VIOLENT DIVINE: Louder Than Love

Swedish band Violent Divine formed in late 2005 and in 2006, they released their debut album which spawned three singles. They now have their fifth album out and continue to put forth songs of power and energy.

Overall the album is really great. The vocals are so rich and deep, however, they are hidden within the music a tad on some tracks for my liking but that’s just me. Each track has its own personality, its own identity, but I can say for sure that each member of the band has some serious skills. The album is so rich and in-depth with the sound, it’s deep and rich with power and emotion. Every sound, every word is portrayed beautify. To me, the sound is a mixture of metal/rock and has an 80’s feel to it, but not true 80’s, with its modern touches. The album reminds me of Five Finger Death Punch’s albums War Is The Answer and American Capitalist with its strong, harsh, powerful sound. The album has so many tracks which are really awesome. I love how each track is multi-layered and textured and it has such a good fast pace to each song. You can really get a sense of emotion and meaning of each of the songs. There are only four members of the band, Mike on vocals, S.J. on guitars, Oscar on bass, and Simon on Drums, and yet they sound so well-rounded and full of life.  I don’t know how long the band has been together or been creating songs, but I do know they sound like experts and been doing this for a really long time to hone their craft.

I found it hard to review this album since it was so hard to talk about just certain songs, instead of the overall effect the album had on me. I love this album from the fantastic album art to the great sounding music.

Album review by: Amy East

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ANDREW RIDGELEY: Son Of Albert

This is the first reissue for Andrew Ridgeley’s debut album Son Of Albert that was originally released in 1990, four years after the breakup of Wham! Andrew Ridgeley as one half of the 80’s Supergroup Wham! sold more than 28 million records worldwide between 1982 and 1986. This Special Expanded Edition includes the nine original album tracks from the vinyl release plus 7 related bonus tracks. This includes “Shake (Hardcore)” that was featured on the CD version of the album.

One day at the record store that I worked at, a label compilation was given to me be the rep and I took a look at it and saw that a solo song from Ridgely was on it and I was interested in hearing it. I cued it up on the old CD player and there it was, the first single, “Shake.”The song starts off with guitar and vocals, then the band kicks in with a catchy chorus and I was kind of shocked that it had nothing to do with the way that Wham! sounded. A lot more rock and not pop at all, so I was interested in hearing more from the album. For whatever reason, the album never seemed to appear in the store and I promptly forgot about it, until one day, Was in another record store and saw the CD in the used bin on sale for 3 for $10. I dug around and grabbed a couple more discs and headed home. When I put this on, was I ever surprised with what I heard! This was a hair metal CD, not a guy from Wham! I had thought that I got a mislabeled CD, until I heard “Shake” and realized that this truly was the real one. Starting off with “Red Dress,” I was shocked to hear a rocking song with more than a touch of hair metal, almost Poison-like in sound. Next was “Shake,” then “The Price Of Love” which is a more rockin’ out tune with an early Alice Cooper vocal sound. “Flame” is a dirty sounding track with ripping guitar playing. “Hangin'” is more pop-oriented, less hard rock and a ridiculously catchy chorus. “Mexico” sounds almost exactly like Poison and is really hair metal. “Big Machine,” “Kiss Me,” and “Baby Jane” all carry on the hard rock sound. I sat there and couldn’t believe that the guy who helped put out songs like “Wake Me Up,” and “Wham! Rap” was doing a metal album now! I can see why that this was not a hit because where would it have gotten air-play? Rock radio would not touch an album from a guy from Wham!, and pop radio wouldn’t play a metal album, so then what? Now, after a lot of years, we get a remastered version with bonus tracks and a chance to re-think the whole thing. This version contains a recent interview with Ridgeley and co-producer Gary Bromham, remastering from the original tapes, the single “Shake” in “Hardcore,” “Accapella,” and “Extended” mixes, second single “Red Dress” which features backing vocals by George Michael, with “12”” and an additional “Extended Mix,” and “Hangin,” with the “Extended” and “Alternative Extended Version.”

“Shake (Hardcore)” is mostly just music and effects added to it, “Acapella” really isn’t since it has a guitar in it, and “Extended” is not as dancey, more open sounding. “Red Dress (12″ Mix)” is a fairly rocking mix that sounds great, “Extended Version” is exactly that, an extended mix. “Hangin’ (Alternative Extended Version)” is more of a dancey track, and “Extended” is, even more, pop-oriented and dancey than the other mixes.

The sound is great, and listening to this again, with al the years between the first listen and today, this isn’t that bad of an album, kind of fun and definitely something that stands as his own statement. Take a chance and give it a listen for yourself.

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VAJRA: The Mirror: Single

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This band from New York plays a mix of what they call Gypsy Metal, and also contains East Indian sounds, Hard Rock, Psychedelic, Metal, and Progressive all mixed together. They have just released a new single from their forthcoming CD, Irkalla (released Fall 2017) which is the first in a series of three EPs called the Trilogy Series.

The song has a few gentle parts that get harder and heavier, and then there are parts that are completely bombastic and just blow your hair back. The mix of the different music styles, including the East Indian sounds really work together to create a unique sound. The playing is exemplary, with a tight arrangement, great production, thick bass, driving drums, blistering guitar playing and such amazing vocals that I had to hit repeat a few times. The song is catchy, and very memorable, a very good sign for their upcoming EPs.

Take a look at their cool video for the song, then go and buy it and play the hell out of it. Get ready for something great from this band, they have the talent and with quality of this high standard, they are going to keep rising.

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IMMORTAL SYNN: Machine Men

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This five piece metal band from Denver, CO has shared the stage with: Lynch Mob, Wildside, Loudness, Great White, Warrant, Winger, L.A. Guns, Firehouse, Hammerfall, Delain, BulletBoys, Ratt, and The Relapse Symphony in the past. The band consists of Chase McClellan (lead vocals), Tony Z (founder, rhythm/lead guitar, vocals), Miguel Ruíz (lead guitar, backup vocals), Andrew Cope (bass, vocals), Axel Berrios (official drummer, but is currently attending school in Mexico and is set to return by the end of 2017), Ryan Alexander Bloom (fill-in drummer during Axel’s absence).

The band has a mix of traditional metal blended with a touch of thrash and hard rock and does a pretty good job of it. You get eleven songs full of power and raw emotion that you just have to hit the replay after it’s over just to get that rush that occurred on first listen. The songs are pure metal, no alternative, no gloss, just a kick in the groin and a punch in the head of killer riffs, and choruses that will have you shouting along to. The guitar playing is fantastic with solos and riffs bouncing around your ears non-stop, the pounding drums and bass form a perfect union, and the vocals switch from being gruff to up in the higher reaches and make for a noise that’s filled with aggression, but not bland lyrics, these guys are a lot more thoughtful than the average metal band. As I listened to the album, I just got drawn into it deeper and deeper, enjoying it more than I thought I would. The band did a great job with the production and the song length, being not too long and making you want to hear more from them.

I put this on thinking that I might enjoy some of it, but came away loving it and now they have a fan in me. The band proves that hard work, talent and the right mix of people can become a juggernaut.

Also posted at: http://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2017/08/immortal-synn-machine-men.html

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HINDER: Harker Heights – All Bottoms Up Bar Concert With Kings Of The Air, Tame Fury, Trine, and Within Reason

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The concert in Harker Heights was at a bar however it was an outside venue and was brutally hot and humid that day. The concert had starting times for either 6 or 6:30 pm depending on the websites you were looking at, so I got there around 6:30 pm. With the uncertainty of the start time, I was hungry and stopped to eat some Mexican food and 99 cent margaritas and missed the first band. It was the down time between the first band The Kings Of The Air which I missed and Tame Fury when I arrived. While waiting for Tame fury to come onto the stage, I walked around to see how the crowd was, it was a small crowd with most of the people there to see Within Reason and main attraction Hinder.

I made my way to the back near the bar so I could have a full view of the crowd and the stage. When it was time for Tame Fury to come onto the stage the crowd was unimpressed by them since they were there for Hinder and Within Reason. Tame Fury came on like being on stage was normal for them. I had only heard their music the day before and I was surprisingly impressed by what I heard online. When the music started to play, I was completely blown away, they had a superb sound that’s like another world between hearing them online and seeing them live. It was high energy, bold, loud, with clear vocals, and a tight sound overall, such amazing talent from a band that just started in 2014. The guys from Tame Fury aren’t flashy, showy, and they don’t need to be, oh no, they had the sound and the lyrics to make up big time for the lack of movement onstage from the heat. While Michael Mcvey was on vocals doing a great job of singing crystal clear and powerfully; drummer Phred Williams was in the background doing his own little show of throwing and spinning his sticks in time with the beats. The sound is rich, full, and engulfs you into a trance of pure bliss. The melody and beats weren’t all over the place or messy and they kept great time and hitting their marks. Erick Villareals, Brandon Williams, Mark Bankston did a wonderful job backing up Michael. The guys did a bunch of tracks, “Leave It All Behind,” “Brainwashed,” “Masquerade,” “Red Carpet,” “Fallen,” “Gift Of Life,” and “Black As The Fire.” Unfortunately, the crowd wasn’t really giving them love so Michael was trying to convince the crowd to give them some love. I did but I was in the back and they couldn’t hear me. Tame Fury is making a name for themselves by bringing a unique sound, image and attitude and presence to a versed crowd, from the older generation to the younger crowd. I cannot make this review solely about them, but they have a new album coming out and I will be able to review that.

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The next band after Tame Fury is another recent band, Trine. Trine is a trio from Austin, Texas. The band members are Deuce Wanier, Ryan Hegefeld, and Jon Yadon Jr. Trine is a very new band so I don’t know too much about them. They had a whole different act than Tame Fury, the energy is different, the sound, everything, perhaps age is a factor. Trine is more alt rock sounding and it’s in your face, bold, bad boy attitude, and slightly raw power comes from it. The sound is rich and full and just engulfs the listener. It was still daylight when Trine hit the stage but the sun was slowly setting so the lights and the smoke from the stage were more visible. The way the lights were flashing just emphases the beat and the overall sound, and unfortunately the mics and the instruments weren’t doing so well in the Texas heat and humidity so I didn’t truly appreciate their sound as much as I could have, but I did notice they had a sound all their own. Their sound is fresh, new, and all ages and generations could easily appreciate their sound and energy.
After Trine had left the stage the sun was setting and shortly after the stage was all lit up and the smoke was really going when Within Reason hit the stage.

Within Reason consists of Chris Dow, David Koone, and Griffin Zarbourgh. The guys did a few songs from their long list of tracks. Unfortunately, the heat was messing with the sound as well for the guys. However, I did get a decent idea of their sound. They did perform some new tracks from their new album, and the vocals were good, smooth, and not as rough around the edges as I had thought since their sound was smooth, not as rough and edgy as their looks, but all in all it’s not bad at all, just a little unexpected. The band has been around since 2005, their style is leaning on the alternative side of rock which works very well for them. The lights and sounds from the stage were very enticing. They were the perfect choice to lead up to Hinder.

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When Hinder hit the stage, the night truly engulfed us all, the stage was fully alive, and the crowd was ready for them. Hinder had a few technical issues due to the heat but that didn’t hold them back from going full force. The band rocked the stage with a mix of old and new songs and the excited crowd ate it up. The relatively new singer Marshal Dutton has grown on me and he did an amazing job of covering the songs from the first and second albums, and he gave the old songs new life and a surreal sound to them. He has a smooth voice that still has plenty of edge and roughness, but it’s not harsh. Marshall covered the tracks that Austin Winkler had originally done nicely. The guys did a few tracks from their As The Smoke Clears album and it was a seamless transition going from the old tracks to the new and back again. Marshall played a duo guitar solo and it was intense hardcore guitar action. All of the guys on the band performed perfectly and with energy and emotion. Marshall even did an acoustic song from their acoustic album. Some of the songs they played were “Intoxicated,” “Up All Night,” “All American Nightmare,” “Lips Of An Angel,” “Better Than Me,” “Two Sides Of Me,” “Hit The Ground,” “Rather Hate Than Hurt,” “Wasted Life,” “See You In Hell,” “Use Me, and “Get Stoned.” They also did a few songs from their new album The Reign. The guys put on a show to remember and all of the bands, not just Hinder were awesome. The strobe lights matched up to each and every song perfectly and seamlessly. It was one hell of a concert and to those who left early and to the ones who didn’t come out, you just don’t know what you missed out on.

Review by Amy East

 

 

 

 

TOKYO BLADE: Knights Of The Blade: 4 Disc Box Set

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Tokyo Blade originally formed in 1982, releasing their self-titled debut in 1983. They formed around guitarist Andy Boulton, he was joined on their debut by Alan Marsh on lead vocals, John Wiggins on guitar, Andy Robbins on bass and Steve Pierce on drums, making a significant impact on the burgeoning NWOBHM scene that had been popularized by Iron Maiden, Saxon, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Def Leppard, as well as finding support in the pages of Kerrang! magazine. This release consists of a four Disc box set of their first three albums, many rare EPs, singles and non-album cuts from the early 1980s, including tracks from “The Cave Sessions”, “Undercover Honeymoon” 12”, “Midnight Rendezvous” EP and “Madame Guillotine” EP. Featuring lengthy and detailed liner notes from note NWOBHM and Tokyo Blade expert John Tucker

Tokyo Blade issued their debut recording in 1983, which was self-titled in the United Kingdom, and titled Midnight Rendezvous everywhere else. The album is classic metal with high-pitched vocals that aren’t too far into the stratosphere like some bands, they are a nice mix of highs and mid-level, the guitar rips throughout the album, the drumming is powerful, and the bass is heavy. The band really sounds like they were having a great time n the studio making this album, with youthful exuberance just dripping from the songs. The songs are catchy and should have been playing out of everyone’s speakers loud. I really liked “Powergame,” “Break The Chains, ” Killer City,” “Liar,” and “Sunrise In Tokyo.” For a first album, you don’t get much better than this.

The Night Of The Blade album arrived a year later, Andy Wrighton having replaced Robbins while Marsh had also left the band. The band was trying to find a new singer for their tour and got lucky with what was supposed to be the temporary throat of Vicki James Wright, but they decided to keep him as singer for the next album. His vocals were a bit more commercial sounding, but the songs were still hard and heavy. Again, the band played tight and really matured since their first album. Songs “Someone To Love,” “Night Of The Blade,” the killer “Rock Me To The Limit,” “Love Struck,” and the more commercial sounding “Lightning Strikes (Straight Through the Heart),” stand out after all of these years.

Blackhearts & Jaded Spades retains the power and singer from the previous album and sounds a bit more polished, but not wimpy. You could hear the band moving towards the huge American market with the added keyboards and more melody than on previous albums. Who can blame them? The market in America was something that pretty much every band wanted to break in and tour and be played on MTV during this period. The hard and heavy stuff was more on underground radio and bands knew where the money was; playing more melodic, adding a touch of keyboards and making the band more in tune with the big bands at the time like Iron Maiden, and Motley Crue. “Dirty Faced Angels,” “Make It Through The Night,” “Always,” are a trio of killer songs, “Loving You Is An Easy Thing To Do” is a blues based track that has a fantastic groove and should have been huge on the radio, “Undercover Honeymoon” gets things back a little heavier, then you get the power ballad “You Are The Heart,” which I could see being thrown in the mix at a high school dance back then, “Blackhearts And Jaded Spades,” “Tough Guys Tumble” get the hard rocking going again, until you come to another power ballad, “Dancing In Blue Moonlight,” which now starts to be a little much, and happily, they end the album with two blistering songs “Playroom Of Poison Dreams,” and “Monkeys Blood.” Not perfect, but still a great album that has more than enough metal to make you happy.

The fourth CD is a nineteen track collection of the band’s singles and EPs.  All of these songs were previously issued on the band’s various reissues, and it’s great to have them all together on a separate disc. This ably illustrates the musical evolution Tokyo Blade underwent from the start of the career, until their third album. Going from a harder sounding band to a more slick and commercial sound, while still retaining the great songs and playing that made you pick up the first album.

With the great liner notes, replica album sleeves and the fantastic music on the four discs, you really can’t go wrong with this purchase. The band definitely is on fire on these albums and even though they still are putting out albums now, the young, hard-edged sound of their hunger is a treasure to behold.

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THE SURVIVAL CODE – Broken Strings EP

This trio from London, England was founded back in 2011 and has released their newest EP that has three songs of powerful modern hard rock. They previously released the full length MMXV in 2015 and a four song EP back in 2012.

First song “Broken Strings” have a tight, heavy sound that has an infectious sound that gets your head nodding and your blood pumping and makes you want to bang your head furiously and shout along with the band. A great first song to start this EP and it made it very difficult to stop playing it over and over again. “One” keeps the high energy going, but just down a notch from the first song. The song is every bit as crunchy and had as the previous and is actually a bit more melodic, but will still kick your ass. “Lost Cause” is a slower song, but not a slow song, no ballad here kids, instead you get a song that has feeling and emotion, but doesn’t get wimpy. The song has a bite to it and thick playing that will get you rocking and gives a nice finish to this all too short EP.

The band really does a great job showing us the ability that they have to write and perform songs that will stand out from the pack and get your ears to a happy place. I am looking forward to hearing a complete album from them in the future and will be looking for their previous releases.

Also posted on: http://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-survival-code-broken-strings-ep.html

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