Tragik, Tainted, 2017

Tragik-TaintedAlbum number 7 for this US hard rock band with many pomp influences. Lead by the unmistakeable voice and talent of multi-instrumentalist Phil Vincent. And what is most striking is that, even after recording for over 20 years and being involved in over 30 albums, the man still manages to evolve. Both as a songwriter, as well as a producer. So even when this is in essence a pomp hard rock album, some things cross new borders. And yes people, that is a very good thing in my book!

Opener Welcome Back is a driving song, built around riffs and melodies and with crunching guitars and solos. And then arrives Not Over You (Listen). I can already hear the critics wail over this… And why? The base of it is a drum loop and parts of the song have an Eighties wave feel to them. It also clocks in at over 9 minutes. But if you are able to listen beyond that; you will hear it is an adventurous take on something familiar. And people who follow the blog on a regular base, know that I am all for experimenting. I think this is a great song that keeps you on your toes!
Songs like Can’t Take It Back or Face Of Sorrow are aiming for the more traditional tastes. And songs like Into The Great Unknown or Heaven (another 8+ epic) aim to blend genres again. And closer Harsh Reality sees Vincent and co groove like never before. The guitar work of the late David Zychek playing a great part in it.

So for me this is another great release from the band. And as with all of the earlier releases, the album just keeps growing on you. Wonderful stuff.

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Ten, Gothica, 2017

ten - gothicaEver since the first release X in 1996, we have been following the band Ten. I say we, because in this case even my better half is quite fond of the band! And despite numerous changes of personnel over the years, the band has always been about the songs, storytelling and dark voice of Gary Hughes. And of course Gothica is no exception. Anyone familiar with the band will recognise the identity in an instant.

And no, in this case that is not a bad thing! Because the sound may have a certain ring to it, it is the voice of Hughes that takes care of the familiarity. And his knack for writing pompous songs with enough twists and turns to surprise even the most avid fan, but always with a great chorus and enough hooks to catch your attention.

Being a prog lover myself, I love the fact that Ten boldly play 8 minute songs if need be. And manage to do it with panache and energy. The storytelling of Hughes has always been great and this time we get to hear about Jekyll and Hyde, La Luna Dra-Cu-La, The Grail, time Travellers, and so on. The 7 man band all shine. They can rock, they can play fiery solos, and they can bring it all down and get you on the tip of your toes with a piece of piano and vocal.

Even when not all albums of the past are of the same calibre throughout, Ten rarely disappoint, and this one is very consistent and just amongst the best of them.

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Zingo, Zingo, 2015

zingoI can almost hear you think, Zingo? Well, a little surprise maybe then, because one the of members is guitarist Keith Scott, who has been playing with one Bryan Adams for decades. And you guessed it, Zingo was his band preceding that. This album is a remaster of a hard to find release from way back, and also features 2 never before released songs.

The music is melodic rock that because of the progressive elements sometimes borders into pomp. And it is a pretty good album for lovers of the genre too. Of course it has a firmly rooted seventies sound, but it sounds fresh nevertheless. There are some special treats like sax solos, hammond organ, a Keith Scott who is on fire, and the vocals and vocal harmonies are up to par as well. The songs are well balanced, and I must say that especially when they inject extras, they really create some top notch stuff.

So I am pretty sure that any aficionado will be delighted with this now unearthed gem and label Renegade Sounds can be proud of it.

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Classic: House Of Lords, Self Titled, 1988

house of lords - sameWhen someone like Gene Simmons gets involved in a band, you can be sure of a number of things: it rocks, it has quality, and he is pretty sure he makes some extra bucks 😉

Well, I am not sure about the money, but the first album by the mighty House Of Lords sure qualifies in the other aspects. Fronted by the powerhouse vocalist James Christian, and with a band that is a kind of who´s who (a lot of attorneys involved gives that away), keyboard wizard Greg Giuffria, Ken Mary on drums, Chuck Wright on bass and Lanny Cordola on guitars. The band not only wrote songs themselves, but also secured tracks and or help from Stan Bush, David Glen Eisley, and Rick Nielsen to name a few.

Style wise this is hard rock with many pomp features. Not a big surprise with Giuffria present. All this melted into an album that hits home hard. Be it with ballad like stuff, rockers, or mid tempo pieces, this is music with grandeur and impact. Pleasure Palace builds up slowly, I Wanna Be Loved rocks, Edge Of Your Life starts as a ballad, before turning into a monster chorus and powers up quite big. Looking For Strange, with it´s quirky boogie piano intro, is another up tempo rocker and Love Don´t Lie is the power ballad we all know (either from this, or from another rendition). More rockers follow and also my personal favourite Under Blue Skies, to give us another timeless album every home should own. Great stuff and like I mentioned in my post of Cartesian Dreams, this is music I never get tired of.

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Oz Knozz, True Believer, 2011

oz knozz - true believerIt is with great pleasure that I write about this disk. The previous album from these Texan gents I already liked very much, and this one grabbed me from the opening seconds of Empty Room. This is pomp in optima forma! The kind of music that got me into playing myself, and I will never stop listening to.

Okay, fair is fair, expect nothing really new or earth shattering. But if you feel, like me, that music should be about good songs, craftsmanship and energy, then look no further. This stuff is highly addictive and still not predictable. With their history and experience, they avoid clichés easily. So nothing new maybe, but still oh so good. By the way, what is unique is that they have a trumpet and a sax player among them. Listen to Fox Paws and tell me that is not working!

So in short: go out and buy this thing if you are into pomp, hard rock and or progressive stuff and help raise awareness for this fantastic outfit. And as the band recently signed a record deal with Shawn Gordon, owner of Prog Rock Records / The Record Label, availability won´t be an issue either. Fingers crossed the next one will be just as good.

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