Review: Jesse Damon – Damon’s Rage

AOR Heaven (28 February 2020)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Jesse Damon returns with solo album number six ‘Damon’s Rage‘. I’ll admit I’ve been a bit of a fan since first discovering Silent Rage (Jesse was vocalist & lead guitar) back in the late 80’s. Since those heady days I’ve followed his career with interest, enjoying the Silent Rage albums as well as Jesse’s previous five solo releases.

I guess I knew what to expect when it came to ‘Damon’s Rage‘ and fellow fans certainly won’t be disappointed as there is that distinct Jesse sound.

Together with long time musical partner Paul Sabu, Jesse has once again delivered a hard rock album that delves into AOR and melodic rock, all with a modern approach.

As to be expected the songwriting is above parr, with each song flowing seamlessly as the album progresses.

No chance of being short changed neither with the album containing twelve songs, all of which are over four minutes each.

Favorite tracks, ‘Damon’s Rage‘, ‘Flyin Dutchman‘ & ‘Lonely Night

Well worth adding to the collection and not just to complete your Jesse Damon catalogue!

Review: Collateral – Collateral

Roulette Media Records (Feb 21st 2020)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Kent based rockers Collateral will release their debut album on February 21st, coming after 2018’s ‘4 Shots!‘ EP. The new album contains one track from said EP, the single ‘Midnight Queen‘.

Before we delve into the album’s contents, a bit of back history so to speak. Originally formed as the Angelo Tristan Band, named after vocalist Angelo Tristan, they toured the US, and played numerous live dates, including Fibrofest in 2017 and had various line up changes. Move forward to 2018 and the band became Collateral with Angelo and bassist Jack Bently-Smith being joined by drummer Ben Atkinson and guitarist Todd Winger. Since 2018 the band has grown from strength to strength, playing the likes of Ramblin’ Man and the Bon Jovi Cruise, as well as numerous other gigs and building on an already solid reputation.

And so to the album itself which kicks off with the single ‘Mr Big Shot‘, which on the album sounds much richer, with a fuller sound, which in my opinion is a much needed boost and really gives the track a kick.

Promiseland‘ starts with a catchy riff and a pounding bass and drum backing before the main body of the song fills out, foot stomping with great harmonies.

Merry Go Round‘ will raise the Bon Jovi comparisons that are repeatedly mentioned in reviews etc. It’s something which could be a win or a curse, thankfully the former, as yes it is Jovi like, but also with echoes of Royal Court Of China, all delivered with Collateral‘s own stamp on it.

In It For Love‘ sounds like a classic 80’s song title and the song certainly has leanings in that direction, with some nice keyboard in fills.

Next is another of the album’s singles, ‘Lullaby‘. Okay I’m going to be honest and say this particular song just hasn’t grabbed me as much as the band’s other material, however it’s a song that always goes down well with a live crowd so what do I know!

As mentioned at the start ‘Midnight Queen‘ has been brought over from the ‘4 Shots! EP‘, and rightly so as it’s the track that really helped garner the band’s reputation via airplay. Light and fluffy with a real AOR’ish vibe, it is perfect radio fodder and you cannot help but find your foot tapping and head nodding along.

And so we reach ballad time with ‘Get Back To You‘. And what a great job the boys have made, certainly one of my favourites on the album, it sounds like it’s taken from their third or fourth album let alone the debut!

Tempo stepped back up for ‘Won’t Stop Me Dreaming‘, very commercial and would of been a better choice for single than ‘Lullaby‘ methinks, some lovely guitar work by Todd (a future axe hero), great harmonies, and no overblown drums and bass. Great stuff.

Alas we reach the final track, ‘About This Boy‘ a song that Angelo says is autobiographical. Again a song that has a real maturity, which highlights the journey Angelo and Co have travelled from before Collateral to now. Plenty of country influences, it is really a cross over track that will appeal to a multitude of music fans.

So there we have it. In conclusion I feel the album more than reflects the band’s influences and ambitions.  The future certainly is bright for the boys and I for one am more than a little pleased.

A must buy and don’t miss a chance to see them live!

Yes folks it’s that time of year again! Where did this year go I hear you ask?

First off the blocks so to speak with their Top Ten Albums Of 2019 is Dan Mann.

So here in no particular order are his choices.

Jack J Hutchinson – Who Feeds The Wolf?

Blindstone – Deliverance At The Crossroads

Chantel McGregor – Bury’d Alive

Michael Bormann’s Jaded Hard – Feels Like Yesterday

Gathering Of Kings – First Mission

Meridian – Margin Of Error

Tygers Of Pan Tang – Ritual

Stargazer – The Sky Is The Limit

Kris Barras Band – Light It Up

Gin Annie – 100% Proof

Must also mention the following EP’s:

Trident Waters – Hollywood To Vegas

Wicked Stone – Devil In Me

Kickin Valentina – Chaos in Copenhagen

Devilfire – Out Of The Dark

Review: Blindstone – Deliverance At The Crossroads

Grooveyard Records (Dec 10th 2019)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Well I’ve never hidden my appreciation of the music of Danish blues rockers Blindstone, far from it, a band seldom off my music rotation since I first encountered them quite by chance on Grooveyard Record‘s website.

Since that time the band have released in total nine albums if you include their newest ‘Deliverance At The Crossroads‘. Guitarist / lead singer Martin J. Anderson is one of the most underated guitarists in Europe who is capable of playing not only blues rock but has branched out into hard rock & heavy metal with other bands & projects.

With the bass guitar of Jasper Bunk and tub thumper Sigurd Jøhnk-Jensen making up the other two thirds of the band, this trio have amply captured in my mind the very essence of blues rock, namely, heavy, dirty groove riffs that demand you crank that damn volume knob right up and wallow in the soundscape now pounding from your speakers or cans!

From the opening notes of ‘World Of Trouble‘ your pinned against the wall, realising your in for an absolute audio treat. When comparing ‘Deliverance At The Crossroads‘ with the band’s previous albums there is a definite leaning towards that rockier, dirty end of the blues rock spectrum, an area I like to dwell in, an area that you’ll also find the likes of that man from Hell, Michael Katon, an area quite happy to stick two fingers up to ‘traditional blues’ and just crank and play.

While there isn’t a poor track on the album, there are always going to be tracks that either stand out or just make that connection.

One is the title track ‘Deliverance At The Crossroads‘. It’s just over 4 1/2 minutes of instrumental glory, a track  that just envelopes you in that afor mentioned soundscape. The guitar playing stands up against any of Martin’s peers.

Two track not out of place on a hard rock album. ‘What I Want‘ and ‘Olympus‘ pound and scream, with a heavy guitar sound and frantic bass and drums it’s almost headbanging material.

And ‘Dove‘ with it’s mixture of acoustic and electric guitar beautifully woven, creating a wonderful foot tapping end to what is a superb release.

This for me is potentially a cross over album, appealing to blues rock and rock fans alike. With the band making a welcome return to Ramblin’ Man festival next year here’s hoping they get the recognition they so justly deserve.

 

Review: Dream Company – The Wildest Season

Tanzan Music (15th October 2019)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Well I’d admit from the off that I’d not heard of Dream Company before the album promo email dropped into my inbox. Reading the accompanying blurb, they started off back in 2006 as a Bon Jovi tribute band. After several line up changes in 2012 Mario Percudani ((Hungryheart, Mitch Malloy, Lionville, Hardline) became involved in a producer capacity.

Moving forward to 2019 and the band have released ‘The Wildest  Season‘ via Tanzan Music.

This album is very much nailed down in melodic rock territory, with some catchy tunes, especially the single ‘Revolution‘. I think the most obvious description of this album as a whole is it’s very similar to British band Vega, which is certainly not a bad thing.

With Giulio Garghentini (Vocals), Enrico Modini (Guitars), Stefano Scola (Bass),
Davide Colombi (Drums) as the current line up I think they have an oppotunity to make some inroads into the current rock scene.

Worth checking out!

Review: Michael Bormann’s Jaded Hard – Feels Like Yesterday

RMB Records (October 25th 2019)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

To be honest, this could easily be a really short review being such a fan of this band’s vocalist. There are vocalists I like that I always grab the releases ofwhatever band / project they sing on. One such vocalist is Michael Bormann.

Unbelievably it’s been almost fourteen years since Michael’s departure from Jaded Heart. Since his announcement of the formation of Jaded Hard around two years ago, I’ve been keeping a beedy eye on their plans. Jaded Hard have up to now been playing live dates in Europe. But now they’ve taken the plunge and are releasing an album, ‘Feels Like Yesterday‘, containing twelve brand new songs.

Put it simply, this is like an early Christmas present for all Bormann fans. This is like re-visiting those classic Bormann fronted Jaded Heart albums, albums I absolutly love!

With albums you’re instantly taken with, it’s damn hard to pick favorite or stand out tracks. However, for me personally ‘Won’t Surrender‘, ‘We’d Still Make It‘, the Tyketto sounding ‘Bring Me Higher Love‘, the Y&T esk ‘Good Times‘ and ‘It Feels Like Yesterday‘ fit the bill.

To be fair, in my humble opinion, there isn’t a bad/weak track on the album, I’ve already played it multiple times and have it pencilled in as another likely contender for my top ten list for the year.

If your a Michael Bormann fan then this is a must buy. Likewise if your a melodic hard rock fan, add it to your ‘to buy’ list forthwith!

 

Review: Jack J Hutchinson – Who Feeds The Wolf

Jack J Hutchinson Music (October 18th 2019)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

The man with the hat, Jack J Hutchinson, is back with a brand new 11 track album titled ‘Who Feeds The Wolf‘.

From the offset it is pretty obvious that Jack is not sticking to the overly ridged rules of what constitutes blues / blues rock. This is an album of som much more, a mixture of influences showing their face.

Justify‘ the opening track is as Jack says himself about the album, angry, a take no prisoners song if you like, grabbing you by the lapels and saying “listen to this”.

Second track ‘Haunted Bones‘ has a fantastic heavy riff chugging through the song, a multi genre track that will appeal to blues rock & rock fans alike.

The third track ‘Kiss Your Ass Goodbye‘ is much more on that southern infused blues that Jack is more known for. What I refer to as a Jim Beam sipping song!

I Will Follow You‘ slows things right down with a beautifully balanced  accoustic number.

Lucky Man‘ sounds a lot like Rival Sons, not a bad thing in my book, and it’s I think always great to have a real mixture of styles on an album to keep the listener on their toes rather than everything melting into one track.

Track six, ‘Peace Of Mind‘ as another laid back track, again beautifully layered that grows into a real foot tapper.

Roll Another One‘ sits perfectly with the current crop of British band’s releases and should certainly help gain more fans, especially with ‘Haunted Bones‘ paving the way on Planet Rock’s playlist.

We take another fork in the road with ‘Let It Ride‘, with it’s Americana slant. Not AOR but certainly that side of the rock genre.

Autumn Leaves‘ is without a doubt one of my favorites on the album. Laid back, yes, but with such a great atmosphere. I can’t put my finger on exactly why this song resonates but it hits me on a personal level, bringing up certain memories and events.

Winds Of Change‘ is not to be confused with the Scorpions hit. With it’s waves of Hammond organ it’s suprisingly more mellow rock than blues, but an enjoyable, catchy tune.

And alas we reach the final track on the album. ‘Sleep Awake Obey‘. AIt’s a track as the title suggests with some angst as well as some of the urgency of the openning two tracks.

Overal ‘Who Feeds The Wolf‘ just works on many levels. I’ve found myself playing it a fair bit since the promo dropped into my inbox. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing the material live at Planet Rockstock later in the year.

All in all, highly recommended.

 

Review: Wicked Stone – Devil In Me (EP)

Factory Music (September 13th 2019)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Okay let’s start by placing my cards on the table. Wicked Stone, yes I’m a fan!

I first saw them supporting RavenEye at Leo’s Red Lion and when I was booking bands to play the second Fibrofest, Wicked Stone instantly came to mind as a band we needed back at Leo’s.

It’s been a bit of a wait for new material since the band’s release of ‘Ain’t No Rest‘ in 2017, but with everyone working and with other commitments it’s more than understandable.

So, was it worth the wait, a wait that seems longer being an inpatient fan?

Two words……….damn right!

One thing I like about Wicked Stone‘s releases is they capture the full on intensity of the band’s live shows. Fat riffs and a pounding bass & drumline help propel the tracks deep inside your earlugs.

From the opening onslaught of ‘Couldn’t Take Anymore‘ to the last track on the EP, ‘Devil In Me‘ you don’t catch a breather, the infectious, foot stomping assault gives no quarter.

This is a ‘no brainer’, add ‘Devil In Me‘ to your music collection.

After receiving the promo came news of line up change. I hope the band manage to get onto that illusive next rung and get the attention they justly deserve.

 

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!