Quick plays: AMBERIAN DAWN, SUNSPOT, LUKE GASSER

AMBERIAN DAWN - Innuendo

AMBERIAN DAWN – Innuendo
Napalm Records [Release date 23.1.15]

Second album from the Finnish symphonic metal band to feature vocalist Capri Virkkunen and she helps lift the band from another run of the mill metal band. To be honest it is getting very crowded in this genre and the band should keep hold of Capri, who has a powerful, melodic vocal.

The music is very catchy and on songs like ‘Fame & Gloria’ and ‘The Court Of The Mirror Hall’, the sound is uncannily like Abba! They do like their synths as well, as listening to ‘Knock, Knock Who’s There’ they have a very poppy sound. This could possibly be the band’s biggest problem as they are possibly too light and fluffy for metal fans, yet unlikely to get much coverage outside of the rock and metal press.

Interesting album and personally prefer their more pop moments as it offers something different. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

SUNSPOT – Weirdest Hits
www.sunspotmusic.com

Sunspot consist of Mike Huberty (Vocals/bass/keys), Wendy Lynn Staats (Drums/vocals/violin) and Ben Jaeger (Guitars/vocals/piano) and this is a compilation of songs culled from Sunspot’s popular paranormal podcast, ‘See You On the Other Side.’ Each week’s episode is punctuated with a Sunspot song and these songs were originally released in the form of several EP’s.

They know a decent melody which is a good thing and they go down many musical avenues. For example not surprisingly ‘El Chupacabra’ has a Mexican feel to it, whilst ‘Messiah Complex’ is a perfect piece of pop rock. On ‘The Sun King’ they sound like the Polyphonic Spree and then it is a bit of 80′s synth/funk beat on ‘Dangerous Times’.

You certainly get your money’s worth on here with eighteen songs, three are exclusive to this compilation. Give them a listen, a veritable cornucopia of musical ideas and melodic fun awaits. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

LUKE GASSER – Rock n Roll Welfare

Fastball Music

New album “Rock n Roll Welfare” from Luke Gasser picks up pretty much where predecessors “Retribution” and “Flicker” left off, in other words, some great dirty rock music that combines the attitude of Motorhead with the kind of riffs AC/DC can still conjure up and vocals that would not feel out of place on an album from The Almighty.

One of the highlights on the album is a 6 minute version of the classic “Baby Please Don’t Go” which Gasser has made his own having played it live for years. Don’t let that take you away from the fact that he can produce some decent original material of his own though as “Rock n Roll Welfare” will confirm. With the basic tracks recorded live in the studio, thus giving the songs a more natural feel, songs like “Sweet St. Veronica”, “A Jester For A Fool”, “Journeyman”, “A Kind of Dyin’” and “Can’t Believe” are the kind of staples that have sold albums for years.

“Rock n Roll Welfare” also shows Gasser’s lighter side, especially with sparser tracks such as “Summers Eve” and “Promised Lands”. Then we have the Dylanesque “Be Careful” with its slight country lilt.

In bringing together the styles of blues rock, a slight ‘80’s feel and country influences, Luke Gasser has made another album that has a slightly wider appeal. Don’t be surprised if he has another one just around the corner. ****

Review by Nikk Gunns

CRYSTAL GATES – A Quest For Life

www.crystalgates.uy

Crystal Gates hail from Uruguay, not a country associated with many rock/metal acts and there is not loads of info on the net about them. The main members appear to be guitarist Benjamin Machin and vocalist Caroline Perez, who have been working on this, their debut release, for the past couple of years.

It is not bad at all and the vocals of Perez are at the operatic end of the scale. Crystal Gates are like a more straight ahead version of Nightwish, with less grandiose arrangements and more emphasis on the guitar, coupled with some stonking keys/synths. Special mention to the keyboards as they play nicely of the guitar riffs on ‘The Soul Of Rain’ and a soulful piano leads into the ballad ‘The Storm Path’.

Only six songs on here and pretty short at 21 minutes music in total, unusual for symphonic metal acts. Good production as well as it has been mastered at the renowned Finnvox studios. Definitely worth a listen if you enjoy symphonic/power metal. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

STEVE ELLIS – Best Of Days

Angel Air www.angelair.co.uk

Steve Ellis is best known as the lead singer with Love Affair, whose big hit ‘Everlasting Love’ was the number 1 UK single the week this reviewer was born! This solo album was first released back in 2008, although it sadly didn’t get much in the way of exposure or sales. Quite surprising really as guests included Paul Weller and Roger Daltrey.

It is a well rounded set of songs, including some covers including ‘Yellow Rose Of Texas’ which Roger Daltrey and Ellis adapt to their own comic version. There is a lovely, heartfelt cover of Paul Weller’s ‘Brand New Start’ and Weller returns the favour guesting on ‘Step Inside’. Interesting and enjoyable reworking of ‘Everlasting Love’ to start the album off, whilst a rousing live version of the song rounds the album off in fine style. Steve Ellis guests on this one at a Paul Weller gig recorded in 2001. The song also features Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Craddock.

Like many, many worthy albums this hardly made a splash on its original release, luckily now it gets a second chance thanks to Angel Air. Perfect for his fans and collectors of Paul Weller/Roger Daltrey’s musical output. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie


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Power Plays w/c 21 July (Mon-Fri)

DANNY BEARDSLEY This Fool (indie)
KRIS BARRAS Ignite (Light It Up) (Provogue)
MIND KEY Vertigo (Where The Cold Wind Blows) (Frontiers)
HOLLOW HAZE A Different Sky (Frontiers)
KIN SOUND SYSTEM Live Again (indie)
SAPIEN TRACE Precipice (indie)
STONEWIRE FTM (indie)
FIFTEEN LIONS So Serene (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 21 July (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 JANET GARDNER Your Place In The Sun (Pavement Music)
12:00-13:00 THE NEW ROSES Nothing But Wild (Napalm Records)
14:00-16:00 JESSE KINCH I’m Not Like Everybody Else (Curb Records)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

LOVE & MONEY Dogs In The Traffic (1991)



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