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2013

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Francis Dunnery, Frankenstein Monster, 2013

francis dunnery - frankenstein monsterHow this passed me by at the time I do not know, but being a massive fan of all things Dunnery has done since hitting the spotlights (as singer and guitar player extra-ordinaire in It Bites and later in his much mellower solo ventures), I just had to pick this up as soon as I found out about it. Dedicated to his big brother Baz, who sadly passed away in 2008, and whom Francis calls the best guitarist in the world.

So you bet the guitars are coming to the front on this album. Which is a good thing in my ears! I did mention I regard the man as a player with exceptional qualities now didn’t I? The album opens with the title track and it is a killer one. Great riff and melody and plenty of fretwork to enjoy. Next up is Don’t Look Down Frank and that sometimes reminded me of Black Sabbath with its heavy riffs. And again some nice solos. Boy we are in for a treat here. Leaving The Depot might have you believe it is a ballad, but soon the pace picks up and when the drums kick in it is upbeat and uptempo. And nice weird riffs too. Which accumulates in an almost jazz like interlude before a more heavy passage lifts the track even further.

I could ramble on about all 14 tracks, but I think you got the message. Another great album and one that gets better with every listen. Essential!

Website

Bolus, Triangulate, 2013

bolus - triangulateDespite being fairly late with talking about this release, I still want to write some words about this album from the nice guys of Bolus. And that is due to my opinion that this is a criminally overlooked album that deserves a place in any prog rock collection. The trio of Nick Karch (vocals, guitars, banjo and keyboards), Mat Keselman (drums, percussion, vocals and keyboards) and Daniel Avner (bass and vocals) create a wonderful moody version of progressive rock that borders into several other genres. A touch of metal, a dash of ambient, and an ounce of pop add to the prog rock core.

And that all accumulates into an album that enchants from first listen. Great melodic vocals, often with shining harmonies. Intricate arrangements, that go from whisper soft to metallic hard and back again. Just listen to the track The Study Of Madness and withstand it’s attraction. Mission impossible if you ask me. And more songs, if not all, have that enticing quality about them. Smoke At The Mirror, Spurs, Revise, I love them all. If you need more reference, think Godsticks. Another band that combines head and heart. Essential stuff ladies and gentlemen, so go click and buy!

Website

Grenouer, Blood On The Face, 2013

Grenouer - Blood On The FaceDon’t know about you, but a cover like this always makes me think of very heavy metal bands. You know, death and the like. But in reality, Russian band Grenouer present a much more easy digestible form of heavy music. It has alternative touches, mainly because of the added synthesisers. And the vocals are melodic, with harmonies added to give them even more accessibility. So here you go, never judge a book by it’s cover.

I even think this has crossover appeal to people into prog! A track like Sands Of Time uses a lot of dynamics. Yet overall this is a very good alternative metal album where songs are more important than technique. Not that the guys do not know what they are doing, not by far. I like the somewhat melancholic nature of the material. When coupled with the guitar riffs and the grooves, we have an addictive cocktail. And they are not afraid to take a dive into other musical genres either, as the rap in Midday Show proves. A song like Golden Years should be huge, such is its power.

All in all a very convincing album that might be too much under your radar. I say check this out!

Website

Incura, Self Titled, 2013

incuraFor me, a band that plays progressive metal of the kind that grabs you on first listen, is doing something right! And Incura are one of these rare finds. Coming out of nowhere, they have delivered an album that is a cross of Coheed and Cambria, Dream Theater, Muse and 30 Seconds To Mars. And yet, all these names still don´t quite cover the original sound of this band. Which I feel is largely due to the theatrical delivery of singer Karl Gruninger. Some people may find his voice (a high pitched version of Valensia) over the top, but I just love this.

There are a lot of melodies here that attract you to the songs. In that way pop sensibilities are never far away in the choruses. And because of the instrumentation (like guitar solos, breaks ´n stuff) and a lot of unexpected turns, there is no dull moment in sight. All you need to do to get a sense of what Incura is about, is to start playing the disk. Opener Get The Gun will tell you all you need to know!

I say the Canadians have what it takes so their label made a good catch. Another awesome album that ought to be essential for lovers of the genre…

Website

Queensryche, Self Titled, 2013

queensrycheRecent years has seen quite some drama surrounding the Queensryche camp. Focussing more on legal fights then on music, which is quite a shame for a band with such a remarkable history and discography. Gladly things have been sorted out and the instrumentalists get to carry on with the band and its name.

So, with this being the first time I hear the band with new boy Todd la Torre, I was wondering how the band would sound. Well first things first, La Torre actually has an uncanny resemblance to a young and powerful Geoff Tate. I mean, with eyes closed it is only in the details you hear the difference! So the good part is, this sounds familiar on first run through. In fact, it made me wonder why Tate had such a large impact on the songs on the previous output, as all members are clearly capable writers.

Even if this is a very short album for modern standards (11 songs in 35 minutes with 2 being interludes of around the minute) it sounds like vintage Queensryche and the band sound prolific as ever. Gives great confidence for more classic material in the future. So now I just have to dig up the album where Tate is still calling the shots and hear what he has come up with. If that is on par, we all just win in the end 🙂

Website

Arc Angel, Harlequins Of Light, 2013

Arc Angel - Harlequins Of LightJeff Cannata is back with another Arc Angel album! If life was fair, that would have been enough to let millions of people run to their favourite record store and pick this one up… Alas, many people still are not aware of the genius that is Cannata. So I, along with many others I am sure, still revel in his majesty and enjoy his latest release.

Amongst his fans Cannata is loved for his ear for melody, his skills in combining melodic rock structures with more symphonic style elements, his outstanding productional skills and his songs. He always strives for the best record possible (he seems a bit like Tom Scholz in that respect), so we get another run of of his classic track Fortune Teller on this one, as if he´s still looking for the definitive version. But fortunately there are 11 other songs on offer, and all are the way we want them. Maybe a bit more guitars here and there, but his somewhat hoarse voice still carries these tunes. As are his multi instrumental contributions. All songs are still catchy, they are still rich in textures and variation, and they still are as addictive as honey for the bees.

So again an album that oozes class from the first to the last second, from an artist I would have loved to have 20 or so albums from. Still, I cherish everyone I have, and keep hoping for more. Magical as always, what can I say: BUY!

Website

Dynazty, Renatus, 2013

dynazty - renatusLately I have been hearing lots of good things about Dynazty so I decided to give them a try. And holy cow, this is a kick in the stomach! Coming across as a mixture of Power Metal with neo classical hard rock and some progressive overtones, these Swedes (I guess from the names, but Scandinavian for sure) are talking business here.

This is a crowded genre so to stand apart from the masses you really have to bring something to the table. Well, singer Nils is about as sharp as one A.W. Rose, albeit he´s is just better in any aspect and has far more depth to his voice and delivery. Just my humble opinion of course. Double kick, galloping drums, blistering solos and skull crushing riffs, all there.
From start to finish, this band pours energy and you have no choice as to bang along to the still catchy and melodic songs with massive vocal harmonies from all members of the band. With as some magic sauce, keyboards melodies here and there. A little search told me this is not their second album as I presumed, but already their fourth (at least). So no wonder they are buzzing with confidence.

Killer album from start to finish, and a must for any serious lover of things metal.

Website

Fish, A Feast Of Consequences, 2013

fish - a feast of consequencesWhile I am playing catch up with all the things Fish has released in the last decade or so, it is nice to bring you up to speed with his current release: A Feast Of Consequences. My version of the album has 11 tracks, of which numbers 5 – 9 form the The High Wood concept, dealing with happenings of The Great War (1914-1918). So you can imagine that part of the artwork is reflecting that subject as well.

And it is a subject that is close to Fish, thus resulting in an album where there is enough room to deliver on both a musical, as on an emotional level. It might in fact be one of the most touching albums of the big Scotsman to date. And that is not only for what Fish brings to the table. Other factors are the added vocals of Elisabeth Troy Antwi, as well as the strings arranged by my fellow countryman Egbert Derix (who also lives in the neighbourhood by the way). Together with the songs, written by Fish and his band members, this results in an album that hits home from start to finish. Maybe a bit less rocky, but just plain beautiful music. Very inspired if you ask me!

In this form it might even transcend the typical neo prog of his origin and appeal to a much bigger audience. Which he deserves anyway. Okay, his voice is not as aggressive as in his Marillion days, but I can listen to this all day. An album to grow old with, and that is not a first, and hopefully not the last one either!

Website

Güru, White, 2013

guru - whiteOkay, back to plugging melodicrock.com and it´s offspring Melodic Rock Records. This time it´s time to discuss the deluxe edition of White, the second album by Spanish band Güru. On this version we get 4 bonus tracks added to the 12 from the original release. They consist of 2 acoustic versions and 2 Mr. Big covers. And with that name we have a fine reference to the style on offer.

So yes, melodic rock it is. Big choruses and all. But what I find even more appealing is firstly the ability to add many arrangement surprises without losing the flow of the songs. Little breaks, rhythmic twists, that kind of stuff. All executed to perfection and adding to the already memorable songs. On top of that Güru have an excellent guitar player and principal songwriter and producer in David Palau. His playing is a mix of Steve Lukather and Pete Lesperance and impresses me very much. Rich in ideas and tone this album has a lot to offer to all fans of the genre.

Alas I am not sure if this is still available, but if you can track it down, make sure you own it. It will not disappoint!

Website

The Jan Holberg Project, At Your Service, 2013

jan holberg project - at your serviceBass player Jan Holberg was a force unknown to me, Yet he must have a something to offer, or else he would not have been able to get people like Joe Lynn Turner or Tony Carey on board. And if you think with those names we are heading into Rainbow territory (as both are ex-members) you are wrong. Jan wrote all the songs, but lyrics are mostly handed by the person who sings the song. Might be wise, that way a connection to the delivery is certain.

First song on the album, Water Rising, is sung by Age Sten Nilsen and made me think of Toto, Joseph Williams version. Especially the man´s backing vocals bear a striking resemblance to Joe´s! And with the name Toto in play, that is the type of music on offer here. So rocky, groovy and at times a bit funky, stuff to listen to all day and never get bored. Turner shines in the ballad Jealousy And Pride, Carey delivers on Outta My Face, yep, all seem to be having fun. And that radiates from this album that only really has one flaw: with a running time of less than 36 minutes it is way to short! So next time more songs please, and I wouldn´t mind if Jan adds more beautiful instrumentals like album closer I Still Remember!

Website

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