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

Buy it Here - Amazon
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)

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