VICIOUS RUMOURS – RAZORBACK KILLERS

Released March 28th 2011 on SPV/Steamhammer

Vicious Rumors are back with their tenth studio album.  While their output has been patchy at times, “Razorback Killers” is a full on metal assault.

Thrashy and relentless, the band plows through ten blazing heavy metal tracks. The songwriting is beyond reproach. The filler that cluttered earlier Vicious Rumors albums has been cut away.  The trademark guitar leads are present and accounted for. If there’s one thing you can say about VR, it’s that they always had a great guitar duo, no matter who Geoff Thorpe’s wingman was.  Singer Brian Allen screams in anger. Unfortunately, he lacks the melodic sense of some of his predecessors. He reminds me a bit of Wade Black : a decent singer but lacking variation.

Overall a strong release from these veterans of the American metal scene.  Like Helstar, they seem to have a new found energy and focus.

Recommended.

Rating – 86%
Review by digital dictator Sancho

Advertisements

RUFUS HUFF – RUFUS HUFF

Out now on Zoho Music

Named after two obscure Blues men Whistlin’ Rufus and Luther Huff, the Glasgow, Kentucky-based Blues Rock quartet is made up of vocalist Jarrod Englund, bassist Dean Smith, drummer Chris Hardesty and guitarist Greg Martin (The Kentucky HeadHunters).

Rufus Huff comes straight at you like any of the great power trio/quartets from classic rock’s vintage age of the early 70’s.  With a hard stripped down approach steeped in blues timbres this is quite simply class A stuff of the like not heard since the heyday of early ZZ Top, Montrose, Zeppelin, Clapton and Free but aided with modern clarity and power from its warm production allowing the bands penchant for vintage tones to be clearly heard.
 
The 12 songs on the self titled debut are each victories in their own right, but as a package hit home with a superb sense of togetherness.  That said the likes of opener “13 Daze”, the dirty slide work of “High On Heaven Hill”, “It’s All Right” not to mention two smoking covers in Sonny Boy Williamsons “Good Morning Little School Girl” and Willie Dixon’s “I Ain’t Superstitious” really deliver the goods.  Fuelled by Greg Martins’ vintage Les Paul / Plexi tones, this is salivating inducing stuff.  Add to that an absolutely cooking rhythm section and strong vocals and you have a winner from start to finish.

This album has been part of my collection for the past few months and its rarely left the stereo at home or in the car. Fans of rock with a southern tinge and a vintage vibe need to make this part of their collection now.

Rating- 94%

BRIAN ROBERTSON – DIAMONDS AND DIRT

Released March 28th 2011 On SPV / Steamhammer

Brian Robertson is a personal hero of mine. After all, he plays on two of my all time top three albums… His playing on Thin Lizzy‘s “Live And Dangerous” and Motörhead‘s unsung masterpiece “Another Perfect Day” is enough to cement his reputation as a true great of the electric guitar.  Wild Horses, his band with Jimmy Bain, had its moments but never lived up to the promise.  And then it all went quiet… A rather shambolic performance on Gary Moore‘s rather shambolic “One Night In Dublin” didn’t exactly get my hopes up for this solo debut.

Well, I may have been too cynical. Robertson has assembled a very good band. Singer Leif Sundin is a major asset. The songs? Laid back poppy hard rock with a bluesy edge (e.g. “Blues Boy”). Very open and airy. Not unlike Lizzy’s heyday.

The album is a mix of new material and remakes of a couple of Lizzy classics. The new take on “Running Back” may take some getting used to. To their credit, the new material mostly holds its own. Some of the songs are a bit lightweight, but overall there’s nothing embarrassing with the possible exception of “10 Miles To Go”.

Sundin is the perfect singer for this kind of music. His mellifluous and melodious voice sits perfectly in this style.  Robertson can still play, even if the sheer brilliance he displayed back in the day seems somewhat buried. It’s not unlike Schenker: you can tell it’s still the same guy but it’s like he’s not firing on all cylinders most of the time. He comes close on a couple of occasions though, like in “Texas Wind”or “That’s All”.

A very surprising album.

Rating – 83%
Review by Sancho

KINGDOM COME – RENDERED WATERS

Released March 28th 2011 On SPV / Steamhammer

Kingdom Come got a lot of crap for sounding somewhat like Zeppelin. Ahem.
No doubt exasperated by the relentless criticism, Lenny Wolf tried to steer the band in a decidedly different direction. Unfortunately the results were less than stellar.

On “Rendered Waters”, Kingdom Come return to their roots.  Heavy rock with a bluesy edge and Wolf’s unmistakable voice.  Yes, there are blatant Zeppelin influences (“Should I”, “Pushing Hard”, “Is It Fair Enough”… ). So what? Every German power metal band shamelessly rips off Helloween and nobody’s complaining…

This is a lovingly crafted piece of timeless heavy rock with a dark edge to it. Not unlike Lillian Axe’s recent output in a way. Check it out.

Rating – 84%
Review by Sancho

AN INTERVIEW WITH ALEX BEYRODT OF VOODOO CIRCLE

Voodoo Circle are the stunning hard rock band from guitarist Alex Beyrodt (Silent Force).  The band are just about to release their fantastic second album ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ on AFM Records and we caught up with the bands mainman to discuss the making of the new release, his gear preferences and the outlook on Silent Force.

Alex, many thanks for speaking to us again.The second Voodoo Circle album ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ is about to see release. We gave it a glowing recommendation, how has it been going down elsewhere?
So far I received almost only very good reviews. Only one or two silly ones…with comments like “the band tries to impress with Spanish guitars and ZZ Top riffs”….I will never understand some of those Internet mags and self proclaimed “Journalists”…sorry!  I’m even more thankful for mags like yours, were people have knowledge!

When did writing for the record commence?
Oh, I write constantly. It is hard to tell, but I probably started 2 years ago.

Do you normally write a big batch of songs and pick the best, or have little riffs and melodies you piece together when in the studio?
I usually write and record the song in my studio. I always have around 20 songs ready. In fact we could easily record another Voodoo Circle album tomorrow.

How closely do you work with the rest of the band when writing?
Well, I always compose the music, then we decide which songs have the best feel and spirit. Then David visits me and we work together on the vocal melodies. After that we have another vote, we make an A and B list……A goes on the record, B will be redone in the future.

Is most of this work done in your home studio?
The writing process is done in my studio, yes. The rest we do in different studios. It is important to me to have good rooms, especially when recording the drums.

Whereas I felt there was a more nod to Malmsteen on the debut the new album sees a lot more Blackmore, is that a fair assessment?
Absolutely, on the new album I go way way back to my roots….and I enjoy it a lot. I am a melodic player, always have been. I love to play with a lot of feeling and also to let the music breath. In fact, Yngwie and me, we have the same roots….I scalloped my Strat by myself when I was 16, so did Yngwie…..I grew up with Purple, so did he. And, I am very proud to let you know that I just got back from touring with the “Rock meets Classic” show were I played 3 weeks every night with Ian Gillan…..a Best of Purple Set. That was a real highlight.

Your guitar tones also feel a little more vintage as well, was this intentional?
I wanted to have the right sound for those songs, so ..yes…intentional.

We are loving the tones you are coaxing out of your Strats.  It sounds like a very stripped down approach; can you tell us what gear you used this time around?
I used a Marshall 1987X, a Voodoo Amp, my famous GuitarSlinger Double Dealer Booster and Overdrive (www.guitarslingereffects.com) and around 5 different Strats.

Here is the complete list:

Guitars: 2001 Siggi Braun Alex Beyrodt Custom Stratocaster Vintage White, 2010 Siggi Braun Alex Beyrodt Custom Stratocaster Black, 72’s Fender Stratocaster Vintage White, 60’s Fender Stratocaster 3 Tone Sunburst, 60’s Fender Stratocaster Sonic Blue, 57′ Gibson Les Paul Gold Top Reissue, Gibson Flying V Arctic White,

Amplification: Marshall 1987X, Marshall Plexi, Marshall Cabinet (Vintage 30’s), Voodoo Amps V-Rock

Effects: GuitarSlinger Effects Double Dealer & Fireball, WEM Copycat Echo Unit, Jim Dunlop Cry Baby Wah Pedal, Jim Dunlop Uni Vibe, Boss OC3, not to forget: Rübli Rock Alex Beyrodt Custom Picks & Live Line Cables.

How were the amps mic’d up?
SM57 and a room mic

Was there one particular piece of gear that you really connected with this time round?
My 72 Strat is the main guitar on the record.

David Readmans’ vocals are again superb.  He sounds like he has chosen a darker tone this time around with some smokey Coverdale-isms.  How did the pair of you work on the vocals, melodies, lyrics etc?
David came down to my studio at the Canary Islands and we worked for one week on the material, besides hitting the pool and the beach, drinking red wine hah…

Was there any particular vibe you were shooting for this time?
Late 70’s, early 80’s

Do you have any favourite tracks/performances on the new album?
I think I have never recorded a better rhythm guitar then on “Blind Man”. It has a very bluesy, Hendrix-ish vibe and this is a side of me not many people know. I love Power Blues, have you heard Philip Sayce…..I love him!

I know you were looking to get out on the road with the last release, can you see that happening this time round?
Well, we have been touring for around a week after the first release. We are recently looking for a tour to hop on….as 120 other bands too.

Any videos lined up at all to promote the release?
We released a promotion clip with interviews.

What else is in store in 2011 for Voodoo Circle?
Besides interviews, touring and song writing…..not much ha-ha

Are Silent Force over? On hiatus or what? It’s been ages since we’ve heard anything, is there likely to be any activity there down the line?
Well, DC is back in Royal Hunt, I am a constant member of Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle, plus I have my own effect pedal brand www.guitarslingereffects.com, Andre is drummer in Rage…we are all very busy. I am not saying we will never record another album but right now it has no priority….plus….let’s say….there are still some internal issues which have to be resolved first.

Any final messages?
Rock’ Roll isn’t a rocking chair!!!

Official website
http://www.myspace.com/voodoocircleband

TEN – STORMWARNING

Released 18th February 2011 on Frontiers Records

UK melodic hard rockers Ten return after an exile from the scene.  Led by vocalist and principle songwriter Gary Hughes, the man back in the day had a knack of penning some good melodic hard rock and some classic Magnum-esque solo albums for Bob Catley.  So now back from the dead Ten are back with a new line up and ten new tracks of which only one clocks in under the 5 minute mark on the new album “Stormwarning”.

Marketed as the perfect amalgamation of ‘Down To Earth’ era Rainbow, ‘1987’ era Whitesnake and ‘Run For Cover’ era Gary Moore is one bold claim, and sadly one that is never lived up to.  Most of the tracks are all likeable enough, but there is nothing that stands out as anything better than acceptable.  The similar tempos of each track suggest Hughes’ metronome has gone on the blink which does make the album drag somewhat as well. Granted the band are giving it all a good go but the album lacks some dazzle, there is an all round lacking of energy, a stiff production also doesn’t help which is surprising for a Dennis Ward effort.  Gary Hughes’ vocals haven’t aged too badly over time, a little of their earlier power has gone and they do seem a little more monotonous than in years gone by but again nothing to really complain about.

The only time the album really get going is for the title track which is the highlight of the album and home to a strong chorus and a little more energy than other tracks.  Elsewhere it’s a case of likeable but ultimately quite faceless material.

Ultimately this is not the return to action that was hoped for, whether this can win over more fans than the band had in their heyday (which was presumably not enough to keep them going?) will remain to be seen but “Stormwarning” is never anything more than a quite average melodic hard rock album.

Rating – 60%

AN INTERVIEW WITH JANNE STARK OF OVERDRIVE

Swedish metallers Overdrive are one of their countries longest running traditional metal bands.  In their third decade the band have produced arguably their best album to date in ‘Angelmaker’.  We caught up with guitarist Janne Stark to discuss the albums creation and more.

Janne congratulations on the cracking new Overdrive album ‘Angelmaker’, it’s like the sonic equivalent of a knuckle duster clad fist to the face!
I take that as a compliment ;-). Thanks!

For a band with a pedigree dating back over 20 years you guys certainly don’t sound tired or jaded by traditional metal.  Is the passion still as strong as ever?
-Thanks again! Yes, I think the addition of Per kind of revitalized the band when we re-united. But also, I’d say, I still have the same huge passion for traditional metal and playing guitar as I had when I was 18. It still hasn’t faded, it’s actually stronger than ever! We also still share that passion within the band.

After the return ‘Let The Metal Do The Talking’ and now with ‘Angelmaker’ you are pumping out some of the most energised metal around.  What is the secret to the bands enthusiasm and high performance levels?
It’s quite simple – We love to play! We split in 1985 and it’s just like we picked up where we left off with the same energy we had back in the 80s. Come to think of it, I think we’ve actually got more of it now. I think we just haven’t realized we’ve become older (so, please don’t tell us!). I also think one thing is we try to keep fit. We fortunately haven’t become couch potatoes, so we do have the energy to give it all we’ve got on stage, plus we’ve always had a great time while we’re there.

I believe the band took a different approach to creating the album this time around, can you tell us more about the process you took and what do you feel where the advantages of this approach?
The last album was kind of a “comeback” where we sort of played it safe by recording some stuff we wrote back in the 80s, but never released. Half the material was new and half “old”. I think the fact that people couldn’t separate the old from the new kinda gave us the confidence we needed to make an all-new and fresh album. We also wrote a lot more songs than we needed, over 25 in total. We then sat down and picked out 18 of these to record. Once they were recorded and mixed we used a listening panel of various people (fans, DJs, musicians etc) to help us select which 12 songs to use.

Is this an approach you will use again?
Yes, definitely. It was a great help to get an outside view. You get a sort of tunnel vision when you’re so involved. It’s very helpful to let people who have never heard the songs before, come in with fresh ears and help you get a “first impression” of the material and look at it from a different angle.

The production of the album is very good, clear, powerful and punchy, something some of the big boys like Maiden could learn from. Do you need a big budget to sound like this or is the key in experience?
Thanks! Big budget?! Hahahahahaha. This album was actually recorded with our smallest budget ever! Since too many people download albums, sales go down and the labels don’t dare give you any advances anymore, so you need to keep a very very tight budget. Fortunately most of us have our own studios where we can record, which saves a lot of money. Instead we used the money to have Pelle Saether mix the album in his Underground Studios, which is a great studio. If you put some time and effort into getting a great and consistent basic sound and get someone who really knows sound to mix it, you can do wonders with a small budget.

Was there anything the band did differently this time around in terms of production/mix etc?
Yes, this time I kinda took control of the production, meaning I was in charge of making sure everything got recorded and finished in time, compiled and checked all recordings, quality checked, handled the budget, booked the studio, sat in while mixing etc. The last album was mixed by Johan Blomström (who recorded the drums on this one), while Pelle Saether mixed this one. Johan is great, but Pelle has a different approach, which worked great for this album.

There is a nice mix of styles that fall under the ‘trad metal’ banner, like Priest and Accept you aren’t afraid to move in different areas yet still manage to retain a signature sound.  Is this simply a case of different writers in the band getting their ideas heard or is it more planned than that?
Different people contributing to the writing definitely plays a big part in it. Kenth is more influenced by old Maiden, which you can hear on “Under The Influence”, I’m into the old seventies stuff as well as vintage Priest which you may hear on “It’s a Thriller”. We all have our different approaches, which definitely adds different musical textures to the broth.

There is a perhaps surprising cover of Abba vocalist Frida’s ‘I Know There’s Something Going On’, but as it was penned by Russ Ballard well known for writing some of the biggest rock hits its maybe not such a surprise.  When did you decide to cover the track and was your arrangement quite easy to conceive?
It just came up at a band meeting. Why don’t we record a cover? We’ve never done that before. We didn’t wanna do any metal cover, but something we could metalize. We gave it a week to come up with songs that may work in a metal version and when Kenta suggested “I Know…” we all were like – Yeah! That would work. I pretty much came up with the arrangement on the spot. Figured it would be a bit heavier if I detuned it, too, so I did. I even received a thanks mail from Russ Ballard who said he loved our metallic version and offered to buy me a curry whenever I came to the UK. I take that as a good sign!

‘See The Light’ you wrote for the Scorpions but the band didn’t use it.  How did you end up in a position where you were writing songs for the German rockers and do you know why they rejected it as hearing a lot of their recent output they should have used it! 
Mikael Nord Andersson is an old and close friend of mine. Two years ago we recorded an album together with the band BALLS and we’ve been writing a lot of stuff together. When he got the job to produce the new Scorpions he called me and asked if I would be into writing and co-writing some stuff with him. No guarantees or anything. So I wrote around 20 songs/riffs, which I sent him. One was “See The Light”. Apparently they did like it, but thought it sounded a bit too much Iron Maiden (?). Anyway, I figured it was too good to waste so we decided to use it. Noone’s said it sounds like Maiden so far 😉

Yourself and Kjell Jacobsson form the dual guitar attack of Overdrive.  How do you go about making the double guitars work in the band and what happens when it comes to solo duties?
In the old days we rehearsed 2-3 times a week and then we spent a lot of time working out the stuff together. Today we work a lot separately and bring it to the table more or less as finished songs with all guitar parts more or less arranged and ready. We always write the songs for two guitars anyway, with the other player in mind. We also now take the solo in the song we write ourselves and you mostly compose the solo part to fit your own style. I took most of the solos on Per’s and Kenth’s songs this time around. We have no real pride when it comes to soloing. Also for the harmonies on the album it’s usually the composer that records both harmonies. Then we, of course, play one each live.

Can you tell us what gear you used on the album and what dictated what guitar/amp were used on different tracks?
I actually recorded all the rhythm guitars on the album. I used my Hughes & Kettner Trilogy head and a Hughes & Kettner 4×12 with V30s with a THD Hotplate between the head and the cab. It enables you to turn up the amp and get the tubes glowing without the level being unbearable. I actually used this on all songs. In some songs I also used my Orange Tiny Terror head through the same Hotplate and cab, just to get an extra touch to the sound. I recorded one guitar left and one right. I never used the same guitar on both sides though. I don’t remember exactly now where I used which one, but in almost all songs I used my Gibson Les Paul with True Temperament fretting in one channel and my Gibson Explorer 76 Re-issue in the other. I also used my Epiphone Strat with True Temperament on some solos.

The guitars sound very pure and unaffected, with only a wah or the odd delay heard, was it a case of “less is more” for ‘Angelmaker’?
Yes, I guess you could say that. I do like effects sometimes, but on these songs they didn’t really call for it. What I did to get some extra spice on the solos was I used my Xotic Effects BB-Preamp as an extra push. I however have the distortion set to zero, it just gives the perfect sustain push anyway. I also used my Dunlop Cry Baby wah wah in some songs. In “The Wavebreaker” I actually also used my Sonic Groove Vibe, which is a great Univibe replica built by an American guy called The Toad. He builds some killer pedals! In the mix we just added some room delay, but not too much.

Do you have any particular favourites on the album and if so why?
That actually changes over time, but I’m still very fond of “Cold Blood Chaser” and “See The Light”.

I believe the band have already done a gig with Pretty Maids but are there more shows being lined up?
In a couple of weeks we will have a release party in Karlshamn and we have a few more lined up, but it’s actually not that many. It seems we missed the festival season as the album was released too late for this. Just call us we’re available *wink* *wink*

For readers of rock magazines your name will be quite familiar for not only fans of Overdrive but also for being a rock journalist.  Can you tell us who have been the most interesting artists you have interviewed over time (and why) and also who was the biggest nightmare?
Oh, there’s a lot of interesting ones I’ve talked to. One who’s always fun talking to is Ted Nugent. He’s quite an entertainer. Leslie West (Mountain) is a really nice guy. On the other hand Michael Schenker can be great one time and very very difficult the next time.

The recent passings of Gary Moore, Phil Kennemore and Ronnie James Dio have hit the rock community hard.  How have these recent deaths affected you as a music fan?
Of course! I was the most shocked by Gary’s passing as it came as a complete shock! I’ve interviewed Gary, and he was a very nice person. Dio as well, such an awesome personality! Things like this makes you realize you need to get out there and seize the day while you can!

You are never one to sit still, what else do you have lined up in 2011?
Haha, a lot of stuff indeed! I’m currently involved in a new power-trio that I’m really into. We’re called Zoom Club and the band also features Peter Hermansson (220 Volt/Talisman/Norum) on drums and vocals plus bass player Totte Wallgren (Kee Marcello/Fergie Fredricksen). We play riff oriented 70s-influenced hard rock. We’re also working on a new Constancia album, planned to be ready later this year. We’ve started talking about a new Locomotive Breath album, but just talking so far. I’m also working on my third encyclopedia of Swedish Hard Rock & Heavy Metal, set to be ready later this year. We also have a vinyl Overdrive release that will hit the streets in March. It will contain the 6 unreleased tracks from this recording, plus 3 tracks from the album. The title will be “The Angelmaker’s Daughter”. It will be a limited coloured release in 300 copies. I have done and will do some guest spots on albums by, for instance, Thalamus plus some others. Besides this I’m writing for FUZZ magazine, metalcentral.net and metalcovenant.com. However, being a musician and writer unfortunately doesn’t pay my bills, so I’m also working full-time as a project manager/technical writer.  No rest for the wicked!

Any final messages?
We’d of course like to get out and play EVERYWHERE, so keep pestering your local promoter or festival to book Overdrive and we’ll be there! Also, I’d like to send a BIG thanks to all of you who actually purchase our CD or download and not only download it from a torrent. Support metal and help keep it alive!

Janne, many thanks. 
Thank YOU!

www.overdrive.se

PUSHKING – THE WORLD AS WE LOVE IT

Released February 28th 2011 on Edel/earMusic.

Pushking are one of Russia’s biggest rock bands having released 15 albums to date, but then without the exposure of the like Gorky Park got in the late 80’s how are we to know?  But with  “The World As We Love It”; and thanks to producer Fabrizio Grossi that may well change for band have scored one hell of a guest list for their new album which sees selected cuts from the bands previous releases re-recorded each with a special guest or two on each.

As for the guest list how do the likes of Billy Gibbons, Nuno Bettencourt, Alice Cooper, John Lawton, Steve Stevens, Paul Stanley, Steve Salas, Steve Vai, Graham Bonnet, Glenn Hughes, Jeff Scott Soto, Joe Bonamassa, Eric Martin, Udo Dirkschneider, Dan McCaffery, Joe Lynn Turner, Jorn Lande and Steve Lukather grab you?

Musically this is competent hard rock nothing truly spectacular but a pleasant enough listen from start to finish.
 
Highlights come in the guise of the Alice Cooper led “Troubled Love” which is a nice mix of Cooper’s 70’s rock and late 80’s commerciality.  The melodic minor blues of “Tonight” with Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa is touching and classy whilst Hughes also sounds great on “Private Own”.   Bluesy hard rock fans are well catered for with the Joe Lynn Turner led “Head Shooter” and Paul Stanley leads the commercial rocker “Cut The Wire” with his usual flare and panache.  Steve Vai plays with more emotion than normal on the excellent “My Reflections After Seeing The Schindlers List Movie” and its another highlight.

Its not all good though, Udo Dirkschneider will always be an acquired taste and “Nature’s Child” is quite laughable in places thanks to his pneumatic drill delivery, likewise Graham Bonnet has delivered better than what is heard on “God Made Us Free” although the song itself is not too bad.

Musically the Russian band are competent players with nothing flashy or overly original to either annoy nor dazzle but they can pen a good tune as it evident from the majority of this release.

Overall a nice addition to the collection for fans of the assembled guest list.  The production is perfectly fine and there is a nice pace to the 19 tracks on offer. 

One to look into further.

Rating – 83%



TOBY KNAPP – MISANTHROPY DIVINE

Out now on Rock It Up Records

Toby Knapp has been featured at Virtuosity One before for his album “The Campaign” which was home to good guitar work but poor vocals and production.  Well we have another release for our appraisal in “Misanthropy Divine” and for the most part it’s a better offering.

Granted we still have production issues with poor sounding drum samples (although the patterns and arrangements by Knapp are quite cool); whilst vocalist on four tracks Deen Sternberg is nothing more than competent. Apparently Knapp has a problem finding  musicians in his local area to work with – might we suggest using the wonder that is internet to get some suitable musicians involved from outside his local base?

Luckily once again Knapp impresses with his six string prowess that’s runs the gamut of rock and metal styles – the guy can play and you wonder why he isn’t better known but then when you hear the very average production etc you know why. No matter how good material may be nothing scares off a potential fan base quicker in this day and age than a shoddy mix and production.  I don’t want to bash Toby but his quality level needs to be higher in terms of production, this sounds nothing better than rough demo quality for the most part which is a shame as the music is mostly good and deserves a much better presentation than what it gets.  

On the whole “Misanthropy Divine” is a much better offering than “The Campaign” and despite its obvious sonic flaws has some great instrumentals such as “The Forlorn”, “Dreaming The Microplex” and the title track. The vocal tracks as mentioned before do not fare so well but mostly because of the vocals themselves but could be good with the right vocalist etc…

Overall the best release I have heard yet from Knapp but still in need of much better quality control.

Rating – 65%

TWINSPIRITS – LEGACY

Released February 18th 2011 on Lion Music

Daniele Liverani’s melodic progressive metal outfit Twinspirits have wasted no time in building on the success of “The Forbidden City” with their third opus “Legacy”.  Having spent time on the road in support of album number 2 the band are well oiled and it shows on this new release which sees the band build ever further on their signature brand of prog metal.

“Legacy” marks the second album of vocalist Göran Nyström in the band, and his voice delivers another commanding performance over the material penned by band mastermind and keyboardist Daniele Liverani.  Guitarist Tommy Ermolli takes a heavier role this time round whilst the rhythm section of bassist Alberto Rigoni and drummer Dario Ciccioni hold down the complex patterns with precision and the whole package is wrapped up in a powerful clear production.

“Legacy” sees the band deliver a cohesive set of 11 tracks split into the two distinct areas.  The first 6 tracks are perhaps amongst the most accessible and commercial songs the band have penned to date with each offering its own sound.  Opening 8 minute “Senseless” sets the scene nicely with strong riffs and melodies.  “Pay For Their Art” is an ode to those don’t see how downloading music is killing the metal scene for hundreds of bands.  “Blind Soul” is heavy with good riffs and shows Nyström’s lower register voice to good effect, fans of Oliver Hartmann will dig this voice.  “Slave To This World” is a frantic metal assault and features some excellent drumming from Ciccioni as well as possessing an infectious chorus.  The ballad “Don’t Kill Your Dreams” might be considered a little twee to some and is arguably the weakest track on offer.  The balance is soon restored by “Over And Over” which sees the rhythm section come into its own with its off beat riff, this track is also a grower over repeated spins and a highlight. 

The second aspect of the album comes in the form of the final 5 tracks which make up “The Endless Sleep” a 30 minute concept suite that has all you could ask for from a bona-fide prog metal band.  However, the band manages to keep their focus on the song being the key aspect at all time.  As an entity in itself this probably amongst the best thing Twinspirits have done to date and highlights come throughout this 5 track segment of the album.

Musically the band don’t overkill with solos like say DT even though they have the chops to match the Americans, but Twinspirits’  focus on songs is well served making for an often more enjoyable listen from start to finish.

 Daniele Liverani is well known for his grand visions (‘Genius Rock Opera’ anyone?) but with Twinspirits he seems to have found his niche, delivering creating intelligent, mature and enjoyable metal all performed to virtuoso levels by all involved. 

As it stands “Legacy” ranks as the strongest Twinspirits release to date and comes highly recommended for progressive metal fans. 

Rating – 96%