PINK CREAM 69 – CEREMONIAL

pc69

Released 25 January 2013 on Frontiers

Pink Cream 69 can usually be relied upon to deliver a solid hard rocking album.  On their new album they do just that. While some “modern rock” influences are noticeable in a couple of tunes, there’s been no effort to go Nickleback or Stonesour on us.

The style of this album isn’t too different from Jeff Scott Soto’s rock oriented material. Groovy hard rock with plenty of attention to melodies, harmonies and the odd funky moment. That being said, PC69 do have more of a metallic edge than Soto.

PC bass player Denis Ward is a sought after producer, so it comes as no surprise that this album sounds excellent. Long serving guitar player Alfred Koffler dishes up plenty of tasty guitar work.  If ever a band benefited from a lineup change, it’s them. Replacing Andy Deris (who went to Helloween) with the amazing David Readman was nothing short of a masterstroke.

While not all the songs are equally strong (particularly on the second half of the album), there’s plenty to enjoy here.

Rating – 83%
Review by Sancho

CRYSTAL VIPER – LEGEND (REVIEW)

After their frankly not so brilliant live album, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to reviewing this new offering by Polish band Crystal Viper.

Thankfully, the band fares better in a studio environment. They’re not nearly as ramshackle as the live album would have you believe. This album is an instant flashback to the earliest Noise Records releases. You’ll find yourself thinking of Helloween, Running Wild, Tyran Pace…

Singer Marta manages to hit the right notes most of the time but her voice remains bland and lacking in power. She surprises in the ballad “Sydonia Bork” though with a very good performance. Some of the tunes border on the banal, a case in point would be “Goddess Of Death” with its faux-folk (is that faulk?) guitar harmonies. I know this is a staple in a lot of metal, but it does absolutely nothing for me. Not Marta’s best performance either.

I can only assume most of the guitar solos were handled by Andy Wave, who does a very good job. On the live album one of the guitarists fell way short of the mark, but it isn’t quite as noticeable here.

Production is good overall, the artwork is professional… If you’re into old school metal you might want to check this album out. There’s a couple of serious duffers among the songs, but these are balanced by some decent head banging fare. Check out “A Man Of Stone” for instance.

A pleasant surprise after the dreary live album, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Rating – 70%
Review by Sancho

KISKE SOMERVILLE – S/T (REVIEW)

Out Now – Frontiers Records
 
Michael Kiske is a great singer, no arguing that point. His performance on Helloween’s seminal “Keeper Of The Seven Keys” albums had him marked for greatness. It wasn’t to be, however. Kiske has gone on record time and again how he doesn’t want to make metal music and basically disappeared from the scene. He’s done some solo stuff and several guest performances on distinctly metallic projects. Not to mention his work with Place Vendome, a project he preferred not to refer to as metal. So how come this new album falls decidedly in the metal corner of the market? Money talks and bullshit walks I guess…

Opening track “Nothing Left To Say” wouldn’t be out of place on a Primal Fear album. Second track “Silence” is aimed squarely at the Evanescence/Within Temptation crowd, with those annoying contemporary keyboards and choppy guitar riffs that have been done to death in this genre. “If I Had A Wish” is a faux-Helloween track. Only lacking the power that made that band so enjoyable. And so it goes on. Primal Fear, Helloween, Epica and After Forever all alternate with varying degrees of success. You can’t help but feel this album has been put together after a marketing study to determine what the present day metal fan expects. “Rain” is a particularly insipid song.

Both singers are a cut above average, even if Kiske has lost some of his mojo over the years. Unfortunately I find their voices don’t mesh together particularly well. Production and execution are both solid if not particularly inspired.

A formulaic and bland album. Faceless and lacking excitement.

Rating – 60%
Review by Sancho