Melodic Rock Fanzine #59

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04 B O S T O N 06 S t r y p e r 07 R e o S p e e d w a g o n 08 R o y a l H u n t + Fa t e 09 A n g e l i c a + B e n e d i c t u m 12 R e v i e w s 14 A O R 15 I r o n M a s k 16 S i g n u m R e g i s 19 S e v e n t h Ke y 20 Place Vendome 21 Hell Melodic Rock Fanzine The official Frontiers Records magazine Year #9 - Nr. 6 / Issue #59 Editor-in-chief: Elio Bordi Graphic & Design: Elio Bordi Writers: Bruce E.J. Atkinson, Duncan Jamieson, Barry McMinn, Vitale Nocerino, Rob “Ezy” Bone, 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. boston album. life, love e hope Interview with:. T. Scholtz interviewed by:. Duncan jamieson

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B O S T O N - Life, Love & Hope (Frontiers Records) It’s over ten years since Boston’s last album “Corporate America” so expectations for this one are high. However, a look at the tracklist shows three of the songs are reworked versions of tunes that already appeared on “Corporate America” and another track is a two minute instrumental. Despite these shortcomings, it does sound like a Boston album. Deliberately so, Scholz has gone out of his way to include his distinctive Rockman guitar sound, the lush harmonies and the painstakingly crafted songs the band’s known for. As a result, it does have a more cohesive sound than “Corporate America”. The new material is all written by Scholz. “Heaven on Earth” and “Sail Away” are good tunes with guitars that sound like space rocket engines (very “Third Stage”) and even when Kimberley Dahme takes the lead vocal on “If You Were In Love”, it’s still unmistakably Boston. “Love Got Away” sees Scholz take the lead vocals. He’s no Brad Delp, but the song has a good arrangement and the harmonies in the chorus really lift the song. This record can’t match the classic debut of course but it tries to mix some of the best elements of “Corporate America” and “Third Stage”. Duncan Jamieson (90/100)

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Question: Welcome to Melodic Rock. How’s life? Answer: Very exciting right now! Q: Ten years is a long time between albums. What took so long? A: A typical album recording session involves a sizeable collection of professionals including a producer, engineer, assistant, studio tech, 5 or 6 performers, and maybe an arranger or songwriter. BOSTON albums are very time consuming productions because I work alone; I do most of these jobs myself. It's actually kind of surprising that it doesn't take longer! Even more important, BOSTON recordings are very complicated, with instrument and vocal parts that are hard to perform and seldom repeat. Also, when I get into the studio my mind fills with ideas, and I invest a lot of time in trying many of them. Most of what I record in the studio never makes it to the final cut. Making a BOSTON album is so costly in terms of the demands on my personal time that once I start one I seldom get a real vacation. I'm overdue for a very long one! Q: Can you please present the album to your fans? A: These are songs from the heart, each of them taking many months of effort to write, arrange, perform and record, always up to the demands of BOSTON's harshest critic, me. They have all been meticulously recorded to analogue tape on the same machines and equipment used for BOSTON's hits for the past 35 years. Q: Can you talk me through the process of one of the songs that took the longest time to finish on the record? A: They all took forever and a day, but just to put it in perspective, "Sail Away" was started in 2003 and finally finished in 2012 after numerous completed versions turned out not to be complete after all. The complication develops something like this: I lay down a piano track to my drum track only to discover that the tempo should slow down more in the chorus and in the chorus outro. After replaying the drum track I lay down another piano track followed by a rhythm guitar track at which time it becomes obvious that a the piano chords in the chorus should be different to work with a new idea I have on the guitar part, which also necessitates a several changes in the drum pattern and fills. Adding the bass, other keyboards, lead gui-

tar, and vocals each lead to changes in the parts I have already played and changed repeatedly and also create new opportunities to try additional ideas in the arrangement. There are literally thousands of different versions of each of the songs heard on the album, as there have been for most of the recordings ever released under the name BOSTON. Are you sorry you asked? Q: Is it true that Hurricane Katrina inspired “Sail Away”? A: Yes, or more correctly, the horrible inequity obvious in the way the poor in New Orleans were treated. It has been ten years since that incredible immoral travesty, and yet the disparity between rich and poor in the US has only gotten worse. Q: What made you decide to re-record three tracks from your last album “Corporate America”? A: I wanted to get it right. Somehow my original vision for those songs got lost in the pandemonium of trying to make an album involving other writers and musicians. I'm trying to forget "Corporate America," it was an experiment that didn't work... Although I do still like the song "Corporate America." Q: Can you please be so kind to do a little track by track of the album? A: "Heaven on Earth" - Doesn't happen very often; hang on to it if you find it. "Didn't Mean to Fall in Love" As they say, love happens when you least expect it. This was remastered from the original 2002 recording; released again here because I just really like this song. "Last Day of School" - This instrumental was performed publicly for the first time on the huge pipe organ at Boston's Symphony Hall for MIT's 150th anniversary celebration, with the Boston Pops. "Sail Away" - A retrospective of Katrina and the devastation endured by the poor, swept under the rug by the rich. Sail away to a better place. "Life, Love, and Hope" Sometimes it takes a traumatic event to make us realize what's really important. "If You Were in Love" - We've all been there and we can all dream. "Someday" - A shout out to all those who stand up to bullying; malicious people make life worse for everyone. "Love Got Away" - A story from

personal experience. I had to sing this one myself. "You Gave Up on Love (2.0)" It's too precious, don't do it. This is a new arrangement and a rerecording of the song originally released on Corporate America. "Someone (2.0)" - The song is "Someone," but most everyone who's been in love can relate to this song, a version of which was first heard on Corporate America in 2002. This was my chance to release an arrangement more like my original concept, which somehow got lost the first time around. Now I can sleep tonight. "The Way You Look Tonight" - To my wife Kim, a very good ending after letting love get away. Q: In the ten years since “Corporate America” the music industry has changed drastically. How do you view how it’s changed? A: Several steps for the worse. Online piracy has all but made full production recording impossible, unless your willing to lose money making an album. Luckily I was. What's worse is that the only viable means of getting your music to your listeners is by CDs (bad digital reproduction) or online MP3 downloads (horrible digital reproduction). In their take-no-prisoners approach to make corporate profits I believe the on line music sales giants have helped to destroy the apprecitaion of well recorded music. You can get anything you want instantly, as long as you don't mind that the sound sucks! There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon though: under pressure from many sides, a couple of providers have begun offering high resolution digital reproductions that should sound far better than MP3s or even CDs. In my humble opinion these still can't hold a candle to analogue vinyl or even a well made cassette, which is what I listen to daily in the studio. Q: It must be pleasing to know BOSTON’s music has truly reached the “classic” status. How do you feel about it? A: It's nice to still be appreciated. Q: What are the plans for a tour and is there any chance we might see you in Europe? A: Yes, and I hope so this coming year! Q: Good luck with the album. A: Thank you. I'm just happy to listen to it now knowing I don't have to think about how I should change it. MRF | 5

band. stryper album. no more hell to pay Interview with. m,. sweet interviewed by:. primo bonali

Question: Hello guys, it’s a real pleasure and an honor for me to have the chance to interview you… I’m 47 years old now and I grew up with your music! First of all, my best congratulations for your great new album! It’s a really heavy & somehow dark, yet very melodic album, with the usual great Stryper-trademark, and some updated contemporary sound. Do you agree? What do you think about? Answer: I'm really excited about the new album, more so than any other album we've produced and released! I believe it's our best yet and after 30 years of doing this, that's really saying a lot. I think there is a long road ahead of the band and we're ready to travel that road :-) Q: Which are the main differences between your previous one “Murder By Pride” and the new “No More Hell To Pay”, in your opinion? A: NMHTP is definitely heavier and more focused. MBP is a very good album and one that received great reviews/feedback but NMHTP takes it a step further (many steps further) and shows the world that we're capable of delivering our best, even 30 years later! As you can tell we're quite excited about the future!!! Q: When the songs for “No More Hell To Pay” have been written? Are some of these taken out off Focus on:

your archives or are all of them brand new? What is the process of songwriting in Stryper? Have all the band’s members contributed to the songwriting? A: I wrote all of the material for the record. Aside from "Jesus Is Just Alright", the other 11 tracks are all original and new except for "Marching Into Battle, which I wrote when I was 16 years old. It got shelved for some reason and I felt like it was a perfect fit for NMHTP and that it was time to dust it off and finally show the world what kind of song it is - heavy! Q: Your voice is still powerful and melodic as it was back in the ‘80s. How do you manage to do that and to keep your great voice, after years of heavy singing? A: I try to take care of my voice and take care of myself. I have continued to sing throughout the years and that's important too. I'm blessed to be able to do this still and to be able to sing as well. My voice has changed a bit over the years (deeper / grittier) but I don't necessarily think that it's a bad thing... Q: Talking about the past, which have been your highest “highs” and your lowest “lows” in your successful career? A: To Hell With The Devil was our highest high and Against The Law was our lowest low. We've learned a lot from both periods and we are the men that we are today due to experi-

encing good and bad, highs and lows. Now, we hope to see NMHTP be our highest high yet! Q: What led to the decision to split up the band in 1992? And why did you take some long years to come together once again? A: I left in 1992 because I felt that we had fulfilled our time and accomplished all that we needed to do. I felt that it was time to move on. After a 10 year hiatus it seemed like it was time to reform and do it again (2003). Q: “To Hell With The Devil” (if I’m right, you’re most successful records, sales-wise) and “In God We Trust” became instant classics and still the best Christian Hard-Rock release of all times! What do you remember of these great years? A: Amazing! We were so young yet we were doing things that one can only dream of. We went from clubs to arenas in the blink of an eye and it was surreal to say the least. Special times and many memories... Q: Any european tour planned (let’s really hope so!)? And how do you feel about playing live, after these years? A: Yes, absolutely! We are planning to come to Europe next year (2014) to tour extensively. We love to perform and meet new fans/friends and of course old fans/friends alike! It feels amazing!!!

S T R Y P E R - No More Hell To Pay ( F r o n t i e r s R e c o r d s ) Heavy as hell. Or should I say Heaven? In Michael Sweet's words "No More Hell To Pay is the record we needed to make as a follow up to "To Hell With The Devil". Every song has a hooky guitar riff. Everything is in minor keys, so it's a little darker sounding and a little tougher. It's definitely our heaviest record!". The band is in full shape, the Stryper trademark is always definitely there ("that" guitar-tone, the huge vocal harmonies) and Sweet still reaches these high notes that made his singing so popular and loved. In some songs, “No More Hell to Pay” (Stryper’s eighth original studio album and - once again - played by the original line-up of Michael Sweet as lead vocalist and guitarist, Robert Sweet on drums, Timothy Gaines on bass and Oz Fox on Lead Guitar) makes me think also to "Soldiers Under Command", with a better production (courtesy of Michael Sweet himself) and with probably the band's heaviest material ever. It looks like the band - after the long break - decided to recoup the lost time and to push the machine full force. A long tour and the recording of a Live DVD-CD are the next moves for the yellow and black boys. Jesus Is Just Alright! Primo Bonali (90/100)

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artist. reo speedwagon album. live at moondance... Interview with. interviewed by. b. atkinson

Question: Can you please present the album to our readers? Answer: We were doing Moondance back when the dressing room was the back of your truck! It’s come a long way, and it’s such an awesome event, because it’s a dying breed — the actual old-school rock festival. We have over 30,000 people in the audience and it’s a four-day weekend and people are all camping out. I mean, it’s really cool. We were so fortunate, because over the years we’ve recorded and videoed a number of shows, and there’s always been something that didn’t work. Either there was a technical glitch or I didn’t feel like I sang well or somebody’s guitar was out of tune or whatever. There was always something that messed it up. For this particular show, we had 15 hi-def cameras — it was a big deal and a huge production with 30,000 people [in attendance], and man, it just all came together. The weather was perfect and people were psyched. And from our standpoint, the band just had a smokin’ night. So after 40 years, we finally nailed it, so we were just so psyched. We had a great night, everything worked camerawise and the sound was good, so we Focus on:

finally got what we feel is kind of the definitive performance of this configuration of REO Speedwagon, so we’re very, very proud of this thing and glad that it’s going to to be released worldwide. What rapresent the music in your life? A: Guitar saved my life. I really wanted to be the point guard on our basketball team, but unfortunately I wasn't given that gift. So I started taking guitar lessons but wasn't really sure why I was taking them. Then on a night in 1964, I saw the Beatles play on Ed Sullivan and everything changed for me. They were the first band that played their instruments, sang their songs and wrote their songs. They encapsulated everything I wanted to do and from then on, there was no other option. Q: Any news about a new studio album? A: Well, we loaded up into a friend of mine’s studio and just started messing around. I had a basic idea of a song and was working on it. It wasn’t even finished, and it was very different than the way we usually do things. But we just loaded in and started playing, and so we’re just

kind of trying to see if there’s other ways of doing things. Recorded music has changed so much over the past few years, and plus, our lifestyles of changed. Bruce [Hall] moved to Florida, Neal [Doughty] moved to Minnesota — we don’t all live in the same neighborhood anymore like we used to, so it makes it a little more challenging, the thought of making an album. I love albums, and I just love when songs are just sequenced in a certain way and it kind of all works together. The reality and the practicalities of doing that at this point in our lives is that it would take a minor miracle for that to happen. So we’re looking at alternative ways of getting music out there. As far as an announcement to make of something, I really don’t have one right now. All I can tell you is that we’re investigating and we’re experimenting at soundchecks and we’re just messing around with stuff. You know, fortunately we’re having a lot of fun out on tour right now. One of the things we’ve been doing is taking some of the songs from the catalog that we feel kind of like we missed the boat on a bit the first time around. So we’re kind of treating them as if they’re new songs.

REO SPEEDWAGON - Live At Moondance Jam (Frontiers Records) A great package from a fantastic band from the American heartland! “Live at Moondance Jam” is a visual and sonic live testament of one REO Speedwagon. Although on the scene for forty plus years, Kevin Cronin and Company are still very much alive and rocking! The band are squeaky tight, Kevin’s voice still unique and pure. “Live at Moondance Jam” capture REO Speedwagon at their highest. This concert performance is sonically high definition, and so is the visual document! For the first time in the band’s career, they are presented in High Definition-showcasing every detail of this extraordinary performance. Give yourself a gift of American Heartland rock n’ roll. REO Speedwagon: “Live At Moondance Jam”! Bruce Atkinson (90/100) MRF | 7

Bruce Atkinson: Andre, when we talked last, “Show Me How To Live” was just about to be released. You were re-united with DC Cooper and he returns on this new work. Going into this session, were you more comfortable in what you were about to create, knowing that you were about to expand the boundaries? Andre Andersen: I´d say so as it´s always easier to work with the stable line-up: you know what to expect from people, you know their strong sides and general preferences. BA: Speaking of expanding the boundaries, you are taking the group to a higher level, with expressing yourself more completely in the symphonic area. Any unique challenges in this regard? AA: The main one being working with classical musicians and incorporating them into our songs/arrangements; some things just took more time to achieve. BA: When composing, I know that you keep in mind that the members of Royal Hunt are their own musical personality. How do you accomplish maintaining yours and their musical personalities in the finished creation? AA: It´s a natural situation for me: I write as I always do and as I´m starting with arrangements I penning everybody´s parts according to their preferences (which I know pretty well by now). Of course we´ll change some bits here and there while recording in order to fit everybody´s style even better, but so far – nothing major. BA: In our last interview, Andre, you identified a Vision that you and the group have held for several years. Are you still holding to that Vision, or have you found it a tad more difficult in our trying times? AA: It´s getting harder every year, but look at us today: new album, new tour… We´re still around. BA: Again, with this album… There are of course, some very strong lyrical statements, including the title of the album itself: “A Life To Die For”. Do you find it harder writing, or are the times we live in stand as a source of inspiration? AA: The inspiration is everywhere, you just have to look for it… a book, a movie, a headline in the newspaper, a personal event – there´re plenty of issues to be inspired by. ROYAL HUNT - A Life to Die For (Frontiers Records) The twelfth studio album from perhaps the best Symphonic Melodic rock ensemble: Royal Hunt’s “A Life to Die For” is just that, music to die for! It begins with the paradoxical “Hell Comes Down From Heaven” and epically takes off from there! A complete lyrical & musical masterstroke from Andre Andersen and friends. This five piece have outdone themselves, and I think I said that in my review of their “Show Me How To Live” opus, but this time they absolutely have! It doesn’t matter if we are talking about Jonas’ guitars, the pounding yet melodic Bass of Andreas’ or Allan’s precise and hard hitting percussion… Andre & DC Cooper are surrounded by a magnificent team of players. Twelve, historically a number that represents completeness and fullness… Royal Hunt’s twelfth studio expression is utterly complete & with musical excursions that are full to the brim! Bruce Atkinson (91/100) 8 | MRF

Barry McMinn: This is second album with the same line-up, do you see this version of the band as next chapter in the story of Fate? Jens B: Yes this is definitely the line-up that Fate will keep for at long time, band is sounding better then ever and we have a great chemistry in the band now. Everybody is older and more mature as musicians and persons and the egos are not an issue. We enjoy playing music together and have fun playing live. BMM: How long after ‘Ghost From The Past’ did the band start working on new material for ‘If Not For The Devil’? JB: We are always writing songs but we seriously started during the spring of 2012 and wrote the album during the year. We decided the 12 songs for the album late September 2012 and started to rehears from there. BMM: Does all the band have input into the songs or is there one main songwriter in the band? JB: Yes all 5 members are writing songs but it mainly starts with a idea from one of the guys and then we all pitch in with ideas to form the final result. BMM: How do you compare this album to your previous releases, especially first four albums? JB: We didn’t think to much on that when we started writing the album but with this line-up it’s just a perfect match for melodic hard rock and we all like the old albums so I think it’s was only natural that the new album sounds like it does. For me the new album reminds me of “Matter Of Attitude” and “Scratch N´ Sniff” most and its my personal favourite ones. BMM: The bands sound has been described as anything from AOR to Melodic Rock to Metal, do you think the diverse nature of the band has made the band hard to categorize and do you think this is a good thing? JB: Well the band didn’t have much time writing the first album but I think if you go from “A Matter Of Attitude” to today except for “V” I think the best category is Melodic Hard Rock. FATE has never been metal and has only flirted with AOR I think, but it’s so hard to say because it’s very a very personal thing categorizing music. It isn’t any thing we in the band are thinking of. FATE - If Not For The Devil (Avenue of Allies) “If Not For the Devil” is the latest album from Danish rockers Fate. This new album shows the band at their diverse best. Once again the 2011 line-up of Dagfinn Joensen (vocals) Torben Enevoldsen (guitars), Mikkel Henderson (keyboards), Peter Steincke (bass) and Jens Berglid (drums), deliver an album full of Scandinavian panache, that gets off to a great start with “Reaping”, an all guns blazing hard rocker that sets the bar high for the rest of the album to follow. And follow it does with the title track “If Not For The Devil” with Enevoldsen unleashing the big licks while the powerful vocals of Joensen deliver on so many levels. The album continues to rock big style with the likes of “Bridges Are Burning”, “Gambler” and “Hard To Say Goodbye”. These are just some of the many highlights on what is a great slice of Scandinavian rock. Barry McMinn (89/100)

Barry McMinn: “Obey” is the band’s fourth album and sees a couple of line-up changes, with Rikard Stjernquist and Aric Avina joining the ranks, what do these guys bring to Benedictum? Veronica Freeman: Change always seems to be inevitable and this is the case with Benedictum as well. We are really proud to have Rikard and Aric on board. Rikard (formerly of Jag Panzer) has a style that is perfectly suited for Benedictum. Aside from the fact that he tells some of the best stories around! He is a seasoned professional and I think we all learn a lot from him. Aric (formerly of Tynator) was really thrown into this whole crazy Benedictum circus as we were already preparing for the album and getting ready to record. We almost had to start the process without a bass player but we really wanted to make sure and get the right fit. Aric brought a certain calmness to the whole situation and within a few days was ready for the studio and really did a great job. These guys are a LOT OF FUN and to me that is what really makes it all come together. BMM: What was the song writing process like for the new album, did the new guys have any input on the new songs? VF: The process was a lot smoother and seemed to flow better this time around. Basically, Pete and I still work the same way as we always have. It seems like we have a little formula that has always worked for us. He passes some musical ideas by me, I listen to them over and over and then start piecing some melody and lyrical ideas together and we develop a song. Rikard had a lot of input as well, especially when it came to arrangements on some songs and giving things that certain “feel”. Aric entered on to the scene after the writing process was pretty much over but I am sure he will have plenty of input on the next album and he did a great job under pressure with the recording of this album OBEY. BMM: The band have gone from strength to strength with each album, how do you think the band has evolved overall since its creation back in 2005? VF: Well one thing for sure is we have had a lot of different members lol. I think that each one has brought something to the table that helps to make us what we are as a whole. I think there is usually a natural evolution with music unless of course one is deciding to stay in a particular pattern and stick to just that. I didn’t want to do that, I was glad that we are able to have a distinct sound but I never want to feel that we are stuck in a holding pattern and cant branch out now and then. There are certain things that work and certain things that don’t and the only way to find that out sometimes is to give it a try. I think we have found a certain identity within our music. Hard to pin it down but we know it when we hear and feel it. BENEDICTUM - Obey (Frontiers Records) “Obey” is the fourth album from Californian Heavy Metallers Benedictum and once again led by the vocal might of Veronica Freeman and the guitars of Pete Wells, who are joined by new band members Rikard Stjernquist of Jag Panzer on drums and Tynator’s Aric Avina on bass. The album sees the return of Jeff Pilson as producer, (who handled their debut album ‘Uncreation’ back in 2005), the album sees the band return to the more aggressive edge of their first two albums, with Freeman delivering a monstrous vocal as always. The album gets underway proper after the intro with ‘Fracture’, an all out Metal attack that will have you raising the metal horns in salute from the first few licks. The all out metal continues with the massive title track ‘Obey’, with Mills firing out the big licks, while the rhythm section pounds out the back beat in true Metal fashion. This is the band’s fourth release and without a doubt their best to date. Barry McMinn (89/100)

Primo Bonali: How and when did you decide to create a classic and majestic AOR-Melodic Rock album like this? Angelica Rylin: It’s always been a dream of mine to make an album like this. I grew up with this type of music and there’s a special spirit in it that I love. When Mr. Perugino of Frontiers Records approached me about this opportunity about two years ago I never hesitated for a second and here we are now! PB: I'm wondering what your most important influences, musically talking, are, as with your main-band Murder Of My Sweet you show a different side of you. AR: I have always had a wide spectrum when listening to music and never really settled for just one favourite source of inspiration. I’ve always believed that a good song is a good song no matter the genre and by that I’m never limited into writing or singing in just one way. This is also what I wanted to show by recording this album, that I’m not just a “one trick pony” and that it’s ok to be versatile and still be able to keep the quality of the music. PB: How did your band-mate and producer Daniel Flores help you in putting together "Thrive? AR: I use to say that Daniel is my musical mentor. He has a big part in making me perform better and better every time we work together. On this project he helped me get in touch with some of the musicians and songwriters and of course he produced, mixed and mastered the album. I had a big role to play. PB: Which are the themes you're dealing with, lyrically talking, in your album? AR: I guess LOVE is a big topic in the songs. With TMOMS many of our songs are story based and has a deeper undergoing mening so on Thrive I wanted to write straight up, non complicated love songs and focus more in trying to capture the vibe and the energy of our sessions. The lyrics either stems from my own experiences or my idea of love. Sometimes it's wonderful, sometimes it's really hard. It can make us do strange things or it can be paralyzing but most of all we can't go without it. PB: Your future plans? AR: I wish to be able to tour with this album and then hopefully record a second one. I really wish that my fans will support me by buying this album and request live shows. It’s all about the fans, the power lies with them! ANGELICA - Thrive (Frontiers Records) An exciting and astonishing Melodic Rock project put together by Swedish singer Angelica Rylin (previously known as lead vocalist for Murder Of My Sweet), with the usual precious collaboration of Frontiers Records-team, ANGELICA features the songwriting talent of no less than Harry Hess, Robert Sall, Alessandro Del Vecchio, Anders Wigelius and Daniel Flores (who also produced this debut-album). The result is definitely awesome, 1st class AOR/Melodic Rock that might recall the grandiose sound of some ‘80s classics like Signal, Saraya, Witness and the likes, with that typical Swedish flavour (Work of Art, The Magnificent, Wigelius) thrown into for good measure. But it’s Angelica’s voice that is the real “high” here; it looks like she was born to sing songs like these, going from the energetic opener “Breaking My Heart” (what a great keys intro!) to the more Pop “I Am Strong”, passing through the sweet melodies of “Nothing Else You Can Break” and “I’m Not Waiting”. Oh well, I’m in love… Primo Bonali (92/100) MRF | 9

DOGFACE - Back on the Streets (AOR Heaven) They’ve been busy-both Vocalist Mats Leven and Guitarist Martin Kronlund have involved themselves in some heavy duty and various projects since the last Dogface release: 2002’s “In Control”. “Back In The Streets” find this duo joined by Drummer Perra Johansson and Bassist Mikael Carlsson. Ten rollicking tracks are the result, with this the third Dogface release-being solid and straight. Straight to the high energy output, crisp production and a showcase for several guest musicians. “Back On The Streets” is a noteworthy return! The strength of the group is aptly heard in such songs as “Higher” and the title track. The high degree of musicianship and songwriting are carried through such tunes as “The Fall”. All in all, “Back On The Streets” is Dogface at their finest… Besides, “Crazy Horses” is finally done the way it should always have been!! Just saying! Bruce Atkinson (88/100) REVOLUTION ROAD - Revolution Road (Avenue of Allies) I’m sure most of you guys over there still remember the name of Swedish singer Stefan Berggren, a distinctive, warm and bluesy voice that let anyone immediately think to the obvious comparison with Mr. Coverdale. Berggren, former of Snakes In Paradise and Company Of Snakes, left his bands a few years ago. He got a call from italian producer/songwriter Alessandro Del Vecchio (Edge Of Forever, Hardline, Lionville, Fergie Frederiksen), who decided to contact him, offering the main role on this new project called Revolution Road.A “classic” Melodic Hard Rock played with intensity, passion and musicianship, and a great comeback for this great singer who might surely have the Snakes in his heart but he’s still able to stand on his own with his awesome voice. Fave tracks of mine: the opener and AOR-oriented “Wings Of Hope”, the acoustic-driven “Shooting Star”, the ‘80s-oriented “Losing You” and the bluesyto-the-bone ”Ain’t Gonna Give My Heart Away”. Let’s slide it in! Primo Bonali (88/100) IRON MASK - Fifth Son Of Winterwood (AFM Records) With the help of Vassili Moltchanov on Bass and Ramy Ali on Drums, Boals and Petrossi have written, played and arranged 12 songs in the most classic and pure Heavy Metal vein. The opener "Back Into Mystery" is already very representative: a great mix of Power and Melodic Metal with some Progressive influences. The real jewel comes with the second track, "Like A Lion In A Cage", a fast song that sounds so close to the best Malmsteen and Stratovarius. The album goes one with two songs ("One Commandment" and "Seven Samurai") more Power-Epic Metal a la Hammerfall - R.J. Dio and with some real heavy guitars, but unfortunately also with some weaker songs like "Angel Eyes Demon Soul", "Reconquista 1492" (Iron Maiden's "Fear Of The Dark"-type guitar riffs everywhere!) and "The Picture Of Dorian Gray" (what a disturbing and childish riff in the middle of the song!). All in all, a powerful and enjoyable album, full of excellent musical performances and top-notch vocals, although the final result is not so spectacular as you could expect from these names... Primo Bonali (80/100) RHAPSODY OF FIRE - Dark Wings of Steel (AFM Records) Armed with a new recording contract and label-“Rhapsody of Fire” are about to spread their “Dark Wings of Steel”. The group’s first since 2011’s “From Chaos to Eternity”! Continuing in their ambitious ways, the recent upheavals have not damaged the insightful and rich vein of creativity that Alex Staropoli and mates work in. “Dark Wings Of Steel” is an immense symphony-somewhat ominous-however masterful in its entirety. Alex Holzwarth’s brother Oliver has been the group’s Bassist since 2011, and both brothers form a very solid rhythm section that allows the build-up of symphonic expressions that propels us to the highest level of the sound spectrum! Roberto De Micheli intertwines his guitar fluidly with the forceful & melodic keyboard journeys of founding member Alex Staropoli. Long time Vocalist, Fabio Lione delivers with such virtuosity & opulence, that you can hear every musical breath he takes! “Dark Wings Of Steel” is another epic from this stellar grouping of musicians. Bruce Atkinson (91/100) HUMAN FORTRESS - Raided Lands (AFM Records) After a change of direction on their last album almost derailed them permanently, five year on the German epic metallers are back with an album that should connect with those who liked their first two albums or those who like epic metal in general and songs of old battles. The biggest change is new lead singer Gus Monsanto. The Brazilian singer has sung for Revolution Renaissance and his vocals are very good indeed and surprisingly melodic for the metal here but it works (on “Child Of War” he even sounds a little like Hardline / Axel Rudi Pell vocalist Johnny Gioeli). There are big hitting songs like the call to arms of “Raided Lands” and “Gladiator Of Rome (Part 2)” with lots of keyboard assisted atmosphere, big, impressive riffs and warlike, anthemic choruses. Light folk elements are added in a couple of intros to add depth. The first half of the record is stronger than the latter half but overall this sounds like a band which has learned from its own mistakes and are back in the fight. Duncan Jamieson (82/100) EPICA - Retrospect (Nuclear Blast) Since their debut album ‘The Phantom Agony’ in 2003, the band have gone from strength to strength and have become firm favourites amongst the Symphonic Metal fraternity. Now in 2013 they celebrate 10 years of raising the Symphonic Metal bar with their aptly entitled “Retrospect” opus. The album will be made available as 2 DVD / 3 CD and 2 Blu-ray / 3 CD. The show was filmed with 10 high-definition cameras and is edited, mixed and mastered by Jochem Jacobs. This is 3 hours of pure Epica, filmed at Klokgebouw (Bell Building) in Eindhoven, the Netherlands in front of thousands of adoring fans. The album goes through the bands entire back catalogue with 26 massive Symphonic Metal overtures to entice even the die-hard fans. Simone is a vocal force to be reckoned with, over 3 hours of pure Symphonic majesty. The three-hour concert – which included accompaniment from the seventy piece Extended Reményi Ede Chamber Orchestra and The Miskolc National Theatre Choir, is a must buy for all fans of the genre. If you haven’t yet experienced the power of Epica, then this is the album for you. Barry McMinn (85/100) 12 | MRF

SILENT VOICES - Reveal the Change (Ulterium Records) The original four have regrouped: Henrik Klingenberg on Keyboards, Paul Kauppinen on Bass, JukkaPekka Koivisto on Drums/Percussion, and Timo Kauppinen on guitar. These four plus, are reclaiming their rightful place in the higher echelons of the Progressive music galaxy. Joined by Vocalist Teemu Koskela, this Finnish five piece have grown leaps & bounds through their self-imposed exile. “Reveal The Change” displays brilliant song crafting, musicianship and an original take on all that is considered Progressive Metal. This album also plays host to a plethora of guest vocalists! Adding a new sense of adventure to an already adventuresome disc! Finely textured and even more finely structured, “Reveal The Change” could be considered a “comeback” album. Each musical composition is performed with deep confidence, and although certainly progressive, contains an organic sound that reveals the richness and depth of each members individual Talents. Extraordinarily done so without comprising or overshadowing any individual player. Silent Voices should not stay silent again. We are more than ready to hear their changes! Bruce Atkinson (90/100) KICK - Memoirs (Escape Music) You just can’t keep the Jones’ down! Chris and Mikey Jones are wrapping up 2013 with the release of “Memoirs”. Technically, this is Mickey’s second solo effort, however for all intends and purposes, “Memoirs” has been equally contributed by brother Chris. A great stand-up rock record, this release should elevate the group’s profile, especially if they hit the road this winter, with this excellent set! We are greeted with a “straight-up” production, with Mikey handling this chore as well. Steeped in the tradition of past Kick releases, “Memoirs” constantly rocks out. Kick-ass tunes from a kick-ass band! Do you want some esemples? Try to listen to songs like the opener “Doesn’t Take much”, “Radio, Round 6 Round” or “Highrway to the Sun”... They will surely take to to the shop to buy the album! A disc that just doesn’t quit. Kick-“Memoirs”, you like no-nonsense Rock? Then just get this! Bruce Atkinson (91/100) SLEEPING ROMANCE – Enlighten (Ulterium Records) Sleeping Romance are a Symphonic Power Metal band coming from Modena, Italy, and “Enlighten” is their debut-album. Led by charming lead singer Federica Lanna and guitarist Federico Truzzi (who also wrote all the orchestrations), the five-some delivers its blend of Power, Symphonic and Gothic Metal with ability and good ideas, without carefully following the usual formula with those abused operatic vocals, but, instead opting for some emotional, all-clean, melodic, sweet and sometimes quiet vocals. That said, you could anyway find here most of the elements that made bands like Epica and Without Temptation so successful: heavy & crunching guitars, epic atmospheres, orchestral arrangements, and a pretty modern production. Supported by a rich and crystal clear production (the album has been recorded in the band’s own studio and mastered by Roberto Priori in Los Angeles), “Enlighten” contains 10 songs that could appeal to all the fans of the genre. Primo Bonali (85/100) NIGHTWISH – Showtime, Storytime (Nuclear Blast) Nightwish are finally back with the new line up and a new release. Floor Jansen is the new singer and “Showtime, Storytime” is the live album that show how she pefectly fits in the band. After being decorated with triple platinum status in Finland as well as gold status in numerous European countries (Germany, Switzerland, Poland, among others) for their most current studio masterpiece “Imaginaerum” and following the highly successful release of their very own fantasy motion picture “Imaginaerum by Nightwish”, the band is closing in its cycle of the “Imaginaerum World Tour” with this special gift / release. The sound and production are incredible and the setlist is perfect for all Nightwish fans and for who would like to listen to the band for the first time. The second disc consists of 120-minute tour documentary “Please Learn The Setlist in 48 Hours”, with no short of drama or overall madness. Also, there is a 16-minute NIGHTWISH Table Hockey Tournament, filmed on tour. On top of this there are two music clips: “I want my tears back” (Live at Hartwall Arena) and “Ghost Love Score” (Live in Buenos Aires). Vitale Nocerino (95/100) ROADFEVER – Wolf Pack (Avenue of Allies) Claiming to be Sourthern flavoured rock, the second album from the female fronted Swiss outfit, while having the odd Southern influence, is mostly a hard rock album with an 80s influences and “Brother” have a whiff of the South, with a touch of slide here and lyrics that are phrased in a Southern way. Otherwise, what you really get on the record are the straightforward uptempo blues rockers like “The Dice Will Roll”, “Drain your Mind” and “Wolf Pack”. The big riffs and choruses are a touch AC/DC, a bit like guitarist David Pariat’s previous band Sideburn. Stevie “Manou” Pike’ vocals are OK, at times a little like Sass Jordon. Matt Sinner is a guest vocalist on “Magic Sun” which offers a different dynamic which works reasonably well. It grooves in places but can’t escape it’s European feel, so it’s not wholly convincing as American Southern rock. Likeable enough though. Duncan Jamieson (79/100) HELL – Human Remains (Nuclear Blast) The story of HELL is so unique; always considered as one of the prime movers in the NWOBHM scene, the band never managed to release a full-length album back in the day, due to many unlucky circumstances, and they stayed inactive for more than 20 years. Then, two years ago, under the push of world-famous producer/guitarist Andy Sneap, fan of the band since his teen-age, the band reunited and recorded the so long-due debut-album, “Human Remains”. And now it’s the time for the follow-up, “Curse And Chapter”, a 50% new / 50% old material-affair that – enriched by a stellar production and the most sinister & hellish (still very melodic) vocals you might have listened in the last years - will leave many HEAVY METAL fans open mouthed, with comparisons (to my ears) ranging from Demon and Diamond Head to Mercyful Fate and Annihilator. Hell ain’t a bad place to be. Primo Bonali (85/100) MRF | 13

band. AOR album. the secret of la interview with:. frederic slama interviewed by:. d.jamieson

Question: I can’t believe this is now the 12th AOR record! You must be constantly writing songs for this project. Answer: Yes, my main job is being a songwriter anyway. During the last 30 years i've written a lot of songs for the Japanese and European market in various styles. I'm working with a very famous publisher in Japan and write songs for them every week. So for my AOR albums, I always write a lot and a lot of songs and I always keep the best ones possible. So I have a catalogue of several hundreds songs and I'm always interested to write for new artists and bands. The trick with AOR is to find the right singer for the right song which is not always an easy task. For "The Secrets Of L.A", my 12th album as you mentioned, I've tried to keep all the songs very melodic with interesting lyrics that have a real meaning and a story to tell! I'm very proud of this album which is for me the best I've recorded (yet ha! ha!). Q: Do you write the songs with a singer in mind? A: Yes usually I have specific singers in mind like Lou Gramm or Steve Perry, but as you may guess it's very hard to get them to record anything these days, so I have to find excellent singers that can really delivers and do the job. Focus on:

Of course more than often I write with specific singers in mind and try to challenge them with some surprising melodies or lyrics they are not used to sing. But it always turned out well because the people I'm calling are always the top of the crop and know what singing really means. Q: You have some great AOR names involved again. You must have worked with almost every singer in the genre of AOR over the 12 albums! How do you get so many involved? A: I had the luck to work as music journalist for 25 years and to live in Los Angeles for 10 years. So I made a lot of contacts and friends there. So I have one of the biggest address book in the business. I recently counted how many different musicians I worked with (including my solo albums and productions) and it was over a total of 150! (Not bad, huh? ha! ha!). The thing is that the best singers and musicians knows that I'm doing a high quality project and that they will be part of a high class cd with big production and other big names, so it's much easier to involve someone I don't know much with these kind of credits. And I must add that all these musicians are so nice and professional, that they are always ready to record on a high quality

release. Q: Any singers you’d still like to get on an AOR record? A: There are still many singers I'd like to work with, so I think I will be here for the next 50 years until my wish list is complete. Of course legends like Steve Perry, Lou Gramm, Ann Wilson, Paul Rodgers or Bobby Kimball. But also many talented singers I hadn't time yet to work with or contact yet like Stan Bush, Joe Lynn Turner, Fiona Flanagan, Steve Walsh, Jimi Jamison or Richard Marx among many others. My wish list would take at least 10 pages ha! Ha! Q: Tommy Denander plays the guitar on the record. What’s it like working with him? A: Tommy Denander is not only a good friend of mine and a fabulous human being, he's one of the top producer and guitar player in the world. It's very easy to work with him because he understands right away what I need for a song and can put to life my wildest ideas! It's like we have telepathy ha! Ha! We've done 10 AOR albums together and we're finishing the 11th one right now, and year after year it's a pleasure to work with such a ppositive, classy musician who knows what's important in life and music ! So my hat off to my buddy Tommy!

A O R - The Secret of LA (AOR Heaven) Hard to believe this is now Frederic Slama’s twelve album for his AOR project. Again, he assembles a cast of great AOR singers for ten tracks of classy melodic rock. It’s rockier than his early westcoast sounding AOR albums. He produces the disc with Tommy Denander and it’s easy to make comparisons with Denander’s three Radioactive records where he also used some great singers to front his tunes. Every singer takes a song, except Axe’s Bob Harris who gets two. It goes from the rock tracks like Fergie Federicksen’s “Deep Whirlpool” and Jeff Scott Soto’s “Stage Struck” to the AOR of Jim Jidhead’s “Secrets In The Shadows” and the almost Fleetwood Mac sounding “Voices In The Wind” sung by Chicago’s Bill Chaplin’s wife Tamara. This project is a much better vehicle for his music than than his recent collaboration with French duo Chasing Dreams. Quality, polished melodic rock with no duffers. Duncan Jamieson (90/100)

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Question: First of all, please explain the title: Who is “The Fifth Son Of Winterdoom”? It seems like the title track contains Irish influences, right? But the lyrics somehow are related to Nordic mythology. Am I right or wrong? Dushan Petrossi: Yes you're right! Celtic kind of melodies, let me explain bit about the lyrics. Every song has it's own identity, Fifth Son of Winterdoom is a poetic metaphore to explain how I see my “life” and my sadness concerning the loss of my parents and what changed in my vision of life since I was a kid, turning into a more dark and pessimistic feeling, about the meaning of a life, our hopes, and what we have to face one day, the brutal reality of death and having to ”survive” without the one

we loved the most, the one who really knew who I am. I am the Fifth Son of Winterdoom in every way, I'm the fifth child of my family and it's also the fifth Iron Mask CD, so for me in a way my fifth baby. The baby on the cover represents me, the black and white wolfs represent my parents, who both passed away in winter.Thats a winter curse, a frozen doom. Q: Will there be a video clip for the new album just like “God Punishes, I Kill” for “Blacks As Death” or “Forever In The Dark” for “Shadow Of The Red Baron”? “Rock Religion” would be perfect! DP: Yeah we have a new video clip, and it's ROCK RELIGION haha! It’s an anthem dedicated to the fans out there. Music unites, and helps you to overcome adversities in your life. Q: A lot of your songs on all of your CDs are inspired by history and literature (this time Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture Of Dorian Gray”). Are you an intellectual

man who reads a lot? What are your preferences? DP: I just love history in general,its very important to know where you come from if you don't wanna take the wrong road in the future, another song like Reconquista 1492 is based on Spain's christian kingdom reconquering the throne, this is a real fact, not only imagination, I try to make it as real as possible and then read a lot of information about the subject I need to work on. I also love science fiction and all the mysteries of the universe and physics, galaxies and stars are something we cant even start to understand,this is really where all creation started, I believe in a more abstract God, there's something more than what we all think it is, when we will find out the “creation equation” we will be able to touch God's finger or at least that mysterious force that started the whole process of the universe birth and its evolution. Q: Will there be a new Magic Kingdom album in the near future? DP: Yes, I started working on it ,it will be again very symphonic with cinematic parts but still very great catchy choruses and melodic speed metal. Q: Iron Mask exists for twelve years now, which is a notable period of time. Where do you see the band in eight years (20th birthday!)? DP: I hope playing at wacken open air haha!!!

band. signum regis album. exodus interview with:. ronnie konig interviewed by:. d.jamieson

Question: Let’s talk about this concept album: What comes first? The music or the concept? Answer: In this case, it was the music that came first. The first 3 songs, that were written, are “Let Us Go!”, “Wrath Of Pharaoh” and “Exodus”. The idea with those 3 songs is quite old, so I can't really remember what was the inspiration for this. Maybe I was just reading the Bible or watching the Moses movie or something. Q: The great Goran Edman sings on this album as the previous records but this time there are also other lead singers involved (e.g. Lance King, Matt Smith, Michael Vescera and more). Why did you decide to use other singers on this record? A: We were trying to find a replacement for Göran Edman. We were very happy about all the recordings we did together, but he didn't want to play live. He plays Focus on:

live, but not metal anymore. So we were trying to find someone to fill in his shoes and who would be more enthusiastic about the possibility to tour. The truth is, we couldn't find anyone, who would be from our area a who would be available. We contacted few people and they all had their own things going on, but all of them wanted to do a guest appearance for the new album. That is what led to the idea to give up looking for a full-time member at that point and rather record an album with guests. Q: How did you get them involved on the album? A: Emil of Ulterium Records helped us a lot. Actually without him, none of this would happen. He knew all the singers, he had the contacts and arranged it. Or at least most of the singers were contacted with his help. Once we were in contact with the guys, we were deciding carefully who should do which song. It looks like we the

decision process went perfect. As far as I can tell, all of the guys had fun doing it. In some cases, the proposed melodies were changed and improved by the singer. Samuel Nyman and Lance King did a great job in changing the melody to fit their style. Q: How do you feel the Signum Regis sound has evolved over the three albums? A: I think, when it comes to production, we have always managed to improve a little bit from one album to the other. We were openminded enough to record various kind of songs, use different keys, tempos and scales. I believe, this enables us to do a fresh sounding record every time. Stated differently, at this point, fans expect colorful music from us and not the same 3 song all over again. I believe, if you have musical variety and you have your own style at the same time, it's a very good thing. I am already looking forward to recording the 4th one.

S I G N U M R E G I S - Exodus (Ulterium Records) There’s more ambition to the Serbian power metal band’s third album. On previous records they used the veristile Swedish singer Goran Edman. He’s here again, but this time there are a number of other strong singers such as Matt Smith of Theocracy, Michael Vescera and Lance King amongst others to bring a broader sound to this disc, that’s inkeeping with the epic nature of the album’s concept. “Exodus” tells the story of the jews fleeing from the Egyptians, and its epic historial theme is suited to the power metal, symphonic metal, prog and neo-classical elements the band use to tell their tale. Ironically, considering the middle eastern setting, there’s less eastern sounding music than on their previous records. Songs like “Enslaved”, the punishingly heavy “Let Us Go!”, the more melodic title track, and guitar wizardry on “Song Of Deliverance” make this a good example of contemporary epic, power metal. Duncan Jamieson (90/100)

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band. seventh key album. i will survive interview with:. b. greer interviewed by:. b. mcminn

Q: “I Will Survive” is the long awaited third album from Seventh Key, so why so long in between albums? A: It’s only been Q: I looked at the dates on some of the sound files and the dates that are on some of the sound files date date back to November of 2008. A: Honestly, Mike and I live on different coasts of the US. He lives in Los Angeles and I live in Savannah, Georgia, which is on the east coast. In order to write together and record I had to travel out to his house. So, I could only travel when my touring schedule with Kansas would allow. The way Kansas tours these days is that we tour year round. We are much busier in the spring , summer and fall and then really slow down during the winter months. I had to take advantage of downtime with the band to be able to travel the 2500 miles to Los Angeles to work on the record. I probably made 15 trip to L.A. before I could actually do the remaining work in my studio in Savannah. That included Focus on:

redoing vocal part and backing vocals. Also, while we were recording the record, Mike was working on others projects, recording and mixing. I, along with 3 of my band mates in Kansas recording a CD called “NATIVE WINDOW”. Everyone except Steve was involved in this record. So, there was a log of distractions that made the process much longer that usual. Q: The album features Billy Trudel, Terry Brock and Bobby Capps on backing vocals, so how did these guys get involved in the album? A: Everyone of these guys, with the exception of Billy Trudel, are close friends of mine. Mike had been working with Billy in Los Angeles for other project that he had been working on. Also, I had heard him sing on some of the songs that Mike had produced. Billy has a great voice and was basically on call when Mike need backing vocals. I didn’t meet Billy until we shot the video and now I consider him a good friend. Great voices all of them. Q: We also see fellow Kansas member Dave Ragsdale lending

some violin on the almost folkish “Sea of Dreams”, how did Dave get involved? A: All I had to do really was just ask and he was very willing to oblige. David has a recording room in his home and was able to do the tracks at his leisure when he found the time. He played some really cool stuff Q: Does the album title “I Will Survive” have and particular reference, if so what’s the story behind the song? A: My concept for the CD was was to feature the Myan Calendar as the cover, which predicted the end of time, or so everyone thought. The title track “I Will Survive” had particular meaning to me in that I had gone through rough times in my life on a personal level. Althought the story in the lyrics doesn’t spell out what I went through, I was just trying to convey that when you are at your lowest, when everyone and everything seems to be against you and the world seems to be ending to ride through the storm and all will be OK.

S E V E N T H K E Y - I Will Survive (Frontiers Records) This is the much-anticipated third album from Billy Greer and Mike Slamer’s Seventh Key. Once again, the pair have come up with a truly magical release that mixes so many elements, that it’s almost alchemy, the result of which is just pure musical gold. From the opener and title track “I Will Survive”, you can almost taste the quality, from the majestic vocals of Greer to the near perfect guitar and keyboard work of Slamer, this is six minutes of pure joy and a great opener. The pair show their rockier side with the excellent “Lay It on the Line”, a melody rich opus that just oozes quality, before mixing things up again with the ballad “I See You There”. Bringing the tempo back up again, we have the fantastic “It’s Just a State Of Mind”. There is no doubting the quality of this release, with Slamer not only laying down guitars and keyboards, but also doing a damn fine job on the production side too. This is one for the Christmas list of any fan of great Melodic Rock! Barry McMinn (90/100) MRF | 19

band. place vendome album. thunder in the... Interview with. michael kiske interviewed by:. d. jamieson

Q: Michael, this is your third effort with Place Vendome, have you approached “Thunder In The Distance” any differently than the previous two recordings? A: No, not really. We always select the songs at first which we believe might be right. Dennis prepares rough versions of those songs for me that I can start trying vocals for them. In the meantime while I do the singing, Dennis does the recordings of the musicians. Then I send him my vocal tracks and he starts mixing. Q: With this project, you are able to take your strong voice into different musical plateaus… This must be very satisfying for you… A: Yes, I love doing different things. And Place Vendome is making me known in a slightly different field as a singer. Q: After Streets Of Fire and Focus on:

Michael’s engaging in Unisonic, not so many people believe that Place Vendome could be back? Was it difficult to be together again for a new album? A: Not really. Since I don't have to write songs, only choose songs that I like and do the singing, it's an easy job for me that I enjoy very much anyway. After Unisonic I had the plan first not continuing with PV. But I did two world tours in the last 24 month - last year with Unisonic, this year with Avantasia - and always people asked to do another album of PV. So I thought we should continue if there is request for it. It’s certainly a present to the fans and I hope they enjoy. Q: Who wrote Thunder In The Distance songs? How did you share the song-writing process?? A: I didn't write anything for it.

The songs have been collected by Serafino at Frontiers who basically spoke to several artists of the label. I know he also put some sort of contest out there on the Internet asking songs to whoever wanted to write and based on that they found a guy in Australia Brett Jones. He wrote “Broken Wings” and “Fragile Ground”. There are a few Italian writers which you may know Alessandro Del Vecchio, Andrea Cantarelli and Roberto Tiranti. Also Timo Tolkki wrote a song “Lost in Paradise”. Other writers are from Scandinavia (Tommy Denander, Magnus Karlsson again and Soren Kronkvist among others). Q: On this excursion, you are again collaborating with several different Artists… How has this experience been and did you ever think you would be working with such writers? A: This whole thing was an idea

PLAVE VENDOME - Thunder in the Distance (Frontiers Records) Right from the opening strains of “Talk to Me” one knows they are in for an exquisite musical journey! “Thunder in the Distance” is the third such journey for Place Vendome and well worth the wait. Michael Kiske returns with a renewed energy and commitment. This release displays the musical genius of Frontiers Records’ President: the man behind the concept! Of course, those that are the musical members of this band are also genius’s, whose Talents absolutely shine! Songs like the opening “Talk to Me” and “Power Of Music” are testament of the aforementioned statements. As we travel further with this band of minstrels, Place Vendome become somewhat tougher… Yes that’s correct; tougher! Still maintaining that magnificent melodic pulse, “Thunder In the Distance” is just that, you actually here that thunder building up, and after each song, the musical atmosphere electrifies! Stellar, veteran musicians Gunter Werno, Uwe Reitenauer, Dennis Ward, and Dirk Bruineberg constantly propel Michael to ever higher levels vocally. There is so much on this album and each work of art created so lovingly, that to list any type of ‘standout’ tracks would be impossible! “Thunder in the Distance” is a Melodic Masterpiece that will set your musical heart a soar! Bruce Atkinson (90/100)

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from Serafino right from the start. Before the first PV record I never worked like this before. I was surprised myself how good this can turn out. It's great to work with various people. Q: How did you conceal Michael’s work with Unisonic ad Place Vendome? Do you think is it possible to work full time to both projects? A: They do not both need full time. Place Vendome is a side project that's easy done for me, while Unisonic is a full band with everything that comes with that. When we have an off year for Unisonic, I can sneak a PV in. Q: “Thunder In The Distance” sounds a little tougher! Was this intentional or are you responding to the subject matter of the songs? A: It always just happens, nothing is intentional with me. Not even my career. To me TITD is the most AOR of all three records. Q: Several songs sound a little bit electronic rock, often in the beginning notes. Why this direction? A: Why not? Think it has to do with Gunther, the Keyboard guy that Dennis asked in to make the production more interesting. In general I am very happy with the way Dennis has worked on the arrangements as he truly enhanced the value of the songs. Also I think the performances of the musicians are top notch, so this makes the record very interesting and varied. Q: The album sounds darker than the past? Are you agree with this mood? A: Possible. To me it is very AOR, and also moody at times. This is a project which was started to try and stretch out the boundaries of the music I have been doing. I have always liked the music and certainly there are several moods in the songs and in the albums. Q: Now, with the band members themselves, everything seems so tight… Are you planning on taking this line-up on the road? A: Not really, since I have a main band at the moment called UNISONIC, we don't really have the time for touring also with PV. Q: …Songs like “Broken Wings”, “Lost In Paradise” show that melodic streak, do you have any favourites… Or is this an unfair question? A: One of my personal favourites is MAYBE TOMORROW. I like the way the chorus opens up for my vocals. Q: I truly feel that Place Vendome really allows you to stretch your vocals… Do you, at times though, feel that you are being challenged or do you walk away satisfied and with a small smile on your face… Knowing that you hit it right on target? A: Every song is a challenge in a different way. You always have to find the right way to sing it, so it feels and sounds right for your own ears. If you didn't write the song yourself, you have to make it your own, which sometimes needs a while. When it is finally done, it usually won't sound like it, but also technically you have to figure out how to do it right. But that is normal for every singer. Q: Are Place Vendome here to stay? A: For a while for sure and I have always open doors for this project. Let's see what happens and again I hope the fans will like the album. If there is request, why not? Q: Michael, thank-you for “Thunder In The Distance”, another example of how you and the band can push the envelope in the most positive way! A: Thanks you for your interest in what we do!

Primo Bonali: The new album is called “Curse And Chapter”. What can we expect from this album? Kev Bower: “Curse And Chapter” really starts where ‘Human Remains’ finished. It takes all of the ideas and concepts which made the first album so successful, and elevates everything to a much higher level. The album is darker musically and lyrically than the first one, but 100% retains the HELL ‘house style’ so we believe our fans will love it. It’s very diverse, very textured and very dense – there’s a lot happening on there and it’s something we have worked very hard on. It also represents a definite progression, and although we were immensely proud of the first album, we all believe that the second one will be even better - we really believe we have something quite incredible with this record. We also have some exciting plans for the cover/packaging concept. Above all, it’s very, VERY heavy... PB: I read somewhere, the material on this album is 50% new and 50% old. Can you explain this more accurately? If this is true, why have you once again used old material? KB: It’s more like 60% new – 40% old, actually. Out of 11 tracks on the album, 7 songs are brandnew and we have re-worked 4 older songs from the ‘80’s as we did on the first album. There’s also a reworking of a 5th older song which won’t make the final album cut – but it will possibly end up as an audio-only bonus track on the DVD. The reason why we have included some older material is that when the tracklist for ‘Human Remains’ was decided back in 2011, there were some older HELL songs which we couldn’t fit on there, so we decided to do them this time around instead, mainly to satisfy the fans who were disappointed that those songs didn’t make it on the first album. And of course those are great songs which deserve to be heard. PB: There are also plans for a Bonus-DVD. What’s on this DVD? KB: The DVD consists mostly of songs recorded at our sellout headline show in Derby, UK, in February of this year. We had some technical problems with the recording which meant that some of the material was unusable, so we’ll also add some material filmed at Bloodstock Open Air. There will also possibly be an audio-only bonus song as I mentioned above. PB: Any plans after the release of “Curse And Chapter” for a tour? KB: Yes – in fact the album will be released midway through an extensive European tour with AMON AMARTH and CARCASS which starts in Oberhausen on 07 November and continues all the way through to Helsinki on 09 December, taking in 26 shows across 13 countries in Europe and Scandinavia. After that, we’ll maybe start looking at our own headline club tour for early 2014, starting in the UK probably. It’s still too early to tell... MRF | 21