Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Three Lions - Three Lions (Japanese Edition) (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Melodic Rock / AOR
Label - Frontiers Records

Track listing:

01 - Trouble In A Red Dress
02 - Hold Me Down
03 - Twisted Soul
04 - Winter Sun
05 - Just A Man (Not Divine)
06 - Holy Water
07 - Two Hearts Beat As One
08 - Kathmandu
09 - Made For One Another
10 - Magdalene
11 - Don't Let Me Fall
12 - Hellfire Highway
13 - Sicilian Kiss
14 - Don't Let Me Fall (Acoustic Version) [Japanese bonus]

XXXXXXXX I am not the author of the following review but couldn't agree with it anymore, therefore I reproduce it here. All credit must go to the original author!!  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

HREE LIONS is the new British beast consisting of Vinny Burns (Dare, Ten, Asia) on guitar, Greg Morgan (Dare, Ten) on drums and Nigel Bailey on vocals and bass which are about to release their self-titled debut on Frontiers Records next week.
This Japanese version is already available through Avalon / Marquee with a bonus track.

Take a trio of talented cats, consisting of two-thirds of the musicians whose legendary status has already been deservedly attained in the Melodic Rock scene. Add some classic rock inspirations and brilliant songwriting. Stir together with a producer with the apparent Midas touch and spice up with some infectious, catchy melodies and solid instrumental backing.
This ‘recipe’ was followed by the powerful trio under the name Three Lions, closely enough to result in a perfect AOR / Melodic Rock album. With Alessandro Del Vecchio behind the console (his above Midas touch engaged also in some of the songwriting), the result of what they’ve rustled up in the studio is simply stunning.

In the first track “Trouble In A Red Dress”, the lyrical ego narrates:“… She came to the party after the show … isn’t that how the trouble starts…?” The story goes on, illustrated with a brilliant, infectious melody and a rich guitar work; it’s pure Melodic Rock with an AOR spirit which might as well be released thirty years ago.

“Hold Me Down” is more mellow, a lite AOR mid-tempo song, with “Twisted Soul”, the band delivers a dose of feisty, guitar-oriented British Melodic Rock with a catchy chorus. The latter’s follow-up “Winter Sun” explodes with wailing guitar sounds, developing into a wistful piece of wonderful mid-tempo balladry.
With the guitar-laden melancholy slowly fading, the next thing the listener’s treated with is “Just A Man” – a dynamic, yet polished song with harmonized vocals, the one that could end up on any Survivor or, especially, Jimi Jamison’s solo albums. A personal favorite for sure.

Groovy guitars and the great bluesy hook of “Holy Water” (ala John Sykes / Blue Murder) precede a soaring yet meaty power ballad “Two Hearts Beat As One”, a terrific cut with a strong Foreigner feel.
Particularly interesting is the storytelling track “Kathmandu” starting off with an oriental, Eastern-influenced intro and based on a slower lumbering riff. “Made For One Another” is a strong AOR midtempo that I can see performed live surrounded by thousand lighters held up in the air.

“Magdalene” is Magnum Vigilante / Goodnight L.A. era revisited, a keyboard-driven, awesome hooky rocker plenty of that '80s atmosphere.
Next track “Don’t Let Me Fall” is a really stylized AOR number recalling the guy's previous band Dare and why not, Strangeways, really polished and adorned by lovable vintage keyboards.
There is also “Hellfire Highway” – an intense keyboard / guitar duel kind of song with massive chorus, another AOR masterpiece – and the final “Sicilian Kiss”, a piece of sublime instrumental wizardry with a bit darker and somewhat dramatic vibes to it. It’s a beautiful guitar-oriented coda to this truly greatly-crafted MR / AOR gem of a CD.
The Japanese bonus track is an acoustic version of “Don’t Let Me Fall”, and really worth it because it's totally different from the original: just piano & vocals alone.

Three Lions’ self-titled debut is a perfect balance between instrumental prowess and great melodies, catchy hooks and dynamic guitar work, with not so distant echoes of where two of the three musicians come from music-wise (Dare, Ten).
Speaking shortly, it’s what album-oriented rock should stand for in the first place and as long as you’re into AOR, no matter if you think classics such as Survivor and Journey or 21st century representatives of the genre, you’re going to love this one.
Three Lions is terrific, believe me.

Raing - 9/10

Line Up:

Nigel Bailey - Lead Vocals, Bass
Vinny Burns (Dare, Ten, Asia) - Guitars, Keyboards
Greg Morgan (Dare, Ten) - Drums
Alessandro Del Vecchio - Keyboards, Production

Laney’s Legion - Laney’s Legion - (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock
Label - Perris Records

Track listing:

01 - On and On
02 - Taste of Your Tongue
03 - Poptastic
04 - Beneath the Surface
05 - Bleed Within
06 - Let's Get It On
07 - Hollow
08 - Lady Luck
09 - Assassin of Our Love
10 - No One Can Stop Us
11 - Legion

Led by talented Swede Chris Laney (Dynazty's producer), LANEY'S LEGION release their debut self titled album via Perris Records, and what an album it is!
Opener On And On has a riff that will simply blow you away! It has a great Shotgun Messiah hard rockin' feel with a Def Leppard sounding break. The song has a melody that won’t leave your mind and If you ask me would make a great opener for any live shows!
First single Taste Of Your Tongue has verses that gives that sounds built for modern radio.  Second single Poptastic sticks out of this album like a sore thumb. It’s a great poppy / MR song that is so cheesy that it really takes all the cheesiness away.A great song for the summer!
Beneath The Surface has this heavy and groovy riff that brings Def Leppard’s Slang era to mind at times, still with more hooks than a Hellraiser movie!
Bleed Within is more of an uptempo ballad than a power one and a ballad doesn’t get any better than this.
Let’s Get It On is rhythmic, catchy with a rockin' edge, everything you’d want from a Melodic Rock song.
With Hollow the Legion goes down a more metal route. To my ears it sounds like a mix of Second Coming era Shotgun Messiah, Laney’s former band Randy Piper’s Animal with a bit of Laney’s solo stuff thrown in – simply awesome!
Legion must be seen as this album’s title track and is the last one on here. A smart move as with that song, the album leaves us in a rocking mood. The track is the heaviest on the album and a corker at that!
A quick mention of the line up that Chris Laney has assembled for this album, we have Chris Laney, of course on Lead Vocals and Guitar, Rob Marcello on Guitar and Vocals, Mats Vassfjord on Bass and  Vocals, Patrik Jansson handling the Drums and Vocals thanks to Jon Wilmenius for his Guitar contributions!
When considering Laney’s Legion got started in the back water of Laney’s solo career, ( he released two great albums, Pure (2009) and Only Come Out At Night (2010), and in between he has produced excellent albums for other artists). It was on the tour with the last Chris solo CD that the thoughts of making a full-time band of his backing band took place, and now they release what will possibly prove to be one of the best albums of 2014!


Rating 10/10

Electric Boys - Starflight United (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Glam Rock / Funk Rock
Label - Ninetone Records.

Track listing:

01 - Spaced Out
02 - Desire
03 - If Only She Was Lonely
04 - Life Is So Electric
05 - Tramp
06 - Ain't No Gettin' Over You
07 - Junk In The Trunk
08 - Gangin' Up
09 - Lucy Fur
10 - BASF
11 - Starflight United
12 - 59 High Mountain St.

Swedish rockers, Electric Boys return with their brand new album, Starflight United released through Ninetone Records. Their 2011 comeback album marked a warm return for the band many gaining great critical acclaim from the press and fans alike, Starflight United looks set to continue the trend!
Starflight United is more rock 'n roll than funk this time around,  but the funk 'n roll is still there in tracks like Junk In The Trunk and the ridiculously catchy Tramp.
We also find a mix of funky grooves with melodic rock on the jumpin' BASF (Born Again Super Funky), while title track Starflight United adds some psychedelia to its hard rock foundation. But its that hard rockin' edge that's been bought to the forefront on tracks like, opener Spaced Out,  Desire, the bluesy upbeat If Only She Was Lonely and the terrific ballad Ain't No Gettin' Over You, all with a feel that Aerosmith would be proud of! Gangin' Up rocks with a glammy rhythm, and the midtempo Lucy Fur has a beatlesque melody with a nice guitar work. The album ends with the groovy 59 High Mountain St., a jammin' track with a 'lively' vibe.
Electric Boys 2014 sound is modernised and brought right up to date, but retains their hard rock roots, with the signature funk/swing waves the band delivered throughout earlier releases that made them so distinct.
Starflight United proves that Electric Boys are alive and kicking, with Conny Bloom and the guy's still having so much to offer!
This is probably one of the best good time rock albums that will be released in 2014

Very VERY HIGHLY Recommended

Rating - 10/10

Friday, 25 April 2014

Babylon A.D. - Lost Sessions Fresno, CA 93 (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock
Label - Perris Records

Track listing:

1 - Love Blind
2 - While America Sleeps 
3 - Love Is A Mystery 
4 - Bang Go The Bells

After a long hiatus hard rockers BABYLON A.D. (a band of which I have been a fan since before their self-titled, 1990 debut album) has re-united with all original members and are releasing a new EP: "Lost Sessions Fresno, CA 93".
The band has several dates booked across the states in support of the new EP and will be playing the Firefest Rock Festival in Nottingham, England on Oct 25th 2014.
"Lost Sessions Fresno, CA 93" includes songs that were lost until recently when a tape titled “Fresno 93” was found in an old memorabilia chest singer Derek Davis has kept over the years.
After a good listen it was obvious the band had to get the songs to their dedicated fans as a collector’s item and great piece of their history, playing and songwriting work.
There's 3 new tracks; "Love Blind, "While America Sleeps", and "Love Is A Mystery", plus a new version / remix / mastering of Babylon A.D. biggest hit "Bang Go The Bells".
The songs are all pure hard rocking bangers with infectious guitar riffs from Ron Freschi and Dan De La Rosa, killer vocals from Davis and the steady back bone of Robb Reid on bass and James Pacheco on the drums. Babylon A.D. is a great (and truly underrated) band, and I'm glad they're back to rock us. "Lost Sessions Fresno, CA 93" only features four songs, but man, they smoke.
Only a few thousand hard copy CDs have been released and only available at Perrisrecords website. This will be a rare collectors item soon, so hurry up.
If you're a fan of late '80s / early '90s hard rock, this is definitely for you. And for those too young to remember, this is a great primer.
Very Recommended.

Rating - 9/10

Moonshine - Moonshine (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Classic Rock / Southern Rock / Blues Rock
Label - Perris Records 

Track listing:

01. Mississipi Delta Blues
02. Warm Beer Catfish Stew
03. The Devils Road
04. Fortunate Son
05. The Last Song
06. Mamas Kitchen Brew
07. Southern Blood
08. Turn Me Around
09. Fade Away
10. The American Train

Babylon A.D. frontman Derek Davis is releasing the self-titled debut disc from his classic rock band MOONSHINE, a strongly blues infused combo he founded in the nineties.The album was recorded at Eddie Van Halen's 5150 studios more than fifteen years ago but never saw the light of day until now.The brief press release states that Moonshine transpires southern rock with a bluesy heart in a classic rock mould, and with song titles such as "Mississipi Delta Blues", "Southern Blood" or "Fortunate Son" you can assume that.
But let me tell you people, musically Moonshine goes much far than that.
What we have here is an awesome collection of hard rocking songs in the classic rock traditional way. With a foot firmly put in a bluesy foundation, yes, but as said, rockin' and swaggerin' as hell.
Produced by, at the time of recording, Van Halen's bassist Michael Anthony (who also provides backing vocals) this ten-track corker is delicious as a candy apple.
The songs were composed by Davis which groovy vocals fit the the material like a glove, fantastic guitar player Creg DeFalco, and his colleague Buzzy James who provides the southern flavor on some tunes with a great slide guitar work.
Opener "Mississipi Delta Blues" is in fact a kickin' hard rocker in the Aerosmith vein circa Draw The Line, follower "Warm Beer Catfish Stew" mixes Damn Yankees with Lynyrd Skynyrd, and then the midtempo ballad (acoustically filled) "The Devils Road" makes you think about Tesla.
As you see, the first three songs are classic American rock sounding, inspired by (hard) rocking bands, and the rest of the disc it's in the same direction.
So, don't be fooled, "Moonshine" is not a southern / blues record. This rocks, and rocks great.
"Fortunate Son" (CCR cover) feels like Eighties .38 Special, "The Last Song" is very Tesla again, the extremely melodic rocker "Mamas Kitchen Brew" has something of Trixter in it, while "Turn Me Around" and "The American Train" recalls Great White.
As you read again, this CD is quite hard rockin' ! And so well composed, arranged, played and produced that you can't believe it was not released back in a day. F@ck you grunge....
Do yourself a big, big favour: get this CD at any price. It's excellent. It's being sold and distributed by Perris Records, a label with a keen for good rocking music.


Rating 10/10

Dirty Skirty - Rebel (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Sleaze / Classic Rock
Label -  Self Released

Track listing:

01. Take It or Leave It
02. Devil Dancer
03. Rockin' You 2 Pieces
04. Dr. Dirty
05. Candy Land
06. Always My Girl
07. Girls Got Rhythm
08. Tallahassee
09. My Way Or The Highway
10. Rocking Man
11. You've Got It & I Want It

In 2010, hard rockers DIRTY SKIRTY from Tallahassee, Florida, quietly released independently their debut album and, proud of their accomplishment, decided to put the band to rest. But something happened... suddenly, and thanks to a mouth to mouth recommendation the album sales started to escalate and gave the guys the motivation to continue their dreams.
So, 2014 sees Dirty Skirty releasing their sophomore CD "Rebel", a more than interesting slice of traditional American Hard Rock.
Dirty Skirty wears their influences on their sleeves, digging deep into the well of classic melodic hard rock, channeling everybody from Aerosmith to Guns 'N Roses, from Motley Crue to AC/DC (they do a nice cover of "Girls Got Rhythm").
Throw in a bit of Lynyrd Skynyrd meets .38 Special southern moves within the greasy "Tallahassee" and "Candy Land" (that reminds me of Junkyard), and you have a notion of their sound.
And don't forget some of that Eighties sleazy hard rock swagger as it comes with "You've Got It & I Want It", "Rockin' You 2 Pieces", and the dangerously addictive, party rocker, "Devil Driver" in a Twisted Sister vein.
"Someday I'm gonna write me a little bit of record, ain't no one ever gonna hear", Luke Stephens sings during "Tallahassee", and its sadly closer to the truth than any of us want to admit.
Dirty Skirty's "Rebel" may have not much press buzz or promotion, but certainly deserves your attention. It rocks, it's played with flesh & blood, and all songs are appealing in one way or another.
Unfortunately, considering the nature of the American music industry and their penchant for crappy bands, this album will probably fall on deaf ears. So give the modern mainstream the middle finger and buy this album.
Very Recommended.

Rating - 8/10

Matt Sorum's Fierce Joy - Stratosphere (2014)

Genre - Rock / Pop / Varied
Label -                               .

Track listing:

01 - Intro (Stratosphere) Pt. 1
02 - The Sea
03 - What Ziggy Says
04 - For the Wild Ones
05 - Goodbye to You
06 - Gone
07 - Lady of the Stone
08 - Ode to Nick Drake
09 - Blue
10 - Josephine
11 - Land of the Pure
12 - Killers N Lovers
13 - The Lonely Teardrop
14 - Outro (Stratosphere) Pt. 2

Over a storied career as the driving force behind The Cult and later hard rock legends Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, drummer Matt Sorum has shared a hand in some of the world’s most recognizable music.
Today, Sorum finds himself on the other side of the big console as he has taken to producing several acts as well as working on his own solo project under the banner MATT SORUM'S FIERCE JOY and its debut "Stratosphere", where he takes the mike for the first time, while also playing guitar and piano.
A fourteen track effort with a smattering of different styles and tastes, "Stratosphere" is a winner from start to finish if you can appreciate variety on rootsy rock.
Sorum says: "I wrote most of this stuff on acoustic guitar by myself and then had some collaboration with another guy and we would mess around with a couple of acoustics and basically play it like that. My opinion is that if a song isn't good on an acoustic guitar then it is not a good song.
Even when we used to write with Guns N' Roses if the songs didn't sound good on an acoustic guitar without all that other stuff on it we knew it was not going to be a good song. So I wrote a lot of this album like that and on piano and once I had all of the instrumentation it became pretty organic".
The opening cut “The Sea”, features some great steel guitar sounds wrapped in a decidedly Americana package. Even though Sorum is from the west coast, the opening keyboard riff has a Jersey shore feel. A neat opener quickly giving way to a totally different vibe in the Beatle-esque offering, “What Ziggy Says” really catches ones attention. Reminiscent of vintage Sgt. Pepper material and a tribute to David Bowie, the entrancing sounds and circus effects are reminiscent of past psychedelia, an abrupt change from the opener but unique enough to sustain interest in the rest of this offering. 
A drum and bass beat kicks off “For The Wild Ones” and sets the tone for this somewhat intricate tune, and in my opinion, a highlight on the CD. A snarling vocal that would make Billy Idol proud permeates throughout this one, featuring lyrics and an attitude with a definite edginess and an ‘80s feel present. 
“Good Bye To You” is nothing like that old Scandal hit from the glory days of MTV; it is more modern-based than any of the others on the disc. A haunting guitar line seems to represent the sense of loss that Sorum conveys in the lyric nicely done in a pop style yet not contradicting to the message. 
Once again, great guitar work reinforces the more somber “Gone”. The slow keyboard intro and halting vocal phrases serve as foreshadowing for the feel of this composition. The dynamics employed here would make this a great fit for either film or television, the kind of scene where the main character reflects back upon or seeks answers as they look toward their future without their loved one.
“Lady of the Stone” seems to be an indictment of the world and/or political climate of today. A somewhat Celtic feel is present due to string parts that are intertwined with the verses which make up this dark piece. This is one of several on the disc that makes one think or give a second listen to in order to get the message. 
“Ode to Nick Drake” revisits the acoustic Americana / folk feel. The use of strings assists in painting a picturesque summer time setting in conjuncture with the once again, nice lyrical content. This is one of several off of the CD where visuals are easily attained as Sorum adds storyteller to his lengthy resume.
“Blue” is a short, upbeat ditty that despite its offbeat tone is a toe tapper with an interesting bridge. The pace is next slowed by the piano heavy “Josephine”. Using only a background of strings the song once again evokes plenty of emotion from its creator and is well presented. 
“Land of the Pure” has a Middle Eastern feel. Images of Morocco or Sultans commanding another dance for their entertainment spring instantly to mind as this song changes gears at mid-point with nice instrumentation and foreign female vocals. The blues are next up in another dark selection called “Killers N Lovers” with vintage organ work. 
“The Lonely Teardrop” utilizes a dripping water effect on and off though this acoustic piece. Barely noticeable background instrumentation and effects add a different feel to the arpeggio of the six strings. 
Matt Sorum' takes a decidedly different approach to the writing and recording of "Stratosphere", which showcases his ability to pen and perform honest, relevant music across multiple musical genres. 
Overall, it is a unique collection of music. There are upbeat, slow, and some very dark lyrical content, done just well enough where Sorum nicely conveys his emotions, yet leaves much open for interpretation.


Rating - 9/10

The Players:
Matt Sorum - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Drums
Damon Fox - Organ, Mellotron, Wurlitzer, Mini Moog
Paul III - Bass, Fretless Bass
Alex Torodov - Keyboards
Lanny Cordola - Guitar, Composer
Randy Ray Mitchell - Guitar, Slide Guitar
Scott Breadman - Percussion
Joe Sublett, Lee Thornburg - Horns
Cameron Stone, Lili Haydn - Strings
Abby Loce, Sussan Deyhim - Vocals
Ace Harper - Background Vocals
thanks to Danny Coleman

Magnum - Escape From The Shadow Garden (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Melodic Rock
Label - Steamhammer / SPV

Track listing:

01 - Live 'Til You Die
02 - Unwritten Sacrifice
03 - Falling For The Big Plan
04 - Crying In The Rain
05 - Too Many Clowns
06 - Midnight Angel
07 - The Art Of Compromise
08 - Don't Fall Asleep
09 - Wisdom's Had Its Day
10 - Burning River
11 - The Valley Of Tears

Legendary UK band MAGNUM return with a the brand new record - their 19th studio album - "Escape From The Shadow Garden". It is fair to say that with Magnum you will probably never get a naff album, and much has already been said about the essence of this awaited "Escape From The Shadow Garden", and I have to agree that, once again, this is a superb offering from a band who have certainly changed their sound from the old days. 
Whereas the Magnum of old were a cross between melodic and prog rock, Magnum post 2000 are a more guitar driven beast, and never more so than on this album.
"Escape From The Shadow Garden" is an album full of great melodic tunes and some serious heavy riffage, plenty of terrific songs and arrangements.
It seems that mastermind Tony Clarkin has rediscovered the fact that he is in actual fact a lead guitarist, and as such he is at liberty to deliver big, fat riffs (check out "Too Many Clowns" for evidence of this) and to rock out as much as he wants. Singer Bob Catley has changed too, with age giving him a rock growl that wasn’t evident when he was telling us a bout storytellers and vigilantes.
"Escape From The Shadow Garden" rocks, and rock hard straight to the point with a dramatic string section opening up the album on "Live ‘Till You Die". This gives way to a real classic sounding guitar riff from Clarkin where the legendary vocals of Catley soar over the top of.
This is a great start to the album, with lots of things going on held together by a fantastic rhythm section. There’s plenty of atmospheric keyboards adding drama to the proceedings and varied, different moments of awesome music within this one song alone; a superbly good start to the CD.
More keyboards kick things off for "Unwritten Sacrifice", with an emotive lead vocal that really builds a great story. Another awesome chorus is backed by great musicianship to give this song a lot of feeling, building a lot of tension throughout.
"Falling For The Big Plan" changes things up a bit with a nice piano melody layered with vocals. This is another awesome song, full of twists and turns and some more great atmosphere. An awesome solo serves to punctuate the whole thing too, featuring some nice melodic playing.
"Crying In The Rain" is perhaps the more elaborated cut, opening up with some cool bass and guitars playing off of each other before a powerful drum section enters the fray, with more killer vocals on top. A pot of harmonies and powerful chords power this song along before hitting the grooving main riff with one of my personal favourite choruses on the record.
"Too Many Clowns" is a bit more of a straight up rocker, with an old school bluesy main riff and a very appropriate lead vocal that shows off how dynamic this band really is.
A highlight, "Midnight Angel" has that heartfelt sincerity that could only have flowed from the pen of Tony Clarkin, who's skills as a songwriter mature like a wine of the very finest vintage. An intro full of classic sounds and a really great performance gives way to some powerful riffs later on. This is a nice long song, with great lyrics and a hell of a lot of different sections held together by really strong arrangements.
Solemn, melancholy and austere, "The Art of Compromise" continues in the tradition of Clarkin's songs having a story to tell, his words brought to life as only Catley can. "Wisdom's Had Its Day" combines power, pomp and melody and it all seems so effortless and yet, as every fan knows, Clarkin pours his heart and soul into writing every note and word.
"Burning River" and the aforementioned "Too Many Clowns" are the type of rock solid Magnum barn burners that their audience loves so well, blending chugging riffs and an insistent chorus set to a mid-tempo gallop. Both are melodic hard rock gems, like few in the business can do with this class.
And having been responsible for some of the most stirring power ballads of the last thirty-odd years it is hardly surprising that Clarkin can still come up with songs as emotional and moving as "Don't Fall Asleep" and the closing "The Valley of Tears", both of which deliver the enduring Magnum message of struggle, faith and perseverance in the face of adversity.
You can’t keep a good band down, and like any other good band Magnum just won’t lie down and take it easy. Nope, Bob Catley, Tony Clarkin et al are determined to plough on until we get bored of them, something that, thankfully, doesn’t look like happening anytime soon as "Escape From The Shadow Garden" is among the works of their career.
This new record is for Magnum fans, old and new alike, as good as they’ve ever been really, with plenty of great musicianship and a really nice classic yet modern sound. The production is fantastic as you’d expect from a band of Magnum’s stature. The mix is nice & clear and definitely loud enough too to enhance the terrific layers of guitar.
This is one of the albums of the years my fellow readers. Snatch it up as soon as possible, or ignore it at your own cost!
This to me is Magnum,s best album since 1990's Good Night LA!


Rating - 10/10


Genre - Hard Rock / Bluesy Rock
Label -  Mascot Records

Track listing:

01 - Lust And Lies
02 - Close To You
03 - Good Thing
04 - Breathing
05 - Steal Away
06 - Line Of Fire
07 - Out Of Reach
08 - Feel It
09 - Leave This Town
10 - One Step Behind
11 - Leeches
12 - Nothing Touches
13 - Sailing Ships (feat. David Coverdale)

Happily after many years of absence (too many), former Whitesnake guitarist Adrian Vandenberg is finally back with his brand now band VANDENBERG'S MOONKINGS, a whole new group formed with unknown but talented youngsters, especially Coverdale-esque vocalist Jan Hoving.
The music flows with a pristine fluidity and at the same time exciting but yet familiar, surprising but still comfortable by using many traditional and well known elements as the groovy Hendrix riffage of “Leeches”, the Zeppelin vibes of “Close To You” / “Leave This Town”, or the beautiful acoustic intro for “Out Of Reach”.
Of course the Whitesnake's feel it's in Adrian's veins, as heard on the breathy Coverdalian “One Step Behind” and the over the top “Steal Away”, but also the American modern feel of “Breathing” completed with subtle strings layers and even the Tyketto flavor present at the beginning of “Feel It” .
The sound on the recording is quite flawless, vintage warm but still crisp and delicate, a real studio mastery in the proud method of the grand influential artists and far from amateurish of many cheap releases, with each instrument completely interleaved with each other, all enhanced by keen discreet backing vocals.
Adrian Vandenberg holds a true savoir-faire in crafting those songs, brilliant rockers in a real classic (in every sense of the meaning) album canvas.
The final surprise is the Whitesnake cover of “Sailing Ships” presented in a new arrangement, performed in a new fashion right in between the original version and the acoustic performance as shown in 'Starkers In Tokyo'. And yes, we have the one and only David Coverdale on guest vocals in fine form providing his best signature pipes for this superb cut once written by Vandenberg for '89s 'Slip Of The Tongue'. A killer tribute to their mutual past.

A great debut well worth checking out!

Rating 9/10

KXM (George Lynch) - KXM (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock
Label - RatPackRecords

Track listing:

01. Stars
02. Rescue Me
03. Gunfight
04. Never Stop
05. Faith Is A Room
06. I’ll Be Ok
07. Sleep
08. Love
09. Burn
10. Do It Now
11. Human Friction
12. Tranquilize (Bonus Track)
13. Rescue Me (Radio Edit) (Bonus Track)

A new musical force to be reckoned with is about to turn the rock world upside down with the release of their self-titled debut KXM. 
KXM is comprised of dUg Pinnick of King’s X on vocals & bass, George Lynch of Lynch Mob & Dokken on guitars and world class drummer Ray Luzier, who has played with Army of Anyone, David Lee Roth and is currently with Korn. 
The powerhouse trio takes its name from the combination of the member's other projects: K from Korn, X from King’s X and M from Lynch Mob.
Former Dokken guitarist George Lynch has many irons in the fire with bands that, at any given time, include his solo stuff, Lynch Mob, T&N and the upcoming record with Stryper vocalist Michael Sweet. But this is his project that has been talked about for months: KXM.
Formed in early 2013, the trio organically combined their signature talents and began carving out a unique brand of rock based music that will both amaze and delight fans of any genre. 
One could easily conjure up infinite speculations as to what the musical direction would ultimately sound like, as all 3 of these noted musicians bring years of influence to the writing table, but as Ray Luzier best describes it: “When you throw it all together, it’s unique, it’s today sounding, but all of our history and all of our past clearly speaks through the music”. 
Sound wise KXM isn't that far removed from something you'd hear on a King's X album, meaning great bass heavy-funk lines with soulful and dynamic vocals. The only difference here - and what a difference! - is that you have 'Mr. Scary' laying down his trademark guitar licks to this massive sounding music. 
But we have more: Ray Luzier's drum fills, mammoth double-bass and sense of rhythm never sound better. This is by far his best recording ever and his performance on the record is awesome.
There's something visceral, from the guts, from this trio of great musicians playing together.
"KXM" features a collection of cohesive and brilliantly sequenced songs that make for a fabulous listening experience. From groovy hard rockers to soulful, elastic funked and catchy numbers we found standout tracks like "Rescue Me", the broken "GunFight", the crazy & catchy "Faith Is A Room" and the bluesy hard rock of "Love".
Calmer moments include the hazy "Sleep" and the acoustically filled "Never Stop", but the guys rock your ears for the most part, as on the incredibly dynamic "I'll Be Ok", the highlight for me. The bass is a wall of iron, the drums bounce and George... just listen his on-fire wacky riffs a killer solos.
The self-titled debut of KXM is something truly unique and special: this is pure Rock. The songs are powerful, precise and with 'real' bood. 
In today’s overpopulated music arena, true rock 'n roll without gimmicky become harder and harder to find, but KXM’s unified vision rises above the normal and creates its own space, and Rocks bigtime brilliantly produced and mixed.
If you got crazy by the recent 'The Winery Dogs', "KXM" is a mandatory listening but this includes musical fans of any genre. While it's unlikely that KXM will tour behind this particular effort due to each member's commitment to their respective bands in 2014, let's hope there is at least another record. 
Meanwhile, enjoy this killer piece of true (hard) rock.

Well worth checking out!

Rating - 9/10

L.R.S. - Down To The Core (Japanese Edition) (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Melodic Rock / AOR
Label - Frontiers Records 

Track listing:

01. Our Love To Stay
02. Livin’ 4 A Dream
03. I Can Take You There
04. Never Surrender
05. Almost Over You
06. Shadow Of A Man
07. Universal Cry
08. To Be Your Man
09. Down To The Core
10. I Will Find My Way
11. Waiting For Love
12. Not One Way To Give
13. Almost Over You [Acoustic] (Japanese bonus track)

L.R.S. is a brand new Melodic Rock project which debut "Down To The Core" will be released by Frontiers Records soon, having just appeared in Japan with the usual bonus track.
Started initially as a way to bring back to the public the amazing vocal talent of Tommy La Verdi, a singer which came to the attention of the fans on the fabulous 21 GUNS debut album 'Salute' in 1992, the whole project morphed into a power band trio when two other well-known musicians for the genre - guitar player Josh Ramos (The Storm, Hardline) & drummer Michael Shotton (Von Groove) - were brought into the picture by the album producer Alessandro Del Vecchio (Lionville).
The writing sessions were fast and steady with Del Vecchio managing all contributions from the band members and offering a number of his own writings and co-writings to the record, which was anyway able to develop a distinct sound in the Journey / The Storm tradition with hints of '80s Canadian AOR.
A perfect example of this is the opening track "Our Love To Stay" with a main melody that would fit in with any Journey opus in their heyday. It's a perfect to introduce the music of L.R.S. to the listener with a feel-good vibe in it and the chorus line lift you up to heaven.
"Livin 4 A Dream" is a straight out of the box ‘get under your skin’ number, driven by a rocking guitar riff, inspired keyboards and a catchy chorus. La Verdi's pipes are intact and here he shows how powerful can be as performer.
"Almost Over You" is a ballad in the mould of 21 Guns' last albums, somehow reminding me as well Def Leppard going acoustic.
"Never Surrender" has all the opening hallmarks of The Storm's debut, and is a definite summer-ready feel good anthem that AOR fans will lap up in their droves. This is what real rockin' AOR is all about, with swirling synths, harmony vocals galore and pumping rhythm section.
"I Can Take You There" is a sweet mid-tempo, "Shadow Of A Man" includes a Westcoast touch, while title track "Down To The Core" is a great rocker much in the 21 Guns style giving Ramos’ fingers a flexing.
"Waiting For Love" is amongst my favorites from the CD with that kind of '80s pulsating rockin' spirit that would have been a massive radio hit 25 years ago. A highlight.
The ballad "To Be Your Man" is another gem much in the vein of Von Groove which gives La Verdi the opportunity to show how a slow rocker must be sung, and "Not One Way To Give" close the album in a full throttle energy.
The Japanese bonus is an even more acoustic version of "Almost Over You", stripped without the drums and some pianos added.
"Down To The Core" is an impressive album by La Verdi / Ramos/ Shotton, a shining example of today's MR / AOR music inspired by the golden era with soaring vocals from a superb vocalist who comes back into the well deserved spotlight and some exquisite guitar playing from Ramos.
I know some could be a little critical and say that some of the songs are formulaic, too much in the late '80s / early '90s mould. C'mon... these guys invented this style back in a day an we loved it, so we gonna love it again!
And "Down To The Core" delivers the true Melodic Rock / AOR essence in spades, believe me. A CD not to be missed and a highlight for early 2014.

(The above review is not my work and all credit should go to the original author!)

A Great melodic rock album!

Rating - 9/10

Heavy Tiger - Saigon Kiss (2014)

Genre -Hard Rock
Label - Heavy Tiger Music

Track listing:

01 - Saigon Kiss
02 - Chinatown
03 - I'm Alive
04 - Seven Days Fool
05 - Mover
06 - Robber Of Love
07 - Girls Got Balls
08 - Little Sister
09 - Talk Of The Town

HEAVY TIGER is a new all-girl three piece hard rock band from Stockholm presenting their debut CD "Saigon Kiss".
Formed in 2010 and after a 2-sided single, the trio consisting of really young ladies Maja Linn Samuelsson (vocals and guitar), Sara Frendin (bass) and Astrid Cars Bring (drums) recorded the album at Nicke Andersson's (The Hellacopters, Imperial State Electric) studio Gutterview located in Sweden, produced by legendary Sandinavian metal drummer Fred Estby.
Heavy Tiger is preceded by laudatory comments about their kick-ass shows and energetic stage presence, and the truth is that can be appreciated through most the nine songs of "Saigon Kiss".
The initial and really cool title track as well as the adrenaline fuelled cuts "Chinatown" and "Seven Days Fool", the sassy "Girls Got Balls" and finally the sing-along "Little Sister" are all solid and convincing numbers.
However, there are also some songs that are a little plain and generic such as "Robber Of Love" or the insipidly poppy "Talk Of The Town".
It's true that a rocking band not always needs to drive the pedal to the metal all the time to keep things cool, but when you play straight hard rock with a rebel attitude as Heavy Tiger, you need to be focused to not lost something in the middle. And this is the problem with the girls when they try to sound more 'friendly' as on the aforementioned tracks.
Anyway, "Saigon Kiss" is a nice 'n cool debut by Heavy Tiger, and a welcomed new female rock act to the scene.
"Saigon Kiss" shows that the prominent Swedish rock scene has got a really lovely shot in the arm in the form of a young and hungry band with what may well be the next generation of Joan Jett and alike. This debut album yielded clearly wanting more and I'm quite sure that Heavy Tiger will enjoy success in the future, both in Scandinavia and abroad.
File under The Runaways, Joan Jett, Suzi Quatro, Girlschool, Rock Goddess, etc - if you like these, you will enjoy "Saigon Kiss".

Enjoyable debut but not likely to set the world on fire any time soon.

Rating 7/10

Scream Arena - Scream Arena (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock
Label -                  .

Track listing:

01 - Born Ready
02 - The Price Of Love
03 - Racing To The End Of Night
04 - House Of Pain
05 - Heartbreak Hotel
06 - Another Night In London Town
07 - Knave Of Hearts
08 - Forever
09 - Goodnight L.A.
10 - Somewhere
11 - Queen Of Dreams

Scream Arena are a British based band and here they are releasing their debut full length album, which coincidentally has been produced by US Aor legend Paul Sabu!
First up, we have to mention the production. The band have opted to really indulge in the lower end of the frequency spectrum, not in a gothic or dark wave fashion just, well just as in a a damn bleak, dark, gloomy hard rock fashion! Here Scream Areana have possibly created a whole new genre in the form of Lo-fi dark industrial rock.
Musically the craziest thing about Scream Areana is that of the sound from Scream Arena is the lead singer, around which revolves the entire sound setting.
It is evident that Andy Paul owns a powerful set of pipes and he is able reach high registers, but here he sings with a somber tone, husky, malign... it's the kind of vocals that thirty years ago would have been classified as demoniacal. All accented, of course, by the (on purpose) gloomy production and mix.
There are some great melodic rock tracks here, so dont let the initial reaction to the production put you off, stick with it and by tracks two and three you will be sold, I swear! Some interesting arrangements really do set these guys apart from the pack! Hell there is even an Iron maiden esq track in album closer Quen Of Dreams!
"Scream Arena" are also a band not afraid to speak their mind, with frontman Andy Paul noting on the press release: "We are so tired of Smiths retreads and rewatered workings of The Clash being sold to us as the future of rock music. Scream Arena is a response to both the fey indie bands masquerading as 'rock bands' in Britain and the studied off the shelf misery of so many metal bands championed by the fashion conscious”.
One of the most interesting albums I have had the pleasure of listening too in quite a while.

One thing is for sure: Scream Arena is not your typical Hard Rock band. They are trying something different here, not much in the songwriting department (traditional structures / patterns) but in a new sonic approach.
Listen and decide by yourself.

Rating 7/10

Winger - Better Days Comin' (Deluxe Edition) (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Melodic Rock / AOR
Label - Frontiers Records.

Track listing:

01. Midnight Driver of a Love Machine
02. Queen Babylon
03. Rat Race
04. Better Days Comin'
05. Tin Soldier
06. Ever Wonder
07. So Long China
08. Storm In Me
09. Be Who You Are, Now
10. Another Beautiful Day (deluxe edition bonus track)
11. Out Of This World

One of the most influential Melodic Hard Rock bands to come out of the '80s  return's with its first album in five years: WINGER will release "Better Days Comin' ".
"Better Days Comin´" is perhaps Winger's most diverse album to date.
Opening cut "Midnight Driver of a Love Machine" is probably closest in style to the Winger sound that brought them success on the first two albums but has enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.
It is followed by "Queen Babylon", a groovy hard rocker which reminds you commercial Eighties Dio, and then "Rat Race" is one of the highlights on the CD with a heavy, furious riff and fat pace. The music reflects the title in a perfect way. It's a highspeed hardrock tune which is giving you a good shake - from the first to the last note.
However things then take a left turn as the title track has a stripped back retro vibe, and "Tin Soldier" continues the anti-war theme which is a recurring motif in the band's work, and the progressive intrusions reflect the involvement of the likes of drummer Rod Morgenstein in fusion and other musical genres.
Both "Ever Yours" and "Be Who You Are Now" have the slow, dreamy atmospherics more often found on Kip solo albums, and while "So Long China" has and edgy hooky chorus, "Storm In Me" is another moody, darker yet melodic cut showcasing Winger's united dynamics as they flex their muscles, lumbering on chunky guitars.
The bonus track for this deluxe edition called "Another Beautiful Day" is another favorite, combining early nineties Winger with modern hard rocking riffage.
Finally "Out Of This World" builds from slow beginnings into a strong chorus and a classic guitar outro on which Reb Beach gets to show his chops sometimes hidden within the confines of Whitesnake.
"Better Days Comin´" mixes Winger of the past with things from the last 2009 album, marrying up hard rockers with slow paced numbers. It is inevitable that with this sheer variety not every track will be of universal appeal.
However as a statement of Winger’s versatility and talent it cannot be bettered and, especially with the band touring and even playing Download this year, is a very timely profile builder.
Very Recommended.

Rating - 9/10

Sebastian Bach - Give 'Em Hell (Japan Edition) (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Heavy Metal
Label - Frontiers Records

Track listing:

01. Hell Inside My Head
02. Harmony
03. All My Friends Are Dead
04. Temptation
05. Push Away
06. Dominator
07. Had Enough
08. Gun To A Knife Fight
09. Rock N Roll Is A Vicious Game
10. Taking Back Tomorrow
11. Disengaged
12. Forget You
13. Rock N Roll Is A Vicious Game (Acoustic) [Japan bonus]

"Give 'Em Hell" is the latest and fifth solo studio album by ex- Skid Row frontman SEBASTIAN BACH.
Sebastian Bach has one hell of a distinctive voice, one of the most cherished in the history of Rock, and although some legends seem to lose their energy over time, he has never lost his focus and attitude.
Previous album Kicking & Screaming was a mighty fine affair, but Give Em Hell sets the bar even higher, and is possibly Seb's best solo release to date! This is in part down to the line up that he has assembled in order to produce Give Em Hell. Firstly, on bass, we have none other than Mr Duff McKagan (Velvet Revolver, Guns N' Roses).
Not to be outdone, there are three great guitarists involved. John 5 (Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie), the awesome Steve Stevens (Billy Idol, Atomic Playboys) and Devin Bronson (Avril Lavigne, Pink) and it is their riffs and solos that lift this album beyond good.
Last, but certainly not least, is drummer Bobby Jarzombek (Halford, Riot, Fates Warning) who lays down some pretty thunderous stick work. Sebastian himself is in better voice than I've heard for a long time and, together, they have made an album that is pretty heavy, full of hooks and great playing but, most importantly, melody, but it's certainly not stuck in the past. Bob Marlette (Rob Zombie, Halford, Alice Cooper, Tony Iommi) once again returns to handle the production duties which together with the great songwriting, makes everything sound huge!
"Give 'Em Hell" is one of those rare albums that is immediate but also improves with each listen, unleashing more and more hidden layers each time around. It pretty damn near impossible not to love this album!
In many ways Give Em Hell captures the spirit of Skid Rows seminal classic Slave To The Grind without sounding like an attempt to recapture and clone past glories. there really is not a bad track on here!

Quite possibly one of the best albums to released in 2014!

Rating 10/10

The Peckham Cowboys - 10 Tales From The Gin Palace (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Classic Rock / Rock N Roll
Label -

Track listing:

01 - Not Guilty!
02 - Bromley Girls
03 - The Debt Collector
04 - Don’t Damn The Hypnotist
05 - Quarantined
06 - Poor Boy Blues
07 - You’re Only In It For The Money
08 - She Was Sweet On Me
09 - Cut It Out
10 - Knocked Senseless

THE PECKHAM COWBOYS come from deepest South London, purveying the sort of whisky snorting, hipshaking, harmonica melting, sleazy, greasy, bluesy timeless rock 'n' roll on their second album "10 Tales From The Gin Palace".
Founded by ex- Quireboys Guy Bailey alongside fellow stalwarts of the British rawk n’ roll scene Marc Eden and Dale Hodgkinson, The ‘Cowboys already released one album entitled ‘Flog It’ in 2011. With Bailey no longer involved, the current line-up includes Timo Kaltio (Hanoi Rocks, Izzy Stradlin Band, Cheap & Nasty) on guitar, Duncan McKay (Primal Scream) on horns and keys, Ryan McCormick (Steven Adler Band) on drums, as well as another former Quireboys (and one of the best rock n’ roll bassists in the business) – Nigel Mogg.
If you enjoy listening the very early (London) Quireboys, the Small Faces at their most cockney, or Izzy Stradlin’s rocking stuff (not his reggae detours), then you’ll love The Peckham Cowboys.
But there’s more to this band of Gin Lane than their Quireboys connections both in attitude and music - the likes of "The Debt Collector" and "Don’t Damn The Hypnotist" give the album more depth than your usual whisky soaked rock n’ roll fare and there are some imaginative and interesting twists. 
The Peckham have a sound that immediately grabs me by the penny rounds as album opener "Not Guilty!" erupts from the speakers full of bohemian excess. Some might just say 'oh that’s The Quireboys', but I would counter that by saying The Quireboys haven’t sounded this dirty since they had Ginger in the band, and that was over a quarter of a century ago.
"Bromley Girls" continues the sleazy escapades of the band as Marc rasps his way through one of the funniest vocal stutters you’ll hear anywhere this year. This is filthy swagger stuff for sure and a full on tongue in cheek strut that really gets under the skin.
"Quarantined" adds fuzzed guitars in the company of fine horns which turns the song into a slice of quality pop music with just the merest hint of '90s indie ala Jesus Jones thrown in for good measure. "Poor Boy Blues" meanwhile continues the fuzzed out theme, with Eden and company paying potty mouthed tribute to the deep South… of London naturally.
In a parallel universe where "Debt Collector" was the huge hit single that saw The Peckham Cowboys on Top Of The Pops for several consecutive weeks, the equally huge follow up track would have been "You’re Only In It For The Money", a really, really strong song. 
Elsewhere the horn driven "She Was Sweet On Me" and "Cut It Out" once again doff their collective caps to ole bone crusher Jagger whilst also making me recall bands such as The Dirty Strangers and Broken English.
With "10 Tales From The Gin Palace" containing ten all killer and no filler pure rock 'n roll tracks, the dirty street vibe of album closer "Knocked Senseless" is not just the perfect way to wave goodbye to The Peckham Cowboys but also its title pretty much sums up how you will feel when you too hear this album, because you’ll be knocked bandy by this bastard.
This second album from The Peckham Cowboys really is a true melting pot of influences, and is everything great about music in 2014 combining as it does rock, blues and pop to make "10 Tales From The Gin Palace" not only the best record the band could have produced, but also perhaps one of the most true-blooded records by any UK band lately. 
Very Recommended.

(I am not the author of the above review, but agree with its sentiments whole hearted! All credit to the original author!)

Rating 9/10