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melodic metal

Soul Exchange, Bloodbound, 2016

soul exchange - bloodboundEven though I believe this is their second album, for me this is my first time listening to Swedish band Soul Exchange. And the first name that popped up in my brain while listening to this was Demon. Might be due to the fact that some songs deal with topics like the ripper, pain, aliens, etc. Or that both bands create a working marriage of NWOBHM with prog.

Anyway, the quintet open with City Of The Ripper. Bells chime, and the stage is set for a song that slowly but surely creeps into your system. Especially the chorus with majestic harmony vocals hits home hard. I love harmony vocals, and this band treats them the way it should. Besides that, lead singer Daniel John has a voice tailor made for the genre. Powerful yet melodic. Next track Left Behind is more proof of the quality in the band. A clever riff put to good use as a foundation for the melodies. And a solo break that again shows prog tendencies. Also the tasty use of keyboards and organ does not go unnoticed. They really add to the overall sound.
Personal favourites are Torn To Pieces and Passenger Of Pain. But there are a lot of songs that will find a welcome home with those into melodic metal and more progressive accents.

So happy I got in touch with the band, this is a fab album! Head on over to their website and buy it!

Website

Riccardo Scaramelli, Thunderproject Vol. 1, 2013

Thunderproject VOL.I Not so long ago I was treated with the great hard rock from Italian band Bluerose. And now singer and guitar player Riccardo Scaramelli fires his Thunderproject at us. Which in fact is more than just an album, as the release is accompanied by a book, should you choose to buy that edition. Alas I have not seen that, so let´s take a look at the album itself.

First thing to notice is the format of the package, as it is somewhere between CD and DVD formats. Looks good, and sounds good too. Compared to Bluerose, the style is more metal, and the progressive influences are even more evident. What not has been lost, is the attitude. Riccardo sounds very confident again here. Which is even more amazing if you consider this is a one man band! Except for a guitar solo on this edition bonus track Wasted. Another thing is that the melodies are still here. So even if it sometimes is more complex music, those choruses hook you to the songs. Another good thing is that this time we get about an hour of music, as that was my only complaint about the Bluerose album.

I consider Riccardo Scaramelli a big talent, great voice and accompanying instrumental capabilities. Let alone engineer, mixer and masterer… So do take the time to explore the music if you are into melodic metal and or progressive metal.

Website

Morpheus Rising, Let The Sleeper Awake, 2011

Morpheus Rising - Let The Sleeper AwakeSeems this year so far has brought me a lot of new discoveries. The latest being  UK band Morpheus Rising with their Let The Sleeper Awake album. Kinda funny to name yourself after the Greek God of dreams, and then let the sleeper wake up… Ah well, I am sure they know what they are up to.
The band is formatted as a classic metal quintet (vocals, bass, drums and 2 x guitar) and that is exactly what first song Daylight confirms. High energy, dual lead guitar attacks, the works. Singer Si Wright has a warm and pleasant voice, but is not your typical metal screamer. His tone is darker and deeper, more like a 80´s new wave singer. Next track Lord Of The North continues that adrenaline pump, but here it seems keyboards are added. Low in the mix, but there is something cooking all right. The chorus is a big winner! The dual leads are again put to good use and deliver many a bridge that holds your attention. And much to my surprise Wright pulls off some screams as well. More metal than I figured 😉

As the album develops, the impression of the style of the band evolves as well. Due to the colours added with keyboards, I sometimes got a different vibe from this album. More progressive if you will, but I would like to bring that new wave connection up again. I really like the overall effect, bringing the band an identity of their own.
To sum it up, a very interesting melodic metal release that is very well worth hunting down. Excellent!

Website

Reece Kronlund, Solid, 2011

Reece Kronlund - SolidSinger David Reece has been featured here before, both solo as with Bangalore Choir. Now he has teamed up with producer and guitarist Martin Kronlund. The pair are apparently not planning on leaving it at this, judging by the booklet text. Time will tell.
Together with known names as Andy Susemihl, Tommy Denander and several others, including my dear friend drummer Hans in ´t Zandt, they have recorded 10 tracks that will appeal to any serious rock addict. With so much experience involved, it is not a big surprise that this turned out really good. Well actually you don´t get guarantees on that, but you know what I mean.

First track My Angel Wears White is already testament of the fact they they are not out to leave anybody standing. Can easily compete with the best Bangalore Choir have released. Samurai is another winner, but here is no filler in sight. Another track I really like is Animals And Cannibals, up tempo, melodic and kick ass. Bonus points for the lyrics, often real feeling stories told here, instead of bubblegum ” I love you” in 100 variations.
My only complaint is the album length. With 10 tracks of 3 to 4 minutes, they leave us wanting more after just over 40 minutes. Really whets your appetite for more!

Website

Revolution Renaissance, New Era, 2008

revolution renaissance - new eraAfter the much debated and publicised happenings in and around the Stratovarius camp, things went a bit silent in the Timo Tolkki corner. But he has resurfaced with  a new band and he called it Revolution Renaissance.

Up front I want to remark that any lover of Tolkki’s former band, will find listening to this a very comfortable experience. In fact, this plainly sounds like Stratovarius with an all new cast (besides song writer and guitar player Tolkki of course. So if you liked his former band, this will push the familiar buttons.

On the upside, the experiments many people dreaded are not present and now we have two bands operating in a similar style. On the downside, who needs two bands operating in a similar style? Why all the fuss if the outcome is so close?

Despite adding nothing to what is already there in his legacy, this is still an album to enjoy. Tolkki obviously still knows how to write a tune or 10, still handles his six string well and got new folks in to fill in the other parts.  Maybe not essential therefore, but little wrong with either. You decide if it is worth your time and money.

The website is no longer available…

The Murder Of My Sweet, Divanity, 2010

The Murder Of My Sweet - DivanityA band with practically a who´s who in Swedish rock. I mean Johan Niemann on bass, Daniel Palmqvist on guitars and Daniel Flores on drums; you could do worse! Together with Andreas Lindahl on keyboards and the unknown (to me) singer Angelica Rylin the band obviously mean business.

Melodic metal with some Gothic touches, this is well crafted music that will appeal to many. And to only address that to focal point Angelica does not do the album justice. With players of this calibre it is probably of little wonder that this leaves little to be desired. Big pompous sound with a lot going on arrangement wise. Yet the melodies and convincing vocals keep it all together.

So even if it all hints at a formulaic approach to attract the unaware fan, the quality is undeniable and you should delve into tracks like No Evil, Bleed Me Dry (video on the disk as well), One Bullit,  or the amazing album closer Death Of A Movie Star. You will not be disappointed.

Website

Jorn, Spirit Black, 2009

jorn - spirit blackThe mighty Jorn Lande brings us another album under his own name. Jorn has been involved in many bands so far (Masterplan, Millenium, Vagabond, Ark to name a few), but this is already his ninth offering under his own name since his 2000 début Starfire.
In many ways, you can´t go wrong with Lande behind the microphone. His sound is instant, he as many colours (Dio and Coverdale being big influences) and within the melodic metal field there are not many competitors at his level. Russel Allen comes to mind, but that is about it I guess.
Also his band consists of some top ace players, Willy Bendiksen on drums and Tore Moren on guitars being among them.

If you heard Jorn solo before, this is a safe buy. Waste little time and get it, if you don´t already own it that is. For those not yet confident enough, here´s a thought for ya. Like big guitars, melodic choruses, a singer with a stellar set of pipes and songs to match? Dig that heavy sound and riffing, songs with diversity and mood swings, with a top notch production? Melodies to die for and solo´s that count? Hey (wo)man, where have you been, buy this on sight (and any other of his albums as well I might add). Oh and if you can, get the bonus edition. It has a cover of one of Thin Lizzy´s most beautiful songs (The Sun Goes Down) on it.

Personal play tips: Spirit Black, City In Between, Rock And Roll Angel.

Website

Mastedon, It´s A Jungle Out There, 2009 (remaster)

mastedon - it´s a jungle out thereTogether with the release of the 3d Mastedon album (the first in 19 years!), record company Frontiers also reissued the much sought after 1988 debut It´s A Jungle Out There.
Mastedon is the brainchild of brothers John and Dino Elefante. The first may also be known from his time as lead vocalist in Kansas. He did for instance the sadly underrated Drastic Measures album. Plus he released a number of solo albums that are, besides a sometimes wonderful listen, also a lot more mainstream.

When I bought the 2nd Mastedon album in 1994 (1990´s Lofcaudio) I was not aware of this album. That particular CD is a long time favourite, so you will understand I was very curious for this one. Biggest surprise was the use of several lead vocalists. Something unexpected, as John is perfectly able to lead himself. Gives a number of songs a whole other vibe.
Musically speaking it is very recognisable. Melodic metal at it´s best. Catchy choruses, high octane backing vocals, great riffs and soloing, clever use of keyboards and memorable hooks. So what else can we ask for?
Bonus tracks perhaps. So we get all songs from the original album and 2 live tracks. Okay, that´s it? Yes, this is every inch as good as it´s follow up. Really wets my appetite for number 3!

Personal play tips: Islands In The Sky, Right Hand, Wasn´t It Love.

Website

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