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

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers to more!

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

“The Mirror Never Lies”

“Dying for Your Love”

age of reflection
Age of Reflection

BAND MEMBERS:

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

Links:

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

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

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

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


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

Album Recommendations: DIRTY LOOKS – TURN OF THE SCREW (1989)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

Before we get down to business, here’s a song to check out! If you love the late ’80s as much as I do and you’re into hard rock music, you will most certainly like it and won’t hesitate to go down and read/check out the following album I’m recommending this week (in case you haven’t done it yet, of course – if you are familiar with it, then it’s time for you to go down memory lane)…

 “Nobody Rides for Free”

I’ve told you before – 1989 was indeed a magical year for rock music and gems like this one are the reason why! I can’t stress this enough – you wanna get drunk on authentic hard rock music, just look for 1989 ’cause that’s your year!! (check out my previous blog publication where I list 15 favorite 1989 rock releases)

DIRTY LOOKS - TURN OF THE SCREW (1989)Let’s go back to Dirty Looks and focus on their intoxicating second major-label studio album, “Turn of The Screw”. What you need to know about the band in case that’s the first time they are crossing your path is that their major-label debut was in 1988 with what is often regarded to as one of the best hard rock debuts of all time – “Cool From the Wire”. Danish born vocalist Henrik Ostergaard was the man behind it all. The voice, the attitude, that street vibe, coming out of the band and this album in particular was mainly brought by him. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to that raspy, quite distinguishable voice in 2011 (RIP). 

“Turn of the Screw” might not present an entirely different formula for a hard rock release. Given the time, the ambitions and the trends, Dirty Looks just had to take on that well-established hard rock road so don’t expect a sound you’ve never heard before. What you can expect, though, is a rough, solid and highly motivating gem that in my opinion deserved way more than it actually got. They did just put another brick on the enormous hard rock wall, but if you pay enough attention and devote some time into investigating 1989 album by album, you will see that that brick had its own colors and charms, worthy of your attention.

Ultimately, if you love bands like Kix, Great White, Cinderella, etc. you will love this album. “Turn of the Screw” is what introduced me to the band some time ago and It was love at first listen. “Nobody Rides for Free”, “Turn of the Screw”, “Take What Ya Get” and that special special song “L.A. Anna” which is my favorite cut from this release are as good as any other hard rock tune from the era. Atlantic Records yet again delivered something valuable to my collection so I can’t but thank them for that. The album has a little bit of those blues vibes I adore so much here and there so that’s one thing that might attract you even more. 

Now go ahead and listen! Make sure you tell me what you think of the album and which is your favorite song!!

“Turn of the Screw”

“C’mon Frenchie”

Here’s the entire album on YouTube for you to check out. It’s worth it, I promise!


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~

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. 

20171130_054606
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/

14225416_942766669165763_256419104795004704_n


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~

New Album Recommendations: Sons of Apollo – “Psychotic Symphony” (2017)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

Ready for a big hardcore punch that will inevitably lead to enormous satisfaction both mental and physical. I’ve always said that the best kind of music is the one that affects both your brain and body and results in the ultimate eargasm. This album right here is the kind of album you gotta listen to if you just want to be transferred to a different dimension and really want to be taken out of your comfort musical zone!

Sons of Apollo is no joke. Don’t expect any sentimental radio-oriented tracks or cheesy pop rock statements. “Psychotic Symphony” is a meaningful, highly sophisticated piece of progressive metal, packed with A-to-Z qualities, including flaming guitar solos, mind-crushing vocals and of course – fierce synthesizers, aiding to that modern-day feel.

I’ve been a fan of Jeff Scott Soto (Journey, Yngwie Malmsteen‘s Rising Force, etc.) since forever and I know that whatever he does, he does it with passion and confidence and this album is no exception. With respect to everyone who got involved in this project, his vocals are in my opinion the heart and soul of “Psychotic Symphony” and the reason why I’m here, talking about it. He is a monster-vocalist and I bet you don’t need me to convince you otherwise.

sons of apolloI won’t go into details about the album because for a first time in a while I’ve been left speechless. “God of the Sun” 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 (another Greek-inspired theme). “Sings of the Times” is my ultimate number 1 song from this release – that intro knocked my socks off (it’s my new ringtone by the way). You can’t have an album like this one without an instrumental now can you? But then again, “Opus Maximus” is not your ordinary instrumental. Good luck stopping it once you hit the play! “Alive” and “Lost in Oblivion” are pure madness! I am absolutely in love with the way the playlist was crafted – it’s all very well thought of and every song has its own place, contributing to the overall atmosphere of the album. I mean, you can just consider it as one song, actually; it’s indeed a progressive metal album but there’s just so much more to it than that – it’s progressive, it’s classic, it’s hard, it’s loud! What a punch in the face! Guitars are stunning too – Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal is the king of the explosive riff and guitar culminations on this one! 

I have to say – this genre is not my cup of tea and I don’t play it on a daily basis but you know – there are rules to every exception and my exception is “Psychotic Symphony”. Grab your copy now!

 

“Sings of the Times”

“Coming Home”

“Lost in Oblivion”

 

Tracklist:

  1. God of The Sun
  2. Coming Home
  3. Signs of the Time
  4. Labyrinth
  5. Alive
  6. Lost In Oblivion
  7. Figaro’s Whore
  8. Divine Addiction
  9. Opus Maximus

References:
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Album Review: Revolution Saints – Light in the Dark (2017)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

“I Wouldn’t Change a Thing”

You know, it’s October already and I was beginning to worry that I might not actually get the ballad I was waiting for – you know that mind-crushing, emotional experience of a song that I always look for in an album. But you know, recently Revolution Saints released “I Wouldn’t Change a Thing” and as a rock ballad critic, lover and ultimate enthusiast, I can firmly state that this might possibly be my favorite rock ballad of 2017 so far. The song was just what I was looking for and not to mention that it pointed my attention to a strong melodic rock force that was about to arrive on the horizon. After the ballad that knocked my socks off, I couldn’t but have high expectations for Revolution Saints’ new album – “Light in the Dark” and now when I finally had the chance to listen from start to finish, I realize how much I needed this album in my life.

I’ve been following the career of prominent drummer Deen Castronovo since I became fan of Journey and eventually Hardline and Bad English back in the day. On top of it all, he’s a stunning vocalist and it was only natural for him to go for it. Thankfully, an opportunity for him to explore his vocal talents was soon on the horizon. Frontiers’ President, Serafino Perugino assembled Revolution Saints with Deen fronting a strong team of A-players, including Doug Aldrich (The Dead Daisies, ex-Whitesnake, DIO) and Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees). After a 2015 debut that fans and rock communities still talk about and listen to, the band is back with a sophomore release full of surprises, bold moves and exceptionally well written and produced melodic rock music, courtesy of producer/songwriter Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, JORN), who was also there for Revolution Saints’ debut album. Now, the whole dream team is back and the result is more than satisfying. “Light in the Dark” is an absolute manifestation of high quality rock music. Fans are expected to dive into a world of classic melodic rock style, colored by meaningful and emotion-stirring moments, proving that indeed the age of rock is back!

“Light in the Dark” opens up with an inspiring title song with a lot of personality! Having a bad day? Needing that extra push or motivation? Look no further – this song is the thing you’ve been waiting for. Superb hooks and uplifting lyrics that put an instant smile on your face! Couldn’t have picked a better opener! “Freedom” brings in a little bit of weight and tons of class into the album atmosphere. Watch out for Doug Aldrich’s spellbinding riffs and those surprisingly well-fitting keyboards that make the song one of the most interesting ones from the album. “Ride On” picks up the album’s speed and once again showcases what these guys are made for – pure talent. Deen Castronovo is killing it on every song but I am especially enjoying his powerful howls on this one. We move on to the star of the show and my favorite song from the album, “I Wouldn’t Change a Thing”. This track is not just a ballad – it’s an epic 6-minute piano journey, accompanied by Deen’s soul-touching vocals, after which you can’t even take your breath. Arguably, this is the best song from the album when it comes to impact. Musically, it’s simple, yet elegant; gentle, yet heart-breaking. What a masterpiece! The other ballad – “Can’t Run Away from Love” is equally fulfilling and only solidifying Deen’s vocal strengths. Songs like “Take you Down”, “Don’t Surrender” and “Running on the Edge” are all solid rockers showcasing two things – first of all, rock will never die as long as we have passionate artists like Revolution Saints and second of all, “Light in the Dark” is an album that certainly has a lot to bring to the table!

What a year for rock music! I thought it was over, but the rock&roll waves are getting harder and stronger with each release this year. Revolution Saints“Light in the Dark” takes a respectable place on this year’s long list of remarkable releases. The quality, class and impact of this album are beyond expectation and I am proud to be here to witness the making of such releases. The greatest thing about “Light in the Dark” is its ability to draw newer and older generations of rock fans together and simply make them feel good about life and being here right here, right now.  The album is out on October 13, 2017! Don’t forget to get your copy!

Tracklist:

  1. Light In The Dark
  2. Freedom
  3. Ride On
  4. I Wouldn’t Change A Thing
  5. Don’s Surrender
  6. Take You Down
  7. The Storm Inside
  8. Can’t Run Away From Love
  9. Running On The Edge
  10. Another Chance
  11. Falling Apart
  12. Back On My Trail (live, bonus track on deluxe edition only)
  13. Turn Back Time (live, bonus track on deluxe edition only)
  14. Here Forever (live, bonus track on deluxe edition only)
  15. Locked Out Of Paradise (live, bonus track on deluxe edition only)

 


“Freedom”

“Light in the Dark”


References:
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

In 1989, BADLANDS Released a Perfect Blues Rock Album

I’ve talked about the year of 1989 before on My Top 15 Rock Albums, Released in 1989 and it’s time to once again travel back to that golden year of rock and examine one of the finest releases that significantly contributed to the overall image of 1989 (and to why I consider it as one of the greatest years of rock).

The band

In life when one door closes, you gotta look for another one to open and make your way out of the darkness. In the late 1980s, prominent guitarist Jake E. Lee was no longer involved with Ozzy Osbourne after a successful tour for the “Ultimate Sin” album, so he had to build a new highway on which to take off. His efforts brought him to a very talented, New York-born vocalist, named Ray Gillen who ironically had just separated from a brief tour/fiasco with Ozzy’s bandmates from Black Sabbath. Two more members were added, both also sharing a history with Black Sabbath – bass player Greg Chaisson and drummer Eric Singer.

All in all, that’s how Badlands came to existence (or at least the very short version of it). The important thing to acknowledge is that regardless of what brought them together, the four members were simply ready to open a new, more exciting page in their careers and with that debut album, they certainly did it. The promising quartet was supposed to last for a while but unfortunately due to inner conflicts, unfavourable music climate and problems with the label, only three albums came out under their name, one of which was a demo release. In 1993, vocalist Ray Gillen passed away (RIP).

The self-titled album

We are here, however, to talk about, remember and listen to their stunning debut album, which makes you ask yourself the question: “If an album is that brilliant, why the hell didn’t it leave a much bigger trace behind its back?”… Needless to say, “Badlands” is a highly underrated killer gem which is a must for any rock fan out there who appreciates and respects good rock musicianship.

The true value of the album is its original sound which can basically be described as early ‘70s Led Zeppelin, meeting ‘80s Sunset-Strip rock scene (no over-the-top craziness, though). “Badlands” is sophisticated, yet fun and highly entertaining. The ways in which those guys managed to capture that fancy blues-vibe that defined the careers of Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, The Yardbirds, The Animals…and mix it so skilfully with refreshing, late ‘80s metal sound, is something you don’t see or hear every day. Once you play “Badlands”, you will receive a significant upgrade to your rock music sensitivity, trust me.

The vocals are breath-taking, no need to question or even talk about the powerful screams of Ray Gillen. One thing that immediately stood out to me, though, was Jake E. Lee’s impressive guitar work, making all the difference. “Badlands” is a guitar-driven album, just like any other blues album out there, but with a modern-day electric flavour, courtesy of this exact same genius I’m talking about – Mr. Lee.

A few words about the songs and I will let you listen in peace. The first two songs – “High Wire” and “Dreams in the Dark” (which by the way got the MTV approval stamp) are marvellous examples of how to show personality in your music and lead the listeners to a new world, going a step away from the polished, sparkling image and sound of the late ‘80s. (“Dreams in the Dark” has always been my favorite songs from the album). “Rumblin’ Train” and “Seasons” are some of the reasons why I consider this album one of the best blues rock albums of all time – it’s difficult to describe the magic surrounding this blues-influenced blissfulness. The stormy “Dancing on the Edge” is another track to watch out for! & it goes on and on…

Old-school minded, ‘80s hard rock bands are important and I strongly recommend Badlands if you are hungry for something distinctive, yet familiar!


“High Wire”

“Devil’s Stomp”

“Dreams in the Dark”


References:
Album cover retrieved from http://ohrenbalsam.blogspot.bg/2011/06/badlands-badlands-cd-1989.html
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Album Recommendations: “Paul Laine – Stick It in Your Ear” (1990)

Is It Love

 

I met Paul Laine through Danger Danger (of course). He jumped in as their frontman for the junior album – “Dawn” (1995) and stood around for a decade of releases, before officially calling it quits. Paul went on to form his own bands, Shugaazer and Darkhorse. In 2016, he once again teamed up with former Danger Danger bandmates Bruno Ravel and Rob Marcello to release a self-titled album – “The Defiants”. Check them all out in case you haven’t.

Paul Laine’s ‘90s solo albums are the reason why we’re here, though. I am actually in love with both Stick It in Your Ear (1990) and Can’t Get Enuff (1996), however wanted to specifically draw your attention to the first album which I personally like a little bit more.

“Stick It in Your Ear” is a pure manifestation of the Canadian vocalist’s immense vocal power and ability to craft melodic rock at its finest. The album is one big ball of rock energy, for sure, mixed well with delightful accessibility and radio-friendly polished production. The album is certainly far away from any of those shiny LA hard rock bands who wrote music with their wallet rather than heart and that’s exactly why I find it so charming.

Late ‘80s, early ‘90s releases have so much more to offer and this album right here is certainly something to consider adding to your AOR collection in case you haven’t.

Some of the highlights include the Top100 singles “Dorianna” and “Is It Love” – both stunning examples of well-crafted melodic rock music.  

“Is It Love” is dangerously obsessive and definitely my favorite one from the release. Every power ballad hungry person out there will be thrilled, believe me. That’s the reason why I opened this publication with it. Check out “Dorianna”:

Dorianna

“We are the Young” is another track to watch out for.

“One Step Over the Line” has a very unique intro, which I think all of you should hear. You know what, why don’t you just play the entire album. Thank you, Paul Laine. It’s definitely never too late to discover a forgotten gem like this one….


References:
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.