STRYPER – SECOND COMING

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Like plenty of bands before them, Stryper have done an album of re-recorded classics. The same question applies that applies for all of them : why?

Especially when the new versions stay so faithful to the originals you can barely tell the difference… It has to be a matter of rights and royalties I guess.

If you’re new to Stryper, you will want to check this album out. There’s rock solid versions of some of their best songs with a consistently good production. The only sign of the times is some very minor rough spots in Michael Sweet’s vocal delivery. For some tunes, this actually works better than the too smooth performance on the original versions.

There’s also two new songs. They’re decent, a mix between classic Stryper and the better moments on Reborn, but you won’t be buying the album for these two tracks.

In conclusion, this is an enjoyable album, but the final score depends a bit on your outlook. If these were all new songs, this album would rate a score of 95. Deduct points at will for the lack of new material.

Review by Sancho.

BILL BERENDS – IN MY DREAMS I CAN FLY

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Out now on Stellar Vox

Marking Mastermind guitarist Bill Berends’ debut instrumental offering, “In My Dreams I Can Fly” is a 12 track homage to a time when instrumental rock guitar was not about how many notes one can throw down in a single bar or be as extreme as possible in all facets, instead it offers something more vintage, simplistic and dare I say it wholesome.

Here is an album that is essentially the sound of an experienced guitarist whose been on the scene for over 30 years making an album of the type of music he likes to play when not progging it up in Mastermind.  In a way this harks back to 60’s and 70’s in so much that we get accessible musical themes, melodies – make that oodles of melodies  – and a feel good vibe throughout.  Nothing pretentious, nothing to make your brain hurt trying to figure it out (although some licks will still leave your jaw on the floor), just 12 tracks that will give you as much fun listening to them as you suspect Berends had recording them.

Armed with nothing more than a bevy of Gibson guitars, a cable and a Marshall JCM800; Berends goes to show what can be achieved tonally on such a simple set up, and I hear far more interesting sounds here than on any number of over processed hi gain shred albums I’ve hear of late. In addition to guitar Berends handles everything else except drums which are played by Jason Gianni (Neal Morse).

So onto the music.  What we get is a melee of musical stylists all with the  emphasis on rock from the driving title track and up-tempo bluesy roll of “Rock-A-Rama” and ‘Dream Rider’, there’s the majestic balladry of ‘Remember When’ (great phrasing and tone here) and ‘In A Quiet Place’, 60’s blues rock pastiches in ‘Heavy Cream’ (tipping its hat to one of Bill’s main influences –  Cream) and ‘If Man Were Meant To Fly’ and on to the multifaceted ‘The Longest Winter’.  Fans of sweet tone will find salvation in ‘To Days Gone By’ where the guitar work borders on euphoric with its mix of blues timbres and celtic like melodies whilst even some bluesy country motifs are served up on closer ‘The Long Road Home’.

Overall this is a very enjoyable album that rewards on first listen and reveals new textures on each subsequent spin.  It’s not reinventing the wheel but its well written, well played and well produced and as such is a very enjoyable release and comes as recommended listening for any classic rock fan.

Rating – 90%

JON LORD – RIP

It is with deep sadness we announce the passing of Jon Lord, who suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism today, Monday 16th July at the London Clinic, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Jon was surrounded by his loving family.

Jon Lord, the legendary keyboard player with Deep Purple co-wrote many of the bands legendary songs including Smoke On The Water and played with Whitesnake & many bands and musicians throughout his career.

Best known for his Orchestral work Concerto for Group & Orchestra first performed at Royal Albert Hall with Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1969 and conducted by the renowned Malcolm Arnold, a feat repeated in 1999 when it was again performed at the Royal Albert Hall by the London Symphony Orchestra and Deep Purple.

Jon’s solo work was universally acclaimed when he eventually retired from Deep Purple in 2002.

Jon passes from Darkness to Light.

Jon Lord 9 June 1941 – 16 July 2012.

CIRCUS MAXIMUS – NINE

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Out now on Frontiers

Third strike from progressive metallers Circus Maximus. Five years since their sophomore effort “Isolate” the band have toured extensively and honed their song craft for “Nine” is the bands best work to date. 

Possessing all the positive elements of the genre; Circus Maximus boast superb musicianship within captivating songs.   Vocalist Michael Eriksen is a fine singer whilst guitarist Mats Haugen peels off powerful riffs and fluid solos with considerable ease.  Backing this up is a rock tight rhythm unit of Truls Haugen (drums) and Glen Cato Møllen  (bass) all topped off with lush keyboard orchestrations from Lasse Finbråten.

Highlights are plentiful but the ten minute opening gambit “Architect of Fortune” and the pounding assault of “Used” are the pick of the bunch to these ears.  Elsewhere it’s all good stuff and come the end of year I’d be surprised if this isn’t being considered in the top 5 of 2012’s prog metal releases.

Overall very good stuff and worthy of your hard earned money.

Rating – 90%

MALICE – NEW BREED OF GODZ

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Out now on SPV/Steamhammer

Malice never made the big time (You’ve obviously never seen the 1988 Fred Savage film Vice Versa – Educated Editor). Even if their Judas Priest meets Ratt hybrid form of metal was quite enjoyable on both of their albums. Like so many of their contemporaries they’re back. And like so many, they now have the ubiquitous James Rivera on vocals. Unfortunately in the process Malice have lost a lot of their own identity.

What’s left is pretty generic US Metal with a very strong Priest influence. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were listening to outtakes of the Painkiller sessions. Or Helstar, for that matter.

Rivera isn’t a bad singer, but he is a one trick pony. And the trick gets old after a couple of tracks.

What’s left is good enough heavy metal. The musicianship is beyond reproach and there are plenty of decent songs. But I can’t help thinking it could have been so much better…

Rating – 77%
Review by Sancho

RONNIE MONTROSE (1947-2012)

Ronnie Montrose
November 29, 1947 – March 3, 2012

Simply said one of the finest guitarists to have emerged in the 1970’s.  Montrose’s self titled debut album released in 1973 set the blue print for all hard rock albums that would follow.  Even today some 39 years later the album stands up as one of the best sounding and best crafted hard rock albums of all time.  Yes the band gave the world Sammy Hagar but its Ronnie’s massive riffs and classy lead work, not to mention one of the biggest and best Les Paul into a cooking Marshall tones you will ever hear that have made its mark on history.   Further works with the band that carried his name, along with solo records and Gamma all showcase a supremely talented musician, yet one who in recent years never got the attention he rightly deserved.

Ronnie Montrose rest in peace.

 

 

MARK REALE – R.I.P.

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Mark Reale has passed away. An unsung hero if ever there was one.

His trademark guitar playing helped define Riot, one of the classic American metal bands.

His work with Westworld showed another side to his songwriting.

An underrated guitar player in underrated bands, Mark Reale wasn’t a household name.

Truly an injustice.

 

RIP Mark Reale

7 June 1955 – 25 January 2012

GARY MOORE R.I.P.

  All at Virtuosity One are deeply shocked and saddened by the all too early death of guitar legend Gary Moore. 

From his humble beginnings in Skid Row to Thin Lizzy, G-Force and solo works whether in rock or blues genres Gary always delivered quality music ripe in taste and personality.

The rock world has lost a true legend.

Our condolences go out to Gary’s family.