EPIC – Like A Phoenix

epicNot to be confused with European symphonic metal outfit Epica, Epic are a multi-national hard rock band comprising members from the US, Canada and The Lebanon. Their debut album, ‘Like a Phoenix’ released on Escape Music – home of Saracen, Impera, Chris Ousey (often the label’s only true saving grace) and many more – is a somewhat patchy affair, but three melodic belters make it worth hearing. In many ways, the inspirations behind those songs and the styles are very well worn, but looking chiefly at their target audience – a bunch of middle-aged, stuck in a rut men who’ll blindly purchase everything the label puts out – Epic work hard at giving those listeners exactly what they want. Early comparisons to Heart and Saraya might just be a bit of a stretch, though. It’s a brave or hugely optimistic person who even thinks comparing frontwoman Tanya Rizkala to the almost peerless Ann Wilson is a sensible idea. Tanya has a big voice, it’s true enough, but in terms of range, it is a far cry from Wilson’s impressive style.

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ERIKA – Deaf, Dumb & Blonde

erikaHaving released a string of albums in the 90s and subsequently retreated from performance into the world of song writing, Swedish rock singer Erika Norberg marked the end of an eighteen year recording hiatus with the release of 2016’s ‘Deaf, Dumb & Blonde’. There’s always a lot riding upon a performer’s return…but on the basis of these dozen hard rock tracks, she probably shouldn’t have bothered.

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NAKED – End Game

naked end game cdTake a computer graphic from 1983. Use it to create the outline of a naked woman. Call the band Naked. To be honest, that doesn’t really get things off to the best start, but could possibly be forgiven if the music within this album was of a high standard. Which it isn’t. As it is, most the tunes on this Swedish band’s debut release sound very tired.

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RAGE OF ANGELS – Devil’s New Tricks

rage of angels 2016The 2013 debut album from Rage of Angels featured an impressive roll-call of guest vocalists. Tyketto’s Danny Vaughn, Impera‘s Matti Alfonzetti and the legendary Harry Hess were among those helping to bring ex-Ten keysman Ged Rylands’s larger than life project to fruition. It takes more than impressive vocals to create a classic, of course, and rather regrettably, Ged managed to fill ‘Dreamworld’ with bloated arrangements. Most of the tracks outstayed their welcome by at least two minutes and that meant, that when heard one after the other, the album just became rather dull.

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LIFELINE – Scream

lifelineA collaboration between bassist/vocalist Nigel Bailey of melodic rockers Three Lions and Shy vocalist Lee Small, Lifeline’s debut album ‘Scream’ presents thirteen old style hard rock tunes, most of which find both performers in good voice. Enlisting Three Lions keyboard man Andy Bailey, Lawless guitarist Paul Hume and long time friend Steve Clarkson to supply musical assistance, it’s a more than solid line up who perform at their best, even at times when the material doesn’t always hit the mark.

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