Hammerfall - (r)Evolution (2014)

Stretching three years from their previous studio album, Hammerfall is back again with their ninth album called (r)Evolution. The title make it obvious that this album will be something between their root sounds and added some (r)evolutionary newer ideas. Indeed, Hammerfall's  as in Infected (2011) did not works well with (die hard) fans. This album never again walk into less travel road, (r)Evolution is everything fans familiar with, power metal as we known from Hammerfall.

Of course the opener is perfect too, "Hector's Hymn" bring back power metal on the righteous path, epic attacking riff opener, legendary dragon slaying lyrics and Joacim Cans sad voices just fit every notes on the Hymn.  The second track "(r)Evolution" is kind of goose-bumper with their most elementary drum enter, most basic power chord chops, the enjoyment falls to the simple song writing, must be. This is where the newer ideas seems kicks in. The most successful blending of re- and e-volution seems to be on "Live Life Loud", where the band success in creating new "groove" for its power metal. "We Won't Back Down" brings front Joacim Cans character singing, again not very usual stuff from the band. Of the many mid to slow tempo song, "Winter Is Coming" is the slowest ballad. And then we back to what we want, "Origins" is like the end of one long blizzard chapter from track #2 to #7, that is we return to fast and furious power metal conversations. It is a smooth road from here, only "Evil Incarnate" is still the song that bit of experimental but this one is good. The album ended with uncompromising fast and epic stuffs called "Wildfire".

Though the first song sounds like we will just step back to the good old '90s Hammerfall, but the majority of the album fit more into their newer ideas. Forget some of my words about Hammerfall returns, this is an album about 70:30 ratio of new and old sounds. Yet, I found most of ideas blend in correct ways, making this album has greater re-listening value. The production is top notch, you can hear the perfect guitar tones storming down your tympanic membrane and knocked down all your waxes. Joacim Cans is surely stars of the album with his warrior voices, with some new ideas presented, Joacim also gives fans new character to anticipated. (r)Evolution may not be the truest return to at least "No Sacrifice, No Victory" era, it contained caution portion of newer sounds. I like this album pretty well though.

Favorite tracks: Hector's Hymn, Live Life Loud, Wildfire
Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

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Hammerfall - (r)Evolution (2014)

1. Hector's Hymn
2. (r) Evolution
3. Bushido
4. Live Life Loud
5. Ex Inferis
6. We Won't Back Down
7. Winter Is Coming
8. Origins
9. Tainted Metal
10. Evil Incarnate
11. Wildfire

Joacim Cans – Vocals
Oscar Dronjak - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Pontus Norgren - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Fredrik Larsson - Bass, Backing Vocals
Anders Johansson – Drums


Accept - Blind Rage (2014)

Accept is about to reign their new era with their third-comeback album. Although they are still largely considered as a band from the past, their last two albums, Blood of the Nations and Stalingrad, are ready to dominated the mainstream heavy-metal once again. Blind Rage is their 14th album. Their third after 2010 resurrection of the band with Mark Tornillo as vocalist. What we received is a consistent continuation from Blood... and Stalingrad. It is still an old school riff and scream Teutonic heavy metal.

They diverted the opening track, "Stampede" with a little musical intro as opposed to their tradition to always kick start with catchy guitar riffs. It won't be long because the duet of Wolfie and Herman soon bring us a new song, unmistakable Accept's heavy metal. "Dying Breed" is storytelling in flow. The structure is natural, tension built in their most standard way, but yet everything so compelling that we will enjoy every notes on it. "Dark Side Of My Heart" is always the third song phenomenon, my favorite to the album. This song based on vintage hard rock feel with good overdrive guitar sounds, listen to their cliched-easy-to remember chorus line. For another most standard power chord guitar riff, it is in "Fall Of the Empire". "Trail Of Tears" bring back the tempo to the fast double beat drumming, minor power metal feel. Then yet again "Wanna Be Free" is back to the sentimentil ballad mood. Everything forward is in between of every we have heard before. Wolf Hoffmann close the musical opera with a classical references of Tchaikovsky in the "Final Journey".

It seems like Blind Rage is a slightly lighter version of their previous two albums, with more mid tempo songs around. The one that for sure is, this album is another book of guitar riffs, it such amazing that a band could always come out with catchy riffs and turn it into enjoyable song. Nothing to comment on Mark Tornillo screaming, he just better and better on each album, the ghost of Udo quickly become a past. Blind Rage is everything a guitar and heavy metal lover will like.

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

Favorite tracks: Dark Side Of My Heart, Final Journey, Dying Breed

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Accept - Blind Rage (2014) 

1. Stampede
2. Dying Breed
3. Dark Side Of My Heart
4. Fall Of The Empire
5. Trail Of Tears
6. Wanna Be Free
7. 200 Years
8. Bloodbath Mastermind
9. From The Ashes We Rise
10. The Curse
11. Final Journey

Mark Tornillo – lead vocals
Wolf Hoffmann – guitar
Herman Frank – guitar
Peter Baltes – bass guitar
Stefan Schwarzmann – drums


Paul Gilbert – Stone Pushing Uphill Man (2014)

This is Paul Gilbert instrumental album and also his cover version one. He seems to alternate his recording between vocalized (last album Vibrato),  and dedicated shred instrumental, as as in this Stone Pushing Uphill Man. Here the twist, this is a guitar-ized version of many great tunes from many great artist. Well, admittedly most of the song  I also not remember listened. So, it's kind of added the fun factor in my ears. Paul chosen are understandably out of our luck, ranging from Elton John, James Brown, Aerosmith, K.D.Lang to every in between The Beatles and Loverboy.

The first song is by Loverboy called "Working For the Weekend", love the composition and it's fit to Paul Gilbert quirkiness right from the intro. The intro chord progressive and power riff chops is everything Paul Gilbert, so it's kind of Loverboy version of Paul Gilbert. The sweet vocal melodies are nicely converted into guitar. "Back In the Saddle" is the opposite, not really Paul Gilbert recognized , the twin guitar of Joe Perry and Brad Whitford is preserved , as well fantastic bass line of Tom Hamilton. In the song-by song description it is clear Paul only improvised later at the end of the album, so any how you like Aerosmith and Paul Gilbert, this song is a triumphant. "I Got the Feelin'" is my first favorite track of this album. James Brown quick vocal phrasing is mimic by the guitar and it's just grooving tunes in every seconds. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" sounds then like a nicely composed song for guitar melody. Nice song and Elton John is now perfect also in instrumental version. Most orchestration in this song converted in to guitar parts. The Beatles' "Why Don't We Do It In the Road" is kind of Jimi Hendrix-esque blues-singing guitar jam. "Shock Absorber" is look like original written song by Paul Gilbert. In the interview, Paul said the intro inspired from harmonica instructions DVD by Rick Estrin. "Purple Without All the Red" is the only song sounds "too easy" for serious listening, it's all about rhythm lesson and sliding notes. Lots of E7#9 thing in the chord progression. "Murder By Numbers" is yet another song that not really sounds like Paul Gilbert. "My Girl" is that popular song, the mood is light and happy all around. K.D. Lang "Wash Me Clean" acoustic jam is the contrast point in this album, no shred but only familiar K.D. Lang singing style in the guitar. "Stone Pushing Uphill Man" is Paul Gilbert trying to take on cowboy singing country in the crossroad of Texas kind of thing. Weird at first , especially when the second part kicks in.

Bring a long with this album is drummer Mike Portnoy, ah, really, this must be Portnoy most relax drumming recently. Paul Gilbert still up to his shred guitar but in obvious easy listening hard rock platform. The signature part is still audible everywhere, so the cover version should not distracted any Paul Gilbert fans away. Drummer guru Kenny Aronoff is playing also, so you know the level of seriousness in Paul Gilbert percussion department. If you remember, John Lang is the drummer for Vibrato album.

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

Favorite tracks: I Got the Feelin', Working For the Weekend, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

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Paul Gilbert – Stone Pushing Uphill Man (2014)

01. Working For the Weekend (cover: Loverboy)
02. Back In the Saddle (cover: Aerosmith)
03. I Got the Feelin’ (cover: James Brown)
04. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (cover: Elton John)
05. Why Don’t We Do It In the Road (cover: The Beatles)
06. Shock Absorber (inspired by Rick Estrin)
07. Purple Without All the Red
08. Murder By Numbers (cover: The Police)
09. My Girl (cover: Eric Carmen, Rachmaninoff)
10. Wash Me Clean (cover: K.D. Lang)
11. Stone Pushing Uphill Man

guitars: Paul Gilbert
drums: Mike Portnoy and Kenny Aronoff (track 8)


Dragonforce - Maximum Overload (2014)

It's been more than a decade since Dragonforce debut album and the game are still on. Dragonforce may not be change completely but they ain't the same young kid with ultra high adrenalin in their music. They no longer some kids need to show off their speed and skill. Starting at least yesterday's album, The Power Within, the band has starts to grow in significant mature melodic power. For starter, they no longer want to do it by them self, they are hiring a pro. Producer Jens Bogren (Opeth, Paradise Lost, Symphony X) is the lucky guy needs to manage this hyper boys. As the result, the band seems like just reach their second puberty. The album has now sailing to heavier sounds, there are still much cheesier power metal.

You may want to hold the breath for several moments, as we race the beat from opening track "The Game", "Tomorrow's Kings" and "No More". All these three combined the classic Dragonforce over-clocked power metal riffs, duo killer guitars in almost every notes, video game influenced keyboards mimicry, and hell level drum beat. The Game itself starts without much intro, it is a darker power metal from Dragonforce, with Matt Heafy, perhaps behind the mic for the 'growling' backing. Tomorrow's King, required no introduction as it is Dragonforce in blood with its tech-qie intro and duo melodic prelude. The most classic should be in No More, where Herman and Sam in sync for most of the guitar parts. Not to mentioned Marc Hudson is growing stronger ever since his debut in previous album. Only then "Three Hammers" hammered the pace down to what we called Dragonforce's "mid tempo" song. "Symphony Of The Night" is kind of Blind Guardian type with its folk rhyme situation. Jump to "Defender" this time we got post-Andy Derris Helloween type of power metal song. "Extraction Zone" back to ultra fast beat, but with bite of progressive texture in it. For a regular package the album finished with Johny Cash cover of "Ring Of Fire", maybe be well listen while watching the movie as well.

And here we bid farewell to drummer Dave Mackintosh, he will always remember as drummer of Dragonforce, a title that everybody in the business will know what it mean. He will replaced by Gee Anzalone.  Marc Hudson vocals seem works to its maximum since all song is seem trying to reach the edge of his throat. For first half of the album we can definitely feel the continuation of Dragonforce power metal music, very much the same we heard for past decade. Then the other half may offer something new, Dragonforce did try to differs their stuffs. What Maximum Overload speaking is, there still area that can be explorer by their style. This album combined most what we expected from the name Dragonforce with slightly new experiments. It is lesser 'epic' than The Power Within where there are still massive of song written to fill the epic power metal field, but Maximum Overload is darker and heavier, lending to the dark side of something.

Favorite track: No More, Symphony of the Night, Extraction Zone

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

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Dragonforce - Maximum Overload (2014)

01. The Game (feat Matt Heafy)
02. Tomorrow’s Kings
03. No More (feat Matt Heafy)
04. Three Hammers
05. Symphony Of The Night
06. The Sun Is Dead
07. Defenders (feat Matt Heafy)
08. Extraction Zone
09. City Of Gold
10. Ring Of Fire (Johny Cash cover)
11. Power and Glory (bonus track)
12. You’re Not Alone (bonus track)
13. Chemical Interference

Marc Hudson – Vocals
Herman Li – Guitars, Vocals
Sam Totman – Guitars, Vocals
Frédéric Leclercq – Bass, Vocals
Vadim Pruzhanov – Keyboards, Vocals
Dave Mackintosh – Drums, Vocals
Produced by Jens Bogren


Adrian Weiss - Easy Game (2014)

Adrian Weiss is the recent hot guitar hero hailed from Germany. He was gaining fame from his hometown in Duesseldorf, playing guitar in many local progressive metal bands. "Easy Game" is actually his second solo instrumental guitar album. The first one released in 2011 which titled "Big Time" . Both albums surfs in the world of progressive metal vocabulary. Highly interesting for those who looking for quality guitar playing as in Marco Sfogli, Daniele Liverani, Andy James and Christian Muenzner. Those are new generation guitar shredder that shared the same fate in rising their fame. Their similarity not only in the music genre, but also in how they rise as independent solo artist, first associated with major bands, then released their music via  the digital form and promote using online social media power.

This album stretch the genre quite wide. We got "Awkward Silence" with interesting muted string lick in the intro. Song is laid down in progressive feel but yet strong melodic line enable us to follow it. "Instant Relief" is rather standard "minor" progressive scale we used to listen in Dream Theater or Symphony X solo. The next interesting point is "Hacienda" which is play as a duet with Christian Muenzner, the song interestingly highlighted the wild west / movie chasing like soundtrack with big chorus steel string voice. "Camel's Dance" is oriental / desert theme with nice wah-wah voice. "Second Sunrise" is a thick groovy composition, relaxing theme and playful. The album close with offbeat minor scale composition in duet with Manuel Franken, so understandably titled as "Offbeat Frankenstine".

Overall, Easy Game is truly easy listening instrumental album yet comes with interesting progressive and many other musical ideas. Song are straightforward but yet display creative guitar playing. You can drained lots of inspiration from each song, which is the main point in listening instrumental  ... to listen for fresh ideas. In term of production this is a big leap from Adrian's first album. You also can tell that from the number of guest contributors also, which throws in contrasting licks in many tracks. We welcome Adrian as the latest hero in the jungle of guitar shredder around the world.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon
Adrian Weiss - Easy Game (2014)

01. Awkward Silence
02. Instant Relief
03. Aim to Please
04. Immediate Measures
05. The Last Days
06. Hacienda (feat. Christian Muenzner)
07. Camel's Dance
08. Second Sunrise
09. The Offering
10. Easy Game
11. Night Owl
12. Offbeat Frankenstine (feat. Manuel Franken)

Adrian Weiss - Electric guitars
Lars Zehner - Drums
Marcel Willnat - Bass

Demian Heuke (These Are The Days)
Manuel Franken (Korsakow)
Christian Muenzner (Obscura, Spawn Of Possession)
Thorsten Praest (GUT)
Jens Basten (Gloryful)
Vito Papotto (Exotoxis, Gloryful)
Jens Schaefer (Thought Sphere, Moment Of Detonation)
Mischa Lenz (Kinski´s Eyes, Forces At Work)
Mf-C (Kinski´s Eyes)
Tim Schulte (Stigma)


Judas Priest - Redeemer Of Souls [2014]

Exactly 40 years ago in 1974, "Rocka Rolla" marked the debut album for a group that going to be heavy metal legend, Judas Priest. That mean they had passed through almost the entire era of heavy metal genre up to day. Times flies by with no compromise, forty years later Judas Priest is seventeen albums stronger. "Redeemer Of Souls" is their latest album released in 2014. This album fights all along the modern sounds and taste, straightly goes back to their root with catchy simple riffs and signature Rob Halford voice. On the net, Glen Tipton found saying that this album will has no too adventurous moment, they had listen to their fans regarding the luke-warm reception on their "Nostradamus" album. "Redeemer of Souls" is kind of back to what Judas Priest in "Painkiller" era.

The first three songs are simple, strictly open with power riffs. Noted that KK Downing position is now to relay Richie Faulkner. You going to find most remain same, the band keep everything familiar as before. "Dragonaut" is powerful opener, mid tempo song, feel very much in the '80s, Rob Halford has enough moment to exercise his vibrato elsewhere in the song. Almost the same thing can be said with "Redeemer Of Souls", this time the tempo is faster slightly, song writing are very melodic as Judas Priest always done. "Halls Of Valhalla" is finally something epic with longer musical opening. We jump to "Down In Flames" as the twin melodic intro is something different than others. "Hell & Back" is dark guitar ballad leads to mid tempo rock song. Something conceptual a la Queensryche is in "Cold Blooded". The band still get more song to make up a total of 13 songs + 5 in the bonus CD. Good productivity.

Redeemer Of Souls bring along many nostalgic Judas Priest moments. This album didn't have zenith scale song to reached all old fans to have it. Yet, there exist minor spikes to notice about the Judas Priest legacy. I would say the band were kind to releases large number of songs, where the first quarter of the album already can do well actually. Rob Halford comes still with his unique vocal character, while the guitars duo brings all classic licks and riffs to make up new songs. Come and listen once again to Judas Priest.

Favorite tracks: "Halls Of Valhalla", "Cold Blooded", "Metalizer", "Dragonaut", "Redeemer Of Souls"
Metal Harem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

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Judas Priest - Redeemer Of Souls [2014]

CD 1:
01. Dragonaut
02. Redeemer Of Souls
03. Halls Of Valhalla
04. Sword Of Damocles
05. March Of the Damned
06. Down In Flames
07. Hell & Back
08. Cold Blooded
09. Metalizer
10. Crossfire
11. Secrets Of The Dead
12. Battle Cry
13. Beginning Of The End

CD 2:

01. Snakebite
02. Tears Of Blood
03. Creatures
04. Bring It On
05. Never Forget

    Ian Hill – bass
    Rob Halford – vocals
    Glenn Tipton – guitars, keyboards, synthesiser
    Scott Travis – drums, percussion
    Richie Faulkner – guitars


June 2014 Classic Hard Rock Revival Albums

This June of 2014 we saw several old timer hard rock bands released their new works. Due to my busy summer peak time, here their list with brief album reviews:

Night Ranger - "High Road" 2014
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Nice reunion between Jack Blades, Brad Gills, Kelly Keagy, together with new guitarist Joel Hoekstra and Eric Levy produced this album "High Road". The single "High Road" and "Knock Knock Never Stop" really brings back US '80s hard rock feel. 8/10

Track List:

3. Rollin' On
4. Don't Live Here Anymore
5. I'm Coming Home
6. X Generation
7. Only For You Only
8. Hang On
9· St. Bartholomew
10. Brothers
11. L.A. No Name*

Night Ranger High Road album review

Tesla - "Simplicity" 2014

My favorite hard rock band from the late '80s. Tesla is back with "Simplicity". Favorite songs are "So Divine..." and "Ricochet". They indeed did not sounds much like their classic Psychotic Supper era,  Jeff Keith vocals brings back all the memories. Frank Hannon get along well with Dave Rude , who replaced Tommy Skeoch in the 2006. 8/10

Line Up:
    Jeff Keith - lead vocals
    Frank Hannon - guitars, vocals, piano, bass
    Brian Wheat - bass, vocals, piano
    Troy Luccketta - drums, percussion
    Dave Rude - guitars, vocals, bass

Track List:

01. M P 3
02. Ricochet
03. Rise and Fall
04. So Divine...
05. Cross My Heart
06. Honestly
07. Flip Side!
08. Other than Me
09. Break of Dawn
10. Burnout to Fade
11. Life is a River
12. Sympathy
13. Time Bomb
14. 'Til that Day
15. Burnout to Fade (writing demo version) - Bonus Track
16. Honestly (writing demo version) - Bonus Track

Tesla Simplicity album review

Nazareth - Rock 'n' Roll Telephone (2014)
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Nazareth actually been active ever since 2008, this year they release "Rock 'n' Roll Telephone". Pete and Lee Agnew is still keeping the band alive. Dan McCafferty doing the vocals now and Jimmy Murrison to complete the band. "Boom Bang Bang" set the opener, catchy and classic good old stuffs. "Back 2B4" is exactly time shift to their '70s sounds. "Rock 'n' Roll Telephone" is crunchy guitar riffs mid tempo song. The last song "God Of The Mountain" closed the album in loud and hard style. Fully entertain album by the guys who in their 50s! 9/10

    Dan McCafferty – vocals
    Jimmy Murrison – guitars
    Pete Agnew – bass guitar
    Lee Agnew – drums

 Track List:

01. Boom Bang Bang
02. One Set Of Bones
03. Back 2B4
04. Winter Sunlight
05. Rock 'n' Roll Telephone
06. Punch A Hole In The Sky
07. Long Long Time
08. The Right Time
09. Not Today
10. Speakeasy
11. God Of The Mountain

Nazareth Rock n Roll Telephone album review

Uriah Heep - Outsider  (2014)
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Outside is Uriah Heep manifesto of existence. Listen to their hit of the album "One Minute", greatly composed piano ballad that improve to great hard rock song. Bernie Shaw vocal never fail to please us. Solid hard rock album that again re-captured the spirit of classic hard rock to our modern times. Superb release. 9/10

    Bernie Shaw – lead vocals
    Mick Box – guitars
    Phil Lanzon – keyboards
    Russell Gilbrook – drums
    Dave Rimmer – bass


01. Speed Of Sound
02. One Minute
03. The Law
04. The Outsider
05. Rock The Foundation
06. Is Anybody Gonna Help Me?
07. Looking At You
08. Can't Take That Away
09. Jessie
10. Kiss The Rainbow
11. Say Goodbye
12. One Minute (Bonus' 60 Seconds)
13. Between Two Worlds (Bonus' Live)

Uriah Heep Outsider album review