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~

Concert Experience: HARDLINE’s First Concert in Bulgaria (13/10/2018)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

poster

I remember years ago when I heard Hardline’s “Double Eclipse” for the very first time and how I kept thinking that this is certainly a band I would love to see live but most probably missed my chance. Then, I became a fan and started following up on their career and current activities and realized that these amazing musicians are still touring and releasing beautiful rock music. The only thing left for me to do was sit and wait for an opportunity to present itself one way or another.

Little did I know that in 2018, my wishes would be granted! This past March, I saw Johnny Gioeli’s solo concert, alongside the Bulgarian rock band Eridan. It was a mind-blowing experience for sure and I couldn’t believe one of my favorite male rock vocalists was performing right in front of me in my home country! You can check out my concert experience publication over here – Concert Experience: Johnny Gioeli (HARDLINE, AXEL RUDI PELL) @ Joy Station, Sofia, Bulgaria (24/03/2018)

Now, 7 months later, I once again witnessed magic in front of me, on that same stage I saw Johnny perform earlier this year. This time, though, he brought the rest of Hardline with him and they had their first ever concert in Bulgaria! It’s been a long time coming but I can finally add one of my favorite hard rock bands on the list of my concert experiences.

It all started with an invitation from my dear friend and one of the most prolific and notable producers of the genre, Alessandro Del Vecchio. As we all know, he is Hardline’s master of the keyboards and one of the reasons why Hardline’s sound is so widely-beloved and appreciated by fans from all over the world. I had the chance to take a quick selfie with him and wish him good luck before the concert! He’s such a great person and a professional. I did an interview with him last year which you can check out here: Memories, Becoming Friends and Learning more About the Music Industry in an Interview With Producer and Songwriter Alessandro Del Vecchio

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The concert started at around 10PM and everyone went crazy as soon as they heard the opening riffs and the guys coming out one by one. Alessandro, Mario, Anna and Marco…and then of course, the one-of-a-kind frontman of Hardline, Johnny who seemed as if he had brought all the energy of the sun itself with him. The reaction of the audience spoke enough. People love him and came to see why the whole rock community of the world speaks so highly of his talent and entertainment skills. There’s a reason trust me and you can only understand what I’m saying if you ever saw one of his concert. The guy is a showman of his own kind. I’ve never seen someone so energetic, so passionate, so playful and so artistic when it comes to entertaining the audience and making sure the public is left with nothing but great memories. It’s because of that attitude I will keep on going to his concerts – it’s nothing but smiles as soon as you enter the club!

That night, another wish of mine came true. As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite songs from “Double Eclipse” is “Rhythm from a Red Car”. Last time when he came to Bulgaria he didn’t perform it but this time my prayers were heard. They did play it and it was a fantastic experience I will forever cherish. Here’s a rather shaky video of the performance:

Hardline – Rhythm from a Red Car @ Joy Station, Sofia, Bulgaria (13/10/2018)

Here are some more photos for you to check out:

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A few more highlights I wanted to share with you!

First of all, I was highly impressed by the drum solo of Marco Di Salvia, who seemingly was into heavier stuff and that was not just because he was wearing a Gorgoroth t-shirt. It was great to see him live because he’s also part of Kee of Hearts – another melodic rock band which I love with all my heart and soul.

Mario Percudani, the lead guitarist and another dear friend of mine was also fantastic! I knew he was a great guitar player but after I saw his delivery, I can firmly say that he’s way more than that! I was so impressed by his stage presence and he’s certainly a guitarist worthy of admiration. Immense talent and great charisma! It was such a delight to watch.

Mid-concert, Johnny called a guy from the audience to come to the stage with his girlfriend. I’m guessing you already know why…There was a proposal on the stage and she said yes! It was a little bit cheesy for my taste but everyone seemed happy so congratulations to the engaged couple. Johnny seemed delighted too because he helped with the proposal arrangements.

In terms of the setlist, it was yet again another successful shot. From classics, like “Hot Cherie”, “Life’s a Bitch, “Dr. Love”, “In The Hands of Time”, ”Takin’ Me Down” and “Everything” to “Fever Dreams” – one of the band’s most beloved songs of all time, released in 2012, it was all one goal after another. The setlist mostly included songs from “Double Eclipse” but that was totally fine with me! After all, they did celebrate the 25th anniversary of the album last year. Johnny, singing “Love is Gonna Take You Home” from their “Human Nature” album, together with Alessandro was another beautiful moment that took my breath away.

Overall, the concert was an absolute delight! The venue was lovely, one of my favorite ones in Sofia, actually and with a band as classy as Hardline, the whole experience was complete! We all know that those guys are immensely talented but it’s not just that – they gave their all and delivered a world-class act. I am proud I was part of Hardline’s first-ever concert in Bulgaria and promise to be there next time as well!

& the goodbye…it all ended too soon! They mentioned that a new album is on the way for 2019 and that they will come again! Till next time, Hardline!

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P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

Concert Experience: Sons of Apollo @ Roman Theater Plovdiv, Bulgaria (22/09/2018)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

I remember playing “Psychotic Symphony” for the first time last year when it was released and how I was left speechless and couldn’t even comprehend what was going on. It was like entering a portal to a new dimension where all your senses are pumped up by this mesmerizing progressive sound you never knew you need in your life. Not surprised by the reaction I had, since I’ve been a fan of Jeff Scott Soto and Mark Portnoy for years and knew that their collaboration with Derek Sherinian and Billy Sheehan and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal will be an extraordinary journey. 

sons of apollo“God of the Sun”, “Opus Maximus” and “Alive” quickly turned into one of the most played songs of 2017 on my playlist and the CD, which was given to me by someone very special, became one of my most prized possessions. A few weeks after the album was out I found out that a concert was scheduled in my hometown of Plovdiv, Bulgaria and that Sons of Apollo will be performing their debut album, alongside The Orchestra of Plovdiv State Opera. I vividly remember how I made plans with that special someone to go to that concert and a year later we actually went and I want to tell you all about it now! I was counting the days till the concert because I knew that it wasn’t going to be your ordinary local Saturday gig. They were going to perform at the Roman Theater in Plovdiv – this beautiful ancient venue full of atmosphere and character. Not just that, but a DVD from that concert will be released and they will be accompanied by the local orchestra, which makes me a very proud Bulgarian. After a long long waiting and almost a year of anticipation, the concert day finally came and I am so honored that I was part of this majestic piece of history.

Here are some photos and my story. I do hope you enjoy them. Let me know if you already saw them or you are about to see them soon.


The official poster of the concert

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My invitation for the concert. Another important collection piece to go with the rest of the concert memorabilia that I have…

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The venue…Roman Theater Plovdiv

 

 

 

They opened with “God of the Sun”. Check out my video. I am sorry if I was shaking a little bit but you can understand my excitement, I hope…

 


Concert Shots

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Overall, the concert was phenomenal and I think you can sense that from the photos. The atmosphere was perfect for this type of music and concert and I fully understand why they picked this venue to film their DVD. You probably know that I am a big big big fan of Jeff Scott Soto so it was a dream of mine to see him perform live. Witnessing his out-of-this-world vocals on this magical place was a moment I will forever cherish and come back to. At one point he even dropped down the microphone and sang just like that – you won’t believe me how well he sounded and how he owned the whole theater without the need for additional equipment to boost it!! He was that good, yes!

The concert had two parts. The first one was entirely composed of Sons of Apollo original songs from the debut release. That part was the reason why I went to the concert actually since this was one of the best albums of 2017 at least in my opinion. I had the opportunity to listen to some of my favorite songs from “Psychotic Symphony” and I was smiling throughout the entire setlist!

The second part of the concert included covers of famous rock songs of Queen, Led Zeppelin and other classic acts. They had the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra behind them and you can only imagine how magnificent it was to watch and experience rock classics like “Kashmir” or “The Show Must Go On”, performed by those talented musicians and the local orchestra. The audience was mindblown and obviously enjoying every single moment. Of course, to be honest I would’ve enjoyed it a little bit more if they stuck to their original music and just performed the album from first to last song. I had no idea there will be a cover part. Still, it was enjoyable and I was indeed singing along with Soto but their own music is more intriguing to me at this point.

A few things that stood out to me (in addition to Soto being..well the amazing Soto that he is) were first, the skills of keyboardist Derek Sherinian who did an outstanding job and second, Mike Portnoy, who is one of the most praised drummers on the scene. All musicians were superb but those two put everything into place. Now I truly know why are both so respected and participated in countless projects over the years. You know I am a drums person and now I can finally be proud that I saw the great Portnoy and can share my thoughts of him freely. 

The concert ended too soon. I wish I could be in presence of those outstanding musicians a little bit longer. Obviously, I will be the first person to buy the DVD and will proudly exhibit it in my collection of music.

Here’s to more concerts like this and to Sons of Apollo!

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The second part of the concert, when the orchestra came in…

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and the final bow…


P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

#HillsOfRock2018 in Pictures

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

I’m still trying to process every little thing that happened to me during the 2018 Hills of Rock festival because the whole thing was literally one great thing after another. This was the first time I took part in a 3-day festival and as tiring and exhausting (and sometimes quite painful for my body) as it was, I will forever cherish the memory of seeing the great Sabaton, the mighty Judas Priest and the legends Iron Maiden, all in just three days. That’s not all, though – plenty of other Bulgarian, European and American bands took the stages of Hills of Rock (yes, there were three of them) and I’m thankful I got the chance to be introduced to them.

I don’t think I can manage to convey all the emotions and deliver every little feeling I got from the concert. That’s why I will just show you some pictures I managed to take and hopefully, you will understand why it meant so much to me to be there. The festival was three days but honestly, I was mostly excited about the second day because Judas Priest were headlining and they’ve been one of my top favorite bands for such a long time. To see them for the very first time was a dream coming true. Not just that but I was quite near the stage which gave me the opportunity to more closely observe how they create that magic every fan has been talking about for 40 years almost. Before their concert, Dope made one hell of a show as well, reminding me of my high-school years and all the times me and my metal fans used to headbang to “Die MF Die”. Sabaton were extremely memorable as well – everyone was shaken to their grounds by the huge amount of talent and energy they showcased. Maiden did a phenomenal job as well – Bruce is in a great shape and he just knew how to entertain everyone. I also saw them for the very first time in my life and couldn’t have asked for a better show. The decor, the stage – it was all magnificent and it just blew me away. Let’s take a look at some of the photos I took (I am sorry for the quality but as you can imagine being in front of the stage, surrounded by sooo many people doesn’t really give you the best angle possible.)


 

Me, during each one of the days. Each day I was having a different look (the beer was always there of course). The third day I wore an Iron Maiden headband which is now added to my huge collection of headbands I bought from concerts. Got one of Priest too. Funny story – on day one, because I was wearing a Leppard tee, the lady from the food place gave me free fries – she was also a big fan hehe.

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This was the main stage –  where the big things were happening and the other two stages, scattered around the festival area…

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Crematory was one of the first bands (though not the first according to the line-up) that I had the chance to thoroughly catch and enjoy from start to finish. They rocked pretty hard!

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Fish was there too. What a dream coming true was this performance. I love this man. He brought that much needed gentle touch to the festival and balanced the situation for a little while. His live performance reminded me why I became a fan of Marillion in the first place years ago. What an honor was to be sitting right there in front of him…

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Sabaton were out of this world – so much energy!!! That was the moment people knew that this was going to be a phenomenal festival! This was my first time seeing them too and I was stunned by how talented those guys were. No wonder they have such a strong fan base in Bulgaria. I gotta say I am certainly not the most dedicated fan of Sabaton but after this show things are surely about to change.

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Day 2 – kicking things off with the local band Odd Crew – those guys are something, I’m telling you. I highly recommend them to my foreign buddies! I even got one of their albums from the merchandise stores.

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Battle Beast were STUNNING! This lady knows how to make a statement! They have a new fan! Before them a few other female-fronted bands took the stage, including Jinjer and Madame Mayhem but Battle Beast just won me over!

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DOPE were the real deal! Loved what they brought to the table with their performance. On top of it all, it was their first time in Bulgaria and I could sense how much they loved being here. My 8th grade self would’ve been so happy right now for seeing them…Thanks to their great delivery, I got the chance to rediscover them and catch up on all the things I missed throughout those years. I’m becoming a fan all over again…

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…and now finally the mighty Judas Priest…The reason why I was there in the first place…

I can’t express my happiness…I truly can’t. Seeing a legend like Rob Halford right there – in front of you, singing the songs you’ve been loving since you were a child – this my friends is what I’m living for, what truly keeps me going! He was in a great vocal shape and delivered one of the best performances I’ve seen in my entire life. He changed jackets after almost each song; he even came on the stage with his signature motorcycle and biker looks! You gotta love the man!!! I was jumping, screaming, singing along and embracing every second I had with them in front of me. Naturally, I was the happiest when they performed my favorite song “Turbo Lover” and the new songs from that phenomenal 2018 album! The stage setting was something you just can’t see on other concerts; the magnitude of the band was clearly portrayed and for a moment there I felt like I was in another planet, another place, another time…

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Day 3 started with Planet of Zeus, The Raven Age and Tremonti (before the big Iron Maiden show). Out of the three bands, The Raven Age stood out to me the most. I checked their entire discography after the show and yes – I am officially a fan of theirs.

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Finally, after all that anticipation, Iron Maiden came out on the stage. The public went nuts. They have a solid fanbase in Bulgaria so no wonder everyone was there. Around probably 30K people were attending that concert and the amount of energy, smiles and excitement coming from them was just so beautiful to witness. I’ve been to many concerts but what they did was one of a kind. Starting from the settings and the level of effort the team put into building this colossal environment where they performed for 2 hours, was superb! Bruce was brilliant and unbelievably good! The guy jumped and danced and just poured his soul out on that stage. He even waved the Bulgarian flag at one point which made everyone go crazy!! The performance of “The Clansman” was my favorite – way more epic to see it live than just hearing it on your player…

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Huge thanks to everyone who participated in Hills of Rock and made this event possible. It was a phenomenal festival and something I will forever remember. Cheers to this year and for more to come! I really hope Hill of Rock will establish itself as one of the greatest European rock/metal festivals and even more people from all over Europe and the world will come to see legendary bands perform in one of the most beautiful cities in my country and in the continent as a whole too.

Rock on!


Cover photo, retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/HillsOfRock/
P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

Me and My Life in 3 Rock Songs

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

I had a very interesting discussion on twitter the other day with all my friends and followers. I asked everyone to describe themselves in three rock songs. I got some pretty interesting answers and got reminded of some great songs too thanks to the conversation that went on. I have to admit, before asking everyone about it I haven’t really thought about the three songs that maybe represent my personality and my life the best. I tried my best to come up with three choices and I think I did quite well. From now on, when I meet someone for the very first time I might as well send them this publication! I promised to write about it on my blog so here we are. Keep in mind that three is a small number and of course, there are plenty more, but for sure, the following playlist pretty much sums it up all!

Here’s the tweet, you can go ahead and check it out and even reply if you feel like it! Make sure you comment below this publication and share your personal choices. I cannot wait to read them.


Foreigner – Woman in Black

Probably the song the lyrics to which represent me in a perfect way! I can’t think of a better track to kick things off. Of course, it’s all about those lyrics which I am absolutely convinced were written about me. Excluding the fact that I love black and my hair is black and my nails are usually pained black, everything else Lou Gramm sings about is basically about me or the type of woman I’m inclined to believe is close to my behavior or overall image. Of course, the song itself is a masterpiece and that contributes to my love for it as well.

I saw a dark silhouette, at the table
I tried to talk, but I was unable
She drew me in right under her spell
I was hypnotized by the sudden temptation…
Of that woman in black, she’s a mystery
She’s everything a woman should be
Woman in black, she’s got a hold on me
She’s in control, she won’t set me free…


Eric Clapton – I’ve Got A Rock N’roll Heart

This is a very important song for me because it kind of sums up how much I love rock music and how much it means to me. It also tells a story of a person who explains to their loved one that before they get truly serious, it’s of extreme importance to understand the role music plays in the life of this person. If this ain’t me, I don’t know who else is… Each time I meet someone for the very first time, somehow right from the second sentence, I somehow always end up talking about music and how essential it is to my existence. I want people, especially the right ones, to know that I cannot live without rock&roll and that my heart will always belong to music first.

P.S. Eric Clapton’s “Spiral” is another song that sends a similar message and might as well be on this list, next to this one as well.

I get off on ’57 Chevys
I get off on screaming guitar
Like the way it hits me every time it hits me
I’ve got a rock and roll, I’ve got a rock and roll heart


Cinderella – Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)

This song is here because not only it sends a message I’ve been trying to follow my entire life but because somehow I always end up in situations in which people don’t quite appreciate me and then feel regretful once I decide to leave. I’m not just talking about relationships but also friendships, work-relations and many other situations I’ve been in my entire life. I think it’s very important to know that life is hard and when you meet someone with good qualities and values, you have to keep it close to you and cherish it while you can…because let’s face it – one day this person might not be here and you will be the one, thinking how stupid you were to treat him/her the way you did. It’s sad that we live in a world where people appreciate you only after you are gone…

I can’t feel the things that cause you pain
I can’t clear my heart of your love
It falls like rain, ain’t the same
I hear you calling far away
Tearing through my soul I just can’t
Take another day, Who’s to blame
If we take some time to think it over baby
Take some time let me know
If you really wanna go

Don’t know what you got till it’s gone
Don’t know what it is I did so wrong
Now I know what I got
It’s just this song
And it ain’t easy to get back
Takes so long


References:
P.S. 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~