Black Star Riders – Another State of Grace

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.

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The New Roses – Nothing But Wild

As a big fan of The Dead Daisies since the release of their self-titled debut, it was the no-brainer of the year that I would attend when they were playing in Stockholm. More or less at the same time we were leaving for the concert, I read online that this band called The New Roses would be the opening act. Now, I will admit not overly proudly that with age I have become one of those buffers who comfortably skips the opening act for another beer with my friends if I don’t know the band. Well, for some reason I logged in to YouTube and checked out one of The New Roses’ songs there. I liked what I heard and decided that this time I would see what they had to offer live. Of course, I did miss half their gig, something that really bugged me afterwards because I thought they were awesome. That meant that I had to get a hold of their three albums – Without A Trace (2013), Dead Man’s Voice (2015) and One More For The Road (2017) – and man, did I enjoy those. Luckily enough I got the chance to watch a whole gig with them at Sweden Rock later on.

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Caleb Johnson & The Ramblin’ Saints – Born From Southern Ground

It’s impossible to write more or less anything about Caleb Johnson without at least mentioning American Idol once. Personally, I’m not a fan of all the Idol competitions at all. Why? Well, firstly, I think it’s the wrong way to go as it’s a shortcut to fame. Sure, you get to perform in front of big crowds and you get a whole lot of exposure for sure. But what you don’t get is experience. You get experience from rehearsing with your band, playing clubs, cutting demos – that’s how you learn your craft and find your identity as a musician, not by performing covers chosen by a TV show. You also end up a puppet for Idol even if you win. Especially if you win. They tell you what songs to play, they force you sing stuff you dislike, they style you to look they way they want – and when you’ve won, you have to record an album with songs written and chosen by Idol. All in all, they don’t want someone original or longevity – they want someone mainstream that can make them a fast buck.

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Hollywood Vampires – Rise

To pay tribute to old friends and musicians that succumbed to hard living with alcohol and drugs, singer Alice Cooper brought his buddies Joe Perry (Aerosmith) and actor Johnny Depp out on the road to play some covers in their honor. They called the band Hollywood Vampires because back when, Alice was a part of that gang that included a bunch of 60’s and 70’s celebrities that had a drinking club called The Hollywood Vampires because, well, they hung around in Hollywood and they only came out at night. As guest musicians people like Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses), Brad Whitford (Aerosmith), Matt Sorum (The Cult, Guns N’ Roses) and Robert DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots) showed up for the gigs. As time went by – and as Alice was about to release a cover album himself – the guys decided to make a band out of it and while they were at it, make Alice’s covers album a band album instead.

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Sammy Hagar & The Circle – Space Between

The Red Rocker is back with yet another band and album. Many are the different projects Hagar has been involved with since his early Montrose days which resulted in him branching out on a solo career after only two albums with Montrose where the debut is a true Rock classic. His solo career, that started in 1976, became very successful with a bunch of platinum records under his belt. After one album with a side-project with Neal Schon called HSAS in 1984, Hagar joined Van Halen after David Lee Roth’s exit in 1985 and until he left/got fired in 1996, Van Halen were even more successful than in the DLR days. It was then that Hagar got involved with a whole lot of different projects such as Chickenfoot with Joe Satirani, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith. He also continued to release albums with constellations like Sammy Hagar & The Waboritas (also called The Wabos on some records), Sammy Hagar & Friends and lately his new combo Sammy Hagar & The Circle.

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Prins Svart – Inte Här för att Stanna

It was less than a year ago when Swedish Classic Rock band Prins Svart (Prince Black) released their self-titled debut album. As a guy who has issues with music sung in Swedish, I had no language problems after only one spin of said album – I was completely floored. Not that Prins Svart are revolutionary by any means, their brand of 70’s smelling Hard Rock in the vein of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Whitesnake and Rainbow has been done on numerous occasions before. But the songs, those songs were in the highest of quality and the members are all world-class musicians which makes originality secondary. Fact is, that these guys use Swedish lyrics makes them stand out from all the other 70’s retro acts out there so said lyrics actually works to the band’s benefit. And it must be pointed out that Prins Svart do have their own identity.

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Whitesnake – Flesh & Blood

To write an introduction about Whitesnake is a waste of time and space. If you’re clueless about this band, then google because if you are, you probably have been – and still are – living under a rock somewhere. When Whitesnake now releases a new record, the first one with all originals featuring guitarist Joel Hoeckstra (Night Ranger, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Cher), the question isn’t whether they have recorded the best album of their career, equaling classics like Come An’ Get It (1981), Slide It In (1984) or even 1987 because let’s face it, that’s never gonna happen, no the question is how it will stand up to later releases after the come back, like Bad To Be Good (2008) and Forevermore (2011). I don’t even count the Deep Purple covers album The Purple Album (2015) debacle. No matter which era of Whitesnake you prefer, I think all Whitensake fans are at least a bit interested in how relevant Whitesnake are in 2019 – especially when you consider David Coverdale’s reduced vocal abilities of the last decade or so.

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The Quireboys – Amazing Disgrace

To give The Quireboys a bashing because they keep on playing the same style of music album after album is like bashing bands like AC/DC and Iron Maiden because of the same thing. You’re very well entitled to do just that but I kind of think it’s a bit unjust and unfair. Some bands have their brand and they go for that whole-heartedly. To rewrite the same songs time after time is a whole other matter and I don’t think The Quireboys do that, even though I have heard some people clain that they do. I do not agree one bit. That said, the quality of their albums has been a bit up and down since their reformation back in 2001. To expect them to come up with another masterpiece like their debut A Bit Of What You Fancy (1990) or even the underrated follow-up Bitter Sweet And Twisted (1993) would probably be to ask a bit too much, but the the fact is, the Quireboys has released some damn fine records since then. Hopefully, their brand new one will be one of those.

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The Treatment – Power Crazy

This is The Treatment’s fourth album since they started back in 2008 – and with the album comes singer number three. Original singer Matt Jones left the band in 2015 and his replacement Mitchell Emms followed him two years later, after only one album with the band. The new guy on the block’s name is Tom Rampton and it is with him as a frontman the band hopes their big break will come. Speaking of big breaks, despite opening slots for bands such as Alice Cooper, Thin Lizzy, Slash, W.A.S.P., Steel Panther and the Kiss/Mötley Crüe combo-tour, it has never shown up. Without sounding like a complete dick, I suspect that what’s missing is the songs that kills. I have given their records my best effort and nothing has ever stuck – and I don’t know one single person that has ever raved about the band either. I don’t think they suck, it’s just that I find them too impersonal and their songs too middle-of-the road. But with new blood in the band, maybe it’s this album that will take the band to the top.

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Rival Sons – Feral Roots

Here’s a band that don’t need any introduction. Much have been said about the Rival Sons, from them being geniuses to complete rip-offs, but no matter what you think, it’s hard to overlook the fact that the band have been building a big following throughout the years. Me, I was somewhat obstinate when Rival Sons first came into the spotlight but when I gave in, I really did gave in. Even though Rival Sons have existed since 2009 –  ten years – they feel like a new band to me, a new band that plays old music but in truth, they’re almost veterans by now. Prior to this new record, five albums have been released, albums I truly love and to this day, I haven’t heard one bad track by them. Their last album Hollow Bones (2016) got some critique for being repetitive and no taking the band forward but I beg to differ, I think Rival Sons take steps with each album.

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