First Signal began life as a side project for Harem Scarem singer Harry Hess, but with the arrival of session guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Michael Palace and drummer Daniel Flores for the second record ‘One Step Over The Line’, the melodic rock band took on a little more of its own identity. It wasn’t until 2019’s ‘Line of Fire’, however, that First Signal finally found their feet, but with that record, they became far more than just an extra-curricular hustle – they were now a band to rival some of the scene’s greatest acts. That album even outshone most of Harem Scarem’s work since the mid 90s.
Serbian vocalist Nevena Dordevic came to the attention of Frontiers Records via her friendship with The Big Deal’s guitarist Srdjan Brankovic, whose own band released their debut album on the label in May 2022. Seemingly, his championing of Nevena was met with a huge amount of trust which was not misplaced.
After releasing two solid melodic rock albums, First Signal delivered a genuine masterpiece with their third disc ‘Line of Fire’. On that recording, the union between vocalist Harry Hess and versatile guitarist-for-hire Michael Palace was truly inspired, and the resultant set of songs rivalled the early Harem Scarem output. In many ways, setting such a high benchmark meant that any follow up would likely feel a little inferior, but there’s still plenty about First Signal’s 2022 release ‘Closer To The Edge’ that comes to the gold standard of melodic rock, at least in terms of both composition and musicianship.
Swedish rock band The Murder of My Sweet have never thought small. Over the years, their sound has straddled symphonic rock, pomp, metal and AOR in a way that has often seemed very self indulgent. When the focus is on hooks and songs, this shows off a musical collective that has great promise. When they become obsessed with pure theatrics (as per their ‘Beth Out of Hell’ concept album from 2015), they can be really hard to take. This, of course, can lead to a frustrating and inconsistent listening experience, especially if strong melodies get swamped by too much unnecessary bombast.
Between the release of First Signal’s 2016 album ‘One Step Over The Line’ and 2019’s ‘Line of Fire’, the band’s core members kept themselves very busy. Vocalist Harry Hess recorded another album with his “day job” band, Harem Scarem (2017’s ‘United’); guitarist Michael Palace released his second band album with Palace – the appropriately named ‘Binary’ – and Daniel Flores returned to The Murder of My Sweet, releasing ‘Echoes of the Aftermath’ on Frontiers Records in 2017. In addition during those intervening three years, Flores and Palace scored themselves jobs as invaluable members of the Frontiers “house band”, lending their talents to releases by Toby Hitchcock, Find Me and Code Red. There’s almost been no time for them to sleep.