After 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!
Not 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.
Regular 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!
For 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.
Melodic 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.
And 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!
These 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!
You 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!
Listening to the recent House Of Shakira album Sour Grapes, my thoughts automatically drifted back to their 1997 debut Lint. So I decided to dig it out and gave it another play. And man, what a great album this still is. So here goes another “Classic” post.
The album opens with somewhat mysterious Middle-East sounding singing, and it does not take long before the song Morning Over Morocco kicks in. And kick it does! I seem to remember that their singer at the time, Andreas Eklund, had been living in Africa for a while, so that might explain the Eastern flavours that pop up throughout the album. Giving it a bit of extra sizzle, like the title song Lint so aptly proves. Great energy and stunning harmony vocals if you ask me. Method Of Madness opens with some beefy guitar and melodic singing. When the band kicks in, those harmony vocals again take centre stage and seduce you. Nobody sings Hi Hi Hi as good as they do! But don’t think this is all fluffy, far from it. The guitars and solos are top notch as well, no rest for the wicked here. Song number 4, named No: 8, is a beautiful semi ballad. An organ supports the guitars well, and Eklund delivers a heartfelt lyric. Who’s Lying Now would make Journey jealous, such is its melodic appeal. Elephant Gun is another face melter, great groove and that chorus is another one to die for. Did I mention they do stunning harmony vocals? Anyway, only half way through, but you will get the message.
Anybody who claims to love melodic rock needs to give this a home!
And again on route to try to catch up with all the releases coming from Melodic Rock Records. In fact, most of the time the reviews could be kept fairly simple, as label boss Andrew (also host of the, for genre fans, mandatory melodicrock.com) has a clear view of what he wants to get out into this world. The name says it all really.
But the melodic rock genre is a bit of a tricky one. Some bands just steal about every riff and melody they can get their hands on, while others serve music by the numbers and quite frankly bore their listeners to death. Luckily that is not the case with Intuitive. These guys show how to record and release an album that is worth the while. Especially the second part of the album just pours vibrant songs like The Reckoning Day, Illusion, Take A Chance, and so on. The melodies are good, the guitar solos shred, it packs the right amount of punch, the whole thing works like a charm.
So with quality like this, it is easy to recommend the album. And while you are at it, check out the back catalogue of MRR as well. Like any independent label, it needs the support of the buyers to stay afloat and bring us more joy and more music. You know you want it to 🙂