Stark Music Reviews

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I've been writing and reviewing for magazines like FUZZ Magazine, Backstage, Hard Roxx, Sweden Rock Magazine, Metal Zone etc. I'm still occationally reviewing and blogging for www.metalcentral.net. As Metalcovenant is in Swedish, you'll find some of my reviews translated here. Have you released a CD you'd like me to review? Send me a copy! Mail me for an address: stark(at)starkmusic(dot)net Cheers! Janne StarkJanne Starkhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/07553760530679971984noreply@blogger.comBlogger328125
Updated: 2 hours 39 min ago

Kansas - The Absence Of Precense (CD/LP)

Wed, 06/10/2020 - 18:49



I’ve been a fan of Kansas since the early seventies and I’ve followed the bands through their ups and downs, from the progressive and orchestral early Steve Walsh period, via the more easy accessible melodic John Elefante era, the Stere Morse-era, back to the slightly uneven second Steve Walsh period. After Steve Walsh decided to leave the band a second time, he eas replaced by singer Ronnie Platt who made his debut on the 2016 album “The Prelude Implicit”. Ronnie sounds quite a lot like bass player Billy Greer, who sounds a lot like Steve Walsh. Another new guy on the previous album was guitarist Zak Rizvi, while original members, drummer Phil Ehart and guitarist Rich Williams are still in the band. Here’s also Billy Greer and David Ragsdale, who have been with the band for many years now, while Tom Brislin, on keyboards and vocals is a new face on this album. ”The Abscence Of Presence” opens up with the title track, which sounds as much classic Kansas as it possibly can. A more that eight minute long journey, going from melodic rock through orchestral passages. An excellent number. ”Throwing Mountains” kicks off with a surprisingly heavy guitar riff, to proceed into a slightly softer verse, but still sounding like Kansas in splendid shape. “Jets Overhead” continues in the same vein and I now have to say that, this far, this is the best I’ve heard from Kansas since their heydays! ”Propulsion 1” is a short instrumental piece that brings to mind the Steve Morse era of the band. A proggy, and very nice intermission. ”Memories Down The Line” takes it down to a soft piano ballad level. Even if the song may be a bit cheesy in the verse, the nice pompy mid-section takes it up a few notches and makes up for it, where also the following verse has been enhanced with a nice orchestral backdrop. In its context a really nice song. ”Circus of Illusion” starts with the classic violin solo, continues into a proggy section and a nicemeodsic verse. I have to say that this, still, is a damn fine album! ”Animals On The Roof” continues in the same vein with a nice musical rollercoaster where melodic parts go into odd rhythms and proggy solos. “Never”, again takes it down to a soft piano ballad level, but here it gradually evolves, but without being all prog rock. The album finishes with “The Song The River Sang” which opens with some pretty intricate rhythms and riffs. The verse however shows a slightly different side of the band, and it’s positive, and thene the classic Kansas moves come back in! A really nice and at times pretty intense thing that keeps the listener’s interest up. A highly surprising and abrupt ending though! Can we hope for a sequel, maybe? This is a really outstanding album with all the ingredients I could’ve wished for from a top-notch Kansas album. Despite several of the original members missing, I can’t really say I miss them when listening to the album. Sure, I wouldn’t say no to a couple of licks from Kerry Livgren, and some Steve Walsh vocals (from back in the day when his voice was in top shape), or maybe a violin solo from Robbie Steinhardt, but no, I can’t say I really miss it when listening to the album. The new members, and the old ones of course, do an outstanding work and the album sounds just like a kick ass Kansas album should sound. What more could I wish for?   
Janne Stark
Country: USA
Year: 2020
Label: InsideOut

Shaggy – Scarecrow (LP/CDr)

Wed, 06/10/2020 - 18:48



Classic Swedish hard rockers Shaggy released an outstanding album already back in 1975 and then fell off the earth, to return in 2012 with the equally outstanding album “Destination Nowhere”. This album was then followed by Fighting Angels And Demons”, which was actually a double album, divided into two releases. The first one was stellar, so now that part 2, entitled “Scarecrow”, has been released, my expectations are quite high. The album kicks off with the highly hit-oriented “Hero”. We’re not talking buttery, wimpy pop-hit, but more the type of hits delivered by bands like Uriah Heep and Deep Purple, hits with dignity and backbone. Next up is “Boogie Man”, which continues in the same vein and it’s not often I get to label a track “progressive boogie”, but that’s just what this is! Great Hammond playing from original member Tom Ryan and fat guitars from his original colleague Fidde Rognås and his son Hannes. ”Gorgeous Children” continues in the vein of classic Uriah Heep with a nice proggy touch, but without getting complicated. Singer Ulrich Carlsson from M.ILL.ION has sung with the band since the reunion and his vocals fit the band perfectly. The remaining two newcomers (since the reunion, that is) are bass player Robert Ottosson and drummer Stafan Husar who both perform their musical duties to perfection. Shaggy truly feels like a tightly knit unity. To return to the album – “Laughing Boy Crying” has a cool, almost folkish touch and made me think of Irish rockers Horslips, which is great in my book. The title track continues in the same folk-influenced vein, while next track “Mystery Man” is in a slightly softer vein. I really like the variety. ”Thunder And Lightning”takes us back to the fields of classic Uriah Heep, but with guitar harmonies which is something you never hear with Heep (since Mick Box is the bands only guitarist, so no wonder). I do however have to say I think this is even better than the stuff Uriah Heep have produced lately, and I really love Heep!! The CDr version (only released in 100 copies) has two bonus tracks, starting with “Rainbow’s End Pt 1” (it’s actually also featured on the vinyl as a bonus track). Stylewise if fits well with the rest of the material. A quite melodik straight ahead number. The final bonus track, “Hello Goodbye” (on the CDr only) is a more mainstream, slightly poppy thing, ironically with a touch of Cheap Trick and The Beatles. All in all a really great record from a band that has never disappointed me. Highly recommended! The CDr and LP are only released in 100 hand-numbered copies! Get it while you can!
Janne Stark
Year: 2020
Label: Self-released
Country: Sweden


Sapphire Eyes - Magic Moments (CD)

Wed, 06/10/2020 - 18:47



Sapphire Eyes, based in the south of Sweden, now release their third album. The idea of this project started already after keyboard player Niclas Olsson had put his old band Alyson Avenue on the shelf, and 2011 it became a reality. The year after, the debut album saw the light of day. In 2018 the follow up “Breath of Ages” saw the light of day and now it’s third time lucky. Niclas is again flanked by Leverage singer Kimmo Blom, guitarists Patrik Svärd (Cloudscape, Alyson Avenue) and Emil Knabe (Acacia), basist Christer Engholm (Alyson Avenue, Acacia) and drummer Fredrik Eriksson (Alyson Avenue, Dawn Of Oblivion. Former Alyson Avenue (and Nightwish) singer Anette Olzon also guests on the album. Sapphire Eyes holds a firm position in the classic AOR lane. Easily accessible choruses, nice harmonies, outstanding musicians, a world class singer and great production. Not much to complain about for any AOR fan. “Don’t Walk Away” made me think about the colleagues in Bad Habit, and I’d say they could be used as a pretty good reference for most part of the album. No wonder Swedish AOR has a great reputation all over the world!
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden
Year: 2020
Label: Pride & Joy


Mr Quinn - Walking Through Fire (CD)

Wed, 06/10/2020 - 18:46



Mr Quinn is a Swedish hard rock band from the Västerbotten region (up north). ”Walking Through Fire” is the band’s third album and just like on the predecessors the band has its feet firmly tucked down in the classic hard rock soil. It’s quite obvious that the band members grew up with bands like Rainbow, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. But, there are also some more elements here, like in “My Recall” with its almost theatrical touch of pomp rock and a pinch of AOR. Also “Nothing Last Forever” has a theatrical touch, and a really nice chorus. The band has a new drummer since last time. Former Moon Safari man Tobias Lundgren proggy drum playing fits perfectly. Mr. Quinn are quite close to the musical vein of today’s Europe, but they have actually managed to find a slightly more melodically accessible vein. However, sometimes they are even a bit too poppy, like in the slightly bland AOR song “No Tomorrow”, and where ballad “My Love” is also passes by quite unnoticed. Unfortunately album closer “Don’t Hold Back” is a slight anti-climax, after the highly pleasant “It’s Up To You”. For the most part a really nice album, which despite a couple low points is recommendable.
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden
Year: 2019
Label: Self-released

A.C.T – Rebirth (MCD)

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 17:52



My favorite Swedish melodic progsters are back!!! YES!! The band’s new EP (hopefully just a taste of what’s to come) is a 5-track release in a nice digipack. Opener “Ruler Of The World” throws us straight back to A.C.T in their prime. Poppy, proggy, melodic, rocking, the perfect mix! “Running Out Of Luck” continues in the same vein. This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for! Rebirth? Hell yeah!! “Digital Affair” starts off in a humanoid, futuristic vein, with a touch of early Saga (can’t remember the track right now), continues in the classic half-tempo, heavy yet melodic A.C.T manner. A different, but really cool track! Love it! “Meet The Past” is a poppy, up-tempo number, with the true happy-rock A.C.T vibe to it. Ooops, there was a bit of reggae, then comes an ABBA-esque part, going into City Boy territory. That’s what I love about this band, how they seamlessly go from style to style without missing a beat or making it feel strange. Closing track “A Broken Trust” brings out the heavy artillery! Powerful guitars, heavy rhythms and chugging guitars, but still so melodic. This is melodic prog in its finest form. Ola’s guitar solo is just genius! One of my favorite tracks! Quite honestly, A.C.T have always sounded great, but now they sound better than ever!! Now my appetite for a full album has really been awoken (so… what was that little teaser at the end of the last track?)!! Damn, this band is great!!
Janne Stark

Label: Self-released
Year: 2019
Country: Sweden


Coldharbour – Subject & Symmetry (MCD)

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 17:51



UK three-piece Coldharbour has just released their debut EP and it’s a pretty nice installment, I must say. Stylewise, they are a bit hard to pinpoint (which I like). There’s a bit of metal, a bit of prog, a bit of post-grunge, a bit of metalcore, a slice of nu-metal and various other bits and pieces thrown into the mix. To be honest opening track “Blackest Days” didn’t grab me that hard and I wasn’t entirely impressed, fearing the worst. However, already in the second track “Hour Of The Wolf” it picks up and some cool and powerful guitar riffs grab my attention. It’s almost a stoner vibe to this one, which I really like. Fat riffs, me like! I also like the clean, but quite powerful vocals. Third track, “Dorje’s Wish” is a powerful, proggy heavy rocker with a hint of Twelve Foot Ninja. Another great number! “Somewhere To Call Your Own” starts off as a slow and ballady number, but soon the guitar power chords come crashing in. A bit too nu-metal for my taste, though, and not really my cup of tea, I must admit. “Battlestar Spectacular” brings back in some hard and heavy staccato riffing, almost with a touch of Pantera to it, while the verse goes off in a totally different direction which is cool. This is definitely one of my favorite tracks! A powerful stomper, but still with lots of musical twists and turns that makes it an interesting listen. The closer “Fall Away” is another crusher, but with a cool dynamic verse that takes it down, builds it up and the throws in the power gear, but still with a lot of melody. All in all, a really good effort and a new band to keep a look-out for. The production is good but could do well with a bit more bottom and power in the sound, which would bring this up yet another a notch. Great vocals, great band (lacking guitar solos, though) and the song material is well above average.
Janne Stark

Country: UK
Year: 2019
Label: Self-released


Cirkus Prütz – White Jazz – Black Magic (CD)

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 17:50




This combo features quite a few years of Swedish music history. Prütz himself, is bass player Jerry Prütz, formerly of the bluesy hard rock band W.E.T (not the recent melodic rockers) who released a bunch of singles and albums between 1987-2002. Guitarist Franco Santunione has played with bands like Glory Bells, Glory Bell’s Band and Electric Boys, while singer/guitarist is most known for his guitar magic in The Quill. He turns out to be a great singer as well, with a cool low down and half-dirty blues voice. The drums are handled by Per Kohlus. Cirkus Prütz plays classic bluesy hard boogie rock with a southern rock swagger. Shotgun Wedding Blues takes us to southern shuffle country, while Aim To Please has a classic Steve Ray Vaughan swagger to it. The Gary Mooreish bluesy “Blues For Fallen Heroes” is a very nice tribute to two of the band’s former guitarists, who sadly passed away: Mikael Fässberg and Robert “Strängen” Dahlquist. “Hell To Pay” is a kick-ass groovy, riff rocker that really hits home! One of my favorite tracks! “Friends” and “Hats And Strats”, both remind me a bit of early Molly Hatchet and Christian actually has a bit of Danny Joe Brown in his voice, come to think of it. A really nice footstompin’ classic southern style blues rock album!
Janne Stark

Label: Metalville
Year: 2019
Country: Sweden

Shaggy – Fighting Angels And Demons (LP/digital)

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 19:37



If you have read my review of Swedish hard rockers Shaggy’s pompy/proggy return album “Destination Nowhere”, you noticed I said I was expecting a hard/heavy rock album, but instead they went proggy/pompy. Well, THIS album is actually what I would have expected. Opening track “Black Hearted Angel” kicks off in a full-throttle Heep/Purple vein with power and conviction. It has some cool twists and turns in the solo section which really makes it stand out. “Bouldless Love” brings me back to Deep Purple’s “Perfect Strangers” but with a touch of Black Sabbath! Damn, this is REALLY great stuff!! Fat and heavy mix, killer vocals by Ulrich Carlsson (ex-M.ill.ion). The line-up again features original members Fidde Rognås on guitar and Tom Ryan on keyboards, introducing Stefan Husar on drums, Robert Ottosson on bass and, I presume, Fidde’s son Hannes Rognås on guitar. “No Soldier Of God” continues in the heavy vein, with a touch of prog. “A Thousand Miles” started with a quirkt loop-thing and continues in a vein more akin to the previous album, until the bridge kicks in with a ton of bricks weighing it down. A really cool and quirky song, indeed! “Dark Symphony” starts off with some really dark and heavy Sabbathy semi-tones and could have been something from “Seventh Star”. Heavy and dark, but not completely doomy. Love it! “Runner In The Dark” really reminds me of Uriah Heep, like a mix of “Salisbury” era Heep and the latter day albums. The album finishes with “Self Destruction” kicking off with a mean and brutal guitar riff, distorted Hammond organ and a kick-ass drive! One of the best tracks on an album filled with killer stuff! This rocks, big time!!

Janne Stark
Year: 2019
Label: GMR Music
Country: Sweden

Rockicks – Keep On Rockin’ (A Retrospective Anthology)

Mon, 01/21/2019 - 17:05


FINALLY!!!! G’daaaam! I’ve been waiting for this 70s classic to be released on CD since Moses was running around in shorts. Rockicks classic album “Inside” was released on RSO Records back in 1976 and I bought the LP back then. The band delivers a big chunk of southern influenced hard rock with dual guitars all over the place. There are heavy rockers like “Consideration”, rockers like “Rock N’ Roll Band”, powerful hard rockers like “Sweet Wealth” and “Keep On Rockin”. What was a huge surprise was that besides the 8 tracks from the original album there’s a SHITLOAD of previously unreleased bonus tracks here!! 7 tracks on the CD containing the album AND an extra CD with another 14 (!!) tracks!!! There’s a whole lot of killer stuff here! Damn, I wish they would have been given the opportunity to record a follow-up. Not that these tracks are badly recorded, but they could have been even better! 16 of the bonus tracks are from 1977! Damn! That’s even two albums (ok, there are a few alternate versions). There are also three really great tracks from 1991-1992. The quality of these tracks makes me wonder why there wasn’t another album there and then! The quality, both musically and soundwise is killer! The final track is a 2005 alternate version of “Consideration”, a sort of lounge version. Not bad at all, but I do prefer the heavy version. Unfortunately, two of the original members have passed, Rick Altschuler in 2004 and Brian Naughton in 2012, so I guess a Rockicks re-union is out of the question. Well, this double shot will at least give you the bands outstanding music in digital shape and form. A must!!

Janne Stark
Label: Grooveyard Records
Year: 2018

Country: USA

Vindicata – Beneath The Surface (CD)

Mon, 01/21/2019 - 17:02

This was not really what I expected to hear from the Grooveyard, I must admit! Vindicata, fronted by the raspy and fiery power pack Mary Magill leans more towards modern detuned riff-oriented hard rock (think Sevendust, Alter Bridge etc.) than the 70s influenced bluesy stuff we’re used to hearing from the guitar label of guitar labels. However, I must say I do not mind at all. This is some heavy shit! The band was previously called Half The World and released two CDs, now really rare and hard to find. The band changed their name to Vindicata and “Beneath The Surface” is a compilation of these two albums. Even though the albums were a few years apart and they were released some years ago, this does feel like a very homogenous and fresh album! You definitely can’t tell it’s a not a new album (I was actually halfway through the album before I was like – Where the hell have I heard this before??). Guess the band was a bit ahead of its time. Great band! Looking forward to hearing some new material!

Janne Stark
Label: Grooveyard Records
Year: 2018
Country: USA
Link: www.facebook.com/vindicataband


Revolution Highway – Revolution Highway (CD)

Mon, 01/21/2019 - 17:00

Man, when this album kicked off I was immediately thrown back to when I first heard the debut album by Montrose back in 1973. Earthy, analogue hard rock with phat riffs, pounding drums and a singer that rips! David Fefolt is his name and he’s previously been heard in bands like FireWölf, Hawk and Masi). Nothing wrong with his past ventures, but this one kicks them top the curb! So, who’s delivering the guitar riffs if not the hardest working man in Greece, Mr Stavros Papadopolous of Universal Hippies, Freerock Saints and Super Vintage. He’s really proved to be a riff force to be reckoned with on his other releases, and here he really sums it up, blending his bluesy licks and his powerful riffing capabilities. Two songs in and I’m in hook, line, singer and rod! This is without doubt one of the best albums of 2018! If you’re into bands like Montrose, (the sadly underrated) Manic Eden or Badlands with a touch of heavier 80s hard rock (think Whitesnake “1980”) this one’s for you. As usual it’s got flawless, powerful production from Stavros. When I hear an intro and a riff like in “All The Way Down” a big smile just floats out all over my face. This ROCKS (yes, capital letters required)! There’s honestly not a single weak track on the album! My biggest problem will be, getting it out of my CD-player, as it will probably get stuck from melting of excessive playing. A killer album indeed (if you haven’t gathered that by now)!

Janne Stark
Country: Greece/USA
Year: 2018

Label: Grooveyard Records

Shaggy – Destination Nowhere (CD)

Mon, 01/21/2019 - 16:59

Anybody remember the Swedish 70s band Shaggy? They were formed in in 1972 and released one LP in 1976 entitled “Lesson For Beginners”, one hell of a record it was. Classic Uriah Heep style hard rock. It’s now a rare item and it has never been officially re-issued on CD. But, suddenly, out of nowhere, a new album appeared in 2015! According to the liner notes it was a result of six years of recording. The songs were written in the late 70s and the album is also a tribute to original bass player Jan Destner, who passed away the year before the release. The line-up features original members Fidde Rognås on guitar and Thomas Ryan on keyboard. The vocals are handled by former M.ill.ion singer Ulrich Carlsson. Listening to the album, it doesn’t sound dated at all. Opener “All Around” is a mid-league melodic hard rocker, while the title track is a really good slightly heavier installment. “Magic Horses” continues on the heavy path, but with a more semi-soft progressive touch, which made me think of German band Anyone’s Daughter. “Lady Of The Hill” continues on the same path and I must say I really like this! It’s definitely a bit different from the debut album, why it’s a bit surprising that the songs were written in the same era. Thing is, different can be good, and it IS good for this album. It’s a really nice development into a slightly more eclectic vein with a more progressive and pomp-oriented genre. Just listen to a masterpiece like “Poem”. Heavy, proggy and melodic with killer vocals and playing. The rest of the album continues on the same path and I must say I was positively surprised! I was expecting… well, I’m not really sure what I expected, but I thought it would be more hard/heavy rock. Highly recommended!

Janne Stark
Year: 2015
Label: Self-released
Country: Sweden

Sakis Dovolis Trio – Cross The Line (CD)

Mon, 01/21/2019 - 16:57



Man, it seems the blues has really hit Greece! They have produced the fantastic talent of Stavros Papadopolous (who has also co-produced this album), with his Universal Hippies, Freerock Saints and Super Vintage. Here, his fellow country man Sakis proves he too can deliver the goods! It does say “trio”, so of course he’s got two fellows taking care of the bass (Fotis Dovolis) and drums (Nick Kalivas), and they do it with power, groove and assertiveness indeed! The album kicks off with the riff rockin’ “All Over You” in same same territory as Robin Trower, Craig Erickson, Philip Sayce. Lance Lopez and with a touch of Stevie Ray in his leads. Sakis is a phenomenal guitarist and also a great singer! If someone had played it to me without saying the band name, I would have said 100 % American. Well, Sakis also knows how to deliver crunchy and groovy riffs. “Everything” is as groovy as they come with Sakis letting that Strat rip the air a new one! Damn, this guy does rip!! He also manages to keep the momentum up delivering one number after another. There’s some heavy, detuned riffing going on in the title track giving it a different vibe, some more mellow, funky and almost jazzy playing in “Show Me Your Love” and he does it a really cool version of ZZ Top’s “Nasty Dogs And Funky Kings”. The album closes with Sakis’ tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a fine one it is. A cool, bluesy ballad with outstanding guitar playing. A killer of an album, indeed!
Janne Stark
Year: 2018
Label: Grooveyard Records
Country: Greece

2018 Top 10!

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 18:31
Ok, so I've finally come around to compile my top 10 of 2018!
I may (of course) have forgotten some album I later remember and go - daaaamned! Also, I still have a bunch of albums I haven't even had the time to listen to, so some may have gone under the radar.


1. Prins Svart
This is truly a masterpiece delivered by four Swedish musicians that had a band back in the 90s called Four Sticks. They only released a promo album, but it was a kick-ass piece of plastic (now quite a rarity in its original press - it was quite recently re-issued by Grooveyard Records). Anyway, singer Stefan Berggren has also appeared fronting bands like Company of Snakes, Snakes In Paradise (I see a pattern here...), Berggren Kerslake Band as well as released solo stuff, guitarist Henrik Bergqvist was in The Poodles, bass player Thomas Thorberg in Plankton, Snakes In Paradise and drummer Sebastian Sippola has been beating the skins in Grand Magus, Fortune, Southfork, Plankton etc. In Prins Svart (Prince Black) they get to revisit the good old 70s riff arena, surprisingly (but I love it) singing in Swedish! An outstanding album, which really left me craving for more!!


2. Revolution Highway - Revolution Highway (Grooveyard)
Man, this was on the verge! I received this outstanding CD in December, but damn! It really gave me a musical knock-out! Singer David Fefolt (FireWölf, Hawk, Masi, Valhalla) has the perfect bluesy, ripping voice to match the outstanding guitar licks of Greek riff phenomenon Stavros Papdopoulos (Universal Hippies, Super Vintage). I totally love Stavros other bands (and he's a great singer), but this combination just brings the level up exponentially! This is like hearing some of your favorite albums from the 70s for the first time, mixing classic hard rock with a southern groove and a phat bluesy vibe. Outstanding!


3. Lucifer - II
This one came as a total surprise. I had not even heard the band's first album when this gem just dropped down in my lap (well, it wasn't that simple - saw a link on FaceBook, listened, loved it, Googled the band, found the album and ordered it). Another outstanding slab of 70s oriented riff based hard rock with a touch of doom. Fronted by excellent singer Johanna Sadonis and also featuring former Entombed/Hellacopters bender Nicke Andersson. Riffs prevail! 


4. Clutch - Book Of Bad Decisions
I'm a huge fan of Clutch! The early stuff, not so much, but when I heard Blast Tyrant, I was hooked! The last couple of album have all be EPIC! "Earth Rocker" and "Psychic Warfare" - OUSTANDING! Well, I will admit "Bad Decisions" didn't reach their flawless status, but it's still so much better than so many other albums! A song like "In Walks Barbarella" alone beats 80 % of the releases of 2018.


5. Ty Tabor - Alien Beans
I've always been a huge King's X fan! I've also always been a huge Ty Tybor fan! His solos, his sense for melodic solos, his vocals, his outstanding rhythm guitar playing! A top notch musician in my book! On "Alien Beans" Ty returned to some heavier songs which was right up my alley!


6. Bernie Tormé - Shadowland
Here's another guitar hero of mine that just keeps on delivering! I've been a pledger on his latest bunch of albums, and I've never been disappointed (which has happened with several others). "Shadowland" is not a good album, it's TWO great albums - in one! A double CD! He just keeps on delivering and he sounds better than ever!


7. Earthless - Black Heaven
To be honest I so wanted to like the first two albums by Earthless. The riffs were great, the musicians kicked ass. But... instrumental music rarely does it for me these days. I just wished they would find a good singer to complete the band. Well, now they did! "Black Heaven" is a killer album, indeed! Heavy, stonery/doomy riffing without going over the edge. Actually, more retro than stoner. There are still some instrumental passages, but it works!


8. Judas Priest - Firepower
Man, I grew up on Judas Priest! I heard "Rocka Rolla" on the radio back in 1974 and was hooked! My cousin introduced me to "Sad Wings Of Destiny" and the line and sinker were in as well! I kinda lost them in the 90s and even though "Angel Of Retribution" and "Redeemer of Souls" were quite decent albums, they never really hit home with me. Now, "Firepower" is a different story! It doesn't beat the early stuff, but damn it's a powerful and outstanding effort indeed!


9. Billy Gibbons - Big Bad Blues
I bought Billy's first solo album "Perfectamundo", listened to it, hated it and immediately sold it. I read about the new album being more of a blues album. This time I listened to a couple of songs before buying it. Damn great album! Could have been a ZZ Top album, for sure! And a good one at that!


10. Black Debbath - Norsk Barsk Metal
I just love these Norwegian funny-guys! Musically this is top notch riff-oriented stonerish heavy rock with killer riffs and kick ass songs! The vocals may be the thing that will put some people off. The band sings in Norwegian and the vocals may not be to everyone's liking. The lyrics are funny as shit (which is another factor those who don't understand Norwegian will miss)! "Norsk Barsk Metal" means Norwegian Hard/Heavy Metal. Other song titles include: "Følelsesmessig Inkontinent" (Emotionally incontinent), " Etiske Retningslinjer For Tryllekunstnere" (Ethical guidelines for magicians) and "Pappa lukter tusj" (Daddy smells like ink). Gotta love 'em!

Dirty Dave Osti – Midnight Mojo Man (CD)

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 17:25

Dirty Dave Osti has four more CDs out on Grooveyard Records and they’ve all been pretty solid in my book. For some reason this one really hit home with me. Not sure what it is, but the riffs seem more solid and I like the groove a bit more. Stylewise, Dave, reminds me a bit of Michael Katon. Solid, heavy, guitar driven blues rock with both feet deep in the ground. “Be The Love” has a really cool 70s sounding classic riff that carries the song. The only thing that pissed me off was that Dave recorded an outstanding cover of “Walk Before You Run” by Savoy Brown. Why? Because I had planned to record it. Love that sone. But, since you did such a kick-ass version, you’re forgiven, Dave ;-). Another outstanding favorite track on this album is “Rebel Run”, a kick-ass riff rocker with some killer drumming. The instrumental “Spacewolf” sticks out a bit as well with its cool funky groove. All in all, a really solid album that should attract fans of classic, riff-oriented hard edged blues rock.
Janne Stark
Year: 2018
Country: USA
Label: Grooveyard Records


Eddings – Cornelius – All The Madness (CD)

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 17:24

The artwork didn’t really impress, I must say, and the name Eddings-Cornelius didn’t say much. Steve Eddings: vocals and Larry Cornelius: all instruments. What could this be? Well, opening track “Down We Go” kicked off in a very promising way with its up-tempo southern rock vibe. “Burnin’ My Bridges” keeps the southern vibe up and adds some cool slide guitar as well. My only complaint would be the programmed drums, which don’t sound that exciting. The production is overall quite “cheap”, but it does have a certain charm to it. “Tooth And Nail” mixes the southern vibe and some classic 70s hard rock and they sometime makes me think of 70s bands like Hydra and Earl Slick Band. Larry has some pretty cool guitar chops and Steve’s vocals fit the music very well. The album is pretty solid, but there are a couple of tracks that are way too pop/country for me, such as “Eileen” and “Make Me Fit”.
Janne Stark
Year: 2014
Label: Private

Country: USA

We Could Build An Empire – In This Place (CD)

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 17:23


For being quite a small country and on the brink of collapse (at least according to Fox news… I haven’t seen it and I live here) we do squeeze out quite an impressive number of bands and records per year. So, here’s another name to add to the list – We Could Build An Empire. Musically they are really hard to box in. “All In This Together” sounds very Ghost influenced, while “Worry Of The Heart” has a heavier edge. “Red III” is quite proggy and quirky. I find it really hard to pin down this band, I must say. Musically they blend in elements of U2 (which I hate, but they kinda make it sound good), Ghost, King Crimson, Katatonia, Opeth, at times with proggy elements, and at times, as in “In This Place” with an almost gothy feel. “The Rise And The Fall” is another killer track that needs to be mentioned. The band features Marcus Pehrsson (ex-Last Laugh): lead vocals and bass, Pat Wallin (ex-Last Laugh): guitar and Michael Ohsson on drums. This is one of those albums I find highly intriguing. At first I can’t decide if I like it or not, I listen to it like watching an accident waiting to happen, can’t look away, can’t turn it off, and in the end I can’t stop listening to it. A really great album, indeed!
Janne Stark
Year: 2018
Country: Sweden

Label: Mighty Music

Super Vintage – Destiny (CD)

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 17:22


Our favorite Greek guitarist/singer Stavros Papadopoulos is at it again! How many hours does this guy have in a day me wonder? Now it’s time for a new Super Vintage album, Stavros heavy bluesy, 70s influenced power unit. He kicks off with southern tinged “Rock N’ Roll Saviors” and continues with a cool Bad Company vibe in “Brotherhood Of Blues”. The tracks ends with an extended, cool bluesy solo. “Edge of Time” continues in the southern vibe, actually combining the brit bluesy Bad Company vibe with a touch of vintage Lynyrd Skynyrd and a cool slide guitar to top it off. “Naked Tree” keeps it up in the same vibe, while “Streets Of This Town” has a sleazy, heavy edge to it. “Everything You Wanted” picks up the southern up-tempo vibe. The album finally ends with the slow acoustic “Destiny”, a classic southern rock ballad. What can I say? Stavros hasn’t made me disappointed before, and he didn’t this time either. A great bluesy, southern rock album, from Greece of all places!  
Janne Stark
Country: Greece
Year: 2018

Label: Grooveyard Records

Head Honchos - Bring It On Home (CD)

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 17:21



Already reading the band name and the title kinda made me think this could be southern influenced, shit kickin’ hard rock. The CD starts off with ”Not For Me” and I wasn’t that far off target. It’s definitely shit kickin’ hard rock, but I guess it’s more bluesy than southern. ”Old And Tired” continues in a cool swing funk heavy blues vibe, actually with a touch of Stevie Salas, with is great in my book. Nice phat groove! ”Work” kicks up the tempo a notch. Slide guitar, chunky Hammond organ and a cook funky groove. Great energetic vocals and killer guitar licks. In ”Come Strong” they do give it a southern rock touch, but it also has a straight ahead blues rock vibe to it. It’s a track that has ”dance” written all over it. ”Next To You” kicks it off with a cool drum groove and some slide guitar. One of my favorites is the super grooving ”Whiskey Devil” and the band’s kick ass version of ”Going Down”. A really cool, groove oriented, swinging blues rock album with a southern touch.
Janne Stark
Year: 2018
Country: USA

Label: Grooveyard Records

Miss Willis – Snakes, Fakes & A Holy Cow (MCDr 5tr)

Thu, 07/05/2018 - 19:09

Swedish retro hard rockers Miss Willis started out as Twilight Zone back in 1986, reformed as Miss Willis Flowerchild and released their first demo under this name already back in 1993. In 2008 they released their first album, “Alpha Male”, under the new shortened name. An outstanding release, indeed! The follow-up EP, “Rewolf” was released in 2010 and in 2015 the album “Coming Home” saw the light of day. This, their latest release, is another 5 track EP, a pro-printed CDR, I should add. It kicks off with a siren and bursts into a kick ass up-tempo guitar-based riff rocker. Promising, to say the least! “When The Devil Gets Old” continues in the upper mid-tempo region with a classic hard rock touch. A hint of AC/DC with a more Black Crowes sounding chorus. “Playground” reminds me a bit of UFO’s “Natural Thing” or Moxy’s “Moonrider” in the main riff. An outstanding hard rocker, indeed! “Först till kvarn” (with vocals in Swedish, as you may suspect) draws more on the early 70s vein, here with the addition of a Hammond organ, something they used quite a lot more on “Coming Home”. This one reminds me a bit of the band Blood From The Sun or Swedish colleagues Thalamus. This is actually my favorite track from this new effort. Uffe’s vocals sort of take on a totally different tone when he sings in his native tongue. The EP finished off with “Hole In The Ground”, which initially and ironically made me think of “Hole In The Sky” (Black Sabbath). It does sound a bit like vintage Uriah Heep meets Black Sabbath. A kick-ass track. A great band that never disappoints! Looking forward to the new full-length!
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden
Year: 2018
Label: self-released


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