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Review: Joe Satriani – What Happens Next

Review: Joe Satriani – What Happens Next

Sony Music Cmg (January 2018)

Reviewer: David Mark Pearce

Believe it or not, although being a guitarist myself, this is my first review of a guitar instrumental album.

I think it’s good to go in at the very top and start with what he does best. Yes, there’s faster, maybe more technically intricate out there – but none anywhere near as commercially successful as Satch! Why? Well, the guy has technique in spades, but where as others rely almost solely on that alone, Joe brings musicality, skill and melody to his songs. Everyone, from your dyed in the wool shredder to (let’s face it!) your Dad, will be singing along and tapping their feet, or fingers, too. That’s what, in my opinion, makes Satch the best!

To be the best, or the captain of your own ship as it were, it helps if you have first and second mates along for the journey. In this instance, Glenn Hughes and Chad Smith. Satch has been quoted as saying something along the lines of “What would happen if I put this guy with this guy?”. Well, he did it here and it’s a perfect combination! Hughes is more known for being the so called voice of rock, although I’ve never seen him as that – he’s more funk, to me, than out and out rock – but everyone seems to forget just how good a bassist he is. I mean, c’mon, he was in Trapeze and Deep Purple and you’re not in those bands on looks alone! Combine him with Smith and that’s the solid rhythm section taken care of, but it’s one that’s really interesting to listen to as well. Hughes really delivers on what, I believe, is his first instrumental outing!

All in all, what we have here is, I think, Satriani’s strongest album in many a year. I’m intrigued to find out “what happens next” well, after this one, wait – that is this one ….. oh, you know what I mean!

Review: Blindstone – Blues-O-Delic Celebration – A Tribute To The Blues

Review: Blindstone – Blues-O-Delic Celebration – A Tribute To The Blues

Grooveyard Records (November 2017)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

The Blindstone boys are back with a brand new album, this time a collection of covers amounting to a tribute to the blues. I know they were a tad nervous about whether they’ve done the thirteen tracks justice, having had chance to listen to the whole album quite a few times here’s my humble opinion of if they hit target or not.

Kicking off the album is a cover of BB King’s ‘Rock Me Baby‘. Now a cover can be two things. A carbon copy of the original or a band’s interpretation. Personally I prefer the latter as it’s interesting to listen to a song from a different angle so to speak. The original is a laid back track, while this is more forward, leaning more to blues rock which actually gives this track some balls!

Second up is ‘Blood Stream‘, originally released by Rocky Hill, brother of ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill. Straight away this grabs you with wailing guitar, and energetic rhythm section, this is Blindstone putting their stamp on it. Being very familiar with the original I’m not disappointed with this rendition.

Next is Freddy King’s ‘Pack It Up‘ covered by Bonamassa on Blues Deluxe which is more of a direct copy but as I said earlier, I prefer things getting a little twist or two. This is once again adding that that distinctive Blindstone blues rock stamp, which makes it more of a foot tapper in my book.

Me And My Woman‘ is next on the bill from the criminally underrated Shuggie Otis. The Blindstone version thankfully manages to retain elements of that 70’s New York funk groove with the underlying blues elements.

Old School‘ is a track unknown to myself and was originally recorded by the wonderfully named Guitar Shorty. An appropriately named track for sure as it is quite simply old school blues.

The next track ‘Something’s Got A Hold On Me’ is based on the Gales Brothers song which i believe is written by Eugene Gales. A slow blues number, low down and dirty with a wonderful guitar tone. Great stuff indeed.

You can’t really have an album in tribute to the blues without certain artists being covered. And so we have Howlin Wolf’s ‘Built For Comfort‘, a song which I’ve always loved for it’s lyrics. Blindstone have transformed it into what sounds like early ZZ Top, so another box ticked for me.

I’m really enjoying the selection of artists being covered on this album, people not normally covered. The next track is Leslie West’s ‘By The River‘, another southern soaked blues rock extravaganza which sounds more full bodied than the original, not to knock the original mind in any way.

Having mentioned that ‘Little Old Band From Texas’ ZZ Top earlier we now arrive at a cover of the band’s ‘Bar-B-Q‘, originally to be found on Rio Grande Mud. Martin has nailed the sound of Billy Gibbons’ guitar. Just over three minutes of musical bliss.

The next cover version is of Slim Harpo’s ‘Finger On The Trigger‘. I can see why this appears as the original is quite a funky blues number and I know Martin is rather partial to a bit of funky guitar.

We re-visit the legendary BB King with ‘The Blues Come Over Me‘, the guitar riff just gets your foot tapping and your hand starts to wander into air guitar mode!

Slowing things right down is our next number ‘Stone Crazy‘. Again from a blues legend, Mr Buddy Guy. Blindstone have for want of a better phrase, thickened out the sound, giving it almost some angst, but not taking away the essence of the song.

I’m not in the slightest bit surprised which artist is being covered on the last track on the album. Blindstone wouldn’t be Blindstone without some Jimi Hendrix in the mix somewhere!

The Hendrix track chosen to close is ‘Hey Joe‘. Well I’ve never heard the band do a poor job when it comes to playing anything by Hendrix and this is no exception. What’s really great is Martin’s son Magnus Andersen and Jens Andersen, his dad, are both guesting on guitar.

To sum up, if your already a Blindstone fan then you’ll most certainly enjoy the album. If you want to hear a covers album that isn’t covers by number then this is the album for you.




Review: Vain – Rolling With The Punches

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.

Review: Hard Rock Hell XI

Review: Hard Rock Hell XI

Hafan-Y-Mor, Pwhelli 9-11 November 2017

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

I have regularly attended the HRH AOR events since they started, but this was my first time at the main HRH event of the year. Personally speaking, the bill for this event was actually more appealing than the last HRH AOR event in March and the forthcoming event and I was very much looking forward to it!

Day 1 – Thursday 9 November 2017

The first day isn’t a full day but did consist of six bands. However, with travel and getting settled into the accommodation, I only managed to catch four of the bands. The first of these was Killcode, a five-piece hailing from New York. They have been described as southern-infused rock/metal with a modern vocal twist. I found them more grunge than anything else but musically very good at what they did. Vocally, I found Tom Morrissey’s voice limited in terms of range and feeling but he was an excellent frontman. While they didn’t really do it for me, they did get a reasonable reaction from the crowd. They were quickly followed by Back Aces. These guys are another AC/DC-inspired Aussie band. Based on the evidence of this performance I would say they are more of an original tribute act. They even covered Rock’n’Roll Damnation in their set. They also covered The Rolling Stones song Happy and didn’t really do it justice. They were totally uninspiring for me and not main stage material in my opinion, but seemed to go down reasonably well.

Killcode – photo credit: Sean Larkin

Next up was Wayward Sons, Toby Jepson’s new band. I was never a fan of Little Angels or even that keen on him during his stint in Gun, so it was going to be interesting to see him with his new band. Drawing from their debut album, they are quite a different prospect live from Little Angels. They were tight but at the same time raunchy and very loud! Extremely good at what they do, some of the songs sounded like Jepson was drawing on his Gun experience with Gun-like riffs in some of the songs. The band delivered a great set, despite Jepson’s amp blowing and getting what appeared to be a bit of strop, launching his guitar at his guitar tech. Ironically it was a Flying V – or maybe he was just being rock’n’roll! These guys went down a storm with the crowd, but did little to change my mind about Toby Jepson.

Headlining on the Thursday night was Dee Snider. Using George Thorogood’s Bad to the Bone as an intro when Dee hit the stage he looked lean, mean and keen to get right on with it and that is exactly what he did! Quite amazing as he told the crowd his elderly mother had been involved in an accident and was seriously ill back in the US. With his four piece band he rattled through a mix of his solo material from his latest album and classic Twisted Sister numbers and brought the day to an energetic close. This is more than can be said for myself as I had been on the go for 18 hours straight – I would like to tap into some of his energy!

Dee Snyder – photo credit: Simon Dunkerley

Day 2 – Friday 10 November 2017

The second day was off to a sluggish start as I caught up from the previous long day. In the main arena the first band I caught up with was Syteria. Got to say I was a bit at a loss as to how this mainly female-fronted band managed to get on to the main stage. I found them poor vocally and musically, although they did look the part with their glam/sleaze image. Quite possibly I am doing them a disservice as maybe they were on the wrong bill and may be better suited HRH Sleaze or Glam. Next up was a band I had never heard of in The Gravel Tones. There can’t be many festivals that can go from a band like Syteria to one like The Gravel Tones as they were so different in both style and content. The band consists of a duo with Jimmy O on guitar and vocals and Mikey Sorbello on drums. This initially filled me full of dread but when these guys struck up they made one helluva rock’n’roll racket! Not only that, they generated enough energy on the stage between them to light a small town. Sorbello in particular was impressive with his strangely-angled drum kit, so much so, you hardly noticed the lack of bass player. These guys play a mix of rock with blues, rock’n’roll and bit of R’n’B thrown in for good measure. Very impressive and definitely a find for me. These guys have got some good shit going on!

The Gravel Tones – photo credit: Simon Dunkerley

And as if to further reinforce the variety of rock on display at HRH, next up was Tyketto. My admiration for Danny Vaughn as a singer and songwriter has been well documented over the last four or five years. The release of the latest studio album only reinforced this admiration as it is in my books the best album they have recorded. This was the first time seeing the band since that release and they didn’t disappoint. Opening with the title track from that album, what we got was a masterclass in melodic rock. Danny’s vocals and showmanship were second to none; Chris Green’s guitar playing was exquisite; Ged Ryland’s keyboards and vocals added extra texture and colour and the rhythm section just nailed it, even with deputising a bass player. They gave us a set that perfectly balanced the old and new and were just superb!

And just when you think, that can’t be topped, along come Y & T. Back in the day I was never a huge fan, resulting in much abuse from my mates, but over the last four years or so I have wondered why these guys didn’t click with me previously. With only Dave Menketti still in the land of the living from the original line-up, it matters not a jot. These guys deliver every time. Running through a set consisting of songs mainly from the first five albums, they have set of classic rock songs second to absolutely none. If Tyketto provided a masterclass, this was paying homage to a living legend! Dave Menketti’s vocals and playing were just sublime. And how many bands can close a set with songs like Rescue Me and Forever? My conversion to Y & T fan was completed with this performance tonight!

Y & T – photo credit: Simon Dunkerley

And the poor buggers to follow the preceding two sets were headliners Airbourne. I do have a soft-spot for these guys and have a few of their albums in my collection, so I was looking forward to them. They were tight and ferocious and they just didn’t let up at all! However, they fact that didn’t let up at all, was probably the downfall of this set in my humble opinion. It just started merging into one big blur and a little bit of light and shade would have been good. After about six songs, I remarked to the love of my life that there had been a lot of songs with the obligatory woahs. Her reply kind of summed it up as she said she thought it was still the first song! Regardless of what this pair of old gits thought, they band ran through a great mix of songs from the new album and previous albums, battering the crowd into submission. The place was absolutely rammed like I have never seen before, and they just lapped it up. Fair play, to Airbourne as they certainly know their audience and gave them exactly what they wanted!

Airborne – photo credit: Simon Dunkerley

Day 3 – Saturday 11 November 2017

So far, covering the whole weekend on my own I hadn’t managed to get across to the second arena. However, I was determined to do so today. This was only made even more difficult by the stellar bill that was on the main stage. I also caught most of the documentary about the HRH journey which was very informative and well put together – well done HRH!

The opening band was Buffalo Summers. These guys are as close to a local band as you will get at HRH hailing from South Wales. With two albums under their belt, they drew from these for their set and also played a new song from a new album due out next year. They delivered a set of groove-laden blues rock and got a pretty great reception for an opening band. I thought they delivered a solid set. My only criticism would be of singer Andrew Hunt. His vocals lacked a little in dynamics considering the groove going on. The annoying thing was, that he clearly could stretch out a little as he did in a few songs, so he needs to do it more to match up with the groove the band are laying down.

Buffalo Summer – photo credit: Sean Larkin

Good opening set though! Toseland were next on the main stage. I saw these guys some time ago supporting Reef and was impressed that night and liked the debut album too. I haven’t heard the second album, but was looking forward to seeing them. However, this time round I found them rather disappointing. The vocal sound was very tinny and made James Toseland sound rather nasally, and I just struggled to get into their set. The band is clearly a well-oiled live act and certainly covered every inch of the stage, but their enthusiasm just didn’t rub off on me.

This made it all the easier to make my first visit to the second arena to catch Burnt Out Wreck. Fronted by former Heavy Pettin’ drummer Gary Moat, these guys ply a raunchy, groove-laden melodic rock sound. While the single Swallow drew the obvious AC/DC comparison’s, there is more to the band than that with elements of the likes of Def Leppard and Dokken thrown in for good measure. Listening to the set it is also obvious how influential Moat was in writing the Heavy Pettin’ material, which makes it all the more surprising that he isn’t involved in the reformed band! Drawing on the recently released debut album, Moat demonstrated why these guys merit a shot on the bigger stage with his superb voice, more so than a few of the bands who had already graced it so far.

Burnt Out Wreck – photo credit: Simon Dunkerley

I returned to the main stage to catch the already started Von Hertzen Brothers, whom I knew very little about. My second find of the weekend, these guys play a hard edged progressive style with a modern alternative rock twist with some glorious harmony vocals which is very difficult to categorise! I didn’t know any of their material but it was delivered with precision, power and passion. Front-man Mikko Von Hertzen can also work a crowd and has humorous line in banter. Despite being very different from the previous acts, they got a great reception. They are also playing HRH Prog and they will certainly go down a storm there. I definitely need to get to grips with these guys back catalogue! And to continue with the theme of each band being different from the previous,

Gun followed the Von Hertzen Brothers. Gun are riding the crest of a wave at the moment with the critical and commercial success of their new album Favourite Pleasures. The opening song of the set was She Knows from that opus and set the tone for a serious kick-ass set from the Glaswegians. This was band completely on fire with Dante Gizzi sounding the best I have ever heard him. Added to that was the rising star Tommy Gentry with his swagger and stellar playing; the obvious fact that Jools Gizzi has seriously upped his own lead playing and a rhythm section of Andy Carr and Paul McManus who were tighter than a duck’s arse! The band drew on their considerable heritage of material including playing the obvious classics from their first few albums and finished on a role with Steal Your Fire, Shame On You and their version of Fight For Your Right with the front of the audience pogoing like mad! On the evidence of this set Gun should have been much higher up the bill and were easily band of the day and definitely my set of the weekend.

Gun – photo credit: Sean Larkin

The unfortunate band to follow Gun was Lynch Mob. I was a huge fan of George Lynch in his Dokken days, but I haven’t heard any of the Lynch Mob albums. However, I was looking forward to seeing the band. What I did hear of the Lynch Mob material sounded good and the band were superb. However, with extended solos and endings it was all a little too self-indulgent. It was no coincidence that the biggest cheers of the set were for the Dokken songs which included Heaven Sent, Into the Fire and the closer Mr Scary. The band appeared to make the assumption that the crowd would know their set and quite possibly this was the wrong festival for them and they might be better on the HRH AOR bill. They may well have thought they were on another bill as the singer kept thanking the ‘Hellfest’ crowd!

To keep on the theme of variety, Reef was next up on the main arena. Like Gun, these guys have got a great pedigree. Consisting of three original members the band proceeded to bring the crowd back up again drawing predominantly on the Glow album and their hits. Bass player Jack Beassant cut a striking figure as he moved his huge frame across the stage and provided a huge bass sound simultaneously. In fact, so much so that during the song Higher Vibration the whole venue appeared to be vibrating with bass! A highlight for me and one of my Reef favourites was Consideration. A new song from the long-awaited fifth album was also played called Precious Metal, which sounded great too. I for one am delighted these guys are back recording and gigging and look forward to the new album.

Reef – photo credit: Simon Dunkerley

As soon this set ended I jumped over to the second arena to catch some of the Black Whisky set. I was pleased to see they had a good crowd and held most of it beyond the start of the Black Star Riders set, including me for a short time, before heading back over. These guys have an infectious brand of classic rock which draws on real classic rock influences such as UFO and Zeppelin without sounding like clones. They delivered a set of tight, well played songs and appeared to be going down well and I look forward to seeing the full set some time soon.

Black Whiskey – photo credit: Sean Larkin

Saturday night headliners Black Star Riders have had a pretty meteoric rise since their debut album in 2013. They have released two further albums since then culminating in their latest album being in the Top 10 in the UK. I liked the first album very much, but if I am being honest I have not been too keen on the subsequent output. Regardless of my opinion, the band put on a superb show and it was lapped up by the HRH crowd. Playing a chunk of the new album and songs from the previous two albums, the Scott Gorham/Thin Lizzy influence is clear for all to hear. The set also included the Lizzy number Jailbreak. Harking back to a time when the song was king it is great that a classic rock band is getting the success that Black Star Riders are having and hopefully this can pave the way for new younger bands to do likewise. It also included a drum solo, which for me added very little to set as I would rather hear another song. Finally, the biggest cheer of the set was saved for the last song of the evening which was Whiskey in the Jar. The band milked every last drop from it and quite right too!

Black Star Riders – photo credit: Simon Dunkerley

So was HRH XI the rip-roaring success it looked like on paper? Regardless of my opinion on individual bands, it was a stupendous event. So much so, that I think I might switch from attending the HRH AOR event to HRH as the bills for this are far superior and provide greater variety of acts. The Saturday main stage line-up couldn’t have presented seven more different more bands representing the spectrum of rock.

In an age when everybody sounds like everybody else, HRH as an organisation should be commended for putting on a schedule with such diverse bands. Obvious highlights for me were the sets from Tyketto and Y & T from the Friday. However, for me Gun completely stole the show with their absolutely stunning set on Saturday afternoon and surely at some point must be a headline contender for HRH? In terms of finding new music, I will be exploring the back catalogue of the Von Hertzen Brothers and The Gravel Tones. Finally, my only regret was not getting over to the second arena more often. For me Burnt Out Wreck have got to be contenders for getting a slot on the main stage as they were easily more suited to that than a few of the acts who were on it!

Review: Devoid – Cup Of Tears

Review: Devoid – Cup Of Tears

MelodicRock Records (October 2017)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

You’d think it would be easy to write a review about a release that ticks all your personal taste boxes, however you then have to ensure it doesn’t come across as too gushy!

Cup Of Tears‘ is the brainchild of French guitarist Mael Saout (Shadyon), and brings together an ensemble of talent that should ensure it’s a killer release.

First off the inclusion of vocalist Carsten ‘Lizard’ Schulz ticks the first box. Carsten is the perfect fit for this melodic metal album and is most certainly on form. Yes I’m biased, being a huge fan of the albums he’s released/sung on.

Secondly, the remainder of the band form such a tight outfit, from the excellent guitar work of Shad Mae, the engine room of bassist Ben Toquet & drummer Ben Wanders and ivory tinkler Jorris Guilbaud.

And thirdly, we have a selection of guest guitarists, Mattias Ia Eklundh (Freak Kitchen), Henrik Danhage (Evergrey), Daniel Palmqvist (Beyond The Katakomb) and Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear/The Ferrymen). Each one of these axemen has a fantastic track record and their contributions on this album don’t disappoint.

The album consists of twelve tracks, coming in at just under an hour, which is certainly a more than acceptable run time.

Okay I did say I’d try not to get ‘gushy’, but this album has immediately leapt into my shortlist of favorite releases of 2017. This is exactly the sort of melodic metal I love, a melting pot of influences & musical expression. There is only one way to listen to this and that’s LOUD!

It can be difficult picking favorite tracks off albums as some releases are such that your choice can change the more you listen. And so my initial choices are ‘Religion‘, ‘Mind Keeper‘ and ‘Hollow Point‘.

A highly recommended release.

Review: King King – Exile & Grace

Review: King King – Exile & Grace

Manhaton Records (October 2017)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

King King first came to my attention supporting Gun at one of their famous Glasgow Barrowlands Christmas gigs. I was well impressed and immediately sought out their recorded work, which was equally impressive! This is new opus is their fourth album and is no disappointment.

(She don’t) Gimme No Loving‘ opens the album and is a cross of Thunder and classic Marsden/Moody era Whitesnake. Motoring along mostly based on a great staccato guitar riff and organ counterpart, it also has a great chorus. ‘Heed The Warning‘ has a slow build-up intro and is then into a classic funky/blues rock rhythm. Next up is ‘Broken‘ which is a mid-paced blues rocker, based around a neat twelve bar guitar riff and driving rhythm section. It has a great variation for the killer chorus too. Opening with nice clean guitar sound and a Fender Rhodes-type sound, ‘Find Your Way Home‘ is a slow burning soulful blues ballad with a powerful chorus. ‘Tear It All Up‘ as it name suggests takes the feel up a few notches and revolves around another great guitar chop. With driving bass and drums this one really rocks along.

We slip into stomping bass mode for ‘Betrayed Me‘ which reminds me of prime time Bad Company. However, it’s more bluesy with Alan Nimmo’s blues guitar playing and a great understated vocal performance – a classic example of more is definitely less! ‘Long Time Running‘ opens up with drums and guitar is very reminiscent of a classic Whitesnake again and could easily sit on Come and Get It. It has another great guitar chop leading into a great twelve-bar bridge leading to the inevitable catchy chorus. Next up is ‘Nobody Knows Your Name’ which again draws on more blues rock influences with a Free/Kossoff style guitar riff opening the song. It also draws on more recent influences which structural elements of the song drawing on the likes of AC/DC – but let’s face it they probably draw on the same influences as Mr Nimmo! Closing song ‘I Don’t Wanna Lie‘ slips back into a more traditional blues feel. It bounces along on a great base line with almost reggae-ish feel at times. It has the feel of classic Eric Clapton about and that’s certainly no band thing.

On this album the band stretches out more into blues rock with a whole range of classic feels and sounds while retaining their own sound, mainly due to Nimmo’s vocals and guitar playing. The sound to my ears is crisp and tight – impeccable production in my opinion. The songs are also right on the money. My only criticism of the album is that it ends too quickly – but they do say you should always leave your audience wanting more and this certainly does. If you haven’t heard these guys, do yourself a favour and a pick up a copy or even better, go see them live! At the moment Alan Nimmo is recovering from throat issues which resulted in surgery and this lead to the cancellation of their tour supporting the album. All that remains for me to say is get well Alan but only come back when you are really ready. Like me, I am sure the growing legion of King King fans will be waiting with bated breath for your return!

Review: Code Red – Incendiary

Review: Code Red – Incendiary

AOR Heaven (Oct 20th 2017)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy 

How often these days are reviews started with “Swedish Melodic Rockers” and here we have another new name to add to that list although many of the band members will already be familiar to you. Code Red is the culmination of collaboration work between Ulrick Lönnquist (Sahara) and respected producer Daniel Flores (Find Me, Jim Jidhed), and they have not only put together a very strong band to create this album, and it is rather good, with Flores also taking care of drum duties. Rounding out the band are Michael Palace (Palace) on bass, Oscar Bromvall (Palace) & Morgan Jensen (Swedish Erotica) guitars and Kasper Dahlqvist (keyboards), very impressive lineup.

Incendiary‘ features ten tracks, that are thankfully a little different sounding to most of the releases out there right now moment. Perhaps most of that is down to the vocal style of Ulrick. Musically the band sound in places a little like Alien to these ears, and that thought certainly wasn’t planted because of the Cover Art being designed by none other than Ken Sandin, bass player for the afore mentioned Alien.

There is an interesting mix between a slightly harder edge, they at times exhibit, and the more purely melodic tracks on offer here, but this is definitely in the AOR realm. Ulrick’s vocals are superb throughout, powerful and delicate at the same time.

Highlights include the rousing opener ‘I Won’t Be Your Hero‘ which really sets up the album well, as with everywhere else the keyboards play an integral part to the overall sound and add a nice punch to a number of the tracks. The very poppy ‘Lift Me Up‘ is terrifically upbeat, and it just works so well, the chorus really does life you up. And then there’s the really excellent ‘Heat Of The Night‘ which just kicks things up a gear, everything just works so well together on this one, great flow to it and the higher pitch of the backing vocals is just about perfect on this track. There is a control in the guitar solo that again just works so well with the accompanying riff, and Ulrick gets a little heavier on the vocal before the song fades out very naturally.

There is very little not to like here, very talented performers working with a top producer results in something that just adds another name to the watch-list for when we hopefully get a follow up album. This is a really interesting album, very well put together and it would be a great shame were it not to be toured.

But with the artists that play on this album all being very busy with their own projects it may not be possible. However, in whatever format, it would be great to see them live.


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