Review: Trishula – Time Waits For No Man

AOR Heaven (September 25th 2020)

Review: Dan Mann

After the superb debut, ‘Scared To Breathe‘, last year, Trishula are back with the follow up ‘Time Waits For No Man‘.

Just to bring you back up to speed, Trishula is the brainchild of guitarist Neil Fraser, who is once again accompanied on vocals by Jason Morgan. Joining them is Rick Benton (Magnum) on keyboards, Neil Ogden (Demon) on drums and Dan Clark (Rebecca Downes) on bass with additional backing vocals provided by Georgia Morgan.

What we get is a cohesive album, sounding like a band who’ve all been together for many years. The level of musicianship shines through and delivers ten tracks of solid melodic rock.

If your familiar with the debut, then expect the same, except ‘Time Waits For No Man‘ just adds that little bit extra sprinkle of magic.

As seems to be the norm with a lot of the albums I’ve been listening too lately, picking outstanding tracks is at times difficult. However on ‘Time Waits For No Man‘ there is for me me one song that really grabs me, and that is the title track. With a beautifully haunting guitar, layers of keyboards and a controlled drum & bass sound, plus the superb vocal talents of Jason, this is a stunning track.

Trust me when I say the other nine tracks do not disappoint whatsoever. If you like your melodic rock, then this is a ‘must buy’. A contender for my favorite releases of 2020!

Mika has been playing drums and percussion in various bands since 1981 and doing it in all genres from jazz to metal. Furthermore, he has composed songs for different genres and this legacy can be heard in the Imperium songs right away. The music is Melodic Rock / AOR and it has a big dose of 80’s feel and sounds in it.

The project started in 2012 when Mika composed a new song for the new Strike album ‘We’re Back‘ and realized that there were more songs in him that needed to be released. 2016 the debut album ‘Dreamhunter‘ was released by AOR Heaven and the follow-up ‘Beyond The Stars‘ came out in 2018.

In this project Mika writes all the songs and lyrics, and plays all the drums, bass, keyboards and sings backing vocals, too.

All the lead vocals are sung and guitars are played by various extremely talented musicians from the rock/metal scene all over the world which this time include Robban Ernlund (Treat), Markku Kuikka (Agonizer, Kenziner, The Ragged Saints), Stefano Lionetti (Lionville), Mikey K Nilsson (Sapphire Eyes), Erkka Korhonen (Dark Sarah, Urban Tale) and Robbie LaBlanc (Blanc Faces)

Also the album’s post-production is made by top pros. The album is mixed by Erkka Korhonen (Dark Sarah, Urban Tale, Northern Kings, Ari Koivunen, Raskasta Joulua) and mastered by the legendary Mika Jussila (Nightwish, Children of bodom, Stratovarius, HIM etc.). The album was produced and mostly recorded during 2019-2020 by Mika himself at his Groovehouse Studio in Vantaa, Finland.

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Rob Moratti is a solo artist, the voice of Final Frontier and has been fronting Saga.

The Canadian is a genuine and true original. With an astonishing range, he has carved such an unique style blending the finest elements of melodic and progressive rock.

He started his career professionally in the early 90’s as lead vocalist and songwriter of the band Moratti; entering the new millennium with Final Frontier. They immediately were well-received making an impact on the airwaves of Japan and Europe. Rob’s future went forward with Final Frontier, soaring out four incredible melodic pieces.

Over the years, in spite of all the changes in the music scene, Rob’s perseverance and passion stood strong. His fate is so undeniable, it captured the attention of multi-platinum selling and legendary progressive rock band Saga. In 2008, the official announcement was made that Rob Moratti would become the new voice of Saga and at the age of 42, Rob’s destiny would evolve.

Today in 2020, Rob is about to deliver another impeccable solo record titled ‘Paragon‘ which is now his second release with AOR Heaven. When it comes to songs, melodies, harmonies and range – as many know – Rob Moratti is in a league of his own.

The songs on ‘Paragon‘ are astonishing as ever and filled with his trademark harmonies and memorable choruses that will capture the listener and engrave your soul. He was working alongside some the best songwriters and performers in the genre such as Ulrick Lönnqvist, Pete Alpenborg, Felix Borg, Ken Sandin and Torben Enevoldsen on lead, rhythm guitars and keyboards, Stu Reid on drums and Tony Franklin on the monster bass. Joining him now in 2020, special guests on lead guitars are Joel Hoekstra and Ian Crichton.

Rob has also worked with many power house musicians that have been part of his solo career like Joel Hoekstra (g, Whitesnake / TSO / Night Ranger / Cher), Reb Beach (g, Whitesnake / Winger / Dokken), Tony Franklin (b, Blue Murder / The Firm), Brian Doerner (d, Saga) and Ian Crichton (g, Saga).

Paragon‘ was produced by Rob Moratti, mixed by Moratti and Torben Enevoldsen and mastered by Moratti, too.

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Wildness was originally intended to be a studio project by drummer and songwriter Erik Modin, but together with guitarists Adam Holmström and Pontus Sköld, and singer Gabriel Lindmark, the project developed into a real band in 2014. The first year, Wildness performed live with various session musicians playing bass before bass player Marcus Sjösund joined in 2016 and the Wildness lineup was complete.

The Swedish band started rehearsing and performing live diligently, and in September 2015 and January 2016 the digital and self-produced singles ‘Collide‘ and ‘Turning The Pages‘ were released. After the second single, the band got in contact with record company AOR Heaven and was offered a record deal by CEO Georg Siegl.

The band recorded their debut album in 2016 and 2017 with the help of mastermind and producer Erik Wigelius, who handled the production, mixing and mastering of the album. The eponymous debut album was released on November 24th, 2017 and immediately became a great international success among fans of melodic hard rock.

In 2018, the band performed at numerous festivals internationally and shared stages with well-known acts such as Dokken, H.E.A.T, Dee Snider, Crashdïet, Dragonforce, Arch Enemy, Warrant, Vixen and others and also had the honor to open for Pretty Maids, among others.

In 2019 the band joined forces with Scream & Shout Music Agency for management and booking, and began working on the sequel to their acclaimed debut album. However, the process came to a halt when singer Gabriel Lindmark left Wildness in the autumn of 2019 due to musical disagreements.

After continuing to work on the second album during the rest of 2019, Wildness was finally able to announce Erik Forsberg (ex-Blazon Stone) as their new frontman in the spring of 2020.

The second album, produced entirely by drummer Erik Modin, is named ‘Ultimate Demise’ and is thanks to strong song material, Erik Forsberg‘s powerful vocals and Erik Wigelius‘ magnificent mix and master an album to be reckoned within the melodic hard rock universe in 2020!

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Review: Stormburst – Highway To Heaven

AOR Heaven (28/08/20)

Reviewer: David Pearce

Stormburst are a group from Sweden who have been together since 2014. They released their first album, ‘Raised on Rock‘, in 2017 and now three years later they have produced the follow-up, ‘Highway to Heaven‘. Their line up consists of bassist Kent Jansson, guitarist Thomas Hansson, vocalist Lars-Ake Nilsson, keyboard player Peter Ostling and drummer Pelle Hinden. Naming their album with a conscious nod to both AC/DC and Led Zeppelin is certainly going to get them noticed as is the album cover with its clear homage to Meatloaf. Let’s see if the music backs up their reference points.

Highway to Heaven‘ is a powerful start to the album with crunching guitar and Hinden’s powerful drumming to the fore which Nilsson complements with his Joey Tempest style vocal. ‘Rock n Roll Soldier‘ is a Judas Priest style rock track with a great guitar solo from Hannson and a chorus that will get the crowds singing along when they perform it live.

Tonight‘ is a pop rock track reminiscent of Europe that shows off Stormburst’s melodic rock to good effect. ‘Going Home‘ sounds like the Scorpions and showcases their tight playing and ear for a chorus.

Closer to Heaven‘ is a song that flies out of the blocks from the start and is definitely my favourite from the first half of the album. ‘Miles Away‘ is the obligatory ballad and once again shows the influence of the Scorpions. It is a good song that makes the most of Nilsson’s voice. ‘Who Do You Think You Are?‘ is the sound of Stormburst letting rip and really showing what they can do. It is a heavy rock track that cranks up the volume on the album to great effect.

The appropriately named ‘Confidence‘ shows a band that have warmed up and are determined to show their heavy rock credentials. The heavier edge really suits them. ‘Run For The Light‘ returns to the softer melodic rock of fellow Swedes Europe but it works well with Nilsson giving another excellent performance.

Take Me To The Sky‘ has a Deep Purple sound to both Hannson’s guitar and Nilsson’s vocal which is underpinned very well by Ostling’s keyboard work. ‘Lost In The Night‘ benefits from Jannson’s bass which gives the track a really good platform and is a song that has another excellent guitar solo. ‘Riding On The Wind‘ is my favourite track on the album. It has a driving tune reminiscent of Living After Midnight and Nilsson’s best vocal performance. The final track, ‘One Dream‘, in places very similar to Queen’s One Vision is another soft rock tune that is well delivered by this experienced and talented set of musicians.

This is an album which is great to listen to, but I hope that the next album really takes the heavy rock tracks and puts them front and centre because Stormburst are at their best when they really crank up the volume.

Review: Tanna – Storm In Paradise

AOR Heaven (August 28th 2020)

Reviewer: David Pearce

Tanna are a band formed in 1985 by Finnish singer Tapani Tikkanen, who are now in their third incarnation. The name of the band comes from his childhood nickname. The first line-up were hugely successful in their native Finland and played over 700 gigs including the ‘Coca Cola Tour’. Since then Tikkanen has written four albums of music for a football club and fronted two other bands, but in 2019 he decided that the time was right for Tanna to return.  The new line up is Tikkanen on lead vocals and guitar, fellow guitarist Jukka Ihme, Jaakko Konttila on bass, Ville Hanhisuanto on drums and keyboardist Mika Pohjola. Also featured on ‘Storm in Paradise‘ are saxophonist Jimi Ahlroos  and vocalist Inge Soder.

The title track is a great start to the album which has a Bruce Springsteen feel to the vocals over a no nonsense rock tune that makes the song soar and sets the standard by which the rest of the album will be judged. The second track is ‘Silhouettes‘, which is more of a traditional AOR track with a mellower vocal that works very well.

Run Like Hell‘ is another Springsteen influenced track that would be very much at home on The River or Born in the USA. If there was a title of a track I never thought I would ever review ‘Like Kim Kardashian‘ would definitely be at the top of that list! This song seems to be about making people sit up and take notice while having very little underneath the surface rather like the subject of the title and is definitely the weakest track on the album.

Hispaniola‘ is much better as it channels 70’s rock very well and tells the story of the ill-fated ship from Treasure Island with a suitably stormy vocal. ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough‘ is a song that builds upon the drums of Hanhisuanto and the guitars of Tikkanen and Ihme. When Soder enters the song, her vocals together with Tikkannen’s replies, channel classic Meatloaf to great effect.

Mysterious‘ is a Europe style tune that builds nicely and turns into a really good workout for all the members of the band with each one being featured to good effect. ‘On the Backstreets‘ starts with a sax solo by Ahlroos that is really classy and the song itself is a Scorpions style ballad that I really enjoyed.

Sharks in the Water‘ is another song that shows the tight playing of the band in support of Tikkanen’s vocals. ‘Lonely Day‘ is definitely one of my favourite tracks on the album, a tough nugget of rock that reflects the 80’s heyday of the original line up.

Old and Grey‘ reminded me of Tom Petty or Bob Dylan and worked extremely well over the heavy tune, sounding a little like Deep Purple in places. ‘The Last Mile‘ is a return to the heavier style of ‘Storm in Paradise‘ and works as well as the title track did by matching the quality of the vocals with a fantastic tune.

The final track, ‘Nights on the Road‘ is a great finish to the album as the reflection on touring life rings true and has an emotional undercurrent that really works. It is a tribute to Markku Kiminki, Tanna’s former roadie and lighting engineer and one which really reflects the affection Tikkanen had for him.

This album shows why Tikkanen has remained popular for over three decades as his voice is just terrific. The songs themselves are good shop windows for the qualities of the group and as long as they steer clear of vapid reality stars on their next album there is no reason why this late career success won’t continue!

Parallel Love‘ is the second album by British Melodic Rock band ATLAS. Writing sessions for ‘Parallel Love‘ started shortly after the band’s 2019 tour with Midnite City and Age of Reflection, with the band spending much longer on the demo process than for their previous album, polishing their ideas through the autumn and winter of 2019. This resulted in 11 tracks that the band felt were more concise and stronger than previous efforts.

The band chose to pursue a heavier edge for the album production, while staying true to their Melodic Rock and AOR roots. The album line-up consists of Craig Wells (Vocals), Howie Little (Guitar), James Thorley (Keyboards), Chris Redfearn (Bass) and Ryan Briggs (Drums).

James Thorley took on the role of producer and recording engineer, with Christoffer Borg (Art Nation, Taste) once again taking over the role of mixing and mastering. The five-piece chose to work with AOR Heaven again for the world-wide release of ‘Parallel Love‘ due to the successful working relationship for their previous release ‘In Pursuit Of Memory‘.

Parallel Love‘ explores complicated and difficult themes in relationships that arenʼt often touched on in traditional AOR, while still exploring the highs and lows of what love brings to life. ‘Human Touch‘ showcases the physical side of love with no strings attached, while ‘Here With You‘ is a declaration of love lyrically and musically with the band showcasing a string ensemble for the album’s finale. These parallel themes are intended to tie the album together lyrically. ‘Weathered Heart‘ celebrates a new love after the turmoils of previous relationships, while ‘Falling Out Of Love‘ deals with pursuing love for the wrong reasons.

Parallel Love‘ will be released on September 25th 2020.

Track list:

1. The Fever

2. Without You

3. In Your Head

4. Weathered Heart

5. Human Touch

6. Dare To Love

7. Falling Out Of Love

8. Early Warning

9. We Are The Fire

10. Beyond The Limit

11. Here With You

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British melodic rock band TRISHULA is the brainchild of UK guitarist Neil Fraser, accompanied by vocalist Jason Morgan. Prior to forming TRISHULA, Neil and Jason spent many years recording and performing with local bands, Jason performing in the South Wales area of the UK with his band Orangefall and Neil similarly performing in the Midlands area of the UK with a variety of bands. Neil has played and/or recorded with bands/artists such as Rage Of Angels, TEN, Tony Mills (SHY, TNT), Jason has recently recorded backing vocals for Magnum on their latest album ‘The Serpent Rings’.

TRISHULA released their debut record ‘Scared to Breathe’ in March 2019 on the AOR Heaven record label. Neil was keen to write and record a follow up release as soon as possible, so started writing and recording the sophomore album ‘Time Waits For No Man’ not long after the release of ‘Scared to Breathe’. The initial recordings of ‘Time Waits For No Man’ took place again at Neil’s home studio (Farmyard Studios) and demo vocals were again recorded in various locations in Wales. Rick Benton (Magnum) is a long time friend of Neil and takes up keyboard duties on ‘Time Waits For No Man’ as he did on the debut album. Two new names join TRISHULA for the second album: Neil Ogden (Demon) on drums and Dan Clark (Rebecca Downes) on bass with additional backing vocals provided by Georgia Morgan.

Drums and final vocal recordings on ‘Time Waits For No Man’ took place in the Midlands (UK) at M2 Madhat Studios (Magnum). Mark Stuart handled the recording of drums with Neil Ogden and Sheena Sear took care of all vocal recordings. As per the debut album, production, mixing and mastering on ‘Time Waits For No Man’ was undertaken by Sheena Sear at M2 Madhat Studios.

Track list:

1. How It’s Supposed To Be

2. Fallen Hero

3. I Want It All

4. Make Up Your Mind (Take Your Time)

5. I Just Might

6. Hear No Evil

7. The Border

8. The Mighty

9. Knocked Down

10. Every Time We Touch

 www.neilfraserguitarist.com