FANS OF THE DARK – Fans Of The Dark

There’s an old saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Luckily for Uriah Heep and Deep Purple, the same is true of album sleeves, and there’s many a good tune hidden behind an ugly piece of art. Fortunately, this also sort of applies to Sweden’s Fans of The Dark. They’ve saddled themselves with a bad band name, cheap looking logo, and sleeve art depicting a Gollum-tortoise hybrid with car headlights for eyes, but despite that, their debut LP is home to a trilogy of fairly decent melodic rock/melodic metal tunes. These are tunes that would definitely go unheard if we were going solely upon appearances. The album also includes a couple of genuine clunkers, so you could definitely call it a mixed bag, if you were feeling polite.

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TRUMBITEN – Emotions EP

When Trumbiten made their first appearances on streaming services during the global pandemic of 2020, their first recordings almost seemed to set up the musical project as a bit of fun; something of a necessary distraction for the musicians involved. A cover of Ghost (BC)’s ‘Rats’ and a heavy reworking of Lenny Kravitz’s ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’ both suggested the Swedish father/son duo had some strong musical chops, but as with a lot of covers – especially when played fairly straight, heavied up or otherwise – they didn’t really suggest a band thinking in the long term.

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ANGELICA – All I Am

Angelica Rylin’s solo debut ‘Thrive’ (Frontiers Records, 2013) was a decent AOR record. The core of its material took its influence from Robin Beck and other female stars from the late 80s and despite a very predictable approach to the material, Rylin gave strong vocal performances throughout. Its dozen well-written, chorus driven rockers opted for big hooks and bigger melodies at almost every turn and by going for a less bombastic approach than her band The Murder of My Sweet, it certainly made Rylin far more of an appealing musical prospect.

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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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