‘Master of Illusions’ comes five years after Khymera’s previous studio album ‘The Grand Design’, making the wait for new material almost as long as the band’s seven year hiatus following 2008’s ‘The Greatest Wonder’. It’s not like band leader Dennis Ward has been resting, of course: he’s continued to be one of the busiest men in the melodic rock scene, working with his other band Pink Cream 69 and moonlighting with Place Vendome (both of whom released albums in 2017), making an album with Gus G in 2018 and even stepping in for bass duties on Magnum’s 2020 opus ‘The Serpent Rings’. You have to wonder if he ever sleeps.
The all round quality of Khymera’s ‘Master of Illusions’ doesn’t suggest that Ward has spread himself too thinly, either. The album has more than enough top drawer material to make it stand up with the band’s earlier works. In ‘Follow The Sun’ and ‘After All This Time’, there are a couple of career bests, which is reason enough to check out this long player.
Two years after the release of the soul tinged ‘Feel’, Glenn Hughes returned with ‘Addiction’ – an album that couldn’t be any more different from its predecessor if it tried. With Hughes in the middle of a work frenzy, ‘Addiction’ found him not only returning to hard rock in a big way, but delivering his heaviest solo album to date.
‘Addiction’ is an album that has weathered all kinds of musical storms and from both a performance and production value still sounds absolutely terrific. Not that it was well received by everyone upon release back in 1996. Some older listeners felt that Hughes had adopted “grunge sympathies”, a lazy, somewhat ignorant claim that seemed to miss the fact that the album is also varied in style. Decades on, such claims seem even sillier, as with the passing of time, Soundgarden – and sadly missed vocalist Chris Cornell – have very much joined the pantheon of classic rock acts and Cornell’s approach to vocals never seemed that far removed from the likes of Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale anyway. [If you’re still blinkered enough to not believe this, the proof is there in tracks like Temple of The Dog’s ‘Call Me A Dog’ and ‘All Night Thing’.]
TNT are one of those bands that are absolutely beloved by some melodic rock fans. Even into the 90s and against changing musical fashions, their late 80s albums ‘Tell No Tales’ (1987) and ‘Intuition’ (1989) continued to have some very vocal supporters. In lots of ways, it’s easy to see why since guitarist Ronnie Le Tekro always played in a very inventive way and in melodic metal terms, those albums carry a frightening amount of energy. None of that really matters if you were one of those people who didn’t really like Tony Harnell’s vocal style, of course. Much like the younger Geoff Tate, Harnell had a tendency to tackle everything at full pelt and with a huge banshee wail.
House of Shakira’s ninth album ‘Radiocarbon’ comes some twenty two years after their debut. This means this lesser known band’s career has effectively been longer than some of the classic melodic rock/AOR acts of the 80s heyday. On the basis of ‘Radiocarbon’, they still love what they do…and if you’re a fan of big melodic riffs with a Swedish bent, chances are you will too. Although the album appears to have been mastered far too loudly – a somewhat common complaint in this digital age – the songs are, by and large, terrific. That’s enough to make the album stand among HoS’s best.
Often associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, glam rock band Girl formed in London in 1979. Gaining a following on the live circuit, they quickly signed to Don Arden’s Jet Records – home to Electric Light Orchestra and Magnum – and released their debut album ‘Sheer Greed’ the following year. Decades on, if ‘Sheer Greed’ is mentioned at all, it’s by association. The band’s frontman, Philip Lewis, later joined L.A. Guns and guitarist Phil Collen replaced Pete Willis in Def Leppard, first appearing on the band’s third album – 1983’s multi-million selling ‘Pyromania’. Girl were always a reasonably good band in their own right, of course, and although by no means perfect, ‘Sheer Greed’ has enough good moments to remind listeners why they perhaps deserve a little more credit of their own.