[Album Review] AMMUNITION – AMMUNITION (2018)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

ammunition album cover

2018 is starting quite promising if I may say. January brought to us a number of outstanding releases, absolutely backing my statement that there will be plenty to anticipate, enjoy and love this year when it comes to rock music. Frontiers Music are yet again getting all the spotlight by being the main player on the growing melodic rock scene. The first month of the year was colored by the label and their releases, including Lione / Conti’s self-titled album, Labyrinth’s “Return to Live”, Delta Deep’s “East Coast Live” and of course, the album I am here to talk about today – Ammunition’s eponymous album, which also happens to be my album of the month. I gotta say, this was the first time I got the chance to meet the band and I cannot wait to share my thoughts and hopefully, transfer my enthusiasm for this album to other listeners. You just gotta trust me on this one – this is a band and a release that cannot and should not escape your radar. Here’s a little bit more about the band and the release.

Who are Ammunition?

ammunition band

The band was founded in 2014 by the songwriting duo Age Sten Nilsen (former WIG WAM singer) and the multi-talented Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse, W.E.T., Nordic Union). Their debut release, titled “Shanghaied” was out in 2015 and it quickly laid solid foundations for the band and its future. The guys teamed up with former TNT and Jack In The Box bassist Victor Cito Borge, keysman Lasse Finbråten (Circus Maximus, ex-Wig Wam), skinsman Magnus Ulfstedt (Eclipse), and the guitar player Jon Pettersen so you can only imagine the kind of strength that team brought up on that live stage. That’s one of the things they became highly praised for – delivering a live performance to remember.

Fans were able to get their first taste of the follow-up to their highly praised debut release earlier in 2017 with the Eurovision finalist “Wrecking Crew” (written by Nilsen and Mårtensson). The full length, original version of the song is included on the new album so no worries – we can enjoy it whenever we want!

In terms of sound, AMMUNITION can definitely impress with massive hooks, splendid melodies and just the right amount of roughness needed to complete a perfect, modern-day rock band. Let’s dive into the album. 

The Self-Titled Album

Tons of tons of spirit and body/mind-moving energy is coming out of this album. You start playing it and you don’t even realize when the surroundings have turned into a huge arena and you are in the middle of a mind-blowing concert, your hands are up in the air and you’re dancing your ass off! I’ve always appreciated albums which have the ability to transfer you to another, much more desirable reality. “Ammunition” is most certainly an album that can do that, right from the very beginning. It’s not just the massive hooks and the presence of sing-along rock anthems and guitars that synchronize with your entire existence – it’s the striking, highly uplifting personality of the members who obviously knew how to put their excitement into notes and craft this album.

Let’s talk about songs!

“Freedom Fighter” is an absolute favorite of mine and the reason why this album turned into a January highlight for me. Looking for a song to play as loud as possible after a tiring day at work? Look no more, this is the song for you. With those riffs, laid-back vibe and casual yet captivating vocals, you just can’t have it any other way. “Eye for an Eye” starts quite promising and progresses into a gorgeous battle anthem, fueled with emotions, courtesy of vocalist Age Sten Nilsen. “Miss Summertime” is another immensely subjective climax on “Ammunition” but I can justify my claim by saying that it’s not just a song – it’s a beach bonfire that can warm you up on a cold January night. The following song, “Bad Bones” brings you back to reality with a strong hard rock slap. To me, it’s one of the most dynamic and heavy-pounding songs of the album; the placement is quite on point too. The album wraps things up the same way it opens them. “Klondike” is a signature Ammunition song, keeping that comfortable and exceptionally charismatic vibe of the band that turned them into quite the sensation in Norway.

Final verdict: “Ammunition” is full of life, character and captivating energy! It has it all – ballads, mid-tempo rockers and hard-rocking tracks that totally deserve to be played and enjoyed at a live concert. The album opens a bright new chapter in the book of melodic rock, where new important future characters are introduced. Yes, those are the guys from Ammunition so pay close attention to them!

Enjoy the tracks now~

“Freedom Finder”

“Gung Ho (I Told You So)”


TRACKLIST:

 
1. Time
2. Freedom Finder
3. Virtual Reality Boy
4. Guns Ho (I Told You So)
5. Eye for an Eye
6. Tear Your City Down
7. Caveman
8. Wrecking Crew
9. Miss Summertime
10. Bad Bones
11. Klondike
 
BAND MEMBERS: 
 
Erik Martensson – guitars, bass, programming, keys, backing vocals
Victor Cito Borge – bass
Jon Pettersen – guitars
Lasse Finbrathen – keyboards
Age Sten Nilsen – lead and backing vocals
Magnus Ulfstedt – drums
 
Follow AMMUNITION on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/ammunitionofficial/

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~

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

jeff scott soto

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

la guns

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

prideoflionsalbum9

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

ingl 2 cover

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

kee of hearts

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 

sons of apollo

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

RIVERDOGS CALIFORNIA BIG

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

bonfire1

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!

DReP5JSX4AAs2V3


 

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

europe

Lynch Mob – The Brotherhood

lynch mob

Revolution Saints – Light in the Dark

Revolution Saints Cover - Frontiers

Warrant – Louder, Harder and Faster

Warrant - Louder Harder Faster (2017)

Thunder – Rip it Up

rip-it-up-thunder

Pink Cream 69 – Headstrong

pink cream 69

Bigfoot – Bigfoot

bigfoot bigfoot album

Steelheart – Through Worlds of Stardust

steelheart cover - frontiers

Pretty Boy Floyd – Public Enemies

pretty boy floyd public enemies

Sweet & Lynch – Unified

sweet and lynch

Tokyo Motor First – Tokyo Motor First

tokyo motor first

Lionville – A World of Fools

lionville a world of fools


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!

Introducing Marc Vanderberg’s New Album “Highway Demon”

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

These days we are witnessing a drastic boom in rock albums releases and I must say, as you dive into the endless stream of new music we receive each day, it gets very easy to unintentionally miss something that might be truly valuable and of high-quality. That was the case with me and this album, but thankfully one way or another, it found its way to me and I’m very excited to share some of its highlights to my readers and hopefully, introduce it to new fans out there, looking for something edgy and guitar-driven.

“Highway Demon”

German hard rock guitarist Marc Vanderberg released his sophomore album, titled “Highway Demon” this September 7, via darkSIGN Records. The record contains nine songs and wraps things up accordingly with an instrumental. Not only is the record label, production and atmosphere of the new album pointed to a new career direction for the guitarist, but he also takes in the talented Brazilian vocalist Raphael Gazal to put some serious metal vibes into the whole picture.

“While I still had to find my style on my first album, you can clearly hear on the second album that I found it and developed myself as a songwriter and guitarist. From my point of view, the sounds and the songwriting remind more of the classic hard rock legends like Alcatrazz, Yngwie Malmsteen or Europe with always catchy choruses. So the new album combines catchy choruses with tricky guitar solos and rocking rhythms. On top of that, I have found a new singer, who transforms the songs with his Michael Vescera-like voice into metal anthems”, says Vanderberg

So far so good now let’s talk music!

MARC VANDERBERG FRONT CD LAYOUTThe opening title track hits you like a hammer – a promising solid beginning with a classic rock sound and thunderous guitars, telling you enough about the skills of guitarist Marc Vanderberg. On songs like “Blue Eyes” you can trace the influences of guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen but there’s a more colorful feel, particularly coming from the fierce vocal delivery of Raphael Gazal. “The Last Battle” might be one of my personal favorites – you can’t but fall in love with the brooding guitars, demonstrating Marc’s technicality and effortless finesse when it comes to tearing up those strings. Pay attention to the lyrics – that’s what caught my attention upon first listen. The gentle “How Do You Feel” is exactly what the softies out there (like myself) need right now; mesmerizing piano melody and soul-soothing clear vocals, turning the song into the perfect ballad experience. What comes next is equally obliterating. I particularly enjoyed “You’re Like Poison” mostly because it possesses that catchy 80s hard rock vibe. “Total Eclipse” is the spectacular ending of what seems to me was an “over-way-too-soon” album. Bold killer riffs with a smooth mid-section, leaving us craving for more and more.

Final verdict: “Highway Demon” is for the guitar heroes out there who appreciate speed and technicality and are looking for something fresh, yet still preserving the classic rock atmosphere that has kept our spirits up for the last 30+ years. I highly recommend “Highway Demon” and urge you to explore it; it definitely has the potential to motivate you to pick up your guitar and try out something new.

“How Do You Feel”

“The Last Battle”

“You’re Like a Poison”

 

Tracklist:

  1. Highway Demon
  2. Blue Eyes
  3. Bad Paradise
  4. The Last Battle
  5. How do you Feel
  6. Indispensible
  7. You´re like Poison
  8. When I turn the Key
  9. Final Chapter
  10. Total Eclipse (Instrumental)

 


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.

BONFIRE – “Byte The Bullet” Album Review

German rockers BONFIRE are back 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, replacing David Reece. Bonfire’s previous album “Glorious” (2015) was a phenomenal hard rock tornado and David was surely a great fit for the band; however things once again turned upside down for Bonfire as they were left with no lead singer. Frequent lineup changes and turbulent periods are part of any rock band’s history, so no surprises there. What’s in the past, however, stays in the past. It was time to look forward to the future and there’s no better way to do it than hire a fantastic new singer and focus on creating something as impressive as “Byte the Bullet”.

Bonfire_Byte_the_bullet

The 7-minute opening track, “Power Train” is setting up the mood with its long, quite mysterious intro. Alexx’ staggering vocals, which by the way can’t be a better match for the band’s sound, are captivating us right from the beginning. You thought the first tune was mind-blowing? Wait till you hear what comes next! “Stand Up 4 Rock” is one of the most empowering rockers I’ve heard this year so far. “Praying 4 A Miracle”, “Byte the Bullet”, “Reach for the Sky” – just a few of the other crunchy, melodic metal forces that just beg to be played live. Jethro Tull’s classic “Locomotive Breath” is a lengthy, immensely spirited rock statement, featuring an intriguing piano intro and out-of-this-world guitar work. They surely did justice to it, though nothing can beat the original, at least in my humble opinion. “Sweet Surrender” grabbed my attention right from the very first listen and quickly turned into a personal favorite. To me this tune represents the best of both worlds – it has a sensual, romantic side, perfectly incorporated in those mind-blowing heavy metal rhythms. “Lonely Nights” is the ballad of the year – it breaks my heart every time I play it but I always allow it; when a song affects your emotions that much, you understand that there’s indeed something real right here and the music is worth it.

You may guess what my final verdict might be – “Byte The Bullet” is a strong release, worthy of every second of your time you’ll spend on it! Those 14 tracks (excluding that crazy 50-second German recording “Friedensreich”) are bringing so much to the table. 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, this album might be the best pick for you! Enjoy it!

Released: March 24, 2017
Genre: Hard Rock / Heavy Metal / Melodic Metal
Label: UDR Music

Tracklist:

Power Train
Stand UP 4 Rock
Praying 4 a Miracle
Some Kinda Evil
Lonely Nights
Byte the Bullet
Locomotive Breath (Jethro Tull Cover)
Reach for the Sky
Sweet Surrender
Friedensreich
InstruMetal
Too Far From Heaven
Without You
Sweet Obsession

buy-from-amazon

“Power Train”

“Praying 4 A Miracle”

“Locomotive Breath”

“Sweet Obsession”

“Lonely Nights”


References:
Bonfire Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonfire_(band)
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~

NIGHT RANGER – “Don’t Let Up” Album Review

One of the most anticipated releases of 2017 is finally here. The house of old-school rock, a.k.a Frontiers Music, is once again behind the comeback of yet another household name with a long and prolific 35-year-old career, spawning some of rock’s biggest classics, including “Sister Christian”, “Goodbye”, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” and “When You Close Your Eyes”. Yes, I’m talking about Night Ranger, of course – the renowned San Franciscan arena rockers, who sold over 17 million albums worldwide and held over 3,000 concerts! Needless to say, those numbers speak for themselves!

Night Ranger reached for the stars in the ‘80s and the results were both solid and lasting. The guys called it quits in 1989, however American and especially Japanese audiences wanted their rangers back! Here we are now, 12 albums later, still going as strong as ever, introducing the genre to whole new generations and adding more and more fans to the ever-growing worldwide fanbase! Night Ranger are back with a refreshing 12th album, featuring original members Jack Blades, Kelly Keagy and Brad Gillis, together with keyboardist Eric Levy and guitarist Keri Kelli. “Don’t Let Up” is exciting, positive and all in all, the perfect album to welcome the new spring season of 2017! Night Ranger are way beyond that “nostalgia act” label they are often given. To me, “Don’t Let Up” is an unquestionable proof that the guys are still relevant and they have yet many songs to write and many musical mountains to conquer before the world decides to forget them.

dont let up night ranger 1

The best thing about “Don’t Let Up” is the natural flow of the tracklist – songs seem to be pleasantly connected and each is building up the mood and adding more to that stimulating, thirst-quenching melodic rock aura of the album. At first listen it might be difficult to point out a stand-out song because they all seem quite similar. Still, the opening tune, “Somehow Someway”, along with “Truth” and the title track, “Don’t Let Up” clearly seem to be getting all the thumbs up. The responses on YouTube are clear – fans (me as well) love these encouraging rockers and are ready to hear the rest of it! “Nothing Left of Yesterday” is Night Ranger’s fine attempt at a modern-style power-ballad. “Running Out of Time” is a personal favorite – those catchy, captivating riffs and thunderous drums are making all the difference. Cheers to Jack Blades whose cheerful but powerful vocals made me want to sing and dance in the middle of my living room!

The rest of the album is as good as the songs I chose to mention and definitely worth your time and money! The artwork of “Don’t Let Up” sums it up quite well – every song, featured on the playlist is an exciting race between each musician’s distinctive talents! I was thrilled and had a great time while listening to “Don’t Let Up”. I guarantee you will have a similar experience! Enjoy!

Released: March 24, 2017
Genre: Hard Rock
Label: Frontiers Music

Duration: 50:25

Tracklist:

Somehow Someday
Running Out of Time
Truth
Day and Night
Don’t Let Up
(Won’t Be Your) Fool Again
Say What You Want
We Can Work it Out
Comfort Me
Jamie
Nothing Left of Yesterday
We Can Work It Out (Acoustic Version)

buy-from-amazon

“Truth”

“Comfort Me”

“Somehow Someday”

“Don’t Let Up”

“Day and Night”


References:
“Night Ranger’s Don’t Let Up”: http://www.frontiers.it/album/5359
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~

ATLANTIC’s 1994 “POWER” – A Rare Hard Rock Gem Released Way Too Late

The strong ‘80s hard rock influence could still be felt during the first couple of years of the ‘90s. I often say that 1992 might be the last good year of hard rock music, before grunge stole the time and affection of every little or big media outlet out there. Surprisingly, however, despite the grunge wave that flooded the early ‘90s, good AOR/hard rock releases kept on appearing here and there. If you were a big name in the ‘80s and had a loyal fanbase, you still had the chance to survive the grunge apocalypse; however, throwing a coming out party after 1992 was an absolute suicidal mission. Nevertheless, a few months back I discovered this rare melodic hard rock gem which totally knocked my socks off! At first I thought it was released sometime in the ‘80s – probably the second half of the decade. Then, I saw the year – 1994 and I was both shocked and angry; shocked, because it sounded from another time and angry because it was too good to be out at a time when no one could appreciate its true value! Nevertheless, I am happy that Atlantic’s “Power” found its way to me and introduced me to the instant-favorites, like “Power Over Me”, “Can’t Hold On” and “When The War is Over”.

atlantic1

atlantic power coverIgnoring the provocative and rather unappealing (at least to me) album cover, “Power” has a lot to offer to any fan out there, looking to quench his melodic rock thirst. The British rockers crafted something not so unusual but highly satisfying and definitely worth your time. Led by vocalist and songwriter Phil Bates, who has a long and quite versatile music career, Atlantic hit the AOR market in 1994 with “Power” which unfortunately (though quite predictably) turned out to be their first and last album. Phil went on to do bigger things, including recording songs for famous TV shows and becoming the lead singer of ELO Part II – a spin-off band, formed by Electric Light Orchestra drummer and co-founder Bev Bevan.

Let’s talk a little bit about the highlights of “Power”. Where do I even begin? “It’s Only Love”, “Power Over Me”, “When The War is Over”, “Every Beat of My Heart”, “Can’t Hold On”, “Bad Blood” (and I may as well just write down the entire tracklist) – all showcasing solid AOR power and nothing but talent. I’m a sucker for a good hard rock hook; to me it’s all about the melody and this album right here was made for people like me. “Nothing to Lose” has to be one of my favorite moments from “Power”. Songs like this one put the “power” in a “power ballad”. If only this tune was released as a single during a more suitable time period, I bet it was going to be an absolute radio-sensation. The most famous track to come out of Atlantic‘s debut record has to be “Can’t Hold On” and we shouldn’t be surprised cause it’s the epitome of AOR – synthesizer hooks, melodic riffs, solid-rock sound and of course, a splendid vocal delivery to complete the entire picture!

Final verdict: Enjoy it as much as you can because they don’t make them like this anymore. “Power” is the PERFECT example of a well-made melodic rock record and it’s such a pity that people don’t really remember or listen to it nowadays. It’s not full of timeless classics but it’s full of great mood and impeccable talent! Take a moment of your time to listen to this unfortunate and underrated rock album from start to finish – it might find your next favorite old-school tune somewhere in there, just like I did.


“Power Over Me”

“When The War is Over”

“Can’t Hold On”

I highly recommend you guys listen to the entire album from start to finish:

Release Date: 1994
Genre: AOR / Pop Rock / Hard Rock
Label: Escape Music
Producer(s): Simon Jewel-Harrison & Paul Hoare

Tracklist:

01. Can’t Hold On
02. Every Beat of my Heart
03. Power Over Me
04. When the War is Over
05. Nothing To Lose
06. It’s Only Love
07. Bad Blood
08. Hands of Fate
09. Dangerous Games
10. Hard To Believe
11. Heart’s on Fire (Bonus Track)

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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~

HARDLINE’s “DOUBLE ECLIPSE” – An Album Worth Discovering

I’ve talked about that magical year of 1992 before in my “16 Reasons Why 1992 Rocked Pretty Hard!” article and it’s time to talk about it yet again!

The times, they were changing; the ‘80s were long gone and with them the good old ways of rock&roll. Grunge was occupying all the attention of major music media outlets and labels and people were shifting their musical preferences from heavier hard rock to softer alternative rock. Nevertheless, the strong heavy metal thunder could still be heard during the first couple of years of the new decade. From solid comebacks to refreshing debuts, the early ‘90s offered a wide range of intriguing rock music events before it all died out by mid-decade.

This time I would like to focus on a band that formed in 1991 and debuted in 1992 with what I consider as one of the most exciting albums of that year. I’m talking about Hardline and their coming out party, titled “Double Eclipse”.

Brothers Johnny Gioeli and Joey Gioeli joined forces with none other than Bad English and Journey’s Neil Schon, along with bass guitarist Todd Jensen and drummer Deen Castronovo. All together, they attacked the music scene with a highly satisfying, though overlooked, glam rock record, possessing every little detail needed to captivate the hearts of any heavy metal fan out there.  

From a fan’s point of view I can only say two things about this album. First of all, the inclusion of Neil Schon in the picture shouldn’t scare you at all – there’s no trace of that sweet, tender, quite melodic Journey or Bad English vibe on “Double Eclipse”. It’s a ferocious rock release, with a lot more edge and tons of character. Needless to say if you are a fan of ‘80s hard rock, you most certainly can’t go wrong with “Double Eclipse” – it’s the exact thing you need to complete your collection! Second of all, once in your life you might come across an album which is worthy of occupying almost an hour of your life. “Double Eclipse” is one of those rare gems with no fillers and no boredom – every song is a potential favorite and guarantees a good time!

Speaking of songs, let’s talk a little bit about the playlist. We have our radio staples – the catchy, energetic “Takin’ Me Down”, the lovely ballad “Can’t Find My Way” and of course Hardline’s version of Danny Spanos“Hot Cherrie” which actually scored a top 30 chart position in 1992. The solid opener and a personal favorite, “Life’s a Bitch” turned into one of my theme songs. The lyrics are on point and don’t even get me started on those mind-blowing guitars. “Rhythm From A Red Car” is yet another hair-raising surprise that guarantees a splendid time! The mid-tempo, “Love Leads The Way” and the guitar-driven ballad “Change of Heart” are just a couple of the other valuable assets, characterizing “Double Eclipse”.

Final verdict: “Double Eclipse” by Hardline is an album worth discovering and adding to your AOR/Hard Rock collection. Too bad Neil Schon didn’t stick around much with those talented guys and went on to pursue other projects. Don’t think twice – crank it up and enjoy it!

Takin’ Me Down

Life’s a Bitch

Can’t Find My Way

Hot Cherie


Release Date: April 28, 1992
Genre: AOR / Hard Rock

Duration: 56:53
Label: MCA
Producer(s): Neal Schon

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 References:
“Double Eclipse” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Eclipse
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~

The Story of XYZ’s Self-Titled 1989 Debut Album

I’ve said it before and I will say it again – 1989 was one of the greatest, most prolific years when it comes to hard rock and this album right here is yet another fine example, backing up my statement. We witnessed some great rock debuts during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s – XYZ, Giant, Danger Danger, Slaughter, Heavens Edge, Firehouse and so many countless others; and I never understood why all of a sudden every major music media outlet and label turned their back on those immensely talented musicians in favor of the grunge wave…Anyhow, what’s in the past is in the past. All we can do right now is to keep on discovering music that is worth discovering and appreciate talent when we see/hear it! That’s the reason why I wanted to talk about one of the forgotten but deserving late-‘80s-bands – XYZ and specifically their self-titled debut album.  Not only it showcases an excellent playlist of feel-good rockers but it’s a great collection piece for all hard rock fans out there who love to recall the good old days!

don dokken1I discovered XYZ rather recently, as I was taking one of my routine walks on the endless paths of old-school hard rock. There was something highly captivating about their sound which puzzled me as I rarely have this instant connection. I fell for the album, without knowing the reason why it felt so cozy and so familiar. Later on I discovered the reason why I was so easily hooked up… Their debut was produced by none other than Don Dokken!  I am a huge Don Dokken fan and this should come as no surprise, especially to the people who follow my postings. Of course, everyone knows who Don Dokken is and is well-aware of all the beautiful things he did as a frontman and co-songwriter of the hard rock band, Dokken. If you love Dokken as much as I do, there is no way you won’t fall for XYZ and that first album of theirs!

By the time XYZ’s debut album was released, Dokken had already split due to the turbulent relationship between Don Dokken and George Lynch. Before Don wrapped things up with his first solo album “Up from the Ashes” (1990), he jumped in as the skillful producer of the French-American band, XYZ’s coming-out party. Unfortunately, the household name Don Dokken printed on the back of the album under “produced by” didn’t really help that much. XYZ’s debut album barely got into the Billboard charts, under #99.

Despite the moderate success, three singles and two music videos were released. The MVs for “Inside Out” and “What Keeps Me Loving You” got a little bit of that MTV spotlight. The third single, “Maggy” didn’t get a MV, however found its way to the big screen, as a soundtrack piece for the 1990 Dolph Lundgren movie, “Come in Peace”.

xyzAll in all, “XYZ” is an album that can easily blow out any other hard rock album of that era, even the multi-platinum ones. It’s such a shame when talent remains behind the shadows due to unreasonable circumstances. The four guys – Terry Ilous (vocals), Marc Richard Diglio (guitar), Paul Monroe (drums) and Patrick Fontaine (bass) crafted a steady piece of rock music that is suitable for any music-fanatic out there who is ready to have a great time! Don Dokken’s producer touch could easily be felt as we proceed from one song to another. Yes, the album does sound like a little bit like Dokken, but the sound is rougher, edgier and possesses that young and hungry spirit.

Where do I even begin? “Inside Out” is a satisfying rock masterpiece which can only be enjoyed if played as loud as possible. Glorious guitar work and don’t even get me started on the vocals – Terry is simply fantastic! “What Keeps Me Loving You” is the turning point – a power ballad ready to knock your socks off with its soul-grabbing melody and tender lyrics! “Take What You Can” impresses with its mind-blowing, thunderous guitar intro, which introduces us to a world, dominated by Terry Ilous’ violent screams. “Follow the Night” is yet another praiseworthy ballad I grew an attachment to. The second half of the album is as intriguing as the first – “Come On N’ Love Me”, “Souvenirs” and “After the Rain” are all offering one memorable sonic experience! The strong power ballad presence on the album makes things so interesting for me!

Final verdict: XYZ is another underrated killer band with a superb debut album that should’ve been way bigger! Tons of talent and full of character – I can’t recommend it enough!

Inside Out

What Keeps Me Loving You

Take What You Can

…or you can listen to the entire album here:

Release Date: October 17, 1989
Genre: AOR / Hard Rock

Duration: 41:12
Label: Enigma Records
Producer(s): Don Dokken

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References:

XYZ (album) Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XYZ_(XYZ_album)
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~

Inside the 1989 Debut of John Sykes’ BLUE MURDER

It was only right to send off a decade full of splendid solid gold rock music with a bang. So many fascinating things happened during the last year of the ‘80s and Blue Murder’s debut album was definitely one of the musical highlights (at least to me). After all, what else can you expect from master guitarist and songwriter John Sykes if not the best?

One of my favorite things to discuss when it comes to old-school rock is the huge pile of underrated artists and bands that deserved way more than they actually got. I often talk about Blue Murder and John Sykes because the band and the album should’ve taken over the world. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, they didn’t.

John Sykes proved that he is a worthy monster guitarist as a member of household names such as Tygers of Pan Tang and Thin Lizzy. What followed next was a career-defining move which secured him a pretty solid position on the popular hard rock movement during the second half of the ‘80s. David Coverdale took John Sykes in after the release of Slide It In in 1984. After a couple of recording sessions and a successful tour in support of the album, John Sykes was already in line for “the next best guitarist in town” crown. Whitesnake kept momentum with what is often considered as one of the most Whitesnake Whitesnakeenormous hard rock records of all time. Yes, of course I’m talking about that influential 1987 album that spawned timeless hit singles like “Here I go again”, “Still of the Night” and “Is This Love”, known by every single soul on this universe. If you thought that these monstrous songs were crafted all by David Coverdale himself, you are greatly mistaken. John Sykes co-wrote the majority of tracks, recorded the killer guitars and even did some back up vocal work here and there. Unfortunately, sometimes partnerships in life don’t last as much as we want them to. Personalities often clash and this is exactly what happened in the case of John vs. David. I won’t be getting into details because that’s not the main focus of this publication. All in all, they both went their separate ways, even though the magic they did sold over 8 million copies in the USA alone.

It was time to move on and most importantly, entirely devote to making great music once again. Geffen Records also lend a helping hand, singing Sykes to a new great deal. You can’t just let go of someone so immensely talented, right? He quickly recruited Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine Appice and The Firm bassist Tony Franklin and the line-up was all set and done, ready to make the next big album! That’s how Blue Murder was formed in 1988.

In April, 1989, Blue Murder’s self-titled debut album was released to the public. It’s a pity that the record couldn’t generate a big fuss, however the brilliant guitar work showcased on this album did influence generations of musicians, making it important on a whole different level. “Blue Murder” possessed all the right ingredients to become the biggest release of 1989, including out-of-this-world guitar solos, intriguing song themes and spellbinding hard rock melodies. Of course, most of the tunes were written by John Sykes himself, however the team spirit and great collaboration between the members of the supergroup is quite obvious. Under the skillful leadership of John Sykes, each could bring something great to the table. Moreover, Blue Murder recruited legendary producer Bob Rock who worked with Kingdome Come, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Bryan Adams, Motley Crue and many other big industry names. The 1989 debut album turned into one of the highlights of the huge pile of profitable melodic, yet ferocious hard rock releases he produced.

The Songs

The albums that are hard to explain with words are usually the ones that are that good. The powerful magical guitar world opens up with the earth-shattering, throat-grabbing “Riot” which in my book is one of the best opening tracks of all time. Other songs of similar nature include “Blue Murder” and “Black-Hearted Woman” which deserve nothing but to be played as loud as possible. Heavy guitar riffing, killer rhythm sections and hypnotizing vocal delivery are just some of the reasons why your socks might get knocked off just after the first time you play them. The epic 8-minute “Valley of the Kings” is my personal favorite and arguably the greatest moment on the record. From the enchanting intro, followed by John’s mighty screams, to the ecstatic lengthy guitar solos, “Valley of the Kings” is one of those songs you can play for days. The power ballad “Out of Love” is as breath-taking as any other power ballad that hit the big numbers in 1989 but unfortunately couldn’t make a splash. Never understood why so few people actually appreciate and remember this passionate heart-breaking tune when in fact is one of the best among all power ballads of the decade. “Jelly Roll” is an interesting song, brightened with a little blues feel that makes all the difference in the world.   

Every track on “Blue Murder” is infectiously good! The album captures hearts with  impeccable musicianship and satisfying variety, ranging from electrifying hard rock, to stunning blues-influenced rhythms. Valuable and well-crafted albums like this one are hard to spot so in case you are one of the many people out there who still haven’t discovered the greatness of “Blue Murder”, now is the time to do it!

John Sykes is a genius and a guitar virtuoso and he deserves nothing but respect and adoration! Enjoy the songs!


Riot

Valley of the Kings

Out of Love

Jelly Roll


References:
“Blue Murder” (Album) Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Murder_(album)
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~

’90S ROCK BLAST: SLAUGHTER – Stick It To Ya

slaughter-stick-it-to-ya

Released: January 27, 1990
Genre: Glam Metal / Hard Rock
Duration: 49:02
Label: Capitol
Producer(s):
Dana Strum, Mark Slaughter

slaughter-stick-it-to-ya-3

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OVERVIEW

What an explosive start of a new decade! American hard rock band Slaughter debuted in January 1990 with what quickly turned into one of the best-selling and most beloved albums of the year. “Stick It To Ya” was like a much needed slap in the face – the audience was waiting for someone to come and finally wake them up! The ride, unfortunately, didn’t last that long. Slaughter became one of the last glam rock bands to enjoy a significant amount of success before that grunge wave wiped them all, together with other talented acts, such as Winger, Danger Danger, Giant and many more. Nevertheless, thankfully, they still managed to leave this beautiful piece of hard rock music behind and now, 27 years later, classics like “Fly to the Angels”, “Spend My Life”, “Up All Night” and “Eye to Eye” are still relevant and deeply appreciated by any rock fan out there.

Vocalist/rhythm guitarist Mark Slaughter and bassist Dana Strum are the ones that deserve a standing ovation for what they showcased on “Stick it To Ya”. It’s such a rare selection of ear-shattering, soul-scratching, mind-blowing rockers – you jump from one track to another and you don’t even know what the hell is going on! All of a sudden your temperature goes up and you want to go do something wild! I gotta say, not many albums provoke such a strong physical reaction; it’s like my body is a volcano ready to erupt! “Eye to Eye” and “Burnin’ Bridges” are like a shot of adrenaline. Mark Slaughter is a one of a kind vocalist and he just knows how to trigger that hidden rebel spirit of yours with his rough, high-pitched voice. “Fly to the Angels” – one of the most beautiful ballads of all time and a #1 hit, is also among the main reasons why this album is such a treasure. There’s no way you will ever forget the touching melody or cruching lyrics of that song. “She Wants More” and “That’s Not Enough” are just a couple of the other standout sexy tunes, all set and done to knock your socks off. “You Are the One” is a personal favorite – a mid-tempo, romantic tune, perfect for any softie out there (like me).

Nothing more to say about “Stick It To Ya”, except – CRANK IT UP and enjoy it to the max! Slaughter became one of the best early-90s hard rock bands and I’m glad they came to the scene, though it was too little too late. Travel back to 1990 and experience Slaughter’s best effort so far (in my opinion). It absolutely deserves any second you will devote to it!


Up All Night

Fly to the Angels

Spend My Life

Mad About You


References:
“Stick It To Ya” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stick_It_to_Ya
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~