Thursday 31 May 2018

Jean Beauvoir - 'Rock Masterpieces Vol. 1' Review

Jean Beauvoir – Rock Masterpieces Vol. 1

AOR HEAVEN is currently gearing up to release the first of two retrospective albums highlighting the music of Jean Beauvoir beginning in the summer of 2018. Jean Beauvoir: Rock Masterpieces Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 feature songs from his solo career including his International multi-platinum debut "Drums Along the Mohawk" album, from his band Crown Of Thorns, his band Voodoo X, which also made music and video history, some fan favorites and a couple of unreleased singles which are a part of several soon to be released projects. AOR HEAVEN will begin releasing his follow up album Jean Beauvoir" Rock Masterpieces Vol. 2 by the end of 2018, beginning of 2019. The songs on both albums will be remastered. 

Beauvoir is also working with best selling British author Simon Cox (Cracking The Da Vinci Code) on a new book which will capture his storied career in music and entertainment. The iconic Blonde Mohawk of Jean Beauvoir has been an ongoing major influence on US and International pop culture in music, sports, film and TV; including several cartoons; influences that are still being seen and heard today. As a member of the Plasmatics, the most outrageous, controversial, successful Punk band ever and a longtime songwriter and producer for the Ramones, hailed as the greatest Punk band in the world, Jean Beauvoir is forever linked to two of the most revolutionary bands of the twentieth century. He was a member of the Plasmatics during their most successful and revolutionary time in music and is the only member of the Plasmatics who went onto a successful solo, production and writing career with over 40-million records sold to date and featured on over 240 albums.

Music from his solo debut album 'Drums Along the Mohawk' was hand picked by Sylvester Stallone for the film Cobra which led to Beauvoir making a deal with Al Teller (President of Paramount Pictures). Through working closely with Branson, Stallone and Teller, Cobra received the highest advertising budget for a Hollywood film to date at the time featuring the single "Feel the Heat" as its title track. 

Thank heavens for ‘No Limits’, a BBC show from one of the major importers of melodic rock/AOR, Jonathan King. This show was better than a lot of TV shows at the time (the UK had yet to receive the mecca of all music, MTV) so we got our hits in small doses through Top Of The Pops, ECT, and The Tube. King was ahead of the curve, introducing me as a 17-19 year old to bands such as Guiffria, Warrior, (Patti Smyth), and songs we would never have heard of from the likes of Lou Gramm, Sammy Hagar, Y&T, and Jean Beauvoir. This was my first interaction for his single ‘Feel The Heat’. I thought it was fantastic, a song that went against my rock upbringing on bands like Rainbow, Rush and Whitesnake to name just three. The guy had a huge mowhawk, a great voice, and in FTH a huge chorus. I was in for the long run. Also from ‘Drums…’ is the very pop-y ‘Missing The Young Days’ and shows how diverse he was back in the 80s.

Thanks to grunge and music at that time having little to excite me in the way of music, bands like Crown Of Thorn’s passed me by until I heard ‘Hike It Up’ at a rock disco in Wigan. Yes, Wigan! I turned to my esteemed colleague to ask who it was. Once explained I picked up the phone (internet was still shite) and snapped up their debut about 3 yrs after it was released. It was that good, it filled a gap that had been missing. It was superb.

If this were my choice, this whole CoT debut album should have been on Vol 1, as it as strong from start to finish. ‘Hike it Up’ is a killer of a track, like Kiss on steroids. ‘Crown Of Thorns’, ‘Dying For Love’, ‘Secret Jesus’ are all big, anthemic numbers where Beauvoir’s vocals are huge. The bloke is on fire.

There’s a few songs that are new to me – ‘Heartbeat’, has a sprawling guitar riff, that intertwines with his vocals, and whilst not one of the best songs on offer here, it’s a decent enough track. ‘The Awakening’ (Voodoo X) is a nice ballad in the first instance, before grabbing you by the ears and making you sit up and take notice with its up tempo Whitesnake Still Of The Night vibe.  It’s bloody excellent. ‘Voodoo Queen’ is one of those huge songs I’d wait for at the end of a film in the 80s playing over the credits. If it wasn’t on a soundtrack, why wasn’t it?!!. ‘Rock Ready’ and ‘Faith’ in particular shows that Beauvoir still had the knack of penning a good song or three. ‘The One’ isn’t one that I’d pick as it’s a filler when compared the strengths of everything around it here. Finally it’s onto ‘Standing On The Corner For Ya’, and is the stripped back version c/w gospel choir backing, and its given a new lease of life. Both the original and this show how many of his songs are great with full electric backing or stripped back.

Its fitting that most of CoT debut make the cut here. I’d still be looking to find room for ‘Winterland’ in Vol 2, as its my all time fave CoT track. There’s a gap from albums ‘Destiny Unknown’ and ‘Karma’. I hope this doesn’t mean that some of these will be missed from Vol 2. The also excellent ‘Lost Cathedral’ album hardly gets a mention.

The PR info states “Today, Jean Beauvoir is also recognized as "One of the Most Influential Black Rockers of All Time". In my eyes it should read ‘Influential Black People of All Time” Period.

This is essential for anyone that like their music with a huge slab of riffage and big anthemic, melodic choruses. If you are not fully au fait with this output (like me) then this is an essential purchase of one of rocks true icons.

Roll on Volume 2!

Review by Chesy

SCORE - 8/10

Crown Of Thorns
Dying For Love
Feel The Heat
The Awakening
Missing The Young Days
Hike It Up
Secret Jesus
Rock ready
The One
Voodoo Queen
Standing On The Corner For Ya

Hi-speed life - EP

Hi-speed life - EP

Introducing Hi Speed Life. These guys are a huge hit in their hometown of Adelaide, Australia and are currently preparing to release their next release later in the year working with local producer extraordinaire Darren Mullan of Adelaide Recording Studio’s, the man behind the mighty Jac Dalton sound amongst others.
Peter Eime on base, Paul Kennedy on lead guitar, Dom Furina on drums and Danny Gates on vocals, make up Adelaide band Hi Speed Life. Hi Speed Life take pride in producing an original sound of rock.

Listening this new Australian group, it’s clear these recordings are demo versions but they give you enough indication as to what to expect if these guys eventually release an official album.

On first listening, I’m not 100% impressed. ‘Every Day’ & ‘Fake It’ pass by without any attempt at pricking my ears up that are waiting for that thundering chorus to kick in. These tunes just roll by unnoticed as nothing seems to really happen in them.

‘If You Wanna Fight’ is no different but then things change when ‘Rocket Man’ kicks in. This is very brit-rock style stuff and a breath of fresh air compared to what I’ve heard so far, with it’s The Kinks  ‘You Really Go Me’ style riff.

‘Take Me Down’, although holds some nice riffs in the verses, just doesn’t pack a punch when it comes to the chorus, but does kick into a great solo, which, for me, saves the song. The whole EP, taking into account that this is a demo version doesn’t sit right with me. This band does not in my opinion deserve a recording contract. It’s basic rock n roll. Nothing magical, different, or catchy enough to allow your ears to part company with whatever they are doing at the time and start listening to what’s in front of them.

And then ‘Rangatang’ kicks in. It starts with a lovely bass riff, which is then picked up by the guitars and slides into the verse. This is more like it. It has a hint of Smashing Pumpkins to it and is by far the best song on the EP so far. My ears have finally pricked up!!

‘Breathe Now’ is another good effort and it’s riff reminds me of Ross The Boss ‘By Blood Sworn’. ‘Make It Right’ is another great tune. Seems these guys have saved the best tunes to the 2nd half of the EP!! We conclude with ‘Same Old Thing’ which has lots of similarities to their fellow countrymen AC/DC, but on a lower scale, but not a bad rock n roll tune.

Overall, I’m not sure these guys would be a hit over these shores. They would need to come up with more tunes like ‘Rangatang’ and ‘Breathe Now’ in order to win our hearts.

Reviewed by Sty

Rating 5/10

Hi Speed Life are:-
Paul Kennedy —Guitars
Danny Gates —Vocals
Dom Furnia —Drums
Peter Eime —Bass

No Hot Ashes release new video, 'Glow'

No Hot Ashes are probably in the Guinness Book Of Records for releasing a debut album, some 33 years after they first formed. When it did finally see the light of day, NHA is one of the best melodic rock albums you'll hear all year.

Proving that its no fluke, No Hot Ashes will be playing on the 'Baroness' stage at Download next weekend (Sunday).

If youve been wondering if you should dip your toe in and buy their album, then shame on you. Heres a taster of why you should be owning their album...

Need more proof? Heres my review from March - https://www.chesyrockreviews.com/2018/03/no-hot-ashes-no-hot-ashes-album-review.html

Saturday 26 May 2018

Hogjaw - 'Way Down Yonder' Album Review

Hogjaw – Way Down Yonder

Hogjaw hail from the deserts of Arizona, and are no strangers to European shores. Last year they played 40 plus headline shows supporting the release of their new album, ‘Way Down Yonder’, recently released by Snakefarm Records.

‘WDW’ is album number six, and I’m sorry to say I’ve not heard of them before now. If you are like me, and not a hardened fan, but a complete newcomer, here’s a quick low down on Hogjaw. I spent all of my teenage years in the 1980’s, and listened (still do) to the main players at that time – Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackfoot being a staple diet, alongside an entrée of Molly Hatchet and .38 Special.  If any of these 4 bands make you all nostalgic for the 70s and 80s, then please, please look no further than these guys, as they epitomize all that is good and was great about American Southern rock. Hogjaw wear their music on their sleeve (literally) – its creepy swamp water and is as Southern as moonshine. In fact, I’m guessing its what they had in their bottles as babies.

I have no point of reference with their previous output, just my 1980s upbringing. With opening song ‘Back Home Today’ one thing strikes me immediately, and that’s how good Jonboat Jones is (great forename, dude!). He reminds me of Darius Rucker of 90s band Hootie & The Blowfish. There’s also a running riff that very similar to Queen Of The Stoneage’s ‘No One Knows’. We’re  off to a good start.

There’s some song titles that could only come from a Southern Rock band – ‘Brown Water’, (I’m scared too to read the lyric sheet), ‘North Carolina Way’, ‘Talk About Fishin’’ and the un-mistakeable ‘Got A Pencil’.

‘To Hell With The Rest’ melds Skynyrd with ZZ Top with some pretty decent guitar playing, and Jones’ melody shining through. “Brown Water’ thankfully isn’t a song about the shits, its whisky, thankfully. It’s a faster paced rocker with plenty of energy. ‘North Carolina Way’ is 100% proof pure Lynyrd Skynyrd, with JJ sounding a lot like Van Zandt, with its relaxed verse, before unleashing a powerful chorus.  Title track, ‘Way Down Yonder’’s’ riff, is almost a toned back version of Rainbows Sixteenth Century Greensleeves (more to follow…). It has smokin’ and smoulderin’ guitar work, coupled with decent harmonies, and even some a capella with added handclaps for added effect. Its the best song on WDY by a country mile – its their Stargazer (Hint. Or is it?).

‘Dark Horse’ is a slow down, a chance to take stock and catch your breath, with its darker lyrical content. ‘I take back (almost) what I said about the title track, ‘Redemption’ is the best track on the album. It’s a sprawling, moody beast of a number. Like any good song its based around a great guitar sound, harmonies, and an anthemic like chorus. Played live, this will probably be a 15 minute opus! ‘Got A Pencil’ goes back to its Southern roots, slide guitar, machine gun drumming (like Brian Downey), and when combined, takes the song up a level or two. ‘Never Surrender’ has its riff come right out of the blocks at ya. It has more of a spoken word vocal for the verse, and shows that Hogjaw do not follow trends and do things their own way.

Tracks 1-9 are pretty much southern rock staples, until track ten. ‘Beast Of Burden (Roll On)’ made me do a double take at my computer as I thought I’d skipped a track or two. The riff for this almost note for note ‘Stargazer’ with new lyrics, make no bones about it. You could call it plagiarism, I prefer to call it a tribute to obviously one of their favourite bands. If they love it as much as I do, then good on ya. Try and get past the riff and it’s a good enough song. Finally its onto the last track ‘Talk About Fishin’’ which is bluegrass/country and like Star-Burden is far removed from the rest of the songs.

Despite know having a Scooby Doo about Hogjaw, it’s been a very pleasant surprise in hearing them six albums in. That said, I’ll be checking out my digital supplier of streamed music to check out their back catalogue, and if you’re a fan of any of the bands I discussed at the top of this review, then you should to.

Catch them on tour in the UK in October

Score 7/10

Back Home Today
To Hell With The Rest
Brown Water
North Carolina Way
Way Down Yonder
Dark Horse
Got A Pencil
Never Surrender
Beast Of Burden (Roll On)
Talk About Fishin’

Hogjaw are

Jonboat Jones – Vocals & Guitar
Jimmy Rose – Lead Guitar
Elvis DD – Bass
Kwall - Drums

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Ghost - 'Prequelle' Album Review

Ghost – Prequelle

Fans have come along for the ride for years, not knowing for certain who was behind the anonymous band… that is, until Tobias Forge recently revealed himself as the man behind Ghost. Each album is more like a film release than a record release. In addition to serving as director, Forge conceives the role of every character, and oversees everything from the screenplay to video to wardrobe design to artwork to cinematography to soundtrack.

For a brief Ghost 101 – Papa Emeritus I was singer on the first album. Papa II on Infintessimum, and Papa III on Meliora. Papa Emeritus Nil or Zero is the father of Papa’s II and III. II & III are brothers born three months apart! Papa Nil is considered too old for fronting Ghost, so in comes Cardinal Copia, who is an apprentice who needs to learn from the master, with a view to becoming Papa Emeritus IV and is vocalist for Prequelle. Phew. Get it? Got it. Good. Then youre one step ahead of me.

Lyrically, Prequelle delves into the plague, the apocalypse, and dark ages. 

Now, back at the beginning I thought that Ghost were a gimmick band (Think Kiss, only in robes). I dismissed them at my peril. I would have closed the curtains had they been playing in my back yard (etc,.). Until last year…

I caught them on tour and was completely blown away, buying all the albums within days, and fully emersing myself in the history and unbelievable riffs, coupled with melodies to literally die for.

On to 'Prequelle', and just like old school, we get an intro based on the plague, with “Ashes’, or as we Brits call it, ‘Ring a ring 'o roses’, before expanding into what becomes the unbelievably sing-a-long-a-tastic ‘Rats’. If anyone can make a poetic and infectious song about vermin, its Ghost. In fact, I cant tell the difference between Papa II and Copia. 'Rats' is based on 80s hair metal riffs, with the melody of J-pop! ‘Faith’ is old-metal neo classical riffage, with their trade mark chugging riff overlaid,  and is the heaviest song on the album with some great harmonies – propably the only song that references their past. It ends with a choral passage leading into ‘See The Light’ and is gonna be a big hit for Ghost. The verse and chorus are like 'light and dark', with a delicate piano, and powerful darkness of the chorus.

‘Miasma’ is a bit of a strange beast in todays World, an instrumental from a bygone age of the 70s and 80s when albums used to be full of the buggers. I always thought it was a lazy option, but in this instance, guitars, retro keyboard synth and even a saxaphone all come to play their part. ‘Dance Macabre’ is an old school rocker that would have blitzed the Billboard charts back in the day and is different to anything that Ghost have previously given us, its something like Abba could have written, and is absolutely massive. ‘Pro Memoria’ starts as if it were a soundtrack piece, or written for a musical not to dissimilar from Jeff Wayne, and is like a old 70s prog song full of storytelling. Different, but in a great way. ‘Witch Image’s’ opening riff is just like klassik Kiss, and is catchy as Hell, with the keyboard and guitar riff interplaying with the melodic verse and chorus to great effect.

When you think one instrumental is one too many, then we get a second one. ‘Helvetesfonster’ is part X-Files intro, part Jethro Tull, and Ayreon, which is folky, earthy and just feels as if there's lyrics itching to reveal themselves, and for a 51 year old, brought up on shit like like this, is manna from Heaven. Its quickly onto the final song, ‘Life Eternal’ a more melancholic song for them proves to be a fitting end to this strange, different and beautiful album.

All the old elements are they from Ghosts past, but I think that this is an album that could get them even wider appeal as the songs of offer could, and should cross borders and open them up to a whole new audience. Its rock, metal, pop, prog, soundtrack and Broadway/West End musical running all they way through this album.

Ghost  have announced their fourth sacred psalm Prequelle (pronounced prē-KWELL) will be released on June 1, 2018 via Spinefarm/Loma Vista Recordings. Prequelle is available for pre-order. Limited edition bundles including 8-Tracks, Casettes and more are available exclusively in the Ghost shop https://uklomavistarecordings.ochre.store/ghost

Score 9/10

Tracklisting -

See The Light
Dance Macabre
Pro Memoria
Witch Image
Life Eternal

Saturday 19 May 2018

Kendell Marvel - 'Lowdown & Lonesome' Album Review

Kendell Marvel – Lowdown & Lonesome

Whats in a name, for me I like the musicality of Ken-dell Mar-vell, with added inflection on the dell & vel. I'm probably wrong, but its a great name. Lowdown & Lonesome is KM’s debut album and is released through Snakefarm Records today, May 18th.

I've had a love of what I'd call ‘true country’ right from the early 70s as a young child, where my mum and dad would watch what would become and annual country fest out of the Wembley Arena with the likes of Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Don Williams and George Hamilton IV. It was supposed to be a dead genre, but ran in the UK well into the 80s and in recent years has been resurrected. I’ve been a fan ever since. Enough of ‘lil ‘ol me, over to Kendell...

Says KM ‘I’m really looking forward to the release of my debut record. It was produced by Keith Gattis, and I refer to it as ZZ Top meets Merle Haggard’, and THAT is a damn good description of where to start. He has a pretty incredible back story – he moved from his native Illinois to Music City in 1998 intent on pursuing a music career. On his first day working in the city, he wrote ‘Right Where I need To Be’ - a huge Top 5 hit for country music singer Gary Allan. Putting his dreams of being an artiste on the back-burner, he continued to build his career and reputation, penning hits for and with famed artists such as George Strait, Jake Owen, Blake Shelton (U.S., The Voice), and Chris Stapleton. Now, some 20 years down the line, Marvel is thriving as a singer songwriter in his own right. He hosts his own monthly show in Nashville, and is one of the hottest tickets in town, thanks to a wide range of guest appearances from the like of Alison Krauss, Foo Fighters, The Black Crowes and Brothers Osbourne. You don’t get that kind of help and support if you’re not very good!

To be honest, if you are a fan of any of the aforementioned names, Nashville, Country Rock, and the likes of Johnny Cash, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Rayna James, Deacon Claybourne, and The Good ‘Ol Boys (I could keep going for some time), mixed with a great knack of story telling and instantly memorable songs then you need look no further than Kendell Marvell and ‘Lowdown & Lonesome’.

It's a mixed bag of songs that range from what I’d call ‘proper old school country’ to more mainstream country rock. Opening track and title track ‘Lowdown & Lonesome’ is a great country rock n roll song. Full stop. It draws on Johnny Cash (think ‘Man Comes Around’) to the heavier end of country such as Eric Church. Its a country check list of lyrics - ‘Fulsom’, ‘Walk The Line’, ‘Whiskey River’ etc. You could play a drinking game to the country metaphors listed here in this one song. ’Marvell’s vocals have a gritty and gravely sound that just draws you in for the long haul. ‘Gypsy Woman’ is acoustical and just so achingly good. Especially with its little Hammond lilts, and has a warmth due to is really cool harmonies. ‘Heartache Off My Back’ just powers forward and just makes you want to get up out of your chair and dance! ‘Watch Your Heart’ showcases KM’s vocals, a slow burner where the first half shows off his lower register, then it soars on the latter half. There is a mid-section of songs that makes me sit up as they are co-written with Chris Stapleton amongst others. ‘Untangle My Mind’ with its honky-tonk piano transports me to ‘Bobs Country Bunker’ chock full of beer-swillers and whiskey drinkers.

‘Tryin’ Not To Love You’ I think will be a big hit for Marvell. It covers all the bases by a ‘country mile’ (yup, that was intentional). ‘Hurtin’ Gets Hard’ is a country ballad that sticks its head above the others on this record. Complete with harmonies from Melonie Cannon, they work together really nicely, just like Mr & Mrs Stapleton. ‘Closer To Hell’ is sung with enough tongue-in-cheek ‘so I started confessing, and he started sweating till he had to get up and leave, I guess the preacher agrees...’. ‘That Seat’s Saved’ finished the originals with a pure bottled country track, steel gee-tar, spoken word and all, sung about a love waiting to return ‘sit anywhere you want to, mister, anywhere but there….it’ll have her name on it till I don’t have a prayer’. It will have aficionados crying into their beers for sure. The final track is a more upbeat note, a cover of a classic from Charlie Daniels ‘Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye’ (Feat. Jamey Johnson)

Kendell clearly has some friends in very high places – most of whom have turned out to play on this album, and he has used them to great effect. If you think county is a bit ‘samey’ and jaded, then look at Kendell, he is trying to break free of the chains. He is cut from the same cloth as some of the greats. Whilst he is no spring chicken, he has an even greater future ahead of him as a performer. There’s enough variation on offer here to keep a wide ranging country fan invested, both classic and modern country.

I'm just pissed off that I only found out about him this week, just one week after he has toured the UK with Brothers Osborne. Dayum.

Score 9/10

Tracks – (Are there no words ending in ‘g’ in country??)
Lowdown & Lonesome
Gypsy Woman
Heartache Off My Back
Watch Your Heart
Untangle My Mind
Tryin’ Not To Love You
Hurtin’ Gets Hard
Closer To Hell
That Seat’s Saved
Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye (Feat. Jamey Johnson)

Review by Paul Chesworth

Wednesday 16 May 2018

Hartmann - 'Hands On The Wheel' Review

Hartmann – Hands On The Wheel

Ive been a fan of Oliver Hartmann right from his first solo album ‘Out In The Cold’ For me, it took that years releases by storm as it produced some wonderful songs – 'Out In The Cold', 'Alive Again', 'What If I', 'Brazen'. He is one of the very few singers my missus loves (other than Michael Bolton) – and that's saying something! So you're in good company, mate. The following years have been a bit hit and miss – Home (good), 3 (OK), Balance (V.Good), Shadows and Silhouettes (couldn't get along with it at all).

When you have a voice lice Olli, and a definite talent for hooks and harmonies, I will always give him the time he deserves.

Since the late 90’s founder Oliver Hartmann is known as a highly respected singer and guitarist on the international music scene due to four albums with the band At Vance, studio work for hard rock and metal acts as Hammerfall, Rhapsody, Helloween or Edguy, as a long time studio and live member of top sellers as Avantasia and as part of 'Rock Meets Classic' that is featuring the big names of the international rock scene: Alice Cooper, Ian Gillan, UriahHeep, Status Quo, Thin Lizzy, Paul Rodgers, Eric Bazilian, Jimi Jamison, Midge Ure, Steve Lukather, Chris Thompson, BonnieTyler and many others. Not only that, Oliver Hartmann is also fronting the successful Pink Floyd Tribute band, Echoes.

The following review may contain racing puns!

So what do we have with the new album ‘Hands On The Wheel’?

Well it seems as if the Oliver of old is back, and that for me is great news. ‘Don't Want Back Down’ has all of his usual hallmarks, with its gentle build up, then hits you between the ears with is rocky and powerful chorus. If this is what is to come, then its a better album already than its predecessor. Its a solid and pretty decent rock song, with no twiddly widdlys, or histrionics. We’re off the start line and into the first corner. ‘Your Best Excuse’ is straight out of the Hartmann archives. Think of ‘Is It You’, and ‘All My Life’ and you’re on the right track – in fact, the chorus sounds a little like the Foo Fighters. ‘Cold As Stone’ contains my kryptonite, a Hammond. Its following a now tried and tested formula, and its good to see Olli and the guys hitting top gear.

I've been looking forward to hearing this next song, ‘Simple Man’ as it contains a duet with the Peter Pan of rock, one Eric Martin. It starts with a 70s Jethro Tull /Celtic vibe, all fluty and earthy, in an Ayreon kind of way. Its not the first time Hartmann has done a duet, and this one is great. The warmth and storytelling in their voices are a joy to listen to. ‘Last Plane Out’ is typical Hartmann fare, and ‘Soulmates’ is a nice lilting ballad that builds as it goes along, and its a long song – a hefty seven minutes. Long doesn’t equal epic, but its a damn good song all the same. I can imagine it sounding superb when played live, its almost gospel-like in its nature. You couldn’t have two Hartmann songs that are further apart that are in succession. ‘The Harder They Come’ is about as hard as Oliver Hartmann gets. I like the change in direction. ‘Dreamworld’ and ‘I Remember’ are both nice and punchy – and hit the spot. I quite like the opening riff to ‘Lost In Translation’, I wanted just a little more from the rest of the song. ‘The Sky Is Falling’ draws on the blues (in an early Whiteshake way) and then swaps with a decent and heavy chorus. Its all over with ‘Heart Of Gold’ has Olli’s warmth coming through for this acoustical ballad. Whether is the rockier numbers or a heartfelt ballad, Oliver Hartmann has it covered.

There’s some good interplay going on here. Long standing guitarist Mario Beck knows his part well and is a great foil for Hartmann. All the other guys add to the overall mix also.

The last album stalled at the lights, then when it did get going, got caught in the gravel trap. ‘HOTW’ on the other hand, moves up through the gears nicely and is firing on all cylinders. This is a very welcome return from one of my favourite artistes.

Score – a very solid 8/10

Line-up:Oliver Hartmann (vocals, guitar); Mario Reck (guitar); Armin Donderer (bass); Markus Kullmann (drums); additional keys by Jimmy Kresic

Tracklisting -
Don’t Want Back Down
Your Best Excuse
Cold As Stone
Simple Man (Feat. Eric Martin)
Last Plane Out
The Harder They Come
Dream World
I Remember
Lost In Translation
The Sky Is Falling
Heart Of Gold