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Quick Play: A round-up of November 2007 album releases

We've listed albums in order of star rating. Best first.

MAEDER S/T (Locomotive Records. Cat No LM455)

This Australian band has the punch of AC/DC, a touch of Buckcherry and catchy tunes by the bucket load. Fronted by brother Nic and Sebastian Maeder, the band have had a fair taste of success already as their track 'Another Thing Comin'' was the theme song for the Australian football Grand Final, as well as debut EP 'Business In Me' reaching number one in the indie charts over there.

This 12 track CD is a refreshing statement as to what should make the charts Europe wide but seldom does, as Nic Maeder says 'It's just dirty rock n roll'. The highlights include 'Never Last', 'Another Thing Comin'', 'It's All Good' and 'White Pillow'. *****

Review by Nikk Gunns

LYNN ALLEN And The Horse You Rode In On Escape Music (2007)

Lynn Allen have been around since the early 80's and revolve around vocalist/guitarist Billy Peiffer. This is the band's new album and it is a very enjoyable hard rock meets AOR album - very similar to Harlequin's recent comeback album.

Each song features plenty of harmonies with 'I Will If You Will' and 'Mine' being instant hits with the listener. Vocally Billy Peiffer shares some similarity with Enuff Z Nuff's Donnie Vie especially on 'Michelle' and 'Enough To Make Me Sober'.

Nothing new on here musically but who cares when the songs are so catchy and enjoyable? Perfect for fans who enjoy Loverboy, Honeymoon Suite, Harlequin and Enuff Z Nuff. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

DION Son Of Skip James SPV Blue (2007)

The follow-up to last year's 'Bronx In Blue', which won Dion rave reviews and sees him gain a whole new blues audience.

Most famous for 60's hits such as 'Runaround Sue' and 'The Wanderer' (covered by the mighty Quo amongst others), Dion really comes across on here as someone whose been singing and playing the blues all his life.

Highlights are many, from Chuck Berry's rock 'n' roller 'Nadine' through to the acoustic take on the classic 'Dust My Broom'. Dion's vocals almost drip the blues such is his passion and delivery, plus it is a very strong selection of tunes. There is also a spoken word interlude based around Bob Dylan, the Pope and 'Blowin' In the Wind'!

Highly recommended for blues lovers everywhere and along with Joe Bonamassa's latest album, these make for my blues music fix for 2007. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

Artist Service Compilation Vol.1

This 16-track collection highlights the many bands connected to The Artist Service. It covers bands in the AOR, Hard Rock, Melodic Rock and Melodic Metal genres.

The pick of the bunch isn't easy as the quality of this compilation is way beyond your average sampler, however, highlights include Tempestt 'Insanity Desire', Clusterhead 'Made Of Stone', Elysion 'Dreamer', Rena 'Eyes', Sanchez 'Don't Treat Me Like A Fool' and Koyaanisqatsy 'Memoria'- every one of these bands is well worth checking out online. ****

Review by Nikk Gunns

HELL N DIESEL Passion For Power (Smilodon. Cat No SMILCD7109)

Sweden's Hell N Diesel have produced an album of good sleazy rock n roll- reminiscent of early GnR, Motley Crue, Skid Row and Buckcherry, this CD is packed with solid riffs and hook lines throughout.

Current single 'Sweet Sister' is just one of the many highlights here, others include 'Fallin'', 'Miss Cocaine' and 'Ride Away'.

This album will be the best release in its genre this year. ****

Review by Nikk Gunns

MCM 1900 - Hard Times Lion Music (2007)

An instrumental trio captured live in concert and they are very talented musicians, namely guitarist Alex Masi, bassist Randy Coven and drummer John Macaluso.

This album won't be for everybody as it is an instrumental showcase where each band member gets to show their prowess. Musically it touches on jazz rock, metal and fusion with 'River Offering', 'Unmatched Fragments' and 'The Ground Above' being the most instantly accessible.

Sound wise it is near perfect as you can get for a live performance. For fans of instrumental led music this is a must have. *** ( ***½ if you like these showcase type albums)

Review by Jason Ritchie

SEVEN TEARS In Every Frozen Tear Frontiers

Interesting one this one as the press release dubs them as 'Evergrey meets Journey', neither of which I can personally hear much of in the music save for the ballad 'All Alone' which you could imagine Journey doing. The main problem with this album is that some songs, like opener 'Twist Of Fate' are maybe a tad to heavy for the average AOR/melodic rock fan and tracks like the aforementioned 'All Alone' could put of progressive metal fans. There are some great keyboard runs and guitar solos on here as can be heard on 'Faded Memory' and the title track. Vocalist Zoran Djorem has on the whole a very melodic voice, although he can ratchet it up for the heavier tunes.

An enjoyable album, but maybe it needs a couple more killer riffs and tunes to make it a 'must have' album. ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

BEN ARTHUR Mouthfeel

With PR blurb promising brooding, dark laced images of betrayal, sex, humiliation and death, it sounded a pretty promising cocktail.

But the album opens with Tattoo - a gentle acoustic, sing along groove and pleasant vocals. A zillion miles away from the axe wielding serial killer I was hoping might leap from my speakers, but nevertheless acceptable folk club fare.

Elsewhere the album flits between Lou Reed and latter day Donovan influenced alt Americana. It's pleasant rather than inspiring, but the duet with Rachael Yamagata on Sun Also Rises does, at least, raise the set above the average. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


His makes for a pleasant diversion from listening to rock music all the time as the music on here takes an ambient path, with repetitive vocals or instruments forming the basis of each piece of music. This reminded me very much of Adiemus who had a lot of success in the early 90's or fellow composer even Philip Glass.

Each piece of music is around four to five minutes and there is plenty of variety form pieces that remind you of the music that used to accompany 1920/30's films through to vocal led music not unlike Enya.

An interesting and varied selection of music that keeps the listener entertained and certainly worthy of a listen. ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

BOB WELCH & FRIENDS Live From The Roxy (Store For Music)

Originally recorded back in 1981, the former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Welch roped in some former band mates to help including Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks who really excels on the song 'Ebony Eyes'. A varied set list that includes covers such as the 60's pop song 'Bend Me, Shape Me' and 'Remember', penned by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. Bob Welch's solo hits are also included, namely 'Sentimental lady and the aforementioned 'Ebony Eyes'. The closing track, an old Fleetwood Mac number 'Rattlesnake Shake', is a fine blues based rocker and a fitting finale.

It is not a bad live album at all, both in song and sound terms and is certainly of interest to Fleetwood Mac fans. ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

NEW PROJECT Ultraviolent Light (World Three Records)

With already an EP or two under their belt, this extreme set is, for its genre, pretty good. Even the tortured banshee vocals that verge on mid range white noise fit in with the music, the guitar and, well, everything on the opening track pretty 'New Human Anthem' brutal.

'Chemical Drive' opens with a chunky rhythm, and the noise effects later on add to the alternative edge. And under all the noise and aggression in 'Cyberpunk 2.0' are occasional keyboards and touches of trad metal vocal harmonies in the chorus. As Metal Hammer said, a metal chimera that shouldn't work but it does, and quite right too.

And singing like that? If you don't remove your voicebox beforehand it'll feel like it afterwards.

Worth checking out. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

INDIGO DYING Frontiers (2007)

It that man again, Fabrizlo Grossi (Starbearker, Allen/Lande etc.) driving along another project band on the Frontiers label. This time it is focussed on female vocalist Gisa Vatcky, who comes across like a mellower Alanis Morrisette ' just listen top the opening track 'All I Never Wanted' for proof.

Rock fans will also have their interest tweaked by the two guest vocalists on here, namely former Helloween singer Michael Kiske who pops up on the excellent 'Breathe Water' and ex-Ring Of Fire singer Mark Boals, who appears on two songs 'Superman' and 'Far Enough'. 'Better' and 'Hear Me' are good guitar led rock tunes although a couple of songs on here sound like Allen/Lande cast offs ' more tunes like 'All I Never Wanted' or 'Breathe In Water' would make this a real 'must have' album.

Gisa Vatcky is a vocal find and hopefully this won't be a one-off album/project. ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

SHYLOCK Devotion (2007) (Music By Mail/Artist Service)

Melodic hard rockers Shylock return with their fourth album and certainly one for fans of the Scorpions and Bonfire. Their sound is very riff driven and they pen very catchy tunes, many with a pop rock edge like 'Music' and 'Ocean'.

Some songs do let the album down like the hard rock by numbers 'Hunting High And Low', although luckily there is another good tune just after it in the shape of 'Fading Memory'. Good sue of keys/samples on each song and a big, rich drum sound which is always good to hear in this style of music. The final song, 'Farewell' is a tribute to former German international footballer Tomas Hassler and is a strong end to the album.

Of its kind not a bad album and with their knack of penning catchy hooks and pop rock melodies into the mix they rise above many other similar bands. ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA Down In New Orleans (Proper Records)

The band have been going for seventy years now and still include original member Jimmy Carter. As the title suggests the band have gone to New Orleans and hook-up with some of the city’s top musicians including Allen Troussiant and the Hot 8 Jazz band. Listen to outro vocals on ‘Free At Last’, whose wail would put rock giants like Ian Gillan and Bruce Dickinson to shame! There is some trad New Orleans jazz band backing on a coupe, of numbers, whilst ‘If I Could Help Somebody’ really grabs the listener’s attention.

A very enjoyable album from one of music’s longest lasting and legendary bands. ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

LIQUID HORIZON Revolutions (Artist Service)

Prog metal, or melodic power metal with keyboards, or somewhere in between, but it's good, and a concept album about the struggle for freedom.

'Battle Entrance' is smooth with a good range, featuring keyboards that range from uplifting to playing the darker side with the bass line, which sums up such struggles well. The guitar riffs are heavy too.

'Sacred Ground' opens with a chunkier riff with interspersed progressive meanderings.

There are elements of Saxon's and Judas Priest's new directions on this set, it's that heavy.

And the album title is apt with the trilogy of songs set around the French revolution.

Also 'Sacrifice' has a good searing guitar solo that kind of hints at David Gilmour.

The album does drift along ' in a nice way. Stops it being too samey, but not something you can pay too much attention too either.

Think Savatage and Dream Theater. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

THE BRITISH BLUES QUARTET Live In Glasgow Angel Air SJPCD (2007)

Based around vocalist Maggie Bell, she is joined by former Stone The Crows band member Colin Allen, Zoot Money, Colin Hodgkinson (Whitesnake/Coliseum) and Miller Anderson (Keef Hartley Band). The set list is a mix of covers and their various bands' past.

Highlights include 'Fog On The Highway' (sung by Miller Anderson), 'It Never Rains But It Pours' and the finale 'Respect Yourself' where all the band sound like they are having a blast on stage! The cover of Free's 'Wishing Well' doesn't seem to work though despite Maggie Bell's best efforts.

A good, solid selection of blues rock played by a very competent set of musicians. More a band to see live through for the atmosphere than on CD or DVD which although an enjoyable listen can never capture the sheer enjoyment a band like this would provide in the flesh. ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

STEVE CONE In My Bones Dilligaf CD-12 (2007)

Steve Cone may seem an unlikely name for a guitar hero. I mean, is a supporter a 'Cone-Head'?! As this album progresses the name Ted Nugent comes to mind. Once Cone gets into the risqué lyrics the comparisons are inevitable. (qv. Get Down, Like The Dog I Am).

The title track has all the swagger and sneer of top notch Motorhead. Elsewhere, 'Your Eyes' could have been written for Dave Mustaine although it lacks Megadeth's gravitas. Cone is peddling slightly sanitized thrash metal.

The pace doesn't really let up and the relentless riffery could have given way to something a little more subtle just to introduce light and shade. This similarity of material is temporarily broken by an attractive instrumental 'Trapped' which offers scant if welcome respite. Overall, a powerful if ultimately flawed set. ***

Review by David Randall

FURY N GRACE Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque Dragonheart

This band date back to 1994 and it has taken this long to finally get their debut album out despite some previous recordings not getting released due to various label hassles.

Musically they play brooding, Sabbath like riffs coupled with some progressive leanings although vocalist Gabrielle Grilli (ex-Doomsworld) takes some getting used to mixing a high pitch with a darker growl.

It's not a bad album but just lacks any real stand outs musically, although they do have the off the wall musicality say Coheed & Cambria.

Try as I might I can't see this appealing to many bar fans of the band members previous bands. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

MARIA McKEE Live At The BBC (Universal)

Taken form concerts in 1991 and 1993 this will appeal to Maria McKee's many fans and you get live versions of her most recognized songs such as the big hit 'Show Me Heaven' and 'Good Heart' (taken to number one by Fergal Sharkey).

Other highlights include 'Shelter' and 'My Lonely Sad Eyes'. It does veer too much into country for my personal tastes at times but I am sure fans of her previous band Lone Justice will enjoy this release. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

MONKEY FIST Between The Lines (MF Recordings)

Interesting mix this with some definite fine moments.

There's some of the alternative and extreme roughness you'd expect from Pantera and Sepultura, but underneath that there are trad metal structures and guitar runs, even a nod at Iron Maiden if you squint your ears right.

Opener 'Pleasure' shows some good guitar work, and 'Take It' is more extreme with some Deftone style riffing.

There's a punk element here too, rough as sandpaper but it's there.

The album's been around for over 6 months, and has 2 live bonus cuts added on, a definite treat.

Pretty enjoyable. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

TORMAN MAXT The Problem of Pain: Part 1 (Mars Hill Records)

Oops, another CD arrives without a press release. We try and give everything a chance here at GRTR! but the lack of background info is remiss: it is a concept and - from what I can make out - with a strong Christian ethic.

Imagine the Gordon Giltrap Band c.1978 with Jon Anderson on vocals. Then go back a decade to Electric Prunes c.1968 (Mass In F Minor). There is nothing wrong with Christian rock but it has to be married to solid and inventive musicianship. And this trio don't cut the muster, it's all heavily derivative and none too worldly earth-shattering. Only worth it if you like your prog spiced with religious litany. ***

Review by David Randall

CHRIS BARBER Can't Stop Now (Classic Studio T)

Legendary jazz and blues musician Chris Barber release 'Can't Stop Now', recorded live on his 2007 European Tour. Not only has Barber got a career that has spanned 5 decades, he also co-founded Londons Marquee Club and The Richmond Jazz and Blues Festival (now known as The Reading Festival!!).

This CD features the Big Chris Barber Band and an appearance by Andy Fairweather-Low- guitarist for, amongst others, Amen Corner, Eric Clapton, and Roger Waters.

The highlights include 'Music From The Land Of Dreams', 'Hot and Bothered', 'Worried Man Blues' and, the track Barber is probably most associated with, 'Petite Fleur'. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns


This 6 track CD highlights the 6 artists on the No One Gets Out Alive tour, kind of a mini touring festival playing clubs! 6 young breaking bands.

RSJ open the set with a rough alternative sound, and a spaced out trippy middle section. A few of the riffs remind me of the industrial angle Rob Halford took.

Asking Alexandra feature a good guitar sound, impressive, but the vocals sound like a cross between a demon and a hoarse banshee being tortured. A little over top. The double bass drum provides some decent thrash though.

Lap kick off in more mellow fashion, nodding at ethereal prog metal with a touch of U2 before the extreme vocals come in, almost as over the top as the above, but more coherent.

Anemic sound more indie; imagine early Cult doing alt metal (and I mean before The Cult went AC/DC). This could be 'Sanctuary' for the alternative goth metal fan easily.

Dejavu are much more out there, with female vocals and a hint of punk. A few guitar effects over the chunky riffs. Wire Daisies go extreme!

Circle Of Light close the CD, and instantly my ears pick up. Best of the bunch? A good guitar sound, more trad metal with a hint of Cult, U2 and Big Country at their heaviest.

A good mixture, but clearly some here are still learning their trade. If you're 18 and want a good noisy night out it'll serve you very well. ***

Review by Joe Geesin


At the hard rock end of alternative metal, this band are influenced by Deftones, Incubus and Tool as well as the more mainstream Pearljam and Faith No More.

The title track features some nice riffs, and fluctuates between hardcore extremes and a slower spaced out trip; touches of grunge in there are obvious.

'Bad Way' is pretty tuneless, with the vocals doing the fluctuation between hardcore and spaced out.

'Think You Better' is a better, a good riff, a good almost Police like drum rhythm, but the alt/grunge trait of alternating fast and slow in every song is a little annoying.

Some good moments though.***

Review by Joe Geesin

SANCHEZ S/T (Artist Service, Cat No CD6001)

Sanchez hail from Sweden and are the product of Jose Sanchez, a lifelong fan of the AOR/Glam/Hard Rock genres- and this shows. This self-titled album has elements of Bon Jovi, Whitesnake and Firehouse throughout, although the band have worked hard to avoid becoming just another cliché of the past.

Sanchez has put together a live band more than able to live up to the recorded album, highlights of which include 'I'm In Love', 'Don't Treat Me Like A Fool' (a Spanish version is included as a bonus track), 'Little Bit Of Love' and 'Sometimes'. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

PAGAN'S MIND God's Equation LMB Music (2007)

The band's fourth studio album and another concept piece based on the concept of God and the origins of humankind. Overall it is a well played and produced album but lacks any big stand out epic which I always feel you need in an album like this plus the song quality seriously peters out by the time you reach track six. Prior to that you get some wonderful keyboards on the title track and 'United Alliance', which is the most 'instant' song on here and not surprisingly the single. They even pull off a decent cover of David Bowie's 'Hallo Spaceboy'.

Worth a listen but for me there are better bands out there more worthy of adding to your collection. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

WHITE WOLF Standing Alone/Endangered Species (Escape Music. Cat No ESM157)

Originally released on RCA Canadian band White Wolf have had their first 2 albums released by Escape, who have done a great job and included video files and booklet including interviews, lyrics and an insight into each track. Both albums are good classic hard rock records, recorded with that big mid '80's rock sound.

'Standing Alone' includes highlights such as 'Shadows In The Night' (the 2 added video files on this disc are also for this track), 'Homeward Bound' and the title track itself. This album went on to sell over 250,000 copies when first released.

'Endangered Species' has an even bigger sound, this is most in evidence on 'All Alone'- other highlights include 'Time Waits For No-One', 'Ride The Storm' and 'Holding Back'. The bonus on this disc is the video file for 'She'.

Unfortunately the band split up in 1988, although they have recently reformed and released third album 'Victim Of The Spotlight'. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

ANGEL HOUSE World On Fire (Casket CSK069)

This is not a bad album but there are so many competitors who do hard melodic rock better. In places this does sound somewhat contrived and there isn't a spark of musical or songwriting panache that produces the W (wow) factor. From the opening 'Mask' it reminded me of a slightly-sub Stormzone especially the vocal delivery. Compare this also to another Mark Stuart-produced Midlands-based outfit UXL: that band's debut sounds like a stadium-bound band on heat.

I have to say, also, the lead guitar is not that convincing (in any power trio this is worrying), the material is crying out for a fluent shred-fest to keep things contemporary and fresh. And maybe a keyboard would beef things up a little and supply some much-needed texture. Re-think needed. **½

Review by David Randall

TYLA In Life, In Love, In Dreams (King Outlaw. Cat No KOCD111)

Tyla, he of Dogs D'Amour fame, releases 'In Life, In Love, In Dreams'- 13 tracks of mostly acoustic, melancholy tunes that includes covers of Dee Dee Ramones 'Poison Heart' and Ray Charles 'I Can't Stop Loving You' alongside original songs as only he can write them.

From the almost jazz like 'With The Angels', to the brilliantly titled 'Northern Line, Black Heart', 'Rock N Roll Model' and 'The Sadness' there is a running feeling of sadness and the way Tyla writes songs has you caught up in it from the beginning, although this CD sounds nothing like his Dogs D'Amour material. **

Review by Nikk Gunns


Here's your starter for 10 - name 5 decent instrumental albums. Tubular Bells? Enya (no, that doesn't count)? Tangerine Dream? It doesn't matter, the point is that instrumental albums aren't generally destined for great success.

So what of Mark Edwards' Balance - 10 instrumental pieces written between 2003 and 2007. With influences of Eno and Air, and played on 'real' instruments, it's a pleasant and laid back affair - perfect for that dinner party or reading The Sunday Times - unobtrusive and relaxing, but I'm not sure why anyone would want to rush out and buy it. **

Review by Pete Whalley

KRISTA DETOR Cover Their Eyes

Krista's last album Mudshow got a semi decent review from GRTR! being described as 'a classy offering but not commercial enough to raise her profile beyond the special interest charts'.

And Cover Their Eyes is likely to stall at the same hurdle. Again, it's beautifully recorded and produced, but Krista - who style falls some where between Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell - has come up with a very jazz influenced album this time around.

And for a site who love our guitar bands, that's just a stretch too far. But if you were ever a Rosie Vela fan, this could be worth exploring. **

Review by Pete Whalley

BIGELF Hex (Custard Records)

'Jesus Christ' was my first thought when I put this on. 'Bastard' too, because that describes the music.

Apparently they see themselves as the 'Evil Beatles', this 70s retro doom prog feel was recorded on vintage equipment , and they've added their own harmonic twist (Beatles) to a mix of early Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. And served up in 2007. Custard indeed.

Classic as the early Sabbath is, and enjoyable as it is now, it was recorded in the early 70s and should be taken as such. Why replicate it and bastardise it too? God, even Ozzy has grown up! Add some psych Floyd and catchy Beatles, even a touch of Flipron in 'Bats In The Belfry II', There's even a touch of Sweet and Suzy Quatro to 'Pain Killers'.

The bass intro to 'Disappear' also derivative of Sabbath.

This is all too derivative to be original, or retro chic!

Don't get me wrong, there are some great musical moments along the way, between musicianship and tunes it does have its moments. But this is the kind of music to make you either rejoice in the name of art as insanely genius, or rightfully declare it as crap. *

Review by Joe Geesin

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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