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metal

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Classic: Black Sabbath, Headless Cross, 1989

black sabbath - headless crossWell, I guess some will be frowning and considering how on earth I got this one so wrong. But I really don’t care. Yeah I know that the die hard fans look away from anything Sabbath did without Ozzy. Okay, some may add Dio to that, but the albums they made with Tony Martin are often overlooked. And that is a damn shame as the man has a magnificent voice. And on this album one Cozy Powell is beating the skins, so for me this is an all star line up.

Anyway, starting off with the suspension of instrumental opening The Gates Of Hell, we are soon awakened by the powerful drumming of Powell and the mighty riffs of Iommi as they launch into the title track. And what a monster it is. Makes my day every time I hear it!  Next up is Devil & Daughter, another tasty song, in a more upbeat vein. No one quite writes chord riffs like Iommi, as he so energetically proves here once more.
When Death Calls is next, opening in quiet mode. Keyboards (Geoff Nichols) play a supportive role throughout the album, and really add colour to it. But not for too long, Iommi takes over with more riffage. Very impressive track, as it should be. Kill In The Spirit World is next, and we are back in more upbeat territory. And another song that takes no prisoners, nice Oriental feel to it too! The last 3 songs are also very good, trust me!

So if you are not familiar with this album, track it down and give it a listen, it will not disappoint.

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Ghost, Meliora, 2015

ghost - melioraA lot of mystery is surrounding the band Ghost (B.C.). No one seems to be sure who they really are. Or if the ghouls and the papa emeritus are the same people on all of their releases. But what we are sure off is that this is their third album. And what is certainly not a mystery, is that this is easy their best yet. Yes, I loved the first two, but this little thing puts a big smile on my face every time I listen to it.

And I know they are labelled a metal band, but I would like to encourage everybody to take that with a large pinch of salt as the band goes way beyond that. Also do not be afraid of the occultism they are associated with. The music alone is so damn good and catchy, you will be able to enjoy this without the lyrics. Every song on this album is genius and nests itself in your brain before you know what happened. And all of that with songs that are creative, energetic, spellbinding and just plain addictive. Anybody that listens to Cirice and not gets hooked can be considered a loss for the music community as far as I am concerned, what a brilliant song!
Personally I keep thinking of a modern Blue Oyster Cult. But never mind referencing them, they are a force of their own and one I like better by the day. Absolutely fabulous and a mandatory purchase. In which case you will also be able to admire the stunning artwork in the booklet.

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Vindictiv, World Of Fear, 2015

vindictiv - world of fearStill have a lot of catching up to do with all the Melodic Rock Records releases from 2015, and then it does not help when they get lost in the mail… But Andrew is not one to give up easily, so here we have the latest Vindictiv making the rounds in the player. Vindictiv is the brainchild of guitar player Stefan Lindholm, who must be heavily influenced by one Yngie Malmsteen… Together with aces Mark Boals on vocals, Nalle Pahlson on bass, Marco Minneman on drums and Pontus Larsson on keyboards and some guests, he created this 11 track 55 minute metal attack.

This is one of those albums that, when you start playing it, sounds a bit pale, yet, when you hang in, slowly reveals its true nature. Of course metal of this type will thrive on solos. And they come fast and furious on both guitar and keys. But in the end, for me, it are the songs that must make it worthwhile. And we get a couple of beauties on this CD. Personal favourites being Day, that has a very memorable melody and arrangement, Paralyzed, with it’s half time groove in the verse, and the title track with it’s great melodies from both guitar and the chorus.
No need to worry about performance here, all top notch. And with buying this you will not only support melodicrock.com, as well as give more artists the chance to get their music heard. All worthy of your time and money!

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Empires Of Eden, Architect Of Hope, 2015

empires of eden - architect of hopeOf all the releases on Melodic Rock Records so far, this has to be the most metallic one. Even if that is based entirely on short term memory 🙂 Empires Of Eden is a vehicle for Stu Marshall, who wrote the songs, played most of the guitars and bass and mixed and mastered the album. There is a different singer on every song, and they also wrote their own words most of the time. So we get a bunch of who’s who here; Ralf Scheepers, Jeff Martin, Rick Altzi, Mike Dimeo or Tony Webster to name some of them. The drums were laid down by Jasix and other guests are Glenn Williams and Mike Davis on bass, and amongst others Shane French, Richie Hausberger and Metal Mike Chlasciak with guitar solos.

Which in itself makes quite clear what to expect. Ferocious riffing, double kick drumming, screaming and wailing and flashy solos. Yes this is a metal album from start to finish. And on the cover they even seem to burn down Disneyland. Which makes for a nice contradiction with the album’s title… For every metal maniac this will tick all the boxes and if you are not, well you probably already stopped reading before this sentence.

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Bigelf, Into The Maelstrom, 2014

bigelf - into the maelstrom If you have ever listened to this band before than you will already know what you can expect from this album. Or check a previous post here. This is a dose of The Beatles, mixed with a dash of Black Sabbath and all that coupled with a bunch of vintage keyboards like the mighty mellotron and a tiny little bit of crazy… If you like them like I do, than that is probably all you will need to know.

To those left behind, in my humble opinion you are missing out on a wonderful retro sounding band! Well, take that retro with a pinch of salt, because when these guys turn up the guitars, it gets more heavy than anything out of the seventies. But the combination of styles I mentioned above works just like a charm for me. All their albums are pleasant to say the least and provide hours of listening joy. And I am not the only one, for instance Mike Portnoy is a fan and even joined them on stage.

So we did some name dropping, gave some references and still you do not have a clue? Well, one thing left to do then, go check them out!!

Website

Kirk, Masquerade, 2014

Kirk - MasqueradeNot sure if a Swiss band graced these pages before, but if not, than Kirk have the première. I am not really sure which album number this is for them, as I am only aware of 2 titles. The first couple of songs are pretty much in your face metal tracks, with galloping drums and all that.

But track 4, Eternity, opens with a calm vibe that reminds of (old) Queensryche without sounding like a rip off. And even if the song again develops into a full on metal song, somehow it gives me a much better sense of what the band is about. Maybe because keyboards get more room here. Next song Fight Or Die is also spiced with a little more progressive touches and again it serves me right. This is more like it for me! From here on I am enjoying this album much more. Nothing Else But Lies has a great chorus with nice harmony layers, Time also sees some keyboard lines added and is a short rocker that kicks ass.

So a singer that for the most operates a mid range voice and can sound like Geoff Tate in his prime, a band that knows how to rock. Maybe just a tad more prog influences, because for me that opens up their sound. Still at the end of day this is solid and enjoyable.

Website

Saracen, Redemption, 2014

saracen - redemptionNot exactly a new kid on the block, as I think the roots of Saracen date to the seventies, with original writer and guitarist Rob Bendelow still firmly in place. But it is the last decade or so, that has seen them release CD’s on a more regular base, which is a good thing, as I like this band. Their sound is part NWOBHM and part prog. So names like Iron Maiden, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep are references.

This CD has a lot to offer, not only in quantity, the 13 tracks make good use of all the room on a standard CD, but also in quality. And yes, there is nothing new or modern on offer here, but who cares if it is done well, right? This band is not about mixing styles and creating a new sound. This is all about writing good songs, telling tales and delivering them with class and panache. We get melody, we get solos, we get intricate arrangements and songs that develop and paint pictures.

So if you are into this type of music, or like the bands I mentioned earlier, then this is surely something you will want to check out.

Website

Pretty Maids, Louder Than Ever, 2014

pretty maids - louder than everOne of my favourite Danish bands keep having a go at it. And, what I like about them, ever since they started out in the early eighties, trends have come and gone, but the Pretty Maids are still solid as a rock and ready to deliver another set of blistering rock anthems. Nowadays the keyboards have returned, making the band again a 5 piece, still centred around the mighty vocals of Ronnie Atkins and the power riffs of Ken Hammer.

So how to describe the sound of the band to those of you not familiar with the band?  And I do hope you are not not so many. Well, this is heavy melodic rock, with a singer that seems to suffer from a split personality. Part of Atkins’ singing is clean and melodic and part is rough and raspy and melodic yet powerful. I like both sides of that actually! All songs have catchy hooks and focus on energy and melody over the guitar riffs, rather than spitting out flashy solos all the time. In the early years the keyboard work was more important, then it disappeared and now it is returning, albeit in a more supportive and colouring role. Over time they never disappointed, although I do think they sound more rejuvenated in the last couple of years.

No matter what, if you dig bands like Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Slade, Kiss or Queen, this is one band you cannot afford to miss.

Website

KXM, Self Titled, 2014

kxmThis band, or maybe project, consists of dUg Pinnick (King’s X – bass and vocals), George Lynch (o.a. Lynch Mob – guitars) and Ray Luzier (Korn – drums). I guess with this background we can understand the name now don’t we? Okay, being quite a fan of all things dUg gets a hand in, I was looking forward to this. More so since it never hurts to hear Lynch play, the man is a maestro.

And what do we have on our hands here? Well, anybody familiar with these musicians will probably say that this is King’s X with a more metal approach and with some high tech shredding added. But it has the grooves, the vocal harmonies, the unmistakably vocals and those deep bass riffs we have come to expect.

And is that bad? Certainly not in my book! I will always love King’s X, and this has turned out to be a very pleasant side step. After all, it has a different colour added. Because make no mistake, Lynch still is his own man, and Luzier surely hits home with his playing as well. The trio have a great energy going! So I would not mind hearing more of this, especially since the future of King’s X is somewhat uncertain nowadays. You know what to do next…

Website

Dust Bowl Jokies, Cockaigne Vaudeville, 2014

dust bowl jokies - cockaigne vaudevilleWell, actually this is a reissue of a 2012 release with 2 new tracks. Coming from the Bad Reputation label so its a certified rock album. Just a case of which style… Well an album title like this can only be aiming for the glam crowd. After all, vaudeville and a word that has c*ck in it… With a bit of bite I might add. Sometimes Guns ‘n Roses come to mind. Some big shots behind the production, Beau Hill (Alice Cooper, Twisted Sister and Europe to name a few) and Nicko DiMarino, so no wonder the main track Boots On Rocks Off already enjoyed massive airplay around the globe.

And the guys sound like they are up for it as well. Glam needs attitude to work, and that is provided in abundance. Street names present and no doubt the looks will be there as well (no clue on the press info). So it’s enjoyable, if nothing new. But sometimes just listening to something that works as it is supposed to, is fine by me. Songs like Down To The Bone, Lady Lechery or Vulture Culture are sure to fire any party. So it’s 11 tracks and 42 minutes of rock party. Must be many a Saturday night where this serves a purpose!

Website

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