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TOTO “Toto XIV” (Frontiers Music s.r.l.) After a gap of nearly a decade, their album return is a triumph. The musicianship is stellar, the songs maddeningly catchy and varied plus there’s a maturity that makes this a glowing example of what aor is all about. There’s an old school side one and side two feel to the songs here. The first half is rockier (“Burn” aside). “Running Out Of Time”, “Holy War”, “Orphan” and ‘Unknown Soldier’, have Steve Lukather’s unmistakable, classy guitar tone but crucially also possess top drawer choruses. Joseph Williams is back in on vocals, lending the record obvious comparisons to the last Toto album he sang on “The Seventh One” back in 1988. Lukather, an on form David Paich and Steve Porcaro also have a shot at the microphone. The latter songs play to their lighter west coast strengths. “The Little Things” is softer than a puppy with a chorus that will get into your head, take out a mortgage and settle there. “Chinatown” is a jazzy number Paich unearthed from 1978 and given a makeover while “All The Tears That Shine” is an affecting heartbreak song. The final song “Great Expectations” is a prog rock masterclass. Expectations exceeded. (DJ 98/100)

KISKE / SOMERVILLE “City of Hope” (Frontiers Music s.r.l.) This, their second collaboration: “City Of Heroes” just cements the extraordinary vocal talents of Michael Kiske and Amanda Somerville. Enlisting the power-house musician / producer Mat Sinner just adds that little “extra” factor on this superb effort! No only do Kiske / Somerville team with Mat, but Mat and fellow band-mate, from Primal Fear, Magnus Karlsson offer up their collective song writing talents! “City Of Heroes” bring metallic rock and symphonic rivers together to create an immense and deep ocean of rolling and rollicking music & verse to distinctive music lovers the world over! Exploding with the title track, there is no “let-up”. We are surrounded by sonic peaks and rushing currents, wave after wave of aural delights! The siren like qualities of Amanda’s voice intertwine seamlessly with the more haunting style of Michael’s, the two are a perfect match. Both can climb to the higher registers, up lifting each musical creation. The guitars and keyboards are left to the magnificence of Magnus Karlsson, with Mat nailing down each number with his commanding bass work. And what is this!? Precise and powerful drums lay down the rock solid foundation courtesy of Veronika Lukesona. Although each and every song works well, such tracks as “Ocean Of Tears”, “Salvation”, and “Last Goodbye” hit upon that “special” something. Heart-pounding? Exciting? Amazing? Yes! “City Of Heroes” has it all and then some! (BA 94/100)

BLUES PILLS “Live” (Nuclear Blast)

“Live With the Curse”

Exploding straight out of the late 60’s-early 70’s, it seems these four young musicians were frozen in time! A fusion of rock-hard blues and soul, with a healthy dose of ‘grooved-out’ rhythms, Blues Pills take us on a heavy spaced musical trip like no other! This release captures the group in their most natural environment, live from the stage! A multi-national quartet, made up of FrenchAmerican and Swedish musicians, Blues Pills carry the torch of genuine Blues-rock with conviction. Comparisons have been made to Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and the blues-master of the 1960’s. Fronted by the power of lead vocalist Elin Larsson-the group leads us down a musical soundscape that totally absorbs our musical souls! Joining Elin on this trek: Cory Berry, Zack Anderson and Dorian Sorriaux ensure that the heavy grooves, soaring guitars are ever present and pushing Elin’s lyrics and vocals to places seldom heard now-a-days! Blues Pills create music that transcend categories. Yes it is rooted in Blues and Rock, however the sound they create flows well beyond those borders. Their live performances are an experience, one that has the rare ability to let you forget about everything else going on, and just being enveloped by the sound pulsating from that stage. Unbelievable vocal performances, extraordinary guitar work, driving and grooved rhythms, Blues Pills are the real deal! And absolutely amazing on these fronts as well as their age, for such young people to be this advanced in the Rock & Blues sound is utterly mind-boggling! BA (90/100)

PETERIK / SCHERER “Risk Everything” (Frontiers Music s.r.l.) In the world of Melodic Rock the name of Jim Peterik is known to one and all, but a less familiar name is Marc Scherer. The whole Peterik – Scherer thing started when Scherer was laying down the vocals for his band Arc of Ages at the Burr Ridge studios in Chicago. Peterik was so impressed with what he heard, that he chose Marc to demo the tunes he wrote, which ended up on the last Pride of Lions album “Immortal”. Now the pair united for what is undoubtedly to be a firm favourite with fans of the genre the world over. From the opener and title track “Risk Everything”, it has Peterik written all over it. The soaring guitars and keys, a massive rhythm section, with the icing on the cake being the superb vocals of Scherer. The album is full of melodic masterpieces that will just ignite the senses as the 11 tracks of pure ear-candy continue with the wonderful “Chance Of A Lifetime”, the 80’s rock vibe of the storming “Cold Blooded” and the superb Styx influenced “Thee Crescendo”. If you’re into your ballads then check out “How Long Is A Moment”, which reminds me of Journey’s “Open Arms”. As each track unfolds, you are carried on a melodic magic carpet ride you just won’t want to get off. (BM 90/100)

(AFM Records)

AMERICAN MAFIA “Rock'n'Roll Hit Machine” (Grooveyard Records)

GRAFFITI “Obsession” (Steelheart Memories)

One of the live highlights of 2014 for me was Eden’s Curse’s show at Glasgow’s Classic Grand, which was recorded to be released as the band’s very first live album. The Curse army came from far and wide, with fans travelling from the four corners of the world to witness the band at their very best, as they took the night by the scruff of the neck and squeezed every bit of Rock out of it. Hitting upon the band’s four studio albums, all the fans favourites where delivered that night, with Mijic the driving force at the front, showing what a great frontman he is. He made the older songs his own and this can be heard with the likes of “Masquerade Ball”, “Just Like Judas” and “Trinity”. His interaction with the crowd really brought them into the mix and this is highlighted on the album with the inter-songs chats. The album is mixed and mastered by Dennis Ward who has done a sterling job in recreating the atmosphere of that night, as everyone at the show will no doubt agree when they get to listen to album. This two disc release is just jammed packed with 20 tracks and over 100 minutes of pure Eden’s Curse bliss. From the opener to the closer, the band were unstoppable and the album captures that fact. Definitely one of the best live albums I’ve heard in years. BM (96/100)

I'm pretty sure that someone over there remembers the US band Holy Water. With an album under their belt (“Collected Sessions”) and a new one in the working-stage, unfortunately lead singer David Knight suddenly committed suicide, basically writing the end of the band as we know it. Luckily for all of us melodic rockers, guitarist Tom Jude and bass player Freddy Villano decided to re-group and release an album under a different monicker. And here we are: American Mafia and its debut album "Rock'n'Roll Hit Machine". More “bluesy” and “traditional” Hard Rock than the AOR-ish material of Holy Water, this album is a great collection of songs played with passion, heart and a great musicianship. Besides the above-mentioned Jude and Villano, the Cd features Bobby Marks on drums and a long, impressive list of premiere Hard Rock singers, such as John West (Artension, Royal Hunt), Mike DiMeo (Riot, Masterplan), Ed Terry (Rondinelli), Jimmy Kunes, Don Chaffin and, of course, David Knight. Solid, groovy and catchy, these 12 songs are juicy candies for all the Bad Company, Foreigner and classicWhitesnake fans. PB (88/100)

Chapter number 10 in the “Lost UK Jewels” Series, and here we have a band that we've already met on the Volume 4 ("Rock The World!), the fantastic melodic rockers GRAFFITI. “Obsession” is the only full-length album that the band recorded during its almost 10 years-long career, it was released back in 1996 and it became now a rarity with very few copies surfacing sometimes on the net and being sold at insanely high prices. This longdue reissue includes a completely re-mastered sound from the original master-tapes, a nice unreleased bonus-track and the usual good artwork and package (16 pages booklet, featuring a brand new cover design). Talking about the musical content, this is great melodic Hard Rock, with a “feels-good” vibe always present on the 11 songs. The album starts with a pretty “strange” tune, the Led Zeppelin-inspired (“Kashmir”) title-track (great arrangements, anyway), while the 2nd track, “Body Language”, brings us to paths closer to the classic '80s US Hard Rock. “Good Old Bad Old Days” is 100% British Rock, and songs like “Automatic”, “Writing On The Wall” and “Love Nor Money” clearly show GRAFFITI'S love for their country-mates Little Angels. Ex Mama's Boys singer Rick Chase (also with Alibi, Double Cross and King's Call) is the star here, yet the whole band sounds tight, loud and proud. Don't miss it. BM (85/100)

EDEN’S CURSE

Melodic Rock Fanzine #67  

This issue features the Frontiers Rock Festival Official Guide + reviews of March and April 2015 releases. Enjoy!

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