Frontiers Records has a reputation for bringing out AOR, Melodic Rock and American sounding Arena Rock bands, both new ones and older reunited ones. But every once in a while they’ll put out something completely different. Metal is one genre that Frontiers has taken a liking to, but for the most part when they release Metal bands it’s mostly Power Metal, European style. Reading the press release for the debut album by British rockers A New Tomorrow, it looks like we’re given something completely out of the label’s comfort zone. While modern has been something of a bad word for this label before, modern is apparently what we’re treated with here, if by modern we mean bands like Alter Bridge, Foo Fighters, Nickelback and the likes. Alternative might be a better word.
Anyone out there remember these guys? Actually, does anyone out there even know who Shark Island are? I discovered the band back in 1989 when a friend of mine bought their second album and major record-label debut Law Of The Order head over heels – because he thought the name was cool – and I was hooked immediately. The band was a part of the American melodic Arena Rock that was popular back then but to their credit, they sported their own sound and identity, much because of singer Richard Black’s personal sounding voice and their way to twitch their melodies, phrasings and arrangements which made them stand out from many of the new bands that started out around that time. Unfortunately, the album didn’t exactly set the world on fire and the band split up in the early 90’s. Richard Black tried to reunite the band with a new line-up back in 1994 but to no avail.
I hadn’t even recovered from the shock that singer Ronnie Atkins of Pretty Maids, who recently released their new, brilliant album, was battling lung cancer when it was time for another shocker: drummer Frankie Banali is battling stage four pancreas cancer. Horrible, horrible news. And just like the case of label mates Pretty Maids, the news broke just in time for the release of their brand new album, their first with the same line-up as the predecessor since Jesus went to pre-school. And speaking of line-ups, when Quiet Riot was about to release their last album Road Rage back in 2017, singer Seann Nicols jumped ship but luckily enough, the band hired American Idol contender James Durbin, pulled back the record, re-recorded the vocals and released the record and everything seemed hunky-dory in the riot-camp. The band toured a lot, released a live record earlier in 2019 and then hit the studio for a follow-up.
It’s fun to go back and read old reviews from years back only to check out which (or if) any opinions have changed since then. It’s also quite fun to read some of the comments to some reviews. When I’m now about to write the review for Alter Bridge’s new record, it’s with a different mind-set than I had in 2010. Or in 2012. Back then I was discovering a band that I hadn’t really made an impact on me. In 2010, Alter Bridge had two albums under their belt, two albums that never resonated me at all. I didn’t dislike them but I wasn’t exactly a fan either. And to this day, those two albums has failed to make a great impression on me. They’re ok but that’s it. Things have changed since then. I am now a fan. I can honestly say that I love Alter Bridge now. And all that started with AB III (2010) and by 2012 and Fortress, I was a convinced fan with everything that comes with that.
It had been a long time comin’ when ex – Little Angels singer Toby Jepson made his, for me, long-awaited come back to the scene with his new band, Wayward Sons. I have been a big fan of Little Angels since their 1990 debut Don’t Prey For Me and I always loved Jepson’s voice. Jepson has had a few projects since Little Angels’ split in 1994 – Toby And The Whole Truth, the singer spot in both Gun and Fastway – but none of them sported any longevity and to be fair, I had almost forgotten about Jepson had it not been for the short-lived Little Angels reunion a few years back.
When Flying Colors released their self-titled debut album back in 2012, I thought they would be just another one-off project. The members – Casey McPherson (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), Steve Morse (lead guitar), Dave LaRue (bass), Mike Portnoy (drums) and Neal Morse (keyboards, lead vocals) – are dudes with tight schedules in bands such as Deep Purple, Neal Morse Band, solo careers and studio jobs and in Portnoy’s case, a gazillion other bands such as The Winery Dogs and today Sons Of Apollo. That record totally knocked me for six and I was hoping for a continuation – which I got in 2014 with the equally brilliant Second Nature. They even played live at some occasions and now when their third record has hit the shelves, I think it’s time to start seeing them as a real band. Fact is, I wouldn’t mind if the guys started seeing Flying Colors as their main priority. Of course, when you have two magnificent releases in the back-water, there are some major expectations when new stuff is released.
I admit, I fully embraced Steel Panther’s juvenile and pubertal piss-take on 80’s glam-metal – which also included a big passion and love for the genre – from go. Their debut album Feel The Steel (2009) still puts a moronic grin on my face when I hear it. But, Steel Panther weren’t only a joke-band, the guys could – and still can – play like the best of them and they sure know their way around a big hook and a catchy chorus. When I saw the band live the first time it was part rock-concert and part Heavy Metal stand-up comedy. I laughed myself silly and I wasn’t the only one. But I also wondered just how far Steel Panther could take their brand before it got old. Too bad for Steel Panther, it didn’t last all that long. I liked their second album Balls Out (2011) as well and another brain-dead in the name of fun gig at Sweden Rock brought on a good time for me. But after that, I found it hard to go further with the band.
I still don’t get the reason behind this side-project. That artists of today start side-projects isn’t strange at all, it happens all the time. But what I don’t get is why Gotthard guitarist Leo Leoni – together with drumming bandmate Hena Habegger, bassist Mila Merker, second guitarist Jgor Gianola and singer Ronnie Romero (Rainbow, The Ferrymen) – instead of writing new music has decided on re-recording old Gotthard-songs. I mean, I get that he wants to give those oldies new life to get the recognition he think they deserve, but why not do it with Gotthard and give singer Nic Maeder a shot at making those song his? To be honest, this project sends out some pretty mixed signals. Isn’t Leoni content with the band without Steve Lee? I’m not saying that this isn’t a qualitative project, I just don’t get the reason behind it.
If you’re a friend of mine or has followed my site, you know that I’m a massive fan of Danish rockers Pretty Maids, a fan to the point of I’m almost hesitant if I can stay objective when writing reviews of their albums. Jokingly aside, I have loved Pretty Maids big-time since I first heard “Back To Back” on the radio back in 1984 and they’re among my top five favorite bands of all time, with no album out worse than damn good. Any bad songs? I actually can’t think of one. Less good, there are a few, but no bad ones. When it comes to writing songs, Ronnie Atkins (vocals) and Ken Hammer (guitars) has a lowest level that’s so high it’s unreal and to manage to keep the enormous high qualities album after album for 35 years (the new album is their 17th studio album if you count their self-titled debut E.P. from 1983) is damn impressive – and then some! Whenever Pretty Maids releases a new album I KNOW it’s going to be at least a good one.
The news of the formation of the band KXM were exciting. With the members Dug Pinnick (King’s X) on bass and vocals, George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob, Sweet & Lynch) on guitars and drummer Ray Luzier (Korn, David Lee Roth) I expected the debut record that came out in 2014 to be a real killer. It wasn’t a killer but it was an interesting piece of music that didn’t stick by first listen – a grower. I liked it when it came out but truth be told, I really haven’t given the album much thought in a few years. KXM also released a follow-up in 2017 called Scatterbrain, an album that completely passed me by. I didn’t know it existed until I started writing this review. Now, with a third effort out, I really don’t have any expectations at all – which do not mean I’m blasé about it – but my hope is up that they will deliver the goods this time.