21Octayne – “2.0” (AFM Records)
If you can imagine a heavier version of classic AOR bands like Tyketto, Tesla and even the mighty Boston, then look no further than the veteran rock trio of 21Octayne! Made up of powerhouse vocalist Hagen Grohe (The Joe Perry Project), guitarist Marco Wriedt (ex-Axxis) and drummer Alex Landenburg (Rhapsody), these guys have been making waves since the release of their debut, touring and receiving national acclaim across their native Germany. From Grohe’s soulful vocals to Landenburg’s technical power drumming there is a real fire n ice mix here, completed in no small part by Wriedt’s dextrous guitar work, whether on lead or bass, dishing out fine heart grabbing melodies to Alex Lifeson rock reggae riffs to some awesome prog bass runs. Really, there is an incredible array to this highly talented band and listening to the likes ‘Take Me Back’ or ‘Love’s Just A Heartbreak Away’ I am just blown away by the power passion inherent in them, and the funky Ulrich Roth meets Zepp stomper of ‘Fly With Me’ will have you air punching manically well into the night! Bringing it all together has to be the ambitious 10 minute closer ‘Tale Of A Broken Child’ that in the main is pomp rock a la Magnum, but occasionally flits into classic Rush with Landenburg offering some excellent technical drumming along with Wriedt’s bass before moving into The Police reggae rock and finally closing on an epic rock note – awesome! There are few bands that can make fusion rock sound this naturally good and 21Octayne are without a shadow one of them, no bolder proven than on this stunning sophomore!