GIOELI-CASTRONOVO – Set The World On Fire

Take two two key members of the original Hardline, the guitarist from Italian melodic rock band Hungryheart and a bunch of strong chorus driven songs and you have a more than reasonable recipe for AOR success. Johnny Gioeli’s delivery can sometimes err on the side of being too bombastic, but in comparison to some of his peers, he still possesses a voice that holds up and when teamed with Hardline/Journey drummer Deen Castronovo, he sounds better than ever. It’s that sense of drive that gives this release most of its strength. After just one full listen, it’s obvious ‘Set The World On Fire’ has no real filler material; it’s dozen rockers so often play like a greatest hits of the best bits from the Frontiers Records catalogue from 2011-2016 and for that alone, so many AOR buffs will consider it an essential addition to their ever growing collections. It’s unlikely to be at all far reaching beyond those whom already consider themselves fans of the musicians involved, but in many ways, to expect more would be kind of beside the point. For what it does – at least in terms of songwriting and performance – this is a great record.

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FOX COMPANY – Hot Trash EP

Credited as playing “unapologetic rock ‘n’ roll”, on their 2018 EP ‘Hot Trash’, Sydney’s Fox Company certainly bring an impressive amount of swagger. They often favour loving homages to the past within their music, but they’ve obviously decided there would be no point in messing with an established formula. That seems quite sensible when the 70s and 90s rock styles are as brilliantly played as they are here.

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ALCATRAZZ – The Official Bootleg Box Set 1983-1986

Following in the footsteps of various archive solo releases by Graham Bonnet – ranging from his unreleased solo debut to a three disc anthology of unreleased recordings from his time in Australia – this six disc box set from Hear No Evil Records gives Bonnet’s fans another reason to celebrate. ‘The Official Bootleg Box Set 1983-1986’ does exactly what it says on the tin. It presents three different live shows from Texas on the ‘No Parole From Rock ‘N’ Roll’ tour – featuring Yngwie Malmsteen on guitar – alongside three discs’ worth of rehearsals and demos culled from a four year period.

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SALVATION JAYNE – Salvation Jayne EP

In 2017, Salvation Jayne released ‘Moves That Make The Record Skip‘, an EP that captured a selection of enjoyable (if not particularly original) hard rock tunes with a bluesy slant. Between some smart slide playing and a solid lead vocal from Chess Smith, Salvation Jayne appeared to be one of the better blues-inflected hard rock bands on the UK circuit.

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SAXON – Destiny

The landscape of hard rock music in 1988 looked very different, in comparison, to that of a decade earlier. When Saxon began their recording career in the late 70s, rock and metal were solely the reserves of the readers of Sounds magazine, the devotees of the Radio One Friday Rock Show and festival goers. By the late 80s, it was no longer considered such a niche genre: bands like Europe and Poison had scored chart success on both sides of the Atlantic; Def Leppard‘s ‘Hysteria’ was one of the biggest selling albums of the era and Guns N’ Roses were on their way to becoming a worldwide, stadium filling phenomenon. Whitesnake‘s ‘1987’ was selling by the bucketload to a broad demographic and even Metallica – a band that only a couple of years earlier seemed entirely marginal – were on the cusp of UK singles chart success, and yet Saxon, in terms of commercial success, appeared to be floundering.

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