Here are some brief thoughts on some upcoming releases in the next few months. There’s also plenty more in the pipe, so stand by for a lot of reviews to come. Full feature reviews of all the following titles due soon…
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls (Gain, April 9)
The Swedes return with an album that I think everyone was hoping for. For want of a better description, it’s Address The Nation Part 2, but with a heavier edge and a couple of musical twists as usual. The album feels like a band that has grown together and delivers everything they have learnt from one another. I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed in this – it’s loud, fast and filled with great hooks and sounds a million bucks! It’s pure H.E.A.T!
01. Point Of No Return – The energetic and anthemic opener we expected with a heavier edge.
02. A Shot At Redemption – Initially surprising structure, a rousing, anthemic singalong track that builds into a big instantly likable commercial rocker.
03. Inferno – Hard fast and dirty! A stampeding chorus and unforgettable hook.
04. The Wreckoning – A brief musical interlude.
05. Tearing Down The Walls – A great big, loud, heartfelt hands-in-the-air rock ballad.
06. Mannequin Show – Darker, moodier and quirky, but another great hook and chorus combo.
07. We Will Never Die – Simple, but effective hard rocker that isn’t fast or slow….just in-between.
08. Emergency – Another uptempo anthemic rocker with plenty of harmonies, wailing guitars and big vocals.
09. All The Lights – Heartfelt slow ballad, with a powerful haunting vocal accompanied only by piano and strings.
10. Eye For An Eye – Absolute monster anthemic hard rocker. Heavy, urgent and powerful.
11. Enemy In Me – Fast, heavy and thumping rhythm section. One of the band’s heaviest tracks yet. Instantly catchy.
12. Laughing At Tomorrow – Another great anthemic melodic rock track with a killer chorus and big, fat harmony vocals throughout. Monster chorus. Should have closed the album.
13. Shame – Uptempo straight ahead hard rocker. Simplistic chorus after the previous track.
Winger – Better Days Comin’ (Frontiers, April 18)
The opening salvo of Midnight Driver Of A Love Machine, Queen Babylon and Rat Race is breathtaking. The title track is original and instantly memorable. Add in a couple of dark, heavy and more progressive tracks and two near 7 minute epic melodic rock anthemic ballads and you might just have one of the best Winger albums ever. I’m only 4-5 listens in, but there is so much to absorb. On early impressions, I think this album takes up where Karma left off and takes it to the next level.
Soto – Inside The Vertigo (TBA, TBA)
Yes, that Soto – the Jeff Scott one! This time the new JSS album is a band affair under the Soto banner. And it sounds like a band record too. This is a highly accomplished set of songs and boy, is it heavy! The guys take the JSS sound to a new level on this album and I’m (as usual), mightily impressed. I think fans will be very surprised by the quality and attitude unveiled on this album! More thoughts soon as well as all the release information when it becomes available! I have to get in that there is one epic 9 minute track on this record!
Three Lions – Three Lions (Frontiers, April 18)
The lead track Trouble In A Red Dress is a great indication of what the album has to offer. Pure British melodic hard rock with a bluesy twist and a healthy dose of guitars from Mr. Burns. Very strong, soulful rock vocals and a very solid sound too. Some moody moments to balance the generally uptempo feel of the album. More listening required – it’s not an instant album like some others, but depth definitely there.
Guardian – Almost Home (TBA, TBA)
Very diverse record this! Classic melodic hard rock, mixed with modern pop/rock and some heavier punk-fused moments too. And a couple of acoustic driven modern rock tracks too. A real mix. Great sounding record and mixed to perfection. Rowe sounds great of course and there are some really catchy moments on here like The Real Me, Wonderful, King Of Fools and the AOR anthem Price We Pay. A quality release no doubt. Lots to listen to, so back into it I go…
Sebastian Bach – Give Em Hell (Frontiers, April 18)
Solo Bach is a different beast than Skid Row Bach and I prefer the latter. But if you have enjoyed Bach’s solo output, this album is heavier than ever, screamier than ever and if ranked alongside his other releases, seemingly the most consistent and strongest solo release yet. Expertly produced by Bob Marlette once again. Loud!
Magnum – Escape From The Shadow Garden (SPV, March 24)
For the second time in a row I find myself rearranging a Magnum album to enhance my enjoyment of it, but that aspect cannot alter the fact that there are some delicious classic Magnum songs on offer here. Sound and style borrow from the last couple of outings and also from the likes of Rockart and even some Storyteller’s Night. It’s a long and complex album with a lot of different approaches within the songs. Moody, hard rocking, epic…melodic too of course. Stand-outs early on are the melodic rock of Midnight Angel; the majestic ballad Don’t Fall Asleep and rockers Live Til You Die and Burning River. The closing sentimental old-school Magnum styled The Valley Of Tears is also great. Another winner without doubt and probably once again, their best since reforming.
The Radio Sun – Wrong Things Right (MRR, May)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t get a word in on one of my own label releases coming up. Due out in May on MRR, the debut album from Melbourne, Australia’s The Radio Sun is something I’m very proud to be involved in. Formerly known as Square One, I think fans of power pop and harmony filled melodic rock with a modern twist are going to love this. For fans of Nelson, Rick Springfield, Marvelous 3 and Firehouse. More audio previews coming up. The album was produced mixed by Paul Laine.
Asia – Gravitas (Frontiers, March 21)
To be honest, the jury is still out for me on this one. It could be a little more varied, but it’s not as slow as first thought. I need to live with it a bit longer to see if the melodies reveal themselves further, or the very laid back vocal approach of John Wetton sinks them.
LRS – Down To The Core (Frontiers, March 21)
This is one for the fans of super smooth, pure AOR. Welcome back Tommy La Verdi, with Josh Ramos delivering his best guitar work and Mike Shotton beating away on drums. With Alessandro Del Vecchio in control, the album sounds silky smooth with some fine 80s inspired AOR on offer over the albums 12 tracks. It’s one of those albums that develops over time, revealing different layers as you go. What appears simplistic on first impression is actually quite complex and that’s the story of the songs on this album. There are 4-5 ballads, but they all offer something different and each one features a stunning vocal. Same for the melodic rock/AOR tunes – La Verdi is simply a force to be reckoned with and I can’t imagine a better team backing him up. It’s been way to long between albums for Josh Ramos. This one will be popular, guaranteed.