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Gudars Skymning – V (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 11/15/2017 - 18:07


Swedish rockers Gudars Skymning (Twilight of Gods, and also a Swedish equivalent of “Oh dear!”) have now released their fifth slab of seventies infused hard rock sung in their native tongue. If you’re into bands like Abramis Brama and Magnolia, this is without doubt right up your alley. After the instrumental heavy folsky “Orloks Boning” the band crushes on with the powerful riffster “Mars Makalös”. “Rakt ut I mörkret (olycksfågel del II)” continues with some heavy shuffle, leading into the up/mid-tempo chugging ”Allman” featuring Micke “Mojo” Nilsson on additional vocals and lead guitar. “Hjärtats ödemark” continues with some heavy riffing, a bit like blending Budgie, Black Sabbath and November. The verse and chorus of “Vid vansinnets berg” are almost a bit Sabbath doomy in the approach, while the bridge takes it into a slightly psychedelic landscape. “Soppan” starts out as a shuffle oriented number, but takes a turn into a doomy territory in the verse. What makes Gudars Skymning sound a bit different is Kenny-Oswald Dufvenberg’s slightly different melodic approach, which makes it quite unique. Even though the band has evolved a bit by each record, they haven’t strayed away from their original formula. This band just keep on delivering album after album, all having that high class and quality! Kick ass stuff!
Janne Stark
Label: Transubstans
Year: 2017
Country: Sweden


Days Of Jupiter – New Awakening (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 11/15/2017 - 18:05


I really loved Days Of Jupiter’s 2012 debut “Secrets Brought To Life”, while the follow-up “Only Ashes Remain” didn’t impress as much, however, this one I was looking forward to. The band plays modern melodic hard rock/metal, and as long as the riffs, songs and vocals are there, I’m all for it. I really like bands like Alter Bridge, Sevendust and Shinedown, so no prejudice from me. The album starts with the melodic and heavy riffing “We Will Never Die” which actually does remind me a bit of Shinedown. “I Am Stone” is a bit different in its style and approach, a bit busier and not predictable at all. A killer track with really cool twists and turns. This one really gets the band back into the ball game! “Wasted Years” kicks major butt! Damn, those crushing riffs combined with Janne Hilli’s awesome melodic vocals! They definitely give their Swedish main competitors’ Corrodeda run for their money! “You Can’t Erase Me” is a cool, powerful ballad. “Awakening” starts off sounding a bit similar to Sevendust with a crushing staccato riff and bulldozer drums, but the boys take it to a place of their own. Awesome track! The next track has one of those annoying spelling mistakes I bet they went “duuuuh” when they saw. The sleeve says, “If I Wear God”, while the booklet correctly states “If I Were God” – whatever, the track speaks for itself. I just have to mention “Insane”, which is another well-aimed kick in the groin! Love it! Highly recommended!
Janne Stark
Year: 2017
Label: Metalville

Country: Sweden

Kardinal Sin – Victorious (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 11/15/2017 - 18:03


I shall start by admitting I’m NOT a fan of power metal. Fast pace, double bass drums, big choirs and major scale sing-along choruses verging on the Eurovision Song Contest just isn’t my thing. The opener “Patria (Fatherland)” is dangerously close to this, but manages to avoid the worst cringeworthily pastiches. However, the just run straight into that wall, with second track “Wall Of Stone”, which sounds like something in-between Hammerfall and The Poodles. I really like the verse, but the chorus is just too much Eurovision for me. Before I go on, I must say the band does sound great! Great vocals, killer guitar playing and a fantastic mix by Fredrik Folkare ( as always). “Mastermind” starts out soft, but soon the door is kicked in. This track is a bit more theatrical in its approach and the chorus is way better than the previous tracks. This one is more my bag! The title track is also pretty cool. I really like the cool twists in the verse and this one has sort of a “Phantom Of The Opera” vibe to it. Not bad at all. “Bonaparte” sounds a bit more like the missing link between the aforementioned Hammerfall and Rhapsody. “S.I.N” takes it down a bit with its acoustic intro, but blossoms out into a powerful big ballad. Even though, as I initially stated, this is not really my cup of tea, I think the band does a great job. It’s a high-quality album and fans of power metal should definitely check it out.
Janne Stark
Label: Tramp Music
Year: 2017

Country: Sweden

Coldspell – A New World Arise (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 11/15/2017 - 18:02


I was a huge fan of Coldspell when they entered the Swedish hard rock scene with the outstanding debut “Infinite Stargaze” in 2009. “Out From The Cold” from 2011, delivered more of the same, while I was a bit disappointed with “Frozen Paradize” (2013) as it felt a bit generic and didn’t really lift off for me. Now they state that “A New World Arise”, so let’s see what that means. The album kicks off with the powerful up-tempo rocker “Foreveremore” with a kick-ass chorus and I immediately feel hope. “Call Of The Wild” takes it down a notch, and it actually makes me think of Eclipse, which is a good thing. A killer dynamic song with lots of interesting layers. “It Hurts” starts off with a quirky guitar arpeggio which I can’t completely wrap my head around (which is also a cool thing) and then enters into a heavy, crunchy verse and a great catchy chorus. “Miles Away” picks up the tempo again and Michael’s guitar crushes anything in its way. “Signs” takes the album on a different, crushingly heavy, yet very melodic, path. Almost a touch of Zeppelin in the verse with a classic melodic heavy rock chorus. I must say, this album totally demolishes its predecessor! “Love Me Like You Do” opens with some bluesy acoustic riffing and moves into a Dokken style power riff territory. Quite different from anything the band has previously done. This kicks major ass, I must say! I won’t go into each and every track, I will just say – there’s not a bad track on the album! The production is brick heavy, yet dynamic with Niclas’ outstanding vocals crowning this power package! A must!!
Janne Stark
Year: 2017
Label: Escape

Country: Sweden

Peter Martinsson Group – Changes (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 11/15/2017 - 18:00

Once upon a time, back in 1979-80, guitarist Peter played guitar in underground bands Plebb and Purple Haze, each one with one release to show for (rarities today). In 2012 he was brought back to the musical scene with his outstanding instrumental album “Guitar State Of Mind”, followed by “No Grey” in 2014. Now it’s time for another dose of instrumental high-class guitar playing. Peter Martinsson Group is more about melodic hard rock oriented songs that high speed shredding. “Never Again”, for instance, has an aura of 70s Rainbow hanging over it, while “You Can Dance” crunches out some heavy bluesy riffs which makes me think of Michael Katon. “Ahead Of Time” has a cool 70s feel of Janne Schaffer (think “Halkans Affär” or “Fillins Mignon”). Peter’s tone and feel often give me serious goosebumps! His sweet notes are just there! His melodic feel is outstanding and even though I’m not a huge fan of instrumental albums, I just can’t stop listening to his music! I just love the quirky playfulness of songs like “Happy Happie” or the coolness of “Loosen Up”. He also does a killer version of the traditional folk song “Barkbrödslåten”, quite different from Kebnekajse’s rendition. Highly recommended!
Janne Stark
Label: Plebb
Year: 2017

Country: Sweden

Mathias Holm Klarin – Dream Catch (digital)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 11/15/2017 - 17:58


To find any traces of Swedish shredder Mathias Holm’s solo material we have to go way back to 1996. That’s when he released his first album “Pictures Of A Dream”. In 2010 he also released an album with Swedish prog metal band Mindsplit (also featuring members from Madison, Jade, Scudiero/Fatal Smile), but since then little has been heard. Until now. "Dream Catch" starts where “Pictures of a Dream” left off, with a collection of melodic, instrumental guitar music. Mathias has matured a bit in his style and playing, and just like guitarists like Joe Satriani, he aims for the song rather than the shred thrill. Way better in my book! Mathias has a great tone and his sound is clear and powerful. The title track is one of my favorites with it’s nice variations and cool tempo. There are of course some Yngwie:esque twiddling here as well, such as in “Green Water” and “Past Reflecion” with their neo-classical orientation. Killer technique, great tone, impeccable playing, but not as interesting to me as something like “Divine Journey”, where Mathias takes us through a lot of different musical landscapes, from fast shredding, to fusionesque parts to oriental influences. All in all a really nice album from an outstanding guitar player!
Janne Stark
Label: Lion Music
Year: 2017

Country: Sweden

Target – In Rage (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 05:51


In 1976, I heard the song ”99 ½” on Swedish radio. I went straight to the record store and bought the self-titled album by American melodic hard rockers Target. That record soon became one of my favorites and still is. The follow-up, “Captured”, didn’t hit me as hard as the debut, but it was still an outstanding album. Then nothing more, not until singer Jimi Jamison re-surfaced in the band Cobra in 1983. Well, we all know Jimi’s history after that and his tragic passing in 2014. I’ve found a couple of live clips of Target on YouTube and also one unreleased song entitled “Taxman”, which made me wonder if there were more where it came from. Well, it turns out there were! Finally, this previously unreleased, and for me previously unheard, treasure of Target songs now sees the light of day. Nine tracks recorded in 1979. Jimi in his prime and the band sounding just as great as on the first two albums. The album kicks off with “Tight Wire”, a straight ahead hard rocker with disco drums and bass, making we wonder if Gene Simmons hadn’t heard this rhythm section when writing “I Was Made For Loving You”. This is however way better and not by far as cheesy. “Love Magician” kicks off with a fat riff and goes into funk mode, something they explored on the first two albums as well. “Too Much Good Love” kicks up the tempo a notch, while “Hold Tight” brings back the heavy bluesy riffing. Target has had a slightly southern rocking touch on both their previous albums, and here it is. Groovy, cool and heavy with Jimi singing in his soulful bluesy way. “Taxman”, yes, here it is! A kick-ass rocker, a punch in the face! “Means That Much” is this album’s “Let Me Live”, the bluesy powerful ballad. “Come On” is a great up-tempo boogie rocker, also in the vein of the band’s previous efforts. “A Place Called Hot” picks up that southern nerve again. This one is one of the best Target songs ever. A really cool, quirky, busy rhythm and killer guitar riffing, with Jimi’s perfect vocals as the icing on the cake. “Don’t You Think It’s Time” continues in the same vein as the previous track, and takes a well-deserved place on the list of “best ever songs of Target”. KILLER track!! Bonus track “Echo Tango” is a demo recording, a little rougher around the edges, but damn what a track! A perfect ending to a fantastic album, a glorious moment of long lost and unknown musical history. You can hear this is not taken from the actual master tapes, but the sound has still been restored to almost perfection. If you’re a fan of Target, a fan of late 70s melodic hard rock, a fan of Jimi’s fantastic voice, you don’t wanna miss out on this gem!
Janne Stark
Label: Escape Music
Year: (1979) 2017

Country: USA

Steve Walsh – Black Butterfly (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 05:50

When singer Steve Walsh left Kansas I didn’t expect to see him return in a few years. Well, wrong was I. His new solo album is already hot off the press! Opener “Born In Fire” sounds like a left over Streets track, which is great in my book. Steve sings great and it’s actually hard to hear the difference between Steve’s voice and guest singer Jerome Mazza! The have a very similar tone, where Mazza does still have his high register in place. They do sound great together and the song is a kick ass rocker! When I first heard “The Piper”, it had something familiar about it. I soon realized this song actually appeared on the album by Radioactive. Some of the guitars have been re-amped, but it’s still the same song. “Grace And Nature” is a more pomp oriented track with a chorus that sort of takes the song down in intensity, which is an interesting move. “Dear Kolinda” continues in the pomp oriented vein with a chorus that does touch on the old Streets/Kansas nerve. In “Winds Of War” Jerome Mazza takes over the lead vocals. His voice sounds quite close to Steve’s actually. Sounds like something that also could have been on the Radioactive album. “Tanglewood Tree” starts off a bit Yes sounding. The vocals are a bit thin and strange in the opening, but soon gets better. An ok track, but not really a favorite. “Now Until Forever” again features Mazza on lead vocals. A good semi-ballad type track with a big chorus. “Warsaw” would also fit on the aforementioned Radioactive album. Quite Toto:ish.
“Black Butterfly” sounds quite different from “Shadowman”, both in sound and style. I honestly think “Shadowman” had more of a unique identity, while “Black Butterfly” sounds very much like several other projects involving the song writers. “Nothing But Nothing” starts out pretty cool and promising with an interesting guitar riff and even though it never really lifts off the way I expected, it’s a really cool track with an oriental touch in the chorus. Good one! “Winds of War”, also featuring Mazza on lead vocals is a mid-tempo melodic AOR track, a bit anonymous, but decent enough. “Billy Carbone Is Dead” is another track with a slight Streets touch, where I so wonder what Mike Slamer would have done with the guitar parts. “Mercy On Me” is one of the best tracks after the opener, also featuring Mazza on lead vocals. All in all a pretty good album, in deed. My first impression was actually better than what I feel after 5-6 times of listening. I’m a bit torn regarding Mazza handling the lead vocals on several tracks. He’s a great singer who deserves his own album, and I’d rather hear Steve sing all the songs and Mazza do his own thing, in the same style though. The production is clear and good, but I do miss a bit of the fatness of “Shadowman” which on the other hand misses a bit of the clarity found here. Well worth checking out.
Janne Stark
Label: Escape Music
Year: 2017

Country: USA

Dirty Dave Osti - Rare Tracks (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 07:24


Dirty Dave has previously released a couple of really great blues rock albums, so what good would actually a "rare tracks" compilation do? Well, quite a lot it seems. Rare Tracks proves to be a damn fine "could easily have been a legit" album. Consistent in both sound and style. It kicks off with the instrumental blues rocker Grooveyard Ride followed by the southern rock sounding Louisiana Outlaw with a bunch of cool slide licks and fitting raspy vocals. Blur The Lines kicks it into riff mode, with some cool bluesy sections. In The Wind kicks it up a notch in tempo, but both the riffs and the blues are still there. A cool instrumental tune, where my only critique would be that it actually does lack some vocals in the empty spots. Bastard is a cool acoustic number leading into another cool bluesy melodic semi-ballad. Up next is a kick-ass cover of ZZ Top's El Diablo, from the sadly overlooked Tejas album. Without going into each track, let me just say, even though this is "just" a compilation of leftover tracks, it's a damn good one!
Janne Stark

Label: Grooveyard Records
Country: USA
Year: 2017

The Quill - Born From Fire (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 07:22


Swedish retro rockers The Quill have gone through various styles and line-ups. Now they have returned bringing back singer Magnus Ekwall, flanked by guitarist Christian Carlsson, bass player Roger Nilsson and drummer Jolle Atlagic. The new effort kicks off with Stone Believer and immediately Black Sabbath and in particular Zero The Hero comes to mind. No, it's not plagiarism, only very similar in feel. This is my favorite Quill line-up and they do not disappoint! Snake Charmer Woman proves the opener was no fluke. This one kicks it up a few notches in speed, but the heaviness prevails. Ghosthorse is more Sabbaththan Sabbath. It's a track I think Iommi would wish he wrote today! What a killer!! Keep It Together takes it down a notch, starting off with naked vocals and Univibe-drenched guitar. It then leads us into Sabbath's Snowblind territory. There's not a weak track on the entire album, the mix is fat, full and fucking crushing, the band sounds better than ever and this is one kick-ass release you should not miss out on! 
Janne Stark

Label: Metalville
Country: Sweden
Year: 2017

Universal Hippies - Mother Nature Blues (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 07:19

Busy boy Stavros (Freerock Saints, Hard Driver) is at it again. This time delivering a bunch of instrumental tracks under the Universal Hippies moniker. I'm not a huge fan of instrumental albums, I shall admit, but this is some pretty cool shit. Opener Redemption Day is a cool, melodic thing with highly tasteful guitar harmonies and great melodies. Enjoyable indeed! Homo Sapiens continues in the same vein and I get a feel of Wishbone Ash meets 70s Epitaph, with some bad ass riffing thrown in. Stavros plays outstandingly tasteful. No overplaying, no meaningless shredding, but melodic soloing, great feel, great arrangements and really great songs. There's not a bad track on the album and I must say I really love every part of it from the songs to the performances to the songs. Awesome!
Janne Stark


Label: Grooveyard
Year: 2017
Country: Greece

Hard Driver - Freedom Machine (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 07:17


Stavros must be the busiest man in Greece! Not only does he rock out with Freedom Saints, now he has also released an instrumental CD with Universal Hippies and, at the same time, let loose another beast. Those of you familiar with Jake E Lee's band Badlands will surely make the connection here (for you uninformed Hard Driver is a song on the first Badlands album). Hard Driver sure do have some Badlands overtones. Bluesy hard rock with a southern touch. This is indeed a pretty solid album. The songs range between good and kick-ass and the band sounds great. The Achilles Heel, for my personal taste, is the vocals. Stavros is a good singer, but there is still something lacking for me to fully embrace his vocal performance. I'm not 100 % sure exactly what it is, but it's most likely a combination of his vocal range, his sound and his overall performing lacking a bit of oomph, for lack of a better word. However, what he lacks in vocals, he makes up for in his excellent guitar work. The songs are solid and the band plays great! Well worth checking out!
Janne Stark

Label: Grooveyard
Year: 2017
Country: Greece

Ulrich Ellison - Dreaming In The House Of Blues (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 07:15


Ulrich is a new musical acquaintance. Opener Americ reminds me a bit of Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush at times, which is a good sign. Ulrich provides some quite clean and melodic vocals, while the guitar work is a bit dirtier. Ten Feet Tall continues in a melodic southern rock vein, while River Of Life again adds a touch of Marino mixed with some slight Eric Johnson:ish influences. He continues down the blues rock path and lays down some serious blues licks in the intro of Running On Empty. I Had A Dream is a soul oriented thing with a jazzy touch, which doesn't really grab me, unfortunately. Rollin' And Tumblin' gets the boat cruising in the right direction again. Ulrich gives it a cool groovy, almost folksy touch. Feeling Like A Rich Man again veers off into a soul oriented funky area outside my sphere. The album has a few of these road bumps, especially towards the end, but the majority of the tracks nicely rock my boat. There are some seriously cool riffing going on in a lot of the tracks. 

Janne Stark
Label: Grooveyard
Year: 2017
Country: USA

Count’s 77 – Soul Transfusion (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 07:12

This is the second effort from actor/club owner/singer Danny “Count” Koker. The man is not just a pretty face, he’s actually a pretty good singer as well. In some tracks, he reminds me a quite lot of Ron Chenier from Canuck hard rockers Fist. Gritty, mid/low pitch and pretty ballsy. Not bad in my book. He also surrounds himself with some pretty good musicians, including kick ass guitarist Stoney Curtis, who has made quite the name for himself through his solo discs. The first Count’s 77 album was quite good, but this one does kick it up a notch. It starts out with The Count’s version of Summer of 69, here known as Summer of ’77 (which I can personally relate to more than the Bryan Adams number). A catchy, poppy hard rocker with nice hooks. Hard Rock Band has a cool southern rock vibe to it, which reminds me a bit of The Boyzz mixed with 38 Special. Again, a bunch of nice hooks. Do You Feel Me? definitely picks up those aforementioned Fistreferences, both vocally and musically. If you remember and like Fist’s Thunder In Rock album, this should be up your alley. A really cool track, indeed! Without going into each of the songs, this is a really cool, no frills, straight ahead southern tinged hard rock album with great musicians, cool vocals and songs that rock really well. Recommended!
Janne Stark
Label: Shrapnel
Year: 2016

Country: USA  

Chris Bickley – Digital Reflection (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 07:09


This is US guitarist Chris Bickley’s second effort (it should be noted he also plays with the resurrected 70s American rockers Thunderhead). His first album, Tapestry Of Souls, was a good start, but on Digital Reflection he has definitely perfected his crafts. The album has a better flow, stronger song material and definitely a way better mix. Yes, this is a (mainly) instrumental guitar album, but Chris does write really good songs where the guitar handles the “vocals”, so not only a lot of shredding, but actual melodies. Chris is backed by bassist Dino Fiorenza and drummer Gaetano Nicolosi, both great musicians who provide a solid foundation for Chris guitar playing. Dino also does some pretty impressive slapping here and there. Furthermore, Jimmy Pitts fills out the cracks and crevices with some nice keyboards. The album also features some other guest guitarists, such as Adrian English and Mike Abdow. The songs range from mid/up-tempo rockers to soft and nice ballads such as Arigato and one of the two vocal tracks, Tragedy (sung by Steve Johnstad). The other vocal track is a surprising cover of Iron Maiden’s Wasted Years, sung by Teri Lane. She does a good job, even though I would have wished for a bit more edge and a little less vibrato. It’s a good track, but I honestly don’t think it fits that well into the rest of the material. If Chris would’ve made an instrumental version it would maybe have been a bit more fitting. Well, the rest of the material kicks ass, and it’s a great album indeed! Shredding is alive and well!
Janne Stark

Country: USA
Year: 2017

Label: Shredguy Records

RENEGADES – 84-16 (MCD 5tr)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 19:33

Some bands really take their time to record. When it comes to Renegades, these songs were written back in 1985 and recorded in 2016. 29 years! Must be a record. To be honest, listening to the music, I barely notice the difference. Another proof it all moves in circles. Timesless music, indeed! Sure, lyrics like Meet Us Backstage oozes of juvenile innocence (or Steel Panther influences). The song itself sounds quite Mötley Crüe influenced. It actually sounds really good! Singer/guitarist Valentin Pecovnik was previously in the band Joke and has also been part of the internet project band Hellvalla Burn. Queen Of Pain is another nice slice of glammy 80s style melodic metal that should attract fans of bands like Poison, Crüe and Steel Panther. The band features, besides Valentin, lead guitarist Mikael Ahlqvist, bassist Per Runfors and drummer Richard Svensson. Really good, crispy, still tight production, too! Good stuff, indeed!
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden
Year: 2016
Label: private

ETERNAL FEAR – Killing Time (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 19:30

Swedish metallurgists Eternal Fear presents their fifth release, this time mixed by Blaze Bailey guitarist Steve Ray, and I do think this is the band’s best product when it comes to the production. The band mixes influences from classic heavy metal with touches of both Manowar, Metallica, Maiden and even some Falconer. It’s heavy and crushing, but Ove Johnsson’s vocals are neither your traditional high pitch power metal style, nor the Metallica style grunting. He’s somewhere in-between, melodic enough to attract the power metal fans and rough enough to attract the metal fans. Musically it’s sort of the same thing. Heavy enough, yet melodic enough. Songs like Black Country even verges on thrash but the vocals keep it on the metal side of the border. Killing Time takes it to Trouble territory, almost a bit doomy, while Halls Of Odin screams folk metal, a bit like Falconermeets Sabaton but with good vocals. A good piece of Swedish steel that should attract fans of… well… metal!
Janne Stark
Year: 2017
Country: Sweden

Label: private

EDDY MALM BAND – Northern Lights (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 19:29

I heard the Eddy Malm Band demo several years ago and liked it so much I wanted to include a demo track on the compilation for my latest encyclopedia. According to the liner notes on the CD this track was what made No Remorse pick up the band, which makes me happy and proud! So, yes, I am happy the album is finally out! It’s funny, I was expecting Heavy Load, but what I hear is more of Eddy’s band prior to Heavy LoadHighbrow, and that makes me even more happy. To be honest, I was a bigger fan of Highbrow than of Heavy Load. It’s not really raw, raunchy and brutal, but quite clean and melodic, and I really like that! I’ve also always been a fan of guitarist Per Hesselrud’s guitar playing, even though it has mostly been displayed in his quirky bands Bosse and IFK Doom (a hilarious band where they do Sabbath songs in Swedish). The rhythm section featuring drummer Mike Kerslow and bass player Tomas Malmfors is tight as a rat’s ass. I Had Enough is a straight ahead classic rocker, closer to AC/DC than Heavy Load, while Turn It Down sounds like it was written for Highbrow. Nasty Woman slides in closer to the classic NWoBHM era. Heavy Load fans will most likely recognize track #6 – a new rendition of Dark Nights from the Heavy Load Metal ConquestMLP. It always tough to record a new version of an old and well-known track, but I like the heavier punch to the new version (and, did I mention I like Per’s guitar playing?). The boogie-oriented Get Out Of Here again takes us back to the NWoBHM era and bands like Saxon, Maiden, Chevy and Dedringer. Danger is a cool stomper where Eddy shows he hasn’t lost his vocal power from the 80s. Next is yet another re-make, this time the A-side of the first Highbrow single from 1978, A Loser. A really great version, actually, except for the weird clicking sound (echo??) in the chorus, which I don’t really get. The album finished with the heavy rocking title track. A really good album indeed!
Janne Stark
Label: No Remorse
Year: 2016

Country: Sweden

BONAFIDE – Flames (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 19:26

Sweden’s rock n roll machine #1 is at it again! They are definitely one of the best live bands in Sweden, no doubt. The energy, power and joy is only surpassed by Aussies Airborne (Well, f**k they surpass EVERYONE!!). The band’s new album, Flamescontinues in the old tradition with the, not surprising, lovely shameless vintage AC/DC flirts, such as Smoke And Fire and Bottle Of Jack. But, there’s way more to the album than that. Take a track like Power Down, which shows a new side of Bonafide, with a nice blues-quirky side with nice little twists and turns. Absolutely love that track. Pontus Snibb is not only a first-class singer, he also treats his six string with love and emotion, which definitely shows in his geetar majik in this track. The lack of brutal metal distortion is compensated with nice punchy bass guitar, a proof that heaviness ain’t just about the amount of distortion, but about the entire package and what the joint string forces create together. A power pack! Another cool surprise is the soul oriented influences in tracks like Written In Stone, which made me think of The Black Crowes and some vintage Skynyrd, also in the cool harmony guitar part. Keep A Safe Distance is another cool stomper which I think will go down well live! It’s only rock and roll, but I like it, yepp, I do!
Janne Stark
Label: Off Yer Rocka
Year: 2017

Country: Sweden

SKULL PARADE – Skullparade (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 19:24



Swedish hard rockers Skull Parade (featuring former Treasure Land bassist Magnus Lind) released their debut in 2014, a pretty good debut indeed. The follow-up opens with a kick ass quirky hard rocker entitled Nightmare, which makes me think of both Dizzy Mizz Lizzy and TNT in their “Transistor” era. Nice melodies and cool guitar playing. Drained continues in the quirky vein with some really cool and odd chord changes. If you’re into bands like Galactic Cowboys and Matches For Maggie (sure, you wouldn’t know about them, would you?), these first two tracks should be right up your alley! Beyond Protection almost draws a bit on thrash or US power metal. Not a huge fan of the vocals in this one. The oddly entitled Lost Ball In High Weeds starts out with acoustic guitar and vocals, but soon turns into some strange doom type song with a touch of Metallica in the verse, while the chorus is almost a bit grungy. Interesting. Fair Weather Friendthrows the ball in a totally different direction, fast but still quite proggy and with singer Erik Anell not trying to smooth things out. He’s a good singer, but he sometimes gets a bit too rough around the edges for my taste. Acid Rain starts out as an acoustic ballad and turns into a slick poppy thing, quite different from the previous songs. Train To Nowhere takes us back to the quirky, funny hard rock that started the album, and it’s definitely where the band catches my main attention. Awaken The Masses is another tracks that’s a bit hard to define. Great, quirky guitar playing, cool riffing, but the vocals is the letdown for me, I’m afraid. This 9-tracker finishes with Ballad Of Cloaks, a theatrical, doomy, semi-ballad. Actually not bad at all! Except for the f***ing saxophones… So, my general impression: a bit scattered, but it still comes together in a way, some great songs and some that didn’t attract me that much, great musicians, cool guitar solos, but the vocals are the weak link for me. Works great in some songs, but feels a bit too raw and untamed in others. Well worth checking out!
Janne Stark
Year: 2017
Country: Sweden

Label: Rexius Records

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