Ratings: 2=crap; 4=poor; 6=average; 8=great; 10=superb!!!

Spring 2006:

BIF NAKED-Superbeautifulmonster (Her Royal Majesty's Records/Warner Music)
What a great description for this lady! She is superbeautiful, but on the other hand she’s a beast, a monster and ready to rock your world. That’s what BIF NAKED reflects in her music on this thirteen song, forty-five minute album. In one song, your neighbours will come and ask, if you could please turn down the volume a bit (f.e. “Let Down”), while on the next song, there’s love in the air and she sings with a lot of emotion (like “Everyday”). Call it variation or whatever, but undoubtedly this lady has two different faces, when you listen to this album and you take a look at the accompanying CD booklet. See her wearing a beautiful white dress with high heeled white pumps underneath and on other pix, her body is covered full with tattoos. Another contradiction. The music of BIF NAKED contains a lot of balls. Most songs are based upon strong riffs and are quite catchy. I am thinking about chartbusters like AVRIL LAVIGNE, KELLY CLARKSON and the louder stuff of SHAKIRA here. But it’s definitely much louder and heavier. Biggest surprise may be the METALLICA cover; “Nothing Else Matters”. Yes, you got that right! And it’s definitely not a bad version either. Well, after all she did a good TWISTED SISTER cover on one of her previous albums. This lady likes her rock hard, but she can be very sensitive, too, when she is ready for it. The band of BIF NAKED consists of Todd Kerns and Doug Fury on guitar, Doug Fury, Todd Kerns and Peter Karroll on bass, Scotty Sexx on drums and on keyboards Mike Norman and John Webster. “I Want” is one of the many highlights on this album for me. It sounds a bit like JOAN JETT vocalwise, and it’s a real kick ass rock song. I ask myself, why this lady does not get any credits for her music over here, and much average new singers do. I really like this new album, created by her royal badness herself. Buy it and enjoy, and nothing else matters anymore! Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

Please put aside any prejudices about what’s regular and what’s not, before listening to this album. Especially when looking at the colourful CD booklet. THE VOLOPTUOUS HORROR OF KAREN BLACK is a rock extravaganza, you have never witnessed before after THE TUBES or THE PLASMATICS. The band KISS could be compared to Bambi, if you take a look at this band. And they make some damn fine music, too! Think about AC/DC with a female version of Johnny Rotten (SEX PISTOLS screamer) on vocals. Just listen to the resemblance between “Plow” and “The Jack”, to convince yourself. Fans of THE LUNACHICKS, HOLE and BLONDIE may also like the straight forward punk rock and roll sound of these extravagant punkrockers. The band is completed by lady dancers and consists of Samoa on guitar, Teddy G (a.k.a. ‘The Love God’) on bass, Joe Darkside on drums and Kembra Pfahler on vocals. At this very moment, the bands consists of another line up though, and rumour has it that they’re even recording a brand new album, which will possibly be called “Actresstocrocy”. In this new line up, we can find back Adam Cardone on bass (ex TOILET BOYS), Michael Wildwood on drums (D-GENERATION, CHROME LOCUST), Dave Weston on guitar (WESTON) and of course Kembra on vocals. There is some excellent kick ass stuff on this album, like opener “Bill To Pay” and “Shopping Spree”. And sometimes the band also throws in the occasionally ballad, like “I Believe In Halloween”. But after this little piece of rest, they put the pedal to the metal again with “Story Of Vanilla”. It would be a cliché to spend the whole review about the looks of this band, because their music is of an exceptionally high quality. So if you happen to come across this CD and the cover looks a bit odd to you, just think about this review and buy the damn thing, because this band is smoking hot! The album was produced by Greg Strzempka, who some of you might know as the singer and guitarplayer of RAGING SLAB. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLACKMORE’S NIGHT-The Village Lantern (SPV/Steamhammer)
It’s here! The new CD of BLACKMORE’S NIGHT, which includes fourteen songs and a full hour of the well-known sound of this band led by minstrell Ritchie Blackmore and his blonde nymph Candice Night. Once again, the album is full of variation. Next to the more romantic anthems “25 Years”, and title track “Village Lanterne”, we also hear a few up tempo songs, like “I Guess It Doesn’t Matter”. “The Messenger” for example is an instrumental track. Just like “Village Dance”. For all the RAINBOW and DEEP PURPLE fans out there, there are also two songs here, that might be rather interesting. First of all, there’s a song called “Mond Tanz”, which changes into “Child In Time” in the second part. People, who have also bought their DVD “Castles & Dreams” last year, might have heard this song before. In closing, we’re in for another huge surprise, when Joe Lynn Turner guests in the RAINBOW cover “Street Of Dreams”. And another wonderful highlight on this CD is a song, called “St. Teresa”. Check this one out, if you get the chance! On the other hand, they also cover RALPH McTELL’s “Streets Of London”, which is again something completely different. People, who like variation, the beautiful voice of Candice Night and the medieval sound of BLACKMORE’S NIGHT in general, will definitely have another great CD to enjoy. A nice suggestion for a long romantic night. The limited edition digipack will contain a bonus track of Candice Night and some exclusive interview footage. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JOHNNIE BURTON-Johnnie Burton (independent)
When I looked at the sky last night, I noticed that we are another star richer. It’s still pretty much a young star, but it’s getting bigger and bigger each day. I’m talking about JOHNNIE BURTON here. That may sound like the name of a guy, but nothing reminds me of a male person, judging by the pictures of this rocking lady from Los Angeles, California. The eleven songs on her debut album sound solid as a rock and some songs may even be suitable for radio airplay. If female singer/songwriters like AVRIL LAVIGNE, KELLY CLARKSON or maybe even MELISSA ETHERIDGE sound a bit too sweet for you, you should check out JOHNNIE BURTON’s self titled debut album. I bet, you’ll be surprised in a very positive way! Her husky voice gives me the shivers all over. In a way, she sounds ultra sexy. Add to this the catchy, though sometimes very rough songs, and the good looks of this lady, and you’ll have the perfect combination for a new huge star of today’s music scene. One of the highlights for me on this album is “Guruji”, which contains some filthy guitar work. This lady is a real mean rocker. What energy, what power, and what a voice! She can easily become the face of the generation of today. Wild, exciting, thrilling, yet very sensitive and sweet at times. As long as the guitars cry out (I also hear that great sound in “Slow”, which is certainly not a slow song!!!), this lady gladly receives a special place in my heart. Johnnie’s band consists of Johnnie on vocals and guitar, Dave Philips on rhtyhm and lead guitar, Paul Engel on bass and Ralf Balzer on drums. Assisted with a handful of additional musicians, they crank out this damn fine album. Check out the web site of this lady at: and see for yourself that she can easily rock your world, too. It’s a shame though, that the album only lasts for half an hour. But better a couple of high quality rock songs than a full hour of fillers. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CRIMSON FIRE-Crimson Fire (independent)
We’ve got some metal from Down Under for you! And before I will spend one word to this CD, I want to thank our marvellous friend Peter Fundeis for providing us this great material. He’s our brother in heavy metal from Australia, and he send us a copy of the debut album of CRIMSON FIRE. It contains ten songs and a full hour of great progressive power metal. Think about bands like STRATOVARIUS, DREAM THEATER, QUEENSRYCHE, ICED EARTH and IRON MAIDEN, to name but a few. The IRON MAIDEN influences come from vocalist Louie Gorgievski, who sounds a lot like Bruce Dickinson, although he screams a little bit higher. He could be his twin brother and the resemblance is really striking. I like this a lot. It gives the music of CRIMSON FIRE a more heavy touch that it needs, because sometimes they might sound a bit too happy. However, when the high screams or the loud guitar riffs are in the picture, it makes it all worthwhile. The other band members are Paul Yoannidis on bass, Domenic Pinto on drums, Anthony Tabone on guitars and Diane Melichar as the metal maiden and keyboard wizard of the band. It’s quite remarkable, that only one guitarplayer can create such a great and full sound! And please don’t think about Diane as a keyboard player, who just fills up the space, because she regularly appears up front in the sound of the band. The long instrumental parts are a treat to your ears, and we’re dealing with some very talented musicians here, who have devoted their heart to this music. You can hear their passion in these ten songs. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DORO-Warrior Soul (AFM Records/Rock Inc.)
On her new CD “Warrior Soul”, DORO returns to the classic metal of her early albums with WARLOCK, and her first few solo outings. Over the years, DORO has experimented with a variety of styles, ranging from industrial dance music on “Machine-to-Machine” to the darker modern-rock sound on “Fight”. With “Warrior Soul” however, she has outdone herself, producing a CD, that sounds very much like the metal of the 1980s. The music here is notable for unusually melodic songwriting, and engaging hooks that draw in the listener. The playing and the production on this CD are both very tight. The arrangements feature some smooth organ backgrounds, and nice transitions between the guitar riffs, main melody and lead breaks. As is often the case, DORO used a studio band with several other session instrumentalists on particular tracks, but the sound is absolutely seamless. The first few tracks are quite uplifting. The opening is a tribute to her fans, while “Strangers Yesterday” and “Thunderspell” deal with themes DORO has often visited, relationships and the power of metal music. Although some of these songs are actually in a minor key, the feeling in them is often positive, almost serene. This is the work of an accomplished singer enjoying a successful career. Starting around the eighth track, the mood darkens, and the songs become more downbeat. But even here, DORO’s syren-like vocals gives the music a kind of mournful power. In sum, this is one of DORO’s best releases, and strangely reminiscent of her first solo CD “Force Majeure” back in 1989. [9 points] (Gordon Richards)

DRAGONFLY-Falling Down (independent)
Metal Maidens welcomes DRAGONFLY from Holland! Comprising of Anko Lammers (drums/vocals), Roy Hagting (bass), Martijn Wessels (guitar), Vincent Wessels (guitar/vocals) and Klarine Buist (female vocals), the band exists for about six years now. Gothic fans can easily add another name to their list of well-talented bands. But hey wait, not so fast, because DRAGONFLY is more than the average gothic metal band, in my opinion. Their music is very pure and their roots are found in the heavy metal, instead of the gothic rock. The band sounds quite driven and solid, and their songs are well-written. From the short instrumental opener, “Naissance de la Libellule”, you can’t escape the feeling, that you’re in for something special. Together with the sphereful black and white pictures in the CD booklet, they know to create a sound, that grabs your attention right away. Klarine’s voice is crystal clear and very easy to listen to. The guitars are loud and contain nice solos, but they are also very suitable as background music or intros, when they are almost invisible. The drums are innovative. They’re not only playing a repeating beat, but I regularly hear some nice fills. DRAGONFLY may appeal to many music fans. Not only gothic ravens do appreciate this kind of music, but also metalheads can shake their heads to it. Just listen to the great sound on “Mysteryland” (one of my album’ faves), where the band easily gains some speed for a heavier part in the middle of the song. Great stuff! Another highlight is “Dragonfly”, which closes the album. In fact, it’s one of the heavier songs here, in which I hear back some influences of BLACK SABBATH. Yes, it’s that heavy, my friends!! On this beautiful debut album, you will be able to enjoy eleven lengthy songs, which plays for about a full hour. Definitely value for your money, because it easily scores far above average, in my opinion. For more information about these young Dutch talents, go to: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DYING PASSION-Sweet Disillusions (Metal Breath Productions)
DYING PASSION hails from Czechia and they are the absolute prove, that there are some very talented gothic doom bands over there. “Sweet Disillusions” is the bands third album and briefly, I hear some influences of THE GATHERING. There is more to their sound of course, but this way you’ll get an idea of what to expect on this CD. The band sounds a bit happier than their Dutch collegues for example. But they also know to write a good, dark and mysterious song. However, opener “Song Of Liberty” and “Velevet Confessions” sound very similar like THE GATHERING in their early days, when Anneke had just joined the band. In “From Them”, I hear a little bit of Czechian influences in their music, especially in the first few seconds. The instrumentation and chorus parts sound happy, while the verses are dark and more sober. The guitar riffs are loud, and they appear when you least expect them. When you hear the part with the accordion and tambourine, the influences of which I spoke before, become a bit more obvious. With respect, no Western band would dare to do this. So I give them special credit for not hesitating and just doing it! “Do You Want To Fly” is such a dark and mysterious song. They’ve divided it into three chapters and I must say that I like it very much. The use of special instruments in this song, like the alt sax, is sometimes a bit difficult for me to comprehend, because it is done very seldom. But when I look at a band like PINK FLOYD, they also didn’t mind using instruments like that, and it’s almost naturally that they’re there. So it’s only men’s imagination, that these instruments are rarely used, when you play music like this band does. The trumpet in “Tender Renown” is perhaps also a bit unusual, but it blends together very well with the sound of this band, that doesn’t like to tie themselves down to one particular style of music. There is a certain KATE BUSH content in the vocals during “Him Faraway”, which is in my opinion the best song on this album. If you like to hear something different, music that can easily switch from one mood to another, from sober and dark to bright and happy, then I’d suggest to have a listen to this album of DYING PASSION. Take for example a song like “High On The Blind Speed”, which wouldn’t sound strange on a DEEP PURPLE album at all! Yes, the variation is that huge sometimes, folks! There are two instrumental bonus tracks and the video clip for “Song Of Liberty” plus a photo gallery on the enhanced CDR part of this CD. All the more reason to check it out. DYING PASSION consists of Zuzana Lípová on vocals, Standa Jelínek on guitar, Standa Pavlik on bass, Jarda Øoutil on guitar, Zdenek Smĕšný on drums and Ladislav Šplièka on keyboards. For more information about this well-talented Czechian band, check out their website at: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ELFONIA-Elfonia (independent)
ELFONIA is a hot name this very moment. Mainly because singer Marcela Bovio has joined the new band of Arjen Lucassen, which is called STREAM OF PASSION. She also appeared as a guest vocalist on the AYREON album “The Human Equation” before that. All the more reason to give you a short update about the musical history of this symphonic rock band from Mexico, by means of a review of both their albums. We’ll start with the self-titled debut album from 2003, which contains twelve songs and forty-five minutes of symphonic rock. And I hope, that you like this style of music, because it’s definitely not as accessible as AYREON or STREAM OF PASSION. ELFONIA already opened for HAGGARD in their homecountry, and I think that people, who are into the early GENESIS stuff, will enjoy this music a lot, too. Listening to the album very closely, I heard something really strange. Or was it just my imagination, and did I want to hear something, that actually wasn’t there at all? When listening to the song “Nuestro Descanso”, I recognised the riffs of “Enter Sandman”, but played much slower and in a more symphonic way. It is not like they nicked the theme, but it’s definitely there, if you listen very carefully. “Aura” is once again very much early GENESIS, only with the female vocals of Marcela being the biggest difference here of course. And these vocals are a very important part of the whole ELFONIA sound. Because of this, they can also easily be compared to THE GATHERING. Marcela and keyboard player Alejandro Millán both played in a band, called HYDRA, before they started ELFONIA in 2001. Besides Marcela and Alejandro, the band consists of Roberto Quintanilla on guitars, Pablo González Sarre on bass and Javier Garagarza on drums. Marcela also plays the violin on this album. “Drama” is an acoustic ballad, sung by a male voice, while the instrumental “Hatshepsut” contains some violin playing of Marcela. The dark songs are quite sphereful, and I must admit, that I really liked the lengthy instrumental parts on this album. The CD closes with a short acapella song. Marcela and Alejandro both produced this debut album. Website: [6.5 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ELFONIA-This Sonic Landscape (The Note Garden Records)
It’s 2005 now. ELFONIA has signed a deal with The Note Garden Records. Their music sounds a bit more adventurous on this second release, I think. Still the vocals of Marcela hold a prominent place within their sound, but there is much more space for the instrumental parts. However, their sound has become more accessible and it’s much brighter. It doesn’t sound quite so dark anymore. And besides influences of THE GATHERING and GENESIS, I’d like to add names of EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER and PINK FLOYD to this list. Another remarkable fact is, that the band line up remained unchanged, which is a good thing. In “Camaleón”, we even get to hear a guitar solo by Arjen Lucassen. Mr. AYREON is now a guest player on the album of ELFONIA! And from the first chords on, you will surely recognise the sound of Arjen. I think, it’s also the heaviest song on this album. The last track “Gigantes” consists of three different parts, simply called “I”, “II” and “III”. These twelve songs together have a total playing time of about a full hour. The only negative thing, I would like to add here is, that the band could have spend a little more attention to the CD cover art, because both sleeves could have been made by two year old children and they are far below the average level of CD covers, that I’ve seen in my life. Besides this minor detail, you can definitely see a firm growth in this symphonic rock band from Mexico. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ENTER TWILIGHT-The Inner Verse (independent)
Here’s another new CD coming from Australia. And again it was submitted to us by our good friend Peter Fundeis, for which we want to thank him very much. This time we’re dealing with ENTER TWILIGHT, a five-piece band, that exists since 1998, although their foundations were already laid in 1997 by Damir and Lidia. They also present us their debut album, which contains seven songs and about fifty-five minutes of progressive power metal. ENTER TWILIGHT consists of Leigh Askew on keyboards, John Wauchoppe on drums, Richard Hausberger on guitars, Damir Sisak on guitars and Lidia Szymczak on vocals. Once, the band had a second female band member in Jenny Ferugia, who played keyboards, but she left after two years or so. Robert Laghi played bass guitar on some of the songs on this album, but in the meantime they have found a steady bass player in Dean Gaudoin. If I had to search for a good comparison to ENTER TWILIGHT, I’d come up with NIGHTWISH. Lidia’s soprano voice, and the bombastic sound of the band, make sure that this isn’t such a bad choice. There are worse bands to be compared with. This doesn’t mean though, that the band is a typical copycat of NIGHTWISH, because their music shows much more diversity and it sounds a lot heavier. When “Eternal” starts, I hear some KATE BUSH in the voice of Lidia, but that’s only for a few seconds. The songs of ENTER TWILIGHT are long and contain some lengthy instrumental parts sometimes, in which the musicians show their talents. Longest song is “Memories”, that clocks in over ten minutes. I am glad, that I got this opportunity to check out this well-talented band from Australia. Wanna read more about them? Just go to: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FIREBALL MINISTRY-Their Rock Is Not Our Rock (Century Media)
I simply love the music of FIREBALL MINISTRY! It contains a good calibre of CATHEDRAL, MOLLY HATCHET, AC/DC, MOTÖRHEAD, KISS, BLUE OYSTER CULT, OZZY OSBOURNE and BLACK SABBATH. Their older albums are a bit heavier, and slowly they tend to sound a little bit more ‘middle of the road’ in a way. However, the basic ingredients are still the same. Low-pitched vocals, a pumping heavy rhythm, and some good guitar solos. Music to enjoy on the long highways of America. Dead honest rock and roll to the max, but less doomy, than they used to sound on their previous albums. I don’t know if this has something to do with the departure of former L7-member Janis Tanaka. Fact is, she has left the band inbetween albums. The line up of FIREBALL MINISTRY anno 2006 consists of James A Rota II on guitar and vocals, Emily J Burton on guitar and backing vocals, Johny Chow on bass and John Oreshnick on drums. Still, the beat goes on and on and the band knows to play some respectable greasy steaming rock music. They don’t care about the latest hypes and fashions, and they just do their thing. And that’s something, that I respect a lot. Somehow though, the magic has gone a bit on this album, despite the massive pile of amplifiers on the front cover of the album. This forty-five minute ten tracker also contains the video clip for “Sundown” as an extra bonus for the fans. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE FLAIRS-The Flairs (independent)
THE FLAIRS are from British Columbia, Canada, but nowadays they operate from Toronto. Two band members from THE FLAIRS played in a band, called TUULI. Regular readers of our magazine might remember this name, I think. The band is completed by the female guitarist of BIF NAKED, who added her little brother to the line up. The debut album of THE FLAIRS consists of fourteen songs with a kick ass attitude, and a high level of catchy choruses . Think about BIF NAKED, THE DONNAS and AVRIL LAVIGNE here. Enough guitars to be reviewed here and with a lot of potential to be played on the local radio stations. Remarkable fact is, that they open this self-titled debut album with the SKID ROW cover “18 & Life”. “Falling Into Pieces” has got a more punky attitude to it, while “Forgotten” has got that same power. It’s not strange, that the band appeared as THE RAMONES at the Hair Ball, where local bands dress up like their favorites and play a cover set of this particular band. As you can see, the music of THE FLAIRS is definitely heavier than the music of TUULI. Right in the middle of the album, the band cranks out a cover of BILLY IDOL’s “Rebel Yell”. Pure sweat ‘n roll is what you’re gonna get, so to speak. The band has already played with DAVID LEE ROTH, and I think that there will be more to come in the near future. The first step to an international breakthrough is made with this catchy punkrock album. Fourteen songs with a total running time of about fifty minutes is what you get. THE FLAIRS consist of Gillian Hanna (ex-BIF NAKED) on guitar, Ryan Hanna on bass, Dawn Mandarino (ex-TUULI) on guitar and vocals and Jen Foster (ex-TUULI) on drums. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HYDROGYN-Bombshell (DARecords LLC)
This band was recommened to us by TWILIGHT ODYSSEY’s guitarist Ben Asaro. Thanks Ben, without your help, this review would not have been possible. And Ben did an excellent job here, because we’re dealing with one of the very few new bands, that is not scared to play straight forward hard rock or classic rock. Rock to fill huge arenas and stadiums. Throwing you back in time about twenty years ago, when it was still cool to let your hair hang down and bang your head to the sound of AC/DC or any other famous band back in those days. I name AC/DC with a reason here, but more about that later on. Let’s first introduce HYDROGYN a bit closer to you. We have Jerry Lawson on drums, Dave Moody on bass, Chris Stewart on guitar, Jeff Westlake on guitar and Julie on vocals. Straight forward ‘in-your-face’ hard rock with influences of bands like WHITESNAKE, SKID ROW, GUNS ‘N’ ROSES, CINDERELLA, HEART, DEF LEPPARD and of course AC/DC. A song like “Breaking Me Down” would not have looked bad on any of the later WHITESNAKE albums for example. Yes, there is a little touch of “Still Of The Night” in there, but you will probably only recognise it, if you’re a hundred and six years old, like me. Young people, who dig this sound, won’t even give it a moment’s thought. Most of the songs on this album will make your adrenaline level rise. And if the sound of the band doesn’t take care of that, the looks of Julie will definitely do the job. I like her clear sound. She’s not a screamer, and you can easily understand what she is singing about. The album contains fourteen tracks, and has a total running time of about fifty minutes. Last but not least, the album was produced by Michael Wagener, who we know for his work with million selling acts like OZZY OSBOURNE, SKID ROW and ALICE COOPER. Not a bad accomplishment, when you realize that the band only consists about two and a half years now. There is still a market for bands like HYDROGYN, because their music is timeless. Perfect for long highways, a night in a bar playing pool, or at a festival with 200,000 people shouting and screaming - you name it! The sky is the limit for this band. It’s a bomber, it’s a bomber! Oh, and before I forget it: here’s the link with AC/DC!! They do an excellent cover of “Back In Black”, which should be an important reason to buy yourself a copy of “Bombshell”. Julie’s voice sounds a bit like P.J. of TWILIGHT ODYSSEY here. Cool! HYDROGYN is a name to remember. Julie’s ‘naughty’ picture (HEEEEEEEELP, this girl is on fire!!!!) signed with “Keep Rocking” is hanging above my bed now. Not that I need to be reminded, but it surely reminds me that hard rock is still alive because of bands like this (nudge, nudge, wink wink, say no more!). Need I say more? I will definitely try to get in touch with Julie and this band, because they scream for more attention. To be continued. Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JADED-Jaded (independent)
Last year it was SCARLET ANGEL, who rocked our world. This year, it is JADED! The press map they send us is quite IMPRESSIVE, to say the least. Their looks (high heels and lots of glitter, glamour, latex and looooooong hair), their music, the CD, the way they write their name, the pictures of the ladies, it’s all too good to be true. From opener “Get Up”, my fist goes straight in the air. This is the sound, that I would like to hear. Think about GIRLSCHOOL, WASP or KISS - it’s all there. Catchy, yet still very heavy indeed. I hope, they will have a stable line up, so we can enjoy this band for a long, long time, because there is a lot of hidden talent in these four ladies, that go by the name of JADED. The line up of the band consists of Julie Steel on vocals, Britt Lightning on guitars and vocals, Abbey Dragon on bass and vocals and Hillary Blaze on drums and vocals. All together, they are a dream come true for every true rocker out there. Okay, sometimes a song like “Fire” may sound too modest for people, who only dig the hundred miles per hour speed monsters. But when I hear the opening riffs in “Tragic”, I know for sure we’re dealing with some hot, well-talented ladies here. Just listen to a song like “We’ll Be Strong” or “Fever” (is that Eddie Van Halen playing a guitar solo??) and I bet, that you’re dying to hear more from these four ass kicking ladies. The band has already shared the stage with great names like DAMAGE PLAN, GEORGE LYNCH, SKID ROW, STRYPER, TESLA and WASP. I guess, they even made Blackie Lawless look pale after their show. They are ANIMALS, they R*ck like a beast! I will sacrifice myself to enter the lion’s den and I kindly ask for permission to do an interview with these four ‘Metal Maidens Of Steel’, as they like to call themselves. If you do not hear from me anymore after this review, dial 911 and ask for help immediately. I take the risk, because I urgently need to be JADED! Killer stuff, full score, no further questions please and for more information go to: http:// [10 points- FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

LANA LANE-10th Anniversary Concert (Think Tank Media)
This is the review of the CD of this CD/DVD set. The DVD review is to be found in our DVD section. Life is that simple sometimes. Okay, back to reality now, ladies and gentlemen. This is a live CD, that celebrates LANA LANE’s tenth anniversary as a band. It contains seventeen songs and about eighty minutes of high quality prog rock music. The CD was recorded live in Tokyo, Japan, on June 30th, 2005. In fact, I could close my review here. Statements like LANA LANE, a live CD and eighty minutes of high quality music, would already be enough to force you to run to your local record store. But although life could be simple sometimes, I won’t make it too simple. I want to give you some more recommendations here. First of all, there’s the line up of the band. Besides long-term members Lana Lane on vocals and Erik Norlander behind the keyboards, we hear Mark McCrite on guitar and vocals, Monty Python connaisseur Kristoffer Gildenlöw on bass and vocals (from whom we heard, that he has recently left his other band PAIN OF SALVATION unfortunately!), four-legged drummer Ernst van Ee kicking the shit out of his kit, and guitar shredder pur sang Peer Verschuren. Six maestros of prog rock on one CD! And the jewelry box goes wide open, leaving the listener behind astonishing and their mouth wide open. If you think, well I’ve heard enough LANA LANE live CDs to know what’s on the menue here, then this CD will definately prove you’re wrong. There are a lot of songs here, which have never been played before on a live CD or let alone a live show. And with a rendition of every LANA LANE record (besides the cover CD) to this anniversary package, we can say that this is quite an exclusive overview of the first ten years of the bands career. Add to this, that next to the live CD, you can fully enjoy the whole concert on DVD as well, including two bonus tracks and a video diairy. Plenty of reasons to buy this great package. Enough said now, all you have left to do is to run to your nearest CD store and get yourself a personal dose of the overwhelming warm sound of LANA LANE and her boys. Here’s to the next ten years Lana and Erik….. As a present from Metal Maidens to you for this tenth anniversary release, we give you full score again, and it’s very well deserved. With our compliments! Website: [10 points- FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

NAKED BEGGARS-Spit It Out (S M A Records)
Remember when we wrote about former CINDERELLA members Jeff Labar and Eric Brittingham and their new band NAKED BEGGARS? Well, they have just released a new album. The opener sounds brilliant already. Mix TED NUGENT with LED ZEPPELIN and HEART (seventies era) and you’ll get the sound of “ Hole In The Wall”. The beginning is TED NUGENT-like, while the groove comes from THE ZEP, and the psychedelic piece at the end is more HEART-ish. The first riffs of title track “Spit It Out” could be from KISS from the early seventies. But the vocals of Inga Brittingham gives it the HEART touch again. Great guitar sound, by the way! These guys sure know how to rock. They play music, that comes right from their very soul, which I like a lot. Don’t go looking for any resemblance with CINDERELLA, because to be honest with you, this band sounds more pure rock and roll to me. Don’t get me wrong here. CINDERELLA was a fine band in the eighties, and they really knew to impress me with their fine albums, but this music appeals to me a bit more. I love the way the slide guitar is used in “Ain’t Your Mama”. It sounds sleazier, dirtier, more down to earth, and direct than CINDERELLA ever sounded. Besides Eric Brittingham on bass and Jeff Labar on guitar, we hear Inga Brittingham on vocals, Shawn Hughes on drums, Kris Casamento on guitars, and a second metal maiden, who is called Kristine Braswell on keyboards, violin and vocals. The twelve songs on “Spit It Out” have a total running time of about fifty sleazy minutes. The time is filled with loads of variation in sound. The bottom line remains the same. We’re dealing with some fine musicians, cranking out a great sound. Sounds like a great name for the many live festivals in Europe. So promoters, get off your lazy asses and give these Beggars a chance, or they’ll spit it out….right on your desk, you motherf*cker!!! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PISS ANT-Your Best Sucks (independent)
PISS ANT consists of Dave Foster on guitars, Jeff Duarte on drums, Amy Brandt on bass and Josi Kat on vocals. And “Your Best Sucks” contains thirteen songs, with a total running time of about forty-five minutes. The band mixes lovely sixties like music with loud riffs and exciting screaming vocals. Wonder how this sounds? Just push the ‘play’ button and they’ll shove you thirteen loud tracks down your throath. Riot Grrrl rockers may like this, but also people who dig the old sound of let’s say CLAWFINGER will like this exciting mix of styles. Sweet vocals lines alternate with screaming vocals, sounding aggressively loud. KITTIE would be a good comparison here maybe. The music of the band appeared on Playboy TV, and maybe this was the best promotion stunt for the band ever. But let’s focus on the musical capabilities by this band, because that’s what it’s all about. Groovy rhythms fill my room during “Silence”. I am not too fond about new music styles, but when it has the groove like in this song, I can enjoy it a lot. “Whips & Chains”…..sometimes a title can tell you more than a thousand words. It’s definitely one of the better songs on this album for me. What power! Great drum sound, too! The band also kicks out a short version of “Trouble”, which I know best in the version of IAN GILLAN. They changed it and poured their own sauce over it. Now you’re in for trouble! “Pull”, the lengthy closer of the album sounds weird, if you compare it to the rest of the album. It sounds so depressing! The long time is made up by the actual song and an hidden version of some rock classics sung in an acapella version. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

REGICIDE-Break The Silence (F.A.M.E. Recordings)
Whereas a lot of magazines compare this band to SKYCLAD, I wouldn’t dare to make this comparison, because the sound of this band has got not much in common with SKYCLAD, in my eyes. I’d rather think about THE GATHERING with violins or something like that. “Break The Silence” is the follow up album to “Viorus”, which I have never heard unfortunately. The band already played shows with names like SCHANDMAUL, IN EXTREMO, LEAVES EYES, AUTUMN, HAGGARD and SUBWAY TO SALLY, and if you think in this direction, you’ll know what to expect of the sound of REGICIDE. Male and female vocals constantly switch one another, and here and there we hear some nice, heavy guitar riffs like in title track “Break The Silence” and “A World Without Oceans”. For the title track, the band also recorded a video clip, by the way. Listening to the whole album though, there are not too many of these heavy outbursts on it, and everything sounds pretty warm and relaxing. So a good suggestion for the true metal freak would be to leave this product for what it is. However, when you’re very open-minded and you dig the names of the bands mentioned earlier in this review, then I’d suggest to lend these ten tracks an ear and enjoy it. Highlight of the album is the long epic “An Embracing Space Part III – Part III Eclipsing Lights”. REGICIDE consists of Til Kasmann on drums, Malte Hunold on bass, Jan Jansen on guitar, Jonna Wilms on violin, Heiner Jaspers on piano, Timo Südhoff on vocals and Frauke Richter on vocals. Everything more you want to know about this German folk metal band is available on their website at: [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SAEKO-Life (Armageddon Productions/Rock Inc.)
The first album by this Japanese singer already promised much for the future. On her second album “Life”, she matured her sound and the songs, like they’re really finished. Whereas the debut album still sounded a bit like a haste job. The eleven melodic power metal songs have a total running time of about fifty-five minutes. The opener will put you in the wrong direction for a moment. But this is just a short opener. Then we get the real thing by this lady, who also plays piano and keyboards on the album. Besides Saeko Kitamae, the band consists of Michael Ehre (METALIUM) on drums and rhythm guitar. Other musicians include Mariko Inoue on bass (ex-FAIRY MIRROR) and Satoko Yanagase on guitar, who are both female musicians from Japan and close friends of SAEKO. “Tears Of Life” is a very cool headbanger, while “Sa-ku-ra” is another uptempo rock song, sung in the Japanese language this time. Lars Ratz (also METALIUM) produced the album. Okay, there you have it. Think in the direction of a band like METALIUM and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what to expect, musically. Good melodic power metal with strong female vocals. As the title suggests already, “The World Of Pain” is a ballad with a fantastic guitar solo. “Sky” is another ballad, but this one explodes into an uptempo headbanger halfway through. Fasten your seat belts ladies and gentlemen, because this “Sky” is the limit. Next up, we get “The Call In Us”, which is very powerful. SAEKO has already shared the stage with bands like DORO and BLAZE, and she also played at Wacken Open Air 2005, which is quite an accomplishment when living two years in Germany. The CD closes with a Japanese version of the FRANK SINATRA classic “My Way” (also done by HERMAN BROOD and SID VICIOUS). A nice way to end a strong new album. Saeko brings metal with an exotic taste and lots of excitement and that’s what it’s all about. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SCARLET SINS-Reborn (EP) (independent)
SCARLET SINS hail from Canada and they consist of Sylvia Niewinski on vocals, Cris Canas on guitar and vocals, Karli Forget on drums and vocals, and Yvonne Dablah on bass and vocals. Yes, you got that right, this is an all-female outfit, ready to rock your world. The band was founded in 2004, and this is their debut EP, which was officialy released at the end of 2005. The five songs on this EP have a total running time of about nineteen hot minutes. They open with the dark, groovy title track “Reborn”. I liked the mood swing at the end of this song a lot. It proves, that we’re dealing with some experienced musicians here, that don’t play any simple one-riff ‘scream and shout’ songs. “Drown” starts off quite sober too, with the gloomy sound of Yvonne’s bass. The vocals sound a bit grungy in the beginning, but later on it gets happier, while the bass is now playing a definate BLACK SABBATH-like rhythm. And again, the instrumental part at the end of the song shows us, these girls really know how to add some variation to a song, without making it too complex. “Backstabber” opens again dark and grungy, very SOUNDGARDEN-ish. This will probably appeal to many music lovers out there, simply because it contains a lot of groove and variation. “Above Ground” is on next. I hear some influences of a band like NICKELBACK here. Especailly the way, that Chad Kroeger’s band plays their ballads and radio hits. It’s groovy, it’s loud, but still with a subtile, sober undertone. “Alive” closes the EP. It’s another three minute song, compact and yet with the necessary variation and groove in it. Again the rhythm (this time it’s the drums) sounds a bit like BLACK SABBATH. Yes, these ladies sound good. They look good too, and they know how to rock! If my information is right, they have recently toured with the Canadian rockers of HELIX. That must have been quite an experience. I hope to trap these girls for an interview soon, because this band needs some further introduction. Check out this EP, and let them rock your world. You will feel ‘Reborn’ afterwards! Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SENGIR-Sign Of Devotion (Buzzville Records/Suburban)
It’s good to hear some music again from our neighbours in the south. SENGIR are from Belgium and they present us their second album “Sign Of Devotion”. In 2003, they released their debut album “Guilty Water”, which really got the ball rolling or them. Many times they played in our country, and supported great names like NIGHTWISH, EPICA, AFTER FOREVER and ORPHANAGE. They played at the Female Metal Voices Fest twice and even made it to the bill of Graspop 2005. Quite an accomplishment for a band with just one CD. This second album contains eleven tracks and has a running time of about fifty minutes. Already in opener “Calling”, I can picture masses of hair waving in the air, in my imagination. “Time” sounds a bit more bombastic and sober. The music of SENGIR is not the regular gothic rock, if that’s what you think. They keep their music far more exciting by adding longer instrumental parts to their songs, which gives it a slightly progressive character sometimes. And they sound far away from the bombastic sound of EPICA and WITHIN TEMPTATION for example. They sound more like for example THE GATHERING, which they can see as a big compliment. Ellen’s vocals can easily be compared to the sound of Anneke van Giersbergen. “Day You Take Me Over” is a very emotionally song and it easily became one of the highlights to me. The vocals of Ellen are crystal clear and she pronounces every word so well, it’s a real joy to listen to her. Another highlight was a song, called “Disbelief”. SENGIR may not be the average gothic rock band anymore. They’ve created a face of their own now. All things are difficult before they are easy, but I am sure this band can become really big, if they continue making beautiful music like this. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SHADOWLORD-Batavorum (Black Label Management)
My stereo indicates there are sixty-six songs on this forty-minute CD. Now that’s what I call value for money! In reality there are eight tracks, but sixty-six looks so much more spectacular. And this spectacularity fits very well to the overwhelming sound on this second SHADOWLORD album. “Legion X” is the perfect opener. A streamroller with many decibels enters your room. And when everybody is awake, we get to hear the dark, slower title track “Batavorum”, which is an ancient name for the hometown of this septet from Holland, Nijmegen. The centre part of the CD consists of the song “Moenen En Mariken”, which is introduced with some sedate violin playing. Then the band tells you the story of Moenen and Mariken in their own language. And I must say, that I was very impressed by it. You don’t hear too many death or black metal bands sing about historic facts in their own language. Putting the band in a whole different perspective, which distinguishes them from almost every other death and black metal band in the scene. As a bonus track, they have also recorded an English version of this masterpiece. And if that isn’t enough, they’ve added the video clip for this special song as a multimedia part on the CD. Check it out!You will enjoy it a lot. The music of SHADOWLORD is powerful, furious and brutal, and you’ll have to pay some special attention to the growls of Marit Pietersen. I really don’t know what she has been drinking in the last few years, but I bet it won’t be orange juice. She screams like a witch brought to the gallow’s pole. Her icely screams will even get Lucifer decide to put another piece of wood on his hellfire! There aren’t too many ladies, who can beat her. Another strong point, in which SHADOWLORD overrules their collegues in the scene. SHADOWLORD consists of Richèl Miseroy on guitar, Daphne Alberda on keyboards, Ruud Nillesen on bass and vocals, Marit Pietersen on vocals, Cor van Maris on voclas, Daniël de Vries on drums (who they called ‘assault battery’ in their bio - a perfect description, my friends!) and Lesley de Santy on guitar and vocals. Enjoy the album, and let “Batavorum” also be a good lesson in history for you. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SHOW YA-20th Anniversary – The Best of Sound And Vision (Toshiba EMI Limited)
We were the first European magazine, that could bring you the news that Japanese all-female cult metal band SHOW YA would reform again for a couple of shows. Result of this reunion is a ‘best of’ CD, that we are reviewing here, and a live DVD, that you can read about in the DVD section. They come together in one package, and the name of this CD is explained here now. The best of sound and vision, the name says it all. Almost no other all-female heavy metal band impressed me more than SHOW YA. And still they are only well-known by a small and select group of die-hard metal fans only. The fifteen track ‘best of’ CD definitely contains the best material available of the band. About sixty-five minutes of musical fireworks, starting with the L.A. mix of “Lovers”. From there on, the songs are sung with so much passion and love for the music, that it is a real treat to sit this one out, until the last notes fade away. Undoubtedly, this band is the best all-female cult metal band. Listen to the powerful drums, the stunning bass lines and the guitars, that cry out loud. I wonder, whether this release will bring many new fans, but they’ve definitely pleased all the old die-hard fans of the band. If it isn’t for the fifteen metal songs, then it sure is the forty-five minute DVD, that is enclosed here. SHOW YA consists of Miki ‘Sun-Go’ Igarashi on drums, Satomi Senba on bass, Miki ‘Mittan’ Tsunoda on drums, Miki Nakamura on guitars and Keiko Terada on vocals. More info can be obtained from the band's website at: [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

SKEPTICAL MINDS-Rent To Kill (independent)
When times change, people tend to change. Music is also changing. Over the years we have witnessed a switch from rock and roll to psychedelica, hard rock, heavy metal, grunge, black and death metal and nu-metal. That’s the way things go. This band represents the sound of metal in the future, and the world in which we’re living today. Opener “Eat And Hate” appealed a lot to me. But after that, things became rather difficult to comprehend for an old rocker like me. The songs sound static. Lots of strange computerised sounds fill up the industrial like beats. The clear vocals of Kristell are beautiful, and the riffs of the guitar player are loud. But everything around it sounds cold and dark, and it is too distanced frrom the world, that I call heavy metal. I believe, that some gothic metal fans might be able to enjoy this. I won’t say, it’s done bad, or it has a bad sound, but it’s just not my cup of tea. A song like “Watch Your Back” is totally the opposite of what I like to listen to, and what I am searching for in the hard rock and heavy metal scene. Don’t get me wrong here. The band gets raving reviews in a lot of magazines, and people are lyrical about their shows, too, but this is just not my style. If THE GATHERING is not able to represent the sound of today to you anymore, then you must try this CD of SKEPTICAL MIND. It will become a delight to your ears. To me, it’s much too different, and new fashioned, but with nice riffs and great vocals of the metal maiden in the band. Website: [5 points] (Toine van Poorten)

“Storm” is another dark, gothic rock album by the Norwegian kings and queen of this music style, THEATRE OF TRAGEDY. Since Liv Kristine (now LEAVES EYES) left the band in 2003, Nell took over her place. She also sings with a lot of emotion and passion, which we can hear on this promo CD, containing two complete songs and ten samples. Most of these songs come close to the sound, that we already know from this band. Some songs are rather happy in a way. For example “Begin & End”, which stands out for its exceptional quality, in my opinion. I like Nell’s voice a lot. It fits very well to the sound of the band, which is dark and often quite emotional. It’s the music style, they created a long time ago, and still they stick to it. Don’t expect too many surprises here, but expect a continuation of the well-known sound, completed with beautiful female vocals. Nell shows us, that she is the perfect frontlady that THEATRE OF TRAGEDY was looking for, and I think she can be proud of such a good debut CD with this band. Besides Nell (ex-THE CREST), the band consists of Raymond I. Rohonyi on male vocals, Vegard K. Thorsen on guitars, Frank Claussen on guitars, Lorentz Aspen on synths and piano and Hein Frode Hansen on drums. Things will stay dark in Norway. I think, there’s a “Storm” coming up! Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VARIOUS ARTISTS-Beautiful Voices (Nuclear Blast)
What a great sampler! In our DVD section, you can see the review of the DVD, which is in the same boxset. This is a review of the audio CD only, which contains seventeen songs and eighty minutes of loud female-fronted music. Opening with a loooooong version of “Ghost Love Score” of NIGHTWISH. A band, that can not be missed, when you are talking about ‘beautiful voices’. I am not that kind of man, but I had many difficulties how the band treated their singer Tarja Turunen. Dismiss this lady with a simple ‘goodbye-letter’ is not really a nice thing to do after so many years. But let’s go back to the music here. All registers are opened in this particular song, and you get a good idea of the sound of NIGHTWISH at their very best. MANDRAGORA SCREAM from Italy is really something else. It sounds more gothic and mysterious and much darker. They choose for the song “A Vision They Shared” here. But when the guitar solo comes, the train is at full speed. TAPPING THE VEIN is on next with “Butterfly”. This is even leaning towards pop music and ready to hit the charts. Sometimes I hear songs on the radio, that sound a bit like this, so why not a major hit for them? Same goes for the band, who will possibly see their female vocalist leave to NIGHTWISH. I am talking about FLOWING TEARS here, who we can hear with “Razorbliss”. Stafanie’s vocals are much darker though, and less operatic. The cover of the album of L’ ÂME IMMORTELLE shows two kissing Pinheads. I didn’t know that Pinhead had a twin brother. The music of the band is a bit too poppy for me. They added the song “Fear” to this compilation, which is full with annoying computer like sounds. ANGELZOOM teams up with APOCALYPTICA in “Turn The Sky”. Which is in fact a good combination for this romantic ballad like song. EPICA brings back the loud guitars again in their “Dance Of Fate”. In my vision, Simone would be a much better replacement for Tarja in NIGHTWISH, but I am glad that she remains a member of this fantastic Dutch band. TRISTANIA chose to add one of their heavier tracks on this compilation. Especially, the beginning of “Libre”, they sound much different than the average band here. The part, in which Vibeke sings, sounds more modest, but the other parts are rather heavy and wild. XANDRIA from Germany adds some nice guitar riffs to their song “Lioness”. To me, they sound absolutely refreshing, although the refrains were a bit modest again. Not a bad song indeed. Same goes for the rendition of EDENBRIDGE. Not a bad song, good vocal chords and lots of loud guitar riffs. I am fully awake again with “Shine”. Then we get to hear a “Norwegian Lovesong” by LEAVES’ EYES with Liv Kristine. This is a beautiful song for a long winternight. And you have a lot of them in Norway! NEMESEA are new, young Dutch stars on the horizon. It’s good to see, that they’ve been added to this CD. Manda Ophuis is the female frontlady of this band, who contributed “Threefold Law” to this CD. Her crystal clear vocals are a treat to your ears. ELIS are from Liechtenstein, and I remember that I liked their last album “Dark Clouds In A Perfect Sky” a lot. From this album they took the rendition for this CD, which is called “Anger”. They sound very sphereful, without really getting heavy. This is music for the romantic soul deep inside of me, I think. The positive thing is, that the audio CD contains many other bands and different songs, than the ones you can hear and see on the DVD in this package. Dutch ‘metal hopers of the future’ AFTER FOREVER are on next with “Beautiful Emptiness”. It’s another bombastic fantasy song with lots of fast riffs, great vocals and warm sounds and can not be missed on a compilation like this. SIRENIA was a step back for Morten Veland, when he decided to leave TRISTANIA. The sound of his new band comes very close to TRISTANIA, but to me it’s just one division lower than ‘the original’, so to speak. “Euphoria” is the choice of SIRENIA here. Not a bad choice, because of the nice guitar work, but I will not get euphoric about it. MIDNATTSOL brings the uptempo “Lament” here. There are two beautiful, blonde metal maidens in this band, who impressed me with this nice song. And before you know it, the eighty minutes are over and we arrive at the piece of resistance by DORO, who added “All We Are” from her album “Classic Diamonds”. What a great way to end eighty minutes of beautiful female voices. Together with the DVD, it is definitely a must to every reader of our online ‘zine! Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BAD CANDY-More, More, More (CD single) (ZYX Music)
BAD CANDY went through some line up changes. The music became poppier than ever before and I truly doubt if this is still interesting for the readers of Metal Maidens. Nevertheless, we decided to buy this two tracker, that contains a fast song, which you can easily sing along to (“More, More, More”), and a very sensitive ballad (“Waiting”). During these two songs you can hear that these girls have got the potential to write good songs. They are also quite popular because of the TV series, that was made about the band. But they actually never reached the breakthrough they wanted to accomplish, when they started the band. BAD CANDY now consists of Natalie James on vocals, Chantal van Brummelen on guitar and backing vocals, Janneke Nijhuis on bass and Stefanie Salmon on drums. They still have got a lot of goals to archieve, like a debut album for example. But they’re on their way, and destined to move on despite the line up changes. And that’s a good start. The music is only interesting for the younger generation maybe, but with this two tracker, they showed us again that there’s still life in the Bad Candies. For more information, go to or [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLACKMORE’S NIGHT-Streets Of London (CD single) (SPV/Steamhammer)
What a strange choice to pick RALPH McTELL’s “Streets Of London” as the first single from the new album of BLACKMORE’S NIGHT. There are so many other (and perhaps better) songs on “The Village Lanterne” and I already didn’t like the original version much. It’s music for people of fifty or sixty years old, who spend their days in rest on the couch, waiting for their grandchildren to pay them a visit. I like the second song on this single a lot more. It’s a song called “Olde Mill Inn”, and it’s a jolly sing along song, which can become a real classic during the live shows of BLACKMORE’S NIGHT. This review reflects again my mixed feelings about the music of this band. Sometimes it’s joyful, sometimes it’s pretty boring. It’s a shame, they didn’t add any previous unreleased material on this single. I’d definitely wait, until I had a bit more money and buy the full length album. Website: [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CASKET CASEY-Coffin’ Up Bones (EP) (Bloodandguts Records)
CASKET CASEY hails from Sweden and they present us their new four track CD, worthy of about seventeen minutes of dark rock. The front lady of this mysterious band is called Cia Hedmark. The rest of the band consists of Patrick Pettersson on bass, Mattias Marklund on guitars and Stefan Strömberg on drums. Opener “Back To Life” sounds a bit gothic and is an up tempo song with some nice guitar riffs. The second song however is a much better reflection of what I expected to hear after seeing the CD cover with the skull and a red rose in his/her mouth. “Cold Flesh And Bones” is a dark, mysterious sounding , slow kind of doom song. It could easily be used for an old black and white horror movie, especially when listening to the slow instrumental middle part of the song. It creates the spooky atmosphere, that fits quite well with the image of the band. “She’s Been Bad” might sound a bit too happy, but musically it’s quite okay. This MCD was already released somewhere in 2004, but it’s essential enough to spend some words about it here. When recording this four track CD, Cia and Stefan had only joined the band for just one year. The CD closes with “Still”, and from the first notes on of this gothic-like ballad, the spooky atmosphere has returned again. The sound of this band will probably appeal to the many gothic rock fans, but possibly also to rock and metal fans. CASKET CASEY is definitely a name to remember. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EPICA-Quietus (CD single) (Transmission Records)
This single, which is again beautifully shaped on a transparent background, like the previous single release, contains two different versions of two different songs. Worthy of almost eighteen minutes of great gothic power metal in the best EPICA style. First we get the single version of “Quietus (Silent Reverie)”, which we will also find in a more powerful ‘grunt version’ on this single. The previously unreleased track “Crystal Mountain” is also included as an ‘orchestral version’ and in its original form. I liked this song a lot, because it contains a lot of power. The single is available as a limited edition, and I would strongly suggest all EPICA fans out there to buy this nice addition to your collection, if it was only for the previously unreleased track. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MASTERMIND-Broken (EP) (independent)
Wow, an EP worthy of almost forty-five minutes!! I wonder, what the playing time of their new full-length release will be? I remember their previous live CD was almost eighty, brilliant minutes long. This is the new eight track EP of progmeisters MASTERMIND and it’s a pretaster of their brand new album “Insomnia”. The first chords of title track “Broken” could very well have been the intro of “Tom Sawyer” by RUSH. Then the band continues with a slow and slightly doomy song, reminding me of LANA LANE in a way and consider this is a big compliment! Together with “Break Me Down”, it will be on their forthcoming album. I had to accustom myself to their sound for the first time, after I hearing these new songs. They sound slightly different than before, but with this second song I got that good old feeling back from their previous releases. Another nice surprise was “Weak & Powerless”, a cover by A PERFECT CIRCLE, which contains many progressive influences as well. But again it sounds different and it’s not easy to explain in what way. Fact is, this band captures some of the finest musicians, that know how to write, create and perform a good solid song. Prove is given on the next four live tracks. The lengthy “Queen Of Sheba”, the well-known classical track “William Tell Overture” (ROSSINI), another lengthy song called “A Million Miles Away” and the SKIP JAMES cover “I’m So Glad”. I must admit, that I liked the ‘live’ part best. The old material still sounds very fresh, performed by the new line up. Listen to the great guitar sound of ‘mastermind’ Bill Berends himself on guitar, synths and vocals, the solid rhythm sounds of Bill’s brother Rich Berends on drums and Laura Johnson on bass guitar and vocals. The female vocals are done by Tracy McShane. These people simply play everything. Prog rock, classical arrangements, doomy, dark and moody songs, blues, etc. You name it and they play it. The last song on this EP is an extended mix of title track “Broken”. I am really looking forward to the new album after hearing this fantastic pre-taster. Showing us, that MASTERMIND is completely back again after a too long absence of almost five years. On the first two songs, we also hear the keyboard playing of former YNGWIE J MALMSTEEN, DIO, STRATOVARIUS keyboard wizard Jens Johansson. MASTERMIND knows to surprise me with every release. We have already scheduled an interview with Bill Berends, which will hopefully become a nice read to all the fans, while listening to this EP or the new album “Insomnia”, due out later this year. You can buy “Broken” directly from the band through the internet. Go to their website and find all the information at: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

McQUEEN-Running Out Of Things To Say (CD single) (Furry Tongue Records)
McQUEEN is an all-female rock band from Brighton, England. With this two track single, they show us that the band is capable of writing some catchy and hot rocking songs. The single starts with a ballsy rocker, called “Running Out Of Things To Say”, which contains some great guitarwork. “Life Support Icu” is darker, yet still very catchy. It sounds typical English and I can believe that the live shows these girls have pulled out, must have been quite spectacular and powerful. And they’ve shared the stage already with veried names like THE KAISER CHIEFS, CHEAP TRICK, THE SLITS, L.A. GUNS, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE and THE FOO FIGHTERS. Quite impressive names, if you take in account that the band only exists of a couple of years now. But this shows that there is a lot of potential in these four ladies. McQUEEN consists of Leah Duors on hoarse vocals, Hayley Cramer smashing the drum kit, Cat de Casanova on sleazy guitar and Sophie Taylor pounding out the bass lines. Their debut album will be called “You Had It Coming To Ya”, and it will be released later on this year. If you want to see more of this band, just put this single in your PC and watch the video of the title track “Running Out Of Things To Say”. I’m running out of things to say too, so I suggest that you collect more information about this band from their website [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STREAM OF PASSION-Out In The Real World (CD single) (Inside Out Music)
Now this is an interesting release, because next to the single “Out In The Real World”, we are treated to three non-album tracks, and one of them is a LED ZEPPELIN cover. Need I say more? All together worthy of a little bit over twenty minutes of the excellent STREAM OF PASSION sound. I will mainly focus on the non-album tracks here, because they’re the most interesting ones. First up, we get the song “Computer Eyes”, opening with some PINK FLOYD-like guitar work to create the right atmosphere, which is dark and sober. When the riffs starts halfway, it is clear to me that this is one of the better STREAM OF PASSION songs. Why didn’t it make the CD, I kindly ask myself? We also hear the additional vocals of Marcela’s sister Diana Bovio in this song, and on the two songs afterwards. “Pain” was co-written by Devin Townsend. Don’t expect any eccentric outings or ultra wild outbursts here. They nicely kept this song very down to earth, which you wouldn’t expect from a weird nutty professor like Devin. The LED ZEPPELIN cover I talked about is not an odd choice, but the band opted for “When The Levee Breaks” from “Led Zeppelin III”. Lori cranks up her guitar here, and we can speak of a quite heavy song. It’s definitely worth buying this single release, because these songs are perhaps even better than the ones that landed on the album. Chapeau, Mr. Lucassen! Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: May 21, 2006]