Melodic hard rock label Frontiers do love their projects that more than often features some really famous AOR and melodic hard rock musicians. Just as often these projects’ contains song writing credits by song writers belonging to the label and other times, hired hands are brought in to make sure there is high quality material for the projects to be. Sometimes it works out really well – projects such as Nordic Union, Revolution Saints, First Signal, Allen/Lande and Place Vendome has been successful in both quality and in sales, other times the records are nothing but a shrug. The thing with Frontiers is that they keep washing albums out over us in a really fast pace, new constellations here, new constellations there until it almost gets a bit overmuch. It’s really hard to keep track of every new project that gets released. On the other hand again, it’s really exciting when they do come up with the right musicians for the project in mind.
My life has never been as Danger Danger related as it has been the last year (s). Since July 2015 I have seen the band live one time (I also must count their brilliant gig at Sweden Rock Festival in 2014), I got the amazing debut album by The Defiants that features D2 members Bruno Ravel, Rob Marcello and Paul Laine (ex-singer) and now I sit here with lead singer Ted Poley’s brand new solo record, his fourth since his debut album back in 2006. Since I have never been that big a D2-fan – I have always liked them, but they were never a band I put much focus on – I really don’t know much about Poley’s career apart from Danger Danger and his solo stuff, but a quick google search tells me that Poley have been a really busy and hard-working man. Danger Danger and his solo career aside, Poley has released quite a few records in his days as a rock star. Take a look at this: Mr Speed (one album), Prophet (as a drummer, one album), Danger Danger (five albums), Bone Machine (three albums and one DVD), Melodica (three studio albums, two live ones), Poley/Pichier (one album), Pleasure Dome (one album) and Poley/Rivera (one album) and then there are his four solo records – that’s 19 records since 1982.
It is 1987 and the 19-year old me is glued to the radio as I always am once a week to listen to Sweden’s then only radio rock show Rockbox. All of a sudden, this brilliant track comes on and it just blows me f**k away. The song was called “Ready 4 Reaction”, the album it was taken from was called Fireworks and the band responsible for this was called Bonfire. Another track just as good – “Champion” – was played later in the show and by those songs I decided that that record was a must-have for yours truly. Said and done, the album was bought and damn what a killer it was – and still is. I thought Bonfire would be huge and of course, their debut Don’t Touch The Light (1986) was also purchased and even though it wasn’t as good as Fireworks, I still found a lot to dig on it. Unfortunately, Bonfire would never make such a killer record again. Needless to say, Bonfire never became the huge band I thought they would be. The follow-up, Point Blank (1989), sure had its moments but it couldn’t hold a candle to its predecessor. Even though, they put out a couple of really good albums later on – Knock Out (1991) and Fuel To The Flames (1999) – the rest of the band’s discography have been somewhere between mediocre and ok and even a really crap one – The Räuber (2008).
So, I got this e-mail with a download link for an album with this band called Space Elevator. Space Elevator? I saw the cover art and figured this was some kind of power metal band. Checked out the credit list real quick and saw that the band is female fronted. Now I dropped the power metal thought and figured that I had gotten some kind of gothic metal band in the vein of Nightwish, Evanescence, Within Temptation and the likes on my hands, you know the kind of band there’s a million a dozen of. Yawn. I let it be for a while but I figured that I at least should give it a listen – it would be damn disrespectful not to. Turned out, I was in for a big surprise because this band didn’t sound anything like I had expected. The band was formed back in 2014 by guitar player David Young and the mysteriously named lead singer The Duchess. Young was the occasional guitar player for the Queen musical We Will Rock You in London and that’s where he met bass player Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Gary Moore, Black Sabbath) – probably the best bass player in rock ever – who was the bass player for said ensemble and he accepted to be part of the band – what a recruit.
One thing I have been thinking about lately is why I sometimes choose not to check out certain bands and artists. I mean, I read about all sorts of bands and there are quite a few that fits right into the categories where my musical taste runs, but something just makes me skip quite a few of them. One reason is that there are just too many records being released and too many new bands coming along for the ride. I just can’t find the time and sometimes I just have to sort out which band to give a break and which to not pay any attention to. I know that I might miss out on some good bands that way, but on the other hand, I have enough records to listen to to last at least one more lifetime – or at least it feels that way ever so often. British melodic rock / AOR outfit Vega are such an act. As a reader of British rock mag Classic Rock Magazine, Vega is hardly a new name for me as the band have been featured in said mag quite the bit. Vega were born back in 2009 and have to date released four albums including the new one – Kiss Of Life (2010), What The Hell (2013), Stereo Messiah (2014) and this one that you’re about to read my thoughts on.
I clearly remember the first time I ever heard of White Zombie. It was back in 1992 and I was watching Headbanger’s Ball and this bunch came on with a song called “Thunder Kiss ’65”. I didn’t know what to think – at first. The band looked like a bunch of homeless hobos and the music – well, at the time I was so into the American melodic hard rock thing that was on its way to fade away into oblivion and to me White Zombie weren’t anything more than some kind of troll shouting over some noise – I just couldn’t find a memorable melody anywhere. Besides, their name didn’t do anything to help their cause. See, I really had enough of all the “White” bands that was around. Whitesnake was one thing, but after them came White Wolf, White Lion, White Sister, White Trash, White Tiger… And here was another “White” band – that also, in my then opinion, sucked. I payed no more attention to White Zombie. Until three years later when I saw the video for their brand new single “More Human Than Human”. By then, my tastes in music had, not changed, but developed and I didn’t have a problem with taking in new music that was more heavy, aggressive and, yes, noisy. I was floored! The tune was awesome, so I just had to get my hands on their new album Astro Creep: 2000. I liked that album, but found it a bit uneven.
As an old geezer, I still have a need to find new music. Not just new bands but also new music from old bands that are still hanging in there. I even dig up bands that I normally don’t like just to give them another shot – Hell, I just might dig them this time. Because music is my life elixir and if I could I would have music playing at my home 24/7. However, even though I have found shitloads of new bands in the last few years, many of them really damn brilliant, I haven’t found a band that I could call a favorite band. When it comes to favorite bands, I always go back to the usual suspects – Sweet, Kiss, Thin Lizzy, Rolling Stones, Y&T, Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath – bands that will always be the ones closest to my heart. Then I bumped into Sixx A.M. The first time I heard their debut album The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack (2007), I was completely floored. I loved that album then and I still do today and if I had reviewed it then, it would have been given the 10/10 treatment without a doubt. But it was clear that Sixx A.M. weren’t a real band back then, the album was just a soundtrack that went with Nikki Sixx’s book of the same name and the project was only for the studio. Besides, Nikki Sixx (bass) was busy with Mötley Crüe, D.J. Ashba (guitar) was employed by Axl Rose and his solo band he call Guns N’ Roses and lead singer James Michael had a career as a song writer. For us who loved that album, the news of a sequel in 2011 was really good news. Still not a real band and also a soundtrack to another Sixx-book, This Is Gonna Hurt surpassed all expectations – I would have given it an 11/10 rating if I could – and now I was seriously hoping that they would start acting like a band and not just a studio project. Those wishes came true in 2014 – Mötley Crüe were taking its final steps, Ashba had quit Axl N’ Roses and James was ready to go full-time with the band.
Shotgun Messiah were the Swedish hard rock / metal / glam band that were close, so very close to making it really, really big. The band was formed in Skövde, Sweden as Kingpin back in 1985 by guitarist Harry K Cody, bassist Tim Tim (who later changed his name to Tim Skold), drummer Stixx Galore (who later dropped Galore) and singer J.K. Knox. A few years later Knox left the band and the band got hold of former Easy Action singer Zinny Zan (who changed his name to Zinny J San). Rumors has it that they were trying to get hold of Hanoi Rocks singer Mike Monroe first, although that has never been confirmed. The band got themselves a record deal and released the critically acclaimed debut album Welcome To Bop City in 1988, sporting a cover so full of colors, Poison looked pale in comparison. They looked like they had robbed a candy store. But the glam was just looks, musically they were heavy, groovy and catchy and they had nothing in common with bands such as Poison or Pretty Boy Floyd. It didn’t take long before America opened its eyes and record companies smelled success. They signed with Relativity Records and moved to sunny California to be part of the ongoing hard rock scene over there. Due to legal reasons, the name Kingpin had to go and they renamed the band Shotgun Messiah and in 1989 they released a re-mixed version of the Kingpin album, this time self-titled. That album shipped gold over there and the big break was just around the corner.
This thing was really a release party for the band’s brand new record Ghost Of Graceland and a bit of a celebration that since the release, April 15th, the album had charted in many European countries and also in the US. But a release party usually happens like this: You get in the venue where the album is played in the speakers over and over and over and the band comes out and mingles a bit until it’s time for them to take the stage. Usually five or six songs are being played, most of them new ones and after that, it’s time for signing records and shirts and stuff while we all party like it’s 1999. It didn’t happen exactly like that this night. This was more set up like an actual gig with a signing session afterwards. Nothing wrong with that, but the whole night ended pretty quick after the band had played their gig and the fans had got their stuff signed. Some more heavy partying wouldn’t have hurt, but a few of us hit the town instead so we did get our share of beer anyway.
One thing that always comes to mind when I read the press release for an album – especially when it comes to a debut album – from a new band is that the A&R guy / girl always overdo things and exaggerate things. See, said band is always the hottest thing since music was invented and THIS band have made a record so bloody brilliant that they will sell ten times platinum and change the world of hard rock as we know it. Of course, the disappointment is imminent every time this happens, even when you take said press release with a big pinch of salt. I don’t get this at all. Why not just chill and give a fair introduction of the band, explain how they sound, their influences and give some cool info about the members and what their music and lyrics are all about? Everything worth doing isn’t always worth overdoing, peeps. So when I started to read the press release for Finnish melodic hard rockers Shiraz Lane debut album, that was what I expected – exaggeration deluxe.