Quick Plays: AEROSMITH, ZZ TOP, MAGNUM, FREEDOM CALL

LOVER UNDER COVER – Set The Night On Fire (Escape Music)

Lover Under Cover is a new band emerging from Sweden, providing rock aficionados with another slice of Scandi rock.

Mikael Erlandsson from Last Autumn’s Dream and Salute fame has his influence all over this work, penning the songs as well as providing the voice to the album.  This is much like Salute’s last effort released in ’11 – but “Set the night on fire” has a crunchier guitar tone, without sacrificing the melody.  Eleven well-crafted songs are part of this work for your listening pleasure.

If you’re a fan of Scandi or melodic rock, you’ll have to add this to your collection!  Superb.  ****1/2

Nick van der Meulen

MAGNUM – On The 13th Day (SPV)

Magnum has been prolific over the last few years, producing some fine work, but “On the 13th Day” has a little bit more…

As ever, the quality of songs produced on this work is outstanding.  Bob Catley sounds as soulful as ever, while Tony Clarkin still produces the goods with the pen as well as his guitar.  The work gets taken to the next level with some unbelievable riffs, along with Harry James’s pounding (“Dance of the black tattoo”, one of their best songs in years), while “Putting things in place” harks back to the late 80’s.  What adds to the allure is the band’s bombastic sound.

Bombastic, soulful, heavy in places, finesse in others – it is a magnificent melodic rock album.  Buy it.  *****

Nick van der Meulen

ZZ TOP – La Futura (Universal Republic)

At last!  ZZ Top releases some new material for the first time since “Mescalero” in 2003!  The veterans switched labels, with “La Futura” being their first effort for them.

The album opens with “I gotsta get paid” – a cover of a rap song (!), yet catchy as hell.  The trio spend the rest of the album demonstrating why they are still the best in the business, producing classy blues rock with the band’s signature fuzzy guitar, hypnotic rhythm section and Billy Gibbons’s seemingly ageless voice.

A welcome return from the “li’l ol’ band from Texas” and an essential purchase.  *****

Nick van der Meulen

RAZZMATAZZ – Rock ‘n Roll Hero (Good-Night-Music-Records)

Razzmattazz is a hard rock outfit hailing from the south of Germany.  “Rock ‘n Roll Hero” is their debut release, citing influences from AC/DC, ZZ Top, Saxon and Whitesnake to name a few.

The sound is raw and one can immediately hear the AC/DC influence.  The songs are groovy and infectious but, while it is touted the band plays high voltage rock ‘n roll, it’s not quite 240V and they may need a transformer to give them a boost.

Not bad, but they sound too much like AC/DC clones and their songs aren’t strong enough for “Rock ‘n Roll Hero” to stand out in a bevy of rock releases.  ***

Nick van der Meulen

RICK SPRINGFIELD – Songs for the end of the world (Frontiers)

Rick Springfield returns with his blend of melodic-cum-modern rock, this effort being the follow up to “Venus in overdrive”.

“Songs for the end of the world” has been touted to be album of the year to many and I have sat down and REALLY tried to agree with pundits, but I can’t.  The songs, twelve in all, are well put together, Rick, Matt Bissonette and the boys sound good, but I feel the sound is a little too modern for what Rick should be releasing.  It is a combination of “Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance” (without the bite) and VIO, but sounding more modern than both.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fine album – but it’s not the classic I so hoped it would be.  It grows on you with repeated listens, so the rating below will probably improve with time…  ****1/4

Nick van der Meulen

THE 69 EYES – X (Nuclear Blast)

The Helsinki Vampires return with their tenth album, hence “X” as a title…

Jyrki69 and the crew deliver 69 Eyes as you like it, with brooding, melodic Gothic rock in a well-recorded, polished fashion.  This is more along the lines of “Angels” and “Devils” than the rawer and tongue-in-cheek “Back in blood”.  Not a poor song to be found and the album will repeat easily as you listen over and over again.

I would’ve liked the work to have more than just the ten songs on offer, but what is packaged is well worth the purchase.  ****1/2

Nick van der Meulen

AEROSMITH – Music From Another Dimension! (Sony)

The veteran rockers from Boston return from obscurity, releasing their first original material in eleven years…

Fifteen tracks are on show here and one can immediately tell the boys are hungry, with each member in top form…particularly vocalist Steven Tyler.  There are many cracking songs on this work, with sounds ranging from their “Toys in the attic” days to the more bombastic modern Aerosmith era, but there are a few fillers too.

Somebody should tell Joe Perry that he’s best suited to harmonizing and not singing lead.  The songs he lends his voice to are detrimental to the song, making them more filler than killer.  On a positive note, there are far more good songs than bad, the band showing they can still rock with the best of them and their ballads will still make you weak at the knees.

Not a classic, but still a good lesson from the veterans in what quality rock music should sound like.  ****1/4

Nick van der Meulen

ADRENECHROME – Hideous Appetites (Self release)

Adrenechrome is a Canadian thrash metal outfit with a twist, in that they toss in a bit of melodic, progressive metal into the mix.  “Hideous Appetites” is their latest E.P. containing seven tracks.

The work is an interesting mix of thrash and progressive metal, containing some groovy guitar riffs.  The opening track “Titan’s Fall” harks back to 80’s Bay Area thrash era but, just when you think it’s all the same, the progressive metal kicks in, with more than a hint of Mastodon coming into play.  The production is superb, making one wonder how much money the band put into this effort.

If you still enjoy your thrash metal, then Adrenechrome will whet your appetite with their different and original take on the genre.  Worth investigating.  ***3/4

Nick van der Meulen

FREEDOM CALL –  Land Of The Crimson Dawn (SPV)

Freedom Call has already been on the power metal scene for 13 years, with ‘Land of the Crimson Dawn’ being the seventh studio release.

I have generally found Freedom Call to be a good power metal band, but not strong enough to be a leader of the genre.  This work is said to have a rawer, rock feel, with greater focus on the guitars.  I am one of the power metal fans that prefer less of the speed merchant songs and, while they are some speedy songs, there is a lot of bombast featured here (always a good thing), along with the mid-tempo melodies.  They sound a lot heavier than earlier releases, adding a bit of menace to their work with very impressive riffing.

Freedom Call has managed to change my view: they are indeed a force to be reckoned with on the power metal scene!  Buy it.  ****1/2

Nick van der Meulen


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Power Plays w/c 5 August 2018

EARTH FOR SALE Reset (AnderStein Music)
LUNA KISS Hold On (Crow Face Records)
THE SURVIVAL CODE Crawl (indie)
AIRRACE Running Out Of Time (Frontiers)

Featured Albums w/c 5 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 LIONCAGE Turn Back Time (Pride & Joy Music)
12:00-13:00 GRAHAM BONNET BAND Meanwhile, Back At The Garage (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 TURYA Ocean (Turya Music)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

18:00-19:00 DEEP PURPLE Slaves And Masters (1990)



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