It was the beginning of the 90’s, a time when MTV stood for Music Television and actually played music. If the stereo wasn’t on in my flat, MTV sure was. One day, a smooth, silky sound came from my living room where the TV set was, acoustic guitars, fine tuned melodies and then soft voices. The melody stuck instantly. What was this? I had to stop doing whatever I was doing and watch it. On the TV were two blonde twins in a video full of colours and the chorus just knocked me out. The song was called “Love And Affection”, the band was called Nelson and the album, which I bought the day after, was called After The Rain – one of the best AOR albums of all time. I must admit that I thought it was cool that they had recruited Vinnie Vincent’s old drummer Bobby Rock as well. Now, 25 years later, that album still stands tall and haven’t been affected by the hands of time one bit. When the video was over, I thought, “man, these dudes will be force-fed some major crap from now on”. Why? Well, first of all, their music wasn’t exactly death metal and if there are pretentious people anywhere, it’s within the hard rock and metal community. With their cute looks, long blonde hair, their colourful clothes and their soft rock songs, sometimes cheese deluxe (and I mean that in a good way), the boys were lambs to slaughter, a perfect target for the true metalhead.
“Thank you all for showing up. I haven’t been to Stockholm for about seven years, so thanks for remembering me and showing up tonight”. Those words were Robin Beck’s, in between two songs. That means that she played my city in 2008 or so. Why wasn’t I there then? Or more accurate, why didn’t I have a clue of that she had even played in Stockholm before? When Robin Beck played Sweden Rock Festival last year, I thought that was the first time she played in Sweden. But apparently not. Well, being a Robin Beck fan since 1989 when I bought Trouble Or Nothin’, going to this gig was a no-brainer. The first thing that I noticed when I arrived at the club was how empty it was. When the opening act, Captain Black Beard, went on, the place was embarrassingly empty – there couldn’t have been more than 30 people in there. Poor opening act. Judging by their name, I would have thought they looked like truck drivers, tattooed with huge beards, beer bellys and baseball caps, screaming their way through a heavy metal rampage set. Well, nothing could be further from the truth – they actually looked like normal rockers, no more no less and they were actually really good. This was straight forward hard rock complete with some big hooks and for some of the songs, really radio friendly melodies. But they were never cheesy and always keeping the rock in front. Despite the small crowd, they kept the spirit up, obviously happy just get on the stage this Sunday evening.
To begin with, I have a confession to make. I was never a fan of Sideburn. I have, of course, known about this band for many years now, both them and me being Swedish. Even though I never thought that they were bad, nothing in their music really stuck with me. It was very much in one ear, out the other, despite the fact that they guys are all really good musicians. This has always been a bit of a thorn in my side because – and here’s another confession – I know their guitar player Morgan Zocek. Now, who in the right mind wants to tell their friends that they don’t like their music? Well, luckily enough, that subject hasn’t come up at all when we have met so I guess I have managed to get out of that one. Until a day some three years ago when I got an e-mail from Morgan, asking if I would be interested in reviewing their then new album, IV Monument. Damn! Well, how could I say no? I accepted and got to work, keeping my fingers crossed that I would find something there that stood out, so I didn’t have to write it down. Because here’s the deal, when it comes to my reviews, I don’t play ball. Because, even if I could give away extra points to friends records without anyone knowing about it, I would know about it and when it comes to music, I can only see it one way: It’s all about integrity, no matter if you write songs, plays music or write about music, gigs and records.
I was a late Whitesnake-bloomer. See, I was raised on Sweet and Kiss through out my childhood and as I didn’t have any older siblings, I had to find out about bands myself. It didn’t really work out all that great because I more or less missed out on all the other hard rock bands in the 70’s. Then I discovered Ramones and The Clash. Then came The Rolling Stones, Beatles and Jimi Hendrix before Iron Maiden and Saxon made me come full circle with hard rock. That said, I never gave up on any of those bands just because I discovered new stuff and I still listen to – and love – all the above mentioned bands. When it came to David Coverdale and Whitesnake, I knew OF them, but I just wasn’t interested enough to bother with them. Deep Purple? Well, I knew “Smoke On The Water” and such, but it would take me up to their reunion in 1984 before I gave them a real listen and became a big fan. By then I had already discovered Whitesnake. The video for “Guilty Of Love” was shown on Sweden’s first real hard rock show and I was completely floored. Me and my friends watched that video over and over again, probably ten times a day and I wondered, was this the band I had neglected for all these years? Needless to say, the day Slide It In (1984) was released, I bought it and fell in love right away, it’s still my favourite Whitesnake album, and within a month I was the proud owner of Whitesnake’s whole back catalogue and they became my favourite band. Their concert in Stockholm in April 1984 was my first real concert. But unfortunately, the Whitesnake I loved so much wouldn’t be around for long.
Here’s another band I had no idea existed and by the looks of it, it’s gonna take a whole lot of googling to find out anything worthwhile about them as the press release didn’t reveal all that much. One of things that got me interested in reviewing this album is that Dygitals are French. I honestly don’t know of that many heavy metal bands from France. I know about Trust, never dug them, but I do know that Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain once had a stint with them. I also found out that Dygitals were formed back in 1984 by a dude named Hervé Traisnel, who is the lead singer.
Civil War’s debut album The Killer Angels from 2013 is one of the biggest musical surprises in my entire life. See, there is a Swedish power metal band called Sabaton. Now, I’m sure the guys in Sabaton are really nice blokes and everything, but the thing is, I can’t stand their music. I mean, I really think it’s disgusting. Four guys out six jumped the Sabaton ship and joined forces with a lead singer named Nils Patrik Johansson, a guy that comes from a completely different musical background. Nils Patrik had sung with bands such as Lion’s Share and Astral Doors – more heavy metal acts – before and has a vocal style that mixes Ronnie James Dio, Eric Adams (Manowar) and Tony Martin (ex – Black Sabbath) and the whole thing looked like a match made in… well, anywhere but heaven, really. Needless to say, Civil War didn’t arouse me one bit at first, I figured, why on Earth would I give a crap about 4/6 out of Sabaton and their new band?
It has been a long wait for all people who have longed for something new from the high-pitched vocalist. But I’m a little curious of who many people have an idea of who Mark Slaughter is. I mean, if you’re a die-hard melodic rock fan or a big Kiss fan, you probably know who this guy is, but for most rockers out there, I’m not sure that too many knows this guy. The first time I heard his name was when he replaced the misplaced Robert Fleishman (ex – Journey) in Vinnie Vincent’s band Invasion. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, I loved all those big voiced singers with high-pitched falsetto and loud screams, but even then, Fleishman was too much for me. I loved the first Vinnie Vincent Invasion album, but much of it was ruined because of Fleishman’s annoying screams and Vincent’s ability to play as much as could as often as he could over everything. So when Fleishman was replaced with Slaughter, I was pleased. Even before I had heard him sing, actually because Fleishman didn’t look the part either, but Slaughter sure did. Mark’s first job was to sing on VVI’s second album, All Systems Go (1988), a great album where Vincent had calmed down a bit and Mark Slaughter’s voice made wonders for the songs.
Unpredictable is the world of a Therion fan. Expect the unexpected and when you do, don’t expect things to be unexpected. Kind of. Therion started out as a death metal band in the early 90’s formed by guitarist and then lead singer (growler) Christoffer Johnson. But for every album, they became more and more melodic until, with the addition of Mats Levén (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, Treat, Swedish Erotica) and the parallel albums Lemuria and Sirius B in 2004, where most of the growling was gone, replaced by clean singing and some big operatic influences. With their 2007 masterpiece Gothic Kabbalah, all growling was gone and the music had gone from extreme metal to hard rock and metal with catchy melodies all over the place. But the whole band jumped the Therion ship after the tour and for their 2010 album Sitra Ahra new vocalist Thomas Vikström (ex-Talk Of The Town, Candlemass) had taken the place as lead vocalist beside Snowy Shaw. After that album and the following tour, there would be no more Therion records, we were told.
Lately, there has been pretty heavy traffic in my mailbox with links for downloads with new bands that I have never ever heard of for me to review. Add to the fact all the new records from bands I do know, many of which I am a fan of, that comes out in a never stream during spring time and being the sole revieweron this site, you don’t have to be a maths genius to figure out that many of the reviews won’t make it until after release date. But hey, this is what we call a luxury problem. Being a big music fan, I really love to get the chance to check out new bands like this, to me this is an opportunity and fortunately, I can listen while working so my days move quickly, to say the least. Sometimes the bands I get to review is really good and sometimes they’re not, but that comes with the territory and after all, a review is only one man’s opinion. Agree or not, but I like reading reviews and checking out all the different views people have on bands, especially since I started out reviewing stuff myself.
It only took one quick peek at their album cover to realise what this band – duo – would be all about. This would most likely be some kind of redneck rock of some kind and to be totally honest with you, rock music based on country isn’t really my swig of whisky. But there was something there that made me really interested in these dudes and for some reason I just had to check it out after I had read the press release that came with the download link. Also, I have been proved wrong so many times that I have decided to just shut the f**k up and just listen when someone hands me a record by a band that I have never heard (of) before.