Reviews

Thanks to all of you following and reading. I haven’t had many live reviews on here for a while and any that do now come along will appear exclusively on Through The Wire Music. For ease their long hand web address is http://throughthewiremusic.com/

CD reviews will still appear here and then go on to The Rocktologist!!!

Ace Frehley - Space Invader

Artist: Ace Frehley
Album: Space Invader
Label: eOne
Genre: Rock

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I’m no fan of Kiss but it is pleasing to hear Frehley try something a bit different to start. The title track has vocals just a little faster than spoken and is very space rock as you would hope from the title.

As the album goes on it’s got a few cool riffs slowly spun out but doesn’t steer too far from a solid middle ground. Those vocals don’t ever kick in much faster than the start and after a while it all starts to sound a bit samey.

And a lot like Kiss.

The songs are all pretty much on repeat verse, chorus, verse, chorus, and don’t go anywhere special. Maybe Frehley just didn’t get the chance to have many of his songs played by Kiss and has been saving them up - if you want to know what this sounds like dig out one of those 1970s vinyls and you have it, with a different vocal.

If old style safe rock is your thing then go for it. I’ve moved on and did so many years ago! Only the closing, generally upbeat and vaguely fresh “Starship" has much for me to return to.

9/20

Asia - High Voltage Live

Artist: Asia
Album: High Voltage Live
Label: Frontiers
Genre: Prog Rock

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Only Time Will Tell" starts off this recording from High Voltage and the sound is fairly rough to be honest, the vocal suffering the most. As a live recording is normally a whole load of songs we have heard before, especially for such a long established artist, the sound is perhaps the most vital component.

Some spoken crowd interaction at the end of the opener is almost impossible to hear and whilst they went on to celebrate their first album in this show the recording has done all it can to ruin it.

I’m amazed they have put this out to be honest such is the perfection they normally attempt. This show sounds like it has some energy in it, a stark contrast to when I saw them a few years ago, but it is more like something out of a 1980s club on a bootleg cassette.

Collectors and completists only! Maybe the DVD will help save the aural experience.

10/20

Neil Morse - Songs From November

Artist: Neal Morse
Album: Songs From November
Label: Inside Out Music
Genre: Rock

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Having generally loved most of Morse’s prolific output I could have a good guess at what this would score. But I was wrong.

The album opens with the light “Whatever Days” which is similar to some past offerings and reminiscent of the likes of Billy Joel, all piano, horns and smoke filled bar. Yes it is light and fun but not really what I was I hoping for.

Heaven Smiled" follows and is a soft, slow ballad with a choir. Then the style changes again, some country from "Flowers In A Vase” before another ballad.

It chops too much really to have a lot of balance and whilst the skills shine through this starts to feel like a compilation album rather than a piece of its own.

If you are looking for some fairly light quality rock that goes off in numerous directions then go grab. I prefer my Morse with just a few little teeth.

13/20

Maybe She Will - Fair Youth

Artist: Maybe She Will
Album: Fair Youth
Label: Superball Music
Genre: Instrumental Rock

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This is a generally upbeat light rocky album that reeks of warm summer days and is a bit of light relief. There are all sorts of instruments floating around.

I prefer my instrumentals to be just that but this does have a slight feeling that vocals could slot in - and I always feel that if they could, they should. There are many worse offenders than this jolly piece but I still noticed it a little.

But it is versatile. This could sit in the background or you could really listen intently and unwrap the multiple layers.

Great. It’s not really for me but I can see lovers of light rock crossover really appreciating it. There is no doubt that many will love the very clear skills on show but it is a little too happy for me.

14/20

Project Arcadia - A Time Of Changes

Artist: Project Arcadia
Album: A Time Of Changes
Label: Nightmare Records
Genre: Melodic Metal

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There’s plenty of power in opener “Here To Learn" and a lot of big riffs, swirling leads and solid rhythms throughout. This is one of those albums that generally makes you smile but perhaps never quite blows you away.

It’s good, sometimes very good but I guess not exceptional. I think it is probably because I have generally heard most of this before.

That all sounds a little unkind when I read it back and that isn’t fair - this is worth getting for fans of solid, fresh

melodic metal with some genuine pace. But it’s the sound that is fresh rather than the material being amazingly original.

The band is mainly from Bulgaria with a Swedish singer who styles himself “Urban breed” (yes, with a lower case “b”) and you do have to love that sort of pompous preposterousness! But the music has a grown up edge to its fun and doesn’t let you down. I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed to see this lot on a festival or support bill.



15/20

Lost Reflection - Scarecrowd

Artist: Lost Reflection
Album: Sacrecrowd
Label: SG Records
Genre: Heavy Rock

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I didn’t notice the genre so was expecting something much heavier and darker when I saw that sleeve. Indeed the band are described as hard rock and that too is incorrect so I changed it - this is heavy rock in the style of a lot of the album fill content of the likes of Priest and Saxon from years past.

Some parts of this are alright, with even a few flourishes, but the songs are just a little too middle of the road. Riffs don’t stick, vocals grate at times and the lyrics are often lightweight. That vocal is at its worst when exposed in the softer moments.

But it’s certainly not the worst going around and feels like a band that are probably fun live. That it is only their second in twenty odd years is a bit strange though.

One of the real strengths is the harmonised choruses. The lead vocal tends to drift to slightly higher notes and the songs with these choruses see that lead vocal stay there. When it drops down then it feels like it is a little out of balance

Overall it’s okay, nothing more.

12/20

Ibridoma - Goodbye Nation

Artist: Ibridoma
Album: Goodbye Nation
Label: SG Records
Genre: Heavy Metal

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This is a fairly straight down the middle band and the music is regularly quite good if not spectacular. The metal leans towards power quite often, marking this as an Italian band.

The review notes highlight the vocals and I’m not wholly convinced. There seems to be a lot in common with the delivery of Brian Molko of Placebo and that’s fine - but perhaps not with this music.

It starts quite strongly with some great power riffs in “City Of Madness" but it does seem to be a very tiny front stack.

The slower “Anja" is a little empty for me and then "Dreams Of The Dreams" is too far towards a rock vibe. The impact of the start dissolves all too rapidly.

It closes well with “You Are A Liar" and there are some good metal moments but it’s all a little too spread out. That vocal is at odds with it all and feels very distant. That’s a real sticking point.

13/20

Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited Live At The Royal Albert Hall

Artist: Steve Hackett
Album: Genesis Revisited
Label: Inside Out Music
Genre: Progressive Rock

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The cynic in me would suggest that this is timed to fit some interesting Genesis stories that are going around with this being a second box set of live songs of more or less the same material in a year.

Yes it’s at the Albert Hall but is that sufficient? A big handful of songs do change but many are present on this offering that were on the previous one from Hammersmith.

Let’s focus on this on its own. The musician list is an impressive array of famous circuit musicians and the associated acts list is large and varied.

The sound is great and the performances solid. But I’m guessing only the biggest Genesis fans will need to have both.

But then I’m guessing that if you aren’t a big Genesis fan then you probably won’t be going near it in any case!

Here’s the track listing - you can decide for yourself.

1. Dance On A Volcano
2. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight
3. Fly On A Windshield
4. Broadway Melody of 1974
5. Carpet Crawlers (w/ Ray Wilson)
6. The Return Of The Giant Hogweed (w/ Roine Stolt)
7. The Musical Box
8. Horizons
9. UnquietSlumbersForTheSleeprs
10. In That Quiet Earth
11. Afterglow
12. I Know What I Like (w/ Ray Wilson)
13. Firth of Fifth (w/ John Wetton)
14. Ripples (w/ Amanda Lehmann)
15. The Fountain of Salmacis
16. Supper’s Ready
17. Watcher of the Skies
18. Los Endos


15/20

Infernal Angels - Pestilentia

Artist: Infernal Angels
Album: Pestilentia
Label: SG Records
Genre: Black Metal

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This is the third from this band, and it is full on black metal with dollops of death from start to finish. On the plus side it is very true to its type and genre.

Other positives are some very cool swirling riffs as well as ultra clear sound. But whilst it is all deliciously evil, matching the names and sleeve well, it is also a touch repetitive, derivative and sadly a little dull.

The rhythms are relentless but never vary, neither does the vocal approach. Those great riffs are overwhelmed and lost in the aural assault.

The few time changes are limited, the darkness all enveloping. Yes it is exactly what it says it is but such brutal honesty could benefit from some variety.

9/20
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