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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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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DRIVE, SHE SAID – Pedal To The Metal

drive, she saidMark Mangold is an AOR legend. He first made waves as a member of American Tears, but for most AOR fans, will be better known as a member of melodic rockers Touch, makers of one the best early 80s rock discs and openers of the very first Donington Monsters of Rock Festival. That performance might now be better known for Touch’s bassist/vocalist having an incident with a bee, but it meant the band’s place in the rock history books was secured. Following Touch’s premature split, Mangold worked with Michael Bolton and eventually teamed up with vocalist Al Fristch to form Drive, She Said in 1989. In their original lifespan, the band recorded three very enjoyable melodic rock discs. The following years saw Mangold carving out a solo career, playing with other short lived bands and also sporadically reforming Drive, She Said. Say what you like, but you can’t say he hasn’t been busy.

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RICK SPRINGFIELD – Rocket Science

RICK SPRINGFIELD Rocket Science LPAt the tail-end of 2012, Rick Springfield released the surprisingly chunky ‘Songs For The End of The World’, a near faultless collection of tunes that proved the Australian singer-songwriter was still capable of delivering the goods after four decades and change into his career. In the first quarter of 2016, he made a welcome return with ‘Rocket Science’, an album which, perhaps, although stylistically more fitting for a performer in his mid sixties, still has plenty of heart and could show many younger musicians a thing or twelve.

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