For fans of shred-metal, Chris Impellitteri is a man who needs no introduction. With his eponymously named outfit, the Californian fretboard melter has been issuing discs filled with bombastic Euro-inflected metal for years, often with either ex-Joshua mouthpiece Rob Rock or ex-Rainbow man Graham Bonnet on vocals. Heavy and fast are Impellitteri’s two favourite styles – usually demonstrated together – and 2015’s ‘Venom’ (the band’s tenth album, breaking a six year silence) follows that expected pattern.
During his earlier years, Bryan Adams released some great albums. His fourth album (and international breakthrough) ‘Reckless’ remains a cornerstone of any AOR/melodic rock collection, sounding every bit as great as it did in 1984. Its massive hits – ‘Run To You’ and ‘Summer of 69’ – have stayed in regular radio rotation around the world ever since and deservedly so. 1987’s ‘Into The Fire’ seems overlooked by comparison but is almost equally strong, while 1991’s ‘Waking Up The Neighbours’ – despite a leaning towards a Def Leppard backing vocal sound, courtesy of Mutt Lange – showed The Groover From Vancouver still very much at the forefront of the AOR scene with much to give.
Spearheaded by unknown guitarist Jeremy Brunner, X-Drive is a hard rock project that celebrates 80s melodic rock in a particularly unashamed and brazen fashion. Joining Brunner on this particular journey are ex-White Lion bassist James Lomenzo, Montrose vocalist Keith St. John and Midline drummer Fred Fischer. They say you can’t always judge a book by the cover, but this band’s general style should be obvious after one look at their dubious choice of album sleeve. It’s not as bad as Montrose’s staggeringly awful ‘Jump On It’ – a sleeve that clearly inspired the end result – but it’s pretty unnecessary.
The mid 90s was a time when rap-metal reigned. No matter how genre-crossing acts sprang up (usually from the US), the alternative record buying public clamoured for more. For the huge amount of (sometimes deserved) column inches afforded to Rage Against The Machine or Limp Bizkit, so many other bands worked just as hard on the fringes – Snot would have been bigger than everyone if not victims of tragic circumstance, while bands like Shuvel and Reveille now seem all but forgotten, but were as good as any.
Benedictum’s third album ‘Dominion’ (released in 2010) presented a huge step forward for the US power metal outfit. Their first release for Frontiers Records afforded the band a bigger budget than their previous and Benedictum seemed to relish this new beginning. While the lyrics left much to be desired, musically it wasn’t a complete loss, including some impressive riffs throughout, bolstered by more than a few chunky drum parts. ‘Dominion’ wasn’t an especially great record, but by comparison, 2013’s ‘Obey’ is a crushing disappointment.