CLEANBREAK – Coming Home

American singer James Durbin isn’t a household name in the UK, but for those Stateside, his work comes with a certain amount of expectation. After a stint fronting veteran metal band Quiet Riot, he eventually launched a solo career that aimed to take his huge voice and a love of classic metal in an even more traditional direction. The resultant album, ‘The Beast Awakens’ (released under the name Durbin in 2021) was well received in some corners of the rock press, but despite a few great tracks, the bulk of the material valued volume and bombast over almost everything else. In addition, clichéd material like ‘By The Horns’ and ‘The Prince of Metal’ honestly didn’t do Durbin any favours. Although it was all well intentioned, the worst aspects of the album played too much like a broad parody of old school metal, leading to the kind of thing that a more discerning listener might spin twice and then move on.

Continue reading

ARDOURS – Anatomy Of A Moment

In 2019, Ardours’ debut album ‘Last Place On Earth’ mixed heavy edges with darkwave synths to create a relatively contemporary sound. In taking the gothic and using that to underscore a modern take on melodic rock and applying a touch of electronica very naturally, the band’s sound was rather big and broad, but for lovers of classic Lacuna Coil – and, to a lesser degree, Evanescence and their ilk – the album certainly had…something. The heavier moments provided former Tristania vocalist Mariangela Durmatas a much denser canvas to work with than before, as evidenced during the title track, but she was more than up to the task in numbers like ‘Truths’ and ‘Last Moment’, the band showed an affinity for applying a classic sounding melodic hook to something a little more alternative – at least in a retro sense – and with ease. It’s fair to say the album didn’t suit everyone’s tastes – it certainly wasn’t aimed at those who felt that, as a label, Frontiers Records should only be releasing music that sounded like Survivor and Night Ranger throwbacks – but it showed a lot of promise.

Continue reading

VYPERA – Eat Your Heart Out

Vypera, a melodic metal band from Sweden, began life in 2016 as Madhouse, a covers band working the local circuit. On the basis of their debut release under the new name – their first to feature all new, self penned material – you might find yourself wondering if they were better when hammering through other peoples’ hits, since the bulk of ‘Eat Your Heart Out’ is…fairly bad, to put it mildly.

Sweden have a great track record for rock and metal exports, and the Scandinavians have more than shown an easy knack for great riffs and choruses over the years, very much providing a strong backbone for the melodic rock and metal scene. On on the basis of this debut, though, as much as some people would like to purport such a notion that the Swedes are infallible, such talents aren’t guaranteed. Although the bulk of this debut rehashes some old style riffs fairly solidly, Vypera’s song writing isn’t amazing; the record’s production values are decidedly average, and vocally, seventy five percent of the time, an ugly voice derails most of the good elements there might have been. Faced with something that sounds like polished demo with half of the guitars sounding really trebly, as if they’re bleeding in from another room, it’s immediately hard on the ears.

Continue reading

BLOODY HEELS – Rotten Romance

Latvian rockers Bloody Heels began carving themselves a niche within the hard rock scene in 2012, but it was only with the release of their third record ‘Ignite The Sky’ that they really attracted wider attention. That album, their first for Frontiers, potentially placed them in the hard rock ranks alongside Hell In The Club, and really upped the ante with regards to their chorus writing. It was all very old fashioned, but that, in many ways, was the whole point. Their celebration of all things big haired and carefree actually created a great tribute to the hard rock glory days of 1987-1991, and as such, attracted a keen audience who still wanted to hear old school rock churned out with a real enthusiasm.

Continue reading

VENUS 5 – Venus 5

Another act from the conveyor belt of Frontiers’ manufactured talents, the thinking behind Venus 5 was to create a “credible metal version” of the ultimate girl group. Label boss Serafino Perugino had obviously thought about the sales potential of multi-voiced pop acts and figured that a huge harmonic potential could be transposed to something heavier and still work. In some ways, he isn’t wrong, since this debut album never sells the listener short on massive vocals. He isn’t necessarily right either, as there are times throughout its eleven tracks where being constantly confronted with all five voices most of the time can be a little wearing. It’s not that the girls can’t sing; each member has a very strong voice, but the opportunities to hear them performing apart aren’t always so forthcoming as they perhaps could have been.

Continue reading