If you’re a fan of melodic rock then look no further than this month’s AOR Heaven offerings in the shape of Grand Illusion and Drive, She Said.
Plus there’s pop metal pomp from Masterplan and some seriously heavy stoner rock from comeback kings Karma To Burn.
If you caught this legendary crew on last month’s UK tour then you’ll be well aware of just how vital KTB can be to the future of heavy rock.
But don’t despair if you didn’t. Appalachian Incantation is almost as good as a live show and it comes without the hassle of a ticket, a queue and a sweaty bloke standing right in front of you.
This album is atmospheric enough to transport you to another world from the comfort of your own living room – the angst of the band’s post-grunge past now replaced by a measured growl and a glorious confidence. The instrumental pieces are as powerful as ever and when vocals do slip onto the occasional track it’s not without reason.
KTB are in a league of their own and long may it stay that way.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Talent To Burn
This is pure brilliance from a band which has been away from the melodic rock scene for five long years. Thank goodness they’re back. And back with something of a bang.
Right from the off tracks like Never Find Her Alone and All Out Of Love hint at something very special indeed but there’s an underlying sense of quality from start to finish. Emily is an emotive ballad as engaging as anything rolled out for heavy MTV rotation two decades ago and Gregg Bisonette’s drum work is simply dazzling.
This is Scando rock at its very best and right now Sweden holds bragging rights over the rest of the world when it comes to super slick AOR. The sound of every self-respecting rocker’s lazy, hazy summer has just arrived.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Grand Effort
When Drive, She Said burst onto the scene in 1989 with a star-studed debut this New York-based band looked like the new kings of US melodic rock. But timing is everything and just as they found their groove the rest of the world discovered grunge.
This is a reminder of just why the Mark Mangold-driven project was so relevant back in the day but two new tracks – Dreams Will Come and Try To Let Go – suggest there’s life in the old dog yet. And those who wax lyrical about the band’s Firefest 2009 set would confirm as much.
This is a collection of sugar-coated melodic rock classics including I Found Someone (made famous by Cher) and Fool’s Game (butchered by Michael Bolton) and the singalong anthems just keep on coming. It’s an album which makes you feel good to be alive and a record which makes you want to dig out that self-titled debut from 21 years back. Do it. And buy this.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Driving Rock
As deluxe reissues go this is a strange choice and a strange record on so many levels. The first LA Guns album to feature the vocal talents of Love/Hate frontman Jizzy Pearl it was originally recorded 11 years ago – so we can’t even go down the 10th anniversary route here – and even then it wasn’t exactly critically acclaimed.
There are many more and many better LA Guns records fully deserving of the deluxe reissue treatment (what price a 20th anniversary edition of Hollywood Vampires next year?) but it may well be down to this band’s chequered history and revolving doors policy that those so-called classics can’t be revamped just yet.
For now we have nine reasonably good tunes which sound no better or no worse than they did in 1999. Throw in superbly executed live versions of five LA Guns classics – featuring Pearl, rather than Phil Lewis on vocals – and there you have it. A deluxe reissue.
Except this isn’t. Not compared to the kind of double CD packages we’ve come to expect replete with exclusive liner notes and genuine rarities. This simply smacks of a lazy cash-in and does the reputation of Steve Vai’s new Favoured Nations/Jiboom label no good at all. As a band LA Guns are a great debut signing – as a record this is an ill-judged release.
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Get That Shrinking Feeling
This is psychedelic, summery and even sugary sweet as the newly remodelled Scott Weiland takes centre stage. It’s nothing like the album you might expect from Stone Temple Pilots – their first in nine years – and fans of the band might baulk at the unbridled optimism and poppy highlights.
But it’s impossible to dislike the smile-on-your-face funk of Huckleberry Crumble and its follow-up Hickory Dichotomy or hum whistfully to the Bowie-meets-Beatles brilliance of Dare If You Dare.
Weiland’s velvety smooth vocals are a sudden departure from the angst of his dying days fronting Velvet Revolver and his relaxed delivery, complemented by a series of festival-friendly riffs, suggest STP could be the surprise package of the summer. This is not the same band we kissed goodbye to at the turn of the last decade and they’re all the better for it.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Stone Me
Here at rushonrock we’re no big fans of the so-called prelude. And the fact that Y&T kick off the excellent Facemelter with a prelude to On With The Show is annoying in the extreme – it detracts from what should be a killer first track and throws up many more questions than it seeks to answer.
But any lingering frustration is offset almost immediately as Dave Meniketti delivers one of the finest performances of his long and celebrated career. That gravelly rock lilt, coupled with some beautifully crafted riffs, has always made for an irrepressible live show and yet Facemelter is a professional and powerful studio production.
Shine On is a rousing head banger of an anthem and when I Want Your Money follows hot on its heels you’re suddenly back in the mid 80s and rejoicing in a world of power chords and gold standard choruses.
Meniketti could have rested on his laurels as a live performer par excellence trading on a belting back catalogue and reliant on a super-loyal fan base. Instead he’s rolled out Facemelter and for that we have to be very thankful indeed. In spite of the prelude.
rushonrock rated: Y&Tremendous
Listen to Lonely Winds Of War, from the fourth album by power metal monsters Masterplan, and there’s more than enough Iron Maiden, solo-era Dio and Kamelot here to keep even the most demanding of melodic metal fans satisfied.
It’s a brief snapshot of a brave and brilliantly conceived record but it perfectly reflects the true essence of this underrated but upcoming Teutonic powerhouse.
When Uli Kusch and Roland Grapow were booted out of Helloween the future might have appeared bleak for two talented and forthright masters of the metal arts. Instead the latter has finally created his dream rock vehicle and Time To Be King is the turbo-charged 4WD star of the Masterplan forecourt.
With Jorn Lande’s crisp vocals set against a rich aural canvas of subtle keys, soaring riffs and a booming bass line this is metal the way it was meant to be played – heavy, melodic, fierce and user-friendly.
rushonrock rated: Metal Master Class