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

copyright 2019© RPR Media UK / Tears Of Fire Photography

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)

Official Website

Facebook

 

Elles Bailey – Whelans (Upstairs), Dublin – 07-03-2019

Review: Stephen Brophy

Photography: Stephen Brophy

Over the last couple of years Elles Bailey has become a force to be reckoned with on the Blues/Roots circuit and following on from some very hard work promoting and Touring her debut album ‘Wildfire‘, she is making a trip to my home town, Dublin,  in order to promote the follow up, the superb ‘Road I Call Home‘ and play her first headlining Irish date.

Opening the show this evening is Northern Irish Blues singer/songwriter Dom Martin, who plays a really good and gritty set. Prior to Dom hitting the stage though we get another insight into Elles Bailey, it is not very often in this day and age you will see a Headline act introduce their support for the night to the crowd, a very classy thing to do and generates a really cool atmosphere to kick things off. The songs are really good and the guitar playing even better, just creating a very nice sound, although the crowd at this stage of the evening was small they were certainly enjoying Dom’s set and that was very understandable. With songs from last years ‘Easy Way Out‘ EP, and probably the highlight being ‘The Rain Game‘, he certainly picked up some new followers tonight. Tracks like ‘Mercy‘ sounded great in an all too short set, always a great sign when a set flies by and you want to hear more.

Then it was onto the main event of the evening, for me I’d first seen Elles supporting Jo Harman in the Jazz Club in London, and I was hooked, not just from the music and delivery, but there’s an extremely engaging persona on stage, and the between song banter makes you feel a lot more involved in the show than perhaps with other artists. The band are extremely good, and the sound is great for a small room. The majority of the new songs were written in Nashville, some with renowned songwriters likes Bobby Wood and Dan Auerbach, and the fruits of this process are once again evident when you hear these songs live, just take the new single ‘Little Piece Of Heaven‘, it’s a cracker of a song, and is uplifting live. Plenty of highlights in tonights set ‘Deeper‘, ‘What’s The Matter With You‘ and ‘Medicine Man‘ from the new album and the title track of the debut ‘Wildfire‘ wonderful stuff. The musicians in this band all play a significant part in the show, and gel so well, but special mention has to go to Will Edmunds on guitar, who although spending the entire set in almost total darkness played beautifully, had there been one more light directed in the right direction it would have made a big difference, but he still made his presence felt.

When reviewing Elles new album I had picked out the closing track ‘Light In The Distance‘ as being one of the highlights of the release, but at the time did not know the back story from it, and as Elles told the crowd it elevated the song even more, this particular track, one that was written closer to home has a very personal feel to it but when you hear Elles singing it you automatically associate with the sentiments, it’s a piece of beauty especially with the keyboards and vocal powering through.

As Elles star continues to shine brighter this . This was for me always going to be ones of those “wow, I was there nights” I don’t think we are likely to see this artist again in venues like this for long, and as good as it is to be so close up and personal, you know that her music deserves to be heard by a wider audience. Can’t wait to to see Elles again and the pieces of magic from the album are even more magical live, go see these shows if you can.

Setlist –

Wild Wild West

Miss Me When I’m Gone

Deeper

What’s The Matter With You

Little Piece Of Heaven

Wildfire

When I Go Away

Perfect Storm

Light In The Distance

Hell Or Highwater

Medicine Man

Woman Like Me

Help Somebody

Road I Call Home

Howlin Wolf

Encore

Girl Who Owned The Blues

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: 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: Flotsam And Jetsam – The End Of Chaos

AFM Records (January 18th 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

In many ways Flotsam and Jetsam are not only one of the heavyweights of the Thrash Metal, a band during 90’s for me far ahead of their time but also one that has so often been underrated in the genre. Something that has perhaps become quite a common thread in reviews I write, but something that could again hold back an album like this is the current need for immediacy in music, and perhaps to a certain extent the older generation that see’s their free time reduced and therefore the ability to sit and properly listen to music is no longer there, this again is an album you need to live with a bit.

What we have grown to expect from this band is a more mature often melodic style of Thrash, well written songs and it’s always most importantly tight as hell and Metal. The band have always had one of the more original sounding vocalists in Erik A.K, and that is still true today. To have existed as a band for 38 years is no easy feat in itself, and there has been a fair share of ups and downs, but to continue to make albums of this quality is a great sign of the hard work they continue to put in. Having listened to the album a lot over the last few weeks it just continues to grow on me, the songs stay fresh and I haven’t wanted to put it down, it’s on constant rotation as I travel around the City and that is never a bad sign.

Of the eleven tracks on offer here you will be grabbed by the power of ‘Control‘ which is just class, everything in proportion, pounding drums, screaming guitars and a layering that just drives it all home, there’s a nice anger in Erik’s vocal delivery on this one too that fits perfectly to the tune. Alongside this we’ve got other highlights including ‘Demolition Man‘ which a really nice bass line, spitting guitars, it’s another no holds barred track and ‘Unwelcome Surprise‘ which just smashes you right in the face and keeps going, pacey, crunchy goodness. Going to be really interesting what they pick from this album to their live set as there are many options.

This is another excellent release from a band that never really went away but appear to have become totally reinvigorated in recent years, there’s power, control and just some really excellent tracks that have translated brilliantly in the live environment. F&J will be hitting the UK in March with Overkill and again in July for the Amplified Festival. Do yourself a favour and get this one, if you are a fan of Thrash, heavy music or just good music, this is one that is sure to satisfy a lot more than just old school fans. Top stuff from a band all too often referred to as the one Jason Newsted left to go to Metallica, they have continued to be relevant in a scene where so many of their peers lost the creative spark many years ago. 2019 sees a band with a great lineup that seems to be working so well together, creatively and live, plenty more to come from this band.

Next up for their Top Ten Albums Of 2018 is reviewer / photographer Stephen Brophy.

Here, in no particular order, are his choices.

The Fierce And The Dead – The Euphoric

Maverick – Cold Star Dancer

Midnite City – There Goes The Neighborhood

Sari Schorr – Never Say Never

Ben Poole – Anytime You Need Me

Primordial – Exile Amongst The Ruins

Alien Weaponary – Tü

Creye – Creye

Airrace – Untold Stories

Myles Kennedy – Year Of The Tiger

Review: White Widdow – Victory

AOR Heaven (October 19th 2018)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

White Widdow return with a new album ‘Victory‘ out on the AOR Heaven label and the follow up to 2016’s ‘Silhouette‘, the Aussie melodic rockers are becoming more prolific as the years pass and that’s no bad thing. Brothers Xavier and Jules are once again heading affairs alongside the excellent Enzo who’s guitar work all over this album is up to the usual exemplary standard. With the now super solid backdrop of Ben (bass) and Gavin (drums) we get a unit that works so smoothly together, it’s great to see and hear.

The musical style here is very much AOR/Melodic Rock, and they are damn good at crafting quality classic rock songs, always full of melodies and hooks, and as you’d expect really strong soaring guitar solos and at times really punchy keyboards, just take a listen to ‘America‘ pops right up and attempts to raise your arms in the air.

Having listened to the album a lot over the last few weeks some of my first impressions now seem quite wide of the mark, and that’s something that worries me in the modern age, how many albums get passed on if a song doesn’t immediately bowl you over, living with music in your head and heart for a while is always a good idea, and this is another one worth allowing to sink in.

Of the ten here the highlights are undoubtedly the single ‘Second Hand Heart‘ which is just a cracking song, the title track ‘Victory‘ that opens affairs is another and  magic of ‘Danced In The Moonlight‘ which for me has a bit of a Rick Springfield into, as everywhere else Xavier’s keyboards are such an integral part of the music, and it’s the same with all of the instruments here, everything gets warmly wrapped around each other, and all for the greater good of the sound, this song is just beautiful five minutes and forty seconds of pure class.

Perhaps initially I thought more fast paced tracks in the mix here somewhere would add a little something, but no, the mix is great and this is another really good album from White Widdow, the band are as solid as ever, Jules is sounding great and the songs once again are very well written and put together, there is a maturity covering this one and it should go down well in all corners.  Another one to get stuck into in what seems to be a strong end to a strong year for Melodic Rock.