HOT NEW AOR REVIEWS
|CHRISTIAN TOLLE PROJECT 'Better than dreams' (CTM)
This is a very interesting release, because multi-instrumentalist CHRISTIAN TOLLE from Germany has been accompanied by guitarplayers like Steve Lukather, Michael Thompson and Tim Pierce on his debut CD. Besides, the 10 songs are from a very high quality and are best described as 80s typed AOR/Melodic Rock like a mix between GIANT, 80s BAD COMPANY, FOREIGNER, KEVIN LEE, BRYAN ADAMS and RICK SPRINGFIELD (80s period). So basically this is guitar driven melodic rock with raw emotional vocals and catchy choruses to sing-a-long.
The CD opens with
"Changed", a great 80s typed uptempo cheerful
melodic AOR/ Poprocker like BRYAN ADAMS meets RICK
SPRINGFIELD (only a bit tougher than
"87 99" is nice to check out for the
guitarfreaks, because it features a 'guitar-duet' between
Steve Lukather and Tim Pierce. The CD closes nicely with
the semi melodic rockballad "Out in the night".
This CHRISTIAN TOLLE PROJECT is definitely
|CLOCKWISE 'Time is waiting'
CLOCKWISE is another new AOR band from Spain. Their CD 'Time is waiting' is a very good 80s Euro AOR record in the style of FAIR WARNING, DAMNED NATION, TERRA NOVA, CHALICE The first 7 songs are fantastic AOR/Melodic Rocksongs and my favourites are "Two worlds" (midtempo melodic rocker), "To eternity" (semi melodic rockballad a la FAIR WARNING), "On your own" (cheerful uptempo 80s melodic rocker a la first DANGER DANGER) and "Time is waiting".
This last mentioned song, the titletrack, is the best song of the whole CD, because it is a lovely catchy uptempo melodic rocker with some very nice harmonyvocals. The closing 3 songs are a bit less sensational, but in general fans of European AOR will like this CLOCKWISE (not to be confused with the Swedish AOR/Melodic Rock outfit) a lot. You can get a copy of the CD by e-mailing Robert Pancur: email@example.com and look at his website at: www.target-records.de for more independent AOR releases.
|ELYTE 'Unno' (VINNY
ELYTE is a sensational AOR band from Madrid, Spain. Their debut 'Unno' is definitely a must for anyone who likes Spanish AOR (read: CODA, LAFASE, JUPITER, SAGRE AZUL), but is also recommended to fans of acts like DANNY DANZI, TERRA NOVA, DANGER DANGER Although they sing in their own language, still the AOR on 'Unno' sounds huge and is as good as the English sung AOR.
My favourite songs are "Ya lo ves" (very cheerful uptempo AOR/Melodic Rock a la TERRA NOVA, CODA), "No te puedo dejar atras" (fantastic uptempo AOR/FM-rocker), "Miralo" (superb uptempo classy 80s AOR with some very catchy hooks, like a mix between early FM, STAN BUSH and CODA) and "dentro de mi" (fantastic uptempo AOR rocker).
Besides all these
uptempo tunes, the band also throws in some great
|FOOL'S KIN 'This blue machine'
FOOL'S KIN is a new Spanish band and they have released their debut on the Spanish Melodic Rocklabel VINNY RECORDS. The album counts 5 songs, so this is more like a mini-CD. Musically FOOL'S KIN is playing quality melodic hardrock with some progressive influences as well as a heavy guitarsound sometimes. Although it is not a sensational album, still melodic rockfans will enjoy songs like "Dead colours" (midtempo melodic rocker), "Morphine" (very melodic chorus) and the semi ballad "I only want to walk". Maybe not the best release on VINNY RECORDS, still a band worth checking out.
|PONTUS NORGREN 'Damage done' (Z RECORDS)
Guitarist Pontus Norgren from Sweden played in the bands GREAT KING RAT and JEKYLL'N'HYDE the past decade and also released a couple of albums with these bands. Now he's back under his own name and on the Z RECORDS label. Together with former TREAT/SWEDISH EROTICA singer Mats Leven, Pontus has released the CD 'Damage done'. The CD is a collection of heavy and groovy melodic hardrocksongs that have an updated sound, while still containing enough melody for the melodic rockfans.
Fans of polished AOR/Melodic Rock should leave this CD alone, because it is way too heavy and groovy for them. Guitarfreaks will totally adore this album, but also people who liked other recent releases such as DOUBLE DEALER, DAMNED NATION will find something of interest in this release. I think it's a nice record, but nothing sensational here. Best songs include the semi melodic rocker "Here I am" and closing track "Friends" (great semi melodic rockballad a la WHITESNAKE).
|NARO 'Press play' (Z RECORDS)
Z RECORDS has re-released Phil Naro's debut 'Press play' from 1994. The album, co-produced by Harry Hess (HAREM SCAREM), already featured 16 songs and now with the addition of 4 new songs, the CD contains 20 songs with a total playing time of almost 70 minutes. 'Press play' is a nice melodic (hard) rockalbum, but nothing really sensational.
The best songs are the uptempo melodic rockers "Miracle", "I am the reason" (both a la AUTOGRAPH), the semi melodic rockers "Sweat better in the dark", "Jessie" and "Ephemeral" and the midtempo melodic rocker "Press play" (like DEF LEPPARD). The crystal clear production is making this CD worth listening to, but I have to say that most of the songs are just nice melodic rockers, nothing more, nothing less
|SOLID BLUE 'Volume 3' (INDEPENDENT)
This band comes out of Sweden and was kind enough to sent me their CD 'Volume 3' (no, it's not their third album). This CD contains recordings from 1994, but it doesn't sound dated at all. In fact, some tunes sound very good to me and I can't wait to hear new material, because SOLID BLUE is working on a comeback.
Anyway, the music on this disc is a mixture of 80s AOR/Radiorock and some Bluesy Poprock, kinda like 38 SPECIAL, CHEAP TRICK and VAN ZANT. My favourite songs are "Midnight special" (westcoast AOR like 38 SPECIAL meets VAN ZANT), "Common thing" (uptempo AOR/Poprocker, hello 38 SPECIAL), "Somebody tell me" (great cheerful early 80s AOR rocker with a very catchy chorus, early RICK SPRINGFIELD meets 38 SPECIAL), "Luxury" (midtempo poprocker a la TOMMY TUTONE) and "Hold on to your hat" (melodic rocker).
There are also a couple weaker songs such as "Down home urban guy", "Precious", "In a broken dream" and "Drifting", but in general this SOLID BLUE is a nice band and recommended if you're a fan of mentioned bands. More info at: http://www.mp3.com/solidblue and e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
|ABRAXAS U.K. 'Studio and live
This is pretty interesting, because ABRAXAS U.K. is the former band of LOST WEEKEND singer Paul Uttley. Back in the mid 80s they recorded a bunch of demos, but were never signed to a label, so this CD is a nice collection of 19 unreleased songs of ABRAXAS U.K. Musically they move in the typical 80s Melodic AOR/Radiorock/ Poprock area and it sounds similar to bands like STEEL BREEZE, LIONHEART
The first few songs caught me by surprise and are quite sensational. These are "Going away" and "Don't judge". The first one is a magnificent early 80s Pomp/AOR song with references to SHELTER, ROADMASTER, LIONHEART including many keys, catchy hooklines and basically just everything you need to hear in a classic 80s AOR/Pomp tune. "Don't judge" is a great early 80s Radiorocker a la STEEL BREEZE.
Unfortunately the sound of the rest of the CD is a bit average and also the songs aren't always convincing. Songs like "Let's live in peace", "Everytime I look around", "The opposite applies", "Let it go", "Dawn of a new day" and "The dance" are nice melodic rockers, but due to the weak sound and similar approach, they all sound like each other and are just nothing special.
It's not bad at all,
but after hearing such a wonderful first song
("Going away to California") I had hoped for
more songs like this, but that didn't quite happen.
Nevertheless, this CD is a must for the LOST WEEKEND
fans, because singer Paul Uttley is really doing his
|DRIVING WEST 'Power' (KALUBONE
DRIVING WEST is a fresh sounding melodic modern rockband. The 13 songs on their CD 'Power' sound melodic but are definitely in the 90s modern rock style. Sometimes it sounds like the last NELSON, only groovier and less polished. The best songs are "Fear" (nice melodic chorus), "Must be love", "Follow", "Art of letting go" (semi melodic rockballad) and closing track "Ooh la la" (very good melodic harmonies, acoustic ballad). DRIVING WEST is another band with an updated 90s rocksound, while still keeping the 80s melodies during the chorus and the vocals. More info at: http://www.surf.to/kalubone
|ENVY 'Sun and earth
This ENVY comes out of Mississippi and they have released a CD titled 'Sun and earth'. The band is playing a mixture of modern 90s rock and 80s melodic rock. The beginning of the CD is a bit too 90s rock orientated for me with songs like "Seduction" and "Ricochet", but as the CD continues it gets better and more melodic rock orientated.
Songs like "Identity denied" (great uptempo melodic rocker, 90s updated but very melodic guitars and chorus), "Youth clench" (melodic rockballad) and the 80s typed melodic Hard Rock songs ("Universe explodes", "Foundation falls" and "Shiver storm"). Although ENVY is actually playing two styles here, I think many fans of 80s Hard Rock will find something of interest in this band, but don't expect a pure 80s sound. More info at: http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/141/envy_usa.html and e-mail them at: ChadPeavy@aol.com
|MATTSSON 'Another dimension'
'Another dimension' is the 8th CD of guitarist/bassist/ keyboardist LARS ERIC MATTSSON. His earlier records were great AOR/Melodic Rockalbums, with the exception of ASTRAL GROOVE. This new CD is a small change in direction, because 'Another dimension' is filled with pure late 70s/80s Hard Rock that reminds me a lot of RANBOW and DEEP PURPLE, although the CD starts with a MAIDEN typed song titled "Hell".
My favourite songs on
the record are "Don't lose your patience"
(melodic ballad), "Road of Babylon" (RAINBOW
typed Hard Rock), "Memory lane" (semi melodic
|BUFALO BLANCO 'Como un viejo
Although there are quite a few bands from Argentina, this is actually one of the first I review. BUFALO BLANCO was formed in 1987, but so far this is their only CD release. They play 70s typed Hard Rock, although some other influences (Blues, AOR) can also be heard. There are 12 songs on the CD. The 70s typed Hard Rock songs ("Resignado a perderte", "Como un viejo rock'n'roll", "Otra oportunidad" and "Vacio cerebal") are nice to hear and capture influences of BAD COMPANY.
There are also some weaker Bluesy and Pop orientated pieces such as "Dulce adiccion", "En la ruta", "Aun te amo", "Confusion" and "Es por tus ojos", these songs are not really interesting. The best song of the whole CD is definitely "Extrana relacion", this is a lovely pure AOR/Melodic Rockballad a la CODA, VOX DEI, LA FASE Some more ballads in this style on a future CD would be really great. Anyway, check this Argentinean Rockband out at: http://www.bufaloblanco.com and e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
|THE PATH 'Making ends meet' (MAELSTROM
Band from Idaho, USA that has released quite an enjoyable record. The band is actually playing an own style that is very melodic, but also pretty soft. The sound and production quality is a bit weak and you can clearly hear it is an independent release. But like I said the songs are pretty nice. A lot of ballads and acoustic parts can be heard throughout the CD. This band is clearly influenced by the SCORPIONS songs "Still loving you" and "Holiday", because the beginning of a couple of songs has a similar approach with the guitarsound.
My favourite tracks of THE PATH are "Had my heart set on you" (ballad with AOR influences), "Coming home" (semi-ballad), "Fire and ice" (70s typed progressive rocker with a very good melodic chorus) and the uptempo 70s rocker "Yes, I'll try". THE PATH has created an unique sound that contains influences from 70s Classic Rock, Progressive Rock and 80s AOR/Melodic Rockballads. The band uses a lot of acoustic guitars and melodic vocals that makes them different than most other bands in our genre. Take a look at their site at: http://www.thepath.cc and e-mail them at: email@example.com
|POWERGOD 'Back to attack' (MASSACRE RECORDS)
Second CD of this German band, 'Back to attack' is surely an attack to the people who want to hear melodic rock, because this album is filled with very fast power metal. 10 songs it's as heavy as hell! The songs that attracted me were the slower ones such as "The eagle and the rainbow" and "Powergod", both being nice melodic heavy rockers. Most of the rest, especially the first two songs ("Back to attack" and "Lost illusions") are super fast metalish songs. This one's for the die-hard metalfreaks among us!
|QUEENSRYCHE 'Greatest hits'
Who can forget Queensryche's brilliant show at
Newport Centre in 1990 with Lynch Mob? Since then the
Seattle group have influenced so many bands over the
years, yet since those shows in 1990 their career has
taken a downward turn and Queensryche have struggled to
regain past glories, their last album 'Q2K' even
struggled to get a full UK release.
Rating: 8/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|URBAN TALE 'Outtakes August
Alot has happened to Finnish
aor/melodic rock group Urban Tale since we featured them
here at Strutter sometime back. I reviewed a killer
Journey/Toto inspired ballad called "One Day".
The band recently released "One Day" as a
single in their home country, they soon found themselves
making a dent in their homeland charts. Not bad for an
Rating: 9/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|PLANET X 'Universe'
(INSIDE OUT MUSIC)
Planet X is the new technical
supergroup featuring neo classical guitar maestro Tony
MaCalpine, keyboard player Derek Sherinian (Dream
Theater, Kiss, Alice Cooper) and drummer Virgil Donati.
Rating: 8/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
(INSIDE OUT MUSIC/LION MUSIC)
'Illusion-Dimensions' is the
debut disc from Portuguese act Oratory who play bombastic
symphonic power metal a'la Helloween, Balance Of Power,
Manowar, Stratovarius and Virgin Steele. For a debut
album this release is almost technically perfect, some of
the vocal parts let the final mix down. Saying that,
there is nothing actually wrong prog queen Ana Lara and
Marco Alves singing, both are very powerful singers,
Marco's voice is grandiose and Ana sings her parts like
an angel especially on the hidden track at the end of the
album which start off as an instrumental called 'Galaxy',
when Ana's voice sets into the song, she sings with an
almost beautiful operatic approach, the song is then
taken over by Marco's vocals and Miguel Gomes crunchy axe
work, but for music of this caliber, I feel as if the
vocals should have been louder in the mix, thus they
sound a little muffled, but after a few spins this disc
sinks in your head and these observations can be over
Rating: 8/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|DEVERAUX '' (MAPLE LEAF
Fans of fantasy driven progressive melodic rock
may wish to check out excellent new German four piece
Deveraux Deveraux's music is very solid and professional,
the album has been expertly produced, thus songs like
"Build Your Own World","Return To
Here" offer much interest to fans of the
afforementioned genres, the latter almost sounding across
between Survivor and Queensryche circa "Empire"
Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|KEEL 'Th right to rock' (METAL MAYHEM MUSIC)
Finally available on cd thanks
to Metal Mayhem Records. 'The Right To Rock' was
originally released in 1985 when MTV worshipped long
haired hard rocking bands of this caliber.
Rating: 9/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|LOST WEEKEND 'Presence of mind'
(NOW AND THEN/FRONTIERS RECORDS)
In 1997 Halifax based outfit
Lost Weekend released their AOR friendly debut album
which reminded me of GTS, Ghost, The Promise and Shy.
Whilst yours truly didn't think much of that album, the
boys have since proved themselves a worthy outfit with
their live shows being a popular draw amongst the AOR
Rating: 7,5/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|VARIOUS ARTISTS 'Union 3'
(FRONTIERS/NOW AND THEN RECORDS)
"Union 3" is a double
cd affair which showcases the best of the best from
Frontiers/Now And Then records, including Bob Catley,
Street Legal, Hugo, Survivor, Ten, Jeff Watson, Good Rats
Rating: 9/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|PESKI! 'Peski/Animals EP'
Three piece Swansea outfit Peski
immediatley bring to mind Pearl Jam, which is mainly due
to frontman Willis, who is obviously inspired by Eddie
Vedder. Peski however play catchy 90's melodic pop rock
that is instant and catchy, their sound has been nicely
produced by Tim Hamill (Stoned Dog/Sludgecraft).
Rating: 5/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|BLACKCAT9 'Rock and roll kid'
I don't have alot of info on
this band except that they play pure rock 'n' roll with a
pinch of sleaze a'la Michael Monroe, Sleeze Beeze and
GNR. Four tracks are what we have to listen to and very
enjoyable they are to, with my only complaint being that
the sound could use brightening up in the vocal
department. But the songs are played well and are bouncy
and energetic. Blackcat9 have enough bottom end in their
music to be fully accepted by fans of all genres of rock
n' roll , they sparkle on songs like "I Wanna Be
Your Whore" and the Poisonish"Friday",
where touches of The Wildhearts and Terrorvision can also
be heard.And to top it all the last song is a superb
cover of Duran Duran's "Hungry Like The Wolf".
So all in all despite the quality of the recording
Blackcat9 defintley have the songs.A band to watch out
Rating: 7/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)