Friday, 2 December 2011


A highly crafted and controlled balance of light and shade, mystery, intrigue and ‘scary but beautiful innocence', Nightwish's long awaited concept cornucopia ‘Imaginaerum' is a finely honed and constructed ‘landscape’ of pure aural dexterity. Taster ‘Storytime’ with its classic Abba euro star undertones is by no means out of place and in contrast to ‘Scaretalk’ with its biblical Pink Floyd ‘performance’ conceptual infusions. Nightwish have reached way beyond the boundaries to create something of substance and longevity. Heart-felt  Nordic Metal ballads such as ‘Turn Loose The Mermaids’ and ‘The Crow The Owl And The Dove’ provide a safe haven to grab your breath in anticipation of the final orchestral crescendo of the epic title track 'Imaginaerum'. Visually appealing on its own… even without the movie!

Amanda Gentle

Friday, 11 November 2011


Guitar virtuoso Richie Kotzen erupted onto the rock scene in 1989. His 'signature' custom fender telecaster style riffing has seen him establish his mark with hard rock heavyweights such as Poison and Mr. Big. '24 Hours' is his strongest and most self-assured solo work to date. From the exciting soul fest of the title track to the infectious pop laden 'OMG What's Your Name?' it's an absorbing blend of musical influences. Outstanding gems such as the bitter-sweet 'Get It On' and 'Bad Situation' are truly emotive, while majestic blues rocker 'Love Is Blind' (featuring Jerry Cantrell on backing vocals) and the heart-felt 'Stop Me' (with Richie's daughter August on electric piano) augment an 'inspired' collection of songs. Richie Kotzen is without a doubt one of the most 'underrated' guitarist/singer/songwriters of his generation - completely ‘Unique’!

Mark Crampton

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


Calling in veteran songwriter Lou Reed to flesh out their arty inclinations, 'Lulu' sounds like Metallica wanting to emulate The Who, Pink Floyd, and other sophisticated rock acts who have made successful records with narratives. Lou, for his part, has grasped the challenge to relive his überkool 1970s association with Berlin, steering this 'unlikely' project on the works of German playwright Frank Wedekind. Reed does his best to sound poetically left-field ("waggle my ass like a dog prostitute" he croons in a voice that is reminiscent of Johnny Cash’s 'Flesh And Blood') while Metallica dutifully follow-up with their trademark growling arena sized rock riffs. Despite its critics, this record does have its moments, like the rollicking, airy riff of 'Iced Honey' and Reed's powerful performance on 'The View'. Not bad just different - so the mantra goes!

Colin Liddell

Monday, 24 October 2011


This, their second album, is jokingly titled ‘III’, but don’t think Chickenfoot are taking their music lightly. Contained within the grooves of this sophomore release are some stonking hard rock tunes crafted with all the expertise you would expect from such high profile musos. Songs such as ‘Big Foot’ which stomps hard and heavy, lead track ‘Last Temptation’ or ‘Up Next’ encompass the basis of the ‘Foot sound, one foot planted in the garden of rock, the other in the house of blues. While Michael Anthony/Chad Smith nail the rhythm section, Joe Satriani’s exquisite guitar is free to express itself in exemplary fashion. Meantime, Sammy Hagar delivers in tremendous style, especially on the ballad 'Come Closer'. There is an infectious joie de vivre surrounding 'III' as it showcases a band doing what they love, and loving every minute of it!

Joe Mackett


Black Country Communion have carved a reputable niche for themselves as real rock royalty. Filmed in HD over three nights to packed-out venues in the German cities of Hamburg, Munich and Berlin in the Summer of 2011, 'Live Over Europe' is a credible in-concert DVD package. The dramatic industrial title sequence sets the scene for the 18 Kevin Shirley sonically sharpened songs on offer. From the charismatic Glenn Hughes led assault of ‘Black Country’, the epically driven 'Save Me', to the mind-melting 'Cold' and a blood bursting cover of Deep Purple's 'Burn', this is a debut live showcase of simmering proportions. Add to this 'explosive' performances of Joe Bonamassa standards 'Song Of Yesterday', ‘The Ballad Of John Henry’ (plus a neat 'making of' documentary) and you have an enduring time capsule to the power of 'pure' classic rock!

Mark Crampton

Sunday, 2 October 2011


Monte Pittman’s second solo album is a beautiful anthology of the contrasts and complexities of human nature; a depiction of our darkest and lightest moments, thoughts and fears eloquently and skilfully expressed in musical form. A departure from his initial solo endeavour ‘The Deepest Dark’, Monte introduces heavier touches and tones which provide shade and balance. ‘About You’ is just one of those songs that will happily stay with you and linger in your subconscious long after it has gone. The same can be said for ‘Somewhere In The Middle'. Vocals on ‘The Price Of Fear’ are clear as a bell as is the haunting 'Stay With Me’ with its strong melodic well produced clean sharp guitar sound, whilst album closer ‘Predetermined Destiny’ is 'Beatlesque' and quite hypnotic. All in all a real treat from a highly talented and gifted guitar genius!

Amanda Gentle

Monday, 26 September 2011


L.A. singer Beth Hart is a true vocal gem. ‘Teaming-Up’ with Blues/Rock 'Guitar God' Joe Bonamassa on 'Don't Explain' (an intimate collection of 'heartfelt' hand-picked classic soul covers) showcases her rising to the occasion, with 'expressive' raspy soulful vocals in full frontal view. Produced by Black Country Communion guru Kevin Shirley and backed up by J.B.'s 'Ballad Of John Henry' Number 1 line-up its' a 'simmering' marriage. Highlights include corking renditions of Ray Charles' 'Sinner's Prayer', Bill Withers' 'For My Friend' and Etta James' 'I'd Rather Go Blind' and 'Something's Got A Hold On Me' where the Hart/Bonamassa partnership blossoms. From the 'Heart' though it's the commercial appeal of Gil Scott-Heron's 'I'll Take Care Of You' and Delaney & Bonnie's 'Well Well that will take this unique 'Dream Team' to the mainstream of Rock!

Mark Crampton

Friday, 23 September 2011


Michael Schenker has boldly gone where man has not gone before. Not only has he enlisted a spoken intro from Star Trek's William Shatner but the guitar maestro is well oiled and ready to roll. Metal Mickey has enlisted the help of many friends from past and present. Originally started under the banner of 'Strangers In The Night' with former UFO band mate Pete Way, Michael Voss and former Scorpions drummer Herman Rarebell, as the work progressed many more names got involved including his brother Rudolf, Leslie West, Don Airey, Paul Raymond Etc. Retreating to a sound that can be found on the first two MSG albums it's full of deadly riffs from blistering opener 'How Long' to the classic hard rock of 'Before The Devil Knows You're Dead' with Doogie White on vocals. A fluid front-frontal attack from the mad axeman!

Mark Taylor

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Dream Theater's 11th ‘altar offering’ proves to be less ‘sacrificial’ than first thought after the departure of Mike Portnoy. ‘A Dramatic Turn Of Events’ demonstrates the unmistakable Rush/Yes inspired melodic technical proficiency that gives DT their ‘distinctive’ progressive edge. What’s different about this album is a sense of renewed vigour, lustre and warmth; maybe resulting from a different approach to musical direction previously untried and unseen? With Portnoy’s loss of what he had described as being ‘His Baby’, DT see a new contribution from Mike Mangini which is solid, sustained and highly proficient, but yet fluid enough to give them the potential to move towards a more melodic and thematic style. A new DT era has emerged which may see them break new unchartered territory in terms of audience, sound and musicianship!

Amanda Gentle

Friday, 9 September 2011


Horror has long been one of the main elements flowing through the bloodstream of rock music. The main instigator of this infection is Alice Cooper, the godfather of OTT ghoulish shock-rock. Celebrating the 35th anniversary of his first solo album Cooper has now released what is touted as its follow-up, both in terms of the narrative carried by the songs and the musical personnel involved, notably producer Bob Ezrin. Like its earlier near namesake 'Welcome 2 My Nightmare' is a rich and diverse platter with an underlying story. Musical styles range from the Stonesy rock of 'I’ll Bite Your Face Off' to the Tom Waits inspired 'Last Man On Earth. Stand out tracks like opener 'I Am Made Of You' with its searing solo and the ballsy duet with Ke$ha 'What Baby Wants' make the point that AC is a timeless rock institution - the zombie make-up helps!

Colin Liddell

Monday, 5 September 2011


Glorious, vivacious prog-jazz/blues from Black Country Communion’s versatile keyboard-player. Derek Sherinian draws on his Dream Theater/Platypus past with his new solo album for a vigorous, virtuosic instrumental workout. Dubbed ‘The Caligula of the Keyboards’ by Alice Cooper, Sherinian’s pedigree sprawls across genres. As such, he has access to a bottomless pit of quality musicians to dip into for his solo projects, this time Toto’s guitarist Steve Lukather and drummer Simon Phillips sprinting elegantly alongside the likes of Tony MacAlpine and Doug Aldrich. Guitars squeal and moan with prodigious ease, particularly from BCC colleague, Joe Bonamassa, who dips in for the bluesy ‘I Heard That’. All the while, Sherinian demonstrates an unfeasible dexterity for all things organ-ic throughout an album that fizzes with unbridled, panoramic joy!

Pippa Lang

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


Legendary Yes vocalist Jon Anderson survived a serious health scare in 2008 and upon recovery, found himself out of the band. Undeterred, he set about writing new material and (via the internet) collaborated with a range of musicians on a new set of songs. 'Survival & Other Stories' is uplifting and encompasses a variety of styles. 'Understanding Truth' and 'Effortlessly' both feature sparse acoustic arrangements whilst 'Incoming' and the re-recorded 'Just One Man' (a track originally recorded with Rick Wakeman) are more symphonic, echoing the sound of classic Yes. 'Unbroken Spirit' comes across as a personal statement whilst album closer 'Cloudz', is nothing less than an ambient masterpiece leaving the listener in no doubt that Jon's distinct alto-voice remains intact and as emotive as ever. A must have for all Yes fans!

Christopher Franklin

Friday, 1 July 2011


British singer/songwriter John Wetton has treaded the boards with rock royalty and as such his sixth solo album is the latest gem in a crowning list of musical works. Written and recorded with former Yes multi-instrumentist Billy Sherwood, 'Raised In Captivity', features collaborations from numerous guest musicians: Robert Fripp (King Crimson), Eddie Jobson (UK), Mick Box (Uriah Heep), Steve Hackett (Genesis), Steve Morse (Deep Purple) and Asia partner Geoff Downes. Rocking album opener 'Lost For Words' hits the ground running while the title track and 'The Human Condition' both capture the angst and uncertainty that comes with modern life. Particularly poignant is the duet with Anneke Van Giersbergen on closer 'Mighty Rivers'. An impressive collection that truly sums up the elements that have shaped Wetton’s career!

Mark Crampton


Virtuoso prog-rock legends YES are back with their first studio offering in 10 years. Produced by former frontman Trevor Horn, 'Fly From Here' has all the hallmarks of a classic YES album despite the absence of original vocalist Jon Anderson. Featuring a 're-invigorated' re-union of the Squire/Howe/White/Downes 'Drama' line-up (with the addition of new singer Benoit David) the group's 21st opus is powerful proof that the band continue to be progressive pioneers. The epic 23 minute long title track was initially written by Bugglers Downes and Horn prior to joining the group in the 1980. After YES disbanded in 1981, the duo recorded a second demo, and both recordings became the foundation of new tracks 'We Can Fly' and 'Sad Night At The Airfield'. Sporting lavish Roger Dean cover art the album harks back to the group's halcyon 70s glory days!

Mark Crampton

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


HeadCat is Lemmy’s rock n’ roll sideline with Stray Cats’ drummer Slim Jim Phantom and Lonesome Spur/Rockats guitarist Danny B Harvey, with Lem dabbling on bass, guitar, vocals and harmonica. The seeds of the project started with an Elvis tribute album in 2000, which instigated the trio’s 2006 debut ‘Fool’s Paradise’. This is another kickass collection of rock n’ roll numbers, two originals (‘American Beat’ and ‘The Eagle Flies On Friday’) and ten covers, that give Lem an outlet for his rockin’ soul which first got stirred and shaken with The Rockin’ Vickers. ‘Walk The Walk…’ may make Motorhead fans chuckle, but true pundits should be interested in where Lemmy’s origins come from. Good old rockin’ toons like Chuck Berry’s ‘Let It Rock’ and Eddie Cochran's ‘Something Else’ have a direct connection to Motorhead’s rep!

Pippa Lang


With their 12th studio album, Queensryche continue to push boundaries and explore new musical territories whilst retaining an 'unmistakeable' musical identity. With its stripped down arrangement, opener 'Get Started' would not have sounded out of place on 'Empire', however, any thoughts that this might be an early 90's retro trip are dispelled the moment track two 'Hot Spot Junkie' kicks in with a modern industrial vibe. The Pink Floyd influenced closer 'Big Noize' is a particular highlight and the perfect counterpoint to heavier cuts such as 'At The Edge'. Kelly Gray's top notch production features Eddie Jackson's intricate bass runs and Scott Rockenfield's drums high in the mix, creating at times a dance-like groove that might come as something of a shock to long-time fans. That said, the band's trademark ‘big rock’ sound remains intact!

Christopher Franklin