Updated 23rd September 2003

Vertical Horizon - Waltham - Attraction 65 - Mother's Finest - Dismal - Vertigo - Drama Queen Die - Steelwind - A.O.R. - Fenixdown - John Mellencamp - Midnite Club - Miles Above - Britny Fox - JD Bradshaw - S.I.N. - Dreamtide - Shakra - Silver - Naikaku-No-Wa - Domain - The Rasmus - David Lee Roth - Joshua - Farpoint - Tnt -The Millions

All reviews by Andrea Bertamino except where noted



"Go" (RCA)

Rating: 90


Four years later the succesfull album "Everything You Want" (almost 1,5 millions copies sold), their debut on a major label, with the selftitled song that resulted to be the most played tune on the American Top 40 radio in 2000 and reached the first position in the Billboard Hot 100 chart, one of the most important modern rock band is back with their new and fourth album.

The eleven songs included are all rich with great catchy melodies, charming instrumental parts and a huge songwriting that bounces the best of pop and AOR giving new life with more up-to-today schemes.

Opener "When You Cry" will be able to grab a lot of sympathy and attentions with its good going and a nice refrain, but even greater success should gain "I’m Still Here", the first and really killer single, a song you might have already listened at least on several internet radio.

"Forever" is the third track and it could be another hit single beginning with quite acoustic guitars and flowing suddenly into a very contagious refrain, while "Sunshine" and "One Of You" lean towards the electric rock with tougher and more compressed riffs that help keep more varied the general mood of "Go".

With "Goodbye Again" we’re back into the territory of semi-ballads that don’t disloke more intense and airy passages granted by strings that make open wider the sound horizon, while "Echo" (in which I feel some small points of contact with R.E.M.) is a rocker rescuing those melanchonic hearts within its bitter harmonies (I don’t want to read lyrics, I only express the feelings I have listening to the music with my eyes closed) and taking care of them with tiny mid tempo "It’s Over" and the splendid, exciting "Inside", one of the best episodes of this excellent cd.

The dreamy "Underwater" seals this awaited and welcome return of Vertical Horizon who confirm their talent in writing and performing songs that’ll be good fellows for a long, long time



"Permission To Build" (Traktor7)

Rating: 90


It’s incredible how sometimes we can hear huge albums and no major label has still signed the artist, while at the same time they release embarassing cds. One case of these is Waltham born in 2001 in the Boston area and putting out the same year a mini-cd partially re-recorded and included in "Permission To Build" produced by the band itself and by a well known name as Jim Foster, with Rick Springfield (and not the usual Journey) claimed as main influence even if in the twelve tracks Waltham play an energetic, funny and contagious modern rock whose sound has nothing to envy to Matchbox Twenty (but they are with WEA), and everything is at a huge quality level.

It’s hard to find weak aspects, from opener "So Lonely" (best local song of the year and first single you can donwload from their site as funny video and in acoustic version) to closing "Feelin’ It" (no, to hidden track "Wake Up") it’s all a triumph of cheerful melodies sung by good Frank Pino Jr, charming and mighty guitars by Tony Monaco and Craig Small, dynamic and driving rhythm section formed by Peet Golan (bs) and Mikey Rorick (dr).

"So Lonely" and faster "All I Want" open the doors to the winning Waltham’s world followed by lively, catchy "Cheryl" and "Don't Say It's Too Late" supported by big guitars. "Hopeless" is more power pop oriented while "Hook Me Up" is a moody song and you can go fearless thru the remaining songs. They’re all good.

If it’s quite evident that a younger and up-to-dated version of Rick Springfield emerges, my ears also feel strong traces of Nelson and Cheap Trick, late Harem Scarem, Matchbox Twenty and Marvelous 3. And I like it!!!



"Attraction 65" (Atenzia Records)

Rating: 90


The older of you will remember of Blue Tears, a band that released one eponymous cd for MCA in 1990 providing some good melodic hard rock melodic like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard, among which members there were Gregg Fulkerson (vc, gt, keyb) and Michael Spear (bs) that today we find heading Attraction 65 and performing a great up-to-date modern rock, much closer to Nickleback and The Calling then the sound that once was.

Along these thirtee years, Gregg wrote four songs for the first Michael Sweet’s (Stryper) album in 1994, while Michael has recently produced the Rose Falcon’s single for "Inspector Gadget" Disney’s movie and has remixed the Billy Falcon’s album "Power Windows". Reunited their forces and enrolled the Italian drummer (from Florence) Ludo Baccherini, guitarist Paul Zegelien and chorist/songwriter/producer Robert Streets, old friend of Gregg, the couple is back under spotlight with a collection of classy songs.

Bon Jovi anyway have always a certain influence, even if we talk of the latest ones as showed by the tough opener "Believe" (and later "Rise Above"), followed by two huge songs called "Roll On" and "In Another Life", the former is a brilliant ‘radio ready’ modern rock like The Calling, Nicklebag and a slice of U2, the latter is a beautiful mix of melody, arrangements and balances of chiaro-scuro worth of the great professionals they are. Such a great initial sequence would be warrant of great success if a major was behind them, but never say never.

The moody "Train" and "Stand" slow the pace not the expressive strenght and the latter, after an acoustic beginning, growths in intensity flowing into a viril finale with majestic choruses to underline the heartfelt Gregg’s singing.

Not without some surprise, semi-ballad "Strong" and uptempo "Call My Name" recall Bruce Springsteen with the now countless catchy refrains, while a well done mix between The Boss and U2 light up the passionate mid tempo "Storm In My Heart" followed by the huge epic ballad "Swept Away".

This cd is not a monolithic artistic delivery looking at just one type of buyers and on each song a well distinct trademark is impressed, so I’m sure it’ll be able to grab the attention of a wide number of good music fans.

Just one final note: the last tune "Eden" homages the more introvert U2 but after few minutes of silence you’ll find a mighty ‘gospel arena rock’, one more gift from Fulkerson & Co.



"Meta-Funk'n-Physical" (CNR)

Rating: 90

A decade on from "Black Radio won't play this record", Mother's Finest, the true exponents of funk metal and soul-Glenn Hughes please take note!-make a return to the world of recording. About time too! 

Opening with the honeyed sex of " Funk-a-wild" the legendary Joyce "Baby Jean" Kennedy wonders if we "want to make it with" her ( join the queue) as her voice draws in atop a slinky funk with bump and grind guitars from John Hayes. Move over Beyonce.

Not afraid of adding modern twists to their bewitching brew, "Bring It" sees Doc Murdock and Kennedy trading vocals as Hayes lays down more riffing of the highest order, and Jerry "Wyzard" Seay' bass line will persuade a good number of bass players to seek alternative employment. "I Believe" with it's Chic heavy guitar lines and huge chorus demands to be all over the radio. 

"Flat on my back" is Manson with the funk, and vocals from Kennedy which begs the question as to her lack of mainstream acclaim,and a "Kashmir" keyboard figure that cling on and won't let go.  "No-groove" is a modern re-working of "Black Radio's" "Like a negro" which 10 years on retains it's lyrical power and relevance.

Living Colour's Vernon Reid pop up to intricate effect on the coolest version of Hendrix's " If 6 was 9" this boy has ever heard, with Wyzard laying down a walking bass line that John Paul Jones would love to call his own.

Granted there's bias in operation here. I'm glad they are back but more so with such an album. Joyce Kennedy is a goddess and "Meta-Funk'n-Physical" is a great album, and in a just world would be huge.

Andrew Paul


"Believe" (Wind-up)

Rating: 90

In the abstract a band's name should not matter a jot as long as the music stands up to examination. However the abstract is exactly that, so whoever deemed that Big Dismal would be a good name is clearly in need of frequent medication.

Musically a different tale presents itself, "Believe" unfurling into an album balancing modern and classic Americana, echoing Zeppelin, Cheap Trick, Petty, and all points north, south east and west. Additionally in vocalist Eric Durrance they have an ace, someone who combines the angst of Audioslave's Chris Cornell with the earthy reality of Johnny Van Zant.

Opener "Remember" is Audioslave with the melodic sensibilities of Tyketto circa "Strength in Numbers", while the sinuous melody of "Just the same" hints at Tom Petty by way of California ( the band!).

Aware that there's a deep well of influences to draw upon beyond last week's Number 1, Big Dismal value light and shade: compare and contrast the pop Zeppelin of "Reality" with the modern twist on AOR that is "Hanging on" or the snotty Cheap Trick of "Too Pretty" where the guitars of Durrance and Chuck Shea mesh like twin Rick Neilsens and are almost as effortlessly cool.

Big Dismal may be viewed as a new AOR band, though only if one is prepared to accept that there is more to the game than recycling Journey riffs to a diminishing audience. Now there's a challenge for you.

Andrew Paul


"Vertigo" (Frontiers Records)

Rating: 85

The now 43 years old singer Joseph Williams (he was with Toto on the "Fahrenheit" and the great "The Seventh One" album) is back six years after his last solo cd ("III"), the singing voice of Simba in "The Lion King" and a short reunioni with Toto for "XX" cd and relative tour, with the Vertigo project in which he sings previously unreleased and ‘cover’ songs.

Produced by Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi (Ice-T, Cypress Hill, Nina Hagen, Tina Arena, Steve Vai, Steve Lukather) who here also plays bass, guitars and keyboards, and helped by Alex De Rosso (gt), Biggs Brice (dr) and JM Scattolin (ch), Joseph releases a very good vocal performance worth of his reknowed class.

"Not Enough Hours In The Night" (written by Jim Peterik) opens this cd with a nice but not enthusiasming AOR bello, then "Straight To Your Heart" (by the couple Joey Carbone/Dennis Belfield and already featured on "Raid" album by the Japanese artist "Raid") offers a classic (so well known sequences of chords) AOR refrain filtered thru’ Toto, with the ballad "More Than Enough" (by the same songwriters team above and already released in Japan in 1993) spreads generous melodic sensations.

Written in 1991, "Never Let You Go" is offered by guitarist Stuart Smith (Heaven & Earth) and here it receives a modern treatment, the catchy refrain sustained by many keyboards is just AOR and the pace is good to move my lazy feet that take a breath with the fine slow number "I Don’t Want To Go", written by Jess Cates (Christian Music Award) and Yancy for Avalon’s album "Oxygen" (2001), a song you may need for your romantic moments without being anyway too wimpy.

"I Want To Be Wanted" appeared originally on Dan Lucas’ "2000!" and here it is a rough rocker with a great production and rhythm, nice percussive arrangemets, followed by mid tempo "China Sky" taken from the American cult rockers Xenon cd "Simple" (1996), and once again Joseph spread his class all over.

Also all the remaining songs are covers, like "Love Is Blind" (written by Joey Carbone and Richie Zito but also Joey is mentioned) from John O’Banion’s eponymous debut album in 1981 and later performed by Uriah Heep on "Head First" album, but the song doesn’t sound old at all and today is a great pleasure to listen to it again, then "When It Doesn't Matter" is listed on the young and fine Angela Ammons’ (also co-writer) eponymous album (2001) and I’m sure that the original version is not a rocker like this one. "Sarah" is taken from the solo album "Falling Awake" (2001) by Christian singer Paul Alan (ex Nouveaux) and, althought the good will showed, it’s a little below the other songs, and also the titletrack "Vertigo" from the homonymous album by singer Billie Myers (produced and written by David Tyson who also worked with Amanda Marshall and Tina Arena) is lifted by the strong refrain, the rest being less interesting to me.

A nice and elegant acoustic version of "Not Enough Hours In The Night" (European bonus track) closes a cd often arranged similar to (and not as) Toto, but also citing Starship, Robert Tepper and Cliff Magness, and will raise interest by the fans of pure AOR well produced and performed, but I disagree with Frontiers that states "Vertigo" as ‘the follow up album that the Toto fans have never been able to hear since "The 7th One"’. Here things are quite different.



"Drama Queen Die" (Self Produced)

Rating: 85


In this new band from Chicago we find two well known musicisans like Chip Z'nuff and Ricky Parent (bass and drums of Enuff Z’Nuff) led by the young singer and guitarist Andrew Walker who shows how it’s possible to make a good rock’n’roll album proudly scared by hard rock, glam, American melodic rock and pop.

The rough sound, the energy spread by the eleven tracks, the great feeling expressed, these are all important elements of DQD’s sound who’re not afraid to open with the heavy rocking titletrack, to cite Bon Jovi in semi ballad "Where Are You Now" and reach a more dirty and scratching verions of REO Speedwagon in "Afraid Of Love", passing through the bright sleazy rock similar to Motley Crue "Little Girl".

And ‘that’s not all folks’, because "Got It Right" and calmer "Beautiful" have a ‘60s pop feeling and with nonchalance surround the flaming riff of "Whatever Happened To Rock-n-Roll", an arena class rock without the excesses of this genre, and coming before the acoustic "Napeville" in pure ‘70s style, and closing "Wanted" owes a lot to power pop.

Walker’s abrasive voice recalls now Jon Bonjovi, now Tom Keifer (Cinderella), or the singer of forgotten band I,Napoleon (melodic rock band with one album released by Geffen), having in common a great feeling that must come a lot from the experiences made by Chip and Ricky.

At the moment I’m writing these lines, DQD are still without a deal and are writing brand new songs, but I’m sure it won’t take a long time before a label signs this band.



"Jawhook" (Steelwind Productions)

Rating: 85


Good follow-up of "Heaven’s Calling" released in year 2000, "Jawhook" is the second album for Texas based Steelwind now a quartet with leader Kevin Humphrey to sing and play guitars and bass, while the keyboards are always under control of excellent Billy Oliver.

The sound, compared to the debut-cd, has grown more pompous, majestic and deep, with the only fault of the artificial sound of drums althought they’re played by Artie Jones, anyway the level is equal to many official releases and allows to enjoy the instrumental passages, the moods faced in the ten songs featured.

Mixing with great skill the freshness of AOR with the opulence of pomp rock, Humphrey & Co give life to charming tunes rich of shades and refined arrangements, looking at REO Speedwagon, Kansas, Petra, early Magellan (though lacking of their wanted complicated instrumental and vocal buildings), Boston, Styx and the late Brian McDonald, the whole sustained by a very nice technical and songwriting level.

Opener "Still In Love With You" shows at once the most catchy side with vocal lines and guitar hooks among REO Speedwagon and Boston, but with the eight minutes of the titletrack we move on pompous grounds close to Kansas and Styx and also you will be won by the sequence of phrases and by the good keyboards work that I do enjoy and love.

"My Flesh" is faster and recalls of Petra, dominated by the guitars of Humphrey and Michael Clary but the song is quite average, while "When You Were Here" (well done version of Kansas revisited thru the lens of Cutting Crew) cradles us with its sweet verse and wakes us up its proud refrain, so another good song. In "The Dream" they mix prog AOR with techno-rock and all in all it’s quite nice, but things get really better with the good AOR of sparkling "I Believe In Miracles" (nice refrain like REO Speedwagon) and the rockier "Running Out Of Time", while pomp rock with progressive traces (given by Oliver’s keyboards like Wakemann) is back with decision in the more than six minutes long "For All Days" that has a strong beginning followed by a delicate piano movement, only a little made tougher by the other instruments.

AOR and pomp rock live together in the catchy "When The Father Tells The Son" (Steelwind are a Christian Rock band) and for the last track "Home At Last" they use some dreaming ‘70s melodies (Argent and Styx come to my mind) sealing a very good and interesting cd, so I wish them to sign asap a deal for a greater worldwide distribution.



"Dreaming Of L.A." (AOR Heaven)

Rating: 80

In year 2000 I introduced to you the debut album "LA Concession" by AOR, project flagged by French guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter Fredric Slama, for year privileged correspondent from Los Angeles of French papers and radio-shows speaker, along which he knew musicians who later played on his albums like Tony Franklin, Richard Page, Carlos Vega, Michael Thompson, Steve Lukather, Mike Porcaro, David Paich, Michael Landau, Gregg Bissonette, Michael Ruff, Bruce Gaitsch (are they enough for you?).

Today Slama releases his fourth album and finally he gains in Europe a deal with a real label, calling around him singers Bill Champlin, Steve Overland, David Roberts, Dane Donohue, Chris Demming, Rick Riso, Rachel Riggs, Michael Kisur and David Chamberlin. Then guitarists S. Lukather, M. Landau, B. Gaitsch, James Harrah, David Williams and Tommy Denander (who produces and plays some keyboards sharing this jobs with David Diggs). On bass there are Hussain Jiffry and Eddie Watkins Jr, on drums Pat Thern, Vinnie Colaiuta (slurp), Ed Greene, Tom Saviano and Joey Heredia; on sax Brandon Fields, Dave Boruff and Peter Erskine; on back vocals Goran Edman, M.Ruff, Janey Clewer and Tom Bailey.

And now to the music, an elegant and refined pop/AOR, with a sound as it was in the ‘80s (the same goes for songwriting), perfect instrumental parts, a lot of melody and class in the twelve songs that renew a genre that above all in The States gained so much success and that from a long time seems quite dead.

The beginning is really good with the typical FM rock "You’re My Obsession", followed by languid pop "Lost In Your Eyes" whose refrain sounds a little like Bee Gees and by "Malibu Escapade" in full Toto style circa "The 7th One". The more pop-oriented side dominates in this cd, so we have the slow "On Dangerous Ground" (between early Richard Marx and the musics of ‘Miami Vice’ tv serie), semi-ballad "Fly With Me" with a less brilliant songwriting and "Teach Me How To Love You Again" recalling Chicago.

After the weak (as songwriting) "Don’t Give Up On Love" and "Haunted By Your Smile", we can hear the four bonus tracks that are "Last Days In San Francisco" (semi ballad), "Sensation" (uptempo AOR), "Worlds away" and "Never Gonna Let Her Go" (two romantic slow number sung with pathos), the last three of which already featured in previous Slama’s album.

Being this cd easier to find in the record shops, it may be the first time most of you will listen to Slama’s music and fans of pop and of the lighter side of AOR music will find bread to feed, bread made more tasteful by the class of musicians involved, even if personally I’d have seen with favour a greater number of rockers.

http://www.aorheaven.com , http://www.germusica.com


"Falling Clouds" (Self Produced)

Rating: 80

This is the second demo from New York based band Fenixdown that contains four electric, melodic and recorded pretty well songs, living in middle earth among power pop, AOR and modern rock, able to offer a nice vision of the band’s different styles.

The role of opener is up to "Sleepsting", usually played to close their live shows, a cheerful tune living on Steve Gallo’s guitars and on Tony Hanson’s young and clean voice, a linear and contagious song that should work fine as a single.

"Ready To Believe" is slower, a modern rock with interesting guitar and keyboards arrangemets showing the degree of skill and intelligence above the average of indie bands. "Exit" explores the harder and tougher side of the band, with an initial hyper compressed metal riff that will please the young listeners, but the refrain remains inspired by melody.

"Robotic Age", a futuristic conflict narrated by Hanson over hard riffs and the apocalyptic bass of Matt Barone, closes a whetting demo that tries something different, and does it well.



"Trouble No More" (Sony)

Rating: 80

In the mood for something different? Prepared to listen to a troubadour, someone that lives too often in the long shadow cast by Springsteen? Well, "Trouble no more" just may be worth your while, and with the current interest in a roots related rock may be Mellencamp's timing is right on the money.

"Trouble no more" is 12 authentic American songs, written by the likes of Robert Johnson, Son House, Willie Dixon, and Woody Guthrie amongst others, given a suitably respectful and spare treatment by Mellencamp whose musical soul is firmly rooted in the soil, two lane blacktops, big skies, blues, jazz and wanderlust of an almost mythic America.

After all this is a slice of the music that developed into the music we all listen to today, it's the beginning, and it's the roots and it also shows where so much has gone wrong with popular music. For example Mellencamp captures the haunted frustration at the heart of Robert Johnson's " Stones in my Passway" or the edgy menace in Hoagy Carmichael's " Baltimore Oriole", emotions so far removed from the facile, inane wittering of the S Club generation.

Andrew Paul


"Springhead Motorshark" (Spitfire)

Rating: 80

Another of the much maligned hair bands ( as opposed to the shouty bald as coot bands?) make a definite return after the testing the waters live release in 2001. Retaining the line-up from 1991's "Bite down hard" Britny Fox demonstrate a maturity, a sense of drama allied to their potent bite, as evidenced by the Yes style harmonies and warm rich guitar tones on "T.L.U.C".

"Pain" is Stone Temple Pilots after a night at the Rainbow, with Tommy Paris snarling away atop an infectious Michael Kelly Smith riff. The lyrically wry, piano based "LA" nods at Randy Newman's blend of cynicism and wistfulness, though the chorus has a certain bolted on quality.

The title track, an instrumental, is Aerosmith swagger meets Zeppelin crunch, and would have been a monster with vocals. Though we get the monster soon enough in "Far Enough" with it's towering riff and superb Plant phrased and double tracked vocals from Paris,  all of which spirals into a guitar solo marrying fire with melody. This song alone confirms that Britny Fox is a first rate rock band, an assertion reinforced by the reflective Page-isms of "Memorial".

Granted the production is a little muted, but there's more than enough on offer here to make one believe Britny Fox has a worthwhile future ahead.

Andrew Paul


"Running Out Of Lies" (Escape Music)

Rating: 80


Debut album for German band Midnite Club founded by guitarist (and here also writer and producer) Stephen Seger (Mr. Hate, Midnightsnack) who took lessons by masters like Joey Tafolla and Vitek Spacek (Laos, Craaft, Steeler).

A long break after the split of Mr Hate, Stephen decides to from this group calling around him singer Carsten Schulz (Mr. Hate, Domain, Evidence One), drummer Bernd Herrmann (Hunter, Söhne Mannheims / Xavier Naidoo), bassist Andy Keller (Shyboy, Scarlet Rose, midnightsnack) and keyboardist Holger Seeger (Cameron) to celebrate the pompous and brilliant late ‘80s melodic hard rock, with good results.

In fact the eleven songs released are filled with big vocal parts, big guitars, big keyboards, a precise and powerful rhythm section, lacking a little in the originality department, but who was about ten years old in ‘88 can legally not being growing fed up with Autograph, Red Dawn, REO Speedwagon (listen how much "Morning Rain" is close to the writing style of REO) and Giuffria, so, above all when the songs are well crafted as these ones, I’ll try not to be a victim of the ‘it’s all been done twenty years ago and I was there’ syndrome (I’d better be happy to be still here to tell about those days!!!).

I enjoyed a lot tracks such as "Neon Dreaming", Journeyesque "Ticket To Silence" or bright "Heaven Beyond" (kind of mix between Bon Jovi circa "Slippery When Wet", Autograph and King Kobra) and "Running Out Of Lies", more the cover of Duran Duran’s hit "Wild Boys" heavily treated.

A pleasant album with good musicians who know how to involve you also in the melanchonic slow tunes like closing "Thoughts Away". Keep an eye on them.



"Further" (Escape Music)

Rating: 80

Coming from Niagara Falls (Ontario, Canada), Milesabove are the first modern rock band to sign for English label Escape Music and I don’t think it’s happened only because the talented 22yo singer Tim Hicks wrote all the songs with producer Corey Macfadyen, nephew of famous Jack Douglas (Aerosmith and too many to mention).

The four piece, completed by Sherman Arnold (bs) and twins Anthony (gt) and Adam (dr) Mancini, offer some fresh, catchy and cheerful (particularly for the nice vocal parts sometimes recalling the boys bands and ballad "Don’t Rush" is a good example of it) modern rock, not at the levels of Waltham, Matchbox Twenty or Vertical Horizon, but with a pretty good dose of electric energy that makes the songs appetizing also for rockers, almost a modern version of Nelson (but this is an exaggeration, ok?).

The cd is infuded with a contagious wave of optimism and positivity the world need so much, the whole expressed in maximum three and a half minutes for each track, with the poppier tunes to the end.

Among the best moments I can mention the powerful titletrack (that owes something also to Martin Stenmarck), sparkling and radio-friendly "Me & You" (hard ro resist to it) and "Babys So Good", the slow "St. Mark’s Square" with a nice orchestration of acoustic guitars and strings.

Just a little below average we have "Persude Me", the Beatles-oriented "When You Hold My Hand", "Running Away" (close to Nelson) and the ballad "Every Moment" balanced among (a lot ot) pop and (something of) rock.

A nice debut and release by Escape.



"The Essence Of Existence" (Acacia Entertainment)

Rating: 75


Guitarist JD Bradshaw comes from Wachapreague (Va, USA) with his second solo album, this time totally instrumental with four thunderous songs recorded by himself and only drums are played by James Taylor, songs showing a great feeling under command of techinque, following a master like Joe Satriani, but something wild and spontaneous comes from Ted Nugent.

JD doesn’t explodes into impossible guitar licks or ununderstandable writing structure, the whole seems really simple and linear even if it’s not obviously so, and I’d better see him performing with a real band and a real singer.

"Firecracker" and the more metal-oriented "Over The Top" remain within the well known guitar-heroes boundaries never boring and making my famous air guitar getting real, but with "Patchouli" he introduces some nice flamenco parts to make more salty the mood of this mini-cd.

Closing "Yamaya" press the pedal on guitar-metal, but keep attention to the middle passages calmer and wide open, a relaxing oasis before getting the initial pace again.

I wish to listen asap new songs from Bradshaw with a singer (or maybe he himsfelf can sing) so he’ll be legitimated to claim a space on his own in the rock scene, out of the instrumental music lovers elite.

http://www.geocities.com/acacia_entertainment/index.html , sixstringfever@yahoo.com


"Somewhere Into Nowhere" (MTM Music)

Rating: 75


Raised in July 2002 by German guitarist Deddy Andler and by British singer Jason Marks, S.I.N. (stands for Somewhere Into Nowhere) complete their line-up last February with bassist Wolfgang Frank and drummer Alexander Hlousek, so in a short time the ten songs on their debut cd have been recorded and a deal has been signed.

They play some melodic hard rock trying to avoid too much used riffs and refrains (which sometimes appear as in ballads "All Of My Heart" and "A New Tomorrow"), and it’s to praize their wish to run a personal way to arrange and write songs that make interesting the listening to "SIN".

As said, after the aggressive opener "Crucified" and the more AOR oriented "Throwing It All Away" (both enjoyable), we find the titletrack in which they alternate electric phrases and calm semi-acoustic passages, sort of lesson learned from Queensryche’s "Empire" album applied to melodic hard rock, and the same is for "I Know".

The German matrix emerges in semi ballad "Rain" recalling of Fair Warning and disappear in following uptempo "All Or Nothing" to prove the versatility of these four musicians who have built strong basements for their future.



"Dreams For The Daring" (Frontiers Records)

Rating: 75

Second album for ex Fair Warning axe-man Helge Hengelke that begins its path where the debut album had arrived with many of the faults I had found in it, in particular about the too over-the-top production that has too much of everything and the even too invadent solos insisting on hyper-high notes.

Apart this, if you liked "Here Comes The Flood", you won’t take too long to enojoy also this one which is better as songwriting, with some tracks really well done as opener "Dream Real", good and with a very catchy refrain. Was it one minute less long, also "Live And Let Live" would have gained a better result, but the invadent and self-centred Helge’s guitar gives is a lower impact and I couldn’t wait for it was gone to breathe after that boring final ride, but "I’ll Be Moving On" avoids such pity and offer an anthemic conclusion with choruses in full German tradition.

Built around Jimi Hendrix’s "Little Wing" riff (and also Hengelke cites him introducing his solo closed then by tiresome whistles), semi ballad "All Of My Dreams" falls because it wants to do too much anywhere and anytime when it’d have neede some grace to let us appreciate more the otherwise developement of bridge and refrain. This attitude is instead good for the mighty and sparkling pace of "I´m Not With You" which starts from an epic intuitions like Iron Maiden circa "Powerslave" and arrives to create a nice mix of melody and strenght.

Positive words also for "Man On A Mission", really similar to Fair Warning (as many other songs, but it’s inevitable and it’s no mortal pity), thanks also to obscure work by keyboard player Torsten Luederwaldt who realizes some nice arrangements on "Dreams Are Free".

No really filler in the twelve tracks listed, but I don’t understand why Dreamtide have included three bonus tracks like "Eden", "Land Without Justice" and "Live And Let Live" featured as ‘alternative mixes’ but quite similar to the ‘normal versions’.

Three humble suggestions: an external producer for next album, a stop to Helge’s exihbitionistic manias and avoid Olaf Senkbeil to sing alwayt to the limit.



"Rising" (Point Music)

Rating: 65


Fourth album for Swiss band Shakra who introduce the new singer Mark Fox and go on their own way made of an energetic European hard rock that has in Bonfire, Gotthard, Krokus, Victory and a little of Ac/Dc its main inspirations and I could stop my review here.

To tell you more about it, I can say that the hard rocking opener "Now Or Never" smells a lot of Gotthard, that mid tempo "Done Me Wrong" is between Ac/Dc and Bonfire, while "Too Good For Me" is close to Accept but then it’s quite boring to me.

Much better the power ballad "I Will Be There" with piano and keys to glance at The States, and on the rock radios this song might find some good rotation, while in the powerful and slovenly "Little Stories" and in the mocking "Run Away" hints of Ac/Dc meet Bonfire (meet DAD for the latter) come to my ears.

Almost the same (with a little more of melody) for "Fight The Fire", but power ballad "Anything" and above all the long "Trapped" with a more varied songwriting and some nice instrumental passages (it’s to be a strong moment on stage) raise the final rating.

Ok, if you miss some hard rock like Vengeance, Pink Cream 69 and the bands above mentioned, you can think to buy "Rising" that suffers of one general coldness and sometimes you find yourself thinking to something else.



Reviews Sept 03 2003


"Intruder" (Point Music)

Rating: 85

This is the third appointment with the lucky project involving Gary Barden (vc – MSG, Statetrooper, Praying Mantis), Bernie Torme (gt – Gillan, Ozzy, Desperado), Don Airey (keyb – Deep Purple, Rainbow, Gary Moore, Whitesnake, Ozzy, etc), Michael Voss (bs – Bonfire, Mad Max, Casanova, Demon Drive) and Marco Minnemann (dr – Paul Gilbert, H-Blockx), to whom some guests have joined such as Bertram Angel (dr - Springsteen, Robert Palmer), Tommy Denander (gt – Radioactive, Prisoner, Jim Jidhed, etc) and bass-players Bob Daisley (Ozzy, Rainbow, Gary Moore) and Colin Hodgkinson (Schon & Hammer, Whitesnake).

The union of so many rock history heroes has realized an album worth the name built by Silver along these few years and marks an improvement in quality, accumulating at the best the previous moves and the experience background gained in their career by musicians.

Althought they’re always disciples of British hard rock of the ‘70s (but with a sound and a songwriting updated, giving no space to nostalgic thoughts or to a kind of tribute even where similitudes are stronger as in the instrumental "Dance With The Devil"), Silver don’t lose the good habit to put arrangements, instrumental/sound solutions and passages that give a very personal and less conventional shape to the songs, an essential added value.

The vehement start offered by the restless "Intruder" (with analogic keyboards around) clears at once that Barden sings better than ever before, Torme has again his cutting six-strings, the rhythm section is dynamic and perfect, Airey keeps playing as usual his important and agile keys, qualities confirmed by "Troublemaker" and by the semi ballad "Bleed" which have a greater dose of melody.

By surprise, the paced "Drowning" and the slow "How Does It Feel?" have more than a point in common with modern rock (even if the former has a solid hard rock background and the Hammond is there to recall it), but with following "Kismet" we’re back to ‘normality’ looking at Rainbow, but also at Winger and Harem Scarem, and the rolling "Come On" (quite silly) sounds a lot of Billy Idol.

"Shine On You" is an ideal semi ballad to see an ocean of lighters if played live and is really catchy, while the last song is the melanchonic and charming slow "When The Lights Go Down".

A great confirmation, so I reccomend you a ‘strong buy’ when the album will be released late this month!



"Wheel Of Fortune" (Self Produced)

Rating: 85

As suggested by the name, Naikaku-No-Wa is a band from Japan and translated into English it means International Nuclear Tide. The band is built around the figure of songwriter/bassist Satoshi Kobayashi and it shows a powerful and hypertecnique instrumental progressive mixing hints and instruments of the ‘70s (as the flute) with an expressivity coming from metal and from neoclassic heavy rock along its seventy minutes almost all having a great sound.

The first contact is with "Please!" opened by a guitar riff in pure Japanese heavy metal style, then it’s all a puoring of notes, instrumental passages, breaks and pauses dominated by the flute and the final result is good.

Following we have the thirteen minutes long "In short, You’ve Just Changed ‘Point Of View’, Don’t You? It’s Only a Superficial Part, Right? Moder? Or Post-Modern? We Don’t Care. Go Home! Go Back To That Sea" starting jazzy with horns and flute substitues of guitars and keyboards, underlined by breathless bass and drums, while six minutes before the end there’s the guitar giving life to a flaming and torrid mix between prog and fusion.

Dark and compressed "Memory" recovers heavy metal alternating semi-slow phrases with sudden acceletations and will please both HM fans and lovers of instrumental skill, and the same happens with the faster "629 Items In Trash And Using 380.1 MB.What To Delete These Items?". "Crisis" and its thirteen minutes renew the marriage between the classic/old prog with heavy metal, but pressing the pedal on experiments.

"Tiny Ego" is quite weak and has a bad sound, but the right politic is estabilished again with the mighty ten minutes long "Seven Minutes Squeezer" including an acid break (a little like "Dazed And Confused" by Led Zeppelin) working as a base for the countless instrumental ride.

Hot cover "Hocus Pocus / Incantation Of Devils" by Focus closes a very brave and well realized cd, with a good mix of elements taken from Dream Theater, Yes (circa "Relayer"), Anglagard, Loudness, Iron Maiden, Jethro Tull and King Crimson, just to mention famous names.

Nothing to blame about instrumental skill and production, these Japanese musicians will be able gain the deserved respect.

arc-liveclub@muc.biglobe.ne.jp , http://www.freiheit.co.jp/naikakunowa/index.english.html


"The Sixth Dimension" (Point Music)

Rating: 80

For their sixth album, German band Domain (coming from a five weeks tour with the Hughes Turner Project) has made heavier its sound thanks also to the new rhythm section featuring Stefan Koellner (Symphorce) and Sandro Lo Giudice (Circle Of Pain) who accompany with power and decision the higher quality expressed by leaders Axel Ritt (gt) and Carsten Schulz (vc).

The eleven songs, plus a cover and the video clip of the first track from previous album "The Artefact" called "Charade" (the two last bonuses are only in the first digi-pack limited version), offer a nice mix between the European melodic heavy metal, to which keyboardist Erdmann Lange give greater depth, hard rock temptations of bands likei Deep Purple and Rainbow, more tasteful hints from the American class rock of late ‘80s.

The paced and viril "World Gone Crazy" (somehow close to early Demon) is a good way to open the cd, with a middle break where piano and keys are initially a base for a bass solo and later with a short neoclassic shot restart the song. The fast and catchy "Your Favourite Course" recalls Rainbow in a more metal version and I’ve always like suche solutions, and at the same time I don’t bear the marriage between Gary Moore and Helloween of the refrain included in the thounderous "King’s Tears" (listen to believe), a tune with an interesting arrangements of keybs.

And the piano of Erdmann paints dreamy pictures introducing the ballad "One Perfect Moment", a too honey-filled track for the rocking mood of the album, after which an agile riff by Ritt, doubled by Lange, introduces the fast "Burning Red" and neither "Warpath" slows the pace, two neo-classic heavy songs that played live will light up the fans.

Sparkling "Time Machine", aggressive "Skylighter" and "Young Hearts Can Fly" recall the American arena rock of the ‘80s of artists such as Autograph, Motley Crue and Damn Yankees, the whole with burning guitar solos, while "Last Exit Moon" and "Talk To The Wind" are between the European heavy rock, traces of early Malice and class metal.

Thumbs up for the bright and powerful version of Aerosmith’s "Rats In The Cellar" that cloese the promo in my hands, more than an hour of honest and well crafted music that invents nothing new, but entertains with power and fun.



"Dead Letters" (Playground Music)

Rating: 80

I have found different info about this album, but I think that "Dead Letters" is the second album for Finnish band (formed in 1994), who have for sure had the chance to go on tour with Roxette and Red Hot Chili Peppers in their Scandinavian and European gigs, and they might take profit from the good climax around modern rock to expand the number of fans.

Compared to other similar bands, the boys offer darker, more aggressive and raw sounds probably influenced by continuosly looking at horror movies while recording the album to be more in line with the feelings they wanted to express, anyway refrains are always catchy, somehow close to Harem Scarem’s "Weight Of The World", althought The Rasmus are harder and more straight than the Canuck heroes.

The single "In The Shadows" has already gained good results in some countries with its powerful mix of power pop and electric guitars and a nice singing by Lauri, but on the same quality line we find also "Still Standin", "In My Life" and "Guilty" (in whose refrain a touch of the late Bon Jovi emerges), the paced and crepuscular mid tempos "Time To Burn" and "Not Like The Other Girls", the short and cheerful "Everything You Say" that owes a lot to Cheap Trick.

Well, a band that has worked hard and deserves the right wordwide success. To know more about them visit http://www.therasmus.com.


"Diamond Dave" (Magna Carta)

Rating: 80

The days when Van Halen were kings have now passed into the realms of myth to be spoken of in hushed tones when hoary old rockers gather over flagons of foaming Bourbon. It's a myth that has been gutted over the last few years by the endless round of rumour, counter rumour and all round toy launching from all available prams. Still, there's yearning for the don't give a damn and push the envelope ethos of the band in it's prime. Which brings us nicely to the latest offering from Diamond Dave himself.

"Diamond Dave" is a soundtrack for summer, for wriggling toes into sand, chugging a fifth or two of something good and strong, and squeezing your favourite pneumatic blonde, while getting a little crazy from the heat.

Roth has drawn on a widescreen set of influences and brewed a Cafe Wha stew of covers and originals, distilling blues, classic r'n'b, and the bump and grind of what made Van Halen great, with the man himself being the rice. He has nothing to prove, as the song says "You've got the blues, not me", while a low-ride cruise through Savoy Brown's "Made up my mind" is aw shucks cool.

With a cast including a just so rhythm section blessed with both swing and punch, in James Lomenzo and Ray Luzier, and guitarists such as Brian Young who understand light and shade, it sounds effortless, witness the haze wreathed Doors " Soul Kitchen".

The modern raunch and swing of "Thug Pop" shows what Van Halen could be doing today, while the Busby Berkley version of "Ice Cream Man" featuring the legendary Nile Rodgers and Edgar Winter is a moment full of the spirit Van Halen allowed to drain away. "Bad Habits" is Louis Jordan with streaked hair and ripped leather pants, and sums up the whole shebang gloriously.

Time for a squeeze.

Andrew Paul


"Intense Defense" (Bad Reputation Re-Issue)

Rating: 80

A long awaited re-release in certain quarters, such as mine, my original copy having long ago succumbed to overwork, two things are immediately apparent: firstly how well the material and performances stand up and; secondly the nagging question remains why Joshua did not sweep all before them.

Opening track "Reach up" encapsulates the essence of the band, a balance between towering melodies and technical excellence, Joshua Perahia's guitar flurries leading the way atop the tapestry provided by Greg Schultz's keyboards, the whole confection topped off by Rob Rock's rich tones.

"I've been waiting" was and remains Rainbow as written by Bon Jovi, while "Only yesterday" with it's driving guitar lines, it's pomp keys in overdrive and it's glorious hook , is happy to sit betwixt Rainbow and "Odyssey" era Malmsteen

The mix sounds as if it has been re-assessed, with the balance between the vocals and guitars sounding far more equable than one recalls.

In many respects Joshua was a forerunner for much of the classically orientated metal that has emerged over the last decade, and it's certainly a genre that has served Rob Rock well, so perhaps this re-issue may help raise Joshua Perahia's profile, and focus some fresh attention on his recent "Something to say" album.

Excellent then and it remains so.

Andrew Paul


"Grace" (Self Produced)

Rating: 75

Few monthes later the release of debut album "First Light", the American band Farpoint are back with eleven new songs always deep into the progressive and folk world already successfully performed, and in "Grace" they press at least in one track on the pedal of progressive rock experimenting solutions close to King Crimson, Yes and Camel, all of them in their ‘70s version. It’s a pity that the drums and bass sound are so amateurish lowering the final restul above all in the harder and more progressive passages.

The obsessive going of the hard tune "Into The Night" is a nice opener even if with some indecision caught here and there, maybe a faster pace would have given a greater appeal to this dark prog rocker, but Farpoint get better with the seven minutes long "H2Origins", a nice blend of folk and of the ‘70s European prog tradition.

The folk/symphonic side emerges in many moments as in the dreaming "Dawn", six minutes and a half of acoustic guitars, keyboards and flute supporting the sweet singing by Dana Oxedine and make me wonder to be on the morbid grass when the sun rises, with the fog that starts to fade away revealing the forms around me, in opposite to which there is the more dynamic "Sunset" (again sung by Dana), a joyful and bucolic thankfully salute to the dying sun. And these are the feeling I had hearing the notes, because the lyrics actually are deeper.

The calm going of "Yesterday" recalls to me of a marriage between Fleetwood Mac and Jadis, while "Nevermore" and "Over Again" have a faster pace and a that instrumental intensity that sometimes other songs seem to lack of.

It’s evident the improvement of "Grace" if compared to "First Light" and if Farpoint will be able to keep the same progression in quality, with a greater attention to the sound (that’s why the rating is below the effective value expressed by "Grace"), with the next album they’ll gain a wider success for sure.

http://www.farpointband.com , farpoint@farpointband.com


"Give Me A Sign" (MTM Music)

Rating: 75

I wrote this text monthes ago, but it remained on a forgotten file until today. These are the original writings.

I had a rough promo with the name of the band written by pen on the cdr, a photocopy of the song names as cover and nothing more, so I cannot tell you more than what I read in internet.

Well, the first four songs are brand new and were recorded early this year, while the fifth one "Destiny" is an unreleased track coming from the sessions of "Tell No Tales" album and it’s really different with the evolution showed by TNT, and it’s not a good track.

"Live Today" breaks the ice with a low profile, with Tony Harnell singing well and LeTekro that exalted me only in the thunderous solo, the rest is nothing memorable but growing at each spin.

The moody "Give Me A Sign" has a modern feeling and a refrain that grabs the attention althought it’s nothing great, anyway the melody stamps itself in our ears so thumbs up. "Satellite" is a nice surprise, a more pop oriented song really happy and danceable, a little Oasis, a little Queen, a little (who never played so heavy!) and at the end really catchy, while with "Hey Love" they change once again and it’s a dark and melanchonic heavy ballad that Harnell dominates with skill.

For a more complete judgement I wait for the full lenght cd and I’m happy that Harnell, LeTekro, Diesel Dahl (dr) and Morty Black (bs) are back to evolve and not to offer a sad copy of they did before.



"Million Dollar Rock" (Stealth Records)

Rating: 65

With the undercurrents of suspicion still running deep against Z Records, the launch of a sister label dealing in nu-breed and metal, Stealth Records( appropriate choice of name?) looks at best brave and at worst folly.

Stealth's first signing is US band The Millions who operate in what is termed nu-breed. Nu-breed, if we are candid, too often comes across as a refried Cheap Trick ( and CT were one of the few rock rocks up their own butt critics would deign to approve of) with elements of rehashed Elvis Costello and other such tunesmiths, allied to a singer who makes up for lack of true ability with a whole parcel of attitude which covers a whole host of sins.

Thus The Millions, coolly retro artwork aside, are pretty much a second division outfit, sonically sound, but with not a moment across the whole album that is ready to sit alongside Cheap Trick, Butch Walker, Mars Electric, Tsar, et al.

"Today is the day" is a grimy Enuff Z'Nuff jamming with Bowling for Soup, while "Heather" is a Mars Electric cast-off with ELO vocal arrangements.

"Gimme, Gimme" is The Knack with John Lennon's ghost whining away merrily-grim-though it is blessed with the sort of simple infectious hook that may garner radio play if the label is prepared to take such a bull by the horns.

Curiously the band sound most comfortable on a rollicking cover of AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" and one cannot help but wonder if they looked and sounded like Poison in 1990.

A solid start, but much more is required to move into premier league. Guess if you find Butch Walker too much but love Bowling for Soup this may float your boat.

Andrew Paul