Mick White – ‘Somethings Got To Give’ Review

Are you ready to Rock? Then get your arse into gear and support British Rock.

Back in the day, Mick White was a teenage singer for Samson (who incidentally the first professional band I saw live, supporting Whitesnake on the Paints & Thinners Tour in Dec 82). After leaving Samson he formed his own band, First Strike, but grunge buggered that up like it did with a lot of bands at that time. This led White to session work for the next five years, before becoming disillusioned at the end of the Millenium, (98 to be precise). This lead to a long period of inactivity until 2019 where White was approached by Steelheart Records to finally get a release of the First Strike album. Whilst guesting on a song written by Marty Punch in 2019 called ‘Better Be Strong’. White was approached by the drummer Carsten Enghardt on that song and Carsten knew White was the right singer for his own band Endfield.

Fast forward a bit to 2020 and like many others, Covid meant a period of songwriting for a solo album, which brought in Enghardt and guitarist Luke Hatton. Included on this album are a song co-written with Paul Samson back in 1988, called ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’, a reworking of a First Strike song ‘Hold Tight’ and a new version of ‘Better Be Strong’. Which leads us sweetly into this review.

‘SGTG’ starts off with a bang on ‘Burning In The Night’, as it moves through the gears fast, with Hatton and White in the driver and passenger seat. Title track ‘Somethings Got To Give’ is a step to the side but is equally enjoyable as the opener. Hatton again gives his talent and fingers an airing on the solo. ‘Without You’ shows MWB can mix it up a bit, as its a moodier song, and adds a burning desire to the song. ‘Emergency On Planet Earth’ shows how White can deliver a melodic rock song with aplomb as its very catchy indeed. It sees Mick singing to a younger version of himself, now older and wiser and telling his younger self of the issues that lie ahead.

‘Ordinary Girl’ is as you would expect, a ballad, with feet planted firmly in the 1980s. Not one of those soppy ones, as it builds to a nice crescendo. ‘Alter Of Desire’ is a snappy, up-tempo rocker. ‘Hold Tight’ is broody, but has a very melodic bridge and chorus, that would have been a staple on many a 80s album (in fact it was, it just didn’t get released until 2019!). ‘Sometime Superman’ was the 2nd video to be released and rightly so, as this and ‘Emergency…’ show the band in fine form and at their prime best on these melodic numbers.

‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’ is Samson through and through. It’s a shot of adrenaline to the ears. Mick screams the title just like Don Dokken (when Don could sing). ‘Better Be Strong’ closes on a (well, er…strong) note, and it is a definite highlight.

I’ve not come across Mick White before (oo-er!), and probably hadn’t had I not been contacted by Ian Edwards who is MWs Bassist. (Note – Ian only works with ex-Samson vocalists – Peter Scallan ‘Moritz’ and now Mick White. If this were the 80s, next up would be Mammoth – now there’s one for the over 50s!).

Mick White is a very decent singer of gravelly velvet voice and a definite ear for decent tune. I can’t wait to see where this goes next. Its definitely for fans who like their rock music with lashings of leg warmers, bleached jeans and built on the foundations of NWOBHM. Are you ready to rock? Then get your arse into gear and buy this album.

7.5 /10

Tracklisting –

Burning In The Night
Somethings Got To Give
Without You
Emergency On Planet Earth
Ordinary Girl
Alter of Desire
Sometime Superman
Hold Tight
You Poisoned My Love
Don’t Close Your Eyes
Better Be Strong

Gone Savage – ‘Past Life’ Album Review

Massive improvement since Gone Savage released their EP ‘Resurrection’ a couple of years back. ‘Past Life’ has a great set of songs with not a duffer or filler in sight

Review by Paul. Chesworth

Gone Savage have been diligently releasing quality songs for a number of years now. Two years ago GS sent me their EP ‘Resurrection’, and single ‘Bulletproof’ which was a whetter of an appetite for what was to come. And that ‘for what was to come’ is now actually here in 2022 with the release of ‘Past Life’.

They are down to a main 2 piece of Ian Salpekar (bass) and Will Glover (Vocals), and have added the likes of Sam Millar and Grant Mallison (Guitars, but not at the same time), with Don Genovese (backing vocals) but we are promised a full on band when live with 4 part harmonies. Thats good enough for me as I’m a sucker for harmonies.

They self describe themselves as ‘Rock with a modern melodic feel, together with a hard edge and tight under belly!’ Compared to ‘Resurrection’ (which had a different vocalist to Will) back in 2020, Gone Savage showed a marked improvement with ‘Bulletproof’ (included on ‘Past Life’), and have definitely upped their game even further with this new release. Gone Savage have bands like Leppard, and Dokken running through their music and veins like a stick of Blackpool rock.

So what do we get? ‘Regression’ is an intro with not a lot of substance, but it gives way for the very 80s sounding ‘Icon Of Today’ with Will sounding a little like Blood Red Saints Pete Godfrey. It makes for a very decent opener. It only gets better with the very aptly named ‘Irresistable’ which is built on the foundations of a cracking riff and chorus. (Stryper anyone?). ‘Life In Black And White’ has one of those ear-worm choruses that once heard, are immediately embedded in your skull. I mentioned earlier about the Def Leppard and Dokken influences and both are definitely in play for ‘Permanent State Of Change’, with vocals and delivery Lep-esque, and the riff coming from a ‘Dysfunctional’ era Dokken. ‘Bulletproof’ has a much heavier sound and it stands out from the rest of the album. I don’t mean in a better ‘stand out’ moment, its the heaviness that stands out. Bear in mind this song is a couple years older than the rest and possibly this was a sign of things to come, but everything before this on Past Life have been pared back a little for a more melodic approach. It (Bulletproof) still fits in though as bands need to show that are not all a bit ‘same-y’ or predictable, and this is proof positive with ‘Life Incendiary’. It offers up a slower paced sound and deliberate menacing tone and underlying riff that evokes George Lynch and Adam Jones. Its a definite highlight.

‘Louder Than The Sun’ sounds as if its a seamless transition from ‘Life Incendiary’, and it hammers home with Will doing his very best ’Stars In Their Eyes’ Joe Elliot moment with the phrasing and delivery. The harmonies are also in full force. Again, its quality stuff. ‘Love Caught Me Out’ sounds like a Night Ranger title if ever I hear one. Only this song is like ‘Night Of The Crime’ era Icon (Check ‘em out kids, Icon are fantastic). GS are on a roll now folks! ‘Redemption Song’ dials it back a little but it still packs a punch. The harmonies are in force and Salpekar’s bass pulls this song along for most of the way. ‘Powerless’ has all the hallmarks of a very early Leppard (Rock Brigade) and has a pulsating riff that drives the song from start to finish. ‘Touch Your God’ has a more atmospheric sound to it than the rest, and is the type of song that played live could easily become a lengthier, epic number.

The addition of Will Glover has seen Gone Savage grown into a force to be reckoned with. I also have to give credit to Grant Mallison and Sam Millar as the guitars on this album take me back to my late teens when bands like Dokken, Ratt, QR etc ruled the World for me. The songs on ‘Past Life’ are better (much better), the vocals have more range and feeling than previously. The band have come on leaps and bounds since our paths crossed with ‘Resurrection’. ‘Past Life’ is a mix of ‘the great and the good’. There’s at least three great songs, probably more once I really have a few more listens under my belt, and the rest are good, with not a filler or duffer in sight. For that I have to give it very credible and enjoyable….

8/10

Tracklisting

Regression
Icon Of Today
Irresistable
Life In Black And White
Permanent State Of Change
Bulletproof
Life Incendiary
Louder Than The Sun
Love Caught Me Out
Redemption Song
Powerless
Touch Your God

Scarlet Rebels – ‘See Through Blue’ Album Review

Few bands get better with each and every album. Scarlet Rebels are one such animal. If you thought you liked the debut…sit down and strap yourself in for a helluva ride!

Review by Paul Chesworth

Wayne Doyle, frontman with Welsh rockers Scarlet Rebels, was watching TV in the middle of the pandemic when he found his anger rising. Some faceless British politician – he can’t remember which one, mainly because they mostly look the same – was shamelessly taking credit for footballer Marcus Rashford’s successful campaign to reinstate free school meals for children during those difficult times.
“This guy was basically hijacking something someone else had done,” says Wayne, the ire still evident in his voice. “I was watching these politicians coming on the news every day, trotting out absolute bullshit and using the world’s downturn to make a profit for themselves. And no one from the other side was calling them out in it. Politics is so corrupt. It needs a kick up the arse.”

This state of affairs inspired the title track of the Llanelli five-piece’s stellar new album, ‘See Through Blue’. Bands nowadays are not really allowed to have a ‘voice’ when it comes to politics these past few years. But it has been the case for many a year, attacks against the establishment, dictators, politicians, etc. Sticking it to ‘The Man’ has been part and parcel going back to the foundations on which rock was built – The Blues. It is refreshing to see a band stick two fingers up to the Tories in 2022. I sense a kindred spirit.

The Band Scarlet Rebels shot for EarAche Records

‘I’m Alive’ is snappy and to the point, and its a decent opener, but ‘Storm’ is magic. It reminds be of a now defunct but also brilliant band called Sons Of Icarus. ‘Storm’ is as catchy as Omicron (too soon?), or catchier than a baseball clove dipped in superglue. ‘These Days’ sounds on the surface like its a nice little pop ditty, but dig beneath the surface and it’s a darker narrative – social media, the (current) Government not feeding school kids, and BLM. Mr Doyle has a message and its a barbed one with feeling and meaning, wrapped in nice pleasant riff. ‘London Story’ tells a story of a love that’s lost, a modern Romeo and Juliet, only Wayneo lives to tell the tale. It a song with a bit more oomph. ‘I Can Sleep Now’ is a belting song. It is moody and brooding to start but slowly it builds the tension into a completely different animal. By the time you get to the bridge a crescendo awaits from the twin guitars and Doyles very emotive vocals. I reckon that this is probably the best song of their career. Really, it is.

‘I Can’t Say’ opens with a choppy riff and quickly becomes a raucous pop song, but then again, what isn’t in this album, SR are a band destined for major radio play. ‘Take It’ on the surface sounds like another pleasant song, but has a much darker meaning once you delve deeper. To top it off it comes with a belting guitar solo. ‘Leave A Light On’ is a part acoustic (not a ballad) with some proper soul searching lyrics. The bloke is getting a hug next time I see him. It’s a lovely song that will speak volumes and strike a chord to many a SR fan. Wayne sings ‘Just who I am and what I’ve become, this empty vessel that sings a few songs’. You are so much more than that.

‘We’re Going Nowhere’ is a straight up rock song and as usual the chorus is instantly singable. ‘Everything Changed’ is all about the bass and drums, but again it’s also fuelled by another stonking chorus. Finally its the title track ‘See Through Blue” and Im sticking my neck out here but I think Wayne’s not a fan of Boris! Me neither. Bands have also had a voice when it comes to railroading against the ‘Establishment’, and none more so here. Probably two years after this song was written, nothing has changed and STB is still 100% on the button. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’. Fuck, it is like it was only written last week!!! It is probably even more apt in this current clusterfuck of a Tory government. A leopard definitely doesn’t change its spots

There is good reason why Earache teamed up with Scarlet Rebels, and that reason is ‘See Through Blue’. Its early January 2022, and I can honestly say that STB is going to be one of my albums of the year

Its a rare these days for bands to get better with each and every album. OK this is only No.2, but if you include the V0id output then my comment is confirmation that SR are onto something. Scarlet Rebels are the best band you haven’t heard of…….yet! The way Boris is going there’s enough fuel for the fire of another couple of albums worth of material.

I urge you to give Scarlet Rebels ’See Through Blue’ a listen and support a cracking British rock band. I’ve enjoyed the ride so far and I honestly cannot wait to see where it takes them over the next couple of years.

Scarlet Rebels –
Wayne Doyle – Vocals, Guitar
Chris Jones – Lead Guitar
Josh Townshend – Guitar
Wayne ‘Pricey’ Esmonde – Bass
Gary Doyle – Drums

Tracklisting
I’m Alive
Storm
London Story
These Days
Take You Home
I Can Sleep Now
I Can’t Say
Take It
Leave A Light On
We’re Going Nowhere
Everything Changed
See Through Blue

Links –

Album pre-order: https://earache.com/scarletrebels
http://scarletrebels.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb_chrUcU1G7VFXiPQi3rLA
https://www.facebook.com/scarletrebels
https://twitter.com/scarletrebels
https://www.instagram.com/scarletrebelsofficial
https://open.spotify.com/artist/1gVWbJsabbAcgkD24oEVR9
https://music.apple.com/gb/artist/scarlet-rebels/1466928458

Needle In The Groove’s Top 10 Albums of 2021

My top 10 albums of 2021.

Well grapple fans (an up to date reference for the kids!), here we are at the dying embers of 2021 and thinking at the same time last year we were all predicting we would all be back to normal, everyone fully vaccinated and living like to the full. Well thanks to Covid-19 mutating like, well Covid-19, here we are a year down the line, all pretty much locked up as we were last Christmas. Gigs opened up for a couple of months and I snuck in 3 before the UK government made it pretty much impossible to go see a gig from Boxing Day onwards.


Thankfully bands didn’t let this affect them and it was a very strong year for releases. Most of the bands on this list were albums purchased in 2021, so there will not be a review on the site for further details. Where there is a review I will attach a link. It’s far from me to criticise, so if you have brought an album out in 2021, well done to you all.


It was also good to hear only yesterday that vinyl sales were up in the UK, with them making up 23% of all sales, which is 14 years of continuous growth, and CDs seeing the lowest number of sales since 1984, just one year after they were introduced to the UK. This increase is probably down to two factors – Adele and Abba. I don’t think my haul of over 200 albums bought in 2021 made a dent in the numbers.


I’m sure vinyl sales would be a lot higher were it not for manufacturing issues, PVC shortages and the fact that demand is outstripping supply by 2:1. If you have a spare couple of million lying down the back of the sofa, build a vinyl pressing plant. You can’t fail. For some reason, probably because they were part of a ‘bundle’, over 190,000 tapes were sold in 2021, their biggest selling year since 2003. When compared to the streaming monsters however, its bugger all as the likes of Spotify, Amazon, Deezer etc etc had an 81% share of the market.

Anyway onto my top 10 albums of 2021……

10. Lifesigns – Altitude

I was new to the Lifesigns party in 2021 but even from the first listen I was hooked. Its a really great album, and John Young is now a firmly established name in the Chesworth household.

9. The Dead Daisies – Holy Ground

The Dead Daisies were good, then they became excellent. Why? Well Glenn bloody Hughes only went and joined them. The ‘voice of rock’ added his Glenn Hughes-ness to TDD and the result is the fab. The man is the Tinkerbell of rock, adding a drop of fairydust to take TDD up a notch above anything they had done before this point

8. Thunder – All the Right Noises

Considering I was at their last ever gig a few years back, Thunder’s return and resurgence has been a great one, with ATRN sitting nicely near the summit of Thunders best works. It’s that good.

7. Dirty Honey – ST

Dirty Honey hit the ground running with their cracking EP. Their debut album picks up where the EP left off. Self produced and financed, they want to take care of their own destiny. In Mark LaBelle they have a singer who can challenge some of the greats. 70s rock is alive and well. (Fun fact – their single from the EP ‘When. I’m Gone’ was the first ever single from an unsigned band to top the Billboard Rock Chart). My only gripe is the album is too short! I’ve had longer shits.

6. The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic II

If your idea of melodic rock heaven is parpy keyboards and songs that sound like they were written and performed in the 1980s, then look no further. TNFO make every song sound like it was written for the Rocky film franchise and 80s B movies when the likes of Paul Sabu, Lion and Stan Bush were regular contributors.

5. Myles Kennedy – The Ides Of March

This is the album I waited 11 years for. Myles’s debut was good and all, but with TIOM he came out of the blocks like a stabbed rat. More power and welly, and in the title track, he has a song that is a close second to ABs Blackbird. ‘The Ides Of March’ track is completely all over the place. No wonder he hardly plays it live, but when he does…..its a thing to behold.

4. Leprous – Aphelion

Leprous is another bands that I came to the party late with. Having heard ‘Pitfalls’ first, I was smitten. With ‘Aphelion’, the feeling was identical. I can see why fans are not too hot when comparing the 5 albums before ‘Pitfalls’ to the latter two new ones, but for me ‘Aphelion’ is a brilliant album. OK its all about Einar Solberg and he clearly holds the keys to the castle, but the performances of all the guys is something to behold. They are brilliant, and they bloody well know it.

3. Plush – ST

I’ve been a fan of Moriah Formica’s ever since she appeared on a Michael Sweet album back in 2016. She is a very talented singer/songwriter and when someone of her age can tackle Ann Wilson songs with ease, you know they are special. She is surrounded with some amazing talent in Plush – Brook Colucci, Ashley Suppa, and Bella Perron. Considering they were all under 21 when the album dropped in October, the results are stunning. A band so young shouldn’t be this good with their first album.

2. Iron Maiden – Senjutsu

OK its another dinosaur of a band up at the sharp end of the poll for the second year running. After a 6 year gap Iron Maiden didn’t need to ever make an album again. But they did, and its a belter. OK, its no ‘Powerslave’ or ‘Piece Of Mind’. Its about as diverse as Steve Harris and Iron Maiden get, and that is a good thing indeed

  1. Nestor – Kids In A Ghost Town

This album simply ticked all the boxes for me – great gongs, great vocals, set in the 80s and some of the best videos this side of Van Halen and David Lee Roth. A lot of bands try to recreate the 80s heydays but few succeed. Lets face it, some of the lyrics are corny, but they are delivered in a style and knowing nod to the past that you are just swept along for the ride. The sign of a good album is one you can’t stop playing, and with KIAGT its hardly been off rotation. They even roped in Sam Fox for the best ballad I’ve heard in a number of years, ’Tomorrow’. I can’t wait for album No.2

Plush – ‘Plush’ Album Review

Stunning debut album from Plush. I thought it was going to be good, but I didn’t know how f*cking good!!

Review by Paul Chesworth

Buy here – https://amzn.to/3AWIEJP

Released 29th October 2021

I first came across Moriah Formica (not that way you perv), a couple of few years back when she duetted on a Michael Sweet solo album, ‘One Sided War’. Back in 2016 I predicted great things for her even back then. I’ve kept a distant eye on her career and have been hotly anticipating this debut Plush album after seeing some of the covers they have been releasing. My appetite was completely whetted when they posted their ‘shit-hot’ version of Alter Bridge’s ‘Isolation’.

‘Plush’ is composed of four talented women, under 21, whose accomplishments and talent eclipse their age. This female rock force is fronted by singer, songwriter and guitarist Moriah Formica. Drummer Brooke Colucci, guitarist Bella Perron and bassist Ashley Suppa round out the lineup.

When I said hotly anticipating, I thought it would be a good debut, but I wasn’t expecting it to be THIS. FUCKING. GOOD. If anyone was thinking fluffy girly metal, then you couldn’t be more wrong. After stating recently that Nestor’s debut was one of the best I’ve heard in a long time, along comes Plush with an equally superb debut album.

‘Opening with “Athena” Plush ready do set their stall out early. It has a really heavy, dirty riff from Bella Perron that Mark Tremonti would be proud of punches you like Bruce Lee only wearing an iron glove. Harmonies are a-plenty, and the rhythm of Brooke Colucci and the pulsating bass of Ashley Suppa drive this on to stand head and shoulders in the pack. Throw in Moriah Formica’s stunning vocal range and it make for one sumptuous recipe. Think Ann Wilson or Kelly Clarkson singing for Alter Bridge and you will get where I’m coming from. “Champion” “Found A Way” and “Hate” are more melodic, but still pack a hefty punch. Perron has a great guitar tone and Formica’s vocals are crystal clear.

“Sober” is a powerful anthem, moving from acoustic to electric and is an emotional ride digging into the lyrical content. “Better Off Alone” is a song where Formica is wearing her emotions on her sleeve, and if auto-biographic, has drawn on some life affirming decisions. Bella Perron earns her weight in salt with her guitar playing. “Sorry” is nicely paced, branding from stripped down to a strong phrasing of ‘Sorry’ for each line of its chorus. “Why Do I Even Try” uses Formica’s instrument (her voice) and interplays with Bella Perron guitar licks. The Princess of Pound (Colucci) and Suppa are up front and centre on the dynamic “Bring Me Down”. “Don’t Say That” is the true ballad on the album, and shows that Plush have a lot of strings to their bow. If this was the late 80s, Plush would be sitting on a Top 10 Billboard song, and playing arenas within weeks of its release.

“Will To Win” matches ‘Athena’ for its heavy riff and these songs sit really well in Plush’s wheelhouse. All 4 are on top form here, and Formica’s vocals shine. This is a nice composition and Perron lays down some understated riffs. I just with she was given more slack to let rip with her talent. It’s only on closing track “Walk Away” where she has anywhere near an extended solo. Moriah wails ’I’m gonna walk away, walk away from all the pain’ and you know she means it. At 13 songs and 50 minutes it flew by. There’s not a duff song on here and that is something else.

Plush have clearly done their homework. In Formica they have a singer songwriter that is a shining light in modern metal now, and hopefully for years to come. It easy to over sing when you have an instrument like Formica’s voice. She knows when to be subtle, when to let loose and when to emote. Add the undoubted quality to Colucci, Suppa and Perron, and its delicious. The four women complement each other perfectly to become Plush. They have avoided the pitfalls to be a ‘saccharine-coated-look-great-but-no-substance’ band and come out all guns blazing. If they are doing this now, then I cannot wait for what’s to come in the future.

To write and perform an album that is so contemporary, mature, and with a wink to the past, with all band members at a (relatively) young age is remarkable. Ok maybe not remarkable as I’ve seen their videos leading up to this release so it shouldn’t be a total surprise. They have lived up to my expectations, and gone way beyond it. ‘Plush’ is a simply marvellous album. Look out boys, the girls are here to kick your asses!

I haven’t been this excited about a band since I found Rival Sons, Alter Bridge and Coheed And Cambria. Plush sit in great company

For fans of Alter Bridge, Shinedown, Red Sun Rising

Score – 9/10

Plush are –
Moriah Formica – Vocals & Guitar
Bella Perron – Guitar
Brooke Colucci – Drums
Ashley Suppa – Bass

Tracklisting –
Athena
Champion
Hate
Found A Way
I Don’t Care
Sober
Better Off Alone
Sorry
Why Do I Even Try
Bring Me Down
Don’t Say That
Will Not Win
Walk Away

Wicked Smile – ‘Wait For The Night’ Review

Wicked Smile hit the ground running with their powerful debut. Fans of 80s stalwarts such as Dio, Skid Row, Maiden and Sabbath can find something to enjoy here

By Paul Chesworth

Australian heavy rockers Wicked Smile will release their debut full length album titled ‘Wait for the Night’ on September 24th. Oct 15th in the UK.

Wicked Smile are all about bringing back fist pumping heavy rock to the forefront with a collection of ten ‘killer songs’. The forthcoming album is produced by Paul Laine (The Defiants) and mastered by Bruno Ravel (The Defiants/Danger Danger).


Guitarist Stevie Janevski goes on to say, “last year was all about giving the world a ‘taste’ of what we’re about. We’re a five-piece kick ass heavy rock band and I think we made our presence known with the release of our Delirium sampler EP”.

Wicked Smile is fronted by charismatic powerhouse lead vocalist Danny Cecati (ex Pegazus & Eyefear) with Stevie Janevski (The Radio Sun, ex Black Majesty & Cyclone Tracy) and Dave Graham (ex In Malice’s Wake) on guitars, Glen Cav (ex Virtue) on bass and Jason Tyro on drums.

I won’t dwell on the EP songs from last year as all are included here. (see link to my EP review at the bottom of this paragraph) What WS have done is capitalise on the success of the EP and gone full steam ahead and put the album out a year after the EP. WS set their stall out early with the powerful ‘Date With The Devil’. Its full on 80s metal, very guitar heavy and Cecati sounding great. ‘Daze Of Delirium has a cracking chorus and is as soft as WS get to Steves other outfit The Radio Sun. ‘Don’t Wait For Me’ shows that balladic side to WS and Cecati and sounds a different vocalist completely.It has its obligatory searing guitar solo to appease the faithful. ‘Sign Of Times’ is a more doom laden vibe, which is quite Tony Martin era-Sabbath, which for me is praise in itself. ‘Last Goodbye’ has an opening riff that transports me to Bark At The Moon era Ozzy. The title track ‘Wait For The Night’ is the strongest on the album by a mile, it will certainly please fans of bands like Maiden and Halloween and Cecati’s vocals soar throughout the song. The twin guitars of Janevski and Graham definitely need a mention here as they shred the arse off each other.

EP Reviewhttps://needle-in-the-groove.com/2020/06/07/wicked-smile-delerium-ep-review/

It’s on songs like ‘Killer At Large’ ‘Date With The Devil’, and ‘Wait For The Night’ where they really hit the mark. Theres a variety of styles and influences coming into play as they show on the melodic ‘Daze….’ I understand this melodic rock style based on previous bands. But its the heavier, metal songs that stand out for me, and with that in mind I’m already looking forward to that difficult No2 album!

8/10

Date With The Devil
Wait For The Night
We Fall
Sign Of Times
Daze Of Delirium
Killer At Large
Last Goodbye
Loves Got A Hold On You
Don’t wait For Me
Stronger

Leprous – ‘Aphelion’ Album Review

Leprous – Aphelion

If Leprous was a party, I arrived that late, I got there after the parents arrived home to find their house trashed. I had never heard of them until I was sent their last album (Pitfalls) to review. But what was to be an inspired decision by me (and Leprous) was an album that was totally different to most of what Ive been listening to for the last 40+ years and it just blew me away. Few bands and albums have done this since I started reviewing back in 2007. I went out and bought the back catalogue, few bands make me do this. They were more metal over the albums predating Pitfalls, but like Opeth a chance has occurred, and for me it is an inspired change.

In fact they are a band I never thought possible that I would ever listen to, a fact that my wife pointed to one day asking me why I was listening to ‘this’ ( a song from Pitfalls that randomly popped up in the car). I said that it was just ‘wonderful’, I couldn’t explain fully, I just muttered ‘its wonderful’ and we left it at that.

So here we are mid/pre/post (delete as appropriate) Covid 19 and we have the follow up to Pitfall, Aphelion. Aphelion is the point in the Earths orbits that is farthest from the Sun, which in 2021 was Monday 5th July. Enough fact learning people, let’s get into the detail.

The first three singles have been Castaway Angels, a 6 minute effort that glides by and sees Leprous throw the kitchen sink at it. If Leprous could get a tune out of a kitchen sink, I’m sure they would use it as a viable instrument! Baard Kolstad’s drumming is sublime and Einar Solberg’s vocals are simply to die for. It’s a piece that just flies by and you can only reply appreciate the band for what they are by watching the video and absorbing yourself in the song. Running low is the other single and is quite dramatic, one minute groggy, then the chorus of ‘Its a miracle, miracle, miracle…’ being an ear worm of the highest order, but also very, pop and also cinematic. In face their songs would certainly elevate any pice of cinema that they could become attached to. The third single ‘The Silent Revelation’ is a huge piece and encompasses Leprous. Its the best song on the album and I would direct any future Leprous virgin to dive in with this track. Its heavy, nuanced and Solberg’s falsetto take it up a level,  finishing with a choral falsetto!

‘Out Of Here’ is more subdued but is no less enthralling thanks to Solbergs vocals, until we get to the mid section where the bridge ramps up the heaviness. ‘Silhouette’ has a strong synth opening before introducing strings to complement the synths. ‘All The Moments’ kicks off with Kolstads drumming at the forefront. It’s (almost) a slow burn, but when it steps up to the plate is does so in dramatic fashion. ‘Have You Ever?’ is one of the softer songs, but still packs a punch one you dive in to the quality musicianship.  ‘The Shadow Side’ is about coming to terms with yourself and being yourself. It is dramatic and ends with s searing guitar solo. ‘On Hold’ is an almost 8 minute epic where it is essentially ‘The Einar Show’. Insecurities, doubt, and identity are at the heart of this and its felt through Solberg’s delivery. ‘Nighttime Disguise’ is the last song and arrives quickly. Its the heaviest song by far. Its as close to convention rock as these guys get, with date I say it, crooning before the obligatory falsetto. I cracking end to a cracking album. The vinyl and Mediabook CD contain two extra tracks, a live version of ‘Acquired taste’ and ‘A Prophecy To Trust’ 

Gill is right. its a band I would never have entertained before at any point in my music listening life, but I think I jumped in at the correct time with Pitfalls, because Aphelion has taken this band up another lever which I didn’t think was possible. 

Its hard for me to label Leprous, which is good because I hate labels! It is a sound that is ephereal, expanding, almost heavenly, and is neither rock, nor prog, or anything else. Its just simply…..Leprous.

The best way I can describe Aphelion, it feels like a best of album, and that in itself is remarkable. Its music that is delicate, balanced, sways from pop to rock, sometimes in the same sentence and just sweeps the listener away and is one of the finest albums of 2021

9/10

Tracklisting –

Running Low

Out Of Here

Silhouette

All The Moments

Have You Ever?

The Silent Revolution

The Shadow Side

On Hold

Castaway Angels

Nighttime Disguise

The band

Einar Solberg – Vocals/Keys

Simen Børven – Bass

Robin Ognedal – Guitars

Baard Kolstad – Drums

Tor Oddmund Suhrle – Guitars

Stardust – ‘Highway To Heartbreak’

Stardust – Highway to Heartbreak

Lockdown has been a bitch eh? For me cancelled gigs and no Solid Rock in Glasgow has been the hardest part of the “new normal”. Let’s be serious it is not the new normal, it’s a temporary state. Anyway music for me has been a lifeline but despite that I’ve wallowed in nostalgia and not reviewed anything new for months. I couldn’t be ar*ed and when I gave myself a massive kick up the butt I was too late for the new Perfect Plan album, I was a bit in despair and then Frontiers via Gary Levermore sent another chance.
Well let’s just say the wait for me personally was worth it and I was intrigued by the first album by a Hungarian band called Stardust.

As an enthusiastic amateur I review bands by just listening to the tracks, will read the Frontiers blurb but do nothing else than just listen rather than a forensic search which will undoubtedly influence my listening.

Well thank you Gary (and Paul Chesworth for nagging me to actually write something). Stardust is the AOR/Melodic album of the year, name a year it will be still be up there. A stunningly wonderful piece of music.

The Frontiers promo said “hooky choruses, beautiful keyboards and vocal harmonies”. Hooky to me reminds me of Only Fools and Horses as meaning “dodgy, not quite legal”. Well I would describe the choruses as being sublime, pristine and more catchy than a disease off a hooker. I played the album the first time working from home to drown out my wife doing her contact centre job. Headphones in, sound turned up and BANG. What the actual fu*k was I hearing? I was blown away and after 3 or 4 songs thought that this has to bottom out but no, it just kept coming and I repeated it numerous times. My wife took the huff, “Would you rather spend your lunchbreak listening to that stuff rather than talk to me?” – Er yes.

So don’t feel the need to read my clumsy attempts to describe each track, just buy the bloody thing, you will not be disappointed.
I’m left with a few questions and thoughts:

  • Since when did Hungary name kids: Adam Stewart, Ben Martin, Dave Legrand, Facey and Tim Keeley?
  • After finally tracking the band on Google how are they not better known?
  • Also I now understand how good the sound is, they’re basically classically trained musicians. Every one of the band contributes to make this album a classic.
  • I also now get the Toto vibe.
  • Ben Martin the bass player’s first album was ACDC – Black Ice, I have underpants older than that album.
  • Oh, and my wife saw the promo pics and now thinks she might want to visit Hungary

Anyway my thoughts on the tracks are as follows:
Runaway – A dramatic intro of atmospheric haunting sci-fi effects launches into classic melodic rock vocals over a heavier than expected bass and guitar although the keyboards are used to great effect to layer the song nicely. And we’re off, a touch of multiple melodic sounds and it’s better than decent.


Heartbreaker – Yes, that ‘Heartbreaker’ by Pat Benatar. Its got nice drum intro, menacing “Heartbreaker” chant and again a heavy guitar and bass line with the drum intro setting the tone, with drum driven vibe. “Heartbreaker, Dream maker, love maker, don’t you mess around with me”.

Bullet To My Heart – wow by now I’m getting seriously into this band, the screaming guitar note reminiscent of a Van Halen guitar scream before the song slams into some AOR layered sounds, the vocals wouldn’t be out of place on a Journey track and the chorus is as catchy as f..k. The vocals of Adam Stewart sit nicely and rule the roost.

Perfect Obsession – Acoustic sounding guitar with a wonderful jangle to the riff and smoky vocal that would sit comfortably on any melodic masterpiece, I’m racking my head to link it to other bands, it certainly has the 80’s US AOR vibe and I’m loathe to mention the likes of Toto, Age of Reflection, Poison, Warrant etc but I will.

2nd Hand Love – a lovely gentle guitar solo beginning and then we’re away again. I still think of Don Henley and Bryan Adams feel especially the lead into the chorus. The lyrics are cleverly written not clichés. Another guitar solo that compliments the song and doesn’t take over.

Shout It Out – rockier but with a classic chorus as if a title like Shout It Out could have anything else, catchy with the backing vocals pure class. It did remind somewhat of Myke Gray and his track Shout which is no bad thing in my book. It will be a classic played live.

Can’t Stop Loving You – a solid ballad with Stewart’s vocals just perfect. The harmonies again, are spot on.

Eye To Eye – let’s rock. A full on blast of rock, keyboard and guitar solo and a real quirky vibe.

Hey Mother – Styx/Toto feel with the real melodic feel of the guitars in the background. Top guitar solo and to me it reminded me of Work of Art as the keyboards are superb. “Hey Mother can you rescue me”, well sorry Mum, that ship has sailed. It as if Lars Safsund, Tommy Shaw and Steve Lukather had a ménage a trots and the resulting baby would be this!

Blue Jeans Eyes (Bonus Track) – I always wonder what a bonus track is. To me it fits in nicely, “time after time” as a lyric reminds me of Cyndi Lauper but that’s where the comparison ends. The guitar sound is punchy and the chorus is nearly as good as the wonderful guitar solo. Blue Jeans Eyes is a great description to use

The River Is Rollin’ – As there is no “G” on Rollin you know this gonna have a real Americana vibe, it doesn’t disappoint. A great end to what is a wonderful piece of AOR/melodic rock. If you close your eyes you are back to Boys Of Summer and the lyric of a young girl growing up with the attention of jerks in leather jackets who just want to jump her bones but she’s independent and is uninterested is wonderful.

Stunning stuff and cap doffed.

10/10 – it’s a classic.

Review by Lawrie

Track list:
Runaway
Heartbreaker
Bullet To My Heart
Perfect Obsession
2nd Hand Love
Shout It Out
Can’t Stop Loving You
Eye To Eye
Hey Mother
Blue Jeans Eyes (Bonus Track)
The River Is Rollin’


Line-up:
Adam Stewart – Vocals, rhythm guitars
Ben Martin – Bass
Dave Legrand – Keyboards
Facey – Guitars
Tim Keeley – Drums

 

Landfall – ‘The Turning Point’ Album Review

Landfall – ‘The Turning Point’

According to the PR bumf that comes through, Landfails singer, Gui Oliver (ex-Auras) is a ringer for Steve Perry. You know the people that you hear about in the news that get a knock on the head which causes anmesia, then when they come around, speak in a French accent. Well this fella got a right pounding and come back round with Steve Perrys clothes but Eric Martins voice, if Eric was singing in the bathroom next to you with the bathroom door shut. Its Eric, but not quite Eric if you see what I am getting at. This is the Trumpness that you sometimes having to contend with when emailed a press pack.

“I’m really glad to be back with Frontiers with a new band and new songs in a new perspective. I believe this is my best album so far. I was really impressed when I met the band for the first time. They are truly amazing, gifted and very prepared to do this with me,” says Gui Oliver.

Landfall was originally started by drummer Felipe Souzza and guitarist Marcelo Gelbcke, who are childhood friends and have been playing together since they were about 15 years old. Some years later, bassist Thiago Forbeci joined up with them, adding new musical input and influences and the band decided to go in a new direction. 

They began writing their songs and creating their own music repertoire to work off of and it was during this period that they recorded a few albums together and performed several concerts around Brazil, including opening for acts like Glenn Hughes and Mike Vescera. 

Opening track ‘Rush Hour’ certainly gets ‘TTP’ off to a cracking start. It’s a pace number that skips along and had a decent crunchy riff and an instantly singable chorus. ‘No Way Out’ ticks some boxes and is catchy enough. ‘Janes Carousel’ follows a similar path. ‘Across The Street’ shows Landfall at their best and reminds me of early Ten, and ‘Don’t Come Easy’ is one of the more pleasant ballads Ive heard recently, considering I’m not a massive fan of ballads any more.

Its basically ‘wash-rinse-repeat’ from here on in. ‘Roundabout’ and ‘Sound Of The City’ stand out in the second half of the album, and ‘Hope Hill’ offers up a singalong moment for the listener. Beyond that, its bang average, in a sort of an half decent way. The songs are pleasant, a couple are very decent, but there’s not enough here to tempt me in for a second or third listen. Some people will think Im talking out of my Covid-larger-than-normal arse, but I just feel it has all been done before, and in a lot of cases, much better

Half of the album is good, but the balance is basically melodic rock by numbers. The production is good though, the playing for all is what I’d expect from a Frontiers AOR signed band.

I jest when I say that Oliver doesn’t sound like Steve Perry, but really, he doesn’t. Ok, maybe a few notes here and there, but he is not in the same sounding universe as Hugo Valenti or Arnel Pineda. Now those two are Perry ringers. 

Score 7/10

Review by Paul Chesworth

Landfall 

Gui Oliver – Vocals

Felipe Souzza – Drums

Marcelo Gelbcke – Guitars

Thiago Forbeci – Bass

Tracklisting – 

Rush Hour *

No Way Out *

Jane’s Carousel

Across The Street*

Don’t Come Easy 

Taxi Driver

Distant Love

Roundabout *

Road Of Dreams

Hope Hill

Sound Of The City *

* worth a listen

Perfect Plan – ‘Time For A Miracle’ Album Review

Sophomore release from Scandi AOR rockers Perfect Plan. Its heavier than the debut and that in itself is worthy of the score.

Perfect Plan – Time For A Miracle

Blummin’ ‘eck. Two years have shot by since the delights of the Perfect Plan debut, and in ‘In And Out Of Love’ it was one of the melodic rock anthems of 2018. So has two years done anything for them? Well, its No.2/sophomore album/2nd album syndrome, where you can soon tell if the songs on the second are not as finely tuned or honed as the originals, as they (the debut songs) could have been in development for years. I’m a firm believer that cream rises to the top, and with a singer like Kent Hilli on board, that Perfect Plan will have no such problems. So. fingers crossed, eh?

Well, if you’re going to rip off a band, then you might as well take a song from 1984 and hope the likeness isn’t remembered due to bands and fans either being

a) dead now, b) suffering from early onset dementia, or c) just punch drunk because of Covid. Well you can’t fool me, you pesky Scandinavians! If you think you’ve heard the drum intro to ‘Time For A Miracle’ it’s because you have. It’s pretty damn similar to the Scorps ‘Crossfire’ and nearly sent me round the twist thinking where I’d heard it before. The similarity ends there though, as beyond the drum intro is a finely executed song with single written all over it. ‘Better Walk Alone’ is upbeat and raids Lou Gramms note book (almost) for ‘When we make love you know it’s all understood’. OK so I’m a bit picky, its them, not me. ‘BWA’ is Giant, Steelhouse Lane and Survivor all rolled into one. The sound is great considering its probably on a shoestring compared to budgets of the 80s. Two songs in, its heavier than the debut, and that for me is fooking great!

‘Heart To Stone’ evokes memories of Bon Jovi’s ‘Runaway’ and that dear reader, is no bad place to pitch your tent. ‘Fighting To Win’ is the inevitable ballad. Piano and vocals kick it off, before everyone wades in for the chorus. I’m getting less tolerant of ballads as I’m getting older, but its part and parcel pretty much of most melodic bands repertoire so I admit its my problem. It’s like Dave Bickley got the call. ‘Every Time We Cry’ gets PP back on track with more pace and some decent vocals from Hilli. More guitar, less parpy-ness. ‘What About Love’ again follows a music by numbers and is good, but I’m looking for ‘great’ And half-way through I don’t yet have a stand out or goose-bumpy moment. That is until ‘Nobody’s Fool’. It’s a blues tinged number that is more rock ‘n’ roll than anything so far, and rocks more than it rolls. ‘Living On The Run’ picks up the torch from ‘Nobody’s’ and had these two been on ‘Side 1’ to use an analogy, my appetite would be well and truly whetted!! ‘Just One Wish’ evokes Robin Beck and Signal to good effect. ‘Don’t Blame It On Love Again’ is anthemic enough to make another single choice and Hilli’s vocals are superb. ‘Give A Little Lovin’’ is energetic, and Hilli again sings his arse off. Let’s face it, when doesn’t he? ‘Don’t Leave Me here Alone’ has more vim and vigour and is more of a stirring ballad with a nice guitar solo. 

To be honest, Hilli sounds great, the production excellent, and its because of the heavier songs in the latter half of ‘TFAM’ that make it for me. Its polished AOR by numbers, and it will easily make lots of fans Top 10 lists come the year end. 

To make a comparison, if you currently have a Survivor/Jim Peterik sized hole in your life, then Perfect Plan have the shovel. Its good, but bands like HEAT and Vega just do it that little bit better. 

8.5/10

Review by Paul Chesworth

Tracklisting-

Time For A Miracle

Better Walk Alone

Heart To Stone

Fighting To Win

Every Time We Cry

What About Love

Nobody’s Fool

Living On The Run

Just One Wish

Don’t Blame It On Love Again

Give A Little Lovin’

Don’t Leave Me Here Alone

Perfect Plan – 

Kent Hilli – Vocals

Rolf Nordström – Guitar

Leif Ehlin – Keys

Frederik Forsberg – Drums

Mats Byström – Bass