D’Ercole, Made To Burn, 2018

d'ercole - made to burnAnd the hardest working man in the music business is back. This time with the band D’Ercole which features  Damian D’Ercole on guitars. B.F. D’Ercole on drums and the mighty Phil Vincent on vocals and bass, and additional drums and guitars.

If you are familiar with Phil and his work, you know you can expect driving rockers, heavenly melodies with tons of harmony vocals, lots of guitars and shredding solos. So opener Time To Walk Away delivers his brand of rockers. And Out Of Time is another one of his beautiful melodic pieces, where Paul Sabu guests on the guitar solo.  Another guest is trusted pal Vince O’Regan (his former Legion partner) who shreds away in 6 tracks.
Also on the album, the last recordings of guitarist David Zycheck (RIP), on the tracks Feel The Burn, Get Undone and Tragedy In Motion. And these tracks show a different side of both men’s combined talent. More groovy, some downtuned guitars, yet still melodic and energetic.

These additions to the familiar sound add some extra sizzle to the plate. And while the overall picture is familiar, this, and other little details in the mix, show that Phil is still pushing forward and trying to expand. With a back catalogue of over 30 albums and contributing to numerous others, a sign that the man is still hungry to learn and grow.

That alone is so cool. As is the record.

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Fred Mika, Withdrawal Symptoms, 2018

Fred Mika - Withdrawal SymptomsOver here in Europe the name Fred Mika will not ring a bell with all too many people I suspect. However, in South America, and more specifically Brazil, Mika is widely known as the drummer for Sunroad. This band has toured with many great names from the rock scene and released 7 albums so far! And now the time has come to do a solo album. Well solo, playing guitars, bass and keyboards, as well as singing 2 tracks, is Sunroad singer André Adonis. Who proves to be one hell of a musician. Together they wrote the songs, with the exception of Nazareth cover Miss Misery.
Having lots of names in your address book comes in handy when you need singers for your project, so Carl Dixon (Coney Hatch), Michael Voss (a.o. Mad Max), Haig Berberian, Rod Marenna, Daniel Vargas (Adellaide), Tito Falashi, Steph Honde (Hollywood Monsters) and Mario Pastore were found willing to contribute.

The result is more prove that Brazil is host to musicians of high calibre, even outside the more extreme metal scene. Wired In, with Dixon, is a top notch mid tempo song with a damn catchy chorus. Artwork Nightmare features Voss, who feels at home with this rocking song and even seems to push his normal delivery. Sly Side Effect is one of my favourites, with a pulsating riff, a great vocal from Berberian and shining guitar work. Another fave is Dawning Of Aquarius where Honde rules and the song takes on an almost proggy disguise and just rocks from start to finish. Check it for yourself and pick your personal favourite!

This is an ode to the quality rock of the seventies and eighties and delivers on all accounts.

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Marenna, Livin’ No Regrets, 2018

marenna - livin no regretsAfter releasing an EP in 2015 and a full length in 2017, Brazilian band Marenna, built around singer Rod Marenna, decided it was about time the world got to know their stage presence.

The way I look at it, if you decide to do a live album, do it right. So raw and in your face, and no studio overdubs. And I am happy to say Marenna did just that. Recorded in their home town of Caxias do Sul in 2016, if anything, this is a fitting testament of a band on fire.
After a short intro, we are treated with a fierce rendition of You Need To Believe. And talking of fierce, the energy the band put into their performance is noticeable throughout the album. And yes, here and there small things appear that prove this is natural and as is. But what the album proves most of all is that the output of the band is a delicacy for anyone into melodic rock and AOR. I know Brazil is most known for bands on the heavier side of the rock spectrum, but melodic rock is also very much alive in that part of the world.

So if this is the genre for you, than treat yourself to the likes of Never Surrender, Reason To Live or whatever song on the album, you will not regret it!

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Classic: Signal, Loud & Clear, 1989

signal - loud and clearNot entirely sure, but I think that this album was my first encounter with the mighty vocals of Mark (now Marcie) Free (King Cobra, Unruly Child). And even if this album is a one off from the band, the trademark melodic rock with huge choruses and a great balance between guitars and keyboards would feature heavily in his/her subsequent career.

Opening with a gem like The Arms Of A Stranger, the mood is set. Great energy, great chorus, and after a interesting break a nice little solo.  Next song Does It Feel Like Love is another belter. Keyboards and guitar open and after the half time verse the song is lifted high when the chorus breaks. And a mighty fine one it is!
But of course every song on offer is aiming to nest itself in your brain and refuse to let go. One of my personal favourites being My Mistake, with it’s tongue in cheek lyric and powerful riff. This Love This Time is a medium tempo power ballad, carried by another expert delivery of Free, using melody to the fullest extend. I could go on, but trust me when I say this serves 10 Songs and 42 minutes of bliss, all killer no filler.

I cannot remember how often I have played the album, but it never tires me. A genre classic if ever there was one.

Phil Vincent, XX, 2017

Phil-Vincent-XX-2017Regular readers of the blog will surely recognize the name. It has been a while since I could feature American singer and multi instrumentalist Vincent on these pages, but it is with pleasure I present his latest album XX. Indeed, solo album 20, but the discography is of course much much longer with his participation in D’Ercole, Legion, Cranston, Tragik, etc. Let alone contributions to many other releases.
This is a straight solo album, with Phil handling songwriting, drums, bass, guitars, keyboards and of course ALL the vocals. Not to mention recording and mixing. Yet he did invite some of his friends to play guitar solos, including William Roux, Paul Sabu (also Cranston) and his buddy from the Legion days, Vince O’Regan.

On offer are 11 tracks in 45 minutes. Meaning that there is no epic this time, but songs from 3 to 4 minutes and 2 that play for 5 to 6 minutes. But that has not changed anything style wise. This is still kick ass melodic (hard) rock with sometimes a bit of proggy arrangements. To me it feels that the production skills keep improving with more depth in the overall sonic soundscape. And speaking of depth, impossible it may sound, but is his singing voice really better than ever?
The choruses are catchy as always and the songs are pouring with hooks. So in short another welcome addition!

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Brother Ape, Karma, 2017

brother ape - karmaFor me personally, this is a giant treat, a new Brother Ape album. Finally! The last couple of years the only releases becoming available were EP’s in digital format, alas. As you might know, I prefer CD’s, so I am very happy to present their new album here. I also was so lucky to be able to buy one of the Deluxe Editions. Those 3 EP’s I mentioned are all present on the bonus disc, including 2 extra songs, making that bonus disc a 14 track miracle of listening pleasure.

The regular album on this release holds 8 songs with a playing time of just over 40 minutes. Now I don’t mind because of my extra disc (even when 6 of those 8 originate from those EP’s), but for modern standards that is… well modest. But hey, you do get totally awesome songs as opener Oblivion, the instant Sixteen and the hauntingly exciting Hina Surawa. As well as 5 other killer songs of course, no fillers here.
Because in my humble opinion, every Brother Ape album is a testament of beautiful crafted songs with emotional depth, coupled with instrumental prowess, hooks and melodies. It is sometimes hard to believe how the trio of Damicolas, Maxen and Bergman keep coming up with brilliant idea after wonderful arrangement.

Every lover of melodic rock music infused with prog elements will absolutely love their music. No doubt in my mind.

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Bryan Cole, Sands Of Time, 2016

bryan-cole---sands-of-timeMelodic Rock Records releases are becoming a regular guest here on the blog. And now it is time for Bryan Cole to be featured. More specifically with his debut Sands Of Time. Anyone familiar with the label will already have a clue as to what to expect. And if not, then I guess the name of the label is giving it away easy… 🙂

And while I can honestly say the name did not ring any bells with me, looking at the song writing team, there are quite some names present besides Bryan: Jim Peterik of Survivor and Pride Of Lions Fame, Brett Walker and more… not bad!
So one of Pittsburgh’s most talented sons sure got on a head start here. And while we are throwing names around like candy on Halloween, more musical references are Giant and Bad English. That should in fact tell you all you need to know. Because let’s face it, mister McNeice has a knack for delivering artists that fit his label and Cole does not disappoint. At all!
If anything, for a debut this sounds confident and mature. Soaring vocals, guitar solos, tons of harmony vocals, all there. And the songs are there too, but with the names involved that was kind of a no-brainer.

So another simple one, buy!

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PS: turns out this is also blog post 1000! Reason to celebrate a bit, YAY!

DangerAngel, All The King’s Horses, 2016

danger angel - all the king's horsesAnd back for another Melodic Rock Records release. And man, this one might be dividing the melodic rock crowd like never before. If my memory serves me well, this is the third album from the band and for me, one of the absolute highlights this year. We get 12 songs and 55 minutes of highly infectious and energetic music on this disc.

So I hear you think, why will it divide the MR community? Well, to me it seems that many melodic rock purists, just like the prog scene by the way, have a certain sound they demand from their beloved bands. They want melodies, vocal harmonies, guitars that bite, a supporting role for keyboards and flashy solos. And DangerAngel deliver just that, with one exception…
Their use of keyboards might be way out of the comfort zone for aficionados. As it is modern, almost dance like and not covered up, but clearly audible in the overall sound of the album. And you know what, I LOVE it. This album brings some exciting new colours to the palette! Yes the melodies shine, the guitars rock hard and the solos rip your face, but their clever use of keyboards really gives them an unique identity.

For me it is simple, this is a must buy album for anyone serious about rock. This is way too good to be ignored and has to be heard to believe. Stunning stuff!

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The Radio Sun, Outside Looking In, 2016

the radio sun - outside looking in-fullThese guys from Down Under are wasting no time! Already album number 3 in hardly 3 years and they are already working on number 4. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s first take a look at this one. The quartet have managed to step their game up a bit more, finding a great balance between up tempo rockers and some damn fine ballads.

Producer Paul Laine (ex Danger Danger) not only found the right balance in the sound, he also adds his vocals in a duet with singer Jason Old on the track Wink And Smile. But there is no shortage of vocals either way, since all the members contribute to that massive sound. And expert guitar slinger Steve Janevski (also Black Majesty) has been buzzing of joy with Brett Garsed playing a guest solo on Falling For You.
As was to be expected, a lot of feel good choruses find their way unto the album. With lead single Switch Off The World Tonight leading the way with its Damn Yankees quality. Other references are Firehouse, Trixter or Warrant.

So if you are a sucker for melody, huge sound, ripping solos, or in short all the great rock music from the past, then this is a sure winner for you. Pick it up from label Melodic Rock Records or find it in a store near to you. It rocks!

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Mecca, III, 2016

mecca - IIIYou do not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this is the third album by American AOR / melodic rock band Mecca. Led by Joe Vana, this collective features some people with a Toto pedigree, like David Hungate and drummer / producer Shannon Forrest. But there are more ace guests here: I mean, names like Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto should also ring a bell or?

Anyway, 3 years in the making, recorded 100% analogue, this seems something special. And for lovers of the smooth side of bands like Giant, Toto or Journey, it is. Every note is spot on and while all songs are good, some are off the scale. And even when I do realise that this opinion is personal, I am sure that only very few people will be able to resist songs like Take My Hand or Let It Go. Vana comments that he only needed 8 songs to say what he had to say. And yes, I agree the album flows. But man, I would have loved to have a couple more tracks on this.

Anyway, better just under 34 minutes of musical heaven, than 50 minutes of crap. So I do hope it will become the classic that Andrew from Melodic Rock Records claims it already is. We will know over time. For now, I just know it is DAMN good!

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