Friday, 10 June 2016

HEADLESS - Melt The Ice Away (2016)

Genre - Hard Rock / Melodic Rock
Label - Mighty Music

Track listing:
01 - So Much of a Bore
02 - Good Luck Resized
03 - Melt the Ice Away
04 - Frame
05 - Shortage
06 - A Senseless Roaring Machine
07 - Stillness of the Heart
08 - Gather Knowledge, Gather Wisdom
09 - When Dreams and Past Collapse

If you are new to Headless, the band fuse traditional European melodic hard rock together with some progressive elements all driven along  by the solvent twin guitar work of Cianciusi and Parente, and Goran Edman's vocals fitting like a glove.
The first thing that impress is the terrific, huge production. Then, the pretty darn good songs.
After the strong hard rocking opener 'So Much of a Bore', we have the first highlight 'Good Luck Resized', a terrific melodic hard rocker driven by a killer guitar riff and catchy verses where Goran shines. Great guitar work all over.
All the remaining tracks maintain the level of quality... and intensity.
Title track 'Melt the Ice Away' is a bluesy based mid tempo rocker with tons of melody and a more than interesting progressive touch in a melodic vein.
"Frame" could pass as a ballad, but it's more juicy than that with a really interesting arrangement and a nice Jim Matheos contribution on guitar.
"Shortage" rocks with groove and at some point reminds me Nineties Van Halen, "A Senseless Roaring Machine" has some Queensryche on it 'Stillness of the Heart' is a straight-forward hard rocker with crunchy guitars, then 'Gather Knowledge, Gather Wisdom' provides more variation with its stinging riff.
Closer 'When Dreams and Past Collapse' is one of the most commercial cuts, almost melodic hard bringing to mind Edman's past work with Brazen Abbot.
"Melt The Ice Away" rocks plenty of groove and melody via really well constructed tracks. The guitars are huge, the drum sound is excellent, and Goran Edman is the ice of the cake in yet another stellar performance.
A strong melodic hard rock record with a touch of progressive to provide variation, "Melt The Ice Away" is a highly recommended

Rating: 8/10

FOUR BY FATE - Relentless (2016)

Genre - Hard Rock / Melodic Rock
Label -

Track listing:
01 - These Times Are Hard for Lovers
02 - Moonshine
03 - Hangin' On
04 - Levee Breach
05 - It's over Now
06 - Follow Me
07 - On My Own
08 - I Give
09 - Don't Know
10 - Back In The 80's
11 - Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo
12 - Amber Waves
13 - Amber Waves (acoustic)

"Relentless" is the amazing debut CD by some kind of super-group FOUR BY FATE consisting of former Frehley's Comet men Tod Howarth & John Regan, ex- Skid Row drummer Rob Affuso, and guitarist Patrick James Gasperini (Pound).
The initial band line-up featured Howarth & Regan alongside guitarist Sean Kelly (Crash Kelly, Helix) and drummer Stet Howland (drummer for W.A.S.P.), but, following a car accident the tub thumper was replaced by Twisted Sister's AJ Pero.
With Gasperini taking the place of Kelly on guitar, the line-up seemed settled... until the untimely death of AJ Pero to the dismay of hard rock community worldwide.
The six songs featured on 'Relentless' that Pero played on are actually believed to be his last recorded works.
Affuso stepped up to the drum stool and, finally, after much heartache, Four By Fate's debut album was primed for release.
Prior to joining Frehley's Comet, John Regan toured with John Waite in 1986 - it's how he would meet his future band mate as it happens: Howarth playing keyboards for Cheap Trick on a joint tour.
So the fact that the opening track on the album is a spirited reworking of a Waite song shouldn't be that much of a surprise: just how vibrant Four By Fate make 'These Times Are Hard For Lovers', and make it the band's own in the process, is, in fact, the most surprising thing here.
What will startle, however, is the variety spread across the album.
When I listen songs such as 'Levee Breach' or 'On My Own', I hear the Eighties, but also the deep hard rock of classic bands of late Seventies with all its charm.
Alternatively, within 'Moonshine', I sometimes hear pre-poodle Whitesnake, but with more grit, gusto, and heaviness and less prominent blues, while 'I Give' lands has a Paul Stanley-like melody lines that frequent the track listing giving the latter a definite 'Carnival of Souls' feel.
When you have a track titled 'Back In The 80's', you can't be wrong. This band - and this song - has all the Eighties mojo, rocks with a melodic groove and feel-good vibe.
But ultimately, what you hear is definite righteous and rowdy hard rock. In that vein, Four By Fate covers 'Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo', you know, that one off hit by Rick Derringer. It's got all the same groove, melody, and latent blues of the original, yet sounds harder and grittier like it was rolled through churning cement mixer with the cement still in it.
The qualities you want in a (melodic) hard rock record - searing lead guitar breaks and gorgeous hooks - are all present here, it's just that Four By Fate, whose members have, unquestionably, been around the block more than a few times, aren't playing by the rules or confining themselves to subgenre cliché.
That said, the album's final track, 'Amber Waves', both in its full band and acoustic version, is melodic rock manna from heaven that will have AOR fans weeping into their perm solution.
Four By Fate's "Relentless" may well have seemingly come from nowhere, but it is surely going places.
As say the opening track, these times might be hard for lovers, but not for Rock music fans when albums as thrilling as this are being released.

Highly Recommended.

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, 9 June 2016

RIVAL SONS - Hollow Bones (2016)

Genre - Hard Rock / Classic Rock
Label - Earache (Warner)

Track listing:
01 - Hollow Bones Pt. 1
02 - Tied Up
03 - Thundering Voices
04 - Baby Boy
05 - Pretty Face
06 - Fade Out
07 - Black Coffee
08 - Hollow Bones Pt. 2
09 - All That I Want

Although Long Beach classic rockers RIVAL SONS released their first album all the way back in 2009, Before The Fire, things really started to happen for them in 2014 with Great Western Valkyrie , an album which charted in fourteen countries around the world and saw the band appear on a wide array of prestigious television and festival appearances as well as supporting some of the biggest names in rock history. Now the band returns with their latest effort "Hollow Bones"  and have even being hand-picked recently to tour with the mighty Black Sabbath on their farewell tour for the remainder of the year.
Rival Sons appear to be able to do no wrong, and "Hollow Bones" is no exception.
Album opener and leading single “Hollow Bones Pt.1” immediately sets the tone, as Scott Holiday‘s fuzzy guitar carries through as a signature sound throughout many of these groove melody tracks. Its link with its counterpart “Hollow Bones Pt.2” later in the record syncs beautifully, like two long lost siblings reuniting.
Tied Up” and “Thundering Voices” among others follow suit, while retaining their own unique and individual presence with subtle touches and arrangements. This is no doubt contributed not only by the band’s talents as musicians and songwriters but also by the talents of two-time Grammy winner Dave Cobb taking on producer duties once again.
Outside the obvious expectations that deliver and exceed in fine rock n’ roll, the album has some of its strongest moments when the band strips back the wall of sound.
Bassist Dave Beste and drummer Michael Miley earn serious brownie points for rhythm sections as their precision playing holds this record together and is a fierce driving force. They also know how and when to hold back; a quality in musicians equally as admirable and impressive as an epic performance.
In tracks such as “Fade Out” and in particular the haunting, Damien Rice-esque album closer “All That I Want”, these qualities bare great results as they allow enough space not only for a different style of song, but also for vocalist Jay Buchanan‘s vocal delivery to be as strong and passionate as possible. And man, does he deliver!
Soulful, funky, hard-edged, colourful, classic. That's all here in "Hollow Bones", Rival Sons' most varied production to date.

Highly Recommended

Rating: 10/10

The Main Grains - Don't Believe Everything You Think (2016)

Genre - Hard Rock / Punk / Rock N Roll

Track listing:

01 - Unscrewed
02 - We're Happy (Around Here)
03 - Spend Your Money
04 - Fine By You
05 - I'd Rather Be In California
06- Teenage Kicks
07 - She's A Catch

Former Wildhearts and Yo Yo's bassist Danny McCormack returns with his new project The Main Grains, accompanied by John JJ Watt on Rhythm Guitar/Vocals , Ben Marsden on Lead Guitar/Vocals  and  Ginna Rhodes on Drums/Vocals, with Danny obviously handling Bass Guitar and vocal duties. How to best describe how The Main Grains sound, well imagine if you will a slightly more polished Yo Yo's sound and you be far off.
Don't Believe Everything You think is the bands debut release, and its a pretty solid one at that. Opening with lead single, Unscrewed, the guys set their stall out from the off as they work their way through a small selection of punk tinged rock n roll tracks. Their cover of Teenage Kicks is simply brilliant! She's A Catch could easily be mistaken for a Ramones track, and well the rest of the Ep is just as good.
I don't think that The Main Grains are going to be setting the world on fire any time soon but they do deliver good solid punk flavoured rock n roll, in the way that it should be delivered!

Well Worth Checking Out

Rating: 9/10

DAN REED NETWORK - Fight Another Day (2016)

Genre - Melodic Rock / Funk Rock
Label - Frontiers Music

Track listing:

01 - Divided
02 - The Brave
03 - Infected
04 - Champion
05 - Ignition
06 - Give It Love
07 - B There With U
08 - Save The World
09 - Eye Of The Storm
10 - Reunite
11 - Heaven
12 - Sharp Turn
13 - Stand Tall

###### First things first, the following review is not my own work, but I have chosen to reproduce it here as I agree entirely with its sentiments. All credit must go to the original reviewer #######

Frontiers Music  release DAN REED NETWORK’s brand new record “Fight Another Day". The new album marks the anticipated return of one of the most infectious and gifted bands to come out in the melodic rock world in the second part of the '80s.

At the end of 2012 the band re-convened in their hometown of Portland, Oregon for a New Year celebration and the rest, as they say, is history. Appearances at Download Festival and a couple of short UK tours and – surprise surprise – the announcement of a brand new album.
It was as if they have never been away and it is the same with new album “Fight Another Day”. The key is clearly quality material and a definite zest for performance from all band members.
Whilst 1991′s ‘The Heat’ was Dan Reed Network’s most successful album it wasn’t their most consistent. This latest offering takes up the story and 25 years of silence is quickly forgotten about.

The band featured ‘Divided’ as advance single and it showcased that the magic is still there. The same applies to the whole album, with immediate appeal to anyone who enjoyed those earlier albums with the characteristic meld of funk and melodic rock and with a wider social conscience than previously - check ‘Infected’, ‘Save The World’, ‘Eye Of The Storm’.
Those who have followed Dan Reed’s parallel solo career will know that he is a great songwriter who brings gold dust to a project and nowhere is this more evident than on ‘Champion’, an utterly compelling case for buying the album.
The power chords that introduce ‘Give It Love’ recall Starship’s song Jane and underscoring yet another album highlight.

Fans will love the mix of old and new influences. Mid-tempo ‘Be There With U’ has all the charm of ‘Rainbow Child’. ‘The Brave’, ‘Reunite’ and ‘Heaven’ evidence Dan Reed’s essentially uplifting, anthemic approach with quite wonderful vocals throughout. The feel-good quotient is high on this album.
‘Sharp Turn’ combines the brilliance of Seal’s Crazy and Johnny Hates Jazz (Don’t Say It’s Love), so rooted in the late-1980s and early '90s just as it should be.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better the album closer ‘Stand Tall’ delivers a wonderful funk grind punctuated by Rob Daiker’s superb keyboard fills.

Some might say that "Fight Another Day" is more of a Dan Reed solo album, as the rest of the band do seem to be subjugated to the power of the song and vocals, with Brion James' guitar notably restrained on some tracks.
But "Fight Another Day" is a complete triumph, totally relevant, and underlining a wonderful comeback that can only go from strength to strength.
Highly Recommended

Rating: 9/10

Role Models - Forest Lawn (2016)

Genre - Hard Rock / Punk / Alternative
Label - Self Released / Pledge Music

Track listing:
01 - Radio
02 - (I Broke My Back) Disappointing You
03 - Got No Time
04 - Bullshit Corner
05 - Wanted To Be Wanted
06 - Goodbye and Hooray
07 - The Ditch
08 - Sleep Tight
09 - The Lights On Your Road
10 - I Ain't Lucky
11 - No Shame
12 - Guest List

Forest Lawn is the sophomore album from Roles Models, the alternative Punk / Rock band led by a certain Rich Rags.
The album picks up pretty much where their debut album, 2015's The Go To Guy, left off, with more sleek punk tinged rock n roll. The songs are slick and well constructed, the band as tight as a ducks arse, so to speak, and the production is just sweet.  After a quick one two three punch of Radio, Disappointing You and Got No Time, the band slow the tempo sown a little for Bullshit Corner which turns out to be a rather touching ballad, despite its title! The pace picks up again with Wanted To Be Wanted, which turns out to be a great melodic rocker of a track. Goodbye and Hooray and a bit more bite to it, whilst the band return to their melodic rock formula with The Ditch. In fact in many places Forest Lawn reminds me a lot of Soul Asylum, which is no bad thing in my opinion.
Sleep Tight is a more raucous affair, whilst the tempo slows again for The Lights On Your Road.
I Ain't Lucky is a short and sweet track that has a real rock n roll feel to it. Penultimate track, No Shame is another slice of melodic rock genius, whilst album closer Guest List, is the albums big ballad. A great way to close a very solid album!

Well Worth Checking Out

Rating: 9/10

Paul Miro - Live Undangerous (2016)

Genre - Live Acoustic
Label - Self Released / Pledge Music

Track listing:

01 - The One
02 - Nothing Left Here / Take Our Sorrows Swimming
03 - Beanman
04 - 15 / Monster
05 - Swimming In The Dowling Pool
06 - The Best Thing 
07 - Fragments
08 - True At First Light
09 - Carry On
10 - Great Place

Live Undangerous is an exclusive live release from former Apes, Pigs and Spacemen frontman Paul Miro, released as a free Pledge exclusive and available for a limited period only!
Recorded live on his tour last year with Terrorvision frontman Tony Wright this album captures Pauls performance perfectly. The sound is crystal clear, which just adds even more to the listening experience as Paul works his way through a selection of tracks that span his career, plus one live version of a track that is set to appear on his new album, Swimming In The Dowling Pool.
This is a great album, and worth pledging for alone!

Rating: 10/10