Whitesnake - The Purple Album (2015)

David Coverdale earliest fortune in hard rock history was based on his endeavor with Deep Purple, way back in years 1973-1976. Only three Purple years yet Coverdale indeed the man behind the microphone of at least two historical hits : Burn and Soldier of Fortune. So, when forty years later David Coverdale resurrecting these classics under his Whitesnake banner, it is well legitimate. Whitesnake - The Purple Album is cover of Deep Purple songs that released under three albums during Coverdale era, Burn (1974), Stormbinger (1974), and Come Taste the Band (1975). Material from Burn are the most in number, understandably because Burn is the strongest album of all three. It is regarded as metal classic. Six out of eight songs taken from this. Stormbinger is Purple album notably known for Soldier of Fortune. The most interesting is songs from Come Taste the Band, if memory serves us well, Tommy Bolin is the guitar of this album, not Richie Blackmore. This is also the album where Deep Purple last standing before the first hiatus up till 1984 then.

In the first track, "Burn", we got the version that forefront the twin guitar attack  of Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach . The mix is definitely of 21st century technology, so it is all clean. The intro's keyboard is somehow not dominant compared to the classic version, but Brian Ruedy got his glory time shredding over the keyboard solos in the middle. The song got super fast guitar shred by the two axemen.  In the singing line, David Coverdale re-adapted the song, notably in the choruses where in the original Burn, you got the higher scream. "You Fool No One" is rarely heard song from Purple. This is rather standard hard rock style, which will easily fit with the Whitesnake. Again the solos are killing us. "Love Child" is heavy on its Black Sabbath-like guitar riffs.

Reflections song on "Sail Away" which also acted as Elegy For Jon, is the song Coverdale write with Ritchie Blackmore. It is acoustic ballad and very much David Coverdale in style. "The Gypsy" is quite familiar among Purple fans, one of the song that see Deep Purple enthusiast in gypsy theme. Faster and heavier song is in "Lady Double Dealer", another song from Stormbinger album. "Mistreated" is seven minutes long taken the same format as in the original. Slow pace guitar riffs in the intro and the song actually resemble of what Deep Purple actually sounded in early '70s. "Holy Man" is another guitar acoustic track, this song entirely re-arranged and gives a good alternative to the original one. They also have some very American song such as the sliding guitar in "Might Just Take Your Life". This song enjoy the status single in the original Burn album. In the last part of album, there are two major hits "Stormbinger" and "Soldier of Fortune".

The Purple Album resurrected all Coverdale's songs in Deep Purple in good care. This is a careful re-arranged with lots of interesting moment to check out. Especially if you are Deep Purple die hard fans, the arrangement with twin shred guitar will probably provide you alternative version. This is a treat for both fans, Deep Purple and Whitesnake. It is must say that Coverdale successfully re-polished these into Whitesnake sounds. The dominant of keyboard is rather less preserved, that is the only lamented on this version. Instead fans of guitar will celebrated the rich shred solos inserted here. On the drumming, understandably Tommy Aldridge put in most of his own style rather than following Ian Paice hyper-aggressive fill. The decision to recorded all Coverdale-credited song even if the song is not popular one, is the best present for Deep Purple fans. This is the album you want to take to your kids and said about how nice the metal / rock world back in '70s.

Metal Harem class: ********** nine stars out of ten

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Whitesnake - The Purple Album (2015)

1. BURN (from album "Burn")
2. YOU FOOL NO ONE (Interpolating ITCHY FINGERs) (from album "Burn")
3. LOVE CHILD (from album "Come Taste The Band")
4. SAIL AWAY featuring ELEGY FOR JON (from album "Burn")
5. THE GYPSY (from album "Stormbinger")
6. LADY DOUBLE DEALER (from album "Stormbinger")
7. MISTREATED (from album "Burn")
8. HOLY MAN (from album "Stormbinger")
9. MIGHT JUST TAKE YOUR LIFE (from album "Burn")
10. YOU KEEP ON MOVING (from album "Come Taste The Band")
11. SOLDIER OF FORTUNE (from album "Stormbinger")
12. LAY DOWN STAY DOWN  (from album "Burn")
13. STORMBRINGER (from album "Stormbinger")

Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks:
14. LADY LUCK (from album "Come Taste The Band")
15. COMIN' HOME (from album "Come Taste The Band")
16. SOLDIER OF FORTUNE (alternative mix)

David Coverdale (vocals),
Joel Hoekstra (guitars)
Reb Beach (guitars),
Michael Devin (bass),
Tommy Aldridge (drums),
Brian Ruedy (keyboards)


Mark Slaughter – Reflections in a Rear View Mirror (2015)

Good news for Mark Slaughter fans. Frontman of '90 hard rock band Slaughter back to the recording studio and release his solo album, Reflections in a Rear View Mirror. We can listen again to Mark's uniquely high pitch vocals with almost an album of old '90s hard rock songs. Mark Slaughter handle all the instruments except for the drum, played by Mark Goodin. Michael Wagener is the big names behind the mixing board. All set for one more glorious days of melodic rock.

The first song, Away I Go, is quite typical Slaughter song.  It goes in dynamic rhythm, hard rocking guitar riffs as the song's base and don't be surprise to hear sound effects in play. The one that obviously in the spirit of '90 is Never Givin' Up. Strong vocals harmony and AOR-like choruses is bringing back the old days. Carry Me Back Home represented the sentiments of carry us back to the nostalgic era with this sweet ballad. As you aware, Mark's song writing and composing talent is enormous in all songs we heard. Carry Me Back Home is a rich song in composition, quite unusual blending of pop-rock synth, mandolin-like sound etc. The other easy listening ballad is Baby Wants, a duet of piano and bluesy guitar in the beginning where it all leads to powerful choruses. The flexibility of Mark Slaughter song also best heard in Don't Turn Away, where he sings duet with Gena Johnson in another ballad song. In the most extreme idea is In Circle Flight, where we presented with Fastern-east instrumental flute theme. The last song, Deep In Her Heart, is rich in orchestration, perfectly acted as the closing song of the album.

Reflections in a Rear View Mirror comprised lots of Mark Slaughter creative ideas. Songs are not so hard and wild as in their Slaughter band. Instead, Mark taking more liberty in bringing anything that suited his song writing. Songs are still having their roots can be trace to Slaughter's era, the ballad songs can easily remind us to Days Gone By or It'll be Alright hits in the '90s. Enjoy this package of melodic rock album.

Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

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Mark Slaughter – Reflections in a Rear View Mirror (2015)

01. Away I Go
02. Never Givin’ Up
03. Miss Elainious
04. Carry Me Back Home
05. The Real Thing
06. Baby Wants
07. Don’t Turn Away
08. Somewhere Isn’t Here
09. In Circle Flight
10. Velcro Jesus
11. Deep In Her Heart

Mark Slaughter – Lead Vocals,Guitar,Bass,Keyboards
Mark Goodin – Drums
Gena Johnson – Guest Vocals on “Don’t turn away”
Bill Jordan – Guest Keyboards on “Don’t turn away”
Michael Wagener - Mixing, Mastering


Kamelot - Haven (2015)

2015 marked the twelve year of Kamelot's first studio album, Eternity, when released in 1995. Thinking back, over that 20 years, Kamelot did evolved very much. As a power metal force in Tampa, now Kamelot is a worldwide success with 11 studio albums. Their latest for 2015 is Haven. This is their 11th studio release, as well the 2nd with vocalist Tommy Karevik. Tommy has successfully injected new blood to Kamelot on Silverthorn album. Of course, twenty years should enough to tranformed Kamelot. Their music is no longer, ehem, as catchy as decades years ago. Just like aging wine they has mature up.

Kamelot still hold unique power metal style with their low pitch singing, as opposed to high screaming style in Europe. Fallen Star is one of the extreme example of this. Tommy Karevik started the album with one short piano and voice passage. The whole album stirred to mellow mood by this. Very story telling in composition, which is Kamelot other trademark. This song also quickly become familiar, prove that the song writing has been quite strong. Insomnia to follow, with official video clip this is supposedly the album "hit". We got strong Kamelot in style here, the choruses are all familiar as heard before. A rather futuristic attempt is in third song, Citizen Zero. Let us also aware that the album is another futuristic - apocalypse theme album. Be informed also, several familiar musicians are involved in this project. First is Troy Donockley who is famous in his Nightwish position as the pipe whistling metalist. Together with Charlotte Wessels from Delain, they are soon be heard in Under Grey Skies, a beautiful done ballad.

The second part of the album begin after a connector Ecclesia and officially started with End Of Innocence . Interesting song is Beautiful Apocalypse , where many industrial elements being added to Kamelot's style. This to be climax  in Revolution where Alisa White-Gluz making her appearances. You know what roles she is in. Everything to be ended peacefully then in the last song in Haven.

Obviously, Haven from Kamelot is not everyone's cup of tea. Musically, this is a very serious works with lots of details compositions. If you enjoy Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime put into power metal platform, then this will be your thing. Good news is the quality of each song really stand ups, they are worth your one hour listening. Tommy Karevik brings us to the apocalyptic time with his voices. Thomas Youngblood is still holding his cards with lots of newly invented licks. Haven is really testing how far the genre can goes without being cliche. In retrospect of their 20 years in apocalypse metal, this is just as expected. Another quality food for Kamelot fans to chew.

Favorite tracks: Fallen Star, Under Grey Skies, Revolution
Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

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Kamelot - Haven (2015)

01. Fallen Star
02. Insomnia
03. Citizen Zero
04. Veil Of Elysium
05. Under Grey Skies
06. My Therapy
07. Ecclesia
08. End Of Innocence
09. Beautiful Apocalypse
10. Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)
11. Here's To The Fall
12. Revolution
13. Haven

Tommy Karevik – vocals
Thomas Youngblood – guitars
Sean Tibbetts – bass guitar
Oliver Palotai - keyboards, orchestrations
Casey Grillo – drums

Guest/session members

Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) - female vocals, growling vocals
Troy Donockley (Nightwish) - Uilleann pipes, tin whistle
Charlotte Wessels (Delain) - female vocals

Sascha Paeth - producer
Jacob Hansen - mastering


Cain's Offering - Stormcrow (2015)

Cain's Offering is at first the step son of Jani Liimatainen in his post-Sonata Arctica days. His collaboration with Timo Kotipelto is productive resulting in Cain's Offering first album and then their Blackoustic project. Almost six years after the band first album, the project once again resurrected in this 2nd album, Stormcrow. The line up change a bit, notably is the addition of keyboards superstar Jens Johansson, right away borrowed from Stratovarius. Jani Hurula from Silent Voice still there and new bassist Jonas.

The titled song Stormcrow started the album. Very similar to Stratovarius except for the absence of neo-classical guitar dictation. Indeed, almost the whole album didn't see much Jani Liimatainen step up for leading riffs, except for the second song The Best of Times. This song is the perfect combination of old Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius, or to be precise, Jani's heavier side and Kotipelto's interpretation. The keyboard play is reminded us to Stratovarius latest sound in Nemesis. Another strong cut in their sleeve is I Will Build You a Rome. This one come with an official lyric video. Catchy one and maximize Timo's singing. Too Tired to Run is the piano ballad with melancholy string layers.  The next song Antemortem got a bit of Nightwish's  if you listen carefully. One special instrumental track in I Am Legion to extended their score-metal passion.

With Timo Kotipelto singing, this song basically hard to different from Stratovarius, but then the music quiet contrast to his legendary band. Stormcrow got lots of symphonic elements. There aren't too many leading riffs because mostly focus on the vocal line, which is very melodic. One thing that remind us to Jani is the fast shred of all solos in this album. He is on fire with Jens Johansson, oftenly exchange the solos in one or two bars. When Sonata Arctica declined in their power metal stuff, Cain's Offering offered sequel of Jani Liimatainen legacy. Added Kotipelko on board, Stormcrow is unique power metal project that worth to check by any power metal fans.

Favorite tracks: The Best of Times, i Will Build You a Rome, Antemortem
Metal Harem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Cain's Offering - Stormcrow (2015) 

1. Stormcrow
2. The Best of Times
3. A Night to Forget
4. I Will Build You a Rome
5. Too Tired to Run
6. Constellation of Tears
7. Antemortem
8. My Heart Beats for No One
9. I Am Legion (instrumental)
10. Rising Sun
11. On the Shore

Jani Hurula - Drums (2009-present) (Silent Voices)
Jani Liimatainen - Guitars (2009-present) (Kotipelto & Liimatainen,  ex-Sonata Arctica, )
Timo Kotipelto - Vocals (2009-present) (Stratovarius,Kotipelto & Liimatainen)
Jonas Kuhlberg - Bass (2014-present)
Jens Johansson - Keyboards (2014-present) (Stratovarius, ex-Yngwie J. Malmsteen)

I Will Build You A Rome


Blackwelder - Survival Of The Fittest (2015)

Except for the guitarist, Blackwelder will quickly recognized by metal fans by just looking at the line up. This must be the next project by Ralf Scheepers outside his Primal Fear day jobs. Aquiles Priester is the next big name to mention. He just appear on Tony MacAlpine's latest solo album . Bjorn Englen, ex Yngwie and also part of Tony MacAlpine band. It's only the guitarist that required me to googled up his name, Andrew Szucs is the one trusted to carried out all the axing and hack job. Put all together we got their first album, Survival Of The Fittest, visualized with eye catching cover artwork.

Listen to the first opening song, "Survival Of The Fittest". Through a simple leading melody we landed on catchy riffs followed by headbanging groove when the vocals kick in. Ralf's voices quickly dominated the scene and we know who is the boss here. The second song simply rock n' power in style, "Spaceman", is kind of over the top AOR song with stormy guitar chops and drum all over it. Very interesting song, solos are quite jaw dropping for somebody who just handshake with Andrew. We got to interesting guitar instrumental track in "Adeturi", shred in neo classical style. Looks who is speaking now. His neo-classical licks still can be hear on "Inner Voice" intro then in "Remember the Time". The later is quite epic metal in spirit. You may want to surprise yourself with other excellent songs.

This is the album where expected nothing but straightforward power metal. There are not much brain twisting complicated composition here. Just old time formula where the guitar gave in the power riffs, followed up with blasting double pedal drumming. Needless to say, Ralf Scheepers is the front man that top all talents into his voices. He is closely followed by our newly discovered talented guitarist. Andrew Szucs that gives the shipload of solos and riffs, he is the boss on the six strings. As mentioned, Aquiles Preister impressed us with his top speed foot works, nothing beat a 300rpm double pedal fills in. So please welcome, Blackwelder.

Favorite tracks: Spaceman, Adeturi
Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Blackwelder - Survival Of The Fittest (2015)

01. The Night Of New Moon
02. Spaceman
03. Adeturi (instrumental)
04. Freeway Of Life
05. Inner Voice
06. With Flying Colors
07. Remember The Time
08. Play Some More
09. Oriental Spell
10. Judgement Day

Line Up:
Ralf Scheepers - Vocals (Primal Fear, ex-Gamma Ray)
Andrew Szucs - Guitar (Seven Seraphim)
Bjorn Englen - Bass (Dio Disciples, Tony MacAlpine, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen)
Aquiles Priester - Drums (Primal Fear, Hangar, ex-Angra)



Martin J. Andersen - Six String Renegade (2015)

This is a semi instrumental hard rock album done by guitarist Martin J. Andersen. Six String Renegade is the debut album for Martin, who is the guitarist of Blindstone, hardrock / blues band from Danish. If you haven't heard about his name, google him now. The style has been around American blues and hard rock.

The first track is instrumental The Fire Burns Within , very much open for a fascinating guitar teasing hour ahead. Six String Renegade and Dirty Little Angel are blues rock that focus on vocal and also incredible amounts of blues solos inside. On the cover are notable The Trooper by Iron Maiden. The Trooper turned into backing track for Martin to lay out some killer licks and solos, if you are Iron Maiden fans do not missed this one. For the closing it is Anthem For Humanity, an nine minutes epic instrumental that guested by Torben Enevoldsen, Michael Denner (ex-Merciful Fate) and Soren Andersen.

Attractive package on this album, Six String Renegade, as the title suggest, is a celebration of guitar music and song. The instrumentals tracks are worth collected by shred fans while the vocalized song will please the blues rock fans because they are highly enjoyable. Another valuable addition from quite unknown guitarist into my collection.

Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Martin J. Andersen - Six String Renegade (2015)

01. The Fire Burns Within (instrumental)
02. Six String Renegade
03. Dirty Little Angel
04. Strange Dreams (Frank Marino cover) (instrumental)
05. Never Ending Climb
06. The Trooper (Iron Maiden cover) (instrumental)
07. Freak Flag Flying
08. Funky State Of Mind
09. Stranger (Johnny Winter cover) (instrumental)
10. Anthem For Humanity

Peter Bruun and Jesper Bunk on bass
Klaus Agerbo on drums
Martin J. Andersen on guitars and vocals
special guest Michael Denner, Torben Enevoldsen & Soren Andersen at "Anthem For Humanity"


Tony MacAlpine - Concrete Gardens (2015)

The 12th studio album from Tony. Concrete Gardens once again contained all shred guitar instrumentals. On this album, Tony supported by Aquiles Priester on all tracks and three other bassists. Jeff Loomis appeared on one song, "Square Circles". Some of the tracks are being recorded live with video, you can view it on EMG PickUp TV. Also Nili Brosh appeared on the live video.

Most of the songs done in progressive metal manners. "Exhibitionist Blvd." as the opener gives a concrete melodic licks, the song flows from one to the other parts smoothly. Mind blowing transitions and aggressive drumming. "The King's Rhapsody" is rather Djent-like, lots of dissonances scales, quite contrast from the first one. "Man In A Metal Cage" started with blasting drumming fills, the shreds on its full speed. "Poison Cookies" back to "average" tempo and melodic approach, suitable for beginner's ears. "Sierra Morena" is one of the album highlight, twin guitar attacks, odd metering, well, basically any progressive tricks and ideas put in together. It is continued to "Square Circles", Jeff Loomis joined in for a couple of bar jamming. These songs performed live in EMG TV studio Youtube channel. "Confessions Of A Medieval Monument" is kind having bit of power metal spirit. Tony closed the album with his trademark piano exercise, "Maiden's Wish" is quite a virtuoso pieces.

Concrete Gardens is one of Tony MacAlpine best album lately. Compare to his 2011 Self Title album, this one having more concrete basis to enjoy. The main menu is progressive metal, but it is done with excellence composition in it. Not just a blasting nowhere notes by average guitarist, Tony polished every song with great details. Aquiles Priester must enjoy playing on this album very much, his chops are top notch. This maybe the album where I really impressed by Aquiles after many years. Superb shred album that must be listened by all guitar lovers.

Favorite tracks: Exhibitionist Blvd, Napoleon's Puppet, Square Circles, Sierra Morena, Poison Cookies
Metal Harem class: ********** nine stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Tony MacAlpine - Concrete Gardens (2015)

01. Exhibitionist Blvd.
02. The King's Rhapsody - see Videos
03. Man In A Metal Cage
04. Poison Cookies
05. Epic
06. Napoleon's Puppet
07. Sierra Morena - see Videos
08. Square Circles - see Video
09. Red Giant
10. Confessions Of A Medieval Monument
11. Concrete Gardens
12. Maiden's Wish

    Tony MacAlpine – guitar, keyboard, bass (tracks 2, 3, 5, 10), production
    Jeff Loomis – guitar solo (track 8)
    Nili Brosh - guitar
    Aquiles Priester – drums
    Pete Griffin – bass (tracks 1, 4, 6–8)
    Lucky Islam – bass (track 9)
    Sean Delson – bass (track 11)
    Adair Daufembach – mixing
    Seva – mastering
    Michael Mesker – executive production

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