The Spitfires Live at The Rickshaw Theatre

The Spitfires Live at The Rickshaw Theatre
Vancouver, BC, Canada – 20/11/21
Words and Photography by Arturs Feists

The Spitfires have been wowing music fans with their mix of “AC/DC meets the Sex Pistols” 70’s era rock/punk since 1996. They’re road dogs – Canada coast to coast multiple times, extensive U.S. touring, and playing in the UK, the Spitfires have taken on SXSW, NXNE, Canadian Music Week, and New Music West. Spits have released 4 full length LPs, numerous 7 inches on labels like Junk, Estrus, Longshot, and more. Photos from the show at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver BC, Canada on November 20, 2021

Disclaimer: This photo album is solely the property of Arturs Feists. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of these images, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Hearts & Hand Grenades – Between The Lines

Between The Lines Album Cover Art

Hearts & Hand Grenades – Between The Lines
Eclipse Records
Release Date: 19/11/21
Running Time: 40:52
Review by Simon Black

Hearts & Hand Grenades started life in New York as a covers act and, thanks to the support of Goo Goo Dolls’ Robby Tabak, were persuaded to record some of their original material … once they had got around to writing some that is! The ‘Wait’ EP was released independently in 2019 (some tracks from which also appear here) and then their full length debut ‘Turning To Ashes’ earlier this year, so a second full length album following on so quickly implies that they have taken to this original music lark like a duck to the proverbial water, even if some material released on earlier EP’s is being reconstituted and given the benefit of a better studio experience. You get the sense that this is a band with the song-writing bit well and truly between their teeth now and that there’s a lot more where this came from just waiting to happen. Releasing anything new in time for a global pandemic when you can’t get out there and tour every toilet and support slot going means getting a wider audience right now is a challenge, but perhaps some good old-fashioned word of mouth can do the trick here, because these folks really deserve it.

Musically this is full on rawking stuff, with a deep vein of that 70’s East Coast Punk attitude of the part of the world that gave us The Ramones, and won’t let us forget it any time soon. The songs are all slightly longer than that kind of classic stuff, but it’s obviously an influence. Musically, these guys have a lot going on for them, so alongside the down tuning and aggression, there’s some subtle technical twists in there to make the anthemic song-writing just that little more well-rounded, as a good catchy riff with a few twists always guarantees. They tend to be lumped into the broad church becoming known as New Wave Of Classic Rock (NWOCR), which is a catch all for anything more Hard or Melodic Rock orientated, that’s likely to appeal to the Metal market whilst not entirely fitting in with it. Let’s face it, that’s a good, broad audience base that means you may actually sell some records – which is just as well, because those crazy overlong journalist acronyms like NWOBHM are a bit of a turn off for ordinary folk…

And I think Hearts & Hand Grenades most likely will sell a fair few …

This is cracking stuff, with a down tuned but melodic sound, some blasting instrumental performances and a vocalist in Stephanie Wlosinski with attitude, range, and enough gutsiness to grab you by the throat, but who knows how to turn on the softer side and show her range when it’s needed. Check out the heavy ballad ‘Moonlight’ if you are in doubt, which borrows a heavy as hell riff from Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’, allows Stephanie Wlosinski to show power through a heart-rending, emotive vocal delivery, whilst still bashing your brains out with the heaviness of the overall musical framework. This is fantastic stuff.

01. Scream It Out
02. Black Sunset
03. Between The Lines
04. Secret
05. Tragedy
06. Beautiful Pain
07. Bad Medicine
08. Illogical
09. Wait
10. Moonlight

Stephanie Wlosinski – Lead Vocals / Bass
Mike Bress – Guitar / Keyboards
Kenny Blesy – Lead Guitar
Tom Lafferty – Drums


Hearts And Hand Grenades Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Gypsy’s Kiss – 74

74 Album Cover Art

Gypsy’s Kiss – 74
Vole Records
Release Date: 30/06/2021
Running Time: 54:24
Review by Dawn Smith

When we think of Iron Maiden, we generally think of one of the biggest bands in the history of metal. But the Iron Maiden story started with a little-known band called Influence, who later changed its name to Gypsy’s Kiss.

Originally formed back in 1973 by Steve Harris (Iron Maiden founder and bass player) and David Smith, when the two lived within a short distance of each other, in East London. With a mutual love of West Ham United and progressive rock the two formed a band, along with Paul Sears on drums and Bob Verschoyle on vocals.

However, the band was to be short-lived as, despite playing prestigious venues such as The Cart And Horses in Stratford (later to become known as the birthplace of Iron Maiden) and The Bridge House in Canning Town, the band called it quits in 1975.

After being asked numerous times to reform, the band agreed to play at Burrfest in March 2018. Although this was meant to be a one-off gig, two more followed and “overwhelmed and motivated by the worldwide support from the Iron Maiden fan community” David decided to keep going and Gypsy’s Kiss was a real band once more.

“74” is the band’s debut full-length album, after the release of their EP “Heat Crazed Vole And Other Tails” in 2019.

First thing to note about this album is that is it NOT, and I repeat NOT, an Iron Maiden album, so if you are expecting galloping riffs and in your face drums, then this is not the album for you.

This album seems, to me, to have taken its influence from the NWOBHM era of Rock/Metal and, although this is not a genre, I am particularly a big fan of, I am glad the band went in this direction, and didn’t just hold on to the coat tails of Iron Maiden.

This is a solid Rock album with some great tracks, my favourite being ‘Gone For Good’. There is nothing new, musically, on “74” and I am sure there are a few blinkered people that will say it has all been done before, and maybe it has, but is there something wrong with a band sticking to its roots? I certainly don’t think so.

Will I buy an album from these guys in the future? Yes, I will. Will I go to see them live? Again, yes, I will. I would like to see them leave the whole “Iron Maiden” thing behind them but with the accompanying tour called “The Maiden Prequel UK Tour 2021” I don’t think that is going to happen any time soon!

01. Take Me Down
02. Gone For Good
03. Better Than Me
04. My Own Holy Grail
05. Smoke And Mirrors
06. Nothing To Say
07. Traveller
08. Arabesque
09. The Man For All Seasons

David Smith – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Jonathan Morley – Guitars, Vocals
Fraser Marr – Guitars
Ross Hunter – Keys, Vocals
Robin Gatcum – Bass, Vocals
Stuart Emms – Drums


Gypsy's Kiss Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn Smith and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

NWOCR – The Official New Wave Of Classic Rock – Volume 1

NWOCR - Volume One Album Cover Art

NWOCR – The Official New Wave Of Classic Rock – Volume 1
Release Date: 23/07/2021
Running Time: 153:11
Review by Beth Jones

I love a bit of Rock – I mean who doesn’t? But do you ever have those mornings where you just can’t decide which CD to stick on in your car, and you end up running 10 minutes late because you’ve been indecisively pulling out and replacing albums from your CD rack? Okay, I admit if you’re one of the youngsters your answer to that is probably “Err… that’s why Spotify shuffle exists, duh!” But I’m old and I like physical copies. And I am, of course, doing it correctly – none of this new-fangled gadgetry, I don’t care if it is there to make my life easier, I know what I like, and I like what I know. Harumph.

Anyway, back to the point. If like me, your musical indecisiveness makes you late for shit, then I have the answer! You need to pick yourself up a copy of the about to be released “The Official New Wave Of Classic Rock – Volume 1”, a canny, and not so little, compilation featuring the best of the new kids on the block (no, not those ones) in the classic rock field.

The force is strong with this genre right now. There are some absolutely superb bands popping up to rock our socks off, and at 42 tracks long, this double album certainly gives you a veritable smorgasbord to listen to. Now, I’m not going to do a rundown of every song, because, quite frankly, you may all have died of boredom by the time I finished waxing lyrical, and I don’t want to be responsible for starting a new wave of deadly tedium (although, that does have a good ring to it…) so, I’m just going to give you a little overview, and then highlight some of the tracks that I think stand out.

There is nothing fancy or surprising about the album. It does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s meat and two veg classic rock, done by the new guys, and done bloody well. There are some lapses into Southern and Blues Rock in places. But, on the whole, if you like the classic sounds of good old fashioned, leather clad, hard rocking, then you’ll love this album. That’s basically it for the overview. Just a stonkingly good listen.

So, onto the highlights. Top of the list, and possibly no surprise to people who’ve read my reviews before, are Mason Hill, with rip-roaring track ‘DNA’, from their recently released debut album “Against The Wall”. I adore Mason Hill, and the debut album, with this track being my joint favourite, alongside the title track. It pleased me a lot to see it on here.

The Hot Damn’s ‘Dance Around’ took me back to the 80’s (most of which I missed because I was only a nipper, and shielded from the horrors of the world, like TV advertising and Rock ‘n’Roll… but not Jim’ll Fix It… Terrible misjudgement by my parents there. However, I broke free, *evil laugh* and then had to do a bit of catching up). Great powerful vocals, and a nice groove.

‘Hideaway’ from Tomorrow Is Lost is a little more modern, and heavy, but it’s another banging tune. It’s taken from their 2020 album, “Therapy”, which I was lucky enough to review, and was one of my favourite albums of the weirdest year in all of our lifetimes. Ironically, most of us probably now need therapy, but music will do for the interim, because it is a sort of therapy.

If you want a lesson on how to play some mean, face melting guitar, then listen to ‘The World Is Calling Me’ by Shape Of Water. Man, they have more licks than an ice-cream parlour on a hot summer’s day! Great 70’s sludgy vibe going on too.

Gin Annie round off CD1, with ‘Devil In Me’. I do like a little Gin Annie for the afternoon chill vibes, and this song is great for that. Nice cold beer, in a field with your mates, listening to a rock band and just generally being happy to be alive, kind of feel. God, I miss that…

Kicking off CD2 is possibly one of the last bands I saw live in a field, Phil Cambell and the Bastard Sons, with ‘Son Of A Gun’. Pedal to the metal rock at its best. Simples. It smacks you in the face like a freight train with its thunderously rhythmic ROCKKKK. Hell yes! That’s followed by The Dust Coda, with ‘When The Tide Comes In’, which is the epitome of Classic Rock. Sultry vocals, a steady bass line, a catchy chorus, and some great hooks. Love it.

Another firm favourite here at camp Ever Metal are Bad Touch, and they feature with their track ‘I Get High’. Again, I’m back in the field, although maybe not with just a beer now, given the track name!

King Creature come along to make everything a bit more down tuned and dirty, with ‘Captives’. This one has more of a 90’s feel about it, but not in a bad way! (The 90’s I do remember – the marmite generation, with us youngsters loving this new grungy sound, and all the classic folks hanging their heads, and wishing the facepalm had been invented…)

Doomsday Outlaw’s ‘Turn Me Loose’ has me heading down route 66 in a convertible just for shits and giggles. I mean honestly, there are some sweet Southern sounds happening here. And then directly after them, another of our Ever Metal favourites, Ashen Reach, pop up with ‘Fighting For My Life’, from their 2020 album ‘Homecoming’, which I also had the pleasure of reviewing.

Ryders Creed appear too, with ‘Cut Me Down’. I love this band. The powerful clean vocals and sweeping melodies are superb, and they have such a great groove. Then, to finish off my pick of the best (which admittedly is a pretty long list) we have a bit of Ward XVI, with ‘Broken Toys’. They are in a league of their own in my opinion. What they do is mesmeric, and their brand of ‘Shock Rock’ is perfect for my slightly warped mind. Again, I reviewed their album, “Metamorphosis”, when it graced our ever-growing review list last year, and was blown away by it.

So, yeah. That, in a nutshell, is what this album’s all about. Good, solid, no messing, New Wave Of Classic Rock. You need this in your CD Collection (or Spotify playlist, if you must, but only if you’re under 40, or haven’t yet learnt how sacrosanct the compact disc is)!

New Wave of Classic Rock – Volume One (Official Trailer)


01. Massive Wagons – Tokyo
02. Mason Hill – DNA
03. Hollowstar – All I Gotta Say
04. These Wicked Rivers – Shine On
05. Anchor Lane – Fame Shame
06. Empyre – New Republic
07. Daxx & Roxane – Without You
08. Sons Of Liberty – Fire And Gasoline
09. The Hot Damn! – Dance Around
10. Massive – Rise
11. Everyday Heroes – Find My Way
12. Elles Bailey – Woman Like Me
13. Scarlet Rebels – No One Else To Blame
14. Wolf Jaw – I Ain’t Ready
15. Tomorrow Is Lost – Hideaway
16. Dead Man’s Whiskey – War Machine
17. Dig Lazarus – Tell Me Why
18. The New Roses – Whiskey Nightmare
19. Shape Of Water – The World Is Calling Me
20. Revival Black – So Alive
21. Gin Annie – Devil In Me

01. Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons – Son Of A Gun
02. The Dust Coda – When The Tide Comes In
03. Skam – Iron Cross
04. Collateral – Merry Go Round
05. Bad Touch – I Get High
06. Gorilla Riot – Still Doing Time
07. Thundermother – Driving In Style
08. King Creature – Captives
09. Rews – Today We’re Warriors
10. Twister – Call To Arms
11. South Of Salem – The Hate In Me
12. Jack J Hutchinson – World On Fire
13. Bootyard Bandits – Hoedown Showdown
14. Haxan – Killing Time
15. Doomsday Outlaw – Turn Me Loose
16. Ashen Reach – Fighting For My Life
17. Bastette – Talk About It
18. Ryders Creed – Money
19. Takeaway Thieves – This Is Rock N Roll
20. Ward XVI – Broken Toys
21. Blackwater Conspiracy – Soul Revolutionaries


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Mad Symphony – Mad Symphony EP

Mad Symphony EP Cover Art

Mad Symphony – Mad Symphony EP
MR Records
Release Date: 13/05/2021
Running Time: 23:57
Review by Simon Black

Once in a while, I hear some music that takes me way back to the beginnings of my musical journey. For me that story begins firmly in the mid-80’s when bands like Yes, Rush and Magnum first attracted my attention to Hard Rock and Prog, and from then onwards to all things Metal. Canada’s Mad Symphony all look like they may be of similar ages and roots, as loud and clear this band’s tunage is heavily laden with all the hooks and tropes of what is now referred to as ‘Classic’ rock, in order not to make people like me feel too old. These are experienced musicians to boot, with the roots of the band lying in the now defunct Grunge Meal outfit Soulbender, but pulling in a really diverse and eclectic set of musos to fill out the sound, which goes a long way to explain the broad array of influences here.

Don’t be put off by the name – Symphonic Metal this definitely is not, at least not on these five tracks, just plenty of Progressive groove with a liberal smattering of Hammond Organ boogie to keep the retro feel. The tracks cover a lot of musical ground and sound simultaneously old and new in much the same way as Cats In Space achieve closer to home and they are definitely coming from the same angle, but with a more Continental USA feel rather than UK one (although there’s a shed load of early Marillion in the mix too, just to contradict and confuse). Quality wise though, they are bang on par with the Cats, so if they rock your boat, then Mad Symphony will not disappoint either.

This debut EP feels very much a hint of things to come, as the first thought I had when I finished listening was “Is this it?”, five tracks is not enough. The two opening tracks – the anthemic ‘Do It All Over Again’ and foot-tappingly infectious ‘The Next Door’ stand out immediately as guaranteed floor-fillers, but the remaining three indicate a rich writing style that is warming me up nicely for a full length album. I really want to hear what else these boys can do with a good hour of run time. An incredibly promising debut.

‘The Next Door’ (Official Video)

01. Do It All Over Again
02. The Next Door
03. Sell Me Out
04. Nothin’
05. Bittersweet Bye Bye

Kevin Wright – Lead Vocals, Percussion
Dave Groves – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Ted Tosoff – Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Mike Russell – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Amrit Prasad – Bass
Wes Hallam – Drums


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Ronnie Atkins – One Shot

One Shot Album Cover Art

Ronnie Atkins – One Shot
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 12/03/2021
Running Time: 44:48
Review by Beth Jones

Do you ever find yourself pondering the finite nature of life. I do. Often. The one certainty is that, at some point, it comes to an end. This isn’t a rehearsal, and you have two choices. Drift through it, approaching everything with undue caution, or grab it by the nuts, and have fun while you can. Pretty Maids frontman, Ronnie Atkins, has certainly lived a full life, bringing sweet Rock ‘n’ Roll music to the masses for 4 decades. Our very own high lord of Ever Metal, Rick, has been a huge Pretty Maids fan since those early heady days of the 80s.

It’s fair to say that Ronnie’s been forced to do a lot of contemplating recently, too, after the devastating news that the ‘big C’ he’d battled so hard against in 2019 had come back, and was incurable. Now, for a lot of people, and certainly for me, news like this would take away any strength I had left. But not Ronnie. He’s determined to keep the nuts of life in a tight tourniquet until the end, and speak to the world, through his new solo album, “One Shot.” Lighter than the usual Pretty Maids style, Ronnie describes this album as ‘melodic rock album with a heavy twist,’ and lyrically, ‘more personal and maybe melancholic at times.’

On first listen, it truly is a great melodic rock album, complete with rock-steady beats, classic style riffs, and great vocal harmonies and guitar solos. But dig a little deeper, and it becomes all about the lyrics. It’s a bittersweet journey into the ponderings of a man’s mortality, beautifully moulded into an emotional journey of finding peace and reconciling all of life’s lessons. It reminds me, lyrically, of Queen’s “Made In Heaven” album, where Freddie explored much the same thing.

The title track of the album pretty much sums up what I’ve just said. The whole, ‘you only get one shot at life’ idea. Putting aside the emotive nature of the lyrics, knowing the backstory behind this album, it’s a stonking anthem that you could see on a stadium stage, being chorused back at the band by tens of thousands of adoring fans.

This is true of the whole album, though. Whether it’s an anthem, or a heartfelt ballad, it’s all brilliantly done, with Ronnie’s vocals taking pride of place atop the masterfully constructed melodies and orchestration of every song. It’s one of those albums that fills your entirety with happiness, and, well, life.

There isn’t anything negative about this album. It’s mixed and mastered perfectly, it’s polished, it’s passionate, it’s mature and expansive. It is what musicians spend their whole lives striving towards. Whatever musical genre you prefer, you’ll find something that connects with your soul in this album. And we all need to listen to the wisdom held within the lyrics. Thank you, Ronnie, for braving your fears and sharing this precious album with the world.

‘One Shot’ (Official Video)

01. Real
02. Scorpio
03. One Shot
04. Subjugated
05. Frequency Of Love
06. Before The Rise Of An Empire
07. Miles Away
08. Picture Yourself
09. I Prophesize
10. One By One
11. When Dreams Are Not Enough

Ronnie Atkins – Lead and Backing Vocals
Chris Laney – Rhythm Guitars, Keyboards and Backing Vocals
Allan Sørensen – Drums
Morten Sandager – Keyboards
Pontus Egberg – Bass
Anders Ringman – Acoustic Guitars

Lead Guitars/Solos
Pontus Norgren, Kee Marcello, Olliver Hartmann, John Berg, Chris Laney

Additional Backing Vocals
Chris Laney, Linnea Vikström Egg, Olliver Hartmann, Bjørn Strid


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Ken Hensley – My Book Of Answers

My Book Of Answers Album Cover Art

Ken Hensley – My Book Of Answers
Cherry Red Records
Release Date: 05/03/2021
Running Time: 45:10
Review by Chris Galea

“He was a wizard of a thousand kings. And I chanced to meet him one night wandering.”

(‘The Wizard’ – Uriah Heep)

The above verse, from the classic song penned by Ken Hensley when part of Uriah Heep, roughly sums up how this album came into existence. A chance encounter between Vladimir Emelin, Russian superfan, and Ken Hensley quickly developed into a strong friendship. Before long Emelin sent Hensley some poems he had written and his idol agreed to work those poems into songs. The result of all that is this album, “My Book of Answers”.

Sadly, Ken Hensley passed away a few months ago just as the album’s recording had been finished. Of course, the dark cloud’s silver lining is that we get to indulge in a new set of songs from Mr Hensley.

I sensed a particularly strong resonance of The Beatles in this album. Overall, the songs are well-balanced with choir vocals, opportune guitar solos and tasteful keyboards sounds. ‘The Cold Sacrifice’ is cathartic in spirit; ‘The Silent Scream’, by contrast, feels nostalgic; in ‘The Darkest Hour’ amongst other elements we find the Hammond and guitar working together to exorcise some interesting vibes. I also cannot fail to mention the song ‘Suddenly’ with its magnificent orchestrations and glorious melodies. On the other side of the coin ‘Lost’ and ‘Cover Girl’ lack memorable hooks but they’re no slouchers, mind you.

All compositions possess an aura of bleakness but also driven by hope and this was very typical of Hensley’s songwriting style.

In today’s world of over-produced and bombastic music it’s sobering to be able to, once in a while, delve into nothing other than good songs. It’s an apt swansong from Ken Hensley.

The wizard may be gone but his spells endure.

‘The Cold Sacrifice’ (Official Video)

01. Lost (My Guardian)
02. Right Here, Right Now
03. The Cold Sacrifice
04. The Silent Scream
05. Cover Girl
06. Light The Fire (In My Heart)
07. Stand (Chase The Beast Away)
08. The Darkest Hour
09. Suddenly
10.The Darkest Hour (Alternative Version, Bonus Track)

Ken Hensley – Vocals, Guitar, Hammond
Izzy Cueto – Guitars
Moises Cerzo – Bass, Piano, Backing Vocals
Tommy Lopez – Drums

Francesco Severino – Bass (Track 8)
David Gonzales – Piano (Tracks 6, 8)
Jacke Knight – Piano (Track 5)
Roberto Tiranti – Backing Vocals (Track 7)
Ekaterina Nadaresihvil – Backing Vocals (Track 7)
Belinda Campbell – Backing Vocals (Track 7)
Rosie Doonan – Backing Vocals (Track 7)


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Running Games

Running Games Album Cover Art

Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Running Games
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 12/02/2021
Running Time: 57:37
Review by Simon Black

This is a veritable supergroup. Although I’m not a particular follower of Hoekstra’s work, put the combination of Symphony X front man Russell Allen, legendary drummer Vinny Appice and former Dream Theater ivories man Derek Sherinian on a line up, and I’m gonna sit up and take notice. Vocally Allen is in clean mode, although anyone familiar with his work knows that he can turn that vocal chord on a six-pence when it comes to range, style and power – most other bands need at least two vocalists to get close to what he can achieve. But sing cleanly he can and delivers the goods with his customary sense of power and strength, because regardless of whether he’s going for clean or dirty, he can really belt it out loud. That vocal strength and his performance is top notch and the highlight of the record.

As you would expect from a musician who has trodden the boards with Night Ranger and is still a current member of Whitesnake and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, musically this is up tempo Classic Rock radio-friendly US style Melodic Hard Rock and although Hoekstra’s classically trained background does occasionally make itself visible with some of the technical flourishes and licks he throws in, you do have to listen out for them. That’s an interesting point, as when the man driving the project is the guitarist, you would expect the old six strings to be up front and centre in the mix, but it’s Allen’s voice that takes that spot. Musically, the instruments are all fairly evenly balanced, so the ear hears ‘band’ and ‘singer’ as the distinct elements. OK, it opens up for the odd blistering solo from either Hoekstra or Sherinian, but even these are not excessive or indulgent and the overall feeling is one of restraint.

The song-writing is pretty robust – you can pick almost any track and you will get a clear Melo-Metal structure, but that also means there isn’t anything particularly exceptional here either. I don’t know whether this is a symptom of lockdown, but despite all the ingredients being right, this cake hasn’t baked as well as it could have consistently throughout, which is frankly bizarre considering who’s contributing to the record. There are some high points, but they come quite late in the record which might be too late for the casual listener – ‘Reach The Sky’ being the case in point, a groovy rocker which flowed brilliantly, but you are three quarters of the way through the disk by the time you get to it. To be fair the more spins you give it, the more it grows on you but it’s lacking a couple of strong ‘gotcha’ tracks to hook you in and add to the old favourites playlist.

‘Finish Line’ (Official Video)

01. Finish Line
02. I’m Gonna Lose It
03. Hard To Say Goodbye
04. How Do You
05. Heart Attack
06. Fantasy
07. Lonely Days
08. Reach The Sky
09. Cried Enough For You
10. Take What’s Mine
11. Running Games

Joel Hoekstra – Guitars
Russell Allen – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Vinny Appice – Drums
Tony Franklin – Bass
Derek Sherinian – Keyboards
Jeff Scott Soto – Backing Vocals


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Ghosts Of Sunset – Headed West EP

Headed West EP Cover Art

Ghosts Of Sunset – Headed West EP
Golden Robot Records
Release Date: 05/02/2021
Running Time: 25:05
Review by Beth Jones

The 80’s was an interesting decade in a lot of ways. Fashion, the beginning of the tech boom, and some really crazy stuff going on around the world. I was only born 10 days before the 80’s started, so I don’t remember much of it happening at the time, but, thanks to historical archives, the dots can be joined up. One thing I do remember is 80s hair! And the eponymous sound of 80’s Rock and Hair Metal.

Personally, I think some of the best rock and power ballads ever written came out of that era. And, it would seem that American 80’s Rock / Hair metal inspired project, Ghost Of Sunset, agree! The brainchild of singer-songwriter John Merchant, and singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Todd Long, their mission with this debut concept EP, “Headed West,” is to illustrate the story of the rise and fall of a fictional mid-western US rock band, getting lost in the changing music scene of 80’s L.A. They’ve enlisted a host of big names to help them bring this to life, as well, with musicians from the likes of L.A. Guns, RATT, Enuff Znuff, KIX, and Lita Ford, all involved with its creation.

I have to say, it’s a heck of a big story to fit into one 6 track EP! So, have they managed it? Well, let’s find out!

‘Headed West’, the opening, and title track, is an upbeat little number, perfect for a journey down a dusty highway, with the air of excitement and glorious wonderment buzzing along with you. It’s classic Rock ‘n’ Roll. And this theme continues through track 2, ‘Another Rock ‘n’ Roll Show’. This would be the perfect soundtrack to an upbeat advertisement for the ideals of 80’s young America. There’d be fast pans across crowded clubs, full of enough hairspray and back-combing to power the international space station for a good year. Everyone would be dancing, and smiling, and having a great time. Then you’d get the closeup cutaways of pretty girls laughing and pulling funny faces, and handsome guys, lighting up another Marlboro, and swigging from a cool Budweiser, while a killer rock band were giving a huge performance, in the background, on a stage the size of a postage stamp.

Then ‘3 Miles In-Between’ sweeps in. This takes things down a bit, and here we start to see the cracks forming, the yearning and longing for home, and the exhaustion of the punishing touring, and always having to put on your best face, that kept 80’s bands afloat. This is essentially one of those great ballads that I was talking about earlier, and it has a proper guitar solo towards the end of the track, completely in keeping with the soaring solos of the day!

This slowed down theme is continued in track 4, ‘Never Goodbye’. But here, we’re introduced to a new edge within the lyrics – bitterness and disillusionment – ‘You’ll tell them the truth, it’s all just a lie, just say goodnight, never goodbye’ being a perfect example of this. The plastic perfection of this era simply didn’t allow for open negativity.

Track 5, ‘It’s Not Over’, and the final track, ‘Try It For Love’, run through becoming resolute to their fate, with an almost ‘dead behind the eyes’ acceptance, and then finding peace in the realisation that it’s not all just about perceived success, but that, in fact, real success comes from within. It’s in the joy, and love, that just making music brings. Well, that’s how I see it, anyway.

Musically, this epic tale, neatly packaged into 25 minutes, is very pleasing. The songs are all expertly written, with nothing overstated, and skilfully executed by all the players (but then you’d expect this really, with the amount of talent and experience Ghosts Of Sunset has called upon). But for me the thing that makes this a great EP is it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s everything that says great 80’s Rock / Hair Metal. There’s nothing new here, and there’s no flashy, all singing, all dancing, ‘shiny, shiny’. But there doesn’t need to be. If you’re looking for a new sound, this will not be for you (unless of course you’ve been living in a cave and have never heard any music before, ever!). But, if you, like me, are a sucker for some nostalgia, then this EP will make you smile, a lot!

01. Headed West
02. Another Rock ‘n’ Roll Show
03. 3 Miles In-Between
04. Never Goodbye
05. It’s Not Over
06. Try It For Love

Todd Long – Songwriting, Guitar, Bass, Drums and Backing Vocals
John Merchant – Songwriting, Vocals
+ many guests!


Ghosts Of Sunset Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Video Interview with Gary Shea (Alcatrazz)

Alcatrazz Logo

Video Interview with Gary Shea (Alcatrazz)
Interview, Recording, and Editing by Chris Galea

Hi Everyone

In January 2021 Chris had the honour of chatting to Alcatrazz founding member/bassist Gary Shea, about their forthcoming album, the history of the band, and Gary’s musical journey.

Huge thanks to Gary for the interview and to Chris for putting this together.

Gary Shea Video interview by Chris Galea



Alcatrazz 2021

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.