Welcome to the last batch of records to beat the Christmas rush and the last Rock Solid of 2008 ūüôĀ . But with Scott Weiland’s newie already racked up for next month and a slew of classic reissues from Jason Bonham and Bad English to come, your favourite reviews section will be back with a bang in 2009. For now cast your eyes over this trio of melodic rock and metal gems…

China Blue РTwilight Of Destiny (Frontiers) 

Imagine yourself transported back to an era when late 80s keyboard-led rock ruled the FM airwaves and you’ll find yourself right in the middle of this wonderful example of why it’s not always a bad thing to peddle the past.

TNT/Shy frontman Tony Mills is joined by Ted Poley’s Doug Odell, Eric Ragno and Josh Ramos (he’s a busy guy!) in what, on the surface at least, might seem like a second division supergroup at best. In fact China Blue rock like late 80s Europe on steroids and if it wasn’t for the horrific cover we’d be loving this record even more.

Unfortunately the attempt to¬†add a touch of creative design to the magnificent music fails quite spectacularly and sadly the cover of Twilight Of Destiny might deter potential buyers from investing their hard earmed cash. It’s that bad.

But that would be a travesty as within this surprisingly strong collection of melodic classics lie the gems What Do You Need But Love (a good artist, perhaps?), So Wrong and Take Me As I Am Рall a glorious throwback to a time when it was OK to sing like a woman and sing about women.

It’s a very late contender but could it sneak into rushonrock‘s records of the year? Wait and see…

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Get This China In Your Hands

Ecliptica – Impetus (Frontiers)

Now this must be a record to rouse our AWOL columnist Mag Dog Pog and get him filing those reviews lost in the ether. It’s not often rushonrock throws the spotlight on Austrian heavy metal¬†but¬†these boys are big news in Vienna.

Whether they have what it takes to¬†hit the headlines outside of their home country remains to be seen and there are certainly more questions than answers on the enigmatic Impetus. Twin vocalists and the indiscriminate use of orchestral manouevres makes this record difficult to digest and even after a couple of listens it’s very much an acquired taste.

If you do have the appetite to get your teeth into Excliptica then there are occasional rewards. Land Of Silence may or may not be a snide dig at Austria but it’s a bloody good song and Old Man’s Memories comes a close second.

Beyond those two it’s all very much of a muchness. This could be the record to break Ecliptica beyond mainland Europe’s head banging hinterlands¬†but the competition is strong in the world of melodic metal. Over to you Pog…

rushonrock rated: 5/10 What Impetus?

Robert Berry – The Dividing Line (Frontiers)

Last heard fronting the third Alliance album, Road To Heaven, the prolific Mr Berry is back and this time he’s serious. But then for a muso who learned his trade bouncing off fellow Bay Area artists in the 70s this multi-talented individual has always been serious about his often underrated work.

Having started out with Hush, the award winning Berry has been involved in scores of rock projects over the years as a songwriter, singer, guitarist and producer. Perhaps his failure to focus on one area has pevented major league success but then this is a guy who appears truly happy with his lot.

The Dividing Line isn’t the best thing Berry’s ever done but it’s by no means the worst.¬†As expected the production is flawless and the¬†music faultless but there’s something missing from a¬†raft of slick melodic rock tunes. Songs like Faith, Can’t Let Go and Wait¬†are, inexplicably, missing that vital spark.

This is a good record but it ain’t great. It boasts some incredible highs but there are some distinctly average lows. This is a man rooted in melodic rock for more than 30 years so he was never going to deliver a dud. But when your back catalogue is so cool prepare to be judged against past glories.

rushonrock rated: 6/10 Dividing Opinion.