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04 B l a c k m o r e ’s N i g h t 06 B u r n i n g R a i n 07 T h e P o o d l e s 08 M . Ka r l s s o n ’s F r e e f a l l 10 B a i B a n g 12 R e v i e w s 14 Black Star Riders 15 A m a z e M e 17 S a f f i r e 19 J o r n 20 Timo Tolkki’s Avalon 22 Stala & So + Giuntini Melodic Rock Fanzine

The official Frontiers Records magazine Year #9 - Nr. 3 / Issue #56 Editor-in-chief: Elio Bordi Graphic & Design: Elio Bordi Writers: Bruce E.J. Atkinson, Duncan Jamieson, Barry McMinn, Vitale Nocerino, Rob “Ezy” Bone, Gema Fernandez, 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: Facebook: Twitter: Editor and publisher: Frontiers Records s.r.l. Copyright©2013 Frontiers Records. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Printed in Italy.

band. blackmore s night album. Dancer and the moon Interview with. c. night - r.blackmore interviewed by:. primo bonali Focus on:

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BLACKMORE’S NIGHT - Dancer and the Moon (Frontiers Records) Eighth original studio album for the project (as it is basically a duo) created by Sir Blackmore and his beautiful wife Candice Night, and another nice chapter to add to his majestic discography. For who’s wondering about the style of this album, let’s immediately point out that there are no surprises here on the sound, the Rainbow and Purple years have gone forever. “Dancer And The Moon” follows the unique and well know band's style, a mix of Celtic, neo-Medieval, New Age, World Music and Folk sound, played with great musicianship and a unique taste for arrangements and songwriting, as showed on all the 10 original songs that build this album. To add to those ten, we have three cover-songs: Rainbow’s "The Temple of the King" (co-written by Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio), Uriah Heep's "Lady In Black” and Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going to Rain Today", whose renditions fit perfectly in the album-style. Blackmore’s fascination with medieval, folk and classical influences is always there. The (glorious) past is behind. And this is the typical “love it ot leave it” situation. Primo Bonali (92/100)

Question: "Dancer & The Moon" is really an amazing album! Congratulations! Can you tell me something about how it was written? Answer: Thank you very much! It was a couple of years in the making. And obviously a few things happened in those years. The release of A Knight In York and the birth of my son being a couple of them. But Ritchie and I have found that we prefer recording a couple of songs, then going on tour and then when we return going back into the studio. I gives us a chance to get away from the songs we recorded and hear them fresh again and rework them if need be. Before this we used to just go into the studio and do the whole cd in a few months. Now we break it up over a couple of years, a couple of months per session, and we find it works much better for us. Q: What is your favourite song on this album? A: It always changes depending on my mood. But today it is the story songs: The Last Leaf or the Spinners Tale. I guess I’m in an introspective mood today. But if I’m looking for uptempo tracks it will definately be The Moon Was Shining. Or Troika. Sometims I’ll just drive with teh windows down and blast those songs- they give me energy! Q: What this song is about? A: The Last Leaf is the story of an actual leaf who loves her home of living in the trees, between the earth and sky. Enjoying every season and being able to have a great perspective from where she lives; but when winter comes, all the other leaves get blown away and embark on a new journey and she has a hard time letting go of all she has ever known for the unknown of that choice and the future. I think its a great parallel for what we as humans on our journey through life must do as well. Q: When and how the idea for this conceptual album was born? A: We don’t really get involved with concepts - rather we allow the music to take us on the journey in which it wants to be taken. We are more into being the channelers of the music. It makes it a more sprititual concept. We just change and grow and evolve through life and keep ourselves open to the inspiration that is around us and sometimes that inspiration morphs into musical or lyrical form. Those become the songs you hear. We don’t force a direction or concept on the music... We are lead on the journey. Q: What inspire you? A: Always the same places:

nature and the miracles that show themselves to us every day- a star filled sky, sunset, wind through the trees, grass beneath your feet- the simple pleasures; love- love lost, love longed for, love found and eternal; and regional legends, myths and fairytales. Its easy to find parallels between all these things and deep emotional connections in all of us. Q: Has the moon a particular meaning for you? A: The moon is always a great source of legend, of mystery. She is the illumination in the dark and dead of night - so a light to guide us even metaphorically. She is ever changing, waxing waning, and a cold beauty, but follows us wherever we go and watches over us at night as we rest. I think her energy is renewing, but its her mystery that is magical. Q: Can you please explain the song meanings of “Dance and the Moon? A: 1) “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today”: This is a song that we originally discovered on the soundtrack of the film Beaches with Bette Middler singing it. We used do it in concert on very special occasions but in a very different form. We would play it with a very intimate application. But when we tried to capture that magic and intimacy that we create on stage with it, it didn’t seem to work. So we gave it an upbeat backing and felt it worked much better for the CD. 2) “Troika”: We heard a song on a Ukrainian soap opera that inspired this song. Lyrically it was inspired by visuals of Russia and the freedom of horses running and letting spirits escape. 3) “The Last Leaf”: Originally it was a song about our daughter but we thought it was too personal so we changed the lyrics to the last leaf. We wanted to keep a very basic renaissance feel. Lyrically it is a parallel between the lives of the leaves on trees and we as humans fearing change. 4) “Lady In Black”: We first heard in a castle on the radio in Germany. I had no idea who it was but I thought it was very appealing though very understated. I hummed it to some fans and they told me who recorded it. It was a song we would sometimes play when we were just with our friends and I always liked the way Candice sang it. Again, a very simply structured song but very effective. 5) “Minstrels In The Hall”: It is so titled because the progression and first few notes are similar to a song called minstrel hall and the overall visual that is created within that instrumental is about

minstrels playing in a large banquet hall and the people dancing to the melody. Dancing was very important back in the 1500s so the whole instrumental is played at a tempo which was very danceable back in those days. 6) “Temple Of The King” (Ritchie): I wrote this one with Ronnie Dio way back in 76. I played it on an old acoustic guitar and I had a riff and a chord progression but really had no idea what it was about. Ronnie had a hang up about foxes. He loved the way they looked. So consequently "in the year of the fox" is his way of talking about his hobby of keeping foxes. 7) “Dancer And The Moon”: The moon has always been a guiding light as far as this project was concerned. The music is a cross between a medieval renaissance chord structure and a sing song in a European tavern. 8) “Galliard”: Was an instrumental I had played on another recording but I always felt it should have been played more uptempo than it was so we went in and recorded it again and gave it more of a 6/8 tempo 9) “The Ashgrove”: This was an old Welsh folk tune that I used to sing at school when I was growing up. I always liked the melody. Plus I used to live in a street called Ash Grove so I thought it was providence that we should record the song. 10) “Somewhere Over The Sea (The Moon is Shining)”: We did a haunting ballad rearranging of the song below. 11) “The Moon Is Shining (Somewhere Over the Sea)”: Based on an old folk Czech melody which Candice and I thought were very melodic and haunting, we adapted and arranged to suit more of a rock structure. We also played it as a ballad as it was originally intended. We asked several of our Czech friends what it was called but they couldn’t tell us so it remains a mystery. 12) “The Spinner's Tale”: A friend of ours, Owain Phyfe, who has since passed away used to sing a song called lament. It was written by Richard the 3rd. I always liked the melody, so we went about recording it and Candice wrote different lyrics to it. 13) “Carry On... Jon”: We had a blizzard in NY and we were totally marooned at the house. For days we had nothing to do. So I said to the producer “I have an idea for an instrumental” and as I recorded it. It gave off a melancholy feel. I thought it would be a good way of saying goodbye to Jon and putting an organ solo reminiscent of his style. It was a tip of the hat to Jon Lord. MRF | 5

BAnd. burning rain album. epic obsession Interview with. d. aldrich interviewed by:. b. mcminn Question: Why in 2013 have as well as new songs? I met Matt at resturant one day and Burning Rain decided to get back A: We had a few older songs Like we exchanged numbers. Hes a killer together? Ride The Monkey and Sweet Little player and person. I think the first A: Haha, It was actually meant to Baby Thing, and then we wrote most time we played together is was like be in 2004, but it took a bit longer of it after that in 2012 when we whoa! This is fun. We did a gig than we thought. We had an offer to started to listen to what we had. together as BR in Maryland and had do a 3rd record and we were really After we worked on Heaven Gets Me a great hang together. So it was into the idea, but my commitment By and Pray Out Loud, we started to kinda simple and easy that these with Whitesnake was my primary see what other types of songs would guys should do the band with Keith focus. We had a few songs but need- add to the CD. and I. ed more time to find the Burning Q: How would you compare Epic Q: We also see the release of the Rain sound again and we kept get- Obsession to the bands previous bands previous two albums are ting sidetracked with our scheduals. two releases? these straight up re-releases or Now we finally have what feels like a A: I don’t know, I guess I shouldn’t are they remastered or renice progression for the band and we compare. It feels like the right next recorded versions? also finally had time to focus and fin- step for the band. I think Keith did a A: Remastered with some interestish it. great job writing lyrics and I like that ing bonus things. There are some Q: The new album is released in it sounds like a good progression nice acoustic versions of some songs May but how long have you been musically. I think fans of the band and a previously unreleased Demo working on the album? will like it. I do. from 2000 called Live For That Rush. A: Whitesnake took a few months off Q: Burning Rain 2013 see the They were remastered. They sound in the early part of 2012 so we start- inclusion of Sean McNabb and slightly bigger than the originals. ed then. It took a few writing ses- Matt Starr in the band how did That way when you listen to all sions and we found a groove that these guys get involved with the three, they go together sonically. was working. Keith and I butted band and what do they bring to Q: Do you think your involveheads for a bit as we hadn’t really the band both musically and per- ment with other bands and projdone that much work for a while but sonally? ects over the years is reflected in after a few days it all came back. I A: During some of the writing ses- the new albums sound? went back to mixing the live sions that Keith and I did, he sug- A: Well, I have certainly learned a Whitesnake DVD Made In Japan in gested that we do some casual gigs bunch working so much with WS. the late summer so Keith and I in town for fun. I though it would be David and Michael McIntyre have would work when I would get back a cool thing to try some new songs been really supportive and helpful to from Tahoe on weekends. live. We have both worked with Sean me. Inspiring. But I wanted to have Q: Were all the songs written and known him for years. He is such BR have its own sound, so I tried to specially for the album or did a fine player and singer. He was have the tunes and sound seem like you revisit some older material really into the songs and fit in great. a continuation of the first two. F o c u s o n : B U R N I N G R A I N - Epic Obsession ( F r o n t i e r s R e c o r d s )

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Before Doug Aldrich joined Dio and later Whitesnake and Keith St John joined Montrose, the pair spearheaded one of the finest Melodic Rock bands of the late nineties Burning Rain. The band released to critically acclaimed albums “Burning Rain” and “Pleasure To Burn”, before going to pasture new. Now in 2013 Burning Rain are back with the new opus “Epic Obsession”, this time around Aldrich and St John are joined by Sean McNabb (Dokken, Quiet Riot) on bass guitar and backing vocals, as well as Matt Starr from Ace Frehley band on drums. This is Burning Rain at its finest, with St John at his vocal best and Aldrich is firing on all six as usual. It’s straight up Melodic Hard Rock to really get your teeth into. The album continues to impress with the hard rocking “Til You Die”, “Pray Out Loud” and “Ride The Monkey’” as well as the mellower moments like “Heaven Gets Me By”, the Zeppelinesque “Out In The Cold Again” and the sublime ballad “When Can I Believe In Love”. The album also boasts a great version of Led Zeps “Kashmir” and a great acoustic version of “Heaven Gets Me By”. If you loved the first two albums, then this long awaited third album is a must. Barry McMinn (98/100)

band. the poodles album. tour de force Interview with. j. samuelsson interviewed by. d. jamieson Question: There were some slower, more introspective songs on “Performocracy”. How would you say “Tour De Force” differs from “Performocracy”? A: I think you'll find parts of “Tour De Force” a bit more kick ass rock&roll, but I think we always had some epic and orchestrated material on all our albums, songs like “Shadows”, “Rockstar”, “Flesh and Blood”, “Sweet Enemy” and “Love is All” and this element has always been around in my opinion and so it is on this album too. But I very seldom think in genres when I write, I just go for things that give me goosebumps and stick to that. I can't see the big difference in our albums apart from that we are a band in development, THANK GOD, and we are simple moving along the great highway of Rock&Roll, doing new great records with our full hearts and souls, at the top of our ability and that's what every great band do and should do. Q: Normally you write about thirty songs and then choose the best ones for a record. Did you approach this album in the same way as before? A: Yes more than thirty songs, we are always very keen and accurate Focus on:

to have great songs once we hit the studio and this time was no exception. We also had one more year of songwriting. Q: Jacob released a solo album “Pastpresent” that was a departure from the hard rocking Poodle sound. How did the rest of the band feel about him doing this and do you think that outlet has meant there’s more heavy rock here this time round? A: Well I think everybody in the band thought my solo stuff was great and I think they were happy that it was pretty far from what we do in The Poodles. It would have been quite pointless for me to do a solo album that sounded simular to what I do with the band. It's a different side of the coin. Well I don't think this album would be so great without this break and I believe that we had a lot of restrained energy that was released ones we were back together. I think you can hear this on this sparkling album. Q: You’ve called the record “Tour De Force”. Do you feel it’s your strongest release to date? A: Yes, the whole album is our Tour De Force. It's a power statement, and for us a great achievement.

We've been around for a while and feel we are stronger and more energetic than ever with the skills and experience to do what we want, with the will to give life and love to this style of music and disrespectful enough to break the conventions we want that surrounds different genre of music. We are very proud of this great album and I hope you enjoy it. Q: You share the song writing. What do you each bring to the process? A: It's a very varied process from song to song, but mainly I have the melody and a tempo idea that Mats Valentin and I jam around and he pure his magic into, and then we produce a demo that I write the lyrics to and he corrects my english;-). It can also be that I have a riff idea that I sing for him, or he has a guitarr riff and then we go from there, it's a very easy and jammy thing between us. In the case with Pontus and Henrik that they often have a instrumental idea that I write vocals and melody to. Also with Rickard Niilsson it can be different ways to do it, but on "40 days & 40 nights" and "Only just begun" he had pretty much everything apart from lyrics.

T H E P O O D L E S - Tour De Force ( F r o n t i e r s R e c o r d s )

Five albums into their career now, their previous album “Perfomocracy” hit the number one spot in Sweden although it split critics. Personally, I liked its added introspection but here they go back to do what they do best; big anthemic rock songs that have riffs that are robust enough to pull in the heavy metal crowd and yet at the same time retain that Eurovision hummability that means these songs will be buzzing around in your head for weeks. “Misery Loves Company” and “Shut Up!” set the record off in fine style. Add the equally infectious “Going Down” and “Godspeed” and you have the band’s most consistently great record to date, track for track. The final track, which was written for the Swedish ice hockey team, “En För Alla För En” is sung in Swedish and even if you don’t understand the language you’ll still be singing along thanks to its massive chant along chorus and a signature riff that’s harder than an ice puck hitting you between the eyes. Don’t be fooled by the band’s fluffy name because The Poodles on this form are rabid enough to bite your limbs off. Duncan Jamieson (94/100) MRF | 7

BAnd. m. karlsson s freefall album. m. karlsson s freefall Interview with. m. karlsson interviewed by:. p. Bonali

Question: When did you started thinking about putting together this album? How did this project develop in these months / years? Answer: I had an idea about some kind of solo project for quite a while, but wasn't really sure how I would do it and with who. I also had a lot of other stuff going on so I almost forgot about it. But a year ago I recorded just a verse and a chorus and did the vocals myself and thought it sounded pretty good so I sent it to Serafino at Frontiers and asked if he was interested. Well, he was and after a little summer break I made a list of singers I wanted to work with and wrote 12 song ideas in one week. Then I worked hard on the details and production for the rest of the year and files were sent all over the world and in the beginning of 2013 everything was ready to be mixed by the great Daniel Flores who also played drums on the album. Focus on:

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I can easily say I never worked so hard on any album before... I hope it paid off. Q: Your album features a lot of great singers. How did you deal the recording-sessions with them? And have you written these songs having already in mind the name of the chosen singer? A: Some singers recorded in my studio and some did it in their own or rented one. Almost all songs were tailor-made for the singers so I had there voice in my mind all the time during the writing process. Q: Which are your most important influences, musically talking? A: I listen to a lot of different styles. Folk music, jazz, pop, classical, extreme metal or whatever that I think is good. But my strongest influence is absolutely the metal that I grew up with like Maiden, Priest, Black Sabbath and Queensryche for example...

Q: Which are the themes you're dealing with, lyrically talking, in your album? A: It's not a concept album but a lot of the lyrics are about taking that step into the unknown. Leave something safe and try something new. My own experience says it's almost always leads to something good and exciting... And I feel I don't do it often enough, but i did a couple of "Free Falls" in my life :) Q: Your future plans? A: Right now I'm working on the next Primal Fear album and preparing for the summer festivals with Primal Fear. Later this year I will make the next KISKE / SOMERVILLE album together with my band mate Mat Sinner. I also planning some other stuff that I know will make some of you very happy. Q: That's it! Thanx a lot for your time. Any last words? A: Thanks Primo! Hope you all enjoy this album as much as I enjoyed making it! This album is a tribute to the music I love!

MAGNUS KARLSSON’s FREEFALL - S/T (Frontiers Records) A really awesome Melodic Metal album, "Free Fall" is the debut-album for the swedish guitarist, songwriter and producer Magnus Karlsson, mainly known for his main band, Last Tribe, as well as for having joined german Power metallers Primal Fear. For this work Magnus gathered a sort of dream-team of singers in the Hard Rock and Metal world, and the result is no less than super! The first two tracks already show the incredible quality of both, the songwriting and the playing: the first (singer: Russell Allen) is an anthemic tune with a sound between Rainbow and Royal Hunt, while the second one called "Higher" (singer: Ralf Scheepers) is an Helloween-influenced Power Metal song with incredible high vocals (what a proper title!). My favourite songs among the other ones are the semi-ballad "Stronger" with some heavenly vocals and harmonies courtesy of ex TNT's master Tony Harnell, the heavier still melodic "Not My Saviour" (the paper-sheet that come with the CD lists as vocalist Rick Altzi but I was sure it was Jeff Scott Soto before reading the note!), and the very melodic "Us Against The World with vocalist David Readman. A must-buy album for anyone, Melodic Metal, Power Metal and Hard-Rock fans. Well done, Magnus! Primo Bonali (92/100)

band. bai bang album. all around the world Interview with. diddi Kastenholt interviewed by:. B. Atkinson

Question: Diddi, I understand that you and the band had specific goals to achieve in the recording of “All Around The World”. Would you care to share those? Answer: Hallo! Yes. The 2 last albums “Are You Ready” and “Living My Dream” are very good, but we wanted to add more to the sound.We are more guitar oriented in the songs but still with catchy hooks and great melodies! In the mix we managed to get the guitarsound upfront together with the vocals. Q: The energy level on this new record is extremely high, even higher than “Livin’ My Dream”. If that is possible! Where do you guys get your energy from!? A: Oh we are full of energy! Sometimes too much! But we are positive and got good vibes! We love what we are doing! And writing positive good party songs that people can have fun to, is great! Q: One thing that we come to expect from Bai Bang is the most positive messages in the songs. This new set of music is Focus on:

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no exception, what inspires you to write such pieces? A: I’m a very glad and positive person and so are the other members too!! In the tour bus, on a flight or in a hotel room it’s a BIG laugh! We really have fun! So when you are surrounded of great people magic happens!! And PARTY! Q: In regards to the production of the new album, you have done some things differently, and some things the same… Can you explain? A: As I said before we managed to get the guitar upfront in the mix together with the vocals without any collision! I also uses my voice more this time! I sing to fit the track. Different ways on different tracks. Q: “All Around The World” shows more depth and results in sounding like you guys were pushing yourself harder, however, sounds like all of you had such a great time in recording it, like bang! Next! Was the recording process that fast and furious, just get in, lay it all down and on to the next one? A: Oh yes! It was great recordings!

Not too much retakes! Almost everything in 1 take! We did put a lot of feelings in the recordings!!! We had a great time! The songs were so good already in the demo versions, so we knew that it was going to be great! Q: Bai Bang live and breathe this music and it shows. What are your wishes for this record? A: That our fans really love this album and that we can tour as much as possible to meet the fans! Q: Being that you have released another exceptional record, where does Bai Bang go from here? A: We love touring! I’ts so funny! Its like a kindergarten is out on the streets! Lots of laughs!! We love to be on stage! Ist a great moment when the audience sings along in the songs! Q: Touring plans… Are you planning some Festival appearances and traditional touring? A: Yes. Rocklahoma in May. A presshowcase at WAO. Heatfestival in November. But in between we do gigs! We have got proposals from South America to come and play in Brazil and Chile!!!

BAI BANG - All Around the World (AOR Heaven)

Bai Bang are about to Rock Everybody Everywhere!! “All Around The World” is the group’s eighth Recorded Work, and it is just as full of top notch Rocker’s as 2011’s breakthrough album “Livin’ My Dream”! Opening with “Everybody, Everywhere”, the infectious anthems begin. It’s all here, the cutting-edge guitars, the high octane rhythm engine, topped by the towering but throaty vocal styling’s! Always a high energy quintet, Bai Bang have a new bassist in Joacim Sandin, and the energy levels are a tad bit higher, if you can believe that! Some notable changes in this record, the twin guitar attacks are more prominent, the vocals are not only richer, but they sit higher on top of the mix, which is good… We can now hear those textures of Diddi’s. Again, the rhythm section, those drums and bass keep the levels elevated, and anchors us listeners to each and every song. All five members are stretching out on this one, and it sounds so good! Nothing but astonishing playing, superb singing, firstrate production… Everything just pops here! A record that contains anthem after anthem, it rocks! An album that will be heard “All Around The World”. Bruce Atkinson (90/100)

BURNING RAIN - Burning Rain (Frontiers Records) Burning Rain was formed 1998 by the then ex-Lion and Bad Moon Rising guitarist Doug Aldrich and Medicine Wheel vocalist Keith St John. The band released two albums under the Burning Rain moniker the first in 1999, the self-titled “Burning Rain”, an album that was soon followed in 2000 by “Pleasure To Burn”.But it’s to the debut that we turn to with the imminent new album “Epic Obsession”, Frontiers Records have set about re-releasing the bands first two albums remastered and with bonus tracks. The debut gave us a taste of Melodic Hard rock at its finest from the opening bars of “Smooth Locomotion” to the closer “Seasons Of Autumn”, the album oozes class and stamped the name of Aldrich on the lips of many as one of the finest guitarist of the genre. The album boasts some wonderful tunes like “Making My Heart Beat” will St John delivering a powerful vocal that has more that an air of Mr Coverdale about it. “Fool No More”, “Superstar Train” and “Cherry Stone” showed the band had a rockier side with the latter have just as taste of Led Zep about it. With this new version we are treated to two bonus acoustic versions of “Smooth Locomotion” and “Can’t Turn Your Back On Love” that are just as good as the all electric versions. If you missed this first time round then it’s definitely one for the collection. Barry McMinn (90/100) BURNING RAIN - Pleasure To Burn (Frontiers Records) In 2000 Burning Rain released the follow up to critically acclaimed self titled debut “Burning Rain” and once again Doug Aldrich and Keith St John, along with Ian Mayo on bass and Alex Macarovich on drums, delivered another stunning album that took where the debut left off. This time with a little more drive and variety than on their debut, which highlighted how far the songwriting of Aldrich and St John had come since the first album. The album likes its predecessor had some stunning tracks the highlight was without a doubt the superb “Judgement Day” that set the bar for the rest of the album. On this album the band experimented and pushed the Melodic Rock envelope with the funk filled “Dirty Money”, a track that was years ahead of its time, the all guns blazing riff filled spectacle “Fireball”, the stunning licktastic “Stone Cold Crazy” and “Shot Down”. Like the re-release debut, this new version has been re-mastered and has two bonus tracks the previously unreleased demo “Live For That Rush” and the moving acoustic version of “Cherie Don’t Break My Heart”. Like the debut if you missed this first time round this is a must buy for fans of great Melodic Hard Rock and a great taster for the new album. Barry McMinn (92/100)

AMAZE ME - Guilty As Sin (AOR Heaven) Amaze Me first saw the light of day back in the mid 90’s with the subsequent release of their self titled debut album on the Japanese based Alfa Brunette label, which in turn led to the project being picked up by Now and Then records for their second album “Dream On” in 97. They signed up with Z Records in 98 for album number three “Wonderland”. Now in 2013, Peter Broman and Conny Lind return with their long awaited fourth release “Guilty As Sin”. The album is purebred Melodic Rock, with Broman playing all instruments and Lind laying down the fantasic vocals on what is best described as a melodic rock fans guilty pleasure. With stirring slices of genre friendly rock like “Save Me”, “With Or Without You” and the title track “Guilty As Sin”, running alongside the mellower AOR styled “Lost In Dream”, the moving “The Pain”, as well as the fantastic guitar fuelled “On The Run”, there is enough here to excite the fans of the genre and marks a welcome return of Amaze Me the Rock world. This may be fifteen years in the making, but like a fine wine these things can’t be rushed and this one will definitely quench the thirst of fans of great Melodic Rock. Barry McMinn (87/100)

KADAVAR - Abra Kadavar (Nuclear Blast) This album is like taking out an old vinyl record, blowing off the dust and dropping the needle. The music will transport you back to the early seventies, a heady brew of Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Electric Wizard, Pentagram and Hawkwind. The German three-piece, on their second album, have their retro sound down to a tee. The guitar sound hums and the riffs are fuzzier than the band’s rather impressive facial hair. “Doomsday Machine” is pure Sabbath, “Rhythm For Endless Minds” is a metal song on acid. The song arrangements are kept varied, and songs throw in more than one riff to reduce the predictability of what’s on offer. There are dark, occult lyrics and Lupus Lindemann’s voice is very Ozzy, but less compelling than what he and the band brew up musically. So if you are an old school hard rock or doom / stoner fan, this is your album! Nothing new, but that’s not the point. It’s as 70s as lava lamps and sideburns. Duncan Jamieson (82/100) MASTERPLAN - Novum Initium (AFM Records) Masterplan: a band that always had the potential to be “the new sensation” in the Melodic Metal area, but that – after an incredible debut-album – never reached the “next level” for success and fame, yet delivering some very good Works. Founded in 2002 by two ex Helloween members (guitarist Roland Grapow and drummer Uli Kusch), the band connected - since the beginning - with awesome vocalist Jorn Lande, who sang on the self-titled debut and on the follow-up “Aeronautics” (2005). Unfortunately, after this Work and the following tour, something broke down within the band and both, Lande and Kusch, left, to be replaced by Mike DiMeo (Riot) and “double-bass monster Mike Terrana on the “MK II” album (2007). Now it’s the time for “Novum Initium”, a latin word for “a new beginning”. A brand new line-up (once again!) with singer Rick Altzi (At Vance, etc), bassist Jari Kainulainen (ex Stratovarius) and drummer Martin Skaroupka (Cradle Of Filth) aboard, that has been put together to play live again in order to be more “visible”. The sound is now slightly heavier than in the past, more Melodic Metal than Hard Rock, the songwriting is solid and the playing is on top-level. Not as good as the debut, still a nice album to spend some hours with… Primo Bonali (90/100)

VINDICTIV - Cage of Infinity (Escape Music) This, “Vindictiv’s” third release continues to carry us on Stefan Lindholm’s quest for the ultimate musical expression in the realm of Progressive Metal. Perhaps harder and more intense, “Cage Of Infinity” reflects the growing mood of uncertainty that prevails much of Central Europe today. No, this isn’t a political record, but one that musically emphasizes this mood we find ourselves in. A gathering of songs that are darker, intense and with powerful lyrical statements. The Players match this intensity! A driving-muscular undertow of rhythmic surges, bringing to the fore the soaring guitars mixed with the keys in a melodic wash that pushes the vocals to an almost desperate level. An angst ridden air about it all-which is a feat that is seldom accomplished! Vindictiv’s third release is an immense statement, and as mentioned, more intense and of starker stuff. Their strongest to date, an album that contains some dire messages but also leaves us with hope and strength, another feat rarely accomplished! Bruce Atkinson (88/100)

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BATTLE BEAST - Battle Beast (Nuclear Blast) Hailing from Finland Battle Beast hit the world stage with a bang after winning 2008’s Wacken: Open: Air “Metal Battle” and Finland’s “Radio Rock Starba” competition, as well as after performing at the Finnish Metal Expo, which led to Nuclear Blast signing them for their debut album “Steel”. That album featured the vocals of Nitte Valo, but in 2012, Valo quit the band, but that didn’t hold the band back, as they sought the vocal might of Noora Louhimo, who soon showed her vocal prowess as the band toured with Sonata Arctica. Now in 2013 we can all taste this immense metal vocalist with the release of the band second album Battle Beast. This is metal at its most musically and vocally intense, with Louhimo’s power and might leading the charge throughout for metal monsters ‘Let It Roar’ and the anthemic “On The Street”, to the old school metallers “Fight Kill Die” and “Raven”, the epic “Into The Heart Of Danger” and the all out metal assault of “Rain Man” and “Kingdom”. This is the album that will put the band on the lips of metalheads the world over, so be prepared, there is new metal queen coming and she’s riding the Battle Beast! Barry McMinn (90/100) U.D.O. - Steelhammer (AFM Records) Celebrating their fourteenth studio album in “Steelhammer”, U.D.O. shows no signs of slowing down! Fourteen tracks of commanding and intelligent songs, this album will set the tone for aggressive Metal. From the opening track all the way through, we have tasty guitars, a rock-hard rhythm engine and the pointed, and exact Vocals of Udo himself! “A Cry Of A Nation”, with its dire warnings of what to come… To the burly groove of “Metal Machine” sets us up to a muscular journey that only U.D.O. can offer. Being that “Steelhammer” is the group’s fourteenth studio effort, one may think that they took the easy way with this offering and stayed with the tried and true… Not so much! The group explores new ground and with two new guitarists, the discovery shows! “Steelhammer” is a fresh approach, the group sounds rejuvenated, and perhaps their strongest effort yet. U.D.O. 2013 will hit you like a Steel Hammer both on record and live! Bruce Atkinson (91/100)

STALA & SO – Play Another Round (Escape Music) Stala, the frontman of these melodic rockers, used to be the drummer in Lordi (known as Kita) and listening to Stala & So’s sophomore record you can understand why it was time for him to part ways with the Eurovision winning schlock rocker. Stala & So swap the rubber monster masks for feather boas, fur coats and upbeat anthems about how much fun being alive is. It’s more focussed in terms of song-writing and the material is stronger than their debut, less glam rock more melodic rock. “Rock until I’m Done”, the fab “Tokyo Delights” and “Alrite Tonight” are ultra-catchy melodic rock tunes that will have you humming along even if you try not to. Sometimes though the cheeriness descends into cheeseville as on “The Boys Are Having Fun”. Their decent 2011 Eurovision entry “Pamela” is included plus an acoustic run-through Ozzy’s “Shot In The Dark”. Initially surprised after hearing the debut that Escape picked them up for this record, their present sound however is very much in keeping with the melodic rock acts they normally sign. There are some joyous, upbeat anthems that’ll brighten your day here. Duncan Jamieson (90/100)

SCORPION CHILD – Scorpion Child (Nuclear Blast) Deeply rooted in the '70s heavy sound, SCORPION CHILD is a five-piece coming from Austin, Texas. This is their full-length debut-album and it was produced and arranged by Chris “Frenchie” Smith (The Answer, Jet, etc), using mainly analog recording technology. Now you probably already know what to expect: an heavy Psych/Doom Rock sound that owes much to Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and the likes (Soundgarden), with powerful guitar riffs, a thunderous rhythm section and a singer whose voice is somehow reminiscent of early Robert Plant. It looks like the band lives, eats and plays the Seventies, without caring much of what's going on in the new Century. This album can be quite an experience if you are really into this sound, as it might be emotional, touching and energetic. If you're not into the '70s sound, probably this CD is not for you... Primo Bonali (85/100)

LOST WEEKEND – Evermore (AOR Heaven) UK band Lost Weekend is back after 3 years and 5 studio albums (“Lost Weekend”, “Presence of Mind”, “New Religion”, “Forever Moving On” and “Fear and Innocence”). They are releasing now, under the German label AOR Heaven, their brand new studio album “Evermore”: their come back after a long break. Lost Weekend now has a renewed passion and creativity; the line up sees the inclusion of Irving Parratt on keyboards, who worked with the band on “Forever Moving On” and “Spirit Of Man” by Bob Catley. “Evermore” is produced by Martin Kronlund at the JM studios in Sweden. This come back is really ispired and the new songs are really amazing. I’m really happy they are still there releasing new music. Melodic Hard Rock with catchy harmonies that will please the fans of Harem Scarem, Ten, Journey and Bob Catley. Vitale Nocerino (88/100) GIUNTINI – Project IV (Escape Music) I'm sure that most of you MRF readers already know (and appreciated) Giuntini's previous albums, so you basically know what to expect: a great combination of BLACK SABBATH ("Headless Cross"/"Tyr" era) and early DIO's chapters, with some guitar-virtuoso parts (a la Malmsteen/Campbell) thrown into for good measure. Tony Martin is again on board and he delivers - as usual - some great, epic and majestic vocals, bringing the already-good songwriting to "the next level". In some songs ("Born In The Underworld", "Shadow Of The Stone") Tony sounds so close to the never-forgotten Ronnie James Dio that you could easily think that it's the spirit of RJD who's singing, while in some other tunes (the opening-track "Perfect Sorrow") the style is more into the classic RAINBOW ("Long Live Rock & Roll"/"Rising"), with a couple of tracks ("Cured", "If The Dream Comes True") slightly heavier still so enjoyable. Graced by a great production of Dario Mollo, this album is a perfect addition to all the fans into the more Traditional Melodic Hard-Rock sound! Primo Bonali (88/100) MRF | 13

BAnd. black star riders album. All Hell Breaks Loose Interview with. R. Warwick interviewed by:. b. atkinson

Question: When was the decision made to take this jump? Answer: The decision was made about a year ago to actually start writing… And obviously that was for at that time, was going to be, as we felt at the time, a new Thin Lizzy record. The decision to actually change the name and to move forward was last September (2012) That was when the decision was made, but we didn’t actually come up with the name until about November. So it is all very very recent stuff Q: I understand that you actually recorded this record very very fast. A: We did twelve songs in twelve days! Q: Wow! That’s a lot of work! A: It is you know… We were at the advantage that we had done a lot of work on the demos, we knew the songs quite well, well structured. We took the stuff to Kevin Shirley… He didn’t want to change much… What he wanted to do was capture the energy and attitude that we already had... He wanted to get us in there and play live with the band, keeping the overdubs to the bare… Q: It certainly works! I, being blown away by this album, feel that people upon listening to it will be doing the same! Yes, the record comes from the rich history and tapestry of Thin Lizzy, Focus on:

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however there is something new there, there is “new blood” there! A: Yeah… You know, the four of us that came from Thin Lizzy had chemistry there. We all have a great chemistry, great camaraderie and we are all very close, even when we are not doing the band stuff… There’s a lot of love there, not to get too wishy washy! And that’s a good spirit to have. So it’s a right positive environment when you are writing.You know we are all Rockers, we all lived and have had trials and tribulations and we all have great stories to tell and they just seemed to pour out when we started writing because suddenly we were given this freedom and it was almost like when we changed the name, in a very bizarre way, some of the shackles were taken off because if we had to make the record as Thin Lizzy there was definitely a certain road we would have had to go down and we couldn’t veer from it, of course. But as soon as we changed the name, suddenly, we could go down that road because obviously we want to retain some of that Lizzy spirit, as it is part of who we are… Scott Gorham is always going to play guitar as Scott Gorham which is a side of Thin Lizzy and we don’t want to change that. So we can go down that road or we can turn off any of the little side

roads we want to and go down them as Black Star Riders, which is what really appeals to me about the whole thing. Q: I should note here, that my line of questioning from this point was how the band took a giant leap in order to expand their musical expression and that the new record shows a whole new side, still flying the Thin Lizzy banner, but also we can hear a brand new group. At this point Ricky went on to express his thankfulness in being a part of ‘Thin Lizzy’ and his admiration of the way Phil Lynott wrote and phrased things in song… And how he learned so much in the last three years being the singer of the group. So, in briefing this for MRF we will go on to the next part. Let’s get into the writing process… I asked Ricky about the process. A: …this album was written pretty much on the road last year when we went out as Thin Lizzy… Damon and I, we would not take hotels, on gig days we would turn up and get the guitars up and spend three of four hours just working on the songs and writing…and on the back of the tour bus and when we were in hotels, we worked it all the time, so the album was written together when we were on the road.

B L A C K S T A R R I D E R S - All Hell Breaks Loose (Nuclear Blast)

“All Hell Breaks Loose” breaks through the “post-modern” rock era and brings back straight up-no nonsense Hard Rock, and with a vengeance! What a way to set this Banner free, fitting that members of the legendary Thin Lizzy form the nucleus of this group. Black Star Riders are Ricky Warwick, Scott Gorham, Damon Johnson, Marco Mendoza, and Jimmy Degrasso. Seasoned veterans all, these five are making music history. Although the very spirit of legendary Irish band Thin Lizzy pulsates through Black Star, don’t think of this band being a clone! Absolutely not! Black Star Riders are carving out their own niche, strong and soulful and distinct! Rock hard and Dirty, too! From the opening title track to the last memorable notes of “Blues Ain’t So Bad”, this record ROCKS!! It’s that simple. “All Hell Breaks Loose” is a stellar collection, each member at the top of their craft, a collection of music that will re-light some flames and ignite some brand new ones as well. An album that just kicks ass! The band, Black Star Riders…a definite legend in the making! Bruce Atkinson (91/100)

Barry McMinn: When did you decide it was time for the next chapter in the Amaze Me story? Peter Broman: I think it was 3 years ago Conny phoned and told me that he had been asked if there ever was going to be another Amaze mE album. I guess it was the perfect timing for that question. I was newly divorced and I guess I was in a "retrospective mood". Also our last experince with our last record company started to fade away. BMM: It’s been some 15 years since the last studio album from Amaze Me, so why so long since the release of Wonderland? PB: As I said, that previous experince with our last record company didn't leave us any inspiration and strength to make a new album the first years. Then my songwriting career, produc-

ing commercials and writing songs for commercials took allt the time I had. BMM: Were all the songs written especially for the new album or did you raid your vaults and bring some older material to the mix? PB: "Guilty as Sin" and "With Or Without You" was written during a sequence when I was considering makin' a new Amaze Me (8 years ago). Erik Martensson (W.E.T. Eclipse) did the sigin' at the time but we both had so much other things happening so nothing more happened that time. All the other songs we're written the last 3 years. BMM: How would you compare Guilty As Sin compared to the bands previous albums? PB: I guess the previous albums have been written a bit more with a "rockalbum formula" in mind meaning that you have to have a certain amount of uptempo, mid tempo, ballads, upfront guitars and so on. I chose not to analyze from that direction at all this time. If it felt from the heart I didn't give a shit about tempo or anything else. The result is the album "Guilty As Sin". BMM: Where do you see Amaze Me

sitting along side the new generation of Melodic Rock bands? PB: I'm happy to see that bands like Nickelback, Shinedown, My Darkest Days, Dead By April and more has taken the 80:ies rock into our decade and to a broader audience. W.E.T. and Work Of Art are bands that have taken the Swedish melodic Rock many steps forward with brilliant songwrtiting and production. I guess Amaze mE is a kind of therapy for me to connect to why I started with music. Working as a songwriter has sometimes meant that you have to be a bit cynical in the way you create music and that's not the case working with Amaze mE. That's why I keep talking about that "Straight from the heart" which I guess could be considered a bit corny. In worst case it only hits my heart but hopefully there are a few more disturbed people like me out there! BMM: You’re signed to AOR Heaven what was it about the label that attracted you the singing on the dotted line with them? PB: Due to mine and Connys earlier bad experience, with record companies in this scene, it was very important that we would be working with a trustworthy company. Georg and Monika are in this business cause they love the music and they are good people so. He also gave me the freedom to do the album I wanted to do. Besides that I wanted to have it released as soon as possible after it was finished cause I have more projects.

BAnd. Saffire album. from ashes to fire Interview with. Victor Olsson interviewed by:. M. Spaeth

Question: Since “From Ashes To Fire” marks you debut album, can you just introduce your band and tell us a little bit about your previous history? Answer: Me and Dino Zuzic, our keyboardist, went to school together in 2005 when we got the idea to form a sort of heavy and modern sounding band but mainly rely on old school influences. We basically started searching like crazy for the right people 'cause we felt an immense hunger to get the party started! After almost 2 years of sometimes painfully excruciating auditions with people, we got Magnus Carlsson, our bass player, on board, along with a drummer, Gustav Elowson, and a vocalist, Martin Jonasson and we immediately recorded a demo. Gustav had to drop out a year later, he had too many projects going so there wasn't enough time. But in came Anton Roos and things started to take off. We recorded a new demo and began to perform live in venues all over Gothenburg. Good things started to happen and we were offered a record deal but our vocalist Martin had to drop out due to personal reasons so we had to find a new vocalist and sort of start all over again and of course the record deal were off the Focus on:

table. Then I stumbled upon Tobbe Jansson and his angelic voice and recruited him to the band which made us feel born-again as a band! That was 2010 and after that we once again recorded a demo and hit the live-stage with full force. After a while we decided it was time to record a proper kick-ass album which leads us to where we are right now! Q: The label info says that you recorded three demos yet. Are the songs on “From Ashes To Fire” from these demos or did you write brand new material? A: The songs were mainly coming off the demos, we actually discussed whether we should write a whole bunch of new songs or focus on our old “hits” and we decided on the latter. We just thought that some of our old songs were too good to not be properly recorded and released. But there are a few newly written songs on the album as well. Q: Is SAFFIRE the only band you play with or do you or other band members have any other bands running beside SAFFIRE? A: Me, Tobbe and Anton have a little 70s rock side-project called Rogue Elephant, but it's more of a fun studio

project than a proper band. Anton is the drummer in an AOR-band called Elevener and Tobbe rocks out in a jazzy fusion-rock band called Sugarglider and a thrash-metal band called The Law. Magnus and Dino are completely faithful to Saffire... Q: What’s the story behind your band name? I guess it’s a modification of the word “sapphire”, isn’t it? A: Yes I suppose so, our former vocalist Martin came up with the name and it sort of represents both of the worlds we want to incorporate into our music. “Sapphire”, which stands for the melodic and more sensitive side and “Fire” which represents the wild and heavy side of us. And also, we think it's a pretty cool sounding name. Q: And what about the album title? What did you want to express with it? A: Partly, the title reflects some of the lyrical themes on the album, the fact that you may have to let something die before you can start living again. And a lot of lyrics are about personal development, something we in the band really had our share of in the past few years, and that you sometimes have to reach rock bottom to rise from the ashes and get back into the action.

S A F F I R E - F r o m A s h e s T o F i r e (Ulterium Records)

Although the band cite the classic rock sounds of Dio and Rainbow as inspiration, the Swedish band (not to be confused with the Australian band Safire) add a modern power and production clout to bring the sound forward for a new era. It’s an album that’s not designed to be an instant fix, but instead the band have so many ideas and dimensions to their sound that it’s a record that gets better with each listen. Tobias Jansson’s vocals are ok, a bit on the gruff side, pushing this into the metal category but he can croon when he wants to too. Riffs are solid, and the rhythm section grooves exceptionally well as on “End Of The World” and there are keyboards that add prog touches as on "Kingdom Of The Blind” and retro organ flurries on “Say Goodbye” as well as plaintive piano parts such as on “She Remains A Mystery””. “A Symphony Unheard” and the Eastern sounding “Paralysed” have a Jorn like power to them. “Magnolia” and “Stormy Waters” are worthy melodic metal tunes. Aware of the past without being retro, it adds modern muscle and shows a breadth of invention to make this rather addictive. Duncan Jamieson (86/100)

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band. JORN album.traveller nterview with:. jorn lande interviewed by:. b. atkinson Question: Let me get on with it, “Traveller” seems a bit more diversified. Is this due to your new writing partner, Trond Holter? Answer: Trond definitely brought something fresh to the band, and the title track 'Traveller' is a good example. At the same time there are some elements that stick to the old receipe, 'Overload' and 'Cancer Demon' was written by myself, but Trond really added some fantastic guitar arrangements that only he can present. Another important thing is Trond's talent for melody, he is one of very few guitar players with the ability to spot a great melody in seconds. Most players need to analyze and experiment with combinations before they end up with a solo, guitar signature, or riff, but Trond is a walking databank of music. I'm pretty much the same, always an idea popping up when I turn my composer antenna on. Q: Two great music men have joined you, the aforementioned Trond, and Bassist Bernt Jansen, both from Wig Wam. Is it safe to say that the complexion of the band has also changed? A: The band is tighter than ever and both Trond and Bernt have a very distinct "in your face" way of playing. They have definitely added their colors and brought more definition to the Jorn sound. Q: You have also combined Trond’s production talents with your own. Focus on:

The result?—fantastic! Obviously, you are happy with the end result? A: Yeah, it's great not to be alone with every detail of the production. Me and Tommy Hansen are a great team, but we are not guitar players and it helps a lot to have Trond focused on guitars plus his opinion on things. Q: With the team as it stands now, are you more relaxed in the recording process? A: For sure. It's great not having to concentrate on everything myself, for the first time I've had a chance to leave the studio during the mix, while Trond and Tommy worked on for example guitar details. Q: “Traveller” works on so many levels, so I must ask, do you feel that this record shows more sides of Jorn Lande than we have been able to see before? A: No, I personally don't think it's that much different from what I've done in the past. But you could say I'm bringing in some elements that haven't been that clear on the last few Jorn releases. Back in the day I used to experiment a bit more with my singing style and expression, I guess it was because I was influenced by a variety of music styles and genres when I grew up. The 70's especially was a melting pot of great music, and I was influenced by a big variety of styles. I loved Kansas, Jethro Tull,

J O R N - Traveller (Frontiers Records)

Nazareth, Sweet, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep and the list goes on and on, but at the same time I also loved artists such as Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Little River Band, 10cc, Eagles etc. The thing is, you just can not deny that artists like Abba and Elvis were great, even if you’re a person with a selective musical taste, you’re probably just bored and looking for an argument if you wish to argue on that. All types of music that made me feel and identify have colored me as an artist, I guess there were more artists statistically back then with a stronger presence compared to today. People seemed to reflect more on life and channel their inner views through the music in a more natural way. Of course, the record industry always wanted a good song with radio potential, but making music in general seemed to be more personal, and less controlled by trends. Bands would sometimes compromise by giving the record company one song that could be a single, but today I think artists are fabricating their concept in a more calculated way from the beginning, taking the whole business too much into consideration before creating a product. The results are many album releases that sound the same, since so many are using the same programs and digital work tools to make their music. It's a world of digital copycats.

Get set boys and girls, the “Traveller” is upon us! Beginning with “Overload”; Jorn arrives in 2013 with a brand new and powerful album! This premiere Hard Rock singer has delivered what just may be his most varied Musical Work. An album’s worth of many moods and colours, all brought in to focus by Jorn’s masterful vocals and song writing.The assembled soldiers are also masterful, executing these rock renderings perfectly! Mr. Lande has welcomed ex-Wig Wam musicos Trond Holter & Bernt Jansen into his ranks. Jorn, the band, sounds more vigorous, heavier, if that’s even possible, and more certain. “Traveller” also seems to allow Jorn to explore new musical plateaus. Plateaus that give way to the hidden textures of his voice. A more fluid album, this latest Work will strengthen the established Jorn legions and recruit many more as well! “Traveller”, a state of the art musical statement from one of Hard Rock’s finest! Bruce Atkinson (90/100) MRF | 19

band. T.Tolkkis avalon album. The land of new hope Interview with:. t. tolkki interviewed by:. d. jamieson

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T I M O T O L K K I ’ S A V A L O N - The Land of New Hope (Frontiers Records) This a project suggested by Frontiers boss Serafino Perugino, but it’s one that is a perfect fit for ex-Stratovarius man Timo Tolkki. Essentially, it’s a concept album set in AD 2055 after the infrastructure of the world has been devastated and a small group of survivors head out in search of “The Land Of New Hope”. Tolkki creates a music landscape that incorporates the fast drumming and heavy guitars of power metal, and symphonic keyboard and orchestral passages that bring a cinematic grandeur to the music. To help him bring this rock opera to life, he’s attracted some big rock and metal musicians to play and sing on the record. Amaranthe’s Elize Ryd is the central character and her ethereal voice carries six of the ten songs. Michael Kiske, Rob Rock, Russell Allen and Tony Kakko contribute with their instantly recognisable tones, each one adding muscle while Sharon Den Adel of Within Temptation adds her distinctive voice too. It’s the kind of record the word overblown was created for. If you’ve followed Tolkki’s career, or are interested in any other the other artists involved here or are just a sucker for symphonic metal this is highly recommended to you. Duncan Jamieson (92/100)

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Question: It’s great to have you back Timo. At the end of 2011 you said you were retiring from the music business. What’s brought you back? Answer: Thanks. I was pretty burnt out without much motivation. You have to remember that I have been doing this for over 20 years and done 20 albums. I have to thank Serafino Perugino for bringing me back. He talked a lot of sense to me, was fair and nice to me and gave me proper conditions to do my music. A Metal Opera was something really appropriate for this point of my career. Q: The new “Avalon” Cd is a concept album, and you wrote the story before the music. Can you elaborate on the concept’s storyline? A: The storyline is based on that human race might vanish due to overpopulation and the usage of the planet's resources. At some point the nature will strike back for sure. The signs are there already. But there is always little hope and I incorporated that into the story. Q: Elize Ryd of Amaranthe does a brilliant job as the central character. How did you choose her and get her involved in the project? A: Again, this idea came from Serafino. I did not even know Elize before and he send me a YouTube link and said check it out. I loved it and she is a really really good singer. It was very clear that it had to be her. Q: There are also some of power metal’s biggest names such as Rob Rock, Russell Allen, Tony Kakko and Michael Kiske. You also have Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation. Did you have their voices in mind when you were writing the music? A: Not really. I only had the story line and as the songs progressed, some names started to come out and it started to be pretty clear who should be in there. Q: After the Stratovarius “matter”, you have Jen Johansson as guest on the album... What’s the story about it? A: Well there are 2 sides to

every story. My public image was very good before the publicity stunt of Stratovarius in 2004. I gave a face to that stunt and that gave me a lot of bad publicity. But all the guys, the management and the record label Sanctuary were in this. You can read my version from It’s there, with the facts. Jens’ ultimate motives remain hidden. He was my best buddy in Strato, the guy I had the most fun with all over the world. I would say that he is on my record, because he is not a stupid guy. And I am glad to have one of the best keyboard players of the world in there. Q: What’s your situation with the band? A: I am fine with everybody and I think everybody is fine with me except Timo Kotipelto. I have tried to contact him for a chat over a coffee but he doesn’t want to have anything to do with me. This is sad, but he has his right to do this and I must respect this. Q: You have your own studio. How does that freedom affect how the record turns out? A: It's a very important part. My studio is for mixing and mastering, which are both the most important parts of the recording process. To have the luxury to mix one song for a week is essential to me. Time is gold in music making. Q: There’s a grandiose symphonic sound to the record but also some power metal guitar and keyboard muscle and melodies that are as hummable as pop tunes. Did you intend to meld these different genres deliberately or does the sound just evolve that way naturally in the way you write? A: It's very natural to me. It has always been from the day one. You cannot, for example, categorise Stratovarius just as a Power Metal band. There is much more than that in there, just like on this record. I like good songs and good melodies. Q: The album finishes with the title track that is close to a nine minute epic. Was this track one of the first written? A: Actually as far as I remember, I wrote the songs in the order that the story goes so

this must have been the last. Q: There was an indication that there might be a “Classic Variations And Themes II” a while back but it didn’t materialise. Is this something that you’ll pursue again in the future? A: I don't know. I have mixed feelings about it. I wanna do more Opera's and maybe a solo record with a real band and maybe do some gigs at some point. I feel revitalised by the new album. Q: Any plans about live dates? A: That would depend only from one thing: money. And I mean that in the way that for a production like that, a lot of money goes to it. I have played 2500 shows in 62 countries in my career, so I can say that I have seen it all. We will have to see if I ever play live again. I don’t really miss the bus. After the current formation of Stratovarius decides to stop, I think me, Timo, Jens, Joerg and Jari should get together to a room and bash out the whole catalogue from Episode to Infinite, write one more kickass record and do a farewell world tour. I have told this to them and to their manager and Jari would be up for that. I think most Stratovarius fans would love that as well. Stratovarius is a name that comes with 30 years Legacy. For example the founder, Tuomo Lassila never has gotten the credit he deserves for doing the groundwork that made possible the incredible success the band had in the years 1996-2003 when it sold over 2 million records. 7 years of magic. Q: Your health issues have been well publicised in the past. How are you feeling these days? A: Yes and they have also been overdramatised to a point where I cannot control it. In reality I feel very fine and live a quite normal life. I spend a lot of time in nature and I live by the sea. My life is very calm. It is music and home basically. Q: Do you have any ideas for any projects you might do next? A: We have a lot of ideas in the can but I would like to do another Opera next. MRF | 21

Duncan Jamieson: The new album is a great melodic rock album and is better than the debut in terms of song writing and should really make people sit up and notice. You must be happy with how it’s turned out. Stala: Yes, I’m really happy about it and proud of our band. DJ: How do you account for it’s more polished sound? S: To be honest, we didn’t think much about the sound. This is just the sound that we like, it’s natural for us. It’s pretty much the same than the first album, but band is getting tighter and better and I guess I’m getting better as a producer as well. Of course Beau Hill was there also to help us out. DJ: How do you approach the song writing? S: This time around the band members were contributing as a songwriters too. First album was more of a less me being a solo artist. I have times when the inspiration hits me. Sometimes nothing comes out. So far so good. Lately I’ve also written with other songwriters too. That’s something I really enjoy doing. For me the melody comes first then lyrics and other stuff. If there’s no good melody = not a good song. For me the songwriting is a religious thing in a way. That’s when the magic happens. DJ: This record is on the Escape record label. How did you get involved with the label and how has working with them been? S: I was reading Classic Rock AOR magazine and I saw them advertising in it. I sent them an email with a song and a video attached. After 15 minutes they called me back and wanted to hear the whole album. I was really impressed. That’s something that doesn’t happen in music business anymore. People being enthusiastic about the music. I’m looking forward to work with them for long for the good cause, melodic hard rock. DJ: You have a glam image. Do you wear those clothes around town? S: I’ve always used cool clothes and make up around places. Of course our stage clothes are over the top. I’m a big fan of the 70’s British glambands and 80’s LA bands. We have a guideline that wear something you cannot find in your local store. It’s important to look different than your audience. “You are the rockstar so you should look like a rockstar.” DJ: There are links of course with Lordi as Stala (known as Kita in Lordi) played drums in that band, but Stala & So are like the guys in white, while Lordi are the guys in black. Was this spurning of the dark side to sing about the joys of rocking and having a good time a deliberate plan for the band? S: Fun has always been a guideline in my life. That’s also what we are about. There’s to much “dark bands” out there already. We want to put the smile on our audience’s faces. In Lordi I was there because of the music. I didn’t care much about the horror stuff. But hey, I definitely had fun with Lordi when we toured the world. So much fun I can’t even remember all the shit that happened. :D Nick also played in Lordi as Kalma back in the days. 22 | MRF

Primo Bonali: Hello Aldo, how are you? So, after some time, you're getting back on the scene with your new album, "Project IV", another great chapter in your discography! What are your sensations about it? Aldo Giuntini: Good sensations... The album was written dedicating a lot of time to it, so the songs passed through an intense selection... This selection gave 18 songs and in the album there are 13 songs with 5 more to be released later. PB: Tony Martin is again aboard, doing the usual great work behind the mic! I guess you think he's the perfect singer for your sound, right? What do you think Tony adds to your songwriting and style? Is he involved in the songwriting too? AG: My opinion is that Tony's voice is absolutely the best in the world especially for my sound. When I write songs I'm sure that with Tony's voice the result will be exactly what I want, without any surprises but positive surprises! Of course he is involved in songwriting, in every song. PB: According to the press release "the sound of your work is a combination of BLACK SABBATH ("Headless Cross"/Tyr era), RAINBOW ("Long Live Rock & Roll"/"Rising") and DIO's "Holy Diver". Such great names in this list! And I guess all of these bands have been your major influences and favorite ones, right? And how would you describe your sound to someone who never listened anything from yours? AG: DIO is absolutely the band that more influenced me among the ones in this list. Don't forget the Japanese band Loudness among the bands that more inspired me. My sound is classical metal sounds coming from the bands of late 70’s and all 80s years, all updated to our times. PB: Why it took about 6 years (if I'm right) for you to have a new album out? And what do you think changed more during these last 6 years, musically-wise? AG: I play for my personal pleasure and not for work... I have other activities out of music stuff so I can take the time I need and... I'm a lazy musician :). Seriously I play for art and not for business, so I take the time that I want without external pressions. PB: This new album has been produced by Dario Mollo, who also worked with Tony Martin on his Mollo/Martin project. Which makes a solid link among you three. What can you tell me about Dario? How was working with him? AG: Dario is a friend of mine, we live one hour of drive between us so when we work together for the album (usually on Satrurday afternoon in my house) it's like to have a friend at home to talk and drink a cup of tea together. I have this luck: a friend of mine is one of the most brilliant sound engineers for heavy metal / hard rock in the world!

Melodic Rock Fanzine Issue 56  

This new issue includes reviews and interviews of Blackmore’s Night, Burning Rain, The Poodles, Magnus Karlsson’s Freefall, Bai Bang, Black...

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