Choice Tracks - Garden Of Eden, Live It, Saints And Sinners, Troubled Times, Never Say Never
It's been six long years since Canada's Harem Scarem last released a studio album. Now we have the appropriately titled thirteenth album of this venerable hard rock dynasty. What we have hear are ten tracks of traditional hard rock and roll. Harem Scarem never really did much to alter their style even when this style of music was considered taboo in the hard times of the 90's, but they stuck to their roots and their game plan and now that hard rock has really made a resurgence in the last several years they fit right in! Now this album may not be their best one they have released, but there is still riffs aplenty and insane amounts of melody and harmony throughout. The overall sound is a bit more mature than in the past, which is really to be expected, but there is still a pleasant youthful swagger that shines through as well. The track Never Say Never really rings true as a battlecry for the band, and other bands of this ilk as well, the dogged determination that is resplendent! Charming and fresh with a veteran air!
Choice Tracks - Garden Of Eden, Live It, Saints And Sinners, Troubled Times, Never Say Never
Bailey is the debut solo project of THREE LIONS' singer and songwriter Nigel Bailey. This is not a far stretch from the band as it is comes across as a blues heavy hard rock affair from one end to the other. There is quite a few hooks and lots of melody, with a very Badlands meets Jailhouse vibe overall, though slightly less energy. Some of the tracks are a bit too weak or light for my liking, sounding more like soft rock than really true blues, but overall this is a pretty solid album. Nigel's vocals are a bit sugary sweet, though there are a few tracks such as In The Name Of The King (where he has a bit of a Paul Stanley vibe going), where his voice comes out a lot stronger and heavier. Another such track is Dirty Angel which has a very good upper tempo feel and is definitely where the band is at it's strongest, with an almost side of Whitesnake sleaze-light on it. If they would have kept with the more hard rock numbers I think this CD would end up a lot better overall as they lost a lot of luster on the softer stuff, which just does not click.
Choice Tracks - Feed The Flames, In The Name Of The King, Dirty Little Secret, Dirty Angel, Long Way Down
What we have here is a fourteen track, 65 minute long keyboard driven melodic hard rocker. They are considered melodic metal but honestly the metal moments are largely absent here and the melody is very heavily featured. The band uses a two guitar attack but it is not very evident in the music as there are a lot of keys that drive most of the tunes here. At fourteen tracks, all of which are largely slow to mid tempo without much in the manner of riffs to speak of, it all comes across as lethargic and sleepy. The music is decent but unspectacular and safe and there is far too much filler here. They really needed to cut this down a bit to a nice firm ten tracks and focus on the tracks that have a bit more tempo to them as I found myself tuning out each time I tried to listen to this. Unfortunately it really does not wow me, which is a shame as you can really tell there is some talent to be found here for sure. I have to give this one a pass!
Choice Tracks - Your Love Was A Lie, Silent Tears, Breaking Circles, What U Give Is What U Get
Alltheniko are no strangers to the high speed power metal front in Europe. Hailing from Italy and now with their fifth piece of speedy metal wizardry, Alltheniko are back in the fight. What we have here is more of the same as we have seen before, double bass drums, high pitched vocals and full in your face metalworks. The band perform as a power trio and I still feel that they could really stand to use a second guitarist in the mix to really strengthen their sound. The guitar just isn't as rich as I feel it could be and that is a continuing issue I have for this band. Not saying that to knock the band by any means, as I really do enjoy what they bring to the table, I just see that they could be so much more than they are with the fuller sound. They are still valiantly fighting the good fight as a trio and do a damn good job of it. The songsmanship is straight forward and definitely heavy as hell, even their cover of the NWOBHM classic Power And The Glory is much higher octane as the original, though it does so at the sacrifice of a bit of the melody. An interesting take to say the least. I guess you could say they bring the Fast to the Glory on that track!
Choice Tracks - Fast And Glorious, KaiserSteel, Scream For Exciter, Spirit Of War, Power And The Glory
Okay there is no mistaking the influences on this album. They come at you fast and furious, most notably with the vocals of Alexander Mayer, who is more than just a little reminiscent of Brian Johnson. For that matter the guitar work is very much AC/DC as well. There are notes of other hard rock bands such as Rose Tattoo and Junkyard, which isn't a big leap, but also a bit of ol' GNR in there as well. On top of it all is a definite metal edge to make it just a bit heavier than your garden variety boozy boogie hard rock and roll. Despite all the comparisons the band has their own vibe and are not just a copycat band - they definitely stand on their own two feet and give the tired and true hard rock a new and well needed kick in the pants. The band is able to seamlessly merge everything into their own umbrella here and bring forward the genre to the modern era. If you are less than fond of the latest AC/DC album, I suggest you check this out to get your rock and roll swagger back!
Choice Tracks - Soundmaker, Rock And Roll Generator, Straight Down Dirt, Touch Of Evil, It's Over, Sparkplugs Blowing, Time
The fifth album from these Italian traditionalists and we may have something here. This is an interesting CD with a bit of an NWOBHM vibe and also it is reminiscent to the early era Queensryche (you know the good stuff)! I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I was really getting into the music here as it was both very excessable as well as a bit thought-provoking, touching on a variety of musical memories yet sounding very much like it's own release without stepping too much on any one set of toes (or influences). I wouldn't call it a throwback because they definitely have their own sound, yet it's very similar at the same time. If that is confusing to you, that's alright just go with it here. And while you are at it, check out this release. It's mid-tempo with enough riffs and melody mixed in there to keep you moving without ripping your head off! Nicely done!
Choice Tracks - Nobody Lives Forever, The World Is Dying, Into The Flame, Trail Of Terrors, Thunder Knows No Mercy
Okay it's been a pretty tumultuous year in the AC/DC camp with Malcolm Young's unfortunate and sad health troubles and Phil Rudd's legal woes (which came after the album was done), I was curious to see what the Thunder Down Under were going to give us. There last several releases were a bit uneven, though still very much capturing the sound, style and energy that the band was well known for. I was not totally blown away by Black Ice, but it was still a solid enough affair. With the new album, Rock Or Bust it looks like they continue the rock on a treadmill of the predecessor. While the sound is very similar, albeit with a bit less enthusiasm and power overall (a couple tracks just sound like straight up rock and roll minus the usual boogie), The lyrical cleverness and double entendres are missing here for the most part and everything seems like a paint by the numbers rock release. Brian's voice is still there in it's mid level tempo and Angus is all over the album to be sure, but you get the feeling that the boys are a bit distracted. Still a very listenable album but not their best effort. Unfortunately the glory days seem ever further away!
Choice Tracks - Rock Or Bust, Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder, Dogs Of War, Rock The House, Sweet Candy, Hard Times
I have been watching this band pretty closely since their debut album came out way back in 2000 and like many I was bummed out when they went on hiatus after their 2005 Underworld release, which to date was probably their strongest outing. They came back strong last year and now it is 2014 and they showed they are not going quietly into the night as they quickly re-established themselves as one of the strongpoints of European Power Metal! They do get criticized for the cheese factor, but I personally feel that they are far less cheesy than some of the other bands that play a similar style, and all comparisons aside I do believe they have carved their own niche and are one of the frontrunners of the current crop of power practitioners. They excel in the mid-tempo and with the usual tropes of writing about swords and sorcery, but the music wouldn't sound the same if the lyrical content was about anything else. Vastly underrated and underappreciated!
Choice Tracks - One Last Stand, Ferryman, Sons Of The North, Coming Home, Curse Of The Seven Seas, God Of War
Finland isn't necessarily known for the cleaner styles of metal, but there are still some pretty solid heavy and thrash outfits that come from the land of blackness, especially these days. Ruinside has been together for about ten years and have released a couple of EPs as well as a couple of full length albums including this, their latest offering. All five members of the band have been around in various other local bands prior to their time in Ruinside, showing that there is definitely some experienced musicians here and it really shows in their music. The band does a great job of mixing their experiences and influences to give the band it's own identity, yet at the same time sprinkling in a lot of what has come before. I sense bits and pieces of anything from groove to southern metal influences all the way to death, thrash and even some modern notes in the mix, but overall the whole endeavor smacks metal and more importantly it feels familiar but has its own edgier take! A mature headbanger for sure!
Choice Tracks - The Sickness, Dethroned To Be Thriven, In The Arms Of Bitterness, Checkmate, Cycle Of Slavery, The Beginning Of Nothingness
This is my first time checking out this band from Spain after hearing a couple of tracks online. The band has been around for a decade and they have shown that they can write some pretty good music as shown on this release. The album starts out strongly with a couple of decent tracks right out of the gate. The middle part of the album lags a bit though as the CD does feel a bit top heavy. I feel that these guys could really be very strong as there is a lot of potential to be had here. There are some solid riffs here, and everything seems to be guitar driven, but it does lack a bit in places as far as change ups and hooks to keep things interesting and I think that may be why it seems to trail off quite a bit at the end of the CD. A little more variety in the song writing would go a long way to make this band a lit more special. Overall a pretty solid number, though nothing truly stands out as memorable either.
Choice Tracks - No Future For The World, From Your Cradle To My Grave, The Ballad Of Lucifer, King In The North
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