Tuesday, March 28, 2017

SIN CRUZ - Enter The Unknown (2017)

SIN CRUZ - Enter The Unknown (2017) full

SIN CRUZ is another young, and very good, melodic hard rock band from Sweden presenting their debut album "Enter The Unknown". And this couldn't be a more appropriate title, as everything about this 4-piece is a mystery.

Nope, this is not a publicity strategy. I don't know why, but Sin Cruz has the worst promotion plan I've seen in many time. There's no press kit, no bio, no band members name! Not even at their official Facebook.
A shame, because their "Enter The Unknown" album is very, very well crafted.

Yes, this is an indie release and perhaps you guess there's a little budget for promotion... well, let me tell you this recording sounds terrific and not low-budget at all.
"Enter The Unknown" was recorded at the famous Studio Titan in Sweden, and Sin Cruz shared the facility with Crazy Lixx while taping their forthcoming album. And seems some well known producers / engineer that were around helped Sin Cruz with the record.

The result is a fresh, punchy, very well composed and recorded album titled "Enter The Unknown". The band coincidence into the studio with Crazy Lixx seems a life's fate, as Sin Cruz's style is pretty similar to them.
In short, the new breed of Scandinavian Melodic Hard Rock sound.

Useful references could be title track 'Enter The Unknown' with Shiraz Lane-like sharp guitar on it, the more melodic 'Mechanical Heart' some NiteRain or Santa Cruz (Finland), 'Burning Bridges' reminds me of ToxicRose, 'Shadows Above' some BlackRain, and so on...
The midtempo 'Unchained' wouldn't be out of place on the recent Confess album, 'One' add a little Crashdiet sleaze, while 'Threnody' some Hardcore Superstar.
You get the picture, right?

SIN CRUZ - Enter The Unknown (2017) inside

Silently released by themselves, "Enter The Unknown" certainly deserves more exposure.
Sin Cruz sounds mature, tight, focused in songwriting and quite solid at the instrumentation, with very good lead vocals and as mentioned, wrapped by a bright production on par with 'big labels' releases.
I hope these guys found a good manager soon, as they are destined for bigger things.
Highly Recommended

01 - Enter The Unknown
02 - Mechanical Heart
03 - Burning Bridges
04 - Shadows Above
05 - Unchained
06 - One
07 - Avalon
08 - Threnody
09 - Horizon



ANCESTRAL DAWN - Souldance [Japanese Edition] (2017)

ANCESTRAL DAWN - Souldance [Japanese Edition] (2017) full

Mixing metal / progressive rock electricity, ancient South American instruments, international world class vocalists and an Inca culture-based storytelling, "Souldance" is the worldwide debut by ANCESTRAL DAWN, to be released soon all over the planet and just appeared in Japan.

Ancestral Dawn was created in 2013 by bassist Jorge Higginson, teaming up with Jorge Segersbol (vocals) and Mark Astorga (management), the latter concentrated into launch the band internationally.
They secured the participation of Jonas Heidgert from the Swedish band Dragonland to put the lead vocals on Ancestral Dawn's first single. The track had an excellent reception among the fans, press and specialized radio.
This encouraged Higginson to recruit and define the Ancestral Dawn current line-up, which is formed by Segersbol (Vocals), Higginson (Bass), Devadip Chunga (Drums), Bryan Bello (Keyboards) and Josué Castro (Guitar).

"Souldance" is some kind of a concept album based in an Inca culture-based story, and musically expect classic melodic metal, progressive, some power, and all spiced with non-traditional instruments providing a unique sound.
Higginson aimed higher and for Ancestral Dawn's debut, and he wanted the top metal-related vocalists of the moment.
The crew on "Souldance" is truly impressive: Fabio Lione (Rhapsody/Angra) delivers a soaring performance on the rapid 'The Traveller', while the raspy pipes of Rick Altzi (Masterplan/At Vance) perfectly fit the melodic 'Enter The Shaman' – did I need to say Altzi is one of the best and most underrated shouters from the current scene?

ANCESTRAL DAWN - Souldance [Japanese Edition] (2017) booklet

The one and only Mark Boals (ex- Yngwie Malmsteen et all) put his stamp on one of the record highlights, title track 'Souldance', not only including a great middle section of flutes, quena & more - all wind instruments - but also a superb guest guitar solo by Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween).

If you need more variation, the excellent Amanda Somerville (Avantasia / Kiske Somerville) drops her velvety vocals on the ballad 'Whispers In The Grey', again, embelished by wind intruments, then on the other hand, for a heavier, razor and more melodic metal number, check 'StormHaze' featuring Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) on lead vocals on a track that mix Judad Priest, Allen-Lande and Helloween all into one.

Another climax arrives with 'The Eyes Of The Universe', as it features all these stellar vocalists together; Rick Altzi, Mark Boals, Amanda Somerville and Jonas Heidgert (Dragonland/Destiny). The track itself is classic metal in the vein of JORN early works spiced with progressive keyboard runs.
The Japanese Edition features the bonus track 'Covenant', and instrumental showcasing the skills of all band members, a track with an old-school feeling all over.

ANCESTRAL DAWN - Souldance [Japanese Edition] (2017) back

"Souldance" is a really strong and impactful debut from Ancestral Dawn, a new band in the prog metal / melodic metal / power scene truly offering something different.
While the musical structures are typical from the genre, the band has a more 'classic' sound (read '80s) than most the current acts, while they add their own, unique spin via wind instruments which provide a distinctive atmosphere.
The impressive list of vocalists raise the quality bar of "Souldance" a notch or two, plus the first rate production makes Ancestral Dawn's debut a worthy & entertaining product for all audiences.
HIGHLY Recommended

01. Endless Nightmare
02. The Traveller
03. Enter the Shaman
04. Rise of the Ancestor
05. Spiritual Flow
06. Leading to Nowhere
07. Souldance (Ayarachis)
08. Whispers in the Grey
09. Stormhaze
10. The Eyes of the Universe
11. Covenant

Jorge Higginson - Bass, Pan Flutes
Jorge Segersbol - Vocals
Josue Castro - Guitars
Devadip Chunga - Drums
Bryan Bello - Keyboards
Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen) - Vocals
Amanda Somerville (Avantasia/Kiske Somerville) - Vocals
Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) - Vocals
Fabio Lione (Rhapsody/Angra) - Vocals
Rick Altzi (Masterplan/At Vance) - Vocals
Jonas Heidgert (Dragonland/Destiny) - Vocals
Nahtalie Markoch - Vocals
Roland Grapow (Masterplan/Ex-Hellowen) - guitar solo on 7



JUPITER FALLS - Faces In The Sand (2017)

JUPITER FALLS - Faces In The Sand (2017) full

Leeds based, English band JUPITER FALLS returns with their second long player "Faces In The Sand [Part One]" after two years from their debut. The album comes with a personnel change in the form of drummer Luke Hatfield, ans a more melodic approach in sound.

Perhaps the first thing you need to know about Jupiter Falls is that it was founded by lead guitarist Deano Silk and vocalist James Hart. Naturally then, most everything revolves around this duo. That said, with twin guitar harmony / riffage and epic soaring leads, Jupiter Falls and their music is very guitar-forward, even better, guitar-centered. The riffs are brisk and sharp, abundant and large, accounting for the Jupiter Falls bombastic delivery.

Some may consider the depth and strength of the guitar parts as harsh nearing modern heavy rock, and I can understand that point. Voices is a case in point. Even acoustic guitar driven songs like 'Follow You', and more so 'Call Me', find the acoustic riffs bold, with guitarist Deano Silk strumming like his last breaths were at stake.
Within all these things, Hart's vocals both blends with and echoes the guitar sound. He sings as assertive as the strong riffage, yet clean with an abundance of passion.

Returning to Jupiter Falls aggressive modern guitar sound, within songs such as 'Voices' and 'This Is A War We Cannot Win', Hart can add an equally aggressive and raw in his vocal delivery.
But within that latter song, you have Jupiter Falls' wild card, the proverbial ace in the hole. Amidst the strong and bombastic metallic guitars, melody and harmony are woven with delicate subtlety, yet not so sublime to be missed. About two thirds in, for the guitar breakdown, the riffs and rhythms of the guitar lines sweeten the song. You'll find this motif in various and similar ways throughout the album.

Having said that, title track 'Faces In The Sand' is really interesting. It's a very unique mixture of both metal ballad and anthem with lots of the aforementioned guitar bravado. It's a pretty long track with some progressive passages, and as written several times above, plenty of guitar.

JUPITER FALLS - Faces In The Sand (2017) back

"Faces In The Sand [Part One]" is another strong effort from Jupiter Falls. If you like thoroughly guitar charged hard rock / metal / melodic hard which sways between an old school classic vibe and modern sharp nuances, you will enjoy this album.
According to the CD title, there's a 'Part Two' in the making, and I am eager to discover what this interesting band has to offer next.

01 - Welcome To My World
02 - Nothing To Me
03 - Illusion
04 - Call Me
05 - Sickened
06 - Follow You
07 - Voices
08 - This Is A War We Cannot Win
09 - Its Your Problem Now
10 - See You On The Other Side
11 - Faces In The Sand Pt1

Vocals – James Hart
Guitar – Zachari Daniels
Lead Guitar – Deano Silk
Bass Guitar – Dan Clark
Drums – Luke Hatfield



KIX - Rock Your Face Off [retail]

KIX - Rock Your Face Off [retail] - full

KIX is one of those bands that almost made it big back in the Eighties but never got the real breaks some of their contemporaries did, although they truly deserved. Kix's catalogue including ‘Blow My Fuse’, ‘Hot Wire’ and particularly ‘Midnight Dynamite’ albums are great examples of prime American Hard Rock.
After almost two decades since Kix has released any new music, the Maryland based group returned with the really solid "Rock Your Face Off" some time ago, and one of you asked for a revisit of the release here on the blog.

A lot has changed since the '80s, but it is good to see that Kix has stuck to their signature style, in your face Hard Rock sound.
Opening with “Wheels In Motion”, it's clear the razor sharp guitar playing of Brian Forsythe dominate this album. The Alice Cooper influenced “You’re Gone” continues with the hard-hitting classic riffs where singer Steve Whiteman lay down his powerhouse vocals.
The rhythm section of bassist Mark Schenker and drummer Jimmy Chalfant is super tight and holds the group together with its ferocious beat.

KIX - Rock Your Face Off [retail] disc

The very tongue in cheek “Rollin' In Honey” captures the party vibe of the band, while title track “Rock Your Face Off” explodes with the high energy that Kix is noted for in concert. This song is a tribute to touring and the audiences that support the band year after year.
Kix who are also known for their bluesy touches, and this side shine on the swaggerin' “All The Right Things”, where the guys add that huge hook that further tips the balance in their favour.
"Dirty Girls" is a sheer Scott-era AC/DC even with a Bon-like aside. On this album you really feel that Kix has done everyone proud, themselves, fans and lovers of pure and simple straight forwards rock and roll.

Of course you expect a ballad and “Inside Outside Inn” is the one that delivers well enough, if not hitting the absolute heights it’s enough to get the Zippos fired up before the sleazy groove of “Mean Miss Adventure” cuts you down in a trail of fire.

Then arrives the future Kix favorite "Love Me With Your Top Down" which sits on your face like the best dirty rock and roll, an ode to Summer and a party anthem. It’s good to see the band hasn’t lost their sense of humour over the years.

Sometimes the simplest is the best though and along with the title track and "All the Right Things" I’d add "Tail on the Wag" to my list of top picks – it’s a simple bluesy hard rock number and pure Kix!
"Rock & Roll Showdown" that closes the album is another hard driving rock number that seems to say we’ll be back and just as big next time.

KIX - Rock Your Face Off [retail] back

Equipped with strong hooks, massive guitars and catchy choruses, Kix rocks on "Rock Your Face Off" with great style. It sounds as if the years had not passed for them, even longtime co-writer and producer Taylor Rhoades is on-board.
In the vein of 'Blow Your Fuse', on this new record the fun, uptempo beat of Kix never diminishes and keeps on rolling. The tightness of the band is evident.
"Rock Your Face Off" is the perfect summertime record. Crank it up to 10 and roll your top down, as the pride of Maryland shows the world how to rock East Coast style.
Highly Recommended

01. Wheels In Motion
02. You're Gone
03. Can't Stop The Show
04. Rollin' In Honey
05. Rock Your Face Off
06. All The Right Things
07. Dirty Girls
08. Inside Outside Inn
09. Mean Miss Adventure
10. Love Me With Your Top Down
11. Tail On The Wag
12. Rock & Roll Showdown

Steve Whiteman – Vocals
Brian Forsythe – Guitar
Ronnie Younkins – Guitar
Mark Schenker – Bass
Jimmy Chalfant – Drums



Monday, March 27, 2017

SUNROAD - Wing Seven (2017)

SUNROAD - Wing Seven (2017) full

"Wing Seven" is the first album from Brazilian quartet SUNROAD to be released in the US soon, but these guys aren't newcomers at all. Sunroad started out in 1996 and have been playing their brand of melodic hard rock now for over 20 years, with six previous albums, a best of collection and a live DVD under their belt.
They have toured extensively and played with many great bands and artists through the years, including shows with LA Guns, Whitecross, Petra, Stryper and Joe Lynn Turner to name a few.

The sound of Sunroad could be defined as a very dynamic hard rock with a modern approach but song-wise, these guys are inspired by American '80s hard rock.
As you can read above, the band shared stages with several acts from the Christian Metal movement, and that's not a coincidence: Sunroad is a band with a religious background. However, their lyrics reflect social themes in general.

Since opener 'Destiny Shadows' you got a precise hint of Sunroad's style: muscular yet very clean riffs, potent vocals with some kind of Sebastian Bach touch, and a punchy rhythm section.
'White Eclipse' continues with thick riffs akin Impelliterri circa 1988, 'In the Sand' is a much more melodic hard rock beast recalling Skid Row Slave To The Grind era, then 'Misspent Youth' turn things groovy and midtempo with a sightly bluesy foundation. Very good harmony vocals (all musicians contribute) here.

'Skies Eyes' provides variation, as this power ballad mix acoustic guitars with electric, but the latter used in 'clean mode'. Very good song.
'Day by Day' returns to the uptempo territory, a very groovy instrumental with some progressive touches, a killer keyboard solo and spiraling lead guitar work. 'Craft of Whirlwinds' has a darker atmosphere yeat melodic at the same time (lead singer Andre Adonis sounds a lot like Seb Batch here).

SUNROAD - Wing Seven (2017) inside

'Drifting Ships' balance the record with a sweet melodic hard rock strongly reminiscent of the '80s, while 'Last Sunray in the Road' is a really, really competent piano ballad which later incorporates the full band for great effect.

Sunroad have nothing to envy from established hard rock / melodic hard acts from US and Europe. Everything in "Wing Seven" is absolutely professional, from musicianship to production / mix quality.
The overall record is inspired by late '80s / early '90s American hard rock and while you can hear the aforementioned influences, Sunroad has a true original, own sound.
Highly Recommended

01. Destiny Shadows
02. White Eclipse
03. In the Sand
04. Misspent Youth
05. Tempo (What Is Ever)
06. Whatever
07. Skies Eyes
08. Day by Day
09. Craft of Whirlwinds
10. Drifting Ships
11. Brighty Breakdown
12. Pilot of Your Heart
13. Last Sunray in the Road

Andre Adonis – Lead Vocals, Keyboards
Netto Mello – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Akasio Angels – Bass, Backing Vocals
Fred Mika – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals



BROTHER FIRETRIBE - Sunbound [Japan Edition +2] (2017)

BROTHER FIRETRIBE - Sunbound [Japan Edition +2] (2017) full

Finland's BROTHER FIRETRIBE, the five-strong outfit that we are never sure will be able to make a ‘next’ album thanks to the demands of Nightwish placed upon guitarist, Emppu Vuorinen, have found a slot in the diary, cleared the schedules, stepped up to the plate and recorded their fourth album "Sunbound", in this Japanese Edition featuring 2 bonus tracks.
And what a great AOR album it is.

While Brother Firetribe have been often compared to Survivor (or copycats), they're in fact strongly influenced by all '80s US AOR. Perhaps the comparison resides on Pekka Heino (Leverage) vocal tone. He sounds uncannily like Jimi Jamison, delivering the catchy choruses with panache and aplomb surrounded by the ever-present keyboards of Tomppa Nikulainen.
But don't be fooled, what Brother Firetribe bring to the table as well is modern Scandinavian melodic rock with Vuorinen’s signature guitar work that set the band apart from so many modern pretenders.

Opening with an instrumental track, the album immediately brings to mind that arena sound that wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack of a certain boxing underdog franchise. It leads immediately into ‘Help Is On The Way’, a track that harks back to the style that drew people to the band when their ‘False Metal’ debut was released back in 2006. The solo from Emppu reaffirms why the band present a different, original and modern take on the genre and as it merges into the lick that opens future single ‘Indelible Heroes’ it’s clear, only 2 full songs in, that the album is going to be a winner.

If the aim is to reinvigorate and re-energise a musical style that contains hooks galore, massive melodies, vocals that soar so high they leave you gasping for oxygen, then Brother Firetribe succeed.
“Follow your heart and relive the taste of a champion”, so sings Pekka on the lead single. If Hollywood ever decides to remake the aforementioned boxing franchise, they have the lead single ready and waiting to go. The song has already been used as the theme for a major Finnish advertising campaign and it’s no surprise, it’s the sort of song that only needs 30 seconds to bed itself into the brain.

BROTHER FIRETRIBE - Sunbound [Japan Edition +2] (2017) disc

‘Shock’ with its anthemic chant along chorus should become a highlight of a live set if and when we get to see the band perform again. Prolific touring is not their strongest attribute but when one of you is the lead guitarist in Nightwish, well, it’s not surprising.
‘Strangled’ also delivers a powerhouse track with Pekka’s vocals really driving the song from start to finish.

Even the song titles remind us of a time when AOR ruled the airwaves and bands like Foreigner and Survivor were commonplace on the radio; ‘Heart of the Matter’, ‘Restless Heart’, ‘Big City Dream’ all suggest people moving to L.A. to live the West Coast dream. It’s sun, sea and surf, pretty good from a band whose country is swathed in darkness for half the year.
They save the best for last though and with ‘Phantasmagoria’, they deliver five minutes of epic melodic rock, opening with a beat that feels like it could be the opening music to ‘Top Gun II’ should it ever get made.

BROTHER FIRETRIBE - Sunbound [Japan Edition +2] (2017) back

This Japanese Edition worth the investment as the band offers not one but two bonus tracks; the extremely melodic / keyboard driven 'Don't Cry For Yesterday' (also extra track for vinyl LP limited version), and acoustic version of 'For Better or for Worse (acoustic)', a track taken from Brother Firetrive previous album Diamond In The Firepit but now completely re-worked with unusual percussion.

"Sunbound" is a superb return for Brother Firetribe, a marked improvement over the previous release and an album that delivers everything we have come to hope for from the Finns.
And that is pure '80s AOR with a modern approach, done like few can do it in 2017.
Mandatory Listen

01. Sunbound
02. Help Is on the Way
03. Indelible Heroes
04. Taste of a Champion
05. Last Forever
06. Give Me Tonight
07. Shock
08. Strangled
09. Heart of the Matter
10. Restless Heart
11. Big City Dream
12. Phantasmagoria
13. Don't Cry For Yesterday
14. For Better or for Worse (Acoustic Version)

Vocals - Pekka Ansio Heino
Guitars - Emppu Vuorinen
Keyboards - Tomi Nikulainen
Bass, Backing vocals - Jason Flinck
Drums - Hannes Pirilä



ART OF ANARCHY - The Madness (2017)

ART OF ANARCHY - The Madness (2017) full

ART OF ANARCHY was started by brothers Jon (guitar) and Vince (drums) Votta, along with former Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal and Disturbed bassist John Moyer. Though Scott Weiland denied being a member of the band, he laid vocals and wrote much of the lyrical content of the band's first eponymous release. For their just released sophomore album "The Madness", Art Of Anarchy tapped Scott Stapp, best known as the vocalist and frontman for Creed.

I approached this with care expecting some kind of alternative / modern rock affair, but Art Of Anarchy surprised me; while there's a lot of modern guitar and a punchy modern rock radio orientation in production, the overall songwriting is based in a classic rock pattern.
I think the key here is Bumblefoot Thal's classic rock formation, and his riffs and song skeletons turn this "The Madness" a very enjoyable experience for all audiences: the old and the young.
Additionally - and fortunately - Stapp sings from a different angle he did in his previous alt-rock band Creed, more raw and from the guts here.

Album opener “Echo of a Scream” is one of my favs, a slamming, large-sounding rocker with chugging guitars and a steady beat that includes some killer guitar solo trade-offs by Bumblefoot and Jon Votta. It’s an excellent start to the disc and it only gets better from there.
“1000 Degrees” is a stomp / clap rocker with certain '80s arena feel, then “No Surrender” pulls things back a bit with a spiraling hypnotic guitar open that builds into a chorus with the band firing on all cylinders.

The strongest part of the disc kicks off with title track “The Madness”, “Won’t Let You Down” plays with the time signature a bit but Stapp absolutely nails it melodically, while “Changed Man” is the piece de resistance power ballad.
While solid, “A Light in Me” and “Somber” bring the album down a bit, before Art Of Anarchy end strong with a pair of raucous tracks that show what they can do with a little attitude.

“Dancing With the Devil” would feel right at home in Velvet Revolver’s catalog, powering forward with swagger to spare. Meanwhile, Stapp has repeatedly praised the album closer “Afterburn,” a more upbeat song with the singer belting about coming to terms with living with the things he’s done.

ART OF ANARCHY - The Madness (2017) back

While Art Of Anarchy may fall under the umbrella of a super-group and they’re just getting started playing their first live shows, it appears as though they’ve definitely hit on something solid with this pairing of musicians. The musicianship is strong, the writing connects and they have a disc that could go deep in terms of radio singles.
However, this band is much more than just another 'modern rock wannabe', as their music feels quite timeless despite the modern - and excellent - production.
Strongly Recommended

01. Echo Of A Scream
02. 1,000 Degrees
03. No Surrender
04. The Madness
05. Won’t Let You Down
06. Changed Man
07. A Light In Me
08. Somber
09. Dancing With The Devil
10. Afterburn

Vocals - Scott Stapp (Creed)
Bass - John Moyer (Adrenaline Mob)
Guitar - Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Bumblefoot, Guns N' Roses)
Drums - Vince Votta
Guitar - Jon Votta



Sunday, March 26, 2017

PINNACLE POINT - Winds Of Change (2017)

PINNACLE POINT - Winds Of Change (2017) full

PINNACLE POINT is the new band of Danish Torben Enevoldsen (Fate, Acacia Avenue, Section A) being "Winds Of Change" its debut CD released via Perris Records. The project took shape around Christmas time of 2015 when Enevoldsen met vocalist Jerome Mazza (Ex- Angelica) via Facebook - a true sign of the times - and soon after decided to write some songs together.

The songs turned out extremely well and the idea of doing a full album together quickly emerged. During the spring and summer of 2016, Torben and Jerome wrote songs individually, as well as swapping ideas back and forth.
The recordings were done simultaneously and by the end of the year, Jerome Mazza did all of the vocals but also played keyboards on a few songs. Torben played guitar, bass and keyboards, but to make the music truly come to life the duo asked some of their friends to help out with the recordings.
Torben called hid good buddy Dennis Hansen (Acacia Avenue, Section A) to the handle drums and provide the steady groove the songs needed, plus guest performances by Howard Helm on keyboards, Cara C on violin and Dan Orlando on piano.

Pinnacle Point's is a blend of melodic hard / hard rock, but spiced with a healthy dose of progressive rock and AOR.
Think a mix of the classic years from Journey and Styx, a more modern AOR touch ala The Storm and a dash of the more commercial side from Kansas and you get a picture of "Winds Of Change" sound.

In fact, another band that springs to mind while listening to Pinnacle Point is Mike Slammer's Seventh Key recent work; punchy, bright melodic hard with a little progressive background.
Jerome’s strong and impressive voice delivers some memorable harmony hooks and an adept flow, able to go from soft to hard, and from soulful to edgy to sincere.
Torben’s musicianship has been already demonstrated in all the bands he has been involved, which dexterity allows him to fluidly shift between his honed technique and improvised, infectious riffs and brilliant melodies.

After the short but excellent 'Prelude' which is much more than just an 'intro' via its solid mix of keys / guitars and featuring a great violin part resembling Kansas,
'Homeward Bound' is sure to be one of the best melodic hard rock songs of the year, some kind of Journey '83 meets The Storm. Mazza sounds like a young Kevin Chalfant (The Storm, 707, Two Fires) and Torben delivers a scorching solo. Awesome track.

'Damage Is Done' is harder and similarly killer with a superb main melody and a fantastic Steve Perry-like chorus. Midtempo 'All We Need to Know' add pianos and acoustics for a more sweet melody akin Styx. Love it.
'Changes' provides variation for an elaborated melodic rocker with Journey-isms all over it, title track 'Winds of Change' has an epic punch that reminds me an Asia song, while 'Never Let Go' returns to an uptempo pace with a modern progressive feel but catchy and melodious.

'What Will It Take' is the ballad where Mazza's vocals shine, there's exquisite guitar work and an atmosphere similar to Journey's Trial By Fire.
'Sail Away' embodies an AOR feeling (love the verses phrasing), then 'With You' wraps this excellent record with a midtempo metric embellished by acoustic guitars and a dreamy vocal arrangement, again recalling The Storm.

Pinnacle Point's "Winds Of Change" is one of the surprises of the year folks. A superbly composed and arranged album with exquisite songs and wonderful melodies.
Torben Enevoldsen is an underrated little genius having already created some terrific music in the past, but I think Pinnacle Point is one of his finest moments.
If you love Journey, The Storm, Styx and Kansas' more accessible side, do yourself a favor and listen to "Winds Of Change" as soon as possible.
One of the best debuts of the year without a doubt.

01 - Prelude
02 - Homeward Bound
03 - Damage Is Done
04 - All We Need to Know
05 - Changes
06 - Winds of Change
07 - Part of Me
08 - Never Let Go
09 - What Will It Take
10 - Sail Away
11 - With You

Jerome Mazza (Ex- Angelica) - vocals
Dennis Hansen - drums
Torben Enevoldsen - guitars, bass, keyboards
Howard Helm - keyboards
Cara C - violin
Dan Orlando - piano



BLACK DIAMONDS - Once Upon A Time (2017)

BLACK DIAMONDS - Once Upon A Time (2017) full

Though they've been together since 2004, "Once Upon A Time" is only the third release from Swiss melodic hard rock act BLACK DIAMONDS, but listening to this new album for AOR Heaven Records, you'd be easily fooled into thinking that this was some long lost artifact from 1987.

With hooks aplenty and a boatload of crispy & crunchy guitar riffs, "Once Upon A Time" is a treasure trove of '80s arena rock cliches, but I mean that in a good way.
You can hear influences from Bon Jovi of yesteryear, Def Leppard, Twisted Sister, Poison and Kiss, plus more currently The Poodles or Crazy Lixx, all rolled into one.
The faithful elements of the genre are in play: twin guitar harmony, stinging guitar solos, a steady rock groove from the rhythm section, and clean harmonious vocal arrangements, with all these wrapped in abundance of melody.

I mean, every song here - and I mean EVERY SONG - contains a killer hook that screams 'hit video on MTV' back in their heyday, with some of the best being "Love Stick Love", "The Ghost and the Shadow", "Romeo & Juliet", "Vampires of the Night", and the raucous "Not Going Home".
And, for all the ladies in the house, check out "This is a Love Story", an upbeat power ballad that closes out the album in fine fashion.
We have two enjoyable bonus tracks as well, a cover of the classic "Rock 'n' roll Music" and a surprisingly, really different version of "Vampires of the Night (Piano Version)".

BLACK DIAMONDS - Once Upon A Time (2017) inside

Of course, Black Diamonds won't win many awards for originality, but who cares when they are able to deliver such catchy, fun party melodic hard rock like this.
For all you folks out there who can't get enough of '80s melodic hard rock catchiness, here's a band who will take you right back in time to those glory years.
Highly Recommended

01 - Tales Untold
02 - The Ghost and the Shadow
03 - Love Stick Love
04 - Romeo & Juliet
05 - Pieces of a Broken Dream
06 - Love, Lies, Loneliness
07 - Thrillride
08 - Vampires of the Night
09 - Not Going Home
10 - Hard to Let Go
11 - Years
12 - This Is a Love Story
13 - Rock 'n' roll Music
14 - Vampires of the Night (Piano Version)

Mich - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Andi - Bass, Vocals
Manu - Drums, Vocals
Dee - Lead Guitar, Vocals



MICHAEL SCHENKER - Fest; Live Tokyo International Forum Hall A (2017)

MICHAEL SCHENKER - Fest; Live Tokyo International Forum Hall A (2017) full

Legendary MICHAEL SCHENKER returns with his latest multi-media release of "Fest: Tokyo International Forum Hall A" via the Inakustik music label. The Michael Schenker Fest, a celebration of music from the iconic guitarist, made a handful of appearances exclusively in Japan in the fall on of 2016. The concert performance at Toyko’s International Forum on Aug. 24, 2016, was recorded for release on Blu-ray, DVD, 2-CD and digital formats.

On this special tour, Schenker focused on his solo band MSG, performing music from the catalog of albums from which the band recorded during the ‘80s.
The uniqueness of these performances was the inclusion of three of the singers who helped put a stamp on the sound of MSG in that era of Schenker’s career. Vocalists Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley, each, shared the stage, as the set list laid out the chronological order of songs from each singer’s perspective albums they recorded as a member of MSG.

Schenker also returned to the stage, once again, with original MSG band members Chris Glen (bass) and Ted McKenna (drums) and Steve Mann (guitar, keyboards), who was part of the McAuley Schenker Group.
The 5,000 fans in attendance surely weren’t disappointed as Schenker, armed with his signature Flying V guitar, rocked the sold-out venue.

All the classic MSG songs are here, and the band performs the instrumental song “Coast to Coast,” which Schenker recorded with the Scorpions on 1979’s Lovedrive album. It covers the staples of MSG’s catalog, performed with emotion and a true rocking spirit.
Veteran Gary Barden is in great form here. Bonnet’s gritty, gravely vocals have not changed much over the years. It is a bonus to hear McAuley-era songs, and his performance is really, really strong.
It would be great to hear a complete live album with McAuley, something from the past or recent recordings. The only official release is the Unplugged live album. He also sings on two UFO classics, “Shoot Shoot” and “Rock Bottom,” both superbly done.

MICHAEL SCHENKER - Fest; Live Tokyo International Forum Hall A (2017) back

Schenker, himself, is on fire. His live performance is reminiscent of Uli Jon Roth, as his confidence is noticeable. He is rock steady; his musical voice majestically rolls through his fingers to each note he strikes on the guitar, re-creating the solos and rhythms he once laid down on vinyl.
For any listener who doubts his magical touch, look no further than his extended guitar solo on “Rock Bottom.” It is a testament to his mastery of the guitar.

The Michael Schenker Fest Tokyo International Forum Hall A is killer release from the much revered guitarist, which seems completely recovered for his past's demons and is playing better than ever.
Who said dinosaurs can't rock? This album is blast.
Strongly Recommended

CD 1:
01 - Intro: Searching for Freedom
02 - Into the Arena
03 - Attack of the Mad Axeman (feat. Gary Barden)
04 - Victim of Illusion (feat. Gary Barden)
05 - Cry for the Nations (feat. Gary Barden)
06 - Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (feat. Gary Barden)
07 - Armed and Ready (feat. Gary Barden)
08 - Coast to Coast
09 - Assault Attack (feat. Graham Bonnet)
10 - Desert Song (feat. Graham Bonnet)
11 - Dancer (feat. Graham Bonnet)

CD 2:
01 - Captain Nemo
02 - This Is My Heart (feat. Robin McAuley)
03 - Save Yourself (feat. Robin McAuley)
04 - Love Is Not a Game (feat. Robin McAuley)
05 - Shoot Shoot (feat. Robin McAuley)
06 - Rock Bottom (feat. Robin McAuley)
07 - Doctor Doctor (feat. Barden, Bonnet & McAuley)

Michael Schenker – Lead Guitar
Ted McKenna – Drums
Steve Mann – Guitar, Keyboards
Chris Glen – Bass
The Vocalists:
Gary Barden
Graham Bonnet
Robin McAuley



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