Wayne Calford - Shred Alliance (2014)

If you are an aspiring (shred) guitarist, what would be more lovely than making a shred album and invited bunch of other (shred) guys to play in.Unaware among (mainstream) shredder society, here comes guitarist/composer Wayne Calford hail from Trimsaran, which is in Wales, which is in UK. In this extremely crowded guitar instrumental album called Shred Alliance, Wayne pacify as many as guitarists on Earth just like King James uniting as many kingdoms available in Great Britain. Not a bad move at all. Fans of Michael Angelo Batio will be thrilled once again, the other "popular" names are Per Nilsson and Simone Mularoni. There are also none other than dozen of "independent" yet extremely talented guitarist along side. In one word, this is indeed Shred Alliance, deliberately created to amused as many as guitar lovers.

The overall style in this album is shred, shred, neo-classical, prog-metal, with lots of comedic licks and cameos. Here's a lengthy explanation on each tracks: Return to Tabernacl, is djent-like in styles, uncompromised shred in fastest way possible, featuring Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry which comes in different set of guitar scale near the end. Spirit of Guitar, is neo-classical and progressive in styles, something of early Symphony X sounds with nice touch of Oriental scale in the beginning. For maestro Michael Angel Batio, is Speed Thrills, no doubt on its running speed, so this is shred as hell. Fretburn comes just like a medley to Speed Thrills, it is not actually, this track has a good groovy riff inside, also shred in fastest possible way. Shred City is more fun side, sounds American country in shred version, also bit of neo-classical and blues licks in between. Valley of the Cursed Guitar is kind of RHCP groove in sounds, pretty much contrasting point in this album.

Legacy of Shred is already scary just by reading the title, it is, it is developed from slow arpeggios intro, this is can be describe as shred guitar in doom metal-like. The guest in this track is the hardest to known because less information available in Google. Epical Guitar Quest is to avoid criticism from sexist and feminist, because the guest is a female, very talented, guitarist Jacqui Taylor. The song is the most easy listening, understandable for wider audience, nice one. S.O.S. (Strings of Solace) is calm in the intro but then an Helloween-March of Time-like intro kicks in. Day of the Shred is the second song with "shred" in title, it lifted up the word reputation and it is shred indeed. The Ghost of Cadno Music is different set of music, this is melodic composition in slower tempo, featuring perhaps one of family member. Shred Rising is another caution song title to anticipated, this is more intrigue composition where you'll need to write down the tempo meter if you would like to drum it. On other hand, The Guitarstrophe is the third song with word "guitar" in title, it is psychedelic in scale and going to bring you into other strophe and dimension. And the last one is Making a Stand, very "ending" feel, it is like a blurring melodic that rotating in your head after a couple of Wales beer, the surprised point is, it has a vocal (or voices) in the song.

The album is a nice homage to many well known as well as arising talents. Thought many of the shred parts down to similar road, but the guest and composition covered this up pretty well. Recording and mixing are slightly less spectacular due to perhaps self done by Wayne. Shred Alliance lift up its name with tons of shred licks and killing solos.

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

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Wayne Calford - Shred Alliance (2014)

01. Return to Tabernacl feat. Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry )
02. Spirit of Guitar feat. Michael.A.Ruelas (solo guitarist USA/Mexico)
03. Speed Thrills feat. Michael Angelo Batio (solo guitarist USA)
04. Fretburn feat. Simone Mularoni (DGM, Lalu)
05. Shred City feat. Nick Sandt (solo guitarist Ohio USA)
06. Valley of the Cursed Guitar feat. Timothy Reid (solo guitarist UK)
07. Legacy of Shred feat. Dave Bowes (solo, ?)
08. Epical Guitar Quest feat. Jacqui Taylor (female solo guitarist, UK)
09. S.O.S (Strings of Solace) feat. Rodrigo Tabare Fernandez (solo guitarist, AUS)
10. Day of the Shred feat. Pete Pachio (solo guitarist USA)
11. The Ghost of Cadno Music feat. Gareth Calford (...family member)
12. Shred Rising feat. Andy Rosser-Davies (Onslaught)
13. The Guitarstrophe feat. Doug Steele (solo guitarist, ?)
14. Making a Stand feat. Kyle Watherston (solo guitarist, UK)


Allen Lande The Great Divide (2014)

The duo of Russell Allen and Jorn Lande strike again with their fourth album. Though they are doing fine with Magnus Karlsson as their man behind the wheel, composer in charge, in this album Timo Tolkki is taking over the rule. That's right, the whole heavy metal sounds is kinda off and changes into Tolkki-style melodic metal. The Great Divide gives us Allen-Lande-Tolkki project instead because of how strong the tide of Timo Tolkki.

"Come & Dream With Me" is ultimately follow the path of Revolution Renaissance's "I Did It My Way"  for its melodic intro. Now that both Jorn and Lande executed this version in different feel so it's worth the whole make up. As in many Timo Tolkki's songs the chorus is melodic and epic. "Down From The Mountain" is another mimicry to a riff in RR's "We Are Magic", which is also greatly a face over with both Russell Allen and Jorn voices bring the tide to the next level of Tolkki's world. "In The Hands Of Time" is likely familiar to our ear but I can't find close references to this song. It is kind of dividing feel here, a happy one-two drumming but the voices really like to takes us to melancholy area. "Solid Ground" is finally something close to the vocalist's style, in similar to the whole Jorn world in Masterplan and his solo works. "Lady Of Winter" is mid tempo power metal feel with best associated with early Stratovarius works. With duo vocalist join power, the harmony in the chorus is really strong. The rest of songs are variation of their crossbreeding, notable of course "The Great Divide" which is start with dark nuances then developed into six minutes song with more and more operatic voices of both maestro.

This is surely an album where Timo Tolkki should stamped his name on it. Even un-aware listener with quickly notice his present. After three albums with Magnus Karlsson style, it is always fun to have the whole duo swift into this familiar, power-metal friendly, style. The Great Divide is ultimate collaboration between Allen / Lande + Timo Tolkki. This album is a testing ground for those who keen to know what really happened if Timo been provided to heavy metal vocalists. Singers with harsh and heavy vocals as in both Jorn + Lande, not sweet and power as in Kotipelko or Kiske. The result is of course positive. Eventually most of Tolkki's element was grander repetition to his trademark, but the vocal rendition of both vocalist cover this up and make this one an enjoyable and valuable recording.

Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten
Favorite tracks: Come & Dream With Me, Down From The Mountain, Lady of Winter

Buy it Here - Amazon
Allen Lande - The Great Divide (2014)

01. Come & Dream With Me
02. Down From The Mountain
03. In The Hands Of Time
04. Solid Ground
05. Lady Of Winter
06. Dream About Tomorrow
07. Hymn For The Fallen
08. The Great Divide
09. Reaching For The Stars
10. Bittersweet

Russell Allen - lead and backing vocals (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob, Star One, Trans-Siberian Orchestra)
Jørn Lande - lead and backing vocals (Jorn, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, Avantasia, ex-Masterplan)
Timo Tolkki - guitars, bass, keyboards (Timo Tolkki's Avalon, ex-Stratovarius, ex-Revolution Renaissance, ex-Symfonia)
Jami Huovinen - drums, percussion (Ring of Fire)

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