Would anyone have blamed Martin Sweet (guitar), Peter London (bass) and Eric Young (drums) if they just hung in their stage-gear in the closet and bailed music after their third singer went AWOL? I sure wouldn’t. Few bands have been struck with so much bad-luck like this band has when it comes to having the rug pulled out right under their feet – time and again. First the sad death of original singer Dave Leppard after one album, an album that gave them quite a big fan-base right off the bat. The replacement singer Oliver Twisted became Olli Hermann and started his own band, the underwhelming Reckless Love and when they thought they had found a singer that would stick it out for the long run, the perfectly matching Simon Cruz, the guy bailed after two records, never to be heard from again. Come to think of it, where the hell did Simon go anyway? After four records it sure looked like the Crashdïet saga were over – but I guess fate wouldn’t have that The Savage Playground should be their retiring album, thank you very much.
I was – and still am – a big fan of Sister Sin so for me it was a huge disappointment when they decided to call it quits back in 2015. However, I always saw Sister Sin as singer Liv Sin’s band. Unfair to the others, probably, especially as they were the main song writers. But Liv was without a doubt the focal point and the one that always was on their album covers. Also, Liv (Jagrell) Sin is one of the most intense and amazing front(wo)men I have ever had the pleasure watching on a stage. As a big fan of hers, I looked forward to her first solo outing. Follow Me came out in 2017 but unfortunately, the album was something of a disappointment for me. Yes, Liv sang as awesomely aggressive as usual but there was flaws in the material.
With their fourth album, the Black Star Riders should be out of the Thin Lizzy shadow once and for all. With each album, the band has found their own identity more and more, leaving the most obvious Thin Lizzy pastiches behind them. That said, the fact that the band embraced Scott Gorham’s Lizzy-past real hard musically and the fact that Ricky Warwick at many times tried his best to imitate Philip Lynott, Black Star Riders’ music never suffered because of it. Quite the contrary, their past three album are all brilliant efforts, full of melodic Classic Rock with hooks and memorable melodies enough to sell. The band’s biggest problem, however, have been the band-members walking in and out of the band even as far back as when they took on the Thin Lizzy moniker. For the last two albums, it felt like the had found a permanent line-up but for the writing and recording of this record both drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (Y&T, Ratt, White Lion, Alice Cooper, Megadeth) and guitarist Damon Johnson (Brother Cane) has left the band.
Jimi who? Not to come across as an asshole but I have never ever heard of this guy. Apparently, Jimi formed this band back in 2015 with guitarist/bassist/programmer/producer/engineer Sandy Jones and together with guitarist Greame Duffin, they released their debut album Longtime Comin’ back in 2017. Born in Scotland, Anderson sang in his first band – a cover band – back in 1978, doing stuff by Deep Purple, Rush and others and as influences he cites Paul Rodgers, David Coverdale and Ronnie James Dio. Fronting the band Sahara, playing clubs, they were picked up by Wet Wet Wet’s manager Elliott Davis when the name had changed to The Hardline, who offered them a managing contract after hearing their demo. But except for a tour opening for Wet Wet Wet (a very underrated band, btw) nothing really came out of that deal, which meant no records from The Hardline.
Since Michael Schenker finally got sober for real some 10+ years ago, he has become more creative than in a long, long time. It all began with his his Temple Of Rock project which spawned four albums since 2011 and with his latest project, the Michael Schenker Fest, he has released two studio albums – including this one – and one live effort, plus an extensive amount of touring. When Schenker goes into reunion mode, it’s not only with one of his old singers but almost everyone of them – Leif Sundin who sang on 1996’s Written In The Sand excluded. Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley and Doogie White are all present. This album also features Ronnie Romero (Rainbow, CoreLeoni, The Ferrymen, Lords Of Black) as lead vocalist on one track. Romero has no connection to Schenker what so ever so why he is on the album, I’m pretty clueless of.
I have seen ole Coop on numerous occasions throughout the years and the man himself and his band has never been a disappointment for me. Even so, I was a bit hesitant to buy a ticket for this show. Why? Well, because I have seen him so many times I actually thought it was enough already. What changed my mind – well, who, is the better word – is my 14 year old son. He’s not a huge music fan/nerd like his dad, he’s the new generation of music digesters who picks up songs from Spotify when he find anything worthwhile. The fact that he in the last couple of years has been drawn, almost in an unhealthy manner, towards old 80’s horror flicks made him discover Coop through Friday The 13th Pt 6. Alice wrote the soundtrack – “He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask)” – to that movie, a song that I have heard more than enough in the car since then. From that song he dug deeper into Cooper’s discography and all of a sudden he desperately wanted to see the show. So tickets were bought.
What’s left to say about Swedish metal-preservers Hammerfall that hasn’t already been said? My relationship with the band is that I have never been as a fan and I even thought they were a dorky band when they began. That said, they have always stood up for Heavy Metal and no matter how much crap they have been given from the Metal community, they have never given in or apologized for their music or looks. They do have my respect for that. I have never hated them and I have always thought that the harsh words that has been vomited their way from rockers were never justified for – totally unfair, actually. Because love them or hate them, do give them the credit for standing up for Metal at a time when no one else did.
In my late teens/early twenties – we’re talking 1987 – 1990 something – I started reading foreign Hard Rock magazines – and with foreign I mean non-swedish. My musical tastes back then was Hard Rock, Melodic Rock, AOR and Metal, nothing harder than Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Accept and such. Thrash and Speed Metal wasn’t even on my map. I even thought Metallica were nothing but noise. The fact that I read those mags back to back no matter if I liked the band in question or not – I still do that btw – is the fact that I have at least some knowledge about all those Thrash, Speed, Death and Black Metal bands, many of which I still almost haven’t heard a note of. But due to Metallica’s black album and the video for Slayer’s “Seasons In The Abyss” my musical taste started changing in the early 90’s, mixing up my original taste with bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Testament – although still leaving German Thrash acts such as Sodom, Kreator, Rage and Destruction on the way-side.
Gothic, symphonic Metal with a female vocalist, is that something that sounds familiar to anyone? Personally, I have a hard time getting intrigued when I read about bands in that genre. Many are the bands that have come to my notice throughout the years and I have listened to most of the bands that has been recommended to me. Most of them are bands that necessarily aren’t pure crap but very few of them has remained in my musical consciousness. Some I have quite liked while listening but none of them has lasted. With Ardours we get yet another one and since Gothic, symphonic Metal apparently isn’t my thing at all, I took on this record with a bit of skepticism although I really tried my best to have an open mind. Because, you’ll never know, this album just might be the one that will change my mind.
When I read the press releases that comes with the reviewer’s download/streaming links of bands that are completely new to me, I sometimes feel like I have been living under a rock for my entire life. There you can read about the bands’ previous releases, how much and with whom they have toured, what a big fan-base they have and how inspirational they have been for other bands in the same genre. They’re all exaggerated, of course, but for a dude who has been told more than once by more than one human being that I’m a music-geek, I can’t help to wonder why on Earth I didn’t know about this and that band. I mean, I should have at least heard about them. Read about them somewhere. Their name really should ring a, at least, small bell. Why I’m writing this in this review is of course because Soleil Moon is such a band.