Album Review – KLEE Project / Screaming Out Loud (2021)

This talented Italian act is ready to rock and scream out loud once again with their brand new album of old school Southern and Hard Rock.

3.5rating

klee-project-screaming-out-loud-2021Almost three years after the release of their debut album The Long Way, Rome, Italy-based Southern/Hard Rock act Klee Project is finally ready to rock you like a hurricane once again with their brand new album Screaming Out Loud, showcasing all the passion for our beloved rock music by vocalist and guitarist Roberto Sterpetti, guitarist Chicco Gussoni, bassist Lorenzo Poli and drummer Daniele Iacono. Recorded and mixed at Memphistudio in Rome by Frank Altare and Roberto Sterpetti, mastered at Elephant Mastering by Riccardo Parenti, and featuring lyrics by Jessie Galante and a stylish artwork by Antonella Regi, Screaming Out Loud is a lesson in 80’s Hard Rock that will certainly please all fans of the genre. “Screaming Out Loud was composed in a difficult period and we want to remember it as a sign of confidence, a strong reaction in the face of critical moods. The new album is this, a sense of optimism and hope for the future,” commented frontman Roberto Sterpetti.

The guitars by Roberto and Chicco set fire to the music in Another Man, accompanied by the classic Hard Rock beats by Daniele and the rumbling bass by Lorenzo, also presenting hints of Southern Rock and Metal in their core sonority; and continuing their rockin’ path the quartet offers the electrifying Heaven, living up to the legacy of Italian Rock N’ Roll. Moreover, it’s impressive how their guitars sound so dirty and melodious at the same time, not to mention the old school vocals by Roberto, whereas investing in a stronger Southern Rock vibe, it’s time for the headbanging feast titled Wicked Soul, where the band blends 80’s Hard Rock with the modernity of Godsmack, and the final result couldn’t have been better, led by the slashing riffage by Roberto and Chicco. And One Time is another old school, straight-to-the-point creation by KLEE Project where Lorenzo and Daniele provide Roberto a solid base for his raspy vocals, keeping the energy level of the album as high as an eagle flying in the sky.

Razor-edged riffs are the main ingredients in the Rock N’ Roll party Back on in Love Again, with Daniele kicking some serious ass with his pounding drums while Roberto declaims the song’s 80’s Glam Metal-inspired lyrics (“Here we go / Here we go again / Our love keeps sitting on the fence / You’re playing me / Over and over / Want you to move in a little closer”). It’s then time for a classic Hard Rock ballad by those Italian rockers titled One Word, presenting a decent instrumental spiced up by a soulful guitar solo by Chicco, albeit not as exciting as the rest of the album, while back to a more intense musicality the quartet fires the somber and harmonious Right Now, with the band’s stringed trio being in absolute sync from start to finish while Daniele dictates the song’s catchy pace with his classy beats. The title-track Screaming Out Loud is a classic Hard Rock extravaganza where Roberto leads his crew with his vibrant vocals in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll, with Chicco once again stealing the spotlight with another in-your-face guitar solo, and lastly we have You’re My Champion, an atmospheric ballad where Roberto fires some inspirational words supported by the enfolding sound crafted by his bandmates, putting a beautiful ending to the album.

klee-project-2021You can easily find more information about KLEE Project, their music, tour dates, plans for the future and other shenanigans on Facebook and on Instagram, and don’t forget to also subscribe to their official YouTube channel and, above all that, to purchase Screaming Out Loud from Apple Music or from Amazon, and to stream the full album as many times as you want on Spotify. The Italian rockers from KLEE Project are waiting for you to join them for a kick-ass Rock N’ Roll party to the sound of their new album, and I bet as soon as you hit play you’ll be banging your head, screaming out loud and rockin’ like there’s no tomorrow together with the band and your loved ones, just the way things are supposed to be in our lives filled with rock and metal music.

Best moments of the album: Wicked Soul, Back on in Love Again and Screaming Out Loud.

Worst moments of the album: One Word.

Released in 2021 This Is Core

Track listing
1. Another Man 2:44
2. Heaven 3:07
3. Wicked Soul 3:02
4. One Time 3:18
5. Back on in Love Again 3:03
6. One Word 4:07
7. Right Now 3:08
8. Screaming Out Loud 3:15
9. You’re My Champion 4:07

Band members
Roberto Sterpetti – vocals, guitars
Chicco Gussoni – lead guitars
Lorenzo Poli – bass
Daniele Iacono – drums

Guest musician
Corrado Pirri – additional guitars

Album Review – Unknown Refuge / From The Darkness (2021)

Get ready to rock to the debut album by four young musicians hailing from the UK, offering us all ten electrifying songs dealing with the struggles of growing up in the digital age of expression.

Formed early in 2016 by Alex Mancini, then aged 15 as lead singer, and four friends from the Music and Performing Arts Service in Salford, a large English town directly west of Manchester city center, Bolton-based Hard Rock outfit Unknown Refuge offers an accomplished, mature sound and performance that will set your fillings on edge despite the young ages of its members, those being the aforementioned Alex Mancini on vocals and bass, Jack Tracey and Harry Skinner on the guitars, and Morgan Deveney on drums. Now in 2021 it’s time for such promising act to unleash upon us their debut album, entitled From The Darkness, a 10-track electrifying opus showcasing forward-thinking from those young rockers and demonstrating laser-sharp musicianship accompanied by thoughtful songwriting, telling the evolution of a songwriter’s life growing up as a teenager, the personal interests during those years as well as capturing some of the struggles faced while growing up in the digital age of expression.

The cinematic, obscure intro From The Darkness sets the stage for the quartet to kick some ass in To The Light, where Jack already fires a sick guitar solo as his welcome card, accompanied by the classic vocals by Alex and the rhythmic beats by Morgan, blending the most incendiary elements form Hard Rock, Rock N’ Roll and old school Heavy Metal. Then with Alex’s menacing bass and Morgan’s heavy beats generating a thunderous ambience, the band fires the old school feast titled Kicked To The Floor, highly recommended for fans of the modern rock and metal music crafted by Alter Bridge; and it’s time for the boys to put the pedal to the metal and blast a Motörhead-fueled rockin’ tune titled Battle Hymn, showcasing slashing riffs by Jack and Harry while Alex leads his crew with his straightforward vocals and thunderous bass punches. And Shadows is another great composition by Unknown Refuge, bringing elements from the music by Volbeat and Godsmack to their core Hard Rock, with Morgan pounding his drums mercilessly nonstop.

Presenting hints of 80’s Heavy and Progressive Metal, which only proves how versatile the band is, Palace Walls is slightly darker than its predecessors, with Jack and Harry showcasing another awesome job on the guitars, not to mention how smoothly Alex’s vocals flow from start to finish, whereas razor-edged riffs ignite the also fun and vibrant Wall Of Lies, once again blending the past and present of rock music and with its thrilling pace being led by the rhythmic drumming by Morgan. Following such entertaining song, we face another round of their kick-ass modern-day Hard Rock in If The Gods Be Good, with Alex being supported by the band’s classic backing vocals, therefore being perfect for hitting the road or raising your horns on the dance floor. And speeding things up a bit, the quartet fires the Godsmack-inspired extravaganza I’m Not A Bad Guy, offering a hybrid of Alternative Rock and Metal with old school thrash the likes of Metallica, also with Jack and Harry being on absolute fire from start to finish. And last but not least, old school, epic riffs kick off the closing tune titled Journey, with its headbanging rhythm and dense atmosphere being exactly what Alex needs to declaim the song’s pensive words, putting a climatic ending to such powerful album of Rock N’ Roll.

It’s quite easy to join the boys from Unknown Refuge in their quest for Rock N’ Roll. All you need to do is follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, stream their music on Spotify, and above all that, grab your copy of From The Darkness from their own BandCamp page or Big Cartel (where by the way you’ll find an amazing bundle containing a CD, a charcoal grey Unknown Refuge shirt and four beer mats), or from Apple Music. Growing up as a teenager anywhere in the world nowadays is a true pain in the ass, but there’s nothing better than our good old Rock N’ Roll to guide us through such difficult times, just like what Unknown Refuge did in their debut album. That being said, how about hitting the dance floor to the high-octane music found in From The Darkness? It doesn’t matter if you’re a teenager or a grown-up, that will definitely make your day a lot better.

Best moments of the album: To The Light, Battle Hymn and I’m Not A Bad Guy.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. From The Darkness 1:09
2. To The Light 5:09
3. Kicked To The Floor 4:56
4. Battle Hymn 5:04
5. Shadows 3:32
6. Palace Walls 4:46
7. Wall Of Lies 3:23
8. If The Gods Be Good 3:14
9. I’m Not A Bad Guy 3:10
10. Journey 5:16

Band members
Alex Mancini – vocals, bass
Jack Tracey – lead guitar
Harry Skinner – rhythm guitar
Morgan Deveney – drums

Album Review – Maverick / Ethereality (2021)

The unstoppable “Balfour Brothers” are back in action with another explosion of old school, electrifying Hard Rock and Heavy Metal from their ethereal new album.

After three years in the making, including delays in the recording process due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ethereality, the brand new album by Belfast, Northern Ireland-based Hard Rock group Maverick is ready to see the light of day, bringing to our avid ears all of the trademark elements that helped the “Balfour Brothers” David (vocals) and Ryan (guitars) to conquer the hearts of admirers of old school rock and metal music from all over the world. Combining the catchy, hookline oriented songwriting from their 2016 album Big Red with the heaviness of their 2018 opus Cold Star Dancer, and featuring a beautiful artwork by Ukrainian artist Cardaan, Maverick is indeed an ethereal album of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, resulting in the strongest effort to date by David and Ryan together with their bandmates Ric Cardwell on the guitars, Richie Diver on bass, and newcomer Jason-Steve Mageney on drums.

Falling already kicks off in full force to the piercing vocals by David in a stunning display of classic Hard Rock by Maverick, reminding me of the golden years of Skid Row, Def Lepard and all of our 80’s Hair Metal heroes; and Ryan and Ric keep slashing their strings in great fashion in Thirst, another very melodic and electrifying tune with Jason kicking some ass with his old school beats, being perfect for any Rock N’ Roll party from all around the world. Never is a thrilling song for hitting the road with your loved ones, showcasing the always soaring voice by David supported by his bandmates spot-on backing vocals, while Richie and Jason are in total sync with their respective bass jabs and stylish beats, whereas in Switchblade Sister we’re treated to old school Glam Metal lyrics (“I know / I’m never number one when you need someone to hold you / But I’ll do just fine / Can’t help / But laugh when I hear your excuses / Can only think of me as a list of uses”) boosted by a vibrant sound crafted by all band members. And piercing guitars ignite the Melodic Rock tune Bells Of Stygian, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline while Jason continues to pound his drums nonstop.

It’s time for more of their 80’s-fueled hybrid of Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal in the form of Angels 6, where the entire band kicks some ass with their sharp instruments, with David and Ryan stealing the spotlight with their top-of-the-line vocals and crisp riffs and solos, respectively, whereas classic guitars permeate the air in The Last One, a well-crafted semi-ballad that can be played on any radio station worldwide, despite not being as exciting or detailed as the rest of the album. Then in Dying Star the band gets back to a more rockin’ sound, overflowing electricity with the band’s stringed trio providing David all he needs to shine on vocals once again, including a sick guitar solo, while in Light Behind Your Eyes, another ode to traditional Hard Rock and Heavy Metal by Maverick, Jason’s intricate and rhythmic beats dictate the song’s pace while Richie brings thunder to the music armed with his metallic bass. And lastly, the quintet blasts one final round of their undisputed Hard Rock in Ares, with David’s vocals sounding truly inspirational while the band’s riffs and beats keep the atmosphere as vibrant and harmonious as it can be.

When the band itself mentioned Ethereality is their strongest effort to date, well, they were not kidding at all. This is one of those precious gems of the underground that deserves our full attention and admiration, playing it on an endless loop in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll. Hence, if you want to know more about Maverick, their music, tour dates and plans for the future, I highly recommend you start following them on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their Youtube channel, stream more of their awesome music on Spotify, and of course buy a copy of Ethereality from their own BandCamp page or Big Cartel, or from the Metalapolis Records’ webstore in regular CD format or as a very special black vinyl + CD bundle. The album title says it all as the word “ethereal” means “extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world”, with my only adjustment to that would be on the “delicate and light” side, because what Maverick did in their new album is beyond heavy and electrifying, exactly what we all crave in old school rock and metal music.

Best moments of the album: Falling, Switchblade Sister and Angels 6.

Worst moments of the album: The Last One.

Released in 2021 Metalapolis Records

Track listing
1. Falling 4:07
2. Thirst 3:49
3. Never 3:55
4. Switchblade Sister 3:53
5. Bells Of Stygian 3:57
6. Angels 6 3:44
7. The Last One 3:55
8. Dying Star 3:48
9. Light Behind Your Eyes 4:00
10. Ares 4:28

Band members
David Balfour – vocals
Ryan Balfour – guitar
Ric Cardwell – guitar
Richie Diver – bass
Jason-Steve Mageney – drums

Album Review – Captain Naysayer / Captain Naysayer EP (2021)

All aboard the Rock N’ Roll vessel captained by a talented five-piece Belgian crew, taking you on a trip through the unruly waters of rock and metal music to the sound of their self-titled debut EP.

Starting as a wet dream of guitarist Daan and drummer Evert from a Belgian rock band named The DeVilles, Keerbergen, Belgium-based Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock act Captain Naysayer are ready to rock your world to the sound of their self-titled debut EP, bringing to the table a fun and vibrant sound inspired by 70’s Rock N’ Roll. Comprised of the aforementioned Daan and Evert together with their countrymen Tom on keyboards and Bert on bass, as well as Brazilian vocalist Arthur, who by the way joined the band from overseas after seeing their online post to lure some candidates for the job, Captain Naysayer take no prisoners in their quest for classic rock and metal, offering to us all six undisputed songs that go from the most classic form of Rock N’ Roll to heavier and more melodic passages, and the final result will certainly put you to dance and bang your heads together with the boys like there’s no tomorrow.

Arising from the bottom of the ocean like a true kraken, Captain Naysayer start blasting their 70’s Rock N’ Roll in Black Silhouette, spearheaded by the smashing beats by Evert and the classic vocals by Arthur, with the Axel Rudi Pell-inspired keys by Tom being the icing on the cake. And more of their old school rock music is offered in the form of Changes, where Daan’s soulful riffs and Bert’s low-tuned bass add an extra touch of nostalgia to the overall result, not to mention how rhythmic and pleasant the drumming by Evert sounds; followed by Voodoo Lovin’, an amazing display of Psychedelic Rock with a Southern Rock twist where the lyrics declaimed by Arthur couldn’t have been more Hard Rock than this (“Since we first met you put me through a test / Going through the ringer on the tip of your finger / It was hard each day just to get a little closer to you / It was like a spell, it was like a trance / Nothing in my mind except for the desire / For the fire that was burning in between your legs”).

After such powerful start, the second half of the EP kicks off with I See Danger, showcasing a Placebo-like vibe in Arthur’s strident vocals accompanied by some tribalistic elements and the Rock N’ Roll riffage by Daan. In addition, tons of progressiveness flows from all instruments, with Tom’s keys bringing electricity and epicness to their core sound in another ode to rock and metal music. Then smooth keys and a whimsical atmosphere suddenly explode into a Jethro Tull-like sonority in Blue Eyed Mask, a delicate ballad by Captain Naysayer where the vocals by Arthur exhale poetry and melancholy from start to finish, whereas they showcase their Deep Purple vein and passion for classic Progressive Rock and Metal in the closing tune Living Again, where Tom is on fire with his ass-kicking keys while Evert and Bert bring the Blues to the music, all spiced up by an incendiary performance by Arthur on vocals while ending in the most vibrant way imaginable.

If you want to know more about Captain Naysayer before boarding their Rock N’ Roll vessel, you can start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and plans for the future, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music and videos, and of course purchase their thrilling EP from BandCamp and stream it on Spotify (or simply click HERE to choose your favorite version of the album). I’m sure those Belgian musicians (and of course their Brazilian vocalist) will love to hear from you, keeping their inner rockin’ fire burning and, therefore, inspiring them to move forward in their career and continue to embellish the airwaves with their great fusion of old school Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and Blues, carving their names in the small but always prolific underground Belgian scene.

Best moments of the album: Voodoo Lovin’ and Living Again.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Black Silhouette 4:27
2. Changes 3:53
3. Voodoo Lovin’ 4:18
4. I See Danger 3:33
5. Blue Eyed Mask 4:23
6. Living Again 5:09

Band members
Arthur – vocals
Daan – guitar
Tom – keys
Bert – bass
Evert – drums

Album Review – Shocker / Shocker EP (2021)

Enjoy this journey through the past, present and future of rock and metal music brought forth by five hardworking and talented Belgian “shockers”.

Formed somewhere in 2018 in Kuurne, a municipality located in the Belgian province of West Flanders, from an old idea by frontman Sammy Peleman (After All, September Syn) and bassist Koen (when Sammy performed as a guest vocalist in Koen’s cover band Back to Back), Shocker are a Heavy Metal and Hard Rock outfit that doesn’t like to be stuck to any boundaries or labeled as just one specific music style, bringing to our ears an amalgamation of rock and metal genres and subgenres with a strong 70’s Psychedelic Rock vibe to make things more entertaining and vibrant. Now in 2021 it’s time for Sammy and Koen, together with their bandmates  David Vandewalle (Anesthesy, Artrach) on the guitars, Chris Dedeurwaerder (Phoenix Rebellion) on guitars and keyboards, and Jelle Vandewalle on drums, to release their debut self-titled EP, containing four no shenanigans rockin’ songs that will take you on a journey to the past, bring you back to the present, and show you that the future of Rock N’ Roll is safe thanks to hardworking and talented bands like those Belgian rockers.

And let Shocker’s party begin with some good old, electrifying Rock N’ Roll in the opening tune Thrillseeker, with David and Chris bringing a touch of 80’s metal to the music with their riffs while of course Sammy kicks some ass with his Glam Metal vocals; whereas switching gears to a darker sonority found in some of the more contemporary songs by Iron Maiden they offer us all Twisted Shape of Man, before Jelle begins pounding his drums accompanied by the rumbling bass by Koen and the incendiary riffs from the band’s guitar duo. Then Koen ignites the band’s somber machine with his low-tuned, metallic bass in The Genuine Falls while Sammy declaims the lyrics with tons of passion and introspection, resulting in a classic Heavy Metal tune that slowly and gradually accelerates its pace until reaching an epic, galloping sound led by Jelle’s beats, also infused with a few welcome Progressive Rock and Metal nuances. Lastly, closing the EP it’s time for some groove in the Hard Rock and Hair Metal extravaganza titled Breaking the Silence, where the strident riffs and solos by David and Chris walk hand in hand with Sammy’s soaring vocals, therefore putting a classic conclusion to their debut effort.

Despite the fact that the EP is relatively short in duration, with the four songs lasting for a combined running time of a little less than 23 minutes, it’s indeed an amazing indication of where those five skillful musicians are headed to in their future releases, not to mention their progressive vein allows them to experiment a lot more than other regular bands, which of course means we can expect a few good surprises from Shocker anytime they release a new EP or full-length album. Furthermore, as a completely independent band that loves the DIY style from the bottom of their hearts as much as they love rock music, they need our support and admiration to keep moving forward in their career, so why not paying them a visit on their official Facebook page not only to provide your feedback on their music, but more important than that, to purchase their newborn EP and to keep on rockin’ in the free world? That’s what electrifying rock music like what those Belgian “shockers” have to offer us all is all about, and that’s pretty much all that we need in our lives.

Best moments of the album: The Genuine Falls.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Thrillseeker 5:07
2. Twisted Shape of Man 6:56
3. The Genuine Falls 5:17
4. Breaking the Silence 5:26

Band members
Sammy Peleman – vocals
David Vandewalle – guitars
Chris Dedeurwaerder – guitars, keyboards
Koen – bass, backing vocals
Jelle Vandewalle – drums

Album Review – Heavy Feather / Mountain of Sugar (2021)

Rawer, heavier and harder, the sophomore album by these sensational Swedish roots rockers ooze with a 70’s sound and feel, filled with attitude, raw vocals and roaring guitar riffs.

Two years after the release of their critically acclaimed debut album Débris & Rubble, vocalist Lisa Lystam, guitarist Matte Gustavsson, bassist Morgan Korsmoe and drummer Ola Göransson, collectively known as Stockholm, Sweden-based Roots Rock outfit Heavy Feather, are ready to stun us all once again with their sophomore effort entitled Mountain of Sugar, an even rawer, heavier and harder album than their previous one, but still with the Roots and Psychedelic Rock touch holding it all together. Recorded by  Erik “Errka” Petersson at No Regrets Fonogram in Stockholm and mastered by Magnus Lindberg (Lucifer, Imperial State Electric), Mountain of Sugar consists of 11 tracks oozing with a 70’s sound and feel, filled with attitude, raw vocals and roaring guitar riffs, therefore being once again highly recommended for fans of iconic bands like Free, Cream and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Let’s take a journey back to the 70’s to the magical riffs by Matte in 30 Days, and Lisa doesn’t take too long to begin mesmerizing us with her powerful voice accompanied by her bandmates’ classic backing vocals in an awesome way to properly kick off the album, whereas singing about the eternal fight between time and love (“When I get old / Start counting my days / Living them slow / Living in haze / There’s one thing that’s clear / And that is your grace”), Bright in My Mind is another solid Rock N’ Roll tune with Morgan carefully slamming his bass from start to finish. Love Will Come Easy brings forward more of their fusion of 70’s rock music with contemporary Hard Rock and Blues, with Ola dictating the pace while Lisa shines as usual with her piercing vocal lines; and catchy lyrics (“Yes I’m relentless, a mountain of sugar / And I keep on rising, the mountain of sugar / I am mesmerizing, a mountain of sugar / But don’t get me feisty, the mountain of sugar”) and an upbeat vibe are the main ingredients in the vibrant Mountain of Sugar, not to mention Lisa’s kick-ass harmonica. Then a Deep Purple-inspired riff by Matte is boosted by the classy kitchen blasted by Morgan and Ola in Too Many Times, where Matte also adds tons of electricity to the music with his soulful riffs. And did I mention there’s also some cowbell for our total delight?

It’s time for a classic ballad by Heavy Feather titled Let It Shine, where Lisa steals the spotlight with a very passionate vocal performance while her bandmates deliver smoothness and love through their refined instruments, whereas Come We Can Go is old school Rock N’ Roll for admires of the genre, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline and showcasing an amazing job done by Ola on drums. In Sometimes I Feel we’re introduced to a male vocalist (perhaps Matte?) instead of Lisa’s usual vocals, with Matte and Morgan being in total sync with their stringed weapons, generating a gentle but at the same time heavy ambience. Lisa is then back on vocals to hypnotize our senses in Lovely Lovely Lovely, while Ola fires classic beats and fills and Matte continues to shine with his electrifying solos; and a high dosage of Rock N’ Roll riffs and beats permeate the air in the awesome Rubble & Débris, a wordplay with the title of their previous album, inspiring you to sing, drink and bang your head together with the quartet while Lisa steals the show once again with her visceral vocals. Finally, ending the album the band delivers a delicate and beautiful ballad titled Asking in Need, perfect for listening to it while embracing your loved ones, all spiced up by the whimsical riffs and solos by Matte.

Those Swedish rockers are definitely making a name for themselves in the worldwide Rock N’ Roll scene, first with Débris & Rubble and now with Mountain of Sugar, two albums that can already be considered a must-have for anyone who enjoys old school rock music. You can get to know more about Heavy Feather on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their official YouTube channel, stream all of their awesome creations on Spotify, and grab your copy of Mountain of Sugar from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music, and soon from other locations. It’s a pleasure seeing how Heavy Feather took a step forward in their career with Mountain of Sugar without giving up their passion for the past, which only proves Rock N’ Roll is not only timeless, but also as sweet and delicious as sugar.

Best moments of the album: 30 Days, Mountain of Sugar and Rubble & Débris.

Worst moments of the album: Sometimes I Feel.

Released in 2021 The Sign Records

Track listing
1. 30 Days 3:41
2. Bright in My Mind 3:27
3. Love Will Come Easy 4:07
4. Mountain of Sugar 2:23
5. Too Many Times 2:46
6. Let It Shine 2:52
7. Come We Can Go 3:44
8. Sometimes I Feel 3:59
9. Lovely Lovely Lovely 4:13
10. Rubble & Débris 3:15
11. Asking in Need 3:40

Band members
Lisa Lystam – vocals, harmonica
Matte Gustavsson – guitars
Morgan Korsmoe – bass
Ola Göransson – drums

Album Review – Black Diamonds / No-Tell Hotel (2021)

These talented Swiss hard rockers are finally back in action with their fourth full-length album, inviting us all for a massive load of rock and glamour once we step through the door of the band’s own hotel.

Following up on the success of their 2017 album Once Upon A Time, Rhine Valley, Switzerland-based hard rockers Black Diamonds are finally back in action with their fourth full-length album entitled No-Tell Hotel, inviting us all for a massive load of rock and glamour once we step through the door of the band’s own hotel. Currently formed of Michael Kehl on vocals and guitar, newcomer Chris Johnson on lead guitar (replacing the band’s former guitarist Andreas Rohner), Andi Fässler on bass and Manuel Peng on drums, Black Diamonds tell gripping stories of the guests at No-Tell Hotel, leaving no detail out in their new album and, more important than that, offering our ears pure, kick-ass Rock N’ Roll that brings back the fun and rebellious attitude of the Sunset Strip of 1986, being therefore recommended for fans of Mötley Crüe, Poison and the early years of Bon Jovi, among others.

Chris and Michael ignite the band’s rockin’ machine with their classic riffs in No-Tell Hotel, where the whole band sounds sharper and more melodic than in their 2017 album, all spiced up by wicked guitar solos and a catchy chorus, while in Evil Twin we’re treated to lyrics about the dangers of alcoholism (“I am a married man, the nice guy next door / A valued member of community / I lead a quiet life, yet I’m far from bored / Because my job can be sheer lunacy / And in the nighttime, when the mood is right / A few drinks are all it takes to turn the tide”) embraced by a true headbanging rhythm where Manuel is bestial behind his drums. Then acoustic guitar generate an introspective ambience for Michael to shine on vocals before the electricity level goes through the roof in Lonesome Road, an old school Rock N’ Roll tune infused with 80’s Hard Rock; and putting the pedal to the metal the band delivers a Hard Rock and Glam Metal hymn titled Forever Wild, spearheaded by the slashing guitars by Michael and Chris while Andi hammers his bass in great Duff McKagan-inspired fashion.

It’s time for a pure, unfiltered Hair Metal chant titled Saturday (and don’t forget to check their South Park-themed official video as it kicks ass), where although its lyrics are a bit odd they make total sense if you’re into 80’s rock and metal, with Manuel dictating the pace with his stylish beats. Then slowing things down the quartet delivers a passionate ballad named Anytime, a bit cheesy (but in a good way), with their soulful solos adding an extra touch of finesse to the overall result, not to mention its delicate piano notes; while pounding drums and endless stamina are the main ingredients in The Island, with Michael being absolutely on fire with his raspy vocals accompanied by the razor-edged and very melodic guitars by Chris, resulting in a song highly recommended for a day at the beach. And their Rock N’ Roll steamroller continues to crush us all in the melodic My Fate, where the rumbling bass by Andi and the headbanging drums by Manuel will put you to dance together with the band.

Hand In Hand is another serene and atmospheric ballad by Black Diamonds where Michael takes the lead with his classic vocal lines while Chris provides him a solid support with his Bon Jovi-like acoustic guitars, whereas back to a more thrilling sound it’s time to get down to the Sunset Strip in Reaching For The Stars, with Andi and Manuel delivering sheer thunder with their a heavy kitchen while Michael sends a positive message through his vocals. And as we all know, it’s not a true Hard Rock album without some cowbell, offered by Black Diamonds in the exciting Turn To Dust, presenting hints of the music by icons such as AC/DC, Motley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses, consequently being perfect for singing along with the band; whereas a Western-ish intro evolves into a dancing tune entitled Outlaw, showcasing a galloping rhythm, endless fun and a very entertaining performance by all band members incorporating traditional country music elements to their core Hard Rock.

Black Diamond’s Rock N’ Roll party is just starting inside No-Tell Hotel, and if you want to join those talented Swiss rockers in their celebration of life, death, love and hate you can follow them on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the band, subscribe to their YouTube channel and stream their catalogue on Spotify for more of their 80’s Hard Rock, and of course purchase No-Tell Hotel from their own webstore, or by clicking HERE to buy or stream your favorite version of the album. Having said all that, what are you waiting for to spend a few nights at No-Tell Hotel together with Black Diamonds? I’m sure you’ll have nothing but a good time relaxing at such respectful hotel to the sound of their inspiring music.

Best moments of the album: Evil Twin, Forever Wild and The Island.

Worst moments of the album: Hand In Hand.

Released in 2021 Metalapolis Records

Track listing
1. No-Tell Hotel 4:01
2. Evil Twin 5:12
3. Lonesome Road 3:50
4. Forever Wild 4:22
5. Saturday 3:20
6: Anytime 4:45
7. The Island 3:58
8. My Fate 3:31
9. Hand In Hand 5:17
10. Reaching For The Stars 3:57
11. Turn To Dust 3:50
12. Outlaw 3:55

Band members
Michael Kehl – vocals, guitar
Chris Johnson – lead guitar
Andi Fässler – bass
Manuel Peng – drums

Album Review – El Pistolero / Mexican Standoff (2021)

These German gunslingers are ready to draw their weapons and invade the airwaves with the fusion of depravity, booze and rebelliousness from their rockin’ debut album.

A bunch of Rock N’ Roll animals, dirty, loud and mean, are on their way to give the world what it needs, a rockin’ bastard which sounds as if Motörhead and Airbourne had an illegitimate child together. Founded back in 2012 in Mannheim, a city in southwest Germany, El Pistolero (which translates from Spanish as “the gunslinger”) are ready to take the world of rock music by storm with their debut full-length album, entitled Mexican Standoff, bringing forth a straightforward fusion of Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock à la Motörhead, Rose Tattoo, AC/DC and Airbourne. Mixed and mastered by Rolf Munkes (Empire, Crematory) at Empire Studios, Mexican Standoff is a lesson in depravity, booze and rebelliousness, showcasing all the undeniable talented and filthy passion for all things rock by frontman Alex ‘Nighty’ Blochmann, guitarists J.C. Müller and Chris Kaczynski, bassist Willy Krug and drummer Andy Hornef, inviting us all to dance the night away to each of the album’s vibrant compositions.

In the frantic and depraved opening track Sticky Fingers we’re treated to inebriate lyrics declaimed by Nighty and his raspy vocals (“I went drunk to a bar and claimed to be a star / Always want to take it for free / A girl to the left and a girl to right / That`s just the way that I love, that’s me / Bad girls like it – good girls love it / In rows they’re gonna follow me”), while the music is a hybrid of the Hard Rock played by AC/DC and Airbourne with the band’s own German twist. Then venturing through the lands of the badass Rock N’ Roll blasted by Motörhead, J.C. and Chris slash their guitars mercilessly in Desert Road while Willy showcases all his respect and admiration for the menacing bass by the iconic Lemmy Kilmister (R.I.P.); whereas in Stormbringer it’s beyond clear the band loves to tell stories of drinking and fighting in their lyrics (“Another day fallen up the stairs / A game of poker with two pairs / Someone rich, someone poor / See them lying on the floor”), not to mention you better get ready to party and dance nonstop to the crushing beats by Andy. After that, the band’s guitar duo seems to have a deal with the devil, firing pure evil and adrenaline through their riffs in Fear The Reaper while Nighty continues to vociferate in great fashion, supported by the song’s absolutely catchy backing vocals.

Then El Pistolero deliver a solid Hard Rock and Heavy Metal feast entitled Seeds Of Evil with hints of Southern Rock added to their core sonority, and after a short and eerie intro it’s time for more of their Motörhead-infused sounds in Machine Gun Preacher, perfect for slamming into the pit to the metallic riffs and bass jabs by J.C., Chris and Willy. Andy then pounds his drums nonstop in the title-track El Pistolero, a pub brawling tune bringing forward classic Hard Rock backing vocals and riffage, perfectly representing everything the band stands for, and let’s keep banging our heads to their visceral sound in the sonic extravaganza Down Under, with Nighty declaiming the song’s words while J.C. and Chris add fire to the music with their stylish riffs and solos. The quintet keeps putting the pedal to the metal in the musical train Still Riding, where the piercing sound of their guitars walks hand in hand with Andy’s old school drumming; and get ready to be smashed by El Pistolero in Five Bullets Come In Peace, accelerating their pace and turning up the heat, with the band’s guitar duo being on absolute fire. Liquor & Tits is an electrifying, deviant fusion of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll where Nighty leads his rockin’ crew with his raspy vocals while Andy delivers endless stamina through his beats; and lastly, closing the album the band offers our ears the short and sweet Punk Rock-ish tune Painkillers, once again showcasing razor-edged guitars, rumbling bass jabs and El Pistolero’s trademark insubordination.

These German gunslinger are more than ready to rock your world to the sound of their insane debut effort, and in order to join them in their quest for old school rock and metal music you can start following them on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates, subscribe to their YouTube channel and stream their music on Spotify, and of course click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream their alcohol and sex-infused album. In the end, although Germany might be thousands and thousands of kilometers away from the infamous American Wild West, that didn’t stop the guys from El Pistolero at all from crafting their ass-kicking album reeking of rye, bourbon, tequila, tits, blood and pure Rock N’ Roll, proving not only that rock music knowns no frontiers, but also that anytime, anywhere is a good place for a Hard Rock standoff.

Best moments of the album: Sticky Fingers, Fear The Reaper and Liquor & Tits.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Metalapolis Records

Track listing
1. Sticky Fingers 3:22
2. Desert Road 2:32
3. Stormbringer 3:03
4. Fear The Reaper 5:17
5. Seeds Of Evil 2:49
6. Machine Gun Preacher 3:37
7. El Pistolero 3:07
8. Down Under 3:52
9. Still Riding 4:29
10. Five Bullets Come In Peace 3:47
11. Liquor & Tits 5:06
12. Painkillers 2:20

Band members
Alex ‘Nighty’ Blochmann – vocals
J.C. Müller – guitar
Chris Kaczynski – guitar
Willy Krug – bass
Andy Hornef – drums

Guest musician
Carsten Schulz – backing vocals

Album Review – Immortal Guardian / Psychosomatic (2021)

What’s the best thing to do during this never-ending pandemic? This talented American group has the answer to that armed with their brand new album of breathtaking Progressive Power Metal.

After winning over new audiences with their acclaimed 2018 debut full-length album Age of Revolution and touring relentlessly alongside fellow shredders such as Marty Friedman, Powerglove and Exmortus, Austin, Texas’ own Progressive Power Metal entity Immortal Guardian is back in action in 2021 with their sophomore effort, entitled Psychosomatic, offering their fans more of what they like to call “Super Metal”. As a matter of fact, as the spread of COVID-19 and the subsequent pandemic began to ensue, each member of the band retreated to their respective hometowns; guitarist and keyboardist Gabriel Guardian (also known as Gabriel Guardiola) remained in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States, vocalist Carlos Zema (of bands like Outworld and Heaven’s Guardian) recorded his vocals from his home in Brazil, new drummer Justin Piedimonte stayed in Montreal, Canada, and new bassist Josh Lopez remained in the band’s native Texas. With shutdowns around the world being enforced, the band completely scrapped the originally planned record that they had been working on and were heavily inspired to write and create a new thematic record about their emotions surrounding current events, with the final result being at the same time epic, bold and of course very personal to each one of those four talented musicians.

The title-track Psychosomatic beings in an imposing manner led by the whimsical keys by Gabriel, gradually evolving into a feast of Progressive Metal showcasing the high-pitched screams by Carlos (and somewhat working as an extended intro to the rest of the album), and they put the pedal to the metal in the heavy and groovy Power Metal tune Read Between the Lines, with the bass jabs by Josh adding sheer heaviness to the overall result while Carlos continues to shine on vocals. Then it’s time to enjoy this eternal lockdown together with the guys form Immortal Guardian in the multi-layered, electrifying Lockdown, with Justin dictating the pace with his intricate beats while Gabriel kicks some serious ass with both his riffs and keys, whereas featuring guest guitars by Marcelo Barbosa (of Almah and Angra), Phobia is another thunderous dosage of their fusion of Progressive and Power Metal where Gabriel, Josh and Justin are in absolute sync with their sonic weapons. And more of their intricate sounds and magical passages are offered in the epic extravaganza titled Clocks, with the keys by Gabriel generating a beautiful ambience perfect for his own piercing guitar solos.

After the short atmospheric interlude Self-isolation, let’s keep banging our heads to the sound of the Heavy Metal hurricane titled Goodbye to Farewells, featuring guest vocals by Mary Zimmer (of Helion Prime), with all band members extracting tons of adrenaline from their instruments while Mary sounds utterly bestial with her harsh roars, showcasing a different side from her work with her main band. Then in Candlelight we’re treated to a pensive, melancholic intro where Josh adds his share of darkness through his bass, evolving into a more traditional hybrid of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock (albeit not as entertaining nor dynamic as the rest of the album, though, going on for too long), and more of their refined piano notes permeate the air in Find a Reason, a more gripping ballad than the previous song, sounding dense from start to finish and with Carlos passionately declaiming the song’s words while Justin pounds his drums flawlessly. Finally, Gabriel once again brings forward his deep passion for shredding in New Day Rising, a spot-on depiction of their Progressive Power Metal, offering many breaks, variations, complex passages and the usual speed and energy of Power Metal for the delight of admirers of the genre.

It’s quite easy to join the army of immortals spearheaded by Gabriel, Carlos, Josh and Justin, as their newborn spawn is available from an array of locations including the band’s own BandCamp and webstore, the M-Theory Audio webstore (in CD and limited purple LP format), the Plastic Head webstore (also in CD and limited purple LP format), or simply click HERE for all places where you can buy or stream the album. Also, let’s show our support to those talented metallers by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel and by streaming more of their music on Spotify. Psychosomatic is undoubtedly the perfect example of how we should face the COVID-19 pandemic, turning our fears, anxiety and hopelessness into ass-kicking metal music like what Immortal Guardian were capable of doing (perhaps not in such majestic way, of course), showcasing once again the positive energy Heavy Metal can bring to us all even during the most difficult times of our lives. Stay home, stay safe, and rock on!

Best moments of the album: Lockdown, Phobia and Goodbye to Farewells.

Worst moments of the album: Candlelight.

Released in 2021 M-Theory Audio

Track listing
1. Psychosomatic 5:33
2. Read Between the Lines 6:01
3. Lockdown 4:12
4. Phobia 6:13
5. Clocks 5:12
6. Self-isolation 0:39
7. Goodbye to Farewells 5:50
8. Candlelight 5:24
9. Find a Reason 7:00
10. New Day Rising 5:56

Band members
Carlos Zema – vocals
Gabriel Guardian – guitars, keyboards
Josh Lopez – bass
Justin Piedimonte – drums

Guest musician
Mary Zimmer – harsh vocals on “Goodbye to Farewells”
Marcelo Barbosa – guitars on “Phobia”

Album Review – Rockstar Frame / Stand up…Jump ’n’ Fly (2021)

Italy’s own Hard Rock outfit arises once again with a brand new lineup and a kick-ass album that beautifully represents the glorious days of the iconic Sunset Strip.

Sometimes you have to take a step back (to the 80’s) before taking a step forward in your career, which is exactly the case with Milan, Italy-based Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock outfit Rockstar Frame, or RSF if you prefer. After the releases of their 2015 album Rock ‘N’ Roll Mafia and their 2018 album Bulletproof, and after a few successful international tours, the band fell apart due to irremediable conflicts and internal problems, putting a huge interrogation mark in the future of RSF. However, in 2019 the band’s founder and drummer Max Klein redesigned their sound with the help of newcomers Leonard F. Guillan on vocals, Ian Darrell on the guitars and Ronam Destefani on bass, taking a journey back to 80’s Glam Metal and Hard Rock and crafting the most honest and vibrant music you can think of, culminating with the release in 2021 of their awesome new album entitled Stand up…Jump ’n’ Fly, a musical tribute to the glorious days of the famous Sunset Strip.

The opening track Is Not The End is a no-shenanigans 80’s Glam and Hair Metal hymn for lovers of the genre where Leonard lives up to the legacy of great vocalists like Vince Neil and Brett Michaels while Ian extracts sheer adrenaline from his guitar, and from Italy straight into the Sunset Strip the quartet delivers the thrilling and very melodic Get on My Knees, with the unstoppable Max beautifully dictating the song’s vibrant rhythm with his beats. By now you should have a very good idea of the musical direction of the band, but if not, simply take a listen at Hey Man!, offering us all pure Hard Rock flowing from their sonic weapons, with Leonard leading his crew with his classic vocals while Ronam shakes the foundations of the earth with his metallic bass jabs. Then blending their classic Rock N’ Roll with the Heavy Metal by Saxon and the old school Hard Rock by Scorpions, Rockstar Frame deliver the hard-hitting tune Ready to Go, perfect for heading out to the highway while Ian is on fire with his riffs and solos; followed by Hypnotized Fools, highly inspired by the Hair Metal played by Guns N’ Roses and Poison, with the rumbling bass by Ronam punching you hard in the head, not to mention the always amazing sound of the cowbell (and there’s never enough cowbell in rock and metal music, of course). And it’s time for a stylish ballad by Rockstar Frame titled Beyond the Fear, where Leonard displays all his vocal potency with a passionate performance supported by background keys and a powerful guitar solo.

Never tired of crafting our good old Hard Rock, the quartet blasts our ears with the dancing tune Golden Dreams, another solid composition where Max keeps guiding his bandmates with his rhythmic beats, whereas in Break me Down it becomes clear their Rock N’ Roll party has no time to end, with Ian and Ronam complementing each other’s riffs and lines in great fashion form start to finish in a very entertaining display of 80’s Hard Rock. Ronam is a beast armed with his thunderous bass, adding tons of groove to the band’s music in the pounding tune One in a Million, sounding beyond perfect for celebrating the golden years of Hair Metal while Leonard’s raspy vocals also bring an extra touch of rebelliousness to the overall sonority; and Halloween Night is another straight-to-the-point Hard Rock extravaganza by the quartet, not as vibrant as the rest of the album, though, with Leonard’s vocals sounding below what he can actually do (while the drumming by Max is as good as usual). After that, more stamina emerges from their sharp riffs, low-tuned bass and pounding drums in Like a Monster, with Leonard kind of personifying the one and only Sebastian Bach in his glorious days on vocals, while a very fun start kicks off the upbeat closing tune Sunshine in The Dark, a song made for bringing some joy to our hearts in such difficult times where all band members are in absolute sync, providing our ears an amazing sonority with a pleasant and positive vibe.

You can learn more about Rockstar Frame, their history, their plans for the future and their music by following Max and his henchmen on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel and by streaming all of their creations on Spotify, or simply click HERE to get access to all of that and more, and even more important than that, if 80’s Hard Rock is your cup of tea you should definitely purchase your copy of Stand up…Jump ’n’ Fly from an array of locations, including HMV, Rakuten, Alba Music and Impulse Music, just to name a few. Enough said already, how about we all grab our best pair of leather pants, our leopard-themed bandanas, jump on our motorbikes, and enjoy all the beauty and adrenaline of Sunset Boulevard together with the guys from Rockstar Frame to the sound of their stylish new album?

Best moments of the album: Get on My Knees, Ready to Go and One in a Million.

Worst moments of the album: Halloween Night.

Released in 2021 Volcano Records

Track listing
1. Is Not The End 4:19
2. Get on My Knees 3:31
3. Hey Man! 3:39
4. Ready to Go 3:33
5. Hypnotized Fools 3:34
6. Beyond the Fear 4:12
7. Golden Dreams 3:42
8. Break me Down 3:31
9. One in a Million 3:41
10. Halloween Night 4:08
11. Like a Monster 4:14
12. Sunshine in The Dark 4:23

Band members
Leonard F. Guillan – vocals
Ian Darrell – guitar
Ronam Destefani – bass
Max Klein – drums