Khymera – Master Of Illusions

Khymera – Master Of Illusions
Frontiers Music s.r.l
Release Date: 06/03/2020
Running Time: 45:25
Review by Tsarina Wilson
9.5/10

Rarely is it that an album comes along that I start listening to and I think “ooo this is my favourite track!” then listen to next track and think, “No wait! This one is!”, until I end up running out of tracks! But it sure happened with this album, “Master Of Illusions”. From the first track to the last I was hooked and soaked up every note, drum beat, guitar riff and lyric (anyone who hasn’t guessed – I so liked this album)!

For those not in the know, Khymera is a musical collaboration project, originally started by Italian producer/musician Daniele Liverani and Steve Walsh, who at the time was the Kansas vocalist. Then Bassist Dennis Ward (Magnum and Pink Cream 69), known more for backing vocals, bass work and production duties joined and stepped up to lead vocals, adding another string to his bow of skills! It’s been over four years since the last album, “The Grand Design” (guys, please don’t leave it another four years for the next one, thanks!), and for this release, the line-up consists of Dennis Ward on vocals and bass, Michael Klein on guitars, Eric Ragno on keyboards and Pete Newdeck on drums.

“Master Of Illusion” has quite an 80’s rock vibe, but with a modern twist to it. Whilst having a hint of Def Leopard/ Europe, they certainly make this their own. The melodic vocals, which are so easy on the ear, combined with such feel good songs mean you can easily sit and listen to this and drift away, but just as easily put it on the car stereo and crank it up loud and sing along. Think summer trips out, windows down, music loud – yes that much of a feelgood factor just pours from these tracks.

There is also some properly great drumming that seriously starts you table drumming! On track ‘The First Time’, this quickly leads to air drumming! Again, on this track, the harmonising vocals blend so well, and the addition of the keyboards, then epic guitar riffs, make it superb. The album title track follows this, and once again the hint of the keyboards just makes such a great change from the norm. These guys prove great song writing is still alive and very much kicking, in fact kicking ass, big time!

Track 4, ‘The Sun Goes Down’, has such a good summertime rock vibe – the statement ‘sing loud, sing proud’, certainly comes into its own here! From the first drum beat it’s uplifting, with guitar riffs that explode from nowhere, it leaves you wanting more!

Every great album has to have a badass ballad, and of course the guys don’t fail us on this, with ‘Father To Son’ being such a touching song, with lyrics from the heart. Get your lighters out and be prepared to raise them at any gig this is played at, and sing it damn loud! It actually gave me goose bumps whist listening to it, and I had to keep it on repeat a few times, as I was just blown away by it.

Packed full of excellent vocals, beautiful harmonies, on point drumming, and epic guitar riffs, “Masters Of Illusions” is an uplifting album and proves there is so much great music out there.

Khymera, please promise me you won’t take four years for the next instalment of material! I think anyone who hasn’t heard them yet is missing out, and everyone I’ve told about the album has come back to me with the same reaction – “wow they are brilliant”!! Seriously, get listening to this album.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Walk Away
02. The First Time
03. Master Of Illusion
04. The Sun Goes Down
05. Paradise
06. The Rhythm Of My Life
07. Follow The Sun
08. Father To Son
09. After All This Time
10. Victim Of Your Love
11. Just Let It Happen

LINE-UP:
Dennis Ward – Vocals and Bass
Michael Klein – Guitars
Eric Ragno – Keyboards
Pete Newdeck – Drums

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/KhymeraTheGrandDesign/ (FAN PAGE)
www.spotify.com/artist/2cauhM67gAJ8ilHvkNNZa4
www.youtube.com/channel/UCAP7bFhhpU6fhnccffaNtCA
www.frontiers.it/album/5584
www.facebook.com/frontiersmusicsrl/

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Tsarina Wilson 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.

Blue Öyster Cult – 40th Anniversary, Agents Of Fortune: Live 2016 CD

Blue Öyster Cult – 40th Anniversary, Agents Of Fortune: Live 2016 CD
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 06/03/2020
Running Time: 35:02
Review by Paul Monkhouse
8/10

Few bands have been as well loved and influential as New York titans Blue Öyster Cult, their constant aim to push their own musical boundaries seeing them leading the pack for over fifty years. Originally forming in 1967 under the moniker Soft White Underbelly, it wasn’t until they changed their name in 1971 that things really took off and their seminal fourth album “Agents Of Fortune” was a game changer in 1976 and featured one of the all-time rock classics ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’. Returning to the album forty years later, the band decided to play it in its entirety and captured one of these sparkling performances at Hollywood almost exactly four years ago.

Following the running order of the original album, ‘This Ain’t the Summer of Love’ comes first, all heavy psychedelic rock that is sprinkled with the sort of dark, shock glam rock that was Alice Cooper’s stock in trade. More melodic than previous releases, the album at the time was seen as a more polished move from their heavy roots but there is so much to enjoy, and the songwriting stands up as well today as it always has. ‘True Confession’ adds a real rock ‘n’ roll feel, the guitarwork peeling off some of the sort of riffs that caught the imagination from that golden era. This idea of playing all these tracks live, giving them a new shine is most noticeable on the next track, but then ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’ is so familiar to everyone over the years that any slight changes are magnified. Giving it a new coat of paint and shorn of the studio trappings, it sounds cleaner than ever, the vocals and guitars particularly fresh sounding and the fretwork at the end really stands out.

Another favourite, ‘E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)’ sounds as heavy as it always has, shining as one of the most powerful songs the band penned, the guitars of Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser, Eric Bloom and Richie Castellano work together to huge effect. Also, the vocals of the long-time Roeser and Bloom are also outstanding, providing the sort of sweet colour to offset the heaviness in this, the second of a mighty one / two punch of album highlights. ‘The Revenge of Vera Gemini’ and ‘Sinful Love’ are prime examples of the sort of great 70’s material they were writing and it’s a joy to hear them, reflecting just why this album made its way into the homes of so many over the years. More sinister and hard-edged vibes appear in the form of the delightfully dark and fun ‘Vampire Tattoo’, the commercial sounding ‘Morning Final’ rolls magnificently and ‘Tenderloin’ echoes more psychedelia in a spacey but tightly controlled feast for the ears. It’s just left for ‘Debbie Denise’ to round things off and the track is a rollicking and majestic epic, full of the fire and class that is a Blue Öyster Cult trademark.

With a guest appearance from founding member Albert Bouchard, the band, along with rhythm section bass guitarist Kasim Sulton and drummer Jules Radino, have produced something that is not just a great celebration of a superb album but also a timely reminder of just how good they are. ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’ may have been the peak of their worldwide fame but there is a hugely rich treasure trove of gold standard rock songs to discover if you’ve not scratched any deeper than that monster hit. With a new album penciled for release this year, there’s no better time to get acquainted with New York’s finest and “40th Anniversary, Agents Of Fortune: Live 2016” is a perfect entry point.

This is also available as a DVD/Blu-Ray.

TRACKLISTING:
01. This Ain’t The Summer Of Love
02. True Confessions
03. (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
04. E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)
05. The Revenge Of Vera Gemini
06. Sinful Love
07. Tattoo Vampire
08. Morning Final
09. Tenderloin
10. Debbie Denise

LINE-UP:
Eric Bloom – Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser – Guitar, Vocals
Richie Castellano – Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Jules Radino – Drums, Percussion
Kasim Sulton – Bass, Vocals
Special Guest: Albert Bouchard – Guitar, Vocals

LINKS:
www.blueoystercult.com/
www.facebook.com/blueoystercult/
www.blueoystercult.merchdirect.com/
www.open.spotify.com/artist/00tVTdpEhQQw1bqdu8RCx2
www.youtube.com/channel/UCToiTDJNmKtyBHAUUsbdZnQ

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Monkhouse 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.

Semblant – Obscura

Semblant – Obscura
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 06/03/2020
Running Time: 48:44
Review by Victor Augusto
8/10

Before I start my review, I must apologize to fans of Gothic Metal if I make any mistakes during this review. I must confess that I had no idea what kind of music Semblant played when I picked this album for listening. I didn’t even realize they were Brazilian. I don’t want you to think I had a bad impression of this album, it’s just a matter of talking about a genre that I am not so familiar with. However, let me cut my smooth talk and continue to what really matters, the band’s third full-length album “Obscura”.

Semblant are not a new band, they have been together for almost 15 years. When I heard this album for the first time, I got the impression that this was an experienced band that knows exactly what they are doing, and I was correct. Considering that I’m not a follower of Gothic/Dark Metal, I will try to express my feelings as an ordinary listener.

Here is something inspired by the great Swedish Melodic Death metal bands from the nineties, but not so melancholic in style. The guitar work is excellent, but it explores riffs and solos in a more simplistic way, as you can hear in the track ‘Barely Breathing’, always having the bass to support the heaviness. The impression I get is that the keyboards of J. Augusto are a bit hidden in the music and it surprises me because, when I hear the term Gothic Metal, intense and loud keyboards are the first thing that come to my mind. Drummer Welyntom Sikora follows the rhythmical guitars and strongly explores double kicks throughout the album, but without many cadence changes.

I won’t say that the vocals are the highlight, but it feels, to me, that the compositions are built using them and the final mix sees both singers ahead of the other instruments, except the drums. The vocals consist of the powerful female voice of Mizuho Lin and the guttural male voice of Sergio Mazul. Mizuho explores her high range with great melody while Sergio uses different kinds of screams, but they complement each other excellently. Both have the perfect amount of time to use their voices. As I said before, my impression is that the creation of the music was built entirely around their voices.

The album has basically the same structure throughout with the duets of vocals, double kicks, fast guitars and bass, but there are a few segments which differ, for instance, on the track ‘Wallachia’ that uses a more operatic approach vocally and slightly Black Metal arrangements within the riffs, the ballad ‘Daydream Tragedy’ which surprised me with clean male vocals and slow cadence followed by guitars without distortion, while the opera style vocals return on final track ‘Insomnia’ where a few solos are reminiscent of Tom Morello in style.

Dark and Gothic Metal are styles far beyond my knowledge, but thinking impartially, Semblant come across as a professional and very consistent band that know exactly what they want from their music. They are Heavy, direct and don’t tire you with complex arrangements. This probably explains why “Obscura is such a good album and Semblant have conquered legions of fans around the world during their career.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Murder Of Crows
02. Left Behind
03. Dethrone The Gods, Control The Masters (Legacy Of Blood Pt. IV)
04. Mere Shadow
05. Porcelain
06. The Hunter, The Hunger (Legacy Of Blood Pt. V)
07. Wasteland
08. Barely Breathing
09. Wallachia
10. Daydream Tragedy
11. Insomnia (Bonus Track)

LINE-UP:
J. Augusto – Keyboards
Sergio Mazul – Vocals (male)
Mizuho Lin – Vocals (female)
Juliano Ribeiro – Guitars
Welyntom “Thor” Sikora – Drums
Johann Piper – Bass

LINKS:
www.semblant.com.br
www.facebook.com/semblantband
www.instagram.com/semblantofficial
www.youtube.com/OfficialSemblant
www.twitter.com/bandasemblant

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Victor Augusto 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.

Black Swan – Shake The World

Black Swan – Shake The World
Released by Frontiers Music srl
Release date: 14/02/2020
Running Time: 51:08
Review by ‘Dark Juan’
Score: 8/10

Good evening, fellow house arrest prisoners of Boris The Animal! This is Dark Juan and while I am technically off duty from spreading the foul gospel of the Ugly Red Source Of All Evil due to a shock headed wanker in an ill-fitting suit essentially grounding me indefinitely (you’re not my dad, Boris!) because a significant proportion of the British populace cannot be trusted to do as they are fucking told just once on the weekend. My Dark Protector Beelzebub is not amused and is demanding that I do a double shift next week. He’s been told to get to fuck and also has been warned that if he takes that tone with me again I’m going to shave his fucking nipples off, the sulphur smelling twatmonkey. So, now we have the pleasantries out of the way let us crack on with this record review what I’m supposed to be writing, innit fam?

Black Swan appear to be where rock legends from America go and enter this kind of amazing time warp where the Nineties never happened, grunge was drowned at birth and where Skid Row and Whitesnake reign supreme over hordes of long haired, denim clad metal warriors in a field, blasting the kind of good time hard rock that just MAKES you go and try to pull that girl with the big BIG hair and the dress that’s so tight you can read her lips and that short you know what she had for breakfast. It’s a glorious reminder of the youth of old metalheads, warm cider and your brain being destroyed by the levels of amplification normally only employed by North Korean propaganda broadcasts. Dark Juan is transported back to his teenage cell… I mean bedroom and trying desperately to trap off with Emma from college to a soundtrack comprised of MSG, Winger and Ratt. Sensibly, I kept the Morbid Angel and Death records hidden away from her.

Speaking of MSG – the most distinctive and rock and roll pipes of Robin fucking McCauley!!! (remember the sheer joy of the McCauley Schenker Group?) provide the kind of vocal histrionics that made hard rock great on this record – his slightly gravelly, yet soaring and effortless delivery is the perfect focus for the music. You could not imagine a more apt vocalist for this band. And the vocal harmonies on this record just pin you to the wall and hold a knife to your throat and steal all your money and drugs. And then steal your girl as well. If you’re too young to know what he sounds like, imagine a mix of Joe Lynn Turner, David Coverdale and Ronnie James Dio. What? Pardon? You young striplings don’t know who they are either? YOU HAVE GOOGLE FOR A FUCKING REASON AND DON’T COME BACK TO THIS REVIEW UNTIL YOU HAVE LISTENED TO WINGER, MSG, FOREIGNER, WHITESNAKE, DOKKEN, MR. BIG (but not Green Tinted Sixties Mind because that song is utter toilet!) AND SURVIVOR!!! Then you might have an idea about what I am talking to you about! And that is also a fairly comprehensive list of just how much talent this band contains considering it is composed of members of all those bands.

It is fair to say that Dark Juan is undergoing a nostalgia trip of conspicuous size and scope and remembering his days of tight blue denim, bangles, big hair and when he was young and beautiful, before all that unfortunate business with the threshing machine, the farmer’s daughter and the subsequent facial reconstruction, court case and incarceration. This album is not in the slightest bit modern and groundbreaking. It is a timewarp par excellence – imagine the era of David Lee Roth’s “Skyscraper” (‘Just Like Paradise’ would fit perfectly on Black Swan’s album), the skintight spandex, the leopard print scarves, the acidwashed denim and the white trainers all the men wore in the 80’s. It is the sound of good times, Thunderbird wine and partying till its light again. It’s the sound of Friday nights in your bedroom listening to the album you just bought again and again and again.

So, is it fair to say that Black Swan have done a Very Good Thing? The answer, my good defilers of all things holy, is yes! The music, although nostalgic, is pointy, sharp and superbly arranged. The guitar work of Reb fucking Beach!!! (Winger, Whitesnake) is incendiary with classic soloing all over the place – two handed tap ons being a staple on a number of songs and always oozing class. The man is a fine player in the classic mould. The drumming comes courtesy of Matt fucking Starr!!! (Mr. Big, Ace Frehley) and his approach seems to be to try and destroy his drumkit by pummelling it until it forms neutronium, and not to play it as the drums sound absolutely fucking huge and are linked beautifully to the rumbling bass playing of Jeff fucking Pilson!!! (Dokken, Foreigner) who appears to want to steal your girl and drive off into the sunset with her merely by employing his prodigious bass talent and watching her white lace panties fall off. And then there is the vocal which we have already dealt with. Suffice it to say that the singer is at the top of his game on this one.

We have therefore established that this album is a good listen and tremendous fun. It is however very 80’s album formulaic – opens with a couple of slammers (‘Shake The World’, ‘Big Disaster’ – both tunes will take your head off in a welter of arterial spray), ups the rock and roll rather than the hard rock on track three (Johnny Came Marching) and then fucks you violently and unpleasantly up the arse (sans lubricant) by having a fucking godawful power ballad as the fifth song in (Make It There) being composed of slow chugging and wailing mournfully about something or someone I lost interest in after 23 seconds. Pull yourself together, girls. Jesus. It’s one saving grace is that it wasn’t a Poison song. My views and opinions on ballads (anyone who writes one deserves to be sent to a gulag of my choosing and made to write black metal songs or djent riffs until they have fucking learned their lesson!)  are well known and even the LEGEND that is Graham Bonnet has felt the rough edge of Dark Juan’s tongue about ballads. Reportedly he was wryly amused. The record then rapidly gets its shit together and returns to the high quality hard rocking fun it was before the bastards ruined it with the ballad. It’s remarkably fresh sounding too, as it doesn’t sound like people trying to reclaim past glories (unlike Warrior Soul’s last two releases which were the absolute epitome of a has been desperately trying to remain cool and instead just looking like someone’s creepy grandad leering at teenage girls in the beer garden of his local).

Black Swan are worth a punt if you love melody, solos and classic rock vocals by masters of the genre. The tunes are perfect, man. Wave your lighters in the air and drink and be merry, my poor imprisoned acolytes. Recreate Monsters Of Rock in your lounge with this record. Have fun. That’s an order.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has stopped dancing now, much to the relief of Mrs. Dark Juan, who claimed it sounded like a herd of mildly pissed hippos rampaging around the spare bedroom, and awards Black Swan 8/10 for a fucking good rock and roll record. Points were deducted for making me listen to a fucking ballad… Argh. I hate them. They are the musical fucking equivalent of having your eyes gouged out with spoons and then having your penis inverted and then being trampled on by hordes of screaming children and then being fed to pigs. Fucking ballads. Might as well just admit that you wear dresses and call yourself Sandra behind closed doors…

TRACKLISTING:
01. Shake The World
02. Big Disaster
03. Johnny Came Marching
04. Immortal Souls
05. Make It There
06. She’s On To Us
07. The Rock That Rolled Away
08. Long Road To Nowhere
09. Sacred Place
10. Unless We Change
11. Divided/United

LINE-UP:
Robin fucking McCauley – Vocals!
Jeff fucking Pilson – Bass!
Reb fucking Beach – Guitar!
Matt fucking Starr – Drums!

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/BlackSwanRockNRoll/
www.spotify.com/artist/5gmDGdc0wzxJUD10xycfiL

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan 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.

Riverdogs – California

California Cover

Riverdogs – California
Running time 48:00
Released on 07/07/2017
Frontiers Music s.r.l
Review by Vikkie Richmond
8/10

Rock supremos Riverdogs are not a new band, in fact, they have been around since the wild, excessive days of the 1980s.  Featuring Vivian Campbell (Whitesnake, Dio, Def Leppard) on lead guitar, the band originally had a short career that saw the release of their debut, eponymously titled album, plus 1993’s “Bone” and “Absolutely Live” before going their separate ways.  They reformed in 2003, but it was not until much later, in 2011 that previously written material was released in the form of “World Gone Mad”.  Now, six years later, the Riverdogs are together once more and have crafted their fifth studio album, “California”.

The four piece features all of the original members and this eleven track album is an homage to good, old-fashioned, American rock and roll.  From the first note on the opener, “American Dream”, the riffs are infectious, the vocals are understated, the harmonies are sweet and frankly, this is a pretty timeless album.  It has elements of the 1980s / 1990s to it, but in no way does Riverdogs’ material sound tired, like some other reformed bands that are churning out the same old stuff, year after year.  Instead, it has a familiar sound, a comforting presence, like shrugging on a favourite, slightly worn leather jacket.  It feels … right.

Third track “Something Inside” has a dirty, enticing feel to it and the vocals showcase Rob Lamothe’s silky tones to a very pleasant degree.  There is a distinct change of tempo with the upbeat “Searching For A Signal” and the same can be said of “Catalina”, although the vibe on this one is a little more ‘classic’.

Will I still be listening to this in two, five, even ten years time?  It’s firmly on repeat for the short-term and I suspect it will be one of those records that I return to time after time, because it has an enduring appeal.  You can’t ask for much more than that from an album and I would recommend this one wholeheartedly.

Promo Pic1

Track List – 

  • American Dream
  • The Revolution Starts Tonight
  • Something Inside
  • Golden Glow
  • You’re Too Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • The Heart Is A Mindless Bird
  • Searching For A Signal
  • Welcome To The New Disaster
  • Ten Thousand Reasons
  • Catalina
  • I Don’t Know Anything

Stand out tracks:  American Dream; The Revolution Starts Tonight; The Heart Is A Mindless Bird.

Links –

 

Disclaimer:  This review is the sole property of Vikkie Richmond and Ever Metal.  It is strictly forbidden to reproduce any part of this review, unless you have the explicit permission of both parties; failure to comply will be treated as plagiarism and reported to the relevant authorities.

Dirty Thrills – Heavy Living

Heavy Living Cover

Dirty Thrills – Heavy Living

Running time 45:00

Released on 15-09-2017 via Frontiers Music srl

8/10 – Review by Vikkie “Queen of Rock” Richmond

It’s no secret that blues rockers Dirty Thrills have long since been a favourite of mine; I found them through twitter some time back and have followed their journey with interest.  Most noted for front man Louis James’ trademark soaring vocals and bassist Aaron Plows’ gurning, bendy performances on stage, the Thrills’ could be described as a modern-day Led Zeppelin.  However, they have a style all of their own so I was interested to hear this, their second full length offering.

Opening track “I’ll Be With You” kicks off with a heavy bass line and a dirty riff, with James’ vocals slinking in.  This is instant gratification if you’re a fan of bands such as Rival Sons, Deep Purple et al, but don’t think for a minute that Dirty Thrills don’t have a unique sound – this track gave me goosebumps when I first heard it.

“Go Slow” has a similar, almost seedy feel to it but features some epic vocals and sweet riffs, not to mention some pretty cool harmonica work.

From the slow and sexy tempo of “Hanging Around” to the thoughtful and rather lovely “Lonely Soul” and the semi instrumental interlude of, well, “Interlude”, this album exudes a smutty charm that is rarely seen these days. If I had a physical LP, it would be smouldering in my hands. From the big, big sounds of “The Brave” and back to picking up the pace with the very vocal “Rabbit Hole”, this does have something for everyone, although I can’t help but make comparisons with bands such as Rival Sons.  It’s inevitable, the style is comparable and these days, it is hard to be completely individual or ground breaking.

So, basically what we have here is a triumphant third release for the London quartet.  There is certainly evidence of a maturing sound, although I am surprised that “No Resolve” is featured again, having made its debut on the eponymously titled first album; perhaps it’s because it’s probably one of their most recognisable tracks as well as being a great song.

Dirty Thrills are clearly in their ascendancy; with a plethora of live shows under their collective belts, including very successful slots at this year’s Ramblin’ Man and Camden Rocks Festivals, the slow burn is starting to flare into something altogether more hot and out of control.  I say best of luck to them – they’re perky, hard-working chaps who deserve their break.

Dirty Thrills band pic

 

Track List –

  • I’ll Be With You
  • Go Slow
  • Law Man
  • Hanging Around
  • Lonely Soul
  • No Resolve
  • Interlude
  • The Brave
  • Rabbit Hole
  • Drunk Words
  • Get Loose

Stand out tracks:  Go Slow, Drunk Words, Get Loose

Links –

 

Disclaimer:  This review is the sole property of Vikkie Richmond and Ever Metal.  It is strictly forbidden to reproduce any part of this review, unless you have the explicit permission of both parties; failure to comply will be treated as plagiarism and reported to the relevant authorities.