Review: Tygers Of Pan Tang – Ritual

Mighty Music (November 22nd 2019)

Reviewer: Grant Foster

The Tygers have been around in one form or another since 1978. Most famously, having John Sykes play on their 2nd album ‘Spellbound.’

Robb Weir is the only original member of the current line up from those heady days, but, don’t be fooled. The  previous Tygers release, the self titled ‘Tygers Of Pan Tang’, released in 2016 showed an outfit that was still full of bite and roar.

So, what of ‘Ritual?’

The one – two punch of ‘Worlds Apart’ and ‘Destiny’ showcase all that is good about the modern day Tygers. Chorus’ that will have you hollering not just at the weekend, but all through the week too. That might piss your bosses off, but bollocks to them. This is hard rock at its finest.

A word regarding singer Jacopo Meille. A hell of a voice. Tygers have always had vocalists with that ‘smooth’ sound. Jacopo has that and more besides. His delivery is right on the money throughout, although, and the band might not thank me for it, he has a distinct similarity in timbre, to Davy Vain at certain times! But for me, that’s no bad thing.

Rescue Me’ is a controlled mid tempo affair, but don’t confuse that with a lack of power. Another chorus of note and a fine guitar solo, punch this song into the upper echelons.

Raise Some Hell’, sees the pace turned up several notches. This is your foot on the monitor, head shaking number.

There’s a certain Saxon element to ‘Spoils Of War’, the guitars chugging along menacingly, with a middle part guitar solo that is classic Tygers.

White Lines’ uses some early vocal double tracking to good effect. It’s no big surprise to learn that the subject matter isn’t about flour, or what separates one side of the road from the other!

A melodic guitar and vocal intro to ‘Words Cut Like Knives’, showing a slightly mellower side. Again, it’s what the Tygers do really well and this is no exception. The track then cuts loose with some very cool lead guitar work indeed.

Damn You!’ is a thumping track. ‘Urban jungle, broken hearts and broken minds – I wanna stay alive!’ It’s a song about revenge or getting revenge. Enough said.

Jacopo’s vocals on ‘Love Will Find A Way’ are probably the best on the album. Even if you don’t like songs with the word, ‘love’ in, trust me, you’ll be singing this when you see them live. And you will be going to see them on tour, won’t you?! You bloody well should be on this album’s showing!!

I’m not keen on ‘The Art Of Noise.’ Fans of the really heavy end will like this though.

The album closer, ‘Sail On’, swings along like an old sea shanty. Touches of Maiden maybe, but it is it’s own sailor, so to speak. It knows when to step off the throttle as well, as when to step back on it.

The Tygers have delivered a consistently strong, muscular, melodic, hard rock album of high quality. Make sure it’s part of your daily Ritual from now on.

 

 

Review: Burning Sermons – Liv Sin

Despotz Records (September 6th 2019)

Reviewer: Grant Foster

I thought I’d review something way out of my comfort zone – which is AC/DC or bands that sound like them!

What I knew about this band you could have tried to have written on the top of a pin head. I really haven’t a clue how you’d describe them. Nu Metal? New rock? Church rock? Metal metal?!

How about we settle on Heavy Metal. Their Facebook page actually describes them as, ‘Metal for Sinners!’ These guys (and gal!) are from Sweden and came together in 2016. The singer is Liv Jagrell, a visually striking woman and possessor of a fine pair of lungs to boot.

What’s apparent is that they know how to weave pretty good melodies into their choruses, which means you end up humming them for a few days after. Which is always a good sign.

Opener, ‘Blood Moon Fever’, leads in with an Evanescence style keyboard intro, before it all kicks off. Liv’s voice propels the verse into a seriously catchy chorus. The guitars underpin everything in a time honoured chugging style.

Liv Sin definitely have their own style and I can see it going down really well with our Euro metal cousins.

Second tune, ‘Chapter Of The Witch’, means business, very menacing, fast riffs, but with another catchy chorus.

Its about now you realise how much the keyboards also contribute. They weave in and out, underneath the guitars, without ever overpowering or detracting from them.

Hope Begins To Fade, ‘could almost be a modern Europe track at the beginning, but what Liv Sin do well, is to move it slightly far enough into their own style to change the track.

Not every track works though. ‘War Antidote’ strays into pastiche. Maybe it’s just because of the higher standard of the other tracks here?!

At The Gates Of The Abyss’, sees Liv ease off of the power and her voice is impressive in this softer delivery.

Slave To The Machine’, has a thumping bass and drum during the verse, allowing the space for the rest of the band.

The heaviest tune on offer could well be ‘Death Gives Life Meaning’, as Liv spits out the line, ‘Take your fucking ways, burn them to the ground!’ I wouldn’t try and steal this lady’s Prosecco!!

To balance this, next up is ‘Ghost In the Dark’. Picked guitars and swirling keyboards provide an atmospheric background to an impassioned vocal. Impressive.

There’s probably people better qualified to review this style of music, but I tried to keep an open mind and I honestly enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. The production is punchy, clear and concise. The playing is of a high order too.

I bet Liv Sin would go down a storm at a festival in Germany.

 

Review: Danny Vaughn – Myths, Legends & Lies

Vaughnsongs (June 14th 2019)

Reviewer: Grant Foster

I’ve always admired Mr Vaughn. A real honest, down to earth, friendly guy. And it goes without saying, a first class vocalist. Frontman of Tyketto, who’s first release, the classy AOR of ‘Don’t Come Easy’, is always welcome on my stereo / Iphone / cd player.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this release as DV’s solo releases have run the gamut of styles from hard rock to acoustic overtones. But DV hasn’t disappointed here! He has brought an album that is so intimate, so close, so full of joy, earthy, organic and warm.

It’s perfect for warm summer nights, or long drives in the countryside, or parties with good friends. There’s Irish country jigs (The Shadow Of King John), country pickers (Man or Machine, Last Ride of the Sunset Men), blues (Something I Picked Up Along The Way) acoustic (What You Left Behind) and a whole lot more besides.

DV’s voice is warm, rich and smooth. The performances here are of the highest order and the production is bright. If you think DV is a one card trick, then think again. This album is a sheer joy. It would be nothing of course, without good songs and it has plenty of those, amongst the 14 tracks on offer.

Myths Legends & Lies‘ – probably the most surprising album of the year for me so far, but, one of the best yet.

Review: Bonfire – Live On Holy Ground Wacken 2018

Pride & Joy Music (June 14th 2019)
Reviewer: Grant Foster

Live albums, are they as relevant today as they were 40 years ago?

If You Want Blood, Live and Dangerous, Strangers In The Night. In the days before the internet, downloads, YouTube etc, they were a wonderful documentation of a band’s live show committed to vinyl. But even those illustrious releases aren’t entirely ‘live’.

Priest’s effort is well known as ‘Unleashed In The Studio’ for a reason! Listen to Whole Lotta Rosie from IYWB. Most of it is the studio version from the Let There Be Rock album version. And the ending? I’ve never heard it finished like that on any bootlegs from that era or since! So, how do you know what you are hearing on these ‘live’ albums, is in fact, just that?

This album recorded at Wacken 2018, sounds great. Full and muscular. Almost like a studio release. Ooops, there’s the cynic in me again. The playing and singing is full on. There’s no doubting the quality of this band ‘live’. I really don’t know what else to say. If you are a Bonfire fan, you’re gonna love this. If you’re a hard rock fan, it’s worth checking out. If you haven’t heard of the band, check out their ‘Fireworks’ album.

That’s the problem with live albums in the modern day, in my humble opinion. The songs become so over produced, that they are almost indistinguishable from the albums from which they originally came. And as anyone who has ever performed a live rock show knows, that’s very rarely the case. Now where’s my copy of AC/DC’s ‘Live From The Atlantic Studios?’ Now that’s a LIVE album!

This time it’s the turn of Rockposer Dot Com! reviewer Grant Foster. Grant is a very busy chap singing for the premium AC-DC tribute band in the World, ‘We Salute You’,and so managed to furnish us with a Top 9! So in no particular order…

Blackberry Smoke – Find A Light

The Struts – Young and Dangerous

Airrace – Untold Stories

Electric Boys – The Ghost Ward Diaries

Black Coffee – Take One

Night Flight Orchestra – Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough

The Lazys – Tropical Hazard

Worry Blast – .44

Little Caesar – 8

 

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.

Review: Salty Dog – Lost Treasure

Escape Music (March 2018)

Reviewer: Grant Foster

Salty Dog’s debut, ‘Every Dog Has It’s Day’ was, in my eyes a true lost classic, packed with fine rockers and golden mellow moments driven by the writing partnership largely of Pete Reeven – guitar- (who provided the music) and Jimmi Bleacher – vocals – (who added lyrics). I remember taking a copy down to the Clay Pigeon in Eastcote, home of Neil Kay’s infamous Heavy Metal Soundhouse at the time, so I could headbang to ‘Come Along’ for chrissaskes!

Unfortunately, grunge killed SD’s blend of hard rock & blues, stone dead, along with a number of other bands. Timing, as they say, is everything.

So, this release – what’s it all about? The lost second album? It appears to be just that, polished demos that were worked up for the album that never saw the light of day. By then, Bleacher had departed and Darrel Beach had taken up the vocals. But how does it compare to EDHID?

I really, really, really, wanted to like this album. Like I’ve said, I loved the debut and if ‘Lost Treasure‘ came anywhere near that, in terms of song writing, production & performances, then it would still be a corker of an opus.

But – I’m afraid to say, I’m left totally & utterly disappointed. And really, really, really frustrated!

I’m looking at the notes now, that I typed over the course of listening to this album, on the five occasions I listened to it and it saddens me.

  1. Damned If I Do – More straight ahead hard rock than the debut album – Felt it would have been more ‘in the groove’. Doubles up towards the end for no apparent reason.
  2. I Need More – Sounds like a Badlands out take. It highlights how unique Jimmi Bleacher was and is sorely missed. The chorus is the best part on offer here, but not enough to save the song. Again, it double times out of nowhere, apparently for the guitar solo.
  3. Walk Softly – Starts out like The Cult, pre Electric, then ultimately goes nowhere. A real demo feel, which brings me to the production, or rather the lack of it. Muddy, unrefined and not a patch on that debut!
  4. Open Sezme – The guitar riff is cool and up to now probably the best thing so far. And be grateful for small mercies that Mr Beach has stopped caterwauling long enough to prove he CAN sing! Has an eastern feeling guitar solo.
  5. Mission On A Hill – A slower paced tune, very Zep like, but again, goes absolutely nowhere. Lacks any kind of strong melody in the vocal, something that is right across the board, I’m afraid. ‘’Do you remember?’ sings Beach? I’m trying to forget………
  6. All That Glitters – Slide guitar opens a riff heavy tune, but lacking the subtle touch. Certainly not glittering and definitely not gold.
  7. Woman Scorned – This proves when the band take their foot off the heavy laden lumpen blues pedal, there is a half decent tune here.
  8. Honeysuckle Wind – Yee haw! Banjo upfront and it goes on to be an inoffensive little jaunt. The sort of thing Blackberry Smoke went past, about ten years ago.
  9. Didju – More of the same…….lumpen hard blues rock with yet another uninspired vocal melody and no chorus to speak of. Oh god……..
  10. Old Fashioned Love – Tries to be Skynyrd, but falls way short. Still, at least it sounds different, although still no chorus!
  11. When Fools Rush In – No, sorry, I’ve lost the will to live. A ballad on shifting sands and I’m out of here.

I know, I know, it doesn’t read well. I suppose when the debut album is as stunningly as good, as Salty Dog produced, bringing out a follow up 26 years later with a different line up and therefore different dynamics, was never going to be easy. But even taking that into account, this, is as bad, as EDHID, was good.

 

Review: Little Caesar – Eight

Golden Robot (March 16 2018)

Reviewer: Grant Foster

Right. Let’s get this out of the way first up.

There is absolutely no way that a band of this age, should be writing material this good. They sound like a band a couple of albums into their career. It’s fresh, groovy, soulful, rocking and makes you wanna dance, shout and sing.

Now I could just submit that to my editor, but I’d probably get my P45 before I got to press the ‘send’ button, so allow me to flesh it out a little.

Little Caesar, if you weren’t aware have been around since 1987, playing rock and roll with a subtle difference. That being their injection of soul and cool on the music we all know and love. A classic example being their take on ‘Chain Of Fools.’

But here they are still insisting on flying over to Europe to play in bars, clubs, dives, you name it, because, like a lot of bands these days, they still love what they do. But, not only that, LC are still releasing albums that count and have something to say in the musical landscape. F**k it that they might not be shifting multi platinum status. They want this. Badly.

Which brings me back to this fine opus.

’21 Again’ opens proceedings all muscle and menace and it feels like the band are 21. Again. The LC hook chorus rears it’s head straight away to reel you in.

Mama Tried’ ups the ante further, but always in a soulful, musical way. These guys have the tools to rock hard, but always with that soulful sing a long a swagger.

Have I mentioned Ron Young yet? A unique voice in rock for me. Part Bon Scott, part Aretha, all class. He hasn’t lost it and thank god for that.

Vegas’ has a classic hook – ‘too stoopid for New York, too ugly for Hollywood.’ And these boys should know!

Velvet’ has been in their live set for some time now. It’s a groover, lyrically evoking the ladies who refused to acknowledge that the days of the Sunset Strip were far behind them. You get the feeling that this is a personal tale.

Nobody loves a good time more than me and the guitar riff that opens ‘Good Times’ has it in spades. ‘Those are the days that we won’t let fade away’. Absolutely.

It wouldn’t be a LC album without a soulful lament and ‘Time Enough For That’ provides it. The guitar picking is subtle, yet highlights and accompanies Ron’s vocal. Sublime. They really do write this type of song that can reduce a hard man to rubble.

Straight Shooter’ is a hard edge rocker. It asks the question, ‘Is there anyone out there, that’ll look you right in the eye?’ No BS, just like this tune.

Another Fine Mess’. Nope, it’s not a homage to Laurel and Hardy (!), but a fine romp in the style of the Faces / Bachman Turner Overdrive type bar room brawling. All honk with an earworm of a chorus that won’t leave you alone.

Morning’ brings to mind an old roadie I used to work with. He used to walk off into the sunrise after an all night party, leather jacket slung over his shoulder, into the morning glow. ‘I can’t wait for the morning ’………yep Red would have loved this laid back sunshine of a song.

That’s Alright’ closes the album proper and it’s a little left field. A hint of Cheap Trick, a hint of Foo Fighters mixed with LC.

Two bonus tracks – ‘Mixed Signs’, a more laid back Louisiana sounding tune as Ron laments a woman who he can’t read properly. Ahem! Then a modern take on ‘Slow Ride’, a tune that initially appeared on the Influence album. However the boys play it, it’s still class.

Eight – I’d give it a 9 actually. Go get it.

 

 

Magnum – Lost On The Road To Eternity

Steamhammer (Jan 18)

Reviewer: Grant Foster

I’ve taken a while over this album. Let me be straight here. I’m not really a huge Magnum fan. I acknowledge their longevity. I admire their professionalism. Like Thunder, in their later years they have become more and more revered for being, well, themselves.

There were worrying reports lately that Bob Catley was not cutting it live. But this is a studio album right and worry not oh Magnumites, Uncle Bob sounds in fine fettle here. Whether it’s studio trickery or a good old fashioned vocal scrape (!), Bob delivers the goods. Yes, there’s a fair bit of vocal double tracking but that only enhances the melody, rather than boosting a weak vocal.

The new boy, Rick Benton, who replaced long time alumni, Mark Stanway, really shines here. He’s all over this album, but in a good way. Enhancing, poking, prodding and coming up with an array of different sounds which means you don’t get bored with the keyboard contributions.

And the album is sonically really good. The production is as smooth as a gravy sandwich, no nasty sharp bits to get snagged on and the mix is very sympathetic to Magnum’s progressive AOR.

Ok, so you are wondering, ‘What’s the problem here?’, as I’ve waxed lyrically so far.

To put it bluntly, they’ve stayed so close to their signature sound & formula, that they haven’t differentiated enough, to produce a song or songs that actually stand out.

Yes, in other words, as I worked my way through the album, I felt like the songs begin to blend into one another and that I’d heard the vocal melody line earlier too. The songs all seem to chug along at pretty much the same tempo too, which doesn’t help.

I’m sure the Magnum die hards will be spitting blood, but I have to call it thus – It’s a highly polished, professional progressive AOR styled piece of work, from one of Britain’s best loved rock outfits.

But unfortunately, it’s not for me.

Review: Vain – Rolling With The Punches

MBM/Jackie Rainbow (May 2017)

Reviewer: Grant Foster

So here I am nursing a hangover with a strong coffee, trying to think how to put my thoughts into this album into words that make any sense.

I think many of us are familiar with the classic Vain debut album. It really has stood the test of time and established that signature Vain sound.

Now I know that Davy’s voice isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but me, well, I like a vocalist with character in his voice. Plus, being his band so to speak, he has written quite an impressive body of work.

So, onto matter in hand. ‘Rolling With The Punches’ opens the album in a typically anthemic Vain way, all mid paced and trouble spilling from the speakers. ‘Deliver The Passion’ is more up tempo with that oh so familiar guitar part that seem to be littered throughout Vain’s tunes and a killer chorus to boot.

Long Gone’, opens up all chuggedy chug chug, a short guitar solo and it steams into the distance like any train that runs into Paddington could only dream of. The chorus is all call and response with the backing vocals and there is a delicious longer guitar solo in there too. ‘Dark City’ – with a title like that, you’d expect all muscle, violence and gratuitous sex references, or at least I would. And it starts off all mean, moody & midpaced. But – ah yes, there had to be one – it doesn’t really go anywhere to my ears and boasts the weakest chorus so far. The part of the second chorus is a little strange, almost like, ‘what do we put in here lads?’ kind of thing.

Bury Some Pain’ – the song titles keep getting darker, just what I need with my throbbing noggin. And this tune almost reminds me of the Cult at times. The guitar harmonics are a little different for Vain and kind of work…..I think. But for Vain, it’s a bit second division. Don’t get me wrong, second division Vain can be good, but it’s a little trippy…….and way overlong! ‘It’s A Long Goodbye’, I think the coffee is kicking in now……Hmmmm, I’m seeing a pattern emerging here. Dark song title, song sinking into it’s own quagmire. And it does it again. True, the chorus actually saves this from being a complete turd of a number, but really, is that enough? Davey seems as if the last three songs are his mogadon phase.

Ok – keep persevering Foster. ‘Inside Out’, ah, the spaced out phase continues! Davey is apparently, ‘in his velvet room’………..remind me not to go there.

Don’t Let It Happen To You’ – picking up the tempo at long last and we’re back to the Vain that I like, at least.  DV’s vocals are to be commended on this song. ‘Sacrifice’ lulls you into a false sense of security with a laid back into and then, Bang!, we’re off! More muscle than an American sports car on those little blue pills, this is the stuff that could have been on that debut album. Nice interplay on the verse between the guitar and vocals and a singalonga chorus.

The album finishes with ‘Show Your Love’. I’m almost out of coffee…….but this song doesn’t do it for me. Maybe it’s that cotton eye joe picking on the verse……or the guitar echoing DV’s vocal on the chorus, but it comes across a little messy even for Vain. Like a hive of bees knocking on a tin can.

To sum up, it’s not one of Vain’s best. It’s a shame that the middle of the album trips out and disappears where the sun doesn’t shine. I really wanted to like this, but it falls short, especially when you know what DV is capable of.