SINNER’S BLOOD – The Mirror Star

A new band for 2020, Sinner’s Blood have similarities to Russell Allen’s Level 10 and Jeff Scott Soto’s SOTO project in that their material has a genuine heaviness, but the majority of songs on their debut release ‘The Mirror Star’ also have unashamedly huge choruses. At their best, those choruses will invite you to sing along, but with frontman James Robledo often sounding like South America’s answer to Jorn Lande or Russell Allen, there’s every chance that singing at those volumes will cause untold damage – if not to yourself, at least to your immediate neighbours.

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MAGNUS KARLSSON’S FREE FALL – We Are The Night

A prolific musician, Magnus Karlsson has worked with many legends from the hard rock and melodic metal scene. You’ll find his name attached to works by Magnum’s Bob Catley, TNT’s Tony Harnell, Russell Allen, Bobby Kimball and Phenomena. He’s also been a member of Euro metallers Primal Fear. Perhaps most importantly, the Swedish multi-instrumentalist has received great press for his own project Free Fall, designed to showcase his melodic metal prowess behind an impressive roll call of guest vocalists. An enjoyable self-titled release set a high musical benchmark in 2013 with a collection of very European sounding bangers. A follow up, 2015’s ‘Kingdom of Rock‘ (not to be confused with an identically titled project from the legendary Michael Schenker), sometimes showed a lighter side with contributions from Joe Lynn Turner and Harem Scarem man Harry Hess and although a more hit and miss disc, it still provided a decent collection filler for anyone enamoured with the style.

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THE MURDER OF MY SWEET – Brave Tin World

In 2015, The Murder of My Sweet released a terrible concept album called ‘Beth Out of Hell‘ which their record company likened to ELO and Queen. A brave but foolish claim: in reality, the album sounded a fourth rate Nightwish and it’s hard to imagine even the most staunch Euro metal fan would’ve enjoyed such a charmless, generic set of songs. Its follow up, 2017’s ‘Echoes of The Aftermath‘, was much better in that it actually gave a concession to some more melodic material, but even so, it still wasn’t the kind of record that would set the world alight. None of the band’s shortcomings lay with singer Angelica Rylin. She has a great voice, and as demonstrated on her solo album from 2013, she’s capable of using it far better than The Murder of My Sweet’s general bombast ever seemed to allow.

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HOUSE OF SHAKIRA – Radiocarbon

House of Shakira’s ninth album ‘Radiocarbon’ comes some twenty two years after their debut. This means this lesser known band’s career has effectively been longer than some of the classic melodic rock/AOR acts of the 80s heyday. On the basis of ‘Radiocarbon’, they still love what they do…and if you’re a fan of big melodic riffs with a Swedish bent, chances are you will too. Although the album appears to have been mastered far too loudly – a somewhat common complaint in this digital age – the songs are, by and large, terrific. That’s enough to make the album stand among HoS’s best.

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