You may have noticed that my summer break lasted longer than expected, namely I've been offline for almost two months longer than the other members of the crew who did a great job to keep up with the situation, me not being part of the AOR-Europe machine for so long. [They even managed to replace some of my pain-in-the-ass sarcasm in some of their reviews or in Urban's little "Don't Mess with my Eighties" essay.]

I was forced to stay offline because of reasons related to my new business (namely because building the PC and internet network for my new school lasted longer than I was promised by the providers). I was traveling by car a lot in these (almost three) months and much to my regret the CD player in my car broke down and I was only able to listen to the radio. Not being able to make use of the Internet and listening to the radio only in my car lead to very sad conclusions about the music genres we deal

The fact alone that melodic rock and metal are an underground genre does not surprise anyone, I suppose. The really scary thing is the fact HOW MUCH it is underground. Being connected to artists, writing music myself I exactly know how fake the whole thing is, bands we are raving about, bands who end up in the top 10s of each year's album charts in basically all the melodic rock related magazines and webzines sell something like 5 or 10 thousand albums per release, most of them can not play one single concert promoting their albums, and festivals like the Gods or Z Rocks are the only shows to attend, etc.

Not being connected to the net for the last three months I absolutely lost track of what was happening. There wasn't a single word about ANY of the albums AOR-Europe or the other webzines wrote about in the last three months in ANY of the paper based music magazines. Not a single song, not a single word in any of the radio stations, and if any of these albums happened to get to the shelves of CD stores, they get lost in the massive mass of ten thousands of CDs without any promotion, not even a poster on the wall of the CD store, so I had no idea they were even released. I don't think I have to mention that concerts, tours are just dreams for many years by now. Not reading melodic rock webzines, not checking the websites of record labels, you have absolutely no information about melodic rock, and you are simply excluded from the scene. These three months proved to me again that it is nothing but the Internet, the webzines, the web-stores, and the websites of the record labels making the melodic rock scene still work. Period. Really sad on one hand. Very uplifting to be part of it and to know we still stick to our guns no matter what on the other.

Once more: the experience was no surprise to me. It was just the extent, how much internal the whole thing is, that scared me. However listening to the radio I heard the new Bon Jovi album promoted quite heavily (the one and only new rock album I heard about on the radio), and some of the stations were playing some classic rock stuff from the Queen, Led Zep, or Survivor. That's it. However I heard some quite good pop stuff. You may get prejudiced when hearing the word "pop" but some songs like Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles" or the catchy pop tune in which Michelle Branch is singing over Santana's tasty guitar work are darn fine and enjoyable tracks. There were some more too that I can't recall now but about 90% of music (?) played on the radio is pure crap. Hell, sometimes hearing an old Madonna song could cheer me up cuz the rest was so f**kin' awful. Can one get and lower than this?? [Kimmo: admit that you love "The Ketchup Song"!]

By Endre "Bandi" Hübner,