Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Album Review: EXIT EDEN - Rhapsodies In Black

Exit Eden - Rhapsodies In Black

01. A Question Of Time (Depeche Mode)
02. Unfaithful (Rhianna)
03. Incomplete (Backstreet Boys)
04. Impossible (Shontelle)
05. Frozen (Madonna)
06. Heaven (Bryan Adams)
07. Firework (Katy Perry)
08. Skyfall (Adele)
09. Total Eclipse Of The Heart (Bonnie Tyler)
10. Paparazzi (Lady Gaga)
11. Fade To Grey (Visage)

Exit Eden is a female-fronted super-group consisting of four amazing vocalists, Amanda Somerville, Marina La Torraca, Anna Brunner, and Clémentine Delauney, who collectively have worked with artists including Serenity, Visions of Atlantis, Avantasia, Epica and Kamelot. If that wasn't enough talent, Epica's Simone Simons adds guest vocals on the tracks Skyfall and Frozen. Rhapsodies In Black is a covers album, but not like one you've ever heard before.

I'm sure naysayers have already questioned the purpose of this album as, after all, it's a record of mostly Pop covers and could be seen as a gimmick like the Punk Goes Pop series. Personally, I feel cynics and critics should get over themselves. This is first and foremost entertainment, and entertain is exactly what does.

Rhapsodies In Black is absolutely brilliant from start to finish. The choice of songs is great, and these Operatic Metal interpretations work perfectly. The production is crisp and full, and stands up to anything else on the market today. The performance from all musicians involved is mind-blowing, and each song has been meticulously re-crafted into a Metal masterpiece.

Best of all, this album retains a sense of fun, and there really aren't many releases that have come out this year that I've played as many times as this one.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Album Review: TEN - Gothica

Ten - Gothica

1. The Grail
2. Jekyll And Hyde
3. Travellers
4. Man For All Seasons
5. In My Dreams
6. The Wild King Of Winter
7. Paragon
8. Welcome To The Freak Show
9. La Luna Dra-cu-la
10. Into Darkness

Ten. Now there's a blast from the past. I bought their second album, The Name Of The Rose, way back in 1996, after hearing the epic title track. I think I was going through an AOR phase at the time, and worshipped at the temple of Magnum, Whitesnake and Dream Theater. Ten were getting a bit of attention from the mainstream Rock/Metal press at the time, but since then seemed to have disappeared off the face of the Earth, I hadn't heard anything from them in over twenty years, until I saw an advert for this new album, Gothica. I've done a little bit of digging, and this new record is their thirteenth studio album. How did that happen? How did I not know they were still going?

Lead singer and song writer Gary Hughes is still in fine voice, and the musicianship throughout Gothica remains at the exceptional standard it was at when I first heard Ten. The lyrical content is mostly based on classic and contemporary fiction, including songs written about Jekyll and Hyde, Dracula, and H.G. Wells' The Time Machine (Travellers). There's also the epic The Wild King Of Winter, which was inspired by the A Song Of Ice And Fire series of novels (adapted for television as the insanely popular Game Of Thrones). The music, as expected, is just as epic and multi-layered as the source material it's inspired by.

Ten is still a great AOR band. What they do is an acquired taste, but if Melodic Rock is your thing, I think Gothica is something you shouldn't ignore. It's been a pleasure getting reacquainted with Ten, and I'll enjoy checking out all their other records that, until recently, I didn't even know existed.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Album Review: QUIET RIOT - Road Rage

Quiet Riot - Road Rage
01. Can't Get Enough
02. Getaway
03. Roll This Joint
04. Freak Flag
05. Wasted
06. Still Wild
07. Make A Way
08. Renagades
09. The Road
10. Shame
11. Knock 'Em Down

There has been a lot of controversy regarding Quiet Riot, mainly in regards to the only 'classic line-up' member being drummer Frankie Banali (no, he's not a founding member of the band), and his constantly revolving door of musicians, bringing the credibility of this incarnation of Quiet Riot into question amongst fans.

Quiet Riot are well known for two main reasons. Firstly, late legendary guitarist Randy Rhodes played for them in the late seventies before joining Ozzy Osbourne. Secondly, with the emergence of MTV, their album Metal Health was a hit in 1983. It spawned two hit singles, Bang Your Head (Metal Health), and a cover of Slade's Cum On Feel The Noize. Lead singer and founding member Kevin DuBrow died in 2007, and Frankie Banali has kept the brand alive ever since.

A version of Road Rage had been recorded with Seann Nicols (ex Adler's Appetite) on vocals, but he was kicked out before the release. The band shelved Road Rage, recruited James Durbin, who's famous for being on American Idol, and got him to re-write and re-record the vocals.

Having accidently kept up with the drama thanks to regular updates on, I was not only interested to hear this album, but I really wanted them to succeed. Of course, the only way to really succeed would be for this new album to be an awesome piece of work that would be considered as a gem in the Quiet Riot back catalogue, and something fans could embrace, allowing the band to ride a wave of new found success. Sadly, Road Rage falls short of the mark.

New singer James Durbin is easily the best thing about Road Rage, despite vocally sounding very different to Kevin DuBrow. Sadly, it sounds like the band just re-recorded the vocals, and not the whole lot as I had hoped, after hearing a version of one of the tracks recorded with Seann Nicols earlier in the year. I remember hearing it and thinking it sounded like shit, but I was prepared to give the band the benefit of the doubt. The production on this final version of Road Rage isn't great to say the least, and certainly nowhere near as big and powerful as the records many of their peers have recently released. I criticised the new Vain album for the same reason (read it here). I'm sure to Frankie's ears, it sounds raw and real, but to mine it sounds cheap, dated, and nothing more than a reasonable demo. All this talk in the press about keeping the legacy alive, and he seriously thinks he's going to do that with a record that sounds like this in 2017?

It's not terrible, but there's just nothing special about it. It's mostly stale and generic, and at times downright boring. The closest Road Rage delivers to a killer single is Freak Flag, which has some really catchy vocals from James Durbin, but it's just not quite there. I think the production really let's this song down, as it should be the song that delivers Quiet Riot to a new generation. So close, but no cigar. Why they chose the piss-poor Can't Get Enough as the first single and opening track is anyone's guess.

I understand that there were a lot of shitty circumstances surrounding this record, but this isn't exactly a phoenix rising from the ashes. More like a mutant turkey that no-one wants to eat. I really hope they get it together, and next time release something that blows this out of the water.

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