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.

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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.

Website

Pearl Jam, Backspacer, 2009

pearl jam - backspacerI must confess I am not a real follower of this band. In fact, besides this, I only own their debut. But I read a lot of good stuff about it, so decided to give it a try.

The first thing I noticed was the voice of singer Eddie Vedder. In my ears he sounds a lot lighter now, thinner even maybe. And I am not sure I think that is a good thing. But on the credo of always listening without prejudice, I gave the album a few spins.

And I think I understand why they get good reviews with this. The songs showcase their musicianship in abundance. Wether they rock out, or play it gently, they pull it off convincingly. Not surprising, the band has been around longer that any of the other grunge bands I believe. Especially the songs with orchestrations in them are beautiful. But no worries, they still know how to rock as well. In my book this is a very short CD though, about 36 minutes and 11 songs. even on Vinyl that is not a lot… But hey, it´s about the quality and not the quantity right. Only the artwork really does nothing for me. Too weird I think. Let us hope that the album closer The End is not a prophecy. This stuff is still too good to disappear.

Personal play tips: Just Breathe, Amongst The Waves, The End.

Website

Kayak, The Anniversary Concert, 2008

kayak - anniversary concertIn my earlier posts about Kayak I already mentioned buying more records from them. Rest assured, this will be the last post on them for a while 😉

The subtitle of this package (2 cd´s and a DVD) is 1973 – 2008, Live in Paradiso. For those of you who don´t know, Paradiso is a concert hall in Amsterdam, situated in a former Church. A nice hall!
So from the start we know that Kayak celebrated their 25 years of existence with this concert. And what a concert it was. From the go you get the feeling you missed something if you weren´t there. And I wasn´t, so boy am I glad to be able to listen to this!

A lot of tracks are from the more recent albums, and all well executed. I think their use of male and female vocalists really works well for them. There is a lot of variation between the songs, but even the most quiet pieces are awesome. What a feel. And as they use 2 guitar players now, this sure rocks when it needs to. Time flies by listening to this, and repeated plays are welcomed. So this is quality folks.

This is a stunning show with only highlights. To put it simply: if you like Kayak, buy it. If you once liked Kayak, but are not sure now, buy it anyway. If you think they don´t rock, buy this to prove you wrong.

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Dio Died!

Just read the unbelievable news that the mighty Ronnie James Dio passed away after fighting cancer for over 6 months. First my condolances to all his family and friends, he shall be missed but never forgotten.

I think the first time I heard him sing was on the Long Live Rock ´n Roll album by Rainbow. He was a powerhouse then, as he was on his most recent output. An unearthy achievement most singers will never be able to reach. The Rainbow album still ranks among my favorites. Rainbow Eyes for instance is a ballad few can match. And the hard rocking tunes are timeless also.

Yes his passing is a great loss to the world. I will keep on listening and he will be entertaining other folks or fighting the dragons, be it in Heaven or Hell… Rest in Peace.

Mercury Fang, Liquid Sunshine, 2003

mercury fang - liquid sunshineThis is one of those records that I can play to death. It´s simply brilliant!

Some may need some time to get accustomed to the lead singer´s voice (a non-typical and fairly low type), but this band will rock your socks off. Melodic, hard rocking songs with keyboards. Trading solo´s between instruments, inventive breaks preventing the material from becoming shallow. Competent musicians, competent songs. Piano breaks, guitar solo´s, groove and the odd symphonic pieces. All executed in style and with a damn fine sound, courtesy of the mighty Pontus Norgren.

What else can I say; this is a no brainer, pretty hard to find, but one worth the time tracking down. buy it!

Personal play tips: Chains Around My Heart, Last Son, Direction.

Website

Jet Circus, Look At Death Now, 2005

jet circus - look at death nowAnother disk that was slumbering on my ” wantlist” for years and finally got into my hands. Thank you Ebay…

And was it worth the while? I must admit I needed several spins to get into this album. And that is not because it is bad. Strange as that may sound, I think it is because of the intended simplicity of the music.
Let me try to explain: Jet Circus make melodic rock, with fairly simple guitar parts, mainly blues influenced soloing and catchy chorusses. And the obligatory backing vocals of course. I hear you think “what is wrong here?”. Maybe it was just my state of mind today, but I found myself not enjoying it at first. The lead vocal seemed to stand apart from the music, and the guitars are heavy, but seemed to sound the same throughout the record.

But after a few spins my mind seemed to gel back to normal mode and it all came together. It was only then I noticed the bass sound, very rough with a little distortion on the edge. Cool! Also the little arrangement things here and there that avoid kicking in every open door revealed them selves. So final verdict, I am glad I got it.

Personal play tips: The Way You Bless Me, Shooting Star, Skull Of The Poet.

Website

Audrey Horne, No Hay Banda, 2004

Audrey Horne - No Hay BandaThis is the second disk I bought from this band, but it is acuallty their debut release. As I was blown away by their follow up, I was very curious to find out how I would like this CD.

Put simply, it is very recognizable the same band. But after a few spins I feel this is a somewhat lesser album. Just minor mind you! The reason for this is hard to explain. I feel it is mostly because the vocals sound less clear on this album.

Nevertheless, all the trademarks that made me like ” Le Fol” are present here: loud guitars, melodic vocals with a haunting quality, groove and especially, the terrific use of keyboards. A lot of strings, mellotron (like) and organ here. Jummie!

I feel the kind of music this band makes is timeless. I mean, it is heavy music, with sometimes a lot of agression. But because of the melodies it never gets old. The clever use of vocal harmonics only adds to this. My winamp player has a hard time labelling this: post grunge alternative? Dunno, but I like it! I also bought their recent output, so watch out for that in a few weeks!

Personal play tips: Deathhorse, Blackhearted Visions, Bleed.

Website

Disturbed, Indestructible, 2008

disturbed - indestructableAnd now for something completely different…

So far a lot of reviews were about progressive bands. Well, this isn´t one of them. Nevertheless, I like this album very much! What you have here is a very tight playing band, with a lot of groove, furious guitar riffing and melodic vocals. A pity the lyrics in the booklet are hard to read.

I believe I first heard them on TV, VH1 or Scuzz most likely. Of course in this type of music there is a lot of compression, thus losing dynamics, but I just love that massive sound and groove.  Singer David Draiman has a very recognizable style. Very rhythmic, articulate, and yet he mostly sings melodies. Sometimes a growl, but no squaling here.
What is also good about them; they use a typical figure (see Eddie from Iron Maiden) in all their artwork.

Personal play tips: Indestructible, Deceiver, Haunted.

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