This week we check out new releases from Joe Elliott’s much vaunted side project Down N Outz – available now with Classic Rock Magazine – and retro singer songwriter Chris Singleton.

There’s some sensational old skool metal from Swedes Grand Magus.

And we review and rate the latest Metal Heaven releases as Bad Habit and Wicked Sensation deliver the melodic rock soundtracks to your summer.

Down N Outz – My ReGeneration (Mailboat Records)

There’s no secret to producing a covers album which passes musical muster – stay true to the originals and add a twist of originality.

That’s exactly what Def Leppard legend Joe Elliott and his hired hands from the Quireboys have achieved with the sparkling My ReGeneration and its appeal stretches far beyond 70s glam revisited.

If Elliott’s unique vocals offer a distinct take on some vintage Hunter/Hoople-era tracks then you can’t look beyond the twin guitars of Paul Guerin and Guy Griffin for the reason this record really does rock.

Anyone who’s watched the Quireboys in action during the past five years will surely agree that this fret tinkling duo are among the best British rock and roll has to offer and their emotive work perfectly complements Elliott’s chiselled pipes.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a nothing more than a self centred labour of love. It may be the album Elliott always dreamed of but it does more than hit the mark.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Covered In Glory

Grand Magus – Hammer Of The North (Roadrunner Records)

If you can’t wait until the new Maiden album then this superbly polished piece of retro metal from Stockholm’s finest noise merchants should compensate for now.

Every track is lovingly crafted into a slab of heavy rock made for fans of the NWOBHM or the NWOTHM or any wave of metal you could care to mention. The thumping title track is joyous in its simple conception and uncomplicated delivery while The Lord Of Lies is a nailed on Scando anthem.

It’s incredibly comforting to know a band has the desire and the balls to make a record like this in 2010. And if and when the mighty Maiden do call it a day then bands like Grand Magus are perfectly placed to carry metal’s flag into the future.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Grand Design

Bad Habit – Timeless (AOR Heaven)

Opening up with two new tracks it’s clear there’s still life in Bad Habit yet and the presence of original material sets this career-spanning compilation apart from the norm.

Sadly, the aspect of Timeless which makes it less than your complete Best Of opus is the absence of any tunes from the critically acclaimed Adult Orientation. Without any reference to what many believe to be Bad Habit’s finest moment it’s a record which will always feel less than the sum of its considerable parts.

What can’t be denied is the sheer quality of the songs which do make the final cut here. Culled from four studio albums spanning more than 20 years the tracks are, as the album title suggests, simply timeless. Think hair metal fused with classic AOR, a heady mix of Def Journey or Bon Europe and you’re on the right tracks.

Compilation closer Need Somebody is an obvious highlight but Winner Takes It All and Heart Of Mine run it mightily close. Without the Adult Orientation material this is good but with it we’d be looking at melodic rock gold.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Familiar Habit

Chris Singleton And The Distractions – Lady Gasoline (IRL)

The clean production and sharp vocals which underpin this mish mash of musical history won’t appeal to fans of raw and unadulterated rock and yet there’s much to appreciate in Chris Singleton’s work.

The fact he borrows as much from 80s pop metal as he does from 90s Brit rock isn’t a problem as such but his tendency to marry the two within the same song can grate. But just as you’re about to hit the fast forward button there’s a slamming guitar solo or a funk rock bass line to grab your attention.

Take Bad Ambitions as an example. There’s the brilliant bass-heavy intro followed by the White Trash-esque melody and you’re thinking ‘wow’. Then there’s the poppy and frankly soppy bulk of the song before the guitar solo and the snappy synth kicks in. Singleton sings ‘ you know what you want but you don’t get nothing’ and that’s the problem here.

If the idea behind Lady Gasoline was to prove to the world that he’s got the talent to turn his hand to rock in all of its guises then Singleton has achieved just that. Right now the problem is nobody knows where he’s going next.

rushonrock rated: 6/10 Gasover The Top

Wicked Sensation – Crystallized (Metal Heaven)

There’s no doubt that the Germans know how to do metal just as well as they know how to do World Cups. And while England might still have the edge over their Teutonic nemesis where heavy music is concerned those days could well be numbered.

It’s nine years since Wicked Sensation rose to prominence with debut Reflected and had their career not been interrupted by musical differences there’s every chance they would be huge by now. Reformed since 2009 and clearly revitalised there’s the early promise mixed with hard-nosed experienced – the result is tracks like opener Better World, the anthemic My Turn To Fly (a duet with Helloween’s Andi Deris) and the haunting Coverdale-esque ballad The Love I Used To Know.

This is star quality stuff delivered by a band which was going places and can do again. It’s great to feel the old Sensation again – but these guys sound more Wicked than ever. And that’s a good thing.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Sensational Stuff