Review: Bonfire – Fistful Of Fire

AFM Records (April 3rd 2020)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo

I enjoyed this album throughout however I didn’t begin to truly absorb the album until I fired up the amps and subs to truly appreciate the composition and production. Don’t hold back on this one, play loud.

The Joker‘ is a short instrumental opening the album with a sense of mystery, anticipation and adventure which almost seamlessly leads on to ‘Gotta Get Away‘ , power rock track that has catchy riffs with heavy delivery.

The Devil Made Me Do It‘ is a classic dual lead guitar showcase with symphonic undertones and high reaching vocals and a sing a long chorus.

Ride The Blade‘ exercises the vocal dexterity of Alexx Stahl delivering operatic highs with husk lows alongside fast melody of guitar work.

When An Old Man Cries‘ changes direction and tone with more than a nod over to a New Jersey sound, this track delivers on a ballad with smoky flames.

Rock’n’Roll Survivors‘ brings everything needed for a Bonfire spectacular that underlines this new albums approach and originality.

Fire And Ice‘ is perhaps the meltwater of the album with franticly fast yet precision guitar work.

Fire Etude‘ is a short and complex instrumental that pumps high velocity Oxygen into a burning inferno.

Breaking Out‘ has energy and precision timing administered by André Hilgers delivered with a crushing beat.

Fistful Of Fire‘ is an anthem and title track of this fresh rock ‘n’ roll album, Hans Ziller remains true to a pedigree and doesn’t compromise, building intrigue with ‘The Surge‘ and ever impressive onslaught of ‘Gloryland‘, reaching up to the heavens and opening up a fuming fire of intense heat.

The album closes with a rather special acoustic version of ‘When An Old Man Cries‘.

If I had to pick some stand out tracks from this album I’d be spoiled for choices, but perhaps ‘Gloryland‘, ‘When An Old Man Cries‘ together with ‘The Devil Made Me Do It‘ are ones that resonate the most.

This is a remarkable album and deserves to be played loud to appreciate the detail and energy.

 

Review: Secret Rule – Against

Pride & Joy Music (February 21st 2020)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo

Secret Rule hailing from Italy are set to release a fifth album entitled ‘Against‘ which is a powerful mix of deep metal electronica and riff centric energy.

Spira Mirabilis‘ is the grand prelude to the album which sets the scope and feel perfectly for the narrative.

As I listened to all the tracks on the album I found that I would come back to ‘Spira Mirabilis‘ as this seems to be quite pivotal in the journey of the ‘Against‘ story.

This is no ordinary concept album, I found its hypotheses a combination of human condition and that of the celestial, challenged on an unknown passage as cyber slaves.

The musical composition is the driving energy with a solid balance of synthesisers, low hung and deliciously heavy riffs, fast bass with percussion that beats out like artillery fire with intricate rhythm of Alex Beccati on drums keeping the time. ‘Shades Of Humanity‘ packs some weight with some influences from the electronica of Rammstein along the way. ‘Rise Again‘ is fast and energetic harmony’s.

Going Nowhere‘ has good vocal range and dexterity with convincing depth pitched alongside a massive backline of riffs of Andy Menario.

Digital Revolution‘ one of my favourite tracks from the album, the composition here is a showcase for the journey and opens the door to ‘Endless Promises‘, which is a fantastic track that jumps out and thrashes out rapid heavy riffs with synergy of music moving into ‘Purgatory‘ which by now your immersed with feeling of desperation held firm with bass strings and industrial synth, powerful vocal and growling riff.  Against brings with it a pounding heart beat bass lines of Michele Raspanti and indignant riffs.

Deep Solitude‘ demonstrates perfectly the incredible vocals of Angela Di Vincenzo who has a tremendous range and depth alongside yet more catchy hooks to have you moshing up. ‘Outsiders‘ another standout track from the album, this is a masterpiece of well engineered and executed sounds. The timing here is impeccable. ‘My Last Breath‘ embodies power of the story with musical intensity burning into the last track ‘Don’t Let Me Fade‘ which concludes the album with a build of emotion delivered into your imagination driven with a musical charge.

Review: Sign X – Like A Fire

Pride & Joy Music (December 6, 2019)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo

Fantastic album, comprising well written and executed musicianship with a polished production to suit.

Some catchy riff deliveries reminding me of Foreigner.

If you like melody, riffs, epic drums and powerful vocals this album will not disappoint and should be on everybody’s list of albums to buy and certainly a band I would like to go see live should an opportunity arise.

Storm’ opens with a signature piano melody leading to the full elements of percussion and fret work of guitar and menacing baselines with a punchy energetic vocal delivery.

Nothing is left out of this album, ‘Rain’ is a true anthem of a track, opening with an acoustic ballad on to a crescendo of power with hearty vocals and pleasing harmony’s throughout.

Free your Mind’ demonstrates the bands wordsmith-ability’s  and delivers a lyrical hook that will stay with you.

Crush‘ ’had me thinking of a west end musical score, not only in the presentation but in the message and feel of the song, credit to these guys on the composition of this triumphant piece and finding a suitable place that sits well on the Album.

Sign’ this reinforces the bands range of musical ability to write original music with a feel and nod over to the likes of Deep Purple on a tin of red bull.

Koda X’ a melody that closes the album with  tranquillity and reflection.

For me, this is one of the best albums I have had the privilege to listen to and review. Its released today and should be in everyone’s album collection.  I will be looking out for more  from Sign X, as these guys are simply genius.

 

Kickin ValentinaChaos In Copenhagen (EP)

Mighty Music  (December 6th 2019)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo

Kickin Valentina, hailing from Atlanta, are one of the best live bands I have seen in recent years, so I was pleased for the opportunity to review the bands new EP, here it is ‘Chaos in Copenhagen’ which is set to be released 6th December.

This is not just any EP release, this is 3 brand new songs, a new frontman and a live version of ‘Get Ready’ recorded live at this years Bang Your Head Festival 2019.

Kickin Valentina at the beginning of 2019 introduced a new frontman into the equation in the form of D.k. Revelle (Ex Jetboy)

Some processes and changes happen for a reason and this new line up is no exception.

The EP opens up with ‘Sweat’ a full-on anthem that will have you on your feet singing and head swinging around to precision beat delivery by Jimmy Berdine hammering out the drums, this is one hell of a track with a solid vibe.

Next up and maintaining the momentum is ‘Easy Ryder’ menacing drums duelling with some serious bass lines, low strung and delivered by Chris Taylor ripping up the bass strings, whilst Heber Pampillon works the guitar providing some serious riffs and solo work.

Shake Down’ follows on, in a slightly different approach, exercising vocal harmonies and lyrical hooks that show the range of ability in not only maintaining well written and original songs, but in the delivery of a sound that’s so catchy it feels like this will be an epidemic.

Last track, ‘Get Ready’ (Live at Bang Your Head) is up next and it has 3 brand new stellar tracks before it to compete with. Well It’s a belter, not only is this a fantastic live performance capturing most of the unique elements of Kickin Valentina, it is mixed to perfection and sits well on this EP.  Since recruiting the new vocalist and touring extensively this year D.K. Revelle has proved his commitment and delivers his powerhouse vocals into the bands well eared an proven brand of ‘loud unapologetic rock n roll’

This EP is not only a masterpiece from start to finish, but a prelude of what is to come from a  band of talented and experienced song writers with real stage presence delivering full on freight train rock’n’roll in and out of the studio.

Puddle of Mudd – Welcome to Galvania

Pavement Entertainment (September 13th 2019)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo 

Puddle Of Mudd have been around since 1991 however it wasn’t until around 2000 that the band became worldly known.  Singer songwriter and only original member Wes Scantlin  has now released this 5th studio album after 10 years.     

The album starts with some menacing grungy riffs with ‘You Don’t Know’ which is a good opener for the album and sets the intention and delivery of cultivated grunge that is woven amongst the lyrically angst tracks of this album.

Next up is ‘Oh Oh’ with some catchy riffs and hooks. The formula here is classic Puddle Of Mudd single material. This had me singing along in no time at all.

Following on is ‘Go To Hell’ I quite like this song too, however something about the chorus vocals sounds reminiscent of some sort of wailing cat, however I have listened to this a few times now and it grows on you to the inevitable point that it seems to sit well in the song.

I’m liking the guitar work on ‘Diseased Almost’ with some very poignant lyrics that can be associated with the struggles that Wes Scantlin has battled with. This is not to be underestimated and is a fitting keystone of this album.

‘My Kind Of Crazy’ is another well written, song which builds and expands on the struggles around lousing your way.

‘Time Of Our Lives’ starts slower and has some reflective thoughts coming through with complimentary rhythm section to keep you moving along.

‘Sunshine’ another song in context of the album, expressing the inner battlefield.

‘just Tell Me’ moves to another area of relationships and the continued challenges that have been put to pen for album. Some interesting and catchy riffs tie this album together and make it worthy of any rock collection, ‘Kiss It All Goodbye’  and ‘Slide Away’ close the album with, originality yet with a familiar feel of times gone by in the abyss of the 90’s POM. As an indication of the commercial awareness a radio friendly version of ‘Oh Oh’ sits as the final track of the album as an alternative, which doesn’t suffer any loss of impact as a result.

Overall I enjoyed the album. Puddle Of Mudd have swapped and changed musicians faster then a duelling banjo player on a caffeine rush, yet Wes who has remained constant has had quite a journey along the way. This album is a product of that turbulent time moving on to this point of a new full album after 10 years of struggles.

 

 

 

Review: Age Of Reflection – A New Dawn

AOR Heaven (September 27th 2019)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo

Age Of Reflection are a Swedish AOR six piece crew that are poised to release their second album ‘A New Dawn’.  With all the essential Scandinavian rock comes a heavily guitar oriented power rock that has a hint of New Jersey hair metal influences coming through.   

The album starts with a dawn chorus of melodic guitar work then directly powers into the first track ‘A New Dawn’, which is a lively intro that pushes you into the album with real momentum.

Stay With Me’ is a mini anthem track that overall stood out from the album. ‘Here I Stand’ and ‘Death Do Us Part’ have a softer vocal approach, rather like a big hair ballads of  Bon Jovi  and continue with solid harmonies.

What If I Break’ is one of the slower tracks on the album with gentle guitar melodies that progresses into a lively chorus and with solid vocal lines drive energy into the composition.

One of the standout tracks for me is ‘I Just Died’, a creative rocked up cover of Cutting Crew’s 1986 classic anthem. Whilst keeping some of the original flavour this track is the sum and difference.

Never Alone Again’ is a breakup track with upbeat hooks that carry along throughout the song. ‘Write It On The Wall’ follows naturally on with a backdrop of breakup, yet with energy and positivity coming though in the music.

The production on this album is polished and flows quickly with fantastic riffs and vocals. I’m reminded at times of Dokken whilst the album plays.

 

Review: Hands Off Gretel, Humber Street Sesh 2019 August 2nd & 3rd August

Reviewer / Photographer: Paul Saripo

Hands Off Gretel have been touring extensively during festival season and with the foresight of Alen Raw, from Humbers BBC introducing, he talked his counterparts in south Yorkshire to get these guys up and over to Hull and play on the Humber Street Sesh, BBC Introducing Stage for 2019

Hands Off Gretel arrived in good time and mingled in the crowds soaking up the Sesh’s unique City Festival atmosphere before delivering a stela performance on the Introducing Stage.

A worthy crowd assembled to take delivery of Gretel’s alternate rock set, opening up with One Eyed Girl, it wasn’t long before the classic SASS and Milk showed just how lyrically strong and poignant the HOG quartet are.

The vocal range of Lauren draws you in with a smoothness that turns wildly into a growling rasping whip and back again with a backlash of calm.

A broken 6th string on Laurens guitar made for a quick change to a sparkly pink axe, it seemed at this point energy amongst the willing crowd turned into small pools of mosh, then up from the masses a crowd surfer emerged and was aloft for a few seconds then brought down back to safety by vigilant event staff.

Sean on lead makes playing guitars look deceptively easy, churning out the complexity with ease alongside Beckie on the Rickenbacker bass, who plays fast, precise and with personality that resonates with the hefty strings, whilst at the back Sam is on drums keeping the time and driving the beats out as sure as an artillery strike.

Review: Three Day Millionaires – Humber Street Sesh August 2nd & 3rd August 2019

Reviewer / photographer: Paul Saripo

Three Day Millionaires have played the Humber Street Sesh before, including headlining the almighty Rock Stage, however this year the three piece hard hitting Punk rock ’ n‘roll power house hit the Main Stage for 2019’s two day festival which takes over the City and far beyond.

It was the first time the Main Stage at the Humber street Sesh, has scheduled a punk band to have the signature stage of the festival and at a prime time on Saturday.

Speaking briefly with the lads before the set, it was clear these guys had a plan and oh boy did they deliver a stunning performance.

Not only did they pull in large crowds filling the Marina, they rocked, kicking out some serious energy to an enthusiastic and eclectic ordinance who may not have anticipated the thrust of power laden riffs of ‘The Snub’.

These guys play hard, tight and fast energy punk that do not hold anything back. Another first for the main stage at the Sesh, was a bust snare head that warranted a quick change out and on with the well-received onslaught of sheer head on punk delivered in true Hull spirit.

The Three Day Millionaires, announced that this maybe one of their final gigs as two of the trio are expectant fathers and will soon be taking time out with their respective families.

Time will tell what happens during this sabbatical, these guys have been around gigging for about 4 years with gigs up and down the Uk, in places such as Camden, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol and Lincoln to mention a few just this year alone as well as been part of the Hull’s rich musical family.

All photographs copywrite© Paul Saripo & Paul Saripo Photography and may not be used without express permission

Robert Randolph and the Family Band – Brighter Days

Provogue Records (August 23rd)

 Reviewer: Paul Saripo

The opening track is ‘Baptise Me‘ a stand out, solid blues rock number that really hooks you into the rhythm and depth of the music. A great opener for the album and insight in what’s to follow.

Next is the albums only cover song ‘Simple Man‘, originally by ‘Pops Staples‘, this rendition is smooth and offers some new dimension with the pedal steel work. Whilst not presented quite as personal as Pops, its sole full and arranged well.

Lenesha Randolph takes up lead vocals on ‘Cry Over Me‘ whilst Robert concentrates on working the steel guitar in a relaxed sliding swill allowing room for Lenesha’ fantastic vocal lines. A good compliment of instrumental breaks to really push some fast right hand and pedal work of Robert’s steal.

Second Hand Man‘ is percussive and drives a deep farrow with a sprinkle of a jazz feel at times.

Have Mercy‘, is a soulful gospel duet that is held together by a solid bass line from Danyel Morgan and the melodic pedal guitar woven into the track.

Next up is somewhat slower vocally yet still upbeat on the steel that has a voice in synergy and a bonding part of this album.

I’m Living Off The Love You Give‘ picks up the beat and delivers in a car wash jive beat with whip steel string work.

Cut Em Loose‘ has some fast and prominent work on the pedal steel guitar, leaving the hook of the refrain to combine and invite you in to join.

Don’t Fight‘ is built with a variety musical styles presented in medley fashion with influences of T-Bone Walker then midway into the song following a crescendo a riff developed and I was reminded of Soft Cell with the early 80’s Tainted Love

The album concludes with ‘Strange Train‘ a large anthem track with everyone pushing the tempo and keeping balance and use of a the lap steal in prominence over the pedal.

Overall an enjoyable album, unique rock blues gospel with an upbeat feel.

 

 

 

Scarlet Rebels – Show Your Colours

ROAR! Rock Of Angels Records (09 August 2019)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo

Welsh based Rock band, Scarlet Rebels (previously going by the name of V0id) have produced their debut Album, ‘Show Your Colours‘ with riffs as smooth as mountain slate and groves as deep as the lush green valleys.

The album opens with an impressive track, ‘No One Else To Blame‘ that uses vocal harmonies and head rocking guitars to deliver a solid first track introduction and signature for the album.

Each track on the album is robust and formed together with gifted song writing from the heart.  A tapestry of Musical delight as this album unfolds, delivering an emotional journey with a variety of killer riffs and swirling solos of ‘You Take My Breath Away‘,  then on to a potent anthem track ‘Head’s In The Ground‘ followed by dusty confederate undertones of ‘Part Of Me‘.

Moving on to the next track ‘Heal‘, which begins with an air of tension which develops into a roller coaster of vibrant riffs. ‘Let Your Love Go‘ is another energetic song as is ‘Nothing To Say‘.

Next up is ‘Save Me‘ with solid hook’s and solid construction.

‘Blinded By The Pain‘ is solitude and desperation around mental heath, following on is ‘Shattered Dreams‘ and ‘Can I Open My Eyes‘ continuing with an upbeat energy.

From this we are pulled into ‘Returning Light a heart wrenching ballad. Powerful arrangements combine with Wayne Doyle’s well written lyrics delivered with believable vocals. One of my favourite tracks on the album.

‘Losing End’ picks up pace again showing further dexterity of Scarlet Rebels writing ability. The album closes with ‘Radio Song‘.

This album has a place in everyone’s collection, not only seriously talented musicians and song writers, but a breath of fresh air in contemporary rock.