STARGATE – Beyond Space And Time www.stargateband.com
What is in the water in Italy? Here we have another prog metal band from there consisting of Flavio Caricasole (vocals), Fabio Varalta (guitars), Federico Sideor (bass), Isacco Dalle Pezzo (keyboards) and Cris Confente (drums). They have previously released an EP back in 2003 and this is their debut album.
You can’t knock the musicianship – check out the solos on ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Sands Of Time’ for proof. What lets the album down is that it lacks memorable melodies that bands like even the masters of technical prog metal Dream Theater manage to do. It is a very crowded field out there and I am afraid for me Stargate lack that special spark in their music to get them noticed.
Human Temple – Halfway to Heartache (Escape Music)
Human Temple burst on to the melodic rock scene in 2004. They were quiet for six years before releasing their sophomore effort in 2010. “Halfway to heartache” is the third album released by the Finnish rockers.
The music and production is outstanding, with some lovely songs. Emppu Vuorinen of Nightwish and Brother Firetribe fame guests – an indication of what can be expected musically. Vocalist Janne Hurme sounds like JSS in places, Gary Hughes in others, but it is he who is the weak point on this work, sadly, for there are a number of places where his voice sounds bland and half-hearted.
Bland, insipid vocals destroy what could be a great album. What a shame.
Nick van der Meulen
Book of Reflections – Relentless fighter (Lion Music)
Lars Eric Mattson has quite a work ethic. Here he resurrects Book of Reflections, a project of his that has released two albums previously.
What one hears is progressive-cum-neoclassical rock, with a 70’s bass line, along with ripping solos from Mattson himself. He employs the services of Carsten Schultz (Evidence One) and Markku Kuikka (Status Minor/Grönholm) and both perform an admirable job. There are songs that would not be out of place on Yngwie’s earlier releases (“Until the day”, “Angel shed a tear”, “Rise up!”). “Without my angel” makes a change with a beautiful acoustic guitar and heartfelt vocals, before a heavier guitar tone kicks in to turn it into a power ballad. Production becomes a bit fuzzy in places, which is mildly disappointing.
A good listen and worth investigating if you’re a fan of neoclassical rock.
Nick van der Meulen
ReinXeed – 1912/ Welcome to the theater (Liljegren Records/Doolittle Group)
Tonny ReinXeed is a young guitarist/vocalist who doesn’t know how to rest. Actively involved in the power metal genre in Sweden with Christian Liljegren, he has been involved with the Golden Resurrection project, Swedish Hitz Goes Metal and his own project, aptly named ReinXeed. Two albums have been released recently: “1912” in 2011 and “Welcome to the theater” in 2012.
1912 (***): Relentlessly fast, power metal with hints of early Helloween in the mix. While it’s a pleasant listen, it gets a bit much, particularly with the high, strident tones of the vocalist (Tommy ReinXeed) and the fact that songs are so fast one thinks it’s a race to get finished!
WTTT (****): Far more mid-tempoed and melodic, ReinXeed’s voice sounds more powerful and less strident. Songs are better constructed than before, with sounds of Helloween and early Avantasia.
“1912” is for those who like speedy power metal, but even then it sounds a bit rushed. “Welcome to the theater”, however, could be ReinXeed’s best work yet and is worth sampling.
Nick van der Meulen
GUN – Break The Silence Ear Music
This Glasgow rock band reformed a couple of years ago and deliver a damn fine new album.
The opening Butcher Man defines their sound well, a mix of rock, metal, glam and a hint of alternative, a high tempo and enjoyable number. Then it’s up a notch for 14 Stations – with a hint of boogified sleeze (a hint of Hanoi Rocks perhaps?). Then Lost & Found which takes you right back to the early 80s, hints of Girl and LA Guns. Caught In The Middle is more alt mainstream, with a Glaswegian swagger and some vocal harmonies.
The title track is a well written number with a good melody, not quite heavy enough to be called driving, but it’s heading that way. Later tracks like Bad Things mix glam and rock’n’roll with uptempo indie and alternative.
There are some highlights and strong moments, very enjoyable, but not quite as consistent as I’d like.
Well worth checking out though.
CORALSPIN – Honey And Lava Altrospire
Some solid melodic prog metal here, polished and intricate, and instantly enjoyable.
With two keyboard players and a classically / operatically trained female vocalist, there is plenty of scope for some good rock music.
Opener Sons Of the Sleeping Giant is chunky and moody, with some excellent guitar work and deep and rich vocals (almost Abba-esque in a metal way).
You’re Wrong is more mainstream, with a touch of mid 80s rock/power pop, with heavy undertones.
From the classic prog of Genesis and Yes to modern rock of Muse, it’s a good mix, and tracks like Mistimed add a strong and heavy Kate Bush feel.
A stand out is Burn My Eyes, with a distinct operatic gothic feel.
It’s an interesting album and well constructed, from the Yes-like keyboard and guitar solos (with a more blistering feel) to the pop like finesse it’s a good listen.
DAVID J CARON ‘Thru Never Ending Black’ (2CD) www.davidjcaron.com
A real labour of love this album, as David Caron has produced a double CD where he plays all the instruments and writes the songs as well. He has Rob Mancini co-producing and engineering.
Interesting how the lyrics often use sci-fi and astronomy on songs about relationships. Musically this is high quality AOR/melodic rock, the only problem I have is the vocals which sound a little autotuned to these ears but after a few plays you get used to it! ‘It Gathers’ and ‘Beam The Ray’ are cracking AOR, whilst ‘Time Machine’ is one for prog rock fans.
This album deserves a good listen, it is by no means an instant aural hit but it does contain many musical ideas and most importantly strong melodies.
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Power Plays w/c 19 February
THUNDERMOTHER Revival (Despotz Records)
THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT There’s Still Time (Earache)
TAX THE HEAT The Last Time (Nuclear Blast)
DOOMSDAY OUTLAW Spirit That Made Me (Frontiers)
BAD WOLVES Zombie (Eleven Seven Music)
ALL THAT REMAINS The Thunder Rolls (Eleven Seven Music)
Featured Albums w/c 19 February (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 TOTO Greatest Hits: 40 Trips Around The Sun (Sony Legacy)
12:00-13:00 SHIRAZ LANE Carnival Days (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 THE LYNNES Heartsong For The Radio (indie)
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