Saturday, October 22, 2016

MECCA - Mecca III (2016)

MECCA - Mecca III (2016) full

MECCA is the lovely pure AOR project from talented vocalist Joe Vana. It seems ages since the last Mecca album came out, although in fact it was in 2011 and not that long in some band's eyes. This third Mecca album simply titled "III" has been recorded over the past three years including top draw musicians such as Toto’s drummer Shannon Forrest (who also handles production), fellow Toto member bass-master David Hungate and keyboard player Tim Akers (Rascal Flatts, Kid Rock) among others.

In my humble opinion, Mecca’s debut in 2002 is still among the 10 best AOR records this side of the millennium, a masterpiece for me.
Mecca "III" comes pretty close.
This is glorious stuff it has to be said, from the crystal clear production through to the vocals of Joe Vana. Given his vocal style and the fact two Toto members are involved in the music, it is not surprising the overall sound here, none more so than on the blissful ‘Unknown’.
The way ‘Alone’ builds up from the keys, percussion, keys and handclaps to a rousing chorus is simply magnificent. This is how you do ballads and ones that will stand the test of time.

Classic 'L.A. session' fans will lap up the gentle refrains of ‘Gone’ and again you marvel at the musicianship and how new sounds reveal themselves after each listen. Or the delicious 'Take My Hand' with its chorus made in heaven.
‘A Kiss On the Wind’ is a vocal tour de force from Joe Vana, with just the right amount of musical backing. Shannon Forest deserves a special mention to for not only the production / sound, but also his drumming which is spot on and never too much or too little.

I can easily see this album making many AOR fans year end 'best of' lists and although only eight songs, it is all about the quality not quantity. All are top notch, no space for fillers.
Mecca "III" shows again how top quality AOR / melodic rock is done and then some. Even better news is that album number four is underway, so hopefully not such a long wait between albums.

Records like this don't come along very often. At least not in 2016. But this is one for the ages. This is a record that would have topped AOR charts back in the day. Mecca will now find themselves sitting alongside genre classics from Toto, Mr. Mister, Survivor, Giant and Journey to name a few.
Make no mistake; this is a future classic, but start to enjoying it right NOW.

01 - Take My Hand
02 - Unknown
03 - Alone
04 - Gone
05 - Cry
06 - A Kiss On The Wind
07 - Let It Go
08 - Believe

Joe Vana - Lead Vocals
Shannon Forrest - Drums and Percussion
David Hungate - Bass
Tim Akers - Keyboards, Backing Vocals, Duet on Believe
David Browning - Synths
Joey Vana, Mark Baldwin - Guitar
Sol Philcox-Littlefield - Additional Guitars
Ethan Forrest - Additional Guitars
Rudy Chmelik - Additional Percussion on "Believe"
Bill Syniar - Vibe



MECCA - Undeniable (2011) [retail]

MECCA - Undeniable (2011) [retail] full

MECCA (2002) self-titled debut still remains as one of the best AOR albums of the Millennium (and of all times, if you ask me. Since the band finished a lengthy road trip in 2005, they have been ensconced way in darkened rehearsal rooms and recording studios slaving away on new material. Six years in the making, and finally the 2nd Mecca album, "Undeniable", is here.

So was the wait worth it?
The answer is: Oh yes! Mecca's "Undeniable" is an AOR masterpiece.
It's deep, creative, with layers of textures and clever arrangements. Years of studio time, re-recordings, and re-arrangements paid off. With perfect songwriting and incredible performances by truly session monsters, this album is what pure AOR is all about.

MECCA - Undeniable (2011) [retail] booklet

All tracks are marvelous, no need to pick highlights, all are fantastic.
To name a few, just listen numbers such as "From The Start" with its great twin lead section, the soaring title track and the riff heavy "Closing Time" with its quirky and restrained synth motif all hold the attention throughout.

And all truly great AOR records should have a true rock-out number, and we have it on "W2W", a track that kicks off with a riff to die for and a shred solo blended into a song that sounds like Boston at their best.
And the ballads, ahh.. perfect ones. Just take the sublimely subtle picked riff on "Deceptive Cadence" or the crisp and crunchy backing on "Did It For Love" as a couple of examples, these are tracks that are well thought in every detail, not by the numbers work outs thrown together.

MECCA - Undeniable (2011) [retail] back

"Undeniable" is a pure AOR bliss.
This is an album that I know will stand the test of time, but don't wait for that, go and get it now.
Mecca's "Undeniable" is, so far, best album album of the Year. Period.
Mandatory Purchase

Perfect World
Joe Vana - Lead Vocals & Background Vocals
Guitars - Tommy Denander & Joey Vana
Keyboards - Eric Ragno
Drums - Rick Vitek
Bass - Tony Levin

Closing Time
Joe Vana - Lead Vocals & Background Vocals
Guitars - Mark Alano & Tommy Denander
Keyboards - Tommy Denander
Drums - Rick Vitek
Bass - Wally Hustin

Ten Lifetimes
Joe Vana - Lead Vocals & Background Vocals
Guitars - Brian Moritz & Tommy Denander
Keyboards - Brian Moritz
Drums - Rick Vitek
Bass - Wally Hustin

Life's Too Short
Joe Vana - Lead Vocals & Background Vocals
Joey Vana - Background Vocals
Guitars - Christian Wolff & Tommy Denander
Keyboards - Tommy Denander & Brian Moritz
Drums - Pat Mastelotto
Bass - Tony Levin

I Know
Joe Vana - Lead Vocals & Background Vocals
Joey Vana - Background Vocals
Guitars - Christian Wolff & Tommy Denander
Keyboards - Brian Moritz
Drums - Rick Vitek
Bass - Wally Hustin

Did it for Love
Joe Vana - Lead Vocals & Background Vocals
Joey Vana - Background Vocals
Guitars - Christian Wolff & Tommy Denander
Keyboards - Brian Moritz
Drums - Rick Vitek
Bass - Wally Hustin

From The Start
JV - Lead Vocals & Background Vocals
Guitars - Joey Vana & Tommy Denander
Keyboards - Tommy Denander
Drums - Rick Vitek
Bass - Tony Levin

Deceptive Cadence
Joe Vana - Lead Vocals & Background Vocals
Guitars - Brian Moritz & Tommy Denander
Keyboards - Paul Prociotto & Tommy Denander
Drums - Pat Mastelotto
Bass - Tony Levin

Joe Vana - Lead Vocals & Background Vocals
Guitars - Joey Vana & Mark Alano & Tommy Denander
Keyboards - Brain Moritz
Drums - Pat Mastelotto
Bass - Wally Hustin

Joe Vana - Lead Vocals & Background Vocals
Guitars - Joey Vana & Tommy Denander
Keyboards - Eric Ragno
Drums - Rick Vitek
Bass - Wally Hustin

As I Walk Alone
Joe Vana - Lead Vocals
Guitars - Christian Wolff
Keyboards - Brain Moritz



CRYSTAL PROJECT - Crystal Project (2CD Complete Recordings 89/92)

CRYSTAL PROJECT - Crystal Project (2CD Complete Recordings 89/92) full

CRYSTAL PROJECT a is NY state band that never make it big but listening the quality of their recordings comprised in this Double Volume album they certainly deserved major exposure.
Active between 1989 & 1993, the group never achieved a major label recording contract despite of having recorded several own compositions pretty professionally.
But never is too late. The band re-grouped some time ago to perform live once again to support the release of this Anthology: "Crystal Project Complete Recordings 89/92".

Crystal Project started with the name Hearsay in 1988. The first Volume here includes all the recordings under this moniker, listed chronologically.
So we have the first set of songs tracked down in 1989: "Silence", "Jessica" and "Always". All are very good rockin' AOR tunes influenced by Journey and Prophet, heavily infused with keyboards.

CRYSTAL PROJECT - Crystal Project (2CD Complete Recordings 89/92) booklet

At the very beginning of 1990 a 2nd set of songs were recorded, again with good amounts of synths as heard on the amazing "No More Waiting" and "Make You Mine". However on "I'm In Love" we can hear a more Melodic Rock approach and vocalist David Lindland singing in full potential.
At the end of the same year, they recorded "Without You" a song that strongly resembles Canadians Triumph. Other tracks from the same session definitively sports a Melodic Hard attack and prominent guitars such as the catchy "On My Way" and the ballad-esque "There For You".

Then the group decided to change its name to Crystal Pistol. Volume II of this anthology comprises the recordings of this new era.
"Never Again" and "Suzie", both '91 recorded, showcases the band's sound evolving into a Melodic Hard Rock in the Damn Yankees style with nice hooks and strong guitars.
The last two tracks ever recorded by the band "Let It Go" and "Rhyme Or Reason" (1992) were produced by Terry Brown (Rush, Cutting Crew).
As bonus track, there's a new song performed live titled "Down Inside", never recorded into the studio.

Crystal Project (formerly Crystal Pistol but changed to 'Project' due the recent Canadian band of the same name) had it all: strong Melodic Rock / AOR songs, solid musicianship, a management and a publishing deal... but the recording contract never came.
Call it bad luck or the change of the musical climate, but certainly the band got the fire and the determination. And now they see all their recordings finally published.

CRYSTAL PROJECT - Crystal Project (2CD Complete Recordings 89/92) back

"Crystal Project" is a darn fine slice of American Melodic Rock / AOR from the golden Eighties / early Nineties, very well recorded and performed. It's Out Of Print now, with private copies being sold for over $ 140.
Very, HIGHLY Recommended

Volume I
01 - Silence
02 - Jessica
03 - Always
04 - No More Waiting
05 - I'm In Love
06 - Make You Mine
07 - Without You
08 - On My Way
09 - Real Lovin'
10 - There For You

Volume II
01 - What Id Rather Be
02 - I Believe
03 - Never Again
04 - Suzie Bloom
05 - Another Night Alone
06 - Heart Of Stone
07 - Mr. Wonderful
08 - We Do!
09 - Let It Go
10 - Rhyme Or Reason
11 - Down Inside (Live) [bonus track]

Dave Lindland - Lead Vocals
Tom Walsh - Guitar, Vocals
Steve Chams - Keyboards, Vocals
Rennie Xosa - Bass
Barry Nagel - Drums

Try Here:


FOREST FIELD - Lonely Desert (2016)

FOREST FIELD - Lonely Desert (2016) full

"Lonely Desert" is the new album from FOREST FIELD, the band of Dutch musician Peter Cox who write all the music and play all the instruments. in fact, Forest Field is an international project, as American Phil Vincent (Legion, Cranston, Tragik) supply all the vocals.

The previous Forest Field album was tested by 0dayrox, but discarded because it was an erratic release, including a couple a really good tracks but not focused and musically disjointed.
Seems Cox finally found his way in this "Lonely Desert", a melodic brand of progressive rock with a some harder moments. With his strong vocals apt for this kind of material, Phil Vincent helped to round a very interesting album.

Loosely based on the Dune saga from Frank Herbert and other science fiction topics, the music is a mix of prog rock with a couple of more straight forward rockers like the highly melodious, groovy midtempo opener 'Valley of Pain' or the pumping melodic hard rocker ‘Into The Light’.

FOREST FIELD - Lonely Desert (2016) digipak back

The slower numbers work really well like the, again, melodic ‘Asleep’ and the fine 'Alienation' with some Winger touches, while Peter Cox creates two wonderful instrumentals on here, ‘Coriolis’ and the electric / acoustically mixed ‘To Bits’.
Closer 'Fear' is another strong composition divided in 6 parts, mixing melodic rock, instrumental passages, and some edge here and there.

Melodic prog rock meets melodic rock is the formula in "Lonely Desert", a solid new album from Forest Field. Think recent John Elefante's music, the light proggy side of Winger, Mastedon, a pinch of Kansas, and Phil Vincent last solo album.
Speaking of Vincent, it's really good to hear him performing material not composed by himself, which not only expands his musical boundaries but also confirms he is a really good vocalist able to perform different stuff.
Very Recommended

01 - Valley of Pain
02 - Coriolis
03 - Doomed in the Desert
04 - Alienation
05 - To Bits
06 - Asleep
07 - Into the Light
08 - Riding the Worm
09 - The Confrontation
10 - Fear

Peter Cox - all instruments, backing vocals
Phil Vincent - lead & backing vocals



NINJA - Valley Of Wolves [remastered] (2016)

NINJA - Valley Of Wolves [remastered] (2016) full

Few months ago we presented here the debut album from Germans NINJA, much sought after for years by metal fans and collectors finally remastered and reissued by specialized label Karthago Records via their Classics Series. Now it's time for Ninja's "Valley Of Wolves", again in a limited edition of 666 (!) copies, with hologram and a purchase certificate.

The German Wuppertal / Solingen area is famous all over the world for their unique sharp knives, but also for being the cradle of renowned international Rock acts like Accept. Ninja, while not successful as Accept, was part of the metal movement coming from there.
Forging a musical style with a typical '80 Euro feeling based on a twin guitar attack, powerful rhythm section and strong lead vocals, Ninja created a solid fan base which lead into a recording contract.
Their debut was released in 1988 only on vinyl LP, quickly becoming a collector's piece.

Around 2014 Ninja returned (and still are active today) and this resulted into the interest to reissue all their material, especially this one.
The '90s weren't a good decade for their brand of hard rock / metal and Ninja was, at the time, without a record label behind. So "Valley Of Wolves" was originally released by themselves in 1997 as CDR, in limited quantities.

Songs like 'Silver Dagger' or the title track are very good German-sounding metal songs with a true '80s feeling akin Victory or Accept.
"Kings Waltz" has a more hard rocking approach with some keys in the background and a convincing statement: "I don't want to live the life of a Zombie" in an obvious reference to the depressive grunge ruling the rock scene.

NINJA - Valley Of Wolves [remastered] (2016) back

If you are forced to a 'Dirty Job', then it is better to be forced musically by Ninja with this track reminiscent of Krokus. Here are obvious parallels to AC/DC as well, and Ninja are certainly not worse than their role model.
There's also the weird song 'Herbert' where the band flirts with Kraut rock, and an anthemic rocker in 'Heart of a Beggar'. The album ends with the punchy rocker 'Alright' which reminds me a Paganini (the Swiss band) song.

Ninja's "Valley Of Wolves" was recorded & produced by the band with a very low budget, but this remaster rescue the best of it.
A quite cool reissue of an album virtually unheard and unknown to all.

01 - Valley Of Wolves
02 - King Of Waltz
03 - Majesty
04 - Dirty Job
05 - Galaxy
06 - The Amazing World Of Frankie K.
07 - Heart of a Beggar
08 - Herbert
09 - Silver Dagger
10 - Alright

Holger vom Scheidt - Vocals
Ulrich Siefen - Guitars
rest of personnel unlisted



EDEN'S CURSE - Cardinal [Japan Edition +1] (2016)

EDEN'S CURSE - Cardinal [Japan Edition +1] (2016) full

Multi-national killer quintet EDEN'S CURSE are back with "Cardinal", their 5th album for long time label AFM Records, and they really have excelled yet again with their unique brand of Melodic Hard Rock / Melodic Metal.
Written by the long time partnership of founder members Thorsten Khoene, Paul Logue and ex drummer Pete Newdeck (In Faith, Tainted Nation), and once again superbly mixed by the band’s long time engineer Dennis Ward (Unisonic) with the mighty production by Tobias Lindell (H.E.A.T, Europe), they really have taken it up a notch.

Opener ‘Prophets Of Doom’ is so progressive but at the same time highly melodic starting with awesome keyboard riffs from new member Finnish Chrism Pulkkinen, before Thorsten Khoene comes in with an awesome guitar riff alongside Paul Logue's thundering bass lines and new drummer John Clelland’s tight rhythm.
Next is ‘Sell Your Soul’, plenty of keys, funky guitar riffs and a catchy chorus - a highlight. ‘The Great Pretender’ sounds big, heavier and with a slightly dark atmosphere but again, the chorus is epic and accessible, featuring Pete Newdeck on guest backing vocals. Great solos as well.

‘Messiah Complex’ is an upbeat rocker with strong vocals and busy musicianship, then ‘Find My Way’ is the ballad for this album, and another highlight. The guitar and keyboards are mixed in textured layers and again the chorus is powerful, so beautifully sang and so well structured. Nikola Miijic really sings his heart out with so much emotion.
‘Kingdom Of Solitude’ is one of my favourites on this album. Think of Dream Theater at their more 'melodic rock' side, you get what I mean. The song really does groove, and is definitely something different from the boys.

EDEN'S CURSE - Cardinal [Japan Edition +1] (2016) booklet

‘Utopian Dreams’ opens with a monster keyboard line, a huge atmospheric sound, before the band kicks in fully. The verse is tight, with quick changes, and the chorus sections are smooth and emotive.
‘This Is Our Moment’ is a kick ass rocker from start to finish, so melodic yet so passionate throughout. It has a very dark sound but really dynamic and upbeat.

‘Unconditional’, featuring ex-Leave’s Eye Singer Liv Kristine has a big dreamy sound. It's so melodic and smooth. The solo section is really well arranged, never going over the top despite the epic nature of the song.
‘Jericho’ is the album closer, a modern melodic metal tune with some prog elements and quite bombastic at places.

The Japanese bonus track is a re-recorded 2016 fresh version of 'Man Against The World', originally appeared in the band's second album eight years ago. The new take is quite awesome, more atmospheric with a pristine production.
Additionally, this Japan retail CD seems to sound much better.

EDEN'S CURSE - Cardinal [Japan Edition +1] (2016) back

In "Cardinal" Eden's Curse have pushed themselves creating their more elaborated album to date, but at the same time pretty catchy. The combo really have used their varied skills to set up an opus that fans of melodic hard rock, melodic metal and progressive hard rock will love.
Highly Recommended

Universal Japan ~ 【IUCP-16250】
C A R D I N A L / エデンズ・カース レンタル

01 - Prophets Of Doom
02 - Sell Your Soul
03 - The Great Pretender
04 - Messiah Complex
05 - Find My Way
06 - Kingdom Of Solitude
07 - Utopian Dreams
08 - This Is Our Moment
09 - Rome's On Fire
10 - Unconditional (feat. Liv Kristine)
11 - Saints & Sinners
12 - Jericho
13 - Man Against The World (2016) [Japan Bonus Track]

Nikola Miijic (vocals)
Thorsten Koehne (guitars)
Chrism Pulkkinen (keyboards)
Paul Logue (bass, backing vocals)
John Clelland (drums)
Pete Newdeck (guest backing vocals)



Friday, October 21, 2016

M3 [Marsden Moody Murray] - Rough An' Ready [2016 reissue]

M3 [Marsden Moody Murray] - Rough An' Ready [2016 reissue] full

To accompany the release of the new Stefan Berggren album featured here, what better than this just appeared 2016 reissue of M3 "Rough An' Ready" via specialized UK label Talking Elephant with new artwork and refreshed sound.
Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody and Neil Murray are widely known for their glorious days in Whitesnake. M3 is a band with exactly these original Whitesnake members playing Whitesnake songs, completed with the aforementioned Stefan Berggren on lead vocals, Jimmy Copley (ex Paul Rodgers, Gillian) on drums, and keyboard player Mark Stanway (ex Magnum).
Doogie White (Rainbow, Malmsteen, Schenker) appears as a guest vocalist.

M3 was the project put together by Marsden, Moody & Murray to perform all the classic songs that launched Whitesnake into the stadiums all over the world.
Recorded in front of a sold-out and fanatical crowd in June 2004, "Rough An' Ready" replicates the golden age of Whitesnake with the very best of their blues based, hard rock repertoire.

Executed with passion and precision by the very members who first wrote and recorded this classic material, guitarists Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody along with bassist Neil Murray illustrate how 'Snake' greats such as 'Crying in The Rain', 'Fool For Your Loving', and 'Don't Break My Heart Again' should be played - by the hands of the master craftsmen who first immortalized these tracks in the studio.
Also making a guest appearance there's Doogie White singing in duet with Berggren on the immortal classic 'Here I Go Again' in a terrific version.

Through the band's entire, perfect performance you have the chance to hear a bunch of songs I doubt I'll ever hear again from Mr. Coverdale himself.
This really honest setlist of almost 90 minutes includes the mentioned classics - but I was thrilled to put myself in the spirit of forgotten jewels like 'Walkin' In The Shadow Of The Blues', 'Ready An' Willing', 'Ain't Gonna Cry No More' and the excellent 'Lonely Days, Lonely Nights'.
A brilliant output, with all the respect these songs must have.

M3 [Marsden Moody Murray] - Rough An' Ready [2016 reissue] back

The three M's don't have to prove anything to anyone. This record is an excellent contribution to the legacy of this legendary bluesy (then) Hard Rock band and the persuasion on their whole experience.
In addition, the rest of the participants show an ability of carrying out their mission in the best possible way, especially Stefan Berggren delivering an impressive performance.
No extravaganza, no wanna-be attitude, just perfect completion and respect to what they're doing.

Are you wondering if this was a rip-off project? Hell, NO! The proof: the classic sound; Bernie's and Mick's guitar, Neil's bass guitar… The distinction is crystal clear. Yeap, 'bluesy' Whitesnake existed before the 'Americanized' version (I love it, anyway) and these men are the living proof.
You gotta listen M3 "Rough An' Ready" to believe it: the sound is incredible and the performances top notch.
Seriously, this is an awesome album.
HIGHLY Recommended

01 - Walking in the Shadow of the Blues
02 - Don't Break My Heart Again
03 - Lonely Days, Lonely Nights
04 - Hit an' Run
05 - Slow an' Easy
06 - Ready an' Willing
07 - Ain't Gonna Cry No More
08 - Crying in the Rain
09 - Fool for Your Loving
10 - Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City
11 - Here I Go Again

Guitars – Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody
Bass – Neil Murray
Vocals – Stefan Berggren
Drums – Jimmy Copley (ex Paul Rodgers, Gillian)
Keyboards – Mark Stanway (ex Magnum)
Guest Vocals – Doogie White



STEFAN BERGGREN - Stranger In A Strange Land (2016)

STEFAN BERGGREN - Stranger In A Strange Land (2016) full

"Stranger In A Strangeland" is STEFAN BERGGREN's debut solo album released today, a well known Swedish vocalist who has graced many bands/projects such as Snakes In Paradise, M3, Company Of Snakes, Razorback, Berggren / Kerslake Band and more. Stefan also shared the stage with many legends like Whitesnake, Deep Purple and Brian May Band to name a few.

"Stranger In A Strangeland" is a curious title, as in fact the album shows the artist moving in the style he is known for; classic rock / hard rock sounds with a strong 'bluesy touch' that makes the final result a highly enjoyable solo debut for every fan of the genre out there.

On this album he has enlisted guest musicians from his musical past and present including former Whitesnake men Bernie Marsden and Neil Murray, fellow Snakes In Paradise member Tomas Pomma Thorberg, Joakim Svalberg (Opeth) and Lars Karlsson (Diamond Dogs) amongst others.
One minute Stefan is rocking out on ‘Do What You Do’, complete with slide guitar and rumbling Hammond organ, then it is a more reflective side of his singing on the stripped back blues on ‘Bye Bye Baby’.
Stefan has a soulful voice, no rough edges and perfect for the blues/rock he sings.

Title track 'Stranger In A Strangeland' is a very nice rocker in the old-school vein. Not sure who plays on each song as there's little detail available, however credit to the keyboard / organ player (I suspect it's Opeth's Joakim Svalberg), lots of interesting fills and solos on this one.

STEFAN BERGGREN - Stranger In A Strange Land (2016) booklet

On 'Life Goes On' we have a melodic bluesy rock gem. More commercial with a feel-good vibe in it, this tune is one of this album's highlights. ‘Keef Song’ reminded me of the much missed Company Of Wolves, a good time song with a neat piano riff and gang vocals.

‘Long Gone Down The Road’ is superb, from the opening guitar drawl through to the Whitesnake approved vocal backing on the chorus. Close your eyes and you are transported back to the classic days of stadium rock anthems. The way the vocals come back in at the end of the song, the 'slow-hand' solo and the drums all make this a classic in the making, a wonderful piece of Rock music.

Stefan Berggren is one of the best bluesy classic rock singers out there and this solo album is a delicious collection of tunes, especially if you miss the Moody/Marsden era of Whitesnake.

01 - Sands Of Time
02 - Coming Home
03 - Ain't Got No Woman
04 - Keef Song
05 - Long Gone Down The Road
06 - Stranger In A Strangeland
07 - Depression
08 - Life Goes On
09 - Do What You Do
10 - Bye Bye Baby

Stefan Berggren - vocals, guitar
Bernie Marsden (ex Whitesnake) - guitar
Neil Murray (Black Sabbath, Whitesnake) - bass
Tomas Pomma Thorberg (Snakes In Paradise) - bass
Sebastian Sippola (Plankton) - drums
Marcus Jidell (Avatarium, ex Evergrey) - guitar
Stephen Bentley-Klein (Deep Purple) - strings
Joakim Svalberg (Opeth) - keyboards
Lars Karlsson (Diamond Dogs) - guitar
and more



LAST CALL MESSIAHS - Sermons Of Debauchery (2016)

LAST CALL MESSIAHS - Sermons Of Debauchery (2016) full

Four piece LAST CALL MESSIAHS may be established in Raleigh, NC, but their full length debut CD "Sermons Of Debauchery" released today sounds as if living in Hollywood, L.A. circa 1987.
For almost two years now, the band endearingly known to their fans as LCM have been tearing through the dark smoky bar circuit of NC's capital city. Last Call Messiahs made their live debut in December 2014, released a 4-song EP, and shared stages with the likes of Kix, Ted Poley & more.
Imagine a sonic combination of L.A. Guns, the first Motley Crue and Guns N' Roses.

Since the release of the Last Call Messiahs EP the group has sustained some considerable blows to its line-up with two of the founding members - the rhythm section of bassist Stephen Blasko and drummer Chuck Tipton - leaving the group.
They have been replaced by bassist Bill Jackson and drummer Dee Williams who do an admirable job, a true beef up to the band's musicianship.

Lead vocalist / rhythm guitarist Chris Clark and lead axeman Jeff Young have decided to forge ahead with the band and are the most identifiable components that bring the Last Call Messiahs style. Clark‘s squealing / singing is hard to duplicate giving Last Call Messiahs quite the identifiable and original sound.
I said above the new rhythm section is stronger now, as the band's EP it's included here as the final 4 tracks and you can hear the difference not only in the playing, but also the recording quality. The band states that all have been remastered, but compared to the new material are pretty inferior sound-wise.

These 4 tracks are “City Of Trash” which reminds me of early Faster Pussycat with its attitude and song progression, while the moody “Hollywood & Vine” proves that Last Call Messiahs have more to offer than just anthemic rockers.
“Last Call Messiah” must be the band’s customary show closer because it has all of the elements of an excellent song — great guitar riffs, verses that perfectly set up the catchy chorus, and a killer yet uncomplicated guitar solo. “Sinner’s Swing” is built on a nasty guitar riff and highlighted by some dirty vocals.

LAST CALL MESSIAHS - Sermons Of Debauchery (2016) inside

So how do the five new songs fare? All are solid slices of sleazy, hard rocking stuff with a glammy Californian vibe from the late '80s much better produced than the EP, with a clear separation between instruments.
“Hollywood’s Screaming,” “Wonderland” and “Man’s Ruin” are all enjoyable with strong 'street-like' guitars, but the two stand outs cuts for me are the riff based “Body Electric” which seems to drip with sleaze and swagger and just never lets up with its cool groove and feel, and “So Far, So What” is just a solid rocker from start to finish with some very early Peter Criss era KISS drumming just before the guitar solo.

Overall, "Sermons Of Debauchery" is a a solid album that will likely satisfy any lover of classic US sleazy hard rock. Clark‘s voice just seems tailor made for sleazy down n’ dirty songs and Last Call Messiahs have a knack for coming up with some cool guitar riffs and melodies.
It's not easy to play this kind of '80s music (complete with leather jackets) in America these days and survive at it, so kudos to Last Call Messiahs.
Cool rockin' stuff.

01 - Hollywood Screaming
02 - Wonderland
03 - Body Electric
04 - Man's Ruin
05 - So Far, So Bad
06 - Sinner's Swing
07 - Hollywood & Vine
08 - City Of Trash
09 - Last Call Messiah

Chris Clark - lead vocals / guitar
Jeff Young - lead guitar / vocals
Bill Jackson - bass / vocals
Dee Williams - drums / vocals
Stephen Blasko - bass / vocals 6 to 9
Chuck Tipton - drums / vocals 6 to 9



Thursday, October 20, 2016

DEE SNIDER - We Are The Ones (2016)

DEE SNIDER - We Are The Ones (2016) full

October 28 is the day for DEE SNIDER to release his third solo record titled "We Are The Ones" via Red River Entertainment / Ear Music.
This fall, Dee & co. laid Twisted Sister to rest and to our surprise, he’s on the verge of releasing a new solo record titled "We Are The Ones".

Unlike his previous solo efforts, the rocker Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down or the easy listening lounge album Dee Does Broadway, the latest record is middle of the road. What I mean by that is that "We Are The Ones" rocks ‘less’ than Bastards but rocks ‘more’ than than Broadway.

"We Are The Ones" is a some kind of a transformation from ‘rock and roller’ to ‘radio friendly’ or contemporary rocker.
One must approach this new Snider record without any preconceived notions because after all; it’s not a Twisted Sister, Widowmaker or a Dee solo effort like any other before it.

The production is punchy and there’s a lot of emphasis on the choruses and hooks.
Dee Snider himself sounds spectacular on this recording. There’s no question this is the handy work of Grammy Award winning Damon Ranger who serves as album producer & songwriter for the majority of the material on the album.
Ranger was the mastermind who pitched the idea to Snider to record a more ‘current’ sounding effort.

There’s two covers on We Are The Ones. The first is Twisted Sister’s 'We’re Not Gonna Take It' which is stripped down rendition of Dee singing along with a piano. It's up to you if like it or not.
The second is Nine Inch Nails’ 'Head Like A Hole' which is a great song penned by the mighty Trent Reznor but also very much overexposed. Aside from the intro to the song, it’s a ‘color by numbers’ or ‘karaoke’ rendition that you’d hear by a contestant on The Voice or The X Factor.

Anyway, there are some of great moments — and I wish there would have been more — on the album. Title track 'We Are The Ones' rocks with good energy, the melodic rocker 'Over And Over Again' which boasts a huge chorus, upbeat tempo and excellent hook, and 'Believe' which would seem to be a great tune to be played in a live setting.
The modern, acoustically based 'So What' is also quite interesting, with its angry lyric attitude.

"We Are The Ones" showcases many new musical sides of Dee Snider. You can hate him when he tries to sound modern or alternative, but you have to give the man some credit for trying something new a this point of his career.
At 61 years old, it would be easy (and logical) for Dee Snider to stay in the comfort zone rehashing Twisted Sister hits. Instead, he opens the musical palette to new frontiers.
Sometimes succeed, sometimes not.

01 - We Are the Ones
02 - Over Again
03 - Close to You
04 - Rule the World
05 - We're Not Gonna Take It (2016 version)
06 - Crazy for Nothing
07 - Believe
08 - Head Like a Hole
09 - Superhero
10 - So What

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