Review: Collateral – The Black Heart, Camden, Feb 7th 2019

Reviewer / photographer – Dan Mann

The last twelve months has seen Collateral get a foot in the door to the next level of rock stardom.

Their appearance last night at The Black Heart, Camden certainly kicked off 2019 in style, introduced onstage by Planet Rock‘s Paul Anthony, the band launched into a set of original material in front of an enthusiastic sell out crowd who happily sang along to every song.

This was a showcase of how a hungry young rock band should perform, their enjoyment and enthusiasm clearly showing, as they stormed through their set, ending on their current single ‘Midnight Queen‘, a song that’s undergone a new mix by Romesh Dodangoda  and is currently on Planet Rock’s playlist.

If you’ve not yet seen Collateral play, then grab the chance now before they’re playing arenas!!

Set List:

1 – Calm Before The Storm

2 – When Faith Breaks

3 – You Were the Only One

4 – Going With The Wind *

5 – Coming Home

6 – Move On

7 – Just Waiting For You *

8 – Promise Land **

9 – Merry Go Round **

10 – Lullaby Encore **

11- Midnight Queen * + **

*Denotes songs from ‘4 Shots! EP‘ **Denotes songs from forthcoming debut album

all images copy-write© RPR Media UK

 

Review: Gathering Of Kings – First Mission

RN Records (January 2019)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Here we have another album I’ve been eagerly awaiting having bought four of the tracks from Amazon last year, so I had a pretty good understanding of what the album was going to be like.

First Mission‘ is a smörgåsbord of an album, combining a wealth of talent from other Scandi rock bands eg. Masterplan, Therion, The Night Flight Orchestra, Soilwork, Saffire, Pretty Maids, Spiritual Beggars, Corroded, Streamline etc. The end results are a melodic rock fans wet dream. Imagine someone sitting down to record the ultimate Scandi rock sampler, yes it’s that good!

They haven’t shurked on the number of tracks either, giving us twelve in total. And to pick a favorite? It would be easier to squeeze myself through a catflap, but if forced to pick the highlights as it were I’d have to go for ‘Forever and a Day‘, ‘Out of My Life‘ & ‘Saviour‘.

If you are a fan of melodic hard rock and Scandi rock then this really is a no brainer, purchase wise.

Get yourselves a copy and give it the beans!

Review: Gin Annie – 100% Proof

Off Yer Rocka Recordings (Jan 25th 2019)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

For those of you unfamiliar with Gin Annie, they’re a five piece melodic hard rock band, hailing from the West Midlands, Wolverhampton to be exact, which is part of an area (the Black Country) steeped in rock history!

Gin Annie are part of a strong, and still growing line of of British bands who are collectively being grouped under the moniker ‘New Wave Of Classic Rock‘.

Well here we have the band’s debut album, ‘100% Proof‘ supplying us ten tracks of guitar driven rock that is sure to get your foot or feet tapping / stomping.

All the ingredients are here, the riffs, the pounding drums, great vocals, and of course none of those would mean anything without great songs.

From the start of the first track ‘Love Ain’t Here‘ the stage is set  for what’s to follow. Catchy? Damn right it is..

The album meanders between the out and out hard rock of ‘Damage Is Done‘ and ‘All I Want‘ to the more melodic ‘Chains‘ and the rather excellent ‘Haunt Me

I love the riff throughout ‘Fallin’‘, classic air guitar moment!

The album wraps up with the gritty ‘Born To Rock And Roll‘ which is full of that bourbon soaked atmosphere that such a titled song should contain.

It’s so satisfying to have yet another band furiously waving the flag for British rock and delivering such a strong debut.

Add this on your ‘to buy’ list.

 

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“.