HEAD MACHINE – Orgasm

As the 60s gave way to the 70s, some musical fashions began to take a more aggressive turn. The psychedelia and blues that had been a dominance force on the rock scene had started to fade and while some of the psych bands took the leap into full-on prog rock waters, many psych bands merely just fizzled out. Deep Purple, whose early mixture of psychedelia, rock covers and blues took a harder direction and helped forge what would soon be known as heavy metal; Status Quo – who’d had major success with a couple of brilliant psych-pop singles – floundered for a bit and eventually became a lynchpin of a no nonsense boogie rock sound. In February 1970, the Black Sabbath debut changed everything, killing the last remnants of a 1960s optimism for good. For The Gods – a little known rock pop band who’d released two unsuccessful LPs – the writing seemed to be very much on the wall. In what appeared to be a last throw of the dice, they changed their name and beefed up their sound in an attempt to rejuvenate their ailing career.

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JEFF SCOTT SOTO – Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)

If there’s one word that best describes singer Jeff Scott Soto, it’s “prolific”. He made his first major breakthrough in the mid 80s when he appeared as a singer for hire with Yngwie Malmsteen, a job that doubtlessly helped him score similar work with virtuoso guitarists Alex Masi and Axel Rudi Pell. From that point on, he never stopped working. Throughout the nineties, he fronted hard rock bands Eyes, Talisman and Takara (sometimes simultaneously) and in the twenty first century, he’s fronted his own band SOTO – taking a heavier direction – and been a member of AOR supergroup, W.E.T. In between all of that, he’s found time for an on/off solo career. Take one look at his discography on Wikipedia detailing all of his major works alongside dozens of guest appearances and you’ll find yourself wondering if he ever sleeps.

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HELL IN THE CLUB – Hell Of Fame

When Hell In The Club released their debut album back in 2011, it was almost impossible not to be impressed by their retro sound. The Italian rock band truly went back to basics, borrowing riffs from early Skid Row and Motley Crue. By coupling those with anthemic choruses inspired by early Danger Danger, they obviously realised that a job well done would trump any originality at every turn. The result was an album with hooks so massive, it couldn’t fail to win over fans of glammy hard rock with a party attitude. The band worked the same formula for another three albums over the next six years, and although this never resulted in any huge sales, the routine appearance of their records was to the delight of their fan base. Despite changing musical fashions in the rock world, there was still clearly an audience ready to embrace the sounds of their youth…and with open arms.

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THE RIVEN – Windbreaker / Moving On

In terms of quality, The Riven’s self-titled record from 2019 was streets ahead of their debut EP. Although both releases are solid in terms of playing and song writing, the album vastly outshone the EP in terms of production values and vocal performances. This suggested The Riven’s third release had the potential for a few incendiary riffs. Although that third release turned out to be a two song stop-gap, in terms of old style sounds, both ‘Windbreaker’ and ‘Moving On’ (issued on a strictly limited vinyl in August 2020) really doesn’t disappoint.

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SVEN GALI – 3 EP

Back in the 90s, Canadian hard rockers Sven Gali released two very enjoyable albums. 1992’s ‘Sven Gali’ cast the band in a similar mould to ‘Slave To The Grind’ era Skid Row on a set of songs with big riffs and bigger choruses, while 1995’s ‘In Wire’ took a heavier direction and – like so many hard rock acts during that era – found the band swimming against the musical tide, despite their best efforts to stay vital. Much like Vince Neil’s ‘Carved In Stone’ released at a similar time, ‘In Wire’ mightn’t have been exactly what fans wanted upon release, but as the years have passed, it has sounded better and better.

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