Page 1

CONTENTS 04 06 08 09 10 11 12 14 16 17 19 21

Stryper Outloud Mind Key Howard Leese Crash The System Danger Danger preview Reviews Fair Warning Optimystical Axxis Constancia Cain’s Offering

Melodic Rock Fanzine

The official Frontiers Records magazine Year #5 - Nr. 4 / Issue #33 Editor-in-chief: Elio Bordi Design: Elio Bordi Writers: Bruce E.J. Atkinson, Fulvio Bordi, Duncan Jamieson, Barry McMinn, Vitale Nocerino, Primo Bonali. Headquarters and general contacts: Frontiers Records - Via Gonzaga 18 80125, Napoli - Italy Tel: +39.081.2399340/7753 Fax: +39.081.2399794 E-mail: Website: Myspace: Editor and publisher: Frontiers Records US Headquarters: CopyrightŠ2009 Frontiers Records. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Printed in Italy.

Band: Stryper Album: Murder By Pride Interview with: Michael Sweet Interviewed by: Bruce Atkinson

Focus on:

4 | MRF

STRYPER - Murder By Pride (Frontiers Records)

I can’t deny I always had a particular love for Stryper, and I used to consider them as one of my favorite band ever. Everything in Stryper always looked so unique and special to me, starting from the lyrics (that – being myself grown in a Christian community - I embraced from the beginning), passing thru’ their intriguing yellow and black look, and arriving, of course, to their awesome music. So, what we have now here is the brand new studio Work for the foursome (the Sweet brothers + Oz Foz and the new bass player Tracy Ferrie), and it’s a “bang”! If compared to the previous “Reborn” (the come-back album of 2005), “Murder By Pride” is less modern-sounding (in both departments: production and songwriting) and more into the classic ‘80s-Stryper vein, with guitars that might recall the incredible “Soldiers Under Command” album and Michael Sweet’s vocals still so melodic and…. sweet. The band is in top-shape and ready to kick ass live (US and European tour on the way). 13 incredible songs, 13 ways to show the world that, yes, they still trust… in God and in Rock! Primo Bonali (95/100)

Question: May we get reaquainted with the group…you actually began in 1983 as a Power trio, correct… Answer: The basis of the group was both brothers Sweet, and also Fox… Q: When you changed the name to Stryper, there was a reason behind the name change… what was that reason? A: The record company didn’t like the name Roxx Regime and we weren’t crazy about it either. So we came up with Stryper. We already had the stripes on stage, so the name Stryper seemed to work. Q: Through the years you have collectively released top notch material… yes, full of messages, but you were not over bearing, as some American “Christian” music artists tend to be… any comments? A: It wasn’t a conscious decision on our part. It’s just the way God lead us to write. The songs just sort of came out that way. Q: If we look at the period of time, when personnel changed / or dropped away from the group, you kept your friendship… was this difficult? A: At times it was. But eventually we always re-kindle our friendship. But yes, anytime you separate from someone you’ve been with for a long time, it can be difficult. Q: I would imagine that throughout the years, your Faith and your friendship carried you all through somewhat difficult times… Now, we see the original three back together again: Michael and Robert, and Oz Fox… chat with us about the reforming… and a bit about “Reborn”… “Murder By Pride” seems to be a stronger, more pointed album… and obviously with some very strong messages, would you take us through the album? A: It was a long process. We started working on this record back in 2006. We were due to go in to record in 2007 and Kyle (Sweet) got diagnosed with Cancer. The record had to be put on hold for a while. It seems like a miracle that it ever got finished. A lot of prayer has gone into this record. It’s one of our best

records because so much time and effort has gone into it. Q: Have you ever had questions in your own faith and what kind of advice would you give to people who have? I have, but more in a way of “Why God don’t you want me to do music at this point in my life?” or “Why aren’t you allowing me to do music?” A: There were times after I left STRYPER when I was in a dry spell. In a valley, I like to call it, and I couldn’t get anything going musically. But yet I felt like God was giving me songs and God had given me the ability to play music… but I wasn’t allowed to do it. So that was a big question mark. In those ways, yes but as far as actually questioning my faith like should I or shouldn’t I be a Christian? No, never! Going back to when I was twelve years old and I first chose to live for God, I had walked away for years but then we all re-dedicated our lives when I was twenty as a band with STRYPER. I haven’t looked back from that time till now. I mean I have my short-comings, my failures and my mistakes but I still choose and I always will to live a life for God and make a bold stand for God. Q: God used Stryper to open doors in the Christian music industry 20 years ago that have expanded our definition of what Christian music is. How does it feel to have been a part of something that big? A: It's amazing to look back and to realize what we were a part of. Something that was just on such a huge level as far as what God did with and through the band. As far as why God chose us, I have no idea. He could have chosen anyone for that matter and for some reason he chose the four of us to go out and put together Stryper, tour the world and make music. You know, to look back on it and to realize that I was a part of something so spectacular and unusual and such a powerful ministry, and that so many lives were affected, changed and renewed, that is amazing to me. It really is. I don't take any glory myself at all. But to have been chosen to be a part of that... what a great feeling. I would absolutely love to be a part of something like that

again. Be it this tour, if it's the next Michael Sweet solo record, if it's another band... whatever. But it's an incredible thing to be out there and you have the crowd basically in your hand and the opportunity to share with them and they're giving you their undevoted attention. That's an incredible feeling. Q: How does it make you feel when you step out on the stage and realize people still remember you after all these years and that you’ve touched so many people’s lives? A: It’s really humbling. I mean for some reason, we’ve just stopped trying to figure it out but… for some reason, God chose us to do what we do. So much has been accomplished by the band over the years and to step out onto a stage and see how it’s effected people’s lives, the positive effect that it has had and the lives it’s changed is just really humbling because it could have been anybody! It could have been you, it could have been my next door neighbor and we were just four anybody’s because we’re all the same in God’s eyes and we don’t know why he chose us, but he did and it really is touching to see what has happened over the years. Q: Any regrets? A: Yeah, my biggest regret would be the “Against The Law” period… but I’ve learned a lot from it. And the biggest regret is probably what we put our wives through, what I put my wife through at that time. Just having an attitude, not giving her the time that she deserved and really running her through the mill. It wasn’t a good period and if I could go back and do it all again, I certainly would. But the good thing is that we both learned a lot from it. It strengthened our relationship in some ways. We’re still here, we’re surviving and we’re still happily married and it’s going on twenty years now. Q: You have a very large fan base and they want to see you performing live, any dates planned? A: We are touring. We’re touring the states in September, October and November and then internationally in January and February of 2010. We post all of our dates at MRF | 5

Band: Outloud Album: Outloud Interview with: Chandler Mogel / Tony Kash Interviewed by: Primo Bonali / D. Jamieson

Question: Hi guys! How are you? First of all, my biggest congratulations for your amazing debutalbum!!!! I rated it as “the” debut-album of the year!!!! How do you feel to get great feedbacks and good reviews? Proud of your work, right? Chandler: Thank you! That’s very kind of you! We are very proud of it, pumped actually! We have all been working non-stop day and night to get the word out about Outloud. And all of the feedback that has come back already has been amazing. So many nice things from so many great people! Q: So, let’s start with a short history of the band. Who put together the band? Who is the “engine” behind Outloud? Tony: Everything started when I was looking around for band members to create a hard rock band and that’s when I met Bob. After writing together enough songs for an album, Focus on:

6 | MRF

we both agreed that it's time to form a real hard rock band. First a singer was needed, and that’s when Bob remembered someone he had met in New York City, singer Chandler Mogel. He seemed to be just the right guy. The three of us came along just fine together and finished the album and right after that Bob called his bandmate and friend Mark Cross to be the drummer of the band. Finally I gave the position of the bass player to my best friend Jason Mercury. As for who is the engine of Outloud, I'll say that every one has his post and is doing something to push the band forward, but everything started from Bob and me. I've been the core of the whole idea, and Bob for giving to the songs flesh and bones and actually helping to put the band together. Q: Your album sounds energetic, powerful and melodic from the first note to the very last one. Which are your most important

OUTLOUD - Outloud (Frontiers Records)

influences, musically talking? It looks like you've been strongly influenced by the '80s Melodic Rock in general, am I right? T: I always dreamed to form a hard rock band on that exact thought: 80's melodic hard rock which would sound energetic and as powerful as possible. It’s been the core of the music, with influences that come out straight from the hard 80's rock area and with combination of Bob's more modern influences and playing comes the result of the Outloud album’s music. A modern kind of sound of 80's hard rock which by listening to the album you can see exactly what I mean. C: The bands which influenced me are quite varied. I am mostly influenced by 70s hard rock / heavy metal and believe it or not, funk and soul! I love bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest but also love Tower of Power, Stevie Wonder and so on. As far as singers

There’s been a large promotional push behind this debut offering from Outloud and deservedly so. It’s a corker! Bob Katsionis and Mark Cross from Firewind, Greek mates Tony Kash and Jason Mercury, and American Chandler Mogel (Talon) combine to make a marvellous mix of melody, European Metal and American AOR. Imagine the latter day muscular sound of Danger Danger, with touches of Talon, TNT and Prisoner of Paradise era Europe. It’s a great band effort but Mogel is the star of the show. He might be a skinny guy but his voice is massive here; integrating hard rock power with perfect pop rock hooks. Highlights are aplenty, “We Run”, possesses so much infectious energy it would get Homer Simpson off the couch and into the Olympic squad. “Tonight” has glorious pomp keyboards while “This Broken Heart” is the type of ballad Joey Tempest once conquered America with. The title track is Rainbow’s “Death Alley Driver” with added vroom. It’s all wrapped up in Tommy Hansen’s production which is so in your face it gives the songs a real modern edge. This is easily one of the melodic rock highlights of the year so far. Bruce E.J. Atkinson (95/100)

go, to be a little more specific, my main influence is Tony Harnell from TNT, as he was my teacher. I also love guys like Glenn Hughes and Joe Lynn Turner. Freddie Mercury and even Bobby Darin I love so much. I could never stop learning from those guys. Q: The production job on the record is terrific Tommy Hansen (Pretty Maids, TNT and Helloween) has done you proud. What do you think of the production? C: We couldn’t be happier. Bob has done most of the producing here, and Tommy mixed and mastered the record. He is totally responsible for bringing out the edge of the record that we wanted and we feel very lucky to have crossed paths with him. Q: Track number 3, “Tonight”, starts with a keyboard-part that… hmmm… you’ve “taken” off Bon Jovi’s very first album… you are aware of it, right?:) C: Yeah, we’re aware of it…:)It didn’t really happen intentionally, just that Tony and Bob were like writing machines during the first stages of Outloud and just churning out one song after another, and Bon Jovi is one of both of their favorites, so, c’est la vie! LOL Q: Where your monicker, Outloud, comes from? Any particular meaning behind it? T: I remember going to Bob's studio and just announcing to him the name Outloud! Bob thought that it was so inspired yet typical classic as the music that we were making, so that was it! Q: Which are the themes you're dealing with, lyrically talking, in your album? C: Well, most are just inspired by the essence of good times rock and roll. :) But I will tell you that three of the songs on the record I wrote about my ex-girlfriend. We had just broken up and I was feeling some pretty heavy stuff, so I guess it was a blessing in disguise that that happened in the first place.......! Q: Would you like to tell me something about the front-cover artwork? C: Sure! The girl on the cover is a good friend of Jason’s, she is a model in Greece and also sings in a local band there. Bob did the artwork and design, and the photography was done by a wonderful and talented man named Stavros (see the CD sleeve for his last name) at his studio in the south of Athens. Q: How did you get in touch with Frontiers Records? Have you received other record-deals offers apart of the Frontiers one (btw, you made a good choice!!!)? C: Thank you! We agree. Well, we were going to sign with Angelmilk, which is a label out of England. The deal was all but inked, but at the last minute I decided to give Frontiers an e-mail as they were the band’s first idea, since we knew the music was right up their alley. Serafino really dug it… and the rest is history! Q: How do you feel about the power of Internet, and the effect it is having on bands and the music industry in general? T: It helps bands to promote themselves. Each band wants the maximum attention and respect that it can get and the internet is giving them that opportunity. Internet is giving a boost towards that especially with myspace and you can see also the response that you have and have a first taste of what people think about your songs. It gives you a boost for the outside but what’s really important is getting them to know you and win their respect the way that a band really needs. A band achieves that with the image, the inspiration and most importantly live shows and that‘s what we are intending to do!!!! Q: Any touring plans? T: Things are a bit tight at this time. We are working on the release of the album that's coming out late this summer. But when it's out we definitely are going to have some shows and start planning a tour right after the end of this year while also finishing our second album. MRF | 7

Band: Mind Key Album: Pulse For A Graveheart Interview with: D. De Cicco / E. Colella Interviewed by: Bruce E.J. Atkinson Question I would like to start with the obvious…why so long between the first album and “Pulse For A Graveheart”? Emanuele: Ok, you’re right... now are precisely 5 years from the first album. But it’s really important to remember that we made 2 European tours, recorded a Live DVD ( “Habemus Poland”) in the meantime. We have worked so much on Live performances and arrangements of all new songs as well. However, I think it was a great growing up moment for us. Each one of us (all together, fortunately) has developed an own musical way at the same time: I like to say, “more mature point of view”. “P.F.A.G.” is an album which shows a new sound, isn’t a typical metal progressive one, it has a lot of hard rock influencies more with some stronger metal moment as well. Every songs are composed inspired by the stunning voice of Aurelio Fierro (our new singer) that sings - as you can hear I suppose – so close to Coverdale, Dio and Lande... And obviously, the songs have a real more “hard taste” now :). Q: Realising the change in the members of the band, are things more settled now? Dario: Eh eh eh... It’s a million dollar question, Bruce! Well, The only thing I can say is that Aurelio was the only one musical choice for Mind Key. It is not a secret that we have some problems about our line up in these years. But since when we met Aurelio for the first time, something was changed for us. We

immediately fell in love with his powerful voice and Aurelio immediately loved our songs and musical ideas. And it has been natural for him to come back at his “natural” rock home :). We hope that Mind Key follow their career with this line up that We retain the ideal one...We have only to find the fifth element...but we could announce his name really soon. Q: Again, something that is quite obvious with MindKey… you love to perform live. What if any challenges are there that face you when performing your music? D: Absolutely! Playing live is a fundamental part of our musical activity. I think it’s a right balancing between studio and live activities, but it’s impossible to deny what great sensations live performances can give! Anyway, on the stage Mind Key have to face first of all their songs. Notwithstanding our songs – especially the newer one – appears like some simply tracks showing the typical structure (verse, bridge, refrain etc.), they have some really complex tissues, very difficult to execute. Naturally other great challenge is to face off the crowd...But really exciting in the meanwhile. Our fans can gift us the right “impetus” to make us be able to play at our best! Some moments on tour will always be unforgettable!! Q: This new album sounds stronger, and displays more confidence… would you care to comment? E: P.F.A.G. is an album which shows the fans a new sound. As I told you before it

isn’t a typical metal progressive platter, but has some hard rock influencies more with strong metal moment and AOR ones. I’m happy to know that you consider Mind Key more mature than before and I think that just the new song-writing has helped these changes. For my personal performances I can’t forget to thank, Rash Guitars (Italian guitar label)!! I’ve used Rash Guitar model to record this album and the stronger sound you can hear has his source in this mark. Now I’m an official Rash Guitars endorser with a signature model that will be on market on july in the meanwhile of the release of “Pulse for a Graveheart”. Now that “Pulse….” Is out, what are your plans? Where will you be touring and who with? E: We are planning to do another European tour... we are in contact with a couple of bands.. I’d like to reserve their names :) The only thing that I can tell you in advance is that could probably be bands of the Frontiers roster! Q: I know that it is not fair to ask about the third album, however this record is very powerful… can we expect more of the same in a shorter frame of time? E: NO, it’s impossible! We make an album every 5 years cause in that moment there is a meeting between astral forces that give us the “composing illumination”!!:) I’m kidding obviously!! However we will make what we will feel in that moment (I hope that could be very soon :) )

Focus on: MIND KEY - Pulse For A Graveheart (Frontiers Records)

8 | MRF

It’s been almost five years since the debut of Mind Key. “Pulse For A Graveheart” is a suite of songs with intricate musical structures that blend and bend into a most powerful musical soundscape. Being that this is the group’s second effort… the music contained within shows a high degree of maturity. Full of melody, and patterns that fit perfectly together, Mind Key continues to expand the boundaries of Progressive Metal. A five piece, Mind Key creates a strong and prevailing wall of sound that flows evenly… highlighting the intricacies’ of each musical nuance. This is not the progressive music generally we face, this is a well balanc between melodic rock, heavy metal and catchy music that for sure will let you spend great time and will “force” you to have more and more spins. “Pulse For A Graveheart” may have taken more than the usual time to produce, but rejoice! ‘cause it is finally here!Bruce E.J. Atkinson (95/100)

Band: Howard Leese Album: Secret Weapon Interview with: Howard Leese Interviewed by: Bruce E. J. Atkinson Question: I would like to begin by stating that I have personally been searching for new material from you for a long time, and “Secret Weapon” has simply blown me away! A fantastic work of music! Howard, you must have had some of these songs with you for a long time. What urged you to release them now? A: I'm so glad you like Secret Weapon. I wanted to document where I was now as an artist, so all the music was written specifically for this project. Q: “Secret Weapon” is so strong and a muscular statement of music… yet, especially, in your instrumentals… it seems that you are wearing your heart on your sleeve, as musically some passages are so fragile… A: The music ranges from heavy power trio rock to full orchestral sections to "fragile" acoustic guitar passages, and that's all in one song! Q: Let us in on what it was like working with such great talent as Joe Lynn Turner, Paul Rodgers and Deanna Johnston… Now, did the above, and Jimi and the other Vocalists contribute in the creative end as well? A: I worked with some of the best rock singers alive, and I wanted Focus on:

them to be singing their own words, so all the singers wrote their vocal. The one exception is "The Vine," which was a poem by Jaime Kyle that I set to music. Paul Rodgers, Joe Lynn Turner and the other singers all worked to finished tracks. It sounds like you have a solid band surrounding you as well. … and knowing that you are a multi-instrumentalist, who all played on “Secret Weapon”? A: I play all the instruments except for the drums, which are played by the amazing Mark Shulman. Keith Emerson plays piano on French Quarter, and Paul Reed Smith plays guiatr on 33 West St. Q: Let’s talk about Heart... What is some of your favorite music that you've written for Heart? And your favourite album? A: I like the string charts. I'd have to think to name my favorite sting charts. But pretty much I'm proud of all that stuff. Really the main things that I compose for the band are my guitar solos. Most of our arranged and thought out original melodies that aren't the vocal melodies, I usually come up with. Some of my favorite solos are "Secret," "I Didn't Want To Need You," "Alone," "What About Love." There's a lot of them. The ones that sing. The ones that have melodies that you end up hum-

HOWARD LEESE - Secret Weapon

ming after you hear the song. My favorite Heart album is Brigade. Just because we did it with Richie Zito and he's a guitar player. He played with Elton John for awhile. He gave me the most freedom guitar wise. I think it's one of our best records. My favorite song... there are two of them, "Mistral Wind" and "Wait For An Answer" on Bad Animals, the Lisa Dal Bello song. I thought we did a good job on that and Ann just kills it. That one still gives me chills when I listen to it. "Wait For An Answer" was a lot of fun to play live because it changed keys 5 times. I like playing "Alone" live now the way we do it with the classical guitar. Q: Will you be taking this wondrous collection on the road? If so, where can we hope to see you perform? A: I start a BAD CO. Tour tomorrow, so I don't have plans to perform this music live right now. Q: As I stated in my first question… I’ve just been blown away by your music… first cheers to you, and please leave us with some parting words! A: You can find Secret Weapon at on July 3rd, or you can find info on advance orders at www. myspace / howardleese.

(Frontiers Records)

Howard Leese, an original guitarist for Heart and more recently with The Paul Rodgers Band…has released a scorcher of an album! Although clocking in at only forty some odd minutes, “Secret Weapon” is dripping with hot guitar licks, muscular rhythms and tasteful teasers that display the wide and varied talents and musical stylings of this legendary musician. Surrounding himself with equally top notch players and singers…this musical journey will leave you wanting more and more! Joe Lynn Turner, Paul Rodgers, Deanna Johnston and Jimi Jamison are just some of Howard’s friends that contribute their talents and share their passion for great music. Coupled with Mr. Leese’s musical prowess, “Secret Weapon” will surprise and sensationalise you! The instrumental pieces are nothing but breathtaking. A musical statement that has been a long time coming… Howard Leese is set to turn on many ars and just as many heads with this summer’s “Secret Weapon”. Bruce E.J. Atkinson (90/100)

MRF | 9

Band: Crash The System Album: The Crowning Interview with: Sören Kronqvist Interviewed by: Barry McMinn

Question: Firstly what a great album in The Crowning? Answer: Thank you! We are really pleased with it. It sounds like we wanted it to sound and André Beckston did a fantastic job with all the artwork. Q: When did you first come up with the idea of Crash The System? SK: First we were supposed to do only one song, but after lots of positive response from labels regarding the first song (All Because Of You) the next week we recorded three more songs and I got a record deal the following week. Q: When you were putting the album together did you instantly think of the vocalists for the album or did they come later? A: After submitting the next three songs and receiving positive respons, we asked the record company what they thought about having multiple vocalists on the album and they thought it was a good idea. Thanks to Daniel Flores' extensive background and good reputation we managed to get four of the best hard rock singers in Sweden to sing on the album, which is an honor especially interesting since only two of them have been on the same album before. We got the singers we wanted for the album. Q: Did you ever consider using just one vocalist for the album? A: No, it was always an idea of using multiple vocalists. We wanted the variety. Nowadays it seems like a slightly bigger focus on songs and not as much as before on complete albums. Of course, many still see albums as full albums, but with Focus on:

10 | MRF

mp3 players, downloads, etc the younger generation seem to listen more to individual songs and to their own playlists than to whole albums. Q: The album is a great mix of traditional Melodic Rock/AOR with some fine Hard Rock moments and just a touch of Metal, was it your intention from the beginning for the album to such a diverse mix of styles? A: I grew up as a teenager in the 80's and all the 80's era has influenced me greatly. I still listen to records from the 80's. To me it is one of the finest moments in music with a lot of sound development, improved sound recording, big productions, etc. Additionally I like more modern stuff as well, lkie Within Temptation, Nightwish and bands in that style. Therefore, we thought, why not do a combination of these? We decided to do some 80's hard rock with a touch of modern metal here and there... Q: As well as some outstanding vocal talent you also enlisted some fine musicianship for the album, again how did these guys get involved with the project? A: Daniel Flores has worked with all of the people on the album before, either in other bands, projects, live or in writing sessions, etc. Daniel brought in all the people. He did a fantastic job with that. Q: The album is a refreshing change to hear such varied style on one album is there another album in the pipeline? A: We could record album number two tomorrow if I had the money to do it. We

have 15-20 songs already, but I will write about 10 more and most likely a few more with Daniel also. Then Daniel will pick out the 12-13 he thinks can work together. I will of course suggest a few myself. We have also talked about different options for vocalists and other guest musicians for album number two. I guess everything will be clearer in a couple of months. Q: Over the past couple of years there has been an influx of album with made to measure bands do you think this the way forward for musicians and vocalists? A: Not sure if I understood the question correctly (to measure bands?), but I think it is always good to find new ways of promoting one's music, finding new ways of reaching out to the people regardless if it is through projects, bands or whatever. Q: There are some really great tracks on the album for instance ‘All Because Of You’, ‘I Still Believe In Love’ and ‘Without Chances’ just a few of my favourites, but is there one track that stands out to you as one your really proud of? A: "All Becuase Of You" will always have a special place in my heart since it was the song that broke the ice for us. As many other people have said, it is difficult to pick out A favorite songon this album. The songs are fairly close in quality I think. Either one likes most of them or one does not like any of them. I do like the guitar riff on "Without Chances", the song "Fight Fire With Fire", the verse of "Take A Chance", many of the catchy choruses, etc.

CRASH THE SYSTEM - The Crowning (Frontiers Records) When two song writing and musical giants like Daniel Flores and Soren Kronqvist come together the world of Melodic Rock better take notice, because there is going to be an almighty bang, or is this case a Crash. More precise Crash The System their new collaboration, but there’s not just these two titans involved in one, if not the best Melodic/Hard Rock albums of the year, they have taken the cream of Swedish Melodic and Metal vocal world along for the ride. With Goran Edman, John Norum, Mats Leven, Bjorn Vikstrom and Bjorn Jansson’s lead vocals and Angelica Rylin providing backing vocals on this tremendous album, along with the talents of Johan Neimann, Daniel Palmqvist, Manuel Lewys and Andreas Lindahl lending the musical talents to Flores and Kronqvist’s own, this is a mouth watering package indeed. The album mixes great melodies and harmonies with some stirring guitar riffs and mountainous rhythm sections. All featured on an album that has more layers and styles than a Manhattan Winter, with some great tracks like the hard rocking opener ‘Fight Fire With Fire’, the superb ‘All Because of You’, the excellent ballad ‘Love Is In Your Eyes’ and one of my personal favourite ‘Without Chances’. This album will appeal to all lovers of great Melodic/Hard Rock and those who like a little Prog in their lives, but most of all to lovers of great rock music because this one has it all. Barry Mc Minn (95/100)

Mario de Riso: How does it feel to be back with Ted on vocals with new songs after such a long time? Bruno Ravel: It feels natural, like when we recorded our first album. Ted and I have a great working relationship in the studio, so it was just a matter of getting to work and getting the best performances out of him. I think this is the best he’s ever sounded… on any record. MdR: How would you describe the new songs and sound of the new record? BR: I think it’s the best collection of songs we’ve ever assembled. There are no “filler” tracks. Having said that, the sound is a bit updated, yet still retro and very “Danger Danger” sounding. Anytime you hear Ted sing, you immediately think... “Hey, that’s Danger Danger!” MdR: Are there any touring plans in Europe that you have in mind at the moment? BR: Yes, we plan to tour to support this record in

the coming months. MdR: Some words to explain the delay in the recording would also be very appreciated by the fans, I am sure, since we did receive a lot of letters about it. I heard that many fans were writing to Frontiers and asking “Where is the new Danger Danger CD? Why is it taking so long?” BR: Well, to be honest with you all, there were many attributing factors that led to the long delay, many of them personal and I won’t discuss those. I can say that on my end, I did become a father for the first time some 15 months ago and it was a major life change and a huge adjustment for me to concentrate on this album and tend to my family’s needs at the same time. I know that’s no excuse, because we should have had the record finished before then, but that was my end of the hold up. I only hope that after listening to the new album, you’ll all feel it was worth the wait! MRF | 11

REECE - Universal Language (Metal Heaven)

HEARTLYNE - No Retreat No Surrender (YesterRock)

While I have never given any importance to David Reece’s brief stint with Accept (he recorded with them a couple of albums after UDO left in the 80’s), he left an impressive mark on me with the awesome Bangalore Choir debut, where he showcased a really ballsy and bluesy voice. He disappeared in the dark years of the 90’s before coming back fronting the Swedish hard rock combo Gypsy Rose. Now he goes for the solo route with a bunch of German musos, which include Stefan Schwarzmann (ex Accet as well) on drums. The result is a pleasant Hard Rock album with melodic hooks and some bluesy elements that goes down really well like a fresh glass of beer. Before I Die (a very cool opening track with a strong guitar riff and a superb hook), Fantasy Man (an AOR number reminiscent of Danny Vaughn/From the Inside sound) and Flesh and Blood (again not too far from Danny Vaughn recent solo effort “Traveller”, but with a more melodic hook) are the highlights of the album, but all the 12 songs on offer here showcase muscles, melodies and crisp clean production. Vitale Nocerino (75/100)

Dating back to 1987, and originally unreleased, I was expecting a curio at best, an indication of the fledging talents of Tommy Heart and Chris Lyne who went onto bigger things with Fair Warning and Soul Doctor. However this record comes fully formed; Tommy Heart’s vocals are already commanding, if a little higher in register. The songs especially “Starlight”, “All Over the World”, “Strike an Arrow” and the title track contain great memorable hooks, with the then de rigour huge keyboard sound and wailing guitar, similar in style to Vital Signs and Airrace. In a time when record companies were fighting to sign any band with big hair, Heartlyne can think themselves unlucky to have missed the gravy train. It’s very much a product of its time, but that’s part of its charm. Perhaps the production, especially the drums which sound like Karsten Krause was having to play on biscuit tins rather than a proper drum kit, shows its age but for lovers of pompy 80s AOR and fans of Tommy Heart this is an unearthed treasure that you’ll want to add to your music collection. (Duncan Jamieson 85/100)

Everyone who’s into the whole Melodic Rock scene has a deep felt yearning for those heady 80’s days, when the scene ruled the airwaves and we had a worldwide stage where the music we love was king. But these days have long since gone by and will probably never come back, but from time to time we are treat to some nostalgia trips when lost or forgotten gems from that era are unearthed and put on to CD for our enjoyment. This self-titled debut from the Ron Bolton Band is one of those such gems. This the bands one and only album, which was self-financed, with the band selling copies at their shows and their local Tower Records store. The album is a true slice of the era with its gentle AOR harmonies that were the mainstay of the time, together with some quite special moments in the shape of ‘Maybe I’m Dreaming’ and ‘Search Of The Kind’, being just two of them. As a new album this won’t draw in much interest but as a slice of nostalgia this is a must, but albums like these just make you wonder what if…! Barry McMinn (75/100)

What can one say, or write, concerning this pedigree of UK musicians, without using such terms as: Majestic—Inspirational—Grand and Exceptional? …well, nothing… as this quintet, after thirty plus years, continues to conjure up all of these descriptive words, and then some! “Into The Valley Of The Moonking” is Magnum’s majestic offering for 2009. It’s also surprising, as some passages show a side of Magnum seldom seen…a harder & edgier side. Like all Magnum material, “Into The Valley…” is a varied affair. A diverse creative work that touches upon the epic. Tony’s lyrics tackle social conditions and human situations with the same sensitivity and insight we have come accustomed to. The music and arrangements are, indeed, grand in scale and Mr. Catley’s vocals take each composition aloft, creating inspirational story-scapes and atmospheres that drip with emotion. Listening to “Into The Valley…” brings one into a magical and mystical musical land that will continually excite the aural senses and stimulate the imagination. Magnum continues to create such rich musical themes…they are simply awe inducing! Yes, “Into The Valley Of The Moonking” is yet another epic musical statement from these five Royals of contemporary musicians. Bruce E.J. Atkinson (90/100)

This is vintage UFO! “The Visitor ” is actually the group’s 20th studio album— and it shows in its depth and smoothness. Great hard rock/blues licks married to tasteful vocals and rhythms. The Visitor is one that you will want to stay for a long-long time! The large & ballsy rocked out blues sound pushes this record—pulsating through and through. A very tight performance, ‘The Visitor’ breathes… almost a ‘live’ off the floor sound! This is no background musical collection!... once this album finds its way onto your stereo system, it will make everyone take notice! Straight from the opening guitar on the first cut—UFO sets a driving, intense groove that does not let up. The group plans a large number of gigs this year, and the material on “The Visitor” promises to propel those live performances to the upper stratosphere!! Bruce E.J. Atkinson (85/100)

If I still had to explain who Chicketfoot are, then I would suggest you were reading the wrong website! So I will pass on the history lesson for hard rock's newest “supergroup”, but it is safe to say that they are, by pedigree, truly deserving of the term.To say the hype machine was in overdrive for the debut album from Sammy Hagar, Chad Smith, Joe Satriani and Michael Anthony is an understatement. The album doesn't have the hit song attitude of Balance or For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, but what I love about this release the most is the sheer brilliance of the musicianship on each song. The interplay between Anthony and Smith and the flurry of riffs and soloing from Satriani mixed with Hagar's undeniable energy make for an electric record. If you're in the mood, this album's got the groove. I will say though - the packaging although a novelty - is absolute shit. If you are going to do something special, make it look a little better than a piece of cardboard with a CD wedged in-between. Andrew McNeice (90/100)

RON BOLTON BAND - The Ron Bolton Band (Avenue Of Allies)

UFO - The Visitor (SPV)

12 | MRF

MAGNUM - Into The Valley Of The Moonking (SPV)

CHICKENFOOT - Chickenfoot (EarMusic)

JUDAS PRIEST - A Touch Of Evil: Live (Sony)

VOICES OF ROCK - High & Mighty (Metal Heaven)

Metal Gods are back? Yes, but not on this release. Not at all, anyway. According to the press release, “A Touch Of Evil:Live” was meant to include “fanrevered album cuts, all previously unreleased in live form on CD”… but - at the end where are they? Some of them (for example, “A Touch of Evil”, “Painkiller”, “Beyond the Realms of Death”, etc. have been included on previous live albums) and two of them (“Death” and “Prophecy”) are taken off the last controversial album “Nostradamus”, so the offer is not “that” rich. Moreover, with the crowded discography Priests have created in their successful career, why have they opted for a 1CD format, instead of a full double Cd release? Finally, I personally do not love this kind of live-albums with songs taken off different concerts, fade-in and fade-outs between tracks, and different live-atmospheres. That said, Priest is still one of the best Heavy Metal bands around and some of their songs are still considered as real Metal-hymns… unfortunately, only of few of them can be found here! To say it all, a missed chance… Primo Bonali (75/100)

Here we are with the second chapter of the all star rock band Voices Of Rock. The structure of the album is almost the same of the previous debut cd; the music and the production are all done by Chris Lausmann (Bonfire, Jaded Heart) and Michael Voss (Mad Max, Michael Schenker). The new effort is called ´High & Mighty´ and combines catchy melodies with a raunchy driven sound at the finest.The cast of singers features this time supreme artists like: Rob Rock (Driver, ARP, Impellitteri), Joe Lynn Turner (ex-Deep Purple, ex-Rainbow), Mitch Malloy, David Reece (exAccept/Bangalore Choir), Bert Heerink (ex-Vandenberg), Torben Schmidt (Ex-Skagarack), Paul Sabu (Only Child), Tony Martin (exBlack Sabbath), Paul Shortino (ex-Quiet Riot/Rough Cutt) and Tony Mills (TNT, Shy). The Music is huge and traditional heavy hard rock and some moments remind me Raibow, Dio and Bonfire. Highlights of the album are the opener “Into The Light”, the second and very melodic song “Shame On You” and “Lay You Down The Rest”. The limited first edition digi-pack will include the bonus track “Maniac” sung by Michael Voss. Vitale Nocerino (90/100)

Frozen Rain is the project of Kurt Vereecke who wanted to make a Melodic Rock album worthy of his contemporary’s and inspirations. So if you’re going to do a great Melodic Rock album then why not enlist some of the biggest names in the field, so take a bow Tommy Denander, Daniel Flores, Steve Newman, Jim Santos and Ollie Oldenburg. So what about the album, does it live up the reputations of the players involved? OH YES, this is pure-bred Melodic Rock. Great melodies, harmony after great harmony and superb vocals, all the right ingredients for a classic. With such superb offerings as ‘Wire Of Love’ and ‘Red Light Zone’ on which Joham Waen excels vocally, there are also other tracks of note have to be ‘Music Keeps Me Alive’, with Maurice Saelmans taking up the mike for this one. But there is so much more to this album than the above songs, take my word for it, there are twelve tracks that will satisfy even the hardest critics in the scene, so if you like some great Melodic Rock then reach out and touch the Frozen Rain. Barry McMinn (80/100)

GEFF is a new all star group featuring some of Sweden’s finest and most talented heavy metal and hard rock musicians: Göran Edman (vocals), Anders Johansson (drums), Mats Olausson (keyboards) and Per Stadin (bass). They have joined forces with guitarist and songwriter talent Ralf Jedestedt who makes his record debut with this album. Ralf is the actual brain behind GEFF. The final result is a great melodic rock album with incredible vocals and amazing variety of melodies. Since I’m a great Goran Edman fan I was really curious to listen to this album and finally Goran has found the right place to give total expression to his colours and fades. All melodic lovers have to buy this album and spend some great moments with GEFF! Vitale Nocerino (80/100)

FROZEN RAIN - Frozen Rain (Avenue Of Allies)

UDO - Dominator (AFM Records)

First with Accept then with U.D.O Udo Dirkschneider’s gargling razor blades voice is one of the most distinctive in Metal. He’s recently declined to rejoin Accept and on the strength of this album, he doesn’t need them. With no discernable drop in quality, he churns out traditional metal albums with commendable regularity. It’s manly metal and the customary, monstrous riffed anthems are here with “The Bogeyman”, “Dominator” and “Doom Rides” which are as catchy as they are heavy. Initial single “Infected” is, dare I say it, infectious. There’s the usual crowd sing-along fare with the, quite frankly, camp “Heavy Metal Heaven” and a metal show tune in “Devil’s Rendezvous”. The closer, “Whisper In The Dark”, is a dark ballad offering a respite from the riffage. No massive surprises then, but that’s not why you buy an UDO album. You buy it safe in the knowledge that you’re getting top drawer Teutonic metal from a man who helped invent the whole metal genre. Nice (or should that be nasty) one! (Duncan Jamieson 88/100)

GEFF - Land Of The Free (Metal Heaven)

LOADSTAR - Calls From Outer Space (Code)

In the firmament above Naples shines Loadstar. This five piece play thrash metal owing a debt to the traditional metal scene of the early 80s. This is their first full length record, having released some demos in the mid 80s before their star burned out. Their star shot back into the skies in 2002 when they reformed, recruiting Entropy singer Arnaldo Laghi. They shine brightest when Riccardo Napoli and Stefano Guercia the twin guitarists are given free reign to riff hard and play their widdly spacey solos like “Shotgun Messiah”, “Voodoo Star” and “Alien World”. What works less well are Laghi’s vocals. It’s almost like he’s dueting with himself on some tracks due to his change of tone between lines and I’m not sure if that is deliberate or not. BTW this is just a personal note and I’m sure all metal fans will enjoy the album and will give a lot of spins to the cd. Duncan Jamieson (60/100) MRF | 13

Band: Fair Warning Album: Aura Interview with: Ule Ritgen Interviewed by: Duncan Jamieson

Question: How’s life? Answer: We just have returned from a promotion tour in Japan and the reaction was amazing. The album entered the top ten of the national charts there, and that´s a nice reassurance after many month of recording... Q: Your comeback record “Brother’s Keeper” was well received. With “Aura” your signature sound is still there but the overall sound continues to mature nicely. How do you feel “Aura” differs from Fair Warning’s previous outings? A: For me, ´Aura´ seems to be the consquent next step after ´Brothers Keeper´. Yes, I agree, all the typical FW elements are still there, but ´Aura´ is even more focused and we´ve matured as writers and players. Beside that, everybody is playing much more free and there´s a natural flow of inspiration. Q: What about the album title? A: When we were talking about albumtitles, Helge came up with the idea of using ´Aura´ Focus on:

14 | MRF

and we all liked it. For me, the ´aura´ is an emanation which all living beings, like humans, animals, plants and even matter like stones etc. have. It represents and manifests certain inner qualities and powers, good or bad and is perceivable - you can feel it or even see it, if you are sensitive enough. Also each piece of work or art, that we create, has an ´aura´ which contains and reflects the intentions, emotions, the sincererity and depth, as well as the inspiration, craftsmanship, love and wisdom, which we managed to put in there. All the ´magic´ power of music, which is able to overcome all language and culture barriers, because it speaks directly from heart to heart, works through the ´auric´ craftfield... Q: It’s a real cohesive album that gets stronger with each listen and it contains some of your best material to date. Which tracks are you particularly pleased with? A: Thanks for the compliment! Maybe it´s still a little too early to ask me about that, the

FAIR WARNING - Aura (Metal Heaven)

album is still too close for me to be a good judge here. I think, overall the album offers a very good mixture of all our qualities as a band as well as our individual strenghts. Q: Has your approach to the studio changed over the years or do you have a work pattern that you’ve stuck with? A: Well, on the whole we´re approaching the studiowork much more relaxed than in earlier times, experience is the keyword. These days we seem to avoid work patterns more and more and instead try to approach each trackmore individually, letting the music take the lead. Q: You’re all busy guys with Dreamtide or Soul Doctor. What does Fair Warning have that those other bands don’t? A: I think it´s chemistry and a unique mixture of talent, which become effective as soon as the four of us work together. Q: With Dreamtide and Soul Doctor do you find yourselves coming up with songs and sometimes thinking, “I like that, but it

Their second album since they reformed in 2006, this sees the band continue to hone their song writing craft. This is genuine adult rock. Fair Warning are wise and confident enough to know that they don’t have to bludgeon the listener over the head with metal to get their message across. Instead, they coerce you into liking their songs through great musicianship and canny arrangements. There isn’t a single poor track. “Here Comes The Heartache” is as good as anything Fair Warning have ever recorded. “Hey Girl” has a great guitar outro, after its slow building acoustic intro and “Don’t Count On Me” has an unusual guitar sound that adds colour and would be a radio hit in a saner world. Tommy Heart’s in great voice and Helge Engelke’s distinctive guitar sees him adding a tasty, lengthy solo on “Walking On Smiles” and “Somehow” has him flirting successfully with a very Brian May solo. There are some great melodic releases at the moment but if you looking for sophisticated adult rock then “Aura” will fulfil your needs with some panache. Duncan Jamieson (90/100)

would work better with Fair Warning” and put the song aside for later and vice versa? A: You would have to ask Helge or Tommy for that, but to my recollection none of the two has ever mentioned anything in that vain. When we work on a new FW album, everybody seems to be starting from scratch, taking it as a real challenge to deliver only his best effort... Q: The Fair Warning CDs were re-released not so long ago and as we speak Tommy’s old band Heartlyne have a great CD of old recordings coming out. It’s great that there’s renewed interest in this kind of music. How does it feel to hear all your old stuff? A: Most of the time I really enjoy listening to our earlier albums. It brings back fond memories and a lot of the older FW material still stands as strong as ever, yet on the other hand you notice as well, how much each of us has grown and matured. Q: How well do you think that material stands up now and how differently are you musically now? A: As I said, ´Fair Warning´, ´Rainmaker´, ´Go!´ or ´Four´, for me, all are standing the test of time, there are a lot of good songs there, that still work fine. I think, one of our strongholds is, that FW have always remained faithful to our own style, we´ve never tried to reshape our music according to fashion, but followed our hearts instead. Having said that, I feel it´s important, not to look back too much, because that will block your inspiration sooner or later. I believe in evolution, which means, building a bridge from the past to the future by staying awake to the challenges of the present and I hope, that reflects in our music... Q: You have a reputation for recording albums in unusual places that create a suitable vibe (or should I say “Aura”?). The last record you recorded in a big mansion of a record company CEO. Where did you record this one? A:This time we found a 400 years old castle in the countryside, where we recorded a lot of the album. It feels nice, to work in the tranquility of such a place, there´s no disturbance and you can really dig into the athmosphere of the music since time seems to stand still around you... Q: Melody has always been the keyword in your music. What's your secret in liaising melody with power? A: I ´ve always loved the dramatic and powerful elements of rock, like thundering backbeats and mighty guitar riffs - you can create huge and impressive scenarios with them, if you think of ´Kashmir´ of Led Zeppelin for example. But for me, only the focus of a strong melody or vocal line puts it all into perspective, because it represents the self , its pain or joy, its acting or contemplating, its failing or succeeding. I guess that´s why, when I´m writing songs, the melody or melodic lines always come first... Q: With the last album you toured Japan and Europe. Can the Fair Warning faithful expect to see you live soon to promote this record? A: Our management is sorting out various offers from different countries at the moment. All I can say right now is, chances are not bad to see ´Fair Warning´ live this time... Q: Anything you want to say to your fans through Melodic Rock Fanzine? A: Check out `Aura´, it sure is worth a try... We hope, you´ll like it as much as we do. MRF | 15

Band: Optimystical Album: Distant Encounters Interview with: Robin Vagh Interviewed by: Gregor Klee Question: Robin, the album “Distant Encounters“ of your new project “Optimystical” continues your celebration of 80s AOR and Melodic Rock, that was already heard on the two “Vagh” albums. Please tell us a bit about your musical influences. Answer: My first hard rock experience took place in the mid 70´s with the likes of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. I soon discovered AOR through Styx, Journey and Kansas. I really like the melodic touch the AOR bands added to their songs, but I also loved the great riffs by the now legendary big three. Later on I discovered the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and the development of Scandi Hard Rock with Europe and Treat and such likes. I’ve also been keen on following the continental style with all the German, Dutch and Swiss bands. Scorpions, Accept, Vandenberg and Krokus for example. Little by little everything has cooked down to a great mix of AOR and metal that ended up in Optimystical. Q: How did it come about, that you went for the name change from “Vagh” to “Optimystical” and how did the recordings develop ? A: From the start “Distant Encounters” was meant to be the third “Vagh”-album. It’s pretty Focus on: OPTIMYSTICAL

16 | MRF

much the same kind of music I and they had a blue tone and folreleased twice with my former lowing that I really wanted some project. But since it took me more warm colours this time and Carl than four years to complete the André Beckston did a great job to recordings and since there were a put my thoughts on paper. bunch of new people involved I Q: Singer Ronnie Hagstedt is thought I could turn it into some- certainly a discovery on this thing new and fresh. So that was album. How did you meet him the birth of Optimystical. I record- and how did he and the other ed most backtracks already back in musicians contribute to the 2004, directly after the release of songwriting and the musical “Into the Future Zone” with “Vagh”, arrangements ? but afterwards I realized that I A: I discovered Ronnie at a comwasn’t patient enough and I put the munity for musicians on the interproject on hold for a while. But I net and I immediately decided I never killed the dream of releasing wanted to bring him into the projthese songs and that’s what kept ect. I really love the sound of his me going all those years, so I start- voice. I think it perfectly suits the ed to search for new musicians for more AOR-orientated parts of the some of the recordings. That’s why material. I’m also very much into there are so many people involved Ronnie’s arrangements of the background vocals. He’s a very intelliin the project. Q: Optimystical is a great name gent singer, it’s especially obvious for this project and the cover in the end of the verses of artwork fits perfectly and looks “Jennifer”. Fantastic! really amazing ! How did you Q: Robin, what are your chose the name and can you let thoughts and wishes for the us know a bit more about the near future? A: I really wish that people would artwork ? A: I came up with the name since I actually buy the CD. I’m very glad really like to combine words. I have that I have reached an agreement written songs called “Hyprophile” with Avenue Of Allies, so I finally and “Famousphere” earlier, as an can get some help promoting my example. Optimystical is a blend of music. But obviously I also wish a words like Optimistic, Mystical and nice and peaceful summer for everyone. I think we need that Optimized. I just love the artwork. The covers right in the middle of the economic for both Vagh albums featured recession, to calm our minds and excellent work by Mattias Norén our worries. - Distant Encounters (Avenue Of Allies)

Optimystical is the brainchild of Robin Vagh, who has been working on this album for some time, as was originally the third chapter in the Vagh saga, but things change and in 2006 the band’s name was changed to Optimystical. The album boasts two vocals on the album Ronnie Hagstedt who contribute to ten of the twelve songs with the other two being sung by Jonas Blum who is uncannily like Bonfire’s Klaus Lessmann. The album is straight up Melodic Rock, no frills just fine musicianship and the two vocalists mix things up well. The tracks of note have to be both Blum tracks ‘Outcast’ and ‘Tonite’ which are superb, with the Hadstedt tracks I’d have to say ‘The Storm’, the excellent epic feel of ‘Startide Rising’, which has that Joe Lynne Turner Rainbow days feel about it, and the seven minute opus ‘The Unexpected’ are just some of the tracks of note from what is a very good album. Barry McMinn (90/100)

Band: Axxis Album: Utopia Interview with: Marco Wriedt Interviewed by: Primo Bonali

Question: Hello guys! First of all, congratulations for your 20 years of successful career. How do you feel about it? How do you feel when you look back to all of these years? Answer: Well I´m proud to play in such a long existing band thas produced so many albums. Not so many Bands can look back to such a long history. AXXIS has always put different style together. That´s why I like this Band so much. We´ve never played it safe and we wanna keep it that way. That makes it more fun and interesting. Q: You celebrate your 20 years of career with a song, “20 Years Anniversary Song” that contains many special guests but it is featured only on the Limited DigiPack version of your new Cd, as bonus-track. Why that “strange” choice? Was it your decision or labels’ decision? A: The “20 years” Song is a “Best Of Song” and “UTOPIA” is a new Album with brand new Songs. So we thought it would be a better idea to split it and that´s why the Limited Edition makes much more sense because when you buy that one you´ll get something really special and not just 2 wallpapers for your computer or something… Q: Let’s talk about your new Cd, “Utopia”. In my review of it, I’ve written that this album does not change too much your successful offer, and follows your traditional style. Still the result is fresh and dynamic… Focus on:

do you agree with that? A: Well, our “traditional style” would be the “Kingdom Of The Night” period and I really like that album and it holds an important place in “AXXIS-History” but I think “Utopia” is going further. It´s heavier, there are some progressive elements. But of course there still are the typical AXXIS trademarks, like “My Father´s Eyes” and “Heavy Rain”… but on the other hand we were looking for new horizon in songs like “For You I will Die, “Fass Mich An” or “Sarah Wanna Die”… those are Songs that show a new face of AXXIS and we´re all very proud of it!! Q: In my opinion Bernhard Weiss’ vocals have already been Axxis’ trademark, unique in their style, high-pitched but very melodic and warm. Your thoughts about it? A: Bernhard is AXXIS. As long he is singing a song it´s gonna sound like Axxis. That´s why we can write any song in any style. If he is singing it, it´s all gonna be good. I love Berny´s voice especially in the ballads. He can sing very soulfoul and diverse!! Q: According to Wikipedia, Axxis’ debut-album became the best-selling debut-album by an Hard Rock band in Germany, during 1989. Is that true? If so, I guess enough money for some years on… eh eh eh! A: Yes, that´s true. “Kingdom of the night” is indeed a very special Album and is loved and appreciated by so many people and it´s always great to play these

AXXIS - Utopia (AFM Records)

songs live and yes, we´re very fortunate that we can live from music. Q: I think you always had a great following in Germany but you got a very small popularity outside. What do you think it’s the reason behind that? A: Well, during the days of “Kingdom of the night” and Axxis II and so forth. Our old Lable “EMI” did a great job promoting us in Germany but outside Germany people just couldn´t get our albums which is really a pitty. After the EMI years we signed to smaller Labels but we could gain some fans here and there… especially in Spain, France it´s going really good. Last year we went on tour with Helloween all over Europe and that´s changed a lot. Now we can play much more outside Germany and we love it. Many fans come to our shows and they actually know every song… I think most of them know em via “Youtube” and co. but that´s another topic. Q: Any plans for live-shows in and outside Germany? A: We play a lot outside Germany these days. We play some huge festivals in Europe and later this year we gonna do some more own shows everywhere so keep visiting and check the dates. By the way... we’ll organize a special Anniversary show in Bochum / Germany, playing only old songs. On a video wall in the background we’ll show the people unseen and very special movies from our history.

According to Wikipedia, the world-famous free encyclopedia on-line, Axxis’ debut-album became the best-selling debut-album by an Hard Rock band in Germany, during 1989. Which leads to the fact that this band always had a great following in their home-country but they got a very small popularity outside Germany. And that’s a real shame, as some of their albums (their first twos, above all) are awesome examples of de-luxe Melodic Metal, in the vein of classic Scorpions, Helloween, Pink Cream 69 and Edguy, just to name a few bands that Axxis’ style brings to my mind. This brand new album, “Utopia”, does not change their successful offer, and follows their traditional style, with great guitar riffs, pompous keyboards and catchy vocal lines. Bernhard Weiss’ vocals are still Axxis’ trademark, unique in their style, high-pitched but very melodic and warm. The album is nice, but I can’t mention any single favorite track: they are all of good-quality, still I haven’t found here any special hook… you know... that one that you keep on singing all day long… Primo Bonali (85/100)

MRF | 17

Band: Constancia Album: Lost And Gone Interview with: M.Rosengren / J.Stark Interviewed by: Duncan Jamieson Question: What could you do with this band that you couldn’t do with Scudiero or Token? Mikael: The benefits for me now are that I really control the song writing. I don’t have to share it with others. Not to be misunderstood – the guys and especially Janne is involved in the writing parts and that means improvements! – but I can now chose exactly how I want it to be. In the other bands we where all involved more with many wills and it took too long time to finish the songs. Q: What do you think is the best description of the type of music you are creating? M: Melodic but still heavy hard rock, where the melodies are important and with a great production. J: We call it “Melogressive” metal, which I came up with when trying to describe we were melodic but still a bit aggressive and a tad progressive. Q: Constancia’s an unusual name. How did you choose it and what does it mean? M: When I first saw the word and understood the meaning, I thought it was the perfect name for my band! Constancia is latin for constant, immortal, everlasting etc, just like our music. Q: The keyboards are an integral part of your signature sound. Did you write the material on this instrument first and then bring in guitar ideas etc.? How did you go about song writing? M: Yeah, that’s correct. I use my Apple computer, Logic, my keyboard and a microphone. All the ideas come out that way. Often I write the guitars also from the keyboard but sometimes I leave it all for Janne to take care of. Actually – I always tell Janne to do his thing no

Focus on:

matter if I have composed the guitars or not. Q: How did you get the band together? What do you think each musician brings to the band? M: It started with Janne whom I’ve known for many years. Since he actually found the contract for us, Scudiero 10 years ago, the circle was closed getting him into the band. He’s inexhaustible – no one I’ve worked with can come up with the same energy! He’s a monster, ha ha! A great guitar player and person too! Maybe most important of all – he and I really share the passion for this and the mixture between finesse and heaviness. Michael and I had contact since we both where at MTM (Jaded Heart and Token) and I thought he was a perfect match both personally and musically. J: I had previously played with Peter in Overheat, Locomotive Breath and Mountain of Power so I knew he would deliver. I got to know David through my fiancée and he sang a few tracks on my Mountain Of Power album. We tried out a few other singers, but David was the obvious choice. He’s a pure natural. Q: The band is spread out all over Europe. How did you co-ordinate the recording? M: I love Internet ha ha! Well, my ideas and songs can be sent to Germany as easy as 1 km away. The different instruments are always being recorded at different times, so it doesn’t matter where, as long as someone in the band (read Janne :)) takes control of all the recorded files. And of course – the important part where everything mixes together. J: I took on the role as project manager, sending out files to all musicians, collecting, checking, recording my own stuff etc. As things were growing we re-recorded some stuff. It was sort

of the same process you go through in a rehearsal studio, but over a longer time frame and at a distance. The result I feel is the same though. Q: My favourite tracks are “Blind”, “The King Is Calling” and “No One Like you”. Which tracks on the CD do you feel best represent your sound and why? M: I would say all but some of my favourites for today that really presents Constancia is “Dying By Your Flames”, “King Is Calling”, “Fallen Hero” and “” and “Little Big You”. J: I agree with Mikael on tracks like “King Is Calling” and “Fallen Hero”. The funny thing is that “No One Like You” almost didn’t end up on the album as it sticks out a bit into a more AOR-oriented field. I’m glad we kept it. Q: There’s a real pomp sound to much of the material; bands like Trillion and Styx. Which old pomp records were an influence do you think on your sound? What other bands do you think have helped shape your music? M: I have listened to so many bands from the 80:s till today so it’s really difficult to say. But to mention some – Pretty Maids, Europe, Dream Theater, Talisman, Jaded Heart, Symphony X, King’s X, Kamelot, Strangways, Journey, Saxon, Elvis. J: I’m a huge fan of the late 70:s/early 80:s pomp and bands like Trillion, City Boy, Styx, Boston, Journey, but I also love the modern heavier stuff, like Black Label Society, Sevendust, King’s X. My approach when arranging and recording the guitars was that I wanted to combine the melodic pompy style with the modern heaviness. I love guitarists like Mike Slamer, Tom Scholz etc.

CONSTANCIA - Lost And Gone (Frontiers Records)

Great melodic rock albums appearing on the Frontiers label shows no sign of abating. Debut effort from Constancia comes out of nowhere and delivers excellent pomp keyboards, AOR hooks and modern guitars. There’s great interplay between instruments and production is state of the art, with everything sounding huge and overblown (in the best pomp tradition). Guitarist Janne Stark has coined the term melogressive metal to describe the sound which is fairly apt. Mikael Rosengreen’s songs have had a long gestation and the wait is rewarded here with intricate songs fizzing with great ideas. David Fremberg (Andromeda) has a powerful voice and lifts the songs up a notch. “Blind”, a symphonic pomp song, hints at Giant. “King Is Calling” is more progressive, like a heavier Unruly Child with a knockout chorus. “No One Like You” is radio friendly rock with one of the year’s best hooks and “I Never Said Goodbye” is reminiscent of the recent Oz Knozz record. They have an original sound, in a genre of imitators, that melds classic rock elements with modern crunch to winning effect. Duncan Jamieson (90/100) MRF | 19

Band: Ilium Album: Ageless Decay Interview with: Ilium Interviewed by: Duncan Jamieson Question: Hi there, How’s the mood in the Ilium camp now your new CD “Ageless Decay” is being released? Answer: It’s still a stressful process, but with the release date looming it’s also very exciting. As far as recording went, this somehow turned into the most stress-free experience we’ve had with any of our albums – there was always some sort of drama happening with the others that was unexpected! By we think we’ve really produced an album that probably even exceeded our expectations, so now we just have to wait and see if others feel the same way! Q: What was behind the decision to part ways with your previous front man Lord Tim? A: Tim joined us just before we were due to go into the studio to record Permian Dusk. Mark left at the last minute, and as Tim was producing and we knew he was one of the best metal vocalists in Australia we asked him to fill in, and he did a great job. It was never meant to be a permanent arrangement though, and when we started organising the fourth album, Tim found that between committments with Lord and his new studio that is was too much of a burden. We still work with him to some extent, but we also wanted to guide the band into some new but still familiar territory. Q: What do you feel the band has changed with Mike DiMeo’s introduction? A: The songs were all written by the time I asked Mike to join. He was actually friends with a friend of mine, which made the introductions easier. Adam and I had been talking about working with him in some capacity for some time, and we weren’t sure initially how he’d fit into Ilium (we felt the same way with Tim at the beginning), but then I went through the songs in my head and decided he would suit it. Mike was very keen as well, so we went with it. The emotion that Mike delivers with his vocals is incredible. There are alot of singers who have good pitch, good tones, a good range, but Mike has that X-factor that gives him a certain class that few can compare to. On top of that he has a really powerful voice which bodes well with the heavier stuff. I’d really like to hear the first three albums with Mike singing! Q: Were you a fan of his from his Riot days? A: Riot have been one of my favourite bands for years. I remember seeing Nightbreaker 20 | MRF

in Utopia in Sydney when it first came out. I thought they’d broken up. Of course, I bought it and was immediately blown away as soon as ‘Soldier’ started playing. He instantly became one of my favourite vocalists. Q: Whose idea was it to get Tommy Hansen involved and how do you feel this has affected the overall sound of the record? A: There were a few producers we were considering. The main things were wanted was someone who was able to work with the band, and not just be a carbon copy of everything else they’d ever produced. I actually was talking to Uli Kusch about a couple of other things and asked him who he’d recommend. He said without a doubt Tommy Hansen. As he was already at the top of my list and Helloween’s ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys..’ albums basically changed my life, we decided to go with him. I asked for the sound to be big on the melodies, heavy, bombastic, smooth and crisp. I think he had the same vision for it and in terms of the finished product it’s given us a darker feel, more emotive and more modern without losing those traditional elements. Mike’s voice of course had a huge bearing there as well. We should get a few less Iron Maiden comparisons this time around! Q: It’s a long album, twelve tracks weighing in at nearly seventy minutes with lots of different arrangements from song to song. I imagine this must have taken a while to write and record. Can you tell us little about that process? A: Adam and I write fairly continuously, so they all come from different periods in time. We do tend to pull songs apart and put them back together again though. So each song has a different process really. Tracks like Tar Pit, Nubia Awakes and Ageless Decay began life way back in the Oracle days, but then Adam and I decided to re-write them so they are now quite different! Xerophyte is practically unrecognisable! Idolatry was another one from the time that we must have rewritten four times over! I actually orginally had a dream about that one when I was younger and went to a hypnotherapist to try and remember it! Needless to say it didn’t work! But I wrote it anyway. Hibernal Thaw was recorded for our Permian Dusk album originally, but we hated it so much we decided to get rid of it. The version on this album is completely re-written, both the music and lyrics. Now it’s one of my favourites! With

others such as Mothcaste, Omnipaedia and The Little Witch of Madagascar, I wrote some musical ideas and Adam turned them into songs based on my lyrics. With Eocene Dawning I wrote the lyrics to Adam’s music and I had nothing to do wth Fragment Glory except for the title! Q: I like the fact songs last on average about six minutes giving you plenty of time for meaty instrumental passages. I particularly like “Hibernal Thaw”, “Nubia Awakes” and “Idolatry”. Which tracks do you think work best and why? A: Yeah, six minutes is us being ‘commercial’! Normally we have at least two over 8 minutes and a few that make 10! The songs are all so different I can find something in all of them. Actually our last couple of albums were like that too, but I think we’ve taken this to the next level. Hibernal Thaw is definitely a favourite of mine. It’s heavy, emotive, has light shade, Mike’s vocals really reach that emotional core. Nubia Awakes is one that I was most surprised about. We knew going in that was going to be one of the best, if not the best song on the album. Mike’s vocals were so different to what we’d evisaged though we had to take a step back when we first heard it! That song has been through a real revolution. It started to become reminiscent of Rainbow’s ‘Stargazer’ and that was fine with us! Mothcaste is a strong favourite of mine. Eocene Dawning is a great emotive song, and again, Mike’s voice is superb! And Xerophyte is a definite favourite as well! I love all of them! Q: You write supernatural fiction and that’s evident on the lyrics of this album. What lyrics are you most pleased with on “Ageless Decay” and why? A: Lyrically I guess it’s a little different to writing a novel and the metre has to be more musical, so sometimes the lyrics have to be changed to fit the mood of the song. I used to be a bit precious about that, but now I’ve seen the light! I think the more grandiose lyrics like Omnipaedia and Nubia Awakes are among my favourite. Idolatry is great because it’s a narrative, and quite an horrific one! The Little Witch of Madagascar isn’t necessarily my favourite set of lyrics (though musically it’s up there) as we had to do the most ‘surgery’ on those to fit the song, but thematically it’s very important to me, as it deals with the aye-aye, a critically endangered primate from Madagascar. I consider animals and the environment to be the most important things in the world.

Band: Cain’s Offering Album: Gather The Faithful Interview with: Jani Limatainen Interviewed by: Barry McMinn Focus on:

CAIN’S OFFERING - Gather The Faithful (Frontiers Records)

I thought that July’s releases from the label were excellent then they go and make August even better! One of those releases is the superb debut album from former Sonata Arctica guitarist Jani Liimatainen’s new band Cain’s Offering and the release ‘Gather The Faithful’. Liimatainen has taken the best Finland has to offer with vocalist Timo Kotipelto, keyboardist Mikko Harkin, bassist Jukka Koskinen and drummer Jani "Hurtsi" Hurula for his band and this vast array of talent has come up with goods big style with this Melodic Power Metal masterpiece. The album is a massive blood pumping Metal surge with Kotipelto’s vocals delivering the majestic force we are used to with Stratovarius, but this combined with the drive riffs of Liimatainen and the result is quite outstanding. From the opener ‘My Queen of Winter’, the power is thrust upon you and is just breathtaking. This carries on throughout the album with ‘Thorn In My Side’, ‘Gather The Faithful’ and ‘Morpheus In A Masquerade’, being just a few of my favourites. Even the heavenly ‘Elegantly Broken’ with its more than hint of Taylor Danes ‘Tell It To My Heart’ behind it does deter from what is a simply superb ballad. If I had to choose between this album and the new Stratovarius album I would have to say this one just pips it, but don’t take my word for it check it out for yourselves. Barry McMinn (97/100)

MRF | 21

Question: When you left Sonata Arctica did you start Cain’s Offering straight away or did you have some ideas for a side project before your departure? Answer: Well, I had want to write my own music for a long time, and in Sonata there was not really a chance for it, since Tony is such a profilic songwriter. And as Sonata took so much time there was no chance to make a side project of any real substance either. So I did have some ideas and songs for the album ready when I parted ways with SA, but it still took me almost 2 years to realise Cain's Offering. Q: Did the prime of Finland’s musicians instantly answer the call when you were putting the band together? A: Surprisingly enough, pretty much yes. I did have several discussions with Timo, since he is a very busy man and doesn't easily involve himself with other projects than Stratovarius and his solo carreer, but after hearing demos of some of the songs he was on board as well:) Q: Did you have a vision for Cain’s Offering from the beginning or was it an evolving project? A: It was an evolving project. I knew I wanted to do an album full of melodic metal songs, but that was pretty much my whole plan. I never had any precise scheme of things, I just wanted to write songs and see what comes out of it. Q: How important was it to get Timo Kotipelto as vocalist for the band? A: He was the first guy I thought of when I started putting this thing together. I've always liked his singing and though of him as one of the best and most profilic frontmen in the world of metal. It was never a matter of "life or death", but I was pretty set in getting him on board. Luckily I was able to:) Q: The album itself will be one of my albums of 2009, what inspired you to produce such a great album? A: Thank you:) There was never a one grand inspiration actually, as I mentioned earlier, I just wanted to write and record a metal album full of great songs. I basicly wanted to show that aside from being a guitarist I can also write songs, so I guess some of the reasons were pretty 22 | MRF

selfish:) Q: Did you write all the material for the album or did the other band members have some input? A: I wrote all the music and lyrics. told the other guys that if they had any songs or ideas they'd like to contribute to the project I'd be more than happy to hear them, but no one did. So I guess they were pretty happy with the material I was coming up with:) Q: I personally see this album and band over taking what Sonata Arctica did for the Finnish metal scene, how do you see the future for Cain’s Offering? A: Hopefully as a bright one. I never saw this as a competition between us and Sonata Arctica, there's plenty of room and audience for both bands. Of course I knew that people would be comparing this to Sonata Arctica, there was no way around that, but I didn't let it bother me. Musically Cain's Offering is pretty much on the same field as SA, but I still see these two bands totally different. Q: Will Cain’s Offering be a touring band, if yes when can we see you on the road? A: We've discussed the possibility of playing live, but of course it will require a significant effort as most of the guys also have their other bands that need their time. But I think when the time is right you will also see Cain's Offering on stage, and when that happens you can be ready for an ass-kicking of a lifetime:) Q: Have you had any thoughts on the next album or is it too soon at the moment? A: It is maybe a bit too soon to think about that, but I do have some songs ready, and I just started writing a new one few days ago:) Q: Have you had any feedback from the media about the album? A: I've seen some reviews, and they've all been extremely positive. As has been the feedback from the public when they heard the samples we posted on our homepage and MySpace. I'm very happy that people seem to really be enjoying the music I've work so hard on for almost two years. Q: What's your opinion about the internet and mp3 downloading?

A: Of course it sucks that people can download your art for free, but its a good promotion. You can find our new album on the internet and that really sucks. As i said it's a really good promotion so i have mixed feelings. I am very pissed because you can't help at all. Q: What do you think about today's power metal bands? A: I don't really follow the power metal scene, there are so many bands and most of them to me sound the same like it's been done before and there's so much crap there. Not many of them have their own personality anymore. Q: What have you been listening to lately? A: Nothing actually. When you do this job 24 hours, 7 days a week and it's your life, when you have some time off you don't feel like listening to any music anymore. You better stay inside or go for a walk with the girlfriend or something like that. Q: Which are your favourite bands? A: I love Metallica from Master of Puppets up to the Black Album and Dream Theater has been one of my favourites. There is so much great music and nowadays i don't really have favourite bands. I just listen to lots of different kinds of music. Q: Which guitar players have influenced you? A: When i was beginning and when i was 12 or so it was like Slash from Guns n Roses and then Kirk Hammet from Metallica but then i grew older and when i was 14 and found Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai and all these technical players and started to go on to that direction. Then i discovered Dream Theater and John Petrucci and i really like his style of playing which was technical but a bit more melodic and i sticked with that. I really like his playing especially on the older albums. Q: Finally what does the future hold for Jani Liimatainen? A: Tonight, drinking and partying:) I'm currently doing some writing for other bands, and shit loads of promo for Cain's Offering, and I do hope that at some point we can realise the live shows as well. Until that I keep on doing what I do best, writing new music.

Melodic Rock Fanzine #33  

This new issue includes reviews and interviews of Stryper, Cain’s Offering, Fair Warning, Mind Key, Outloud, Howard Leese, Crash The System,...

Melodic Rock Fanzine #33  

This new issue includes reviews and interviews of Stryper, Cain’s Offering, Fair Warning, Mind Key, Outloud, Howard Leese, Crash The System,...