Melodic Rock Fanzine #41
This new issue includes reviews and interviews of Nelson, The Poodles, Darkwater, Signum Regis, F.E.A.S.T., Perfect View, Poison Sun, Prime Suspect, Jeff Scott Soto, Vega, Allen Lande, Michael Bormann... and more!
CONTENTS 04 06 09 10 11 12 14 15 17 20 22 Nelson The Poodles Darkwater Signum Regis+F.E.A.S.T. Perfect View Reviews Poison Sun Prime Suspect+J.S.Soto Vega Allen Lande Michael Bormann Melodic Rock Fanzine The official Frontiers Records magazine Year #6 - Nr. 6 / Issue #41 Editor-in-chief: Elio Bordi Graphic & Design: Elio Bordi Writers: Bruce E.J. Atkinson, Fulvio Bordi, Duncan Jamieson, Barry McMinn, Vitale Nocerino, Rob “Ezy” Bone, Fabio Mainardi, Tommy Hash. Headquarters and general contacts: Frontiers Records - Via Gonzaga 18 80125, Napoli - Italy Tel: +39.081.2399340/7753 Fax: +39.081.2399794 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.frontiers.it Myspace: www.myspace.com/frontiersrecords Editor and publisher: Frontiers Records US Headquarters: usa.frontiers.it Copyright©2010 Frontiers Records. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Printed in Italy. BAND: NELSON ALBUM: LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE INTERVIEW WITH: GUNNAR NELSON INTERVIEWED BY: FULVIO BORDI Focus on: 4 | MRF NELSON - Lightning Strikes Twice (Frontiers Records) Nelson twins, after about twenty years from their greatly acclaimed debut album “After The Rain”, turn back with an amazing Melodic Rock masterpiece. Each one of us, who fell in love with that debut album, will find all the right ingredients who made that release unique until now! I’m talking about great compositions made of such inspired melodic hooks, hardrockin tunes, lovely choirs and wellrounded arrangements. Every single track shines as a gem, from the pressing rhythm of “Call Me” to the closing “Kickin’ My Heart Around”, a song made of a great relaxed arpeggio in the verse, then swooping into the powerful refrain. “Day By Day” and “Ready, Willing” have endearing soul attitude and sublime hammond arrangements carpets. “You’re All I Need Tonight” is the first masterpiece single and video clip coming out from the album and shows awesome melodic class and high skilled vocal performances. “Mountain”, “Take Me There” and “Change A Thing” are three unmissable ballads; “When You’re Gone” pushes up back the rhythm with its irresistible mood, twin guitars melodies and heaven refrain. No other words for this masterpiece! Let’s just make the music speak! Fulvio Bordi (95/100) Question: "Lightning Strikes Twice" states Nelson's return with and amazing set of Melodic Rock songs. Please, tell us about the path leading you to be back on the line. Answer: I recorded this record in Nashville, TN USA in my studio. I performed about 90% of the instrumentation and vocals you hear on the record - mostly because I only had the time to record this record in the middle of the night on the rare nights I was home from touring... I was the only person available at three in morning. It worked out great though... I was able to skip the interim step of having to explain to outside musicians what I was hearing inside my own head as a finished record from the beginning... the only thing I had to do was make the finished album I already heard in my head a reality. I learned in the process that I'm a fairly capable tracking engineer... but when it came time to mix the record, I knew that I could do no better than to choose Jay Ruston (The Donnas, Steel Panther) in California to mix it. I'm glad I made that choice. It turns out Jay and I work exceptionally well together. Q: I think this brand new album is really the right, perfect follow up to "After The Rain". There's so great quality in your today's songwriting! How did you work on songs? A: Originally, the Lightning record was going to be a GUNNAR solo album. I had a good 80% of the record written for that purpose when I was approached by Serafino to make a follow up the After The Rain album... and what I found was that the record I'd already been working so hard on was in fact that very record- the record I always felt NELSON should have been allowed to make 20 years ago to follow up the After The Rain record. Matthew then came in to write with me for the remaining 20% of the album... and that was when something magic happened. That was when we realized that we had both been carrying around the same desire to finish what we started with After The Rain for 20 years... and that this was our opportunity to do just that. I recorded this record myself in my studio in Nashville over a one year period of time- in the rare moments I was home from the road touring. Most of the recording was done between midnight and daybreak over that year- and I was therefore put in the position of having to perform about 90% of all of the instruments and vocal parts (not many of my usual helpers were available for those late night sessions apparently)... but it's cool. It gave me total creative freedom to make the album come to life EXACTLY as I heard it in my heart from the very beginning. I was a perfectionist to the point that my friends (and Matt) started to get worried about me. I don't think I slept more than two hours a day for that entire year, I was so consumed with making this album great. Every vocal part- every note of guitarevery tone you hear- every moment of every arrangement is exactly the way I envisioned it. I'm exceptionally proud of this record as a result. When I was done tracking the album, Matthew suggested we use Jay Ruston (the Donnas, Steel Panther) in Los Angeles to mix it. It was a fabulous decision. Jay was a joy to work with, and do a positively brilliant job on the mix. NELSON has never had a record that sounded remotely as good as this one... and that includes the After The Rain record, which we spent $250,000 to make. Q: Did you receive any special input from Fontiers on how "Lighting..." should sound? A: LOL- are you KIDDING?? Absolutely! Serafino Perugino of Frontiers is the executive producer of this album. Let's just say that 'till now, other than me, I've never encountered anyone else more passionate, driven, and intense about the way this record should sound than Serafino. I'm sure this was a tough record for each one of us to make at times... but only because we both loved our first record (After the Rain) so much that we were both equally intent upon delivery a worthy successor to that now classic record. I'm sure we each drove each other crazy at times... but no matter what, we never quit on each otherand I'll be eternally grateful for that because it gave birth to the best record we've ever made. Serafino is not just a shrewd business manhe's a true FAN of the music he sells through Frontiers, first and foremost. He's also Italian through and through- which made the high points and low points of the process incredibly dramatic at times. Sometimes he was oil, when I was water. But you know what? I realized about 3/4 of the way through the process that Serafino and I made one hell of a salad dressing together! Q: What's the one track that you're the most proud of? A: They're all my children- so it's really too hard for me to narrow down. I have favorite moments in all of them- honestly. I love how songs like the ballad 'To Get Back To You' came together... it took on a life of it's own and builds in a truly epic, organic fashion. You can tell that's a real recorder on the 2nd verse (a la Zeppelin) and that it is a real string quartet playing throughout- not keyboard samples. The tune is as real as it gets. I love it. But my favorite guitar solo I played was on 'Take Me There'. If you can't tell that Brian May is one of my favorite guitar players of all time after that song, you're deaf. :) Q: In 1991 you were the new rock sensation, but in just a cou- ple of years everything changed and your kind of music was pushed out of the charts. Do you have any particular regrets? A: I do regret that we weren't allowed to start releasing records before 1990. We were actually ready in 1988. The record company just kept us in incessant development and I think were a bit too cautious with our debut's initial release date. The After The Rain record was pretty much written and ready to go two full years before we were allowed to go into the big studio to record and release it. If we were given a couple of extra years before the rise of grunge and the demise of melodic hard rock, Matt and I could have had at least two more albums out there, and it would have made our ability to stay current on the touring scene far easier than it's been. But hindsight is 20/20 after all... I'm just grateful our record company gave us our start back in the day, that we had huge hit singles, sold millions of records, and toured the world to sold out crowds of 20,000. But it was a serious bummer that Seattle, flannel, and rock songs without guitar solos changed everything overnight for a whole generation of confidence rockers. Q: Do you still tour as "Ricky Nelson Remembered"? A: Yes we do- and we probably always will to a certain degree. It is a high-integrity show of wonderful music and memories that helps me to feel as if our father is still alive. It's a selfish thing for me. I don't want to let my father... my best friend... go. Q: What is the hardest lesson you've ever hard to learn? A: That it's ok to take the music seriously, but not yourself. I used to take myself way too seriously once upon a time... it made me a serious, unhappy person... to the point that I couldn't even enjoy my victories when they'd come. What's the point of that? No one's going to give you a medal at the end of your life for suffering more than anyone else, you know? I've got the greatest job on the planet- I'm a rock star. Hell yeah! What's not incredibly awesome about that??? Trust me- I know that my worst day out there bringing the rock to an uncertain world is better than the best day in some office cubicle somewhere. Q: Looking back, what has been your proudest moment? A: When my father got his permanent display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH. Q: Any plans to tour behind "Lightning Strikes Twice "? A: Hell yeah. We're putting it all together now. It'll begin with our appearance at Firefest in the UK... but we hope to join a band like Heart, Foreigner, Boston, Bad Company, or our old friends in Styx for a Lightning Strikes Twice tour. Stay tuned... MRF | 5 BAND: THE POODLES ALBUM: IN THE FLESH - NO QUARTER INTERVIEW WITH: PONTUS EGBERG INTERVIEWED BY: BRUCE ATKINSON Question: Hello gents, it is most likely true that you do not need an introduction to our readers, however I think the formation of this group is a fantastic story… and you came out kicking!... tell us about the early days…. Answer: Well, the band had been around for a few years under the name The Poodles, playing only cover songs, touring around a bit, doing night club shows but in its’ current form The Poodles was pretty much formed around the opportunity to perform the song “Night Of Passion” in the Swedish leg of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006. We entered the contest, took the Swedish TV audience by storm and after that we recorded our debut album “Metal Will Stand Tall” and headed out on tour. After a hectic period of touring in Sweden in the summer and fall of 2006 we released our first album in mainland Europe in early 2007 and hit the road, this time as support to Hammerfall. Already in September of 2007 we released our sophomore album “Sweet Trade” and headed out on the road again in Europe, this time as support to Gotthard. After this we have released our third album “Clash Of The Elements” in May 2009, been doing hundreds of shows back home in Sweden and at least four more tours of Europe as well as a number of festival appearances. Q: You are now three albums in to your career, with The Poodles, and Focus on: 6 | MRF a solid line-up…and have achieved so much as well…and all of this hard work is paying off…how did the deal with Frontiers come about? A: We have actually had discussions with Frontiers for some time, even before “Clash Of The Elements” but it didn’t work out that time and we ended up doing that album under our own label. When we started planning for the release of the live package and also our fourth album we contacted Frontiers again, we had some discussions back and forth and pretty soon it became clear that we had a very similar vision so decided to go ahead. Q: Keeping with your new signing… what are you hoping for with this relationship? A: We have very high hopes for this relationship. Basically we hope that Frontiers can help us get the albums out and make them more visible to a wider audience in the territories where we are already present and also to get them out in territories where we haven’t released our albums before, break some new ground I guess. Q: November will see the release of the brand new live package from Frontiers… ”No Quarter” and “In The Flesh”… such a great way for you to be introduced to a wider audience, so let’s discuss the DVD portion, it is more than a concert performance… A: Yes, quite a lot more I would say. The total playing time of the DVD is roughly two hours and the live set is about one hour, twelve of the tracks from the album “No Quarter”, filmed live at location. Here you get a chance to both hear and see the band on stage, performing. On the DVD there is also a lot of other cool stuff though, interviews with all the guys in the band, behind the scene stuff, you basically get to follow the band on tour for a little bit, you get some background information about the band and its’ members and you get to catch a glimpse of what life on the road is like. Q: Your first release for Frontiers really does show us what all of Sweden already knows… and Europe is also responding very positively… but I also know that you are not content to just sit back and take it all in, that you are already working on your fourth release… can we talk about this new Work? A: Yes, that’s correct. We had an intensive writing period through the later part of the summer and we are actually in the studio right now recording the next studio album. We started recording the last week of September and the recordings will probably continue until the end of November and it’s going really well so far. The new material is sounding fantastic, it’s still early in the process but I’m convinced it’s going to be a killer album, so keep an eye out for that next spring. But first, don’t forget to check out the live package. THE POODLES - In The Flesh / No Quarter (Frontiers Records) Sweden’s premiere Hard Rock group have just shouted to the world! “No Quarter” / “In The Flesh” is their start to a worldwide recording contract with Frontiers Records! And what a way to begin, two live documents of The Poodles stage prowess, and a glimpse into why this foursome is creating such a ‘buzz’ in their home country and Northern Europe! “No Quarter” bristles with energy and emotion, both from the group and the thousands gathered to take all this in. One just needs to close their eyes, and you are there!... Being drenched with the energy and perfection that is ‘The Poodles’! Hard-driving, intricate guitar work, and towering vocals, these four musicians perform their collective hearts out! Now, with “In The Flesh” you do not need to close your eyes, you are right there, front row, and seeing just how brilliant these Artists are! Witness the Passion, flawlessness, first hand and prepare yourself to be mesmerised throughout the whole show! The DVD release also holds an in-depth look at ‘The Poodles’, Giving us the answers to why these lads are all the rage in Sweden. The actual set highlights material from the group’s first three albums… presented in a very tight form. Just a extraordinary way to introduce us to one of the hardest rocking groups on the scene today! Oh! By the way… studio album #4 is also on the way, at the time of this writing, “The Poodles” are finishing up their fourth effort, which promises to be a ‘barn-burner’!! Bruce Atkinson (90/100) BAND: DARKWATER ALBUM: WHERE STORIES END INTERVIEW WITH: HEMRIK BATH INTERVIEWED BY: FABIO MAINARDI Question: Welcome you all! So here we go again with this great follow up to “Calling the earth to witness“, what are your expectations from “Where stories end”? Answer: Thank you! Well hopefully we will reach out to even more people, and perhaps a broader audience since I feel this album also contains songs that might suite people that usually don´t listen to that much progressive metal. And I really hope it will get us to do some real touring and meeting all those people who wanted to see us after our first album. Q: Can you tell us something about the making of it? A: In opposite to our first album this one was recorded during a period of two months, and a lot of the material was written right before we headed into the studio. All arrangements, some vocal melodies and a lot of the lyrics actually was written during the recording period. But we feel this was very positive for us, having to put our full focus on the music for such a short period of time, it really forced us to bring out the best in us. How do you define your musical style in a few words? Also, how Darkwater came to be? Focus on: A: Well the music we play I guess we can call progressive metal; a heavy and sometimes complex kind of music with melodic vocals on top of it. It all started in 2003 when I, Magnus Holmberg and Markus Sigfridsson finally made reality of starting Darkwater, which we had talked about for quite some time really. We all had some song ideas ready and started to look for the rest of the band. Tobias Enbert we all knew from earlier (Harmony), and we found our bass player Karl Wassholm through a music internet site. We started writing and rehearsing and in 2006 we recorded our debut album and hooked up with Ulterium Records. Q: Which are your main influences and which artist/band you dream of touring with? A: I myself can´t say that I have any specific influences, I listen to everything from radio pop to metal, but as a band of course we have been influenced by bands like Dream Theater, Vanden Plas, Kamelot, Symphony X and all those great bands. I would love to tour with a band like Kamelot, I think they´ve got a very broad audience that could appreciate our music, and they seem like fun guys. Q: Bass player Simon Andersson stepped in recently, how you got along with? A: We get along great! He really fits right in and he´s got the same goofy humour as the rest of us. And I probably don´t have to say but musically, he´s a monster! Q: You recently taped a new video for “Where stories end”, any nice stories about that? A: Yes we did a video for “Breathe”, the opening track on the album. The main producer behind this video is Dino Medanhodzic, who also is the guitar player in Carnal Forge. We recorded most of it on the top floor in a big warehouse in Stockholm, and it was just hot as hell. Ten seconds in, the first shoot and we were drenched. I don´t think I´ve ever needed a shower that bad. Q: Are you planning a tour in promotion of the album or you will play selected gigs around? A: For now there are no tour planned, but we will try to get out as much as possible, and hopefully we will be able to get out on tour later on. Since we didn´t get the chance to go on tour after our first album, we would really like to meet all those people who wanted to see us then. DARKWATER - Where Stories End (Ulterium Records) Despite the high pressure given by the good success their debut album “Calling the earth to witness” (released three years ago in May 2007) had, Darkwater delivered the goods indeed. “Where stories end” is a well crafted piece of melodic progressive metal. This album it’s a huge step forward from its predecessor, thanks also to the powerful production, the album has been mixed and mastered by Fredrik Nordström and Henrik Udd [In Flames, Hammerfall, Dimmu Borgir] at Studio Fredman in Sweden. Out of the blistering nine tracks of the album, the opening track “Breath” and “Why I Bleed” sum up best what Darkwater is all about, great wall of sound conducted by solid guitars (Markus Sigfridsson) with strong drum patterns and well rounded keyboards arrangements, stellar vocal performance too from Henrik Båth. Although their music may resemble in some way bands like Dream Theater and Evergrey, Darkwater without no doubts succeed in giving their fans and the melodic metal fans a mature, unique and recognizable sound to their music. Darkwater is Henrik Båth on vocals and guitars, Markus Sigfridsson Rhytm and lead guitars, Simon Andersson on bass, Tobias Enbert on Drums and Magnus Holmberg on keyboards. Fabio “Deuce” Mainardi (88/100) MRF | 9 Tommy Hash: With the Eyes of Power concept being based on historical events revolving round the Roman - Persian relations, what inspired you to come up with the album's storyline? Ronnie Konig: In the beginning of 2009, we started working on the second Signum Regis album. I had already finished the songwriting done and realized that there was a bunch of songs with a special 'oriental sounding' vibe. Before this album I worked on four heavy metal records, but never on a concept album. I don't think that there is a need to have each album monothematic, but if you do it once a while, there is something challenging and magical around. Tommy, my brother, was the one who chose the time period, story and he wrote all lyrics. He was definitely the right guy for this, because he is Doctor of Archeology. You need this kind of background to write it all plausible, to be able to study the original sources. I mean, you wouldn't need it, if you wrote about something what everybody knows, but he chose to write about Roman - Persian rivalry during the last four centuries of the antiquity. I think that for many listeners, this is completely new and original. If you read the whole booklet with all story additions, you can learn a lot about that part of history. I was also shocked that the chemical and biological weapons were already used in war those days. TH: What did you set out to do musically with The Eyes of Power as opposed to the first self-titled record? RK: On the first album, there is a mixture of different types of songs, where each song is a story on it's own. There are some speed metal songs, some hard rock, some neoclassical stuff, progressive here and there, and there is a love song. Everyone can find something interesting. "The Eyes Of Power" follows a particular story line with it's mood and dynamics. You can surely hear the 'oriental vibe' in most of the songs. A song like "The Ten Thousand" from the first album would fit to "The Eyes Of Power", but if you compare the whole albums, they are completely different to me. TH: You chose renown vocalist Göran Edman as your frontman, how did you hook up with him? RK: Göran has been with us since the very beginning when he recorded the debut album. Working together with him was wonderful and absolutely smooth. He enjoyed it too and there was no reason to get someone else for the second album. It's true that he records a few album every year with various artists, but there is a good working relationship between us, both musical and personal wise. TH: I know it might be a little early, but are there any ideas for another Signum Regis album to follow up The Eyes of Power? RK: I already have few songs, which might appear on the next Signum Regis album. 10 | MRF Bruce Atkinson: All those years of touring and doing Session Work for many Artists has also had a positive influence, tell us how much, in regards to your own music? Fabri: Thanx Bruce!Of course I’m really happy. Answering your question, to tell the truth working as a part time session man in the Italian pop scene was only a matter of business and very little art. I must admit that I didn’t enjoy that very much and I only accepted deals when the money was worth. I think the only thing I gained is getting familiar with studio recording but no musical influences from that. BA: Obviously, you have garnered some close friendships with musicians from all over Europe, are some of those now in F.E.A.S.T? F: No, the only guys involved are me and my friends in the band which performs live. Mao on drums, Angel on bass and Luke on the other guitar. BA: Fabri…you are a very good singer, however I have noticed that Alessandro Del Vecchio from Edge Of Forever is with you on this project… how did this come to be? F: Thanx for your appreciation!!! First of all because Ale is a close friend of mine. We also sing and play together in a band where we cover some 70’s rock like Eagles, Queen, Boston… and finally because he’s an amazing singer. I wanted to put on record the partnership we already have in life! BA: Let’s talk about the new album, you have written and arranged the record, and what instruments did you play? F: I played everything but the drums, of which I’ve written the rhythm arrangements. Any way my main instruments are vocals and guitar. I’ve got no skills to play keys like Keith Emerson or bass like Pastorius, ah ah ah!!! BA: Are the compositions written recently, or are some from years back? F: Four or five songs were written between 2006 and 2009, some others just in 2010… a special one was written in 1995 in the years I was into other kinds of music rather than straight rock. BA: The name?... tell us what is behind F.E.A.S.T? and why the periods between each letter? F: Ah ah ah! The dotted letters, well… that’s a little secret, but I can give you a clue. The key is in the credit lines in the cd booklet! Apart from that I meant Feast as “solemnity” and then it also sounds like “fist” which gives me the sense of something united and strong! BA: Are you taking this project out on tour? F: Thanx again, passion and sincerity are the most important elements in art forms. I wanted to put on record what I really feel as a musician, regardless of trend and fashion. Even if during the years I’ve been attracted by different kinds of music, those on the cd are the rock sounds I love since I was a young kid… where I come from and where I wanna go right now. BAND: PERFECT VIEW ALBUM: HOLD YOUR DREAMS INTERVIEW WITH: FRANCESCO CATALDO INTERVIEWED BY: BARRY MCMINN Question: Well what can I say ‘Hold Your Dreams’ what a great debut? Answer: We hope that this work could be seen as a very good debut album! We put a lot of passion in writing the songs, doing the arrangments, follow the recordings in every aspect. So we are very proud of 'Hold Your Dreams'! Q: So tell us how did Perfect View start? A: The core of the band was born in 2008 from an idea of mine along with the drummer and the singer. We all wanted to start a project where our main musical influences could be expressed. We grew up listening to a lot of great hard-rock bands and it was a natural process to join together with the specific intent to write original songs in the vein of those bands we loved (and we still love!) so much. Q: The album itself brings in lots of different elements, is this due to the bands different influences? A: Absolutely! Personally I listen to a Focus on: lot of different kinds of music and apart from what I like best, I've absorbed many musical influences. The same goes for my bandmates. When we write songs it's almost inevitable that different musical elements emerge. Q: In most bands there is a dominant songwriter but in Perfect View you all contributed to the album, has this made for a better band work ethic and has this also led to the diversity of the album? A: Each song is created in our rehearsal room, starting from an idea of one of us (sometimes the song structure is almost complete, sometimes it could be only a riff). We work in the old way, jammin' all together until a song is finished and satisfies all of us. Obviously instruments like guitar or keyboard are more functional to bring a new idea but each of us is free to give suggestions at any stage of the creative process. Furthermore none of us requires someone else to play a specific part on his instruments. For these reasons each song contains significant contribution of each of the musicians. This helps to have more musical diversity... and I think it's worth! Q: The band members have been around for sometime with different bands over the years so what is it that makes ‘Perfect View’ the perfect outlet for you all now musically? A: This is a project where each of us feels completely realized. 'Perfect View' is a band where each musician is highly involved in first person. And this makes you feel very responsible. In the past (I speak for me but I bet that also my bandmates have had similar experiences) for one reason or another I wasn't completely satisfied. 'Perfect View' is able to meet all of our musical expectations. Q: Again another popular question will the band be heading out on the road to bring your music to the masses? A: Yes, of course! We can't wait to do some live shows. We are almost ready to go out there! ;))) We believe that our songs will have a very good live impact! PERFECT VIEW - Hold Your Dreams (Avenue Of Allies) Over the past few years Italy has become a hotbed for new Melodic and Hard Rock talent with the likes of Moonstone Project, Skill In Veins, Shining Line and their like making waves in their respective genres, now the eyes and ears of the Melodic Rock community are once again focused on Italy as Perfect View make their presence felt with their debut release ‘Hold Your Dreams’. The band were founded just two years ago by frontman Massimilliano Ordine, guitarist Francesco Cataldo and drummer Luca Ferraresi, with the bassist Cristian Guerzoni and keyboardist Pier Mazzini coming into the fold a month or so later. The album mixed big riffs and melody with a huge vocal presence courtesy of Ordine, who is the driving force behind the album and a real star of the future if this album is anything to go by. There is enough variety to please even the most diehard fans of the Melodic and Hard Rock genres with big tracks like ‘One More Time’ and ‘Closer’ that are bound to please the fans of great melodies and a bigger guitar sound, but if you like something a little mellower than the Totoesque ‘Believe’ and the gentle ballad ‘A Reason To Fight’ will be right up your street. However, if like me you like a bit more meat on the bones of your rock then ‘Speed Demon’ and ‘Run’ will get the pulse going for sure. Like I said something for everyone, a really impressive debut that again shows the Italian rock scene is becoming a dominant force in Europe. Barry McMinn (85/100) MRF | 11 JEFF SCOTT SOTO - Live At Firefest 2008 (Frontiers Records) Well, I don’t think to go wrong considering this upcoming double live release a real consummation of the previous “Live At The Gods 2002”. “Live At The Firefest” in fact completes, as a second chapter, all the J.S.Soto’s best solo compositions until now, renewed with a live dress and enriched with a different power only live performances can give. Particularly all the songs coming from his last amazing studio release “Beautiful Mess” come out still more funk and on fire than the studio versions. The band supporting Jeff all over the concert features Howie Simon on guitar, Dave Dzialak on drums and Gary Schutt on bass. I love their performance, both in high aggressive songs and softer moments. Jeff sings great and so much inspired all over the concert. Particularly, rhythm section plays a so much laudable part keeping up the songs and pushing so much energy shot right in the face of the audience! Howie Simon is also the best Jeff’s sparring partner for a tracklist like this: great solos, boiling Hard Rock tunes and loads of Funk burning out of his guitar. Check it out! Fulvio Bordi (90/100) NELSON - Perfect Storm, After the Rain World Tour 1991 (Frontiers Records) This live release from ’91 coincides nicely with Nelson’s live performance at the mutha of all melodic rock festivals, Firefest in the UK. When this gig was recorded their debut album “After The Rain” was on its 65th consecutive week on the American billboard charts so you can be sure the crowd, who scream hysterical throughout, knows every word. It’s rare to hear so much female adulation in a rock crowd. Fortunately, the guitars are high enough in the mix to be heard above the shrill teen fandom. The harmonies are there too, but perhaps not as polished as those in the studio. “Love And Affection” perfectly capture that pop meets rock vibe so indicative of the era. Up-tempo “More Than Ever” has a great widdly solo. “Two Heads Are Better Than One” rocks hardest and there's room on the CD to show off their musicianship, and prove the twins weren’t just pretty faces. The concert is best summed up by the band themselves during banter between songs when they ask and answer their own question, “Are we havin’ a good time? F**k yeah!” Duncan Jamieson (90/100) NELSON - Before The Rain (Frontiers Records) If you talk Nelson you mean America. Matthew and Gunnar Nelson are the epitome of what’s living in the USA. The two brothers can be doing all sort of media production from television-hosting to radio broadcast to Reality TV together of course to tour extensively all over the world. “After the Rain” was their debut multi-platinum album way back in 1990 while they are out now with the sequel “Lightning Strikes Twice” and “Before the rain” is here to celebrate they incredible career. “Before the rain” is a quite a journey throughout all sort of American Rock, from its country flavours to the metal tone of the Hard Rock stepping in the Melodic pages of this genre. The two brothers performed all instruments on this release quite like to say here we are this is our music. And it’s amazing how modern and fresh the Nelson sound is, best tracks the opening “After The Rain”, the hit single “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love And Affection” of course, together with “Let’s Get This Show On The Road” and “I Wish”. Fabio “Deuce” Mainardi (92/100) TRIUMPH - Reissues / Diamond Collection Box (Frontiers Records) Triumph is one of the best melodic hard rock band ever and their music has influenced so many bands and musichants. Frontiers Records is releasing all the 10 albums that have made this band CLASSIC in the hard rock scene: the debut album “In The Beginning”, “Rock and Roll Machine”, “Just a Game”, “Progressions of Power”, “Allied Forces”, “Never Surrender”, “Thunder Seven”, the amazing live album “Stages”, “The Sport of Kings”, and “Surveillance”, all completely remastered and in luxury digipak. Plus, if this is not enough, the ultimate box-set with all the 10 remastered releases in vynil replica version. So if you want to complete the discography you can choose the missing albums among the digipack reissues or if you miss all the albums and you have never listened to this classic hard rock band, run to your favourite cd shop and buy the Diamond Collection box and enjoy the canadian masters albums! Vitale Nocerino (99/100) PRIME SUSPECT - Prime Suspect (Frontiers Records) Changing the elements result doesn’t change… and what a result!! “Prime Suspect” is the homonymous debut album for a new project lead by Daniele Daniele Liverani and his long time Khymera partners in crime Tommy Ermolli and Dario Ciccioni together with bass player Mauro Catellani and singer Olaf Senkbeil, from the German band Dreamtide. Also in the picture is Swedish songwriter Christian Wolff (On The Rise, Johnny Lima, Mecca) who contributed with two songs “What Do You Want” and “It Could’ve Been You”. “Prime Suspect” is a cool example how classic melodic rock may gain new life with a modern and powerful production and sound. Listeners will be fascinated not only by the more oriented AOR rocking tunes like the album opener What “Do You Want” but also by the progressive vein of tracks such as “I’ll Be Fine” or “So Strange”. Talking of a debut album is reductive when you are in front of musicians with a long career like Daniele who his amazing work in the Italian Hard Rock scene is well known and appreciated. And this album is really up to par if not more in respect to his previous productions. Khymera fans and Classic Melodic Rock fans won’t be disappointed at all about this shining album. Fabio “Deuce” Mainardi (88/100) 12 | MRF SIGNUM REGIS - The Eyes of Power (Ulterium Records) Signum Regis is a Sweden metal band formed three years ago by bass player and songwriter Ronnie König, their a second album (they debuted in 2008 with the homonymous album “Signum Regis” via Locomotive Records ) “The Eyes of Power” is an astonishing conceptual metal album based on real Roman historical events in the Middle East during the ancient years that go from 224 to 630 AD. At a first listening it may appear a contradiction hearing the shredding lead guitar by young Slovak guitarist , Filip Koluš nailing down many oriental sounding riffs and chord progressions, but as the story goes you will be blown away like in a sort of time/space odyssey. Along the road you might even recall some bites and elements coming from NWOBHM, progressive hard rock, symphonic or even jazz music that give the album a tasty feeling all over it. It’s really appreciable how many efforts have been put in this production where it’s clearly evident the wish to reproduce and capture the atmosphere of those heroic times. And I must admit the end result, thanks also of the brilliant vocals by Göran Edman (ex. Yngwie Malmsteen, John Norum) and the excellent mastering by Greg Reely of Fear Factory, Machine Head and Coldplay fame is remarkable. Fabio “Deuce” Mainardi (89/100) SOULSPELL - The Labyrinth Of Truths (Ulterium Records) From the mind of Brazilian drummer Heleno Vale, comes a metal opera that sparks intrigue, not only by the storyline and cast of characters (20 top notch vocalists & 8 musicians), but of course, the musical department as well. Like Genius Rock Opera, Avantasia, & the latest Star One release, you don't get too lost, with each track unto itself standing out, easing the complexity that does show in the ear of the beholder with adversity being thrown aside as far as comprehending the record. Dark and passionate with a blend of the symphonic and prog elements incorporated into the melodic metal vibe, the songs stand defiant as 'songs' (and not 'episodes') with their sophistication bringing the AOR-laden textures to the forefront to this story based on human conflicts and how anything can have an effect on all of us. Whether it's the moody riffage of "Amon's Fountain," the multifaceted epic of "Dark Prince's Crown," or the more pop sensible approach of "Adrift," the music is executed to an enticing degree with the array of intricate arrangements and various 'musical personalities' that everybody brings to the table making The Labyrinth of Truth a fine delivery of sonic theatrics upon the ears. Tommy Hash / Ytsejam.com (87/100) FIRE - Ignite (Avenue Of Allies) Released way back in 2006 Fire’s debut album “Ignite” is available again in conjunction with their new release “Thrill Me”, “Ignite” now comes with two bonus songs one of which is a thunderous cover of the famous Brian Adams’ hit “Run to You”. Fire is a Maltese powerful rock band born in 1998, that has is reign is the live setting where they always deliver raw, energetic “move your ass” live performances. Here at their first studio experience, they clearly show up all their concerts experience to deliver a huge collection of heavy metal tunes, pure rock n' roll songs and even the ballad song that it has always been a “must be there” in all Hard Rock and AOR good albums. Thanks also to the production techniques of Robert Longo himself the album has a glittering sound all over it and stand up to pair to the greatest Rock international productions. Since its opener “Get out of may way” through out all the twelve tracks up to the closing bonus track “Miss You This Christmas” the listener will travel among all king of Rock genres from metal to melodic performed in a true classy way. There is al lot of Y&T, Gotthard and Whitesnake influence on top of this album and rest assured all true melodic rock fans will love deeply Fire music. Fabio “Deuce” Mainardi (90/100) ORDEN OGAN – Vale (AFM Records) “Easton Hope”, Orden Ogan’s second album and their first for AFM Records, has been an “huge success”, according to the label itself (and I’d really like to know what that means in term of sales… but that’s another story!); so, here is, immediately ready, a re-issue of the band’s debut, originally self-released in 2008. Often compared to Blind Guardian (yes, I agree) and to Running Wild (honestly I can’t see anywhere this comparison!), Orden Ogan play a traditional Power Metal Germany-style, with some light Gothic and Folk influences. This new version of “Vale” has been enriched by 4 bonus-tracks (for a Total of 17 tracks!) and a re-mastered sound; the overall sound is definitely great and the songs are very well conceived, written and played. In a year where Power Metal has been a bit left in a corner, this might be the album of 2010 in the genre. Primo Bonali (88/100) F.E.A.S.T. – Rise (Avenue Of Allies) Fabri Kiareli is a Monster Musician… a self-taught guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist— Fabri approaches everything music with such gusto! “Rise” is his debut of original material, performed with Italian passion! “F.E.A.S.T.” is Fabri’s musical vehicle bringing his passionate style of Hard Rock to the masses. An equally Monster debut, “Rise” is thirteen slices of Hard n’ Heavy rock that will spin your head and set your musical heart thumping! A showcase of Fabri’s talent as both a multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer. A gigantic album, this record clocks in over seventy-two minutes, and will most likely leave you shattered. Spanning the spectrum of Hard rock and Hard blues…”Rise” contains more than a few surprises…including a duet with Edge Of Forever’s vocalist; Alessandro Del Vecchio! A musical offering so deep, that new textures of Fabri’s talent will be revealed upon multiple listenings. Aptly titled…”F.E.A.S.T.” will certainly become a rising star in the Hard Rock heavens!! Bruce Atkinson (90/100) SHADYON – Mind Control (Ulterium Records) What a fantastic gift! I never heard about this band before, so I’ve checked this album without any infos about. “Mind Control” is Shadyon’ second effort; the band plays a very melodic Power/Prog Metal with a lot of AOR and Hard Rock influences, powerful guitar parts and catchy melodies. I really like their blend of all of these styles, as they are able to create this unique and very recognizable sound that could appeal to many of you, readers, especially the ones into some Progressive and Melodic Metal! The main influence of the band (as the band itself writes on their official site) can be found on the swedish-act Evergrey, and you can easily find it on the 10 songs of “Mind Control”, also if Shadyon’s style is less dark and more melodic. The “plus” of the band is represented by the emotional and sweet (somehow high-pitched) vocals of Emmanuel Creis (during my first play, I was thinking that a girl was singing!). The album definitely grows play after play, and it’s one of the best things I listened to during the last couple of years, in the genre. Recommended! Primo Bonali (90/100) HELSTAR – Glory Of Chaos (AFM Records) I still clearly remember their first days “of glory”, with albums like “Distant Thunder” and “Remnants Of War” (ah, the good ol’ times!), where the band was often compared to Iron Maiden. Then Helstar evolved into a more Power Metal-US style direction, with intricate passages and somehow complex arrangements. To tell the truth, I totally lost their last Works, so I was a bit in a shock when I first listened to “Angels Fall To Hell”, the opening-track of this brand new album. My immediate thought was: “pity that they lost on the way James Rivera!”. Totally wrong. James Rivera is still here, but his voice changed a lot. And to my ears is totally not recognizable. Then, the music: an incredible mix of Bay Area Thrash and Speed Metal… so heavy and aggressive! Unfortunately (to my tastes) the melodies have been left behind, here; instead you can feel the sheer rage of the band. If that’s what you’re looking for… welcome, my friends! Primo Bonali (80/100) MRF | 13 BAND: POISON SUN ALBUM: VIRTUAL SUN INTERVIEW WITH: HERMANN & MARTINA FRANK INTERVIEWED BY: BARRY MCMINN Question: How did Poison Sun come to being as a band? Answer: When Herman composed some of his songs for Loyal to None, Victory and Aceept he asked me to help out to sing his vocal ideas above his new songs. Therefore we noticed how perfect my voice would fit on top of his songs. From this point on the idea was born to do a common projekt one day. It became true in Feb 2010 that we finally started to compose the first songs of Virtual Sin and entered the studio to record some of this new stuff. It turned out great and so we looked out for drum and bass. As Stefan and Flo had been friends with Herman for long times, he knew they were the perfect musicians. The band was complete. Q: How long did the album take to put together from its initial conception to the final mix? A: As I said we started in Feb 2010. Cause of Herman´s activities with Accept it took some time more til we had composed and recorded the 10 Songs of Virtual Sin. The Mix was finished in the end of August 2010. Q: When working on the album did you have a set structure of how Focus on: 14 | MRF you wanted it to sound or did it just evolve in the studio? A: We always kept in mind to keep the album heavy and groovy. We wanted to follow the footsteps of Hermans past productions like Moon`Doc, Victory, Aceept and Hermans latest solo album Loyal to None. With this point of view we wrote the songs and created the sound of the production. Q: Will Poison Sun be heading out on the road to promote the album? A: Quite honestly the future is wide open. No question about, if you start a band like this you always wanna play live. That´s what it´s all about. So, in between Herman´s tourdates with Accept we are trying to find some spots to enter the stage for live shows. Q: Martina has a great voice for Metal but why haven’t we heard it sooner fronting a band? A: ‘Cause the moment just was right for doing this now. There was never a constellation like this before in my life that I got the chance to work on an album with a guy like Herman. I´ve done many projects in different music styles before but Poison Sun is the first real Metal band I work with. POISON SUN - Virtual Sun (Metal Heaven) Q: Female vocalist in Metal have always been a rare breed, why is it hard for women to make their presence felt in the Heavy Metal world? A: Now that I finished Virtual Sin I don´t have that feeling anymore. I don´t have any glue why it should be a problem. They might just do it. Q: I love the new album, personally I think the album crosses over from classic metal to the modern metal of today but where do you think the album fits in with today’s metal fans. A: As you said the album fits in the Classic Metal and Modern Metal Style. We personal don´t think in these common idems. We just recorded this music as we like it and quiet honestly we give a fuck about if people call it Modern, Classic or Any Metal. Q: What plans do the band have for the New Year and when can we expect the second release? A: We will start as soon as possible with live shows. Right now we are looking for a spot to support a well known Metal Act. Activities for the new album we´ll start from summer 2011 on. Another new band has come out kicking and screaming in the name of good honest rock, and that band is Poison Son. The band are led the by the fantastic old school female vocals of Martina Frank who has been honing her craft in the studios as a backing singer, but now she has now been given the spotlight treatment with this new band along with Hermann Frank on guitars, Florian Schonweitz drums and completing the line-up Stefan Hammer on bass duties. The album itself is straight up Heavy Metal complete with big licks, a powerhouse back beat and of course a massive vocal presence right from the opener ‘Voodoo’ down till the final assault ‘Forever’. There is no doubting this band has got what it takes to take on the more established bands in the genre and in Martina they have found a star for the future, who comes across with a power and grace that reminds me of a harder edged Patti Smith, while Hermann Frank is just sublime as always as riff after monstrous riff come thick and fast, all the while the foundational back beat of Hammer and Schonweitz deliver knockout punch after knockout punch. If you like me love some no nonsense Metal then check out this superb debut from a band that are about to make big waves in the world of Metal. Barry McMinn (90/100) Fabio Mainardi: Hi guys and welcome! This is a debut album but you all have a whole lot of amazing albums under your belt. Would you like to tell us about this new project and the coming in of Dreamtide fame singer Olaf Senkbeil in the group? Daniele Liverani:Thanks you so much! Prime Suspect is a new environment, but still features some of the musicians I've been working with for many years in different projects (Khymera, but also Twinspirits, Genius Rock Opera, Cosmics) Dario Ciccioni and Tommy Ermolli. After the 3 Khymera album I felt the desire to write some tunes in Aor style by myself and test my songwritng into this style of music. The Khymera album has been penned from great international songwriters, and my role into the band was just about arranging and /producing the songs, but never wrote them actually. After recording demos by myself, and even singing them, I decided to have them listened by the guys at Frontiers, and the result was positive and lead to the actual production of the Prime Suspect album. FM: How was the interaction among you all in the group, did you work out separate demos before entering the recording studio and lay down vocals? DL: As I already answered, the main songwriting has be done by me in my studio, where I did preproducions of all the songs, then we got togheter and worked on arangements and details togheter to get a very tight result that could give room to each member to show their own style, skills and expression. When the necessity of finding a good singer for the project arose, we needed a very melodic, rich, clean and wide range pitch singer, with a good mood and the right feel for melodic rock, so we offered the spot to Olaf Senkbeil, and after some demos he turned out to be the best fit for this new adventure. Q: Are you satisfied with the over all result and do you consider the possibility to do a follow up of “Prime Suspect” album? DL: I'm very satisfied with the result, maybe more that what I expected, and that's the reason why I would love to continue writing and producing albums under this monicker in the Melodic Rock style. FM: You are a European band indeed with an international appeal and an Italian heart, what your thoughts about Rock music in Italy and in Europe so far? DL: I think rock music will never die, there are a lot of fans out there still loving and supporting this style of music. Italy is a very good place for melodic rock in my opinion, it's not casual that one of the best labels of the style is located in Italy! (Fronters Records of course!) Q: Plans for the future? DL: I'm currently doing the promotion for Prime Suspect and look forward to maybe play live in support of the release! Let's see what will happen! Thanks for the support and for this interview, anyone that would like to leave a comment can go to our profiles and drom us some words: http://www.myspace.com/primesuspectmusic http://www.facebook.com/pages/Prime-SuspectMusic/155634551139417 Fulvio Bordi: Jeff, this new double live album is a real surprise for all of your followers. When did you start the idea to release it? Jeff Scott Soto: Well, this was supposed to originally be my 2nd live DVD as well but a few factors prevented me from releasing it in the end, one of them being the length of the show. At the time, I was given a much longer set time but as the evening wore on, I was told I would have to shorten my set. Already in 2002, the Gods DVD was a shortened show but it seemed to work as it was an introduction to my solo career but being years since that release and the demand for a new live disc made me rethink putting out yet another show that was compromised. Instead, I released the One Night In Madrid DVD with my new line up but always felt this show should be heard someday as well. FB: Are you totally satisfied of your vocal performance on it? I really love it, you show a so great shape on it! The way your voice moves along melodic, than aggressive, softer interpretations, to more smooth moments is so natural and pushes up so much energy! Is this wide ductility due to the beneficial Frontiers Grappa’s effects on your voice? JSS: Haha, no grappa was abused during this show! But yes, I was happy with the results of the show, my voice is surprisingly strong based on the circumstances! FB: I’ve been reading you just met with the band for 30 minutes just few times before the show; and the last time you all had played together was nearly a year before! What was the band’s feeling like along the moments before the show? JSS: Luckily I had the talent in the band who could brush up on their homework based on the last gigs we did together, they’re that good! I was supposed to have arrived hours earlier than I did so we could have a full rehearsal together but traffic prevented me from arriving with no more than 30 minutes remaining before we had to get to the venue so it was just enough time to discuss the set. They were confident in all the notes and discussions so we just dove right in! FB: How do you think your songs change from studio dimension to when you then make them live on stage? JSS: Well, the more AOR/rock stuff pretty much translates over the same as it would on the albums but the stuff from Beautiful Mess definitely comes across differently than the studio album. I guess that’s because BM was more about drum loops and samples where as playing them live with real instruments, they have a more organic vibe to them. I always loved how artists like Michael Jackson, Prince or Seal would do songs one way for their albums and live it would have a whole new appeal...I finally got to do an album like that and see the songs have a different perspective live. FB: Are you already working on a new solo effort to come? JSS: At the moment no, I am far too busy with touring and live gigs. I plan/hope to start putting things together for a new album by summer 2011, I am pretty much touring until then in one capacity or another. MRF | 15 BAND: VEGA ALBUM: KISS OF LIFE INTERVIEW WITH: NICK WORKMAN INTERVIEWED BY: DUNCAN JAMIESON Question: It’s always great to hear a new melodic rock band, although many people will know you from Kick. How would you describe the difference between this record and what you did with Kick? Answer: Well, in all honesty I think it has alot in common with the first Kick album in terms of style and inspiration. Big melodic rock songs! I guess the biggest difference with this next to Kick, is that I got to write all the songs with Tom and James. When I joined Kick, 70% of the album was already written. Another difference is technology. With Kick I was having to go down to London every week to work on songs and demo's. Now we can all put ideas down on the computer and send them to each other, which is probably a good thing because we can't stand being in the same room as each other. I am of course joking, haha. I think that this record has also been successful in doing something that Kick failed to do. In hindsight, with the 2nd and 3rd Kick records we were chasing the current musical trend and I think the style and sound we achieved by chasing that, was to the detrement of Focus on: the songs. The demo's to the 2nd Kick cd were just like "Consider this....". With Vega on the other hand, I think we have managed to successfully bridge the gap between modern music today lie 30 seconds to Mars and our heroes like Def Leppard and Bon Jovi etc. Q: How did you get together with the brilliant song writing partnership of James and Tom Martin? A: I met the guys about 10 years ago after Kick supported Thunder. Not long after that the guys tried to get me to join a band they were in at the time. They didn't really know me then but knew kind of where abouts I lived and looked throught the phone directory to see if I was listed. There arn't that many "Workmans" listed so I think they struck gold and got the right "Workman" after the 40th attempt! Anyway, I was full on with Kick at the time so I declined. Then in May 2009 our paths crossed at a gig and together with Dan we chatted for a while. The guys told me that Frontiers had given them the go ahead to put a project together and would I be interested. I honsestly wasn't aware of how much songwrit- VEGA - Kiss Of Life (Frontiers Records) ing they had done for people at this point so I said to send me some stuff and lets see what happens. They sent me a track called "New Religion", I demoed it and we all just knew that this was going to be a "band" not a project! Q: What other bands out there playing this kind of music do you think are making a good job of it? A: Recent albums I really like are that are in classic style are Treat, Pretty Maids, Steel Panther, Crazy Lixx, Grand Design to name but a few. Then there are the bands that have a more modern flavour like 3o seconds to Mars, Negative and one of my fave's Sixx A.M. Q: Frontiers have really cornered the melodic rock market, with some of the biggest names in rock music on their roster. You must be happy to have signed with them. A: Ahh man, it's an honour. If someone told me when I was 16 that one day I would be on the same label as Whitesnake, Journey and Mr Big I would have been looking for the drugs they were on. All I need now is for Leppard to join the label and it's happy days!!! It’s always good to welcome a new band to the page of Melodic Rock and Vega bring a winning mix of classic AOR and something more contemporary. This contempory edge is courtesy of Nick Workman, formally a member of ex UK band Kick, whose modern pipes, somewhere between Bono, Ian Astbury and Muse's Mathew Bellamy bring the sound up to date. The classic AOR is provided by Tom and James Martin who write fantastically catchy AOR anthems with humongous choruses as anyone with a recent House of Lords, Sunstorm, Ted Poley or Khymera albums can attest. “Kiss Of Life”, “One Of A Kind”, “Staring At The Sun” and “S.O.S” combine the Martin and Workman influences perfectly. It’s one huge chorus after another and as a result it’s a record that’s likely to live on your CD player or i-pod for many weeks to come. Vega demonstrate that AOR still has some new tricks up its sleeve. Duncan Jamieson (92/100) MRF | 17 ARTIST: ALLEN LANDE ALBUM: THE SHOWDOWN INTERVIEW WITH: RUSSELL ALLEN INTERVIEWED BY: BARRY MCMINN Focus on: 20 | MRF ALLEN / LANDE - The Showdown (Frontiers Records) In 2010 Jorn Lande and Russell Allen return with what I consider their best collaboration so far “The Showdown’. There are only a few changes to the last album with the production duties being taken up with Achim Kohler whose brilliance was heralded on the excellent Kiske/Somerville release. The songs were penned by Magnus Karlsson who once again provides guitar, bass and keyboards to the album, while completing the line-up we see Jaime Salazar handling drumming duties. So that’s the who’s who done now, down to the album itself. Stunning doesn’t do this one justice, the superlatives are just to plentiful too include in this review. Let’s just say anyone who loves both these guys vocals won’t be disappointed with this album. To pinpoint some of the many highlights from the album, take the likes of the opener and title track ‘The Showdown’. A real shot of Metal brilliance that gets the album off to the best start imaginable. Then there’s the next one, the epic ‘Judgement Day‘, a giant of a track. The majestic ‘Never Again’ is just sublime and that’s just the first three tracks! I just love this album like I loved the previous two, but this album has something about it that makes it the best of the three, but don’t take my word for it, when this one reaches the stores beg, steal or borrow the money to buy this one, you won’t be disappointed. Barry McMinn (95/100) Question: First of all, congratulations on your new album. What do you think is vibe in this release? Answer: Thank you. I think it's a combo of the last two albums really. It feels like it right inbetween them. Q: Your new album "The Showdown" is your 3th album and comes straight after the amazing "The Revenge" which was released in 2007. Can you tell me a bit about how did it come to life and how was the writing and recording process? Why did you wait 3 years to release another album? A: Well it was always planned to do this album. I guess with our busy schedules it took quite a while to get it together but now seemed to be the right time for us. Q: To me this is the best of the three albums so far, but what do you think of the album now its finished? A: As a whole I would agree. It combines the styles of the first two and is logically the next step in the sound of this project. Q: Is there any of your song you are damn close to and why? A: I'm not partial to any song in particular. I think they are all special in their own way. Q: How did you chose who sings what, and who wrote the music, lyrics and melodies? A: Magnus wrote all the material. But, we get to choose what songs we sing and add our own touch to the tracks. Q: How does the song structures come together on albums like these, are you given particular song parts to sing or do you both work on the songs with Magnus and work out the structures that way? A: I receive Magnus’ complete song ideas. I then perform them the way I feel they should be sung. I’ve always been impressed with his arranging capabilities and never felt that any song I’ve heard from him needed to be changed in that way. Q: What are the similarities, or differences between his and your style of singing? A: We both are strong singers. I would say I have more of a power/aggressive style where Jorn has more of a bluesy soulful style. Q: Achim Kohler mixed the new album what do you think he brought to this album? A: His style, to my ears, is more organic. I like that the mixes have more of a “live” sound. It feels more intimate. He did a nice job. Q: Does the title The Showdown refer to anything? Who came up with that title and does it mean anything special to any of you guys? A: I don't know who's idea it was really, lol.. It seems to fit the trend of the last two albums. I think the title is perfect for the 3rd record. Q: What inspired the songs on "The Showdown"? Is there any specific concept behind them? A: You'd have to ask Magnus that one. He wrote it :) Q: When you got together in the first place did you feel that Allen/Lande would become the phenomena that it has become? A: No, I knew the songs were great and the talent of the artists was on par with each other but I never thought it would be so successful. Q: Are you happy with the album or do you feel that you should have done anything different looking back at it now? Could you tell me about ‘We Will Rise Again’? A: I'm very satisfied with the tracks I did. We Will Rise Again is a great song and I think people are really gonna like it. Q: Is there anything you learned from the previous experiences together and that you've brought to your own music? A: Yes, as I've stated before, there are new things you pick up when your working with new artists and trying things that you normally wouldn't do. It's exciting to discover new ways to perform a part or record a part in a different way. Q: Looking back to the start of your career, would you do anything differently? And what do you remember critics saying about it when it first came out? A: I've always enjoyed critical acclaim with Symphony X. Not everbody likes that style of music or likes my voice either but the press has always been supportive of us. The only thing I'd do over is the touring. I wish we toured more early on but the opportunities were few and far between. That's just the way it goes I guess. Q: Which is the greatest satisfaction happened to you in your musical career? A: My greatest satisfaction is having a musical career. There are a lot of people out of work right now and i'm just happy to have a job. Q: And the criticism that hurts you? A: I hate when people try to categorize me. I guess that's why I'm always doing different musical projects. I like to show my versatility Q: Which quality would you say is your strongest, the one that makes you who you are, that defines your special personality? A: I don't know. I guess my honesty. I've always been honest with my singing and performing. What you see is what you get with me. I love what I do and I'm lucky to be able to share my talent with the world. Q: With all the artists you've played with, who would be your dream bandmates you've never played with? A: hmmm. Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Jason Bonham. lol, and of course singing with Robert Plant :) Zeppelin Forever! Q: With both of you being involved with your other bands how important is it to step away from them from time to time to do this sort of project and do you think this helps you as artists to have other things to focus on. A: Without a doubt, it’s a big reason why I do it. I always learn something new about myself when I do these things and when I return to the band I’m able to bring that knowledge into my work with them. Q: With albums like this the chance of touring is limited but if you could work out a schedule that suited all would you take Allen/Lande on the road? A: Sure, I think we would have a blast. I’ve been busy the last few years with making a family and making albums. But, now that I’m getting ready to tour again I’d like to do a run with these guys after SX. Q: Where do Jorn Lande and Russell Allen go from here? What do you have in the pipeline that we should keep an eye and an ear out for? A: I’m about to wrap up recording on a new solo album and Symphony X will be releasing it’s new album early next year... MRF | 21 ARTIST: MICHAEL BORMANN ALBUM: DIFFERENT INTERVIEW WITH: MICHAEL BORMANN INTERVIEWED BY: DUNCAN JAMIESON Question: Welcome back to Melodic Rock. You must be happy with the way the new record’s turned out. Answer: Hello and thanks. Well, I am very happy about my new baby :-). Guess I never heard one of my former records that often... I should have gone this direction years ago, but... It’s never too late, haha Q: You normally handle a lot of the instrumentation and production as well as singing on your records, but can tell us who you brought in to play on this record and what do they bring to the project? A: Actually I am working pretty much with the same people since ages. It is just great to work with different musicians. That spices up the soup ;-)... But it all depends on, how you see things. I always have a view of a song. So, it could be very helpful to have a different mind around, as also the opposite. Q: You’ve called the record “Different”. Did the album title come before or after you’d written the songs? A: It actually came along during the whole recordingprocess. But pretty early though. I was kinda burned out, when I started the recordings. Focus on: 22 | MRF So it took me over a year to complete it all... I mean, the recordings together didn`t take longer than any of the other records, I just didn`d wanna be in the studio anymore... So, it was on and off... So, this was already different. Then I had the idea, to use only drawings instead of pics... And everything black and white. When I decided to call it different, I kinda thought, why not also a german title... So, everything came pretty much together by itself. Q: There are a number of different rock styles on the record from rockers, ballads and acoustic numbers. Which tracks in particular are you most proud of on this record? A: Actually I love the whole thing. Maybe because of the versatility. And maybe I am proud of deciding everything myself... I usually would have asked people about their opinions, or what song to take. Not this time. Q: You’ve blossomed as a solo artist, being involved in all sorts of projects. The Trophy was a great collaboration and you also guested on the excellent Shining Line record this year. Do you ever miss being in a band as you were in Jaded Heart? A: To be honest, YES. I mean, it`s great to be able to deliver... But, when it comes to the live-situation, nothing can beat a band, that played for years together. I am working on it right now. But I must also admit , that for years I wasn’t too keen on rehearsing and so. This changed again and I am happy about... Q: Are there any musicians out there you’d really like the chance to work with? A: Of course there are... Too many to mention. But I’d like the idea of working with some of the great producers. I mean, I really wanna know, how I would sound, when Mutt Lange put his hands over me for instance... Just to name one... Q: Now the record is coming out what’s next on your agenda? A: So, I just finished the recordings for a metal-rock-opera-project called THE ASSIGNMENT. Mats Leven and Robin Beck are also singing with me on this record. REDRUM is the next thing, before I’ll be singing on another Metalproject called HEAVENWARD. Of course i will be touring next year. Some dates are already confirmed. So it will be Spain, Greece, Germany, Switzerland so far. April / Mai 2011. So we`ll start rehearsing pretty soon. MICHEAL BORMANN - Different (AOR Heaven) Don’t worry “Different” is not an indication of a wild departure from the Michael Bormann’s trademark melodic rock sound. Instead, this does everything you’d want a Bormann record to do and then some. What is different is the mixture of songs from up temp rockers such “My Favourite Time” and “Breathless”, ballads like “Don’t You Tell Me” and the acoustic driven “Somebody”, Once again he demonstrates why he’s one of Europe’s finest rock singers with just the right balance of melody and grit in his voice. After the recent tragic death of Gottard’s Steve Lee, we should cherish and not take Bormann’s talent for granted. Bormann takes his usually multi-instrumental and production role to give us huge layered, 80s indebted choruses and memorable riffs while running through a gamut of emotions. This is the kind of album Bon Jovi should be making. On the top notch “Who Really Wants To Get Older” his music has the power to roll back the years and make you feel like a teenager again. Easily one of the most enjoyable melodic rock records of the year so far. Duncan Jamieson (94/100)