Saturday, 31 May 2014

DEVIL'S HEAVEN - Heaven On Earth (2014)

Genre - Heavy Metal / Melodic Metal / Hard Rock
Label -

Track listing:

01 - Welcome II The Show
02 - Demerital Action
03 - Devil Woman
04 - Touched By An Angel
05 - Mean Street City
06 - Day Of Doom
07 - Riders In The Sky
08 - Let It All Hang Out
09 - Festung Europa
10 - Cold
11 - Stillborn
12 - Hot Sex
13 - Wine Me

Hailing from Malmö, Sweden, DEVIL'S HEAVEN is a new sextet consisting of accomplished musicians from the Scandinavian scene; bassist Jonas Reingold is also a member of renowned Prog rockers The Flower Kings, and singer Marcus Nygren is the founder of the awesome AORsters State Of Salazar, presented here on this blog two years ago (and with a new album in the making).
After a couple of spins their debut CD “Heaven On Earth” not only has left a solid lasting impression on me, I assure you this recording doesn't sound like a first release at all.
Indeed, Devil’s Heaven sounds really tight on “Heaven On Earth”, showing the skills of all its members and benefited by a crisp production.
The style of these guys is a slick blend (accurately matching their own description) of '80s Melodic Rock, '90s Hard Rock (with a German vibe) and a touch of classic melodic metal on two tracks, all with a contemporary, updated sound.
Lengthy opener "Welcome II The Show" is a study in what Devil’s Heaven is. It’s an uptempo track with a great chorus, raging and clean vocals, heavy guitars and a wonderful keyboard part in the middle of the song. This song shows Marcus Nygren’s vocal versatility, going from raspy to groovy deep tones.
Then "Demerital Action" shows the band's melodic hard rock side, a track build for the arenas screaming to be played live. With a feeling recalling Bonfire and a touch of early Bon Jovi during the catchy chorus, all the fans (and not) will sing along the lyrics.
What follows is a bunch or really well crafted melodic hard rockers like "Devil Woman" (a highlight) recalling the greats Damned Nation, the catchy Gotthard sounding "Let It All Hang Out" or "Wine Me" akin Shakra, mixed with heavier numbers such as "Riders In The Sky", a solid melodic metal tune (early Pretty Maids style) with magical keys in the background.
We have two fine ballads in "Touched by An Angel" (ala Alfonzetti) with pianos plus organic instrumentation, and the solid "Cold", more in the traditional power ballad format, both really well arranged.
To sum up, “Heaven On Earth” is a more than a strong first work from this new Swedish combo Devil’s Heaven who have the skilled musicianship, compositional strength and sense of melody that characterizes their countrymen. 
Here you will find beautifully crafted Melodic Hard Rock songs in the traditional style, not directly resembling something older, through a really clear, meticulous production where all instruments sound neat.

Well Worth Checking Out

Rating - 9/10

Mach 22 - Sweet Talk Intervention (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock
Label -

Track listing:

01. Constant Denier
02. Go Ahead
03. Dont You Give Me
04. I'm Just A Man
05. Stone Rose
06. Backslider
07. Made To Love
08. Radio
09. One Trick Pony
10. Nevermind

A really young band, MACH22 already racked up some impressive credentials: opening for Slash, Steel Panther, Tom Keifer, Cheap Thrill, and performing for an audience of 75,000 at Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival. MACH22 also picked up several product endorsements including the prestigious PRS Guitars.
Additionally, MACH22 has been selected by Slash as grand prize winners in 'Guitar Center On-Stage: Slash Contest' following the submission of their original song "Don't You Give Me".
Produced by Jeff LaBar, "Sweet Talk Intervention" was recorded at Dragon Sound Studios in Nashville, TN, and engineered by Ronnie Honeycutt (Jackyl).
With killer riffs, bluesy rhythms and soulful delivery, the band’s songs span an emotional spectrum capturing that classic hard rock feel yet with a refreshing modern edge.
Yes, MACH22 music is strongly influenced by Badlands, Aerosmith, Blue Murder... and of course Cinderella, but also more recent exponents of this blues-type hard like Red Dragon Cartel or Vandenberg's Moonkings.
Sebastian LaBar, who was personally trained by his father and quickly set out on his own with a distinctive soloing, is accompanied by versatile singer Lamont Caldwell (Erykah Badu Band, Dave Matthews Band), bass player Jaron Gulino (Charm City Devils), guitarist Ted Merrill (Dizzy Reed Band, Uli Jon Roth) and drummer Damian MonteCarlo.
From the hip-shaking opener "Constant Denier" right through to the closing "Nevermind" with its slamming drums and jerking guitar, this is what some people will call a real rock ’n’ roll album; one which flows naturally and isn't reliant on a boozy image or riddled with dumb clichés.
Caldwell’s vocal style is simple and effortless. Always soulful his tones drift without strain over the cool, whipped grooves of "Go Ahead" with its rattling bass, and the album’s monster track, "Don’t You Give Me", where the band add sweeter backing vocals and intensify the groove. The chorus is a breeze; an almost casual croon over a killer riff.
And the class continues with the jolting bass and prodding drum intro of "I’m Just A Man" before kickin’ in to the down n’ dirty style that makes MACH22 who they are.
With guitars cranked and distortion levels maxxed they continue to keep the pace high and hard throughout the great hard rocker"Backslider", driven by a spiky riff, or in the reflective hum of "Stone Rose" plenty of a Jimi Hendrix spirit
"Radio", one of the standouts here, reimagines Tesla playing the Rolling Stones. It’s a song that really underlines the raw potential of the band, while managing to keep a modern edge and is both true to the hard rock template and strangely radio-friendly.
"Made To Love" is fueled by a delicious groove brought to the forefront by prominent, liquid bass-playing, building foundations and decorating the music almost on its own. This track had an enticing uniqueness about it above the rest, which is saying something. In parts, Lamont diverts from a funk-filled delivery to a more aggressive rasp, strangely similar to Paul Di'Anno.
Closer "Nevermind" is one of my absolutely favorites, for putting out a glorious reimagining of classic hard rock, embellished by Lamont's loveably contemporary delivery of the lyrics, culminating in an uplifting track full of feel-good.
MACH 22 is a talented young band that really shines through the well written, confident and catchy songs with solid hard rock riffs & engaging lyrics packed into their debut "Sweet Talk Intervention".
The band take us on a high octane journey through their ten-track opus; the kind of record that has the pulsating power and swagger of classic Aerosmith mixed with the punch of Blue Murder, the bluesy side of Cinderella and with a dash of heavy funk thrown in for good measure. It's tough to pick favorites as all the songs are strong and have its own charm.
It's timeless bluesy hard rock but with a modern production / sound, so kudos must go to LaBar senior for his job as there's a crispness to the album, investing each instrument with clarity.

Rating - 8/10

Neal Schon - So U (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Melodic Rock / Rock N Roll 
Label - Frontiers Records

Track listing:

01. Take A Ride
02. So U
03. Exotica
04. What You Want
05. Love Finds A Way
06. On My Way
07. Serenity
08. Shelter
09. Big Ocean

NEAL SCHON pulls in fellow Journey man Deen Castronovo on drums and current Black Star Riders bassist Marco Mendoza for his latest solo outing “So U”.
Unlike his previous Frontiers Records album The Calling back in 2012, this new 2014 effort has vocals which are shared between the three players (all are accomplished singers).
With the help of monster songwriter Jack Blades from Night Ranger, Schon has crafted an album that combines Melodic Hard Rock melodies with his passion for the six-strings.
The disc opens with the bluesy rocker "Take A Ride" which swaggers out of the gates with a groove that provokes the body to move.
Next, the title track is an example of true wonder reaching out in length to an impressive nine minutes and fifty seconds. Beginning like a soulful crooning, ballad song, it shifts gears and blossoms in to a real journey of progression with a coloured palette.
Then the instrumental "Exotica" brings the jam and a tour de force between these talented cats, a song with a Santana feel and great the guitar playing.
Stevie Salas Concorde springs to mind when I crank up "On My Way"; upbeat with an urgent delivery of funk complete with hooks and some tasty harmony vocals. "What You Want" works well for similar reasons although in a much more rocking way akin Chickenfoot / Sammy Hagar.
On the opposite side of the coin from their up tempo material you also get a sweeping ballad in the shape of "Love Finds A Way' which finds a subtle backdoor to the memory and grips tight. This is pure Journey and I love it.
Talking about Schon's main band, "Serenity" is the typical Journey rockin' number (one of the Jack Blades co-writes) and best song on here, and much better than any on the last Jorney album. All three musicians share vocals here, and at places seems Steve Perry returned!
For the most part, "So U" is straight-ahead rock and roll, with few surprises to catch a casual listener off guard. One of the most enjoyable facets within the album’s nine songs is, as expected, the guitar work from bandleader Neal Schon.
This is a record with no production weaknesses, nicely designed and fine-tuned for a classic rock / melodic rock loving audience. Moods ranging from mid-tempo to highly energetic and enthused flow smoothly from the speakers.
Another very good effort from Neal Schon, which to be honest, sounds like a real band with the tight assemble achieved alongside the two seasoned monsters Mendoza / Castronovo.
A Solid Album from a living legend!

Rating - 9/10

Diesel - Into The Fire (2014)

Genre - Classic Rock / Hard Rock / Melodic Rock
Label - Escape Music

Track listing:

01 - Love Under Cover
02 - Into The Fire
03 - Starting Over
04 - Fortune Favors The Brave
05 - Brand New Day
06 - Bitter & Twisted
07 - So What Is Love
08 - Lets Take The Long Way Home
09 - Told You So
10 - What You See Ain’t What You Get
11 - Skin & Bone
12 - Coming Home

DIESEL is the new outfit comprising the creative talents of ex- Bad Company, current Manfred Mann's Earth Band and superb solo artist / singer Robert Hart and British AOR legends FM guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick, with Jimmy Copley (Jeff Beck Band) on drums and Pat Davey on bass.
As you could imagine, expect some classic English melodic hard rock within their debut album "Into The Fire", to be released by Escape Music.
Actually, Diesel sounds exactly like late '80s Bad Company meets FM, or vice versa, but with the addition of a classic rock feeling.
Listening to Hart's voice, you can hear why he was picked to front that iconic UK blues hard rock band. Couple his voice with the music of "Fortune Favors The Brave", "What You See Ain't What You Get" or "Brand New Day", and you might think you were listening to a Bad Company song, yet with less slow burning blues and more frisky Eighties melodic rock.
I love "Coming Home", the more AOR number on the disc with a lovable main melody.
Other songs sound like they could jump off the next FM album like the pulsating opener "Love Under Cover", the awesome midtempo "So What Is Love", or the sharp 'n rockin "Told You So" with some AOR in it. Most of this comes from Kirkpatrick's crack rock leads, but also his sense of groove and melody.
Then "Bitter & Twisted" flips both scenarios on their heads giving you a more dense Whitesnake bluesy hard rock feel. Hart might even be able to fill in for Coverdale in a clutch. Some of that blues feel can get harder as within "Skin & Bone", thanks to the ham-fisted riffs and deep bottom end.
Diesel’s first album "Into The Fire" is a great, solid piece of AOR-ish Melodic Hard Rock with a Classic Rock feeling, with equal focus on catchy melodies and outstanding musicianship.
Considering Robert Hart’s musical past, it seems logical that one subconsciously expects some traces of Bad Company’s style in here. But don't forget the man has released AOR oriented terrific solo albums as well, and Kirkpatrick knows 'something' of this game too. So we have the best of both worlds on "Into The Fire".
The greatest asset to this material, most probably, is that it portrays the musicians of Diesel as they succeed in striking a balance between the expected homage to musical tradition of their respective past (Bad Company, FM) and the contemporary AOR / melodic hard rock sound. The result is that their music is neither 'dated', nor modern – just a compromise between the two.
All songs are good, the playing pretty darn terrific (with Kirkpatrick generous with his spry leads) and the production crisp and warm.

Rating - 9/10

California Breed - California Breed (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Classic Rock
Label - Frontiers Records. 

Track listing:

01. The Way
02. Sweet Tea
03. Chemical Rain
04. Midnight Oil
05. All Falls Down
06. The Grey
07. Days They Come
08. Spit You Out
09. Strong
10. Invisible
11. Scars
12. Breathe

For Rock and Roll iconic legend Glenn Hughes, Black Country Communion is no more, enter; CALIFORNIA BREED, the new rocking trio formed together with Bonzo Bonham's son Jason and the young, but completely electrifying guitarist Andrew Watt.
While Hughes / Bonham need no introduction, 23-year old guitarist / singer Andrew Watt joined the two giants based on a recommendation from Julian Lennon. He's a revelation and you will be surprised by his chops.
Produced by Dave Cobb, who has worked wonders with Rival Sons, "California Breed" is pretty damn spectacular.
Glenn Hughes continues to amaze, as his vocals just keep getting better and better with age. He's in grandiose form here, screaming up a storm on the heavy opener "The Way", and soaring to the heavens on the groove laden hard rocker "Sweet Tea".
His bass playing is quite muscular as well, and locked in tight with his buddy Bonham on the crunchy delivery of "Chemical Rain", with Watt's textured riffs adding a playful edge. "Midnight Oil" sounds like a heavier Rolling Stones, with meaty riffs, funky grooves, and great female vocals backing up Hughes.
Watt has a completely different style than Joe Bonamassa, so don't look for that blues edge which we saw with BCC, instead he mixes '90s hard rock, psychedelia and classic rock elements into his playing evoking Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Ronson, Jerry Cantrell, and maybe even a little Jeff Beck. He also doesn't overplay, his brief solos complementing the songs as to allow the riffs to be the main focus.
Back to Mr. Hughes again, he's at the top of his game on the emotional ballad "All Falls Down" (also featuring a scorching solo from Watt) and sounds all devilish on the groovy "The Grey", with his bass weaving around some powerful drum fills from Bonham.
One of the heaviest songs on the CD is the crushing, almost doom laden barnburner "Invisible", complete with nasty riffing from Watt, a pounding Bonham, and powerful wailing courtesy of the 'voice of rock' .
Also of note is the '70s styled funky hard rocker "Scars", a Trapeze-meets-Humble Pie styled number with fat, wah-wah bass lines from Hughes, Watt's insistent riffing, and thunderous grooves from the son of the late Led Zeppelin drum legend.
Considering how long this band was shrouded in secrecy, it's great that California Breed has finally been unveiled for all to enjoy. Honestly, it sounds like these 3 have been playing together for years, as there's great chemistry between them already.
While it would have been great to hear Hughes & Watt sharing more vocal duties (Watt is a very good singer - check him out on youtube or alongside Hughes on the tender acoustic tinged track "Breathe"), there's a lot to take in here and a ton to love; fiery hard rockers, beefy '70s styled heavy rock, funk, classic rock, psych pop... it's all here and then some.
California Breed incorporates the face melting melodies of decades ago, then mixing it up with some seriously heavy 21st century structures, all wonderfully captured on tape (yes, this recording sounds warmly analog).

Rating - 9/10

Mother Road - Drive (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Classic Rock / Blues Rock
Label - AORHeaven

Track listing:

01 - The Sun Will Shine Again
02 - Feather In Your Hat
03 - Drive Me Crazy
04 - Out Of My Mind
05 - These Shoes
06 - Dangerous Highway
07 - Poor Boy (Long Way Out)
08 - Dirty Little Secret
09 - Blue Eyes
10 - Still Rainin'
11 - On My Way

MOTHER ROAD is a new band put together by Austin, TX singer Keith Slack (MSG / Steelhouse Lane) and famed German guitarist & producer Chris Lyne (Soul Doctor) and are releasing their debut album "Drive" today through the AORHeaven label.
Rounding out the outfit are huge keyboard player Alessandro DelVecchio, drummer Jacky Tsoukas, and bassist Frank Binke. These guys obviously have studied their Bad Company, Deep Purple, WhiteSnake, Free, ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin albums really well, as "Drive" tips its hat to many of the legendary Classic (Hard) Rock bands of the last 40+ years.
Slack's voice easily merges traditional classic rock with earthy blues, maybe with a little more of gritty edge. Lyne's guitar mirrors his sound, with a sharp and brisk to soulful and stirring delivery. At times, on Mother Road he reminds me of John Sykes with a touch of Gary Moore.
Keith Slack's voice is perfectly suited to the genre, displaying a wide range in a variety of styles from all out rockers like the album opener "The Sun Will Shine Again", the foot stomping "Feather In Your Hat" and the bump & grind swagger of "Drive Me Crazy" to slow bluesy movers like "Out Of My Mind" or "These Shoes", a powerful song that has that Bad Company meets Whitesnake vibe.
There's a fantastic guitar / keyboard dueling between Lyne & DelVecchio on the killer "Still Rainin", a pure catchy muscular bluesy hard rock number with hooks and scorching lead guitar, and the Hammond organ provides the swirling waves behind Lyne's guitar in the latter half of "These Shoes".
"Dangerous Highway" is the road song the band’s name suggests, and the Jon Lord-like opening conjures up images of Deep Purple before the riff kicks in. It’s another mid-tempo song that Mother Road does so well. 
"Poor Boy (Long Way Out)" channels Free; whilst "Dirty Little Secret" sees some of the best vocal and guitar work on the album (and that is saying something). "Blue Eyes" has a distinct vintage Cry of Love Southern warmth to it albeit with a vocal by Slack akin a rough Paul Rodgers.
Final track "On My Way" strips it back to subtle acoustic bones before bursting into life and finally taking it down again. It’s a powerful song, emotive and a great way to close a great album.
With melodies aplenty, powerful vocals and stellar musicianship, it's pretty easy to recommend "Drive", and I can safely say that there's a built in audience ready and waiting for stuff like this. It's honest, true, real bluesy Classic Rock fron the heart.
Slack' s ability to infuse genuine feeling into the music is one of the keys to its appeal. Chris Lyne gets a chance to put his talents on display and does an amazing job in the rhythm and lead guitar here. The guy rocks hard with his great tone and aggressive phrasing.
Mother Road is the type of band you'd go see and there would be no fancy clothes, no half-dressed chicks dancing on stage, just a bunch of guys in jeans and t-shirts with some Marshalls and their instruments. They'd plug in and they'd blow you away.
A modern day classic classic rock album!

Very Strongly Recommended.

Rating 10/10

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Rubicon Cross - Rubicon Cross (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock
Label -

Track listing:
01. Locked And Loaded
02. Next Worse Enemy
03. Bleed With Me
04. Save Me Within
05. You Will Remember Me
06. Moving On
07. R U Angry
08. Shine
09. Kill Or Be Killed
10. All The Little Things

RUBICON CROSS, featuring Firehouse vocalist CJ Snare and guitar virtuoso Chris Green (of UK bands Pride and Furyon) will release its self-titled full-length debut on May 19.
Our first look at Rubicon Cross in recorded form came back in 2011 with the independent release of a Limited Edition EP  which delivered four songs that were full of bite and swagger, and this quickly found it’s way onto many ‘best of 2011’ hard rock lists.
CJ met Chris Green while Firehouse was doing a European tour back in ’04. It might have taken seven years to get off the ground but now Rubicon Cross it's a consolidated band including Green's bandmate in Pride and Furyon Simon Farmery on bass, Seventh Omen drummer Robert Behnke and second guitarist Jeff Lerman.
The combination of CJ Snare's pipes and the stellar guitar playing of Chris together, provides a platform for both to shine, and believe me, Rubicon Cross is a hard rocking mega force to be taken very seriously.
The sound and style of Rubicon Cross is modernized and edgy hard rock but with all the melody that both have had in their other bands. Think '90s TNT - Tony Harnell years, Jagged Edge, Baton Rouge and of course... Firehouse.
Yes folks, if you missed the good 'ole Firehouse, Rubicon Cross has arrived to quench your thirst.
The lush melodic core of the songwriting is given a forceful, aggressive boost on this record. Just check the kickin' opener "Locked And Loaded" (featured in the Xbox360 and PS3 game 'Dirt Showdown' soundtrack), the slightly Skid Row-like corker "Next Worse Enemy" (terrific six-string work by Chris Green with a monster guitar sound) or the propulsive "Bleed With Me". These guys Rock!
Firehouse is back with the thrilling "You Will Remember Me", the bouncy "R U Angry", the extremely melodic ballad "Save Me Within", and the acoustically filled midtempo "Shine", done with class and style. Fans will love this one.
"Movin’ On" is one of my favorites, starting off with a clean guitar and CJ’s familiar vocals but then kicks-in with an aggressive guitar riff and Snare’s soaring vocals are all over the place. Fantastic track.
The band goes for a groovy, relentless metal drive on "Kill Or Be Killed", and the CD ends with the feel-good rocker "All The Little Things".
Twenty five years since breaking into the music industry and CJ Snare is still wowing people with his incredible range as every time he belts out a lyric you can feel it impacting your soul. Rubicon Cross isn't the exception.
Chris Green's superb skills with the 6-strings delivers intense riffage and very melodic guitar solos, this guy playing is mind-blowing and you'll shocked by his set-up sound.
One of the surprises of the year, "Rubicon Cross" rocks from every corner via strong songwriting, potent and tight musicianship and a bright production which enhances the terrific melodies on offer.

Rating - 9/10

WAMI (White Appice Mendoza Iggy) - Kill The King (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Heavy metal
Label - Metal Mind Productions 

Track listing:
01. The Rider
02. Young Blood
03. One More For Rock'n'roll
04. Guardian Of Your Heart
05. Transition
06. The Resistance
07. Exodus (The Red Sea Crossing)
08. Heart Of Steel
09. Wild Woman (You Oughta Know)
10. Get Out Of My Way
11. I Don't Wanna Lose You

WAMI are a brand new super-group featuring the talents of vocalist Doogie White (Rainbow, Schenker, Yngwie, La Paz), drummer Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, DIO) and bassist Marco Mendoza (Black Star Riders, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake) alongside 16-year-old Polish guitarist Iggy Gwadera, who are releasing their debut CD "Kill The King" today, May 13.
The whole idea for this project was started by Marco Mendoza two years ago. Performing in Poland, Thin Lizzy was supported at that time by the metal act Anti Tank Nun – and, as it seems, the extraordinary talent of the support act’s guitarist, Iggy Gwadera, left Mendoza enchanted.
The collaboration between the two followed and soon it evolved into a full star-studded project, involving Mendoza and Gwadera as well as shouter Doogie White and monster drummer Vinny Appice.
To make a perfect heavy metal fairy tale out of it, it should be added that the impressive Gwadera is only 16 now, the fact that can really restore one’s faith in the late ‘90s “generation Z” as they call it.
Of course, the fairy tale wouldn't be complete without the input of the Fairy Godmother(s), or, in this case, the producers’ team. Here we go as follows: Jarek ‘Chilek’ Chilkiewicz (a well-known Polish guitar player) as well as the album’s composers Wojtek and Piotr Cugowski (the two talented sons of Polish classic rock legend Krzysztof Cugowski who followed their father’s footsteps artistically).
The result of this multi-dimensional collaboration is "Kill The King".
Enough of the background – let the music do the talking.
WAMI’s first release is perfect balance between hard rock versus traditional metal, classic roots versus contemporary sound, aggressiveness versus melody.
“The Rider” is the dynamic opener featuring the dazzling guitar gallop, followed by the powerful, upbeat mid-tempo “Young Blood” where stellar vocal harmonies complement the melodious main riff.
The next song is a bit self-introductory, as White sings 'we are rock’n’roll believers' in his raspy but strong voice; it’s “One More For Rock’n’Roll”, a number with a Black Sabbath trademark style and psychedelic flavors.
Fourth track is the absolute highlight – the ballad “Guardian of Your Heart”, where Doogie White shares lead vocals with the above Piotr Cugowski. A result of their collaboration behind the microphone is the brilliant, emotionally laden performance, and the surprisingly perfect match of these two voices brings the song to a whole new level.
“Transition” is pretty heavy and straight-in-your-face with a bouncy rhythm, which precedes the mellow intro to “The Resistance”, but that's only seconds before the track evolves into a metallic killer stomper with muscular gun-machine riffs and feisty, aggressive vocals – but at the same time, still melodic. Interestingly enough, this song’s outro is an obvious reference to White’s Scottish heritage – check it out and you’ll have it loud and clear.
“Exodus (The Red Sea Crossing)” is driven with a slow, lumbering, early eighties metal British-esque atmosphere. Its follow-up “Heart Of Steel” is a groovy but melodic hard rock piece, driven by quite modern riff.
Some bluesy hard rock overtones are to be distinguished in “Wild Woman (You Oughta Know)”, a feisty and groovy hard rock piece (think early Whitesnake), in a contrast with “Get Out Of My Way” which develops into a fast-paced, dynamic hard rocker with aggressive dialogue between the lead and backing vocals.
The final cut “I Don’t Wanna Lose You” is a soaring acoustic ballad with cello part played by the guest musician Dorota Wozniak-Mocarska and a perfect melody to finalize the CD.
"Kill The King" above all, proves one undisputed fact – this international, intergenerational hard rock WAMI project really works. And even more, the sensational artistic collaboration between a group of talented Polish musicians and the three hard rock legends would be seriously unappreciated if referred to only as a curiosity in Appice’s or White’s vast discographies.
It’s so because of many reasons – not only the predictable quality of the performance by the legendary musicians of Rainbow, Dio or Whitesnake fame, but also well-crafted compositions penned by the creative duo of Cugowski brothers.
The true scene stealer is, however, guitarist Iggy Gwadera – being not even old enough to vote and still, capable of meeting such a challenge. His talent and prowess, surprising at such young age, really shines through the entire album, and it’s almost certain we’ll hear about this gifted young man in the future – perhaps mentioned again alongside big names of the music industry.
Let’s also hope Kill The King won’t be the last album under the WAMI moniker – although with the bar set so high with the first one, it’ll be hard to top it.
Strongly Recommended.

Rating - 8/10

Full Line Up - 

Doogie White - vocals

Vinny Appice - drums
Marco Mendoza - bass
Iggy Gwadera - guitars
Additional musicians:
Jarek ‘Chilek’ Chilkiewicz – additional electric & acoustic guitars
Wojtek Cugowski – add. electric & acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Piotr Cugowski – guest lead vocals (track 4), backing vocals
Tomasz Golab – bass (track 5)
Szymek Synowka – drums (track 9)
Marek Trojanowicz – all keyboards
Dorota Wozniak-Mocarska – cello (track 11)
Eliza Cugowska, Krystyna Cugowska & Ewa Chilkiewicz – backing vocals
thanks to Alexandra Mrozowska

Monday, 12 May 2014

CJ Wildhearts - Mable (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Pop / Punk
Label - Pledge Music

Track Listing:

01 - Better Late Than Never
02 - Down The Drain
03 - Next To You
04 - Vitriol
05 - Always Believe Her
06 - Kentucky Fried
07 - D.C.
08 - Come With Me
09 - State Of Emergency
10 - Devil
11 - Midlife Crisis

After what seems like an eternity CJ Wildheart finally gets around to recording and releasing his debut solo album, (previous releases include Honeycrack, The Jelly's and CJ & The Satellites) in the form of Mable, which is named after his favourite pet chicken!
So how did Mable finally come about, and whats the story behind each of its 11 songs, well who better to answer that than CJ himself?
"So, in June 2013 I started demoing songs which would lead on to me recording my first solo album in 7 years. ‘Mable’ is the result of me locking myself away in my home studio and just letting things take a natural course.
Like with any album there is a theme to the songs and this album loosely charts my last 3 years of life in London before I moved to North Yorkshire and the big changes about to happen in my world.
For those who do not know, I retired from music for 3 years as I needed a change and wanted to try something new…. I started my own cleaning business.
I employed 8 guys and worked for all sorts of folk, from the stupidly wealthy to the heartbreakingly poor. My last 3 years in London was me running my company
and sometimes dreaming of returning back to music but most of the time trying my hardest to bring home the bacon.
The frustration I felt with having to deal with the rich snobs who live in the city would leave me wanting to kill the stuck up fuckers but I would always pull back my rage…. anyway I also felt equally furious at Councils who would let OAPs live in their own shit and expect my co workers to clean it up for peanuts…. the same Councils who would waste millions per year on art and other crap…. go figure.
Well, something had to give and I married, sold my business and moved to the countryside and back to the music. The songs on ‘Mable’ are about my last few years in London and my life completely changing again when I picked up my guitar and moved north.
I’m fast approaching middle age and I’m about to become a father for the first time…. My album reflects all these changes and I hope you enjoy it. X
The opening track and a wee ditty about getting it right…. eventually.
My message to Mother Nature telling her to get up and fight back against man.
You know when life gets too much and you just want a friend to comfort you, take you out for a pint and let you vent.
This tune is a cover of the Bluejuice (A great band from Australia) song. I would play this a lot when driving around London…. it’s a good ‘fuck you’ song!
In any relationship you have that great part at the beginning when it’s all new and nervous and then you get to the point where you either commit or run away. I didn’t run away and ended up marrying the girl…. those early days never leave you.
A song about running a cleaning business in the old smoke. The daily grind, traffic jams and frustrations.
7) D.C
Back in the early 90s my little brother Steve took me to a rave…. this is how I felt.
This is the oldest song on the album. I first demoed this in 2007 and the intro was used on ‘Plastic Jebus’ which is on ‘Chutzpah’
This songs charts my long battle with insomnia and sleeping tablets…. an on-going struggle even today but thankfully without the aid of pills.
Angry people who blame everyone but themselves. There comes a point when you just have to grow up and take responsibility.
A song about temptation…. but from a junkies point of view.
The last track and a song about part of my life coming to an end and the beginning of something new and truly wonderful.

But is the album any good? You bet your ass it is!
Opener Better Late Than Never begins with some quaint electronic noises and ambient effects before exploding into a great modern melodic rock riff. A great song and solid opener to the album! Next up is Down The Drain. This track has a darker feel, more of a solid riff and some great lyrics. I love how CJ has fitted the quite dark and serious lyrics into quite a poppy melody, wonderful song, although I'm still not sure what the hell the video has to do with the song! lol
Next To You follows and is not the lovey dovey ballad that the title suggests. A Slow to mid tempo rocker with a sort of stop start riff, and a cracker of a song. CJ is really on form here, both in his writing and vocals!
Next we have CJ's cover of Bluejuice's Vitriol, having never heard the original I cant comment upon how it compares, but what I can say is that its a great song a stunning performance from CJ, so Id say it probably compares rather well!
Always Believe Her is up next, and those electronic noises make another appearance during the songs intro, before a killer melodic riff kicks in, only for it to give way to the electronic noises throughout the verse. A great song with some interesting ideas throughout. Love it!
Kentucky Fried follows, which is another great mid-tempo rocker. This could be a killer track live!
The next song is D.C. a great track, again managing to blend electronic sounds usually more associated with dance music than rock with great rock riffs, and pulling it off really well.
Come With Me follows, with a darker feel to it both musically and lyrically. A great song with its familiar riff (explained above!)
State Of Emergency is up next and is possibly the most traditional rock track on offer on Mable. Its a great song and again I imagine will go down really well in a live environment!
Devil is the albums penultimate track, a dark track which twists and turns musically. Another great song
The album closes out with Midlife Crisis, another great traditional styled rock track, a real slow builder and a great choice to close out the album!

Mable shows that CJ is more than just the other vocalist / guitarist in The Wildhearts, it shows that he is one hell of a songwriter and solo musician too!. I say that because with the exception of a few gang vocals from producer Lee Potter Wray (Zen Motel) and Chris Catalyst (Eureka Machines / Sisters Of Mercy / Ginger Wildheart Band) everything on this album is played by CJ himself, even down to the drum programing!
Lee Wray does a sterling job with the production making Mable a stunning album.

Well worth checking out!

Rating 10/10

Ginger Wildheart - G.A.S.S. Month 1 EP (2014)

Genre - Hard Rock / Pop / Punk
Label - Self released

Track listing:

01 - Everything
02 - That's A Nasty Habit You've Got There
03 - Bloody Knees

Bonus Demos
04 - Ice (Demo)
05 - The Jackson Whites (Original Demo)

OK so Ginger Wildheart has had tremendous success as of late with his various Pledge Music projects, most notably the awesome 555% triple CD release and the Mutation / Hey!Hello! releases, but this time he has opted to go down a far riskier path with his G.A.S.S. project, So what is G.A.S.S? and just why is it so damned risky?
G.A.S.S. (Ginger Appreciation Secret Society) is a totally fan interactive project, the ultimate fan club so to speak, with membership spread overt three different levels, with the most basic offering full access to the exclusive website, and access to 36 brand new tracks, (yes I said 36!) spread over a twelve month period, as well as access to various demos etc, podcasts, competitions etc, and the ultimate top tier offering a membership card that allows the holder to gain access to meet and greets throughout the year. Pretty awesome hey?
So this is a review of the first batch of the 36 songs, (the plan is to release 3 a month over a twelve month period, a little like the aborted Singles club that Ginger tried a few years ago, which got aborted due to an inept record label!)
So what do we have here then?
Track one, Everything, featuring Givvi Flynn on backing vocals and recorded (and mixed) by Jase Edwards, is a mid paced melodic rocker that would have fit comfortably along side any of the tracks on the now legendary 555% project or for that matter even on the aforementioned aborted singles club! A great song!
Track two,  That's A Nasty Habit You've Got There, recorded by Jase Edwards, mixed by Jason Sanderson and also features Jason Sanderson on backing vocals, is a slightly darker track with a quicker tempo. Again this song would have fitted well on the 555% project or even Market Harbour, another great song!
Track three, Bloody Knees, again recorded by Jase Edwards, mixed by Kevin Vanbergen and featuring Givvi Flynn on vocals and Jon Poole on keyboards, is a real monster of a song. Givvi and Ginger sharing lead vocal duties in much the same way as Ginger did with Victoria in Hey! Hello!, but this time around the song feels much darker, more Market Harbour than anything else, with a real Wildhearts feel in places (check out its awesome mid section!), just less heavy. Bloody Knees is one of the best songs Ginger has produced ever, and this guy has created some corking tracks over the years. A definite classic!
Its important to note that Ginger plays all instruments, unless otherwise stated, on all three tracks in much the same way as he did with the Hey! Hell! project, and again does a grand job!
So that's three great new tracks, membership also allows you access to various rare demos / outtakes that again will be uploaded and made available over the twelve month period. This month we have two, Ice and an original demo of the Wildhearts classic The Jackson Whites.
I'll allow Ginger to explain,
"ICE - I'd been given a brief to write some pop/rock songs for a Japanese artist, something that sounds like Ginger. I penned a few songs (I'm sure we'll be sending you the others in due course) and the artist didn't like them because they were too melodic and sounded too much like The Wildhearts. This has happened a few times, once for a proposed movie soundtrack where the director insisted I write something as he was a huge fan (No Way Out But Through), then complained that it sounded too much like me writing a song for a film. This is why I don't write for people very often. This song was recorded with Jase Edwards."
"THE JACKSON WHITES - This is a home demo that I made of The Jackson Whites, the first track written for Chutzpah!, in New York City, 2008. This was before bringing it to the band, where we made a further demo of it in Finland, recorded by our manager at the time, Virpi, which also featured standard tuning. The decision to drop the tuning was made in Denmark as we were actually recording the album. So much for demos, eh?"

Ice is a great little poppy rock track, that if I am honest, I am surprised has been made available as a bonus demo, when the quality of its recording and hell the quality of the song could have easily made it possible to put it out as one of the new 36 tracks! Ice = a great three minute pop rock experience!
The Jackson Whites demo is a surprisingly good quality demo of an early version of the song, You can hear what it sounded like before they tweaked a couple of the riffs and down tuned the guitars!

If this first instalment of G.A.S.S. experience is anything to go by then we are in for a real treat with Ginger pushing himself to deliver the quality product that he has become symnominous with!

Rating 10/10

NB - G.A.S.S. membership is available at any point over the next twelve months, with all releases being made available in due course, so there is plenty of time to save those penny's if you cant subscribe straight away.