Maschine – “Rubidium”

Maschine – “Rubidium” (InsideOut Music)

Awesome – suave prog rock at it’s best. If your idea of a pleasurable experience is to strap on your headphones, kick back in your couch and just drift away to beautiful sounds then Maschine is your music! Mixing techno prog with hints of funk and jazz here and there, Maschine was created by guitarist/vocalist Luke Machin at the Brighton Institute Of Modern Music – and it shows in the excellence of faultless songs like ‘Rubidium’, ‘Cubixstro’ and ‘Invincible’. Intricate yet fluid guitars, ethereal melodies, exquisite multi layered vocals and masterful prog rhythms have seen Maschine share the stages of Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake) and Jeff Beck (The Yardbirds) no less! “Rubidium” is a trip into musical excellence from a man who picked up the guitar aged 2 and hasn’t put it down since – and why would you want to when you’re capable of generating audio brilliance to the max. Continue reading

We Came As Romans – “Tracing Back Roots”

We Came As Romans – “Tracing Back Roots” (Nuclear Blast Records)

‘….this is our song to rememberrrrr!!!’ – yeah, no kidding, as (dirty) vocalist David Stephens screams you know that Michigan’s kings of melodic electro-core are back with their all important 3rd album! Besides their chopping riffs and biting rhythms We Came As Romans also incorporate tender vocal harmonies, beautiful guitar melodies and Kyle Pavone’s dubstep and dance styles into an addictive mix that not only makes an immediate mark, but also never lets go of your heart! Compared to their previous releases, I’d say this album is probably their most melodic, but it’s also their most catchy and passionate listening to songs like ‘Fade Away’, ‘Never Let Me Go’ and ‘I Am Free’, with Stephens actually doing more singing than screaming. However, there’s no lacking in power and if anything, the songs reach out to you even more than before. We Came As Romans have come of age and delivered a superb release that they have wisely signed to Nuclear Blast, who clearly recognize an up and coming champion when they see one! Continue reading

Newman – “Siren”

Newman – “Siren” (AOR Heaven)

Guess this proves that if you want to do something right, then do it yourself….and Steve Newman has for the last 20 years where he has earned a reputation as one of the UK’s most respected AOR songwriters! Beyond that he has started his own label – Chrome Dome – and been involved in numerous projects such that the Newman name has become a mainstay for the UK melodic rock scene. “Siren” is his 10th anniversary album and shows no let up in the man’s talents, aptly taking influences from the whole of his career. As usual, Steve handles the bulk of the song writing and playing although he has notable guests to enhance the sound from Robert Säll (Work Of Art, W.E.T) to Pete Newdeck (Eden’s Curse, Tainted Nation) helping out on the composing. Together they have produced a fine, stylish album made up of sultry rockers from the Whitesnake like ‘Another Bitch Of A Night’ to the anthemic Survivor-esque ‘When It Comes To Love’ or the Journey like ‘Feel Her Again’. Whilst the overall feel is that of the 80s I don’t find issue in that as it probably was the golden era for this genre and it’s great to see a pioneer like Steve Newman continuing that legacy in his own talented right. Continue reading

Lost Weekend – “Evermore”

Lost Weekend – “Evermore” (AOR Heaven)

At last – the comeback album by these long running classic British rockers! Lost Weekend have been together for 18 years and are made up of musicians who individually over the last 35 years have rocked stages across the world, and yet as a band have never made it big themselves. There was a brief flirt with fame in 2006 when the band backed Bob Catley live and so impressed was he that he asked them to pen his next solo album ‘Spirit Of Man’. It’s easy to see why as Lost Weekend in their mellower moments come close to the pomp majesty of Magnum while forming a bridge to the mainstream rock and AOR worlds. Listening to songs like ‘Perfect Day’, ‘Falling By The Wayside’ and ‘Do You Remember’ musically it’s a mix of US AOR in the melodies and harmonies coupled with a distinct Brit rock sound along the lines of Thunder or UFO, especially in Paul Uttley’s vocals. Compared to their recent material that was far more guitar driven, the return of Irvin Parratt’s keyboards on “Evermore” features more balance in the mix akin to the band’s early sound. After their hiatus, this is a fine comeback album from these veteran rockers whose heart and faith in their music has never waned and the rest of us should take inspiration from that. Continue reading

The Dropper’s Neck – “Second Coming”

The Dropper’s Neck – “Second Coming” (www.facebook.com/thedroppersneck)

This Essex crew take their name from a Velvet Underground song (Heroin – Ed) which isn’t too far off their style although I’d say they’re also heavily influenced by the Dead Kennedy’s and The Cramps. Heaps of raw strummed bass, dirty nihilistic punk riffs and goth baritone rock n roll vocals produce a wild, loud, dark noise fitting to accompany any executioner’s day! Formed only a coupla years back, these boys soon got bored of doing Queens of the Stone Age covers and resurrected a classic sound, amping it up in their own style to produce psycho songs like ‘Sir Sibilance’, ‘Three Little Pigs’ and ‘I Am The Law’, all of which are laced with a classic English grimness that has seen their live shows enrage baying mobs from London’s East End to the Tilbury docks. Do not miss this one! Continue reading

Circle Of Reason – “These Hands And This Mind”

Circle Of Reason – “These Hands And This Mind” EP (www.facebook.com/circleofreason)

It’s amazing what you can do with a pair of hands and a brain. In this case UK alt rockers Circle Of Reason have created a veritable hotch potch of material that draws from Porcupine Tree to Coheed and Cambria to Creed. Mixing soft and hard styles, expect drifting vocals mixed with post grunge guitars and matching rhythms on songs like the chopping ‘Themes Amongst Thieves’ to the moving ‘Don’t Be Still’ and the contrasting ambiance and intense riffola of ‘Home’. It’s all very well executed musically and in the song arrangements although the lack of consistency in the band’s sound may annoy some, while the sheer range of bands that the Circle Of Reason have toured with may suggest otherwise, attesting to their diverse appeal as well as a number of videos to date receiving national airplay. Perhaps a mind is a good thing indeed, as long as you don’t think too much about things as the obvious might pass you by…… Continue reading

Farraday – “Shade Of Love”

Farraday – “Shade Of Love” (AOR Heaven)

Farraday is a new melodic rock project born in Greece only last year! Made up of the duo of Roy Da Vis, who composes, sings, plays guitars & keyboards along with Stathis Spiliotopoulos, who drums, produces and also supports with backing vocals, Farraday is the culmination of years of collaborations, projects & live performances between these two in making their dreams come true for their love of melodic rock music. With a heavy influence from early Bon Jovi (the clue being in Roy’s first band when he was 16 called – you guessed it – Bad Medicine that was produced by – you guessed it – Stathis!) songs like ‘Can’t Wait On Love’, ‘Breakin’ Down’ and ‘Tonight’ predictably feature crooning heart breaker vocals, drippy keyboard melodies and silk soft rhythms. It’s not a bad effort I suppose for 2 guys although at times the tempo seems a little lethargic. I guess the album was recorded over a period of time and the standard of musicianship is not near the stratospheric levels of Bon Jovi – although maybe I’m asking too much lol! Still, as a tribute album to both the sound and style of 80s melodic rock it’s a worthy enough purchase if anything for the dedicated memories alone. Continue reading

Hypocrisy – “Penetralia/Osculum Obscenum”

Hypocrisy – “Penetralia/Osculum Obscenum” 2CD REISSUE (Nuclear Blast Records)

And so the Hypocrisy war machine rolls on: this time it’s a blast (sorry no pun intended) to the past of both band and also label – in fact near enough near the very beginning for Peter Tägtgren and Markus Staiger! “Penetralia” and “Osculum Obscenum” are Hypocrisy’s first two albums respectively, now given the star makeover of re-mastering and complemented by more recent live versions of some of these original tracks. It’s certainly interesting to hear the contrast between then vocalist Masse Broberg (aka Emperor Magus Caligula of Dark Funeral) who has a far more guttural style compared to Tägtgren’s own raw version on the likes of ‘Pleasure Of Molestation’ and ‘God Is A Lie’! Both albums also show how death metal itself has progressed from it’s primitive beginnings and the influence of US death metal on “Penetralia” – the only time Hypocrisy played as a 5 piece – compared to the more black / death approach of “Osculum Obscenum”, as evidenced by the band’s cover of Venom’s ‘Black Metal’ and it’s progress into the technical death field. Totalling 24 tracks in all, this is a comprehensive package although trivia fans will note that “Penetralia” will not include the 2 bonus tracks from its past re-release namely ‘Life Of Filth’ and ‘Lead By Satanism’ in any form, not sure why but there’s still enough here to sink your bloodthirsty canines into! Continue reading

Speaking The Kings – “Here To Stay”

Speaking The Kings – “Here To Stay” EP (Nuclear Blast Records)

I haveta say this came as a bit of surprise to me – a post hardcore band with punk pop elements on one of the world’s lynchpin metal labels! Furthermore, I’d never heard of Speaking The Kings, who were only formed a coupla years back, and that’s coming from someone who actually receives a lotta hardcore stuff. Well, in comparison, there’s nothing really new or unique that Speaking The Kings bring that I haven’t heard before. Everything’s trademark standard from the hoarse lead vox to the mello harmonies and melodic warbling solos crushed in by brutal riffing and gang shout outs. It’s all done well enough on songs like ‘Tearing Down The Walls’, ‘Casanova’ and ‘One Foot At A Time’, which surprisingly actually sounds closer to UK post punk bands although these guys hail from Punk Mecca i.e. Orange Curtain, but I guess I was expecting just a little more given the royal carpet they’ve rolled in on? Continue reading

Stormbringer – “MMXIII”

Stormbringer – “MMXIII” (Transcend Music)

Amazing. I never realized the nondescript town of Northampton could’ve churned out a band as good as Stormbringer. I’d heard these guys were classy, but I didn’t think they were this fuckin awesome! Expecting some meat n potatoes Brit pub rock band that I’d gladly down some ales too, instead I get a steel hard n heavy rock metal outfit ready to kick my tender ass all the way to whimper on Axel Rose’s porch!! We’re talking balls – make that footballs – in songs like ‘Welcome To Hell’, ‘Gazing At The Grave’ and ‘Grinder’ that include bunches of swank and catchy hooks the size of what they hang sides of beef offa – yeeaaahh baby, whether its Mike Stockley’s stadium shaking vocal delivery or their seismic guitars or the virgin tight rhythm, Stormbringer are the feisty up n coming Brit band ready to take on Velvet Underground, Alter Bridge – you name it man! Fuck these dudes rock and I am balls out of energy to keep up. Rule Britannia. Continue reading