Sunday, 27 May 2012
Hasse Fröberg is foremost known as lead singer of eighties melodic metal band Spellbound and lately as lead singer of progressive band The Flower Kings. When Hasse now puts his name on his own product, it’s closer to the last, but with hints of the first. The band’s first effort proved he was definitely on the right path. A strong debut indeed. The follow-up, Powerplay, starts off with My River To Cross. I totally love the way this track builds up. It starts out quite gentle, pop-symphonic and in the vein of The Flower Kings, to suddenly burst into some really heavy intense powerful guitar riffing, to move into the melodic, almost pomp-oriented chorus. All of it ornamented with Hasse’s killer vocals. The World Keeps Turning goes in another direction, uptempo melodic rock with an almost AOR:ish touch, at times a bit reminiscent of Asia. Guitarist Anton Lindsjö is a new bright star to keep an outlook on! Great, soulful yet technical playing, which he also shows in The Final Hour. After the soft ballad Waves, the album continues with Venice CA which reminds me of early Toto meets Starcastle meets Trillion. A great melodic track with an almost poppy chorus part. On of my favourites is the heavy, hard rocking Is It Ever Gonna Happen with an almost Purple:ish touch in the verse. In The Chosen Ones I also hear a bit of Styx, especially in the synth melodies. Without going in too much in detail, I can tell you this is a versatile, yet composed, great sounding melodic prog/symph/rock album which should appeal to fans of anything from The Flower Kings, to Styx, Kansas, Asia, Yes etc etc. Great stuff indeed!
Label: Reingold Records
Link: www.hassefroberg.com <http://www.hassefroberg.com/>
Every Swedish kid who went to Copenhagen in the eighties know what Danish Dynamite is. Well, Blindstone is here now to teach the kids of today a new meaning to the term Danish Dynamite. This time we’re not talking strong intoxicating Danish beer, now we’re talking strong intoxicating Danish riffs! “The Blindstone groove is here to stay”, sings main man Martin J. Andersen, and damn it he’s right. The band has never failed to make a strong release in the past, and this time it’s no different. Well, I actually think, which I may have said every time, this IS the band’s strongest release to date! The band has such and incredible swagger and groove it’s totally infectious. There’s no way in hell you can sit still listening to this Karma Factory Greeting. I mean, from the first riff to the last, this power trio bursts out one hook after another, one groovy beat after another and one fat riff after another. Bassist Bunk and drummer Hvidtfeldt paves a strong, funky and groovy foundation for singer/guitarist Andersen to just spread his wah-wah infused bleeding riffs all over. He’s also got a perfect vocal capacity for the whole thing to melt together. Some of the riffs may be meat and potatoes, but in this case that’s what makes it such a great album. To add bells and whistles would be all wrong. This album bursts on like an old steady locomotive, breaking down any barrier, kicking out the jams and mows all over any modern sissy pop melodies. This is the blues meets hard rock, in it’s purest form and shape. Fans of Mountain and Mahogany Rush, your prayers have been answered.
Label: Grooveyard Records
Friday, 18 May 2012
American metal band Awaken opens their debut album quite carefully with the instrumental March Of Aachen. Melodic, fine tuned, not in any way offensive. Not the strongest opening I’d say, but still a good song. To be honest I would have ended the album with this one and opened with second track, As The Dark So The Light, a great powerful rocker. This actually brings me back a bit in time and reminds me of long lost bands like Powersurge and Seventhsign, plus a bit of Queensryche from back in the day when they were actually a great band. Singer Glenn DaGrossa however sounds no way like any Geoff Tate wannabe, but he instead has a harsh, gravely great powerful voice, reminding me a bit of Lee Ving (Fear, MD.45) with a touch of Biff Byford. Besides this, Awaken is equipped with two killer guitarists in Joe Todaro and Mike Delon, a bit different in style, but they complete each other really great. There’s some pretty intense and cool flashing soloing going on, I tell you. Furthermore the song material is highly interesting with great variation, nice vocal harmonies, and really good arrangements. Darker riffs, like in Bones To Dust, Death Of Me and Beneath The Surface are mixed with melodic uptempo stuff like The Inquisitor or ending track In This Circle which made me think of Crimson Glory. The soothing ballad My Silent Breath comes in like a breath of fresh air to lighten up the intensity of the album. A great beautiful thing, where Glenn again shows his vocal diversity. A really great album in a genre we don’t hear that often today, but I now realized I actually missed. Get it!
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
”We have gone over the edge, we have lost our minds and we have started playing real rock ’n roll”, says Joey Tempest. I would like to suggest the contrary. Well, not that they don’t play real rock ’n roll, but that they have lost their minds. They are in my eyes wiser than ever! Of course the band will never be able to fully satisfy all their fans, old and new, but Bag Of Bones picks the best of the band’s new sound adopted on Start From The Dark, and mix it with good old classic hard rock, oozing of the seventies. The album kicks off with two mid tempo groove-oriented riff-rockers with a strong melodic feel. They are followed by the more intense Firebox, drawing a bit more towards Secret Society. The title track opens with acoustic guitar and a bit of slide from guest guitarist Joe Bonamassa, moving into a bluesy passage to the up-tempo verse and a heavy bridge. A cool and varied tune, indeed. The thirty second intro Requiem, opens for the lead heavy, but still quite cool, My Woman My Friend. Here Norum rips a solo with his inimitable feeling mixed with technique, and continues to slide in some cool solo licks in the chorus. I do love the guy’s tone, no doubt about that! Demon Head continues to bid you some heavy riff-oriented hard rock, without losing the melody. This is really good! After a break it’s Norum time again. It feels like he on this album has been compensated for the cut-short solos of the previous releases. Me like! I shall also point out that Tempest’s voice really fits the band’s bluesier vibe. Drink And A Smile is a slightly odd acoustic number, which made me think of old Swedish rocker Pugh Rogefeld’s song Grävmaskinen mixed with Joe Bonamassa. Cool on, maybe not for everyone, but still. Doghouse is straight ahead hard rock in the vein of Gotthard with a touch of Zeppelin, while Mercy You Mercy Me draws a bit from the modern riffage of the previous album. The album finishes with the cigarette lighter (now cell phone) ballad Bring It All Home, where Norum again gets to shine. All in all a really great album with a great nod to the old school, and even if Tempests sings they’re not supposed to sing the blues, they do it very well. A great album!
Monday, 14 May 2012
Talk about an unexpected musical constellation! Göran Edman, singer extraordinaire with bands like Madison, Yngwie Malmsteen, Kharma, Norum, Glory etc., Björn Inge, drummer with classic seventies hard rockers November and renowned keyboard player Max Lorentz, flanked by bassist Morgan Korsmoe (Larz Christerz) and guitarist Ludwig Larsson (Dynamite Sky). Well, if I would compare these guys to any of their previous outings, it would definitely be November. Mårran plays seventies oriented, blues, groovy, riff-oriented hard rock sung in Swedish. What differs from November is Max’s hot and fat Hammond organ, which gives it a bit of a good old Deep Purple touch. I really love the earthy, acoustic sounding mix. The drums sound like they were recorded live in a good size room and the guitar oozes of tube amplification. Ludwig Larsson, looks like a pretty young guy, but his guitar playing sure sounds like he’s been around as long as his older fellows. The solo the guy kicks out in Dina ögon är blå is just amazing, and the break after the solo-part is worth the price of the CD alone. The track Del av mitt liv, reminds me a bit of the classic Free track Mr. Big and here the band is reinforced with Björn Inge’s former November colleague, guitarist Rickard Rolf, who adds a really nice solo. The intro of Syster Blå brings back memories of the first Montrose album, and Denny Carmassi kicking off Rock Candy. Not the same rhythm I know, but the general feel of it. A cool riff, and a pretty unexpected very melodic chorus. Med Lena shows a slightly folk-oriented touch. This is one of the most interesting Swedish releases of 2012 so far. It’s nothing new, there is no flashy wizardry, there are no hits, it’s just an album filled to the brim with really great music, played by outstanding musicians that have the power to express and transfer feelings through their music. Authentic, dynamic, groovy, infectious and damn great!
Label: S Rock Records