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.comBlogger276125
Updated: 21 hours 22 min ago

RENEGADES – 84-16 (MCD 5tr)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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

Blindstone - The Seventh Cycle of Eternity (CD)

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 08:17

Danish power trio Blindstone continue their relentless journey in the sign of the mighty riff on this their seventh musical journey. This time around the band has gone through a change in personnel, introducing drummer Sigurd Jønk Jensen, replacing Anders Hvidfeldt. Anders did an outstanding job, but it feels Sigurd is switching the Blindstone drum department up yet another notch. He actually gets to show his skills already in the thundering opening track Dead Man's Blues, a heavy blues rocker, true to the Blindstone trademark. Guitarist/singer Martin J Andersen lets his guitar speak loudly all over the track, riffing, soloing and filling every crack and crevice with a tasteful bit of wah-ornamented guitar magic. Rolling switches into low gear and offers some crude and fat bass riffing from Jesper Bunk. Man, this is one steamroller of a track! Rebel In Black offers some nice dynamics with a cool verse and slow pace riffing. The backbeat bluesy On My Way offers a change in pace and sound with some (I presume) neck pick-up Strat riffing. One thing I actually do feel has changed a bit, is I don't (so far) hear as much Frank Marino influences, apart from Martin's similar vocal range and style. Ok, Looking Back, a beautiful ballad, does have a touch of Marino mixed with Trower, which is top notch in my book. Martin also stays away from the wah in this one and the solos are just out of this world in tone, clarity, feel, presence and tastefulness. Frickin' outstanding! The oddly title By The Suns Of Warvan, You Shall Be Avenged is a cool heavy riff-oriented instrumental with a strong feel of early Satriani. Wish Satch, whom I'm truly a huge fan of, would record a song like this today. Multi-facetted, melodic and un-shredding, still with truly impressive guitar work. Thunder From The North continues with some heavy guitar chugging and a surprisingly hooky and melodic pre-chorus. A great track, indeed! A Love Manifesto continues in the vein of its predecessor, but still with a totally different approach. Heavy, break-filled verse leaving lots of space for highly personal Martin's low-key vocals that fit so well with this type of music. It also offers another dose of killer solos. Stonesnake opens with some busy drumming and continues in a up-tempo boogie:ish vein, suddenly switching down to half speed in the verse. Killer track! Once again the band moves into the grinding, steamroller heavy-as-lead territory with Once You See The Signs. A crusher! Another cool surprise now comes in the form of Hendrix penned Power of Soul, a heavy blues rocker that has been given the proper Blindstone treatment. All in all, yet another top notch release from the Danes. Seven albums and not a single let-down. Impressive!
Janne Stark
Label: Grooveyard
Year: 2016

Country: Denmark

Brett Ellis -The Warriors Before Me (CD)

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 08:15

This time ace guitarist Brett Ellis visits a bunch of tracks penned by others, a tribute album if you will. He starts off with the obvious choice of one James Marshall Hendrix and Ezy Rider. A highly flammable version with some explosive and impressive guitar work. Moving on to usual suspect #2: Robin Trower and yet another killer interpretation of Twice Removed From Yesterday. For me, personally, Brett's vocals have been the weak link, but damn, the cat has really improved. Killer vocals, indeed! Tryin' Anyway by Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush also gets the proper Ellis treatment. Stellar guitar work with the unmistakable Marino wah-vibe nicely in place. Love the jazzy piece in the middle! Next up, maybe not that obvious, but an outstanding sadly overlooked track by Uli era Scorpions, Living And Dying, sung by Rick Reed with Allison Smith handling the harmonies. Wow, Brett does hand us some outstanding un-obvious classics, clearly proven by his stellar version of Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow's Self Portrait. Damn good job, I must say. Lovely guitar work and killer vocals (Graham Heath handles the harmony vocals on this one)! I always love me some funky Pat Travers, obviously Brett and I share a similar taste. It clearly shows in his explosive interpretation of Go All Night. Not that obvious, but it is also on my list of "awesome timeless classics"; Black Sabbath's Supernaut, here given a new dimension by killer female singer Allison Smith. Next up, a highly unexpected track! Outta Love Again by Van Halen! Didn't see that one coming! Any good? You betcha ass! Better drum sound than the original and Brett puts his own twist on the guitar solos, which I like! Oh yeah!! The next track I used to fiddle around with myself, trying to learn the intro solo, which Brett has done a great job with. He's also given the track the proper heaviness it deserves. Which track it is? Bad News, originally recorded by G-Force, the short lived side project of Gary Moore featuring ex-Truk/Captain Beyond, now ZoomLenz singer Willy Daffern. Graham Heath, who handles the lead vocals on this one, sure has a strong touch of Daffern. Elis also gives proper treatment to tracks by UFO, Johnny Winter, Foghat, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, but before finishing off I have to mention the brick heavy outstanding version of ZZ Top's Neighbour Neighbour. Damn, it ROCKS big time!
Janne Stark
Label: Grooveyard Records
Year: 2016

Country: USA

Dellacoma - South of Everything ( CD)

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 08:12

Australia has a way of delivering high quality bands one after another: Electric Mary, Tonk, Airbourne, Tracer, Toehider etc etc. Add Dellacoma to the list. This bunch I'd add to the same category as fellows Tonk and Electric Mary. Good time, melodic, energetic and edgy hard rock with great riffs and ballsy vocals. The album kicks off with the highly infectious Moving On To Something New which actually made me think of early Enuff Z'nuff. Walk The Plank continues in a similar almost early Crüe oriented vein, while Lessons Learned offers some chunky Aerosmith:ish funky riffing. The album is however not all party party party, which shows in heavy, almost doomy Time Falls Away. Change kicks off a bit reminiscent of Buckcherry, but actually better in my opinion. Good time rock n roll! Fjh (Get Me Out) continues in the same vein while Fameslavesgoldoffers some nice southern rock oriented riffing gone AC/DC. Killer track! A really good debut album indeed. Not at par with Electric Mary (not many are in my book) but clearly placing themselves in the upper mid-region.  The opening track promises a lot, but is never really challenged when it comes to hooks and catchiness. Interesting to see what the follow-up may offer.
Janne Stark
Country: Australia
Year: 2016

Label: private

Freerock Saints - Blue Pearl Union (CD)

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)

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)

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)

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!

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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

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