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Melodic hard rock

Rebelstar, II, 2013

Rebelstar - IIAfter listening to this album I find it hard to believe they have released this independently. Either all label bosses are sleeping, or they are so confident about themselves they choose this route deliberately. Because make no mistake, this is easily one of the best melodic hard rock albums I have heard lately, if not in a long time.

This is a 10 track all killer no filler release that a lot of people would die for to be able to make. So singer Serge Naberman and guitar player Martijn Niggebrugge can be proud of their writing abilities. Together with Toine Vanderlinden on bass and Richard van Leeuwen on drums (with everybody joining in on backing vocals) they prove going Dutch sometimes isn´t a bad thing at all. 😉
No wonder the international press is picking this up and praises the guys work. It really is as good as is said. Whether it is the rockers like Big Bam Boom, All For One One For All or any other track, or the über power ballad Love Leaves Scars, this release has it all. Melodies, attitude and kick ass grooves. And guitar licks and solos in abundance too. Love it from start to finish, so make sure you don´t miss this and grab a copy pronto.

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Phil Vincent, Face It, 2013

phil vincent - face itAh, it was about time for another dose of Phil Vincent music. As site regulars will probably know I like this very much as I am a sucker for well played and written melodic hard rock. Especially as mister Vincent has the talent of adding not only his wonderful vocal harmonies, but also brings in a lot of good intentions and authenticity. And his skills on guitars, bass, keyboards ánd drums…. So even if we have a bunch of usual suspects again on board (Legion side kick Vince O´Regan soloing, just as long time friends David Zychek and Billy Roux) it is hard for me to not like this. Especially as time is not standing still and Phil keeps finding ways to surprise his crowd.

Like opener The Lost Self. Good message and completely a-capella so we can witness that vocal magic in full ehh colour. Or some more progressive overtones lurking in the longer tracks like We All Die Young or Divided. Or the more modern approach in Can´t Go Back. It never seizes to amaze me how this guy can write and record so many songs in a year, and still won´t compromise on impact. You just gotta love that. Well, I do anyway.

My edition has the 2012 digital release Solar Flare added as a bonus disk! More value for money and together another winner for the hardest working man in the business and all around great guy . Support him!

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Phil Vincent, Solar Flare, 2012

phil vincent - Solar FlareAmerican singer and multi-instrumentalist Phil Vincent has been featured here before. And where recent years has seen him join several other bands (Tragik, Circular Logik, D`Ercole and Legion) and sing on other people their records, somehow he still got some time left to spend on another solo album. And solo is the key word here, although I do believe his Legion buddy Vince O´Regan shreds out a solo or two. the rest is all mister Vincent himself!

After listening to this, I kept thinking how unbelievable it is that he still seems to get better with every release. The sound keeps improving, his drums and guitars never sounded so rich like on this one. Which makes me regret it is a digital release only (his first ever!) Well I can understand with all the downloading going on, that it saves the independent artist some cash, yet a shame it remains.

Back to the music. Sometimes heavier than ever before (just check the opening trio of All Over You, It´s Finally Over and On The Run) and sometimes his more progressive side takes over like on the epic Last Goodbye, love that piano / vocal build up. Speaking of vocals, especially in the multi layered pieces, you should take some time getting a grasp of all that is going on. Fantastic once again! Recommended for anyone into melodic hard rock with some more artistic moments.

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Winger, Karma, 2009

winger - karmaMust say I never quite understood the Winger bashing when they started out. Guess they could not care less as it did not stop them from scoring a couple of hits in the early days. Still they turned left somewhere down the road and stuck with the music they cared about. Thus delivering us some pretty entertaining albums. After a period in which they all went their separate ways (and Kip Winger releasing some stunning solo work in a much more progressive style as well as a mandatory live acoustic disk) they have returned to recording again.

And in 2009 that brought us Karma. Opening with some fierce tracks like Deal With The Devil and Stone Cold Killer, they prove they still know how to write rocking tunes with catchy hooks and some flashy solos from Reb Beach. And could it really be this is heavier than ever?
But I am also happy to report some more expanded songs have found their way to the album. Supernova,  After All this Time and Witness all clock in at 6 to 7 minutes and go way past the verse – chorus routines. And with bonus track First Ending they prove even more that boundaries only exist in the minds of the narrow, as that is a lovely piano piece.

So for me another great Winger album with huge choruses and killer songs. Keep ´em coming!

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Walking With Kings, Self Titled, 2012

walking with kingsSome names behind this band are more known than others, but the origin of this new band lays with the so far unknown Terry Chism (singer / keyboards) making contact with Stuck Mojo and Fozzy guitar player Rich Ward (whose solo venture The Duke – My Kung Fu Is Good I also really like). Other band members come from nearby, with Stuck Mojo and Fozzy drummer Frank Fontsere and Simon Farmery (Pride, Furyon and… Fozzy!) on bass. Now Stuck Mojo is an unknown entity to me (yet – please forgive me), so I can´t really tell how close this is. But since TC reckons Steve Perry, Bryan Adams and Michael Sweet to his musical greats, I think it is a pretty safe bet to say this is a far more melodic outing. Yet this is no Journey or Stryper clone.

It may be bold, but these guys are just too good to be copycats. This is melodic hard rock yes, with emphasis on a positive message (read on the website where Chism comes from), but it is too damn good to ignore. Some may hesitate because of the references to Christian Music. For me, this is an true uplifting album with inspired playing, catchy songs, with more balls than the average melodic rock album, and still succeeding in avoiding the obvious routines. And the best thing is, for now they are giving it away free! Just head on over to their website, and make sure their name is heard. This deserves a big crowd and your support to start with!

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Dignity, Project Destiny, 2008

dignity - project destinyWhile advertised as melodic hard rock (for fans of TNT and Europe), already the opening seconds of the title track (with majestic choirs) suggest that the band stretch beyond that tag. And the rest of the songs only proves that first impression. Melodic all right, and hard rocking as well, but there are definite progressive influences at play here.

But the question is, do I really mind about that? Off course not, in fact, this only adds to the albums´ appeal. My guess is that the record company has some say in this and, probably inspired by the high pitched vocals of singer Jake E, came up with the TNT and Europe reference.
All that put aside, I think that if you like your melodic hard rock with some progressive twists than this album will do you no harm. Better yet, it is an entertaining disk that walks the walk and talks the talk. Even the Chris De Burgh cover Don´t Pay The Ferryman fits in seamlessly. So pick it up when you have the chance.

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Sun Red Sun, Same, 1995

sun red sunDespite being a fan of Badlands singer Ray Gillen, I never knew this album existed. That is, until I recently discovered it. And with many known names (Bobby Rondinelli, the late Mike Starr, John West and Chris Caffery) on board, axeman and principal songwriter Al Romano has a lot of things speaking for him. So I figured more people would like to know about this.

Style wise this is even not that far away from Badlands. Less bluesy, more straight ahead melodic hard rock perhaps, but Gillen´s voice is unmistakable. Only 8 songs on it, of which 2 are sung by John West, this version also includes an interview with Al Romano and Bobby Rondinelli.

So for anyone familiar with Ray Gillen and into his voice, or if you just happen to like your hard rock with melody and power, this is something to dig up. May be hard to find, but worth the effort.

Bangalore Choir, Cadence, 2010

Bangalore Choir - CadenceAfter a long hiatus Bangalore Choir are back! Well to be honest, part of them. And as singer David Reece released a solo album not so long before, it is tempting to say that this is sounding more like a successor to that, than to the On Target classic.

But as I am more into listening than into making connections and or discussions about comebacks or solo outings, let´s return to the music.

I think this is a more rocking affair than On Target was. More up to date, but also more straight. Reece still has a convincing voice, and writes catchy tunes with partners in crime like guitar player and producer Andy Susemihl and Tommy Denander, to name but a few. Drums are provided by my dear friend Hans in ´t Zandt and there are several guest guitar solo´s from the likes of Christian Tolle or Martin Kronlund.
Music like this will always find an audience. Some songs nest themselves straight into your system. Martyr is instant, as is a track like Survival Of The Fittest. Livin´ Your Dreams has a nice groove and a exciting middle section. Tomorrow is a high octane rocker with Hans flashing some of his considerable skills. Still Have A Song To Sing is beautiful, with a meaningful lyric and a heartbreaking solo.

So there you go, again an album to enjoy, rain or shine!

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State Of Rock, A Point Of Destiny, 2010

state of rock - a point of destinyGuitarist Robby Böbel is a busy man. As is singer Tony Mills. and when someone’s name appears on many a release, the danger of overkill is always present. As is the question of quality versus quantity.
So you will understand I was curious how my impressions of this release would turn out.

Lucky for all of us I quite like this album. I find it inspired and easy to listen to, even with multiple plays in a row. Which is an achievement considering the output of the writers at hand! What we have here is a splendid melodic hard rock album full of good ideas, memorable melodies and the production and technical prowess to do it all justice.

Of course if you are looking for something new, this is not for you. But for anyone into quality songs and quality performance, which sound fresh because of the inspired playing and writing, you know just what to do!

Personal play tips: start it up and you´ll catch it up soon.

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Fair Warning, Aura, 2009

fair warning - auraFair Warning are one of those melodic hard rock bands that actually have a signature sound. First because of singer Tommy Heart. His voice is a pleasure to listen to. Great range, warmth and depth and he carries the melodies with ease. Second it is because of the guitar work of Helge Engelke. He plays a special guitar which has a very high register but keeps yielding a powerful tone.

Third and most important, the band write great songs and execute them accordingly. Whether it´s the high octane rocker Fighting For Your Love, the upbeat Hey Girl, or the slow rocker Falling, the songs find their way to your ears easily.
One way of looking at it is that the band play it relatively safe. You know what you get when you buy a Fair Warning record. No experiments, nothing out of the box. On the other hand, when it´s good, don´t break it. Why change a formula that made them very successful abroad?

So enjoy another quality release!

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