Stark Music Reviews

Freerock Saints - Blue Pearl Union (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 08:10

Now here's a new exciting offering from Greece! Bluesy hard rockers Freerock Saints, fronted by female Areti Valanopoulou. A vocal power pack with a smooth side to it. Flanked by Super Vintage guitarist Stavros Papadopoulos the two serves a platter of outstanding 70s oriented hard rock with a bluesy touch and some Zeppelin tricks for good measures. Tracks like Roll With The Wind offer the classic take-a-break-while-I-sing verse. It's not only how well you fill that gap, but also how you follow it up that matters. The duo checks both approved boxes. Areti delivers some great whiskey tinged Plant-like vocals and Stavros then kicks in with riff magic a la carte. I mean, he's already showed in his other band that riffing is his business, and he does it like pro. Shot Down In Flames takes us to Bad Company territory, and it also shows that you can make a sound ballsy even though you have a dangerously clean guitar sound. It also helps the overdriven guitar solos pop out a bit more. Blue Pearl opens with Stavros letting his Hendrix vibe fly freely. A cool bluesy ballad where Areti's soulful vocals lifts it up a notch. If you're into stuff like Sass Jordan, Black Pearl or Skyline, check this band out!
Janne Stark
Country: Greece
Label: Grooveyard Records
Year: 2016


Future Elephants? - Future Elephants? (2LP)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 08:08

You may wonder whatever happened to Neon Rose singer Roger Holegård. Yes, he did record some stuff with Truck and Wasa Express, but that was ages ago. So, finally, he's teamed up with guitarist Dante Holmberg (Uppåt Väggarna, Strix Q), bassist Anders Lundquist and drummer Rolle Lindgren and formed a zoo, we'll at least the elephant section, the future elephants section… probably, hence the question mark, I guess... No idea about the name, but somehow it does stick out. Damaged Childopens the album and man; this was a nice surprise. Even though I love the heavy rocking style of Neon Rose, Future Elephants? well-arranged prog rock really strikes a positive nerve. The sound is raw, naked and dynamic, very analogue sounding. I just love the minimalist production with nothing to hide behind. The songs are intricate, well-arranged yet very easy accessible. In The Tide Is Rollin In You can almost hear Danne standing on the side just waiting to throw in a riff. Then suddenly we're off in guitar land, reminding me of Automatic Fine Tuning (or Wishbone Ash on steroids). Damn, I love this! Ivory Dancereminds me a bit about Crack The Sky, with lyrics handling the extinction of beautiful animals just for our money and pleasure. Roger's still got it, both vocally and lyrically. In This Tone opens up with some guitar licks that sound so genuinely guitar through amp that any digital device would crumble and die. Add a bit of mellotron, some drunken pub chanting and you feel like you've been transported back to 1974. Love it! Sundown In Matobo takes us to Africa, I guess, I'm not really sure about the dialect, though. November Pain initially takes us into a dark, heavy and gloomy territory, but moves on to softer grounds and suddenly we land in a Pink Floyd:ish landscape with Dante going all Gilmour on our asses. Really beautiful stuff with killer guitar playing indeed! And The Mountain Kissed The Sky mixes Swedish folky vibes with Native American drums and a feel of Mountain's Nantucket Sleighride. Don't Raise That Gun with some vintage AC/DC sounding riffing and makes me think of Baby, Please Don't Go, except for the heavy and doomy chorus. Album finale The Pilot ends the album in a great proggy manner featuring both sunshine and rain (literally). An outstanding album that should attract all fans of 70s progressive music with biting guitar-work and intricate but accessible songs. Quite the masterpiece!
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden
Year: 2016

Label: Rock Music Productions

Danko Jones - Wild Cat (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 08:05

Canadian power trio Danko Jones really speaks to the slightly punkish genes I developed in the late 70s. Yes, I was actually quite the fan of bands like Sex Pistols, DMZ, The Boys, Saints and Dead Boys, but then Motörhead came in and filled the gap between punk and metal. Still love some of that stuff, but it doesn't really wear out my CD player anymore, so to speak. Then one day I heard Born A Lion by Danko Jones and it appealed to me in the same way. Raw, energetic, powerful, rebellious, garagey and waving a big fuck-you finger. I just loved it! Probably also because this band knew how to write good riffs and cool lyrics, plus they had a bluesy vibe. Well, I was hooked. Despite the odd let down, this band has always delivered high class stuff. Not to mention on stage, holy shitballs, Dank Jones busts balls and kicks asses like no other! Finally, a new album! Opener I Gotta Rock immediately places a well-aimed boot in the groin! The lyrics are surprisingly blanket type rock n roll trivia, but it works for the song. Danko is still the best anti-shredder I know whose single string kindergarten solos actually works. He plays what works for the song and that's good enough for me. My Little Rock n Roll continues in the traditional Danko Jones break chord manner. We've heard it before, but damn it still works. Going Out Tonight picks up the tempo and this one will surely work great live! You Are My Woman has a sort of 60s poppy vibe to it with a hooky chorus. Do This Everynight is also a pretty happy rocker, while Let's Start Dancing whips it up like crazy! This is Danko Jones in its prime. The title track is a hard hitting boogie rocker with Danko spitting out every word like it was a poisonous bite of food. A killer track. She Likes It is a really cool, quite different track with a quirky guitar riff and cool half-tempo chugging with some busy drumming backing it up. Probably one of my favorite tracks with a pretty cool guitar solo as well. Success In Bed continues in the classic Danko stomp feel, and reminds me a bit of another old track, but the chorus takes a new route. Diamond Lady again takes the tempo up and this is a real great rocker with a soothing chorus. The album finishes with the track Revolution (But When We Make Love), a cool bluesy Strat powered heavy rocker. Conclusion: if you like albums like Below The Belt, Like A Lion or Never Too Loud, there should be no hesitation - go get it!
Janne Stark
Country: Canada
Year: 2017

Label: AFM

Super Vintage - Welcome To Mojo Land (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 08:03

Greek southern rockers Super Vintage, which features excellent guitarist Stavros Papadopoulos, also found in Freerock Saints, is back with a new dose of music. The previous albums have been high class releases both when it comes to music, production and performance. Opening track Southern Moon Rising is a cool bluesy rocker landing somewhere between Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bad Company in its vibe and feel. Delta Mud opens with some cool front porch acoustic guitar and slide, but soon moves into the electric southern rock living room. Classic southern rock, no more no less. Son Of Pain continues in the same vein, with some really nice dynamics and some killer soloing from Stavros. Let Me Be What I Want to Bekicks off with a nice busy riff and adds a bit of funky rhythms to the album. This is by no means any revolutionary album exploring new musical territories or extravagant new sounds. Super Vintage is like my Volvo. You get what you expect, what you're used to, it's trustworthy, works like a clock and you get that fine familiar feeling. Super Vintage sound like they should, and it's good!
Janne Stark
Label: Grooveyard Records
Year: 2017

Country: Greece

2016 Top 20!

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 01/11/2017 - 06:01
I'm a bit behind when it comes to reviews, but there's stuff on the way. In the meantime, here's my Top 20 of 2016!!

CROBOT – Fat City
MOTORGUN – s/t
DUNSMUIR – s/t
ALTER BRIDGE – The Last Hero
PALACE OF THE KING – Valles Marineris
BLINDSTONE – The Seventh Cycle of Eternity
SNAKE HEAD RITUAL – Ceremonial Thunder
PRETTY MAIDS – Kingmaker
BLACK MOUNTAIN PROPHET – Tales From The South
FUTURE ELEPHANTS? – s/t
INGLORIOUS – s/t
COLD TRUTH – Grindstone
KANSAS – The Prelude Implicit
DIAMOND HEAD – s/t
MAGNOLIA – På djupt vatten
FREEROCK SAINTS – Blue Pearl Union
NITROVILLE – Cheating The Hangman
GREG GOLDEN BAND – s/t
ELECTRIC RELIGIONS – Duality Of The Universe

THE DEAD DAISIES – Make Some Noise

Rival Sons – Hollow Bones (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 19:06

Rival Sonsjust came out of the woods seven years ago and suddenly became this world wide phenomenon! I’ve seen them live a couple of times and they ARE an outstanding live band. I wasn’t sure if the new album was going to show the band was just a hype, like some other bands. Well, rest assure, the Sons are back with a twist. “Hollow Bones” shows the band putting on a new set of clothes. Sure they are still floating in their classic late 60s Zeppelin juices, but this album shows some really cool diversity, both regarding sounds and songs. The title track, part 1, kicks it off with some cool low octave guitars riffing about, while “Tied Up” sounds like something you’d hear in an old Bond movie, but with a heavy twist. There are some really ugly guitar sounds, which I really love when they melt into the sound and become something good. Like the wooly fuzz octave guitar in “Thundering Voices”. For lack of a more modern word, I’d definitely describe this album as damn groovy! Can’t wait to hear this stuff live. They HAVE done it again!
Janne Stark
Label: Earache
Country: USA

Year: 2016

Motorgun – Motorgun (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 19:04

Those of you who thought Brazil was only Angra or Sepultura, forget that. Yes, I know there are plenty other bands coming from Brazil, but this is by far the best retro style riff rock band I’ve ever heard from there! The band features guitarist/singer Bebeto Daroz, bassist Edinho and drummer Leo Mello. Fans of bands like King Karma, Badlands, Pride And Glory and Black Water Rising should definitely check this unit out. The album kicks off with the close to 7 minutes epic ”Heading For Tomorrow” where the band instantly kicks into heavy riff mode and Bebto proves he’s not only an outstanding guitarist, but also a class A singer! ”Rebel Souls” continues in a Pride And Glory southern drop-D style heavy crunch vein. This is catchy, groove oriented and heavy as fuck! Bebeto perfectly balances between bluesy licks and technical runs, without it becoming show-off. ”Back To Ashes” bursts in like a raging steamroller, but with a cool melodic chorus that gives the song a new layer, while ”Deliverance” has a cool slightly psychedelic touch to it. I won’t get into each song. Basically because all of the songs are frickin’ awesome! Not a single filler! Not a weak moment! Together with the new Crobot, top of the class of 2016!
Janne Stark
Label: Grooveyard
Country: Brazil

Year: 2016

Black Mountain Prophet – Tales From The South (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 19:02

A smoky joint, people sipping beers and bobbing their heads to the groove coming from band in the corner. That’s the picture I see when I hear opening track “Feel Good Mama”. I really liked the band’s debut album, but on this one they’ve really dug down deep to find the true southern roots. Jarrod England handles lead vocals, rhythm/lead/slide guitars and harmonica, Bob Watkins plays rhythm/lead guitar, Brian Witty handles the bass and Chris Hardesty sits behind the drums. I’ve always had a weak spot for Jarrod’s raspy bluesy voice ever since I heard the outstanding Rufus Huff album. The production is very earthy, analogue and organic with lot of room in the drum sound, which I love. Tales From The Southmay not be as heavy as the band’s debut, but this one has a different feel with other qualities appealing to other sides of my musical taste buds. “Whiskey Don’t Make Me Cry” is very cool and laid back, with a touch of vintage Allman Brothers meets Skynyrd and a touch of Americana. It’s a very naked album, sounding like you’re actually IN the room together with the band. Even though I know Jarrod can’t sing, play rhythm guitar, slide and harmonica at the same time, it sure does sound like he does. Well, I do stand corrected - the album was recorded 95 % live in the studio, I'm informed, one track even totally live. Reacording live in the studio is a dying artform, which should be encouraged! Well done, boys!  “Milk Skin Woman” actually gave me a touch of another band I really love, Swamp Cabbage. “Bad Women” brings in a bit of the funk vibe also found on the Rufus Huff album. Jarrod sings this so damn good! There’s so much feel in his voice, it feels like he’s literally singing his heart out. All in all, different from what I expected, but really good different! Love it!
Janne Stark
Label: Grooveyard
Country: USA

Year: 2016

Lars Boquist – Larser Than Life (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 19:00

That has to be THE worst album title of the year… and it’s just my sense of humor! Lars has previously played with bands like Dizzness, Pole Position, Reptilian and Neondaze. Now, Lars has released his first solo album. The album kicks off with the melodic instrumental ”iSong”, followed by “Rushed” that continues in the same vein. It’s quite friction free with good melodies and great guitar playing. Lars, who plays guitar and some additional bass has used the services of drummers Gustav Liljenström and Magnus Jacobson and bass player Johan Helander. Singer Leo Nielsen also helps out as well, and he does a fine job on the melodic rocker “Shooting For A Falling Star”. This is not really a shredder album in the 80s sense. Lars has instead gone for classic hard rock sound and melodic songs with the guitar playing vocal lines. I will admit, it’s by no means revolutionary. But, it’s a good and easy listenable album! It kinda reminds me of the stuff Norwegian guitarist Mads Eriksen used to do in the 90s, but not many do today.
Janne Stark
Label: private
Country: Sweden
Year: 2016

Link: www.larsboquist.com

Snake Head Ritual – Ceremonial Thunder (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 18:58

The band released their debut in 2013. I really liked it. After hearing this one a couple of times. I really like this one, too. You may already know it, or I’ll tell you (again) – I love me a good riff. Snake Head Ritual deliver their riffs freshly brewed and hot! Opening track “Mama” contains some cool chunky southern rock phat riffs with excellent singer Kevin Chez laying down some soulful vocals on top. “Gone When I Get Home” really rips it up with its cool intense backbeat. The mix is rich, organic and analogue sounding with tube amp character guitar sounds, blending Strats and Les Pauls (at least that’s what it sounds like to me). “3:19” is another really cool track that sticks out a bit with its quirky rhythms and riffs, while “The Chase” delivers low down and dirty riffs and dual guitars smelling of diesel and burnt rubber. If you liked the first album, buying this one as well is a no-brainer! This band delivers!!
Janne Stark
Label: Grooveyard
Country: USA
Year: 2016

Blindside Blues Band – Journey To The Stars (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 18:56

Mike Onesko and Blindside Blues Band is something of an American institution. They released the debut album back in 1993 ad checking my own collection this is my BBB album number eleven. Racer X singer and Paul Gilbert/Badlands/MSG drummer Jeff Martin is back in the band, Steve Evans handles the bass and this time Mike has used the lead guitar skills of Danish dynamite guitarist Martin J. Andersen (Blindstone). I really like the previous BBB albums, but I think Andersen’s co-writing input gave the band a nice injection. The band feels truly vital and alive. They say you shouldn’t fix something that already works, but you can always rev up a motor to give it that extra boost. Mike also sings better than ever. I really like the mix of the songs on the album and don’t be fooled by the “blues band” tail in the name. This is not your standard four bar blues band. It is of course based on the blues, but this is so much more, with kick ass riffing hard as rock. They actually sometimes remind me of West, Bruce & Laing, but with more even quality song material. If you’ve never heard the band, this is where you start!
Janne Stark
Label: Grooveyard
Country: USA

Year: 2016

Mr Quinn – Long Way To Hollywood (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 18:54

The band dates back to the 80s, which may not be that surprising when you listen to the album. This is classic seventies Deep Purple/Rainbow/Whitesnake style hard rock. Despite the long history of the band, “Long Way To Hollywood” is the band’s second album, released three years after the debut. I did like the debut, but this one is actually a few steps up the ladder. Johan Paavola is a really good singer, and even though he has quite a smooth and melodic voice, he does roar a bit from time to time. The mix is well-balanced and classic sounding, which suits the music perfectly. The songs may not be earth shattering, but they are highly enjoyable. It’s definitely as far from the terms “modern”, “nu” and “loops” you can get, and that is just fine by me. A classic sounding album for fans of classic hard rock.
Janne Stark
Label: private
Country: Sweden

Year: 2016

Dust – Soulburst (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Sun, 05/08/2016 - 19:09


Not to be confused with the 70s namesakes, who released two albums. These Swedish retro rockers should however appeal to the fans of the aforementioned. Dust’s first effort really struck like me a sledgehammer! Outstanding 70s sounding riff oriented hard rock with a touch of the mighty Badlands. The debut was a self-financed affair, while they have now been picked up by the appropriately named Attitude Records. This is also, I was told by one of the members, why they decided to re-record two songs from the debut. This means that for us “old” fans this release features seven new tracks to suck on. The album kicks off with “Sun Rising” which instantly shows the band hasn’t changed their winning concept from the debut. Next up is “The King Is Coming” which really shows the band’s Badlandsinfluences with the mighty Roger Solander sounding like Ray Gillen’s long lost cousin. Johan Niskanen is a bluesy riff machine with a lot of tasty leads under his belt, often skipping the rhythm guitar during the solos and leaving it up to the tightly knit power rhythm package of bass player Bernt Ek and drummer Örjan “Dr Rock” Englin to fill every crack and crevice. It’s however not all power riffs and heavy rhythms. “Waiting For You” is a cool blues oriented ballads, with a hint of vintage Whitesnake (when Dave still had a voice and they were a blues rock unit). “Free” is based on almost the same, more or less sacred and forbidden but still often used, riff pattern of Hendrix “Freedom”. A tad too close, but still a great song. “Soul Stealer” is another cool riff rocker in line with the rest of the album. The album closes with a cool Univibe drenched guitar floating on top of the groovy rhythm package and Solander soaring above it all with his bluesy melodic top notch vocals. All in all a solid follow-up to a killer debut! If you’re into bands like Badlands, King Karma etc., don’t miss these guys out!
Janne Stark
Year: 2016
Label: Attitude Records

Country: Sweden

Electric Religions – Duality Of The Universe (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Sun, 05/08/2016 - 19:07

Swedish guitar wiz Steven Kautzky Andersson released his first solo album, “Gipsy Power”, in 1994. A second outing, “Missa Magica”, saw the light of day four years later. The albums had a strong hint of the far east and after this he started exploring this type of music even further, which was quite evident in his project Iubar. In 2000 I received a demo with his new band Electric Religions and in 2014 the first official EP saw the light of day. The direction was now completely different. Heavy and riff oriented! Yep, my favorite words. The band’s first full length album “Duality Of The Universe” starts off with a 48 second instrumental intro entitled “For The Love of Jimi Hendrix”. Now we’re talking! “Good Fortune” and “Terracotta” continue in an almost doomy vein. The band is fronted by female singer Neili Bjerring. Her vocals in combination with the riffing actually reminds me quite a lot of the early stuff by 70s hard rockers Resurrection Band, which is a good thing in my book! “Lee Chao Long” is another cool number, sounding quite oriental and with a touch of early Rainbow at times. “1000 Battles” continues the dark and doomy vein with a really brutal chorus and a cool oriental sounding guitar solo. “Horses Tale” is a powerful big ballad, also with a touch of vintage Rainbow. “Yangtze River” is the darkest and heaviest I’ve heard from this band so far, very Candlemass meets Sabbath with Neili’s vocals giving it a touch of Avatarium. Sitar playing doom riffs? Yepp, check out the track “Last Emperor” for this interesting combination. I must say, I’m positively surprised by the sheer brutal heaviness of this album, and the combination between Steven’s fat riffs and killer guitar playing and Neili’s cool and melodic, yet slightly raspy voice. Think Avatariumand add an oriental flare to it. If that sounds appealing – check out Electric Religions! I highly recommend it!
Janne Stark
Label: Comedia
Year: 2016
Country: Sweden


Heavy Star – Electric Overdrive (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Sun, 05/08/2016 - 19:05


If you were brought up on the 80s melodic, sleazy hard rock with bands like Ratt and Cinderella, you should definitely check out Italian band Heavy Star. I’m definitely more of a seventies guy with riffs and a bluesy vibe as my preference, as I’m sure most of you know by now. I however must say Heavy Star do a great job bringing back the vibe of the era of big hair and spandex. Guitarist Marco “K-Ace” is a shredder with the right attitude and sound and singer Albert Fish does have a touch of Steven Pearcy meets Tom Kiefer. I don’t think it’s a coincidence the band is on the notorious glam, sleaze and melodic rock label Perris Records. These guys will fit in perfectly in the labels roster and if you like the other releases of Perris Records, no need to hesitate!
Janne Stark
Label: Perris Records
Year: 2015

Country: Italy

Badge – If It Hurts It Must Be Good (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Sun, 05/08/2016 - 19:03


Swedish cowboy zombie punksters has decided to give us yet another well-aimed kick in the genitals. Imagine you have a venomous Led Zeppelin rat in one corner and a pissed off MC5 snake in the other. You then bring in John Spencer and let him conduct the fight between these two animals. That’s kinda what Badge sounds like. Especially the two opening tracks ”Reap What You Sow” and ”The Game”. The fight slows down a bit in ”Trapdoor” and it seems like they’ve been given some tips from an Australian contestant named Tracer. Ok, we take it down even another notch in ”In The Eye Of The Storm” and bring in the acoustic slide artillery. In ”We Will See The Light” the fight is over and the animals lay in their respective corner, licking their wounds. Some attempts to pick up the fight do occur, but both are way to groggy to even stand up. They slip and they slide, walking heavy back into the corner. ”Traitor” is most likely the victory song with its perky, strutty, guitar picking and busy drumming. In ”Step Aside” we’re back in the game again, loser still as groggy, but mind dead set on revenge. No way this fella can walk a straight line. Falls over, trips, gets up, falls again. Damn, this is getting weird. ”Mapped Out Trail” yep, it may be. But now Raging Slab throws a punch, trying to interfere. Succeeds, too! Game over. ”Yet To Come”. The victor walks out, head high, back straight, middle finger in the air. This is f***ng weird, and I f***ing love it!
Janne Stark
Label: Perennity Records
Year: 2015

Country: Sweden

D.I.G – s/t (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Sun, 05/08/2016 - 19:00

Swedish power trio D.I.G kicks off with a some really nice crunchy riffs! Riff-oriented powerful hard rock that hits hard. I’m afraid I do have one problem that I can’t get over and it hits me after just a few bars. The vocals. Björn’s guitar playing is killer, but his vocals don’t live up to the guitar playing. It’s not that he’s a bad singer, it’s just that his voice is way to weak and squeaky for this type of powerful music. I’m guessing he’s not really an experienced singer, and it shows. There actually are some really good songs here, and I wish I could get over the vocals, but I’m afraid they kinda kill the buzz for me. Musically there are some hints of King’s X, Black Water Rising etc. which is right up my alley. The sound is fat and nice and the CD was mastered by Ty Tabor (King’s X), so, so far so good.
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden
Year: 2015

Label: private

Arctic Void – Entangled (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Sun, 05/08/2016 - 18:54

I shall admit, I’m not a huge fan of the current semi-proggy power metal scene. Most of the bands sound very similar in style and sound. Actually, opening track “On The Padded Wall” didn’t really impress at all, and sounded like the band had been manufactured using the industry standard mould. Yes, they sound great, but not original at all. However, in the second track, “State of War”, things really started happening. A killer track with a dramatic touch, powerful riffing and pounding drums. Great vocals from Olof Lindgren. “Sleeping Under Water” opens with Olof’s vocal partner Anna Samuelsson taking the lead. Another powerful track with nice vocal interplays between Olof and Anna. Great, tasteful guitar solo, too! “Who Am I” starts out really great, but to me chorus is way to “Eurovision song contest”. “The Rising” is another intense and pretty good track, but on this one I’m not really a fan of the mix. It feels a bit out of balance with the vocals and keyboards one layer above the compact and slightly muddy guitar, bass and drum package. “Labyrinth” is another track I’m a bit on the fence about. On one hand I do like the powerful chugging guitars, but I’m not really a fan of the gothy vocals. “Obsession” is a straight ahead powerful track with nice duets between Olof and Anna. They do remind me of Sonata Arctica mixed with Amaranthe (without the growls) at times. “A Blink Of An Eye” is another straight ahead melodic power metal offering with chugging guitars, soaring keyboards and nice vocal interplays. “Ghosts Are Calling” also caught my attention, despite the, at times, gothy vocals. It has some cool guitar patterns and a nice arrangement. Good vocal melodies, without being too cheesy. Great guitar solo, again. Nice one! Gothenburg based Arctic Void leave off with “Blackwood”, where, unlike my previous criticism, the vocals are almost a tad too low in the mix. The wall of guitars sounds a bit like what you’d hear from a band like Soilwork. I am a bit on the fence about this album. It has some really great highlights, but at times it feels a bit generic. Still, top quality performances all around!
Janne Stark
Year: 2015
Country: Sweden

Label: Power Prog

BRETT ELLIS BAND – Electrified Live (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 21:21


American blues rocker Brett Ellis comes alive. Well, he sure as hell rocks it out live! He kicks off at full throttle with Keeping The Rock Alive and he doesn’t look back! Backed up by bass player Rick Nash and drummer Calvin Lakin they are kickin’ asses and taking names! Brett is an outstanding guitarist on his studio albums, but DAMN this cat is on fire live!! His rendition of Hendrix’s Freedom is nothing short of outstanding. 20 In 5 is a cool chunky rocker that actually reminds me a bit of Van Halen’s Little Dreamer in the verse, but there end the similarities. The fat chorus riff is powerful and nice and the song also showcases the talents of Rick and Calvin since they get their solo pieces as well. Brett lands on the heavy side of blues rock, so if you’re into guys like Lance Lopez, Michael Katon, Poppa Chubby and Philip Sayce, check this cat out. You won’t be disappointed!  What I really love about Brett’s guitar playing is that he knows all his blues licks, but he mixes them up with brutal technical licks, some jazzy runs and a variety of other styles making it all into a nice mix of his own, plus his tone and sound is killer. As for Brett’s vocals, they may not live up to his guitar playing. However, like with Gary Moore, Pat Travers, Michael Katon and Hendrix himself, they weren’t great singers, but they had the right attitude, which Brett sure has. Plus, he actually reminds me a bit of Ted Nugent in his early days, which isn’t bad at all (even if I don’t share the Nuge’s… views and Brett is a far better guitar player).
Janne Stark
Year: 2015
Country: USA

Label: Grooveyard Records

BRIDGE TO MARS – Bridge To Mars (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 21:19


This one has been long awaited. This Swedish trio, featuring singer/guitarist JJ Marsh (Spellbound, Glenn Hughes), bassist Robert Hansen (Beardfish) and drummer Thomas Broman (Great King Rat, Electric Boys etc), just oozes of quality looking at these guys’ resumes. It was early on clear that this was going to be an earthy, retro rocking combo, which is just up my alley. Opener Days That Never Camemixes some cool riffing with melodic swirling parts in the landscape between the sixties and seventies, but landing on the right side of the fence for me. Mirror Magic Spirits opens with some hysteric guitar tones and continues into sounding like a vocal version of the Stockholm combo Plankton, which is really good in my book. Vintage Strat sounds without too much distortion, but heavy enough to rock and intense drumming with a busy bass filling the voids and JJ’s cool vocals. This is good stuff! SuperFi Yourself starts out with a super gritty evil sounding fuzz guitar and continues into a cool heavy, yet melodic retro rocker. Love it! In A White Light starts out pretty mellow but gets in the swing in the verse and lands somewhere in a bluesy Mahogany Rush:ish landscape. Soulshine brings back the evil and dirty guitars and gets the Hendrix mojo going in the beginning, but with a heavier stonking verse. A killer tune, indeed! Love the crushing, dirty guitar and rhythm work in this one, with JJ’s cool vocals hovering over it all. Amaze My Mind is also close to Plankton territory with its smooth, swirling melodic, almost folky feel. Jupiter’s Dream is another gritty rocker with ultra cool ever changing rhythm parts. It soon became my favourite on the album. Outstanding! Rivers Of Dissolution is also a cool track, where JJ is most likely using an ElectroHarmonix B9 or C9 organ Machine for his guitar. Have one myself and it’s a really cool sounding pedal that turns your guitar into a distorted Hammond organ. The album finishes with the blues ballad All This Time. All in all a killer debut for this power trio, a band I’d really like to see live, where I think the songs will really come alive. Highly recommended!
Janne Stark
Year: 2015
Country: Sweden

Label: Pride And Joy

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