Category Archives: Review

Review: HRH AOR 6 – Day 1

HRH AOR 6 – Day 1 – 08-03-2018

Hafan Y Mor, Pwllheli

Review : Stephen Brophy (SB), Peter Scallan (PS)

Photography : Stephen Brophy 

The beginning of March always means the annual trip to North Wales for the HRH AOR Festival, so an excited Rockposer Dot Com Team begins the pilgrimage from Ireland and Scotland at an ungodly hour on a Thursday morning. Sleep and comfort are pretty irrelevant over a Festival weekend, the important things are the music and the people.

The first night of the Festival is a thank you to the VIP ticket holders and features a shortened lineup and just an evening setup on the Main Arena Stage. This year sees four Artists that are familiar to all, taking up the baton this year – Dante Fox, Newman, Eclipse and the legend that is Joe Lynn Turner.

Dante Fox  (SB)

To open up any Festival can be a daunting enough task and that’s irrelevant of your level of experience, in many ways you are the test bed for sound and lights Dante Fox took to the stage and looked eager to get everyone smiling and off to a great start. It has to be said that there were some issues with the sound to begin with, certainly too loud with everything becoming a little distorted, but that didn’t seem to stop anyone enjoying the bands set, which is a mix of songs from 2016’s ‘Breathless‘ album, the title track was worth the admission fee on its own, and also including some of the reworkings from last year’s ‘Six String Revolver‘.

Always a pleasure to watch Tim Manford play, clearly loves what he does and always has a great tone. Another highlight is ‘Firing My Heart‘ which is always a song that picks everything up, and this is a really nice way to start the Festival and Sue, Tim, Alan and Scott as always put in the maximum effort.

Newman  (PS)

I missed Dante Fox due to lack of hot water and electricity in my caravan but got there in time for Newman. Considering my AOR connections, I really should know more about these guys but I don’t! They have released 11 albums in 20 years but I have only heard the odd track.

Fronted by guitarist/singer Steve Newman the band were one of the few on the weekend bill I would genuinely tag as AOR. They sounded pretty tight and musically adept but the mix let them down a little. Having heard some stuff before, I know Steve is a pretty good guitarist but he was focusing purely on vocals tonight and they occasionally let the side down, especially on the higher notes which can be difficult to hit if the onstage sound is poor. None the less the crowd certainly enjoyed their set.

Eclipse  (SB)

Over the last few years Sweden’s Eclipse have steadily built on a growing reputation as one of the best live bands on the Melodic Rock scene, always brimming with positive energy power and no shortage of talent. Having released one of the top Melodic Rock albums of 2017 in ‘Monumentum‘, a lot of people were interested to see how those new songs would work live.

Right from the moment Erik bounds onto the stage there are no doubts about what’s to come and one of those new tracks ‘Vertigo‘ blasts off getting the crowd into the mood from the start. This evening we are treated to tracks from the last 3 excellent releases and why not, it’s hard to go wrong, but it’s not easy to pick highlights from a set full of highlights, every time you see them something has improved with Eclipse, because they are playing more the interaction with the audience is definitely better.

This is certainly one of the performances of the weekend for me, it’s great to hear the crowd singing along to an epic version of ‘Battlegrounds‘, or the way they place ‘Live Like I’m Dying Every Day‘ to vary the pace and balance things out, but this band are at their very best for me when they are at full pace, ‘Bleed And Scream‘ and ‘Never Look Back‘ fly past all too quickly, but as I scan the crowd as we go along more fists are raised, more people are singing and there is that big of a special feeling, if they continue as they are going Eclipse will be headlining these Festivals soon, as if they needed any more Philip Crusner (Drums) has pumped the guys up even more and added even more fire and passion, this band is brilliant to watch as always.

Joe Lynn Turner  (PS)

Joe Lynn Tuner needs no introduction and not surprisingly he drew heavily on his Rainbow days for this AOR set. His band was superb and provide a very early Rainbow/Deep Purple backdrop for Turner to weave his magic. With two songs from ‘Bent of Shape‘ and the hit singles from the other Rainbow albums it was a safe set, with some calling it boring, but not in my opinion.


He also touched on his Malmsteen era but I was disappointed he didn’t do ‘Heaven Tonight‘. However, the highlight for me was the inclusion of ‘Endlessly‘ from his first post-Rainbow album ‘Rescue You‘. It was a genuine moment of AOR bliss for me. Finally, in addition to his own Rainbow career he dedicated a version of ‘Long Live Rock’n’Roll‘ to Ronnie James Dio. While the band eased through the song, it didn’t really work for JLT in my opinion. None the less, a great closing set for the first night.


Great start to the weekend, as always HRH AOR isn’t just about the bands you see on the stage, but also the friends old and new you meet around the venues, and Thursday night you can’t move but to bump into someone, friends or band members, the atmosphere is great and there’s definitely a lot of fun to be had at Hafan Y Mor over this weekend.

Review: Magnum – Lost On The Road To Eternity

Magnum – Lost On The Road To Eternity

Steamhammer (Jan 18)

Reviewer: Grant Foster

I’ve taken a while over this album. Let me be straight here. I’m not really a huge Magnum fan. I acknowledge their longevity. I admire their professionalism. Like Thunder, in their later years they have become more and more revered for being, well, themselves.

There were worrying reports lately that Bob Catley was not cutting it live. But this is a studio album right and worry not oh Magnumites, Uncle Bob sounds in fine fettle here. Whether it’s studio trickery or a good old fashioned vocal scrape (!), Bob delivers the goods. Yes, there’s a fair bit of vocal double tracking but that only enhances the melody, rather than boosting a weak vocal.

The new boy, Rick Benton, who replaced long time alumni, Mark Stanway, really shines here. He’s all over this album, but in a good way. Enhancing, poking, prodding and coming up with an array of different sounds which means you don’t get bored with the keyboard contributions.

And the album is sonically really good. The production is as smooth as a gravy sandwich, no nasty sharp bits to get snagged on and the mix is very sympathetic to Magnum’s progressive AOR.

Ok, so you are wondering, ‘What’s the problem here?’, as I’ve waxed lyrically so far.

To put it bluntly, they’ve stayed so close to their signature sound & formula, that they haven’t differentiated enough, to produce a song or songs that actually stand out.

Yes, in other words, as I worked my way through the album, I felt like the songs begin to blend into one another and that I’d heard the vocal melody line earlier too. The songs all seem to chug along at pretty much the same tempo too, which doesn’t help.

I’m sure the Magnum die hards will be spitting blood, but I have to call it thus – It’s a highly polished, professional progressive AOR styled piece of work, from one of Britain’s best loved rock outfits.

But unfortunately, it’s not for me.

Review: Snake Oil and Harmony, Borderline London

Review: Snake Oil and Harmony

Borderline London March 3rd 2018

Reviewer: Dan Mann

The Snake Oil and Harmony Tour is now on it’s third outing, with messers Danny Vaughn (Tyketto) and Dan Reed (Dan Reed Network) presenting an intimate, stripped back experience stretched over two hours.

After experiencing Snake Oil and Harmony for the first time, my immediate reaction was why only two hours!

I was so drawn into not only the music itself, played on acoustic guitars, which covered songs from across DV & DR’s wide and varied careers, but also the stories, some of them quite personal, and the general banter between the two performers and the audience.

It was pretty obvious the audience were made up of Tyketto and Dan Reed Network etc fans, who sang along with much gusto to the delight of DV & DR. All of which just added to the overall experience.

One things for certain, I’ll be buying tickets again at the earliest opportunity.


Review: Palace Of The King – Get Right With Your Maker

Review: Palace Of The King – Get Right With Your Maker

Golden Robot Records (March 23rd 2018)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

There are certain bands that just hit you right between the ears & Palace Of The King certainly did that when I first heard their debut album ‘White Bird/Burn The Sky‘.

After following up with an equally great release ‘Valles Marineris‘, I guess I was wondering whether it would be third time lucky!

Well, I can breath easy as ‘Get Right With Your Maker‘ follows along the same lines as it’s predecessors.

The album kicks off with the first single ‘ I Am The Storm‘ a track that weaves and surrounds you in an all encompassing sound so familiar from the previous albums. Singer Tim Henwood’s unique sounding vocals still have that hint of Brian Johnson roughness mingled with Enuff Z’Nuff’s Donnie Vie which really helps give the songs a bit of an edge.

This is a band who’ve not let the ‘remoteness’ of Australia hold them back, with a relentless touring schedule, which in turn has helped bolster this album with that accumulated experience that has in turn lead to a tightness to the sound that you couldn’t pry apart with a crowbar!

The blend of 70’s guitar, harmonies and pounding beat certainly get your foot tapping and your head nodding along, you cannot help but reach for that volume knob and giving it a hefty increase in decibels.

It’s difficult to give an impartial review to something that ticks all your boxes and then some so I haven’t tried. All I can say is buy this release as soon as you can and strap those speakers down as they’re going to take a pounding!

Review: Volster – Perfect Storm

Review: Volster – Perfect Storm

ROAR Rock Of Angles Records (April 20th 2018)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

The Swedes continue their attempt to dominate the hard rock & melodic rock scene with another band releasing their debut album.

Volster first reared their heads back in 1996, recording a 4 track demo, and then lay dormant until 2013 when they decided to resurrect the band, keeping the same name and writing new material.

Volster was formed by Ulf Andersson and Henrik Lundberg, both previously of the band Masquerade. Ulf left to pursue other projects including House Of Heavy, while Henrik remained, the band releasing four albums in total.

Moving forward to 2018 and Volster are about to release their full length debut album ‘Perfect Storm‘. With the addition of Peter Tenning on vocals and Daniel Granlund (ex-Syconaut) on drums, the album consists of twelve tracks which are firmly planted in the hard rock genre.

To my ears the band sound almost Lynch Mob like, they certainly sound like they wouldn’t of been out of place back in the late 80’s / early 90’s, but that certainly doesn’t mean they sound dated.

To quote myself (is that allowed?) ‘if I don’t like the vocalist regardless of the rest of the band then I don’t like an album’. Thankfully Volster are safe with Peter Tenning delivering a superb performance. The rest of the band certainly ain’t slackers neither!

If your after a decent slab of hard rock to crank up then you really can’t go wrong with ‘Perfect Storm‘.

Current stand out tracks for me are ‘Still In Love‘, ‘Babylon‘ and ‘Drifting Away‘.

Highly recommended.

Review: Reach – The Great Divine

Review: Reach  – The Great Divine

Sun Hill (February 23rd 2018)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy 

Swedish rockers Reach are back with ‘The Great Divine‘, and with Soufian Ma´Aoui (Houston) taking over Bass duties. Anyone expecting the new material to sound like 2015’s ‘Out To Rock‘ will be in for a rude awakening. It’s still melodic rock, but it’s got a much deeper and in places darker vibe to it, which also makes it a very interesting album. Produced by Jona Tee (H.E.A.T.) along with Ludvig and there is a hint of the modern H.E.A.T. sound in the intro to ‘You Say‘, but that’s where the comparison ends.

Ten tracks are on offer here and thankfully they are not very easy to label, Rock for sure, but it’s miles outside of the of the bounds of the flood of Scandinavian Melodic Rock that we have seen in recent years, so far outside that in fact that this is possibly one of the most original pieces of work in quite some time.  The reality is that at times Reach flirt with Progressive Rock, elsewhere we see a much more pop orientated Rock, and it’s all very fluid.

The album won’t actually sink in for quite some time, there are places and passages that render slightly differently on each subsequent listen, in the more poppy tracks there can be a slight hint of a heavier more musically serious version of Fall Out Boy, or 30 Seconds To Mars. Some of the more progressive tracks are almost veering towards Leprous. How it all blends and fits together I’m not 100% sure but it does. Perhaps this album is confusing me a little, but I want to listen to it again to figure out where it’s going, and in itself that is a success right there. There is an aggression in places in Ludvig’s vocals that wasn’t present previously and it suits this new style very well. Drums as always from Marcus are bang on, so solid and as you would expect from a musician of Soufian’s quality the Bass through the album ranges from thumping through subtle, and the guys sound like they have been together for many years.

Highlight for me is definitely ‘One Life‘, and it doesn’t fit into the general pattern elsewhere, it’s a pop rock track that could be massive on radio if it gets the right exposure, a slightly haunting element to it. Elsewhere this is followed up by an upbeat and pumping track in ‘Running On Empty‘ and it’s different again, everywhere you turn the feel and style changes. To me ‘Shame‘ is another stunner, a little more progressive in style, with the keyboard accompaniment dragging the song in along with the bass riff and it just builds as it progresses, great stuff. Pick any of the ten tracks and they have their own merits, adding to the overall sound.

Reach have taken a massive risk in some minds moving so far away from what they’ve been known for to date, but it’s a massive step forward, this album is not quite the finished article, but if this is the path they have chosen then the next release will be truly epic. ‘The Great Divine‘ provides thought provoking ideas, music that forces you to not only listen to it but to think about it. Bravo Reach, whether the previous fan base wishes to join you on this journey only time will tell, but one listener here will certainly be sticking with it, and many more will be added, please give this one time to seep in, it deserves full attention and gives back in bucket loads. Excellent album.


Review: Signal Red – Under The Radar

Review: Signal Red – Under The Radar

Escape Music (Febuary 23rd 2018)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

Another new name on the scene, Signal Red are a UK Melodic Rock band with a bit of bite to them, but once again this is a project that contains some very well known names on the Melodic Rock Scene. On vocals is none other than Lee Small (Lionheart/Phenomena/SHY) and on Guitars & Keyboards we’ve got Steve Grocott (TEN). Lee has not only been one of the most distinctive sounding voices but also one of the best singers in Melodic Rock for many years now.

The musical style here is very much in the wheelhouse of the musicians, a little lighter than the work Grocott does with TEN and spot on for Small, it just sounds so natural for these guys and with the lineup being rounded out by Brian and Dave Anthony, Bass and Drums respectively.

Having listened to the album a lot over the last few weeks one thing is evident the quality just shines through, not surprising really, but even though the overall sound falls into a similar style bracket throughout the album there is a really nice variance to the songs themselves, from subject matter to pace.

Of the eleven tracks on offer here you could honestly pick many highlights, and there is also an impression that the longer you live with this one the more your favourite tracks will change.  One song however refuses to be ignored on each listen, the closer, and what a cracking way to end the album, ‘The Time Machine‘ is an eight minute epic which floats between melodic rock and progressive rock without blinking, some wonderful guitar work and a very mature feel to the song. Alongside it some other standouts are the punchy opener “Defiant” which really kicks things off in a rocking way, like most of the tracks Grocott’s skills are very evident, with solos a plenty. Being a bit of a sucker for a ballad ‘Emotions Of Motion‘ grabbed me and stuck with me, this time the soulful tones of Smalls exceptional vocals are in full effect.

There is a wonderful marriage here between Lee’s voice and Steve’s guitar tone, neither are too high when they put down the power, the solos are screaming without going over the top, and this creates a great balance throughout. As would be expected with the two main protagonists being a singer and a guitar player they are the instruments that are to the fore in the mix, but the guys are very ably backed up by a solid rhythm section in the Anthony’s.

Signal Red is another project that we hope there will be more from in the future, would be great to hear some of these songs in a live environment. Any Melodic Rock fan should check this album out, it’s really got some exceptional work on it and certainly one of the best releases of the year so far, love it.

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