Review: Into The Unknown – Breaking The Silence 

Vigilante Records (September 6th 2019)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo

Into The Unknown are capable musicians hailing from Buckinghamshire comprising original members Lucie Hölzlová delivering Vocals, Ryan Atkins on guitar, Rupert Withers driving the bass and production and two new additions to the band Mike Ballard on drums and James Milner on rhythm guitars, who have created this second album ‘Breaking The Silence‘.

Riffs start heavy and deep, with ‘Pandora’s Box‘. A catchy tune and felt well developed with guitar solos arranged with synergy.

Moving on, I became slightly disappointed as the album progressed, I felt some of the verses had been stretched out with over use of a refrain, I know for some this will be great and anthem like but for me having listened to the album front to back several times I felt it could have moved on a little at times. That said, they did hook me in for a short while.

There is a good mix of musical arrangement on the album and in some cases variety within individual songs too that are adventurous and work.

From a classic symphonic rock to an almost electronic orchestral sound as found on the intro to ‘What is Love‘ an interesting and rocked up cover of Howard Jones early 80’s pop hit. The vocal approach is more linear than the original yet pulls it off to success with a powerful intensity.

I liked the guitars and the vocal of ‘Back In Time‘, a slower tempo track that worked together.

The album is a mixture of styles and to me, if I closed my eyes I could almost imaging this to be a musical score written for a theatrical musical with all its twists and turns in different directions. This was a distraction to me, and probably why I felt a little disappointed as I so wanted to like this album more.

One such distraction, particularly on the crescendo on ‘Heroes and Victims‘, the build-up is brought up to a point that has an audible fast fadeout and change into the wonderful acoustic outro. This track has some beautiful pieces however I felt some of the instrument tracks competed with one another at times.  Having said that, fans of musicals and musical interludes and changes will probably love this album for its originality.

The vocals sounded to have some nasality and I thought that the highs and lows had been straining slightly in some sections.

However, Lucie Hölzlová has some huge potential and really sings convincing lyrics with passion.

Overall, I feel more fluid transitions can be made and construction in this area will develop as the band play and create music together on stage and in sessions.

These are talented musicians with plenty of originality, I hope this band will evolve together for the better as they write, play and deliver music to a live audience.

 

 

Review: The Wicked Jackals – About Time

(July 12th 2019)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo

The Wicked Jackals are an expressive four piece outfit creating full on rock from Watford .

I was keen to discover their newly released debut EP ‘About Time’ so I gave it a spin.

On first play the vocal literacy reminded me of some elements of Skunkworks, a Bruce Dickinson offshoot in ‘96’ I think it’s the vocal attack of Ollie Tindall that brought that to the forefront.

The rhythm section is driven by the firmly placed beats of James Norkett alongside the persistent bass of Lex Gifford and the versatile Marty Venus on guitars, Ollie Tindall takes up some lead guitar work and makes a great guitar duo between the both of them.

First track is ‘Ain’t Gonna Change’ this is quite punchy and grows quickly into a catchy rock anthem that will have up front.

Fortune’N’Glory’ follows with powerful intent, grungy riffs flowing lead guitars.

Third track starts with prominent lead vocals on the mix, it’s a bluesy sleaze metal number with some influence coming through from Rose Tattoo and a sprinkle of AC/DC.

Moving onto ‘Laying Down The Law’ I enjoyed the vocal tenacity of Ollie Tindall backed with solid riffs and buoyant solos

The EP finishes off with an up tempo song ‘Scream’ that is a closing presentation of what The Wicked Jackals has delivered on this EP.

When I first played the EP a couple of times I felt some of the tracks had been mixed differently to each other, particularly the vocal elements and I was distracted slightly, however I soon forgot about this initial thought as I found the EP has grown on me as it flows from track to track,  I hear energy and talent on this EP and will be keeping a look out for an opportunity to see them live.

 

 

Review: Revival Black – Step In Line

Cargo Records (October 11th 2019)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo

Step In Line’ the debut album from Revival Black is a freight train of bluesy hard rock ‘n’ Roll, its simply brilliant from start to finish. This album which is due release on 11th October 2019, has not stopped playing in my house for a few days now and its not going to be removed from my daily playlist anytime soon.

This 10-track album opens with ‘Wide Awake’, the band released this as a single in April 2019 following the new arrival of Dan Byrne on vocals who stretches his pipes well throughout every track on the album. Next is ‘So Alive’, a follow up single released in June 2019. This is enjoyably hard ‘n’ heavy, with a bass intro from Jamie Hayward that I feel delivers a complimentary nod over to Lemmy.

The momentum of Ash Janes on drums continues with ‘Give You The World’. Sounds that come through here are reminiscent of Aerosmith back in the day.

Both fast string men, Alan Rimme & Adam Kerbache work in synergy to create guitar work with sleazy Louisiana riffs.

This band writes catchy hooks and no exception to this is ‘No Secrets, No Lies’ this will have you on your feet horns in the air singing along. This is one of my favourites from the album, along with the massive potential of ‘The River’ which is an epic song delivering everything one needs to form an anthem. Along with the sleazy classic ‘All I Wanna Do’ with nifty and sharp lead guitar work.

Bluesy riffs and strong bass lines can be found over on ‘Midnight Oil’  a solid groove well presented with the vocal power of Dan let louse demonstrating the range and originality of this talented rock ensemble.

If I had one thing to change it would be the ending on ‘Silverline’ it doesn’t have one. It’s a classic fade out that maybe doesn’t do the song justice on the Album.

These guys know how to create some hard and sustained rock music without drifting off on a tangent. They can write well and have some catchy hooks, particularly on ‘No Secrets, No Lies’   The album is heartfelt kick ass hard as hell Rock that doesn’t let you down, including title track ‘Step In Line’ that demonstrates that Revival Black, deserve attention.

Since I began to play this album, I haven’t been able to stop. The riffs are hard and heavy, guitars that punch out catchy riffs with sounds of the deep south. Bass that commands attention and the vocals from Dan are solid and have a powerful range that he demonstrates complete control, think early Robert Plant meets David Coverdale. There is something special about rock music and this Album has everything from the rock swagger of 1970 to the heavy packed sounds of today.

This is original and organic rock; these guys have a brilliant future.

 

 

Review: Hollowstar – Hollowstar

Hollowstar (May 3rd 2019)

Reviewer: David Pearce

Hollowstar’s self-titled debut album explodes out of the speakers with the driving guitars of ‘Take It All’, which sets out their stall as the next wave in UK heavy rock.

By using the two lead guitars of Phil Haines and Tom Collett, they hit the listener with a wall of noise that reminds me of the early 80s pioneers of the dual lead guitar sound Judas Priest. The drums of Jack Bonson are integral to supporting the sound in the same way as Rick Allen of Def Leppard does a lot of the heavy lifting in their songs.

Finally we get to Joe Bonson’s towering vocals. He has a set of pipes very similar to Neville MacDonald of the short lived, but brilliant 90s band Skin. He is able to handle the whole range of a heavy rock singer’s art with seeming ease.

Let You Down‘ is a classic rock track that doesn’t just slavishly copy the genre but brings something new to it and serves notice that these guys can really invigorate the sound and bring it to a new audience. ‘Invincible‘ sees Jack Bonson delivering smooth vocals that demonstrate how easily he can hold the listener in the palm of his hands.

Live performances from Hollowstar are going to be a real event as they move on to bigger and bigger venues. ‘Think of Me‘ is a heavy rock love song in which the lyrics are genuinely heartfelt and all the more impactful for being unexpected. ‘Money‘ starts with an expert guitar riff that sees it act as percussion just as much as it acts as the basis for the tune. It is a bravura piece of playing that shows the sheer talent of the band.

All I Gotta Say‘ is a song about a bad end to a relationship that strikes a note of defiance that will no doubt resonate with many a listener! When you listen to this album the second or third time really focus on the lyrics because Hollowstar take as much time on them as they do on the music, which is by no means universal.

Good Man Gone‘ is another great example of the tightness of the band where all four components just blend together to create rock alchemy. Overrated is definitely something they are not, but Hollowstar have fun with the title and the song will probably become a live favourite with the refrain ‘I know I’ve got the mind of a warrior‘ just asking for a full throated singalong.

Down by the Water‘ is a track that has a hint of Paradise City in the guitar riff and it’s so good that Slash himself would probably be quite happy with the comparison. This incredibly good debut album finishes with ‘Sinner‘, an Aerosmith style full on rocker that leaves you wanting more as every final track should.

Make no mistake there’s real substance to Hollowstar!

Review: Rockett Love –  Greetings From Rocketland

AOR Heaven (August 30th 2019)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo

Packed full of hard melodic rock, ‘Greetings From Rocketland‘ is due for release on 30th August 2019 on the AOR Heaven label.

This is the second album from the newish Swedish outfit Rockett Love, who are made up of precision AOR musicians that deliver hard on melody and riffs.

The album opens with ‘Back On My Feet’ a track to set the scene with heavy drums pounding and husky vocals a quite a fast and sure fire bass.

Next up is ‘Bite The Bullet’ sustaining the tempo of the 1st track, for some reason whilst I had my eyes closed absorbing the rhythm I had flash backs of an 80’s W.A.S.P. video that was never made.

Track three, ‘I Want Out’ is a masterpiece of well woven tapestry of sound testament to the musicianship of the band this is a big track with catchy riffs.

Now we get into track four, ‘Get Ready, Go!’, this has great potential as a radio friendly, boot tapping and singing along.

Track five, ‘Take Me Home’ opens with guitars and deep vocal melodies rising to high altitudes. The magic of this album continues with driving bass and rhythm section, fluid guitar solos and catchy bass lines.

Now we have track six, ‘King For One Day’ this will have you singing along, rocking your head.

Moving on to track seven, ‘Writing On The Wall’ this sets a slightly anxious sounding tone and carries you forward into some nice riffs.

Track eight is ‘Reaching Out’ and is doing just that. This has massive energy and expresses the bands range well. This wouldn’t be out of place alongside some early Judas Priest with a twist of Ozzy.

Moving onto track Nine ‘Like An Endless Distant Sky’ this is heavy and solid pure recipe to don your air guitar. Rock’n’roll.

Track ten we here a slight change toward a pop rock sound, ‘Wait’, aiming to a more mainstream narrative that would warrant a music video for MTV in the 80’s

The closing track, number eleven, ‘A Heart Without A Soul’, is a splendid mix of catchy lyrics and spontaneous foot tapping reaching a beefy ending to a well produced and thought-out album.

Review: Nitrate – Open Wide

AOR Heaven (June 21st 2019)

Reviewer: David Pearce

Nitrate are a five piece rock band who hark back to the days of Def Leppard and Bon Jovi, two groups who still fill stadiums more than 30 years on from their breakthrough albums. There is always room for new bands to update the sound of 80s rock particularly when they are as good as Nitrate.

The new album ‘Open Wide‘ starts with the Bon Jovi style track ‘You Want It, You Got It‘ featuring Philip Lindstrand’s vocals which demonstrate a great range and style together with the lead guitar of Marcus Thurston.

Night Time City‘ demonstrates the smoother side of Lindstrand’s vocals backed by Nick Hogg’s excellent bass work and Pete Newdeck on drums as the song builds into an anthemic Europe style belter. ‘Only a Heartache Away‘ is the kind of rock ballad that Nitrate proved so adept at on their debut album with Def Leppard style lyrics and Rob Wylde’s excellent keyboard work providing a solid base for LIndstrand as he turns in another polished performance.

The driving guitars of ‘Heart Go Wild‘ put me in mind of Judas Priest as Nitrate go into heavier territory to great effect. It will definitely be a live favourite whenever it is played. ‘I Don’t Want To Live‘ is a no frills rock track with a great guitar solo.

Never Surrender‘ has an anthemic chorus that will be sung back to Nitrate by the crowd at every concert. ‘Heartbreak Suicide‘ shows the tightness of the group as each instrument complements the others creating a layer of sound that gives Lindstrand’s vocals a solid base. Musically, it is my favourite track on the album as it’s sound is so brilliantly put together.

In the Night‘ is another gorgeous ballad with a brilliant vocal performance that puts me in mind of the superb Joey Tempest. ‘Bad Girls‘ has a Whitesnake vibe to it from the title and lyrics to the guitar work and it’s a good fun track that will be another live favourite.

Shot In The Dark‘ is a song with Thurston’s great guitar work and Newdeck’s drums once more to the fore as they drive the song along. The final track ‘Waiting On You‘ ends the album on a high quality song that seems to draw together a number of their influences to great effect. Along with ‘Heartbreak Suicide‘ it is arguably the best encapsulation of the Nitrate sound and finishes a strong set of 11 tracks with real style.

Although Nitrate have not strayed beyond the template of their excellent first album, they have developed their sound, and proved beyond doubt that they are the rightful inheritors of the 80s rock mantle.

 

 

Review: Ketos First Strike

Hostile Media  (April 26th 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy 

Hailing from Northern Ireland Ketos play a very melodic based style of Thrash, but with some more aggressive vocals at times, the end result is their 9 song debut album ‘First Strike‘, and although this one did not grab me on first listen too much it’s definitely grown on me.

Released through Hostile Media this album is a fine piece of work by a young band still in it’s relative infancy. Have to pay particular attention to the duelling guitars of ‘Dwayne Close‘ and ‘Keith HD‘ who really do shred so well in unison or alone, and the excellent Peter Renshaw who manages to completely pull off sounding like two different vocalists, it’s not something that every singer can do and in both styles he sounds great. Some great power on show here. Add in the power of the backline of James Popple (Bass) and Gareth Dick (Drums) just helps to elevate this release.

There are some cracking tracks on here, from the opener ‘Escape The Chains‘ with it’s gatling gun drumming, just smashing you in the face it’s a great way to open the album, then there’s  ‘Harmacist‘ which is a real beast beast of a track, speeding along like a freight train with no brakes and then it punches into a very Testament style chorus but the track generally has more speed and more aggression, it’s a keeper. ‘Temptations‘ is another track that manages to keep coming back into your head and just grabs control, there’s a certain maturity that perhaps wouldn’t be expected in this setup yet, but it’s here and there’s a lot more to come from this band. In places I’m reminded of their influences but the maintain enough of their own fresh stamp everywhere.

Overall this is a powerful debut from a band that clearly has a lot of promise and no shortage of talent. The whole package works well together here, the music, the arrangements the production and most importantly the songs. Ketos are not a name fresh on everyone’s tongue just yet, but give this a spin and keep an eye out for them. Can’t wait to see what direction they choose as they develop but this is an excellent start..

Track list:

  1. Escape The Chains
  2. Into The Maelstrom
  3. Temptations
  4. Harmacist
  5. Ascendant
  6. The Lost Ones
  7. Full Force
  8. Fall In Line
  9. First Strike

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Review: H.E.A.T – Live At Sweden Rock Festival

earMusic July 26th 2019

Reviewer: Dan Mann

If there’s one thing H.E.A.T fans know, this is a band you have to see live! Fronted by the Duracell bunny that is vocalist Eric Grönwall, H.E.A.T always put on a highly energetic and entertaining show, this time captured at the legendary Sweden Rock Festival. It’s unfortunate that the promo supplied is only the audio portion of the album as it’s being released on DVD/Blu-ray, the Blu-ray also containing eight of the band’s Official videos, so I cannot comment on the sound and picture of said discs.

Kicking off with ‘Bastard Of Society‘ from the band’s last studio album ‘Into The Great Unknown‘ your straight away dragged kicking and screaming up to the barrier, the pace not dropping as your taken straight into ‘Late Night Lady‘ off the debut album, this live rendition more pumped and in your face.

You’d think they’d take a slight breather, but the relentless energy continues unabated as ‘Mannequin Show‘ is given the live treatment. I’d like to tell you what Eric’s banter is between songs but my Swedish is basically non-existant and anyway why should a Swedish band at a Swedish festival speak English?

It’s pleasing that H.E.A.T don’t concentrate solely on their latest studio album with a couple of older tracks thrown in, instead they delve into their entire catalogue of songs, energising them to the absolute max. Plus the same is metered out to their cover of Janis Joplin‘s ‘Piece of My Heart‘ slotted on the end of ‘Beg Beg Beg‘.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable live release, my only disapointment apart from not sampling the Blu-ray is the non inclusion of probably my favorite H.E.A.T track ‘Downtown‘, however that is on the ‘Live In London‘ release.

I’ve got a bit of a wait until I see H.E.A.T again, but one thing I do know is they’ll grab next year’s Monsters Of Rock Cruise by the short and curlies and will take no prisoners!

 

 

Review: Call of The Wild Festival 2019

Reviewer / Photographer: Dan Mann

Appologies for the late review of what was the first Call Of The Wild Festival, held at the Lincoln Showground on 24 May – 26 May 2019.

Let me start by saying for a brand new festival the set up was fantastic, not only with the layout, the merch and food available, but with what has got to be one of the best press rooms and the help and support for the attending music press was second to none!

The only damp squib was the fact I could only attend on the Friday & Sunday.

There was a varied selection of bands on offer, some not my cup of tea, however the festival’s support of new and upcoming bands is commendable. The line up of bands attracted fans from near and far.

The whole weekend ran very smoothly apart from the power outage just before Sunday’s headliners which was sorted without any drama, the fans were enthusiastic and Pete K Mally has to be the most enthusiastic & positive master of ceremonies I’ve seen.

All I can say to sum up is roll on next year!

Below are a selection of photos from the two days attended. (click on photo to enlarge)

(copyrite Dan Mann©)

 

Review: Lonerider – Attitude

Escape Music (April 26th 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

Anytime you hear of a project that involves Steve Overland you tend to take a little more notice than usual, and Lonerider is no exception to that rule. But when Steve’s partner in crime from Shadowman, Steve Morris on guitar,  is also involved you sit up a little straighter, then you see the band is filled out with Chris Childs (Thunder) on bass and the legendary Simon Kirke (Free/Bad Company) on drums then this has all the possibilities of being a special album.

Released by Escape Music Ltd at the end of April this was certainly an album that got caught in the flurry of recent releases, but please go check it out, there are some really excellent songs on this one, Steve’s vocals are allowed to breathe, there’s great variety between AOR, bluesy rock and with the likes of ‘Yesterday Heroes‘ perhaps even a touch more southern rock or an Americana feel. What’s never in question here is the quality on show. Musically, how it’s put together, the production and the songs themselves are just top notch. There’s something really powerful in Steve Morris’s guitar work, and it just sounds so good here all the way through.

Anyone that is a fan of FM, Shadowman or just Rock in general should get something from this album, it’s got plenty to give and is constructed so well, and there’s a terrific flow right through. Naturally with such a well known and recognisable voice it’s going to have you drawing comparisons to FM/Shadowman etc…. but this band is it’s own entity, and although it exists is a similar space to those bands it stands on it’s own feet.

Sometimes when a band like this is put together there’s just no soul to it, you can’t feel any passion, but pardon the pun, there’s definitely attitude in this one. Strongest songs on this album are probably the track of the ‘Lonerider‘ with the blues riff running down the middle of it,  the excellent ‘Angel Without Wings‘ which grabs you back time and again, a song I think that will continue to bounce around the head long after the stereo has been turned off, a little different in sound and all the better for it. And ‘Yesterday Heroes‘ which seems to float along and benefits massively from the subtle treatment it gets.

So where does the Lonerider project go, I’m not sure, I guess it’s worrying they’ve not setup a Website or Social Media page for the band, but it doesn’t mean that if schedules allow and either the participants enjoyed it or it did well with fans there won’t be a follow up, it would be most welcome. Lonerider offer something different from what the bands the members here already play with, and it’s always such a pleasure to hear Steve’s voice on anything, but this has good rocking and great melody. Some live dates would be of course very welcome if they were to materialise and lets hope that second album gets done, this one is a cracker and would be a shame to just have the possibility that more people miss it than hear it, the more I listen to it the more I like it.