Dio – Live in London: Hammersmith Apollo 1993

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Dio – Live in London: Hammersmith Apollo 1993
2014, Eagle Rock Records

Disc 1:
1. Stand Up And Shout
2. Strange Highways
3. Don’t Talk To Strangers
4. Evilution
5. Pain
6. The Mob Rules
7. Children Of The Sea
8. Holy Diver
9. Heaven And Hell
10. Man On The Silver Mountain
11. Drum Solo
12. Heaven And Hell (reprise)

Disc 2:
1. Jesus Mary & The Holy Ghost
2. Hollywood Black
3. The Last In Line
4. Rainbow In The Dark
5. We Rock
6. Here’s To You

Band:
Ronnie James Dio – Lead Vocals
Tracy G – Guitar
Jeff Pilsen – Bass, Backing Vocals
Vinny Appice – Drums
Scott Warren – Keyboards

Live in London was recorded on December 12, 1993 and is the Dio band’s third live release that’s been pulled from the archives since the passing of Ronnie James Dio in 2010. The set list isn’t all that dissimilar from what the Dio band has always played: a mix of their own material plus cuts from Ronnie’s run in Black Sabbath with the occasional Rainbow tune thrown in.

For this album, the band was touring for the release of Strange Highways and the set features no less than six songs from that album. It’s an album I own not but something I was ever too impressed with. The songs really don’t sound too different from the darker and angrier music Ronnie made with Black Sabbath on 1992’s Dehumanizer, just less memorable. In this live setting, I can appreciate the “Strange Highways” track much more. It wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Dehumanizer or even Heaven & Hell’s The Devil You Know.

This was also the era when the controversial Tracy G played guitar in the band. Honestly, I’m not sure why people say he wasn’t a good fit. He looked like your typical metal-head and is obviously a gifted guitarist. I think maybe he caught all of the negativity just because he was the guitarist for two albums (Strange Highways and its follow-up Angry Machines) that were musically and lyrically darker affairs from what Dio usually put out. All you have to do is check out his guitar solo on “Pain” and you’ll know this guy was worthy of following in the footsteps of

Here’s where I would put out that even in 1993, Ronnie James sounds just as powerful as ever, except you can say that for every year he was on the planet up until he started getting ill! The guy was truly the most gifted rock/metal vocalist of all time. Never lost a step no matter the year, no matter the song. Amazing to think he never had to warm-up either. Simply legendary.

If you’ve kept up with the last two Dio live releases, this isn’t essential listening but fans of Strange Highways will probably want to hear songs from that album performed live (or even buy the DVD or Blu-ray of this concert).

Highlights: “Stand Up and Shout”, “Strange Highways”, “Don’t Talk to Strangers”, “The Mob Rules”, “Heaven and Hell”, “Man on the Silver Mountain”, “The Last In Line”, “We Rock”, “Here’s to You”

Skid Row – Rise of the Damnation Army – United World Rebellion: Chapter Two [EP Review]

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Skid Row – Rise of the Damnation Army – United World Rebellion: Chapter Two
2014, Megaforce Records
Buy the album

1. We Are the Damned
2. Give It the Gun
3. Catch Your Fall
4. Damnation Army
5. Zero Day
6. Sheer Heart Attack
7. Rats in the Cellar

Band:
Johnny Solinger – Lead Vocals
Dave “Snake” Sabo – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Scotti Hill – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rachel Bolan – Bass, Backing Vocals
Rob Hammersmith – Drums

Skid Row is back with the second installment of their United World Rebellion series of EPs, which I think is meant to be a trilogy. Personally, I think this is a great way for bands to go about releasing music — a steady stream of EPs and then maybe do a double or triple disc compilation later down the line.

Not sure why it took these guys seven years before they released new music but a fire has certainly been lit under them. I never bothered with Thickskin or Revolutions Per Minute because both albums were reviewed by mostly everyone as being poor or mediocre, but the United World Rebellion series shows the band still has a snotty punky attitude and continues to show why they were one of the heaviest of the “hair bands” back in the early 1990s. “We are the Damned” is a true headbanger and the best track on the album. Though I enjoyed the first United World Rebellion, I was caught off guard by how good this track is.

The band wraps up the second chapter by superbly covering a few Queen and Aerosmith classics. If you’re looking for something the band to try to recreate the past with some glossy hair metal, you’re not going to find it on these recent EPs but what you will get is good solid heavy metal and hard rock. If this is the type of music the band continues to release, I don’t have any interest in ever seeing them reunited for a nostalgia run with Sebastian Bach (who I happen to like as a solo artist anyway).

Highlights: “We are the Damned”, “Catch Your Fall”, “Zero Day”, “Sheer Heart Attack”, “Rats in the Cellar”

Scorpions – MTV Unplugged [Review]

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 Scorpions – MTV Unplugged
2013, Sony Music
Buy the album

Disc 1:
1. Sting In The Tail
2. Can’t Live Without You
3. Pictured Life
4. Speedy’s Coming
5. Born To Touch Your Feelings
6. The Best Is Yet To Come
7. Dancing With The Moonlight
8. In Trance
9. When You Came Into My Life
10. Delicate Dance
11. Love Is The Answer
12. Follow Your Heart

Disc 2:
1. Send Me An Angel
2. Where The River Flows
3. Passion Rules The Game
4. Rock You Like A Hurricane
5. Hit Between The Eyes
6. Rock ‘N’ Roll Band
7. Blackout
8. Still Loving You
9. Big City Nights
10. Wind Of Change
11. No One Like You
12. When The Smoke Is Going Down

Band:
Klaus Meine – Vocals, Guitar
Rudolf Schenker – Guitar, Vocals
Matthias Jabs – Guitar
Pawel Maciwoda – Bass
James Kottak – Drums

Sometimes referred to as MTV Unplugged: Live in Athens or MTV Unplugged in Athens, the band’s own website refers to this album simply as MTV Unplugged, so that’s what I’m going with. The concert has been released on DVD/Blu-ray as well.

For a band that was retiring the Scorpions have been very active. They’ve been touring for the past 4 years on a “farewell” tour and MTV Unplugged is the band’s second release since 2010’s Sting in the Tail (which was intended to be the “last” Scorpions album) with 2011’s Comeblack being the other release. And like I figured, just a week or two before writing this review, the band announced they were canceling their retirement plans and going to release a new studio album (of re-worked unreleased “classic” era material à la Van Halen’s A Different Kind of Truth) in 2015.

A lot of older metal-heads and classic hard rock fans often cite the band’s early years with Uli Jon Roth as their best. I’ve never felt that was the case. It’s undeniable that the band delivered some classic material with Uli but I prefer the more commercial hard rock approach the band took starting with 1979’s Lovedrive. No matter. Whichever era you feel is best, they are all represented on this album. Okay, maybe they ignored their techno pop/rock Eye II Eye era, but that’s a good thing!

While they can’t pull songs from every album, Scorpions did a solid job of bringing out the typical big hits for this acoustic occasion as well as mixing in numbers from In TranceVirgin KillerFly to the Rainbow and even Pure Instinct (which is represented by two tracks, if you can believe that)! They also found room to slip in two songs from 2010’s Sting in the Tail. What’s criminal is that LovedriveAnimal Magnetism and Humanity: Hour I are not represented here. I would’ve loved to have heard acoustic versions of “Love Will Keep Us Alive”, “Holiday” or “Always Somewhere”. “Steamrock Fever” would’ve also excelled in this acoustic setting.

Five new songs were written for the occasion: “Dancing with the Moonlight” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Band” are full songs. These songs are okay, but not highlights from the album and may possibly get full electric studio recordings for the new album. Then there is “Delicate Dance” (solo for Matthias Jabs), “Love Is the Answer” (Rudolf Schenker solo) and “Follow Your Heart” (Klaus Meine solo). The last three are mostly instrumentals and could’ve easily been left off the album, if not the concert.

The tracks that stand out most for me are the ones where the audience participates in singing along. Those songs would be “When Passion Rules the Game”, “Send Me an Angel” and “Wind of Change”. Powerful stuff.

The new stuff isn’t all that impressive but the rest of this show is good mix of the band’s output from the 1970s up to today.

Highlights: “Born to Touch Your Feelings”, “The Best Is Yet to Come”, “Send Me An Angel, “Where the River Flows”, “Passion Rules the Game”, “Still Loving You”, “Wind of Change”, “When the Smoke Is Going Down”

Buckcherry – Fuck [EP Review]

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Buckcherry – Fuck
2014, F-Bomb Records
Buy the album

1. Somebody Fucked With Me
2. Say Fuck It
3. The Motherfucker
4. I Don’t Give A Fuck
5. It’s A Fucking Disaster
6. Fist Fuck

Band:
Josh Todd – Lead Vocals
Keith Nelson – Guitar
Stevie D. – Guitar
Kelly LeMieux – Bass
Xavier Muriel – Drums

Fuck is Buckcherry’s first EP and their first release own their own record label, F-Bomb Records. So I guess after being on loan to Century Media Records for the release of Confessions, the band is officially off the Eleven Seven Music label. This album is available at all the usual places but if you donated through the band’s pledge drive on PledgeMusic, you could get the album signed or with a t-shirt or whatever. The band is also doing something exclusively on PledgeMusic called “The Singles Club” where you get six cover songs by the band spread out over six months. I had already pledged for that and then re-pledged to get a signed copy of this EP. I will probably review all “Singles Club” releases at the end of the year once they are all released. I wouldn’t be surprised if those songs end up getting their own commercial EP release at some point.

In regards to Fuck, unfortunately the band indulged in a practice that I hate by offering a bonus track via Best Buy if you buy a physical copy of the EP there. It’s a cover of Aerosmith’s “Mama Kin”. Shouldn’t the people pledging to the band get any bonus content as well? I feel a bit ripped off by that.

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My signed copy

Have you discovered any type of theme here with the album title, song titles and even the name of the band’s record label? Yes, Buckcherry is doing their best “fuck” everything in sight. It’s a gimmick for sure and maybe a bit crass, but as long as the music is good that’s what really matters.

So just how does the music hold up? Well, as you could safely assume, the music is full of the punky rock ‘n’ roll swagger middle-finger attitude that the band has proudly displayed for years. In fact, “Somebody Fucked With Me” calls out everyone (the media, our founding fathers, lawyers, religion, teachers, parents, etc.) as Josh Todd yells “fuck them all!”

“Say Fuck It” is a cover of Icona Pop’s big hit single “I Love It”. It’s been given a major makeover though as the band made some modifications to the song title, lyrics and added in AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” riff. I had no clue who Icona Pop were or anything about the original song before Buckcherry’s version came out but I’ve read it was gigantic hit. I definitely prefer Buckcherry’s version which makes the original sound pretty lifeless. Didn’t love this cover at first but it’s grown on me.

“The Motherfucker”. Great opening riff which kinda reminds me of Motley Crue. This is a typical Buckcherry rocker (which is to say it’s good) that would fit on any Buckcherry release. “I Don’t Give a Fuck” is a bit more laidback, groovy and funky. Nothing stellar to me but I’ve read other people are really digging it.

“It’s A Fucking Disaster” starts off like a ballad but then rips into a rocker and then continues to go back and forth with the tempo. It’s the most interesting song on the EP and my favorite.

The album closes with the punky “Fist Fuck”. There’s no room for subtlety here. Sounds like something that belongs on their debut release. Sounds like filler to me.

This is a fucking good EP for Buckcherry fans to pick up. It’s only a fucking few bucks so you can’t go fucking wrong by supporting one of the most honest and authentic groups of rock ‘n’ roll motherfuckers around today. If you don’t like it, get fucked.

Winger – Better Days Comin’ [Review]

winger_-_better_day's_comin'Winger – Better Days Comin’
2014, Frontiers Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. “Midnight Driver of a Love Machine”
2. “Queen Babylon”
3. “Rat Race”
4. “Better Days Comin'”
5. “Tin Soldier”
6. “Ever Wonder”
7. “So Long China”
8. “Storm in Me”
9. “Be Who You Are Now”
10. “Out of This World”

Band:
Kip Winger – Lead Vocals, Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards
Reb Beach – Guitar, Backing Vocals
John Roth – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rod Morgenstein – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Cenk Eroglu – Keyboards
Marco Giovino – Percussion
Paula Winger – Vocals

Producer: Kip Winger, Jason Green & Dan Hubp

Better Days Comin’ sounds right at home next to the band’s previous two releases: IV and Karma. I personally always felt IV was a bit too boring, progressive and serious, but Better Days Comin’ seems to capture the “mature” vibe of that album a bit better either musically or lyrically with tracks like “Storm in Me”, “Tin Soldier”, “Be Who You Are Now” and “Rat Race” (which is probably the album’s best rocker). Similar to Karma though, the band is interjects some good old-fashioned fun with sex-charged tracks like “Midnight Driver of a Love Machine” and “Queen Babylon”.

“So Long China” is probably my favorite track and it’s one that has many Winger fans calling for a Kip Winger AOR album. “Out of This World” is another exceptional track and “Ever Wonder” is a classic deep-track Winger ballad. “Better Days Comin'” is pretty interesting. It starts out kinda trippy and Kip reminds me of Chris Cornell, then it breaks down into a funky rocker with the chorus. “Tin Soldier” reminds me a bit of something that Dream Theater might do (with about 8 minutes shaved off).

One particular thing I’ve noticed about this album are the lyrics. I will have to go back and check out the lyrics on their earlier releases again, but some of the words on Better Days Comin’ have really struck a chord with me. “Ever Wonder”, “So Long China”, “Out of this World” especially hit home with me.

This is one of those times where I like realy the album, but I don’t really have a whole lot to say about it so if you’re a Winger fan, go out and buy it or do whatever you have to do to listen to it. You won’t be disappointed.

Highlights: “Midnight Driver of a Love Machine”, “Queen Babylon”, “Rat Race”, “Tin Soldier”, “Ever Wonder”, “So Long China”, “Be Who You Are Now”, “Out of This World”

Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls [Review]

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Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls [Deluxe Edition]
2014, Epic Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

CD 1:
1. “Dragonaut” 4:26
2. “Redeemer of Souls” 3:58
3. “Halls of Valhalla” 6:04
4. “Sword of Damocles” 4:54
5. “March of the Damned” 3:55
6. “Down in Flames” 3:56
7. “Hell & Back” 4:46
8. “Cold Blooded” 5:25
9. “Metalizer” 4:37
10. “Crossfire” 3:51
11. “Secrets of the Dead” 5:41
12. “Battle Cry” 5:18
13. “Beginning of the End” 5:07

CD 2:
1. “Snakebite” 3:14
2. “Tears of Blood” 4:19
3. “Creatures” 4:25
4. “Bring It On” 3:18
5. “Never Forget” 6:25

Since the release of the somewhat controversial Nostradamus six years ago, we’ve seen Judas Priest go on a “farewell” tour and also lose founding member K.K. Downing (he didn’t die, he retired) under still not quite clear circumstances. Well, I, for one never believed Judas Priest was going to call it quits. Does anyone really, ever? Though I wasn’t happy that K.K. was leaving, I was hoping that the addition of 31-year old guitarist Richie Faulkner might rejuvenate the band much the same way Scott Travis did when he came on on as drummer in 1990.

Nostradamus isn’t a terrible album and it was a brave thing to do, but it was still a misstep and the band seemed to have lost themselves. Now, it’s possible that if Downing had stayed on then perhaps the band would’ve delivered an album similar to Redeemer of Souls, but who knows? All I know is that Richie gets a co-writing credit on all of the tracks alongside Rob Halford and Glenn Tipton. I’m glad he was allowed to jump right into the deep-end and contribute immediately, unlike how some “replacements” are treated. Tim “Ripper” Owens’ term in this very band comes to mind in regards to being creatively silenced or at least limited!

Whether it’s the fact that the band has new blood or whether it was a conscious effort to deliver a much more tradition Priest album, the band nailed it with Redeemer of Souls. This really is a culmination of many eras of the band and despite the fact that the deluxe edition has a total of 15 tracks, this album is lean ‘n’ mean. It’s a refreshing back-to-basics approach after the overblown and overproduced Nostradamus.

The deluxe edition includes a second disc that includes five great tracks and it is well worth picking up this version. “Snakebite”, “Creatures” and “Never Forget” should’ve been on Disc 1, but I could see how “Snakebite” wouldn’t fit. It’s a bit of a loose testosterone-fueled rocker; like a heavier Whitesnake.

Overall, Rob still sounds great and the new twin axe attack of Tipton/Faulkner is a powerful and worthy guitar duo to pick up where Tipton left off with KK Downing. I figured the album would be good, but not this good. Easily the best album the band has released since 1990’s Painkiller.

Highlights: “Dragonaut”, “Redeemer of Souls”, “Hell & Back”, “Cold Blooded”, “Metalizer”, “Crossfire”, “Secrets of the Dead”, “Beginning of the End”, “Snakebite”, “Creatures”, “Never Forget”

Saliva – Rise Up [Review]

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Saliva – Rise Up
2014, Rum Bum Records
Buy the album

1. “Rise Up”
2. “She Can Sure Hide Crazy”
3. “No One But Me”
4. “Lost”
5. “1000 Eyes”
6. “Redneck Freakshow”
7. “Choke”
8. “Army”
9. “Closer”
10. “In It To Win It”
11. “The Enemy”
12. “I Don’t Want It”

Band:
Bobby Amaru – vocals
Wayne Swinny – guitar
Dave Novotny – bass
Paul Crosby – drums and percussion

Producer: Bobby Huff

Saliva is one of a handful of “modern” bands that I follow. I wouldn’t say they are an all-time favorite but I do like them and I’ve been listening to them since the release of Every Six Seconds. I think they’ve done a great job writing singles throughout their career but it was the last two releases with former singer Josey Scott where I felt the band was finally getting more consistent in terms of writing a full album’s worth of quality material. When factoring in Scott’s departure and low sales for the last few albums, I figured it was going to a wrap for the band. Fortunately, that’s not the case as the band found a new vocalist and continued on.

Rise Up is technically Saliva’s second release with Bobby Amaru. In an odd move, an album called In It to Win It was given a temporary release in September 2013 but with the impending release of Rise Up, the album was eventually taken out of print and pulled from iTunes. Very strange because all of the songs on Rise Up were on In It to Win It and this album actually features three less tracks than In It to Win It had. So it’s not like the band went back into the studio to write and record new songs. It’s the same songs. The only change is they’ve shuffled the track list.

That marketing misstep aside, Rise Up is a worthy follow-up to Under Your Skin even if it the highlights here aren’t on pair with the highlights from that album. The songs still sound like Saliva (though they’ve completely dropped all rap-metal posturing) so anyone who has enjoyed the band in the past should like these songs. The only different is the vocals. Bobby Amaru is a good vocalist but fits much more in line with the generic modern alternative post-grunge whatever vocalist. Josey Scott stood out a bit due to his southern rock-style voice.

“Rise Up” is done in the typical Saliva anthemic style while “Lost” and “Closer” are exactly the type of ballads you expect from Saliva. Rise Up sees the band staying the course despite replacing singers and it’s worth at least one or two spins from anyone who likes Saliva.

Highlights: “Rise Up”, “She Can Sure Hide Crazy”, “Lost”, “1000 Eyes”, “Closer”

Sebastian Bach – Give ‘Em Hell [Review]

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Sebastian Bach – Give ‘Em Hell
2014, Frontiers Records
Buy the album

1. “Hell Inside My Head”
2. “Harmony”
3. “All My Friends Are Dead”
4. “Temptation”
5. “Push Away”
6. “Dominator”
7. “Had Enough”
8. “Gun To A Knife Fight”
9. “Rock N’ Roll Is A Vicious Game”
10. “Taking Back Tomorrow”
11. “Disengaged”
12. “Forget You”

Musicians:
Sebastian Bach – Vocals
Devin Bronson – Guitar
Jeff George – Guitar
Steve Stevens -Guitar
John 5 – Guitar
Duff McKagan – Bass
Bob Marlette – Bass, Piano
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
Franky Perez – Harmonica

Producer: Bob Marlette

The most recent outing from Sebastian Bach sees him recruiting a few other well-known musicians to help out. Steve Stevens, John 5 and Duff McKagan (who handled the majority of bass playing duties, I believe) all lend a hand in the recording and writing process of Give ‘Em Hell.

For the most part, this album continues down the path of modern hard rock & heavy metal that Baz has been walking on for quite some time. While Sebastian has publicly said he’d like to do a reunion with the rest of Skid Row, he isn’t spending his days as a solo act trying to recreate the vibe of his old band. Well, Skid Row was always heavier than the rest of the hair metal acts and heaviness is something Bach has retained as a solo artist but he’s not trying to put out new songs that sound like it’s still 1989.

In his mid-40s, Bach shows no sign of slowing down or softening up whether you’re talking about his approach to singing or the content of the songs themselves. Sebastian is a controversial figure at times due to his opinions but you can’t take away that he’s one of the best singers (if not THE best) of his generation. Bach is still going all out on vocals on this album and that’s a testament to his natural born abilities and training as a singer to still be able to do what he does after so many years.

As for the music itself, Give ‘Em Hell finds Sebastian doing exactly that — giving ‘em hell. I don’t think this album is as melodic as his last two albums were but this is the most consistently heavy album Bach has done yet (the heaviest solo song he’s ever done would still probably be Angel Down‘s “American Metalhead”). Bobby Jarzombek is still a monster on the drums and the album is full of crunchy riffs.

There are two occasions when this album lets up: the power ballad “Had Enough” and “Rock N’ Roll is a Vicious Game” (an April Wine cover). After Bach’s last two albums delivered exception ballads, I was really looking forward to what, if any, ballads would appear here. Unfortunately, “Had Enough” falls a bit short in comparison to the likes of “I’m Alive”, “By Your Side” and “Falling Into You” but it is still a fine track. The April Wine cover is a song I’m not familiar with and given the style of the rest of the album, it sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s not bad, just odd-sounding given that the rest of the album comes across as pretty modern rock/metal.

I have a big soft spot for Angel Down (that album still holds my favorite Sebastian Bach songs) but in addition to being consistently heavy, Give ‘Em Hell may be Bach’s most consistent album from a quality standpoint.

Highlights: “Hell Inside My Head”, “Temptation”, “Push Away”, “Dominator”, “Had Enough”, “Taking Back Tomorrow”, “Disengaged”, “Forget You”

Loud Lion – Die Tough [Review]

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 Loud Lion – Die Tough
2014, MelodicRock Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. Love Will Break Your Heart
2. Lion’s Den
3. Lion Eyes
4. Die Tuff
5. Loud Lion Theme Song
6. Dawn Of The Dead
7. The Hills Have Eyes
8. Sunset Slip
9. None More Fast

Band:
Bleu – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Taylor Locke – Guitar
Adam Ross – Guitar
Allison Robertson – Guitar
John Fields – Bass
Maclaine Diemer – Keyboards, Guitar
Dylan Halacy – Drums

Producer: John Fields & Bleu

Loud Lion (Or is it LoudLion? I’ve seen it spelled both ways by the band and the record label…) is a project put together by indie rock/pop musician & producer Bleu along with some help from members of the Donnas, Rooney and Bang Camaro and a few others. Their goal? To emulate Def Leppard and the “Mutt Lange sound” just as good and as better as any band before them. Loud Lion… Def Leppard… get it? Bleu has another project that plays music in a style similar to Electric Light Orchestra (E.L.O.) called L.E.O.

The band was first put together over 7 years ago. The handful of songs out there before the release of Die Tough were available on the band’s MySpace band years ago along with some appearances on a few movie soundtracks such as The Hills Have Eyes 2 and Balls of Fury. Loud Lion even covered Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages” on the Balls of Fury soundtrack.

To my knowledge, “Lion’s Den”, “Lion Eyes”, “Sunset Slip” and “None More Fast” have never been released until now. I’m not sure if they are recent songs or if they came from the same sessions years back that produced much of the rest of the album. As far as I can tell, the rest of the tracks are the very same ones that were released years ago.

I know a Loud Lion album was supposed to happen a very long time ago. Not sure what happened there because it’s been about 7 years since Loud Lion first released some music. Even now in the wake of this album’s release the band’s Facebook & Twitter pages haven’t been updated since 2011.

I still love the previously released material the best but “Lion’s Den” and “Sunset Slip” are cool tracks. As Def Leppard is sometimes more prone to sounding like a ’70s glam rock band these days (C’mon, Joe, that’s what the Down ‘N’ Outz are for!), I am always in a welcoming mood for any group that wants to emulate what Def Leppard did with Mutt Lange in the 1980s. Similar to the KISS-like 1977, many of these tracks are meant to slightly remind you of a few Def Leppard classics. There’s enough of a difference to keep things interesting and for the songs to have their own identity while still invoking those familiar vibes and warm fuzzy feelings that you might get from listening to Def Leppard’s “Rocket” or “Love Bites”.

While much of the material isn’t exactly recent, it’s still great to finally see Loud Lion get an album release. Hopefully people take notice and Bleu will give us some new Loud Lion songs in the future. This is a must have release for fans of Def Leppard. It’s the greatest album Def Leppard never recorded!

Highlights: “Love Will Break Your Heart”, “Lion’s Den”, “Die Tuff”, “Loud Lion Theme Song”, “Dawn of the Dead”, “The Hills Have Eyes”, “Sunset Slip”

Edguy – Space Police: Defenders of the Crown [Review]

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Edguy – Space Police: Defenders of the Crown
2014, Nuclear Blast Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. “Sabre & Torch”
2. “Space Police”
3. “Defenders of the Crown”
4. “Love Tyger”
5. “The Realms of Baba Yaga”
6. “Rock Me Amadeus”
7. “Do Me Like a Caveman”
8. “Shadow Eaters”
9. “Alone in Myself”
10. “The Eternal Wayfarer”
Digital Bonus Tracks:
11. “England”
12. “Aychim in Hysteria”
13. “Space Police (progressive version)”
14. “Space Police (instrumental version)”
15. “Love Tyger (instrumental version)”
16. “Defenders of the Crown (instrumental version)”
17. “Do Me Like a Caveman (instrumental version)”

Band: Tobias Sammet – Lead/Backing vocals, Keyboards
Jens Ludwig – Guitar
Dirk Sauer – Guitar
Tobias “Eggi” Exxel – Bass
Felix Bohnke- Drums

Additional Musicians:
Michael Rodenberg – Keyboards
Oliver Hartmann – Backing Vocals

Producer: Sascha Paeth & Edguy

Much to the dismay of longtime fans, Edguy continues to be an outlet for Tobia Sammet’s silliness and his love for ’80s rock/metal while Avantasia is his more serious metal project. It’s funny because Avantasia started out as a cheesy & cliched power metal side project for Tobias and there was a time when Edguy used to take themselves more seriously.

One of my favorite songs on the album happens to be a bonus track. “Aychim In Hysteria” is a tribute — musically to Def Leppard and lyrically to the band’s live sound in engineer. Edguy’s lyrics have always been full of little in jokes, awkward phrasing and nonsensical words so while I don’t know what the song is about exactly, at least it sounds good!

With regards to the 10-track album, Edguy has delivered one of their best efforts, in my opinion. I know there are plenty of Edguy fans that still pine for their power metal days and maybe they’ll return to that at some point but for now the band seems happy to write silly catchy hard rock/metal songs. It’s almost like they’re becoming a heavier version of The Darkness. I’m fine with that. That’s how Edguy captured my attention in the first place with Rocket Ride. Songs like “Do Me Like a Caveman”, “Love Tyger” and a cover of Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” won’t win the band any favors with power metal purists but they are fun songs nonetheless.

For my money, the best tracks from the album are the ballad “Alone In Myself” and the headbanging “Shadow Eaters”. With the bonus tracks, “England” is okay but like I said, I think “Alychim In Hysteria” is pretty awesome. As far as the progressive/instrumental versions go–  okay, nice to include but they aren’t essential listening.

Space Police: Defenders of the Crown is a worthy addition to the Edguy catalog. I wouldn’t place it with Rocket Ride but it’s at least on level with Tinnitus Sanctus and I’m enjoying it more than Age of the Joker.

Highlights: “Sabre & Torch”, “Space Police”, “Love Tyger”, “Shadow Eaters”, “Alone In Myself”, “The Eternal Wayfarer”, “Aychim In Hysteria”

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