Album review: BALFLARE – Downpour
Balfare are a Japanese power metal band who have been around since 2004 and this is their fourth studio album. The music is keyboard led and keyboards player Tommy is the star of the show, as his synth swirls and grandiose backing lift the basic power metal backbeat. They remind me of Power Quest, although not as good unfortunately. The drawback for me is the drums which are very one paced and lack much variety and the guitar solos are few and far between. Best song on the album is ‘Before The Dawn’ where the guitar solos get a chance in the limelight.
Maybe for the power metal completist, however there are better bands out there and perhaps the band need to focus on a few melodies, rather than too many instrumental solos.
Review by Jason Ritchie
CHRIS NORMAN – There And Back
www.chris-norman.co.uk [Release date 15.09.13]
Chris Norman is best known as the vocalist in 70’s soft rockers Smokie, of ‘Living Next Door To Alice’ fame. This is his first UK solo album in over five years and the lead single, ‘Gypsy Queen’ is released to mark his 45 years in the music business.
Good choice of single as it has a decent beat to it and sure to please the Radio 2 audience. The flamenco/Spanish flavour extends itself into the ballad ‘Wish You Well’, a song that highlights the strength and emotion Chris Norman puts into his music.
The rockier moments work well, from the opener ‘I’m Gone’ through to ‘My Jenny’, where Chris Norman’s vocal takes on a rougher edge and reminded me of Nazareth and Rod Stewart.
‘Whisky & Water’ taps a Status Quo boogie riff and is great fun. Another change of tempo and musical style comes with the gospel flavoured ‘Hard Road To Cross’, a song that also features a female duet.
Sure to find a place in his fans’ CD collections and given the right airplay here in the UK could help him get back onto people’s musical radars again. If you think Chris Norman is all about Smokie, think again, this album will surprise you. ***1/2
Review by Jason Ritchie
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