Alter Bridge – ‘Pawns & Kings’ Review

Pawns and Kings is the most complete, consistently thunderous anthemic Alter Bridge album to date

Most of my musical heroes are either dead / in their 70s/ no longer active. Very few bands formed this century get into my list. The main ones that I adore are Alter Bridge, Coheed and Cambria and Rival Sons. Not only are my heroes as mentioned, very few are ready to take the crown and become headliners at the likes of Download etc. Out of these 3, AB are in the best position for taking the next step upwards, especially now.

I have been a fan of Alter Bridge ever since I heard them on Orlando Rock Radio back in 2004. I have attended an Alter Bridge gig on every tour at least once. I think I’m up to about 18 gigs. I would like to think that I have earned the right to have an opinion on their music. Remember reader, opinions are like arseholes, everybody has one. It is my opinion that the Top 3 Alter Bridge albums are as follows….

  1. Blackbird
  2. Fortress
  3. ABIII

Alter Bridge have been making great and good albums, but nothing after Fortress has come close to breaking into my Top 3…..until now!

‘Pawns and Kings’ is the bands 7th studio album, and by Christ, is it a cracker. At just 10 songs long, the guys have literally gone straight for the jugular. Think of the best of Myles Kennedys solo work and smash it with Tremonti’s knack for a spleen-busting riff, together with the Prince Of Pound (Philips) and the testicle moving, pummelling bass of Marshall and its 10 songs of pure God and Thunder. ‘This is War’ is the best opener to an album that AB have ever done – Myles never sounded better, and there’s almost a Carmina Burana chant that will go down a storm when played live. I honestly think Tremonti has a riff for every occasion (weddings (yup), funeral (gotcha!), Bar Mitzvah (yes indeed). He has the best riffs this side of Tony Iommi’s moustache!!!

Alter Bridge have gone big and long on a few tracks, and all deliver in spades with the anthem ‘Sin After Sin’; ‘Fable of the Silent Son’ is a ‘Children of the Sea’ for the modern era, and the title track is the sister companion to Kennedy’s ‘The Ides of March’.

To be honest here, there is not an average number or plodder on the album. ‘Silver Tongue’ shows why it was picked as a single/appetite whetter for Pawns, as it combines the best AB bits rolled into one song. ‘Stay’ is where Tremonti takes the lead on vocals and is now becoming a staple to have a song from the metal crooner and correctly so. In fact he is continuing to get better with each AB/Tremonti/Sinatra album, and it is closest thing to a melodic rock song as AB will ever get. 

To follow on from a couple of earlier points, I am convinced that after half a dozen listens to Pawns & Kings that this album will probably knock ‘Blackbird’ off its coveted No.1 spot (steady on! Editor). With regards to upping the level to festival headliner, if AB don’t get the breaks after this album, I have no idea what they are supposed to do. This album is next level.

P&K is that strong, every single song on this could make it into the live set. It is the most complete, consistently thunderous, anthemic album to date and for that I have to applaud the guys as they could easily have gone for ‘okay’ but have instead set a level that in 2022 (and 2023) other bands have to meet. It will be in many a Top 5 list come the next few weeks, mine included.


Tracklisting –

This Is War

Dead Among The Living

Silver Tongue

Sin After Sin



Fable Of The Silent Son

Season Of Promise

Last Man Standing

Pawns & Kings

NWOCR – Volume One

NWOCR – Volume 1. Exceptional talent of Classic Rock bands. Whats not to like. Buy this CD, then buy the albums from the bands you like

Whats in a name? I have never been a fan of labelling bands into pigeonholes. Steven Wilson hates being banded around as ‘Prog’ is a prime example. I’ve had some right doozies over the years appearing in a press release which I am not going give further promotion here, as some are bollux.

What I do like is ‘Rock’ music, you know…. the proper stuff, not Rock as the mainstream call it when you hear ROCK WEEK on X-Factor. I like anything from Anthrax to Zebra, ACDC to ZZ Top and shit loads in between. Theres no ‘New Wave’ really, but its how you perceive Classic Rock to be. For me, I’m a bloke of a certain age and grew up at the right time for ‘Classic Rock’ – bands such as Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Rainbow, Rush and Lizzy. When NWOBHM was termed I was about 12 and a lot of those NWOBHM bands I would today call Classic Rock – Saxon, Maiden, Diamond Head, Leppard etc. Its music played in certain style or attitude and the feeling you derive from listening to it.

That said, I totally get what the guys at NWOCR are doing, and ANYTHING that promotes great bands, and great music, whether they are new, new-ish, or been around for a few years and lumping them into one category isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

So, this is hopefully the first of NWOCRs version of ‘Now Thats What I call Music’, which back in the day ran to about 3,456,821 volumes

Across 2 CDs there are 42 of some of the finest bands you’ve heard, and haven’t heard of, but you will soon want to be stalking them across all forms of social media.

There are bands on here who for me are ahead of the curve of the rest of the bands on offer, such as Mason Hill, Scarlet Rebels, Hollowstar, These Wicked Rivers, Sons Of Liberty, Revival Black, SKAM, Collateral, Phil Campbell, Blackwater Conspiracy, and Thundermother, and its their songs that stand out for me. It could be because I have seen most of these live so far and have bought their music, so I’m partly down the road with them already and I am already a fan.

That said, out of the remainder, there’s a few new names on my list that I want to hear a lot more of – Elles Bailey who reminds me of Susan Tedeschi, Rews, and Bastette, probably because I do have a thing for female vocalists, also The New Roses and Ashen Reach.

There are only a couple of songs that don’t agree with me, but I’ll leave that up to you, the listener to decide as not everything can hit the mark 100% of the time.

As a Volume 1, this is a great starting point for all of these bands. There’s some banging music on offer, and I hope like me that once you hear some of these bands for the first time or if you’ve heard them before, that you’ll go out and support their music, buy an album and some merchandise direct from these bands, because you have all these bands jockeying for position, and it is a bloody tough time for them even before Covid set in.

I can see the TV appeal….’for every CD bought, NWOCR donates £2 to all the artists on this CD. Your £2 will keep one band member in beer for approximately 15 minutes, so please text 69627 (NWOCR) immediately’.

If you were an avid gig goer, pre-Covid, use that money to buy this CD first, and then the bands albums, you know it makes sense! And I guarantee you’ll feel a lot better for it.

Daylight Robbery – ‘The Enemy Within’ Review

After the departure of Tony Nicholl, Carleton and Murdoch have closed ranks, shared vocal duties and produced their best album to date.

When this is released in August, I can’t believe that out would have been 18 months since I saw Daylight Robbery play HRH AOR at Prestatyn. Jesus where has the time gone. Especially now that the chance of gigs as they were are now a distant thing of the past. It almost feels like the aftermath of a Zombie movie or a dystopian future. Anyway, for HRH we heard that Tony Nicholl was no longer in attendance and that no one was being brought in. Rob ‘AOR’ Evans trumped for Mark Carleton, I however edged towards Colin Murdoch and like Trading Places we placed a bet for the princely sum of one pound! Quell surprise, it was both of them, and it made for a pleasant change and a cool dynamic. Fast forward 16 months and I was very keen to hear how the new album would sound. Well, dear reader, its sounds HEAVIER which is no bad thing in my book.

‘Into The Shadow’ sounds straight out of a Scandi Noir murder thriller before it dramatically builds a tension into ‘The Enemy Within’. DR have ripped up the rule book and gone big and extravagant at every turn, throwing everything they have into it, its Rainbow and Avantasia rolled into one and it gallops along when it could plod. It’s a combination of all the good bands I like form the 70s and 80s. The right mix of yeas, searing guitars and cracking harmonies. Col and Mark share vocals on ‘Digital Preacher’, a song about the state of affairs in the US I assume, and the mix of both guys vocals adds to the sound, and I like the contrast they both bring to the song. I’m reminded of Burn era Deep Purple where Carelton’s guitar both shares centre stage and duels his solos with the organ/keyboards. Two songs in and I have to quote that great sage Mike Reno, as ‘Im loving every minute of it’. 

‘House Of Pain’ has a riff that’s straight out of 1980s Sunset Strip, and rips it up. ‘The Violence Of Lies’ goes for a big sound and it pays off. Part Queensryche, part (insert fave 80s hair metal maestro here), I’ll go for Warren De Martini. At 8 mins long it’s not dwelling and there’s enough contrast to keep you entertained. ‘Waiting For Tomorrow’ is a faster paced number. Col steps up to the mic for his first of two solo duties for the lighter, almost a ballad in ‘Alone In The Rain’ and he stands toe to toe with Mark with his vocals. Fans of Magnum and Dante Fox would like this one. It’s the closest they come to their previous album. The other song Col takes over is ‘The Time To Choose’ and again is more on the melodic side of heavy for DR. It still manages to mis it up a bit and its draws me towards Bruce Hornsby. ’Peace Of Me’ sort of left me wanting more, but the guitar solo makes up for any shortcomings I have. Finally it’s onto the rifftastic ‘Within’. Screeching synths, frenetic guitar work and pounding bass and drums is a fine way to round off any album.

All of the songs have a hefty timescale with only 3 weighing in at less than six minutes. However, none of then feel laboured when listening to them, as it could have easily gone the other way. The approach not to replace Nicholl has proven to be a worthy one. With Mark Carelton’s vocals handling the more aggressive songs, and Colin Murdochs vocals suiting the melodic numbers, so they have options aplenty and resist being too one dimensional. Throw in a hammond (which they have) and I’m a happy bunny.

DR have more than thrown the kitchen sink at The Enemy Within. Fuck, based on the size of the ambition, it’s the sink, washing machine, fridge and tumble dryer. ‘The Enemy Within’ is for people like me who grew up on the classic diet of bands like Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake, Magnum, and a bit of hair metal, to boot. 

After Tony Nicholl left I honestly thought they were fucked, but the lads have dusted themselves off, knuckled down and produced the best album of their career (so far). I hope it does well for them as they fully deserve it to. I really look forward to what’s next. If we all live long enough that is….


Daylight Robbery are

Mark Carleton – Guitars, Vocals

Colin Murdoch – Bass, Vocals

Rob Chivers – Drums

George Everleigh – Keyboards


Into The Shadow

The Enemy

Digital Preacher

House of Pain 

The Violence Of Lies

Waiting For Tomorrow

Alone In The Rain

Peace Of Me

The Time To Choose


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