Stepping Outside of My Music Comfort Zone + PLAYLIST

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

I know it’s been a while since I last published anything on my blog. It’s such a pity, I know! There are a lot of reasons why I took some time off blogging and at some point, I will focus on the reasons why I stopped writing for a while but now it’s not the time to do that. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who’s still following me and my musical adventures on Instagram and Twitter. The accounts of @myrockmixtapes are still active and will remain active because I truly believe it’s important to spread love and joy through music. I will do everything I can to continue sharing and recommending great music to the fabulous rock music community out there.

Let’s go back to my post!

For my, let’s say, “comeback” publication, I decided to do a little summary of all the incredible music I’ve discovered throughout the past year (maybe?) that kind of drifts away from my (as I call it) music comfort zone. The bands, albums and songs I wanted to share with you today are definitely outside that musical safe heaven I created for myself which basically covers a couple of genres I am mostly fond of. I was and still am always excited to discover new music that brings that something extra to your daily life. The genre is certainly not a reason enough for me to discriminate music or completely ignore it. On the contrary, I am always up for a new musical adventure. What do I mean by all that?

My music comfort zone

For years and years, the type of music I was only interested in was hard rock and melodic rock music, mostly from the ‘80s. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to and collecting fantastic hard rock music from the decade which I adore with all my heart and soul (though I wasn’t born in the ‘80s). Bands like Def Leppard, Winger, Motley Crue, Whitesnake, Dokken, Cinderella, Hardline, Warrant, Slaughter, Skid Row, Journey, Foreigner, Giant, Great White, WASP, Ratt, White Lion, Tesla, Kix and similar were the type of bands I lived for. To be honest, they still are. This is the type of music that gives me strength, empowerment and most importantly, can fix my mood on a daily basis. I dug up almost each and every hard rock/glam rock band from the ‘80s and turned it into an inseparable part of my physical and online collection of music. At this point, I don’t think there’s a hard rock/AOR band from that marvelous period I haven’t heard of, regardless of whether they released one album and disappeared or are still around. Finding obscure, one-album hard rock bands, as a matter of fact, became a hobby of mine. There are plenty of publications on this website that cover such forgotten but incredible albums and the music they left behind. Thanks to Spotify and YouTube (mostly), I got introduced to bands that were once named “the next big thing”, yet no one remembers them now. Such may include XYZ, Heaven’s Edge, Nelson, Jagged Edge, Giant, Giuffria and way more.

You see, this particular musical niche quickly turned into “MY THING”! The ocean of hard rock music from the ‘80s seemed bottomless. Each day, new album to fall inlove with! It’s still like this, you know! I love love love hard rock and glam rock from the ‘80s and each time someone asks me what type of music I listen to; I always answer the same – “’80s hard and glam rock”.

There’s magic in that music; a certain raw, unpolished, natural magic to it that can’t be recreated. On top of it all, my personality matched perfectly with that type of music. I am a nostalgic individual who lives in the past. It’s always been like this and it’s not just with music, certainly! All that, added to the fact that many of the above-mentioned bands are still making music and releasing great new albums (hugely thanks to record labels like Frontiers Music), presented an enormous ground to cover. Musically, it just all feels right to me. I managed to create a meaningful connection with my music and I am so happy I am not one of those people who just listen to what’s popular these days and what’s on the radio.

What happened, though?

What happened is that I started using Spotify, met a lot of new people and started going to concerts that were not hard rock or heavy metal. See, sometimes doing your own research and covering all the bands and music genres that are out there is immensely difficult. Honestly, I didn’t really feel like doing it that much. I was perfectly fine with my music and anything different that ended up on my library was just a great bonus I discovered on YouTube.

With concerts it’s the same. If I have to decide, by myself, whether to go to a concert of a band I’ve never heard of and that plays music, entirely different from my favorite type of music, the answer will be a no. However, when friends and loved ones started inviting me to underground concerts, it all kind of changed.   

With the rise of my newly-emerging social life, my music life changed a little bit as well. It’s inevitable, I guess. I’ve always said that people who introduce you to new music are important and this was the case with me, for sure!

This is probably the time to thank my boyfriend (who is a drummer and had several bands in the past) for his contributions. His taste in music is quite different from mine and that was a blessing in disguise. The endless evenings that he spent sending me some of his favorite music surely changed everything. I am picky, though. Not everything was for me. But what I hear and love, I love, regardless of the genre or the circumstances under which I came across it.

Spotify became another reason why I started paying attention to more and more bands that were not falling under the hard/melodic rock genre category. For that I praise it! It sucks that artist are not paid enough from streaming but the one great thing about the application is that it gives you a perfect opportunity to meet new bands through various playlists it generates for you. I listen to Spotify on a daily basis. With all that travelling to work I do, it’s only natural. I love checking up my Daily Mixes, New Releases, Discover Weekly and other playlists that the application recommends.

Some bands that challenged me and turned into favorites:

Tesseract
[Genre: Progressive Metal]

Daniel Tompkins
[Genre: Progressive Metal]

Katatonia
[Genre: Doom/Death Metal (early), Depressive Rock/Metal (later) ]

The Contortionist
[Genre: Progressive Metal]

Seven
[Genre: Progressive/Alt Metal]

Gemini Syndrome
[Genre: Alternative Metal]

Like a Storm
[Genre: Post-grunge/ Alt-metal/ Hard Rock]

Monuments
[Genre: Progressive Metal]

Beartooth
[Genre: Hardcore Punk]

Art of Dying
[Genre: Alternative Rock/ Alternative Metal]

Palisades
[Genre: Post Hardcore]

Bad Wolves
[Genre: Heavy Metal, Groove Metal]

Lower than Atlantis
[Genre: Alternative Rock/ Punk Rock]

Skyharbor
[Genre: Progressive Metal]

pg.lost
[Genre: Experimental Instrumentalism]

Corelia
[Genre: Progressive Metal]

Final Words

To sum it up, I currently feel more open-minded towards discovering new bands and genres that don’t fall under what I like to call “musical safe heaven”. I was open-minded before but rather consumed by that magical and highly-appealing vibe of the ‘80s! I am starting to spread my wings a little bit over several other genres, as shown in this publication. Most of the artists I included here are progressive metal/alternative and I can’t wait to see what else is there for me.

I should point out that I am still a glam rock girl and I will always be. Sometimes, however, it’s good to be challenged musically; it’s great to learn how to appreciate other genres and most importantly, to feel proud of it and admit it. Don’t be bothered by the fact that you liked a band that’s out of your musical horizons. Be honest with yourself and never embarrassed to admit that you find a certain artist/band’s music appealing to you. I’ve witnessed that a lot of people who enjoy listening to a band that plays music that’s a little bit softer than what they usually listen to, often don’t disclose it out there, don’t share their music and keep things privately because of their public image. Don’t do that. Spread the word if a band caught your ear. Each band deserves it!

Hope you enjoyed my little selection! Rock on and share the love!

TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2018 [by Velina of @MyRockMixtapes]

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

Cheers to another year full of great music! Where do I even begin? I knew this was going to be a monstrous rock&roll year and I was damn right! What a time to be alive! What an enormous stamp the year 2018 left on the music history books! I seriously don’t know where to start when it comes to describing or listing all the glorious releases we had the chance to experience this year. From long-awaited comebacks, to brand new rock temptations, we sure as hell had it all. I went through the same album short-listing process last year but it somehow seemed easier to gather up my favorite releases and finalize the list. This year, however, it was way more difficult for me to make up my mind, draw lines and place numbers. That’s why as you can see I expanded to a TOP20 list, instead of a TOP10 list, like I used to do before.

Let’s get down to business and have a quick overview of the following list. As you will see, the majority of bands and albums I included come from the AOR / Melodic Rock / Hard Rock scene but no surprises there. I have been involved with this scene for a long time and this has always been my preferred style of music. I am immensely proud of the way the melodic rock scene has been developing in the past year and how many new bands are proving everyone that AOR is not something that belongs to the ’80s! All of the praises go to the hard-working team of Frontiers Records visionaries that keep the spirit alive and bring more and more to the table with each passing month. As you can see the majority of my favorite 2018 albums come from the mighty Italian label but if you know me, you won’t be surprised. Then again, why would you be? If you are a fan of AOR you would know that these days the genre is almost synonymous with that label. 

In addition, on my list you can find the presence of progressive metal bands and classic American alternative bands, which spiced things up a little bit for me. 

To sum it up – 2018 was my year – the year of getting my desired comebacks; the year of meeting new awesome bands; the year of discovering new sounds that challenge me; the year of further expanding my musical horizons and collection with beautiful rock music!

I really hope my readers will have an enjoyable time while going throw my list of favorite 2018 albums. Keep an open mind and in case you didn’t come across some of the releases on your 2018 musical adventure, you can always go back and check them out (better late than never, right)…

I would also love to hear your favorite albums of 2018 and whether some of mine made your list as well. Spread and share the love – we are all here to celebrate good rock music and let’s hope 2019 brings even more to the pages of the music history book!

Let’s go…

 


[1] Creye – Creye

creye

The moment I heard “Christina” from Creye‘s debut album, I knew this was going to top my list. I was waiting for that perfect melodic rock sound and when it arrived I didn’t need any more persuasion. It’s an album that makes us stop living in the past and finally let go of the old-school melodic rock playlist we’ve been listening to for so many years. With a sound that can be described as polished melodic rock, with a touch of the ’80s classic AOR soul, “Creye” sure made quite the statement on the scene. Go ahead and check out songs like “Christina” or “Different State of Mind” and you would understand what I’m saying. There’s not a single song on the album that did not aligned with my expectations and tastes when it comes to the genre. The glory days of rock music are back and Creye, along with their fans are going to become the main players, trust me! The connection was instant and I just let myself drown in it. 


[2] Breaking Benjamin – Ember

breaking benjamin ember album cover

Second place goes to my high-school favorites, Breaking Benjamin and their comeback album “Ember”. I keep these guys very close to my heart and for as long as I can remember their music has always been there for me. I was pretty excited for their new release and was waiting patiently till it finally arrived. All my expectations were met and my little nostalgic heart was once again filled with that Breaking Benjamin healing potion I’ve been adoring since 2006. The songs are perfect. The haunting ballad, “The Dark of You” even turned out to be my most played song for 2018, according to Spotify. So there’s that…


[3] FM – Atomic Generation

FM - Atomic Generation

Steve Overland! Do I have to say more? FM has to be one of my all-time favorite bands with albums like “Tough it Out” topping my AOR lists for a long long time now. Imagine how thrilled I was when I heard that FM will be releasing a new album this year…you probably can’t! 11 stunning melodic rock pieces are shaping the eleventh studio album of FM. Don’t know if they did that on purpose but it’s pretty cool, isn’t it? Two things easily come to mind when you listen to this album for the very first time – firstly, once you hear Steve Overland sing, literally nothing else in life matters at that particular moment; the guy has a voice made of gold and he deserves all the praises for being in such great vocal shape; secondly, there’s an obvious, highly pleasant consistency trapped inside “Atomic Generation” that clearly shows why FM are one of the most cherished British melodic rock acts ever since the late ‘80s.


[4] W.E.T. – Earthrage

wet

Erik Mårtensson & Jeff Scott Soto made my dreams come true with “Earthrage”. You would probably hear me say this a few more times in this publication but this has got to be one of the classiest melodic rock statements released this year! There’s just so much maturity and strength in those songs that you can’t but ask yourself, why the hell are we not hearing them more often on the radio?

I have been a fan of Soto and following one of his main bands, W.E.T. for a long time now but I gotta say – among the 3 studio and 1 live album, their 2018 release has to be my favorite and the one I connected to the most. “Watch the Fire”, especially is in my top5 songs of 2018, for sure! The sophisticated release was certainly one of the highlights of Spring 2018. 


[5] Judas Priest – Firepower

judas priest firepower

But of course “Firepower” will be in my top5 2018 albums! I can’t have it any other way. Not just that but in 2018 I had the chance to see them live for the very first time and listen to some of the albums on “Firepower” performed by the greatest of them all – Rob Halford, so yes – this album is indeed one of my greatest memories and experiences of 2018 and I don’t plan on excluding it from my daily playlists anytime soon.

“Children of the Sun”, “Firepower”, “Necromancer”… the entire album was one heavy metal thunder after another. Rob Halford proved to everyone that age is just a number and that there’s truly a reason why is he still one of the mighty Gods of heavy music.


[6] Primal Fear – Apocalypse

primal fear

Primal Fear has been one of the most respected German bands for a long time and they have 11 brilliant albums behind their back to justify their status as metal icons. The 12th release, titled “Apocalypse” is now finally a fact and with it the band only further convinced every fan and critic out there of their unquestionable influence on the worldwide heavy metal scene. To me, “Apocalypse” defined the summer of 2018 like no other album and raised all kinds of bars in my book of metal. Not to mention that thanks to band like Primal Fear the future of the genre is more than secured and taken good care of.

The release is thrilling, powerful, exciting and  your number one go-to source for the much-needed summer boost. “Apocalypse” is heavy on energy, rhythm, melody, lyrics and most importantly – intriguing themes. “King of Madness” quickly turned into one of my favorite heavy metal songs of 2018! I can’t wait to see them live in Bulgaria in 2019.


[7] Daughtry – Cage to Rattle

daughtry cage to rattle

Daughtry have been in my life since their first album and to me, personally, they are one of the most-talented and hard-working modern American rock bands. Since they’ve been an inseparable part of my music library for a long long time, I can’t really describe to you what it feels like each time they are back with a new album. My heart is shooting fireworks and my brain is seeing sounds, basically.

“Cage to Rattle” brought all the familiar, cozy and warm Daughtry feelings back into my life and once again showed me why I haven’t given up on them yet! “Deep End” is a song that immediately connected with my soul and just made a solid presence there. I can’t believe they are back and am so thankful for this masterpiece.


[8] Groundbreaker – Groundbreaker

Groundbreaker – Groundbreaker

Woah – Steve Overland is making another appearance on my top10 list and you shouldn’t be surprised! Groundbreaker carries the well-known FM values and adds a little bit more flavor, turning this whole project into one of the most memorable melodic rock guilty pleasures. I am not sure I can name a more innocent, loving and soul-warming song than “Will It Make You Love Me” and yes – it is in my list of top favorite songs from 2018. Robert Sall (Work of Art, W.E.T) is also here to bring that special something! I was so excited when I found out that those two will be teaming up for a melodic rock frenzy and oh yes how well they did with this one…

Hope there will be a second one in 2019!


[9] Lords of Black – Icons of the New Days

lords of black 2018

Lords of Black released their debut self-titled album back in 2014 and was quickly praised by critics and fan. In 2018, with much improved song-crafting and more modern approach in terms of production, Lords of Black came back with “Icons of the New Days” – an album showcasing what a quality modern-day rock album should sound like when done by immensely talented stars.

I’m immensely pleased that Ronnie Romero has been keeping himself so busy those past few years and I hope to keep hearing his name and listening to his powerful vocals on many upcoming releases in the future. “Icons of the New Days” has all the right ingredients and was made for all the right reasons, making it a worthy pretender of “the best metal album of 2018” title.


[10] TesseracT – Sonder

tesseract sonder

In 2018, I had the chance to get introduced to TesseracT and was fortunate enough to experience their new release just right in the middle of my first steps in their brilliant progressive metal world. When “King” was out, I knew this album was going to be among my favorite ones, despite being so different from what I am used to listen to on a daily basis. I love discovering new bands and challenging myself and in 2018 TesseracT were my go-to band when I want to hear something different and put myself in another state of mind. “Sonder” is a stunning album and a perfect example of progressive metal evolution. I am so happy they now exist in my life.


[11] TREAT – Tunguska

TREAT – Tunguska

TREAT being one of my favorite hard rock band from the late ’80s did not disappoint with their 2018 comeback, “Tunguska”. Witnessing such positive, energetic, full of love and warmth releases like this one is all I live for, honestly. The album is full of spirit and high-class melodies and not to mention the outstanding production qualities. “Build The Love” has to be one of the best songs of 2018.


[12] The Dead Daisies – Burn it Down

The Dead Daisies – Burn it Down

The Dead Dasies“Burn it Down” is surely one of the most electrifying and energizing albums on this list. It might as well be my favorite album of theirs. I spent days just listening to nothing but this release when it came out. The songs are immensely captivating and you just crave for more and more of it. 


[13] Perfect Plan – All Rise

perfect plan all rise

Perfect Plan‘s “All Rise” quickly turned into a fan-favorite and based on my observations, it really shook the melodic rock community. I was too positively surprised when I played the album for the very first time and honestly wasn’t ready to love it that much. Perfect Plan are one of the newcomers that we should all watch out for. What really made it so memorable for me was the fact that the album keeps you engaged till the very last song and it’s not just the singles that are worthy of admiration.


[14] Monuments – Phronesis

Monuments – Phronesis

Another album that shook my grounds and left me questioning myself and my musical comfort zones. Monuments, just like TesseracT, came into my life this year and thankfully, with them a new album to get things started. Not just that but I had the chance to attend their concert in Bulgaria this year and listen to most of the songs from “Phronesis” live (what a great experience it was!). It’s another album that took me away from my comfort zone and brought different shades to my music playlists.


]15] Steve Perry – Traces

Steve Perry – Traces

In 2018, everyone’s dreams came true when the beloved Steve Perry finally delivered what he promised to everyone a long time ago – a new album. Witnessing this was a truly life-changing event for me because the album brought back many nostalgic feelings and made the last months of 2018 truly emotional. Steve is a vocalist with a category of his own and what he brought to us this year proves it. Words are meaningless. 


[16] Sevendust – All I See Is War

Sevendust - All I See Is War

Sevendust remain a blast from my past and I have to admit, it’s been years since I last played something from them. This year, however, I couldn’t miss and was truly intrigued by “All I See is War”. “Dirty” and “Medicated” were love at first listen and this album quickly reminded me why I used to be a big fan and why I need to rediscover them!


[17] Gioeli – Castronovo – Set the world on Fire

Gioeli – Castronovo – Set the world on Fire

Johnny Gioeli was one of the most hard-working rockstars of 2018 and you can’t convince me otherwise. I even manged to see him 2 times performing live this year, which was truly a dream coming true. One of the many projects he participated in this year was a collaboration project with the great Deen Castronovo. These two amazing artists complemented each other in a perfect way and released an unquestionably brilliant melodic rock beauty! 


[18] Michael Schenker Fest – Resurrection

Michael Schenker Fest - Resurrection

Of course, we can’t have this list without Michael Schenker Fest‘s Resurrection. There are so many excellent moments on this album that it’s almost impossible for me to point out what I loved the most about it. But yes, I would probably say the fact that there are multiple vocalists all bringing their A game. It’s a classy record, made for the fans, I would say. It’s always so exciting to see a bunch of great musicians keeping their egos aside and coming up with something so valuable, each shining in their own light.


[19] Dynazty – Firesign

Dynazty - Firesign

I’m a big fan of Dynazty and their unique approach when it comes to crafting the perfect record that mixes together the ’80s spirit and the modern, personalized touch of the band. “Firesign” showcased a mature sound and excellent melodies, proving that those guys are definitely something to watch out for in the future.


[20] Tremonti – A Dying Machine

Tremonti – A Dying Machine

It was an absolute delight for me to see Tremonti this year live in Bulgaria and finally witness the magic of the musical genius, Mark Tremonti. “A Dying Machine” is a concept record and based on what I read, many fans agree that this is by far his greatest work. I don’t think I can point it out as his best effort because I also love “Dust” a lot but the new album has plenty of reasons to be admired. The song structure, the lyrics, the themes – it’s all one great memorable adventure.


HONORABLE MENTIONS:

I would like to also draw your attention to my list of  honorable mentions, featuring some more outstanding 2018 releases that deserve appreciation as well. I included some of the big names, including Stryper, Saxon and Nazareth and their triumphant 2018 comebacks. I was immensely proud to see Nazareth back in the studio with their new vocalist, Carl Sentance. Vega and Ammunition are the two new bands I added to my lists of projects to watch out for. Vega’s “Only Human” absolutely blew me away and I can’t wait to see what happens next to the band. Shinedown surprised me pretty well with their “Attention Attention” album and brought me back to my high school years when I used to be a fan of them. Nordic Union did not disappoint with their sophomore release as well but what else can you expect from Ronnie Atkins of Pretty Maids (Denmark) and Erik Martensson of Eclipse (Sweden). Seventh Wonder and Sunstorm are two more Frontiers Records releases that really impressed me with their melodic rock statements. Devil’s Hand with singer Andrew Freeman of Last In Line and producer/guitarist/songwriter Mike Slamer is one of the December releases that proved that we can wrap up the year in style.

Ultimately, the list can go on and on and on…but I had to draw the line somewhere. As obvious, even my honorable mentions list is being dominated by the melodic rock genre since of course this is what’s close to my heart.


Vega – Only Human

142546

Ammunition – Ammunition

ammunition album cover

Stryper – God Damn Evil

stryper god damn evil

Nazareth – Tattooed On My Brain

Nazareth – Tattooed On My Brain

Saxon – Thunderbolt

Saxon – Thunderbolt

Nordic Union – Second Coming

Nordic Union – Second Coming

Seventh Wonder – Tiara

Seventh Wonder – Tiara

Dream Child – Until Death Do We Meet Again

Dream Child – Until Death Do We Meet Again

Shinedown – Attention Attention

Shinedown - Attention Attention

Sunstorm – The Road to Hell

sunstorm road to hell

Devil’s Hand (Ft. Slamer – Freeman) – Devil’s Hand

devil's hand

Uriah Heep – Living the Dream

livingthedream

Don’t forget to let me know YOUR favorite albums of 2018! Comment below and share your favorites!


The publication expresses my personal opinion on what some of the best rock releases of 2018 are, according to personal preferences and ideas. I am in noway is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment. Rock On!

[Album Recommendation] Age of Reflection – In The Heat Of The Night (AOR)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

You know I am always on the hunt for melodic rock treasures since this is the type of rock music I am mostly fond of. Some people still believe that the era of AOR is long gone and that this used to be a big thing in the ‘80s, however I gotta say, those people don’t even have a slightest clue of how the genre have evolved and spread in the past few years. So many outstanding young artists are responsible for the AOR boom in recent years and great pioneers of AOR are launching spectacular comebacks so it’s safe to say, we are entering a new AOR era!

Discovering bands that bring back the faith in me and make me feel alive again is basically what I live for. Sometime ago, through the power of social media, the amazing guys from the Swedish AOR band, Age of Reflection (love what they did with the name), reached out to me and introduced me to their music. I didn’t need much convincing or extra effort to understand that this band will most certainly fall under the category of “great new AOR bands you must hear now”. I am already familiar with the magic of Swedish rock musicians, so it was not such a big surprise for me to discover yet another Swedish treasure that deserves all the praises. Anyways, we are here today to talk about Age of Reflection and their “In the Heat of the Night” album which I firmly believe needs to reach out to as many fans out there as possible. I want to introduce their music and hopefully bring to the table something new to people who are hungry for something fresh and of high quality.

First of all, let me provoke you and restore that faith in you, guys with this song…

With me, as you know, when it comes to music is all about discovering more in a song than just a bunch of well-written lines, melodies and good riffs. With me, it’s about the emotions, substance, the soul of the music and its ability to quickly deliver it to your senses. That’s not all I am looking for in a melodic rock album. I am deeply connected to the ‘80s rock music values and when I see bands these days that are not just incorporating them in their music but are adding something more, that’s when I know I have a real gem in front of my eyes. All this and more I found in Age of Reflection and their “In the Heat of the Night” album.

I want to present my sincere adoration for the great vocals by Lars Nygren who is certainly one of the most vocally-attractive musicians on the current revived Swedish melodic rock scene. “Blame it on My Heart”, “Borderline” and “The Mirror Never Lies” for instance (which happen to be three of my favorite songs on the release) probably wouldn’t have had the same effect on me if it wasn’t for the captivating vocals. Speaking of songs, I should probably mention that “Dying for Your Love” brought out a certain fire in my heart which doesn’t happen as often as you might think. Watch out for it – it’s unforgettable. It’s time to give the high fives also to Carl Berglund, who is not just the main reason for the existence of this band in the first place, but is also one of the masters of the guitar and keyboards. He, along with the bassist Jan Skärming, gave birth to an exciting project which you didn’t know you need in your life, till you hear it!

“In The Heat of the Night” came out last year and it’s a little bit of a shame that I just discovered it but better late than never. I want to heavily emphasize to my readers that this is a band with a musical significance and their songs carry a meaning and strength which, at least to me, is the most essential component on the road to success. Spread the love and enjoy! Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. I hope I brought something great to you with my humble publication.

Cheers to more!

Here is me, happily holding a great new addition to my beloved collection. I can’t wait to see what’s next for those talented guys.

“The Mirror Never Lies”

“Dying for Your Love”

age of reflection
Age of Reflection


BAND MEMBERS:

Lars Nygren – lead vocals
Carl Berglund – guitar, backing vocals
Jonas Nordqvist – guitar, backing vocals
Jens Rüttgeroth – keyboards, backing vocals
Jan Skärming – bass, backing vocals
Peppe Vikman – drums, backing vocals

Links:

Official Website: https://www.ageofreflection.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AGEOFREFLECTION/

Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/ageofreflection/

Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/AgeOfReflection


References:
I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

[Album Review] CREYE – “Creye” (2018)

 (by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

You know that feeling when it sure as hell been a while since you’ve heard something so compelling that you could practically count the butterflies in your stomach? Because for me personally, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard a sound so perfect and so close to my liking that I can even convince myself that it’s been made for me and for me only. The second I heard “Christina” by Creye I knew that this was it! This was the band and the album I’ve been waiting for this year! I want you, guys to play the song first and hopefully feel what I’m feeling. Then, after fully embracing its qualities and accepting that you can’t but surrender yourself to it, we’ll get down to the rest of the album…

“Christina”

All it takes is a group of great musicians with a vision and a hunger to create something meaningful, reminiscent of the glory days of the AOR. Guitarist Andreas Gullstrand assembled Creye in 2015 and the rest is as we all say – history! In 2016, the band was already labelled as the next big thing that came out of Sweden and there was a reason for that statement, trust me. After a few singles, the band made a great name for itself and the guys were off to new beginnings, armed with ambition, musical maturity, adventurous soul and most importantly, a desire to make a difference on the rock music scene. In 2018, all the planets aligned in the right position and the self-titled debut album became a reality! With a sound that can be described as polished melodic rock, with a touch of the ’80s classic AOR soul, “Creye” is here to make a statement and win the hearts of any fan of the genre, regardless of their generation!

Creye band photo

“Both the sound and the writing has matured quite a lot over this past year, and of course we’ve also discovered some new sides to our music as well that might not be present listening to the EP,” says Andreas. “I’m extremely proud of every song on the whole album. If you are a fan of the EP then you will definitely enjoy this since it is by far the best we’ve ever sounded.” 

First of all, I want to point out that this band and this album are indeed re-introducing some of the beloved ‘80s AOR vibes but it’s also incorporating them within the music production capabilities of modern times. This gives the band endless opportunities to both showcase where their influences come from and also experiment with current technology, pop culture and musical mind-set.

Hard work pays off and the results are in. If I have to introduce the album to someone who has never listened to it, I will say that it’s an album that makes us stop living in the past and finally let go of the old-school melodic rock playlist we’ve been listening to for so many years. Want to feel excited again? This is the album for you!

Let’s talk music!

“Christina” is the first song I want to introduce, since it became the reason why I got my eye on those guys in the first place. From the mighty intro to the outstanding melodies and sweeping guitar riffs, the song is nothing but a charming reminder that the genre is indeed making a solid comeback and those guys are here to make it happen. The lyrics are easy to remember and sing-along to and the production qualities of the song are outstanding. “Different State of Mind” was another fall-in love-at-first-listen song for me. The purity of the vocals won me over on this one. Not just that but the overall positivism that this tune spreads, along with the beautiful lyrics – it’s all just there, perfectly mixed into an absolute melodic rock winner. “Miracle” is another powerful moment on the album and a song that instantly puts a smile on your face. The rest is just as memorable, authentic and significant as those songs. “Never Too Late”, “Nothing to Lose” and “Love Will Never Die” are all champions in my book. Those magical, ear-pleasing keyboards are instantly captivating you and all include that beloved ’80s touch that we keep on searching for in rock music.

“Creye” was just the final piece of the puzzle for me this year. Plenty of ambitious and outstanding melodic rock albums came out this year but this one right here is the hero for me. There’s not a single song on the album that did not aligned with my expectations and tastes when it comes to the genre. The glory days of rock music are back and Creye, along with their fans are going to become the main players, trust me!

Highly recommend it to everyone!

Please let me know what you thought of the album. I hope it brought nothing but smiles and great musical experiences to your life.

“Different State of Mind”

“Holding On”


TRACKLIST:

Holding On
Nothing To Lose
Different State Of Mind
Never Too Late
All We Need Is Faith
Miracle
Christina
Straight To The Top
Love Will Never Die
Still Believe In You
City Lights
Desperately Lovin

A Better Way


BAND MEMBERS:

Robin Jidhed – Lead Vocals
Andreas Gullstrand – Lead Guitar
Fredrik Joakimsson – Rhythm Guitar
Gustaf Örsta – Bass
Joel Rönning – Keyboards
Arvid Filipsson – Drums

Official Links:

Official Website: http://www.creyesweden.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/creyesweden/

Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/creyesweden

Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/creyesweden/


References:
I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Celebrating 28 Years of “PAINKILLER”

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

It’s been over a month since I saw the mighty Judas Priest in my hometown during “Hills of Rock 2018” Festival but I can still hear the voice of the Metal God, Rob Halford and still get those goosebumps when I think of how awesome the whole experience was. During the festival I had the chance to finally listen to “Painkiller” live – one of my favorite Judas Priest songs from my second favorite album of theirs. The moment I heard that iconic, instantly-recognizable opening drum solo, my heart jumped right off my chest and just fell on that stage. This was a moment I will forever remember and cherish.

Now, we are celebrating the anniversary of arguably one of Judas Priest’s finest albums in their career and what many fans consider as their greatest comeback. When “Firepower” hit the shelves this year, critics referred to it as Priest’s best album since “Painkiller”. The albums after “Painkiller” also suffered from the constant “Painkiller” comparison curse. Whatever those guys do, it seems like this 1990 release is always in the talks. There’s a reason why and I don’t think you need a long essay to convince you of the magnitude and influence of this album on the heavy metal scene.

Before I continue, here’s one of the songs I love the most from the album:

I know the dedicated fans are quite familiar with the story behind it but let’s just remember a few important details that I believe should be known about this release by every rock/metal fan out there. First of all, “Painkiller” is the last album to feature Rob Halford – that’s of course until he comes back in 2005. It’s also drummer Scott Travis’ debut and by the way – he is one of the best drummers I’ve seen live ever! The sounds itself was way more aggressive and with a reason – the band had to take something back and that was their redemption. The credibility was surely retrieved after the release of “Painkiller”. The band put back the “heavy” in “heavy metal” with that 1990 release and the critics acknowledged it. Fans, too! Tours, millions of copies sold and a newly-found fame was surrounding the band but as you know, Halford wanted to do his own thing for a while. That’s why they parted ways for some time and  vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens stepped as the band’s new frontman in 1996. Still, Rob came back and the band was once again together. 

Let’s celebrate the album by playing some of the most iconic songs from it. As I mentioned already, “A Touch of Evil” is my favorite song, though the title track is a close-second. 

Let me know what you think of this album and what is your favorite song on the comment section below!

 


References:
Featured image, retrieved from: https://hmrock.com.br/produto/judas-priest-painkiller-cd/
I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Album Recommendations: Winger – Pull (1993)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

Let’s talk about irresistible tunes, shall we? Like, probably this one right here… A mesmerizing, early ’90s gem that many have forgotten, though it’s probably one of Winger’s greatest tracks of all time! Play it now for good old time’s sake – that’s the only way to do it justice!

“Down Incognito” is the second track of Winger’s third studio album, titled “Pull”. The ’80s were long gone and with them, part of the band’s signature glam rock vibes. The ’80s Winger sound was substituted by darker, harder and certainly more musically-challenging atmosphere. The little plot twist was appreciated by fans and many claim that this is Winger’s best release so far. The numbers weren’t as generous as the fans of the band and the album couldn’t match the success of the previous two but the times – they were changing so I suppose it was a natural outcome. Of course, the theme of this album was also a little bit different, more mature, focusing on social and political issues, even.

The greatest thing about this album is the signature guitar-driven Winger sound, accompanied by Kip’s one of a kind vocals. I swear I can listen to this guy sing all day long with that angelic rock & roll voice!

In addition to “Down Incognito” which is, hands down, my favorite track from the record, “Spell I’m Under” and “The Lucky One” are two other significant reasons why I am recommending or reminding everyone of this early ’90s hard rock gem of an album. “The Lucky One” has always been one my heart’s favorite ballads.

All in all, “Pull” presents a quite intriguing musical diversity which is one of the reasons why I wanted to feature it on my blog. There’s plenty of sass, heartbreak, high-level vocals, solid guitars and so much more! Winger evolved with this album so if you are a fan of their earlier work (nothing wrong with that I love the first releases with all my heart and soul) and don’t know much about the band after their first two albums, now might be the best time to check out their third release.

Tell me what you think about it and share your favorite song in the comment section below:


References:
Featured image, retrieved from: https://www.musiconvinyl.com/catalog/winger/pull#.W4Qz9sJ9jtQ
I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

[Album Review] PRIMAL FEAR – “Apocalypse” (2018)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

Before I get down to business, I think you should play this song so that you fully understand why I am about to unleash all the praises and admiration on this album! I knew the moment I heard the first single that “Apocalypse” will be a mighty bomb that will blow up the entire industry and will quickly establish a solid presence on each fan’s personal top 2018 releases.

Primal Fear has been one of the most respected German bands for a long time and they have 11 brilliant albums behind their back to justify their status as metal icons. The 12th release, titled “Apocalypse” is now finally a fact and with it the band only further convinced every fan and critic out there of their unquestionable influence on the worldwide heavy metal scene. To me, “Apocalypse” defined the summer of 2018 like no other album and raised all kinds of bars in my book of metal. Not to mention that thanks to band like Primal Fear the future of the genre is more than secured and taken good care of. There’s plenty to look forward to, guys so let’s just not give up yet and leave ourselves to the hands of the glorious past only.

Let’s talk a little bit more about the songs and share all about my listening experience.

primal fear band

Firs of all, I want to say that the concept of the album, what to expect from it and the attitude we should adopt before we hit that “play” button are given to you through the titles of the songs, all portraying a beautiful, yet quite fearful and agitated image. It all makes perfect sense once you listen from start to finish – the entire album feels like a scary, yet alluring and very arousing midnight walk through an abandoned forest. I love how it all starts – the opening title track, “Apocalypse” lets you make your first steps into the heavy metal dungeon with the spooky breathing, church bells and haunting choir. The second track, “New Rise” is stabbing you instantly through the heart, without even giving you a chance of fighting back. It’s the moment where you say “yes, I knew it…I knew this album was gonna be astonishing!”; I love the Judas Priest vibe and the remarkable speed metal drumming on this one is certainly something to watch out for (courtesy of Francesco Jovino). My personal favorite is “Hounds of Justice” – the song just hits all the right buttons, at least for me. The track has that modern-day vibe, impresses with profound lyrics and instantly provokes a never-ending headbang! I love the oriental motives and Ralf Scheepers is killing it with those out-of-this-world vocals! “The Ritual” – the song we started our conversation about Primal Fear and “Apocalypse” with, is another extraordinary gem with riff, capable of easily extracting your soul from your body and sending it to another realm. What a stunning example of how musically and lyrically to influence every little heavy metal heart out there. Right after it, we move on to the mighty “King of Madness” – a thematic heavy-metal thunder, which mark my words, will be heard often on the radio in the weeks/months to come! “King of Madness” does the trick for me because it has what I look most in a song – beautiful, memorable melody! “Blood Sweat & Fear” can easily compete and most probably win against any power metal track released this year so far. “Supernova” might as well be one of the most interesting and unique tracks on the album; I’m a sucker for mysterious song intros and dramatic piano add-ons. The lengthy monumental 8-minute track “Eye of the Storm” is the last one I want to focus on because it does truly deserve every second you will spare for it! The well-balanced but quite intense feel of the song, charged with mighty string sections and smooth guitar riffs is what makes it the perfect soundtrack to your epic nightmare.

“Apocalypse” is basically what happens as a result of putting together a group of talented musicians, all looking at the same horizon, following the same path and synchronizing every bits of their skillful minds to reach that perfect end goal.

The release is thrilling, powerful, exciting and  your number one go-to source for the much-needed summer boost. “Apocalypse” is heavy on energy, rhythm, melody, lyrics and most importantly – intriguing themes. All you gotta do is (just like the title suggest), crank it up like it’s the last album you’ll ever play before the apocalypse hits us!

Check out some of the released songs and MVs and let me know what you thought about it!

“King of Madness”

“Hounds of Justice”


TRACKLIST:

Apocalypse
New Rise
The Ritual
King Of Madness
Blood, Sweat, & Fear
Supernova
Hail To The Fear
Hounds Of Justice
The Beast
Eye Of The Storm
Cannonball

Fight Against Evil (Bonus Track – Deluxe Version)
Into The Fire (Bonus Track – Deluxe Version)
My War Is Over (Bonus Track – Deluxe Version)


BAND MEMBERS: 

Ralf Scheepers – Lead Vocals
Tom Naumann – Guitars
Alex Beyrodt – Guitars
Magnus Karlsson – Guitars & Keyboards
Francesco Jovino – Drums
Mat Sinner – Bass & Vocals

Official Links: 

• Official Website: www.primalfear.de 

• Facebook:www.facebook.com/PrimalFearOfficial 


References:
I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

MY TOP 5 JULY 2018 RELEASES

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

Another month has passed and I feel like we will be saying “Happy New Year” pretty soon yet again! Wow, time flies so fast! It’s good that while we are dealing with the daily struggles of life, there’s always a bunch of great music to put that extra color in our busy lifestyle. Music is always there to remind us that we need to pause, take a deep breath and enjoy the most beautiful thing in life which will never abandon or disappoint us. Yes, of course I’m talking about music and this month did not disappoint when it comes to such beautiful reminders that kept us alive and kicking.

It’s time for my monthly top5 releases (I didn’t do for June because I was too busy so I am apologizing to everyone who was waiting for my monthly list) and I’m here to yet again present 5 great albums that made my month such a great experience.

I started with Daughtry’s new album – “Cage to Rattle” because I’ve been waiting for this album for such a long long time! I’ve been a fan of Chris for probably 10+ years and his soothing music has done so much for me that I don’t even want to imagine a world where I’m not a fan of him. The new album did not disappoint – signature style, beautiful vocals and soul-touching lyrics. I couldn’t have asked for more. Two live albums are on this list as well – Mr.Big’s “Live from Milan” and Vixen’s “Live Fire”. Both those albums are bringing back the significance of live albums and reminding everyone that this is not a dying trend and high-quality rock live albums are still being released. Two more releases from Frontiers Records are also on my list – the fiery Destina with “Metal Souls” and Gioeli Castronovo with “Set The World the Fire”. Both those albums carry a different character and impress with a different set of qualities. It’s important to listen to both though and you have to trust me on that!

Listen to the songs I put in here and go ahead and check out the full albums!

Let me know what was your favorite July 2018 rock release!


1. Daughtry – Cage to Rattle

daughtry cage to rattle


2. Gioeli Castronovo – Set the World on Fire

deen castronovo


3. Destina – Metal Souls

destina


4. Mr. Big – Live From Milan

mr big


5. Vixen – Live Fire

vixen live fire


References:
Featured image, retrieved from:  https://www.mjsbigblog.com/daughtry-cage-to-rattle-album-cover-art-and-track-list.htm
I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/or publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

[Album Recommendations] TERAMAZE – HER HALO (2015)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

Well, to be honest, I’m probably not the best person to talk to if you want to know more about Australian rock/metal bands, however I can sure as hell recommend a thing or two. This album and this band is on the list without doubt.

Recently, thanks to Spotify, Teramaze’s song, “Her Halo” came up on one of my playlists and I was hooked right from the very beginning. That’s why we are here – because I wanted to share my new-found enthusiasm for this 2015 release, caring the same title.

Teramaze have been around since the early ’90s and it’s a shame that I’m discovering them just now. The 2015 album I want to talk about is their last one and the first one for me. Progressive metal is certainly not a genre I’m so familiar or fond of, however this right here is one of the exceptions for sure.

“Her Halo” is easy on the ear and smooth on the soul so don’t get discouraged if still questioning whether to play it or not. It’s fun to get out of your comfort zone (in my case, the AOR/hard rock zone) and explore other genres – especially this one that blossomed quite a lot since the ’90s.

“Her Halo” possesses a great deal of intriguing elements, wrapped up with appealing signature songwriting and conceptual technicality that contributes to the overall accessibility of the album. I love how the band thought of the listeners first and then of the critics and fellow music craftsman out there. There’s a lot of melody on the album and the lyrics are absolutely gorgeous so I was sold very quickly. “Her Halo” is certainly not a typical pompous progressive metal release, at least based on what I can compare it with. I am also very fascinated by the different themes, presented on this album, such as fame, being persona non grata, love triangles, and the thin line between passion and friendship.

All in all, the album is full of spirit and potential to get to the fans of any rock/metal sub-genre out there. I highly recommend it if you are ready to get a little bit of challenge. I have laid the foundations of my growing interest so hopefully, in the future I will get to show you more of them and of other bands of this genre.

Have a listen and let me know what you think…

“Her Halo”

“An Ordinary Dream”

“Broken”

“To love, A Tyrant”


References:

Album details, retrieved from http://teramaze.com.au/about/
I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

[Album Review] SUNSTORM – “The Road To Hell” (2018)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

joe lynnThere’s no way you can be a hard rock fan and not like or appreciate one of the most signature and hard-working voices in the genre. Yes, I’m talking about the mighty Joe Lynn Turner who has been around for such a long time, putting a distinctive touch in bands like Rainbow, Deep Purple, Yngwie Malmsteen and so on. Throughout the decades, the New Jersey-born singer has been displaying his vocal talents as a solo artist as well and kept rocking and rolling on the scene till this day. In 2006 the first definitive Joe Lynn Turner AOR album came out, under the project name SUNSTORM. 12 years and a few albums later, we have a new comeback, titled “The Road to Hell” and let me tell you – it’s a must listen for every self-respected fan of the rock icon. I have been a fan of the legend JLT for as long as I can remember and been following his every move so witnessing another glorious AOR release like this one makes me feel like it’s Christmas again!

“The Road to Hell” is yet again graced by the production skills of Hardline’s Alessandro Del Vecchio. Guitars are courtesy by progressive metaller titan DGM’s Simone Mularoni. The direction of the album is following the same well-established hard rock path of “Edge of Tomorrow” – the band’s highly-successful 2016 album. One listen to this new gem and you will further strengthen your beliefs (in case you haven’t done it yet which would be crazy) that JLT is one of the best performers, frontmen and voices of rock music out there!

“The Road to Hell” is the ultimate example of an upfront, straight-to-the-point melodic rock release with tons of flavor and just the right amount of heavier rock vibes. 11 hard rock masterpieces are what make “The Road to Hell” your new favorite musical adventure. The first thing that comes to mind when you play the album from start to finish is that heaviness I just mentioned. It’s a neat, well-completed record with a firm hard grip.

A few highlights I would like to talk about. Let’s start with the opening track – “Only the Good Will Survive”. Everything about this song is uplifting and stimulating – from the lyrics, to the mesmerizing vocals and of course, those solid riffs, courtesy of Simone Mularoni – it’s all one highly-enjoyable musical joyride. “The Road to Hell” is my personal favorite and the most instantly-captivating song from the record, in my opinion. It’s just so easy to fall for those hooks and gripping melody. It’s the perfect title song in my opinion, justifying the AOR strength of the entire album. “On the Edge” and “Blind The Sky” further cement the goal of this album, which is to give live to pure, widely-accessible rock music, with the quality needed to boost the genre’s current significance. “Everywhere” is the ballad I was waiting for. JLT did not disappoint! The song is full of soul and his voice is giving me all the feels I desperately seek in my music. When it comes to powerful openings (since you know I’m into this so much), look for “My Eyes on You” and “Resurrection”!

Final verdict:

Addicted to melodic rock? Looking for that remarkable new record to steal you away from the genre-defining songs you’ve been playing for years? Look no further – “The Road to Hell” is here to take you on a friendly but certainly a bit of a soul-stirring rocky trip to AOR frenzy.

“Only The Good Will Survive”


 

TRACKLIST:

Only The Good Will Survive
The Road To Hell
On The Edge
Blind The Sky
My Eyes On You
Future To Come
Everywhere
Resurrection
Calling
State Of The Heart
Still Fighting


BAND MEMBERS:
Joe Lynn Turner: Lead vocals
Nik Mazzucconi: Bass guitar
Simone Mularoni: Lead Guitar
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Keyboards
Edo Sala: Drums

Check out the Official Social Links of Joe Lynn Turner:
http://joelynnturner.com/
https://www.facebook.com/joelynnturnerofficial
https://twitter.com/joelynnturner


References:
I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~