If Only – No Bed of Roses (Avenue of Allies)
If Only began their story in 1988 and it turns out to be a story of tragedies. This album, after many delays, only saw a release in Europe in 1994 (after being released in Japan in 1992). The album got lost in the world of grunge and the band faded away…
Years later, the album has been uncovered and re-released with bonus tracks. Taking a listen, one can understand the hype when the album is compared to the greats of female-fronted rock. The album opens with “Loaded gun”, a cheesy attempt at American rock by an English outfit. The rest, however, is nothing short of mind-blowing, with anthem after melodic anthem filling your ears. Seventeen tracks of pure melodic rock bliss ensure you reach over to press “play” again…
It’s albums like this that makes one realise how there’s no justice in the music business. Criminally overlooked, its release will enthral fans of the 80’s rock/AOR era.
Nick van der Meulen
4Bitten – Delirium (Rocksector Records)
4Bitten is a hard rock outfit hailing from Greece, playing what they tout as authentic, solid, blues-based hard rock. Formed in 2002, this is the band’s second album.
The album is a bit heavier that touted, with a hard, raw edge to the guitar work and not much blues to be heard in the mix. Nonetheless, it is enthusiastically performed and one can feel the energy the band is trying to share. The songs are not as melodic as one would hope for, however, which leaves it falling short of its counterparts.
This is a solid album and the rhythm is very catchy. With this raw sound and a bit more melody, they’ll be worth watching.
Nick van der Meulen
Bang Tango – Pistol whipped in the Bible belt (78 Productions)
Bang Tango was often termed as 80’s glam rockers, but was known for putting a bit of funk into their music, setting them apart. This is the band’s first album in six years…
If you’re hoping to get the glam/funk sounds from the 80’s in this work, you will be disappointed, as this can be classified more as sleaze than anything else, with Joe Leste’s vocals dripping whisky and tobacco as he rasps over the songs on offer. Most are melodic, some are repetitive, the overall sound raw.
There’s nothing original here, there may be some better performances in the genre, but still a fun listen if you’re in the mood.
Nick van der Meulen
STATUS MINOR – Ouroboros (Lion Music)
Status Minor blasts on to the progressive scene in 2012 with their sophomore effort, after their critically acclaimed debut in 2009.
The result is nine songs providing aural pleasure with exceptional rhythm and good melodies. The album is a concept describing love relationships and their cycles. Nonetheless, the album can be enjoyed with each song able to speak for itself. The ballad, “Like a dream”, is a standout in an album of predominantly driving rhythm and melodies, while “Flowers die” sees a tender side to the band, along with a dramatic crescendo, showcasing the Finnish band’s panache.
This could well be one of the progressive metal highlights for the year. Highly recommended.
Nick van der Meulen
SEPTEMBER MOURNING – Melancholia
Interesting, if a little clichéd extreme metal, and an amalgamation of extreme styles; this album is, from the outset, straight extreme metal but with touches of both dark / gothic and grunge / alternative. And while that sounds a potential mess, it’s not as much as that description sounds.
The female vocals mix operatic with screaming, the odd track adding the occasional death metal style ‘skinned cat in a cement mixer’ screams. There’s plenty of solid competent power and solid rhythms too.
The music ranges from gothic thrash to operatic power metal, the changes of pace (fast, slower, sludgy) give that alternative and grunge feels.
While it’s hard to go track by track, the above description providing an overall feel, there is some variation, but it’s not something I could get excited by. If you like the overall feel, great, you’ll enjoy the album. For me it was well more than competent but a little samey with it.
THE KORDZ – Beauty And The East (CD+DVD)
Lebanon, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, is not known for producing rock music, but is what we have here.
The album opens with a building intro, a nice mix of keyboards and guitar, and “Deeper In” is a good start – it seems to mix gothic alternative with progressive metal and an eastern touch. The minor chords in “Nothing Or Everything” add an interesting touch, and the angular touches add a little Avant-garde.
The downside is that some touches are so avant-garde that the hard rock has an industrial feel, but it’s only occasional touches, but the alternative backdrop is ever present. When it goes more progressive it’s definitely more enjoyable.
The vocals are good and suit the music well, and some may not appreciate the middle eastern roots, but definitely worth a listen.
Prisma – You Name It Two Sides Moon/ SLW
Prisma hail from Switzerland and I have a sneaking feeling that they may be one of the few experimental prog metal bands in the Alps . This is the band’s second album, their first ‘ Collusion’ was released in 2008 and gained critical acclaim across both Switzerland and Germany.
The band master in heavy, complex riffs and rhythms, much in the vein of The Mars Volta. Musically the band are very tight and are more than capable of carrying off the complexities of the music. Over the course of the 11 tracks the band impress, but vocally they struggle. Frontman Michael Luginbulh has a bit of a flat vocal delivery which drags things down a peg or two.
There are some decent tracks on show though, opener ‘Epigone’ is a good sonic introduction to the band,’8’ is inventive, heavy prog whilst ‘ Broker’ is a the album highlight
Live, the band have a couple of video jockeys on stage to complete the audio visual experience which would certainly be an interesting prospect. Prisma won’t be to everyone’s taste, but if you like a bit of a musical challenge then give Prisma a hearing.
Fuel From Hell – Easier Said Than Done
(Street Symphonies Records)
Yet another Italian rock band hits my CD player, I have had a few of late. Fuel From Hell are sleaze rockers who have a love for Motley Crue, in fact they contributed a track to a Motley Crue tribute album in 2007. Having formed back in 1998, this is the band’s second full album.
The disc kicks off with the raw rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Electrified’ this is quickly follow by ‘Poison Whisky’ which is currently doing good business on You Tube. The band put in a good shift musically with the twin guitar work of Dam Littmanen and Steve Eighteen defining each track.
Things carry on in a similar vein with the likes of ‘Send Me Your Love’, ‘17 & Wasted’ and ‘Bad Jane’ all hard rocking numbers . There are, however, a couple of things that possibly explain why the band have not progressed further in their 14 years. The first is that song writing wise they’re not that good, the tracks are OK but no more, think also-rans from the early 80’s LA scene and you get the idea. The other fly in the ointment is vocalist Phil Lasher who is fine on some tracks but struggles on others.
This album then is mediocre at best with the inconsistences dragging the quality levels down. I can’t see this furthering the band’s cause to any great extent and can see another 14 years in the Italian clubs beckoning.
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Power Plays w/c 20 March 2017
THE WEEKS Gold Don’t Rust (Lightning Rod Records)
VANESSA COLLIER Cry Out (Ruf Records)
KOBRA & THE LOTUS You Don’t Know (Napalm Records)
INVIDIA Feed The Fire (SPV)
AS LIONS One By One (Better Noise)
Featured Albums w/c 20 March 2017 (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 UNRULY CHILD Can’t Go Home (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 KXM Scatterbrain (Ratpak)
14:00-16:00 MADISON VIOLET The Knight Sessions (Big Lake Music)
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