Review: Flotsam And Jetsam – The End Of Chaos

AFM Records (January 18th 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

In many ways Flotsam and Jetsam are not only one of the heavyweights of the Thrash Metal, a band during 90’s for me far ahead of their time but also one that has so often been underrated in the genre. Something that has perhaps become quite a common thread in reviews I write, but something that could again hold back an album like this is the current need for immediacy in music, and perhaps to a certain extent the older generation that see’s their free time reduced and therefore the ability to sit and properly listen to music is no longer there, this again is an album you need to live with a bit.

What we have grown to expect from this band is a more mature often melodic style of Thrash, well written songs and it’s always most importantly tight as hell and Metal. The band have always had one of the more original sounding vocalists in Erik A.K, and that is still true today. To have existed as a band for 38 years is no easy feat in itself, and there has been a fair share of ups and downs, but to continue to make albums of this quality is a great sign of the hard work they continue to put in. Having listened to the album a lot over the last few weeks it just continues to grow on me, the songs stay fresh and I haven’t wanted to put it down, it’s on constant rotation as I travel around the City and that is never a bad sign.

Of the eleven tracks on offer here you will be grabbed by the power of ‘Control‘ which is just class, everything in proportion, pounding drums, screaming guitars and a layering that just drives it all home, there’s a nice anger in Erik’s vocal delivery on this one too that fits perfectly to the tune. Alongside this we’ve got other highlights including ‘Demolition Man‘ which a really nice bass line, spitting guitars, it’s another no holds barred track and ‘Unwelcome Surprise‘ which just smashes you right in the face and keeps going, pacey, crunchy goodness. Going to be really interesting what they pick from this album to their live set as there are many options.

This is another excellent release from a band that never really went away but appear to have become totally reinvigorated in recent years, there’s power, control and just some really excellent tracks that have translated brilliantly in the live environment. F&J will be hitting the UK in March with Overkill and again in July for the Amplified Festival. Do yourself a favour and get this one, if you are a fan of Thrash, heavy music or just good music, this is one that is sure to satisfy a lot more than just old school fans. Top stuff from a band all too often referred to as the one Jason Newsted left to go to Metallica, they have continued to be relevant in a scene where so many of their peers lost the creative spark many years ago. 2019 sees a band with a great lineup that seems to be working so well together, creatively and live, plenty more to come from this band.

Review: Meridian – Margin Of Error

Mighty Music (March 22nd 2019)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Meridian, the Danish melodic metal band, return with a brand new album ‘Margin Of Error‘, comprising of eleven tracks, four of which I’m more than familiar with as they were on the band’s EP ‘The Fate of Atlantis‘ released last year.

Having heard that the four tracks would be on a full album I kind of knew what to expect. Or so I thought….’Margin Of Error‘ just takes everything up several notches, giving us a fully emersive album which I have not stopped playing.

Guitarists Martin J. Anderson and Marco Angioni have both been busy with their involvement with hard rock band REƎCE, helmed by vocalist David Reece, resulting in the album ‘Resilient Heart‘ which was in my top ten releases from last year Hence the two year gap since the last Meridian album ‘Breaking The Surface‘.

To bring up something I mutter often, if the vocals don’t suit me then the album won’t light my dials. But in singer Lars Märker, the band have an absolute star, whose vocal talants are superb. I have long shouted about the talents of Martin J. Anderson, from when I first heard him in his other band Blindstone, a seriously underated guitarist. Not to say Marco is lacking in talent, hell no!. Peter Bruun – bass, and Klaus Agerbo – drums supply that pounding, controlled soundtrack that punches you squarely in the gut.

With eleven terrific tracks, ranging from the pounding opener ‘The Devil Inside Us All‘, the hard rock feel of ‘The Fate Of Atlantis‘, a track which wouldn’t be out of place on an Eden’s Curse album, to the Iron Maiden like ‘Scream For Me‘, this album will appeal to a wide range of rock fans.

I know it’s only January, but ‘Margin Of Error‘ is already looking like a worthy contender for a favoirte release of 2019.

Verdict……..order it now!

Review: Lugnet – Nightwalker

Pride & Joy Music (Jan 25th 2019)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Lugnet are set to release their second album in January, three years after their self titled debut. To say I’ve played that debut to death wouldn’t be overstating how much I love it, so I for one was looking forward to getting my mitts on ‘Nightwalker‘. There’s been one major change since the debut, with Jaded Heart‘s Johan Fahlberg taking over on vocals. Now I’m very familiar with Johan’s singing, but there’s still that element of will this work?

Rest easy, it works a treat! Johan slots in perfectly, his style nicely slotting into Lugnet‘s unashamed 70’s hard rock as does the other new boy, guitarist Matti Norlin, whose tone and vibe help bring it all together.

Two of the album’s tracks I’d already heard rather a lot after the release earlier in the year of ‘Begging‘ comprising both ‘Begging‘ and ‘Cockroach‘ so they were a nice taster of what was to come.

One stand out track for me is ‘Death Laughs At You‘, the opening riffs could be straight off a Black Sabbath album, with elements Of Pink Floyd‘s ‘Sheep‘ all with a distinctive Lugnet slant. It absolutely nails your full concentration!

Although the album is ‘only’ eight tracks, you get your monies worth having two songs just under seven minutes and one almost eight minutes long.

This album is a grower in every sense, I hear more little nuances and details on every listen and my enjoyment for it has increased every play.

If your already a Lugnet fan, then rejoice as your about to be handsomely rewarded. Not a fan yet? You will be after listening to this, and then you can go and increase your enjoyment by visiting their debut!

 

Review: Collateral EP Launch – Leo’s The Red Lion Nov 24th 2018

Reviewer: Dan Mann

This was Collateral‘s third visit to the legendary Leo’s The Red Lion venue, having first rocked the stage opening for last year’s Fibrofest and again as openers for Bad Touch as part of Rock The Red Lion earlier this year.

However, this time they were the headliners, for this was the launch of the band’s EP ‘4 Shots!‘ (review here).

Before Collateral we had the support of two bands. Openers Twisted Illusion had travelled all the way from Manchester for their short set.

A band I was not familiar with, but I’ve got to say what a great performance, with helpings of Rush, linked with traditional hard rock and the vocal pipes of front man Matt Jones hitting some pretty high notes.

They had a great reaction from the crowd, in fact I had to join a long queue to purchase a CD, of which they swiftly sold out. Always a good indication of how well a band is received!

Next up a band I know a lot of people were looking forward to seeing, Dead Man’s Whiskey.

Unfortunately vocalist Nico Rogers didn’t endear himself to the crowd with an expletive riddled introduction, and the band took some time to get the crowd back on side.

Once back onside the crowd soon started rocking along with the band, helped enormously by lead guitarist Billy Kons who was the ‘star’ of the band’s performance.

Personally I preferred the openers, but maybe I was seeing Dead Man’s Whiskey on the wrong occasion and will need to see them again.

And so onto the main course.

With an audiovisual intro, beamed onto a screen behind the band, that really helped set the scene, the band exploded into action! Yes I’m absolutely biased when it comes to Collateral, a band I’m delighted to see now get the praise and exposure they justly deserve. While the crowd were mainly Collateral affectionados, the band certainly soon made the remainder fans too.

We were treated to a mixture of tracks, some from the band’s previous incarnation as The Angelo Tristan Band, some covers including their great renditions of Neil Young’s ‘Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World‘ and Bon Jovi’s ‘You Give Love A Bad Name‘.

The biggest reaction from the crowd was for the single ‘Midnight Queen‘, with some enthusiastic singing along, mind you the crowd sang along with virtually every song the band played!

Guitarist Todd Winger is certainly an axeman to watch out for, a rising star I have no doubt. Drummer Ben Atkinson and bassist Jack Bently Smith creating a formidable ‘engine room’ and in Angelo Tristan, a true front man.

All in all a very successful and enjoyable evening was had by all. Onward & upwards!

Full photo set available here

All photos copy write© and cannot be altered or amended.

Review: Frontline – The State Of Rock

AOR Heaven (April 2018)

Reviewer: Grant Foster

Originally released in 1994 (jeez, that makes me feel old!), this re-release/remastering/getting it back out there, comes complete with two bonus tracks that were only available previously on the Japanese release of this album.

Frontline hailed from Germany and are definitely of the AOR/Melodic Rock persuasion. Unfortunately, even a remastering job can’t hide the fact that what’s on offer here sounds dated.  It can hardly be described as a ground breaker of an album and you kind of wonder why it was reissued at all? But maybe that’s just the cynic in me, as apparently, these guys were ‘big in Japan.’

There are highlights – ‘Heaven Knows’ has a tough guitar riff and melodic keyboard interplay, strong vocals and a chorus to remember.

An AOR album demands a strong power ballad and ‘Another Love’ is that tune. ‘Heaven Can’t Wait’ is your muscular rock anthem and is upbeat, positive and would of probably have made a good lead track back in the day.

Surprisingly, both bonus tracks also shine. ‘I’m Falling’ has a Nelson type vibe with acoustic guitars and some top backing vocals. ‘Alone’ although very melodic, doesn’t lack bite and has a nice melody line.

Bottom line is, if you love this kind of genre, I’m sure it will be a welcome addition to your collection. Personally,I’d love the band to reform and go and re-record this with more of an organic sound, as it could bring out a lot of the qualities that the original recording and production didn’t highlight.

Now in it’s second year Croydon Rocks took place at the Croydon Conference Centre, a great venue, with good sound and lighting, a very slick and professional crew managing seamless change overs between bands. Plus that essential that is an enthusiastic crowd. Unfortunately we were only able to cover the Saturday but from all accounts Sunday’s proceedings were equally as great.

Promoter, and guitarist for The FiascosRichie Hudson said “We’re slowly building this festival year on year, we’re hoping to fill an even bigger venue next year“.

Review: White Widdow – Victory

AOR Heaven (October 19th 2018)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

White Widdow return with a new album ‘Victory‘ out on the AOR Heaven label and the follow up to 2016’s ‘Silhouette‘, the Aussie melodic rockers are becoming more prolific as the years pass and that’s no bad thing. Brothers Xavier and Jules are once again heading affairs alongside the excellent Enzo who’s guitar work all over this album is up to the usual exemplary standard. With the now super solid backdrop of Ben (bass) and Gavin (drums) we get a unit that works so smoothly together, it’s great to see and hear.

The musical style here is very much AOR/Melodic Rock, and they are damn good at crafting quality classic rock songs, always full of melodies and hooks, and as you’d expect really strong soaring guitar solos and at times really punchy keyboards, just take a listen to ‘America‘ pops right up and attempts to raise your arms in the air.

Having listened to the album a lot over the last few weeks some of my first impressions now seem quite wide of the mark, and that’s something that worries me in the modern age, how many albums get passed on if a song doesn’t immediately bowl you over, living with music in your head and heart for a while is always a good idea, and this is another one worth allowing to sink in.

Of the ten here the highlights are undoubtedly the single ‘Second Hand Heart‘ which is just a cracking song, the title track ‘Victory‘ that opens affairs is another and  magic of ‘Danced In The Moonlight‘ which for me has a bit of a Rick Springfield into, as everywhere else Xavier’s keyboards are such an integral part of the music, and it’s the same with all of the instruments here, everything gets warmly wrapped around each other, and all for the greater good of the sound, this song is just beautiful five minutes and forty seconds of pure class.

Perhaps initially I thought more fast paced tracks in the mix here somewhere would add a little something, but no, the mix is great and this is another really good album from White Widdow, the band are as solid as ever, Jules is sounding great and the songs once again are very well written and put together, there is a maturity covering this one and it should go down well in all corners.  Another one to get stuck into in what seems to be a strong end to a strong year for Melodic Rock.

Review: Collateral – 4 Shots! EP

Roulette Media Records (Nov 23rd 2018)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

I first came across Collateral a while back, forgot I’d liked them on Facebook (I know!) and re-discovered them just in time for them to be the opening act for last year’s Fibrofest. What I’ve witnessed in the time since is a band that has grown from strength to strength. After going through several band member changes, the band have now found an even more impressive footing during their live performances, but also when it comes to their recorded material.

The first song ‘Going with The Wind‘ I’d already listened to plenty of times when Collateral were original called the Angelo Tristan Band. Listening to it on this EP is almost re-discovering it. The production lifts it in terms of depth and soundscape.

Track two, ‘Midnight Queen‘ was the band’s first single, which has already helped garner the band new fans and shows them at a more commercial angle. A very catchy tune indeed.

Angels Crying‘ is another track I know from their previous incarnation and perfectly demonstrates what a fantastic voice Angelo Tristan has. Superb stuff.

And unfortunately we reach the forth and final track. ‘Just Waiting For You‘, again a track I’m already familiar with, shows a maturity of songwriting and is now given that final polish that will help propel the band onward.

Which leaves me with two thoughts….why aren’t Angelo and the boys already household names? And how will I last until next year’s full album?

Collateral will break through I have no doubt. If you don’t believe me then listen to this here EP and catch them live at your earliest opportunity.

 

 

Review: Midnite City –There Goes The Neighbourhood

AOR Heaven (October 19th 2018)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

There is a reality here that I still can’t quite get my head around, Midnite City have only been on the Melodic scene for a little over a year, the debut Album launch took place in Nottingham last October and it was one of the best Melodic Rock releases of 2017, and here we stand 12 months later and they have rapidly built up a very loyal following, this reviewer included, but that’s all down to the quality of the songs released to date. This band are certainly not going to rest on their laurels and album number two is an absolute cracker.

The musical style here is very much melodic hard rock, there’s a massive 80’s feel to it but it also has a modern feel, and just like its predecessor the backing vocals throughout are outstanding, it’s not just that they are there it’s where they are brought in and how good they are that makes the difference. Musically the guys are top notch, fluid beautiful guitar from Miles all the way through, Shawn’s keyboards that enhance the overall sound, such a rock solid backline of Pete (Drums) and Josh (Bass), the band has elevated the great work they produced on the first album and taken it to the next level.

Having listened to the album a lot over the last few weeks it has been difficult to swap to other music on my players, and it still demands more listening. Of the eleven tracks you just get the feeling that they were put together to bring out a different emotion, it’s not all party music, but still pretty upbeat throughout.

Any album you listen to and more tracks push their way to the front of your mind when listening, is one worth holding onto as it’s going to keep getting better and this is one, right now I can’t stop listening to. ‘Heaven’s Falling‘, just wow, what a wonderful song, and in many ways it epitomises this band, Midnite City are not a nostalgic look back on 80’s Hair Metal bands, they are a living beating modern band with a hard rock engine and so much freshness about what they are doing. The closer ‘Until The End‘ is another with a bit of everything in it, ‘Tonight You’re All I Need‘ has also been hitting the spot, love the keyboards, subtle but prominent, love it.

This album grabbed me straight away and hasn’t let go, part of that was because of the first single ‘Give Me Love‘ which really is my favourite song of the year so far, so catchy and full of life, definitely made to be sung at the top of your lungs at a gig, just a cracking song. But it’s not just a couple of stand out tracks here, this is an album you can sit and enjoy listening to in it’s entirety, if you are a melodic rock fan this one should really be right up your street, great balance, production, songs just a wonderful package. The guys have done it again, without a doubt a contender for Melodic Rock Album of the year, for those lucky enough to be attending the Album Launch at the Rockingham Aftershow Party on the 19th, have an amazing time, it’s a brilliant album.