Underrated rock albums of the last 13 years that you need to listen to!

Albums that have blown me away since 2007
I started reviewing for a site called ‘room thirteen’ back in 2007. One of the best things of this job is finding bands and albums that you previously have never heard of and wondering where they had been all your life. The following is a list of bands and their albums that became my first interaction with, and completely blew me away, and are under heavy rotation in the chesy household ever since.
So in no particular order I give you some utterly fantastic albums that most people probably haven’t heard, and I have thrown in a couple that some may have. All are definitely worth a listen. All have got my coveted full marks, which is a rare thing indeed. To get the max, they need to match up to albums like Pyromania, Rising, Heaven & Hell, Night Of The Crime, Escape, Back In Black, and 4, to name just a few. Do you get my drift? There are others that could be on this list, but these are albums that have been an absolute joy to review.  So in no particular order, here we go…
First up, is the very first album that really got me excited in my early days and is what has kept me going for the last 13 years, waiting for more like this…
Mustasch – Latest Version Of The Truth
Ear-melting riffs, and with a vocalist like Ian Astbury on steroids. Ralf Gyllenhammar is probably the best name in metal ever and ‘Double Nature’ is one of the best metal anthems written (and is probably used by ice hockey teams all over Sweden as their intro). ‘Forever Begins Today’ is a song that deserves to be a Bond theme in any other dimension
Track(s) to listen to – Double Nature / Forever Begins Today
Alter Bridge  – Fortress
Out of all the AB albums, this is the pick for me. I tipped then for greatness back in 2005 and they have lived up to the expectations. Sure Blackbird is one of the best metal anthems ever written, and there’s some good stuff on ABIII, but Fortress was where it was all consistently brill. Marshall’s bass playing is thunderous and feels like you’re having your internal organs reorganised at full blast. Its an album of pure power and face melting force. Strap yourself in
Track to listen to – Cry Of Achilles
Demians – Building An Empire
Im a bit of a sucker for progressive rock, and finding Demians has been one of the best moments over the last 13 years.
Demians is the brain child of Nicholas Chapel. BAE has the lot. It is light and hark, heavy and subtle, full of textures and dynamics, and its almost like listening to one long song. Played cranked or via headphones and it is IMAX for the ears. I loved this album so much, I went to one of his few UK gigs and I walked out after seeing Demians as I wasn’t excited about Anathema! Thats how good this album is!
Track(s) to listen to – Naive / Shine
Porcupine Tree – The Incident 
Whilst not new to me, this album from Porcupine Tree is an absolute stunner and vastly underrated. They played the whole thing live on tour and that gig alone will stay with me for the rest of my days. Its pretty much one long song and proves that Steven Wilson is a genius
Track to listen to – All of it! The whole album!
Guilt Machine – On This Perfect Day
An unusual approach for Arjen Lucassen, a band! One singer, no multiples of people queuing up to do their thing, and it really benefits from a core nucleus. Jesper Steverlinck is an absolute find and switches from Matt Bellamy to Freddy Mercury stylings with ease. All 6 tracks are epic in length and thankfully the album is epic too. The 11m43s of Twisted Coil just fly by…..
Track to listen to – Twisted Coil
OSI – Blood
By the time of Blood, OSI were effectively a 2-piece, Kevin Moore and Jim Matheos, with added Gavin Harrison (drums) and Mikael Akerfeldt (for one track). Anyone that can meld, metal, prog, and electronica to such an effect, certainly gets my vote. Moore and Matheos are miles apart in distance, and in musical taste, but it all comes together perfectly as OSI. Their whole output is stunning.
Track(s) to listen to – The Escape Artist / Stockholm
Hellsongs – Hymns In The Key Of 666
The was a complete out of left field for me. A Swedish lounge band covering metal. I’m a massive fan of covers, either true to word, or when a band like this completely messes with your mind to the point where you think you’ve heard it before (because you have) but their versions are so different, you question your own sanity 
Track to listen to – Seasons In The Abyss
Ghost – Prequelle
I caught Ghost for the first time a couple of areas ago on the Meliora tour and was blown away. I had come to a conclusion that they would be something I wouldn’t and couldn’t like. I was so wrong. Previous albums were purchased, and I got the opportunity to review Prequelle. An album that can stand alongside my benchmarks of Heaven & Hell, Rising, Pyromania, Back In Black etc. Its metal, disco and everything in between. Forge is a bloody genius
Track to listen to – Rats / Miasma / Danse Macabre
Scarlet Rebels – Show Your Colours
An album not even out yet. I’m so confident of the quality of this album that it gets on this list. OK I know a lot about the lads in Scarlet Rebels, but a few yers back I hadn’t a clue about pre-cursor to SR, V0id. Keep Fighting was a cracking album, and I’ve been hoping that Show Your Colurs wouldn’t disappoint, and it doesn’t. Its chock full of great songs, and I’m 100% certain of its depth and quality. Its a cast iron cert for one of 2019s best albums
Track to listen to – Heal (no video yet)
Rival Sons – Great Western Valkyrie
This was the game changer for Rival Sons. Previous albums were good, but this is where it all comes together, and saw them make a jump up from clubs. Alongside Ghost & Alter Bridge, Rival Sons are the best band this side of 2000. (Only Rival Sons don’t charge you $175 to meet them). Buchannan has enough power to sing without a mic, and Scott Holiday is probably the coolest man to walk the earth. If anyone has evidence he is not an alien drop me a line – the bloke never sweats. If you have a Led Zeppelin sized hole in your life, and want it filled, forget Greta Van Fleet, and look towards Rival Sons as they are the real deal.
Track to listen to – Open My Eyes
Dorothy – RockIsDead
Fronted by Dorothy Martin (good job she wasn’t christened/baptised Doris!), you may not think that you have heard her music before, but you probably have. Whoever does BBCs music for TV shows and promos knows their stuff, as Dorothy has appeared on Poldark and on adverts on UK ITV for Seat cars. Its as if Grace Slick joined Black Sabbath. 
Track to listen to – Wicked Ones / Dark Nights
Tilt – Million Dollar Wound & Hinterland
Yonks ago I received an email from Steve Vantsis asking me to listen to his EP as he thought it would be right up my street. Out of all the albums on this list, this EP had the most impact. MDW is five songs of pure brilliance. If Pink Floyd had written them, they would be lauded as works of perfection. I undervalued it at the time, but its absolutely fantastic. Roll on 8 years to the debut album Hinterland. It was now a band with a single vocalist Paul Dourley who benefits from singing on all the songs. Only No Superman made it from the EP, but Hinterland is an album of understated brilliance. 
Tracks to listen to – MDW – Answers / Adore / Gravity 
Hinterland – No Superman / Against The Rain / Strontium Burning / Hinterland
Ostura – The Room
My favourite album of last year, Ostura’s sophomore album was one of a huge sound that `I didn’t think was possible. Orchestrated (literally) by Danny Bou-Maroun, Ostura is built around three vocalists – Elia Monsef / Youmna Jreissata / and the Toehider’s Micheal Mills. Its orchestral, cinematic with huge production values. Had it been the 80s it would have cost $20m. It includes the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and has a cast from 12 countries. A gift the keeps on giving, you will hear something different with each listen
Tracks to listen to – Deathless
Other albums that have blown me away that I didn’t get the chance to review that I would add to this list
Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused To Sing – simple beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time
Rival Sons – Feral Roots – on par with GWV. Essential Sons listening.

Pretty much most of the albums here are vastly undersold and thoroughly deserve to be household staples. If I had the money I would put my money where my mouth is and offer a 100% money back guarantee if you bought the albums, especially the ones by Tilt, Ostura, Scarlet Rebels, and Demians in particular and you failed to like them.

Licence – ‘N.2.O.2.R’ Album Review

LICENCE is a Heavy Rock Band with the powerful, rough and scratchy voice of Jacky.
Founded in 2014, South Germany, by Steam Thiess (Guitar, Vocals), his daughter
Jacky Coke (Lead Vocals), Pappe (Bass, Vocals) and Sammy Sin (Drums).

After their first release in 2017, L2R – Licence 2 Rock, which entered the Top 30
in Heavy-Rock-Charts for several weeks, They will release their 2nd Album, N.2.O.2.R. – Never 2 Old 2 Rock in August 2019.

Licence have emerged from the studio with their latest offering N.2.O.2.R. This is an album that will definitely take older rockers on a memorable journey back to the N.W.B.H.M era of the late 70’s through the 80’s. N.2.O.2.R contains 13 tracks of unadulterated melodic rock that will put a smile on the face of most heavy rock fans. Steams guitar playing is sublime and will result in some rather strange air guitar poses. His style comes over in the rich vein of Ratt, Accept and early Dokken. In fact the riff to ‘Line Of Fire’ is Lynch Mobs ‘Wicked Sensation’ by any other name. I really like Pappe’s playing style , a nice deep crunching sound that compliments Sammy Sin’s thundering percussion. I would guess that Licence have been trawing through some 80s albums for song title inspiration (or they have a metal random name generator) – From Hell, Hell Freezes Over. Rise Up, Loud n Proud, and House Of Pain. ‘Rise Up’ is a belting little anthem. Cool riff, fist punching chorus, and plenty of welly.

I must confess that I wasn’t keen on vocalist Jacky Joy’s gravelly vocal style, I’m not sure why because there are times when she sounds like E.M.N’s Rick Ruhl or even female Stephen Pearcy! Personal opinions aside Jacky does have an excellent voice and it suits this style of music. Licence have gone for an all out balls to the wall rocker with N.2.O.2.R, they haven’t even included the almost compulsory rock ballad so the album flies by at a blistering pace so there’s no excuse to stop fist pumping and head banging. Theres no doubt in my mind that Licence have a LeDorean and have gone back to 1983 to channel their Teutonic metallers Accept. Licence is chock full of raw energy and ‘in your face’ metal. None of it is new (what the fuck is nowadays?!) but what they do, they do very well. Theres even a decent cover of Pat Bernatar’s ‘Hit me With Your Best Shot’. Anyone that takes the time to bow at the altar of Ms Benatar, gets my vote.

80s metal fans will like this, especially fans of German metal bands.

N.2.O.2.R is a solid album but for me there is something missing, it just doesn’t give me that “I’m buying this on release day” vibe so I’m giving the album 7.5/10

Hollywood Vampyre – 7.5/10
Chesy – editor (and additional comments) – 8/10

Licence: N.2.O.2.R
Line Up:
Jacky Coke: Lead Vocals
Steam Thiess: Guitars, Vocals
Pappe: Bass, Vocals
Sammy Sin: Drums

Line Of Fire 
From Hell
Hell Freezes Over
Rise Up
Turn Around
Loud ‘n’ Proud
Make Some Noise
House Of Pain
Never Let You Die
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
The Rich Shall Pay



Visionatica – ‘Enigma Fire’ Album Review

Visionatica  – Enigma Fire
Visionatica hail from Germany and were formed in 2013 and didn’t hesitate to make their mark within the symphonic metal genre.  2016 saw the release of their debut album Force Of Luna which was very well received and confirmed that Visionatica were a band that were going places.
Whenever you learn of a symphonic metal band with a female front person the immediate reaction is to compare them to the likes of Delain, Within Temptation, Epica and Nightwish, and in this instance the similarities are undeniable.  However you can not take anything away from Visionatica because they have added a twist to their sound and are also an extremely talented band.  Their latest release ‘Enigma Fire’ sees the band utilising different styles to compliment their sound. 
The opening track ‘Amari Subdina Kali’ is a 90 second introduction to Tamara Avodem’s soaring vocal style. ‘The Pharao’ is a fantastic track with a solid hard rock backing to Tamara’s soprano vocal style will make you sit up and listen. The third track ‘Fear’ follows on from The Pharao with soaring guitars, thunderous percussion and beautiful vocals and you’ll really struggle to keep your feet still when this track is playing. Once past the orchestral opening the fourth track ‘Roxana, The Great’ bursts into life and you’re taken on a wild ride of symphonic metal at it’s best.  ‘Dance Of Fire’ keeps up the smooth pacing of the album with a riff heavy opening before Tamara’s soaring vocals join the throng.  However at this point I know what’s to come and I’ll be simply repeating myself and sadly that does go for the rest of the album.  
Visionatica have utilised music from different cultures and they have done so well the problem we have is once we get beyond those styles the rest of the track is the same melodic hard rock that the band play so well. The only track that actually differs is track seven, the ballad ‘Incomplete’. This track is completely devoid of any rock sound at all and is basically Tamara singing backed by a piano and string section, and ironically the only track with a different sound is the only track that I didn’t really like. This is actually the first time that I have heard of Visionatica  and on the strength of this release I went in search and bought their debut album ‘Force Of Luna’. ‘Enigma Fire’ is a cracking album and I am happy to recommend it to any fan of the symphonic metal genre,  I’m also putting my money where my mouth is as I have pre-ordered the album myself.
Although this a fantastic album due to the fact that so many of the tracks sound the same once they’re beyond the opening bars  I am unable to score it anymore than 8/10.
Review by Hollywood Vampyre
Tamara Avodem:   Vocals
Manuel Buhl:   Guitar
Gerhard Spanner:   Drums
Tim Zahn:   Bass
Track Listing
Intro: Amari Sudbina Kali
The Pharao
Roxana, The Great
Dance Of Fire
To The Fallen Roma
Secrets Of The Ancestors
Rise From The Ashes

Hollow Haze – ‘Between Wild Landscapes And Deep Blue Seas’ Album Review

Hollow Haze – Between Wild Landscapes And Deep Blue Seas

Hollow Haze formed in 2003 by Nick Savio with the idea to put together a new original “Hard & Heavy” sound. The first album called “Hollow Haze” was released in 2006 by “My Graveyard Productions”The second album “The Hanged Man” was released in 2008 by Crash & Burn record and got a great response from magazine and hard and heavy web sites.With a great production Hollow Haze outlined once and for all their “big heavy dark” sound.

In 2014 Fabio Lione had been replaced by Mats Leven (Yngwie Malmsteen, Therion, Candlemass), Rick Altzi (Masterplan, At Vance), Amanda Somerville (Avantasia, Epica, Kamelot, Edguy, After Forever), Ivan Giannini (Derdian) and Claudia Layline (Serenade) for the recording sessions of ‘Memories Of An Ancient Time’. In 2017 Fabio Dessi (Arthemis) and Paolo Caridi (MLB) joined the band as singer and drummer. The new album is written by Nick and Fabio and it’s called “Between Wild Landscapes And Deep Blue Seas”.

To be honest I wasn’t a fan of the original incarnation of Hollow Haze but recently learned that they were making a comeback with a new sound so I decided to give ‘Between Landscapes And Deep Blue Seas’ a spin, and from my previous experience with the band I wasn’t expecting much. Holy shit I was wrong!

This album is a collection of beautifully written songs backed with an amazing mixture of melodic hard rock and symphonic arrangements  This album is perfectly paced, transitioning between up-tempo in your face rock anthems and the slower balladesque (is that even a word?) tracks. I think a lot of thought  went into the running order of the songs to allow this album to run so smoothly.  This is a strong album and there isn’t actually a weak track.  However if I closed my eyes I can hear the similarities between female bands such as Visionatica who’s new album is also due for release later this month, I also reviewed that album and it received a well deserved 8/10, although there are obvious similarities between the two acts I have actually given Hollow Haze a slightly better score of 8.5/10 for the simple fact that this is by far the best example of male lead symphonic  rock I have heard. As a rule when I buy albums by an artist I like to get the complete discography but in this case I am going to ignore Hollow Haze’s first six albums and start with Between Landscapes And Deep Blue Sea  because as far as I’m concerned this isn’t a Hollow Haze release it’s a Hollow Haze version 2.0 release. 

Score 8.5/10

Review by Hollywood Vampyre

Track Listing:
1.    Destinations
2.    Oblivion
3.    It’s Always Dark Before Dawn
4.    Through Space And Time
5.    I Will Be There
6.    The Upside Down
7.    New Era
8.    A Different Sky
9.    Resurrection
10.You Are My End And Beginning
11.Behind The Wall
Nick Savio: Guitars, Keyboards And Orchestral Arrangement
Fabio Dessi: Lead And Backing Vocals
Paolo Caridi: Drums
Davide Cestaro: Bass