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

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

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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!

#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!

TOP 10 ROCK ALBUMS OF 2017 [by Velina of MyRockMixtapes]

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

It’s been such a long time since we had a rock & roll year that prolific and exciting as 2017! I am almost sad that it’s gone, because each month was like a brand-new musical adventure, full of endless opportunities and surprises and I just wish it never had to stop. If you have to give it a name, I’d say 2017 was “the year of long-overdue comebacks” or “the year of the supergroups”. So many bands decided to get back together and recreate the magic that once ruled our radio stations. They did and in some cases the results were fantastic. Riverdogs, for example, released “California” –their first album in many years and so unexpectedly shook the melodic rock community with what many refer to as one of the albums of the year. Not just Riverdogs, but Europe, Lynch Mob, L.A. Guns, Warrant, Steelheart, Bonfire, Night Ranger, Harem Scarem, Thunder, Styx, Deep Purple and many other big names made their grandiose comeback this year, which is absolutely delightful, needless to say. Supergroups were formed and names were justified in many cases with bands such as Revolution Saints, Sweet & Lynch, ALL41, Kee of Hearts, Sons of Apollo and others. The solo acts didn’t fall back. Artists such as Jeff Scott Soto, Jack Russell (with his Great White), Stephen Pearcy (Ratt), Mark Slaughter (Slaughter), Alice Cooper, Roger Waters, Robert Plant and even Ringo Starr made triumphant and rather surprising comebacks but all were met with excitement and adoration. New bands that caught my eye this year were plenty. The ones that stood out the most to me were the Finnish guys from One Desire with their self-titled debut album and Inglorious with their sophomore release. The new albums of H.E.A.T and Pink 69 re-introduced me to those bands which I somehow forgot in time.

There’s plenty more to be said but I think it’s time we get to my Top10 albums of 2017 list. Please keep in mind that this is a personal selection, based on nothing but my own preferences and ideas of what a great album should sound like and what emotions should it bring to the listeners. I would LOVE to know your picks and what did you think of some of those albums so don’t hesitate to post your comment below. Here we goo….

Be careful, we’re going with the speed of sound!


10. Jeff Scott Soto – Retribution

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It has been a busy year for one of my most beloved musicians of all time – Jeff Scott Soto. In October we were totally mesmerized by Sons Of Apollo’s Psychotic Symphony and a month later, he once again penetrated our fragile rock harts with a solo release, titled “Retribution”. Nothing but praises and fascination for this album and I’m not just saying it because it’s Jeff freakin Scott Soto; I’m saying it because obviously tons of work, heart and passion have been put in the making of this album. He sounds as confident as ever and his music is as good as ever. I was prepared for something like this from the veteran rockstar and it’s all here – heavy melodic rock, epic vocal culminations, striking lyrics and excellent fiery solos. “Feels Like Forever” is my instant stand-out though it’s not necessarily the highlight of “Retribution”. “Bullet for My Baby” is another personal favorite and a pretty solid reason why this album made it into my top10! Though “Retribution” came out in November, it became one of my albums of the year – this should tell you enough!


9. H.E.A.T – Into the Great Unknown

heat into the great unknown

“Into the Great Unknown” re-introduced me to a band I have completely forgotten about. There’s just something about Swedish rock, you know that, right? This proves it! The album is just so much different from what they used to do and so distinctive among the huge pile of hard rock records that came out this year. One listen would tell you why – the guys focused on crafting a modern-day sound with the help of cutting-edge production possibilities. The album is challenging, that’s for sure. You either love it or hate it. Thankfully, the majority of fans and also critics (not surprisingly) are loving it.

“Redefined” is arguably the highlight and one of the catchiest songs that came out in 2017. “Eye of the Storm” gives another 100 points to “Into the Great Unknown”. The amount of energy coming out of that song is immeasurable.


8. L.A Guns – The Missing Peace

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I didn’t have the chance to grow up in the ’80s and experience that magical, flamboyant, so attractive to me hard rock scene that forever changed the music industry but with albums like “The Missing Peace”, young fans like myself can get a pretty good taste of those old-school vibes, presented in a modern-day environment. I am still mindblown by the authenticity of L.A. Guns‘ new album and the tasteful manner in which such energetic, a bit forceful and instantly-consuming Sunset Strip-staple hard rock music was delivered to the audience of 2017. It took me just one listen from start to finish to realize that what we have right here might be one of the best representations of how to sustain your original sound that made you famous back in the day and still stay musically-current even 30 years later. 

“Speed”, “The Devil Made me Do It”, and that beautiful ballad “Christine” proved that something was indeed truly missing in today’s rock&roll scene; I’ve been waiting for an album with that extra danger, extra roughness and that beloved ’80s attitude for so long and now when it’s finally here, I just can’t get enough of it.


7. Pride of Lions – Fearless

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My adoration for Survivor and Jim Peterik was transferred to his Pride of Lions, naturally. It’s been indeed a while since they released a new record but thankfully this was their year! I can’t think of another melodic rock album that has so much class, sensitivity and musical richness. “Fearless” is everything I was hoping to get from Jim Peterik and vocalist Toby Hitchcock. This album also proved that Pride of Lions is not just a side project – it’s a serious band that makes great music. This was the first album I bought back in January and I knew it would signal the arrival of a strong year. “The Tell” and “Silent Music” are my two favorite tracks; I can’t express the strength of the melodies and all that, combined with the A-level vocal performances of both artists showcase that the challenge was accepted and passed with grace!


6. Inglorious – II

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I met Inglorious last year but their follow-up album, simply titled “II” cemented my position as their devoted fan. The moment this album came out this past May,  it took my work by storm and earned my utter admiration and respect. It all starts with one single life-changing song…The moment I heard “I Don’t Need Your Loving”, I just knew that it has the potential of becoming one of the top rock tracks of 2017 and not just in my book.

Inglorious make straightforward, mind-blowing and 100% authentic hard rock, respectfully following the ways of ‘70s rock bands, such as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. With that in mind, vocalist Nathan James, lead guitarist Andreas Eriksson, guitarist Wil Taylor, bass guitarist Colin Parkinson and drummer Phil Beaver recorded a heavenly-organic, modern-day / classic rock album that brings nothing but satisfaction to every little rock&roll heart out there. The magic of “Inglorious II” wasn’t taken out of the hat of a legendary producer. The right words and production tricks were all done by the members themselves, which makes it even more exceptional.


5. Kee of Hearts – Kee of Hearts

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You all know how much I love Fair Warning and their lead singer Tommy Heart. I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed by what might be one of the strongest voices of melodic rock and yes – I sure as hell wasn’t.

“Kee of Hearts” is a melodic rock bliss from start to finish. This album represents just the kind of class and nobility we so desperately need on the rock music scene these days. Tommy Heart and Kee Marcello crafted a fine release that rocks, entertains and keeps our spirits lifted from start to finish. It’s a must-have for every AOR fan out there who knows what is true and what is not…I pray those two come up with a follow-up! My favorite track would be the opening song, “The Storm”; the title pretty much sums it up all! A powerful blazing melodic rock impact right from the very beginning, signalling the arrival of something truly valuable.


4. Sons of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony 

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Don’t you just love albums that take you out of your comfort zone and challenge your listening habits? This album right here did this for me and it did it in the most pleasurable way you can think of. I know that by default everything that Jeff Scott Soto does is superb and I will love it, but this album right here goes one step further from my perceptions of how incredibly versatile and mindful he is when it comes to music.

Stand-out songs include “God of the Sun” – which is one of my favorite openers this year; the 11-minute tornado of a song is a clear highlight and how can it not be with that speed, intensity and lyrics. “Sings of the Times” is my ultimate number 1 song from this release – that intro knocked my socks off. Don’t even get me started on the instrumental “Opus Maximus” which arguably might be the best progressive instrumental that came out this year!


3. Riverdogs – California

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Ah… “California” – where do I even begin? The moment this album came into my life, I just knew that this will change and that’s exactly what it happened. I distinctively remember how excited I was when it was finally available on Spotify and how fulfilled I felt when I played it from start to finish. I just couldn’t get enough of the blissful feelings, warmness and comfort this beautiful album brought to my world. “California” is a stunning set of sing-alongs, rock anthems, bluesy soul-touching tracks, all brilliantly decorated with thoughtful lyrics and memorable melodies.

Reasons why I love this album that much? Number one –“You’re Too Rock and Roll” which became one of the most important songs of my life just within weeks after the release of the album. Number two – Rob Lamothe who enriched my life with what might be the best interview I ever had with a musician… the other reasons you gotta look inside the album!


2. Bonfire – Byte the Bullet

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German rockers BONFIRE came back this year with what can easily be referred to as one of the most electrifying, mind-blowing and hair-raising rock releases so far. Guitarist, original founder and basically Mr. Everything, Hans Zilller is back with his strong team of musicians, including bass player Ronnie Parkes, guitarist Frank Pane, drummer Tim Breideband and a brand-new vocalist Alexx Stahl. I still can’t get over how amazingly well-done this album is. Most importantly, if you are one of the people (like me) who is always seeking their self-empowerment in music, you would also pick this album as one of your favorite releases of 2017. “Lonely Nights” is probably the biggest reasons behind placing this album at #2. As the ultimate rock ballad enthusiast, you can trust me on this – it’s a phenomenal heart-breaking song, full of emotions and character. “Stand Up 4 Rock” is a superb rock anthem, with one of the best intros this year. The cover of Jethro Tull’s classic “Locomotive Breath” is another highlight that deserves a standing ovation.


& my number one is…

One Desire – One Desire

one desire - one desire 2017

You know, I thought a lot about which album to place at the number one spot and it took me a few days to finally make my decision but ultimately, I let my heart do the thinking. I picked One Desire’s self-titled album to be my number 1 album for 2017 because I can’t think of another album I got so obsessed with or another album which I’ve played as much as I did this one. I literally know the lyrics to all the song and you know why – because every track on it is that strong, impressive and memorable. Not a second on this album is wasted on trivial and well-known moments. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been that hooked to an entire album. It’s not just the singles, “Hurt” or “Apologize” – it’s every second of it. The sound is everything I looked for in an album, coming out in 2017 – modern vibes, strong vocals, old-school rock influence, unimaginable hooks and the ability to captivate the listener right from the very beginning. Discovering this album months after its release was indeed one of the most precious musical moments I had this year.

Cheers to One Desire and their debut album which won again many established names and their newest releases this year. I’m a proud fan and seeing how new bands conquer worlds is immensely satisfying. Now, go and listen…

 


Final thoughts:

Obviously, many of the albums share a significant characteristic and that is a certain label, under which they were released. Yes, I’m talking about Frontiers Records which redefined the hard / melodic rock scene of 2017 and entirely blew the competition away by not only giving chances to new rock bands, hungry for the stage but by also welcoming long overdue reunions of old-school hard rock bands. I praise and bow to the hard work of the team of Frontiers Records for being responsible for the comebacks of bands such as L.A Guns, Riverdogs or Warrant, for example and for taking under their capable wings, new and exciting artists, such as One Desire. I cannot wait to see what they have in mind for the following year!

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Honorable Mentions:

You know, I had to draw the line somewhere because we cannot go on like this for ages, unfortunately. You just saw my top10 favorite albums of 2017 but I couldn’t just end the publication like this because there are so many more rock releases that caught my attention and conquered my playlists. Yes, the following albums were not included in my Top10 2017 releases, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have the musical qualities and strengths needed in an album to be in a such list. I deeply encourage my readers to pay attention to the following titles and in case some of them went off your radar, there’s always a chance to come back and check them out.

Remember…when it comes to good music, years are irrelevant. Whether it’s 1982 or 1997 or 2017,


 

Europe – Walk the Earth

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Lynch Mob – The Brotherhood

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Revolution Saints – Light in the Dark

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Warrant – Louder, Harder and Faster

Warrant - Louder Harder Faster (2017)

Thunder – Rip it Up

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Pink Cream 69 – Headstrong

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Bigfoot – Bigfoot

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Steelheart – Through Worlds of Stardust

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Pretty Boy Floyd – Public Enemies

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Sweet & Lynch – Unified

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Tokyo Motor First – Tokyo Motor First

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Lionville – A World of Fools

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The publication expresses my personal opinion on what some of the best rock releases of 2017 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 Recommendations: DEXTRESS’ Self-Titled 2017 Debut Album

I’ve always been fascinated by the fateful circumstances under which music finds its way into people’s lives. As a rock music blogger, reviewer and most importantly enthusiast you can imagine how many albums I get to listen and experience on a daily basis. Every once in a while, one way or another, I come across a band that create an instantaneous “Wow, who the hell are those guys?” effect and when this happens, I just can’t let it pass through me without showing the much deserved respect and appreciation.

This is exactly the reason why we are here. Some time ago I was, thankfully, introduced to a Canadian hard rock band named Dextress. The four guys immediately grabbed my attention with their appearance, rawness and intriguing musical goals. I don’t really have a habit of listening to newer bands who are somehow trying to recreate or follow the original ’80s sound but what I heard from Dextress definitely changed my mind and made me rethink the whole “young bands don’t know how to rock” situation. Dextress are obviously armed with enthusiasm and hungry for the stage. I say you give them the chance they deserve and see what I’m talking about.

20171130_055034We are here to also talk about their self-titled debut album – “Dextress” which is certainly an album worth discovering. The release presents a well-thought of playlist that basically consist of one solid punch after another. The moment you start absorbing the album, you are bound to fall for vocalist Jackson Taylor’s distinctive vocal delivery which just can’t but sharpen your ears. At first listen, I got that Mark Slaughter vibe here and there which further boosted my interest in the album. Guitarist Mark Janz is completing the picture in a stylish manner with stunning guitar solos, making him perfectly capable of standing on his own two feet against some of the bigger names who debuted at his age back in the day. I still cannot believe that so much thought and passion hides inside such young minds. 

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Me, holding Dextress’ debut album! I’m so happy to add it to my precious collection!

Let’s talk songs! It’s all just one big bowl of beautiful mess, mixed with attitude, roughness and of course – tons and tons of good mood. The song I would most definitely recommend to a first-time listener is “Sex, Drugs, Rock N’ Roll” which to someone who is not so familiar with the genre, might sound as if it was released 30 years ago. YES! That’s exactly the beauty of it. The pace, the hard-hitting power chords, the screams – it’s all there for you to experience! “Wild is the Night” is probably their most signature song, standing out with its mighty intro that grabs you by the throat from the very first second. Speaking of mighty intros, “Distance” is the one song on the album that would take the award for the most compelling intro. Don’t even get me started on those enchanting riffs!

Final verdict: Looking for a new band to invest your time in? Look no further. I know Canadians can rock so no surprises there; but the way those youngsters play with your sense of time and entirely take you out of your comfort zone is almost unreal. I highly recommend you guys have a listen and definitely make sure you remember their name – big things will be happening, I just know it!

Check out some of my favorite songs:

“Sex, Drugs, Rock N’ Roll”

“Wild is the Night”

“Distance”

“Red Eye Remedy”

 

Follow Dextress on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dextressband/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DextressBand
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dextressband/

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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~

Concert Experience: SAINTED SINNERS & IAN PAICE @ Diana Hall, Yambol, Bulgaria (28/10/2017)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

backstage pass - ian paice yambolI think about this rock&roll weekend I had with Sainted Sinners and Ian Paice and I still cannot fully process what happened to me and how lucky I was to be there and have this life-changing experience. I’ve been to so many rock concerts, of all shapes, styles and sizes, but this was the first time I got the chance to have the “insider’s look” and closely witness how hard but immensely rewarding it is for artists, crew and everyone involved in an event to put everything together and deliver it to the beloved fans who came to support them.

me and alessandroIt was an honor to be invited backstage by the versatile musical genius Alessandro Del Vecchio and sit down and talk to him about the current situation of the music industry (stay tuned for the full interview on my blog, coming up pretty soon). Getting this opportunity was certainly the highlight of my career as a music blogger and will forever cherish the memories and insights I gained; Not just that, but I cannot wait to share everything with my devoted readers.

The concert was held at Sports Diana Hall in Yambol, Bulgaria. Despite Yambol being one of the small cities in Bulgaria, the 2,000+ people that ended up showing was no surprise. Legendary drummer Ian Paice, along with the supergroup Sainted Sinners who are composed of top-notch musicians, including lead guitarist Frank Pané, vocalist David Reece, drummer Berci Hirleman, bass guitarist Malte Frederik Burkert and guest keyboardist/vocalist Alessandro Del Vecchio are certainly a solid reason for fans to gather up for a night of pure rock&roll!

I’ve been to many sound-checks but as I said, this was the first time I’ve witnessed something of this calibre. The preparations and the level of precision and dedication from the band and crew were admirable and equally pleasing to watch as the show that came later on. I expected nothing but professionalism and great attitude from all the rockstars on that stage and believe me, that’s the only way they handled everything.

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Backstage photos with David AndNadia Reece & Malte Frederik Burkert. Both were incredibly kind and sweet. I especially enjoyed talking to Malte who by the way puts to shame any lady out there with his gorgeous hair. 

Me and Frank Pané . Had the chance to tell him that Bonfire‘s “Byte the Bullet” is in my Top3 albums of 2017 so far! He was so happy to hear it!

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The Before…

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& the after…

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Right before the show; Proud of everyone who contributed to this concert and the lovely audience!

Everyone was thrilled to see Ian Paice rock the hell out of those drums, just like he’s been doing for the past 50 years or so. The first time I saw him, he immediately said hi to me and moved on to the stage for soundcheck; I will never forget how natural the encounter was. I met him after the concert as well, took a photo with him and got his autograph! What a memory. I mean, we are talking about a founding member of one of the most legendary and history-defining bands of all time – Deep Purple. Seeing him at this shape, despite being 70 years old is inspiring and I was blessed to once again this year be in his presence (I went to Deep Purple’s concert in Sofia, Bulgaria this past May too). He did a splendid job and it seemed like everyone was enjoying themselves in the company of this legend.

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Me and the legend! It was an honor to meet him!

Don’t you even get me started on Sainted Sinners. This was the first time I watched them live and I had the time of my life. I knew that David Reece was going to tear down the place with his vocals and he did it, believe me. The stage dynamics were a beautiful thing to experience. I loved the energy and interaction between the members, as well as the way they portrayed their style in front of the Bulgarian audience. The concert was divided into two parts – first part was with Sainted Sinners, mixing golden oldies and newly released music. The second part was with Ian Paice and it exclusively featured Deep Purple’s strongest hits, like “Stormbringer”, “Burn”, “Highway Star”, etc. The concert was quite long and at one point I could feel that I’m no longer 20 as my back started hurting from so much dancing and jumping around.  

Some of my favorite moments include Alessandro Del Vecchio taking over the mic for a beautiful cover of Rainbow’s “Since You’ve Been Gone”. Just listen to his powerful vocals, I was entirely mindblown by how good of a live performer he is.

The setlist included timeless classics like this and more, even AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, performed by Frank Pané‘s wife Lydia was on the table. Another memorable moment for me was Sainted Sinners performing the highly energizing “We Are All Sainted Sinners” which was the point where I realized I won’t be having my voice on the next day (and yes, it was gone). You know how much I love Bonfire so seeing Frank Pané live in action was a dream becoming true. The guy is effortlessly stunning as a guitarist – he just barely touches that signature polka dots guitar as if it’s a feather and the ground starts shaking. Malte Burkert was something else – his youthful, playful but passionate presence on that stage make me drop my jaw a few times.

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on stage

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For the second part of the concert, as I’ve already mentioned, drummer Ian Paice joined Sainted Sinners and put us all into his back pocket. What a musician! I especially loved when the band played “Burn” – a pivotal moment for the evening. There’s a video but you can hear me sing my guts out so I think I will keep it to myself for now. 

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Check this out! He is unbelievable – drumming as if he was a 20-year old…

The grand finale!

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Happiness…my face says it all! I was part of a historical concert and thank everyone who made it happen! Cheers to more!


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: Marillion Live at Ancient Theater, Plovdiv, Bulgaria (24/09/2017)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

With so many unique rock bands out there, each bearing their own distinctive style of sound, appearance and approach to music, no wonder people can never get tired of live music and crave for more and more. I’ve always been a fan of live musical events, not just because I’m a fan of a certain band but because that’s the most genuine way to touch the heart and soul of the artists and turn it into a distinctive piece of memory you can always carry with you. There are bands out there that devoted their entire career to making spirit-lifting music, full of encouragement, excitement and confidence. Their concerts are usually filled with tons of action and fire, leaving the fans tired but satisfied to the bone.

There are also of course, the bands that make music with deeper, more complex meanings, complemented by more sophisticated sound and instrumentation. We refer to this type of rock as progressive, so I will just stick to this term for now. I’ve been a fan of progressive rock for a long long time but honestly, I’ve never attended a concert by a progressive rock band. I’ve had my ideas and expectations but once you actually witness it in front of you, you see how little you know and how much more you have yet to understand and experience. In that sense, I am quite proud and privileged to have the legendary British neo-progressive rock band Marillion come to not just my country, but to my hometown and reward me and their fans over here with not just a concert but an impossible manifestation of audio and visual techniques, creating one of the most spine-tingling and arousing musical journeys of my life so far. I must say, I’m not the most devoted fan of the band but I was never in a million years going to miss the chance to see their life-changing show. I hope to inspire you with my story and do justice to Marillion because believe me, those guys know how to deliver a striking not just musical but theatrical performance and you just gotta go see it while you still have the chance.

I should start by saying that Marillion challenged every norm and standard I had in my mind about rock concerts. The entire evening was one endless stream of sensual audio and visual provocations, topped with a magical artistic performance by vocalist Steve Hogarth. To many it was probably just a different kind of concert but to me it was way more than that – it was a beautiful theatrical presentation, incorporating compelling singing, melodramatic gestures and body movements and irresistible audience interaction, all decorated with stunning visual effects and videos that perfectly complement every song and the lyrics. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Marillion certainly put a lot of effort to make a “heavy” show; I say heavy but I don’t necessarily refer to the music. The show itself required a lot of attention and sweat from the viewer. We were assaulted with many different show pieces, all challenging each and every one of our senses; The concert put me to a test – it’s been a while since I last felt so uptight but definitely in a good way.

I’ve been talking so much about the excellent visuals and now it’s time to actually show you. The venue here also played a huge rule in the atmospheric progressive experience. My readers might be familiar with it from my Nazareth concert experience article a few months ago as it’s the same one – The Roman Amphitheater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Marillion Plovdiv Venue

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You could clearly see how much time and effort were put into the making of those videos that were accompanying each performance. The lyrics perfectly matched the scenes and it provided the audience with another treat to watch out for. To me, the most appealing aspect of the show was when they performed “King” and the video behind them showed famous artists and musicians who have passed away, including Bon Scott, Elvis Presley and of course, my Steve Clark who I miss so much. It was unbelievable!

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Steve Hogarth was undoubtedly the star of the evening. The man doesn’t know any limitations and once in character, nothing or no one can stop him. His performance was a work of art. I cannot specifically talk about his singing or acting or stage presence, because it’s just one whole and you don’t know where Steve the actor and Steve the singer merge. It was a pleasure to observe how he becomes one with the music, the stage and the audience. He delivered many unique performances but I gotta say the way he did “The Invisible Man” stood out the most to me. Maybe because it was the first encore and the audience sensed that we are about to wrap things up, the air around us became thicker. That’s something I will never forget. One more thing I have to acknowledge is his keyboard skills – the man is an alien!

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As a young fan, who saw Marillion for the very first time, all I can say is that those guys changed a lot of perceptions I had for artists’ stage presence and musical delivery. I met new songs and learned new lyrics, which I guarantee will become an inseparable part of my life (“You’re Gone” and “Power” for example, both impeccable rock pleasures). I am delighted that I had the chance to witness this other type of concerts – the ones that make you think and observe carefully. I was so used to the crazy rock&roll vibes that make you jump around and party hard so I really needed this refreshing art experience. Thank you, Marillion


Band Members:

Steve Rothery – Guitars
Mark Kelly – Keyboards
Pete Trewavas – Bass Guitar
Ian Mosley – Drums
Steve Hogarth – Vocals

Setlist:

1.El Dorado
2.You’re Gone
3.The Leavers
4.Fantastic Place
5.Mad 
6.Afraid of Sunlight
7.Sugar Mice
8.Real Tears for Sale
9.Sounds That Can’t Be Made
10.Power
11.Man of a Thousand Faces
12.King
13.Neverland

1st Encore

14.Invisible Man

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15.Three Minute Boy

Event management: Radio Tangra Mega Rock


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!

References:
Cover photo and concert poster, retrieved from http://www.radiotangra.com/en/news/read/29005.html
Setlist, retrieved from http://www.radiotangra.com/guide/read/30293.html

BOSTON’s “Don’t Look Back” or How to Make a Sophomore Comeback with Style

Fans refer to many commercially successful rock bands who became widely popular in the ’70s and early ’80s as “classic rock bands”. When someone says “classic rock” (though these days the term became a little bit vague), what’s the first band that comes to your mind? To me, that band has always been Boston for certain. Not so much because it falls under the umbrella of a certain “term” or “radio format” but because Boston has the most classic, universally-beloved, timeless, evergreen sound that just doesn’t grow old.

Boston-1We all know the significance of Boston‘s 1976 self-titled debut album; I bet there’s not a single rock soul in the world who has never sang along with radio hit songs like “More Than a Feeling”. I have a whole publication about this album, which you can check here -> Why is BOSTON’s Debut Album One Of The Greatest Albums Of All Time

Boston’s smashing debut album was followed up by a long list of unexpected but widely-welcomed circumstances including becoming the second best-selling debut album of all time (first one being “Appetite for Destruction”, of course), turning into one of America’s most appreciated rock albums and establishing absolute dominance over all radio stations. Topping an era-defining album with such a strong impact is certainly an obstacle many rock bands can’t really overcome. Not Boston, though.

boston dont look back 19782 years after the release of “Boston”, the band came back with “Don’t Look Back”. As it was expected, the sophomore album didn’t really match the commercial strength of the debut one; however to many critics and fans (me included), “Don’t Look Back” still remains one of the most worthy sophomore comebacks of all time. Also, getting certified 7x Platinum is certainly something to consider.

“Don’t Look Back” wasn’t exactly released in the most pleasurable industry environment as the band or should I just say, Mr. Everything – Tom Scholz kicked off a legal battle with their record label.

Still, “Don’t Look Back” turned out to be equally impressive and received a well-deserved place among the ultimate classics of the era. One unfortunate thing about it is of course, its length. “Don’t Look Back” spreads over 8 songs only, 2 of which are under 3 minutes. That’s a little bit short for an album and turned out to be one of the reasons why Tom Scholz went on a war with the record label.

Whether it was rushed or not, the essence of the album, however, is what’s important here. I try to stay informed about the background stories and environments under which rock albums were crafted and released, but ultimately, it’s the sound, the music, the songs are all that’s left 30, 40, 50+ years later.

Three songs were released as singles – “Don’t Look Back”, “A Man I’ll Never Be” and “Feelin’ Satisfied”. Don’t think these songs need an introduction or fancy musical descriptions – they are way above that. Especially, “A Man I’ll Never Be” which has to be in my Top3 Boston songs of all time and certainly one of the most gentle and emotional rock ballads of all time.

“A Man I’ll Never Be”

“Feelin’ Satisfied”

“Don’t Look Back”

The 2-minute instrumental “The Journey” is often forgotten, despite its pivotal role in the album. To some, it may be a bit difficult to absorb but the way I see it, it’s a pretty well-placed musical piece that divides the two harder rocking songs “Don’t Look Back” and “It’s Easy”.

“The Journey”

Ultimately, Boston is…well Boston. I do like the first album a little bit more than this one,  despite critics claiming that “Don’t Look Back” was indeed a solid musical progression. I agree that Boston do sound more confident and the sophomore release does possess a more joyful vibe but I have an emotional attachment to the first one, so don’t listen to me, really.

There’s also this little part of me that cannot (or maybe doesn’t want to) divide those first two albums. I consider them just two parts of one bigger whole – maybe even as just one album. “Don’t Look Back” is like a side2 to “Boston” and I just love playing them one after the other.

Share your memories of “Don’t Look Back” below the publication or on Twitter; I would love to know what you think of this album and which is your favorite song:

 

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Me, holding a copy of “Don’t Look Back” which i bought during 2017’s “Record Store Day”

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References:
Album artwork, retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Look-Back-Boston/dp/B00Q99V0PA
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