Wednesday, 5 August 2015

OZONE – Self Defence (CD)



On paper this looks like the perfect melodic rock album! Two excellent singers: Steve Overland (FM, Wildlife) and Chris Ousey (Heartland, Virginia Wolf, Snakecharmer) and on of my all-time favorite guitarists Mike Slamer (City Boy, Streets, Steelhouse Lane) team up to make melodic rock magic. Tommy Denander is also part of the project, as songwriter and guitarist. I don’t have an info sheet, so I don't know who’s written what, so it's guesses on my part. The album starts with the Slamer sounding “Tiger By The Tail”, which would fit perfectly on any Steelhouse Lane or Seventh Key album. The vocals give the song a different touch, though. I can’t help it, but every time I hear Ousey sing I think of Eric Martin (which is not a bad thing in my book). “Let The Good Will Out” starts off with a simple, but perfectly ok guitar riff, while the song itself feels quite “safe”. “So Blind” is a classic AOR semi-ballad where the outstanding vocals really lift the track. “Destiny” starts off with a cool guitar riff and continues in a more classic British hard rock vibe, with a touch of Overland’s home turf, with a Slamer-sounding chorus. A great track indeed.  “Shadow On The Sun” continues in the same vein, and also makes me think classic Slamer riffing, but with a chorus very close to Kenny Loggin’s “Danger Zone”. As much as I think Denander is a great lead guitarist and he is heard on the most part of this album, I really miss Slamer’s light, funny and highly personal solos. Not sure why he’s not featured more, and I think it’s a real shame. It’s something I actually looked forward to. “Save My Soul” is another classic melodic rocker with a pre-chorus dangerously close to Foreigner’s “Feels Like The First Time”. “Smile Before You Lie” also sounds very classic Slamer and the interplay between Ousey and Overland really works great in this track (well, it’s not “bad” in any sense in any other track, just a notch better here). “Lifetime” is a big, bluesy ballad where the vocal twins really make a home run. “Practice What You Preach” is another solid melodic rocker with some nice riffing and a very Slamer-sounding chorus.  But, where are Slamer’s solos? The album closes with the up-tempo rocker “Visionary Man”. All in all this is a really good, albeit quite a “safe”, melodic rocker, with a production close to Seventh Key and Slamer’s solo stuff, which feels quite secure. There are some typical Slamer riffs here and there, but I really miss his soloing (as you may have gathered...). Steve and Chris really shine and their voices mix very well together. Works fine for me!
Janne Stark
Label: Escape
Country: UK/US/Sweden

Year: 2015

BOHEMIAN LIFESTYLE – Madame Libert├ínah (CD)



Wow, this new Swedish quartet really kicks off with an outstanding powerful retro style hard rocker! Great vocals, powerful delivery, great production by Sator man Chips Kisbye! Unfortunately there’s a power drop in second track “Fool’s Mask”, where they sound more like a modern pop/rock band, and it spirals even more downwards in “A Brigher Day”, which sounds closer to The Ark (a good band, but not really my cup of tea. The Swedish band, not the Norwegians, that is). In “Woodlands” the guitar is back in action! Cool and heavy riffing kicks this one into gear, even though the chorus sounds a bit too streamlined for my taste. “Coming Back Around” moves back into the pop/rock territory and they lose me once again. “Wake Up Call” has a pretty cool quirky riff, and the song works pretty good actually, but the following tracks continue the hit and miss affair. Half the album works great for me, while the other half just don’t cut it at all. When they’re good, they’re really good!
Janne Stark
Label: Attitude Recordings
Country: Sweden

Year: 2015

IDORA – Above The Law (MCD 5tr)



American melodic heavy rockers Idora features singer Brian Colkitt, guitarist Mike Floros, bassist Mike Talanca and drummer Rob Duran. The band mixes good old 80’s tinged melodic hard rock with a touch sleaze, sort of Dokken meets Quiet Riot. Brian Conklitt is a good singer with a touch of Kevin Dubrow, but not as raspy. My favourite track is “Stand” with its nice melodic hooks and classic pumping rhythm parts, along with the title track, with its slightly Van Halenish touch. The mixing could use a skilled helping hand to take the production to the next level, but this is a good start!
Janne Stark 
Label: self-released
Year: 2015

Country: USA