It might have taken me a while to get Mustasch but when I finally did, I really damn did. Their first three albums Above All (2002), Ratsafari (2003) and Powerhouse (2005) did nothing for me at all and to this day those albums leaves me pretty cold. But their fourth effort Latest Version Of The Truth (2007) knocked the living daylight of me – and I still hold that album very close to a masterpiece. Since then, Mustasch sure have had its ups and downs. Their self-titled follow-up wasn’t as great but it was still a damn fine record but it was after that the downfall started. Sounds Like Hell, Looks Like Heaven (2012) was a poor album and its follow-up Thank You For The Demon (2014) was better without flooring me. That’s why 2015’s Testosterone was such a great surprise. On that album, Mustasch stepped out of their comfort zone and took some chances. Firstly, the album had more hooks than they ever had and the tunes came with a big Pop feel without losing their heaviness and secondly, the production was cleaner and a bit polished – something the band clearly benefitted from. This made me very curious of how the band would follow that album.
Anyone remember Keel? If not, Keel were a Hard Rock / Arena Rock band formed by Ron Keel, a singer that debuted on vinyl with a band called Steeler, a band that featured a certain guitarist called Yngwie Malmsteen back in 1983 and who also auditioned the singer spot for Black Sabbath back in 1984, when Steeler had called it quits. The band Keel were active from 1984 to 1989 when they released five albums and sold somewhere around 2 million copies of those. Now 2 million copies might sound a lot but in the 80’s under a five-year period it’s next to nothing. Keel toured a lot, opening up for bands like Kiss and Dio but their big break never came even though they got pretty close with their 1986 album The Final Frontier. And there was a reason for that. Keel just weren’t that good and Ron himself was a singer with a limited range. Not that that ever stopped Vince Neil, though. The band did get together for the release of VI: Back In Action in 1998, an album that consisted mostly of old unreleased songs and did pretty much nothing. So goodbye once more.
To me, Blackberry Smoke is one of life’s biggest musical mysteries. As a guy who have never ever understood the greatness about Southern Rock, the mighty Blackfoot excluded, the odds didn’t exactly sky-rocket that I would become a fan. To be honest, when the guy who introduced me to the band offered to burn me a copy of their album A Little Piece Of Dixie (2009), I first declined. Why would I bother with Southern Rock, a genre I have never cared for in my life? But he was persistent and burned me a copy anyway, so I put in my player in my car, turned up the volume and by the time I got home, I was a fan. Today, I own all their albums and is happy as a child on Christmas whenever the news of a new Blackberry Smoke album surfaces. I still hold said album and its follow-up The Whipoorwill (2011) as my favorite Smoke-albums even though I really dig all of them. But in all honesty, I haven’t played their two latest efforts Holding All The Roses (2015) and Like An Arrow (2016) as much as the previous two for some reason. That said, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into the new one.
Everyone who have been following this site must know that I’m a huge fan of The Dead Daisies, a band I more or less tumbled upon five years ago. The band’s brand of Classic Rock and Hard Rock shot straight at my heart and already by second album Revolución (2015) I was hooked. But that they would knock me so off my rocker like they did with 2016’s Make Some Noise was something I hadn’t expected. I gave it a 10/10 without hesitation and that opinion still stands. However, opinions of that album have been mixed both from critics and fans and that is applied to both the band’s previous albums as well. I guess The Dead Daisies aren’t for everyone. As the band started out pretty much a project that didn’t really have a steady line-up except for guitarist David Lowy who formed the band, the line-up has been stable for a few years now and the line-up that toured Revolución and later recorded Make Some Noise really seemed like the one that would take The Dead Daisies to the next level.
I had merely written down the words that I hadn’t really heard of a Melodic Rock / AOR band from Ireland when this album took a dive into my mailbox. Now, I wasn’t sure at all whether Maverick was a Melodic Rock/AOR band or a Metal band or what not. But the name Maverick rang a bell for me for some reason, I knew I had heard the name somewhere before. Well, I still don’t have a clue about that but the name sure sounds familiar. Well, Maverick was formed by the Belfour brothers Ryan (guitars) and David (lead vocals) in Ireland in 2012 who brought along bassist Richie Diver and drummer Jonathan Millar for the ride. Judging by their tour mates, bands such as The Poodles and Treat, my guess is that they are in the Melodic Rock vein. Also, Treat guitarist Anders Wikström guests on two songs on this album. The band have released two albums – Quid Pro Quo (2014) and Big Red (2016) – that followed their debut E.P. Talk Is Cheap (2013).
I love Ireland. I dunno why because I’ve never been there, but it’s one of those places I MUST visit before I bite the dust. I love the language, I love their music, every time I see a movie that takes place there or I see a picture from there, its landscape and the views are so damn beautiful – and I always get the feeling of warmth and emotion when it comes to its citizens. I dunno, maybe I have a tendency to romanticize things but the thought of Ireland just makes me feel good. And the rock bands. Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore, The Answer… well, there must be something in the water there. But one type of genre that, at least to my knowledge, seems quite unusual is Irish’ AOR and Melodic Rock. For some reason, Irish rock music has always been more rootsy and down to earth. So it was quite nice to hear that one of Frontiers’ latest signings, No Hot Ashes, hails from Ireland – and they play Melodic Rock / AOR.
I was a big King Kobra fan back in the mid 80’s. That band made a huge impression on me with their two albums and I thought they would be huge. But after two albums that failed to deliver sales wise – and to be honest, their second album hasn’t aged especially well – the band started to fall apart. Singer Mark Free and bassist Johnny Rod left the band and drummer Carmine Appice and guitarists Mick Sweda and David Michael Philips replaced them with vocalist Marq Torien and bassist Lonnie Vencent. That didn’t last long either and before anyone could say Iron Eagle, King Kobra had split up and Torien, Sweda and Vencent had formed the BulletBoys with new drummer Jimmy D’Anda (today in Lynch Mob). Because of the band’s King Kobra past, yours truly couldn’t wait for BulletBoys’ debut album to come out and since it was 1988, I thought that it would sound something in the vein of the boys last band – Melodic Rock with AOR undertones.
Here’s a band that pretty much pulled the rug from under my feet when they released their “comeback” album Rockville back in 2013. The brilliance of that album came as a surprise to me as I had never been much of a FM fan before. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they were a bad band at all, it’s just that I could never subscribe to the accolades of their debut album Indiscreet from 1986. Sure, it’s a good album but I still don’t think it’s that special. I do love the follow-up Tough It Out (1989) but that’s the only FM record I hold as great. Until the arrival of Rockville, that is. On that album – and on its follow-up Rockville II (2013) – FM took a dive into Classic Rock waters without leaving all of their AOR and Melodic Rock roots behind, something that was completed on the equally brilliant Heroes And Villains (2015). It was a change that I believe suited FM like a charm but it wasn’t only the addition of Classic Rock that made those albums great – that was mostly down to the high song-quality.
How much music can one body contain? I don’t mean to just puke out mediocre and half-assed tunes, I mean real, quality music. In Sweden in the 70’s there was a TV series called “The Boy With The Golden Pants” about a kid who had a couple of pants where he just had to reach down in his pocket and pull up bills, one after another, never-ending and the values became larger and larger the more money he picked up. I’m starting to wonder if Erik Mårtensson is The Boy With The Music Pants. The guy’s ability to write high quality songs seems endless and album after album with his main project Eclipse, his Nordic Union with Pretty Maids singer Ronnie Atkins and the band Ammunition that he started with ex Wig Wam singer Åge-Sten Nilsen are all made of brilliantly written, arranged and performed Melodic Hard Rock. Yes, I know that Mårtensson have co-writers that helps him out but that doesn’t take away anything from this highly productive song writer/singer/guitarist.
The German Ritchie Blackmore is back with another album, his 18th studio effort since his debut 1989. Add five ballad compilations, two regular compilations and four live albums to that and you get quite a voluminous collection of his solo work. Then you can also add the four albums he made with Steeler (not the Ron Keel/Yngwie Malmsteen band with the same name) between 1984 – 1988. Pell has also managed to bring some really interesting singers into his camp such as Rob Rock (M.A.R.S., Vicious Rumours) and Jeff Scott Soto (Talisman, Yngwie Malmsteen, Journey, Sons Of Apollo) and his latest one, Johnny Gioeli (Hardline) who has been with him since 1997 and he also brought in drummer Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow, Black Sabbath) for his last three albums, this one included.