FATE – GHOSTS FROM THE PAST

Out now on AOR Heaven

With origins dating back to 1984, Fate are arguably one of Denmark’s longest running outfits who split in 1993, only to resurface in 2006 and are now back after another 3 year hiatus with new guitarist Torben Enevoldsen (Section A / Acacia Avenue) replacing Søren Hoff and a new album in “Ghosts From The Past” and quite a corker it is too.

Melodic Metal would be the best tag for the bands sound, big guitar riffs (with a definite 80’s vibe to them) and big vocal hooks that you can easily hang your winter coat on.

Opener “Children Of The Night” is a corker from start to finish and whilst the overall quality elsewhere never quite lives up to this opener there is luckily little disappointment to be found.

“Seeds Of Terror”, “Fear Of The Stranger”, “Murder” all rock hard whilst more melodic avenues are explored on “At The End Of The Day”, “All That I Want” and power ballad “Follow Your Heart”.

Worst of the bunch? Easily the cheese-fest that is “I Believe In Rock N Roll”. Do we really need tracks like this in 2011?

Musically Fate represent solid musicianship with Enevoldsen being a good fit with his fluid style and blends well with the classy vocals of Dagfinn Joensen. The air of Scandi-rock cool throughout the majority of the album is hard to ignore.

In summary; Fate are back with a strong effort that is a pleasing effort for the most part.  “Ghosts From The Past” along with the latest effort from Grand Illusion mark the best releases of 2011 from AOR Heaven and comes recommended.

Rating – 86% 

MASTERCASTLE – DANGEROUS DIAMONDS

Out now on Lion Music

Third strike from the Italian metallers in as many years, and for the most part it’s a case of more of the same.  So all present and correct are Georgia Gueglio’s impassioned METAL vocals (none of your goth croonings here thankfully), sharp guitar riffs and solos from Pier Gonella and a driving rhythm section of bassist Steve Vawamas and drummer Alessandro Bissa.

The production is uncluttered and to the point, very powerful but rather dry with it. This does help propel to 4 piece feel though and it’s a powerful uninhibited metal production the like you would have got before reverb got out of control in the 80s.

11 tracks which for the most part of driven pieces of metal from the fast paced opener “Another Flower” to closer “Bitter & Sweet”.  There are more melodic moments like the mid-tempo commerciality of “Time 4 Lovers” and the ballad “Lovin Me” whilst Gonella gets to showcase his six string skills on “Blue Diamond” which is well done.

Criticisms? A couple in so much as some of the tempos are a little too similar in places although this is evened out by the variation in riffs, also Gonella’s use of the wah can be a little too frequent, using it more sparingly would enhance its effect somewhat. But overall this is another solid effort on a par with last years “Last Desire”.

Simply put Mastercastle write accessible metal with little pretence and 3 albums in have an identifiable sound.

Recommended.

Rating – 88%

BEGGARS & THIEVES – WE ARE THE BROKEN HEARTED

Released 2nd December 2011 on Frontiers Records

I had never given Beggars & Thieves much time before being handed this album to review.May have been a mistake, because I like what I’m hearing.

In order to keep things short and sweet : if you like latter day Journey, you’ll enjoy this.  The melodies, riffs, arrangements… It all owes a debt of gratitude to the godfathers of AOR. But, and this is a but the size of J-Lo’s, B&T aren’t simply copycats. They do manage to inject a healthy dose of identity into the music. Check out “Innocence” or “Beautiful Losers” as an example of what I’m talking about.

A big part of the Journey influence is in the guitar playing. Was guitarist Ronnie Mancuso visited by the Ghost Of Schon Future? Who’s to say…

I was getting burned out on AOR albums, with too much subpar crap and “all star” projects (where the biggest star was probably the kid who empties the dustbin) clamoring for my attention. A well produced, well crafted CD like this restores my faith!

Rating – 88%
Review by Sancho

CONSORTIUM PROJECT I – CRIMINALS & KINGS

Released 18th November 2011 on Lion Music

First of Lion Music’s expanded and remastered reissues of the Consortium Project back catalogue which follows on from their release of the bands final outing “Species” earlier in 2011.

Led by vocalist and mastermind Ian Parry this is a hard striking effort from 1999 shortly after Parry left progressive metallers Elegy and this release follows in a similar vein.  Guitar work comes from the highly reliable roster of Stephan Lill (Vanden Plas), Patrick Rondat (Elegy) and Thomas Youngblood (Kamelot).

Opener “House Of Cards” sets the scene in blistering fashion, a great opening track driven by a powerful riff and powerered along further by the leather lungs of Parry.   The metal assault continues for “Banquet Of Thieves” before the commercial punch of “Evilworld” with another blistering riff is another highlight, and this is how it continues pretty much unabated for the rest of the release.  Strong powerful metal tracks with excellent performances with the extra spice of Parry’s vocals to take them over the edge.   Some respite from the full on metal assault if needed can be found in the instrumental “The Entity”, the power ballad of “A Miracle Is All We Need” and the upbeat pomp rock of “Chain Of Fear” so there is a nice dose of variety on offer.  It has to be said though that this is gripping stuff pretty much from start to finish.

As the added incentive we get 2 bonus tracks in an acoustic version of “A Miracle Is All We Need” and a cooking demo version of “Evilworld”.  By no means making the album they are nice additions none-the-less.

Backed by a strong production which is arguably more classic than that heard on “Species”, this is an excellent debut and starting block for the Consortium Project story.  If you like your metal on the intelligent side with powerful bold performances look no further.

Rating – 92%

BOBBY KIMBALL JIMI JAMISON – KIMBALL JAMISON

Out now on Frontiers Records

Two of the most familiar voices in AOR merge for another Frontiers arranged product.   Yes the voices from Toto and Survivor are here in their pompous commercial glory.  Whilst Jamison was arguably not the best vocalist Survivor had – Dave Bickler was that guy IMO – the guy can still sing.  Kimball has on the other hand has always been a mixed bag, check out some rather dubious live Toto videos to hear the guy ain’t always on the mark.

That said as mentioned earlier this is another “arranged” product from Frontiers i.e. name vocalists picked to sing a selection of material that has been hand picked for the pair to do duets on.  So you can guarantee this sounds authentically 80’s in the hook and melody department with the production sass of the 21st century.  Songs come such songwriters as Richard Page (Mr Mister), Jim Peterik (Survivor), Randy Goodrum (Steve Perry, Toto), John Waite, Erik Martensson (W.E.T.) and Robert Sall (Work of Art), among others so its hard to fault their pedigre, and directed by the expert hands of German producer Mat Sinner it’s a good production.   But there is still something that doesn’t feel right about the music on offer.

Vocally it’s hard to fault the actual performances from a technical perspective but then there is a sense of going through the motions for the most part.  It’s all a little too clinical, too derivative and lacking in any real spark.

Frontiers are marketing this as more than a one-off project, time will tell especially now that Jamison is back in Survivor.  Far from essential its an ok spin for AOR fans but there has been much better product this year in the genre.

Rating – 55%