REVIEWS – NEW MUSIC
Plus there’s our verdict on new albums from Issa, Fergie Frederiksen, Bobby Kimball/Jimi Jamison, Chris Corney and Almah.
When Angra’s Edu Falaschi and Felipe Andreoli founded Almah in 2006, they must have had at least a little inkling they’d be living in the shadow their main project for some time. The Brazillian power metal giants may have eclipsed the upstarts for their first two records, but Motion is certainly pushing Almah to new heights that demand attention.
Stepping out of those lingering shadows, the five-piece have made a record that best shows off their proggy swagger and epic power metal in a contemporary guise.
Almah gallop across their charismatic verses with traditional heavy metal clout and splice it with wickedly widdly solo bouts under a surprisingly modern veil.
Based on the Rio Shooting that saw 13 children killed last April, Bullets On The Altar is a saddening homage to those who lost their lives – an impacting song both musically as it is lyrically. Following up from the sombre pace is the true surprise package of the album – Zombies Dictator. It’s a song that stretches frontman Edu Falaschi out of his usual comfort-zone of high soprano notes with some blood-curdling screams while also revealing some thudding drop-D breakdowns that wouldn’t go amiss on a latest metalcore release.
Alongside the rousing emotive beauty that is Late Night In ’85 is the soothing acoustic album-closer When And Why. Both are definitive proof that Almah have weaved their musical linen more intricately on this third attempt. CR
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Wheels in Motion
A year ago Issa’s underwhelming debut warranted no more than a 6/10 rushonrock rating and yet the pop metal potential was there for all to hear.
A glossy production, well crafted tunes and the polished image required to break down mainstream barriers didn’t quite match the dispassionate delivery but we were promised a new – and hopefully improved – record was already in the pipeline.
The Storm is, indeed, better than its predecessor but still the old problems persist. Belting out memorable anthems is something Issa must learn to do fast if she is to carve her own niche in the congested melodic rock market.
Opener Looking For Love lacks the powerful chorus it surely deserves while Please Hold On is powder-puff, Evanescence-lite fare. By contrast, Gonna Stand By You gives The Storm a much-needed shot in the arm and Roxette-like power ballad Too Late For Love is exactly the type of tune one of Frontiers’ most talented artists should be trading in.
Issa is someone we really like and a singer we want to love. Yet while The Storm does represent steady progress it’s still far from the finished product. SR
rushonrock rated: 7/10 The Imperfect Storm
The story behind this powerful album’s painful completion could easily cloud the judgement of the most cynical reviewer: Happiness Is The Road was concluded while ex-Toto singer Frederiksen was undergoing treatment for liver cancer and facing the worst case scenario.
Thankfully the former Trillion/Le Roux frontman is beating the deadly disease and this sensational record requires no sympathy vote. The music speaks for itself and the trademark Dennis Ward production job, coupled with Jim Peterik’s songwriting craft, makes for the melodic rock release of the month.
Elaine has a classic Journey feel with Frederiksen hitting all of the high notes all of the time. But this is an accomplished album sprinkled with AOR stardust from start to finish. First To Cry would sit comfortably on either of Bad English’s classic albums while the piano intro to Follow Your Heart ushers in a heartfelt and emotive ballad.
Frederiksen is used to fighting serious health problems but in 2011 he faces his toughest battle yet. If Happiness Is The Road represents part of the healing process then victory must be in sight. SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 AOR Road Trip
On paper this killer combination should slay all melodic rock rivals before them. That Bobby Kimball and Jimi Jamison have somehow fallen way short of the level anticipated of such a stellar duo is confusing in the extreme.
First and foremost their voices just don’t mix. Or at least in this mix. And when you’re talking about an album of vocal collaborations that’s never a great start.
Matt Sinner is surely experienced enough in the production seat to smooth out any rough edges but he doesn’t appear to have bothered – whether he had a choice in the face of two strong personalities is open to question. But the fact remains: too many of the songs suit neither singer.
Find Another Way brings tears to the eyes but not because of its emotional pull – it sounds out of tune, out of kilter and out of control. And while Get Back In The Game is a brilliant example of Kimball and Jamison finally clicking to rousing effect this modern rock anthem is the glorious exception, rather than the rule.
It’s taken years for two of the finest vocalists of a generation to pool their resources and forge what should be a dream partnership. But these are not Kimball Jamison compositions and an underlying lack of enthusiasm suggests neither man has fully embraced a rather contrived and ultimately disappointing project. SR
rushonrock rated: 5/10 Please Don’t Duet
Singer songwriter Chris Corney might be a relative unknown but at a time when X-Factor is once again pummelling the British public with a dazzlingly inept array of dire wannabes this record is a timely reminder that musical talent does exist.
Here it takes the form of Airways Mansions – an understated yet powerful collection of rock n roll tunes which both revives memories of classic Crowded House and throws up focused bursts of stripped down British blues rock.
The alt rock allure of single America could break charts and hearts on both sides of the Pond given the right exposure and a little luck. In fact Jools Holland should be doing for Corney what he did for Vintage Trouble and sorting a high profile slot on his revered Later… show.
There’s a strong Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers feel to so much of the best music on offer here but that’s surely no bad thing. Corney’s soft yet emotive tones guarantee you’re buying into this record from the moment it kicks into gear.
Airways Mansions could very well be missed by so many and yet it will be dearly loved by the knowledgeable few. Make sure you’re part of the latter group and you’ll be smiling all the way to next summer. SR
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Corney Blimey
The hair metal revival is well and truly underway and, with standard bearers in the league of Reckless Love, followers of spandex fashion and lip gloss choruses can rejoice with suitable excess.
Sensibly choosing to release this cheese fest of an 80s throwback in advance of Steel Panther’s new album, Reckless Love get a clear run at the retro market and just about manage to pass as the serious alternative to Hollywood’s spoof heroes.
The opener and title track is standard fare with the Leppard-esque layered vocal, over-the-top solo, spongy bass drum and brainless lyric. But it sets the scene for one of the finest party albums you’ll hear all year.
The intro to Born To Break Your Heart could have been culled from any Sunset Strip club act of the late 80s and once the featherlite riff gives way to the majestically mixed chorus it’s just like that Ratt/Poison double bill all over again.
Hot is possibly the catchiest thing since herpes (as the Panther would surely testify) and will have you humming all the way to work and back on these crisp October mornings. In fact this classic song alone explains why Reckless Love are at the forefront of a genre in overdrive and why the Panther’s days could well be numbered.
This is the real deal. If real is a blatant rip-off of everything good about 1987. SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Animal Instinct
This week’s reviewers: Simon Rushworth, Calum Robson.