Tuesday, March 4, 2014

CD REVIEWS for March 2014

REFUELED by Skintrade 
(AOR Heaven)

A welcome return! Swedish rockers Skintrade are back with their highly anticipated new release, 'Refueled'.  Matti Alfonzetti (vocals, guitar), Stefan Bergström (guitar, backing vocals), Håkan Calmroth (bass) and Håkan Måsen Persson (drums, backing vocals). I have to say the band sounds better than ever! 'Refueled' is a pretty straightforward melodic rock album with an edge, but "straightforward" quickly becomes "extraordinary" in about as long as it takes for Matti Alfonzetti to start singing and the band hitting the first note! Matti Alfonzetti has such a tremendous voice that pretty much any project he's involved with is worthy of attention. He's also a solid songwriter, which also helps make Skintrade's return album such a winner. The songs on 'Refueled' have an old school melodic rock feel to them, but still carry a slightly modern edge so they don't end up sounding dated. This album is loaded with great songs from start to finish with absolutely no filler at all. From the opening, "Monster", the lead off single is a rocking song that pulls no punches! The same can be said for, "Lair", "Pay It In Blood" and the balls out rocker, "Hardcore MF Heartattack". The production is very big and the guitar work is top notch. Thanks to Stefan Bergström's stellar and passion filled guitar playing. While the rhythm section of Håkan Calmroth on bass and drummer Håkan Måsen Persson are air tight and provide the band a rock solid foundation.  Listening to Skintrade on 'Refueled' will take you back to those glory days of Rock music. It will remind you how great this music was and still can be today. What Skintrade have done here is tapped into a tried and true formula that works, there is no reinventing the wheel here, just great song writing, melody, edgy guitar and passion for the genre. Well done Skintrade and WELCOME BACK GENTLEMEN! - Highly Recommended
Tony @ The Dedicated Rocker Society/All Access Magazine

by Magnum
(Steamhammer/SPV Records)

UK Rock legends Magnum return with their highly anticipated new release,  'Escape From The Shadow Garden', this record is great and majestic. The performances on the album are top notch. Some really nice guitar work from Tony Clarkin on this album. Bob Catley's dramatic and ethereal vocals are as wonderful powerful as ever. Mark Stanway sounds as great as ever. The rhythm section of, bassist Al Barrow and Harry James on drums are simply outstanding. The first song, "Live ‘Til You Die" brings to our minds echoes of the band's signature grand sound. From there, each song shows a very distinctive sound, each one very different but with an unmistakable style. "Unwritten Sacrifice" lulls you in with its slow intro then explodes with it's rocking groove. Magnum are very much at the top of their game, as this new album may very well be one of their best albums ever. That statement isn't made lightly. With songs like ,"Falling For The Big Plan", the all out rocker, "Too Many Clowns", the touching and heartfelt,"The Art Of Compromise", and the soon to be Magnum AOR classic, "Burning River". Magnum flex their musical muscle to maxinum effect. It's simply amazing how Tony Clarkin can write so many songs and all sounding so different with so many subject matters. For me, Magnum have never recorded a bad album, but 'Escape From Shadow Garden' towers a little bit above most of them. Ultimately, I think this album is a success both in proving worthy of Magnum's legacy and reestablishing Magnum's sound for the 21st Century. - Highly Recommended
Tony @ The Dedicated Rocker Society/All Access Magazine

by Pretty Maids
(Frontier Records)

Dannish rock legends Pretty Maids are back and like the title of their latest release states, they are 'Louder Than Ever'! Ronnie Atkins on vocals, Ken Hammer on guitar, Rene Shades on bass, Allan Tchicaja on drums and Morten Sandager on keyboards. Produced by Jacob Hansen Not exactly a new album but features seven re-recorded classic Pretty Maids rockers from the 1995 - 2006 era, "Playing God"; "Psycho Time Bomb Planet Earth", "He Who Never Lived", "Virtual Brutality", "Tortured Spirit", "With These Eyes", "Snakes In Eden" and "Wake Up To The Real World". I have to tip my hat off not only to the band for doing an amazing job in giving these classics a great facelift, but also to Jacob Hansen in the production department for a stellar job capturing the pure energy of the band and taking it to a whole new level. The new songs sound great all loaded with the signature Pretty Maids killer sound taken up a notch! The powerful,"Deranged ", "My Soul To Take", which reminded me of their work off their 'Sin-Decade' album. The pulsating bravado of "Nuclear Boomerang" is sure to get your rock and roll juices pumping and "A Heart Without A Home". Also included 'A Retrospective of the “Motherland” 2013 World Tour', DVD, that features archive footage from early stages of the band’s career, interviews, backstage, Studio Footage and the usual freakiness. Listening to, 'Louder Than Ever', you still get a sense of hope that melodic rock and metal are very much alive and well, in a disposable world where music is such a throw away, Pretty Maids shine a light and act as a beacon for those of us still hanging on to that rock sound which captured us in the early 90's. 'Louder Than Ever' marks a new sound. A new focus. A new beginning.  It's hard-hitting but highly melodic. The whole band is a the top of their game. Ronnie Atkins' vocals just sound incredible here.  Ken Hammer's guitar work is just as impressive. Between the melodies and the solos he's definitely giving 100%. I've been a Pretty Maids fan for a while, but I've never heard them quite like this. If you are/were/want to be a Pretty Maids fan, you absolutely must hear 'Louder Than Ever'. - Highly Recommended
Tony @ The Dedicated Rocker Society/All Access Magazine

by L.R.S.
(Frontier Records)

If you are a fan of AOR music, you will definitely want to check out the genre's latest sensations, L.R.S., featuring Tommy La Verdi (21 GUNS), Josh Ramos (THE STORM, HARDLINE) and Michael Shotton (VON GROOVE, AIRTIME). The band's debut release, 'Down To The Core' looks to be one of the biggest surprises and highlights of 2014. The album is a melodic rock masterpiece and a very well produced album. All songs manage to amaze the listener as they are executed perfectly by experienced musicians. The strong point of this album, besides the first rate musicianship and song writing, is the fact that it varies musically from start to finish. As is evident from the moment you hit play and melodic gems like  "Our Love To Stay", "Livin 4 A Dream", "I Can Take You", "Never Surrender" and ""Waiting For Love", the trio have you under their spell as they serve up nothing less than stellar melodic rock music at it's highest level.  The songs do not follow a certain formula and thus you get a variety of melodic hard rock, ballads and AOR songs. Josh Ramos handles all guitars and does a fabulous job proving what a technical proficient guitarist he is. Alessandro Del Vecchio on keyboards adds his progressive and melodic feel in the right places. Nicola Mazzucconi, Anna Portalupi and Jamie Browne  help out Michael Shotton on drums with a rock solid rhythm section. Special mention has to go to vocalist Tommy La Verdi who is surely the highlight of the album. His voice has matured and gotten stronger, since his days in 21 Guns, while he has managed to obtain tremendous control over his huge vocal range. You will surely be amazed by what this guy can do with his voice and how much emotion he uses in his singing. Naturally one would expect that L..R.S. sounds like a mixture of the three bands mentioned above. Well there is a certain amount of truth but fact is that this project has a sound of its own. 'Down To The Core' is a strong debut outing, it's much better album than I had even hoped for.Tommy La Verdi , Josh Ramos and Michael Shotton are at the very tops of their games, and I hope this is only the beginning of a long engagement. - Highly Recommended
Tony @ The Dedicated Rocker Society/All Access Magazine

by Tracy G.
(Spooky G Music)

'DEVIATING FROM THE SET LIST II' by Tracy "F*#Ken" G. features nine fully loaded classic Heavy Metal and Classic Rock songs interpreted by one of most talented and most definitely dangerous guitarist on the face of the planet! Once again Tracy G. has blown me away! I thought 'Deviating From The Set List I' was a tour de force juggernaut of a recording (and still do), but with 'DFTS II', is a whole new monster of it's own! Covering songs is a tricky thing. Especially classic ones. For me it's all about how the songs are interpreted.  Putting one's own signature sound and making it their own while taking nothing away from the original. In this case, Tracy G.'s weapon of choice is his trusted six string and a artistic vision that would make Pablo Picasso or Salvador Dali envious. Helping in the creation of this audio intense behemoth are a group of talent singers that include, Michael Beatty, Elvin Rodriguez (Pain Savior) and Adam Weber. As well as a group of stellar musicians on bass that include, Jeff Pilson (Dio/Foreigner), Randy Oviedo and Damien Torres. On drums, Ray Luzier (Korn/KXM), Dominic Torres and Bob Buchler. First up, "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath with Michael Beatty on vocals, and does a damn good job!  A fitting song for Tracy to cover paying homage to the "Riff Lord" himself, Tony Iommi and doing him proud. Next up a amped up version of "Pain" from his days with Dio featuring Elvin Rodriguez (Pain Savior) on vocals. Tracy shows some love for the Dimebag Darrell with a killer take on Pantera's, "Broken"(Elvin Rodriguez on vocals). Showing love for the classics Tracy serves up  a smoking red hot take on the Jimi Hendrix classic, "Red House", a ballsy version of Mountain's, "Mississippi Queen" and a great version of Cream' s "Politician Man".  All in all with, 'DFTS II'  Tracy G. puts on an intense guitar clinic! All l can say is be prepared to have your senses blown away! - Highly Recommended
Tony @ The Dedicated Rocker Society/All Access Magazine

30 Years Of Hits 
by D-A-D
(AFM Records)

D-A-D (formerly Disneyland After Dark) Denmark’s most successful Rock band is a rock band who has had a very diverse history. Jesper Binzer on vocals /guitars, Jacob Binzer on guitars, Stig Pedersen on bass, and  Laust Sonne on drums. Over the years D.A.D's sound has changed from album to album as they have grown. To celebrate the band's 30th anniversary the band offer up, '30 Years Of Hits', a two CD set featuring a 30 song “Best of" covering a career-spanning retrospective.  The albums highlights include strong rockers like, "Marlboro Man", "Sleeping My Day", "Bad Craziness", "Scare Yourself", "Hate To Say I Told You So", the very melodic and pop influenced "Grow or Pay" and of course the very catchy acoustic semi ballad "Laugh `N' A Half". The presentation of '30 Years Of Hits' is really well thought out. It all sounds great and will bring you up-to-date with this talented, underrated band. D-A-D should've been huge in America, they still could be. Their music is well constructed, with a great sense of European humor thrown in to the lyrics for good measure. '30 Years Of Hits' is a fantastic set, and it is a quick, easy way to get nearly all of DAD's material in one convenient set, after all, their stuff is next to impossible to find here in America. If you are a fan of D-A-D, this is an essential pick up. If you are fan of rock and roll music, '30 Years Of Hits' comes highly recommended. - Highly Recommended
Tony @ The Dedicated Rocker Society/All Access Magazine

by Lions In The Street
(Beverly Martel Music)

Combine The Black Crowes and Classic Joe Cocker and season it with The Stones and Faces, and bring it to full flavor in a slow cooker and serve blistering hot. Often the best music is a master blend of old that creates something totally new. The five song Ep, 'On The Lam' from Canadian rock band Lions In The Street brings together all the right ingredients at the perfect point and serves up a dish of blues based rock that will touch every taste bud in a new and tantilizing way. The band is made up of, Chris Kinnon - Lead Guitar, Vocals, Sean Casey - Rhythm, Acoustic and Slide Guitars, Enzo Figliuzzi - Bass, Jeff Kinnon - Drums and Vocals. The band's sound has touches of gospel choir and soul that permeates throughout the album, easily sliding in alongside their more traditional brand of that Stones meet Faces influenced funky rock n' roll swagger. From the opening mover, "All For Your Love" to the soulful groove of "Moving Along", this quartet will make sure your musical taste buds are satisfied. You won't go away hungry that's for sure. You will have more than you can take in at one time and you will keep coming back for more. 'On The Lam', though only an Ep is truly a recording you will never grow tired of. The band's depth and compexity will treat you with new experiences every time you listen. Bon Appetite - Highly Recommended
Tony @ The Dedicated Rocker Society/All Access Magazine

by Chasing Karma
(Independent Release)

This album ROCKS...plain and simple. This is the first I have heard of Chasing Karma and they are AWESOME! Power chords, great guitar riffs and power drumming all mixed into great melody and progressions. Chasing Karma is Mark Allen Lanoue on vocals and guitar , Dave Melton and James Gillies on guitar, Lee Cooley on bass and Robert Gronkoski on drums. Rarely do I like every song on CD but these guys nailed it. My favorite tracks from the album are "Destiny", "Embrace Tomorrow", "Armed and Ready", "Your Fallen" and "What A Shame". The album is entirely solid throughout though, and I can't imagine any melodic rock fans being disappointed. Mark Allen Lanoue's vocals are also easy on the ears and well suited to this style of music; while he also plays guitar to boot. The dual guitar attack of Dave Melton and James Gillies is tight. While Lee Cooley and Robert Gronkoski provide the band with a solid foundation. Chasing Karma take the basis of melodic rock from the 1980's and make it their own with this album. The production is rock solid and the song writing is right on target. Everything blends nicely and I've enjoyed listening to the entire album several times over. I would recommend 'Cosmocracy' to anyone that likes solid anthem rock. Definitely a worthwhile addition to any melodic hard rock collection. - Highly Recommended
Tony @ The Dedicated Rocker Society/All Access Magazine

by No Sinner
(Provogue Records)

It's about time we have an amazing Blues band with an amazing vocalist to hit the music industry. Vancouver, Canada's, No Sinner emanates Motown soul with a bluesy swagger to perfection with their debut release, 'Boo Hoo Hoo''. The band is made up of, Colleen Rennison on vocals, Eric Campbell on guitar, Bradley Ferguson on bass and Ian Browne on drums. Impeccable musicianship with a decisive bluesy soulful vibe.  But however excellent the songs, the musicians and the production, the main attraction is the voice of Colleen Rennison. Talk about a force to be reckoned with! There are no proper adjectives in the English language to accurately describe the pure force of nature that is her voice. She is a unique artist with an amazing, soulful, bluesy voice and uncanny ability to connect with the listener through music. Her ability to get inside your soul with her words and sing the songs from the heart is simply amazing. From the rockabilly  vibe of the title track and the down southern comfort of “Running,” with it's upbeat groove.  Rennison's vocals on "Love Is Madness" has that Dusty Springfield to it with it's soulful smooth bass line. Other highlights include a cover of Nina Simone’s version of “Work Song”, “Rise Up,” the sensuous plaint of “If Anything” and the feedback-charged “Devil on My Back,” a band composition that features Black Mountain's Matt Camirand. This is one of those albums that gets better every time you listen to it. The cool thing about No Sinner' s music is that its so nuanced and layered that a song you might have initially passed over can quickly become a new favorite on repeat listens. There are so many great Blues bands around now putting out strong blues albums, and there is no doubt, 'Boo Hoo Hoo' by No Sinner is one of them. The soul of their music and the passion in their music come alive. A well crafted album where the choices of the songs and how well each is done makes for a really great experience. No Sinner will win you over and take your soul by storm.  - Highly Recommended
Tony @ The Dedicated Rocker Society/All Access Magazine

by Gus G.
(Century Media)

Heralded guitarist Gus G. has recorded over a dozen studio albums, performed around the world as a member of acts ranging from Arch Enemy and Dream Evil to his own band FIREWIND. Then in 2009 was hand selected by Ozzy Osbourne to be his guitarist.  Now, in 2014 Gus G., after years of being asked to record a solo album, unleashes his long awaited and highly anticipated debut album, 'I Am The Fire', embarking on a new chapter of his illustrious career.  This debut outing allows Gus G. to experiment and explore different sides of his musical repertoire with the support of some of rock music's elite vocalist and talented musicians. Kicking this off in rocking fashion are the adrenaline pumping numbers, "My Will Be Done" and "Blame It On Me", featuring Yngwie Malmsteen/Candlemass singer, Mats Levén.  The title track, "I Am The Fire" is a groove laden mover with a progressive/power metal vibe. The potent combination of the Blake Allison and Joey Chicago from Devour The Day and the superb axework from Gus is a match made in heaven. Other guest vocals featured, Alexia Rodriguez from Eyes Set To Kill on the hauntingly powerful "Long Way Down", Jacob Bunton from Adler/Lynam on "Just Can’t Let Go", Steel Panther' s lends his vocal prowess on "Redemption", Jeff Scott Soto from W.E.T. and current Trans-Siberian Orchestra vocalist on "Summer Days" and Tom S. England from Everygrey on "Dreamkeeper". Gus offers up two explosive instrumental tracks as well in the form of, "Vengeance" featuring Megadeth's David Ellefson on bass. Then on, "Terrified" featuring Billy Sheehan from Mr. Big/The Winery Dogs on bass. Gus' s guitar work on these tracks are thoughtful, powerful,  passionate, soulful, and Gus keeps you guessing with his intricate and melodic phrasing. 'I Am The Fire' is  an absolute gem of artistic expression by Gus G. proving that he's a damn good songwriter and more than just a metal shredder. - Highly Recommended
Tony @ The Dedicated Rocker Society/All Access Magazine

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