What’s more to say about The Night Flight Orchestra that I haven’t already said in my earlier (three) reviews of this band’s records? I really can’t think of anything. The story of the band is there, the introduction of the band members and where they come from is there. But for all of those who have followed my reviews throughout the years probably knows that I’m a huge fan of this band which makes it harder and harder to review their music every time they release something new. At least it feels that way. My expectations grow bigger and bigger with every album and since this lot refuse to write anything that’s remotely close to bad, I now expect brilliance from them every time. Maybe that’s not fair because the fact is, for every astounding record released they’re one step closer to the big failure because frankly, it’s more or less impossible to keep up the standard that these boys have been doing forever.
Rock is dead. Nobody buys CDs anymore. Streaming is the future. If was given a nickel every time I have read or heard somebody say that I would be a rich man today. The fact that Rock music is alive and well isn’t even under discussion but if no one bought music – be it CDs, vinyls or mp3s, then how come new albums is coming out every week in an ever flowing stream? Maybe streaming is the future but people still do buy music in a physical shape. What’s more interesting is that genres like AOR, Melodic Rock, Arena/Stadium Rock, Glam and Sleaze are still breathing healthy with lots of bands bringing out music even though those genres are looked upon with both scepticism and even loathing by many “true” rockers. For me, when it comes to Rock music, I love everything from AOR to Black Metal but my heart has always been on the melodic side – Classic Rock, Hard Rock, classic Metal, AOR and Stadium Rock so every time a new record within those genres is presented to me, I digest it with big anticipation.
Here’s a guy that should be bigger than he is considering all the great tunes he have written and co-written throughout the years. I first got to know the name Jean Beauvoir through Kiss, he helped Paul Stanley write great 80’s Kiss gems like “Thrills In The Night”, “Uh! All Night” and “Who Wants To Be Lonely” and as a huge Kiss fan, it was natural to check out Beauvoir’s work that didn’t include Kiss as well. However, I must admit that my ride with Jean has been a bumpy one. His first band The Plasmatics are a band I’m still not familiar with at all. I’m not into Punk at all so I have ignored that band on purpose. And the first time I heard his solo single “Feel The Heat” made me so disappointed that I didn’t bother with any of his solo stuff until much later.
Due to the fact the day only have 24 ours (where most of those are reserved for sleep, eating, work and family and friends activities) I have to narrow down the reviews that comes my way. So, live albums, compilation albums and re-recordings usually falls by the way-side. But sometimes, there are albums that I feel I must review anyway so there have been a couple of live records reviewed here. And here comes the first review of a re-recording on this site. Why? Well, ever since I first heard Out Of The Silence by Dare, I have loved that album. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was watching Sky Channel (that was before MTV was at every household in Sweden) at my then girlfriend’s house when Dare’s debut single “Abandon” was played. I even remember the female VJ saying “…and girls, check out the lead singer…”. I was floored, my not so much Hard Rock loving then girlfriend was floored (yes, she dug the lead singer’s looks…) and I knew I had to have that record – yesterday. When all that happened, I had no idea who that lead singer was.
For readers who have followed this site knows that I sometimes have issues with band-names. A name that sounds shitty in my ears can sometimes result in me not checking out the band in question. But the opposite has happened as well. House Of Lords were one example. That name just got to me, but don’t ask me why. I just liked it. The same thing was the case with Big City. I don’t even know if it’s really a great name but I just like the way it sounds. Big. Of course, the name oozes of Melodic Rock / Arena Rock but that’s ok – I am a big fan of those genres after all. So, when the reviewer’s link found its way into my mail-box, I was quite keen on digesting Big City’s new album, their second.
Here’s another Swedish act that is hoping to make waves at the Melodic Hard Rock scene. However, Melodic Rock in this case doesn’t mean the Melodic Rock that comes from the 80’s AOR scene that still is very popular among Scandinavian Rock bands. The Soul Exchange gets their influences from the 70’s instead which should set them apart from many of the thirteen a dozen AOR acts that comes along every year. So with a more guitar driven and sometimes even Metal laden sound but still with big arrangements and with hooks and melody at the front, the band released their debut album Bloodbound back in 2017 to critical acclaim but still didn’t shake the world of Rock up. Personally, I had never even heard of the band prior to my reviewer’s link – so I guess the Mervilton Records’ label didn’t have the muscles to promote the band properly.
As a kid, I was far from a Thrash Metal fan. The hardest stuff I listened to when growing up were the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon and Accept. Well, I did own – and liked very much – Don’t Break The Oath by Mercyful Fate but that was an exception. Even when the 80’s turned to 90’s and I had broadened my taste – adding heavier and harder bands to my more traditional Metal taste, which also included plain Hard Rock, Melodic Rock, AOR, Arena Rock, Glam and Sleaze – and bands such as Metallica, Slayer, Testament and Megadeth were in my record collection I had a hard time taking all those German thrashers seriously. I hated when Destruction, Sodom and Kreator were let loose on Headbanger’s Ball. Another one of those bands was Rage. To this day, those bands just weren’t in my musical universe. But things change and since I was floored by Kreator’s latest effort and the fact that I really dug Destruction’s gig at Sweden Rock, I could dig into the debut album by Refuge, once known as Rage.
There’s something about Amanda Somerville. I can’t put my finger on it but I like her. I mean, I don’t know much about her and I have only heard her sing with Avantasia, both in studio and live – and I heard a little of her project with Michael Kiske (Helloween, Unisonic, Place Vendome) – and I just love her voice. So when this album showed up (no, I have never heard any of her solo stuff or the debut album from her Trillium project, Alloy (2011)) I just got very excited to put it on and give it a go. Somerville was born in Michigan (USA) in 1979 and as a 20-year-old she moved to Germany in 1999 and started working on a solo career as a singer the year after. Her debut album came out in 2000 and as a total she has released five solo albums. Add to that she has record one album with the rock opera Aina, two with HDK, two with Kiske/Somerville, one with Exit Eden and now her second effort with Trillium is released. And as I wrote, I really looked forward to hear Somerville’s music for the first time.
I love Joe Lynn Turner. The guy is one of my all time favorite singers and his efforts in bands such as Rainbow, Yngwie J Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Deep Purple, the Turner Hughes Project and of course, his own solo albums – at least the first few ones – are magnificent. Both Rescue You (1985) and Nothing’s Changed (1995) are awesome and even though many of his other solo efforts – he has made 10 of them – are a bit uneven, there are always some really good stuff on them. Also, his effort on Avantasia’s The Mystery Of Time (2013) was brilliant. But there have been some misadventures along the way. The self titled album with the band Rated X that he recorded with Carmine Appice, Tony Franklin and Karl Cochran was good but the project never took off, Mother’s Army was a disaster and the Brazen Abbot project, created by the Bulgarian Swede Nikolo Kotzev, was uneven, even though Turner always did a good job on them. And then there’s Sunstorm.
Hard Rock / Metal soap operas can be very entertaining but they can also get old after a while. These soap operas have been quite common throughout the years and in later years, Queensrÿche and Ratt comes to mind. And Norwegian melodic rockers TNT – I have lost count on how many times singer Tony Harnell has left and come back to the band now. TNT – Harnell, guitarist Ronni LeTekro, bassist Morty Black and drummer Diesel Dahl – recorded a bunch of really good albums in the 80’s but called it quits in 1992 after the failure of the very underrated Realized Fantasies only to return in 1997 as a trio. But the band disbanded once again in 1999 – only to resurface once again in 2004 again only for two albums before Harnell jumped the ship in 2006. As a replacement another Tony with the last name Mills was chosen. Mills was once the singer for British AOR / Melodic Rock act Shy and had a range reminiscent of Harnell’s which should have fitted the band like a charm.