Aug 082023

Swedish rockers, Kings Crown, have announced the upcoming release of their debut album, Closer To The Truth, on October 13. The first single and video from the album, “Still Alive,’ are out today. Watch the video below, and pre-order/save Closer To The Truth here.

“I was sitting outside our house in Spain thinking about what to do next,” explains guitarist Martin Kronlund. “I got the idea of going back in time and doing an album in the style of the ‘70s but with a modern production. The first person I contacted was Lee Small. We had been working together in Phenomena and he said ‘let’s do it.’ The same was with Anders Skoog. We had played together in Dogface and he is an amazing Hammond player and a really good songwriter. Then, Pontus Engborg joined us on drums, and he suggested Bas Berra Holmgren on bass. Kings Crown was born.”

Former Gypsy Rose, Phenomena, and Dogface guitarist launches his new musical venture, Kings Crown: a musical alliance featuring the powerhouse british vocalist Lee Small (Shy, Phenomena, Sweet), along with Anders Skoog on keyboards, Berra Holmgren on bass and Pontus Engborg (Glenn Hughes) on drums.

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Jun 212023

Metal icons George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob) and Michael Sweet (Stryper) are back with the third release from their project which continues to keep the spirit of 80’s metal alive.

Michael Sweet and George Lynch pulled a band together with members from the likes of Whitesnake, White Lion, Megadeth, and Black Label Society  and released a debut album in 2015 which was met with a good critical response.  Two years later, they released the second album Unified, which was also met with a good response if not as positive as for the debut and now a few years later with new members taking over bass and drum duties, they have reunited to release the third album Heart & Sacrifice. New member Alessandro Del Vecchio assisted Michael Sweet on production duties.

As one might have expected given the two legends in the band, this is a loud and raucous rock-n-roll album that opens with a hard and heavy track complete with pounding drums and rhythm section, fast riffs and an early guitar solo fill before the vocals come in.  Michael Sweet does show some restraint in waiting until later in a verse section for a trademark scream while George Lynch has solos and fills throughout the song, which is exactly what I would expect and hope for.  The main guitar solo itself opens with some great strangled notes and continues on there in typical Lynch fashion.  New members Alessandro Del Vecchio and Jelly Cardarelli hold their own and provide a solid base for Lynch and Sweet to work their magic.  Production is better this time around compared to that on Unified at least to my ears and the overall sound has more of a rougher edge fitting the music better than the overly polished sound on Unified.

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Stryper – “The Final Battle”

 Posted by on November 14, 2022 at 19:49  No Responses »
Nov 142022

Stryper return with their 14th album, one that will not disappoint longtime fans and should win them some new ones if there is anyone who hasn’t heard of them yet. Don’t expect anything new, just great riffs and guitar solos, soaring strong vocals, a pounding rhythm section, and perhaps some nostalgia for the older crowd…

It’s been almost 40 years since Stryper debuted with The Yellow and Black Attack in 1984. Since then the band has sold over 10 million albums, had Top 40 hits, were nominated for a Grammy and were the first artist to have two songs in MTV’s Top 10 simultaneously back when MTV actually showed videos. For The Final Battle, the band had some things to overcome including Michael Sweet having to write lyrics while lying face down for a couple weeks after surgery. Given the band’s history and beliefs, subject matter on the album does in fact give a nod to themes of Armageddon with other topics including celebrating God’s love and mercy and finding relief in God during difficult times.

The album opens up with “Transgressor” and serves as the perfect introduction of what is to come. In fact the video will tell you everything you need to know about Stryper and the album. Fast guitar riff and some muted drums open up the track, building until Michael Sweet lets one of his signature screams go and then the song is off and running. Instantly, I was transported back to the late 80’s metal in terms of song structure, performances, and high quality production. Interestingly, Sweet must have been still recovering from retina surgery as he’s wearing a patch in the video is anyone is wondering about that visual element. Robert Sweet pounds on the drums and as you might expect there is a harmony guitar solo part and trading solos between Michael Sweet and Oz Fox, both of which are still at the top of their game.

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Oct 042021

Timo Tolkki’s Avalon project returns with another symphonic power metal rock opera project featuring an all-star cast of guest vocalists who shine in this collection of songs.

For those who don’t know, Avalon is a metal opera project of guitarist Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius), and the project has released four full length albums, The Land of New Hope (2013), Angels of the Apocalypse (2014), Return to Eden (2019), and now The Enigma Birth (2021). As these are projects, they have had a variety of guest musicians from the likes of Stratovarious, Sonata Arctica, Dream Theater, but more importantly, the guest vocalists that read like an all-star cast in metal and include, Rob Rock (Impelllitteri), Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), Sharon del Adel (Within Temptation), Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), Floor Jansen (Nightwish),and Simone Simons (Epica). For The Enigma Birth, Tolkki brought in , PelleK, Raphael Mendes (Icon of Sin), Brittney Hayes (Unleash the Archers), Marina La Torraca (Phantom Elite), Jake E (ex-Amaranthe), James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Caternia Nix (Chaos Magic), and Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire).

The Enigma Birth wastes no time jumping right into the epic symphonic power metal Avalon is known for. “Enigma Birth” hits the ground at a breakneck pace with Pellek’s vocals also showing great range in the just the first few moments of the song. Immediately, one can’t help but hear the quality and care put into the production and mixing with vocals, keyboards, drums and bass all coming through clearly. Guitars are a bit too quiet in the mix for my taste which is a bit surprising given Timo Tolkki is a guitarist of renown, but this is a personal taste gripe on my part. As one might imagine, there are solos in the song but not just guitar but some guitar-keyboard trade off and all fitting will within the context of the song.

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Sunbomb – “Evil and Divine”

 Posted by on September 20, 2021 at 17:23  No Responses »
Sep 202021

Stryper’s Michael Sweet and L.A. Guns’ Tracii Guns have come together to collaborate on Sunbomb, with “Evil and Divine” being their first album released via Frontier Music on May 14, 2021. The idea was initiated when Serafino Perugino, president and A&R director of the label reached out to Tracii and Michael, with the idea of a heavy metal album where Tracii wrote the songs and Michael was asked to add to the vocal duties. Although both the bands have had their unique styles and different political/religious standpoints, a collaboration would be of keen interest to the fans, as we hear influences of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest with hints of Doom Metal influence on the album.

I had my apprehensions but more than that I was curious and intrigued to hear the album, so I spun off the album which opened up with “Life”. An interesting guitar riff kicks off the song and a tremendous energy is felt right at the outset, in no time we hear Michael unleashing his tremendous vocal range as we breeze through the song, uplifted; the blitzing guitar solo brings the delivery a notch higher. “Take me away” reminded me off Black Sabbath, the song, an omnipresent Doom beginning with a haunting vocal delivery which quivers and wavers and jolts you out of your stupor, and the melting guitar solo that’s sure to sweep you off your feet.

Michael unleashes some crazed squeals in “Better End”, a catchy guitar riff drives the song forward and adds much meat on the song, I liked how Michael and Tracii level it out in a competing attempt to hit high notes towards the end of the song. “No Tomorrows” has an upbeat vibe with explosive amounts of energy that’s going to set you grooving and quite a crafty interlude that leads on to a crunchy guitar solo followed by Michael pelting out high pitched squeals one after the other. “Born to Win” starts off with guitar chops that’s definitely going to teleport you to late 70s, and is such a song best enjoyed with the volume cranked all the way up and hair let loose all the way down, if you get my drift. No comparisons though, the song did remind me a bit of “Good times Bad Times” by Led Zeppelin.

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