The Resurrection Kings debut (released in 2016) was one of those frustrating albums that showed great promise, but was ultimately flawed. Ex-Dio band members Craig Goldy (guitar) and Vinnie Appice (drums) played up a storm throughout, but their best efforts were often drowned out by vocalist Chas West, a man who insisted in bellowing his way through the bulk of the material at full volume, making it a hard listen. As proven by his own West Bound project, it’s not that Chas doesn’t have a voice; he just needs the music to be in tune with his sometimes overbearing tones.

The flaws of the Resurrection Kings debut are evident once again here. For some reason, Goldy’s best efforts don’t always seem to be on quite the same wavelength as West’s huge performances. Or maybe West’s all or nothing approach doesn’t quite fit with some of Goldy’s more varied ideas. Whatever it is, there’s still something that feels a little off-balance and requires a fair bit of tuning in and patience on behalf of the listener. However, if you can tune into everything, the album features a selection of solid, old style metal tunes that definitely seem to have a little more drive and focus compared to their previous work.

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HARDLINE – Heart, Mind And Soul

After returning from a four year break, Hardline managed to hit upon a rich vein of melodic hard rock with their 2016 album ‘Human Nature’. Although the band’s sound had toughened up a little since their early days, in Johnny Gioeli – at this point the only original member – they still possessed a first rate vocalist – and the record demonstrated a very consistent approach to song writing. 2018’s follow-up ‘Life’ offered more of the same – even a little tougher in places – and was well received by the fans, and even though it wasn’t quite as enjoyable as its predecessor – or Gioeli’s side project with Deen Castronovo – there was plenty to suggest more musical mileage in Hardline yet.

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A much-loved figure on the AOR/melodic rock scene, Toby Hitchcock has previously applied his talents to some very theatrical releases by Pride of Lions, where he is a huge vocal foil to Jim Peterik’s overwhelming desire to be rock’s answer to a hybrid of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Greg Wells. The relentless bombast of those albums can be an acquired taste, but the critical responses to their work has often been positive. Toby’s first solo album (2011’s ‘Mercury’s Down’) carried a similarly huge love it or hate it sound but, thankfully, by the time of 2019’s ‘Reckoning’, his on/off solo career had found itself in a more melodic place. By pulling back some of the vocal histrionics and focusing on more of an AOR-centric sound, Hitchcock had finally released an album that could appeal to a broader cross section of a rock loving audience.

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JORN – Heavy Rock Radio II: Executing The Classics

Jorn Lande is no stranger to cover versions. In 2006, he released an album’s worth of covers in tribute to the legendary Ronnie James Dio. Ten years on, he released ‘Heavy Rock Radio’, a tribute to some of his other favourites and influences. Unfortunately, ‘Heavy Rock Radio‘ wasn’t very good at all. A couple of tunes might’ve just about passed muster in terms of hard rock reworkings and – predictably – the obligatory Dio-related song fared quite well, but overall, it was a bit of a turkey. Making things heavier doesn’t necessarily make things better (unless you ask a particularly unadventurous metalhead) and in a rocked up cover of ‘Hotel California’, Lande truly hit rock bottom by giving the world a reggae metal hybrid that no-one with ears deserved to hear.

Jorn obviously had fun making that record – terrible as most of it might have been – and he enters his fifth decade as a recording artist with a second volume of reworked favourites. ‘Heavy Rock Radio II: Executing The Classics’ is an improvement on its predecessor, but then, in many respecrs, it would have struggled to have been worse. It’s actually about fifty percent better, but still makes for an incredibly patchy record.

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LOVEKILLERS Feat. TONY HARNELL – Lovekillers Feat. Tony Harnell

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.

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