UPDATED December 5, 2020



In their homeland of Canada, the SAM ROBERTS BAND is quite popular with many Juno Awards, but I am not sure they are that well-known outside Canada, which by the way happens/happened a lot to all those wonderful Canadian acts from the past and present. Anyway, All of us is the 7th album of the Montreal, Canada based band, which is formed around vocalist/guitarist SAM ROBERTS, who is joined by guitarist DAVE NUGENT, bassist JAMES HALL, keyboard/pianoplayer ERIC FARES and drummer JOSH TRAGER. Together they bring us 9 great tunes that show a variety of styles, starting with opener Wolf tracks, which is a calmer and slightly bombastic Indie/Synth-Pop tune that has an anthemic chorus and a sound not far removed from bands like THE KOOKS, THE KILLERS and VAMPIRE WEEKEND, although perhaps a little more laid-back than those bands. Next track War chest is a somewhat calmer semi-ballad that isn't bad at all, but things really get going with the superb catchy uptempo Ascension that mixes Americana/Indierock with 80s Canadian AOR/Poprock and comes across like a mix between THE WAR ON DRUGS, BEAR'S DEN, TOM PETTY, CALEXICO and a slight touch of classic 80s Canadian AOR/Poprock a la HAYWIRE, BRYAN ADAMS and RED RIDER. Following Spellbound changes direction again, because this is a beautiful singer/songwriter piece with a strong modern Indiepop chorus that will please the fans of FAMILY OF THE YEAR's Hero, and towards the end there is even a psychedelic rocking guitarsolo to be heard.


Side-B of the vinyl record starts with the lovely TOM PETTY/JOHN COUGAR influenced midtempo Heartland rocker Take me away, which is a very catchy tune and one you would hear on your radio when driving through the USA. Next song I love the way you talk about the future is a fantastic hypnotical midtempo slightly psychedelic rocker with a catchy beat and memorable chorus, kinda like a modern take on the classic THE BEATLES, with also some memories of early 1990s TEENAGE FANCLUB, well done for sure! Ghost town is back to the Indie pop meets Americana sound we know from bands like THE WAR ON DRUGS and FLEET FOXES, a lovely tune actually with a very laid-back summer ish feeling due to it's subtle guitarsolo, BRUCE SPRINGSTEENish drums and strong melodic chorus. It's nice to see so many diversity going on here, which makes it easy to listen to the full album without every pushing the skip button, which in this case is not even possible since it's the lovely vinyl record I received all the way from Canada. The titletrack All of us follows and is probably one of the more radio-ready commercial tunes here, although secretly it's a fantastic powerful uptempo melodic poprocker that is dangerously close to the 1980s THE OUTFIELD! Closing track Youth is another excellent song, this time akin to classic 80s Canadian AOR/Poprock again, with a modern approach however like BEAR'S DEN and THE WAR ON DRUGS. Without a doubt, we have a winner here and I can easily recommend it to anyone who wants to hear a mixture of styles, yet always with a focus on memorable melodies. More info can be found at:

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)



Out of San Francisco/North California comes CARLTON MELTON, and this 3-piece band seems to be coming out of the Gold Era of Psychedelic/Space Rock/Krautrock of the late 1960s/early 1970s. Nevertheless, you can still hear they are a modern age band, so it's not sounding dated at all. On the other hand their influences of PINK FLOYD, CAN, TANGERINE DREAM, SWANS, HAWKWIND, JIMI HENDRIX and such are very clear when listening to their new album Where this leads. They have released a lot of records so far, but this is my first adventure with them. The threesome consists of Andy Duvall (drums, guitar), Clint Golden (bass), and Rich Millman (guitar, synths), and together they make this hypnotical atmospheric sounds that takes you on a trip that never seems to mind. This is freestyle music with no boundaries, so quite a few of the 9 included songs are quite long. The album starts with the Krautrock/Psychedelic Rock haunting instrumental The stars are dying, which is also the longest song on the album, reaching over 17 minutes it is mostly focused on psychedelic weird guitarsounds. The rest of the album is more diverse, with also the drums being used. There's even some cool slow BLACK SABBATH ish Doom Metal to be heard in a very heavy song like Waylay. And how about the beautiful calmer Post-Progressive rocksong Dezebelle, which sounds like a mix between PORCUPINE TREE, ULVER and LONG DISTANCE CALLING. The fans of instrumental music will absolutely love this album, especially if you want to hear a mix of all the aforementioned bands. More info at: and

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


The Italian band A PERFECT DAY might not sound really original, the album they delivered is of a very high level musically and vocally speaking. Everything sounds crystal clear here, with a superb singer, lovely melodies and a big fat sound that is major label ish, while each and every song is focused on catchy hooks and memorable choruses, although there still is a guitarsolo every now and then as well. With eyes wide open is their 3rd album so far and without a doubt, it's a winner to those who like their music to sound melodic, but still rocking in a modern American direction. The band's line up consists of vocalist/guitarist Marco Baruffetti, guitarist Andrea Cantarelli (LABYRINTH), bassist Gigi Andreone and drummer Alessandro Bissa, and on this new album we can find 10 strong songs. The first two songs (Pull me out and Give it away) are a perfect mixture of Modern American Melodic Heavy Rock/Nu Metal (ALTER BRIDGE) and European song based Melodic Progmetal (DGM, PYRAMAZE) that is connected with each other through Melodic Hardrock ish choruses. After this sensational start, we get to hear a lovely semi melodic rockballad a la GOTTHARD titled Whatever you want me (to do), which is followed by a couple (Starlight and Mama said) of ALTER BRIDGE meets CREED meets SKILLET meets THREE DAYS GRACE orientated groovy modern American Heavy Rocksongs with strong melodic choruses to sing-a-long to. The hideaway starts calm, but develops into a superb melodic Progmetal piece that reminds me a bit of DGM, including one of the finest choruses on the album. Following The love we've waited is one of the more commercial songs here, but nevertheless a lovely semi AOR/Melodic Rockballad that almost reminds me of WORK OF ART, although a band like BLACK STONE CHERRY also creates such songs nowadays! The roots is up next and this is one of the few real uptempo tunes, a great Melodic Hardrocker, while In my room is a great American orientated melodic heavu rocker like ALTER BRIDGE and STONE SOUR again. Closing this impressive album is the wonderful TESLA ish semi- melodic rockballad All of my life, where singer Marco shows once again he is a superb lead vocalist and it is mostly thanks to him, this band rises above the countless other bands in this genre. Concluded, this is a recommended album that is mostly recommended to fans of super melodic American heavy rock like a cross between ALTER BRIDGE, THREE DAYS GRACE and BLACK STONE CHERRY. More info at:

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)




I remember the mid 1980s when the first mixture of Rap and Metal came to life via the innocent BEASTIE BOYS/SLAYER and RUN DMC/AEROSMITH collaborations, which are now regarded as classics (Fight for your right/No sleep till Brooklyn and Walk this way) and bands like BAD BRAINS, LIVING COLOR and RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS started to explore this a bit more during the late 1980s. Of course a lot has changed in the following decades, with many more mixtures of Rap and Rock/Metal, resulting in countless (mostly American) bands playing this combination of music styles almost all the time. LINKIN PARK, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH and SYSTEM OF A DOWN are of course the most well-known acts, but in fact the whole developed Nu-Metal genre took over the USA through the 90s and 00s. Eventually this whole genre became more and more melodic again, with as result that bands like ALTER BRIDGE, DISTURBED, STONE SOUR, THREE DAYS GRACE and such started playing pure Melodic Hardrock again throughout the 2010s. Not a bad development at all, although the original mix of Rap and Metal has almost vanished by now. FIRE FROM THE GODS is a band I didn't know until a vinyl record was sent to me, and despite being labelled as a Rapcore band, they also add a lot of melodies into their sound. This band's 2nd album American sun is the closest thing to the original mix of Rap and Rock/Metal you can get I think nowadays, especially when you hear songs like Truth to the weak, Fight the world, Victory (which also features some growling), All my heroes are dead, Another level (the most Rap-Metalcore song on the album) and American sun. On the other hand, also these songs feature the major American melodic radio rock choruses and when they drop the rap parts during a song like Right now, they are sounding like the next big major label sounding American Melodic Hardrock/Heavy Rock Band ala ALTER BRIDGE, STONE SOUR and BLACK STONE CHERRY. Not bad at all and even quite sensational here and there, I would still not call this a real adventurous or innovative album. Thankfully it's all done at a very high level and the band has a fantastic soulful singer (A.J. CHANNER), who happens to rap a few times and he doesn't do a bad job at all actually. This is an enjoyable record, with some killer melodic rocking choruses here and there, sounding like a perfect cross between LINKIN PARK, ALTER BRIDGE and STONE SOUR, with as aforementioned a few times sounding like the only real Rap-Metalband in the world. Besides the earlier mentioned Right now, the other highlights for me personally are Make you feel it, the superb progmetal ish Out of time and closing track Break the cycle (a calmer modern sounding soulful electronic ballad at first that develops into a lovely Powerful semi Melodic Rock Ballad). There's two sides to this band, because they want to keep the Rap-Metalcore past, but also go for that smooth big sounding American Melodic Heavy Rock Sound that is perfectly suitable for radio airplay. If you're becoming interested after reading this review, then go check them out at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)



The American band FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH is very popular in especially the American Metal Scene, where they built up quite a reputation with their previous 7 albums Likewise F8 is their 8th album so far since their formation in Las Vegas, Nevada back in 2005 and nowadays the band's line up consists of Zoltan Bathory (guitar and bass), Ivan Moody (lead vocals, keys), Chris Kael (bass), Charlie Engen (drums) and Andy James (guitar). Their sound is heavy and actually sometimes pure Metalcore, but nevertheless they do have a melodic tone, especially during the choruses which do recall sometimes memories of STONE SOUR, DISTURBED and ALTER BRIDGE, while the guitarwork is quite phenomenal. In the end, they are one of the better sounding American Metal Bands out there and F8 is a very decent new album. After a very aggressive start with 2 Metalcore songs that do feature melodic choruses (Inside out and Full circle), the band slows things down on the more melodic heavy rock sounding Living the dream, while Side-A of the vinyl record closes with the calmer and very melodic A little bit off. Back to the aggressive Metalcore with Bottom of the top on Side-B, while the following To be alone is the finest song so far, because this is a lovely mid tempo Melodic Hardrocksong that even reminds me a bit of 00s/10s HAREM SCAREM, including a catchy chorus and a soaring guitarsolo! Here Ivan shows he is not only a shouter and screamer, but he is also able to sing very well and clean. We could already hear this during a few of the earlier songs on the album, but during To be alone it's melodic rock bliss all the way from start to finish. This can also be heard during the lovely semi Melodic Heavy Rock Ballad Darkness settles in, which is perhaps the most melodic song FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH has even done. Think of a cross between VOLBEAT, ALTER BRIDGE and METALLICA on this particular song, then you know what to expect. It's no surprise the band switches to Metalcore again during the following song This is war, but thankfully the typical modern American Melodic Heavy Rock is back on Leave it all behind and later on during the superb powerful melodic semi-rock ballad Brighter side of grey (SHINEDOWN meets DISTURBED). Bonustrack Death punch therapy combines the best of all worlds, with a super melodic chorus and aggressive vocals, while the radio edited bonus version of Inside out is dangerously close to classic DISTURBED. Concluded, fans of the band will love this new record for sure as there is a lot of aggressiveness going on, but thankfully there's also enough interesting melodic moments. If you mix SYSTEM OF A DOWN, ALTER BRIDGE, SHINEDOWN, METALLICA, DISTURBED and HATEBREED, you could end up with FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, although by now they have own identity and F8 is the latest result. More info at:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)



BUKAHARA is coming out of Cologne, Germany and Canaries in a coal mine is their 3rd album since they were formed back in 2009. Actually I was not yet familiar with them, which is a pity, because their new record is a sensational album you absolutely need to check out a.s.a.p. The music is a healthy mix of traditional styles, but it sounds super modern and radio-ready most of the time. Their line-up consists of Vocalist/Guitarist/Drummer Soufian Zoghlami, Bassist/Percussion player/Guitarist Ahmed Eid, Violin/Mandolinplayer Daniel Avi Schneider and Trombone/Sausaphone/Trumpetplayer Max von E. I was stunned when I heard the fantastic voice of Soufian, and combined with 11 catchy melodic tunes, this new record of BUKAHARA is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish. Opener Happy is an incredible catchy uptempo radio-ready pop/rock tune with singer/songwriter influences and a killer chorus to sing-a-long to. In the hands of GEORGE EZRA, this would be huge and actually also the rest of the CD is of a similar high level, thanks to the mixture of superb soulful vocals, catchy melodies and a cool rhythm and vibe that reveal influences from World Music, Africa, Folk and Singer/Songwriter. I have to say that after the somewhat western radio pop orientated opener, the album reveals more of those other music influences on the rest of the record, and that makes it very interesting for the open-minded music fan. Believe me that no matter which song radio will pick up, they are all a guarantee for a hit and if corona had not been here, this band would have been the ultimate festival band to break through across Europe! Besides the comparison to GEORGE EZRA, I can also hear some similarities to MICHAEL KIWANUKA, VINTAGE TROUBLE, JAMES BAY and a few others, although BUKAHARA actually has own identity, especially when you hear an uptempo folk song like the lovely We are still here or the superb Arabic sounding Ktir. Those kinda songs are festival hits for sure and to keep things also interesting for people who like calmer singer/songwriter modern pop (a la GEORGE EZRA), they offer a song like The vulture and the little boy. The band's diversity on this album is a pleasure to listen to, because they even come up with a sorta Reggae ish tune called Under the sea and how about the Big Band/Jazz/New Orleans influenced Wolken (sung in German)! Concluded, this is a highly recommended album and perhaps one of the undiscovered secrets in 2020. Check them out at: 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)



Out of Finland comes SVANG, a band which has already released 8 albums in the past, played concerts all over the world and appeared on the legendary New Years Show of JOOLS HOLLAND on BBC2. The band is formed around Eero TURKKA– chromatic & diatonic harmonicas, Eero GRUNDSTRÖM - chromatic & diatonic harmonicas, Jouko KYHÄLÄ – chord harmonica harmonetta, chromatic & diatonic harmonicas and Pasi LEINO – base harmonica, and their music is traditional Folk music from Finland and if you ever wondered what that sounds like, you should check out this album. It reminds me a lot of Gypsy Music, it's instrumental Accordeon driven, mostly in a slow going uptempo kinda direction and the 12 songs will give you the feeling you are somewhere in cold Finland. More info at:  

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)




Danish singer HELENE BLUM and fiddler HARALD HAUGAARD join forces for the first time on this lovely album titled Strummen. Despite sung in the Danish language, you can feel the beautiful melodies and emotions sung by Helene, who is backed up instrumentally by Harald's band that further consists of Cellist Kirstine Elise Pedersen, guitarist Mikkel Grue and percussionist Sune Rahbek. The result is 12 melodic songs that are a celebration of singer/songwriter and Danish traditional folk/pop, and I have to say it is a pleasure to listen to this album from start to finish. It has many highlights, such as Strommen, Stranden and Dansevise, and there are also a few instrumentals and traditionals included to give it enough diversity to keep everyone's attention from start to finish. You have to hear this for yourself and I can assure you that you will not be disappointed at all! More info at: and


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)




HARRYCANE ORCHESTRA is formed around drummer/componist HARRY ALT and the Turkish singer TARKAN YESIL, along with KAY FISCHER (sax, clarinet, percussion, flute), DAVID KREMER (grand piano, synth, keyboards), GIUSEPPE PUZZO (double bass) and JOE T. AYKUT (cumbus, oud). Together they create a fascinating mixture of classic Jazz and Arabic melodies/vocals, which you don't hear every day. 8 songs are included, of which some are quite lengthy. Songs like Cara in vain, Holy rocket, In love with 7 hills, Wonderland and Voyager contain beautiful melodies and this unique mixture of Arabic vocals and pure classic Jazz arrangements. If you want to hear something really original, then make sure to check out this album, because this seems to be one of 2020's biggest World Music surprises! More info at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)




Out of Lyon, France comes the trio RIEN FAIRE and their same titled debut album is quite an original and experimental release that is not easy to describe. Anyway, the band's line up consists of Marie Daviet (keyboards, horn, vocals), Lucas Hercberg (bass, guitar, vocals) and Corentin Quemener (drums, carillon, vocals), and it all starts with Le ciel est mou, which is a sorta jazzy indie pop/krautrock mixture, while following Festivillage has an uptempo catchy quirky indiepop/powerpop ish chorus and from then on, it becomes quite interesting. La Racle route is in fact a strong uptempo rocker with a psychedelic touch and besides melodic harmonyvocals also some weird cool keyboards straight out of the classic 1970s. A song like Etre vieux even shows a Reggae ish influence, although it is combined with a lot of other musistyles as well, with both female and male vocals. It's almost impossible to compare this band to other acts, because they really have a sound of their own, which involves quirky early 80s powerpop/rock, indiepop, 70s progressive rock (which can be heard in the finest song on the album, namely the anthemic bombastic L'oiseau poupe) and a lot of late 1960s psychedelic rock meets 70s Krautrock (especially during La viande de ta familie that sounds like a cross between VELVET UNDERGROUND and JEFFERSON AIRPLANE), although you can also trace other musicstyles and there are shared female/male vocals, with lyrics sung in the French language. Recommended to check this out for yourself at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)




Erba spontanea of the French band MANGE FERRAILE is actually only 1 song that takes you on a trip through almost 40 minutes of experimental progressive/psychedelic rock/krautrock. Involved musicians are Anthony Fleury: baritone guitar / organ / voice, Thibault Florent: guitar / organ and Etienne Ziemniak : drums, and together the guys create bizarre sounds and effects that feel like one long acid trip like you went back to the improvisations of the 1970s. It's hynotic, repetetive, sounding chaotic at one point and make you probably completely crazy if you would listen to it 1 full day on repeat mode! However, after a few minutes there's a sudden stop and you wonder what is happening, then you hear this beep in the background, while after some time African kind tribal kinda drums kick in and things get eventually psychdelic krautrocking again. It's like I already mentioned before one long experimental trip with a lot of improvising, which was in the 1970s quite common to do. This is one of those records that will eventually be regarded as unique as back in the 1970s Krautrockdays when bands like CAN and TANGERINE DREAM came to life, because you just can't compare this album to anything else, although secretly if you're a Krautrockfan you will definitely be interesting in hearing this 40 minutes journey! All together it makes MANGE FERRAILE an interesting band to check for yourself at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)




Out of France comes THE GRAND SBAM, a very experimental band that is labelled as progrock, but goes much further than that, because they throw in Chinese music, jazz, ancient music, electronics and all kinds of weird complex vocals into their sound. This is really something completely out of control and only interesting for people who want to hear a sound that has not been done before, although there are a few times moments where you might recall FRANK ZAPPA. This is the alternative for alternative I guess, so go check it out at:


(Points: 7.0 out of 10)




Over 65 years ago the legendary singer/songwriter/guitarist CURTIS GORDON started his career and recorded throughout the 1950s a collection of classic Rock'n'Roll/Rockabilly tunes that sadly never reached a wide audience. It's a pity, because he created some classic 1950s rock and roll that sounded not too far from popular acts like ELVIS PRESLEY, CARL PERKINS, BUDDY HOLLY, but also there was a touch of Country-Rock a la JOHNNY CASH. Anyway, there's now a 10 inch vinyl single available from him, which contains a total of 12 songs he recorded during the 2nd part of the 1950s. Especially the uptempo rock and roll/rockabilly songs like Rock, Roll, Jump and jive, Mobile, Alabama, Oh Lonely heart and From Mephis to New Orleans show him at his very best, which is rocking and rolling in the best classic ELVIS PRESLEY style. The 10 inch vinyl record looks and sounds very well, so a real collector's item, which is available through:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)




In the 1950s Rock'n'Roll was the most popular music genre among the youth worldwide, with many singers trying to be the next ELVIS PRESLEY, LITTLE RICHARD or BUDDY HOLLY. Also in the Latin world there was a huge amount of singers who mostly crossed the border with the USA, trying to secure success and a record deal over there. A few actually succeeded and became rockstars overnight (TRINI LOPEZ and RITCHIE VALENS), but many failed and remained unknown until now, because the German label BEAR FAMILY RECORDS has released a wonderful compilation CD with in total 37 classic Mexicano/Chicano 1950s Rock'n'Roll songs (now called Rockabilly) and there are quite a lot great singers on this CD, and most of them even wrote their own songs. Of course the lyrics were usually simple (about rock'n'roll and girls) and the music was close to the big American stars at the time, but nevertheless there are some interesting names appearing here, such as TRINI LOPEZ, TONY CASANOVA, RITCHIE VALENS, BOB ORRISON, EDDIE QUINTEROS, MAX UBALLEZ, AUGIE GARCIA QUINTET and JOHNNY AMELIO & THE DOWNBEATS. There is also instrumental Rock & Roll by LOS GIBSON BOYS, which is THE SHADOWS ish and of course a bunch of Latin/Spanish versions of ELVIS classics, while there are numerous wanna-be-stars that act like true copycats of ELVIS and LITTLE RICHARD (CHUCK RIO). The booklet is beautiful and tell the stories of each and every performer on this CD. It's a piece of music history that is now kept for the future and available through:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)




When the Rock'n'Roll exploded in the USA back in the 1950s with ELVIS PRESLEY, LITTLE RICHARD, BUDDY HOLLY, etc., there was no holding back for young singers and musicians to play this kind of rock. The result was thousands of new recordings with their beloved musicstyle. Nowadays this kind of rock'n'roll is seen as rockabilly and therefore this compilation is named Rockabilly & Rock'n'roll. It's a look back at long gone days, over 60 years ago, when the world looked completely different than nowadays. 35 songs are on this compilation CD, which is focused on all the American singers who wanted to become the next big superstar, but didn't make it unfortunately. Nevertheless, this CD gives a nice overview of what kind of revolution was going on back in the USA from 1955 onwards. Actually it never stopped, because when THE BEATLES broke through in the mid 1960s, there was the wave of Garage Rockbands and later on in the 1970s Hardrock/Classic Rock became the next big thing, Punk in 1977, AOR in the early 1980s, Hair Metal in the mid 80s/late 80s, Alternative Rock/Grunge in the 1990s, Nu-Metal in the later 90s, before we headed back to modern rock like we know it the past 20 years. However, it all began in the 1950s with the first wave of new American rocking music and this lovely compilation disc contains some of the best 'lost' singers from that era, of which the finest are CONWAY TITTY, GEORGE YOUNG, EDDIE BOND, ROD BERNARD, JAMES O'GWYNN, CURTIS GORDON, GARY SHELTON, THE COUNTS and CHARLIE WALKER. Along with an extensive booklet that tells us all about the wanna-be stars, it gives you a perfect picture of what was going on in The States in the 1950s. Essential purchase for fans of Classic 1950s Rock'n'roll/Rockabilly! Available through:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)




AFTER THE FIRE is a legendary British band that started as a progrockband in the 1970s, but changed to a more commercial pop/wave sound when they signed a major label deal. This live-CD on ANGEL AIR RECORDS starts with a sensational uptempo instrumental synth driven symphonic rocker titled 1980-F, which is followed by a couple of almost AOR/Pomprock orientated pieces titled Life in the city, Frozen rivers and Dancing in the shadows, while later songs even show a Powerpop direction of the early 1980s. The keyboards are upfront here, suggesting it is progrock/symphorock, but actually here is an almost 80s AOR/Pomprock driven band in the late 1970s/early 1980s style. However what makes AFTER THE FIRE such an interesting band is that they really developed themselves and kept on adjusting their sound to the back then popular musicstyles, so they went from progrock to aor/pomprock to new wave and back to neo-progrock again within just a few years in the 1970s and 1980s. This live album dates back to 2004 when they played a private event that was at the same place as 25 years earlier in 1979 (Greenbelt) and features a band with a cheerful rich keyboardfriendly melodic aor/pomprocksound that is closer to bands like ASIA, MULTI-STORY, MAGNUM and such did in the 80s than the progrock or wave sound of their early days. It sounds quite raw and not always perfect, but it's nice to see the band still active, despite in a different line-up and sounding way more diverse (check out the awesome faster uptempo Pomprock driven Starflight for example) and interesting than their best known song, which is the FALCO cover Der Kommissar. There are also 2 bonustracks here that are both unplugged AOR tingled tunes that do not sound bad at all! It's not a really recent album, because we are now 15 years later again, but in case you missed it, the CD is available through:

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)



Although at first sight the name DAVID COURTNEY doesn't ring a bell, he is a Grammy Award winning songwriter and recordproducer who was involved in many well-known hits, especially during the 1970s. 37 songs are included on this 2-CD set that has been released through ANGEL AIR RECORDS sometime ago. He worked with many big names (SMOKIE, ROGER DALTREY, PAUL MCCARTNEY, LEO SAYER and loads more). Although I have never been a fan of LEO SAYER, he wrote the man's biggest hits, such as Long tall glasses. Along with the classic ROGER DALTREY ballad Giving it all way that sounded like a cross between late 60s BEATLES and the 70s ALICE COOPER ballads, and a rocker here and there (such as ADAM FAITH's I survived (feat. RITCHIE BLACKMORE) and ROGER CHAPMAN's Midnight child, this is the signature sound of David, which is mostly 70s rock/pop ballad orientated with dramatic choruses. There's a actually still lot to enjoy and to explore here, because not everything charted well, which means we get to hear quite a few unknown songs that are almost all performed by established singers. The focus is on the 1970s and 1980s and if I have to point out the highlights, I have to mention the ROGER DALTREY songs, MAGGIE BELL's In my life, SMOKIE's The dancer, ODYSSEY's Magic touch, STEVE ELLIS' Blackmail, and GEISHA's Never tell you why (wonderful Aussie band with a great semi- AOR ballad from 1987, definitely the best song on the album). If you want to learn all about Davis career as a songwriter and record producer, then look no further. Available through:


(Points: 7.7 out of 10)




This is by far one of the most impressive CD-booklets and press-kits of an album release I have seen in ages! THE RHEINGANS SISTERS are coming out of the Peak District (Sheffield) in the UK and are basically formed around the sisters Anna and Rowan Rheingans. They released their debut album back in 2013 and are now already at album number 4 with Receiver. The extensive booklet of the CD is an 48 page full colour counting impressive 'book', while the artwork is a collaboration with visual artist Pierre-Olivier Boulant. Anna plays Violin, 5-String Banjo, Tambourin, Flabuta, Hammond Organ and Bell Tree, while Rowan plays Violin, 5-String Banjo, Baritone Banjo, Pocket Piano, Electric Guitar and Synth, and together they sing beautifully. There is a guest appearance by RACHAEL COHEN on Alto Sax and producer of the album is ANDY BELL (THE FURROW COLLECTIVE and SAM SWEENEY). The 2 sisters make beautiful songs that take you on a journey through Europe, with many Folk based tunes that are sometimes instrumental and at other times the girls sing lovely melodies together. It's so enjoyable to listen to the wonderful musicianship of these girls, and I am quite overwhelmed by the beauty of everything connected to this album, because there is a lot to hear and read here. This album also needs to be listened to a few times before getting the picture, because there is a lot going on here, which is of course due to the diversity of used instruments, but also songwise there are some experimental moves here and there. Most of the calm it is calm Folk orientated and then we can hear influences from acts like LUKA BLOOM, PENTANGLE and NICK DRAKE. In case you want to hear a lovely unique calm diverse Folk album by 2 impressive multi-talented sisters, then do check out the new album of THE RHEINGANS SISTERS at::


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)




Now this is definitely a remarkable and unique sounding record of the German singer/songwriter/musician STELLA SUMMER. She has already released 5 albums, and this Northern dancer is her 2nd album in the English language. She plays guitar, piano, synthesizer besides singing and there are several guests appearing for the bass, drums, violin, flute, horn and backing vocals. The result is a dark calm melancholic baroque pop/singer/songwriter album in the style of NICO, NICK CAVE, LOU REED, LEONARD COGEN and such. 10 songs are included, and this is one of those albums you need to listen to several times to understand the meaning behind it, because Stella is clearly not here to bring happy radio-ready songs, but instead chooses an avant-garde dark sound, with songs that are calm and slow, and most of the time in the same kinda direction. You need to get used to it, but eventually she will reach a lot of people, because there is a lot of honesty and emotion behind her songs and lyrics. Check for yourself at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)




One man and his piano is all it takes on the Of quietude CD of pianist DINAR KALASH, who comes out of Ramallah, in the state of Palestine. He visited the UK right before the pandemic broke loose, and he played the piano in the beautiful acoustic of St. Paul's Hall at the University of Huddersfield in early 2020. Together with sound engineer SIMON REYNELL the performance was recorded and it is now released on CD. It's hard to describe what he's doing on the piano, but it's fascinating for sure, because it sounds almost all the time dark and frightening, and even quite heavy! I never knew that a piano alone could sound so dark and diverse, because Dirar shows some incredible new improvised sounds here by playing the piano in his own kinda way. It's split in 2 songs and you can hear for yourself at: and final note is that it was the last time Dirar touched the piano, which makes this a real incredible rare and unique recording.


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)




ORCHESTRA OF THE UPPER ATMOSPHERE is an interesting and fascinating band which I didn't know before I received their 5th album theta five. They play instrumental music that is best described as Krautrock, because it reminds me a lot of TANGERINE DREAM, CAN and also a bit of SOFT MACHINE and VANDERGRAAF GENERATOR. It's clearly 1970s based, with influences from both Jazz and Progressive Rock, yet with a lot of room for improvised experiments, so it's not easy to call it just jazz, prog or fusion, because they go much further musically speaking. Krautrock would be the best description, but like already mentioned, they are sounding very diverse on the 4 fantastic songs of their new album Theta five. The band's line up consists of Martin Archer – saxophones, clarinet, flute, organ, mellotron, software instruments, voices, Steve Dinsdale – drums, synths, Lorin Halsall – double bass, electric upright bass, electronics, Yvonna Magda – violin, electronics, Andy Peake – rhodes, synths, Walt Shaw – percussion, electronics, Jan Todd – vocals, voices, lyrics, harps, electronics, laptop, midi keys, bowed acoustic bass guitar (on Obsidian), glockenspiel, 12 string guitar, Korg wave drum, Idiopan and Terry Todd – electric bass guitar, acoustic 12 string guitar. As you can see, these are all multi-instrumentalists and they switch whenever they feel the need to do so, so I guess live that is a true adventure and experience to see and enjoy, but for now I would like you to take a journey through their fascinating recordings, because especially during the 20 minutes counting epic Changeling, there is so much happening. Don't miss this release! More info at:


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)




ERIC BELL is of course the legendary guitarist who played with PHIL LYNOTT and GARY MOORE in their first band SKID ROW, while he was also the first guitarist with Phil in THIN LIZZY and gave them their first and biggest hitsingle Whiskey in the jar. After he left THIN LIZZY he did all kinds of things, including playing as a solo blues act. This CD is a live recording from a gig in Sweden, where he sang and played guitar along with bassist TONY WOOTON and drummer ROMEK PAROL. The result is a nice walk through his career, with of course a few THIN LIZZY classics (Whiskey in the jar and The rocker), as well as other covers (Gloria - THEM) and blues traditionals like Oh pretty woman and Baby please don't go, while also own originals are played. It's a nice mixture and you can feel it was a good evening for Eric. He is a real blues rocker and that's what you get to hear on the 13 songs here. Eric does a great job here and you can get the album via


(Points: 7.8 out of 10)




The legendary 70s Progressive Rockband GREENSLADE recorded a full new album back in 2000 and somehow we must have missed this album. It was bandleader DAVE GREENSLADE's idea to reform the band after 25 years of inactivity and eventually it would lead to this new album Large afternoon. We are now 20 years later (!) and it seems that this is really going to be the final album, because Dave is close to 78 years of age at the time of publishing this review. It's quite unbelievable this album passed by without much notice, because it is filled with lovely symphonic keyboard orientated progrock that sounds like a cross between KAYAK and CAMEL. The focus is keyboard instrumental orientated, although there are also enough vocal songs where JOHN YOUNG (another keyboardplayer in the band) is singing, and he does a pretty good job. The music is calm and quite relaxed, very melodic, with a real 1970s feeling, yet also with sometimes a sorta 80s touch as well. 9 songs are included in total and a few of the highlights are the instrumental titletrack Large afternoon, the 80s VINCE DICOLA keyboard based On suite and the melodic AOR/Westcoast ish In the night. Recommended album to fans of 80s YES, GTR, ASIA, JOHN WETTON and of course GREENSLADE fans! Available through


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)




In the category lost and found from the 1970s we present you the wonderful band ZZEBRA and their album Lost world. This British band released a few albums and was only active in the early to mid 1970s. However they became somewhat of a cult band in later years and Lost world is a CD that was released several years ago on ANGEL AIR RECORDS. After the short instrumental opener Procession of the zebra, we get to hear an interesting band playing a mix of 70s prog/psychedelic rock with a groovy rock touch and some soulful vocals. It sounds very melodic, kinda like a groovy soulful melodic softrock version of classic URIAH HEEP melted with a touch of progressive rock, although there's even some jazzy parts to be heard (imagine then perhaps a mix between SOFT MACHINE, SANTANA, AVERAGE WHITE BAND and URIAH HEEP!). The result is quite original and very strong, with as highlights the relaxing tunes Society, Living, the proggy World trips and the rockier It's take it! Leave it. They are not even shy to experiment further, because the calmer Baila Jo even reveals some sorta World Music/African influences, and as the album develops, so does the harmony between the musicians, with as result a few fantastic groovy jazzy proggy improvised tunes in the shape of the included 1975 live tracks Panic, Hungry horse and Mr. J. Concluded, this was a unique band that should have been much bigger, but there was so much competition in the 1970s, this is now one of those cult band, of which some recordings are available on CD through:


(Points: 8.5 out of 10)




MEDICINE HEAD was one of many 1970s bands that had a short run of fame and fortune with a few hits and a numerous album releases, but eventually the adventure ended in 1977. back in 2011 a new album was released under the bandname MEDICINE HEAD, which only featured original member JOHN FIDDLER, who did a lot on his own here. He has a pleasant voice (a la TOM PETTY) and the songs are very melodic, 70s inspired of course, but with a modern touch, melting melodic pop/rock, folk, blues, singer/songwriter with memorable melodies and this works best during the songs The haunting, Narcister and the TOM PETTY ish semi-Ballad I'll turn you on. I read somewhere that legendary guitarist LAURENCE ARCHER (GRAND SLAM) appears as a guest, which is quite interesting of course. Quite a surprising release and not bad at all! Towards the end of the album, it becomes all a bit calmer and singer/songwriter ish a la JOHN LENNON, but still quite good and recommended to fans of TOM PETTY for sure! The CD is available through:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)




The British band AFFINITY was only active for a few years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but managed to release 2 albums, and also several recordings that eventually found their way onto CD, such as this The baskervilles reunion on ANGEL AIR RECORD. The Jazz-Rockband's original pre-AFFINITY band was called THE BASKERVILLES who played at the University of Sussex in the 1960s and back in 2011 they did a reunion, of which this CD is the captured live recording of their performance at the University again all those years later. 21 songs can be heard, including mostly covers of 60s classics of THE BEATLES, THE STONES, THE BYRDS and classics like Summertime blues, She's not there, Love potion 9. Done very well, it's a nice recording of what went down that evening for the original bandmembers, while there were also several other musicians involved, such as legendary guitarist RAY RUSSELL. The CD is available through:


(Points: 7.5 out of 10)




The legendary band THE SWEET has a long history that of course had it's peak in the 1970s with many Glamrock classics. They have influenced a lot of bands and in contrast to other bands from that era (SLADE, MUD), they did manage to develop an own sound, write own material and kept rocking throughout the following decades in many different line-ups. Guitarist ANDY SCOTT is the last original member, who has been part of the band since 1963! Almost 60 years later he still has a band around him and performs as THE SWEET. The answer was an album he released as THE SWEET in 1992 and the original release was re-released by ANGEL AIR RECORDS sometime ago. Basically what we get to hear here is excellent classic 80s Melodic Hardrock/AOR the British way, very much like PRAYING MANTIS and LIONHEART, yet with the harmonyvocals and clear touch of classic 1970s THE SWEET choruses. Highlights are the catchy uptempo melodic rocker X-Ray specs, the dut-dut 80s keyboard AOR driven rocker Mind, the superb classic 80s power AOR/Melodic Rockballad Is it true, the classic uptempo AOR/Melodic Rocker Dangerous game (one of the best songs THE SWEET recorded in their career!) and the AOR ballad I don't want to say goodbye (REO SPEEDWAGON ish, also recorded by the legendary PLANET 3). 3 bonustracks are added to the original 1992 release, and I almost forget to mention the cool MOTLEY CRUE inspired Crudely mott, which closes the original album in a classic Dr Feelgood - MOTLEY CRUE parody! Anyway, the CD is available through:

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)



THE GUILDMASTER is a new sensational prog-folk/sympho project/band formed around the Spanish multi-instrumentalist Rafael Pacha (acoustic and electric guitars, flutes and recorders, Venezuelan cuatro, psaltery, bouzouki, mandolin, viola da gamba alto, keyboards, bodhran etc.), the legendary KAYAK keyboardplayer Ton Scherpenzeel, bassist Marco Bernard and drummer Kimmo Pörsti (THE SAMURAI OF PROG). The knight and the ghost is their wonderful first album and musically speaking it is medieaval influenced folk meets prog/symphorock, very much like KAYAK, RENAISSANCE and CAMEL did in the 1970s, but then instrumental most of the time. We can hear some female vocals (Ariane Valdivié) here and there, but the album is mostly focused on instrumental melodies in a classic folk meets prog tradition. Without a doubt, we have here a true winner that also comes along with a beautiful looking CD booklet that contains lovely artwork. 13 songs are included in total, with a playing time of 62 minutes and some of the short songs are classic medieaval Folk all the way, while the longer songs, such as Saaristo, The knight and the ghost, Ghost dance and The sun rises again are going into superb instrumental progressive/symphonic rock directions, with excellent guitar vs keyboard duals and Rafael also uses a lot of other instruments to give it a wide and open sound. This album is of an exceptionally high level and a must-have to own if you call yourself a fan of classic prog/symphonic rock. Make sure not to miss it if you're a fan of those lovely KAYAK sounds from the past! More info at:


(Points: 8.5 out of 10)




WHEN RIVERS MEET is a British husband/wife duo consisting of Aaron Bond (guitar and back-up vocals) and Grace Bond (lead vocals, fiddle and resonator mandolin), while additional musicians on their debut full-length album We fly free are Adam Bowers on percussion, bass and keys, and Robin G Breeze, who also shares bass and keys. The result is a strong heavy bluesrockalbum with the typical modern approach like we know it from acts like BLUES PILLS, LARKIN POE and a touch of BETH HART. Grace has a strong voice and the songs are built around a classic 1970s retro guitar riff from the Classic Rock book, while there is a lot of soul in both the vocal and chorus department. Unfortunately my promo CDR only contains only 5 songs (with also some errors in a few songs sadly), so I don't know what the whole album sounds like, but I expect it has a similar rocking sound in the style of aforementioned acts. Check for yourself at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)




Out of Sweden comes the duo WOODLANDS and they were kind enough to sent me their lovely same titled debut album. KRISTINA LEESIK is playing Fiddle and JUSTYNA KRZYZANOWSKA is playing harp, and besides instrumentals, both girls also sing in a beautiful high pitched octave. The instrumentals such as Rolling waves, The warlocks and Pastellskyar are showing the talents of these 2 girls on their fiddle and harp, creating beautiful music with just 2 instruments is also remarkable! On the other hand both instruments bring foward some of the most lovely sounds on any instruments, as long as you can play it well and thankfully both Kristina and Justyna are gifted musicians who can easily do this. If we have a look at the 'vocal' songs, The old man from over the sea and Emigrantvisa stand out for sure, with it's impressive folk vocal melodies. I also need to mention here that it's a mix of traditionals and a few songs the girls wrote by themselves, but it's all sounding like classic medieaval celtic/folk, done at an exceptionally high level. Do not miss this album, more info at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Out of the beautiful Belgian city of Ghent comes the Symphonic female fronted Metalband WORLDS BEYOND. They are formed around drummer Wout Debacker, bassist Ewoud Dekoninck, guitarist Tijmen Matthys, keyboardplayer Robbe Adriaens, violinplayer Jakob Declercq and vocalist Valerie De Kempe, and Symphony of dawn is their debut album. The Symphonic Melodic Metal on the album is not far removed from bands like EPICA, DELAIN, WITHIN TEMPTATION, NIGHTWISH and such. It's bombastic and is a clear product of the modern female fronted sympho metal genre from the past 20 genres. It sounds quite sweet actually, with Valerie singing most of the time in the higher soprano octave, which she does quite nicely, although of course FLOOR JANSEN (of NIGHTWISH/AFTER FOREVER) is one of a kind. The guitarwork is quite splendid and the songs are a mixture of midtempo/uptempo pieces and a few calmer semi-ballads, but it's always in the WITHIN TEMPTATION/EPICA/AFTER FOREVER territory. Most important then is of course if there are songs that somehow have that famous pick of destiny and yes that happens during the superb Am I lost, which has a deadly catchy chorus that reminds me of the best songs of AFTER FOREVER. Also the titletrack, Fallen star strong chorus) and One are 3 powerful semi-ballads that impress and remind a lot of AFTER FOREVER, and further I can mention the uptempo closing track Edge of faith (a fantastic catchy tune that shows WORLDS BEYOND at their very best, very NIGHTWISH ish by the way). Although in the beginning I was a bit uncertain if this was going to be an interesting adventure, because you always need to get used to the lead vocals first in this genre, but thankfully as the CD develops it gets better and better and therefore the aforementioned tracks can all be found towards the end of the album. Job done well, but there is always room for improvements and that's what I would recommend WORLDS BEYOND to look for a more own identity on a future album and I am aware that is very hard to do in this genre. I would like to see Valerie also sing in a lower octave more than she does now, because it is sometimes a bit too much going into that high octave range. Furthermore there is already quite some diversity, but somehow I would love to hear a few more straight-ahead tunes like the closing track Edge of faith. Finding the right balance is possible and they are quite close already and therefore if you like the aforementioned bands, then you should check out WORLDS BEYOND's high quality debut album at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)




Out of Brussels, Belgium comes LAS LLORONAS, a trio based around 3 talented female musicians/singers who sing beautiful harmonyvocals together while playing their instruments. SURA SOLOMON (accordion, ukulele, vocals), AMBER IN 'T VELD (guitar, vocals) and MARIEKE WERNER (clarinet, vocals) are the names of these girls and on their debut album Soaked, we can also hear a few guest musicians on bass, sax and trumpet, however the core is based around the 3 girls. The music is poetric and also very melodic, calm and most of the time focused on the girls' harmonies with here and there Spoken Word parts and also interesting instrumental improvisation which reveal Jazz influences, Israelic music, French Chanson as well as Spanish guitar/classical music and a touch of Fado. It's very diverse, a real World Music affair and this album will definitely appeal to a lot of people out there. I personally enjoyed this album from start to finish without ever pushing the skip button, so LAS LLORONAS are doing something really well here, which is keeping the focus constantly on high quality music from all over the world. One of the absolute highlights is the beautiful Prayer, which is based on an old Jewish prayer. They have a lot to tell us through their lyrics, which you can read in the booklet of the CD. You can check more info at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)



The Finnish language is impossible to understand for most of us and that's also the case here, but music has no borders and therefore it's interesting to hear the melodies flow on this record by JERE VALKONEN, a talented Finnish musician/singer/songwriter. When opening the booklet I was overwhelmed even more by all those long Finnish words, and don't have a clue who else is involved here, but Jere is singing and playing guitar I think and he does that very well on hIs same titled debut album. After a dark and quite heavy start, the music gets more friendlier singer/songwriter pop/rock ish from track 2 onwards, which is a catchy tune actually. As mentioned I will not bother you with the Finnish songtitles, but there are a lot of beautiful melodic singer/songwriter pop/rock tunes included that even reveal some other music style influences (such as the slightly calmer proggy track number 3, the fantastic catchy uptempo melodic indie poprocker 8 and the lovely westcoast based 6, which has a great guitarsolo by the way) and so I can easily recommend this album, which is another strong Finnish music release. More info at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)



Once again I am surprised by a Finnish release that sounds quite original and probably thanks to the Finnish language impossible to compare. PIENNAR is a Finnish band and actually there is not so much info on them, but what I do know is that their album Paulun metsien takkaa is a strong record that has an authentic classic 70s feeling, which is a combination of prog, aor/westcoast, pop/rock and of course the Finnish lyrics. The band has a female singer called TIINA KOSKINEN, and there are 3 more bandmembers, but I will not bother you with their Finnish names and also I cannot make up what instruments they are playing, because this is another language barrier. No problem at all, because it's the music that counts and this sounds really good actually. 9 songs are included and a song like Rinki is a wonderful catchy late 1970s/early 1980s Westcoast/AOR kinda piece with lovely melodies and a strong memorable chorus. Also a highlight is the wonderful powerful semi-ballad Revolveri, with some progressive rock influences, and the laid-back Westcoast/AOR ish Katoaraa (a tiny bit of STEELY DAN, yet with Finnish female singing, so probably hard to compare to those giants from the past!), but also the uptempo melodic rocker Mina in tee hysaa. And how about the almost female fronted gothic/folk rock ish ballads Samat tahdet and Kaipun (AORish) that sound like a calmer version of WITHIN TEMPTATION meets KAYAK. Interesting album with lovely melodies and a lot of diversity, but as already mentioned several times, the Finnish language might put some people off and you must not be shy from higher pitched female vocals as well, however if you accept all that, you will be enjoying a beautiful melodic pop/rock record that you can can check out at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)




We have received quite a lot of Finnish albums lately and some of them are really good ones. TATU & TUKIMUSMATKAILJAT is definitely one of the finest with their debut album Matka kaikkine vaiheineen. This is a 6-piece band consisting of bassist TATU BACK, guitarist MARKUS VENEHSALO, drummer JAAKKO POYHONEN, guitarist JARKKA RISSANEN, hammond/keyboardplayer HARRI TAITTONEN and percussion player MARKO SALMELA. Together they play instrumental 1970s inspired progressive rock that sounds very authentic and is most of the time slow- to midtempo with a focus on the guitar, but there's more to explore here. 7 songs are included of which the opener is the lovely 9 1/2 minutes titletrack that is a pure 1970s influenced mixture of progressive rock and ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND ish guitarwork. The rest of the album also reveal some Post-Rock influences (Sylvi is a bit reminding of PORCUPINE TREE) and a bit of jazz/blues/rock (such as can be heard in the groovy licks of the excellent ROBERT CRAY ish Lonkat and the bluesy PETER GREEN's FLEETWOOD MAC orientated ballad Muutosta), so it is definitely a recommended and diverse instrumental release that combines 1970s progrock, bluesrock and some post-modern rock, with always the focus on beautiful guitar melodies. More info at: and


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)




Here we have a very extreme dark Metal band that still has something of interest, because they combine Black Metal, Symphonic Gothic Metal, Metalcore and Melodic Doom/Prog Metal with a bit of Film Music and Folk Metal, and actually if you really listen to the full album, you can hear some beautiful melodies (check out the song Is Amziy Sakny for example that almost reminds me of a band like WHLE HEAVEN WEPT or even PSYCHOTIC WALTZ). Anyway, JUOADVARNIS is coming out of Lithuania and their album Nerimo dienos is a diverse album that is clearly Modern Metal orientated, yet with a lot of influences from different musicstyles. There are moments on this album that you are getting close to the most extreme kind of Metal, which is fast Black Metal (Diena kai pasenau) and as also mentioned there are also more melodic moments where the vocals of lead singer Paulus Simanaviucus are clean and a bit Gothic Doom Metal ish like THERION, MY DYING BRIDE and PARADISE LOST on a song like Kuomet pasaulis dega, so there's a strong 1990s approach to be heard as well. I would say to the band to explore also that part next time, because now I feel the Norwegian ish Black Metal meets American Metalcore is the main focus here. Nevertheless, it's still a quality release, which you can check for yourself at:

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


The Amsterdam based NAKED EARS present us their 2nd album, which is the same titled record Naked ears. The band's music is funky old school jazzy pop/rock that is really based around a groovy vibe. The band's line up consists of Jasper de Beer: bass, Gil Lopez: guitar, Richard Heijerman: drums, Jasper Goedman: Percussion, Gijs Levelt: Trumpet, Remko Smid: Tenor saxophone, Patrick van Herrickhuyzen: Keyboards and guest lead singers are Paul van Musscher and Nyjolene Grey. Paul has the best voice of the 2 and his vocal songs are also the best, which include opener Don't hide your funk (sounds like a cool funky soulful pop/rocker like a cross between SLY & THE FAMILY STONE, KOOL & THE GANG and RICK JAMES), Lost without you and also the lovely instrumental classic Funkrocker Get it together. Without a doubt, a recommended Dutch band to anyone who likes the classic soulful jazzy groovy funksound of the 1970s! More info at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


The Polish band THE WHITE RITES has been around for a while and they did release a few albums in the past, but it's my first listen with this new album titled Devillusion. It's a very diverse record that sounds quite adventureous in classic 1970s progrock style with a sorta 1960s British quirky touch here and there when listening to songs like Not as brownie, Warsaw summer and Devilusion (like THE KINKS). It's all done exceptionally well, sounding extremely authentic 60s/70s and basically could be labelled as classic progrock. The band is formed around Sean Palmer - vocals, Przemek Piłaciński - guitars / flugelhorn / percussion, Jakub Lenarczyk - keyboards/ percussion / backing vocals, Paweł Betley - flute, Marysia Białota - rhodes piano bass / keyboards / backing vocals and Jakub Tolak - drums. There is some lovely progrock here and there, such as Frozen heartland and Dragon, but also a touch of British post-punk/wave (Viral spiral) that sounds a bit like the early 80s British mod/pop/rock sound, and there's theatrical neo-prog (Orma) and even 1970s DAVID BOWIE comes to mind during songs like Mother Mars and Fallen star. I can easily say this is an enjoyable band with a diverse sound that will probably most appeal to fans of classic progrock, but there's more to explore here definitely. Check them out at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)



What is better to receive for a new album review, CD or VINYL? Well, actually when the cassette tape of RUMOURS dropped in my mailbox I was as excited as a child is when they get an icecream. Back in the 1990s I received many demo tapes and that was a real great experience I actually have missed the past 2 decades, but in 2020 alone 3 real new tapes arrived here and the best one is in front of me! It concerns here the band RUMOURS from Germany and their debut album is titled Neither innocent nor wavering, which is also available on vinyl by the way. However, tape is the real deal, especially for their kind of music. 4 songs are included and opener Grinder is classic uptempo late 1970s/early 1980s Melodic Hardrock/NWOBHM like THIN LIZZY and ROBERT PEHRSSON HUMBUCKER. Right from the minute the cassette tape starts playing you will hear something quite sensational and everything sounds picture perfect here (raw and that's what is needed for this kind of rock), both vocally and instrumentally, with biting soaring guitarwork like in the good old days! Following song Meat is more or less in the same direction and when turning over to Side-B of the tape, it starts with Black milk, a somewhat heavier uptempo dark Stoner Rock song with a cool guitar riff and a great chorus while it ends with a noisy doom psychedelic guitarsound! Closing the tape is the uptempo melodic heavy rocker Sunny days, dark souls that once again grabs back to the early 80s NWOBHM sound, raw, explosive and energetic in the style of DIAMOND HEAD, RAVEN, JAGUAR, ELIXIR, TRESPASS, TYGERS OF PAN TANG, etc. etc. Please make sure not to miss this cool tape from this upcoming German band! More info at: and


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)




Out of Australia comes the sensational singer/songwriter VICTORIA K. and after a couple of singles, which featured guitarwork of Brett Garsed (JOHN FARNHAM BAND), she now releases her official debut album titled Essentia. Victoria is an excellent singer with an incredible range and musically speaking it is also quite diverse, although fans of female fronted melodic heavy rock/gothic symphonic melodic metal (NIGHTWISH, EVANESCENCE, AFTER FOREVER, KAMELOT) absolutely need to check this album a.s.a.p. Besides Victoria on vocals and Brett on guitars, other involved musicians are drummer Cerry Pantazis, bassist Rich Panaia and Lee Bradshaw on keys, piano, synth and sound design. 10 songs are included and if we have a walk through the album, we are able to mention a lot of interesting songs. Surreal is a wonderful mix of symphonic melodic metal and a sorta Arabic influence, which can be heard very clearly towards the end of the album. The uptempo Forsaken is sounding like the perfect mix between AFTER FOREVER, NIGHTWISH, EPICA and EVANESCENCE. The focus here is melodies and song based material, so besides the massive guitar riffs, there is a lot of room for Victoria's lovely vocalwork, catchy hooks and memorable choruses, while almost each song has a bombastic symphonic arrangement. One of the most melodic songs on the album is the superb Matrix, an uptempo KAMELOT ish symphonic melodic metal tune with a killer chorus. On a few songs we can hear some cookie monster growls by guest singer SHERI VENGEANCE, who actually looks a lot like Victoria when seeing the pictures of both ladies in the CD booklet. The beautiful melodic calmer gothic/symphonic orchestrated ballad Shroud of solitude is ready for radio airplay, sounding like the perfect mix between EVANESCENCE and WITHIN TEMPTATION. One of the absolute highlights is the uptempo Melodic Symphonic Metal masterpiece The haunting, with it's sensational chorus it reminds me of the perfect cross between KAMELOT and classic AFTER FOREVER. In that same style is also Freaks, while the semi-ballad Mist filled sky is back to the EVANESCENCE style with it's high pitched powerful vocal driven chorus! On the superb closing track Lacuna, Victoria stretches one more time her enormous vocal skills and easily reaches the impossible vocal range of AMY LEE and FLOOR JANSEN. Concluded, this album is definitely a must-have for fans of the aforementioned bands and Victoria is a singer to watch out for in the future, because she has the voice of an angel! More info can be found at:


(Points: 8.6 out of 10)



Out of France comes ELFIKA, a typical female fronted band of the 00s/10s, with a big bombastic symphonic melodic power metalsound that is not far removed from EPICA, NIGHTWISH, DELAIN and such. The band's lead singer Laure Ali-Khodja is not as good as for example FLOOR JANSEN or SIMONE SIMONS, but the music of ELFIKA is good enough to enjoy from start to finish, especially if you're a fan of the mentioned bands. The band was formed in 2013 by bassist Emmanuel ‘Manu’ Panneton who met Laurie and immediately the two started working together and along the way more people got involved, with a few demo releases as result. Secretum secretorum is their official first full-length album of ELFIKA and besides Emmanuel and Laurie, other musicians to be heard here are guitarist Anthony Parker, keyboardplayer D.L., drummer Axel Thomas and guests Didier Chesneau (guitar), Drina Hex (extreme vocals) and Constance Amelane (choir).The highlights on their first album are uptempo powerful pieces like The chamber of secrets and Broken wings (best song, catchy superb chorus!), as well as the epic adventure Dark virigin that also reveal progrock and electronic influences. Nice album to check out if you're a fan of the typical Dutch sound! More info at:

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)



Out of Belgium comes DEVIL'S BARGAIN, a band with a true 80s Heavy Metal sound with high pitched vocals and reminding of the classic days of EXCITER, KILLER, PICTURE, HIGHWAY CHILE and such. Visions is their 2nd album, which was released independently in May of 2020. They have a new lead singer (ARTHUR MELCHIOR PAGLIARINI) and despite when hearing the opener Sewer rats, I was not immediately impressed, the album develops quite nicely and offers some really nice songs. Endless fight is  a very strong uptempo classic Melodic Heavy Metal tune with great melodies and also good vocalwork. The IRON MAIDEN influenced uptempo No return brings the band in an even stronger classic 80s direction and as I already informed earlier in the review, the band sounds much better as the album continues. It seems like the band needed to find a way where they would hit the right direction and that's what they reach on especially the lovely No return and also the lovely Devil's bargain that sounds like a cross between AXXIS and a touch of early ICED EARTH. Visions is not a real full-length album by the way, because only 7 tracks are included, although it still has a playing length of 35 minutes. It might not sound very original, DEVIL'S BARGAIN do it with passion and for fans of 80s melodic Heavy Metal, this is a recommended album to check out! More info at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


The German label LIMB MUSIC has always delivered quality albums, dating back to the mid 1990s when they started and in the following years I received almost all their releases. Of course they were the label that gave RHAPSODY and ANGRA a first label deal, but countless other bands followed in their 25+ year career as a label for Neo-Classical Melodic Symphonic (Power) Metal. The past 10 years I have not reviewed many releases, but thanks to Mike of Hard Life Promotion, a few of their recent releases were sent to me and I am very glad this happened, because with MEMORIES OF OLD we have another typical classic Limb Music band. This is actually a British band, although they have a sound that is clearly 90s Italo Power Metal (LABYRINTH, RHAPSODY) and Scandi Neo-Classical Melodic Metal influenced (NARNIA, NATION, MALMSTEEN), although the choruses are also not far removed from German bands like HELLOWEEN, FREEDOM CALL and even the British DRAGONFORCE, but if you like HAMMERFALL or GLORYHAMMER this is definitely highly recommended! You can easily put MEMORIES OF OLD somewhere between all those bands. The band's line up consists of founder Billy Jeffs (Guitar, Drums, Keyboards), who is actually the main man behind MEMORIES OF OLD, but he gets help from Tommy Johansson (Vocals, SABATON, MAJESTICA, REINXEED), Anthony Thompson (Keyboards) and Erick Tekilla (Bass) on this very first album, while live on stage others join to give him that massive sound he creates on The Zeramin game. Anyway, after a few instrumentals and intro's, the band delivers a couple of those classic pieces of uptempo Melodic Symphonic Power Metal tunes like RHAPSODY meets FREEDOM CALL in the shape of songs like The land of Xia and Zera's shadow. There is also some clear diversity on the album, because the midtempo Neo-Classical Melodic Hardrocksong Some day soon is back to the classic Scandi 1980s a la MALMSTEEN, NATION, NARNIA and even early EUROPE. Overall, the sound is huge, with a focus on massive 80s keyboards, crystal clear typical Swedish vocals/harmonies, catchy hooks, memorable choruses, all done in a cinematic Lord Of The Rings meets RHAPSODY kinda setting, with even some influences of classic 80s TV Cartoon intro theme storytelling parts (only recognisable if you remember series like KING ARTHUR, JAYCE AND THE WHEEL WARRIORS, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, etc.), with as other highlights besides the aforementioned songs, Across the seas and the lengthy songs Fowlen's revenge (8 minutes) and The Zeramin game (14 minutes). Yes, it sounds polished and over-dramatic here and there that might even feel a bit like a musical version of a Disney movie when listening to a power ballad like Destiny, but on the other hand it's done at a very high level and is just a fun melodic bombastic album to listen to from start to finish! Check them out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)




Italian guitarist/producer/composer CRISTIANO FILIPPINI released a couple of instrumental solo albums in the past 10 years besides performing with an Epic Symphonic Orchestra in Italian opera houses and churches, but eventually it was time do something more with his talent. The result is this first album under the moniker CRISTIANO FILIPPINI's FLAMES OF HEAVEN, which was released through LIMB MUSIC in November 2020. The idea started in 2018 and led to this massive project, because a lot of other musicians are involved on this album, including members of bands like ARTHEMIS, SHINING FURY, HOLLOW HAZE and the singer of TEMPERANCE, Marco Pastorino. Mastered at the famous Finnvox studios by the legendary MIKE JUSSILA (STRATOVARIUS, NIGHTWISH...), this is a wonderful huge sounding record that combines the best of Neo-Classical Melodic Metal and 80s/90s Melodic Hardrock, with sometimes memories of classic LABYRINTH and VISION DIVINE, and superb songs like Far away and Against the hellfire are sensational uptempo Neo-Classical Melodic Hardrocksongs with a sorta 90s kinda feeling (SONATA/STRATOVARIUS). Back in the 1990s in especially Japan this mixture was very popular, with bands like STRATOVARIUS, SONATA ARCTICA, KAMELOT, VISION DIVINE, LABYRINTH and such reaching superstardom over there. In Europe there was less coverage by the press, but in the underground these bands were also quite popular, which always brings my thoughts back to a legendary concert of KAMELOT/SONATA ARCTICA in an old Montmartre Theater Hall in Paris, France in the early 2000s when the crowd went completely crazy during both concerts, in contrast to calmer Dutch gigs of these bands. 20 years later there are not that many bands creating this particular style, but this excellent debut album of CRISTIANO FILIPPINI's FLAMES OF HEAVEN is an exception to the rule and dare I say that it is even perhaps the finest release in this genre since the early 2000s! Other highlights besides the 2 mentioned songs are Dying for love (80s keys, soaring guitarsolo and a catchy hook/melodic chorus, basically this is classic AOR/Melodic Rock that is close to SHY/80s MALMSTEEN), the ballad Missing you (with a SCORPIONS guitarsolo), the keyboardfriendly uptempo Moonlight phantom and Lightning in the night (excellent Melodic Power Metal like LABYRINTH, WONDERLAND and SONATA ARCTICA combined). Without a doubt, this is a highly recommended album to any fan of Neo-Classical European Melodic Hardrock/Metal in the style of KAMELOT, STRATOVARIUS, SONATA ARCTICA, LABYRINTH etc. etc. , which is thanks to superb songwriting, an excellent production/sound, picture perfect musicianship and of course the lovely vocalwork of Marco. You get a lot of value for your money, because it has a playing time that almost reaches 70 minutes, so make sure not to miss this wonderful CD. Check out more on them at:


(Points: 8.9 out of 10)




Out of Uganda comes the electro-percussion group NIHILOXICA and they released their debut album Kaloli on the Belgian label CRAMMED DISCS, who were kind enough to sent me the vinyl record of this interesting album. The band released a few EP's in the past, but Kaloli is their official first full-length record and it was recorded in the British city of Bradford back in 2019, but released during 2020. This is no ordinary group of musicians, because this is a real Percussion/Drums orientated band, combining dark African tribal drums with Northern European Techno/Synthwave sounds, and the result is quite impressive for sure. The band's line up consists of Alimansi Wanzu Aineomugisha and Jamiru Mwanje on the engalabi (long drums - a tall Ugandan sister to the djembe), Henry Kasoma on the namunjoloba (a set of four small, high pitched drums) and Henry Isabirye on the empuunyi (a set of three low pitched bass drums), while the British SPOOKY J. is playing the electronic drum sounds and the synths come from Peter Jones. The result is this unique mixture of African and Western sounds, which is instrumental and spreak on 11 tracks on 4 sides of this vinyl record. The record itself looks beautiful with this impressive image of a waste mountain where the mariboes are the keepers. The music is dark, hypnotic and based around the percussion/drums of the members of NIHILOXICA, while the synths and electro sounds of Spooky J and Peter Jones give it a real modern danceable sound. There are also moments it's like we're in a Technozone, although at times I also must think of classic Krautrock with those synths upfront, but overall the percussion/drums sound is giving you that rhythm like only African drumbands can create. Check for yourself more on NIHILOXICA at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)




Arabic sounds through cool 80s Synths is what ZENOBIA is all about, and they combine it with modern European music influences that make you want to move and dance for sure when you hear any of the 10 included songs of their debut album Halak halak. ZENOBIA consists of 2 Palestinian musicians (Nasser Halahlih and Isam Elias), who have all it takes to reach superstardom worldwide with their fun summer ish sounds on their debut album Halak halak. Basically, these are the kinda acts which are currently very popular across the music festivals all over Europe. ALTIN GUN is likewise one of the most popular acts out there, but also this Israelic based ZENOBIA is a force to be reckoned with in the near future. At the moment, gigs and festivals are not possible, but once these guys are out there on a stage somewhere doing their music live in front of a large audience, people will be dancing to their incredible catchy happy summer sound. Opener El intro is a 6 minutes counting midtempo heavy synth driven instrumental tune that finds the right balance between Arabic sounds, modern Western music and Synthwave. Thankfully the whole album continues this sound and so we can enjoy a lot more of such songs, with as highlights Sa7rawe, Edine and Funky egal. A few times the duo is close to classic European Techno on a song like Ksr ksr ksr, which could be a massive radio/dance hitsong for sure, so they are going a bit further than the more traditional ALTIN GUN. However, during the album's highlights, this is the perfect soundtrack for a mix of European dance, Synthwave and Middle-Eastern summer sounds. Check it out for yourself at:


(Points: 8.7 out of 10)




We are definitely heading into classic underground territory with the debut album of the Californian three-piece band SWEET REAPER. This band is formed around guitarist/vocalist SETH PETTERSEN, who has a great strong voice, and further members are the hard-driving rhythm section of bassist/backing vocalist DANNY GOMEZ and drummer SASHA GREEN. 11 songs are included on this wonderful retro sounding vinyl record that might as well be a re-issue of an old late 1970s/early 1980s record. It sounds really authentic and from start to finish this is a wonderful adventure through the fields of classic Punkrock, Powerpop, Punkpop and Garage Rock! Opener Sidewalk psycho is a catchy straight-ahead uptempo Powerpop/Punkpop anthem that has the classic THE RAMONES touch for sure. Following Car crash is a bit less explosive, but nevertheless a great rocking tune that has a bit of early 1970s NEW YORK DOLLS and late 60s dirty mean Garage Rock, while it could also be seen as a punkier version of classic THE WHO. The album continues with Pleasure, a real uptempo Punkrocker with a catchy fast-forward beat and a sound that is clearly British circa 1977 orientated like classic THE UNDERTONES, THE BUZZCOCKS, early THE DAMNED and early THE CLASH. Back to the New York/THE RAMONES sound of 1976 with the uptempo Dead man. Then we can hear one of the strongest songs of the album, which is the superb uptempo Powerpop tune Faster getaway that seems to be a deadringer for fans of the first classic THE BOYS record, so this is absolutely a stunning little song they have on offer here! Side-A of the vinyl record closes with Smae nightmare, another classic '77 British Punkrocker that would make SEX PISTOLS jealous for sure.


Side-B continues with 5 more uptempo pieces that combine the best of these 4 worlds, Punkpop, Powerpop, Garage Rock and Punkrock, sounding raw when needed (Sad eyes), but also melodic and catchy with a Pophook (Cooler). Living hell is probably the most Punkrock track of the album, straight-ahead no-nonsene with that anarchy approach like it is still 1977 and we are in cold and dark London instead of warm and sunny California where SWEET REAPER is situated. Side-B further offers Take you there (catchy tough uptempo Punkpop a la THE BOYS) and closing track S X C which is faster Punkrock that is almost reminding me of classic early DEAD KENNEDYS, that other legendary Californian band. Without a doubt, this is one of the strongest American punk related releases in perhaps the past 30 years, with a much-needed diversity that contains influences from other subgenres as well, while the vocals are also really good. Check for yourself more info at:


(Points: 8.5 out of 10)




I have followed the career of the British band BEAR'S DEN quite closely, because it was many years ago I saw them on their first tour through Europe and ended up in one of the smallest halls within the Rotterdamse Schouwburg venue. Here they performed a concert of 1 hour in front of a small audience, although during the gig many more people entered and eventually the place was crowded with about 200 people in total. This was part of the Motel Mozaique Festival back in 2013 before the band's first album release. I visit this sensational festival nearly every year, but in 2020 of course it was cancelled due to corona. Anyway, to make a long story short, Fragments is their 4th studio-album, this time in cooperation with componist PAUL FRITH (THE XX, RADIOHEAD) and he gave the best songs from BEAR'S DEN first 3 releases a sort of remix with the use of a classical ensemble besides the band. The only thing missing here is the drums and the bombastic rocksound, because what you get is a calmer melancholic classical music inspired modern sound with still the melodies we know from BEAR'S DEN, but then in a complete different non-rock arrangement (sometimes reminding of COLDPLAY meets a stripped THE KILLERS). The result is impressive for sure, but after a while you get the feeling that it's time to go ahead with a full rocking sound, which obviously doesn't happen. Instead, we even get 4 own compositions by Paul that sound like a sorta movie/cinematic theme. lead singer ANDREW DAVIE is however now able to shine with his strong voice and perhaps their original folk-poprock sound is now really back to the original basics. Just listen to the lovely Isaac or When you break and you can hear the real beauty of this band, which is based on strong melodies. It's something else and next time we definitely want to hear a full rocking band again, but on the other hand Fragments does have it's charm for sure and is a must for fans of BEAR'S DEN. More info at:


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)




MATT BERNINGER sounds like a mixture between NICK CAVE, LEONARD COHEN and JEFF BUCKLEY, very dark and depressing singer/songwriter pop/rock is the name of the game here and the album starts very slow and calm, but as the album develops, it gets a bit more uptempo, with some great pop/rock songs like Distant axis, One more second and Loved so little, but a song like Oh Dearie is a must-hear for fans of LEONARD COHEN dark sinister calm singer/songwriter, where vocally Matt sounds like a cross between IGGY POP and NICK CAVE in a deep low baritone voice. If we have a quick look at Matt himself as a musician, he is of course best known as the frontman of THE NATIONAL, and now has a solo-record out which he recorded with multi-instrumentalist Booker T. Jones and a handfull of other musicians. It's not really a fun album to listen to, but in these dark times it fullfills for sure the thoughts of a period that has basically kept the world in a weird kinda silence, while on the other hand there's also of course a lot of noise and protests against all these lockdowns. Anyway, it doesn't have much to do with rock in general, but I can imagine fans of THE NATIONAL will be interested in this solo-album of Matt, and the fans of COHEN, DYLAN, CAVE and such will love it as well! More info at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)



Everybody in the world knows MARILYN MANSON and he is a major musician in especially the Metalscene, but his new album We are chaos is the first one I actually get to hear and review. Co-produced by the legendary southern rocker SHOOTER JENNINGS, the son of countrysuperstars WAYLON JENNINGS and JESSI COLTER, and with the help of quite a lot musicians (including TED RUSSELL KAMP). It's not like Marilyn's new record has anything to do with country or southern rock due to these involved people, because it is after all a typical MARILYN MANSON record for sure. I lost count somewhere along the way how many albums he released so far, so let's just focus on this new album We are chaos he released. It has a very aggressive start in classic MARILYN MANSON style, but it gets a little more midtempo melodic during We are chaos and Don't chase the dead, which sound like a Gothic/Glamrock mixture. Don't chase the dead is even a strong Melodic Gothic Rocker that reminds me a bit of THE 69 EYES meets HIM, with a catchy melodic rocking chorus and some nice keyboards! Other highlights are the slow dramatic psychedelic rocker Half-way & one step forward (DAVID BOWIE ish), the ALICE COOPER ish Perfume and Keep my head together. Some Industrial Metal influences are present as well like MARILYN MANSON's past records, while Solve coagula is a nice ballad and closing track Broken needle is an interesting slowtempo dragging psychedelic gothic rocker like a slower THE CULT. This is really a nice comeback of Mr. MARILYN MANSON, the l'enfant terrible of the music world, with a sound that should also appeal to fans of Goth and Glamrockfans. More at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)




It might sound a bit confusing, but in the past I once heard a great vinyl record of an 80s Canadian Melodic Metal band called DEAF DEALER, who had to change their name back to their original bandname of DEATH DEALER after reforming in the late 2000s. Strangely enough around around the same time (early 2010s), the American DEATH DEALER started, which is a supergroup formed around guitarist ROSS THE BOSS (MANOWAR), guitarist STU MARSHALL (DUNGEON, NIGHT LEGION), vocalist SEAN PECK (CAGE), bassist MIKE LEPOND (SYMPHONY X) and drummer STEVE BOLOGNESE (INTO ETERNITY). Conquered lands is the American DEATH DEALER's 3rd album and this is probably the finest pure US Power Metal album of the year 2020! When the album starts, it's full speed ahead with 3 superfast classic US Melodic Power Metal pieces (Sorcerer supreme, Every nation and Beauty and the blood). The band takes a bit of a step back with the slightly calmer Running with the wolves and the DIO ish titletrack Conquered lands. It is clear that this is one of those albums that will be loved by fans of fists-in-the-air high pitched vocals/massive 80s guitar riff driven uptempo tunes with influences from CAGE, IRON MAIDEN, ICED EARTH, JUDAS PRIEST, etc. etc. It might not sound very original and perhaps a bit cliche tingled most of the time, these guys are real professionals and they are doing it at a very high level on their new album Conquered lands, which has it's absolute highlight in the superb catchy melodic chorus driven Slay or be slain. You absolutely can't be closer to classic US Power Metal than this record! Fans of all the mentioned bands will be screaming and shouting all night long to this air-guitar driven band that most of the time speeds up the tempo to the fastest horse on planet earth! Don't miss this thunderous classic US Metal album that sounds like a perfect cross between PRIMAL FEAR and JUDAS PRIEST (both European acts by the way, lol), and for more info please go to:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)



This album was originally released (and reviewed by yours truly) earlier this year, but there is now a deluxe CD version of the album available and it contains 5 bonustracks. These are Paradise (faster uptempo 80s melodic heavy rock), Mistaken identity (nice groovy bluesy hardrock in late 80s US style), Total jeopardy (uptempo rocker a la VAN HALEN), the acoustic version of Dancing with the devil and the live DEEP PURPLE cover Burn. It's about 6 months ago since I reviewed these guys and I am still very impressed by their high quality material and their superb singer. I absolutely am addicted to their songs Running in circles and Dancing with the devil. This album is a must-have for sure! Here's the original review with a new rating since it's such a fabulous record!


Now these guys from London, UK surely know how to sound like it was still the late 1980s, because their same titled debut sounds like a classic US major label album release from that period. It has that groovy well-produced Hair Metal/Melodic Hardrock sound like a cross between DEF LEPPARD 'Hysteria', WARRANT, some VAN HALEN and especially WINGER, with very melodic clean vocals and catchy choruses. VAMBO was formed in 2014 by Jack Stiles (vocals), Pete Lance (guitar), James Scott (bass) and Steve Price (drums), and I believe this is their official debut CD. I am really impressed by this album that has a perfect sound which is very authentic and super melodic. Why why why is like we're listening to classic WINGER circa his first 2 albums, and basically a lot of the songs follow this style. Here and there we can hear more influences and similarities from Rock's glorious past. The sensational Cry woman is even pushing the sound a bit towards TRIUMPH/CONEY HATCHish Canadian AOR meets FREEish 70s soulful bluesy melodic rock, and on this song we can hear what an incredible singer Jack is! He sounds like a cross between JANI LANE, KIP WINGER and CARL DIXON, making him a true winner for fans of the classic 80s Hair Metal/Melodic Hardrocksound! Classic Rocking guitarsolo's can also be heard, such as during the start of Dancing with the devil, which is a superb classic 80s AOR/Melodic Rocker with a killer chorus that is dangerously close to CONEY HATCH and just a little bit of the very first TEN album. Besides the aforementioned songs, other highlights on this sensational debut album of VAMBO are the lovely midtempo melodic rock/aor anthem Running in circles and the groovy Camouflage. Do not miss these guys if you call yourself a fan of 80s Melodic Hardrock, because they are the biggest surprise in this genre in 2020! More info at:


(Points: 8.8 out of 10)




Canadian Singer/songwriter SANDRA BOUZA comes out of Canada and she is a very talented soulful vocalist who released her 8 tracks counting debut album Falling away from me earlier in 2020. It's a very strong melodic bluesy/soulful pop/rock album that sounds a bit like BETH HART, SARI SCHORR and JOSS STONE. The material is a combination of calmer soulful tunes and rockier bluesy uptempo songs, with as highlightsopener the groovy rockers Almost love and Not like me, the soulful ballad Losing you and the lovely midtempo melodic rocking Human connection. She gets help from the musicians HILL KOURKOUTIS (guitar, organ, bass, drum programming, producer...), FRANK BARACZKA (drums), ANTHONY WRIGHT (rhodes, organ), STACIE TABB (backing vocals), ATTILA BARACZKA (bass), and together they have created a strong album that should easily find it's way to fans of female fronted modern bluesy soulful pop/rock. More info at:  

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


PARQUET COURTS and PAVEMENT are bands that have been mentioned a lot when the Canadian band KIWI JR. released their debut Football money in 2019. 1 year later a follow-up has been released in the shape of Cooler returns. On the other hand, a lot of bands have released more than 1 album in the past 2 years, because 2020 has been the most productive year since the 1970s, which is due to the coronavirus that put a lot of musicians out of work when it comes down to touring and performing, but they all started recording in their studio. The result is a great year for new music and KIWI JR. is another band with 13 new songs on this 'corona' release Cooler returns. The band's line up consists of Brohan Moore: Drums, Backing Vocals, Brian Murphy: Guitars, Backing Vocals, Jeremy Gaudet: Vocals, Guitars, Keys and Mike Walker: Bass, Backing Vocals, Keys, and after the somewhat 90s alternative/indie rocking uptempo Tyler, things get more interesting on the following songs. Undecided voters is a catchy uptempo Powerpop/Punkpoprocker and Maid Marian's toast is a strong melodic poprocker, while Highlights of 100 is pure classic early 80s British powerpop with a touch of late 70s Punkpop, kinda like THE UNDERTONES and THE BOYS. There is also a lot of diversity going on, because the band even comes up with a sorta 1970s melancholic touch and a THE BEATLES ish chorus, although here we are actually into pure Indie-Pop/Rock territory with Only here for a haircut. The titletrack Cooler returns is definitely one of the highlights on the album, because this is a very catchy uptempo quirky early 80s Powerpoprocker with a lovely melodic chorus. The album is actually featuring a lot of great catchy indie rocking tunes besides the already mentioned songs, with as other highlights Guilty party, Nashville wedding, Norma jean's jacket and Dodger. Nice new record of KIWI JR. and recommended to check out if you like a mix of indie rock, alternative rock and a touch of power/punky pop/rock. More info at: and

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)




Here we have an interesting duo from L.A. called MIDNIGHT SISTER, who are formed around Juliana Giraffe and Ari Balouzian, and their 2nd album is titled Painting the roses. The duo's music is quite original, but take a bit of Indie, Dreampop, underground Avantgarde 80s Art-Pop, Baroque Pop, late 60s Psychedelic pop/rock and a touch of 1970s Soul/Disco, add some modern electronic sounds and also movie-soundtrack music, then you might be close to MIDNIGHT SISTER. They clearly have an own identity and I am quite sure that if radio picks one of the included songs, they could breakthrough. Highlights are Satellite, Sirens, THE CARPENTERS ish Wednesday baby and My elevator song (an old school cinema movie kinda song), but any of the 12 songs will grab your attention once you like especially the somewhat ´dreamy´ vocals. If you're interested in something really original, then do check out MIDNIGHT SISTER's new album Painting the roses. More info at: 


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)



The American singer/songwriter AARON FRAZER is actually the co-lead vocalist and drummer of DURAND JONES & THE INDICATIONS, but he has now also released a solo-record titled Introducing. It's released on EASY EYE SOUND, the label of THE BLACK KEYS' DAN AUERBACH that also brought us the past few years wonderful albums of YOLA, MARCUS KING and of course THE BACL KEYS themselves. Anyway, AARON FRAZER's debut album is also produced by Dan, who gives it that typical EASY EYE SOUND. The album starts with a calm 50s/60s Soulful ish ballad You don't wanna be my baby, while the following If I got it (your love brought it) is even more back to the 1950s/1960s era, although there are also clear similarities to LEON BRIDGES and CURTIS HARDING for example. Things get more rockier during the sensational groovy and catchy Can't leave it alone that also has a bit of LENNY KRAVITZ melted with THE BLACK KEYS. The groovy 70s soul/summer breeze pop/rock vibe of Bad news could give Aaron a major hitsong! Aaron is almost always singing in this high pitched octave, which is perhaps the only let-down, because if we have a look at the glorious past of similar artists like classic SAM COOKE, the beauty of such a singer was that there was diversity in his voice, so also singing in a lower tone here and there. On the other hand, Introducing is definitely a high quality record with a classic 50s/60s Soul/R&B sound that will mostly be of interest for the fans of the aforementioned LEON BRIDGES, CURTIS HARDING, and also people who appreciate JAKE ISAAC, VINTAGE TROUBLE, JAMES HUNTER and such. Not a single weak moment can be found here, with the finest songs during the 2nd part of the album. More info at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)



MONARCH TRAIL is aCanadian band formed around composer, keyboardist and lead vocalist KEN BAIRD, drummerCHRIS LAMONT, bassist DINO VERGINELLA, with 3 guest guitarists appearing aswell, John Mamone, Kelly Kereliuk and Steve Cochrane. They released their debutSkye in 2014, which was already a great start, as it is filled with highquality Neo-Progressive Rock, with 70s YES influences, but also somehow theCanadian kinda touch to it, with sometimes memories of a calmer MYSTERY. 4songs are on their debut album and quite lengthy they are, especially closingtrack Sky above the sun, which has a playing time of 20 minutes. Thankfully noweak moment to be heard here, because it is all done at a very high level, witha lot of room for instrumental passages where the keyboard takes a major part.The follow-up Sand was released in 2017, and musically speaking it followed thesame Neo-Prog/Symphonic Rock direction, with once again similarities to YES andSTARCASTLE. However, Sand shows an even stronger band looking for lovelymelodies, which they find in the 7 included songs. Once again the closingtrack, which in this case is the title track and this is the longest song, astaggering 24 minutes epic song that contains all the elements we love aboutthis lovely genre. This time it is a bit more song orientated, kinda like theNeo-Prog of IQ, PENDRAGON and ARENA, crossed with the old progsound of theaforementioned YES and also a bit of GENESIS and MOODY BLUES in their classicSymphorock days. The band also adds a bit of Jazz during the start of Charlie'skitchen, but almost most of the time this is high class Neoprog meets SymphonicRock, with a focus on the wonderful keyboardwork of Ken, although each andevery song also has great soaring guitar solos. I think we're safe to say that MONARCHTRAIL is a great Canadian band to check out if you're into any of the mentionedbands, and I already look forward to their upcoming 3rd album, which should bereleased in 2021. Meanwhile, check them out at: and


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)




Out of Rome, Italy comes MODERN STARS, a band formed around Andrea Merolle, Barbara Margani and Andrea Sperduti. Silver needles is their debut album, which is a really interesting psychedelic rock album that shows a band with an own identity. They are influenced by underground acts like SPACEMEN 3, PRIMAL SCREAM and SUICIDE, which you can also hear in their songs, especially likewise closing track Hey man, which is a cover of SPACEMEN 3. In total 7 songs are included, with a playing length of almost 30 minutes it's perhaps better to call it a mini-CD. Whatever you want to call it, MODERN STARS are taking things seriously and offer high class original underground psychedelic rock with a stoner rock touch. It's fuzzy, raw, dirty, mean and sounds exactly like you want it to sound! Check them out at:


(Points: 7.8 out of 10)



Guitarist/bassist GORAN VEDRIS comes out of Croatia, but now lives in Germany. He recorded an EP CD titled Silhouettes in Croatia, which contains 4 songs, of which opener End of the game is a great catchy uptempo melodic hardrocksong in the style of JADED HEART and PINK CREAM '69, while following Prisoner of love is a fantastic classic 80s inspired Melodic Power Rock ballad that brings back memories of bands like HEAVEN'S EDGE, WARRANT, FIREHOUSE and even DIVLJE JAGODE/ZELE a bit. The guitarwork is phenomenal and despite it really sounds like a demo, Goran and his band did a great job here. With a major producer, this could well turn out to something sensational for sure. The other 2 songs are Where did we go wrong (lovely catchy hookladen uptempo 80s Melodic Rocker, with an amazing soaring guitarsolo and an excellent AOR ish chorus) and World will never change (nice uptempo rocker). Let's truly hope these songs will one day make it to an official album release, and also with a better production, because the CDR I now have makes me remember the good old 80s demo tapes. Fast foward to 2020, he recorded in Germany an old song he wrote back in 2010, but it was now recorded with a new line-up in Germany. The song is titled Sunshine, a nice melodic rocker with female vocals (AILYN MONDRAGON), and once again superb guitarwork! There are plans for a full-length CD and I am really looking forward to this, because despite the fact that the production/sound quality is not that well, Goran is a gifted songwriter and guitarist and you can clearly hear this could become a sensational album. Fingers crossed for 2021! Meanwhile, more info at: and e-mail him at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)




2020 and Swedish Melodic (Hard) Rock arevery good friends, because we have seen so many great releases coming out of Sweden in the AOR, Melodic (Hard) Rock direction and even in the last month of 2020 we receive great new albums. BLACK PAISLEY is the latest sensation and their album Rambler is a lovely classic Melodic Hardrock record with a clear 1980s approach. The band is formed around bassist Jan Emanuelsson, drummer Robert Karaszi, guitarist Franco Santunione (ELECTRIC BOYS) and lead singer/guitarist Stefan Blomqvist. They have already released 2 albums in the past, which makes the new album Rambler their 3rd one so far. It was mixed by ROBERT PEHRSSON and produced by Franco, and the overall sound is huge!!! The only pity might be that there are only 8 tracks included, because you want to hear more and more when hearing such a wonderful band! Opener Damned is a melodic heavy rocker that reminds me a bit of XYZ and Y & T, which is also due to the vocals that are kinda like DAVE MENIKETTI. Following song is Without us, which is alovely uptempo melodic rocker with a brilliant catchy chorus that will keep fans of the very first HAREM SCAREM and TINDRUM dancing and singing all night! Higher love is touching the heavy bluesy hard rock of WHITESNAKE and THUNDER, although when the chorus comes around we're back again in classic Melodic Rock Heaven, reminding me a lot of the days when EUROPE was making similar killer tunes. This is Swedish perfection, with soaring guitar solos and multi layered harmony vocals driven hooks and choruses! Save the best is yet another classy uptempo melodic rocker with again the reference to the classic first HAREM SCAREM. The mid tempo Timeless child follows and is yet another superb catchy tune like early HAREM SCAREM (I'm almost sorry to mention them yet again, but there is just such a clear comparison going on I can't help it!). Take me to the river is up next and this is another excellent melodic rocker, with soulful vocals, a sensational catchy hook and a melodic chorus to sing-along to in classic FM style, with a touch of THUNDER as well. Falling (the ballad of MaryGoore) is obviously influenced by GARY MOORE and is indeed a great bluesy melodic rock ballad with lovely raw vocalwork. Give it up closes the album sadly, because you just don't want it to stop, but thankfully this final song is a nice cool uptempo Hardrock tune. Concluded, if you thought PERFECT PLAN, H.E.A.T., WILDNESS, NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA or ONE DESIRE released the best Swedish Melodic Rock Album of 2020, here comes BLACK PAISLEY with a lovely record you absolutely need to hear when you love catchy hook laden Melodic Rock! More info at: 


(Points: 8.8 out of 10)



2020 will be remembered as the year that almost every concert and festival was cancelled and musicians staying home doing all kinds of sessions and recordings to keep active. ELLES BAILEY was about to breakthrough with a great full rockalbum, which we reviewed earlier in the year, and touring plans for this year, but corona got in the way and so we are now looking at an album, which probably would not have been released if 2020 had been a 'normal' year. Elles did 3 lockdown performances that were recorded with just 2 other musicians, and the idea was to perform 2 shows with covers only, and 1 show with her own songs picked by the fans. The 2 shows with covers, which consist of classic pop/rock songs, and a tribute to classic blues song, they have now been released on CD. The result is a lovely collection of 16 songs that show how good Elles is as a singer, because she really nails it on songs like Ain't no love in the heart of the city, Where did you sleep last night, Fifty ways to leave your lover and Love me like a man. Make sure to check out this great lockdown CD at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)