Saturday, 25 April 2015

HARDCORE SUPERSTAR - HCSS (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Sleaze

Track listing:

01. Don't Mean Shit
02. Party 'Til I'm Gone
03. The Cemetery
04. Off With Their Heads
05. Fly
06. The Ocean
07. Touch the Sky (feat. Etzia)
08. Growing Old
09. Glue
10. Messed Up for Sure
 
The fine purveyors of Swedish sleaze hard rock HARDCORE SUPERSTAR are back with their tenth studio album "HCSS".
"HCSS" is a self-confessed return to their roots, with the guys having recently claimed: "We wanted to reinvent ourselves, so we had to go back to the summer of '94 when we first started this band and through that get in contact with the feeling and the vibe that inspired us in the first place.
That same philosophy goes for the whole album — how we approached the recordings, artwork, choice of the right guy to mix the album and so on."
If ever you want to hear a song that properly sums up Hardcore Superstar, give the opener "Party Til I’m Gone" a spin. The stirring riff and hefty chorus tied with glam rock elements make this belter a winner on every level.
Then the classy flamingo guitar intro to "The Cemetery", as you would expect, erupts into a cacophony of mayhem with a typically brash stomping vibe. It has everything that a song with the band should have.
If you listen carefully you can hear how the band tried to go back to the sound they had in the beginning even if it still is the 'newer' sound in front, showing the front teeth.
Should we talk about the album best song and you should listen to "Off With Their Heads". It's a bit quieter but still heavy and has the typical features of what makes Hardcore Superstar just one of Sweden’s best bands. This ass-kicker contains every ingredient that makes up the HCSS formula, brassy lyrics, a throwback '80s chorus hinged with Vic Zino’s melodic guitar tones.
That continues on "Fly", a monumental track that unearths magical memories of Motley Crue’s Home Sweet Home. This song probably won’t be played in 50 years time, but it deserves to be revered today.
For a track that opens with some haunting bass tones from Martin Sandvik and then an excellent guitar riff, "The Ocean" becomes a let down. The feeble verses lead into a sadly lacklustre chorus on a song promising a lot more.
"Touch The Sky" meanwhile promises and wholeheartedly delivers, HCSS don’t just specialise in extroverted sleaze rock, they do the dark and moody stuff with the same results.
And just to completely mess with your minds, they dip their wicks in a bit of prog too. Listening to the intro to "Growing Old", you could be forgiven for thinking you were spinning some classic Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The haunting futuristic keyboards add a real touch of class to a song that compels from the start, and to it’s hell raising finish.
"Glue" is a ready wrapped pressie for riff lovers. The powerhouse of a lick dominates this track with slick precision. This song was released to the public last November and may have got lost in the Christmas market scramble. Hands down the best thing on the album and should be re released when this album hits the stores.
"Messed Up For Sure" closes things out with a bang, an audacious little number containing an interesting interlude that unleashes a mind bending finale.
After the very first listen, "HCSS" is synonymous with everything we associate with Hardcore Superstar.
Sandvik and Andreasson remain the power couple where that driving rhythm is concerned. Zino's dirty, sleazy lead guitar licks are as prevalent as ever on this album while Berg's trademark vocals remain undiminished, yet demonstrative of a range we may not have previously been aware of.
I have to say for a band that has been treading the hard rock boards for over two decades now, and delivering quality music, the guys sound as hungry as ever!

Highly recommended

Rating - 9/10



Defy All Reason - The Road Ahead (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Blues / Southern Rock
Label - Self Released Stampede Press UK

Track listing:

01 - Midnight Train
02 - Bad Blood
03 - Behind Those Eyes
04 - You Get Me High
05 - Bad Taste Of You
06 - Finding My Way (Back To You)
07 - Shame
08 - I Run
09 - Because Of You
10 - Wanted Dead Or Alive (Bon Jovi Cover)
11 - The Only One
12 - Cure For Healing
13 - Redemption

Welsh rockers Defy All Reason, unleash their debut album, The Road Ahead, upon the world and what a bloody album it is!
Defy All Reason manage to create the perfect mixture of melody and grit, whilst throwing in a good old bit of attitude to create on of the best albums that I have had the pleasure of hearing in a long time. From the opening Midnight Train, with its heavy southern blues influences, to the gritty melodic groove of Bad Blood, the bass driven You Get Me High, the funk tinged Bad Taste Of You, to the huge power ballads of Behind Those Eyes and Finding My Way Back (To You), this album really does cover all of the bases! (including the best version of Bon Jovi's classic Wanted Dead Or Alive that I Have ever heard!).
As I stated earlier the band have found the perfect balance between heavy grooves and melody. And here was me thinking that the last really great band to come out of Wales was bloody Tigertailz!
I fell in love with this album upon first hearing it, I can see huge things in the future for these guys should they gain the right exposure and backing.

This is one album that you really should be checking out.


Rating - 10/10


Venrez - Children Of The Drones (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Modern Rock / Progressive / Alternative
Label - Monarch Music Group / Stampede Press UK
 
Track listing
 
01 - Hang The Predator
02 - Children Of The Drones
03 - Devils Due
04 - Salvation
05 - Mist Of Mercy
06 - Deep
07 - 20th Reason
08 - Reflection
09 - Spin The Top
10 - Sacred Blood

L.A. based rockers, Venrez are back with their third release, ‘Children Of The Drones’. Ven – vocals Jason Womack – guitars Nico D’Arnese – bass Ed Davis – drums. This time around the band serves up a sonic rock sound that seems them really going for the throat.
The album opens up with the atmospheric and moody mid tempo Hang The Predator before bursting into life with the albums rocking title track. Devils Due manages to somehow combine elements of the two previous tracks, with the vocal effects and up tempo riffs. Salvation is yet another fine rocking track that maintains the albums pace whilst twisting and turning through many tempo changes during its course.
Mist of Mercy slows things down a little with its acoustic driven intro and almost psychedelic feel. A great song that for some reason reminds me of US doom rockers Troubles more mellow moments.
Deep is up next and sees the guys return to the heavier groove of the Hang The Predator. Another great song.
20th reason follows, and this one is a rather nice mid-tempo melodic rocker. Reflection is up next, another great slow melodic rocker that twists and turns through tempo changes and various guitar atmospherics.
Spin The Top has more of a crunchy grinding riff, great song that really sets up the albums closer, Sacred Blood, which is great epic track in the style of the great rock albums of yesteryear.
The albums production is awesome throughout and really allows the songs to shine.
With Children Of The Drones, Venrez serve up melodic songs that have a real substance to them, along with some real attitude and maturity. This is a truly great album that deserves plenty of exposure!
Highly Recommended

Rating - 10/10


The Scaramanga Six - Worm Necklace EP (2015)

Genre - Rock / Alternative
Label - Pledge Music / Wrath Records
 
Track listing:
 
01 - Seven Chances
02 - The House Of Hell
03 - Grave Peril
04 - Stagefright

So here we have Worm Necklace, the second of the prequel Ep's to the forthcoming new album by the mighty Scaramanga Six, and one again its a stonker!
The Ep opens up with the brilliant Seven Chances, which is a great melodic rock track that manages to blend that unique Scaramanga Six swagger and seventies influences into the perfect four minute track!
Next up we have The House Of Hell. This one opens up with a great little riff and steadily builds into another great melodic rocker.
Grave Peril follows, this track is a great Jazzy workout and really switches the pace and tempo of the Ep, its also my favourite track too!
Stagefright closes out the Ep, is a great mid to up tempo rocker in the typical Scaramanga Six fashion, with a sport of spaghetti western feel in places.
Worm Necklace is another great Ep, and if the songs that are available across the too prequel Ep's are anything to go by then we are really in for a treat with the album!
I sincerely recommend pledging for this new album, hell you cant get better value for money, one album and three Eps!

Highly Recommended

Rating 10/10

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Poodles - Devil In The Details (2015)


Genre - Hard Rock / Melodic Rock

Track listing:
01. Before I Die
02. House Of Cards
03. The Greatest
04. Crack In The Wall
05. Baby
06. Everything
07. Stop
08. Need To Believe
09. Alive
10. Life Without You
11. Creator And Breaker
12. Borderline
 
 
THE POODLES launch their 6th rocket full of catchy melodic hard rock tunes titled "Devil In The Details".
Following the evolution of the band's sound evident on the previous, celebrated CD, The Poodles continued their collaboration with producer Mats Valentin and on "Devil In The Details" they sound bigger than ever.
All in all, The Poodles have had over ten 'top 10' singles in Scandinavia so far - which makes them one of Sweden’s most successful Rock bands - and I'm sure this new album won't be an exception of success.
We already heard the advanced singles "The Greatest" and "House Of Cards", the first a cool, anthemic midtempo ballad full of magic, while the latter shows a groovy, marching melodic rock feel with a punchy riff and a scorching guitar solo.
Both are good tracks, but the best is yet to come.
Opener "Before I Die" is a terrific Melodic Hard Rocker with pumping verses and a glorious, quasi-epic chorus. The aggressive guitar is softened by orchestrated synths, and the solo is really original. A highlight for me.
After the aforementioned advanced singles, "Crack In The Wall" brings some mysterious and interesting sounds, then on the chorus the melodic magic explodes. It's a very elaborated, different song and one of the most personal ever created by The Poodles.
"(What The Hell) Baby" adds catchiness and even a bit of modernity, while "Everything" is a little Melodic Rock GEM (akin H.E.A.T) and of course another highlight.
"Stop" is an ok rocker, just a bit generic, but next "Need To Believe" raise the bar again, a slick mid-tempo semi-ballad with a lot of AOR charm and a classy Swedish feel.
"Creator And Breaker" has a punchy commercial refrain, while "Borderline" finds The Poodles adding a poppy smell to the song's melodic rock skeleton. I'm not completely convinced with the result on this last tack, but at least the band are trying something different.
As said, "Devil In The Details" continues with the evolution of The Poodles' sound evident on the previous CD, but here is more notorious.
And how it sounds The Poodles 2015?
Half of the album is in the trademark Poodle's fashion full of catchiness, while the other, although still melodic, finds the band exploring new frontiers. Don't be scared, always on a Melodic Rock foundation.
Some tracks are really elaborated musically speaking, featuring a prominent bass sound to add more groove, but not in the heavy manner, but more power-pop oriented. On some songs works really well with the band offering something new. On a couple, not that good.
Anyway, "Devil In The Details" is a great record. I like The Poddle's bravery to explore new sonic territories avoiding the repetitive safe side. Most of the album rocks, and in a very, compelling melodic way.
Recommended.

Rating - 9/10



Jettblack - Disguises (2015)


Genre - Hard Rock
Label - Cherry Red Records / Pledge Music
 
Track listing:
01 - Slaves
02 - Explode
03 - Poison Rain
04 - Evidence
05 - Disguises
06 - Broken Bones
07 - Black & White
08 - Kick In The Teeth
09 - Enemy
10 - Human
11 - Smoke & Mirrors
 
After making a name for themselves with their debut and the truly awesome second album, followed by extensive gigs in Europe British hard rockers JETTBLACK, returns with third effort "Disguises", developing a heavier, more mature sound and elaborated songwriting.
Harder edged than Get Your Hands Dirty and Raining Rock, "Disguises" is an ambitious album that casts Jettblack in an exciting new light.
There's a sense or more groove and swagger on this new record, but don't worry, it's still full of huge choruses, massive riffs and in your face production.
Eschewing their sleazier side for a more mature songwriting approach, tracks like "Poison Rain" pull the band way beyond their comfort zone with shades of Blue Oyster Cult and Dio colouring this early highlight.
However despite the heavier riffs, Jettblack still fill their songs with lots of melody, strong clean vocals, catchy refrains, and crackin' choruses, in fact all the Jettblack trademarks that we have come to love.
The songs in "Disguises" are just more... 'intense', I think this is the word to describe this album. But an intensity which avoids much of contemporary rock and metal's too common harshness.
Jettblack does this largely through that inherent harmony and melody the sneak in through the guitar lines and vocal arrangements.
Another notable aspect of "Disguises" is the brisk production and mix. It feels like the band told the mixer and mastering dudes to make all the parts louder than every other part. Something that many bands fail to get right these days!
Basically, Jettblack has a rather large sound which probably blows up venues, and likely other more punier bands, on a regular basis.
And the album basically doesn't stop with the intense hard rock from the opening song "Slaves", and continues with the chain-gang "Explode", "Kick In The Teeth", the infectious melodic hooks of "Human" and "Enemy", and the kick ass massive chorus of title track.
A short reprieve comes with the lighter "Black and White" and the slow burning "Evidence", some kind of Skid Row yet with an original atmosphere.
Jettblack's third album is driven by a killer groove and swing on all the tracks - they batter and pummel with a loose-hipped precision that defies you to sit still.
Add to this a desire to expand wherever possible on the classic hard rock template and you have a modern sounding album shot through with a huge amount of texture and variety.
"Disguises" merit lots of attention from the hard rock community, and I hope Jettblack's new label (the prestigious Cherry Red Records) give the band the proper promotion they largely deserve.
A stunning album despite one of the longest running pledge music campaigns in history!

Very, Very Highly Recommended.
 
Rating - 10/10
 
 
 
 

Dan Reed - Transmission (2015)

Genre - Melodic Rock / Pop
Label - AOR Heaven Records
 
Track listing:
01 - Broken Soul
02 - Roll the Dice
03 - Drive
04 - Anywhere But Here
05 - Bending the Light
06 - Arm Yourself
07 - Fire in the Pyramid
08 - You’re All I Need
09 - On the Metro
10 - Ear to the Track
11 - What Dreams May Come
12 - Already There
13 - She’s Not You

DAN REED’s career burns bright at both ends: from his entry into the heavy funk rock arena with the Dan Reed Network in the late '80s to his current trade, travelling across Europe and occasionally the US having been commissioned to bring heartfelt joy into people’s homes with his unfaltering voice and incredible canon of songs at his disposal.
2015 sees Dan Reed himself seven years down the line as a successful solo artist, in the terms of having an army of adoring fans who love his art. Which leads us to "Transmission", his new solo album released by AOR HEAVEN Records.
Dan's third solo album is a labour of love, of which the end result is majestic.
Recorded as a trio with long term collaborators Bengan Jonasson on bass and Robert Ikiz on drums, all the instrumentation has the feel of being carefully thought out and totally in sync with the songs at all times.
Opening track "Broken Soul" carries on where Dan’s previous album ‘Signal Fire’ left off. It’s probably the most up-tempo song on the album and grabs you within the first few bars with its seductive melody. It’s also a prime candidate for first single and I should imagine will be a live favourite for years to come.
The catchy "Roll the Dice" follows in mid-tempo quality, then "Drive" is slow and quite modern in the vein of the last Richard Marx. The plodding yet rocky "Anywhere but Here" has a deep, involving melody with cool arrangements.
It's a surprise to see a cover, as Reed is a prolific songwriter; "You’re All I Need" is a heartfelt reworking of a bluesy number by the soulful Scottish band The Rising Souls, and Reed makes it his own with class.
"What Dreams May Come" is a beautiful and fitting tribute to Robin Williams following his sad and untimely death, and "She’s not You" was written after the passing of Dan’s friend’s sister. Both are emotive numbers.
Other stand out tracks include the future crowd-pleasing anthem "Fire in the Pyramid", while "On the Metro" (co-written with Gregory Darling) - which was a track I initially dismissed as too slow for my liking, yet the more I listened and the closer I paid attention, the more I realised it’s one of the most interesting songs on the album.
Dan Reed has converted the passion and feeling he puts into every solo live performance to the making of "Transmission" and as a result the whole package oozes sentiment and warmth.
This isn’t an album to rock out to. That will hopefully come with the next Dan Reed Network release in the making.
"Transmission" is an album that’s engaging and endlessly giving. A labour of love that entices you in, captures your imagination, broadens your horizons and leaves you with a sense of contentment. A warm and cosy wrapping of lovingly put together smooth adult Rock for those times when loud won't do.
Very Highly Recommended.

Rating - 9/10