HRH AOR VII – Day 1 – 14-03-2019

Presthaven Sands, Prestatyn

Review: Stephen Brophy

Photography: Stephen Brophy 

Sometimes you look at a Festival and just find it hard to believe that it’s the 7th year it’s been running and you have attended every year, this year as HRH transition to a new home base in Great Yarmouth we are visiting Prestatyn for a brief visit.

The day begins with some short Acoustic set for HRH Dark Circle members who got to see the excellent Gorilla Riot. The it was time for the main stage to open and to get everything kicked off..

The New Breed

The first band to hit the stage are The New Breed from Manchester and they went down a storm, with lead singer Jay paying homage to one of this evenings other acts, Dave Bickler, with a very fetching t-shirt. These guys wasted no time at all and went for it straight from the moment they hit the stage. They really tried to get the crowd involved whenever the opportunity arose and also were very appreciative of the support they were receiving, which is always nice to see. Definitely a band to keep an eye on, look forward to seeing them develop and move up the billing at Festivals like this, they play a brand of Rock ‘N’ Roll that has something a little different and as the songs develop there’s lots of promise in what you hear. Great way to open the Festival and one I’m sure the guys won’t forget.

Knock Out Kaine

This appearance was tinged with a little sadness, being the last show by this lineup and being known as Knock Out Kaine, not that the guys are disappearing, but still when a member moves on the dynamic often changes, and these guys were clearly going to go out with a bang. Having always thought that this band should have been bigger it’s no surprise that when in top gear the songs sound terrifc. And they really do have some banging songs in the repertoire, and as always Dean Foxx is a frontman with presence, not just a cracking voice but power and emotion to boot.

Clearly some big KOK fans had moved to the front and centre of the barrier and you could see the infection spread with killer version of “Ain’t Your Kind” bringing more in the now large crowd into the fray. and then the ability to drop the pace down for “Coming Home” was effortless and held onto the momentum they’d built. Lee certainly enjoyed his farewell making a foray into the crowd to say goodbye, and then it was back to a smashing finale, look forward to seeing Dean and the guys in whatever guise they are on the road in next, always put in a big performance, and perfect for a party night.

Dave Bickler

Having appeared for the first time on a UK stage only a couple of years ago it was great to see the former Survivor frontman Dave Bickler making a return trip for HRH AOR. And this time armed, finally, with his new solo album Darklight and a new band for this run of UK Dates, which includes FM’s excellent guitarist Jim Fitzpatrick, they work their way though a set littered with Survivor hits alongside some of Dave’s solo tracks.

Sadly it’s quite obvious from the start that something isn’t quite right with the vocals this evening, and Dave apologises early on for a croak in his throat, however he doesn’t make excuses and powers on, with some tracks coming across much better than others.  Perhaps he should have looked for a little more audience participation from that start, but as attested to by a number of people the voice was in much better shape at shows earlier in the week. Either way I will always commend an artist for pushing through the pain and trying to give the crowd as good a show as possible under difficult conditions. Back to the music, for me it’s the Survivor tracks that hit home most, again Dave paid tribute to another Survivor legend Jimi Jamison who we so sadly lost in 2014 with “Burning Heart” and not also a tribute to the recent passing of ex-Survivor Bass Player Stephan Ellis, which was nice to see. Dave always comes across as being a very amiable type of guy, loves music, but doesn’t always look the most comfortable  frontman on stage, that being said he definitely gets into the spirit of things when needed.

Highlights for me and I’m sure a lot of others were “Rebel Girl” which sounded great, “I Can’t Hold Back” and of course the song that most people were waiting for, the massive “Eye Of The Tiger” which was really good and definitely aided by Dave getting the crowd involved a little more, so many singing along, clapping along and just having a great time, it was a fantastic way to end the set and get everyone ready for tonights Headline act.

Tyketto

This band has over the course of 30 years gone through just about everything, and to see them still wowing crowds, and more importantly absolutely loving what they do is a sight to behold. Add to that the fact that Danny Vaughn still has an amazing voice and somehow managed to find the fountain of youth, we have all the elements of a wonderful show here, and that’s exactly what we get.

Rather than play the “Strength In Numbers” album from start to finish as it was recorded, often that sort of order just doesn’t fit the show, creates a slightly odd flow to things, so rightly the guys have thought about it a bit and fitted the tracks in and around some classics, some newer songs and a golden nugget or two. But Tyketto are known for blowing the roof off, and when you open your set with.a rasping version of “Inherit The Wind” and the pumping anthem that is “Meet Me In The Night” you are in no doubt that it’s on.

The band is on absolutely top form right now, with a solidified lineup, Chris Green (Guitar) seems to be just getting better and better, and that massive smile says it all, his solos are just electric. Despite the band living in different States and Countries it’s like they all live in the same house, a family indeed. Have noticed more and more in recent shows just how damn good Ged’s backing vocals are alongside the excellent work on keyboards, Greg Smith (Bass) has fitted in so well and really there’s not much more I can say about either Michael (Drums) or Danny (Vocals) to still show the hunger, still put everything into every show and leave the stage smiling from ear to ear, it really does warm the heart, this is what Rock music should be, great playing, great songs and a full house of fans singing and dancing into the night.

From the beauty of “The End Of Summer Days” and “Write Your Name In The Sky” to the bluesy interlude of “Why Do You Cry?” and into the balls out rock of “Rescue Me”, “Strength In Numbers” which really seems to have taken a life of it’s own on this run of dates. As always you leave the venue wanting more and never feeling that you haven’t been involved in a special event.

Long may we get this band playing shows and Festivals in the UK, they are still a force to be reckoned with live and it’s so hard not to sing along to the classic tracks. This time around it was great to hear some of the tracks from Strength In Numbers that don’t very often get an airing, alongside a track most people have never heard and the undeniable force that songs like “Forever Young” (where Danny was joined by VEGAs Nick Workman) and the wonderful set closer “Standing Alone”. Terrific way to end a really great evenings entertainment with the knowledge that there’s lots more to come on Day’s 2 and 3.

Track list:

Inherit The Wind

Meet Me In The Night

All Over Me

Catch My Fall

The End Of Summer Days

Wait Forever

Big Money

Ain’t That Love

Write Your Name In The Sky

Why Do You Cry ?

Rescue Me

Strength In Numbers

Forever Young (with Nick Workman)

Encore :-

The Last Sunset

Reach

Standing Alone

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Review: Trishula Scared To Breathe

AOR Heaven (Mar 23rd 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

Trishula is the name of a new band put together by guitarist Neil Fraser (Rage Of Angels/TEN) and is the evolution of a solo project that he has been working on for quite some time now, so it’s great to see this album being released on the AOR Heaven label.

Along with Neil himself on Guitars, Bass and Keyboards he has managed to recruit former Rage Of Angels bandmates Jason Morgan (Vocals) and Joao Colaco (Drums) with additional keyboards being added by Magnum’s Rick Benton. A very solid band indeed, and most likely because Neil knew exactly what he wanted to do with the songs it sounds like the guys have been working together for a considerable period of time.

Anyone that has already heard the lead single and album title track ‘Scared To Breathe‘ will already know what this album is all about, a sweeping introduction leads into a cracking song , alongside the guitars which were always going to be a focal point and Joao’s powerful drumming you have Jason’s super strong vocal delivery, switching neatly between styles for whatever the song requires, and with the variety on this album it all works really well. For those that get the Instrumental track ‘For A Friend‘ it’s a beautiful meandering piece that is really emotive.

Highlights for me include the aforementioned title track ‘Scared To Breathe‘ which is just a cracking Hard Rock song that goes from zero to 100 in 1 second flat but never goes too far it sounds great, alongside ‘Suicide Satellite‘ which is a powerhouse of a Rock song, that has a very bluesy tone and just builds in a little bit of aggression and kick through the chorus and this one could be a monster live. It’s the type of track that has the word single written all over it . One track that just keeps dragging me in time and again is ‘A Thousand Pieces‘, there’s a lot of depth in this one and it just seems to have something a little different each time I listen to it, there’s a beautiful flow to this song.

The guitar playing, unsurprisingly, is really outstanding throughout, this is most definitely Neil’s baby, but the rest of the guys get a lot of opportunity open their wings throughout, Jason in particular has ample opportunity to showcase that massive voice of his while also getting the chance to show his control on the slower tracks .

It would be a shame if there wasn’t a chance for this band to get out and play some live dates, there are some really excellent songs here that deserve to be heard, and Neil has poured his heart and soul into this one, great work all around. Listening to these songs it’s kind of strange but I can see a smile on each of their faces playing these songs and I’m certain we will have the same smiles when we hear them live. This is a really good album and deserves your attention, terrific musicians and a group of strong songs, what’s not to like. Where Neil takes Trishula from here time will tell, but this has been an excellent piece of work, hopefully there’s more to come.

Track list:

  1. I Can See It In Your Eyes
  2. Scared To Breathe
  3. Secrets And Lies
  4. A Thousand Pieces
  5. I Never Cried
  6. Homeland
  7. Don’t Let Go
  8. Suicide Satellite
  9. A Love So Cruel
  10. Magnetic Memories
  11. Jealousy
  12. For A Friend (Instrumental)

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Review: Mike Tramp Stray From The Flock

Target Group (Mar 1st 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

Former White Lion and Freak Of Nature frontman Mike Tramp has continued to forge a recording and touring career in recent years, often with a one man acoustic show and more recently back with a full band, but whatever he has turned his hand to you can always be guaranteed honest heartfelt music.

Stray From The Flock‘ is the latest release that follows a similar creative vein to recent album releases, so if you are looking for a return to the 80’s/90’s then I’m afraid you are looking in the wrong place, this is a different era, a different artist who continues to prove he is a very strong songwriter, storyteller and live performer, that is more than enough for me. Besides Mike has been making Solo albums for 22 years now, far longer than the life of the other bands he played with.

Having witnessed a number of Mike’s shows over the last 6-7 years he has managed transform that feeling and power from the stage to the studio, and transformed the purely acoustic songs to a full band mix that works. What we get here are 10 stories, that feel like they are coming from personal experiences, and certainly nothing wrong with that, The duet on closing track ‘Die With A Smile On Your Face‘ drips raw emotion.

If there is one criticism I would have of this new release it is that perhaps there could have been a couple of changes in pace dotted around here and there certainly adding a rocker in the first few songs would help grab the attention of more casual listeners, that’s not to say everything cruises along morphing one track into the next, but perhaps there could have been another rocking track that breaks everything up a little.  But the quality of the songs stand for themselves and that’s what counts here. Musically everything fits, and with keyboards add a little bit more atmosphere here and there, certainly a well put together album, and again one that you pick up on different nuances on each listen.

Highlights include the excellent ‘Best Days Of My Life‘ which almost transports you to a fine summers day surrounded by friends and good times, sure we’ve heard this kind of story before, but it always depends on how it’s portrayed and this one works.  For this particular album a number of guitarists that Mike has worked with over the years have been brought in to guest, and there’s some terrific playing on this album, it doesn’t have to be blazing solos, sometimes it just has to fit the song, take ‘You Ain’t Free Anymore‘ for example, and it adds massively to the overall feel of that particular one. ‘One Last Mission‘ is a much more full on rock song, with almost a rasp in Mike’s vocal delivery, and it’s a powerful song.

Once again Mike Tramp has managed to create a piece of art, a rich tapestry of music and lyrics that intertwine and once again produce a very mature album. The direction that Mike’s music has taken in recent years has provided him with a fresh impetus it would seem and long may the creative juices flow. ‘Stray From The Flock‘ is another very good album and if you’ve been a fan of ‘Cobblestone Road‘ onwards dig in, if not or you haven’t heard any of these new recordings then set some time aside and drink it up. Mike will be on Tour in the UK in April so catch some of these songs live then.

Review: 7HY-No Going Back

Lions Pride Music (March 2019)

Reviewer: Kelv Hellrazer

Alan Kelly, last time i saw him mid 90s Crazy Crazy , talking bout Chariot, near scuffle on crazy Crazy bus lol , but we go way back to 84, silly album covers, Walthamstow Royal Standard etc.

With his Limahl/ George Lynch hairdo lol, Shy were best AOR band in UK with the best guitarist and the songwriter Steve Harris was the secret weapon RIP ….but it was over without him.

Alan has come up trumps with US vocalist Shawn Pelata, good songs, good vocals, don’t like the name, it’s gonna be compared to Shy, no need for it, nothing like Shy.

Stay Gone‘ opens in fine style, kind of uptempo , Shawn’s a more AOR Hamie from Heavy Pettin’, great Bvs from Kelly kind of Bonjovi esque, great guitars.

Deep Dark Blue‘ great production nice chorus. ‘Still Falling‘ nice ballad, I can see the lighters now, great the way it starts rocking and the sax solo really works, I used to hate sax.

Your Reality‘ rocks out. Great chorus not yer usual AOR achmaltzy song strays away from banal lyrics.

Can’t Trust The Radio‘ is my kind of AOR , moody atmospheric nice takes me back glorious 80’s would have sold loads of this in Shades Records.

Can We Try‘ closes in fine style, very USA influenced Hyts Autograph, bands like that. Awesome guitar solo, Yngwie/ Joshua style from Danny Beardsley. Gone through their other 4 LP’s, I like the material.

Alan needs his old hair do back changed the name to Kelly Palata, maybe some fests in Europe as well for this UK /US collaboration, people would dig it as they ain’t your usual suspects. Bored shitless of Brit bands, and young guys getting it wrong, then big choruses, big production and 7HY is for you, they are wasted, need a new label and a fresh start!

 

 

 

Review: Altitudes & Attitude Get It Out

Megaforce Records (Jan 18th 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

Altitudes & Attitude is a side project for Thrash Metal Bass legends Dave Elfson (Megadeth) and Frank Bello (Anthrax) that began life back in at the start of this decade. As opposed to the type of music they play in their main bands this is a much more Hard Rock/Alt Rock orientated project and their first full album release ‘Get It Out‘ also contains the tracks from their 2014 self titled EP.

Alongside Bello (Bass/Vocals) and Elfson (Guitar) we’ve got Jeff Friedl (Drums) from A Perfect Circle and the album is produced by Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Steel Panther, Stone Sour). This is an interesting piece of work and certainly gives the main protagonists an opportunity to showcase talents they don’t get the chance to with their main bands. Frank Bello’s vocals for example are really strong right through.  There will certainly be some comparisons to the likes of Foo Fighters on songs like the title track ‘Get It Out‘ which is a really powerful all out rocker and ‘Part Of Me‘ with that fuzzy tone to the underlying riff.

For me ‘Slip‘ is just a piece of of class, it is perhaps more in the vein of Alkaline Trio, this one holds the attention, has a different feel from the rest of the album and just feels right, the vibe is quite upbeat which in many ways contradicts the feeling the song generally give out. ‘Talk To Me‘ follows suit and keeps the mid section of the album flowing, sadly for me the instrumental ‘Leviathan‘ doesn’t really go anywhere, and feels a but out of synch here, perhaps it’s just a placing thing.

Littered throughout the album are guest guitar spots from the likes of Ace Frehley (KISS), Gus G (Ozzy, Firewind), Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper) and Satchel (Steel Panther), which adds a bit more depth to everything. Just take the screaming solo by GusG in ‘Here Again‘ as an example, just enhances that track so much. There are also moments of more aggressive riffing dotted around this release, ‘Here Again‘ the album closer certainly has a much heavier vibe in the chunky riffs and Thrashy interludes, while retaining a similar vocal delivery to the rest of the album..

This may not be a release that was on everyone’s radar, but it shouldn’t be just bypassed, certainly enough good stuff here to make it worth checking out and it’s always nice to hear something different from some well know musicians in their own field. Hopefully they we be able to schedule some more European dates following their recent run with Slash..

Review: Elles Bailey – Road I Call Home

Release Date: (March 7th 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

Elles Bailey has been a growing force in recent times and with the release of her second album ‘Road I Call Home‘ that’s definitely going to continue. Following on from the critically acclaimed and very successful debut album ‘Wildfire‘ which was released towards the end of 2017, Elles is set to capitalise on the momentum that a really good debut and some very hard work touring has built up.

The music on this release continues in the same vein as what we have heard previously, but there’s an assured confidence flowing through this release that just pushes the songs to new levels, although this may be a very personal group of songs there are themes that resonate with us all and it’s the execution that makes everything shine so well. Style wise we’ve got an amalgamation of Blues, Americana and Country dripping all over this one

This is most definitely an album you need to let seep into your pores, soak in it, breathe it in, tracks like ‘Deeper‘ just beg to be put on repeat and allow you to pick up on different nuances with each listen. As with it’s predecessor this was recorded in Nashville, and has been sympathetically produced by Brad Nowell and Steve Blackmon, which suits the style and delivery of the songs.

Of the eleven tracks on offer here you find it hard to look past any one track, there are so many reasons to keep listening and to come back for more. What raises this album above the rest is probably the fact that it so smoothly rolls from one style to another and yet neither loses focus nor the beautiful ebb and flow from song to song. ‘Help Somebody‘ stuck in my head from the first listen, a bluesy beast lifted by a Brass section that’s in no way overpowering, there are pieces of magic everywhere you turn, and the playing is exemplary whether from the special guests in Nashville or the UK musicians.

There’s an almost visible pain in ‘What’s The Matter With You‘, while ‘Little Piece Of Heaven‘ is another that wraps around your heart and pulls on the strings hard and is probably the most poppy track on offer while remaining very soulful at the same time, the writing credits are great to see but really mean very little without the excellent delivery of the stories. Then we come to the closing track ‘Light In The Distance‘ and just wow, a stunning performance in it’s simplicity, a vocal with piano accompaniment, but the vocal is so beautiful, like a winding river it meanders through a story, it’s a testament as to how far this young artist has come in a relatively short space of time.

This is a wonderful album, it’s full of depth, warmth and just really well put together songs that demand your attention. Keep your eyes and ears open for Elles Bailey, it’s a name that I’m sure you will hear a lot more of in the future. The Uk/Irl Tour starts at the beginning of March, don’t miss out on the opportunity to hear these songs live, it will be a great experience. The World better be ready for Elles because she is definitely coming for it.

 

Review: Blood Red Saints Pulse

AOR Heaven (Febuary 22nd 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

It has been just over 12 months since Blood Red Saints released their last album ‘Love, Hate, Conspiracies‘ and the guys are back with the release of their third album ‘Pulse‘, and it’s a damn good album.

What we have grown to expect from this band is a more edgy style of AOR, well written songs, but strong riffs and the levels turned up a bit, certainly since the addition of second guitarist Neil Hibbs, and they have certainly found their groove. As always the main focal point of the band it Pete Godfrey’s wonderful voice alongside Lee Revill’s lead guitar.

Having listened to the album a lot over the last few weeks the whistling, and slightly haunting Into to the opening track ‘Believer‘ still grabs my attention, it’s unusual but somehow fits perfectly as a starting point for the song, and it is a really good song to kick the album off with, they have managed again on this album to blend some different styles and manage to sound different to most of the bands out there, it’s not synchronised  rock.

Of the eleven tracks on offer here you will be grabbed by the most of them in a slightly different way, for some reason after the intro when the chorus kicks in I just can’t shake the thoughts of Shinedown when listening to ‘Cross To Bear‘ but that’s not to say that it is in anyway sounding cloned, this is an  excellent track, that stands on it’s own merits. Pete’s vocals are exemplary throughout, but there is something about this one that keeps pulling me back over and over, with the faint orchestral accompaniment, or the strength of that chorus, this is certain for me to become a live favourite. There’s a real crunch and power to ‘Message To God‘ and it’s another one that sticks out on each listen, strong riff, pumping drums.

This time around the ballads ‘Crash Into Me‘ and the wonderful ‘Bring Me To Life‘ are once again beautifully executed, and I’m sure both will come across brilliantly in an acoustic or full band setting. ‘Bring Me To Life‘ in particular completes the album brilliantly, going from moving harmonic vocals to some screaming guitars in 5 seconds flat.

This is another excellent release from Blood Red Saints, again it sounds different to what’s out there already and still has that edge, it’s not perfect, what is in this day and age, one or two tracks didn’t quite do it for me, for example some days I really like the title track and others it’s not grabbing me, but it’s a damn fine album overall. Really look forward to hearing these new songs live and how powerful they will come across. Once again Blood Red Saints have shown that they are one of the better and more interesting Melodic Rock bands in the UK and this group of songs will hopefully just add to their legion of fans.

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

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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!

Review: Gin Annie – 100% Proof

Off Yer Rocka Recordings (Jan 25th 2019)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

For those of you unfamiliar with Gin Annie, they’re a five piece melodic hard rock band, hailing from the West Midlands, Wolverhampton to be exact, which is part of an area (the Black Country) steeped in rock history!

Gin Annie are part of a strong, and still growing line of of British bands who are collectively being grouped under the moniker ‘New Wave Of Classic Rock‘.

Well here we have the band’s debut album, ‘100% Proof‘ supplying us ten tracks of guitar driven rock that is sure to get your foot or feet tapping / stomping.

All the ingredients are here, the riffs, the pounding drums, great vocals, and of course none of those would mean anything without great songs.

From the start of the first track ‘Love Ain’t Here‘ the stage is set  for what’s to follow. Catchy? Damn right it is..

The album meanders between the out and out hard rock of ‘Damage Is Done‘ and ‘All I Want‘ to the more melodic ‘Chains‘ and the rather excellent ‘Haunt Me

I love the riff throughout ‘Fallin’‘, classic air guitar moment!

The album wraps up with the gritty ‘Born To Rock And Roll‘ which is full of that bourbon soaked atmosphere that such a titled song should contain.

It’s so satisfying to have yet another band furiously waving the flag for British rock and delivering such a strong debut.

Add this on your ‘to buy’ list.