ARCTIC RAIN – Unity

On their debut album (2020’s ‘The One’), Arctic Rain largely specialised in classic sounding melodic rock, but weren’t afraid to temper a big chorus with a slightly harder edge on occasion. That record presented a selection of very 80s sounding songs in tandem with some great guitar work, and as such, provided a huge amount of entertainment for lovers of bands like Alien, Last Autumn’s Dream and Miss Behaviour.

Their second LP, ‘Unity’, is a worthy follow up to a great debut, even though it sometimes takes a very different approach. Despite a heavier sound in places, the big choruses retain the same melodic charm as before, and on at least half of the songs, there are still some very broad melodies shining through. This is a record that fans will still enjoy, but it is also the kind of record that shows the band pushing forward.

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TEN – Something Wicked This Way Comes

Ten’s fifteenth studio album ‘Here Be Monsters’ was easily the band’s finest collection of songs in many a year. Although a lot of their post-Chris Francis albums are home to some great tracks, Ten’s later output, when taken as a whole, sometimes feels patchy or like a band desperately trying to recycle old glories. ‘…Monsters’ was a cut above. It’s choruses were often great; the music had a sense of fire that had been partly absent for a while, and the vocal contributions from the great Gary Hughes were especially good throughout. With all of that in mind, 2023’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ had a lot to live up to. The fact that the songs were recorded in tandem with ‘Here Be Monsters’ automatically stood the record in good stead, but would it merely made up from the tracks that weren’t good enough to make the cut almost a year earlier?

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HEROES AND MONSTERS – Heroes And Monsters

Although formed as a new band in 2022, Heroes And Monsters features three very established musicians. Guitarist Stef Burns will need no introduction for a lot of rock fans, having played with Alice Cooper and Y&T in the 90s. Bassist Todd Kerns mightn’t have reached household name status in the UK, but he’s also been a member of Alice’s touring band, recorded with Slash, and been an integral part of big selling Canadian alternative rock band Age of Electric. With Evanescence/Black Label Society man Will Hunt occupying the drum stool, Heroes And Monsters have a great pedigree, even before taking their music into consideration.

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ROB MORATTI – Epical

For most AOR fans, Rob Moratti is a man who’ll need no introduction. However, here’s a quick recap for anyone unfamiliar with his career: his early work with his eponymously named band put him on the map via some chunky sounding melodic hard rock, and his brief tenure as frontman with Saga elevated his profile considerably. At other times, he could be found as frontman for AOR band Final Frontier, or sporadically releasing solo material.

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SABU – Banshee

Paul Sabu has somewhat of a chequered past when it comes to melodic rock. For everything essential (Kidd Glove, ‘Heartbreak’), there are a couple of genuinely average albums, and more than occasionally, he’s been guilty of sullying his releases with some truly awful songs. Surely no-one ever heard his mid 90s track ‘The.. Babysitters’ and genuinely liked it? For some rock fans, the mental scars left by that song are deep. The thought of it can still trigger PTSD.

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