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Sweet & Lynch – Only to Rise [Review]

61lIvlJe4+LSweet & Lynch – Only to Rise
2015, Frontiers Records
Buy the album

1. The Wish
2. Dying Rose
3. Love Stays
4. Time Will Tell
5. Rescue Me
6. Me Without You
7. Recover
8. Divine
9. September
10. Strength in Numbers
11. Hero-Zero
12. Only to Rise

Band:
Michael Sweet – Vocals, Guitar
George Lynch – Guitar
James LoMenzo – Bass
Brian Tichy – Drums

Producer: Michael Sweet

Sweet & Lynch is supergroup in a long line of supergroups put together at the request of the Italy-based melodic rock label Frontiers Records. The difference this time is that I can actually pronounce the names and know who all of these guys are! Also, in contract to many of Frontier’s other all-star projects, Michael Sweet offered to take over as producer and he and George Lynch co-wrote all of the songs. Generally, for these label projects the album would use outside songwriters and producers.

Looking at the band roster I have to say that Sweet & Lynch is as strong of a rock supergroup as there has been in awhile. While Stryper’s Michael Sweet and Dokken/Lynch Mob’s George Lynch are obviously the focal point, the names of bassist James LoMenzo (White Lion / Megadeth / Black Label Society) and journeyman drummer Brian Tichy (Whitesnake) should be recognizable to more than a few hard rock fans.

As for the music, Sweet Lynch stays within the realm of what made them popular. I wouldn’t put this album on the level of the last few Stryper & Sweet solo albums, but fans of Stryper, Dokken and/or Lynch Mob, should find no trouble enjoying this melodic hard rockin’ album.

Highlights: “Love Stays”, “Time Will Tell”, “Me Without You”, “Recover”, “Only to Rise”

Dokken – Broken Bones [Review]

Dokken – Broken Bones
2012, Frontiers Records

1. “Empire” 3:33
2. “Broken Bones” 4:54
3. “Best of Me” 4:18
4. “Blind” 3:23
5. “Waterfall” 2:48
6. “Victim of the Crime” 4:30
7. “Burning Tears” 4:41
8. “Today” 4:20
9. “For the Last Time” 3:58
10. “Fade Away” 3:46
11. “Tonight”

Band:
Don Dokken – Lead Vocals
Jon Levin – Gutair
Sean McNabb – Guitar
Mick Brown – Drums, Backing Vocals

Producer: Dokken

Sure, they’ve written some good songs but overall when it came to Dokken, I could always take ’em or leave ’em. I gave their last album (Lightning Strikes Again) a shot and ended up thinking it was a solid release (it has grown on me more than my review at the time implies it would) so I was more than happy to sample Broken Bones despite the album cover making me think this was the latest effort from Running Wild.

One thing I’m happy to report is that despite being 31 years and 11 studio albums into their career, Dokken is still serving up melodic metal without showing their age or sounding long in the tooth. Yes, I am aware that only half of the classic Dokken line-up is here but that foursome hasn’t played together since 1997 and newer members Levin & McNabb do just fine filling out the roster. Even Don’s voice is holding up quite well and doesn’t seem to strain as much as it did on their previous release.

Broken Bones will appeal to the old school Dokken fans That classic sound is here (though maybe slightly heavier) and it’s the perfect companion to Lightning Strikes Again. To be fair, some filler slips through such as “Waterfall” and “Blind” but I’ve always felt filler was pretty much a given when it comes to this band.

Don’t get me wrong, this IS a good album. “Empire” is heavy and the best choice to open the album, “Broken Bones” are “Fade Away” are classic Dokken, “Today” is a pleasantly different type of ballad I would not have a expected from this band, almost New Age sounding, “Best of Me” sticks in your head and “For The Last Time” also has a classic sound while adding some great melodic moments as well.

Another enjoyable effort from these guys. Dokken fans shouldn’t miss out and won’t be disappointed.

Highlights: “Empire”, “Broken Bones”, “Best of Me”, “Victim of the Crime”, “Today”, “For The Last Time”, “Tonight”.

http://www.dokkencentral.com/
http://www.facebook.com/DokkenBand

Buy the album at Amazon.com

Looking Forward to in 2012…

2012 is shaping up to be another spectacular year for rock music. This is a year that is going to see releases from KISS, Judas Priest, Aerosmith, Van Halen and Black Sabbath. WHAT YEAR IS THIS ?!?

In no particular order, here’s what I’m definitely picking up in 2o12:

AcceptStalingrad (April)
Accept really blew me away with Blood of the Nations. The band has proven there is life without Udo. In fact, I think many people would prefer the current line-up over the classic Accept roster at this point.

Crazy Lixx – Riot Avenue (April)
These solid modern glam-metallers are currently in the studio working on their 3rd album.

KISS – Monster (Spring)
Obviously, this is the album I’m looking forward to most. Sonic Boom was a triumphant return to the studio for these guys, now that the wheels are well-oiled, I think Monster has potential to be even better.

SunstormEmotional Fire (February)
I missed out on the last Sunstorm despite good reviews. In the past year I’ve come to appreciate AOR/melodic rock more so I think I’m going to try out this Joe Lynn Turner-fronted side project when it’s released.

Crashdiet
No date yet set by these sleaze rockers but they are supposedly in the writing process now. I’m guessing sometime in the Fall.

Black Sabbath (Fall/Winter)
Another highly anticipated album for me because I’m really curious what it’s going to sound like. I’m not a big Ozzy fan, either as a solo artist or in Sabbath. I’d much rather see Iommi w/ Geezer go on to new projects (Iommi needs to give Tony Martin another call) but I still will be pre-ordering this one. My expectations aren’t all that high though given who is singing. I feel like he and Sharon are going to bring everyone else down to his mediocre level. Still, it’s exciting to know that new Iommi riffs and solos are coming.

Aerosmith (May)
So much prima donna drama in this camp over the last 5 years or so but hopefully that’s gone long enough to give us a new album. Granted,  I don’t really expect much from these guys in terms of, well… anything anymore. They’re kind of a joke at this point but with the legendary Jack Douglas back on as producer, I have no doubts that he’ll drag something out of them that’s better than the last studio album (2001’s Just Push Play).

Van Halen (February 7)
Geez, it was starting to look like the new Chinese Democracy, wasn’t it? No album title has been released yet but a release date has been and the first single will be released on January 10. Van Halen is another band that has become a joke over the years (despite the last tour getting rave reviews) but I have a good feeling about this album. The first album with Roth since 1984 and 1984! Rumored titles have been The Future and 2012 but I don’t think either will turn out to be true. Maybe IV though..?

Judas Priest
The band hasn’t definitely said a new album is coming in 2012 but they’ve been working on new material for a while now and seem to be looking at 2012 for releasing it. It’s a different songwriting dynamic now though. Instead of Halford/Downing/Tipton, it’s just Halford/Tipton. By all accounts, new guitarist Richie Faulkner is carrying his weight in a live setting so I think the album is going to turn out quite good. I do think it’s time the band delivers a straight ahead metal album though. Angel of Retribution and Nostradamus were good but not excellent. The band really hasn’t given the world that kick-ass classic metal album that they should’ve already done since Halford has come back. They really need a PainkillerHell Bent for Leather or British Steel at this point and keep it simple.

Primal Fear – Unbreakable (late January)
I have heard this album. It’s good. Plan on reviewing it soon.

Mollo/Martin – The Third Cage (late January)
See above. It’s great to have a new album out with Tony Martin on vocals.

Buckcherry
Maybe wishful thinking on my part but they were working on new material this past summer so hopefully something new will appear by next summer.

The Last Vegas The Other Side
No date announced yet but they recently released the free digital Other Side E.P. so I’d imagine we’ll have the new album by the spring.

Slash
His first solo album was one of the best records from the last few years and this time, Myles Kennedy is singing all the songs. Everything is written, all that’s left to do is record the songs so I’m guessing spring for this one as well.

Trans-Siberian OrchestraRomanov: What Kings Must Whisper
The second non-holiday from TSO, it was actually planned to be their first album way back in 1994 but they held on it while trying to get a Broadway musical out of it first. Night Castle was dark and cool while still keeping that trademark blend of metal, rock and classical music, I expect more of the same here.

Dokken
With a deal in place with Frontiers Records for the new album, I’m expecting something special despite never being a huge Dokken fan. Lightning Strikes Again was good enough for me to be interested in a follow-up. The plan, as of this past November, was to have recording completed by February.

Stryper
This album was actually delayed from this past year in favor of recording and releasing the excellent The Covering album of cover songs. According to Michael Sweet, two albums are in the works: the first will be an album of re-recordings (Why? Can we stop this trend, please?)  followed by an album of all-new material written in the same heavy, edgy vein as “God” from The Covering.

M-Pire of Evil
M-Pire of Evil is the renamed Primevil which itself was the reunited late ’80s/early ’90s line-up of Venom that featured Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan on vocals/bass . I’m not well-versed on the comings and goings of the Venom roster but the “classic” line-up is split into two different bands right now. Conrad “Cronos” Lant is leading Venom with a few newer guys while the other two “classic” members (Jeff “Mantas” Dunn & Anthony “Abaddon” Bray) have hooked up again with Dolan for M-Pire of Evil.

They released an EP this past summer called The Creatures of the Black, which was pretty good and I liked the Prime Evil album (the only Venom release I’ve heard from this line-up) so I’m looking forward to a full length album. I couldn’t find anything resembling a release date but going by the band’s Facebook page, it should be soon because they’ve been teasing releasing the album cover.

Tooth And Nail (March)
The band that features 3/4 of the classic Dokken line-up. How does “Wild” Mick Brown still retain a position in Dokken while joining Tooth And Nail? Given Don Dokken’s reputation, you’d think he’d have been fired from Dokken by now. I mean, this band was named after a Dokken album and they’ve gloated over the fact that Don Dokken isn’t in the group (bassist Jeff Pilson will handle vocals). What’s weird is that on the band’s Facebook page, they list current Whitesnake drummer Brian Tichy as a member as well… I guess he’s there for the live shows in case Brown has to go off and play in Dokken?

I’m probably forgetting a few more albums but oh well!

Monster Madness

Various Artists – Monster Madness (2000, Razor & Tie Music)

1. “Dr. Feelgood” – Motley Crue – 4:51
2. “Unskinny Bop” – Poison – 3:48
3. “I Remember You” – Skid Row – 5:15
4. “Kiss Me Deadly” – Lita Ford – 4:01
5. “I Wanna Rock” – Twisted Sister – 3:04
6. “Silent Lucidity” – Queensryche – 5:49
7. “Epic” – Faith No More – 4:54
8. “Up All Night” – Slaughter – 3:47
10. “Don’t Treat Me Bad” – FireHouse – 3:58
11. “Hole Hearted” – Extreme – 3:40
12. “Bang Your Head (Metal Health)” – Quiet Riot – 5:20
13. “In My Dreams” – Dokken – 4:21
14. “Wait” – White Lion – 4:03
15. “Easy Come, Easy Go” – Winger – 4:03
16. “I Saw Red” – Warrant – 3:50
17. “I’ll See You in My Dreams” – Giant – 4:45

Following Razor & Tie’s success with Monsters of Rock and Monster Ballads, here comes Monster Madness! Monster Madness is essentially Monsters of Rock 3 (Monsters of Rock 2 was released a few months before this album) and is certainly superior to MOR 2 (which was already scraping the bottom of the barrel) and is just as good as the original MOR album in my opinion.

I mean, just look at the songs here. “Dr. Feelgood”, “Unskinny Bop”, “I Remember You”, “I Wanna Rock”, “Wait”, “Bang Your Head”, “Hole Hearted”, “Don’t Treat Me Bad”… It’s a hair metal dream! Even the odd inclusion of Queensryche and Faith No More is welcomed because those are killer songs.

The album takes me back to my youth. No, not the ’80s but the year 2000 when I bought this album and my girlfriend at the time loved it because it had Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly” on it. I still remember her getting all excited when she heard it for the first time in years.

Just a great “feelgood” album filled with major acts and songs.

DOKKEN – Back for the Attack

Dokken – Back For The Attack (1987, Elektra Records)

1. “Kiss of Death” … 5:48
2. “Prisoner” … 4:19
3. “Night by Night” … 5:20
4. “Standing in the Shadows” … 5:05
5. “Heaven Sent” … 4:50
6. “Mr. Scary” … 4:37
7. “So Many Tears” … 4:54
8. “Burning Like a Flame” … 4:44
9. “Lost Behind the Wall” … 4:18
10. “Stop Fighting Love” … 4:57
11. “Cry of the Gypsy” … 4:46
12. “Sleepless Nights” … 4:30
13. “Dream Warriors” … 4:46

Band:
Don Dokken – Lead Vocals
George Lynch – Guitar
Jeff Pilson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Mick Brown – Drums, Backing Vocals

Producer: Neil Kernon

Another good release from Dokken! My opinion has really changed on the band after listening to Under Lock and Key and Back for the Attack. I wouldn’t place the band in my top ten (or even top twenty) but I have a new found respect for them.

This album is a step behind Under Lock and Key (my favorite of all the Dokken albums I’ve heard). There’s nothing here that comes close to being a standout track like “It’s Not Love” but there’s still plenty of good stuff (like the instrumental “Mr. Scary” which sounds like the music for a video game) and unfortunately there’s some filler as well. 13 tracks? That’s going a bit too long for my tastes. I wonder why they decided to increase by three songs compared to Under Lock and Key.

“Dream Warriors” is of course one of Dokken’s most famous songs and stems from the A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors movie soundtrack. It was originally released in February 1987 as a single. Due to its success, it was remixed and included on this album, which was released in November of that same year . That’s one way to explain the length of this album.

This was the last Dokken album until their reunion in 1995 but it was a nice note to end on.

Highlights: “Kiss of Death”, “Prisoner”, “Heaven Sent”, “Mr. Scary”, “Burning Like a Flame”, “Dream Warriors”

www.dokken.net
www.myspace.com/dokken

DOKKEN – Under Lock and Key

Dokken – Under Lock and Key (1985, Elektra Records)

1. “Unchain the Night” … 5:17
2. “The Hunter” … 4:06
3. “In My Dreams” … 4:18
4. “Slippin’ Away” … 3:46
5. “Lightnin’ Strikes Again” … 3:47
6. “It’s Not Love” … 5:01
7. “Jaded Heart” … 4:13
8. “Don’t Lie to Me” … 3:38
9. “Will the Sun Rise” … 4:09
10. “Til the Livin’ End” … 3:56

Band:
Don Dokken – Lead Vocals
Georgy Lynch – Guitar
Jeff Pilson – Bass
Mick Brown – Drums

Producer: Michael Wagener

What a difference a year makes! Almost 12 months ago I gave an extremely brief and less than glowing review of Dokken’s Tooth And Nail and stated that 2009’s Lightning Strikes Again (a title that gives a nod to a song off this very album) was more of the same. Well, despite not being the biggest Dokken fan in the world, I knew enough to know that Under Lock and Key was generally considered to be their best work so when I saw it along with Back for the Attack at Barnes & Noble for $5.99 each, I had to pick it up because I had money to burn.

I was really surprised by this album. I was already familiar with “In My Dreams”, “It’s Not Love” and “Unchain the Night” but the rest is completely new to me. Don really pushes his voice on this album and in a good way. I didn’t realize he ever had it in him!

I like most of these songs. They range from great to decent but there is one that sticks out like a sore thumb: “Slippin’ Away”. Just a bad hair ballad. Ballads are not this band’s strong suit but they excel at dirty rockers like “It’s Not Love” (probably my favorite Dokken song of all time) and “The Hunter”.

Funny side note – I was playing this album in my car and my girl noticed the cover. She picked up the jewel case and said “who are these losers?” I had to remind her that was Dokken!

“Who?”

“Dokken! Multi-platinum artists!”

Then she asked for their names and referred to George Lynch simply as “girl” based on his cover appearance.

Anyway, I’ve been cranking this album a lot since finally listening to it (it saw here for a few weeks without me even sampling one track) and I’m really glad I bought it. Another classic album joins my collection!

Highlights: “Unchain the Night”, “The Hunter”, “In My Dreams”, “Lightnin’ Strikes Again”, “It’s Not Love”

www.dokken.net
www.myspace.com/dokken

LYNCH MOB – Wicked Sensation

Lynch Mob – Wicked Sensation (1990, Elektra Records)

1. “Wicked Sensation” … 4:42
2. “River of Love” … 4:22
3. “Sweet Sister Mercy” … 3:45
4. “All I Want” … 5:05
5. “Hell Child” … 4:51
6. “She’s Evil But She’s Mine” … 5:10
7. “Dance of the Dogs” … 3:47
8. “Rain” … 4:54
9. “No Bed of Roses” … 4:21
10. “Through These Eyes” … 5:16
11. “For a Million Years” … 6:18
12. “Street Fighting Man” … 4:49

Band:
Oni Logan: Lead Vocals
George Lynch: Guitar
Anthony Esposito: Bass
Mick Brown: Drums

Produced by: Max Norman

Being that I’ve never been too terribly impressed with Dokken, I was always hesitant to give Lynch Mob a try, which ex-Dokken guitarist George Lynch started up. I think it was CD Universe I eventually picked this one up from and it was relatively cheap. The deciding factor though was when I was browsing through the comic book store on Friday afternoon years ago and they were playing the local rock station, which at 5PM on Fridays would always play three “hair metal” songs. “Wicked Sensation” was one of those songs and I immediately loved it and did a quick online search once getting home and eventually ordered the album.

“Wicked Sensation” (which is a better song than any Dokken has ever produced) is the biggest standout and Oni Logan’s voice really shines here as well. The rest of the album is solid pop-metal, but most of it is nothing spectacular, and I only occasionally give the album a spin just the hear the handful of songs I really enjoy.

The album is good enough though that if it had been released a few years earlier, it would’ve been a huge hit, but by 1990, unless you already had a strong following and were a platinum status act, you weren’t going to be given much of a chance playing this style of music.

Highlights: “Wicked Sensation”, “River of Love”, “Sweet Sister Mercy”, “She’s Evil But She’s Mine”, “No Bed of Roses”

www.georgelynch.com
www.myspace.com/lynchmobrocks

DOKKEN – Tooth And Nail

Dokken – Tooth And Nail (1984, Elektra Records)

1. “Without Warning” … 1:35
2. “Tooth and Nail” … 3:40
3. “Just Got Lucky” … 4:35
4. “Heartless Heart” … 3:29
5. “Don’t Close Your Eyes” … 4:10
6. “When Heaven Comes Down” … 3:45
7. “Into the Fire” … 4:30
8. “Bullets to Spare” … 3:35
9. “Alone Again” … 4:20
10. “Turn on the Action” … 4:43

Band:
Don Dokken – Lead Vocals, Guitar
George Lynch – Guitar
Jeff Pilson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Mick Brown – Drums, Backing Vocals

Produced by: Roy Thomas Baker & Tom Werman

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again I just don’t “get” Dokken. I guess I like my hair metal bands with a little more flash. This was the band’s breakthrough release, going platinum, but it’s nothing special, in my eyes. There are a few songs that are decent, but nothing worth going out of your way for.

I was never really impressed with the Dokken songs I had heard over the years, but I had never owned an album, so I picked this one up after lots of recommendations. I found that my hunches were correct. It’s a wonder I even bothered to try again with 2008’s Lightning Strikes Again.

I know Dokken and this album are considered “classics” in the pop metal circles, but they aren’t for me.

Highlights: “Just Got Lucky”, “Into the Fire”, “Bullets to Spare”, “Alone Again”

www.dokken.net
www.myspace.com/dokken

MONSTER BALLADS XMAS

Various Artists – Monster Ballads Xmas (2007, Razor & Tie Direct)

Track Listing:
1. “Jingle Bells” – Skid Row … 3:02
2. “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” – Winger … 4:06
3. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” – Jani Lane … 3:35
4. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” – Twisted Sister (w/ Lita Ford) … 4:09
5. “White Christmas” – Queensryche … 2:28
6. “Run Rudolph Run” – L.A. Guns … 3:10
7. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” – FireHouse … 3:07
8. “Naughty Naughty Christmas” – Danger Danger … 4:56
9. “Blue Christmas” – Tom Keifer … 4:15
10. “Jingle Bell Rock” – Nelson … 2:52
11. “Silent Night” – Faster Pussycat … 4:13
12. “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” – Dokken … 4:01
13. “Happy Holidays” – Enuff Z’Nuff … 4:23
14. “Winter Wonderland” – Stryper … 3:34
15. “Christmas Love” – Billy Idol … 3:57

Produced by: Michael Anderson & Beka Callaway

Another album in the long-running Monster series from Razor & Tie, this time with a Christmas theme, although calling it “Monster Ballads Xmas” doesn’t make much since because most of these songs are not ballads. Why not just “Monster Xmas“? Or get really old school with “Monsters of Rock Xmas“?

Anyway, I picked the year of it’s release at Target, of all places. It’s a decent release, though it pales in comparison to 2008’s excellent We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year from Armoury Records.

I don’t have to tell you that Faster Pussycat, as always with compilations and cover albums, sticks out like a sore thumb here with their more recent and improved industrial sound. Just an awful rendition of “Silent Night”. What is it with “Silent Night” getting so screwed up on these metal Xmas compilations? Queensryche does a pretty bad version of “White Christmas” as well. Geoff Tate’s voice sounds horrible here. Like someone trying to sound like Edguy’s Tobias Sammett but totally failing.

Dokken’s version of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” is actually pretty funny to me because of the fact that it sounds EXACTLY like a Dokken song. They totally made it their own and you’d swear Don wrote the song himself.

Twisted Sister’s Jay Jay French, certainly inspired by the Christmas spirit after the success of A Twisted Christmas, executive produced.

Highlights: “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, “Naught Naughty Christmas”, “Blue Christmas”, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”, “Happy Holiday”

VH1: The Big 80’s Power Ballads

VH1: The Big 80’s Power Ballads (1999, Rhino Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Fly to the Angels” – Slaughter … (5:08)
2. “Something to Believe In”  – Poison … (5:30)
3. “Amanda”  – Boston … (4:17)
4. “I Want to Know What Love Is” – Foreigner 5:01
5. “Alone Again”  – Dokken … (4:22)
6. “House of Pain”  – Faster Pussycat … (5:47)
7. “The Search Is Over” – Survivor … (4:13)
8. “Is This Love” – Whitesnake … (4:43)
9. “We Belong” – Pat Benatar … (3:39)
10. “Don’t Close Your Eyes”  – Kix … (4:19)
11. “What Does It Take”  – Honeymoon Suite … (4:16)
12. “Missing You” – John Waite … (4:29)
13. “Miles Away” – Winger … (4:12)
14. “When the Children Cry” – White Lion … (4:07)
15. “Goodbye” – Night Ranger … (4:21)
16. “Fly High Michelle” – Enuff Z’nuff … (4:17)

The late 1990s and early 2000s were a time of 80s nostalgia. Clothes, movies, music. One of the biggest flagwavers of 80s retro was VH1, who scored with the popular Behind The Music show, Pop Up Videos, and tons of 1980s-centric specials.

Not surprisingly, they also released their own compilations of 80’s tunes in a series called The Big 80’s. The Monster series of hair metal compilations from Razor & Tie Records proved popular and one of their most popular entries was Monster Ballads, so it only made sense for VH1 to release their own CD of hair ballads and tie it all in with the Big 80’s series.

There are TONS of other power ballad comps out there on the market, but this one and Monster Ballads are the absolute best and the bonus is that the people at Rhino & VH1 must’ve been paying attention because there’s only three songs that appear on both compilations (“Something to Believe In”, “Is This Love” and “Don’t Close Your Eyes”).

Essentially, this *is* a hair ballad CD, though a few artists like Boston, Honeymoon Suite, Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Survivor and John Waite slip in, but the songs fit right in with the mood. Even if those artist aren’t hair metal acts, they certainly did produce hair metal ballads.
Power ballads are what got me into the hair scene in the first place (every hair metal act should have 2 or 3 great ones in their catalog), so this is right up there as one of my favorite albums. And yes, being the sap that I am, I would crank this during troubled relationship times when I was younger.
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