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.

Review: HRH Sleaze II – Day 101-09-2018

O2 Academy, Sheffield

Review : Stephen Brophy

Photography : Stephen Brophy 

The Idol Dead (Acoustic)

HRH Festivals generally have some special Acoustic Sets on for VIP/Royalty Ticket holders, and Sleaze II is no exception. These sets are short and fun, and The Idol Dead work this perfectly, it’s a touch of genius to get the crowd to whisper responses rather than sing them at the top of their lungs, crowd love them and it’s very hard not to, really made me look forward to the full electric set to come.

Psychobabylon  (Acoustic)

Don’t know why but this acoustic set just didn’t do much for me at all, but even with that I was already sure that the full set was going to be a much different animal. Sometimes bands with slightly more aggressive vocal delivery and acoustic sets just don’t mix and for these ears it wasn’t happening this time around.

The Idol Dead

The room was already close to full when the guys returned to the stage and they were up to speed from the first note, this band is just full of energy, more than your fair share of smiles and an attitude that is infectious. They’ve got the crowd eating out of their hand from the first track, the upbeat punky delivery is great, but the songs stick with you from first listen, and that’s a great thing for any band.

Then you have the band themselves, damn they work hard, whether it’s Polly hanging out of the ceiling, or the guys getting each side of the room to sing off against the other, they are engaging, fun, a bloody cracking band, the songs are not only catchy but strong, opening Stage2 at a Festival seems like a bit of a waste of their talents, lets home next time out they are over on the larger one, would love to see this band with the space and larger crowd to work with, the enjoyment would only be amplified, having said that it was awesome to see these guys in a smaller setting just killing it. Follow that. 

Psychobabylon

One of the bands on the bill this weekend that I hadn’t managed to see before, but had seen listed on Festival lineups before, in fact they played last years Sleaze Festival on the same stage.

Definitely a big difference for me between their acoustic and plugged in sets, they let loose a bit more, there’s quite a few mixed styles here, they are heavy with screaming solos, but a punk element in there, add in a slight Gothy feel to the delivery too, there’s certainly enough heads moving in the middle of the crowd, and the Leeds outfit are going down well in this early afternoon slot. Certainly different to most of what’s on offer this weekend. 

Speed Stroke

Italian Rockers Speed Stroke came out and attacked Stage 2, no messing around, just there to power their way through the set, and it was terrific. Perhaps taking a number of those in attendance a little by surprise, this opening with ‘Sick Of You‘ this band is not only musically excellent, they have a tonne of power, there’s a nice speed to it all that gets your head moving straight away, and in Jack (Giacomo) they have a great frontman and singer, the backing vocals throughout are also very impressive, but the songs just seem to fly by in this 9 song set, that’s how good it is, if people hadn’t seen them before I am sure they walked away from the stage impressed and ready check out the guys online when they get home.

Honestly I don’t think the stage was big enough for these guys, they looks like they were a little confined and would not have been out of place at all on the main stage. There’s a brashness to their music, whether you call it hard rock, sleaze, metal or glam is irrelevant these guys are terrific, if you get the chance to see them do, they don’t disappoint, Michael and Bassa’s furios twin guitar attack is great and all backed up by the power of Gabriele and Andrea on Bass and Drums respectively, you can tell these guys have learned their craft well and that little bit of added punch. 

Midnite City

This is a band that have rapidly built up a strong following and reputation, isn’t not surprising when you consider the main protagonists here are Roby Wylde (Tigertailz) and Pete Newdeck (Newman, Tainted Nation, Eden’s Curse) and also that they released one of the strongest Melodic Rock albums of the year last year, they show no signs of slowing down this juggernaut. The set is made up mainly from songs off that excellent debut album and sprinkled with some new tracks from the soon to be released, and excellent, ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood‘ album.

What’s most engaging about this band live is that the songs pick you up and carry you along with them and you can see the joy in the faces of the band as they play. Tracks like ‘We Belong‘ and ‘Summer Of Our Lives‘ have become impossible for me not to sing along to in a very short period of time, a melodic soundtrack for sure, and then the new single hits you ‘Give Me Love‘, the track has been spinning around the head for weeks but now I’ve heard it live that’s it, addicted, love that song already.

For the first band on the main stage today the crowd is very big, and very responsive, but how could they not be, another terrific set and a hell of a way to kick off the main stage. These guys are going places, and it’s brilliant to be along this trip for the ride, Midnite City will no doubt be higher up the bill in the future. 

The Senton Bombs

When you have a Drummer that literally takes the roof off on his own then you already have a massive step up for a starting point. Missed the start of the set with shooting the band on the main stage but managed to get in and catch some of the energy these guys emit.

Really enjoyed what I heard from the and they also really got the crowd going which is great to see on the smaller stage, another band that don’t conform to the standard formula. 

Last Great Dreamers

Next up on Stage 1 were Last Great Dreamers who have now become a regular fixture on the HRH Festival scene, and they always put in a really good set. For me the band has gotten stronger over the last few years and they are really tight now and that showed in the sizeable crowd in front of the stage.

From the mix of Rock ‘N’ Roll with a kind of Indie feel to some of the songs, it has certainly gives them an original sound that still sounds fresh today. The set is made up of tracks from the beginning through to the releases since their reincarnation, the guys always put on a great show. 

Coyote Mad Seeds

This 3 piece were absolutely new to me and to be honest they were one of the bands that just didn’t seem to fit this Festival. Not that there was anything wrong with how or what they played, it just didn’t seem to work, certainly to these old ears.

Personally I like the kind of stuff they played, I just don’t think it went down so well at this particular Festival. Definitely added to my radar though and will hopefully catch them again. 

Wildheart

WOW, is that enough to say for this 5 piece Hard Rock band ? Belgium’s Wildheart absolutely nailed it from the start to the end of the set and included possibly the best Whitesnake cover I have heard to date, and it all looked so effortless. Frontman Farty really is a class act and the band are so bloody tight, it’s proper Hard Rock, high pitched vocal delivery and I love it. Had really been looking forward to seeing this band and they were just class, and from the reaction of the crowd, which built as the set progressed they would be a welcome return to these shores anytime.

From the excellent ‘Lovehunter‘ through ‘Get Up (Fight Back)‘ and ‘Never Let Go‘ this band mixes their own energetic music with the influences that I loved, Crue, Dokken, Whitesnake, they sounded big, have a party vibe and that puts a smile on your face when watching them, add to that the excellent twin guitar attack of Wouter and Thomas, as I looked around the venue there were lots of smiling faces, and that’s never a bad sign.  Not always a fan of bands doing covers during Festival Sets, but if you are going to do it you better do it well, and damn do the do it well, ‘Still Of The Night‘ is far too recognisable to make a mess of, but they do a brilliant job, it’s the vocal that grabs me so much, there’s a confidence in the delivery that puts you at ease. Great set, cracking band. 

Jetboy

 

To mark this band off my Bucketlist was one thing, but for them to play an absolutely killer set and be up there loving every minute of it, well that’s god be enough for everyone. Add to that the fact that the tracks off their soon to be released new album are so damn strong, having heard the new single ‘Born To Fly‘ quite a bit in recent weeks it was going to be interesting to hear how it came across live, and bloody hell it was so damn good, that was enough in itself to have me excited to hear the rest of the album.

Of course for a lot of people, me included tonight, what they want to hear is material from early albums ‘Feel The Shake‘ and ‘Damned Nation‘ with the balance tonight coming from the latter, and they deliver in spades. The set has a really good balance, and although I think the majority of the packed venue are really interested to see the band by the end of the set they could easily have played for longer, it’s kinda crazy to think this is the bands first visit to the UK, but they are welcome visitors.

Evil‘ has always been one of my favourite tracks, and it’s just brilliant, a sultry track that is perhaps a little less brash than a lot of their other output, but it fits in tonight so well, there’s so much attitude on that stage, particularly from frontman Mickey Finn and guitarist Ferne Rod and the calm is brought by Billy Rowe, it’s brilliant to watch, Mickey simply owns the stage, there’s a snarl there that makes it all the better, but something I will take away from this set more than anything is the humble demeanor he brings when addressing the audience on how happy and thankful they are to be here. The band are so tight, they have obviously been working really hard and this for me is one of those sets you are just so happy to have seen, they need to come back again as this was just a taster, more I needed, definitely one of the bands of the weekend.

LA Guns

Last time I caught the LA Guns live was at HRH AOR last year, and something on the day just didn’t grab me, and I was definitely in the minority, but tonight well that certainly wasn’t the case, they blew me away. What a cracking setlist for a start, really strong and then there’s the band, Tracii was on fire, and loving every minute of it, which is a joy to watch. But the real proof of the pudding is always in the crowd reaction to a set, and that’s why, at least for part of any of these sets I tend to move to the side of the venue to check out how the crowd are reacting to what’s happening on stage, and for LA Guns from the front to the back of the venue there is singing, fist pumping and just a general feeling of joy.

There was no doubt that tonight the crowd would have stayed for as long as the band played. Phil and Tracii are making a lot of fans really happy and long may they continue to do so. There are a tonne of highlights tonight, Tracii’s guitar tone being one, he just sounds majestic, but the band are such a solid unit these days and it’s great to see Adam Hamilton back in the band playing guitar. When you have a large back catalog to choose from picking the set for a Festival Headline slot is not all that easy, especially when you want to showcase some of the newer material, but that’s fine for this band as last years ‘The Missing Piece‘ was excellent and really well received, so the inclusion of 3 tracks is no surprise the highlight being the brooding ‘The Flood’s The Fault Of The Rain‘.

It’s quite obvious from looking around that a lot of people are here for the headliners, and this is most definitely a worth Headline slot, they could play anything tonight everything has just slotted into place nicely. Take your pick from a list of classics, they are just sounding great tonight, but standing out are ‘I Wanna Be Your Man‘, ‘One More Reason‘ and a crunching version of ‘Malaria‘. Closing out the set with the wonderful ballads ‘Crystal Eyes‘ which is so haunting and ‘The Ballad Of Jayne‘ plus classic rocker ‘Rip And Tear‘ has the crowd screaming for more, a packed house and a great performance, what more can you ask for.

Track list:

The Devil Made Me Do It

Electric Gypsy

No Mercy

Over The Edge

Kiss My Love Goodbye

Sex Action

The Flood’s The Fault Of The Rain

Speed

I Wanna Be Your Man

One More Reason

Helleaisers Ball

Malaria

Encore –

Crystal Eyes

Never Enough

The Ballad Of Jayne

Rip And Tear

What a brilliant way to finish the opening night of a Sleaze Rock Festival, the Guns on top form first note to last, every band not only putting in 100% while on stage but loving it and plenty of interaction with the audience both while on stage and when around the venue. Roll on Day 2, but we already know this is going to be a great weekend.

Review: Roxanne – Radio Silence

Rat Pak Records (October 26th 2018)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

We’ve only had to wait 30 years for the release of ‘Radio Silence‘, Roxanne‘s sophomore album. Was it worth the wait you ask? Before I get to that let’s just delve back in time. Roxanne released their self titled album back in 1988, which is when I first stumbled across the band and have loved that album ever since.

Imagine my surprise when Rat Pak Records announced a follow up album. I certainly wasn’t the only person who wanted to know more and was eager to hear whether the band still had that ‘something’ that first drew us to become fans.

Well folks, the good news is……….you ain’t going to be disappointed!

What those Roxanne fellas have managed to do is record an album that is a natural follow up to the debut without sounding dated. Now that’s certainly not an easy feat.

From the first few bars of ‘Someone To Kill‘ it’s obvious that ‘Radio Silence‘ is going to be a bit of a corker. All the elements are there, vocalist Jamie Brown‘s voice is still bang on the money, the band sounding tight as hell and your hand quickly reaches for the volume to crank it up!

From the slightly funked up ‘Super Bad‘ to the laid back ‘Broken Chandeliers‘ the album keeps on delivering. I absolutely love ‘Go Fuck Yourself‘, with it’s catchy chorus and riffs.

I must mention the cover version included in the album’s eleven tracks. On the debut we were treated to the superb cover of Wild Cherry‘s ‘Play That Funky Music‘. On ‘Radio Silence‘ we have a great cover version of The Scream‘s ‘Man In The Moon‘, a track I’ve always l liked and Roxanne‘s version isn’t a disappointment.

If you liked Roxanne‘s debut album then you will absolutely love ‘Radio Silence‘. How much do I like it personally? Well it’s certainly a contender for my Top 10 of 2018 list, that’s how much!