpine album the only question is the position of the Chopin etude (this time it's track 10); the rest is assured: high quality instrumental guitar rock with technical perfection, breathtaking guitar and keyboard scales, clear arrangement and extraordinary musicianship. As Tony's hair is disappearing slowly, his arrangements get more and more vivid (not that I would want to search for ANY kind of connection to cosmetic features).

"Christmas Island" opens the album and it pleases any old MacAlpine fan as well as it might convince those who found his songs/albums dull and repetitive. Some tempo and arrangement changes make the tune lively and the grand piano scales hidden in the overall arrangement do good to the song, not to mention some of the new keyboard sounds never heard on his albums before. The title track is basically what it says it is; a big bunch of chromatic scales based on some weird tempo and pattern changing drum tracks. Steve Smith (drums) will surely give a headache to those who want to cover some songs of the new MacAlpine album. The first real highlight of the album is "City Beneath The Sea"; this song is the grandchild of Tony's most successful song ever "Tears of Sahara". Note my word: this song is classic in the making! We'll talk about it in 10 years, just like we talk about "Tears of Sahara".

"Digitalis Destructi" showcases the less digestible side of Tony, even though the bridge of the song is probably the most straightforward part of the whole album. The rest of the track is a bit hard to get into; but I just can't help to love the acoustic piano scales towards the end, nice contrast to the overall mood of the song. "Isis" features some great keyboard sounds again, scales that get right into your heart, good choice to follow the hard-to-get track. "Prince Of Light" is another straightforward instrumental anthem in the early MacAlpine vein, old fans will love it; "Still Valley" has some drum patterns that sound almost impossible to play, Steve is one hell of a drummer and he took part of the production of the album too. Well, as for the drum sound all over the album, some of the cymbals, especially the rides sound a bit too loud for my taste, but it might just be me. The guitar works of the song are probably the furthest away from the "usual" MacAlpine approach, but "Avenger" is the typical MacAlpine track again with uptempo scaling, throttling drum-bass base and speeding keyboard solos. Lots of pitch-wheel bending tricks make the keyboards sound like guitars with some weird digital effects. "Eye of the Soul" starts out as a ballad, the double bass-drum is a bit strange but one just gotta love the crunchy rhythm guitar parts. After the intro the song turns into a hard rocking number with lots of tempo changes and drum breaks; gotta admit I prefer the intro to them. The Chopin etude is the last track this time and I can't help wondering whether there is something wrong with the mastering of the album here. It is not loud enough and one has to turn the volume up to take full pleasure of Tony's scales that roll out from under his fingers like pearls. Do yourselves a favor and make sure to turn the volume up! This is a very good instrumental album altogether again. Had there been some more songs in the vein of "Tears of Atlantis" ... errrm ... I mean "City Beneath The Sea" and "Prince Of Light" my rating would have been closer to the perfect 10.

Tony MACALPINE: "Violent Machine" 8

Lion Music 2002
Review by Endre "Bandi" Hübner 13 June 2002

After reissuing Alex Masi's back catalogue, Lion Music went on and started reissuing some of Tony MacAlpine's albums beginning with "Violent Machine", originally released in 1997 by Metropolis Records. This one comes with a different artwork at least. The reason is really beyond me but I cheer their attempt anyway. I don't think the original is so old that it would be too hard to get, and I do not assume that old MacAlpine fans like me failed to get it back then, and to be honest I doubt the album will get any new fans for Tony. Even though it is a slight departure from his clear pentatonic scaling-speeding rock guitar playing approach and probably the first album where it is sensible that he melts more of his jazz influences into his music, but I doubt any other audience than the usual instrumental fans who were buying his records would rush out and buy this one.

The title track opens in much the same vein as any other opener by Tony, and the first really different track is "Unfortunate Lazarus" which is clearly jazz-influenced at parts. Having heard all his recordings lately it is not much of a surprise but it was surely something new in his playing in 1996-97. "Circus De Soleil" is the most melodic track of the album, the kind of SONG that I love MacAlpine for. It is recommended even to those who usually are bored by instrumental music. Very fine, very melodic, very soulful, and most of all entertaining to the core. Old MacAlpine fans will find familiar melodies in the intro of "Sophisticated Domination", a track that later turns into a slow, sometimes even jazzy number with some very well- planned keyboard accompaniment. The usual Chopin etude is track five this time followed by the uptempo "Shoe Shine Cyber Boy". Maybe the weird title has something to do with it but the track really reminds me of Joe Satriani's late 90s albums, of course with some of Tony's signature licks and sound. "Carolina Blue" treats us with some more jazz, a good, laid-back track to enjoy, again: not only for instrumental fans!

"Mr. Destructive" follows, an uptempo, typical MacAlpine track that could have been on any of his early albums, "ARS Nova" is not much different, showcases the MacAlpine we all know so well. "Space Ritual" is another anthem-like one with memorable melodies, and definitely a good finish leaving you wanting more because the album is relatively short with its 40 minutes only. A couple of bonus tracks or live recordings would help these reissues a lot. Anyway, the album is value for your money as is. If you missed it in the first round make sure to get it now, but if you are unfamiliar with Tony MacAlpine's works my advice would be to start with classic albums like "Maximum Security" or "Freedom To Fly".

MACHINE MEN: "Scars & Wounds" 8

Dynamic Arts Records 2003
Review by 18 november 2003

Machine Men, these promising youngsters from Finland, made an impression on me when I saw them supporting Thunderstone some months ago. Especially their singer Antony took the stage like a pro. His voice is a mixture of Bruce Dickinson (with his moves) and Geoff Tate. Add his looks in there too (like the twin brother of Ville Valo), and Antony has it all to attract fans, especially female fans. The rest of the band lets hell break loose with their tight playing, probably attracting the fans of Iron Maiden from that part. The guitars, hooks and the middle parts abound the same dreary mood that Iron Maiden has, always predicting the approaching take-off.

But the band isn’t a total clone. They still have a sound of their own and songs such as ”Against The Freaks”, ”Betrayed By Angels”, ”Victim” and ”Scars & Wounds” show what this band is made of, anxiety haunting in the powerful and thick mood. The cd’s end reveals the only ballad here, which is very beautiful, a HIM-like continuation for ”Scars & Wounds” or a seperate song. Don’t know which, since there’s a huge space between the songs, but the lyrics still have the same subject, and this isn’t mentioned on the cd. Even that ”Scars & Wounds” doesn’t open up too easily for the listener, the cd lacks a bit from diversity, the songs are pretty much from the same mold, yet it’s not the worst case scenario here, you can still tell the songs apart and they all rock. Machine Men are a great new band to look out for, they are energetic, young, have the skills and who knows what they’ve got boiling down their sleeves. I enjoyed all the songs even if they were a bit alike. Simple and basic heavy metal, it still has a place in this world.

MAD MARGRITT: "New Sensation" 8

Perris Records 2002
Review by 16 January 2003

Wham Bam Thank Ya' Mam!!! R U ready 4 some klassik US Glam??? This iz somethin' 4 all U rokkers out there, who think the world of all that 80's stuff. The southern boys from Atlanta, Georgia are back with their second release. This time with a new label behind them (Perris Records) and "New Sensation" is the title, even though we are quite familiar with the music.

Yep! Mad Margritt do not suprise or disappoint [depending on how you see it] us with wacko ideas or weird songwriting. Nah, this is almost corny, a little bit nasty, kinda' simple, but most of all... pretty darn good Glam/Sleaze rock. If you're into the early stuff by Poison, you pretty much already know what this sounds like.

The line-up of Eddie Smith (vocals/guitar), Davay Ray (guitar), Steve Dietrich (bass) & Danny Belli (drums) are obviously influenced by above mentioned act. Tracks like "Nothing Can Keep Me Away" or "Someone To Love", could have been leftovers from the "Open Up And Say Ahh" album. I do not necessarily mean this in a bad way either. Rather the opposite as they are both fun, easy-goin', rocksongs. It doesn't make things worse (?) when you realize that Smith is "100% Glam", from head to toe. Maybe not the best singer in biz, but very dedicated to the cause. The piano-ballad "Believe" is really great and would have been a hit back in the day. A couple of covers are also included here. They do a nice version of The Babys' "Metal Rendezvous", if you remember them (The band with John Waite/Jonathan Cain/Ricky Phillips)? The AC/DC cover "TNT" is not half bad either. The playlength of this CD is rather short though, and I would have prefered a couple of more tracks to be honest. Bottomline, this will not break any new ground in the history of hardrock. Still, it's enjoyable for what it is!!! Good, but not always original 80's Glam.

MADISON PAIGE: "Famous Last Words" 7

Without The World Records 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
19 April 2004

The name "Madison Paige" may sound like a character from a soap opera, but fear not, this one's a rock band from the LA area, and these are certainly not their "famous last words"...I think it's safe to say that their story isn't over, it's only starting!

The band's been actively promoting their stuff over the internet, and even got me a bit curious. So, it was a nice suprise to find their promokit in the mail the other day, although it had been sent to my old address and to "AOR-Europe" - check your address books, guys!

"Famous Last Words" is the band's first album, recorded without the support of a record company. To be honest, while everything looks professional, the press kit, the album artwork etc, the actual album does give away that we're talking about a young band working without a producer. The production is definitely the weakest link here, it doesn't do justice to the bands' talent...let's put it this way: if I was an A&R person, I wouldn't hesitate signing this band, but I'd refuse to release these recordings.

It's the songs that count in this case though, and the boys have a plenty of good ones! Strangely enough, they kick off the show with "Blind", an aggressive track with nu-metal influences (no rapping though, thank god!). It is one of their weakest songs, and the least representative of the band's sound. The next track "Hold Me Over" is quite modern-styled as well, but it's much better with a more melodic chorus.

When the track three kicks in, I had to check whether I was still listening to the same CD, as the band suddenly seems to ditch all modern influences! The next three tracks "The One That Got Away", "Nothing Denied" and "Heaven In Hand" are closer to Trixter or Firehouse than anything, with vocalist Paul Caroul sounding a lot like the vocalist of Trixter, and all songs bursting with melodies and hooks.

"Any Day Now" is something a bit different again, a furious track with an almost Judas Priest-like vibe, but with more melody. Great stuff again. I'm not so sure about "Fear And Storm" though, which seems to mix grunge-influenced verses with a typical 80'ies power ballad chorus.

Instrumental passage "Ella Sabe Solamante" leads one to the catchy "Breakin' My Heart", which sounds like Firehouse gone nu-breed. "Stay This Way" is another modern/melodic mix, and one of the most successful ones here, while "Next To You" is a good acoustic ballad and one of the songs that the muddy production doesn't affect. The show is closed with the excellent and catchy "When I'm Gone" and "Restrained", a dark, balladic track.

The songs on the album are easily worth much than a "7", but the weak production does affect my rating. I'll save the higher rating for the band's next album...


MAGELLAN: "Impossible Figures" 9

Inside Out 2003
Review by 10 November 2003

Trent Gardner on the Inside Out label? Yes, he split with good old Magna Carta and this is his first album for the new record company. “Impossible Figures” is Magellan’s fifth album in twelve years, but if you make outstanding music like Gardner does, it is worth the long wait. This time no concept album but “just” nine normal songs. The album kicks off with the first of three instrumentals “Gorilla With A Pitchfork”(awesome title)and shows the rather bombastic keyboard side of Trent.

“Killer Of Hope” is the second track and this one hits you in the face…., a cool guitar driven song, which lasts over 10 minutes. It has lots of great vocal parts, extremely dramatic keyboard passages and amazing guitar solos. “Bach 16”, the second instrumental, is a tribute to Bach of course, and it really is an almost classical tune, with piano and a beautiful trombone solo. “Late For Church” again is a great prog metal song with critical lyrics and an almost catchy melody. “A World Groove”, on the other hand, is not a song that you would expect on this album; Trent Gardner goes world music? A track you have to get used to, but in the end you will agree that it is a great song. “Feel The Cross” shows the musical capability of this man; a wonderful progressive rock song; just listen to that Pink Floydish guitar solo!!

All in all, maybe this is the best Magellan album so far, especially if you like bombastic progressive rock music with lots of singing. I hope that this guy will also be making new albums with the Explorer’s Club Project or even better a second Leonardo album??
Magellan website

MAGNA-FI: "Burn Out The Stars" 7

Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
7 June 2004

Alt-Metal flavored Magna-Fi will play more than two dozen dates at this years OzzFest (kick off July 10, Hartford, USA). They will probably do well among the average US brat as their debut album "Burn Out The Stars", is filled with fast selling melodies and slightly down-tuned guitars.

They're definitely above average though as they mix Beatles and Cheap Trick influences, with their more contemporary rock heroes of Foo Fighters, Nirvana, and Alice In Chains. Formed by the Szuter brothers [Mike - vocals/guitar, C.J. - guitar], in their hometown of Cleveland, they were told by Paul Gilbert [Mr.Big, Racer X], to settle down in Glitter Town [Las Vegas], were they also found success and a large fan base shortly after the move.

There's actually some 'Goo Goo Dolls' into their music too and especially "Drown", is a marvelous melodic rocker with a catchy hook. The Beatles influences shines through a lot during "This Life", which happens to be another fine tune. When I think about it... the voice of Mike Szuter do remind me of Rzeznik [Goo Goo Dolls], every now and then. "TV Killed Me" is simply just a fun rocker in the style of Foo Fighters meets the Goo Goo Dolls. While "Beautiful" is catchy, aggressive, Nu-Breed rock, with a rather fine hook and sinker. There's unfortunately too many fillers in the end, but overall a nice debut from the land of plenty. The classic rock fans will probably not get into this, however, don't be afraid to check'em out, if you're no stanger to above mentioned style(s) and bands.

MAGNITUDE NINE: "Decoding The Soul" 9

Inside Out 2004
Review by Martien Koolen,
10 March 2004

This is the third release of Magnitude Nine, an American progressive metal band that combines powerful vocals with intense musicianship. Rob Johnson (guitar) and Corey Brown (vocals) formed the group in 1997 and recorded their debut album “Chaos To Control" in 1998. That is an album that I still regard as one of the best debut prog metal albums ever. Three years later Magnitude Nine presented their follow-up “Reality In Focus" and again almost three years later “Decoding The Soul" is released.

This album is a huge step forward for the band; the songs are more mature and the guys really focus on melodic hooks and progression; “New Dimension" is a perfect example of the “new" sound of Magnitude Nine; a killer guitar riff, super power vocals and lots of melody. However I must warn you that you should at least listen to this album more than four times to really appreciate its value. In other words: it gets better every time you listen to it and after a certain period of time you will get hooked to great songs like: “To Find A Reason" or “Walk Through The Fire".

If you like your music heavy then you should check out “Thirty Days Of Night"(very fast with high-pitched vocals) or “Dead In Their Tracks"(speedy beginning and a Malmsteen-like guitar part). And if you prefer your music more “quiet" then listen to “Sands Of Time"(an AOR power ballad with melodic guitar hooks) or “Changes"(a semi-ballad that turns into a pomp rock song with Eldritch influences). So there is something for everyone to enjoy, if you like progressive metal, that is. An excellent album that probably will end very high in my year list of best albums in 2004.

MAGNUM: "Rock & Pop Legends"

Disky 1995
Review by

I have found this CD at a flea market. This is my third CD from the label "Disky". They seem to be specialized in cheap priced compilations (my two other albums are a Great White "Best Of" with a considerable amount of previously unreleased tracks and a T'Pau "Best Of" album. Ahem, I got it from Kimmo, blame him for making me a softhead! Actually, I pretty much like that album.) Anyway, back to Disky, this album left good feelings in me again. I guess we - CD collectors - should pay a lot more attention to this Dutch company and their nicely priced retrospective releases.

When buying the album I only looked at the track listing and didn't recognize a very small note at the bottom of the back artwork saying: all tracks are live recordings. So I was surprised but then again very pleasantly. The sound of the album is crystal clear, there's even a hall-microphone recording for the crowd noise, it is definitely very professional and not a bootleg. My second thoughts were (as usual when it comes to a live record) how much after-show recording/editing went on? Well, I can only guess. I doubt Disky Communications would have spent any money on taking the band into some studio fixing mistakes. Still I am a bit puzzled because the performance, the sound, the professionalism of the tracks is as good as a studio record. Never having seen Magnum live in my life I have to believe the concert was really this good.

The artwork does not contain any information when or where exactly the show was recorded (taking a look at the track listing it must be somewhere around 1990 but here I'm puzzled again as the album was released in 1995). But from the noise of the crowd I assume in some big arena of at least 10.000 seats, and Magnum most probably filled arenas like this in England. The crowd is very responsive all through the record, sings along and cheers the band with enthusiasm after each and every song.

After a classic intro the band starts out with a 4-song block without any stop: "Vigilante", "Days Of No Trust", "Mama", "Need A Lot Of Love". Pretty impressive I' d say. Bob Catley is in top form from the very first note, the backing vocals are crystal clear and Tony Clarkin's guitar and Mark Stanway's keyboard sounds are simply amazing. The band is tight and professional. A short break and the typical oh-oh, yeah-yeah making the crowd sing intermezzo introduces "Pray For The Day" that makes the crowd cheer out loud again. After that song the flow of the concert breaks, the audience is mixed down and the keyboard intro of "Les Morts Dansants" coming unexpectedly out of nothing. So I assume the following tracks were recorded at some other show than the openers but the crowd here is as big and enthusiastic as during the openers.

The band speeds through "Reckless Man" followed by the intro of "How Far Jerusalem" from a tape (I'm not sure whether the concert wasn't cut here again and this one is from another show again). I have to admit this one isn't among my favorite Magnum tracks and this more than 8 minutes version bored me. Catley makes the crowd sing some of the last refrains of the following "The Spirit", an experience that makes you have goosebumps on your hands. Then the annoying audience mix-down again and the intro to "On A Storyteller's Night" (one of my favorite Magnum tracks) from tape again. The guitar and the keyboard sounds are surprisingly good again, and Catley is shining. I could have done with the concert so far but we get four more tracks, the boring "Rockin' Chair" with the crowd clapping for the opening verse, "Kingdom Of Madness" with its speeding guitar riff broken by the rhythm sections parts to show how tight the band is, "Sacred Hour" and "When The World Comes Down".

The best parts of the whole ending set are probably the amazing guitar solo and the slow middle part of "Kingdom Of Madness" and keyboard into of "Sacred Hour" that due to the large hall reverb effect sound like coming right from the sky. I can imagine how impressive it could have been with some light show to support the feeling of the music. The closing "When The World Comes Down" could have been at least this impressive live. Altogether this album is a good compilation of some of the best songs of the band and because of its great sound highly recommended even to those who are not big fans of live recordings.

MAGNUM: "Breath Of Life" 7

SPV/Steamhammer 2002

Review by 02-04-02

I know... I know... I'm way behind with this review. I actually had to rewrite it a couple of times, since I've changed my point of view all along. Not to mention... that it got lost somewhere, somehow, in cyber space. Problems with my computer and... OK, enough with the whining and let's welcome back one of my favorite bands: Magnum. It's great fun to have Bob Catley (vocals) & Tony "Mad Hatter" Clarkin (guitars) back together again. You can also find Mark Stanway behind the keyboards and Al Barrow (ex. Hard Rain) is the new bassist, instead of poor Wally. Catley does sound at his best and it's a blessing to hear him sing Clarkin's material once again. Instead of those awful Ten songs he's been up to lately (3 solo albums).

It could [should?] have been a better welcoming though, since I'm feeling a bit disappointed here. I'm not sure what I expected... but I guess I wanted it to be more bombastic, with tons and tons of keys & catchy stuff. The hooks are there but just not instantly, you'll have to spin this disc at least 10-12 times to fully appreciate some of the material [while others never click]. The "lesser fuller" sound from the Hard Rain days, has unfortunately stayed with the band and "Breath Of Life" is not ALL Magnum (at least not to me). I do miss the BIG production from earlier albums. If you expected this to be "On A Storyteller's Night" or "Vigilante" ala 2002, you're in for a small disappointment I'm afraid.

After the first couple of spins this would have been a 5 rating or so, but it gets better with time. Opener "Cry" could be the worst Magnum tune since the 70's though and following "This Heart" do not exactly 'speed' up things. With "Everyday" we begin to recognize this legendary, British band. This is a great, mid-tempo track with the classic sound and hook. "Still" has some really good work by Stanway and the chorus is really catchy, ala the early 80's stuff. "Dream About You" and "Let Somebody In" are both lovely ballads, again with marvelous work by Stanway. "After The Rain" is yet another good, mid-tempo track and "Night After Night" is the epic track with a nice intro by Clarkin. The only uptempo track [there are only two, maybe three of them here] I enjoy is "That Holy Touch" and the disc could need some variation. You will also find three bonus tracks on the Euro release. The live version of "Backstreet Kid" has a horrible sound while the unplugged version of "We All Need To Be Loved" is nice indeed. It's nice to have them back and it's a solid, yet far from "perfect" comeback album.

MAJESTY: "Keep It True"

Indie 2001

Review by 01-07-22

From Germany hails yet another true metal band in the vein of Manowar or like their fellow country men Wizard. In other words, it´s yet another band who writes lyrics about true metal, warriors, battlefields, blood and glory. Majesty was formed in the summer of 1997 by Tarek "Metal-Son" Maghary (vocals/guitar) and Udo Keppner (guitar) both at the time 18 years old. The average age of the band is only 22 which makes this a young and hungry band (not like the old geezers in Manowar).

I must say that I´m impressed by the promo package they sent me, including a large bio, history etc. Unlike some bands out there who only send in a CD without any info about them or even a contact address (hint, hint) The production is not half bad either, even if the drum sound is a bit weak... especially for power metal.

I do enjoy tracks like "Strong As Steel" with a nice chorus in both English and German. "Hail to Majesty" with some powerful guitars and keys in the background (yes, they do have a keyboard player) and "Last Revolution" with some chanting vocals in the background. All these songs remind me a lot of Manowar in their early days, as they are all in the same mid-tempo style. The real winner here is the ballad "We Will Ride" though, with a catchy chorus and lyrics that go straight to your metal heart? "The Gods of War will be on our side, they´ll give us strength they´ll give us pride. We will fight together when we will ride - Let your septics fly a part, we will fight with a metal heart, our enemies will kneel and we will ride" .Nothing new or special maybe but do check em out if you´re into true metal ...if not ...don´t bother.

MAJESTY: "Sword and Sorcery" 8

Massacre Records 2002

Review by 24 September 2002

Our chief ed Kimmo surprised me by sending me some heavy metal. As I usually review mainly rock albums this was something different for a change. It’s been a while since I listened to heavy metal and from the looks of things way too long. This album was in constant rotation on my car CD for quite a while and I’m pretty sure that people I passed could hear me coming from miles away.

The title track opens the album and even though it’s quite a slow song it pretty much shows what’s to come. The songs are quite long but Majesty manages to keep you alert through the whole CD. Maybe I’m not the right man to make this comparison but I thought this was in many ways quite Manowar-ish album. The songs are versatile and the melodies, riffs, full choruses and solos blend together nicely. I caught myself punching my fist in the air on more than one occasion and I really enjoyed this CD.

My personal favorites in this album were “Epic War” and “Fist Of Steel” that starts with strong vocals and then moves straight on to pretty simple yet catchy riff. “Metal To The Metal Heads” is a very traditional "raise your fist and bang your head" kinda heavy metal song that really rolls over you like a ton of steel. I can’t imagine any heavy metal fan that wouldn’t enjoy this album. I might as well end with a quote from Majesty’s “Heavy Metal” that sums up the spirit of this album: “Like warriors are waiting for the battle, true heroes play heavy metal”.
Majesty website

Kristy Krash MAJORS: "For Those About To Sniff Some Glue... We Salute You"

Perris Records 2003
Review by 28 May 2003

The sole purpose of a tribute album is of course to pay respect to your rock heroes. The only one's interested in buying these tributes in the first palce, are of course fans of the original band? "For Those About To Sniff Some Glue... We Salute You" is Pretty Boy Floyd guitarist Kristy Krash Majors, salute to US Punk-Rockers... The RAMONES.

Majors is performing all instruments and vocals on the 13 tracks included here. Well... except on "Sidewalk Surfin", which is a previously unreleased song by Dee Dee Ramone. Vocals here are actually done by Barbara, the wife of above mentioned Ramone. A rather cool addition to the normal tribute album. The wife may not be the best singer out there, but she sings with punk-ish attitude and spunk. The song itself is pretty funny, even though it bares similarities to other Ramones songs.

I guess Majors decided not to include the most "famous" Ramones tunes here. You wont find any Psycho Therapy, Blitzkreig Bop, Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, I Wanna Be Sedated, Pet Semetary, etc. here. Instead you'll get stuff like "Locked Love", "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue", "Go Mental", "Questioningly", or the absolutely horrible "Here Today Gone Tomorrow". The latter is probably one of their worst songs ever. This may not be the most ultimate Ramones tribute, but it'll give you some momentery listening pleasure. Kristy Krash as a singer may not work in the long run though. However, since we're talking about "punk-rock" songs here, everything is just dandy I guess. I prefer him as lead guitarist with PBF and Steve Summers behind the mic. Hey-Ho, Let's Go!!!

MALEDICTION: "Esclave du Vice" 4

Nothing To Say/Rock Inc. 2004
Review by Martien Koolen,
1 February 2004

Another French rock band that tries to “conquer” the heavy rock world. Mainly influenced by Megadeth, Judas Priest and Crimson Glory (I do not hear it??) this quartet rather sounds like a clichéd Spinal Tap band from the eighties.

There really is nothing innovative or original in their music; it is outdated and „stale” hard rock that confronts you with the same guitar riffs over and over again. Where is the creativity or the cleverness in the compositions?? Furthermore the voice of Sylvain Mollard starts getting under your skin after three tracks and then you still have to listen to 5 tracks more.....

No, it is all stereotyped and weary stuff; from “Absinthe” till “En Enfer”; boring old sounding hard rock. But there is one good song on the album; namely the instrumental "Royaume d’Ades", a guitar driven, melodic metal hymn, which sounds so good because of the absence of vocals. Nothing left to say really…….

Mitch MALLOY : "Shine" 7

Frontiers/Now & Then Productions 2001

Review by Ayhan Gunay 02 Aug 2001

Mitch's debut album was a classic AOR album while the follow up "Ceilings & Walls" was a big disappointment. Years passed and there was no sign from Mitch Malloy 'till this year. Shiny boy is back with a great new album "Shine".

Opener "You Lift Me" is a great AOR rocker with a catchy chorus. Next track "It's About Love" is a mid-tempo rock song with great vocal work. Following tracks are mostly mid-tempo rockers and ballads. Mitch's latest effort sounds like a cross between the classic debut ("You Lift Me", "Another Road", "When I Try" are great examples of this) and Nelson's masterpiece "Life" ("Draw The Line" & "Nothing New"). This album also reminds me Kee Marcello's 'Shine On' which is Bandi's fave album :) [Bandi: for those not in the know - the "Shine On" album from Kee was a big disappointment for me, Kee is one of my fave axe-men and his work in Europe was classic.] Both albums have the same musical style, no loud guitars, great vocal works, moody songs, yet some fillers.

"Shine" would have been a perfect follow up to his brilliant debut album. But keep in mind that this is not your typical melodic rock album or a classic AOR album. Sometimes we all need ear-relaxing...

[Kimmo: For what it's worth, I found the album rather disappointing. I am not too fond of the falsetto vocals that Malloy seems to be using a lot these days. The two bonus tracks from the first album sessions are very good though.]

MALLOY: "Malloy '88" 7

Now & Then 2003
Review by Kimmo Toivonen 21 April 2003

The first Mitch Malloy album is one of the few nineties' AOR classics. It should have catapulted him into superstardom, but didn't, due to changing musical climate and whatever else. Malloy recently returned to rock music after a few years' abscence by releasing "Shine", a critically acclaimed album. Encouraged by its' success, Now & Then and Mitch have now dug up the recordings that lead him to sign to a major label and then record the aforementioned first album.

Back in 1988 Mitch was fronting a band that carried his last name. The musical style is quite similar to the debut, although a few tracks are more in the late eighties "hair metal" vein. "She's Young, She's Wild", "Rodeo Girl" and "Problem Child" have more in common with the likes of Roxy Blue, Southgang and other "one-video wonders" than what was in store for him. However, "On My Way", "If You Were Mine", "Still In Love" and "Forever" won't disappoint any AOR fan, as they are all quality songs with good production. There are some "diamonds in the rough" among the other tracks as well: "Angeline", "Money Can't Buy Love" and "Without You" are just as good those mentioned before, but here the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe Mr. Malloy should consider re-recording these for his next album? By the way, "Problem Child" is very different to the song by the same name on the debut Mitch Malloy CD, but "Forever" isn't.

All in all, a good archival release, that would have gotten a higher grade if the production level hadn't dropped so dramatically after the first half.

Now & Then

Yngwie MALMSTEEN: "War to end all Wars" 4

Dream Catcher 2000

Review by 01-03-16

Wow! What's Up with the Production??? I tell ya what's up! It sounds pretty awful!!! The Super Swede YNGWIE MALMSTEEN is back again with a new album and we can once again find MARK BOALS (vocals/ex-Malmsteen) behind the mic. Ehhh... well, he has actually already been replaced by JORN LANDE (ex-Ark, Snakes etc.) and really... who cares anymore???

An Yngwie Malmsteen album has always been about Yngwie's guitar and not the vocals! This CD would have been a lot better with a real producer at the helm! Yngwie might be the best (and not to mention the fastest) guitar hero out there, but he really should leave the production to someone else. Sure! The guitars sound marvelous, but the rest? It sounds more like a demo.

I would advice you all to listen to "War to End all wars" before you buy it as you might be disappointed by the sound quality. But you can't really complain about the songs as they are all in the same Neo-Classic style as usual. Highlights are opening track "Prophet of Doom", the title track (War to end all wars) with some flashy guitarwork by The Man. Same goes with "Masquerade, Crucify & The Wizard" as they are all both catchy and filled with licks & tricks. Bottom line: some good songs/awful production.

MANIGANCE: "D’un Autre Sang" 6

Nothing To Say/Rick Inc. 2004
Review by Martien Koolen,
1 February 2004

Their previous album “Ange ou Demon”(2002) seems to have awaken a real interest in heavy metal made in France. That album was elected among the 10 best new 2002 releases by the readers of Burrn Magazine, it was also CD of the month in Heavy Oder Was(Germany) and even in Holland and Greece they got good reviews.

I really cannot understand all this fuzz about this rather mediocre heavy metal band; they add nothing new to the genre. It is typical standard power heavy metal from the first track “Empire Virtuel” till the last one “Enfin Delivre”. The songs are filled with double bass drums, high-pitched vocals and very familiar guitar riffs. The best tracks are probably “Hors la loi”, “Maudits”(which sound like Pretty Maids in their “Future World”-days) and “Enfin deliver”; a song with a slight Vandenplas atmosphere.

But what I “dislike” most is the fact that all the songs are sung in French. And that is a language that is absolutely NOT suitable for this kind of music! Bear in mind however that this is my opinion, and maybe there are some people out there who like this. Listen to it for yourself and decide what you think. Check out the CD-Rom track “Future World”, a live video clip with Pretty Maids.

MANILLA ROAD: "Spiral Castle" 7

Iron Glory/Massacre Records
Review by 5 January 2003

Just one year after the release of “Atlantis Rising” the gods of epic metal Manilla Road present us their new album “Spiral Castle”. The band was founded in 1977 by Mark "The Shark" Shelton and they always had their own special metal sound. Especially singer Bryan Patrick has a remarkable voice; you love it or you hate it, there is no other way of saying this because he really sings very extraordinary. I do not really like his typical, very nasal vocals, but the songs of Manilla Road and especially the excellent guitarwork by The Shark are always a pleasure to listen to.

Highlight of this album is the title track which sometimes remind me of the rock icons Hawkwind. “Seven Trumpets” and “Merchants Of Death” are pure metal songs with a lot of variety and again a keyrole for guitarplayer Mark(The Shark). The long instrumental “Sands Of Time” is a bit of a disappointment because of a much too long violin solo; which is played by Momamdon by the way. So if you are into epic powermetal and you can “stand” the typical voice of Bryan than this album is a real treat for you; buy it and enjoy!

MANKIND: "Demo-2000" 7

Indie 2000

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

MANKIND is a new SWEDISH band from the Stockholm Suburban Sundbyberg that plays some good 80´s melodic hardrock with a touch of Power Metal. I must say that I´m really impressed by the two guitar players JON BJORK & JOHAN LIEFVENDAHL who deliver some really cool riffs & licks a-la YNGWIE MALMSTEEN... maybe not as good but not that far behind either.

MANKIND was formed in March 1999 by vocalist MAGNUS LINDBLOM (ex.Euphoria) who brought in his old bandmember JOHNNY SANDIN on drums (ex.Euphoria/Blue Man Down) and he suggested ANDREAS BLOMQVIST (also ex.Blue Man Down) as the bass player. They began rehearsing and after 6 months they had a song list with 12 songs which they picked these 2 for their first demo.

"ONE TIME" is a song that sounds a lot like YNGWIE MALMSTEEN in his "Trilogy" days with some really powerful guitarwork and a vocalist who really has to fight for the frontman place. Cuz both BJORK & LIEFVENDAHL are all over this song! The chorus is pretty catchy and BLOMQVIST proves that his a pretty good drummer too even if the drum-sound could have been a bit better. "POISON MY HEART" is another good melodic hardrock song with a cool guitar intro a-la YNGWIE or SYMPHONY X and I´m pretty sure that we will hear from these guys in the future. For now check ´em out and buy their demo at or email them at:

MANOWAR: "Hell On Earth III [DVD]" 7

SPV/Steamhammer 2003
Review by 14 December 2003

"Manowar, Manowar, Living On The Road! When We're In Town, Speakers Explode". Indeed, they don't attract wimps, cause they're too loud. The true metal people, that's Manowar's crowd. Hail brothers and sisters of true metal and welcome to yet another feast, with more than 5 hours of roaring thunder and lightning fast music on a double DVD.

I wish I could stand by all the above written words as I've been a supporter of Manowar for a long time by now. Sadly I can't... way too many jumps from one part of the world to the other (on the first of two DVD discs), makes it almost unwearable and unwatchable. What's the point with a tour documentary that shows only a couple of seconds from each country they're visiting. Very annoying in the long run and so what, if they're talkin' about vikings while visiting Sweden, and micing up Harleys through the PA system. At least there's a lot of groupies to watch, huh? You can't take away some funny moments with DeMaio as ringleader though. Lots of bulls**t going on here for sure and it's mostly chaos and mayhem at large.

The 2nd DVD disc of the 3rd part of "Hell On Earth" (comes with wicked gatefold packaging), is however all good. Now we're talking metal for size and the whole 'Ringfest 2002' show, is included here. Eric Adams is one helluva frontman and tracks like "Kings Of Metal" and "Kill With Power", proves that Manowar IS (or was?) the best power metal band around. Take away the 'over the top' image and matching lyrics and you'd still find catchy, powerful, metal songs. Does it get any better than "Hail And Kill" by the way? probably not. Wimps and posers better leave this double DVD alone though.

MANTRA: "Roots" 5

Lucretia Records 2002
Review by 7 October 2002

Led Zeppelin anyone? This might be a fun album to get just to see how close to Zeppelin you can get without actually being Zeppelin. Mantra is an Italian band that offers a lot of mid-tempo 70’s hard rock. I was waiting through the whole album that they would really get it going, but after a promising start they pretty much decided to take it easy all the way.

Sure there can be seen other influences other than Led Zeppelin but for example the first song “Different Keys” had me wondering if someone had found some unreleased Zeppelin material and just named it Mantra. The voice of the singer (Jacopo Meille) and the moody atmosphere really did the trick.

The album doesn’t really offer anything new or mind blowing. The production is ok and I enjoyed the guitars in many of the songs. Mantra is one of the bands who keep the traditional hard rock alive but the lack of creativity and innovativeness prevents them from reaching any bigger goals. I think tightness is the word I’m looking for. Many of the songs would sound better it they would really get it going with a really rocking attitude. Now it felt too much like a jam session for most of the time.

Kee MARCELLO's K2: "Melon Demon Divine" 7

K2 2003
Review by 15 December 2003

Though I know Kee is not part of the Europe re-union and I also know that Norum fans will be disappointed with this statement but Kee has always been my favorite Europe guitarist, his soloing is simply as brilliant as a guitarist can only get. His first, mostly acoustic solo effort was quite a disappointment for me and when reading the weird title of this one I was a little afraid. My anxiety just grew hearing the ever-so-hated modern sound of the intro. I played the album a few times but I couldn't get past by the modern sound. So I decided to give it a break. It was about a month and a half ago and I kept playing the album every now and then till the melodies got their way through and I started enjoying the album as a whole. I had to face that it's a real grower and much better than I first thought, hence the 7 rating.

After a short intro "EMD" kicks-off, a heavy, modern track, dare I say with early-90s-Metallica influences? "Enemies" follows in the same fashion and only the solos remind me of the Kee I used to know. Both the sound and the approach of the solos recall the Europe era. There isn't a single other similarity to find though. The music is heavy and modern. "Blood" almost sounds like REM or any other alternative rock band; "Epic" sounds like the first, acoustic solo album, and "Raptor" takes us back to the opening heavy tunes; this may be the heaviest track of the album spiced up with electronic noises, sounds effects and such. "If" is equally heavy and "Falling Apart" is the only song that has some melodies reminding me of Europe. However let me state here that I really have to force myself to find some traces of Europe here. "Hey Romeo" is a piano driven ballad that turns into a shout-out refrained mid-tempo rocker but compared to Joey's vocal abilities it all sounds simply awful [if I really want to, I can hear some similarities to the "Prisoners in Paradise" album…]. "Evil Ways" could easily be a Megadeth track, while "For Patto" has some cool bluesy riffs and a good vocal performance; to me it is one of the highlights of the album cuz it's the least modern and most soulful album of the album [Anybody remember "Homeland" from Prisoners…?]. So is "Coming Home"; gotta wonder why they were put to the end of the album. Every time I played the album I really got tired of the depressive, modern sounding crush by the time I got as far as these two pearls. "Ride On" is another long, heavy, depressive track but it has the usual brilliant solo to spice it up.

All in all, the album is not bad. It's absolutely different from what one would expect from Kee knowing his Europe and Easy Action years. So if you are like me – hoping to hear those same old songs over and over again – be careful with the album cuz it has nothing to do with Europe. If you are able to listen to the album forgetting all about Europe, you may like it even more than I did.

MAR DE GRISES: "The Tatterdemalion Express" 6

Firebox 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
9 April 2004

Mar De Grises delivers some hot'n'spicey chili from Chile with their debut album "The Tatterdemalion Express". Well, it's rather doomy and gloomy metal than anything else really. The Chilean band, consisting of Marcelo Rodrigues (vocals/keys), Rodrigo Morris (guitar), Sergio Alvarez (guitar), Rodrigo Galvez (bass) and Alejandro Arce (drums), are very much into atmospheric rock.

Their main focus is perhaps doom, but you can surely find both prog, electronic, and death metal into their material. You can actually compare this with My Dying Bride (MDB from now on) in many ways. They are trying to build up an similar atmosphere of music and I'm sure they've been listening to MDB a lot in the past. Throw in some Samael influences while you're at it too and you'll be closer to the core.

I'm not too fond of Rodriguez voice or rather the lack of it. He's mostly "lost" somewhere in the background and it's hard to tell what the lyrics are all about. Not that growls usually means understandable lyrics (heh, heh), but the vocals aren't exactly my favorite part of the mixing here. The production by Raphael France (Poema Arcanus, Iconoclast) is otherwise quite nice though. The constantly aggressive guitar work, shred their pain throughout your loudspeakers, while the drums are simply doomy and fat as a cat. Mar De Grises may not have created the perfect debut album here. It could however well be worth checking out, if you're a major fan of MDB and doomy, atmospheric metal.

MARILLION: "Marbles" 9

Intact Recordings 2004
Review by Martien Koolen,
13 April 2004

In the eighties I was a real Marillion addict; albums like "Fugazi"(1984), "Misplaced Childhood"(1985) – still one of the best symphonic rock albums ever – and "Clutching At Straws"(1987) are very dear to me and I still listen to them a lot!! Then in 1988 singer Fish left the band and I was devastated, what would become of one of my favorite British prog bands?? When I heard that the new singer would be Steve Hogarth I was very eager to hear a new album by Marillion. And, yes, I really liked the first new style Marillion album "Season’s End". In 1994 they released their superb concept album "Brave" and again I was hooked on Marillion and the future for the English progressive number one band looked bright.

However, three years later I listened to "This Strange Engine" and I was truly disappointed. In comparison to "Brave", this was a rather mediocre progressive rock album with nothing new under the sun. That was also the last Marillion album I actually bought. The last three albums "Radiation", "" and "Anoraknophobia" were definitely not my cup of tea. True disappointments, and I thought that they never would be able to "bounce" back and maybe make an album like "Brave".

It has been three years since their last release and now it finally will hit the stores: "Marbles". It is a concept album that deals with childhood memories of Hogarth playing with marbles…. When I heard the album for the first time I immediately noticed the "lack" of solos and the wonderful soundscapes and amazing melodies. The opener "The Invisible Man", an epic song of approximately 13 minutes, is one of the highlights of the album. Really experimental, mind-boggling musical passages and the amazing vocal performance of Steve are the keywords for this song. "You’re Gone" will be the first single, a catchy song with beautiful guitar work by Rothery. The next track "Angelina" is a sort of jazzy ballad, while "Don’t Hurt Yourself" opens with a Dave Gilmour-ish guitar part and evolves further on into a rather "radio-friendly" song. In "Drilling Holes" the spotlights are on Trewavas and Kelly, while "Fantastic Place" features beautiful piano, almost ambient like, passages. The last track "Neverland"(also an epic one) is probably one of the best Marillion tracks I have heard in a long time. It reminds me of the "good old" Brave days, like this album reminds me of that amazing Marillion CD, which they recorded in 1994. Well, there is nothing more to tell really, Marillion is back and hopefully they will record more albums like this one. "Marbles" really grows on you, till you are hooked and you need one song from the album a day to listen to; so be warned!!!

MARK ALLEN BAND: "Six Interlocking Pieces" 6-

Blue Car Records 1999
Review by

Mark Allen Band is six-piece group (no prizes for guessing!) from California, featuring 3 guys and 3 ladies. Their music is blues-flavoured rock with some AOR elements. The blues/rock style seems to dominate, and since that is not my cup of tea, I am not too crazy about this album. However, occasionally the band adopts a more AOR'ish approach and that's when things start to happen.

The opener "Wishing Well" is a straight-forward rocker with some Chicago-like horns (or synths), the vocals of Mark Allen sounding a little like that geezer from Legs Diamond. "Take My Heart" however, is stylewise close to Tyketto, with Allen sounding a lot like Danny Vaughn this time. A good track with a great melodic bridge. The next good track is "I Will Be There", a full-blown AOR track with keyboards upfront and a good chorus. It reminds me a little bit of Survivor's "Burning Heart". "Same Old Star" is another highlight, a song that sounds like a cool combination of Tyketto's "The End Of The Summer Days" and "Don't Treat Me Bad" by Firehouse. The bluesy ballad "Fear Of Falling" is quite enjoyable too.

MARKONEE: "Dec 12th, 1901 - The Spirit Of The Radio"

Indie 2001

Review by 10 May 2002

All you hear is radio gaga [clap,clap]! Nah, we're not talking about some Queen wannabe's here. From the homeland of Pizza, Pasta and Ferrari hails the Melodic/Sleaze rockers Markonee (no, not macaroni). These Italian rockers have done a very professional, independent release, even if the production is not really 'up to date'.

This is actually a gathering of experienced musicians coming from Bologna/Italy (pasta bolognese anyone?), with the aim of giving life to the story of Guglielmo Marconi. Indeed, this is a concept/project album about the Italian scientist, inventor from Bolognese, who was responsible for the first radio trasmission in long distance, the transoceanic one.

What we end up with here, is a mixture of Sleaze rock ala Teeze, Love/Hate, and typical melodic Rock from the 80's. Vocalist Emilliano Gurioli sounds like a younger brother of Jizzy Pearl (Love/Hate) most of the time. It's really up to you, to judge if this is a good or bad sign :-) I know that some consider Pearl to be the most annoying singer in the hardrock biz, while others find him quite good. I'm with the later gang actually [when he sings his own Love/Hate material, that is]. However, the song quality leaves much to ask for. It takes them forever to get to the chorus [Kimmo: yeah! Don't Bore Us - Get To The Chorus! :)] and when you're finally "there", it's a rather disappointed one I'm afraid. "Loved Land" is a pretty good tune tho' and it actually sounds a lot like Bang Tango. "The Needle Eye" is so much like the US band Teeze (no, not Teaze) that it's scary. A quite good Sleaze/Glam tune actually! The rest is not that much to talk about really, so I better just shut up now...

MARS ELECTRIC: "Fame Among The Vulgar" 8

Atenzia 2003
Review by 6 June 2003

Weird... I've just recentely finished the review about Wendy O'Williams in our "Dig'Em Up" section and here's Mars Electric's new CD, with a song about her. "Baby's Got A Brand New Life" is the story about Wendy and her struggle outside of the spotlight and rock'n'roll lifestyle. It all ended in tragedy as the business chewed her up and spit her out at the age of 48.

"Fame Among The Vulgar" is the second attempt by the Birmingham/Alabama rockers and they're already at their second label. The deal with Portrait was basicially dead when famed A&R guru John Kalodner, decided to pull the plug on the project. Their "Beautiful Something" CD was a nice mixture of modern and arena rock and three years later they're now back at the Atenzia label.

This is good music no matter if you'd like to call it Nu-Rock, Nu-Breed, or simply put rock a'la 2003. It's fresh, modern, and slightly more edgier than their previous album. The guitars are overall heavier and there's a lot more riffing going on this time. Something like "Heaven's Gate" is actually darn groovie and other tracks like "Did I Say Too Much" has almost a punk-ish attitude over it. Jacob Bunton (vocals/guitar) is a sucker for super melodic tunes though and both "Descend" and "Baby's Got A Brand New Life" is perfect bliss. The latter with lyrics about Wendy O'Williams' tragic ending is darn touching and maybe even sentimental too. The leading uptempo track and hitsingle? will have to be "Disco King", with its catchy beat and freaky lyrics. Another favorite is "Queen Of Suffering" and "Don't Say Goodbye", which reminds me of some old Tal Bachman song from the past. I'm having problem to decide if it's a weak 9 or a strong 8 rating. I went with the latter though and I actually prefer this and '40 Feet Ringo' over the pure AOR albums from Atenzia. Recommended if you're into the modern rock thing with catchy tunes and everything. I miss one or two really catchy uptempo tracks here though.

Amanda MARSHALL: "Everybody's Got A Story" 9

Sony Canada 2001
Review by Endre "Bandi" Hübner 7 May 2002

Apologies and not at the same time. If we take the Canadian release of this album into account (November 2001) we are a little behind, but according to Amanda's website it's only going be released in June 2002 in the States and only in the Summer in Europe. We do not have any connection to the Canadian stuff of Sony, so it took me quite some time to get the album. And it lives up to all my expectations that actually were very high as the first two releases from Amanda are among my favorite female-fronted pop- rock albums.

"Everybody's Got A Story" picks up where "Tuesday's Child" ended up, it's another great pop-rock album with catchy hooks, wonderful, mainly acoustic orientated arrangements, fantastic and very touchy lyrics, and the usual stunning, soulful vocal performance by Amanda. It is also to point out that all the musicians deliver an astounding performance here, not to mention the great choruses. It's hard to name highlights from the album because basically all the songs are close to perfect and it's just a matter of personal taste which ones you prefer. The opening title track deserves a mention, a mid-tempo pop-rocker with really catchy hooks, some tricky guitar riffs and a pumping groove, not to mention the usual great lyrics. Surely a winner! Another potential single hit is "Sunday Morning After", a song carved from the same wood as the title track with very funny lyrics. People more into rock stuff need to check these two out first.

Those who tolerate ballads and more poppy stuff too must listen to the moody ballad "Colleen (I Saw Him First)", a wonderful acoustic ballad with probably the most soulful (and highly unusual) lyrics of the whole album. Some more great ballads would be "Love Is My Witness" and "The Gypsy" both of them with similar acoustic arrangements. I really wonder why this girl is just a local hero (What's up with Sony Music in Canada? Can't they see they're holding a pearl in their hands?!). It's already her third brilliant album in a row, and while Anastacia broke through with one album (that was decent though but still zillion miles from Amanda), Amanda Marshall is still not a household name in music industry. If you are unfamiliar with her, just go to her website, listen to some of the soundbytes to see (hear) what I'm talking about.