Monday, October 20, 2008

EVIDENCE ONE - Tattooed Heart

    Tattooed Heart
    Nuclear Blast Records

Germans Evidence One put forth a resoundingly convincing melodic hard rock effort with “Tattooed Heart,” an album that recalls the mightiest moments of groups like Europe and Dokken, while bearing enough originality to consider Evidence One as a breed unto their own. Rich vocal harmonies, fluent and inspired guitar soloing and most importantly, fundamentally sound songwriting are each highlights of this illustrious showing. Singer Carsten “Lizard” Schulz exercises outstanding vocal control that’s coupled with power and considerable range. Tin all honesty, Schulz sounds like a more metallic version of Journey singer Steve Perry, but if the AOR sounds of Perry are a bit too soft for your tastes, don’t let that stop you from hearing this superb record, because the execution here is geared toward a much heavier outcome.

Bandleader Robby Boebel wails on his axe in profound fashion and provides the keyboard accompaniments that flesh out the sound of Evidence One, his dual-duty serving to make the outfit’s material that much more engaging and authoritative. On the album’s opener, “Moonsigh,” Schulz’ vocals reach soaring heights, accentuated by a medium-paced chorus that is as colossal as it is tuneful. Boebel’s ringing guitar rhythms leave plenty of room for the rest of the instruments to breathe. A fantastic opening statement, this cut sets the tone for the entire album, which in turn, rises to the occasion in majestic fashion.

As the group follows with the driving, guitar-driven “Written In Blood,” the ambitiously ornate title track and street-tough “When Thunder Hits The Ground,” its obvious that Evidence One can hold their own with the rest of the melodic rock crowd, and then some. As the group prepares to wrap up their latest melodic rock masterpiece, tentatively titled “E3,” later this year, “Tattooed Heart” should provide you with all the high-energy rock you’ll need in the interim.

Written By: Haystack McLovin'

Saturday, October 18, 2008

CINDERELLA - Rocked, Wired & Bluesed: The Greatest Hits

Rocked, Wired & Bluesed: The Greatest Hits
Mercury Records

Cinderella was one of the more ragged bands that came out of the 80’s hair scene. The band's pop metal style drew a huge influence from blues-based music, but on the band's second record, "Long Cold Winter," the influence bacame much more pronounced that on the band's debut, the multi-platinum "Night Songs."

"Night Songs" was a rocking platter of distorted guitars and downbeats that would make the band a household name. The record was released after coming to the attention of Jon Bon Jovi, a rollicking ride of a record that is represented with four tracks here, the brooding “Night Songs”, the first radio and MTV hit “Shake Me”, the obligatory power ballad, “Nobody’s Fool”, (which was a very dark ballad for an eighties band) and finally the thoroughly jamming “Somebody Save Me”, one of Cinderella’s all-time heaviest tunes.

Although the group’s second effort pointed them in a direction that was more Stones than Sabbath, “Gypsy Road” remains a rocking concert anthem that elicits a tremendous response from fans. Again proving himself as a master of ballad writing, Vocalist/guitarist Tom Keifer offered “Don’t Know What You Got (‘Til It’s Gone)” on the “Long Cold Winter” album, a song that would make a tremendous impact on radio, still enjoying airplay to this very day.

The straight up blues of that album’s title track is here as well and though the track did not achieve the chart success of previous singles, it remains a standard in the band’s live set today. Culled from the final album that would become a commercial success for the band in the earlier years of the band, “If You Don’t Like It” had the attitude and sound of bands like Motley Crue, but records were moving into a different direction during this time and the band had decided to move away from the over produced sounds of the eighties for a more stripped down feel.

“The Last Mile”, while not a ballad could almost be considered a country rock song and is exactly the type of material from which Kid Rock would model his “Cocky” era persona and sound, albeit indirectly. “The More Things Change” retains the bands metal roots, while overlaying its pulsating rhythm with some wonderful slide guitar work. “Coming Home” would complete the group’s trilogy of classic ballads, hitting number twenty on the pop singles chart.

Bands like Cinderella opened the door for heavier types of metal artists to emerge on FM radio in the nineties. Whether you’re a dyed in the wool fan of the band or a new listener seeking out the roots of modern heavy metal, this impressive collection of chart topping tracks is a great collection in order to either become acquainted with the band’s signature style of bluesy pop metal or a great opportunity to relive some memories of time spent with some classic music and ultimately, one of the most kick-ass bands that emerged from the metal scene of the eighties.

Written By: Haystack McLovin'

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

UNION - Live At The Galaxy

Live In The Galaxy
Mausoleum Records

Recognized as Bruce Kulick's most prominent project before joining up with Grand Funk Railroad, Union always seemed to be a touch second-rate. Yes, the band gave John Corabi something to do after he was booted from Motley Crue, and the both of them are fairly talented players in their own right, but something about Union simply doesn't click. This live performance, unfortunately, does very little to change that.

The addition of both Kiss and Crue songs is completely laughable, since nobody wanted to hear the big-name bands play those the first time around anyway and three added acoustic tracks, including a cover of “Hide Your Love Away” by The Beatles each do little to bring added value to this snoozer.

Corabi is far better off in Ratt, a band that suits his style and allows him to get his glam rock socks hopping without gumming up the frontman spot with Paul Rodgers worship.

All in all, Union will never be a group that’s easy to get excited about. Diehards will take interest, but if you're not a follower of the band, you probably won't get real excited about this record.

Written By: Puss Whiskey

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Paul Stanley - Live To Win

Paul Stanley
Live To Win
Universal Records

Kiss frontman Paul Stanley’s iconic voice is instantly recognizable from the onset of this record’s anthemic opening cut, “Live To Win.” Vibrant and uplifting, this well-penned track strays a bit from the territory Stanley is best known for and is most certainly far removed from that of his well-known first solo effort, which was part of the simultaneous four-album release by all Kiss members all the way back in the seventies. In saying that, it should be noted that “Live To Win” is intensely modern-sounding with the passionate “Lift” or the decidedly alternative rock styling of “Wake Up Screaming” each containing stellar hooks and highly impressive performances by the self-dubbed Starchild. As an album, “Live To Win” will not necessarily appeal solely to Kiss fans.

There is a remarkably wide audience for the kind of sounds you’ll find here and while much of this record could be termed as a pop record, Stanley has the rock sensibility to make these tracks work as veritable rock anthems. Those hungry for new Kiss material will revel in the “Animalize”-like “Bulletproof,” “Where Angels Dare,” a song that could have made it onto “Crazy Nights” (possibly the most impressive track to be found on the entire album), or “Second To None,” a cut which could have found a home on latter-day Kiss efforts.

In comparison to the recent solo album from bandmate Gene Simmons, “Asshole,” “Live To Win” shows Stanley to be by far the more talented of the revered songwriting duo. His performance on this record should be considered as nothing less than that of a true superstar and it’s undeniable that Kiss fans around the world will be certain to agree.

Written By: Haystack McLovin'

SKID ROW - Revolutions Per Minute

Skid Row - Revolutions Per Minute
Skid Row
Revolutions Per Minute

SPV Records


More than anything, “Revolutions Per Minute” suffers from the stigma of being called a Skid Row record without the presence of Sebastian Bach, whose powerful voice typifies the band’s first three records and essentially was the personality of Skid Row. So in analyzing the group’s latest record (and second without Bach at the fore) fans of the band need to understand that things have changed.

Having said that, the press has been having a field day slagging the post-Bach Skidders and that’s simply unfair. While “Thickskin” might have been a clumsy, somewhat trendy comeback, “Revolutions Per Minute” shows Skid Row still has the ability to write ass-kicking rock tunes that get you fired up. One of the best things about this record is the diversity of the songwriting. Credit Rachel and Snake with doing an excellent job at creating different types of vibes on this album, from the “Slave To The Grind” energy of “Another Dick In The System” to the rock-solid “Pulling My Heart out From Under Me,” listeners will find the same sort of street-wise rock appeal that typified the non-ballad cuts on the group’s first two records.

The rave-up Irish vibe of “When God Can’t Wait” is a real stein-swayer and is certainly a departure from what we’re used to from Skid Row. So what, it’s a great track that will likely be the background music for plenty of bar closings. So many critics always cry for bands to step outside the box – there you have it. “Disease” is a nice mid-paced rocker that shows vocalist Johnny Solinger can stand in the high-heeled boots of Bach without imitating him directly. Solinger’s voice has a growling snarl that compliments the vision of the Skidders quite well. He was an excellent choice to front the group in the absence of Bach, ‘nuff said.

With plenty of other strong rockers like “Strength” and the punked-up tracks “White Trash” and “Let It Ride,” Skid Row show that they can still rock hard. Incorporating the twang of “You Lie” is not that big of a stretch and a nice aside as well.

Ultimately, the largest complaint is the lack of a ballad that scores the way the band’s hits “18 and Life” and “I Remember You” did back in the day. Even so, it’s safe to say that the group will have a very strong live set in throwing some of these new gems in with the band’s classics. This is a record that really grows on the listener over time like any really good record should. Detractors be damned, Skid Row is back.

Written By: Puss Whiskey