Wednesday, 18 March 2015

FEINTS - Feints (digital release)



Boston rocks! Yepp, Feints proves it! This Bostonian four-piece makes their debut with a digital release, which should be out on CD and even vinyl! The album kicks off with the rockin’ “Los Angeles At Last”. Powerhouse singer Amy Douglas who sounds like a mix between Mother’s Finest’s Baby Jean and Tina Turner on steroids fronts the band. She is definitely the perfect vocal match for the bands straight-in-your-face power rock. “Saturday” continues in a slightly Cheap Trick:ish vein. The band has its feet firmly rooted in the seventies, which is a quality mark in my book. “Invalid” continues in the Tricky vein, but Amy’s voice really takes the band to another place. Man, those vocal cords have got to be leather coated! The songs are really catchy and this should appeal to fans of anything from classic bands like Earthquake, The Faces or Cheap Trick to fans of The Hellacopters and the rocking side of Mother’s Finest or even vintage Pat Benatar. There are also more southern sounding stomping rock songs such as “Hudson Valley Stomp”, which reminded me a bit of The Black Crowes. “Death Rattle” takes it in a totally different direction, with its almost metal-punkish vibe. Cool track indeed, with Amy turning her lungs inside out! The band, featuring guitarist David Baron, bass player Rob Phillips and drummer Tim Marten are tight as a rat’s ass, and these boys really keep this train moving! Right after the death rattle the band lays down a beautiful ballad called “Little America” with Amy also showing her piano skills and David is throwing in some countryish guitar licks. Really nice.!The release also offers a free bonus track, which happens to be an outstanding cover of Thin Lizzy’s Fighting My Way Back. This is a highly enjoyable, unsitstillable, rockin’ tildawnable picke of digital media. Highly recommended!
Janne Stark
Year: 2015
Country: USA
Label: self-released



CLARK LANE – "The Inner Circle" (Pro-CDR)



I’ve been following Swedish modern rockers Clark Lane for quite some time, and now they have finally released their debut album. The name is, if you may wonder, made up of the combination of Clark Kent and Louis Lane. If you’re into bands like Corroded, Alter Bridge and Shinedown this one’s definitely for you. Heavy riffing mixed with nice melodies with intelligent pop overtones at times. However, they are not by far as predictable as Nickelback, and way better in my opinion. They are also not as musically buttery as, for instance, Takida, and they definitely have more substance in their songs. Clark Lane also has a great guitar player, which many of the modern sounding bands lack. Songs like “Voices” and “Departure” also show the unique quirky touch this band has, and that I love. It’s not your standard strumming chord patterns, but harmonies that set them apart from the mainstream, but are not too quirky to scare away the non-musician listener. It’s a fine line, but these guys know their balancing act well. There’s also a really nice variety in the songs, from powerful balladry to up-tempo rockers, and lots in-between. One of my favourites is the heavy, riff-oriented and quirky, but still very melodic “Backdoor”, but there are honestly several favourites on this album! Highly recommended.
Janne Stark
Year: 2015
Country: Sweden
Label: self-released


Friday, 28 November 2014

DUST – Tequila Shiver (CD)


I’ve seen this band has been in the starting blocks for quite some time, trying to build up a sort of hype around the upcoming album. Can’t say I usually fall for that, so I kept my expectations at a moderate level. Well, I truly wasn’t prepared to be blown away, but man, I WAS! Already from the opening track “Bad Boy” this Stockholm foursome show they mean business! There’s a pretty strong Badlands aura hovering over this band, and I honestly don’t mind that at all! There’s a band I truly miss. Dust do an impeccable job carrying that torch. Roger Solander has a knife sharp, outstanding rock voice, a bit similar to Ray Gillen when he goes for the high notes, Johan Niskanen’s brutal, crunchy guitar-work is wailing all over the place while bass player Bernt Ek holds the lower frequencies down with heaviness and precision and drummer Örjan “Dr Rock” Englin does his best to keep the Bonham legacy alive, and does really well. I love the way he makes the title track groove with the Bonhamish ghost strokes. This one does owe a bit more to Zeppelin, which Solander also shows vocally. “Stranger” kicks off with a mean, angry riff and then struts off in a cool, groovy way. “Black Dressed Woman” brings us back to Badlands territory with Englin grooving like a beast. “Changing Colours” is a cool bluesy acoustic, also with a Zeppelinish vibe to it. “Keltic Wheel” draws us back into the heavier Zeppelin territory, but only in the verse, I’d say. Dust are by no means any Zeppelin clones, even though the influences are quite clear. They have their personality and they also have the songs to show for. “Lies To Tell” is a prime example of Dust taking on a more personal sound. The riffs rule, Solander sings his ass off and I just love that groovy verse and the crushing chorus. Not really sure about a guitar solo “song”, "Mojo", on an album though, even if Niskanen is a great guitarist. Apart from this one I must say, I love every track on this album! Definitely one of the strongest debut albums this year has had to offer! Highly recommended!
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden
Year: 2014
Label: private
 

BAILEY – Long Way Down (CD)


Nigel Bailey is foremost known for fronting UK melodic rockers Three Lions. This solo album was actually recorded before Three Lions, and I guess with the success of the lions this one was a no-brainer to release. Thank you for that! When Bailey does his own thing there’s a bit more edge to it, heavier guitars and a more power. We already know Nigel’s vocals are outstanding. So, all I can say is - This is a bloody brilliant album! Opener “Feed The Flames” gave me a vibe of Dave Bickler (Survivor) in the vocal delivery, while the song could be a Peterik penned thing, this one is slightly more guitar dominated in its direction. Love that! “In The Name Of The King” kicks off with a powerful detuned guitar riff that immediately catches my attention. Yet, another heavy and melodic hard rocker that just hits me right in the face. The production, by Allesandro del Vecchio is fat and big, yet dynamic. “Dirty Little Secret” reminds me even more of Bickler-era Survivor, which is great in my book. “Bad Reputation” is yet another great, catchy, straight ahead melodic hard rocker. “Stay”, even though it’s a really good song, feels a bit more run-of-the-mill. However that being said, this album’s weakest song is stronger than a lot of today’s albums strongest songs, which says a lot. “Somewhere In Oslo” is the album’s poppy moment, while “Long Way Down” brings back the heavy guitars and pounding rhythms. It makes me think of the same perfect balance of melody and heavy edge guitar riffs that can be found on the outstanding debut by Hardline. No need to go though each song I guess, but deliver the conclusion – this is a damn great melodic rock album and actually the reason I will still go to Frontiers Rock festival next summer! So far, one of my favorites this year! The UK has actually delivered some really strong stuff in that area!
Janne Stark
Country: UK

Year: 2014
Label: Frontiers Records

WHITE TRASH PRESIDENTS – s/t (CD)


If you’re into heavy Swedish sleaze rockers such as Hardcore Superstar, Crazy Lixx and Crashdïet, you simply have to check out the new SweDane unit: White Trash Presidents and I’m sure they will be added to your list. This band’s 8-track debut will hit you like a ton of bricks! With their roots in bands like Starats and Crazy Lixx these four guys takes the best from their previous bands and mix it into something that kicks their background firmly in the ass! “White Trash Presidents” and “One Fuse Left” will hit you like a ton of bricks! The band features former Starrats singer Magnus MP Möller and guitarist Dennis Post, flanked by former Crazy Lixx bassist Loke Rivano and drummer Brion Wekin. “Smack Me Around” is a bit mellower, closer to Enuff Z’nuff, which is ok by me. “Pushin’ Daisies” gets the power machine back in action with its heavy and grinding riffing. Every album needs a ballad, right? Well, I don’t think they do, but when they do they better bring me something that hits me. Well, this one contains two. “Cryin’” starts out pretty cool, but hell does break loose and it becomes a pretty bluesy powerful thing in the end. Nice soloing indeed by Mr Post! “Lovesong” finishes the album and this one is a pretty epic piano ballad with a pretty cool arrangement. I really like this one, indeed! “Lovers & Haters” and “Psycho Dad” also offer the, by now obligatory, punch in the face! The production and sound reminds me quite a bit of Hardcore Superstar, but to be honest White Trash Presidents hit me harder. This is really good stuff!
Janne Stark
Year: 2014
Label: WTP Music (private)
Country: Sweden


AXENSTAR – Where Dreams Are Forgotten (CD)


Swedish power metal band Axenstar have been around for quite some time now. They started out as a cover band back in 1998 and made their first album in 2002. I must say they have evolved quite nicely by each album. Singer Magnus Winterwild started out as the band’s keyboardist, but his decision to become a singer was a really good one as his clean and strong voice fits the slightly progressive power metal perfectly. To be honest, my interest for power metal has more or less vanished the last couple of years, due to over exposure, probably ;-). However, while listening to “When Dreams Are Forgotten” I do realize there’s actually still some good power metal out there as well. The reason why Axenstar slips my through the net for me, is probably because 1. They lean a bit more towards the proggier side, which gives me a vibe of Pagan’s Mind. 2. They skip all the major scale happy lucky sing-a-long choruses that give me the shivers. A great and fat production by the band and Pelle Saether also gives the album a bump in the right direction. Then there are songs like the excellent “Curse Of The Tyrant” which sounds a bit like if you would mix Candlemass and Helloween, power metal with quite doomy riffs. Nice! Not bad at all, especially for a power metal album.
Janne Stark

Year: 2014
Label: Inner Wound
Country: Sweden

LOMMI – Horse (CD)



2013 saw the debut release “Life In Sepia” by Gothenburg brutality trio Lommi. A self-release in paper pocket format. The follow-up has however received a proper release by Rambo Music. The band follows the beaten path with their brick heavy, riff-oriented groovy metal. They sound a bit like a mix of Black Label Society and Pantera, actually not that far from fellows Transport League. Detuned riffs and crude, but still vocals that have enough melody to make it sound melodic. The sound is heavy as concrete with powerful thundering drums, a bass that fills out every crevice and a wall of guitars (even though there’s only one) right in your face. Outstanding production, by Sven Jensen! So far, so good. My only complaint this time is, the songs. They could have had it all going form them if they had only got me with the songs as well. If only a song like “Back Of My Head” had been the low point of the album. I’ve listened through the album three times and there’s unfortunately not one song I remember after wards. Love the sound, love the band, but miss the memorable hooks.
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden

Year: 2014
Label: Rambo Music