Longing for a full-time Dokken reunion, are we? Well, as long as you’re not a Japanese resident, then I wouldn’t hold my breath for it. It sure looks like the reunion gigs in Japan were one-offs and even though they did release a new song and video for the live album recorded at those gigs – Return To The East: Live (2016), a full-time reunion isn’t all that likely. Don Dokken is planning a new record with his version of Dokken and the other three guys, well they have formed this band – The End Machine. Together with singer Robert Mason (Warrant, ex- Lynch Mob, Cry Of Love, Big Cock), guitarist George Lynch (Lynch Mob, Sweet & Lynch, KXM, Souls Of We), bassist Jeff Pilson (Foreigner, War & Peace, Dio) and drummer Mick Brown (Ted Nugent, Lynch Mob) decided to go their own way and form a new project. As this is is 3/4 of the original band, this is the closest you’ll ever get to Dokken unless they have a big change of heart.
Only a month prior to the release of this record, former Battle Beast guitarist, founder and main-song writer Anton Kabanen released the new album From Hell With Love with his new outfit Beast In Black. It was a punch in the gut kind of album and just like its predecessor, Berserker, it kicked ass, sounding a lot like Battle Beast albeit with a male singer. Battle Beast’s first album without Kabanen, Bringer Of Pain (2017), was a substantial follow-up to 2015’s brilliant Unholy Savior and showed that Battle Beast didn’t have any problems to maintain their sound and to write great songs without Kapanen. However, Kabanen’s Beast In Black are breathing down Battle Beast’s neck with two albums just as good as his former band’s. When Battle Beast now are releasing their second album without Kapanen, they have a lot to prove. Was Bringer Of Pain just a lucky strike or will Battle Beast be one great album ahead of Beast In Black with this one?
It was now four years since Buckcherry released their last record Rock N Roll, an album that didn’t exactly set the world on fire. I dug it though and I have yet to be disappointed by a Buckcherry release. I was never a big fan to begin with, I had tried to get into Buckcherry since their self-titled debut back in 1999 and none of the follow-ups Time Bomb (2001) or 15 (2005) managed to get me hooked. I discovered the band with the brilliant Black Butterfly (2008) – still my favorite Buckcherry record – and every record since has kicked my butt, so there are expectations on this record, a record I was a bit surprised that it actually showed up. Because stuff has happened in the Buckcherry camp in the last couple of years.
I love Tesla. Always have. However, it would take me all the way up until 2008 for me to see them live, when they played Sweden Rock Festival and put on a brilliant performance. Heaven. Tesla were never a big act in Europe so they didn’t make it over to Sweden until 1990 supporting the Scorpions and I missed that gig. Tesla were big in the States though, with their three first albums – Mechanical Resonance (1986), The Great Radio Controversy (1989) and Psychotic Supper (1991) all shipping platinum over there. Since they were lumped together with the rest of the arena-rockers back then, Grunge killed them off as well, making their very underrated 1994 album Bust A Nut a flop. And then they split, just like most of the popular Hard Rock bands that were around in the 80’s did. I always found Tesla different from the rest, though. Sure, they too had the power ballads here and there, but their music was rawer and raunchier and not as slickly produced.
“Dude, you gotta hear this band, they’re all chicks but they kick ass!!” That’s what a friend of mine said to me one day at school back in 1983 and the album he was talking about was Rock Goddess’ self-titled debut album. He was right which meant that I had to get buy that album right away. I still think it’s a great album. The follow-up, Hell Hath No Fury, was released only eight months later and not long after that, the band – Jody Turner (guitars and vocals), Dee O’Malley who had replaced Tracey Lamb soon after the debut album’s release, (bass) and Julie Turner (drums) – visited Sweden on two occasions, once as support to Iron Maiden and once to Def Leppard. I, of course, missed both gigs. But Sweden’s only music mag, Okej, featured the band on several occasions and I remember the 15-year old me having a big crush on drummer Julie who was around that age herself.
Every now and then, I hear comments from fans that Backyard Babies has been on a downward spiral – albeit maybe not a very steep one – since they released Total 13 back in 1998. Me, I beg to differ vigorously on that one – for me it’s the opposite, maybe for the exception of the underwhelming People Like People Like People Like Us (2006). Then again, I’m neither a big Punk fan or someone who took Backyard Babies to my heart when they first started out. The first BYB album that did it for me all the way through was their self-titled comeback album from 2008 and their even more come back album, 2015’s Four By Four. See, I really dug when BYB decide to change some of their Punk in favor of more Arena Rock-like arrangements with a slight nod to Melodic Hard Rock
Since the last ten years or so, In Flames has turned into one of Sweden’s biggest music exports and when such things happen there’s always a whole lot of talk of selling out and being commercial. Those accusations have been coming In Flames’ way ever since they decided to take their already melodic Death Metal further away from pure Death Metal and adding other influences into the mix. I can understand that a move like that rubs old fans the wrongs way but does that mean that In Flames are selling out? I don’t think they have done so. Commercial? Well, sure but on the other hand, if you sell a lot of records and sell out stadiums, you’re commercial. Genres are never commercial by themselves – if you sell you’re commercial no matter what kind of music you play. Personally, I don’t give a rat. Mostly because I’m not a Death Metal fan to begin with and to me, if a (former) Death Metal band becomes more melodic, thumbs up from me.
This is album # 3 from British FM-rockers Cats In Space. When they released their debut album I thought that this was nothing but a project with a weird name – a name I first thought sucked bad – with a bunch of aging musicians from other bands that would last just one album and then disappear. But I was wrong. Thankfully. Because their debut album was brilliant. Totally unpredictable musically where AOR, Pomp Rock, Symphonic Rock, Classic Rock, Pop and Hard Rock met, Too Many Gods (2015) is an album that I still hold very dear and better yet, the follow-up Scarecrow (2017) was even better, even if it isn’t by much. So, today, almost four years after the release of the debut, I am not only a big fan of the band, I have also reappraised their name. Dammit, Cats In Space is a brilliant name. What was I thinking back in 2015? Well, the new album was longed-for on my part – and expectations are shooting for the sky.
It looks like the world of Queensrÿche is never easy but on the other hand, it never gets dull either. The whole Geoff Tate debacle has been dwelled on enough by now but even when the band should be in a good place, things happen. First, drummer Scott Rockenfield took a paternity leave of absence to be at home with his newborn child which had the guys touring with a temporary replacement, Casey Grillo (Kamelot). When it was time to start writing for the new album, Scott wasn’t involved and when they didn’t hear from him whether he’d be back soon or not, the guys decided to record the album without him. As singer Todd LaTorre having a past as a drummer he took it upon himself to do the drum parts. If Scott will come back to the band at all or not remains to be seen.
I know this review is pretty much a “Who?” moment for most Rock fans, both Swedish and around the globe, but if you dig in and search for information about this singer, you’ll find that he’s done quite a lot during the years. Erlandsson started his solo career back in 1994 and has released no less than seven solo albums (including this one) and one compilation album since then, but before that he was the lead singer in N’Gang, who had a hit in 1990 and in a band called Crash that released one album in 1993. But his mostly known as the lead singer in Swedish AOR veterans Last Autumn’s Dream with who he has released no less than fourteen albums since their self-titled debut back in 2002. Also, in 2006 he took over the frontman spot in Swedish Pop band Secret Service from original singer and song-writer Ola Håkansson. The band had some big hits back in the 80’s and are now only a touring act, mainly in Russia of all places.