For many melodic rock fans, guitarist Josh Ramos is a man who’ll need no introduction. In the 90s, he was a member of The Storm, a fine AOR band that featured ex-Journey men Gregg Rolie and Ross Valory. He later achieved success as driving force behind Frontiers Records signings Two Fires, an act much-loved by genre fans the world over. At other times, he’s been a member of Hardline, a melodic rock outfit who’ve battled on against changing fashions and changing line ups, but could often be relied upon for a decent end product. Yup, Josh has always kept himself busy, and while his approach to things might make him seem like a “man for hire” rather than a genuine star in his own right, he’s often made some smart career choices.
In the nineties, melodic rock was going through an interesting phase. People with narrow musical tastes tell you the “scene had been killed by grunge” (yes, that old chestnut – how boring AOR fans can be), but the fact is, with AOR and melodic rock being driven to independent labels, between 1993 and 1999 the scene actually produced some of its best music since 1989. Labels like Now & Then released unmissable discs by Crown of Thorns, Cannata, Ten and Shotgun Symphony; Long Island gave the world the second – and best – Heartland album, and further out on the fringes, labels like Z Records, Megarock and Empire some great albums too, including releases by Mark Spiro, Snakes In Paradise and Jekyll & Hyde. Regardless of what some people might claim, the scene was far from dead…it had just migrated.
Following the dissolution of their short-lived band Place Called Rage in 1995, the founding members briefly went their separate ways. Guitarist Al Pitrelli joined power metal band Savatage and drummer Chuck Bonfante stepped away from the spotlight. Reuniting in 1997, the pair provided the driving force behind an almost equally short-lived project entitled Flesh & Blood.
Legendary independent metal label Music For Nations – once home to many a great band throughout the 80s and early 90s – has returned. The label, once home to Anthrax, Mercyful Fate, Mindfunk, Tyketto, Hed(pe), Godflesh, Exodus and countless others folded in 2004, but has just been relaunched.