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TOKYO MOTOR FIST “S/T” (Frontiers Music s.r.l.) Put together Ted Poley from Danger Danger and Steve Brown from Trixter and what you’d hope for is a disc that sounds like this one. It chock ful of big, catchy melodic rock anthems. It’s only a matter of months since Poley released a solo album but this new project shows no signs of diminishing returns. There are quality feel good rockers throughout. Since Trixter’s comeback Brown has helped the band become one of those 80s bands that is actually stronger now than they were back in the day. Brown’s got a way with a pop metal hook and Ted is in his element delivering the likes of ‘Pickin’ Up The Pieces’, ‘Shameless’, ‘You’re My Revolution’ and the heavier, Def Leppard sounding ‘Put Me To Shame’. The ballad ‘Don’t Let Me Go’ shows the boys can do the sensitive stuff with aplomb too. Poley likes to crowd please and that’s what he’s doing here, giving his fans exactly what they’d want.In those dark months at the beginning of the year, this brings you enough sunshine to keep your vitamin D levels up until the summer comes. DJ (94/100)

ASIA “Symfonia” (Frontiers Music s.r.l.) Recorded on the 21 September 2013 as part of the Sounds of the Ages festival, 2nd Century Roman Theatre in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. During the performance, the band were accompanied by The Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Levon Manukian. The album sees John Wetton, Carl Palmer and Geoff Downes, along with Sam Coulson on guitar, bringing the classics to this magnificent ancient theatre. The album is broken down to two CD’s, the first featuring just the band, with the second seeing them joined by the full orchestra for classics likes ‘Don’t Cry’, a stunning version of ‘Heroine’ with full string accompaniment, plus ‘Heat of the Moment’ is given a full orchestral backing and sounds just amazing. I would have loved to hear the full set with orchestra backing but what we got is just superb and a must for all fans of the band. BM (85/100)

PLACE VENDOME “Close to the Sun” (Frontiers Music s.r.l.) Place Vendome, the melodic hard rock project put together in 2004 by Serafino Perugino, is a still living creature and it’s in excellent health. The New chapter “Close To The Sun” is an elegant and refined record with great production and polished songwriting, entrusted to some of the most brilliant musicians of the rock/metal scene. The dinamic duo Dennis Ward (Bass guitar and deus ex machina of the band) & Michael Kiske (vocals) hit the target: a fresh, pleasing rock and roll piece with AOR influences. The album starts with the titletrack “Close To The Sun” (written by Simone Mularoni, DGM), followed by the first single “Welcome To The Edge”, a little jewel written by Jani Liimatainen, with a great power metal structure. On the ballads Kiske do his best, so prepare yourself to a bunch of emotional listenings to one of the record higlights: “Strong”, composed by Alessandro Del Vecchio, will melt your heart and make you dream. Everything in this work seems to have a great vibe, with a romantic and emotional mood; you can find a blast of genuine rock with “Falling Star” or heartbreaking intensity with “Breathing”. Twelve songs full of energy and vitality, to create a captivating album, absolutely recommended to AOR and Hard Rock lovers! FS (95/100)

LANCER “Mastery” (Nuclear Blast) ‘Mastery’ is the third album from Swedish Metallers Lancer and their first under Nuclear Blast. The Swedes return to deliver their trademark Power / Speed Metal in ten tracks of pure unadulterated riff spewn heavy metal. With speed comes great melody, something that has been a big part of the Lancer sound since their incarnation in 2009. From the opener ‘Dead Raising Tower’, the full-on attack it at fever pitch, no fancy intro’s or narratives, just straight into the driving guitars and powerful bass and hard hitting drums. The band give no quarter as they unleash monster riff after monster riff, with the likes of ‘Future Millennia’, the thumping title track ‘Mastery’, the massive epic feeling of ‘Iscariot’ and the hard hitting full speed attack of ‘Freedom Eaters’. This band has it all. I think Powermetal is like driving a Italian sports car, anyone can drive at full throttle, but keeping it on the road takes skill and Lancer never take speed for granted, as they understand the melody is just as important. BM (87/100)

BATTLE BEAST “Bringer Of Pain” (Nuclear Blast) “Bringer of Pain” is this Finnish band’s fourth album. Keeping the energy high and the beats pulsing are drummer Pyry Vikky, bassist Eero Sipila and keyboardist Janne Bjorkroth. “Battle Beast”, yes, Heavy Metal, yes, Hard Rock, and then all of a sudden we hear passages of Progressive Metal that just broaden their already heavy and hardened sound! “Bringer Of Pain” is an album that will consistently surprise! A collection of rockers that will set your heart pounding, matching every beat of each and every track, even those that slow the pace down-dig deep and reveal the more emotive sides of the group. We are all in for an epic ride with this slice of molten Metal! After a couple of dramatic years, I would say that “Battle Beast” have resurfaced far stronger and more commanding. A group with renewed energy and conviction and “Bringer Of Pain” is just the beginning of a new chapter for this Metal beast from Finland! BA (90/100)

UNRULY CHILD “Can’t Go Home” (Frontiers Music s.r.l.) The re-uniting of “Unruly Child” has produced a power house album! “Can’t Go Home” is full of high calibre Melodic Power Rock. This new effort has undoubtedly been benefitted from each member’s growth in their other musical ventures. From the ‘honeyed’ vocals of Marcie Free to the pulsating rhythms of Larry Antonino and Jay Schellen-which anchor each composition. These strong rhythms provide expert foundations for the explorations of guitarist Bruce Gowdy and keyboardist Guy Allison. As we listen, extraordinary vistas of sound open forth, full of energy and vitality. With eleven beautiful pieces to sail through. Certainly this is a Melodic Rock album, but it gets tough as well… like “Get On Top”: very melodic and with some tough undercurrents that burst forth reaching heights that have put “Unruly Child” on the top tier of the Melodic rock pile. “See If She Floats” ripples with such energy and meshes complicated rhythms that constantly feed us with a variety of soundscapes. We have, in “Can’t Go Home” eleven top drawer journeys that showcase each member’s Talent and growth. An album of diverse explorations, so many rivers to discover, so many adventures to hear. “Can’t Go Home”, the latest from five legendary musical masters! “Unruly Child” are back! BA (90/100)

SUPERNOVA PLASMAJETS “S/T” (AOR Heaven) This German band fuses classic melodic rock with youthful angst and energy. The band have the chops. There are big solos, riffs that can be meaty, sleazy or spiky and then the band can throw in good instrumental parts that incorporate anything from bluesy piano to dancefloor beats or a bass solo. Jennifer Crush possesses a good versatile voice capable of tackling melodic rockers like ‘Feel Your Fear’ but she is also adept at a big power ballad moments such as ‘Hold You Tight’ or a punky attitude ason ‘Turn Off The Lights’. ‘Nothing Gonna Stop Me’ hints at The Darkness but also throws in some leftfield dance beats midway and “Faster” has the heaviest riff but has a rappy verse. The track that sums them up best is ‘Supernova Team’ which is frothing over with teen-like exuberance. Not your typical AOR Heaven band but it’s an interesting debut, with Crush offering them a USP in the crowded melodic rock market. DJ (84/100)

THE MURDER OF MY SWEET “Echoes of the Aftermath”(Frontiers Music s.r.l.) I have always been inspired by this Swedish band, both musically and yes, spiritually. I’ve always listened to each creation this group have composed with amazement and “Echoes of the Aftermath” is no exception! So much depth, musically and lyrically. The talent? Angelica’s vocals are top form, Daniel’s drumming and keyboard work is amazing! The fluid notes from Patrik continue to build the strongest of foundations. And those astonishing flourishes of vibrant colour keep coming at us with the stunning fret work of Christopher! “Echoes…” is varied, concise and rocks straight to the point. Each foray is muscled, yet flows so smoothly that we are continually carried from peak to peak. Each song, strong, each creation a vast array of instrument and voice. A Recorded Work that soars and pulsates through the speakers! Perhaps more so than in the past, we hear sonic brilliance that reveals the many sides of this group. Progressive styling’s that are hardened with melodic currents that run through each composition. The writing and arrangements are done in the highest order and care! An album that is full of rich tapestries that will continue to astound! “Echoes of the Aftermath” will resonate within, long after your music system is turned off! BA (91/100)

SWEET MARY JANE “Winter In Paradise” (AOR Heaven) With ex-members of Roulette and Airborn (no, not that one) plus some new young talent, they deliver a sound that recalls the late 80s with its mix of stabbing keys, melodic guitars and big hummable hooks, making them a good fit for AOR Heaven. Singer Tomas Bergan is the brother of Stefen Bergan (Snakes In Paradise/Grand Slam) and there must be something in that sharedgene pool as he puts in a fine performance here. ‘Madeleine’ is ludicrously catchy and has definite single potential while ‘Fire In Your Eyes’, ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ and ‘Surrender’ keep the energy levels up. The ballads ‘Miracle’ and ‘Angel Eyes’ also have good hooks. It’s a solid well-written album with no duffers, some good arrangements that keep songs varied within the narrow confines of the genre and it’s all wrapped up with a polished production job from Lars Chris from Lion Share. It might not be anything radically new but it’s done well and here’s hoping we’ll see them out on the road in the future. DJ (88/100)

ACCEPT “Restless & Live” (Nuclear Blast) Recorded at “Bang Your Head Festival”, in Germany, during 2015, "Restless & Live" proves how powerful, thunderous and energetic ACCEPT still are on stage. Even if the band members themselves had some doubts – in the beginning – because new musicians, Christopher Williams and Uwe Lulis had only joined the line-up just shortly before, those doubts were very quickly proved wrong. As the concert showed that they meshed perfectly into the distinct corpus that is ACCEPT. Available on both formats, Blu-ray and DVD (each of them equipped with the audio part comprising of two CDs), the live-shooting is really brilliant, with a lot of cameras placed around the stage bringing you exactly where the action is; and the sound is equally perfect. A technically and artistically superior LIVE-album for a band that appears to be now stronger than ever! PB (90/100)

Melodic Rock Fanzine #78  

This new issue includes reviews and interviews of Place Vendome, Jack Russell, Tokyo Motor Fist, The Murder of My Sweet, Battle Beast, Jim J...

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