Wicked Temptation, Seein´Ain´t Believin´, 2010

wicked temptation - seein ain´t believinThis is another band my dear friend and drummer extraordinare Hans in ´t Zandt is participarting in. He´s building up quite a back catalogue this way.

From to word go this is melodic hard rock and it sure kicks ass! In the guitar department the influence of Zakk Wylde is obvious. Lots of overtones and heavy riffing here. Another reference might be the Sykes era of Whitesnake. The band managed to write compact tunes with a good ear for memorable choruses. It is catchy, but they did their best to avoid all too much predictability. And succeeded. Due to a lot of  “four on the floor” the rhythms are pounding their way straight into your system. Gotta love that!

I just happen to know that mastermind Peter Wagner likes his Status Quo from time to time, but very little boogie here. This is in your face melodic mainstream metal with a singer with a convincing and a little raw voice. And lots of backing vocals of course ;-). There is a ballad at hand also. At least some kind of me thinks.

My only, but small critisism, is that sometimes the riffs seem not totally in sync with the drums. At least that´s how I feel.  But don´t let me steer you away from this release. If great soloing, riffing and melody are your thing, pick up a copy!

Personal play tips: Money, Liar, Children.

Website

Junk Farm, Didn´t Come To Dance, 2009

junk farm - didn´t come to danceThis is the second album from German trio Junk Farm. Released some 2 years after their debut , I was curious to find out how the band had developed.

First thing I noticed was the dropping of the “fusion trio from hell” monicker. And indeed, little fusion work outs this time. Alas, I really liked those on the debut. Music Police is the sole exception.
But what has stayed is the humor (see cover and song titles like Stalker, Lost By A Love Song  and Eurovision Song-incest), the ferocious grooves, the organ, the melodic singing with strong harmony vocals and the great guitar riffing and soloing.
New are the synthesiser solo´s here and there. At least in my humble opinion.  Nice touch with the acoustic guitar in song Where Are We Going To and the closing track as well.

So as a whole this album sounds more coherent as the debut, but I miss those fusion tracks a little. Nevertheless, if you like your music rocking, with melody and groove, check this band out. They are excellent!

Personal play tips: Didn´t Come To Dance, Still Not Dead, 10 Out Of 1, etc. .

Website

Breathing Space, Coming Up For Air, 2007

breathing space - coming up for airUpfront I want to apologize as I am likely to not make many friends with this post. Matter at hand here is the 2007 debut from Breathing Space, called Coming Up For Air. It is the brainchild of Iain Jennings, so that might ring some bells.

Musically this is symphonic rock, bordering into mainstream rock. The instrument handling is fine, the songs are melodic, the production is at level, etc. The songs are varied, though pretty mellow most of the time. The packaging is professional. So it looks good as it sounds good.

So maybe you are wondering why I started with suggesting this post will not make me more friends. That brings me to the only problem I have with the album; the vocals of Olivia Sparnenn. Don´t get me wrong, she has an angelic voice, totally sings in tune and you can understand the lyrics.
It is just that I feel she sings very clinical. No emotion what so ever. Which is okay for any pop diva maybe, but not for serious music. Sorry to say this, but it actually spoils my listening pleasure. Where´s the drama, the feel, the hurting?

Let´s hope a lot of people will disagree with me. Fine, support the band and buy it. For me, despite liking the music, this will not be an album I will revisit often.

Website

Junk Farm, Ugly Little Thing, 2007

junk farm - ugly little thingThis self proclaimed “fusion trio from hell” released this debut in 2007. Well I don´t know about the devil, but this is a tasty album for sure.

Built on drums, keys and guitars, but with vocals, this is a very accomplished band with a lot of humor. It takes guts to come up with this band name and CD title, but also the lyrics reflect this. But they don´t use humor to hide the fact that they are incapable, no way. What we have here is a band full of excellent ideas and the skills to rock, groove, shred, whatever.

Some tracks are mainly fusion on a rocky edge, others border more in crossover territory between metal and fusion. But melodies all around! Same goes to organ and solo´s. I suspect 6 stringer (and singer) Benjamin Schippritt grew up on metal and ranks Steve Vai among his influences. Due to the use of organ (Berthold Fehmer) and because of the grooves (courtesy of Michael Sticken) I think they like Niacin as well. But don´t get me wrong, I found this lot having their own sound and I totally enjoy this. And though German, very NOT your typical German Power Metal band. My compliments!

Personal play tips: An Eye For An Eye, Master-Sync, Strange Behaviour.

Website

Days Between Stations, Same, 2007

Days Between StationsAnother instrumental album. But a whole other affair than my previous post… Tagged as classic prog, but I don´t think that term does this justice.

This I would like to describe as a mix of soundscapes, groove, fusion, and psychedelica. It sounds weird, but it is actually rather hypnotic. The way they change moods, in and between songs, without sounding forced, can only be the work of talent. Sure you hear references here and there (Pink Floyd anyone?) but I feel this is a unique record. At least in my collection. Even the very ugly cover I suspect has a deeper meaning. Not that I became aware of it, but when people create something so out of bounds, yet so addictive, they are likely to take the time to wrap it in something that only adds to their creation. At least I hope…

Hard to name play tips: I think you should listen to this a few times back and forth in order to get into the flow. And if you still don´t get into it, you are maybe just not ready for this. Not for everyday. But qualified to chill out to.

Website

Derek Sherinian, Molecular Heinosity, 2009

derek sherinian - molucar heinosityThis guy I found out about during his stay in Dream Theater. Live I thought he was a very funny dude, so when he released solo material, I was kinda curious what it would be like. Especially because of some of his friends joing in. In this case, guys like Zakk Wylde, Rusty Cooley, Virgil Donati, or Tony Franklin. His regular bassplayer is Rob Mules. Somehow reminds me of a famous Black Sabbath record…

Anyway, to the music. For people who heard his earlier material: you know what to expect! For those who haven´t: this is very classy, very clever, at times very complex material. Mostly instrumental, it´s a  kind of a metal approach to fusion. Having said that, I always find myself enjoying his records because of the quality of all the players involved. And somehow there is always enough groove and melody at hand to be able to connect to the songs. So at one hand I can understand when people say the records are not very different from each other. On the other hand, this is all done with such pleasure and dedication, it is always a joy to hear.

Personal play tips: Antartica, Primal Eleven, So Far Gone.

Website

Muse, The Resistance, 2009

muse - resistanceIt took me quite some time to discover this band. Actually, I believe their credibility was proven solid after Threshold (one of my favorite bands) covered their “supermassive black hole”… since then I have become a fan and started buying their albums, including the back catalogue.

Before the release of this album, singer and guitar and keyboard player Matthew Bellamy (the other members are multi talented as well by the way) said it would be their most ambitious project yet. In hindsight I think that is mainly because of the Exogenesis suite. This is a symphony in 3 parts and this album ends with it.

But lets take a look at how the album starts. Uprising is in my book a great eehhmm uplifting song.  All the trademarks of this wonderful band are here. Soaring vocals, steady beats, and clever arrangements. Despite Muse being a 3-piece, they are able to make a lot of sound together. I say sound instead of noise, because this is ROCK in capitals. Strong melodies, great instrument handling, and they are capable of avoiding the common roads when it comes to writing. This is why I really dig this band.  So now back to the suite. This is definetly new territory. A lot of orchestrations, but still Muse. I am not one to compare albums from a band. In itself, I think this is a record worth buying. If you have their earlier work, don´t hesitate. If not, this is as good a place to start as any.

Personal play tips: Uprising, Resistance, Exogenesis.

Website

Cher, Heart Of Stone, 1989

cher - heart of stoneGuess y´all must be thinking “huh, whatzupp?” Yeah I know, this is strange. But to explain myself, somewhere I read that this was actually a good rocking album by la Cher.

So when a chance popped up to buy this for a few euro, I just had to buy it in order to listen to it. And does it rock? Naaah, in a safe and smooth 80ties kind of way, it actually does.
Nothing wrong with the songwriting here. No wonder with people like Diane Warren, Michael Bolton or Desmond Child on board.

The opening song (If I Could Turn Back time) was a big hit in the day, and actually represents the album quite well. So this is decent pop rock. with melodies that stick in your ears like child candy sticks to clothes. Some songs better than others, but nothing really shocking. In both ways that is. Nevertheless, I can see why fans of rock in that decade own this.

Personal play tips: If I Could Turn Back Time, Heart Of Stone, Emotional Fire.

Website

Freestone, The Temple Of Humanity, 2008

Freestone - The Temple of HumanityThis album by fellow countrymen Freestone is the first, at least to my knowledge, dealing with the Freemasonry. All art and lyrics form a concept about this perhaps mystical theme.

But as we are here for the music, how about that? I think of this as symphonic pop / rock. It has a constant vibe and a lot of medium tempos, but that may also be considered a flaw. This is a beautiful album in many ways, but musically it is on the safe side. Little hard rocking here. But if quality is your thing, you can´t go wrong with this.

From start to finish this album tries to put a spell on you with it´s melodies and arrangements. The clever use of sax and other instruments here and there, adds to the atmosphere. I think the project (don´t know if this is an actual band, as all music and lyrics are written by Harm Timmerman, who also plays a lot of instruments) was created with a lot of labour and love.  The lead singer is by no means bad, but could benefit from a little more bite. On the other hand, as this also applies to the music, it must be a conscious choice. So very classy, but not very ballsy. Nevertheless, I recommend it, as all is done with style.

Personal play tips: Turn The Key, Children Of The Widow, Documentum Intellige,

Website

Enochian Theory, Evolution, 2008

Enochian Theory - EvolutionThough this came highly recommended here and there, I wasn´t sure what to expect. But this proved to be no disappointment and a very intriguing affair.

So what´s cooking here? Well this band mixes a lot of styles, while trying to sound coherent. I don´t think they have everything 100% together though. By using all these influences (think grunting, (weird) soundscapes, clean guitars, heavy riffing, beautiful orchestrations, multiple vocals, melody, melancholy, and so on), this is going to be an eclectic disk. And I must admit I admire the bands guts. A lot of this I actually enjoy (this needs more spins obviously), but like I mentioned before, not everything operates on the same high level. Or I just need to get more into it?

As I believe this is their first effort, I am sure that this band will grow. For now this mix proves a amusing listen and a growing pleasure. For me they could do without the screaming, but time will tell. Normally I don´t compare bands, but in this case I think some references might help. If you consider bands like Pure Reason Revolution, Coheed and Cambria and or Opeth to your liking, give this lot a listening as well.  By the way, I have no idea what the story behind the name and all is. If someone out there knows, leave a comment. Also needless to say, these guys do know their way around their instruments. No worries there.

Personal play tips: At Great Odds With…, Movement, Waves Of Ascension.

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