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


RACER X: "Superheroes" 8

Mascot Records 2001
Review by 22-02-01

The band is back and sounds really good I might say. The first song sounds just like Judas Priest. Heavy Metal is coming back in a big way with all these "old" bands returning.

Paul Gilbert plays like a maniac and Travis bounds the skins like he has never have done before. The playing is fine throughout the record. and it's great to listen good musicians at work.

The guys have had some fun doing this record because it shines throughout the record. I've never been a really big fan of this band but right now when it's coming loud in my headphones this sounds great. Some might say that this is too typical but these guys know how to play and that is something that separates them from the rest. There is even some Black Sabbath here (third song). This is a pretty heavy record, so I am not wondering it was given to me to review. [ Ed: it's a dirty job but someone's gotta do're the resident headbanger!]

Some songs that stick out here are Superheroes (priest-like), King Of The Monsters (instrumental, this kicks ass big time), Evil Joe (heavy tune with some freaky guitar playing) and there is even some acoustic guitar here in the song called Time Before The Sun. (this must be the necessary "ballad"). The last song is also worth to mention O.H.B. this is song is a really great ending to a great record. I guess the title is short from One Hot Bitch.

Listening to Gilbert here one can just wonder what the hell did he do in Mr. Big. This so different. That is what separates great players from the not so great - they can play in different styles. [Ed: then there's the solo albums, power pop...diversity or what?]

This record takes some time to really kick in, but when it does, it takes one to a really nice Heavy Netal ride. A great "comeback"! Now I'll put some Priest on and get to that metal heaven with a cold Carlsberg (probably the best beer in the world) in my hand. [Ed: And that was not a paid ad...we'd love an edorsement deal though!:)]

RACER X: "Live At The Whisky Snowball Of Doom" 8

Mascot Records 2002

Review by 01-04-15

Snowball Of Doom? What the heck is that all about? A closer look at the CD cover could give you some ideas... or not. Anyway, Women with guns works for me! You like your music loud? Then check out the latest release by Racer X, a live album recorded at the Whisky A Go Go in L.A. in June 2001.

Racer X recorded two metal albums in the mid-80's, before the members had more success in bands such as Mr.Big, Judas Priest, Badlands & The Scream. They all reformed in 1999 and has since recorded two more albums. This live CD features their best (?) songs from the debut album 'Street Lethal (1986)' to last years 'Super Heroes'.

Scott Travis (Judas Priest) bangs his drums as hard as he can, while Paul Gilbert (Mr.Big) shreds like a maniac all over the place. It's more a case of "Play as loud and fast as you can" here, than the "wimpy" stuff he did with Mr.Big. Vocalist Jeff Martin, who became the drummer for Badlands does sound better than ever here and songs such as 'Street Lethal' or 'Into The Night', both from the debut album, sure take you back in time. I remember a friend of mine introduced me to the band, saying that 'you'll like this, since you're into Judas Priest'. And he was darn right! It's bone crushing metal with both melodies and catchy hooks. Even newer material like 'Dead Man's Shoes' or '17th Moon' are winners in my book. I'm not really into live albums though, since they're all redone in the studio anyway. However, this one does not sound too much like a fake, as I believe they have managed to capture the 'almost real' Racer X here. Recommended indeed! Hammer away!

RACER-X: "Getting Heavier" 9

Mascot Records 2003
Review by 11 May 2003

After their excellent live CD called “Snowball Of Doom” Racer-X is back with a brandnew album written and recorded in Paul Gilbert’s studio in Las Vegas. Right from the aggressive starter “Dr.X.” it becomes clear that this is a true hardrock/metal album in the tradition of speedy and very intense music.

Three of the songs have very recognizable guitarstructures which remind me very much of Van Halen at their best. “Bucket Of Rocks”, “Go GG Go” and the ballad “Empty Man” are perfect examples of how “classic” hardrock guitardriven music should sound like. And if you hear influences like Rush, Rainbow, Dio or Priest it is no coincidence…. “Heaven in 74” features the dual lead vocals of Jeff and Paul and as from the lyrics this could turn out to become a classic; words or phrases like “glam rock”, “eight track”, “muscle cars”, “smokin’grass” or “acid rock” need no further explanation. Racer’s X lyrics are as usual funny and very direct; e.g. in the song “Bucket Of Rocks” Jeff sings things like: “don’t want no dick dancin’!”.

All the twelve songs have splendid guitarsolos - the best ones in “Ghost Dance” and “Dr.X” - very diverse vocals and most of all a superb mix. Just listen to this record with your headphones on and you will appreciate “Getting Heavier” even more. I think it will be hard for Racer-X to top this album the next time, but you never know with Paul G. and Co.

RACHEL Z TRIO: "Moon At The Window" 10

Tone Center 2002

Review by 23 February 2003

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, 10 points for an album that is more jazz than rock on a site that is more rock than anything else. Add that Rachel Z Trio consists of a female pianist (Rachel herself), a female bass player (Patricia Des Lauriers), and a rasta-haired drummer (Bobbie Rae) and they play instrumental jazz and your eyebrows may raise (thinking even more strange things about me than usual) and you might wanna skip the rest of the review. Please, don't do so!

This is really music for all of you out there, especially if you enjoy the sound of the piano. Don't be shied away from the word "jazz", as this ain't no hard-to-get-into free jazz, bet some really melodic and very entertaining stuff full of brilliant melodies, clear harmonies, and outstanding musicianship. The songs are all personal interpretations of Joni Mitchell written tunes with a piano-bass-drums arrangement, and believe me; you won't lack any other instruments here. For those familiar with jazz the most obvious comparison would be Herbie Hancock here. Yet I need to add that this album is a lot easier to get into (if you are a beginner with jazz) than any of Hancock's albums. And if we disregard the difference of instruments played and used in the arrangement I think mentioning Pat Metheny wouldn't sound that out of place either. And for those more stuck in rock: if you dig Jonathan Cain's solo albums, you'll most probably enjoy this one a lot too.

A brilliant album, I wish there were more like this coming from Tone Center, instead of those weird studio projects they were trying to push through in the last couple of years.
Tone Center



Kivel 2000
Review by 11-12-00

What's the connection between Queensryche's classic innovative melodic metal concept album "Operation: Mindcrime" from 1988 and Radar's typical 80's AOR sounding far from innovative, old school melodic rock album of 2000? For the first listening: nothing. But still there's something or better said: someone. Sister Mary. She must have really "drank lifeblood from her savior's feet" (see Queensryche's "Suite Site Mary" for more) because she's back from the dead, 12 years after being killed in the "Operation: Mindcrime" story.

Now with more understandable words: Radar is fronted by Pamela Moore, the voice of the character Sister Mary from the classic Queensryche album. What took so long for her to surface again? Honestly, I don't know. I have absolutely no information about her career since her appearance on the Queensryche album, although her extraordinary talent was clearly shining through that one single song. Anyway, let's all cheer her for coming back because Radar surprised us with a great melodic rock album out of nothing. Not that there was anything new or surprising on this album, just good old, energetic, female fronted, sunshine melodic rock at its finest. Something I haven't heard since the Vixen, Fiona, Saraya days. If any of these bands did it for you, you'll be absolutely satisfied with Radar.

The album is packed in a very tasty artwork, created by f3 design. Their site is definitely worth checking out as they did a whole bunch of rock album arts and some other stuff worth a look. But back to the music: "Power Of Money" kickstarts the album with a smoking guitar riff and great vocal melodies placed on it. Pamela sounds a bit like Chrissy Steele on this one, mostly because of her more aggressive vocal approach. "Yours Tonight" is more melodic with keyboard arpeggios opening, recalling Vixen's most melodic moments. Its oh-oh refrain is far from being original (I could list at least fifteen songs featuring the very same oh-oh melody); still such a bombastic sounding refrain puts a smile on my face.

Sister Mary is back on "Mirror Mirror", a haunting ballad where Pamela shows the crystal clear singing technique we got to know her for. The acoustic guitar based arrangement gives enough room for her voice to shine. Definitely one of the highlights of the album, 10 years ago this song would have been top 20 on MTV.

Another keyboard driven rocker "Lookin' For Love" follows, then "Shotdown" comes, an early Bon Jovi sounding rocker with a bombastic refrain. These two song titles must put a grin on Kimmo's face but at least there's no song titled "Hold On" on the album. Anyway, we have "In Your Eyes" instead just to annoy our beloved Chief Ed a bit more [I won't bother to get annoyed anymore, this is just funny as hell -K The Ed]. The song reminds me of Heart with its piano-guitar arrangement though Pamela's voice is definitely different from Ann Wilson's. In this song she sounds more of a black soul throat which is a very positive surprise in my book.

Unfortunately, the album follows the recently ruling 10 songs, not more than 45 minutes trend and leaves us with wanting more of it. But thinking a bit more about this: what more could we want from an album than leaving us wanting more of it? It's the best proof that is was good.

RADIAL ANGEL: "One More Last Time" 8

Warner Bros./Curb/Squint 2003
Review by 15 May 2003

Radial Angel was formed back in 1995, but the name of the band was chosen in ’99, when they found a clear direction for the band. After two independent releases Radial Angel was signed to the Christian division of Warner Bros. Now how many of you even knew they had a division like that, hands up! The band is: Jared Taber-vocals/guitars, Tommy Perkins-drums, Jeremy Dolezel-guitar and Eddie Jones-bass. Their message is clear and they rock. That’s the case if you like your music stripped down raw and radio-friendly.

I used to be a huge fan of bands like Bush, Creed, Moist, Stone Temple Pilots and the whole alternative thing and Radial Angel’s sound explores and mixes all of the above, along with Old Lady Peace, which I’ve never personally heard. I have to admit I still like those bands to some extent, but I never thought I’d still get some kicks out of alternative rock and that’s what Radial Angel gave me. Their music is very emotional and that always does it for me. The lyrics deal with divorce, rape, suicide and purity.

Now the sound on this cd isn’t the best you could think of, but who knows it might be what the guys were looking for, after all this is what most alternative bands sound like. Apart from that the drumsound is too tight for my taste, it sticks out too much. So those facts don’t make this as big a listening pleasure as it could be. The band is inventuous and all happy trails. The lively touch to the music takes inspiration from Christianity, not many bands of today can make you feel so inspired and fresh, so I like the attitude coming out here. But to listen to this band you do need to be in a certain mood, say „feeling alternative”. Even for me this won’t work on certain days, when I’m feeling really depressed. Of course that’s when you should be listening to a happy band, but it never goes that way.

Eventhough this band is simple guitar driven rock, they have hooks, beautiful melodies and it’s easy listening. Songs such as „She”, „Love”, „Annabelle”, „Something” and „It’s Over” bring out those features best. This is radiofriendly music if anything and I warn those who really dislike it to take easy steps with Radial Angel. Who knows, it might kick in any day and even though most of those bands wouldn’t work for you, there’s always one band out of one hundred that will surprise you. And this time it could be Radial Angel.


Escape Music 2001

Review by 01-08-21

English man Alistair Gordon (vocals/keys) may not be a household name in the AOR /melodic hardrock scene but I´m sure many of you recognize him from some of all his previous work. As a backup singer on many contemporary rock and pop albums such as Eric Clapton, The Who, The Choirboys or maybe for his work with Zu Zu Sharks, Newton, Bank Statement (with Tony Banks of Genesis) and in recent years with Sad Cafe / Mike & the Mechanics vocalist Paul Young.

Radio Silence is not your ordinary meat & potato rock album with a couple of catchy highlights, followed by a bunch of fillers. No, what you get here is the luxury dinner with candlelights and sparkling wine (that would be champagne, right?) OK! enough of this food talk already! "Sirens" does need a couple of spins in your CD player to really sink in though as I was not really this impressed at first. The album really grows on ya´ and this is indeed album oriented rock without any major downsides.

The music could be described as a mix of Mike & the Mechanix, Genesis (calling all stations), Tom Cochrane (Red Rider) and remember to add a dose of Foreigner in the blender before you shake. The production is done by Heartland´s Steve Morris, who also helps out with some guitarwork, together with Kenny Kaos. Songs like "Poison ivy", "Pressing Flesh", "Shame", "Abigail", "Lolita", "Carry the flame" and "Answer my Prayer" co-written by the late Paul Young (Mike & the Mechanics) are all fine examples of rock/pop/AOR. As always, for more info and to check out some MP3´s see:

RADIOACTIVE: "Ceremony Of Innocence" 10

MTM 2001

Review by 18 July 2001

Finally, after a ten years journey, Tommy Denander managed to get his lifetime project Radioactive released. As many of you would know, it is a project which involved one of the most impressive bunch of AOR stars around including the following: Jeff, Mike and Steve Porcaro, Bobby Kimball, Joseph Williams, Fergie Frederiksen, Jason Scheff, Michael Thompson, Fee Waybill, David Paich, Bruce Gaitsch, Geir Rönning, Jim Jihed, Mats Olausson, Marcus Lillequist and many more...

With such a list, one would expect a TOTO tribute kinda thing, but this is not exactly true. "Ceremony Of Innocence" is quite an amazing collection of melodic tunes, gathered in a very varied styles. One can be very surprised to listen to the rhythm section of TOTO playing true ass-kicking rockers like the opener "The Story Of Love" or "Crimes Of Passion", funky grooves like "Waiting for a Miracle", (perhaps the most TOTO oriented track on the album, yet different at the same time, with really amazing backing vocals), and even slow, dense tracks as the title track "Ceremony of Innocence". There's even an instrumental fusion piece titled "Liquid" that will be an ear candy for lovers of instrumental rock. There are even melodic hard rock tracks like "A Case OF Right Or Wrong", and also more classic keyboard driven AOR like "Silent Cries" (with an amazing as always Jim Jihed on vocals), and the last (suppossedly) track "When You're In Love" with wonderful melancholic verses and chorus that is meant to become an all time AOR anthem. These are so far the tracks the Porcaro Bros. played in. But the album is much more than that. More rockers like "On My Own" (Frederiksen on vox), ballads like "Grace" (I just love the dense ambient those extraordinary percussions give to the song!) or "Haunt Me Tonight", (another great ballad, written by Richard Marx among others, btw). And finally my fave track from the album so far, the extraordinary AOR/Wescoast tune "L.A.Movies", (with Mr. Jason Scheff on vocals, and some of the nicest guitars licks I've listened to in a very long time).

All in all, this is a superb album. For those who feared a cheapo production like the ones Mr. Denander has been blamed for in the past (IMO not fairly though), you've got nothing to fear this time. This CD sounds just incredible, not only for the top quality of the musicians involved, and the songwriting by Tommy Denander, but also for the top level production. I've read some doubts about the drum sound, but hey man, do you really think Denander would have dare not to make justice to the everlasting groove of the sadly missed Jeff Porcaro? C'mon! It should be mentioned also the astonishing guitar work by Mr. Tommy Denander himself, who proves on this album, (as if it needed to be proved anyway), that he is one of the most talented musicians of the present melodic rock scene. This is Mr. Denander's dream come true, and you'll notice it when you listen to the album, as it has been made with the heart. My final recomendation would be: don't miss this album, as for me it is the best CD I've listened to in long, long time and is meant to become a classic. It took ten years to be finnished, but was worth the wait all the way! Needles to say it is best album of the year so far for me, and I seriouly doubt any other can even come closer. But you never know, let's wait and see...!


MTM Music 2003
Review by 27 Mars 2003

Yeah? The Radioactive project with guitarist Tommy Denander now returns with their second release. Only a couple of years behind the first album and that's kind of remarkable, especially since it took some ten years for the debut to be completed. Not everything were in the hands of Denander though and you really can't blame him for being particular slow. You simply can't find a harder working man in the melodic rock business, right now.

If the previous album was laid-back with lots of Toto influences and members involved. You surely can't say the same about the music from "Yeah". Sure... you can find yet another ex-Toto member here (Fergie Frederiksen). However, the overall material is more uptempo this time around with louder guitars and such. It's still an all-star project though and some of the musicians, which Denander is using the assistance of here, are: Steve Overland (FM), Fergie (Toto, LeRoux, Solo), Matti Alfonzetti (Jagged Edge/Skintrade/Solo), Mikael Erlandsson, Geir Rönning, Marcel Jacob (Yngwie/Talisman) etc. etc.

One thing's for sure, Denander is moving away from the softer 'Westcoast' genre with this album. Goodbye to wimpy melodies and Hello to rock'n'roll again! You can finally notice some power-riffs by this excellent guitarist and it's darn good to hear him rock out. Now, don't go thinking this must be some heavy metal album then. Since nothing could be further from the truth!!! This is still very much Melodic Rock/AOR, from the land of Catchy Hooks (Sweden). Too bad that Steve Overland is only singing lead, on one of the tracks here. What a voice this man (still) have!!! I'm absolutely stunned by his performance!!! The song "Lies Feed On Lies" is everything Classic UK Rock was all about. Melodic with a touch of Blues in the great tradition of Bad Company, Paul Rodgers, FM etc. Bloody'ell, I almost feel sorry for the other vocalists here!!! It can't be all that easy to follow in the footsteps of Overland [:-)]. The whole album is not exactelly an instant hit and you need to spin this a couple of times, to really appreciate some of the tracks. It's without a doubt a grower though and it really kicks in the end. Opener "Yeah" is a fun rocker and "Demon", is very much Toto, during their "Isolation" days. Not that strange either, since Fergie Frederiksen was the singer back then and now. Great uptempo rocker this is! Actually, I'll have to say that "Yeah" is much more fun, than the sometimes boring debut. I personally never thought "that" much about the first CD. Just check out "Don't Give Up", "I Should Have Known Better" or "7 am" here and you'll know what I mean. Great, classic sounding Rock/AOR, with catchy hooks! Heck, even Alfonzetti sings at his best again here. Recommended!

RAGE IN EDEN: "Demo ‘99"

Indie 1999

Review by 12 May 2000.

First of all thanx to Henrik Olaussen, the melodic rock guru of Norway for this material. Rage In Eden is from Norway, and according to my information from Henrik, they are about to release an album there. This demo contains three songs, probably pre-produced for this album.

The music is a bit eclectic for me. The musical background is definitely traditional European heavy metal with harsh, distorted guitar sound and a surprisingly bombastic drum sound. If they manage to get this guitar-drum sound on the album it would hit BIG.

My only problem is with the vocals. It follows a modern trend of shouting instead of singing and lots of times it is electronically enhanced. These things are just not for my ears and leave a bad taste in my mouth. Not having heard the band live I don’t know whether it all is necessary (read: the singer is so bad they can’t get a better performance from him) or the band just follows this trend to make themselves more commercial. Hopefully, the truth is somewhere around the second option and we’ll get some better vocals on the album, because the songs are well written, the sound, the tightness is “there”. Traditional heavy metal fans would definitely enjoy this material because it sounds much better than a usual demo, the guys are really “close”, and after some polishing, some re-thinking we might get a very good album from them. Until they deliver it, try to get in touch with them at Eden productions, P.O. Box 154 Krokstadelva, N-3055 Norway or through their site:

RAGE IN EDEN: "Demo 2001"

Indie 2001

Review by 20 April 2001

This is not the first time I write about this Norwegian band, I used to deal with them in the Loud & Clear era too. I remember last time I was ranting about the lack of melodies when reviewing their demo of 2000. Well, early 2001 they came up with a 2-track demo that features even less melodies. The band is taking a very aggressive, dark, modern sounding direction. The sound, the singer (?) – he is rather chanting and shouting, not really singing – and even the promo photo (a Dracula looking character holding a fainting lady in his clawed hands) resembles to those church burning Norwegian black metal bands.

There’s definitely lots of rage in both of the track but I can’t here any “Eden” if you know what I mean. When taking a look at the title of the tracks I was already a bit afraid: “Somatic” and “Bloodlines”. Very distorted guitars, strange drum rhythms and shouting vocals are characteristic for both of the tracks. The band might be on the right track if they wanna join that special Norwegian movement but honestly I doubt that with this direction they are taking they had the chance to reach the AOR-Europe audience. If you happen to like the above mentioned style check them out at

RAGING SPEEDHORN: "Live And Demos" 5

Grand Recordings 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
2 May 2004

Grand Recordings are doing their best with trying to sell us a double CD collection, that give us a retrospective look at U.K. misfits: Raging Speedhorn. They are now signing to SPV and this will most ceterianly also mean the closure of chapter one. Not as "independent" anymore and perhaps more people outside of U.K. will discover these stoner/death lads by now.

The title "Live And Demos" isn't all that misleading actually. Disc #1 - "Live Side" are twelve tracks of "Random Acts Of Violence", recorded live between the years of 2000-2002. It's material from their self titled album and their stoner platter "We Will Be Dead Tomorrow". The live version of "The Gush", is a real a** kicker and you'll surely end up in the mosh pit, quicker than you can say... ehhh... mosh. This track as well as others, were recorded live during Ozzfest 2001, and it's an armageddon of stoner/death metal with growls and howls. Fact is that I don't really see any point with this live disc. Average sound quality and remarkable little difference between the original cuts, makes this only essential for the real nut-case fan. Disc# 2 - "Demo Sides" takes a closer look at leftover demos and rejected versions of golden oldies. Hardly anything new or exciting stuff and again only essential for the die-hard collector. Not the perfect introduction if you're a first time listener perhaps. The typical 'let's squeeze the fans for more money' release.

RAINBIRD: "Assassin’s Night" 6

A.B. Records 2001
Review by 5 May 2002

Rainbird was born in Italy in 1998 by Fabrizio Bonanno, who wrote some hardrock songs and then recorded this demo cd with Simone Carabba, Davide Galleti, Federica Rubino and Maurizio De Palo. This cd is a homerecording and as said in the introduction sheet is not an original and modern production and out of time and trends. All of the facts here tell the truth.

The cd is only 25 minutes long, so it might not tell enough what the band can do. The music has influences from hard rock and prog metal for instance. The first song “Running Time” reminds me of an old Finnish rock band Peer Gynt, it’s really rough rock’n’roll, the second one “Fear City” is hard rock with prog influences, the third “Timeless Dreams” was too confusing to get into more deeply and “Follow The Rain” is a short song with acoustic guitar and vocals with a dreamy slow tempo. “Your Doll” is another mid-tempo song, but the last one, the title track “Assassin’s Night” was the most melodic and catchiest one here. I especially liked the chorus.

Rainbird has certainly found a unique style, sometimes they even remind me of The Ramones, they’re hard to categorize. I wouldn’t say it’s good for them, as they have this psychedelic atmosphere on the whole cd and it ruins a lot of the great guitar work and ideas here. There’s a lot of interesting parts here and there though, especially if you like progressive music and you like to listen to a zillions of instruments at once and weird combinations - Rainbird has a lot of that. Too bad the production isn't very good, there’s not much bass in the mix, and way too much echo. Only if they could harness all their ideas into a stylish package they would be marvellous in their own category.

E-mail: Fabrizio Bonanno


Dark Symphonies 2002
Review by 17 May 2002

Rain Fell Within is a six-piece group with two female singers. "Refuge" is their second album, and on it they blend metal, new age and goth in their music. The first song “Torn Apart” is probably the best song they have to offer here, it combines the two clear female voices, a “Halloween”-piano part and a spooky, absent atmosphere. Also the last, slow song “Passing Time” is a good one. The singers are much better here and the song itself is nice and stays well in form.

The second song continues straight from the first song. “In The Knowing Of You” also has that ghostly atmosphere, with choirs, but it’s too straightforward with nothing you can grab into. The same goes for the two following songs. On “Save Your Soul” the song kicks off with an unexpected fast drum rhythm, something you'd hardly expect from this style of music and I don’t think it really fits here. “Winter’s Embrace” is the album's slow instrumental, under two minutes and it has a "winterish" touch to it. Still, it’s more like an intro to the next song “Into The Tower”, which similar to most of the other songs with that absent feeling.

And that’s what is the trouble with this band. The female singers sound mostly too fake with their angelic voices and they could just as well be singing the one song over and over again. Also Rain Fell Within’s songs are just too much alike, only small bits here and there that you can tell the songs apart. It’s not enough to make an interesting album. This band is capable of more.


RAINE: "Peace" 6

MTM 2000

A bit like Euphoria's album released by MTM last year (or was it 1998), "Peace" is walking on the no man's land between AOR and progressive rock. Raine pull it off better than Euphoria though, and at their best they deliver fine melodic rock, be it adult oriented or progressive. At their worst the songs strike me as a bit dull, and the vocals of David Lindland reach a few notes that endanger the family crystal glasses...

The band offer "Rainmaker" as the introduction to their sound. It is a heavy, prog-influenced track that reminds me of a combination of Fates Warning, Winger and Dream Theater. "I Am" is an easier track to digest, a catchy melodic track that for me represents the best of Raine. So does "Everytime", which features a good and restrained performance from Mr. Lindland, who manages to sound like a natural combination of Steve Augeri (Tall Stories/Journey) and Queensrúche's Geoff Tate. Nice and original arrangement too.

"Without You" is a good hard-edged melodic rocker, but the next couple of numbers are a bit too much for me. They're both more in the AOR vein, but the vocals are just too h-iiiii-igh for my taste. "Lost Angels" is the much-hyped Steve Perry/Clif Magness-composition given to the band to record, and pretty good one it is too, first class melodic rock. Sadly, the remaining tracks aren't too much to my liking, especially since Mr. Lindland seems to really let it all out and go for the high notes. The last track "Never Alone" is probably the best of them, with only the chorus containing those too-high-for-me vocals. But let's look at it this way: now that all those notes have been hit, Mr. Lindland has gotten it out of his system and can concetrate on the lower sections of the scale. He does sound really good when he doesn't chase those high notes...

R.A.I.N.E.: "Peace" 7

MTM 2000

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

WOW ! the first thing that you´ll notice about R.A.I.N.E is their Vocalist DAVID LINDLAND(ex.Montana Screams)This guy got a voice that can reach REALLY high notes.. we´re talkin´ GEOFF TATE (Queensryche) or TONY HARNELL (T.N.T.) here superb singer.Peace is a Melodic Hardrock album that gets better & better for each time that you play it ! I wasn´t that impressed at first,but some of the songs really needs a second or third spin to catch your attention and 5-6 times to really hit ya´.

I´m not saying that it isn´t a "catchy" CD but it´s neither a "normal" AOR album from MTM.Try and imagine a mixture of TNT (the Voice/The Guitar) TALISMAN (The Groove/Funk) JOURNEY (The Harmonies) and QUEENSRYCHE (The Voice/Rhythm section) and you´re pretty close.

Guitarist NICK HORNE plays some really cool and complex chords all over this album he even sounds more PROG than AOR on a couple of tracks like opener "RAINMAKER" which is a epic mid tempo song like QUEENSRYCHE.Next track "I AM" is a more straight a-head AOR rocker with a a lovely chorus and vocal harmonies "EVERYTIME" is a great semi ballad a-la TNT with MARK WOOD (Celine Dion) on violin that gives this song a new dimension."WITHOUT YOU" is a nice melodic rocker a-la early TALISMAN/TNT the guitar riff reminds me a bit of "I´ll be waiting" (Talisman) "2 AM" is a pretty boring semi ballad with a boring chorus "MIRACLES" is a great ballad that begins with a grand Piano intro and with some softly,almost "spoken" vocals before it kicks off with a BIG chorus and a killer performance by LINDLAND ! Eat your heart out Harnell."LOST ANGEL" is written by STEVE PERRY (Journey) & CLIFF MAGNESS and I must say that I find the chorus a bit weak,too bad really cuz everything else is killer AOR stuff.But "NEVER ALONE" is great AOR song that rocks from start to finish.Give "Peace" a chance check ´em out at

RAMOS: "Lving In The Light" 7

Frontiers 2003
Review by 29 June 2003

Josh Ramos, who has gained reputation in bands such as The Storm, Two Fires and Hardline, steps into the limelight with a band that carries his last name. Musically there are no big changes; "Living In The Light" is very traditional AOR in the vein of Journey or Two Fires, with only a couple of tracks being a bit more hard rock -oriented. The biggest difference is the fact that Ramos' longtime collaborator vocalist Kevin Chalfant is nowhere to be found, and one Mark Weitz lends his talent to this project. He's an excellent vocalist though, and adds his own stamp to the songs.

This album isn't going to really disappoint any AOR fans, but at the same time it might not end up being one of the more memorable releases of the year. The production by Kelly Hansen is good, the players are all at the top of their game...but it all comes down to the songs, and this is where this album would've needed an extra kick. Some of them are very good, the title track, "Don't Go", "Tell Me Why" and the hard-rocking "Seize The Day" and "Take It Or Leave It" as prime examples, but most of the others are only "decent enough". Take "Winds Of Change" for example, a perfectly good uptempo rocker until you get to the chorus, which is just plain boring, or "Night Has Fallen", another OK track but let down by the fact that it has one of those standard AOR choruses that seems to pop up on every third AOR album. I guess I should also mention "Come Back To Me", which ranks as the worst song of the album...Still, although this might not be a killer release for me, it might be that for you, especially if you're looking to buy a pure AOR cd without any modern-day gimmicks. A safe purchase for AOR fans...maybe even a bit too safe.

RANDOM EYES: "Eyes Ablaze" 8

Ugalabugala Records 2003
Review by 18 november 2003

Random Eyes is a young band coming from Finland, formed in 2002. The band members earlier played in bands such as Fire Up and Hallowed, and Random Eyes are keeping the message clear, they are still on the Christian mission. Whether it’s good or bad for you, I still encourage you to take a listen to them. Their melodic metal has all the genre is about. With gorgeous faces to look at too, I might add.

There’s two vocalists in the band, both male and female (Katja Rimpeläinen and Christian Palin) and three guitarists, seven members all in all, so we’re talking about quite a set up. But it’s not like the band is doing some gigantic thing, the music is basic melodic metal and the songs keep the average length staying in four minutes, never getting bored here. Katja’s vocals sound like a mixture of Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) and Anneke Van Giersbergen (The Gathering) and Christian’s at times like Marco Hietala (Tarot), when he’s singing with his ”wicked” voice, so the vocals sound great. The strongness and self-confident feeling is missing at times with a bit poor pronounciation here and there, but all they need is to work these a bit and they’ll be perfect, a small job really for these vocalists. I wouldn’t even mention this since it’s such a small thing, but it’s my way, pointing out the good and the bad.

Some Hanoi Rocks, Charon and To/Die/For melancholia and hard rock can be found here, the songs are touching, the guitars cry out a yearning sound and the lyrics...well, they have very much passion in them and I like them, but they also have the message. I was ok with them, till ”Fallen Angel” (like these lines go; ”There’s still the One who can wipe your tears and give you the life”). Too bad these lyrics bring out this stereotypical image of Christians, trying to feed the ”normal” people their beliefs, like there’s no love and harmony in life unless you believe. But nevertheless, Random Eyes have a great gift in writing music, and songs such as ”Hero”, ”Faith” and ”Little Angel” (not THAT Charon tune) were really cranking it up. But one song was way over the rest; ”Tomorrow Will Come”. A slow song, but everything clicks perfectly together there, the lyrics, the arrangements, the solos, the vocals. You can’t put down a band just for the fact that they’re christian. Random Eyes have what it takes and must give you even some shivers and good feelings. Check out the band’s website to order the cd:

Nicola RANDONE: "Morte Di Un Amore"

Indie 2002
Review by 29 July 2002

Nicola Radone is a highly talented progressive music artist, and this CD is perfect proof of it. You noticed that I wrote "progressive music" instead of "rock", right? There are a lot of rock elements here, but to call this album a "progressive rock" album wouldn't be justified.

Randone has chosen to sing in his native italian language, which means that I have no comment on the lyrics, other than that there's lot of them. Like many italian songs, these ones sometimes sound very "full" lyricwise - where an american songwriter might have used 4-5 words, an italian ones seems to be able to squeeze in a dozen!

The vocal style of Mr. Randone is slightly operatic or theatral, which sounds a bit odd to these ears. I'm more used to the common rock vocalists...the vocals just sound a bit pretentious sometimes. His songwriting is more "operatic" as well, I found similarities to Robby Valentine's material, although Randone's songs are even more complex and less accessible, when it comes to melodies. If you've liked Robby Valentine, but thought that he should go for a more progressive style, you should check out Mr. Randone!

The album seems to get a bit more rock-oriented towards the end, the last few tracks are better than the eerie and odd first numbers. Randone's operatic/theatral vocals sound even more out-of-place on these songs though. Even though Nightwish might be able to pull this off, it doesn't mean that combination of metal/rock and opera works all the time. Still, for the more open-minded prog-lovers in our audience Mr. Randone's music might be worth checking out.



The RASMUS - "Into" 9

Review by

The Rasmus is back and the boys have changed their name (added "The" in front of Rasmus), label, grown up and made their best album to date.

This is the bands fourth effort and it real shows that the boys have grown up and it shines through in the music. The hit song here is "F-F-F-Falling" which is being played on the radio here a lot and it is a hit with a capital H. The whole album is solid and there isn't really a weak song here at all. Some other songs worth of mentioning are "Madness", "Bullet" and "Small Town".

This not the same kind of funky stuff they have previously been known for and the influence of Red Hot Chili Peppers is not so strong anymore. I think it is a good way for the guys to go ro. This style fits them perfectly. They are surely going to get more new fans with this record. One of the best albums this year of what I have I heard. These guys need to get a lot of exposure. Now I only hope that my other favorite finnish teenage band Fake comes out with something really special. Hopefully my opinions give them some ideas...

The Rasmus is the band I'm very "Into" at the moment!

THE RASMUS: "Dead Letters" 10

Playground Music 2003
Review by 2 March 2003

To follow up a monster of an album like "Into" isn't an easy task, but I'm glad to say that The Rasmus has done it with style. "Dead Letters" is the perfect successor, which shows that the band has matured. The sound is a bit heavier, darker and moodier, but the hooks and the melodies are still there. The production has been handled by the swedish "duo" of Mikael Nord Andersson and Martin Hansen again, and they have done a great job. The band will have to cut a few corners live though, as some of the studio arrangements would require a couple of extra players to stand in...

"First Day Of My Life" displays the stregths of the band quite nicely: intresting, contemporary arrangement, excellent vocal melodies and a catchy chorus. The same could be said about most of the other songs - Playground Music shouldn't have trouble finding potential hit singles. Indeed, they've already scored big with "In The Shadows", which was used in a hit movie "Pahat Pojat". The radio stations have been trying hard to play it to death for a few weeks now. Other candidates to end up high in the singles charts include the irresistably catchy "Guilty", the moody "Still Standing" and "First Day Of My Life", to name a few. Basically every song could be a single, maybe except for "Not Like The Other Girls", which is a bit long at almost 6 minutes, and doesn't really work as well as the other songs.

Othe songs that I want to mention are "Time To Burn", a song that reminds me a bit of Harem Scarem, "The One I Love" with its' hard-hitting chorus and the beautiful closing number "Funeral Song", not forgetting the powerpop of "Back In The Picture" and "In My Life"...I think I've mentioned them all now!

I know some people are going to complain about the length of the album (10 songs, 39:50), but I won't. I'll take a short album with ten songs of this calibre over a 15-track album with half of it being filler material anyday.

The Finnish press has compared this band to Bon Jovi a lot, a while the similiarities aren't obvious, it could be said that this is the kind of music BJ should - and could - be doing, if they weren't forcefeeding us those second-rate ballads of theirs. This, dear readers, IS the New Breed of Melodic Rock.

RATT: "Ratt" 6-

Portrait 1999

Review by

Ratt's "Invasion Of Your Privacy" is still one of my favourite "hair metal" albums from the eighties, so I was naturally interested to check out their comeback album, recently released on the resurrected Portrait label. It's very well produced by Richie Zito, and the band has gotten some songwriting assistance from the likes of Taylor Rhodes and Mark Hudson, but somehow that "something" they once had is gone. Stephen Pearcy was never my favourite vocalists, but his distinctive voice suited the old Ratt songs. With these new songs he seems to have serious problems, and at times it's almost painful to listen to his voice.

Out of the eleven songs here my favourites are the melodic and catchy "It Ain't Easy", which sounds like the most potential single, and "All The Way", a cool rocker with a good chorus. "Live For Today", "Breakout" and a couple of others are also quite decent, but the rest of them are sub-standard Ratt songs, with a bit of an Aerosmith-like vibe. Very disappointing.

RAVEN CLAN: "Staring At The Rain" 6

Otter Productions 2001

Review by 7 November 2001

Are you ready to experience what it feels like to fight alcohol and drug abuse, go through pleasure and pain, spend some time in rehab? If not, then stay away from this album! This is namely a concept album taking you on a strange journey based on the story of Raven Clan main man: Douglas McCauley's brother (a former drummer) who experienced the hell of it. The songs deal with different stages of addiction from being high on mushrooms in a drum solo on stage to losing all control and ending up in various rehab programs.

The music is exactly what you would imagine to fit the plot best: firmly rooted in the progressive rock scene of the 70s (strong Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd influences) with significant psychedelic touches, female backing vocals, flute, piano arrangements, etc. However I personally find the lyrics and the concept the strongest point of the album. Musically it leaves me kinda cold (as it is nothing special and the lacking production does not help either) but the inspiration behind the album is definitely different from the mainstream plots of progressive albums and the performance, the realization of the songwriting ideas and how they deliver the message of the story is absolutely authentic.

I can't really name any highlights of the album as none of the songs really stick out of the concept, one has to listen to the album as a complex effort, you won't find "singles" here. Learn more about the band and the album at

R.A.W.: "First" 8

MTM Classix 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
7 March 2004

Bo Lindmark (vocals), Anders Lindmark (bass), and Adam Kårsnäs (drums), are all ex-Dalton, the excellent Swedish band that recorded the two legendary (?) albums "The Race Is On" and "Injection", in the 80's. Drummer Adam only played a brief moment with Dalton though (in 1991) as Mats "Dalton" Dahlberg (ex-Treat), took care of business and skin bashing in their heydays. OK! Enough with name dropping for a while...

R.A.W. (Ready And Willing) recorded two CD's in the mid-90's and MTM-Classix is now re-releasing the "First" of the two with the bonus tracks "I Just Came Down" and "I Believe", both previously released as b-sides on a couple of singles here in Sweden. Besides the three ex-Dalton lads the band also consisted of guitarist Mikael Larsson.

There are no keyboards to be found here really and the sound is therefore more guitar oriented (well, duh!). Not by much though as we're still talking about slick, melodic hardrock, with well arranged vocal harmonies. Just a little bit more mature than the happy-go-easy music in the 80's. Special guests include the marvelous female singer and Swedish rock champion Zia Lindberg, Tommy Nilsson (Easy Action), and drummer Ian Haugland (Europe). Opener "Run Out Of Love" is well crafted FM rock with a hook that kills. "Turn Back Time" is quite similar to Thomas Vikström's (Talk Of The Town) solo album in the 90's. "Don't Tell Me Lies" is another winner that comes out like a mature Dalton rocker. "T.G.I.F." or Thank God It's Friday is fun uptempo rocker and "Golddiggers", flat out rocks. "Touch Of Love" is a nice duet with Zia Lindberg (where are you now?), "Too Hot To Handle" is very much like Easy Action/Tommy Nilsson and the latter helps out with backing vocals. "Since You've Been Gone" is actaully not a cover of the famous Russ Ballard/Rainbow song, since it's yet another fine, slick, original. Bottomline, this may not quite reach the same high standard as Dalton in the 80's, but it's still very enjoyable and fun music. A couple of absolutely horrible fillers (50/50, Michelle etc.) are only to be expected I guess.

RAWHEAD REXX: "Diary In Black" 8

AFM Records 2003
Review by 6 April 2003

My oh my... One quick glance at the CD cover is all you need really. Not to mention that Rawhead Rexx is such a lame band-name, that you're almost preperd for some major CD bashing. Heck... even the lyrics are typical for the genre with dragons and such. However, never judge a book... ehhhh... CD, by it's cover or a band by it's name. Even though I'm sure some of you gladly will, since this is metal for metal heads only.

After releasing the successful debut album a couple of years ago and playing lots of live gigs all over Europe. Rawhead Rexx are now finally back with their follow up album. "Diary Of Black" is German Metal at it's (almost) best or if you prefer worst? Powerful, in-your-face metal, with lots of crunching guitars and double bass drumming. Wimps and posers better leave this review at once!!!

The album was mixed in Andi Deris'(Helloween) studio in Teneriffa, by Charly Bauerfeind (Blind Guardian, Halford, Helloween). The overall material is a nice mixture of Speed, Thrash, Power and traditional Heavy Metal (pheew! I think I got'em all there), with both remerable melodies and harmonies. Ex-Glenmore vocalist/guitarist Jurgen Volk, is inspired by the 'old school metal' of Iron Maiden and their frontmen. Something which opener "Return Of The Dragon" can tell us a lot about. This is very much like the Speed Metal of Annihilator/Running Wild, mixed with the classic 'Maiden' sound. RR do not embellish their music too much with ditractions, but rather capture the feel of heavy precision and power. The music is still, what I would call "catchy" though and almost every track is blessed with a fist-in-the-air, headbanging, sing-a-long chorus. The simple yet effective metal of "Baron Overthrow", or "Evil In Man", is exactely the stuff I'm talking about there. Straight-in-your-face, without any weird Nu-Metal influences or other bulls**t. They even have a softer side of the story to write home about here. Check out the ballad "What If", where lighters goes in the air and tears gets in your eyes [:-)]. This is very much 80's rock or like those ballads At Vance, usually does. By the way, both bands are signed to the same label too!!! Tracks like "Dragonheart", "Metal Way" and especially "Saint And Sinner" and "Six Feet From The Edge", are all winners in my book. Great, melodic metal, with both catchy hooks and power drive. The latter has the guitar/bass work of 'Maiden', written all over it again. This is nicely done metal indeed!!!

Rick RAY: "Guitarsenal"

Indie 2000

Review by 18 July 2001

Another great shredder who deserves the attention of the public. Rick Ray delivered a partially instrumental progressive guitar rock album that clearly shows this guy CAN play but most of all he has the ability to write catchy melodies and does not get lost in technicalities. Rick wrote and arranged all the songs, he played all the instruments and sang the vocals, it was only Rick Schultz on clarinet helping him out.

The vocal tracks are not really memorable, most probably because of Rick's limited vocal abilities, he should stick to what he's doing best, namely writing soulful instrumental tunes. It's hard to compare him to the leading shredders of today's rock scene so I try it the other way around: imagine Richie Blackmore going instrumental after having a good late night drink with the guys from Dream Theater and some jazz session musicians and you get pretty close. With a better production (it's not bad taking into account that it is an indie release, yet it's VERY far from the sound of a Satch or Vai album) instrumental songs like "Same Here", "The Rendezvous" or my personal favorites "Mellow-D", "Nine Again", and the jazzy, Steve Morse-ish "Floating" could catch the attention of instrumental guitar fans.

There are some notable vocal tunes on the album too like the Beatlesque "If I Had The Chance" and "People Turn" with its catchy harmonies (the enhanced effects help Rick's vocals a lot) but again, this guy needs to be noted for his guitar works and not his vocals. The drum machine does not help the sound either; hopefully next time around we'll hear him with a full band instrumental album. He's already "there" to record it, let's hope he finds the resources and musicians for it. Check his site out.

RAZAMANAZ: "Razamanaz" 6

Perris Records 2003
Review by 8 June 2003

Razamanaz doesn't have all that much in common with the Nazareth album really. This is the band of Britny Fox guitarist Michael Kelly Smith and their self titled album is a collection of "everything" they've ever done. Included on this 15 track CD are finished album masters, almost finished tracks, tribute songs, demos, and studio outtakes.

Pretty much everything you ever needed(?) with the band in other words. Razamanaz was formed by Smith during a Britny Fox hiatus back in 1993. The line-up was completed with Cori Massi (vocals/guitar), Joe Bisbing (bass) and Steve Attig (drums).

The music is very much rooted in the 80's and in the vein of Aerosmith, LA Guns, Cinderella, & Britny Fox (of course). You will also find the KISS cover "King Of The Night Time World", which they recorded for a tribute album here. You could say the music is typical "hairmetal" from the days or rather as the late 80's of course. The tracks differs in quality and since many of these songs are demos, do not expect perfect sound all of the time. Highlights would have to be the catchy opener "Urgency", the 70's feeling of "Kicks", and the uptempo rocker "In The Dust". Massi is a good singer with that "typical" expression and style of the 80's. Lots of energy and attitude going on here, even though some of the songs will give you that old feeling of 'been there, done that' already. A must have(?) if you're a long time fan of Britny Fox and maybe not as essential otherwise?

RECKLESS: "Reckless" 7

MTM Classix 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallström,
16 February 2004

"Rocking Reckless, Every Night, Rocking Reckless, Til' The Morning Light" (Spellbound - 1985). Yet another re-issue from the MTM sub label that goes by the name of "classix". I'm sure you've all noticed by now that all these re-release comes from Sweden and not all of them are exactly classics either.

This one and only album by Reckless was originally released in Japan only back in 1994 (Zero Records). The band, with singer Patrik Axelsson upfront, started actually out as "Line Up" in the late 80's, under which monicker they released one album (later re-released by Bums records in the 90's). The big strenght with Reckless was without a doubt the strong voice of Axelsson and the over all smashing guitar work by Robert Monegrim.

This is very much "uptempo" oriented hardrock with similarities to above mentioned Spellbound. Not to mention 220 Volt and their "Eye To Eye" release and you can also throw in a lot of 80's Scorpions and Dokken, while you're at it. A bit "rougher" melodic hardrock style than your average wimp release with other words. Do however not expect this to be just as good though. I'll have to admit that I do enjoy most of these tracks anyway as they're fun, dumb, entertainment for the moment. Something like "Get Excited (Rock The Nations)" is a deadringer for Scorpions a'la "Black Out" only without the heavy, German accent. "All Their Needs" is a marvelous rocker which easily could have been included on above mentioned 220 Volt release, and "Living Without You", is pure bliss. If you've never even heard about 220 Volt before... just go with the "Dokken" comparison here instead. The three bonus tracks included here are all taken from Reckless' indie EP release. An excellent production and great musicians makes this a rather nice experience after all. Just don't expect rocket science and simply enjoy those loud guitars instead. It's all been done before and a couple of lame fillers (there's 16 tracks on this CD) are only to be expected. I had fun most of the time and that's all that really matters. Play it loud!!!

RED DAWN: "Never Say Surrender"

Now & Then 1994
Review by

"Never Say Surrender" was one of the first Now & Then releases. The packaging and the sound won't reveal that, and I think this album was more of a licencing deal for Now & Then, as it is apparent that a lot of money was put into making this album.

Red Dawn consisted seasoned musicians: vocalist Larry Baud (ex-Network), guitarist Tristan Avakian, drummer Greg Smith, bassist Chuck Bürgi and keyboardist/producer David Rosenthal (Rainbow). Their music was hard-edged AOR/Hard Rock, with big keys and big hooks. Baud's rough vocals remind me of Bangalore Choir's David Reece's (see review above!), and if you liked the BC album, I think you'd enjoy this one as well.

"Flyin' High" is the suitably uptempo opener, very much in the Hagar-era Van Halen-vein, while "I'll Be There" leads them more into the AOR territory, sounding a bit like Firehouse's most melodic moments, with a touch of Journey. "Liar" is another highlight, a great melodic rocker with a killer chorus and excellent classically influenced keyboards lines from Mr. Rosenthal. A very delicious mixture of Rainbow and early Bon Jovi!

The next one of the highlights is "Promises", a midtempo tune that sounds like it could have been lifted from Bon Jovi's "7800 Fahrenheit" album. Another killer chorus there. "I Can't Get Over You" is a complete change of pace, a cool bluesy number that reminds me strongly of early 80'ies Journey. "Christine" sounds like a combination of Autograph and Valentine, while "Take These Chains" is the Big Ballad of the album, again in the early Bon Jovi-vein.

As the reimaining tracks aren't too bad either, I can easily recommend this to everyone into the likes of early Bon Jovi, Valentine and Van Halen. I believe this album is quite rare these days, but I wish you good luck in checking out the 2nd hand stores!

The RED GREEN BLUE: "The Red Green Blue"

Indie 2002
Review by 15 June 2002

The Red Green Blue (RGB) are a Finnish band on the verge of a breakthrough, if their own press is to be believed. And I'm not one to question that, this three track CD already sounds (and looks) like a major label product. Musically it might not be what I'd normally listen to, but it sure is more appealing than most of the current nu-metal media darlings.

RGB is described as a combination of nu-metal and old-school on their website. Thankfully they have dropped some of the popular (and annoying) elements of nu-metal - their music is free of rapping and dj'ing. Yes, they play instruments and actually sing! They do have two drummers, one playing electric and one acoustic drums, but their sound is still quite "organic".

What you get here is a combination of modern metal sounds and remarkably James Hetfield-like vocals. I also heard touches of Faith No More in there somewhere. Not our usual melodic rock/metal stuff, but definitely well done and with a sound that has its' finger on the pulse of the current musical scene.

RED MOON RISING: "Red Moon Rising"

Indie 2001

Review by Nick Baldrian 01-06-12

From San Jose in California there can be found a super melodic outift called RED MOON RISING. Apparently the band have been performing since 1985 and have a healthy following. They have a self titled three track dam cd available from and they have packaged a commercially viable batch of songs which literally blew my socks off.

Their sound can be described as pure mid 80's melodic rock that bares a combination of Lillian Axe, Montrose, Keel, Dokken, Priest, whilst the guitar playing is very expressive, because Boris Pollisky knows when to let the melodies flow and has a great sense of feel for his instrument. Also lead singer M.Jon Viduya is one of the best singers to have emerged this year, his voice is great and he sings straight from the gut and sounds similar to Lillian Axe's Ron Taylor.

The best thing about Red Moon Rising is that they are very professional in their approach and give the songs 100% which is what made this cd kick my arse, sometimes they even ozze the vintage sound of Steppenwolf with touches of David Lee Roth on the excellent 'Here Comes The Night' where you can also hear hints of Ted Nugent and Judas Priest. Just listen to the awesome guitar work on this song which just kills in its own right with memorable patterns, whilst a darker melodic pattern emerges on the equally exciting 'Perfect World' Overall their music come across in huge amounts of American meets European melodic passion and are one band that I feel could go far with the right label backing as I feel fans of symphonic/progressive rock could also take a liking to these guys. In the meantime check them out at One of my favourite new bands of the year.

REDEMPTION: "Redemption" 7

Sensory 2003
Review by 27 April 2003

Whatever happened to ex-Steel Prophet vocalist Rick Mythiasin you ask? Or maybe you didn't? Whatever... you've probably figure it all out by now anyway. Yep! He's indeed 'the voice' of this all-star project, with a bunch of "old" Prog & Power Metal musicians. [By the way, the new vocalist for Steel Prophet is now Nadir D'Priest, ex-London/D'Priest.]

"Redemption" is actually the brainchild of guitarist Nick Van Dyk. His biggest achievment up to this point must have been the collaboration with Ray Alder (Fates Warning). They co-wrote a song together on his "Engine" album, which eventually lead to this project. Van Dyk was able to coax Adler into participating in his metal project as both producer and performer. Van Dyk (guitars, basses, keys) also managed to put together a pretty impressive line-up for this album.

Besides above mentioned Mythiasin on vocals, we have Bernie Versailles (Agent Steel, Fates Warning) on guitars and Jason Rullo (Symphony X) on drums, with special guests Michael Romeo (Symphony X), Mark Zonder (Fates Warning) and of course Ray Adler. Van Dyk himself decribes his music as dark progressive power metal, with a sound that reflects a hypothetical combination of Evergrey, later-period Savatage, Kansas, Iron Maiden and Fates Warning. Well, you have the voice of Steel Prophet and mostly musicians of Symphony X & Fates Warning are involved here. So I guess it will have to (?) come out sounding like a mixture of all the above. It actually does you know, but you'll have to add some Dream Theater and their most complex material in here. For example, closing track "Something Wicked This Way Comes", is more than 25 (!!!) minutes long. Heck, half of the booklet is full with lyrics from this track alone. It's huge, epic sounding Prog-Metal, with tons of tempo changes, bridges, complex riffs, and everything that goes with the genre. Track 1-4 is named "Desperation Part I-IV" and it's basicially a bunch of stories about the subject of war and... ehh... desperation. Lovely performance by all musicians involved and "Part I-IV", is nothing less than a masterpiece of high quality music. A couple of boring 'been there, done that' tracks, like "Nocturnal" and "As I Lay Dying" do bring down the overall rating of the CD (especially since you can only find 8 tracks here). I would have to say that "Redemption" is still a rather nice album, for the fans of above mentioned bands and music.


Trine REIN: "To Find The Truth" 7

EMI 1998
Review by 8-12-00

To be honest the whole power-pop hype (having to hear that power-pop is the future of melodic rock and that it will lead to the great comeback of the genre) made me pretty skeptical. Mostly because I was bored to death by the bands (Neve, Tsar, Taxiride, etc.) some of our fellow journalists were raving about. Then I bought this album of this Danish girl after my Norwegian friend characterized her simply as "rock-bitch". I was expecting something like Doro or better Lee Aaron or something similar (because of the rock-bitch description) but the music was nothing like that. It was similar to the power-pop artists I didn't like but the songs were very well written, the arrangement was vivid, and the girl could sing! All in all I was very pleasantly surprised and the album grew on me.

Some songs remind me of the Diane Warren penned Celine Dion songs (so nothing like Doro. Thank God!), the comparison is more obvious because Trine has very similar voice and although Celine's is a lot more trained Trine does a pretty decent job here. The first highlights of the album were tracks 3 and 4 "Stars And Angels" and If You Could Be Mine." Both of them are great, radio friendly, mid-tempo rock tunes with a modern sound that managed to find the middle ground between the requirements of today's radio trends and my "old-schooled" ears. My only problem with the production is the drum sound (and the drum themes altogether). My ears are longing for those bombastic drum sounds and drummer performances of the late 80s. And what I recently get is that annoying weak and primitive drum sound I keep ranting about since Jon Bon Jovi's "Destination Anywhere" album. Now, if you didn't like the sound of that album, you won't really like this one either (however I advise you to give it a try because this one is better by miles).

There is a dozen of songwriters mentioned on the album but the only one I knew before was Guy Roche. He delivers a quality ballad that would please any melodic rock fan, "My Disguise" that grew to be one of my favorite tracks of the album (though I might be biased because of his name.). The title song also grew on me, another mid-tempo radio friendly rocker. But all the other songs are worth checking out and altogether it's a very good album that earned its place in my collection.

REMAIN THE SAME: "Silent Running" [3-track single]

Angora Records 2003
Review by 23 October 2003

"Silent Running" is the new 3-track single and also the 3:rd release from the Swedish band Remain The Same. Nothing ever changes according to this power trio and you can find both 70's and 80's influences in their music. Tired of models trying to be musicians, musicians trying to be models, and not to mention each and every loosey-goosey out there who's jumping the bandwagon every week, this band set out to create music with soul instead of plastic trends.

Something which they've done with flying colours as this pretty much rocks. The main problem is the fact that "Silent Running" only holds three tracks and the fun ends way too early. Daniel Nilsson (vocals/guitars), Kenneth Avergren (bass) and Tomas Lindgren (drums) mixes the best of 70's acts like Rush (mainly), Grand Funk and Triumph, with the super melodic 80's sound of Scandinavia and Sweden. I'm really impressed by the guitar work by Nilsson as he outtakes bits of Alex Lifeson (Rush), and adds his own personality all over the material. The title track sounds like if Rush came from Sweden and played a more melodic style of 80's rock. Very catchy and at the same time intelligent rock with lots of cleverly done passages and lines. "Unveiled" opens up with some lovely guitar work a'la U2 before it explodes into one fine Remain The Same tune. This is unbelievable good stuff played with both passion and charm. Finally "User" uses a couple of Grand Funk riffs while it's still really melodic with "The 80's" written all over it.

RTS has recorded one single and one full CD in the past, I haven't actually heard them, but if they are anything like this material... wow! This single is however highly recommended stuff and you're in for some luck too. We have ten (10) CD's to giveaway so just surf along to our give-a-way page for more info. Don't forget to cehck out RTS at their homesite too.

RENAISSANCE: "In the Land Of The Rising Sun" 5

GEP 2002
Review by 28 November 2002

Following the recent announcement by female vocalist Annie Haslam (last month) that Renaissance has decided to call it a day. The release of the double live CD "In The Land Of The Rising Sun" seems now even more important and significant somehow. Like the title says, these live recordings were taken from last year's tour in Japan.

This is truly an anthology of the band's most famous material with "all" the classic songs. The history of Renaissance dates back to 1969, when they were originaly formed. There have been numerous line-up changes since though. The musicians on this album are Annie Haslam - vocals, Michael Dunford - guitars, David Keyes - bass, Mickey Simmonds - keyboards (ex- Camel, Fish), Rave Tesar - piano/keys & Terry Sullivan - drums.

Some of the music of Renaissance has always been too much Folk-Rock/Hippie stuff, for my taste. Their very soft Prog-Rock, tend to get on my nerves in the end. You just wish they could crank up the volume and play one or two, up-tempo tracks for once. In fact, the Mike Oldfield cover "Moonlight Shadow" is almost the most rocking track included here. Still, the music is beautiful and Annie sings like only Annie can. "Opening Out" is still an unbelievably beautiful, sentimental, all-time classic song. "Lady From Tuscany" (from last year's 'Tuscany' album) is a great Prog tune. I can highly recommend the CD "Tuscany" to fans of Prog-Rock. "Northen Lights" is another classic Prog/Art/Fantasy song and "Mother Russia" leaves no-one uneffected. I still believe that some of their music is too much hippie-inspired anyway. By the way, recent reports suggest that Terry Sullivan is in discussion with former members John Tout and Jon Camp, regarding a possible new line-up. This is maybe not be the end after all then???.
Renaissance Website

Rick RENSTROM: "Until The Bitter End" 7

Mascot Records 2003
Review by 21 June 2003

Rick is a new guitar hero, who is influenced by Malmsteen, Blackmore, Roth, Dimeola, Bach and Mozart. We first heard something from Rick when he played in bands like China Blue, Metal Wolf and Wicked Ways. He had an MP3 hit with the song “Opus Lix” in 2000 and you can hear him on The Tribute albums of Yngwie Malmsteen and Jason Becker.

“Until The Bitter End” is his debut album and contains 6 instrumental songs and 5 vocal songs featuring no less than: Rob Rock, Mat Sinner and Wade Black on vocals. Furthermore the band consists of: Stphen Elder, Brian Gloddle, Ferdy Doernberg and Richard Christy. The instrumental tracks are all very fast and remind me of “older” guitarheroes like: Greg Howe, Jason Becker, Joey Tafolla, Paul Gilbert or Vinnie Moore. “Moment Of Impact” and the titletrack are typical Rising Force-songs and here Rick really “copies” one of his idols very intensely. “Symphony #40” is classically influenced and seeing the title you know by which composer….

The songs where there is a leadsinger involved are all melodic powermetal songs and especially “Kingdom For Ransom” and “Victim’s Paradise”, sung by Rob Rock could be put on the Impellitteri album “Eye Of The Hurricane”. “Towers Of Babylon” sung by Wade Black(Crimson Glory) is a superb power metal hymn and “Calling On Vengeance”, voice of Mat Sinner, is a true metal/hardrock track, that you will forget in an instant…. Ofcourse Rick is a very good guitarplayer, but to make a solid rockalbum is a different story. Maybe next time when he is a bit older and wiser and more experienced a new album by Rick Renstrom will blow my mind away; let’s wait and see. But in the meantime you can enjoy this album, because a seven is not a bad rating for a semi-instrumental guitarrockalbum.

"Arch Allies - Live At Riverport" 8/5

BMG/CMC 2000

Review by Endre "Bandi" Hübner

5 February 2001

Someone at BMG Records was wise enough to record the two bands' tour and release it on a double CD. Even though there have already been several best of and live albums (even doubles ones) available from both of the bands, this is a rewarding investment. Well, it could be, especially if you lack the previous live and best of albums.

REO gets on stage with "Don't Let Him Go". I'd say pretty unusual to open a concert with a song with acoustic guitar based intro but this one stands the test quite well and turns out to be a good choice; the crowd's enthusiastic response proves it. No stop and the band goes on to "Music Man", definitely rockier then the opener and manages to create a huge party feeling. Bruce Hall's bass is in the front of the mix and it gives a huge pull to the song. It rocks! A bit chaotic change between this song and the following "Take It On The Run" follows, "Take It." is not the best choice for a live performance but the band has to please middle aged housewives too and they do it quite well. The solo is enjoyable anyway and the crowd sings along loud at the end. Another housewife favorite "Can't Fight This Feeling" follows. Kevin's vocals are shining, he sounds as perfect as if he sang in a studio, the band sings perfect background vocals, and the guitar tracks are a bit more in the front than on the studio recording that makes the song even more enjoyable for me. Definitely one of the highlights of the album. I bet some of the USA's middle-aged women pee hot oil when hearing Kevin's lisping voice talking between two songs, I gotta admit I'm rather irritated by it. If you are also from this low-tolerance group of mine, just skip the introduction of "Time For Me To Fly" by him, but be sure to check the song itself out because it is another highlight of the album. Somehow the band managed to get a great sound of acoustic guitars through that is usually a problem at live records, and the backing vocals are a gem again. The crowd's response is really enthusiastic. The song melts into a not too long bass solo by Bruce that opens "Back On The Road Again", probably the most rocking song of the album that lets Kevin rest his voice to come back in top form for "Keep On Loving You", probably one of the band's biggest hits ever. This song is compulsory part of a REO concert, I wouldn't say their performance is packed with enthusiasm but it is perfect that is definitely a good sign of their professional approach. The following "Roll With The Changes" is more enthusiastic, the crowd sings the first verse but I prefer the jam version of the song recorded with Styx in the encore.

The downside of the double album is that both discs feature the jam versions of the two bands playing their songs together. Even though this way you can hear "Roll With The Changes" three times altogether, the Styx jam version is another highlight of the record. For fans of live improvisation, free musician approach and solos "157 Riverside Avenue" must be another highlight with its piano-guitar solo and Kevin getting enthusiastic responses from the crowd. His philosophic monologue about the room of emotions in one's body and the flow of energy is something that wouldn't make room for him in the Philosophers' Hall of Fame, and it is something I'd rather forget about but St. Louis's audience seemed to appreciate it.

Altogether REO's performance is top form, the selection of the songs recorded is very good that makes their disc of the double CD set very enjoyable. To be honest I have never been a big fan of old Styx and some of the Styx fans might stone me for stating that my favorite Styx album is "Edge Of The Century". The record only features a good but not earthshaking version of the title track from the album. I'd rather heard "Love Is A Ritual", "Show Me The Way" or "Back To Chicago" but anyway there are the other Styx live releases to check out. The further selection of the songs is not that pleasing (for me) either but it is definitely good because it concentrates on the not too overplayed songs of the Styx catalogue. The band opens with "Blue Collar Man" (one of the compulsory songs at a Styx show) that proves to be a good choice but somehow I prefer the jam version at the end. The following "Grand Illusion" is a pleasant surprise with its rocky sound. Fans of those years will be very pleased to hear "Fooling Yourself" too. Styx fans will carry on the stoning when I state I do not miss Dennis when hearing these tracks.

One of the highlights of Styx's performance is the awesome piano intro for "Lady" unfortunately the rest of the song does not live up to it. "Brave New World" is a bad choice for a live track. Its repetitious guitar theme kills the energy of the song, and you can feel it on the response of the crowd too, they do not seem to get into "Edge Of The Century" that much either, and I personally find the tape-played intro annoying. The band tries hard to rock on "Heavy Water", another track from "Brave New World"; they play it well but this song is another bad choice for this concert. The compulsory "Too Much Time On My Hand" earns some of the crowd's (and my) appreciation back, so does a seven and a half minutes long version of Renegade. The vocals are awesome and the crowd sings along. Still the biggest highlight of the Styx part of the album is "Blue Collar Man", the jam version with REO. The two bands manage to spice the song up, the vocals traded off, the thick guitars and the huge backing vocals make this version superior to the original Styx only version.

No matter that you are familiar with the two bands or that you have their previous collections this album has its place in your collections. If you do not have any of their earlier retrospective releases this album is a good start for REO but if it were your first for Styx record I'd recommend "Return To Paradise - Live" or any of the Best Of releases instead.