Released 20 July 2012 on Lion Music

Better known as the keyboard wizard behind Twinspirits, Genius Rock Opera, Cosmics, Khymera etc, Daniele Liverani has turned his attentions to his first love – the guitar – for his first solo instrumental offering for Lion Music entitled “Eleven Mysteries”.

Anyone that is familiar with Liverani’s other bands know he is a strong songwriter well able to pen interesting vocal compositions with deft touches, fortunately this has translated to his guitar album which is an accessible collection home to rich melodies over strong songs.   This only enables Liverani’s guitar technique, featuring all the tricks and skills you’d expect from a student of 80’s and 90’s guitars, to pack the expected punch from an offering from Lion Music.

Although one might expect Liverani to use his multi musical skills to perform all instruments, he has used the album as an opportunity to bring new names to fold, with the album welcoming drummer Paco Barilla’, bassist Tony Dickinson and keyboardist Marco Zago to the scene.  All are strong players in their own right with drummer Paco Barilla being a particularly noteworthy find.

Onto the tracks and we get a multi-faceted album from the Jason Becker like uber shred of  “Mysterious Impulse”, progressive overtones in “Inspiration”, metallic riffery in “Nerve Force” and the delicate ballad “Supreme Gladness” (a highlight to these ears). The obligatory Vai/Satch like track often found on guitar albums is well catered for with “All Is Good” whilst “Giving” injects a sprightly new world Steve Morse like vibe with nice keyboard solos from Marco Zago,    “Humiliation” and “Freedom” are focused around more tight riffs but lack a little in character, something which cant be thrown at final track “Eternal” which covers numerous styles and is a good closer.

Daniele Liverani won’t win awards for breaking new ground in guitar instrumentals with “Eleven Mysteries”, but what we do get is a well played, well produced and more importantly well written album, home to fine performances within enjoyable songs where the focus is on just that – the song.  Liverani’s impressive guitar work is the icing on this enjoyable cake.  One to check out.

Rating – 84%



Out Now – Shredguy Records
Toby Knapp is another contender to make a name for himself in the guitar virtuoso stakes. Freshly signed to Shredguy Records Toby is joined by other relative unknowns in vocalist Attila Csihar, Jeff Gruslin, Tom Cline and Dean Sternberg to sing on various tracks on this 9 track mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks. Home to a neo-classical meets early thrash and straight metal sound the album has a very rudimentary production where the programmed drums cheapens the end product somewhat. As a result some of the impact is lost with the dullish backing tracks. That said Toby’s guitar work is strong.

The instrumentals fare best on the album with opener ‘The Campaign’ setting things off nicely whilst ‘Towards Power Unimagined’ is first rate in anyones book. ‘Telekninesis’ is home to the aforementioned early thrash feel with some of flair of the likes of Exoudus shown. That said ‘Plutonium Race’ I suspect is from a different recording period as the sound quality is worse than the other very average sounding tracks. Sadly the momentum of the instrumentals is lost with the vocal tracks. ‘Conspire’ just sounds dated largely thanks to the weak vocal melodies and strained vocals of Dean Sternberg, a shame as there is potential in the music. ‘We Are Legions’ with its cookie monster vocals of Jeff Gruslin does however awaken the Carcass and Morbid Angel fan in me and is a nice slice of brutal metal. This is contrasted by the overly quasi musically accomplished post grunge of ‘Wicked’ with its Stone Temple Pilots feel! Dodgy vocals again come into play on ‘Reanimation’ thanks to the delightfully named Atilla Csihar and make the track almost unlistenable whilst we are ‘treated’ to Dean Sternberg’s vocals again on closer ‘Lack Of Inspiration’.

Despite the obvious skill Knapp has on the guitar, it’s a shame this quality control isn’t followed up in other areas i.e. production, mix, choice of vocalist etc. So despite my best intentions to focus on the positives the limitations of the weak areas are just too overpowering in places to ignore and a result the album comes out with a very average score. Hopefully Knapp can address the issues mentioned here next time as he has the 6 string goods to deliver going by his guitar work and musical compositions here.

Rating – 60%



Out Now – Favoured Nations Digital

Long recognized in the underground guitar scene as one of the most heralded of the YouTube generation of uber shredders, Daniele first came to prominence as a voted finalist in the Guitar Idol competitions in both 2008 and 2009. In 2009 he was recognized as Steve Vai’s personal award winner, his prizes included a recording contract for Vai’s Favored Nations label.

Daniele has taken full advantage of this opportunity! Having already seriously honed his craft touring incessantly with some of Italy’s most well known pop acts, Daniele gets right down to business on this scintillating debut release. Daniele ripples off serious run after serious run whether picked staccato, shimmering legato or finely articulated eight finger tapping, Daniele has mastered all of these techniques. Ultimately though, what sets Daniele apart, is the quality of the melody evident in his song writing which enhances the tone and conviction of his performance. Personal favourites include “Cardiology” (2009 Guitar Idol finalist submission) “Marakkesh Market” and the rockier “Apocalypse Ape” (Daniele informs me that Ape means bee in Italian).

Daniele has set the standard very high indeed with impeccable technique, demonstrated with flair and disarming facility. Don’t believe me check out some of his YouTube videos. Serious fans of instrumental guitar should get this CD!

Rating – 90%
Review by Mike Blackburn


Released Feb 2010 on Lion Music

Dedicated followers of Virtuosity One may well be familiar with the name Charly Sahona from his work in progressive metallers Venturia who have released 2 excellent albums to date.  However, the French guitarist has seen fit to use songs not geared towards the Venturia sound for a debut solo album “Naked Thoughts From A Silent Chaos” which is a much more streamlined album built around heavy riffs with catchy vocals and Sahona’s trademark solos with the press promo sheet describing this is a fusion of Dream Theater, Muse and 30 Seconds To Mars.  Certainly the musicianship and heaviness of DT is here with the melodies taking on the more modernistic feel of Muse.  Fans of either band should be able to latch on this rather easily, yet at the same time it has its own sound going on.

Sonically the album sounds great with a production that puts many big names to shame with the rhythm section of Sahona’s Venturia band mates Diego Rapacchietti (Drums) and Thomas James-Potrel (Bass) powering the whole 8 track album along with exuberant ease and skill.  Sahona’s guitar is as excellent as anyone who has heard Venturia knows yet here where it’s the main focus you really see that Charly’s style is taking metal guitar to new places.

Highlights come in practically every song from opener and debut single “Relieved”, the stomping “Away From Our Sins” which is full of catchy vocal melodies, “Forgotten Past” is closest in style to the sound heard of Venturia’s “Hybrid” album.  “River Of Lies” is the most straight metal tinged track on the album.  “Living In A Dream Is Not Right” is relatively laid back in comparison to other tracks and allows Sahona to show his vocal skill, something which it could be argued is mixed a little low in places, this could maybe be put down to debut vocal release nerves, however, Sahona has a good voice, melodic, clean and likely to win appeal with the modern day listener so next time push the fader up a little Charly!  “It Will Fly Away” has more commercial possibilities and those that like Muse but would like that heavier may just find their perfect match here.    Closer “All That Can Be Said” sees the album out on another strong note.

With “Naked Thoughts From A Silent Chaos” Charly Sahona has delivered a mightily impressive debut album.  If your penchant for metal is to avoid clichés then this could be right up your street.  Essentially with performances this good, a production this strong and song quality excellent from start to finish then you have to ask the question what’s not to like?
Hot Spots : Relieved, Away From Our Sins, It Will Fly Away.
Rating : 95%


Interview conducted 10th September 2009

Fair Warning are for many considered one of the true greats of hard rock, possessing an instantly recognisable sound the band have delivered the goods consistently across their career.  New album “Aura” is arguably their best yet having all the bands trademarks, superb vocals, great melodies superb musicianship all topped off with the glorious virtuoso guitar work of Helge Engelke.  We caught up with Helge to discuss the new album’s creation and his approach to guitar and much more.  If you haven’t already check out our review of “Aura” here.  Enjoy the interview.

Many thanks for agreeing to this interview. The new Fair Warning album “Aura” has been out for almost a couple of months now, how has the reaction been from fans?
The reaction of fans has been very good so far. We receive a lot of mails from fans telling us how much they like “Aura”. A new album always gets compared with the ones you did before. The funny thing this time is that everybody compares it with a different one. Some say it is like/better Rainmaker, some compare it with ”Go”, others find similarities with “Four” or our first one. Well, thinking twice there is a little weak spot in this way of finding out how fans like “Aura”. Those who don`t like it would not write e-mails, would they? Maybe I should have said: “ We receive a lot of positive mails, none complaining yet”.

I think new album is great, having all the hallmarks of the classic FW sound, yet doing it with a power and enthusiasm that most bands find hard to sustain when they have an extended back catalogue. How do you guys manage to keep fired up for more?
That is down to the chemistry in the band. We all have slightly different tastes, even with our back catalogue we hardly agree on what we like best. Tommy for example really likes the first one. That is not my favourite one, I would pick some songs from each of our records. Then there is this “go new ways” vs. “stick to your guns” discussion, I always liked to experiment with sounds and arrangements, like bringing in new sounds ,what we did since “Rainmaker”, Then sometimes the other guys come and say” What’s this noise”. So it’s a constant, positive, fight and sometimes rather troublesome. B U T in the end, and after all we always managed to find a mixture of all that and I think that is what makes a big part of Fair Warnings identity. There’s one thing we all easily agree on and that is “When we do a record together it should be a good one”. So everybody is fighting for what he thinks best for the record. And nobody is really giving in.

What really struck me is how strong all the band members still are at their respective instruments. Your guitar playing improves year on year, Ule is just a monster on this album and Tommy’s voice has if its possible got more powerful. How do you maintain improving on what many people might already see as perfection?
The nice and annoying thing about Fair Warning is, when looking back we most of the times say, we’ll do better next time.

The album I believed was recorded at a 400 year old manor house, what role did the location play in the sound of the album?
After having recorded our first album, we decided not to waste money in expensive studios anymore, being constantly under time pressure.  Rather bring the equipment in work at your own pace. It worked very well since “Rainmaker”, so we try to be affordable houses with a nice vibe and atmosphere to mainly record, vocals, drums and bass.

Where your guitars recorded there as I was under the impression you recorded all your guitars at home?
Guitar-recordings and the mixing was done in my little studio.

How do Fair Warning generally go about writing a song?
It’s Ule and me writing songs and we both work alone. We make our own home demos singing on them and then play it to each other and to Tommy and CC.  When it comes to arranging we start to work together, even though Ule’s and my demos are quite clear.

What can trigger the creative spark for a song idea?
With me it could be anything, a riff or a line coming while playing the guitar, some words which make a nice line, a vibe, an abstract idea. I always disliked labelling a song a “rocker” or a “ballad”, because sometimes means that we all say ”Ah, not another ballad”. For quite some time I was wishing I could write a song which could be both. That way “As snow white found out” came about. Took some time.

At what point in the process will Tommy come up with vocal melodies and will that dictate where the song ultimately goes?
Both Ule and myself record our demos with our, well, singing. So the melodies are already there.

The opening brace of “Fighting For Your Love” and “Here Comes The Heartache” sure make a statement of intent, how much work do the band put into making sure the running order is right for each album? What do you look for in a running order and who gets the final say on it?
The running order of “Aura” Tommy did and there were no objections.

Your guitar work is a true joy for me, being a big Uli Jon Roth fan I instantly feel at home in your guitar work, yet you are perhaps more straight-ahead rock than Uli. What lead to you developing your style and what do you see your style as?
My limits. When you start playing the guitar most of us have certain heroes. So had I. Unfortunately I never could decide what to be like when I’m grown up. So it’s a mixture of all my influences.  On the other hand, whenever I wanted to sound like somebody else, copying a solo or a riff, it never sounded quite right, it always somehow sounded like me. Took me years to accept that as a blessing rather than a curse. Still I enjoy to hide some “quotes” every now and then in my playing on every record I ever did and see if people find out.

Like Uli you use a custom made guitar with extra frets, I know you own one of Uli old six string Sky guitars so how did you about designing an instrumented suited for you?
I loved Uli’s idea of having the range of a violin on guitar. My guitars I designed together wit a guitar luthier, Thomas Stratmann (it’s his real name, nothing to do with strat), from my hometown Hannover and he built these guitars for me.

The tones on “Aura” sound like you used a whole bunch of gear, can you give us a brief rundown on what you used?
Its all in this video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRDOYQ3Mfks

What will you use live?
Hopefully my rack which consists mainly of a Hafler/Bogner triple giant and a Mesa boogie strategy 500, plus some effects and two Ac30 with a Roland 301 for the crunchy sounds. Recently I sometimes replaced the Ac30’s with Fender supersonic amps. For guitars just my main guitar.

If you could only have 1 guitar and 1 amp what would you choose?
My guitar and a Fender Supersonic, but I would not be a completely happy man with just that.

I believe the band have just completed a Japanese tour and have a bunch of European dates coming up, how is the tour going in comparison to others and what you like and dislike about being on the road?
No,we haven’t played any electric shows yet. I just came back from the rehearsal room when I found your mail. Touring will start in October. Playing is always fun, but I really dislike when I cannot use my equipment and have to sound like crap.

What’s next for Fair Warning?

Helge, many thanks for your time.
Thank you Andy.



Out Now – Mascot Records

“Full Blast” is the third solo album from the Angra guitarist after the mixed bags of “No Gravity” and “Universo Inverso”.  I am pleased to report however that the new album is his most coherent and accessible to date, whereas the other two I felt were more about guitar chops; “Full Blast” demonstrates a stronger more structured approach and its pays dividends as a result.

Backed up by instrumental guitar favourite drummer, the ever impressive Mike Terrana, Kiko along with bassist Felipe Andreoli deliver strong driving tunes in the likes of opener “Headstrong” and “Se Entrega Corisco”.  There is a native Brazilian feel of “Desperado” and acoustic timbres of “Mundo Verde” whilst heavy prog tinges crop up in “Cutting Edge”.  The more melodic moments are catered for well with the soulful “Excuse Me”, “The Clairvoyance”, “Whispering” and “Pura Vida” and these represent the best tracks on the album. Some tracks aren’t as strong however with the likes of the experimental metal chug of “Corrosive Voices” being one to skip, yet I can’t help but feel the melodic numbers are the ones worthy of return visits as the others tend to merge into one standard instrumental routines.  One cannot call into question Kiko’s technique which is superb but his tone is quite processed and lacks some warmth in places – a minor quibble.

Overall “Full Blast” is as mentioned the best solo work to date I have heard from Kiko. Whilst its by no means the best instrumental of the year it is an enjoyable enough slice of guitar, well played, well produced yet missing the final killer touches to make it a must own release.

Rating – 80%


This dense, furious and complex slab of work will transport you immediately back to the era of the exalted power trio. Fans of psychedelic power rock blues exalt, if you loved everything about Hendrix, Marino and Trower, this modern and ferocious wall of sound will have you, and your speakers begging for mercy. I can only imagine how the guitars felt when this was done, every manner of riff wrung out of their souls. There should be a danger warning about listening when driving.

Formed in 2002, Blindstone, comprising Martin Anderson (guitar and vox) and also featuring the accomplished talents of Jesper Bunk (bass) and Anders Hvidtfeldt (drums) hail from Denmark. Rise Above is the third, and most polished and professional work thus far from the trio. The writing, production and engineering are uniformly superb. The first two albums, Manifesto (2003) and Freedom’s Calling (2008) , also on the excellent Grooveyard label, ”keeping REAL music alive!” are also well worth investigating, particularly the second which features a lengthy guitar war between Martin and Lance Lopez.

Rise Above comprises ten tunes, including the cover tunes “He’s Calling” by Frank Marino, a total rocked out version of the Isley’s “Up the Ladder” and the fantastic version of Hendrix’s “House Burning Down” with guest appearance by Poul Hapberg, renowned Danish blues fusion guitarist. That leaves seven original numbers including a scintillating guest solo spot from Ty Tabor of King’s X on the phenomenal title track, “Rise Above”. I am guessing Marty had KX in mind when writing this tune, because the vocal timbre and delivery are very reminiscent o Dug Pinnick. All of the tunes feature Marty’s impassioned vocals over searing guitar riffage, a modern take on that classic sound. The rhythm section alternately rocks, caresses or funks out based on the song’s demands. Highlights for me were the title track, “Keep the Rock Alive” and the excellent Marino cover.

Once again, fans of the classic era of the power trio, you will not be disappointed, this band deserves to be heard and all the success in the world. Victor Borge would be proud  \m/.
 Review by Mike Blackburn
Rating : 92%


After the previous 78 minute one track effort of the hard to get into ‘Step Into The Future’, world acclaimed guitar virtuoso George Bellas has seen fit to make things more accessible this time giving us 19  tracks for our 79 minutes of listening time.  Obviously George is not short of material or inspiration, with the music proving that he is in the most inspired shape of his career as this is an absolute cracker from start to finish.  That said as Bellas has handled everything on this album himself with the exception of drums coming from Marco Minnemann he proves he is also a master of bass and keyboards also.

Seeing fit to deliver an album consisting of elements from across his career means forays into neo-classical tinted explorations as well as highly progressive skilled compositions gives us the best of both worlds for anyone with a passing interest in George’s career which began on Shrapnel Records in the mid 90’s.

Not only has Bellas looked over his career but also strived to improve things sonically too and this album is a beautiful work of art not only in composition but also production.  Shunning the current trend to overload an CD with volume ‘The Dawn Of Time’ is a god send for lovers of dynamics (even if it means you have to reach to turn your volume control/slider up) with Bellas virtually eschewing compressors for the albums creation.  The album has a wonderful sense of space and breathes beautifully, to top it off Bellas tone has been captured so purely tone fanatics will be drooling over this.

Highlights of the album come in almost every track from the simplistic (by Bellas standards) opener ‘Cyclone’ which will draw you in with its neo-classical feel, before the more progressive time signatures of ‘Seeding The Universe’ makes you wonder how George does it.  The neo-classical edge comes back with the glorious ‘Let There Be Light’ which is home to an absolute scorcher of a solo with tone to die for, rich in harmonics yet not overloaded with gain, the sound really shows that its all in the fingers and Bellas makes the string moan, cry and scream big time here.  The title track is home to advanced time signatures which Bellas manages to make sound easier than the average 4/4 before the stripped down almost easy approach of ‘Machine Man’ with its deep bass guitar sound (again tone to die for folks) and Hammond organ make a fine backdrop for Bellas to work his guitar magic over with some eastern tonalities and some Zeppelin style orchestrations. 

‘Voyage To Triangulum’ is a slow minor blues progression allowing George to get all emotional on us and the result is pure beauty. ‘Mysterious Light’ is one of the most experimental tracks on the album being mostly orchestral with space age fx, before the Bach n roll of ‘Mystical Dream’ will please fans of Malmsteen/Uli Roth etc, again the solo section is pure aural ecstasy for lovers of guitar.

‘Glimmering Stardust’ is another absolute highlight building throughout its journey where again the bass guitar and drums of Marco Minnemann (Paul Gilbert) are a joy to behold building with piano flurries.  The solo that begins at 2:09 is so emotionally charged it brought a lump to my throat such is the soul on offer here.  This coupled with the lone guitar over soft chordal backings really showcases how well Bellas has captured his new found tone and again the result is nothing short of stunning.

‘Electromagnetic’ has an almost 70’s rock vibe ala Focus to it with its pulsating rhythm and Hammond organ, it’s an easy track to digest too and a nice fusion of styles.  ‘Genesis Of Life’ harks back to the progressive territories explored on his ‘Planterary Alignment’ album with some nice synth work whilst ‘Carbon Creature’ is dark, with a fine sense of impending doom about it allowing Bellas to deliver some lush classical sounding melodies. The joyful light and air of ‘Suns Of Andromeda’ is a nice contrast to its predecessor and wouldn’t be out of place on an Uli Jon Roth album.  Trumpet fanfares introduce ‘We Are Not Alone’ which has an Uli vibe about it also thanks to its beautifully worked vibrato and stunning note choice.

‘Nightmare Awoken’ is the heaviest track on offer in terms of rhythm guitar with a riff that sounds like vintage Malmsteen yet Yngwie would never be this bold when it comes to the lead guitar patterns which sees Bellas maintaining a neo-classical edge yet eschewing all the stock motifs made famous by Yngwie.  ‘Primordial Atom’ is like Mozart on steroids and here Bellas is really smoking tempo wise in his lead work.  ‘Metropolis’ then takes a radical change of direction being built around a groovy bass line which leads into a nice new sound that adds another string to Bellas’ armoury. The delicate major tonality and laid back tempo of ‘Always At My Side’ yields more fine melodies and a sense of calm before the progressive and heavily orchestrated closer ‘The Angels Are Calling’ sees the album out.

I have written a lot about the music on offer on ‘The Dawn Of Time’ the music on offer is worthy of much more and its been a sheer delight listening to this album numerous times in run up to the review. 

With ‘The Dawn Of Time’ George Bellas has delivered his magnum opus and this is a stunning all round release.  Yes there is a lot to absorb, but there is also enough here to draw you in on first listen and from then you will be hooked.  George Bellas has proven himself to be the guitar virtuoso of 2010 and despite living in a different time and playing in a different genre deserves to be remembered as we do now with the likes of Mozart, Bach, Lennon and McCartney.  This is timeless music of undisputed quality making it definitive George Bellas.
Hot Spots : Pretty much the whole damn thing.
Rating : 98%


Third instalment from the Frontiers “manufactured” band  with two of the most acclaimed vocalists in metal in Symphony X’s Russell Allen and Ark/Masterplan/Solo vocalist Jorn Lande.  As with the previous two efforts all the music is penned by “songwriter for hire” Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear / Starbreaker etc)  who contributes all guitar, bass and keyboard to the album.  As if often the case with long distance albums of this type the project does loose some of the closeness a direct collaboration between all involved might give.  That said, despite this being quite formulaic melodic metal in terms of song writing its going to be somewhat of a hit and miss affair.

Vocally there is little to fault. Lande is in fine form giving a commanding delivery. Allen’s vocals don’t have quite the sheen they had back in earlier Symphony X days but still are still noteworthy in terms of phrasing and impression.  Karlsson’s guitar work is perfectly functional, the guy has never blown me away in terms of originality but is solid enough, his strength more as a songwriter than a guitar hero which is perhaps the whole idea given the branding of this album.

Highlights come in the guise of the title track with its punchy delivery and here the two vocalists combine admirably.  Goodies are to be had elsewhere in the melodic vocal fest of “Turn All Into Gold” and “The Guardian” where the mix of vocalists and song writing again gel nicely indeed.  That’s not to say all is strong, the album does get a little safe and bland in a number of places, particuarly “Maya” and the plodding “Eternity”.  Overall the song writing is solid, but lacking a little in terms of originality and there is a sense of having heard in all before by a number of different acts.

“The Showdown” sees the tried and tested Allen Lande formula again working mostly as it should with the album being a little heavier and more straight-ahead than its predecessors, but like its precursors also leaves me finding it somewhat of a mixed bag, not that there is anything terrible here but nothing truly mind blowing either.

 Overall if you liked the predecessors you will like this.

Rating  – 78%


Out Now / Mascot Records

Instrumental album number three from one of the biggest names in rock guitar Paul Giulbert. As with his previous two efforts the quality is undeniable, it seems though that Paul is rocking a little more this time and making more use of melodic structures and themes, not that these were lacking on previous release, only they are stronger and more concise here.

“Fuzz Universe” is an easily accessible instrumental release, full of fun tunes, plenty of jaw dropping “wow” factor yet a great deal of love for the art of guitar is also present. Highlights abound in pretty much every song, but the Rush-esque tints in “OIympic” are a joy, the melodic slabs of “Will My Screen Door Stop Neptune” and the dynamics of “Blowtorch” also rank amongst the albums best.

Topped off with an organic live clean sounding production this is another fine instalment from Pablo Gilberto and worthy of your time.

Rating – 90%