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Hess – Living In Yesterday [Review]

Hess – Living In Yesterday
(2012, Frontiers Records)

1. Living In Yesterday
2. Reach For You
3. It’s Over
4. Don’t Leave Me
5. What If
6. Nothing Lasts Forever
7. Falling Down
8. I Live For You
9. I Don’t Wanna Want You
10. Where To Run

Musicians:
Harry Hess – Lead Vocals, Keyboard, Backing Vocals, Guitar
Peter Lesperance – Guitar, Bass
Creighton Doane – Drums

Producer: Harry Hess

Living In Yesterday is the second solo release from Harem Scarem’s Harry Hess. I’m familiar with the name of Harry’s old band but can’t say I’ve ever listened to them or his debut solo disc. Regardless, Harry Hess has delivered one of the best melodic rock albums from the last few years with this release. Every track here is a winner and that’s no lie.

The album is upbeat, anthemic and wonderfully produced. There’s some REALLY great rock/pop stuff here that could be a hit on mainstream radio (if mainstream radio had an open mind) like “Falling Down”. “I Don’t Wanna Want You” is another obvious radio song that sticks out from the rest of the album. Not because because it’s so much better than the rest of the songs but because it’s so different from them and sounds like something you’d hear from a pop-tart like Katy Perry.

The opening track and closing track are probably my absolute favorites. “Living In Yesterday” is a great AOR anthem to kick off the album and set the pace while “Where To Run” is an epic ballad complete with orchestra that ends things on a high note.

Living In Yesterday is definitely one of 2012’s best albums and it should not be ignored by melodic rock fans.

There’s a number of guest spots on this album: Marcie Free (King Kobra/Unruly Child), Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear), Tommy Denander and Harry’s old Harem Scarem band mates pitch in with either writing or performances.

Highlights: EVERYTHING

www.harryhess.net
www.facebook.com/harryhesslivinginyesterday
Buy the album at Amazon.com

Primal Fear – Unbreakable

Primal Fear – Unbreakable (2012, Frontiers Records)

1. Unbreakable (Part 1) … 1:37
2. Strike … 4:39
3. Give ‘Em Hell … 3:05
4. Bad Guys Wear Black … 3:31
5. And There Was Silence … 5:13
6. Metal Nation … 5:11
7. Where Angels Die … 8:09
8. Unbreakable (Part 2) … 6:05
9. Marching Again … 5:41
10. Born Again … 4:48
11. Blaze of Glory … 3:56
12. Conviction … 3:58

Band:
Ralf Scheepers – Lead Vocals
Magnus Karlsson – Guitar, Keyboards
Alexander Beyrodt – Guitar
Mat Sinner – Bass, Backing Vocals
Randy Black – Drums

Producer: Mat Sinner

Here’s a band I’ve known about for a very long time but never got around to buying an album of theirs until 2010 when I picked up Jaws of Death and Seven Seals. I like both of those album but I haven’t gotten around to reviewing them just yet. Anyway, Unbreakable is the band’s ninth studio album and their third studio release from Frontiers Records (who’ve branched beyond melodic rock/AOR and have started to pick up a number of quality hard rock/metal acts over the last few years).

It would be unfair of me to say where Unbreakable ranks in the Primal Fear catalog but what I can say about this album is that I think it compares favorably to Jaws of Death and Seven Seals. What’s good about this album is that it’s full of anthems. “Bad Guys Wear Black”, “Metal Nation”, “And Then There Was Silence” and “Where Angels Die” will get stuck in your head. And any song that isn’t a metal anthem is just powerfully heavy. “Strike” really rips from the get-go and was a great choice to open the album. Then there’s the album’s lone ballad “Born Again”. Another catchy number.

It’s not big revelation that Ralf Scheepers’ vocal work is reminiscent of Rob Halford (just ask Judas Priest themselves) but it’s on “Born Again” and “Conviction” that he really comes across as a younger version of the Metal God. “Conviction” is probably the most straight forward traditional sounding metal song on the whole album (with “Strike” coming in a close second) and it’s a true highlight. Very Priest-like.

Unbreakable is sure to please Primal Fear fans and should please anyone who has an interest in bands like Priest, Maiden and power metal. It’s a great album to kick off a new metal year in 2012!

Digipak pressing comes with the exclusive bonus track “Night of the Jumps”.

Highlights: “Strike”, “Bad Guys Wear Black”, “Metal Nation”, “Where Angels Die”, “Born Again”, “Conviction”

http://www.primalfear.de
http://www.facebook.com/PrimalFearOfficial

Buy ‘Unbreakable’ 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!

Scheepers – Scheepers

Scheepers (2011, Frontiers Records)

1. “Locked in the Dungeon” … 4:08
2. “Remission of Sin” … 4:09
3. “Cyberfreak” … 3:45
4. “The Fall” … 4:05
5. “Doomsday” … 6:28
6. “Saints of Rock” … 4:32
7. “Before the Dawn” … 3:06
8. “Back on the Track” … 4:40
9. “Dynasty” … 3:57
10. “The Pain of the Accused” … 6:18
11. “Play with Fire” … 4:08
12. “Compassion” … 3:16

Musicians:
Ralf Scheepers – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards
Magnus Karlsson – Guitar, Banjo, Accordian, Keyboards
Sander Gommans – Guitar
Mat Sinner – Bass, Keyboards
Snowy Shaw – Drums
Tim “Ripper” Owens – Lead Vocals (“Remission of Sin”)
Kai Hansen – Guitar
“Metal” Mike Chlasciak – Guitar
Alex Beyrodt – Guitar
Victor Smolski – Guitar

Producer: Mat Sinner & Ralf Scheepers

Ralf Scheepers is a guy whose work I’m not too familiar with. I know he was Gamma Ray’s original vocalist and then went to form Primal Fear with Mat Sinner. I do have a few Primal Fear albums but haven’t given them anything more than one or two casual listens but it’s pretty obvious that group (and Scheepers himself) have been heavily influenced by Judas Priest.

With my elementary knowledge of Primal Fear, I dare say this debut solo album does not stray too far from the power/speed metal sound Primal Fear is known for. Actually, this isn’t even a leap for me to say since only Primal Fear member Randy Black is missing from this album and it appears Mat Sinner and Magnus Karlsson played on the majority of the tracks in addition to various co-writing credits. Really begs the question of why this is a solo project at all since their is little to no departure in terms of sound or even band personnel. Oh well.

Though this is a solo outing for Ralf (his first), the Priest connection stays strong. First off, Scheepers sounds a lot like Halford. He’s not copying Halford, this is just what he sounds like. So similar are their voices that Ralf was once in the running to join Priest when Rob left (no truth to the rumor that he would’ve changed his name to Ralford if he got the gig). Secondly, Scheepers covers the ballad “Before the Dawn” from Hell Bent for Leather (Killing Machine for those of you that don’t live in a repressed society). Thirdly, the man who actually did get the Priest gig (Tim “Ripper” Owens) duets with him on “Remission of Sin”. Fourthly, Halford guitarist “Metal” Mike Chalsiak cameos as well!

“Locked In the Dungeon” is an appropriate power metal pounder to kick off the album and Ralf’s performance shines. “Remission of Sin” is a treat just to hear two gifted vocalists duet with each other. The chorus sounds like ’80s Priest circa Screaming for Vengeance. It’s just amazing how much Ralf sounds like Halford at times with “The Fall” being a perfect example. Not only is the vocal performance just like Rob but it sounds like the type of sound Halford would do in his own solo band.

Other highlights are the moody “Doomsday”, the stellar cover of “Before The Dawn” and the ballad “The Pain of the Accused”. Some filler such as the cheesy “Saints Of Rock” (Halford probably would’ve loved to have had this on Made of Metal) and generic rocker “Back On The Track” have unfortunately found their way onto this album but overall this is still a good “solo” outing and should please fans of Primal Fear.

Highlights: “Locked In The Dungeon”, “Remission of Sin”, “The Fall”, “Doomsday”, “Before The Dawn”, “The Pain of the Accused”

http://primalfear.rocks.de/

Buy ‘Scheepers’ at Amazon.com!

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