Spider Rockets – Bitten (SPV)

Spider Rockets hail from New Jersey and produce hard rock with classic rock and, to a lesser degree, punk elements.  “Bitten” is the outfit’s third release.

What you get is a modern take of in-you-face rock, heavy riffs with lyrics blurted out by Helena Cos which would make Joan Jett proud.  While there is generally a sameness to the album, there is a track or two which deviates from the norm (“Bring me around” comes to mind) providing some depth to the listening experience.

Good, straight up hard rock…concentrating more on attitude than melody.  A good album to drive to.


Nick van der Meulen





My Soliloquy – The Interpreter (Sensory)

My Soliloquy is a British band formed in 2002 by multi-instrumentalist Pete Morten.  While Morten has gained a reputation playing for Threshold, My Soliloquy has been put on hold – until now.  “The Interpreter” is the outfit’s debut release.

The music is well-presented, but I find its progressiveness does not come naturally and feels forced – just to be different.  While the production is good and one can’t fault the musicians, overall the work didn’t inspire me to want to play it a second time.  While I did make the effort, my initial feeling prevailed.

For fans of Threshold (Morten plays for the band) and, possibly, Dream Theater.


Nick van der Meulen





Rage of Angels – Dreamworld (Escape music)

Rage of Angels is the brainchild of original Ten keyboard player Ged Rylands. Part Ten, part Harem Scarem, part Tyketto, this work has a host of guests to add their influences, with stunning results.

While there are a number of guest vocalists in Matti Alfonzinetti, Harry Hess, Robert Hart, Danny Vaughn and Ralf Scheepers to name a few, the guitar delivery on this work is what comes to the fore.  Superb work from Neil Fraser, along with Vinny Burns, Tommy Denander, Ralph Santolla, Martin Kronlud and Xander Demos ensure that their melodic-driven, heavy-riffing guitars are dripping over each song and coming through as strongly as each sterling vocal effort.

The work performed on this project took a lot of effort, with great songs, melodies, soaring vocals and wailing guitars.  Highly recommended.


Nick van der Meulen

Speaking To Stones – Elements (Lion Music)

Speaking To Stones is an American progressive metal outfit headed by guitarist Tony Vinci.  “Elements” is the band’s second release, six years after their self-titled debut.

Five elements are described: Fire, wind, water, earth and Quinta Essentia and this forms a narrative which can be described as complex and technical, symphonic, heavy, melodic, yet with a crisp production that does each musician justice in their endeavours.

It is a marathon listen, with only five tracks to be had.  Dramatic, exquisitely performed, it is well worth it, but it is a type of album you have to make an appointment to settle down with it uninterrupted.


Nick van der Meulen

W.E.T. – Rise up (Frontiers)

W.E.T. had a problem leading up to the recording of their new album “Rise up”: how on earth do you top what is regarded as one of the, if not THE, best AOR album of all time?  As ever, Jeff Scott Soto and the boys gave it their best shot.

As ever, Soto does a sterling job to deliver what can only be described as AOR of the highest order.  Each song beautifully crafted and melodic, no fan of the genre can walk away disappointed – but is just doesn’t quite match the band’s debut effort.

Nonetheless, an essential addition to any AOR fan’s collection.


Nick van der Meulen

Shannon – Circus of Lost Souls (Mad Association)

Shannon is known for playing melodic hard rock, made evident with their debut release in 2003, where they were hailed for their 80’s sounding U.S. melodic rock style.  “Circus of lost souls” is the outfit’s third release, following the highly-rated “Angel in disguise” in 2007.

The album has wonderful, catchy tunes based on synth-grooved 80’s anthemic rock.  Not entirely sold on vocalist Olivier Del Valle’s performance, though: while the harder-edged songs he pulls off with aplomb (as well as the ballad), he sounds very nasal in the mid-tempo cuts, leaving me in two minds whether I like his style or not.  He is bolstered with the talents of Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) and Tony Mills (TNT) on a song or two, while Paul Sabu lends a hand with a few guitar riffs.

The music on this work is killer and for that this is an album worth investigating.

Nick van der Meulen

Stala & So – Play another round (Escape Music)

Stala & So returns with their upbeat melodic glam rock following the release of their brilliant debut “It is so” in 2011.

This album is brilliant in its simplicity.  The band aims to make upbeat rock music and they do just that: simple, melodic, sing-a-long ditties that have a tendency of sticking in your head and having you humming the songs hours after you’ve heard them.

Melodic glam rock at its best.  Buy it if you see it.


Nick van der Meulen

Jorn – Symphonic (Frontiers)

Jorn returns with another album but, again, not one containing original recordings.  Instead, the Norwegian records a selection of 14 songs with a symphony orchestra.

This idea is hardly original, with Metallica and Scorpions revamping their songs in a similar manner over ten years ago…but Jorn’s is a bit different.  Yes, they are rehashed songs from Jorn’s discography, but these are more in the vein of hard rock songs played by a rock band and filled with symphonic strings to add to the sound – instead of the symphony orchestra taking main stage.  Jorn’s voice is arguably the most powerful voice in rock at present and he has been known to let it get out of hand.  In this work, however, it is powerful yet restrained, demonstrating that the man with the powerhouse voice also has finesse.

A remarkable piece of work worthy of your attention.


Nick van der Meulen

David Caron – Thru Ever Ending Black (GMG)

David Caron is an English musician who focusses on the guitar and works his compositions around the instrument.  This is his debut release – released in March 2012.

This is an unusual release, in that it has no fewer than 28 tracks!  The promotion copy has 15 tracks to consider, which makes reviewing this work a little difficult.  Nonetheless, what does come through is that Caron writes solid songs with an 80’s pop rock sound (much along the lines of James Reyne and the like).  There is a definite familiarity to the sound and voice, not unpleasantly, but there is a sameness to each song on offer – you know what you’re going to get.

This is not going to blow your socks off, but it is very good pop rock in the 80’s-era vein.  If that’s what you’re in the mood for, give this a listen.


Nick van der Meulen

OSADA VIDA – Particles

Metal Mind Productions

This is the Polish prog rock band’s fourth studio album and they now have a permanent vocalist in Marek Majewski (ex-Acute Mind). It needs a few plays to fully absorb it all and like all good music it is well worth the effort. They recall at times Marillion, Riverside and Yes yet they have their own distinct sound as can be heard on ‘Stronger’ where the listener gets a musical ride and one of the more straight ahead songs on the album, with a whiff of 70′s rock about it. ‘Shut’ may put some off as it features a guest growler, although the keyboards heavy backing is a treat.

An enjoyable listen and they do a fine version of Metallica’s ‘Master Of Puppets’. Check out the samples on their website and I am pretty sure you will end up buying the album.


Jason Ritchie

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Power Plays w/c 8 August 2022 (Mon-Fri)
BORN LOST Take Time (Mouthpiece) (Revolver Records)
JAIME KYLE Driving With The Brakes On (Conquest Music)
SCARLET DORN Born To Suffer (SPV Recordings)
HOLDING ABSENCE Coffin (Sharptone Records)
TYRANNOSAURUS NEBULOUS Get Some (Echoed Past Records)
KROOKED TONGUE When The Beaches Bleed (indie)
SKYPILOT Knifed On The Beach (The Distortion Project)

Featured Albums w/c 8 August (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 LESSMAN VOSS Rock Is Our Religion (Atomic Fire Records)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. Force Majeure (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 THE SLAMBOVIAN CIRCUS OF DREAMS A Very Unusual Head (indie)

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