The Voice is back. Who would have thought? After a long career as the singer in Journey, one of the biggest Rock bands throughout the 80’s, Steve Perry quit and has pretty much gone AWOL since then. With six albums with Journey between 1978 – 1986 and a solo album, Street Talk, in 1984, Perry is one of the most loved and respected singers in our time. He returned to the scene in the middle of Grunge domination in 1994 with a solo album, For The Love Of Strange Medicine, that despite musical climate shipped platinum before returning to Journey in 1996 for an album called Trial By Fire but it was short-lived and Journey continued with Steve Augeri (ex- Tall Stories) as his replacement and when he left, Jeff Scott Soto (Talisman, Eyes, Axel Rudi Pell, Sons Of Apollo) was their singer for about five minutes before they finally decided on Perry sound alike Arnel Pineda. After some though years, Journey are now a big headline act once more.
When I saw the link for this album in my mail-box, my first thought was that someone must have sent me the wrong link. Maxxwell? Isn’t that a dance/hip-hop type of artist? Hmmm. Well, it’s not, the artist I thought of spells his name with one x – and he blows dog! Still, the name is confusing and to be honest, Maxxwell isn’t all that great a name for a band. Next up, the cover art for the record – it’s ugly as fuck. Third, the title Metalized is a bit too much Heavy Metal cliché for comfort. So had it not been for this download link, not very much speaks for me having checked out this lot at all. And there’s more – in the press release I could read that the band had decided to modernize their sound and that they had left their Rock sound to be more modern Metal – “more Five Finger Death Punch and In Flames and less AC/DC and Accept”. To me, a huge no-no so things didn’t look good at all from the start. But I would put all that aside and listen to the record with an open mind.
Back in 2015, a reviewer’s download link of a band called Federal Charm took a dive into my mailbox, a band that I hadn’t even heard of then. It turned out that Federal Charm were an English band that had released a self-titled debut album back in 2013 and consisted of four young blokes who had a weak spot for 70’s Classic Rock. The link I got was for their then brand new album Across The Divide, an album full of catchy, groovy and stomping Classic Rock tunes that really rocked my socks off. I even thought that this band had a big shot at being the next big thing, but things turned awfully quiet and I didn’t hear much of the band after that. The next big thing/hype instead went to Greta Van Fleet. But now, three years later, Federal Charm is back with a new album – and a new singer since Nick Bowden left the band. His replacement’s name is Tom Guyer and if that change has affected the band’s music and direction remains to be seen (heard). But personally, I had some high hopes for this record.
For our non-swedish readers, Prins Svart means Prince Black in Swedish. By that, it’s easy to figure out that Prins Svart are a Swedish band – but they also sing in Swedish which means that most of you won’t understand squat of what they’re singing about. This four piece was formed out of a Led Zeppelin tribute act called Four Sticks that were active in the mid 90’s – this is actually a reunion – so one doesn’t have to be Einstein to figure out in which genre of Rock these guys dwell. Since then the members of the band have been going out on their own escapades in different musical directions. Singer Stefan Berggren helped forming Swedish AOR act Snakes In Paradise, a band that recently reunited and released a new album, Step Into The Light, in September. He has also sung with Company Of Snakes, a band featuring ex Whitesnake members Micky Moody, Bernie Marsden (both guitarists) and Neil Murray (bass). He was also the singer for Don Airey’s (Rainbow, Deep Purple) solo band.
Back in 2015, Hardcore Superstar managed to almost throw everything they had worked so hard for right into shit creek. Their then brand new album HCSS was underwhelming, an album where they decided to fix something that wasn’t broken and go out on an experimental journey with some kind of spaced-out, trippy version of themselves with songs that didn’t make many fans happy. I didn’t like it when it came out and it hasn’t grown on me at all since. When HCSS comes under discussion at forums and among friends, it stands pretty clear that their fan-base is divided in three camps. Camp one is for those who love their first four albums the most, before they split up. Camp two is for those who prefer their 2005 self-titled black comeback album, Dreamin’ In A Casket (2007) and 2009’s Beg For It and camp three is for those who dig their more nuanced, more melodic side of Split Your Lip (2010) and C’mon Take On Me (2013). But what all camps have in common is that they all (almost) seems to dislike HCSS.
The last time Slash released an album with his new outfit, World On Fire (2014), he only had himself and his band to think of. Today, the circumstances have changed. In late 2015, the unexpected happened – and it was unexpected as hell. Slash and bassist Duff McKagan reunited with Axl Rose in Guns N’ Roses and in 2016 it was announced that a major world was about to happen – the Not In This Lifetime Tour. While that was really damn cool and something the world of rock ‘n’ roll bloody well needed, it also meant that Slash no longer could give his band The New Conspirators his full attention – and that is probably why it has been four years since we last received new music from the guys. With Myles Kennedy in Alter Bridge and now also a solo artist, I guess it can’t be easy to get all schedules together for recording and then touring so maybe four years isn’t that long at all.
You have to hand it to Swedish AOR / Melodic Rock act Snakes In Paradise. Back in the mid 90’s when Grunge ruled the world, six guys decided to completely deny the fact that Melodic Rock was dead and buried and keep making the music they loved themselves and go against grain of flannels, goatees and Doc Martens. In 1994, the band – Stefan Berggren (vocals), Tomas Jacobsson and Stefan Jonsson (guitar), Tomas Thorberg (bass), Pete Peterson (drums) and Tomas Jonsson (keyboards) – released their self-titled debut album much supported by a small but dedicated audience. To be frank, there wasn’t that much of a scene back then for a band like SIP since everyone and their mother had jumped on the depressing Seattle bandwagon. When the band, four years later, released their second album Garden Of Eden, the scene had changed once more albeit not for the better. In 1998, Grunge was on a downward spiral and nu-metal, full of sampled beats and hip-hop, was the sound of the times.
When Ronnie James Dio was taken from us back in 2010, the world of Rock was in shock even though all of us knew that he suffered from stomach cancer with very slim chances to survive. And the world of Rock has been in mourning ever since – few artist are so missed as Ronnie James Dio. That have also led to lots of different ways to keep his legacy alive. Bands still play his songs live and tribute albums have surfaced and there are also former Dio members trying to bring out music similar sounding to Dio the band. First out was Last In Line where original members Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard, guitar), Jimmy Bain (bass) and Vinny Appice teamed up with singer Andrew Freeman (Lynch Mob) and released an album that left quite a lot to be desired. That band also contain Dio keyboarder Claude Schnell for a short while. With the death of Bain, LIL replaced him with Phil Soussan (Ozzy), a guy that haven’t got any relation to Dio at all.
Ever since I became a real Hard Rock / Metal fan in my teens in the early 80’s, 70’s based acts were my first loves. Kiss and Sweet came first, as a kid in the 70’s, but when all Hell broke loose for me, it was with bands such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Ozzy Osbourne, Rainbow and Whitesnake. Led Zeppelin, I didn’t get at first so they came onboard later – much later. But one band that I read about constantly but never stuck with me was Uriah Heep. As a classic Hard Rock band and one the first, they should really had come along for the ride but for some reason, I just wasn’t interested. And it has been that way ever since. Sure, I have listened to the odd album or two in the eighties and yes, I have heard their most famous songs – “Easy Living”, “Lady In Black”, “Gypsy” and the likes and sure, some of them were really good but still, something kept my interest at bay.
For my friends and readers of this site there it’s nothing new that I’m a fan of Dynazty and has been so since the day one. But that doesn’t mean that their albums will automatically get eights, nines or tens every time they release a new album. Quite the contrary – my expectations on this band are always very high and has been so for years. Dynazty started out as a melodic Hard Rock band with influences from both Metal and Melodic Rock and since the Bring The Thunder debut in 2009 their albums have been better with each release. After the killer third album Sultans Of Sin (2012) the band decided that enough was enough and that their brand of Hard Rock had reached its peak and they would never get any bigger playing that kind of music and that a change was in order. Even tough the band had gone towards a more modern side of Metal the band never lost their identity – they still sounded like Dynazty, only an updated version.