Wednesday, 23 September 2020
Thursday, 3 September 2020
According to the PR bumf that comes through, Landfails singer, Gui Oliver (ex-Auras) is a ringer for Steve Perry. You know the people that you hear about in the news that get a knock on the head which causes anmesia, then when they come around, speak in a French accent. Well this fella got a right pounding and come back round with Steve Perrys clothes but Eric Martins voice, if Eric was singing in the bathroom next to you with the bathroom door shut. Its Eric, but not quite Eric if you see what I am getting at. This is the Trumpness that you sometimes having to contend with when emailed a press pack.
“I’m really glad to be back with Frontiers with a new band and new songs in a new perspective. I believe this is my best album so far. I was really impressed when I met the band for the first time. They are truly amazing, gifted and very prepared to do this with me,” says Gui Oliver.
Landfall was originally started by drummer Felipe Souzza and guitarist Marcelo Gelbcke, who are childhood friends and have been playing together since they were about 15 years old. Some years later, bassist Thiago Forbeci joined up with them, adding new musical input and influences and the band decided to go in a new direction.
They began writing their songs and creating their own music repertoire to work off of and it was during this period that they recorded a few albums together and performed several concerts around Brazil, including opening for acts like Glenn Hughes and Mike Vescera.
Opening track ‘Rush Hour’ certainly gets ‘TTP’ off to a cracking start. It’s a pace number that skips along and had a decent crunchy riff and an instantly singable chorus. ‘No Way Out’ ticks some boxes and is catchy enough. ‘Janes Carousel’ follows a similar path. ‘Across The Street’ shows Landfall at their best and reminds me of early Ten, and ‘Don’t Come Easy’ is one of the more pleasant ballads Ive heard recently, considering I’m not a massive fan of ballads any more.
It's basically ‘wash-rinse-repeat’ from here on in. ‘Roundabout’ and ‘Sound Of The City’ stand out in the second half of the album, and ‘Hope Hill’ offers up a singalong moment for the listener. Beyond that, its bang average, in a sort of an half decent way. The songs are pleasant, a couple are very decent, but there’s not enough here to tempt me in for a second or third listen. Some people will think Im talking out of my Covid-larger-than-normal arse, but I just feel it has all been done before, and in a lot of cases, much better
Half of the album is good, but the balance is basically melodic rock by numbers. The production is good though, the playing for all is what I’d expect from a Frontiers AOR signed band.
I jest when I say that Oliver doesn’t sound like Steve Perry, but really, he doesn’t. Ok, maybe a few notes here and there, but he is not in the same sounding universe as Hugo Valenti or Arnel Pineda. Now those two are Perry ringers.
Review by Paul Chesworth
Gui Oliver - Vocals
Felipe Souzza - Drums
Marcelo Gelbcke - Guitars
Thiago Forbeci - Bass
Rush Hour *
No Way Out *
Across The Street*
Don’t Come Easy
Road Of Dreams
Sound Of The City *
* worth a listen
Tuesday, 1 September 2020
Perfect Plan - Time For A Miracle
Blummin’ ‘eck. Two years have shot by since the delights of the Perfect Plan debut, and in ‘In And Out Of Love’ it was one of the melodic rock anthems of 2018. So has two years done anything for them? Well, its No.2/sophomore album/2nd album syndrome, where you can soon tell if the songs on the second are not as finely tuned or honed as the originals as they (the debut songs) could have been in development for years. Im a firm believer that cream rises to the top, and with a singer like Kent Hilli on board, that Perfect Plan will have no such problems. So. fingers crossed, eh?
Well, if you’re going to rip off a band, then you might as well take a song from 1985 and hope the likeness isn’t remembered due to bands and fans either being dead now, suffering from early onset dementia, or just punch drunk because of Covid. Well you can’t fool me, you polished Scandinavians! If you think you’ve heard the drum into to ‘Time For A Miracle’ it’s because you have. It’s pretty damn similar to the Scorps ‘Crossfire’ and nearly sent me round the twist thinking where I’d heard it before. The similarity ends there though, as beyond the drum intro is a finely executed song with single written all over it. ‘Better Walk Alone’ is upbeat and raids Lou Gramms note book (almost) for ‘When we make love you know it’s all understood’. OK so I’m a bit picky, but ‘BWA’ is Giant, Steelhouse Lane and Survivor all rolled into one. The sound is great considering its probably on a shoestring compared to budgets of the 80s. Two songs in, its heavier than the debut, and that for me is fooking great!
‘Heart To Stone’ evokes memories of Bon Jovi’s ‘Runaway’ and that dear reader, is no bad place to pitch your tent. ‘Fighting To Win’ is the inevitable ballad. Piano and vocals kick it off, before everyone wades in for the chorus. I’m getting less tolerant of ballads as I’m getting older, but its part and parcel pretty much of most melodic bands so I admit its my problem. Its’ like Dave Bickley got the call. ‘Every Time We Cry’ gets PP back on track with more pace and some decent vocals from Hilli. More guitar, less parpy-ness. ‘What About Love’ again follows a music by numbers and is good, but I’m looking for ‘great’ And half-way through I don’t yet have a stand out or goose-bumpy moment. That is until ‘Nobody’s Fool’ it’s a blues tinged number that is more rock n roll than anything so far, and rocks more than it rolls. ‘Living On The Run’ picks up the torch from ‘Nobody’s’ and had these two been on ‘Side 1’ to use an analogy, my appetite would be well and truly whetted!! ‘Just One Wish’ evokes Robin Beck and Signal to good effect. ‘Don’t Blame It On Love Again’ is anthem enough to make another single choice and Hilli’s vocals are superb. ‘Give A Little Lovin’’ is energetic enough and Hilli again sings his arse off. Let’s face it, when doesn’t he? ‘Don’t Leave Me Here Alone’ has more vim and vigour and is more of a stirring ballad with a nice guitar solo.
To be honest, Hilli sounds great, the production excellent, and its because of the heavier songs in the latter half of ‘TFAM’ that make it for me. Its polished AOR by numbers, and it will easily make lots of fans Top 10 lists come the year end.
To make a comparison, if you currently have a Survivor/Jim Peterik sized hole in your life, then Perfect Plan have the shovel. Its good, but bands like HEAT and Vega just do it that little bit better.
Time For A Miracle
Better Walk Alone
Heart To Stone
Fighting To Win
Every Time We Cry
What About Love
Living On The Run
Just One Wish
Don’t Blame It On Love Again
Give A Little Lovin’
Don’t Leave Me Here Alone
Perfect Plan -
Kent Hilli - Vocals
Rolf Nordström - Guitar
Leif Ehlin - Keys
Frederik Forsberg - Drums
Mats Byström - Bass
Saturday, 29 August 2020
Stryper - Even The Devil Believes
Back in the mid 80s a good friend of mine used to go to a good friend of his (who back then had a stellar record collection, and still does) to make me some mix tapes. It was his attempt to get me into what was basically hair metal. Ratt, Tesla, Loudness, TT Quick, Fifth Angel, Cinderella, Joshua, etc., etc., Its a long list of bands! It took me years to track down the albums of these bands for myself. I loved all the bands, and I particularly liked Stryper. The cassette tape introduced me to ‘Make Me Wanna Sing’, ‘Battle Hymn Of The Republic’, and ‘Loud And Clear’. I have been a fan ever since. Few bands to this day from that 80s period are making new music, even less are turning out good stuff. In fact I think Stryper are on a (rock that makes me) roll as their last 3 albums have been some of their heaviest, most consistent and dare I say it, some of their best. They would even make the hardiest of fans give up lent in favour of these three (now make the four!)
Its always been a hard sell to your peers that you like Stryper. I don’t know why. I’m not religious, though I would like to have faith. Is it because of the religion? The wardrobe? Or some of the ballads that graced MTV back in the day? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. I’ve never been one to be taken in my a lyric. I do have a few, but this is where I probably sell myself short as I go for melody, riffs and how a song makes me feel rather than delving into the meaning. Whilst I don’t go for the faith aspect, I have however absorbed their music almost religiously. I’ve bought every album, I read Michael’s book (we both have a best way of having toilet roll presented), and that was a honest and open story. I saw them in Italy, something I never thought I would ever do, and sang the first three songs in a harmony with Rob Evans and Sweets wife (!) and have interviewed Michael and his dog a few years back.
Anyway, I am in the camp of Stryper maintaining the heaviness of the past few albums. I’m not against the ballads, but they were always on the sugar sweet side for me, too sugary. The recent 3 albums have kicked some serious balls, so I’m hoping for the trend to continue here with ‘Even The Devil Believes’. What can I say? Well, my hope and wish is well and truly granted. Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse Stryper come galloping over the horizon ready to conquer with a gut wrenching riff and banshee wail courtesy of Michael Sweet. As you would expect, harmonies are a thankful given, and there’s added welly from the prince of pound and the new bass groove in Perry Richardson. Its a sterling opening track and is 80s metal personified. ‘Make Love Great Again’ should be subliminally played across the US to combat the hate and division that seems rife, without getting too political. We all need some love in our lives, right? Sweet (M) has his feet firmly planted in the 80s as the guitar work is worthy of this period when bands like Stryper ruled the waves - both FM and UHF!
‘Let Him In’ is short and snappy and gets to the point, sharply with its simple but effective chorus. ‘Do Unto Others’ is the lightest song so far in, but even this rocks, and I particularly like the guitar solo. If you’re going to go big, then it should be on the track that the album bares its name, and ‘Even The Devil Believes’ almost gets there. The guitar tone ifrom Sweet and Fox s great and has some fab harmonies as you would expect, but I just wanted more, going for the jugular in length and scale. It’s still a good song, but I want them to deliver a ‘Heaven And Hell’ moment for me. ‘How To Fly’ dips its toes into the 70s for a section that is very ELO/The Beatles inspired and delivers in both its modern and past sound. ‘Divider’ is a cool song, and brings all the best parts of Stryper into one song. I know that’s every song, numbnuts, but very much so here. ‘This I Pray’ goes very Bon Jovi/Poison, with the stirring cowboy ballad. As Stryper ballads go, this one goes to eleven. Give me a song like this over the syrupy ones every day of the week. In fact, for ‘This I Pray’ Micael Sweet out-Jovi’s Bon Jovi!!
‘Invitation Only’ is bright, and ‘pop-py’ and its the chorus and harmonies that bring this up to what could have been a bit standard affair. ‘For God - Rock ’n’ Roll’ makes me want to dig out my spandex, foil covered cucumber, leg warmers and guy-liner as this would be welcome on any of their 80s output. It’s a little belter. In fact, I think it’s my favourite, and it should be an immediate addition to their live set. ‘Middle Finger Messiah’ is fast and frenetic and is I great title and a great song to finish off the album with.
With ‘Even The Devil Believes’ if this were the last album, then it would be some way to finish off as I/we can’t really expect our 80s heroes to be producing music some 35-40 years later. The fact that Stryper are, and are doing so at such a level, and absolutely kicking arse is a (new) testament to their being. If they do continue then I look forward to being in the front seat and preaching from the hilltop as to how great they are.
Michael Sweet cant hit the high notes as regular as he did in the 80s and that suits me. The voice has mellowed, it’s still one of the best in metal and he can pick his battle (hymn of the republic) when he goes high. When he does, it still makes me go all goosebumpy. He still remains one of my favourites. I’m a firm believer that a lot of the output from 80s bands hasn’t been as good as it was back in the day (thats nostalgia for you), but even the blind, and deaf can see/hear that Stryper are in the best period of their career.
After listening to this, I get it. Even The Devil Believes.
Blood From Above
Make Love Great Again
Let Him In
Do Unto Others
Even The Devil Believes
How To Fly
This I Pray
For God - Rock ’n’ Roll
Middle Finger Messiah
Stryper are -
Michael Sweet - Lead Vocals / Lead & Rhythm Guitar
Robert Sweet - Drums / Vocals
Oz Fox - Lead and Rhythm Guitar / Vocals
Perry Richardson - Bass / Vocals
Paul MacNamara - Keys/Moog/Organ
Keith Pittman - Additional Background Vocals
Wednesday, 26 August 2020
To say that Pain Of Salvation are bit eclectic is like saying Ozzy used to like a beer. They can go from the sublime to the ridiculous sometimes even in one song. One thing they are, and that’s progressive metal pioneers. With Daniel Gildenlöw at the helm they have been pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, and listenable for years. At one end you have a potential Eurovision band, and at the other, in the middle a current Opeth style prog band, and at the other a full on metal fusion band.
I never know who is going to turn up, and they have already lost Gustaf Hielm before this release, although he did contribute to the album. If Gildenlöw is pulling the strings (quite literally) it will always be a Pain Of Salvation album.
‘Accelerator’ is a mish-mash of synth, drum beat and guitar, which becomes delicate and light before a jazzy chorus. The song expands over the second half that becomes a wall of sound. It doesn’t exactly become an instantly hummable or singalong track, but that’s POS in one song and needs more than just one listen. In POS terms it means we are off to a good start! ‘Unfuture’ draws you into a Country style guitar before it again becomes something very different very quickly. Theres a lot to absorb as the main instrument is Gildenlöw’s voice. POS have never been a singles band, and ‘Restless Boy’ comes as close to that as they can (well in time length anyway). Again it’s more electronica than prog or metal, I suppose that is what ‘progressive ‘really is as POS are shooting way past standard rock, and typical verse/bridge/chorus.
‘Wait’ is built around classical guitar and a tubular bells sounding piano refrain, and its a fairly quick seven minutes and is my favourite song on the album so far. Theres a lot of emotion being transmitted by Gildenlöw and it makes for a very rewarding song. ‘Keen To A Fault’ keeps to a well trodden path of everything on the album so far, a very unusual rhythmic pattern, some complex drumming from Léo Margarit. It’s the most accessible and melodic song on here. ‘Fur’ is a delightful instrumental piece that would fit well into a dark and melancholic animated film. It leads into the title track ‘Panther’ with Daniel ‘speak-singing’ and riffing/rapping away contentedly. It will probably be the most divisive song on the album, but once I accepted it for what it is, it was enjoyable.
‘Species’ is where I really like POS. It’s more in the centre of their repertoire, typical of 'Road
Salt One & Two'. It becomes a lot heavier for the second half and melds prog, grunge and shows that Gildenlöw is firing on all cylinders and is a man clearly on the top of his game as his vocals here are amazing, emotional, and on the edge. Finally we are onto ‘Icon’ a thirteen minute epic where they throw everything at it. Tender and subtle piano introduces it, before bass and drums rumble in and builds its tension like a soundtrack. It then becomes a tender ballad that again shows Gildenlöw at his best, and has vocals for all occasions. Theres a dark and menacing undercurrent and also haunting at the same time. A trait that few bands can present as well as this. Hallgren’s guitar solo is a joy to behold - something that has been sorely missing on the album. The darkness returns for the closing section of Icon with another Hallgren guitar solo. It is the stand out song by a country mile and is a fine way to finish. Save the best to last has never been so true a saying. It’s also one of the best songs they have ever performed.
As POS albums go, it’s definitely one that needs a few listens, probably more than a few. Once again Daniel Gildenlöw is pushing the boundaries of Pain Of Salvation and there’s lots of new sounds and direction from him. It doesn’t sit at the top of their output for me and I hope it does after some more time to dwell on the songs. Existing fans will no doubt be drawn into the musical mixing pot, but whether it brings in new fans I'm nor so sure. If you haven’t heard anything from them yet apart from this, then I truly envy you as you delve into their back catalogue. POS prove to be consistently different, and that’s why we love them.
Keen To A Fault
Pain Of Salvation
Daniel Gildenlöw - Vocals and a bit of everything
Johan Hallgren - guitar and vocals
Léo Margarit - drums and vocals
Daniel Karlsson - keyboards, guitar and vocals
Gustaf Hielm - bass and vocals