Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Bill Ward (Black Sabbath) - Accountable Beasts (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Heavy Metal
Label - Self Released (available through iTunes)
Track listing:
01 - Leaf Killers
02 - Accountable Beasts
03 - Katastrophic World
04 - D.O.T.H.
05 - First Day Back
06 - As It Is In Heaven
07 - Ashes
08 - Straws
09 - The Wall OF Death

So without warning or fanfare, Black Sabbath's legendary original drummer releases his third, and first in eighteen years!), solo album up on the world.
And to be honest, the album sounds exactly as you would expect, with a sound that fits somewhere in between that of his debut (Ward One - Along The Way) and its follow up (When The Bough Breaks).
Opener, Leaf Killers begins with a heavy chugging riff, before piano and orchestration kicks in. A great opener and more importantly a great song.
The albums title track follows, Accountable Beasts. This song really picks up the tempo, and has a loose feel to it, in fact the entire album has a raw garage feel to it, with Bill avoiding the trappings of over producing the tracks, which really brings out the quality of the songs.
Katrastrophic World follows with its menacing atmospheres and doomy riffs. This could have been worked up into a great Sabbath track had the reunion gone to plan!
D.O.T.H is a track that could have fitted well on Ward One - Along The Way. A great song in its own right, but in my opinion the weakest one so far into the album.
Next we have First Day Back, a song with a strange beginning to say the least, funky guitars and sound bites. A great if quirky (in places) song that again would have easily fitted on Ward One.
AS It Is In Heaven is I guess the albums ballad. Its a great song, but as with most tracks on Bill's solo albums, its not quite what you are expecting. I love this song!
Ashes follows with its chugging riffs, but slow melodic vocal. Another great song, that morphs through many tempos and changes before it reaches its conclusion.
Straws is a track that some fans may have heard previously, as I am sure it was made available a few years ago whilst Bill was working on his shelved Beyond Aston project (A project that I pray will one day see the light of day!). Still its a great if rather dark song, another of my favourites.
Finally we have the albums mighty closer, The Wall Of Death, which clocks in at around the ten minute mark. Its a monster, a really great song.
Despite all the recent claims about Bills health issues he plays drums on seven of the nine album tracks, playing alongside long time collaborators, guitarist-keyboardist Keith Lynch, bassist Paul Ill, drummers Ronnie Ciago and Walter Earl and a number of vocalists, including his daughter Emily.

This album proves that there is plenty of life in the Black Sabbath legend, along with vast amounts of creativity it would seem too.

Accountable Beasts is a good honest old Hard Rock album that is well worth checking out.

Vary Highly Recommended!!

Rating - 10/10

Junkyard Choir - Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Garage Blues
Label - Self Released

Track listing:

01 -Vaya Con Dios
02 - Get It On
03 - Oh Have Mercy
04 - Let The Good Times Roll
05 - Hold Fast
06 - Shake Your Tambourine
07 - Sun Moon Stars
08 - Rehab
09 - The Wolf
10 - Let Your Love Roll In
11 - Sweet Marylou

This one again comes by recommendation of Mr Kyle Vallis and his Unsigned Melodies site, cheers pal!

Junkyard Choir is a two-piece musical powerhouse from Brighton, England (although at times you could be forgiven for thinking that they were from the USA's dirty south!) - a stripped-down garage orchestra of guitar and drums, characterised by gritty melodies and commanded by imperious vocals. Mark Woods and Tom Herbert are purveyors of a restless and dirty blues from south of the borderlands - drenched in rum, and served with lime - this is riot music, road trip rock n roll: the sounds of the desert and the soul of the swamp, forged from hunger and baptised in sweat.
One half Scottish grit, the other half Caribbean spice; Junkyard Choir is a one-hundred-percent south coast blues-grunge explosion. Established in 2014 - and formerly trading as 'Dos Hermanos Locos'.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie is the bands debut album and what a way to introduce yourselves!
A perfect mix of dirty blues and garage rock, that is the best way to describe the way Junkyard Choir sound, with the lead vocals being very reminiscent of NWoBHM legends Samson's one time lead vocalist Nicky Moore, which is no bad thing at all!
There is not a bad track on this album at all, in fact it's quite amazing as to just how good this album sounds considering that Junkyard Choir are just a duo!
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie could be the perfect soundtrack to that road trip that you have always dreamed about taking, just laid back, gritty rock n roll. Songs like Get It On, Oh Have Mercy, Shake Your Tambourine, Rehab and Hold Fast in planting themselves in your brain and forcing you to sing along.
Junkyard Choir are a truly independent band, doing everything, and I mean everything from booking shows, designing and printing merch / flyers to producing their own videos, so show some support!
These guys are really worth checking out!

Very Highly Recommended

Rating - 10/10

FM - Heroes And Villains (2015)

Genre - Melodic Rock / AOR
Track listing:
01. Digging Up The Dirt
02. You’re The Best Thing About Me
03. Life Is A Highway
04. Fire And Rain
05. Incredible
06. Call On Me
07. Cold Hearted
08. Shape I’m In
09. Big Brother
10. Somedays I Only Wanna Rock And Roll
11. I Want You
12. Walking With Angels
Perhaps the most important British Melodic Rock / AOR act of all time, FM may have spent last autumn on a 30th anniversary tour, but they are neither a nostalgia band nor one to let the grass grow under their feet. Two years after a pair of new albums in Rockville I and II, and ahead of yet another tour, they are back with another record of new material entitled "Heroes And Villains".
Simply put, "Heroes And Villains" is probably the most overtly commercial of the albums they have recorded since reforming, possibly even since the outstanding 1989’s ‘Tough It Out’.
Opener "Digging Up The Dirt" has a shuffling groove to it driven by a great big guitar riff underpinning the track courtesy of Jim Kirkpatrick whose guitar work on everything from Metropolis to date has been phenomenal.
Steve Overland’s vocals need no comment other than to say that the smoothest set of pipes in melodic rock sound as strong as ever allowing the listener to settle into the mood of the album within the first 30 seconds.
All the trademark FM styles are there. Merv Goldsworthy and Pete Jupp make everything sound big, while Jem Davis’ keyboard sound is fresh and modern.

The ultra-catchy follower "You’re The Best Thing About Me" can be compared with Def Leppard-Hysteria era, although Steve Overland’s ever superb lead vocals are vastly superior. Later, the lush ballad "Incredible" is another showcase for the warmth and emotion the frontman brings to his singing.
"Life Is A Highway" sneaks a little bit of American Girls from FM's brilliant debut into the mix just to keep the long term fans happy. "Fire And Rain" brings in a classic melodic rock groove with some 'whoah oahs' thrown in for good measure at the beginning of the track.
Commerciality should not be equated with fluffy keyboards though as the guitar of Jim Kirkpatrick is pushed well forward in the mix and his concise solos suit the music perfectly.
Much of the album has the feel, if not the budget, of a Mutt Lange-produced album and indeed "Shape I’m In" could be a missing outtake from Bryan Adams’ ‘Waking Up The Neighbours’.
"Cold Hearted" is virtually the only representative of the more melodic bluesy sound of early Nineties FM, adding a touch of grit to the highly polished fare elsewhere like the bright and breezy "Call On Me".
"Big Brother" offers something different both lyrically and with its slower pace and haunting keyboards at the beginning and end, and "Sometimes I Only Wanna Rock n Roll" has the raunchy Seventies feel of Brishish scene.
Now of course, no FM album is complete without the ballads. There are tracks littered throughout FM’s history that other bigger AOR acts would have loved to have written and the aforementioned "Incredible" ticks all of the boxes that denotes a future fan favourite as well.
They save the best for last though and the album plays out with "Walking With Angels", opening with soft acoustic guitar playing, beautiful harmonising from the band and Steve doing, well, simply what Steve does best. This song deserves to be huge and may be one of the best tracks the band have ever written.
Well it's 2015 and here we are gearing up for a new FM album, and sometimes you just gotta love the music world, because during their initial period of rocking all over the world and after the wilderness years of 1996 - 2007, it is amazing that the band continue to release great music.
"Heroes And Villains" cements their reputation as the UK’s foremost exponents of Melodic Rock, and delivers, as usual, very polished & slick quality stuff.

Highly Recommended.

Rating - 9/10

HELLOWEEN - Battle's Won (Single) (2015)

Genre - Heavy Metal
Track listing:
01 - Battle's Won
02 - Lost In America

One of the most influential and internationally successful acts of the global metal scene, Germans HELLOWEEN celebrates their 30th anniversary with the release of their 15th studio album 'My God-Given Right', due out on June 1.
On April 17th, HELLOWEEN will release the hymn “Battle’s Won”, which is the first single off of the album. A limited quantity of the special edition 2-track vinyl single will be will be available.
My God-Given Right was recorded between October 2014 and February 2015 at the band’s very own MiSueno Studio in Tenerife with long-term producer Charlie Bauerfeind handling production and recording duties.
The enchanting artwork of the main album was once again created by graphic guru Martin Häusler (Bon Jovi, Queen, Gotthard).
The band's first self-titled EP was released in 1985, making their new album My God-Given Right the celebratory marker for their impressive 30 year career.
And judging the quality of this 2-track single, they are better than ever as unit. Production is bombastic, brilliant.

Rating - 9/10

RAVEN - ExtermiNation (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Heavy Metal / NWoBHM
Label -

Track listing:

01 - Intro / Destroy All Monsters
02 - Tomorrow
03 - Its Not What You Got
04 - Fight
05 - Battle March / Tank Treads (The Blood Runs Red)
06 - Feeding The Monster
07 - Fire Burns Within
08 - Scream
09 - One More Day
10 - Thunder Down Under
11 - No Surrender
12 - Golden Dawn
13 - Silver Bullet
14 - River Of No Return
15 - Malice In Geordieland (Bonus track)

Raven? Now there is a blast from the past!
If by the year 2015 you haven’t heard Raven then it is time to question your Rock credentials. Formed in Newcastle way back in 1974, the band released a triple whammy of cult classic heavy albums Rock Until You Drop, Wiped Out and All for One between 1981 and 1983.
On “ExtermiNation”, they still sound the same, but despite of being an exercise of nostalgia or 'too much old men to rock', the result is fun, fun, fun.
And they are damn fine a their playing, wrapped by a very good recording production.
There are a lot of speed, power and melodic metal bands out there that owe a debt to Raven for paving the way. The band have had one line-up change since 1981 which was in 1987 when drummer Joe Hasselvander (Pentagram, Death Row) joined the band, and they have never compromised their sound. The guys have come a long way since "Don't Need Your Money"!
Raven is traditional heavy metal, at this point, named 'classic rock'.
Yeah, you have pounding drums, screaming guitars and head thumping bass all topped off with John Gallagher’s unmistakable voice.
“ExtermiNation” is the band's 13th studio album and their first in 6 years, in the interim they have relentlessly toured and recently hooked up again with old sparring partners Metallica for some mega-dome shows in South America.
Due the excellent production for this type of music, on “ExtermiNation” Raven sounds younger, fresher, and more merciless than ever. By employing the formula of hooks and fun), the album just feels incredibly energetic and alive.
If there is one thing that Raven never forgets – it’s that all real Rock music begins with a hook to make it great. It takes more than just 'heaviness', though “ExterminNation” has its fair share of that.
Most of all, they always keep it fun with a healthy dose of rock ‘n’ roll. This formula has endured for the last 35 years and has been the basis for some of the most consistently iconic material in the history of heavy metal. Stacked with amazing hits like “All for One,” “Rock Until You Drop,” “Hell Patrol,” “Mind Over Metal” – most bands would have tried to pass off a half-assed album only to rely on the past glory to garner fan forgiveness.
With tracks like "Fight", "Scream", "Thunder Down Under" and "Feeding the Monster" Raven smashes the metal right in your face in the same classic fashion that the band has done in virtually the entire time heavy metal existed – complete with the auditory activated smell of leather, denim, and sweat and the sensory propagated studs to chin that comes with every exhausting live performance.
“One More Day” highlights Mark Gallagher’s guitar prowess with a tapped intro before a big fat juicy riff comes in for the kill. This song contains some great runs with the band sounding tighter than ever; how John Gallagher gets those high pitched screams nowadays is commendable, many of his peers can only squawk at this stage of the game.
The album is a mix of these slower mid paced rib crackers and the faster material which is more akin to their earlier material. Hasslevander puts in a sterling performance throughout with his trademark heavy hitting and solid double bass.
The production in “ExtermiNation” is big and bold with a bucket load of bottom end, but more importantly it is full of songs - classic heavy metal songs, nothing more nothing less.
If I was to aim criticism at this record, it would be the length and for some folk that may prove a turnoff and they may not give the songs all a fair chance. Some bands try to over complicate things, Raven don’t – they do what they have always done – delivered a hammer to the face.
Go buy and find out what real fun heavy metal is!

Rating - 10/10

Romeo's Daughter - Spin (2015)

Genre - Melodic Rock / AOR
Label -
Track listing:
01. Touch
02. Already Gone
03. Love will come to those who wait
04. Enemy
05. Didn't see it coming
06. Radio
07. Tonight
08. All Because of you
09. Perfect Plan
10. Tall Buildings

After their very good comeback album in 2012, the quintet fronted by the stunning Leigh Matty (voted Number 5 Lady Rock Singer of all time in Classic Rock / AOR Magazine) returns with a new studio record to be released tomorrow April 20 entitled “Spin”, that will excite any fan of the genre.
The new album includes all the traditional elements of the band, only updated. They are delivered in a more 'modern', matured way so to speak. It's been 26 whole years since the band's classic debut and the band has grown up!
But don't worry, "Spin" is a glorious mix of melodic rock and AOR and all with the pure velvet tones of the gorgeous Leigh Matty leading the way.
The opening tune "Touch" exactly paints what Romeo's Daughter is in 2015; rockier, 'darker' but with the melody in front row. Craig Joiner's jabbing guitar riff and Leigh's deep vocal in the first verse set the tone before bursting into a huge chorus where keyboards add to the mix in great stabs.
"Already Gone" starts on a chug along riff before a cracking pace is set before a massive multi layered chorus. The excellent mix shines with Craig's riff to the fore but you marvel at Ed Poole's bass work that underpins the whole tune.
"Love Will Come To Those That Wait" is just a brilliant power ballad and it's movin' to the band's earlier works.
"Enemy" has a chorus line that will make you whistle it for days while "Tonight" seems like an edgy rocker taken from the band's second album.
In "All Because Of You" we have a catchy uptempo song with a beautiful chorus and a sweet melody to die for. Smoky Leigh vocal and classy keys on this one.
"Didn't See You Coming" begins on a picked acoustic guitar on a song that is Romeo's Daughter unplugged. Leigh's vocal soars in the chorus to new heights and during the verse is quite hazy in comparison. I'm sure it would be a huge hit if radio picked it up.
What you can expect from a song called "Radio" done by a melodic rock band? An ultra-catchy track. The chorus is fantastic with the lyrics saying 'give me guitars' and a melody that I will sing out loud. It has a great pump and a lengthy Craig guitar solo takes it to new altitude.
"Perfect Plan" and "Tall Buildings" finish the album in style. The former all stop start guitar riff and a big chorus, the latter built on an early drum pattern plus round bass lines that then builds into the chorus where Matty's vocal whoa whoah's fit snuggly.
Romeo's Daughter have matured and while the overall sound is more 'edgy', this new album is packed with a bunch of feel-good, summer-ready tunes plenty of melody and catchy choruses.
"Spin" sees Romeo's Daughter embracing their past but also look to the future with an album that equally will delight old & young Melodic Rock aficionados. Catch them on tour with FM next month.

Highly Recommended.
Rating - 9/10

WhiskeyDick - Welcome To Yeehaw County (2015)

Genre - Southern Rock / Country / Hillbilly / Acoustic
Label - Stampede Press Uk
Track listing:
01. Redemption
02. Train Robbin, Gun Totin, Dope Smokin, Guitar Pickin, Mother Fuckin, Good Time Band.
03. Yee Haw
04. Breathin A New Life
05. Help
06. 18  Wheels Of Life
07. My Prison State Of Mind
08. Drunk As Hell
09. Devil’s Eyes
10. Gun Totin’ Rebel Son
11. Murder Love Song
12. BlackTooth Grin
13. Fallen Heroes Remastered

"Texan duo WhiskeyDick have given anyone stumbling across them some very subtle hints as to what they may sound like. If the album art featuring jars of moonshine, trucker hats and a confederate flag doesn’t quite give it away, maybe the albums title will. These two guys play good old-fashioned, redneck-tinged acoustic country rock. You can pretty much smell the bourbon (and weed) that undoubtedly went into the making of this record."
Now the above statement may sound a little negative to some, but its not. These guys play acoustic driven southern hill billy blues with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks. But they take what they do very seriously, and all thirteen songs on offer here show that. The songs are very well crafted, and by no means throw away, despite the tongue n cheek lyrics. Now I love my down tuned overdriven guitars as much a the next guy, but this album really has taken me by surprise. As I previously said, its acoustically driven, yet as powerful as any full blown band album out there. Help is just brilliant, sensitive and touching, Redemption and Train Robbin... are pure southern fun.
These guys are very obviously enjoying themselves and you are left in no doubt that that’s what you will be doing also. The whole album gallops along and takes you on an exciting journey, from gentle acoustic to breath taking riff and solo offerings mixed with a gritty cowboy presence. Outstanding tracks for me were ‘Help’ with its beautiful melodic raspy vocals, delicate acoustic and heartfelt passion. ‘Black Tooth Grin’ with its very obvious Dimebag Darrel tribute.
Welcome To Yeehaw County isthe perfect soundtrack to a night of booze and BBQ.

Well worth checking out!

Rating - 9/10

Hung Like Jack - Life's First Sign Of Rage (Single) (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Metal / Punk
Label - Self Released
Track listing:
01 - Life's First Sign Of Rage
02 - Fire Beneath Me

Hung Like Jack return next month with a two track signal that's set to be the soundtrack to your summer with Life's First Sign Of Rage!
Two blistering tracks that manage to combine the bands hard rock, metal and punk influences perfectly. There is enough angst and energy contained within these two tracks to satisfy any one, all the while tempered with the bands acute sense of melody.
The single's / EP's title track burst into life from the on set with a gang chant and great melodic riff.
The guitars and bass line really driving the song along, yet restraining themselves enough to allow the songs melody and vocals to take centre stage. A great song that I can see becoming very popular with the bands fans. Love the break downs too, heavy riffy monsters!
The EP's / singles other track, Fire Beneath Me (the b-side in the good old days!) is another monster of a track. This song has more punk leanings to it, yet is still undeniably Hung Like Jack. Again the guitars really drive this song along, it also has plenty of chanting and some great lyrics. I can really see this one becoming a firm live favourite has it just about has everything.
If these two new tracks are anything to go by then I cant wait to hear a bloody album from these guys, its long over due!
You really do owe to yourselves to check these guys out, think Supercharger / Whatever mixed with The Jelly's and Wildhearts.

Very Highly Recommended.

Rating - 10/10
The single is launched live at The Railway Tavern (Darlington) on Friday May 22nd.

 Find out more here

Saturday, 25 April 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.

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

Gun - Frantic (2015)

Genre - Melodic Rock / Pop
Label - Gun (Self Released)
Track listing:
01 - Let It Shine
02 - Labour of Life
03 - Beautiful Smile
04 - One Wrong Turn
05 - Our Time
06 - Frantic
07 - Hold Your Head Up
08 - Big City
09 - Seraphina
10 - Never Knew What I Had
Its been a long time since Gun blasted onto the scene with the mighty 'Taking On The World' (1989), and the two great follow ups Swagger(1994) and Gallus (1992). After these brilliant albums with their perfect blend of melodic rock / pop tinged hard rock Gun seemed to loose their way a little. Things looked promising when they returned with former Little Angels vocalist Toby Jepson in tow for 2009's Pop Killer Ep, but sadly this union was to prove short lived and 2012's full length comeback affair was rather a hit and miss effort. Shame really.
At first listen, "Frantic" it's much better.
Second album to feature vocals by Dante Gizzi, it opens with "Let It Shine" starting with a short a gospel like intro which leads into a riff which is reminiscent of Def Leppard’s Armaggedon It. It is classic Gun though, polished poppy melodic rock with a great melody and some tasty guitar work from Jools Gizzi.
The lead track from the album follows, "Labour Of Life", a more direct rock song with a big chorus enhanced with a brass section. I can see why the band chose to air this song first. It's good, yet not the strongest.
"Beautiful Smile" has a vocal effect throughout which I found a bit unnecessary although the song has an effective groove, but then "One Wrong Turn" gets things back on track with a nice melodic rock feel.
"Our Time" slows the pace a bit with some acoustics into the mix and relaxed vocals.
Album title track "Frantic", unlike the name suggests, is a more laid back, reflective track complete with a string section for added effect. "Hold Your Head Up" returns to the feel of the opening track with multi layered vocals on the chorus.
"Big City" is another Gun signature track, melodic pop rock that will have your toe tapping and head nodding, it may not be original but it is fun.
The riff of "Seraphina" had me singing XTC in my head before "Never Knew What I Had" brings the album to the end in low key fashion, the closest the album gets to a ballad.
Much better than their 2012 comeback album, "Frantic" is a good new offering from Gun.
Gun’s music has always been a fine balance of pop and melodic rock with a touch of edge, and when the band get that blend right the end results are something special. There's some cuts here in this vein, while others are a bit boring and on the safe side. I was longing for Jools to break loose with a chunky riff or two.
That said, "Frantic" is an enjoyable listen, just don’t expect it to rock your world too hard.
Worth checking out
Rating - 7/10


The Quireboys - St Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Classic Rock
Label - Off Yer Rocka
Track listing:
CD1 - St. Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul: 01. Gracie B
02. Land Of My Father
03. St Cecilia
04. The Promise
05. Can’t Hide It Anymore
06. Out Of Your Mind
07. The Hurting Kind
08. Adaline
09. The Best Are Not Forgotten
10. Why Did It Take So Long

CD2 - Halfpenny Dancer (Acoustic):
01. There She Goes Again
02. Devil Of A Man
03. Love To Love
04. Mona Lisa Smiled
05. I Can’t Stop Loving You
06. Roses & Rings
07. Baby It’s You
08. Hello
09. Pretty Girls
10. He’ll Have To Go
11. Long Time Comin’
12. Hates To Please
13. King Of New York

CD3 - Halfpenny Live (Part I):
01. There She Goes Again
02. Devil Of A Man
03. Mona Lisa Smiled
04. Love To Love
05. Roses & Rings
06. Pretty Girls
07. Can’t Stop Loving You
08. One For The Road
09. Hello

CD4 - Halfpenny Live (Part II):
01. Hates To Please
02. Long Time Comin’
03. Have A Drink With Me
04. Late Night Saturday Call
05. Misled
06. I Love This Dirty Town
07. 7 O clock
08. I Don t Love You Anymore
The Quireboys are back with the release of their ninth album todate in the form of St Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul. Inspired by the success of 2009's critically acclaimed acoustic album "Halfpenny Dancer" (out of print), the band entered Swedish Lemon Studios fully intending to create something with that atmosphere. However, an Aladdin's Cave of intriguing instruments and eerie samples inspired The Quireboys to push the boundaries and shift the focus.
"The plan was always to record some new acoustic songs and rework some originals," says Spike. "But the plan changed. There was something about that place — the vibe got better and better and we just went with the flow."
The Quireboys flew home with 10 new songs and a brand new sound. "St. Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul" the result, packaged alongside "Halfpenny Dancer" — finally available again — and two discs covering the previously unreleased 2010 "Halfpenny Dancer" live show featuring fiddles, pedal steel, mandolin, banjo and more.
"This side of the band needs to heard," added Spike. "And we'll be taking the new music out on the road with our most intimate tour yet."
Well let's start with CD 1, the main "St. Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul". It's exactly how a Quireboys album should be. It’s succinct. No song and indeed, the album as a whole, outstays its welcome.
The Quireboys are one of the few bands who don't need to deviate from their blueprint of constructing a song and every time produces something that’s fresh and unmistakeably theirs.
Album opener “Gracie B” is hauntingly dark with the inimitable swagger which infuses many of their previous songs. There’s a hint of venom and anger punctuating the lyrics. However, it is the band dropped a couple of gears as opposed to their raucous selves.
Meanwhile with songs like “Land of my Father” and “St. Cecilia”, it’s the Quireboys doing what no other band quite manages: good time rock and roll. Just the introduction to the former will produce a manic grin and you’ll be moving to the melody before you realise it.
However, much of the album has a laid-back attitude with only a few upbeat numbers. While the band does stick to their rootsy, self-styled gypsy rock and roll, this brings something fresh to the table and is a welcome change. Ballads or heavier songs, the band have always flourished in both areas.
Spike’s voice, as always, is on top form. Potentially better than it was thirty years ago and aging far better than others. Growling and yelping, you can’t help but picture his infectious grin. It speaks volumes to the infectious nature of these songs and how well they’re written that just after a couple of listens, you’ll be singing with Spike, word for word.
"Halfpenny Dancer" is a very nice addition to this release, a warm acoustic studio recording with lots of feeling.
Much of it will be familiar to fans, with some of their better known songs given a fresh interpretation. If you’re a fan, you may already have Halfpenny Dancer but if not, it’s a welcome addition to your collection, breathing new life into old favourites.
Also in the package is "Halfpenny Live, containing many of the songs from Halfpenny Dancer whilst adding in some of their best-known songs and deep cuts such as “Hates to Please” and performed to an audience.
"St. Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul" is The Quireboys on unmistakeable fine form.
Listening the new record, the previous acoustic CD, and the live show, you got the feeling that the band, like a fine wine - and a literary cliché - is getting better with age. Like so much on the previous album, many of these tracks are good enough to be radio hits if someone would only give them airplay.
Rating - 9/10

Ginger Wildheart - G.A.S.S. Month 12 EP (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Pop / Punk / Alternative
Label - Self Released
Track listing:
01 - Don't Lose Your Tail, Girl
02 - Waves Of Sadness
03 - I'll Have Another

So here we are, after twelve glorious months we come to the final instalment of Ginger Wildhearts mighty G.A.S.S. project, and what an a project its been! With this , the final instalment adding the last of the tracks we have had, thirty six brand spanking new songs, twenty four previously unreleased demos / outtakes (that's not including the Chutzpah! demos!), a plethora of awesome artwork, podcasts, articles (both on horror films and the secret history of rock 'n' roll) and diary updates!. What a ride it has been, and in typical fashion, it would seem that Ginger may have very well kept the best for last, as the three new songs in this months instalment are quite simply brilliant.
This months offerings opens up with, Don't Lose Your Tail, Girl. This is quite possibly the best song, definitely the most epic (and yes I am considering Sky Babies in there too!) song that Ginger has ever released. It twists and turns through so many tempo and style changes, yet always remains tight and focused. A truly wonderful song that features the talents of Givvi Flynn (vocals), Lynne Edwards (vocals), and  Jase Edwards (synth swells, piano, harpsichord, orchestral synth and noises). A really brilliant song!
Next up we have Waves Of Sadness, which is much more of a typical straight up rocker, but don't let that description fool you as its a real stonker of a track. Its loud, proud, shouty and yet melodic and harmonic, fucking brilliant, once again showing Ginger at his best. This time the song features the talents of Jase Edwards, Lynne Edwards, Stix, Simon Wilson, Sophia Vassalos, Squirrel and Tom Spencer on vocals.
This months new songs close out with I'll Have Another. This song is a really bouncy rocker in some ways quite reminiscent of a certain Status Quo, although I am sure that I can hear elements of Dancin' and Better Than Cable (by The Wildhearts) in there too. This is another really awesome track, featuring the talents of Robin Guy (drums), Tom Spencer (vocals and guitar), Jase Edwards (vocals), Squirrel (vocals), and Lynne Edwards (vocals), and is a great way with which to end such an ambitious and hugely successful project on.

and this months bonus demos.....

well as has become tradition here, lets see what Ginger himself has to say about them......

PRIDE ON FIRE – "I can only assume by the sheer level of musicianship that was the side project proposed by that ‘super-group’ collection of LA rockers, who ultimately wanted Cory Taylor to sing for them. There’s no doubt that Corey has the better voice. Christ, he has a better voice than even his fans know. I’ve heard him go in person, he’s insane.
I do doubt, however, that he’d have written a more emotional melody and personal lyric than this. Hell, if this wasn’t going to get me a pro gig in Hollywood then it was never going to happen.
And, subsequently, never did."
THIS TOO WILL PASS – "Oh, I LOVE this verse melody.
I honestly didn’t know, until Adam Perry (of A) pointed it out, that the chorus is identical to a Blur song. I forget which song (hang on, wasn’t it ‘This Is A Low’?) but he was right, of course, their song had obviously lodged itself subliminally into my psyche and I’d totally reproduced it, note for note, on this home demo.
To be honest I’m amazed that this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often, but I’m thankful that it was picked up on before the song was released and their lawyers had me shot and hidden in a desert somewhere.
Still, that verse. That’s lovely that is. And Damon Albarn didn’t write that."

Pride On Fire is yet more proof that this group of musicians should have recorded and released an album together, as thanks to G.A.S.S. we have now been privileged to hear three demos, (Pride, Shine and The Thin Line...), all of them absolutely brilliant songs! A beautiful song that's just, well almost the perfect power ballad!

This Too Will Pass is the demo of one of the bonus tracks that would end up on Gingers best of compilation Ten. Here it is fairly stripped back and as stated with a different (and in my opinion superior) chorus. Another great sneak peak at the evolution of a song.

So there we have it, the last instalment of G.A.S.S. I dare say that the first of every month is never quite going to feel the same without out monthly shot of musical perfection.

Rating - 10/10

Scott Weiland And The Wildabouts - Blaster (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Classic Rock / Alternative
Label -

Track listing:

01 - Modzilla
02 - Way She Moves
03 - Hotel Rio
04 - Amethyst
05 - White Lightning
06 - Blue Eyes
07 - Bleed Out
08 - Youth Quake
09 - Beach Pop
10 - Parachute
11 - 20Th Century Boy
12 - Circles

Although blessed with a long and successful career fronting mega bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, it can seem that Scott Weiland's extra-curricular activities have somewhat overshadowed his musical contributions but it cannot be denied that there is a reason for his longevity and popularity (44 million albums sold so far).
2015, he is back with SCOTT WEILAND and the WILDABOUTS, and their debut CD "Blaster".
With a varied collection of solo efforts under his belt already, Weiland wanted a 'real band sound' and formed The Wildabouts, aiming to obtain, described by the man himself, a 'rocking... sexy... furry' output.
There is no doubt that "Blaster" stylistically fits into the works of Stone Temple Pilots but it has added fuzz and a dirty retro sound that conjures images of beautiful people in packed clubs getting hot and steamy.
I think 'glam' is the best word to paint Weiland & The Wildabouts sound: Stone Temple Pilots blended with a quite rocking retro glam style.
The funked up envelope filter riff of 'Modzilla' and 'Way She Moves' set the tone for "Blaster", dirty riffs coupled with sweet backing vocals and Weiland's unmistakable voice taking the reins.
'Amethyst' starts with a dreamy intro morphing into a driving rocker that features a cool echo-drenched guitar solo courtesy of Jeremy Brown. He and the other Wildabouts, bassist Tommy Black and drummer Danny Thompson keep things tight but free enough to put groove in these tunes, and producer Rick Parker (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) captures the energy and emotion well.
In fact, The Wildabouts sound great, tight, and grand part the reason these songs sound so nicely.
The songwriting is pretty strong and even at its prettiest Weiland's pop nous keeps it on the right side of sweet for 'Blue Eyes' and only dips into the saccharin once on 'Beach Pop'.
The mentioned glam influence is present on the cover of T. Rex's '20th Century Boy', and the more modern sounding 'White Lightning', one of the best tracks on the album for me.
As alluded to by the cover art of a retro boombox, "Blaster" is a record that rocks pretty good, combining STP melodies with a clear nod to Seventies glam. If you liked Scott Weiland 'sober' era, this one does not disappoint.
In a macabre twist of fate, "Blaster" will be remembered in years to come by a sad event: The Wildabouts' guitarist Jeremy Brown passed away yesterday - the day the band's debut album "Blaster" was released. R.I.P.
Rating - 9/10


The Darker My Horizon - Acquiesce (2015)

Genre - Melodic Hard Rock 
Label - Winkelrant Records
Track listing:
01 - Closure
02 - Can't Stop the Rain
03 - Ok
04 - Summer Time
05 - Paradise
06 - There's Gotta Be
07 - I Can't Save You
08 - Such Is Life
09 - Perfect
10 - Gasoline & Opium
11 - The Road
12 - Afraid
13 - In the Dark
14 - Beware the Wolf
15 - Rest in Peace

THE DARKER MY HORIZON may be a new band from UK, but the guys involved are not newcomers at all into the scene: vocalist/guitarist Paul Stead and Mark Stephenson (guitar) are former members of the now disbanded Sacred Heart. Add to the line-up former Crimes Of Passion bassist Simon Fearn and experienced drummer Gavin Tester, and you have a combo of seasoned musicians here.
"Acquiesce" is the debut CD from The Darker My Horizon, a very welcomed band to the Melodic Hard Rock world.
One thing that is apparent with The Darker My Horizon is that although main songwriter Paul Stead has kept the melodic side of Sacred Heart, there is a distinctive edge to most to the songs on here.
Drawing their influences from modern arena bands like Hinder and classic hard rock artists such as Warrant or Bon Jovi, The Darker My Horizon bring you melody, power & catchy choruses.
You can hear a modern approach on some tracks, like the get up and go riffery of "Can't Stop The Rain", but most the material here waters from early '90s melodic hard rock.
Just check the instant, straight ahead melodic rock of "Summer Time" (title says it all) with a wonderful uplifting chorus perfect for airplay. Or "OK", a fun rocker with some Waltham on its infectious chorus.
There is even some classic '80s party rock in the shape of "Perfect", think Warrant meets the rocking side of early Winger!
Seriously, Paul Stead's vocals will remind you several times the late Jani Lane (Warrant).
"Rest In Peace" is an interesting one, with a synth arrangement and a catchy beat underpinning the song and a high end vocal. May surprise some listeners but adds more variation to the album with its coolness. The instrumental part melds synths and a few guitar solos to great effect.
The harder edge of The Darker My Horizon shows on "Gasoline & Opium" (loving the Zakk Wylde approved riff on this one), the sharp riffs of "There’s Gotta Be" - where melody meets hard rock resulting in a powerful melodic hard rock tune.
Then "The Road" is a clever song, starting quietly with a bass, percussion and synth before the full band kicks on the chorus. One of the album’s guitar solo highlights on this song.
There are a couple of ballads, pick of them is "In The Dark", with a reflective lyric and where the piano adds to the overall feel of the song.
 After seeing the name The Darker My Horizon on the CD cover I was expecting a 'metallic' band from this new venture by Paul Stead / Mark Stephenson, instead on their debut "Acquiesce" I found a powerful, kicking Melodic Hard Rock album.
Taking inspiration from bands which made the genre big at their time but with a potent & vibrant modern production, "Acquiesce" results damn catchy and melodic, plenty of substance.
If acts like 7th Heaven, Waltham, Degreed, Find Me, the great Dion Bayman, etc - that is bands with a strong late '80s / early '90 influences but a modern sound - are your thing, then The Darker My Horizon are right up your alley.

Well worth checking out!

Rating - 8/10

Hamerex - The Last Ride EP (2015)

Genre - Heavy Metal / Traditional Heavy Metal
Label - Self Released
Track listing:
01 - Calm Before The Storm / Natures Wrath
02 - Ride On Ruin
03 - Reign of Fire
04 - Apophis

Hamerex are a British Metal band formed in August 2004 by guitarist Steve Blower. They deal in that good old fashioned in your face heavy metal ala the Paul Diano's Killers, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Manowar with touches of Megadeth thrown in for good measure.
They return with their latest Ep, The Last Ride, which has been available for a little while now, and well is a stonker!
Opening with the atmospheric instrumental, Calm Before The Storm which builds effortlessly into the blistering Natures Wrath. Already only this far into the EP and its evident that the guys are in excellent form!.
Ride On Ruin follows and this song to me has a real NWoBHM feel about it, with its four horse men feel. Some great double bass drums through out together some awesome axe work!
Reign of Fire has the unenviable task of coming next, and what a great track it is, very reminiscent of early Bruce era Iron Maiden. A great song which had me reliving my youth thanks guys!
The Ep closes with Apophis which is a great song with all of its twists and turns, a great way to close out a great EP.
Hamerex prove that there are still bands that are not only inspired by the classic metal acts of yesteryear but are also more than capable (and willing) to carry the torch forward for the genre!
Great band, great songs, solid EP, I just wish that it was an album!

Recommended to all fans of good old honest heavy metal!

Rating - 10/10