CD REVIEWS


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


November/December 2005:

ABIGAIL’S MERCY-Salvation (Casket Music)
Nice name for a gothic metal band, or need I say gothic rock band? Anyway, I hear influences of older gothic bands like SISTERS OF MERCY or a heavier version of THE MISSION. Maybe SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK is a good reference to describe the music of ABIGAIL’S MERCY. The band consists of Lindsey on vocals, Steve on bass and vocals (who sounds very much like Lee Dorian of CATHEDRAL in a certain way), John on lead guitar, Terry on rhythm guitar and Mark on drums. The songs contain quite a lot of power (“Just For You”, “Meaningless”), but at other times, they also cut back speed a little like in a song, called “Sarah”. Listening to the nice guitar work here for example, I would choose for the gothic metal option to describe ABIGAIL’S MERCY’s sound. The eleven tracks on this debut album give us a good idea of what ABIGAIL’S MERCY is all about. Their songs rock very well, they have two good singers and they put a lot of variation in their songs. However, if this is enough to become the next hype, remains to be seen, because the trick has been done many times before. Which doesn’t mean, that if you do things right, you can get very far. One of the highlights on this CD, which has a playing time of about fifty minutes, is a song called “Ashes”, which has a surprisingly speed change in the middle, and some furious guitar playing in the second part of the song. The eleventh bonus song on this CD, which is not mentioned anywhere, is a nice instrumental track. ABIGAIL’S MERCY will do a co-headlining tour in the UK with SEASON’S END and WITHOUT FACE. It will be the next step on the ladder of succes for this new English band. Website: http://www.abigailsmercy.co.uk. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ALIX-Ground (Go Down Records)
The sound of ALIX, who are hailing from Italy, brings me back with both feet into the seventies. Whereas this music style is called stoner rock nowadays, I think the roots were laid down in this period already. But if you translate it to the modern times, you would call this stoner rock. Think about KYUSS or QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, and you’ll come close to the sound of ALIX. Let’s first introduce the band to you. We have Alice Albertazzi on vocals and cymbals, Pippo de Palma on guitars and didgeridoo, Franco Romanelli on bass and slide guitar and Andrea Insuna on drums. The bass is turned down real low, the drums are pounding out a steady beat, and a woolly voice sings the lyrics, while the guitar player creates the seventies atmosphere with a lot of groovy rhythms and a lot of fuzzy guitar sounds. Sometimes the speed may be just a little bit too high, like in “I’ll Be Gone”, but we can hear that there are some highly skilled musicians playing here. This song goes seamless over into “Fun”. While in “Spirit”, they even put the speed up a little more. The real fuzzy, warm, seventies feel is clearly present in “Like A Flood”, which feels like a warm blanket on a cold winter night, protecting your body against the downsizing temperatures outside. In “Love”, the vocals are a bit too mellow for me, but they match very well with the lyrics that way of course. It would have been nice, if the instrumental parts on the album would have been a little bit longer maybe, but that’s just a minor detail. The CD contains nine songs and it is worthy about forty-five minutes of Italian desert rock. “Ground” is already the fourth album of the band. Website: http://www.alix.bo.it. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BENEDICTUM-Uncreation (Locomotive Music/Rock Inc.)
The gossip is true, that’s my conclusion after hearing these eleven tracks and fifty-five minutes of mighty fine heavy metal on this debut disc. BENEDICTUM certainly is the next hot band in the metal scene. The band started out their career as BOUND, and they hail from San Diego, California, where collegues like WARRIOR, ROUGH CUTT and the mighty PSYCHOTIK WALTZ also breathe their music from. The sound of BENEDICTUM is fresh and bears some touches of SAVATAGE (“Benedictum” and the long and great sounding “Valkyrie Rising”) and DIO, but they gave the original sound of these bands a new, fresh boost. Raw riffs are mixed with pounding metal drums and chanting vocal lines (in the style of DIO). Taking their sound a little bit away from the traditional themes you might expect. BENEDICTUM consists of Pete Wells on guitar, Chris Morgan on keyboards, Blackie Sanchez on drums, Jesse Wright on bass and Veronica Freeman on vocals. Veronica is not a new name to the readers of Metal Maidens. She used to sing in a band called MALADY, and some readers might still remember our review in MM#23 (March 2001). Pete Wells also played in MALADY, by the way. The band has been discovered by DIO guitar player Craig Goldy, and the album was produced by DOKKEN bass player Jeff Pilson. It’s always good to have some well-known friends in this business and they always look good on your c.v. Not that they need this, because when it comes to creating good new songs, they still have to do everything by themselves of course. And creating good songs is something that you can definitely leave up to BENEDICTUM, if you’d ask my opinion. On “Uncreation”, you’ll also be able to enjoy two BLACK SABBATH (DIO-era) covers. Halfway the album, you’ll find a long version of “Heaven And Hell”. At first you won’t recognise this classic anthem, which proves that they have given their own twist to it. I would instantly recognise the original in the very first seconds, but this time I had to listen carefully, and finally when the vocals started, it became obvious that this was the SABBATH classic they were covering here. At the end of the CD, they do the same with “The Mob Rules”. They don’t make songs like that anymore in 2005, so why don’t you give this expensive heritage back to the youth of today with new versions (or covers, if you like). Good thinking, especially when you can say that you added your own vision to the song, and gave it your special mark, like BENEDICTUM did. This album is an essential buy for every metal fan of today, who has got a big place in his heart for traditional metal bands as well. BENEDICTUM brings the metal back to San Diego, and at Metal Maidens, we love them for that. Brilliant release! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BOLT THROWER-Those Once Loyal (Metal Blade)
This is album number eight already of BOLT THROWER. And with this new album, they celebrate the comeback of singer Karl Willetts. The rest of the line up remained the same. We hear Martin Kearns on drums, Gavin Ward on guitar, Barry Thomson on guitar and mighty Jo Bench on bass guitar. The band creates the same sound, that SLAYER once created in their highlight years. Although the growling voice of Karl is much darker and less screaming than Tom Araya. Their guitar solos are as sharp as a razor blade though. War is the main topic in the lyrics of BOLT THROWER, which makes them the ultimate British ‘war ensemble’ to me. It’s great to hear Karl back on the old nest, after Dave Ingramm left the band, right before they would play at the German Rock Hard festival. What a shame, they couldn’t make it there, because their live reputation is really excellent. Their studio albums are also something to look out for, because BOLT THROWER knows to produce a really clean sound for an underground style like death metal is in fact. Their compositions are compact and full with power. It’s a shame though, that their albums only lasts about forty minutes. But the nine songs, that are on it, show us they’re all of a very high standard. There is no room for fillers here and every song is a potential classic for all the death metal fans out there. The promo disc contains the full album, but it’s no use copying it for your friends, ‘cause in almost every song, someone tells you, that you’re listening to the new album of BOLT THROWER-“Those Once Loyal”, which will be out on Metal Blade, in November. A new way of making sure, that no one will copy these free promo discs. When the last notes fade of “When Cannons Fade”, better start hitting the ‘replay’ button on your stereo, to relive this mini war in forty steaming minutes. BOLT THROWER will celebrate their twentieth birthday in 2006. Don’t miss their live shows over here in Holland, or somewhere near your place. Don’t say, we didn’t warn you! Website: http://www.boltthrower.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KATE BUSH-Aerial (EMI)
Where do you start, when you have to review the new album of KATE BUSH? This lady is untouchable, and most of her music is of such a high standard, that already when you type her name, the consequences are that you’ll give the released product the full score. After an absence of sixteen years, things may change a lot, of course. So I’d better give this a good listen, before I do something weird and give the full score to a miserable sounding CD, full of lalala songs, that have no class at all. But when I open the gatefold sleeve, and have a look through the booklet of this new double CD, I immediately get the shivers all over. I’ll start preparing myself for a real treat and let it all go, not really knowing what to expect. The CDs are called “A Sea Of Honey” and “A Sky of Honey”. On the inner sleeve, we see how a flying snow white pigeon could easily look like a white shirt hanging to dry in the blowing wind. Already two beautiful examples of artistic freedom, that fits very well to (the sometimes eccentric) Kate. From opener “King Of The Mountain” on, it all sounds like magic. It’s like time stood still for Kate, and if I have to judge her looks by the one pic inside the beautiful CD booklet, then I can almost say that she even looks younger than she ever did. Kate herself plays piano and keyboards and with a handful of highly skilled musicians, she shows us how beautiful music can be. Mind you, it’s not heavy at all, but it’s full of atmosphere and every single note that is played here, is in the right place. All in all, with the nice booklet containing all the lyrics, this release is a very special comeback album. CD one times approx. thirty-eight minutes, while CD two plays approx. forty-two minutes; together worthy of eighty minutes of beauty on two silver discs. The first disc is the more ‘sunny’, ‘happy’ side of “Aerial”, whereas the second disc sounds a bit dark, and musically more back to basic, like poems backed by piano music taking me to another dimension. A world, where there is no hate and no war, and I only see bright colours and a sun, that shines continuously. Am I in a deep trance, or in heaven? I really don’t know. I only know, that this heavenly feeling of floating on the wind above the most beautiful landscapes full of green fields, colourful butterflies, high hills and long stretched forrests with castles and waterfalls suddenly disappears, when the music stops. I am back again on Mother Earth, after a journey of eighty magic minutes on a magic carpet with Kate sitting next to me. And everytime I feel sad or lonely, I just have to put on this CD, step on the magic carpet and fly away. I think, that nobody else can make this happen, other than this woman. She alone can give you the feeling, that you’re in love again for the very first time. It’s a feeling, that you’ll witness once in a lifetime, and it’s something I can’t describe. It’s the same feeling, that I get, when listening to the sixteen artistic outings of an artist, that has been away for much too long. Welcome back, Kate! You alone can make this world beautiful. You can make the sun shine. You can make all my troubles disappear. Thank you very much for that. Website: http://www.katebush.com. [10 points - full score] (Toine van Poorten)

DAINA SOLA-Luna De Angel (Keloo)
DAINA SOLA hails from Spain and on this album, we hear eleven songs in about fifty minutes. The first three songs are like a fast rollercoaster ride, without any breaks. The interesting part starts with the fourth song, title track “Luna De Angel”. Vanesa Zareo sounds like a female singer in the band of YNGWIE MALMSTEEN. Well, at least in these first three songs. We also hear some influences of bands like EDGUY or HELLOWEEN, and you can even add touches of NIGHTWISH, DARK MOOR and IRON MAIDEN to that list. The songs are definitely not bad at all, but after a while, they tend to repeat themselves. Nonethelesss, we can say that the music and vocals are all done very well. “Recuerdo” is a little piece of rest between all the fast and powerful songs on this album. An album, that is perhaps less accessible than any other average album, because all lyrics are sung in the Spanish language. The music is very well done though, and also vocal-wise, the album sounds quite okay. A nice band to check out. Thanks to our friend Rainer Krukenberg for making this review possible. [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MELISSA ETHERIDGE-Greatest Hits-The Road Less Traveled (Island Records)
Although I miss some songs on this compilation album by giant rock icon MELISSA ETHERIDGE, we can definitely speak of a good ‘Greatest Hits’ release here. We all know the sad story of Melissa, who suffered from breast cancer. The fact, that she has been recovering from this terrible disease, already shows that we’re dealing with a lady, who is not afraid to fight hard, very hard. Not only in this situation, but also in her musical career. Other musicians would have left the arena after a few years, and spend the millions of dollars, they had earned with their hit single(s). Not this lady. She keeps on writing great albums, brilliant songs and playing excellent live shows, she keeps on touring and she’s enjoying every second of it. She also keeps smiling and with this attitude, she can give many people the strength to fight for their lives too, which makes her an artist, who is really one of a kind. You may think about Melissa whatever you want, but listening to the songs on this CD, which plays for over seventy minutes, you can’t deny that the years have been very successful for this hard working lady. The seventeen tracks on this CD are like a diary of a woman’s life and all the songs come straight from her heart. The opener is a cover though. I never liked the music of TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS, and even “Refugee” is no exception to this. But from there on, it’s like a jukebox full of hits. A nice surprise for the fans is the studio version of JANIS JOPLIN’s “Piece Of My Heart”, which I think is very suitable for the repertoire of Melissa. The album also contains a brand new song, called “I Run For Life”, that is written with the support of Ford and their Fordcares initiative to raise funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer. Like I told you earlier, her songs are right from the heart. I’ve always seen Melissa as the female version of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. Enjoy great songs like “Like The Way I Do”, “Bring Me Some Water”, “I Want To Come Over” and I’m The Only One”. Songs like “Your Little Secret” are sadly missed however. This is the only minor negative comment, that I have about this great compilation album though. Website: http://www.melissaetheridge.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FACES OF BLACK-The Beckoning (SOCAN)
FACES OF BLACK consists of Norm Apro on guitars, Christine Apro on bass, vocals and piano and Adam Hancock on drums. Their new album is called “The Beckoning” and it contains seven songs and about twenty-five minutes of sludgy stoner rock like music. If Kat Bjelland of BABES IN TOYLAND would join QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, they would exactly sound like FACES OF BLACK, you’d better believe me. In “Streets” the speed goes up, for a short time. One of the better songs here is “Word To The Wise”, where Christine let’s us hear her maniacal screams and her great bass playing. Her bass is the main ingredient of the bulldozer sound in this one. While in “Gone”, we hear some psychedelic parts in their music. It sounds like if you are pushed back in the seventies, while the vocals are more of this time, which makes it a nice combination. The furious screaming in “Break Of Dawn” will certainly scare the shit out of you. Last song on this good MCD is the SLAYER cover “Bloodline”, which is a nice choice, that will please many fans. I think, that FACES OF BLACK released a nice new album with “The Beckoning”, that is highly enjoyable for stoner rock fans and SLAYER adepts, who also like the weird screams of frontlady Christine. Website: http://www.facesofblack.tk. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

GLASS WOLFE-Predator (independent)
This is GLASS WOLFE’s second album, worthy of ten new songs and almost a full hour of melodic metal. Vocalist Maria Glass profiles herself as some kind of Xena, the warrior princess, holding a giant Samurai sword. Whereas Philip Wolfe is the more the invisible musician of the two. Now you know, where they got their name from. On the album, these two musicians from California are helped out by a lot of interesting names from the local music scene. Like on the first album, GLASS WOLFE knows how to make interesting songs, that are full with Blackmore-like guitar riffs and good female vocals. So if you take the later work of RAINBOW as a reference, you will know how this band sounds like. Although their music is sometimes a bit sweeter than the image of the band would imagine. Despite this little contradiction, the songs of GLASS WOLFE sound very well, and it will certainly appeal to the many melodic metal fans out there. There is a central place in the music for the keyboard parts of Philip, who sounds like Keith Emerson in a melodic metal jacket. Maria’s voice is warm and in the harder parts, she remembered me a lot of Betsy BITCH. “Liar” is one of the most powerful songs on this album, and therefore one of the highlights on the CD for me, next to the more lengthy songs, like “State Of Mind” and the bluesy “Prophecy / Autumn Moon”. If you like later RAINBOW or DEEP PURPLE (Joe Lynn Turner-era), then it’s wise to check out “Predator”. I think, I’d better drop Maria a line for an interview, because GLASS WOLFE definitely needs to be introduced to our dear readers more closely. Website: http://www.glasswolfe.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HUMAN FACTOR-Unleashed (Benighted Records)
HUMAN FACTOR hails from Chile and they present us their new album “Unleashed”. The band consists of Christián Rozas on bass, Dan Elbelman on vocals, Rodrigo Espinoza on drums, Guillermo Olivares on guitar and Soledad Genúa on guitars. What we get here is eleven power metal songs in almost fifty minutes time. And I must admit, that most of these power metal bands sound very much alike to me. They all sound like cheap HELLOWEEN, GAMMA RAY or HAMMERFALL clones. This is definitely not the case with HUMAN FACTOR though, because somehow they know to catch my attention in all of the songs. Maybe their compositions can be put in the same direction as the bands that I mentioned earlier, but the singer and guitarist sound far above average. Especially the guitar solos are mindblowing! Just listen to the great riffs in “We Are One”. Yes, this sure sounds fantastic to me. It has got balls and a lot of power, which makes this a highly enjoyable CD. “Human Factor” is the first single of this new album, which was released in 2004. If it wasn’t for our good friend Rainer Krukenberg from Berlin, we would have never heard about this well-talented band of course. But in our vision, it’s essential enough to review here, even after one year of its original release date. The CD also contains the video of “Human Factor” as a bonus track. Fans of GAMMA RAY and HELLOWEEN know what to do. Just surf to: http://www.humanfactorband.com for more information about this great band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

INFERNORAMA-A Symphony For The Heartless (independent)
Manny van Oosten’s warning before we had a listen to this album, was very welcome. You will have to listen to this CD a few times, before you can comprehend it all. At first, it will dazzle you, and I can imagine that some people won’t get it at all. But if you listen closely to this one hour and twenty-three song musical adventure, you can only have deep respect for Manny and all the other musicians, that you will hear on this album. “A Symphony For The Heartless” is a rollercoaster ride through many styles, ranging from pop and classical music to death metal. It’s all there. Add to this the good musicianship of the different musicians and the interesting story behind the whole concept, and you’ll have a great CD, that is full of variation and first class rock music. Manny is well-known for his work with the Dutch metal outfit BLACK OUT, and our readers may very well remember him from his other band TO ELYSIUM, with whom he made some fantastic albums. This masterpiece is really the highlight of his career. Manny shows, that he is a very versatile artist, who can write a good song, play a great guitar solo and knows how to write a good concept story. The CD shows you the real side of life, and everybody out there knows that the real side is not always the most positive. However, it’s also a CD with a glimpse of hope, because after all every dark side has a sunny side as well…….if you really want to. But let’s focus on the music here. The main band consists of Manny van Oosten on guitar, Gert Jan Kok on bass, Sjoerd Visch on drums and Eline Ottens on keyboards. The vocal parts were done by several singers, each vocalist was selected to what they do best. Clear female vocals, angel-like vocals, death grunts, clear male vocals - it’s all there and each vocalist shows his specialism on the differrent songs. And so we can hear a wide scope of vocalists, who show that they are the best choice for this particular vocal part on the album. This also brings a special element to the album, and you’ll get an even bigger variation, than we had already using all these different styles. The vocalists, that you can hear on this album, are Marleen Santen, Robert Busscher, Rein Doze, Margeritha Holgin, Dennie Boxem, Edwin Kelder, Mark Jansen, Marco van der Velde and Charlotte Wessels. So there you have the whole story in a nutshell. In twenty-three songs, Manny tells you his visions, and he regularly switches from real heavy songs to the more softer gothic tunes. Sometimes there are considerable differences within the songs, but he did it with so much class and style, that you must hear it, to believe it. My personal highlight of this album was the rather heavy (man, what great riffs!!) “Primordial Call”. But I am sure that everybody will have a personal fave after listening to the whole album several times. And better listen to it several times, because there is so much to enjoy and to discover on this album, that you can’t impossible catch it all after the first time. So just push the ‘replay’ button a couple of times at the end of this great masterpiece. Website: http://www.infernorama.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

INFINITED HATE-Heaven Termination (Displeased Records)
Rachel Kloosterwaard is one of the most brutal female vocalists in the Dutch death metal scene. However, I must admit that in the last few years, I really can’t keep up with all the bands she has been involved with: OCCULT, PATHOLOGY, SINISTER and most recently, INFINITED HATE. And guess what? She has already quit them as well, after recording “Heaven Termination”. I was hoping, that she would finally become a steady member in this band and start growing with them. Instead, she releases a terrific album with INFINITED HATE and she disappears even faster than she came. There’s no way to grow then, but maybe that’s not the intention at all of this lady with the monstrous voice. Besides Rachel, INFINITED HATE consists of Aad Kloosterwaard on vocals, Ron van de Polder on guitar and bass and Dirk Verbeuren on drums. Matthijs van Wageningen plays some guest guitar solos on the album. Let’s me tell you a bit more about the music of INFINITED HATE now. I can really recommend this new album to everyone, who did thinks that the new album of ARCH ENEMY was not brutal enough. Let’s say, the fans of the old SINISTER and SUFFOCATION sound. The music shows some resemblance to SINISTER, but it’s much more brutal and destructive. Also the lyrics are more evil. While the lyrics of SINISTER mostly deal about war related topics, INFINITED HATE goes much further. After the short “Intro”, the band starts to chop until the forty minutes are over and they’ve cut down a whole rain forrest. Man oh man, what a brutal attack! The CD closes with the UNLEASHED cover “Before The Creation Of Time”, by the way. This is a very mean release, and definitely not suitable for the weak-hearted amongst us. This is the kind of shit, your mother has warned you about. The music you had to stay away from. It’s brutal, it’s violent, it’s blasphemous and I certainly had a great time listening to it. We’ll keep our eyes on you Rachel, wherever you go and whatever you will be doing in the near future! We will hunt you down, so don’t be afraid. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IRONHEAD-Livin’ Like We Wanna Die (Dead City Records)
Oh lord, this lady really looks like she is f*cked up big time! That was the first thought that crossed my mind, when I saw the front cover of this sleazy punk rock band from Virginia Beach. Musically, they take their fans back to the rousing sound of the seventies and eighties. Think about the NEW YORK DOLLS, IGGY & THE STOOGES, THE PLASMATICS, MOTÖRHEAD and ROSE TATTOO, or if you’re only interested in the music of today, think of NASHVILLE PUSSY, DIE HUNNS, SLUNT or any other dirty sleaze rock band out there. Catchy punk rock songs, lots of guitars, a constant high rhythm and a ‘fuck you too’ attitude is what you get with this great album of IRONHEAD. Thirteen songs with a total length of about forty minutes will enter your room at full speed. IRONHEAD consists of Johnny Sonic on lead vocals, guitar and percussion, Mark Metal on drums and percussion and Angela Foxx on bass and backing vocals. This foxy lady will catch your eye immediately, but you’d better take your hands off her, because this lady is very happily married to Johnny. And just like Blaine Cartwright and his wife Ruyter Suys, they form a strong unity on and off stage. Johnny’s voice is less growling than Lemmy’s, but the intention is the same. So if you like your rock loud, and you are not really interested in a perfect sound and mathematically studied song structures, then IRONHEAD might be just the band for you. No nonsense, straight in your face, kick ass rock and roll, good for a hot summer evening in a sweaty club, with tonz of booze is what you’ll get with this “Livin’ Like We Wanna Die”. Check it out! Website: http://www.iron-head.net. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JUICIO DE DIOS-Al Amanecer De Los Tiempos (L’ Assaig Records)
This is another exotic record, that we are able to review with the help of our good friend Rainer Krukenberg from Berlin. On the album of these Spanish metalheads, we can enjoy six lengthy tracks with a total playing time of about thirty-five minutes, which makes it a mix of a full-length release and a long EP. The music of JUICIO DE DIOS is a mix of bands like EDGUY, IRON MAIDEN, BLIND GUARDIAN and ANGRA. Which means power metal with a lot of melody and fast rhythms. The band consists of Alberto Ramirez on bass, Miguel Alejandro on drums, Rafael Such on guitars, J. Miguel de la Torre on guitar and Juani Lorite on vocals. Clearly, we are dealing with some very skilled musicians, who know to write a good song, that has a lot of variation. Take for example “Encerrado En El Vido”, which opens as an IRON MAIDEN-like rocker, but halfway through they continue with a more melodic part and finally closing it with a heavy part, which comes close to the good old MAIDEN sound again. Very well done, and this will keep your mind focussed to listen to the album all the way through. JUICO DE DIOS is definitely a name to remember. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LAOS-I Want It (MTM Music)
Does anybody out there still remember Gudrun Laos? I’m sure you will, because “We Want It” was a very nice album of this well-talented lady, who originates from Germany. Unfortunately, after the release of this album, things became rather quiet around this female vocalist. She did some guest vocals on the SILVER albums of Gary Barden MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP) and for a very short time she has even been fronting the all-female outfit PHANTOM BLUE, if the rumours are right. This is the re-issue of her debut album, completed with three bonus tracks. If you listen very carefully to the songs on “We Want It”, you can hear many influences of CHER, THE ROLLING STONES, BON JOVI, WHITE LION, WHITESNAKE, WITNESS, HEART and LITA FORD. Meaning that it’s melodic, catchy rock music with a lot of loud guitars and choruses, that is easy to sing along to. The CD contains fourteen songs and it has a total length of about fifty minutes. When the band starts to play the BOSTON cover “More Than A Feeling”, Gudrun definately grabs a bit too high. BOSTON is not a band, that you should cover. They’re untouchable and really one of a kind. Of course you can show your admiration for the band somehow, but not by covering one of their songs, but that’s my own honest opinion. Furthermore, we are dealing with a very nice release here. Somewhere in the CD booklet you will find some very nice information as well, because it says that the previously unreleased second album “Womanizer” will be released somewhere in 2006. Well, that’s definately something to look forward to then. LAOS consisted of Gudrun Laos on vocals, Ralf Hansmeyer on guitar, Wolfgang Schindler on keyboards, Thomas Röben on bass, Frank Fricke on guitar and Jörg Michael on drums. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LULLACRY-Vol. 4 (Century Media/Spinefarm)
It’s finally here. The long awaited fourth album from the Finnish band LULLACRY. Cleverly titled "Vol. 4", this album contains ten songs and forty minutes worth of high energy rock ‘n’ roll, that sees the band playing with much conviction. "Perfect Tonight" kicks things into a frenzy and is followed by "Love, Lust, Desire"- a song that sees the band pick up the pace. It is perhaps the albums highlight. Next is "Fire Within", which first appeared on their EP of the same name. I have to question why they would put this song on the album, since it was already released. Next is the first single "Stranger In You". Other highlights include: "Heart Shaped Scars", "Soul In Half" and "Killing Time". The vocals from Tanja are a definite high point, as she continues to get better and better. "Vol. 4" is a good album, but nothing special. The band has done better with "Crucify My Heart", but this is still a satisfying release from a stellar band with a great sound and attitude. [7 points] (Tony Cannella)

MADE OUT OF BABIES-Trophy (Neurot Records)
Listening to the first song on this twelve song debut album, made me draw a link to the fabulous threesome BABES IN TOYLAND immediately. Meaning that their biggest influences come from Kat Bjelland’s all-female noise outfit. So if you’re ready for almost fourty minutes of loud, noisy punk rock music, then this one’s definitely for you! Although MADE OUT OF BABIES is not an all-female outfit. They consist of Cooper on bass, Bunny on guitars, Mr. Matthew Egan on drums and Julie Xmas on vocals. On some songs we hear the bass playing done by Viva Stowell. Their musical ingredients, such as rawness, madness, sickness, angriness, wildness and the rather noisy attitude are the same however. MADE OUT OF BABIES hails from New York City. And I must say, that I liked them a lot. The angriness disappears, when they pull out two short, but sick ‘lullabies’, but in general this album has all rawness to the max here. In the softer parts, Julie sounds a bit like KATE BUSH, but as there are more violent parts on the CD, I stick to the comparison that I made earlier, namely Kat Bjelland. She can take this as a compliment as well. “Trophy” is a very good debut album. In February, it will be Xmas in Holland, because if our information is right, the band will play on February 9th, 2006 in Amsterdam and on February 10th, 2006 in Arnhem. If you miss the madness of Kat Bjelland’s music, then you’d better check this one out, because the madness of this band is simply ‘made out of (the) babies (in Toyland)’. Website: http://www.madeoutofbabies.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MEDEA-Room XVII- A Rock Opera (Snakebite Records/Rock Inc.)
This rock opera is a good mix of classical music and loud rock music. Henry Meeuws, the keyboard player of CASUAL SILENCE is the big initiator behind the whole project. Together with a handful of well-talented musicians, he recorded this album. What we hear is a good mix of DREAM THEATER, JOE SATRIANI and a lot of classical influences and choir vocals. Especially in “State Of Suspense”, we hear a lot of choir singing, while opener “Room XVII” is one of the more rocking tracks on the album. The CD contains nine songs and a full hour of exciting rock music. Two other highlights on this rock opera (which tells you the story of the Dutch V.O.C. ship and its trip to Batavia), are the more lengthy tracks at the end of the CD, called “Graveyard Island” and “Chaos Solution”. The cast of contributing musicians is very good. You are able to enjoy talented singers like Rob Laarhoven (CASUAL SILENCE), Joss Mennen (MENNEN, Edwin balogh (AYREON, SUPERSONIC), Robbie van Stiphout (DAY SIX) and the female input comes from Sandra Peeters (V-MALE). The male choir is called LOMBARDI and Fon Janssen (MENNEN, PROJECT FEAR) plays the drums on this CD. MEDEA made a CD, which is full of variation and may appeal to people who like loud rock or just those who like classical music and musicals. Musically, it’s all done very well. Maybe they could hit the national theatres with this product?! Website: http://www.casualsilence.nl. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MY RUIN-The Brutal Language (Undergroove)
This is the new musical outing of angry, brutal rock pioneer Tairrie B. After the awesome release of her previous album “The Horror Of Beauty”, this will be another treat for the fans of this lady from L.A. We were not sure if this CD would ever hit the streets. All that we heard in the press and media is people leaving the band or that the band would be breaking up soon. These rumors were all true, but nevertheless Tairrie managed to put together a new band consisting of Mick Murphy on guitars, Chris Leese on bass and Jason Brunk on drums. And with this new band, she managed to remain her brutal and ultra heavy sound. As you may have noticed, Tairrie is now the only girl left in the band. But as long as Tairrie is there, there will be a MY RUIN sounding like a brutal mix of old BLACK SABBATH and CATHEDRAL. Opener “Nature Boy” sounds short and sweet. However after this intro, the volume is turned to the max and Tairrie spits out the lyrics in ten songs, worthy of about thirty-five intense minutes. In “Touch Me, I’m Sick”, she even does a cover of MUDHONEY. To be quite honest, I don’t know the original version, but this is a very cool metal song in the best MY RUIN tradition possible. Of course there’s some brutal language, too, as the album title already suggests, but hey, we know Tairrie by now, I guess. And all the fans of the band can easily buy this record, and be sure that they will not be disappointed by this brutal attack from one of the real survivors of female brutalness. In January 2006, the band will tour England again, and I hope that the rumours are true that she will also visit the continent this time. The future looks bright again for this great lady, who really deserves it to become very successful, because she works, screams, yells, spits and cries hard and loud enough to get noticed. Website: http://www.myruin.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE MYSTERY-Facing The Storm (independent demo CD)
If you feel a little emptiness, because WARLOCK doesn’t exist anymore, maybe you should check out the CDs of another band from Germany, called THE MYSTERY, then. Not that this band sounds quite as heavy as WARLOCK, but female vocalist Denise Olbrich sounds very much like Doro Pesch in her younger days. Besides Denise, the band consists of Christian J. Rüthler on bass, Daniel Kahn on drums and Alex ‘Thunder’ Martin on lead guitar. Obviously, their guitarist has been very much influenced by Alex Lifeson of RUSH, and sometimes you’ll get the feeling that you are listening to the guitar riffs of “The Trees” or “2112”. The twelve songs on “Facing The Storm” will show you a band, that plays some decent melodic rock. For forty-five minutes, you will hear a band that mixes melodic rock songs with a touch of the seventies rock dinosaurs. Their debut album “Where The Wind Blows Freedom” was already released in 2002. This second album was released in 2003, independently. The quality of the songs and the musicianship of the band members caught the interest of some record labels. And that’s why the band released an official debut album after this release, which is reviewed below. On this CD, THE MYSTERY will continue their way. Don’t forget to check out the short hidden track at the end of the CD. Website: http://www.the-mystery.de. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE MYSTERY-Scars (TTS Media Music)
After THE MYSTERY released their first two albums independently, it was time to struck a record deal and release their official debut album, which is called “Scars”. It’s 2004, when this album hits the streets. And from the line up of the “Facing The Storm” album, we will see back all the people, except drummer Daniel Kahn. He has been replaced by Matthias Kleinschmager in the meantime. What I don’t hear anymore are the RUSH-like guitar parts, which is a bit of a shame. What does remain are the DORO-like vocals of Denise Olbrich. On this new album, the band added influences of bands like ACCEPT and also I hear some touches of AC/DC, like in “Another Day In Hell”. Their music has become a little bit more heavy and more structured, completed with chorus vocals by the several band members, and some groovier riffs. So far, so good. However, “Scars” doesn’t show any real highlights, which you would expect after a few years though, but the music on this CD does sound far above average to me. THE MYSTERY has already played live at a few festivals, and I wonder how they will sound in a live situation. THE MYSTERY is a safe buy for those, who dig the sound of ACCEPT, WARLOCK and DORO. For all the latest news about this band from Wuppertal and area, you can check out their website at: http://www.the-mystery.de. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NASHVILLE PUSSY-Get Some! (SPV)
Thirteen songs and forty minutes of pure rawk and roll!! NASHVILLE PUSSY are back on time and they will kick your ass, because they wanna “Get Some”!!! From the start of this CD, it’s “PussyTime” and when this steam locomotive is running, nothing can’t stop them now. New band member is bass player Karen Cuda of HEMI CUDA. For the rest, it’s the same old song and dance with NASHVILLE PUSSY. Jeremy Thompson beats his skins real wild, Blaine Cartwright screams like he’s slaughtered to death, while playing some mean guitar and singing songs about his live and life itself. And Ruyter Suys still cranks out the leadguitar solos in her own special way. If ROSE TATTOO, WASP, MOTÖRHEAD, old BLACKFOOT, AC/DC, TWISTED SISTER and good old TED NUGENT are your thing, then you definitely can not miss this piece of pure concrete. And I must admit, that I liked this album better than their previous one. You can never go wrong, if you like sexy women, fast cars, getting laid, bottles of booze and an overdose of no-nonsense rock and roll. On this album, the band kicks out three covers. First up is “Raisin’ Hell Again”, the least well-known of these three for me, originally cranked out by SCOTT BIRAM (THE DIRTY OLD ONE MAN BAND). Then we get “Nutbush City Limits”, a real classic IKE & TINA TURNER tune from the days, when Ike still used his lovely lady as a boxing ball. CD closer wasn’t a too obvious choice I guess, because I would never associate “Snowblind” of ACE FREHLEY with the ‘punch in the face’ rock of NASHVILLE PUSSY. But it is a good version and I am really happy with this new album of these rawdy rockers from Nashville. It’s pussy time again, so make sure you have a damn good time with this f*cking loud album. Rock was never so pure! Website: http://www.nashvillepussy.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE NEW YORK REL-X-Sold Out Of Love (TKO Records)
THE NEW YORK REL-X consist of Erika on vocals, Adi on bass, Jon on guitar and Scot on drums and punk rock is what you’re gonna get, when listening to “Sold Out Of Love”. In your face punk, which could be compared to THE GITS, L7 and THE LUNACHICKS. They plug in, put the pedal to the metal and play you eleven raw punk songs in about thirty-three minutes. And that’s all you can handle, believe me! These albums just can’t play a full hour. Otherwise you would be stone deaf forever and lying in your coffin, before you are twenty-five years old. There’s so much power, rawness and adrenaline running through the veins of these people, that you can only catch this intensity for a short while. By the time, the band reaches the cover “Emergency” of GIRLSCHOOL, I must say that I also hear some resemblance to the very early version of these all-female NWOBHM vixens. If catchy punk rock bands like GREEN DAY and THE OFFSPRING could be very successful, then this band should also grow bigger and bigger. But I do hope, that they don’t go for the big money like these other bands already did. Then we can at least say, that we still have some real authentic punk rockers in the scene, going by the name of THE NEW YORK REL-X. Great, intensive punk rock disc! Website: http://www.nyrelx.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NOTRE DAME-Creepshow, Freakshow, Peepshow (White Thrash Records)
Snowy says it all in the liner notes of this brilliant live CD of NOTRE DAME. This is the shit!! I couldn’t have said it better. Now all the horror has come to an end, people can go to sleep again, without peaking under their bed first. The one and only vaudeville, shock rock, cabaret, metal outfit in the entire world has decided to call it quits. They will vanish into thin air. Vampirella will take a flight back to her dark cave, like a bat in the night. The de Sade brothers will be looking for new blood, and Snowy is left behind in his pillory, in a dark castle, far away in the Swedish woods where nobody will possibly find him. The town is called Hallelujahville and, guess what? Yes, he is the only citizen. And so this circle slowly closes itself. The thirteen songs on this live CD give you a perfect overview of the career of NOTRE DAME, that lasted far too short for me. But hey, that’s the will of Nostradamus, it cannot be changed. I wish I was there, when the witching hour started and a new millennium took its start at Sticky Fingers in Gothenburg, Sweden. Twelve NOTRE DAME classics, and a great version of ACCEPT’s “Son Of A Bitch” are on this album, that captures the magic in sound. Not in vision though, but the only thing you can do is imagine the whole picture yourself. It will never be as good as the real show though, but the film crew disappeared into the dark night and nobody has heard from them ever since. Meine Damen und Herren, we present you ….NOTRE DAME live! Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome in the cabaret of the devil tonight! The show starts with “The Bells Of Notre Dame” and from then on, it’s one journey through the sick mind of the maestro extravaganza Snowy Shaw. A mix of dark heavy metal, cabaret, horror and a reflection of things that can only be believed when you were there yourself. This whole review is not a fairytale, but most parts of it are based on fiction. NOTRE DAME is dead, long live the hunchback of the Notre Dame and hail to Jean Paul de Sade on guitar, Mannequin de Sade on drums, Vampirella on sexy voice and Snowy Shaw for bringing us this magic shocking show. Please leave the theatre immediately, and play this silver disc at home your own risk. Don’t forget to turn up the volume to create your own apocalypse. While Snowy takes a rest in his own coffin, we wish you pleasant dreams. Watch out for an exclusive interview, that we had in Hallelujahville with Snowy or go to http://www.snowyshaw.com for the real truth of the crypts and dark rooms in the Notre Dame. This CD gets the full score, which means 666 points! [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ONMYOZA-Garyoutensei (Miya Records)
There is nothing Western European about ONMYOZA. They are dressed up in kimonos, they sing in the Japanese language and they use these difficult Japanese signs in their CD booklets. Their music also bears this Eastern culture, you simply can’t deny when listening to it. However, they play some real beautiful music. Sometimes ultra heavy and loud, like in “Onikoroshi”, while at other times they sound more modest and almost poppy and dreamy, like in “Kumikyoku ‘Yoshitsune’ ~ Raise Kaiko”, but always of an outstanding quality. On the different releases, that we have reviewed until now, every band member looks the same, so I think that the band has a stable line up for a longer time already. Anyway, on this CD, we hear Karukan on guitar, Tora on drums, Matabi on bass and vocals, Maniki on guitar and Kuroniko on female vocals. That’s the only information I could come up with. So thank God for the internet! In this package, there’s another booklet with posed pics of the different band members. The most outstanding song on this album is called “Kumikyoku ‘Yoshitsune’ ~ Muma Enjo”, which lasts for about fourteen minutes and contains many mood changes. The sound of ONMYOZA is very hard to describe, but I hear influences of IRON MAIDEN, DREAM THEATER and NIGHTWISH, added with Japanese vocals. Are you still with me? You don’t need to describe this band in details, I think. Just enjoy their great music. The CD contains twelve tracks and has a total playing time of about sixty-five minutes, which means value for money. This is definitely not bad at all, by the way, because the prices of Japanese import CDs are outrageous high nowadays. Keep this in mind, before buying it!! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JANA PERI-Catching Flies With Vinegar (Hot Jupiter Music)
JANA PERI hails from New York City and this is her second CD release. Here she gives you the tip to catch flies with vinegar. Well, as long as her music is good, I dig every CD title. And this album rocks right from the start. Think about the STRAY CATS with BLONDIE’s Debbie Harry on the microphone, and you’ll come close to the sound of opener “City Beat”. From there on, the music gets as diverse as New York City itself. Sometimes it rocks and is quite loud, while at other times it’s poppy and very catchy. But there’s always a lot of melody, and all the songs deal about life itself or of a New York City citizen. And I believe their lives are a little bit more diverse (read: exciting) than over here in Leerdam (rock) city, The Netherlands. The influences of Debbie Harry and BLONDIE are everywhere around, mainly because of Jana’s voice, I guess. Which gives you a good idea of what’s going on in The Big Apple. And I would like to call the music of this singer/songwriter a good reflection of what you can hear on the New York radio. Sometimes, it rocks like opener “City Beat”, while at other times it’s more jazzy, like “All Your Fault”, a typical pop tune, like “Go Ahead”, a real ballad, like “The Boy From Bayonne” or a country song, like “I’ll Be Gone”. This CD is a good mix of different music styles, and I think, this was a very good move of Jana. Not to be tied too much to one single music style. It’s a bit of everything, which leads to a lot of variation on this twelve song, forty-five minute full length second album. Besides Jana, the band consists of Daniel Rey on additional guitar and lap steel guitar, Jim Stellato on bass, Rob Holm on drums, and additional musicians Scott Treibitz on piano and Adam Erdos on saxophone. Jana plays the guitar of course. You can hear, that Jana’s song writing has grown a lot since she released her self titled debut EP. Keep it up! Website: http://www.janaperi.com [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NIKKI PUPPET-Puppet On A String (Armageddon Music)
NIKKI PUPPET is slowly becoming a new star in the German metal scene. Her music is heavy, yet catchy enough to grab the attention of the big audience. What we get here are ten ‘easy on the ear’ rock songs with a playing time of thirty-five minutes. How about that? Nikki’s music ranges from heavy rock songs to the occasional slow ballad, so you can say that it’s quite varied. In a song like “Another World”, we even hear some samples used in the dance scene. Talk about variation here! Nonetheless, NIKKI PUPPET’s music has a lot of balls and if you dig the sound of other German rockers like VICTORY or GAMMA RAY, then NIKKI PUPPET might be something for you. The band consists of Nicky ‘Puppet’ Gronewold on vocals, Christos Mamalitsidis on guitar, Michael Wolpers on drums and the second metal maiden in the band is Anke Sobek on bass and vocals. Highlight on the album for me is the song “Stand Here This Way”, which has got a lot more groove than all of the other songs here. A name to remember maybe?!?? Only time will tell…. Website: http://www.nikkipuppet.de. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SIEBENBÜRGEN-Darker Designs & Images (Napalm Records)
SIEBENBÜRGEN has changed their female vocalist. Kicki Höjiertz has left the bloody battlefield of the horned king, and Ericka Roos is now the lady of the seven castles. And I must admit, that Ericka is a far better singer than her predecessor was. Their music is still black as the night, but what else would you expect from a band that wears corpse paint? I also think, their music has become a little bit more accesssible, and the operatic vocals of Ericka make it more easy to listen to for non-black metal adepts as well. In the fourth song “A Crimson Coronation”, we hear Ericka upfront in the mix for the first time. It’s there, you’ll realise for the first time, you don’t have to be a die hard black metal fan to enjoy this kind of music. This in contrary to the first three songs on the album, that are very dark and ultra heavy. From this song on, the role of Ericka gets bigger and we will enjoy her beautiful voice many more times. Besides Ericka, SIEBENBÜRGEN consists of M. Ehlin on vocals and guitar, R. Bryngelsson on guitar, A. Rosdahl on drums and N. Sandin on bass guitar. There are ten black metal Viking anthems on “Darker Designs & Images”, worthy of forty-five minutes of loudness for the black souls amongst us. The CD closes with a dark, instrumental march to the graves, which is called “Summoner Of The Unseen”. For more information about these die hard black metallians, you can check out their website at: http://www.siebenburgen.net. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STREAM OF PASSION-Embrace The Storm (Inside Out)
STREAM OF PASSION is the new project put together by AYREON & STAR ONE mastermind Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Joining Arjen in this project are Johan van Stratum (bass), Alejandro Millan (piano), Davy Mickers (drums), Lori Linstruth (lead guitar; WARBRIDE) and Mexican born singer Marcela Bovio (ELFONIA) round out the line up. STREAM OF PASSION is a fully functioning and very different from Mr. Lucassen’s two other projects. He has assembled a very talented and diverse array of musicians for the debut release. "Embrace The Storm" contains twelve songs and fifty-four minutes worth of top notch music, that must be heard to be believed. In Marcela, Arjen has discovered a great vocal talent, as she adds her abilities to such tracks as "Spellbound", "Passion" (the first video), "Deceiver" and "Wherever You Are". She also chips in with some great work with the violin. The limited addition comes with a bonus DVD, that includes the making of the album, video clip for "Passion", behind-the-scenes of the making of the video, a trailer for "Embrace The Storm" and demo recording of all the songs on the album. "Embrace The Storm" is a solid debut effort, that should stand on its own. A job well done! [9 points] (Tony Cannella)

TORONTO-Girls Night Out (Solid Gold Records)
“Girls Night Out”, originally released in 1984, was the fourth and last album from TORONTO. Like the previous three, and the “Greatest Hits” collection, it has been reissued on remastered CD by the small Canadian label Solid Gold Records (http://www.solidgoldrecords.com). The band always had a penchant for clever, slightly humorous covers, and this was no exception. On the front, lead singer Holly Woods and guitarist/background vocalist Sheron Alton are shown in a police lineup. Musically, this was something of a departure from their earlier material. On the previous albums, the band played guitar-driven hard rock. By the mid-eighties, emerging technologies were making it possible to produce more keyboard-oriented arrangements with overdubbed synthesizers and electronic drums. Surprisingly, the band went in the latter direction. “Girls Night Out” turned out to be their least metallic effort, and more keyboard-driven. While the title track was a successful single in Canada, the best material on this album came at the end, with a series of unheralded hard rock songs. The bonus track on the remastered CD is TORONTO’s original version of a song later recorded by HEART, “What About Love”. Due to the limitations of vinyl records, the song had to be omitted from the album, depriving the band of what would have been a smash hit. Although not quite as strong as the band’s three prior releases, this is still quite a good CD, albeit somewhat mellower. [7 points] (Gordon Richards)

VALHALLA-Petrean Self (Hellion Records, Brazil)
You don’t see too many women in the death metal scene. So you can imagine how surprised I was, when I laid my hands on this CD by the all-female brutal black, death metal band, called VALHALLA, from Brazil. This was made possible by our good friend Rainer Krukenberg from Berlin, who introduced us to them. It’s their second release, after their debut album “In The Darkness Of Limb” from 1995. VALHALLA consists of Caroline on vocals (read: dark growls), Adriana Tavares on guitar (FLAMMEA), Alessandra on guitar, Michelle on bass and keyboards and Kayo John on drums (DARK AVENGER and MYSTIC). Kayo John is their new drummer now, he replaced Rodrigo, who replaced original member Marcelo in his place. VALHALLA’s music is brutal and dripping with sweat and blood. Death metal is not real easy for me to comprehend, but in VALHALLA’s case, it’s highly enjoyable. Mainly because it’s not that brutal and ultra fast. It’s not constantly this screaming kind of death metal. Instead, they have managed to put a lot of anger, energy and variation in the eleven songs on this fifty minute attack, which makes it a lot easier for me to sit out. Here and there, you may even find some influences of IRON MAIDEN in the instrumental parts on this CD, so I can honestly say that their sound appealed to me a lot. By the way: the CD cover bears a lovely piece of art! If this vicious monster puts her tongue in your mouth, you definitely won’t like it. Interesting release by this all-female death metal band from Brazil. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VARIOUS-We Ain’t Housewife Material (Dionysus Records)
The days, that wifes were good for raising childrens and ccoking dinner for their loving husbands is far gone, and that’s a good thing. Women are allowed to pick up a guitar and put the volume to the max. And if you do not want to be associated with being a housewife, then this CD is especially for you. Twenty bands with at least one female member in their line up are on this compilation CD, which is full with female mayhem. So, hit that start button and take a ride down the world of all-girl punk, rock and garage bands for about fifty-five minutes. Most of the more well-known acts are in the beginning of this CD. I think about BETTY BLOWTORCH, who open with “Rock ‘n Roll 69”. MENSEN are next with “Sandy Starlight”. And in contrary to the information on this CD, they are from Norway, and not from our country The Netherlands. That doesn’t change their good taste for music. THE GEE STRINGS are louder. They hail from Germany, and their addition to this CD is called “Arrest Me”. ELVIS MCMAN from the States is on next with “Slow Children” and their sound has got a real sixties feel over it. And I am almost sure, this band likes the RAMONES very much. FIFI AND THE MACH 3 (more interesting names later!) are from Japan, where all-female punk rock bands are really hot. This “Have You Seen The Landscapes Today?” has got a certain BLONDIE feel, because of the vocals. It’s a slower song than most of the others on this CD. ELECTRIC TURN TO ME from the States are here with “Wrestle With An Angel”. Why some bands pick these strange band names or like to give their songs these titles is unclear to me. Musically, this band sounds a bit strange, too. I hear some early BOWIE sounds on this, but it’s getting more weird with strange electric sounds that seem to come from out of space. FLOWERMULU are also from Japan, and they play a cover of THE SPIDERS, called “Upside Down”, which sounds very sixties and not really heavy, but it has some nice twists here and there. SHEMALE TROUBLE is a band, that we already know. They are from Germany and they’re cranking out “Fighting To Keep Her Alive” on this CD. It’s back to basic punk rock here. There’s a lot of variation on this CD, which makes it an easy ride to sit out. THE SOAP are from Japan, and they think it’s time to “Party”. At first I am thinking about a horror party, but then they turn up the sound real loud. It’s time for a wild party with these Japanese ladies! THE DIRTY BURDS from England sing about a “Sick Bitch”. The guitars are loud and the girls rock it out loud. The song sounds a little bit like the better songs of THE DONNAS, especially when they sing the title of the song. THE TUTSIS are from the States and “Dead Of The Night” is their contribution to this compilation. Distorted vocals and a fast punk beat, better hold on to your seats. CANDYRAG are from England again and they tell you to “Fight Back”. The production of this song is not as good as the rest, but it’s the intention that counts, and it gives this screaming rock song some kind of underground attitude. CYCLUB from the States sing about “7/11”. I didn’t know, that this date was so important, but they sing it with a lot of passion. Talk about variation here. VENTRA from Italy do things really different. Their song “Fragile” is a bit longer than average and it is fully loaded with a dance beat and a weird sounding guitar sound. Then the fuzzy part starts for a while, where the guitar player plays some nice riffs, and they return to the weird sounding guitar part again. Obviously, not every all-female band sounds the same, which makes these compilation CDs a lot more interesting. In the category of weird sounding band names, I’d really like to nominate RED BACTERIA VACUUM as number one. The band hails from Japan and their song is called “Free Soul”, which sounds like a big typhone coming through your living room. Quite impressive: short, but very destroying!! After listening to “Shut The Fuck Up” by the BLAIRE BITCH PROJECT, you know what to do. Shut the fuck up and listen to the rest of the songs here. This was one of the better songs on this compilation, by the way. Oh, another great band name is on next. Who calls their band DEMOLITION GIRL AND THE STRAWBERRY MEN? Well, the German ladies that are on this compilation with “Punk Is Dead”. That’s definitely not true, if you listen to this song, which sounds like punk rock to the max to me! The ASTRO BABYS from Japan do the “Drunken Boogie” for us. A boogie song that sounded really nice, especially with these high voices of the ladies, which gave this song some kind of special effect. FRILL from Japan added “Kajitsu” to this impressive list of all-female bands. This is another lengthy track with a lot of metal-like guitars in the doomy beginning of the song. It may sound like another odd one out here, but it’s good for the variation. A nice surprise! The CD closes with another japanese band, called BELLY BUTTON. Their song “Suny” is another great punk rock song. You don’t want these women behind the sink. Let them play their music loud. Good initiation of Dionysus Records, this varied sounding compilation. Check it out!! Website: http://www.dionysusrecords.com. For more info, contact Keith Dagger promotions at: kgrave2000@hotmail.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WURDALAK-Desde El Silencio (Maldito Records)
After the release of six tracker “La Llamada”, it’s time for the first full length CD by this progressive rock outfit from Spain; WURDALAK. The band consists of Sergio Bosquet ‘Chivi’ on guitar, Iván Sánchez on keyboards, Rubén Muñoz on drums, Ignacio ‘Tato’ Garcia on bass, German Núñez on guitar and Maria José Romero on vocals. The ten songs on this album have a total length of about forty minutes. Their songs are not too difficult to comprehend. The progressive part is unmistakably there, but they keep it simple with short, catchy songs, that contain some influences of bands like IRON MAIDEN, TIERRA SANTA and other bands that like to mix rock music with a slightly progressive underground. The band was formed in 1998 already and you can hear that they are ready for this debut album. In “Mil Voces”, I also hear some influences of MAGO DE OZ, mainly because of the male voice and the use of a violin. The progressive character of the band however is used to the max here with a beautiful instrumental part. And so this song easily becomes one of the highlights of the album for me. “N.Y. Neve” also has this typical MAGO DE OZ violin sound, but MAGO sounds a lot happier most of the time, I think. “Batallia De Issos” shows us the more heavier side of WURDALAK, punctuated with nice battles between the guitar (MALMSTEEN-like) and the keyboards. Definitely another highlight for me! And after the instrumental opener, this is the second instrumental song out of three on this album. The third instrumental is CD closer “Cierre (Wacia Ti)”, which is more like a short epilogue. This is a very good band, that has a lot of potential and a good sounding female vocalist. We want to thank Rainer Krukenberg once more for making this review possible. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

YARGOS-To Be Or Not To Be (AFM Records/Rock Inc.)
This is a new band, consisting of Andrew ‘Mac’ McDermott on vocals (THRESHOLD), Wieland Hofmeister on keyboards and guitar, Peter Pichl on bass (RUNNING WILD), Andi Kienitz on guitar (HYDROTOXIN / HUMAN FORTRESS). Ossy Pfeiffer on keyboards, piano and drums and Anca Graterol (JADE, PALLAS, ROSY VISTA) on female vocals. “Why?” is the second song on this release, and it’s the first single by this German-English cooperation. I hear very bombastic keyboard sounds and vocal lines, that remind me of ELEGY, IAN PARRY and CONSORTIUM PROJECT. Progressive rock with a catchy feel and a sound, that will most likely appeal to many metal fans of today out there. The music contains many nice riffs, and the keyboards are very much upfront in the mix. “Peace Of Mind” wouldn’t sound bad on a SAVATAGE or CIRCLE TO CIRLCLE album, while “Point Of No Return” sounds a bit likeYES. Just listen to the choir vocals at the end of the song and you’ll get my point. Because of the use of keyboards, you may also think about the older prog rock (symphonic bands, as they were called in my time) like KANSAS and SAGA. “Time Drops” could well be on any MEAT LOAF album, whereas “Full Circle” brings you back to the prog rock ambience again (YES). As you can see, it’s very easy to compare this CD with the big names in the scene. However, if YARGOS will also become a big name in the prog rock scene still remains to be seen. The first good signs are on this full hour debut album already. And don’t forget to check out the beautiful artwork on this album. “To Be Or Not To Be”, that’s all in the future, but if I have to judge the future for this band after hearing this album, I’d definitely go for ‘to be’. Website: http://www.yargos.de. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ZED YAGO-The Invisible Guide (Rough Trade)
We stumbled upon a lot of difficulties to obtain this album. We heard a lot of strange things from dealers, that needed to buy five hundred copies of this CD, before they could add it to their list. Some others, simply deleted the CD, right after it came out. Anyway, it wasn’t an easy task to get a copy of the new album of ZED YAGO. The first question that rises immediately is, if Jutta Weinhold is still the singer in the band. No, not a word about Jutta here. The people behind this line up are former drummer Bubi The Schmied and guitarist Jimmy Durand, who must have had the rights to use the name of ZED YAGO. And with a handful of new musicians, they released “The Invisible Guide”. Fans of the old sound can buy this record without any doubt, that’s for sure. You get to hear thirteen songs, that deal about epic topics like warriors and battles. Besides drummer Bubi and guitarist Jimmy, we also hear the musical talents of Hansi Kecker on keyboards, Marzo Nixxx on bass and Yvonne Durand on vocals. The music is brought up to date a little and sounds more like 2005, rather than 1985, which is one of the big differences between the old style ZED YAGO and the new line up by this band from Hamburg. Just listen to the opening beeps and bleeps of “Guster” to know, what I mean with that remark. However, the power is still there, the massive choirs and epic metal songs too, so people who always digged the sound of ZED YAGO and/or VELVET VIPER, can easily decide to buy this new album, because it’s a safe buy for them. Yvonne looks like a younger version of Jutta on the pictures in the CD booklet. But I must admit, that Jutta had far more power and volume than Yvonne, who sounds a bit more hoarse sometimes (like in “Daydreams” for example). “Heaven Or Hell” sounded a bit like DEEP PURPLE on their “Perfect Strangers” album, due to the upfront keyboard sound. So after all, nothing much did change for ZED YAGO. Just some different players and a slightly modern sound. And together with WEINHOLD, we have two fantastic sounding bands for the price of one now. You don’t hear us complaining about it, do you? In closing, you can also watch the video clip of “To The Top Of The Mountain” on your PC as a special bonus. ZED YAGO is still alive, and they put the fantasy back to the metal, where it belongs. Website: http://www.zed-yago.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AFTER FOREVER-Being Everyone (CD single) (limited edition) (Transmission Records)
There are four songs on this new single of AFTER FOREVER. First you can hear the single version of the title track “Being Everyone”, which is fourteen seconds shorter than the acoustic version of the same song, which can be heard next. The single is closed by two other previously unreleased tracks. So, if you read these lines closely, this single is full with previously unreleased material. A must have for all the fans, so to speak. The third track is called “Live And Learn”. And I must admit, that I liked it a lot, because of the good drive and great heavy riffs. Of course, the marvellous voice of Floor Jansen adds a lot to this great feeling, that I get. I still think, she is a far better singer than most of her collegue (female) singers in this scene. Which also frightens me sometimes. Especially, when I see that Marco Hietala (NIGHTWISH) is a special guest on the last song, which is called “Face Your Demons”. Is he checking out the talents of Floor, as a replacement for Tarja Turunen, who had to leave the band so suddenly? I don’t think so, but hey, you never know. If the man was very impressed by Floor’s vocals….. Until then, Floor is definitely the star for me of AFTER FOREVER, and this single is a welcome addition to your AFTER FOREVER collection. The two bonus tracks are really impressive, and it contains the better work of AFTER FOREVER for me. Website: http://www.afterforever.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANOUK-One Word (single one) (CD single) (Dino Music)
This is very good promotion of Holland’s one and only rock diva; ANOUK. She releases two singles of her newest hit “One Word”. And if you buy both versions (one double CD single and one regular CD single), you also obtain all the songs, that are released on the new double CD version of “Hotel New York”, which was reissued at the same time. The extras consist of acoustic live songs. A nice way of saying goodbye to Holland, and moving to Ohio, USA. I am writing this review on the day after the very last sold out gig in Rotterdam (Ahoy). The goodbye is a fact now, and all that remains are memories and a few very good albums, video clips and live shows. But she will return, because this summer, ANOUK will also play at a number of festivals in our country (Paaspop, Pinkpop, Bospop, etc.) and at Rock Werchter in Belgium. But let’s go back to the first double CD single set. Besides the album version of “One Word”, we can hear “Jerusalem”, “Alright” and “Lost”. On the second CD single, which must be bought seperately, we hear both the live version and the studio version of “One Word”. CD one is worthy of sixteen minutes of pure ANOUK rock and CD two adds another eight minutes of ANOUK music. The story continues on the second CD single reviewed below. No, we ain’t done yet with this lady. Website: http://www.anouk.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANOUK-One Word (single two) (CD single) (Dino Music)
The second CD in this set contains another sixteen minutes of ANOUK rock. Again we can listen to the single “One Word” for the third time already. It’s the live songs, that make it worthy buying this release. This time we can listen to acoustic live versions of “Falling Sun”, “Girl” and “Nobody’s Wife”. These last two are probably the best ANOUK songs ever, and in the acoustic version they’re very beautiful indeed, although I prefer the more rocking versions of course. This is a good strategy to sell many singles and to give something back in return to all your fans. The live shows, that ANOUK did at the Ahoy in Rotterdam this month, will be released on DVD in the near future. And that’s the last news that I have for you, before ANOUK is packing her bags and flying over to her new home in Ohio. From Ahoy to Ohio is such a small step for this superstar. The fans will surely miss her, but she will continue making records, I hope. All the latest news about Holland’s one and only rock diva ANOUK can be obtained from her website at: http://www.anouk.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DORO-In Liebe Und Freundschaft (CD single) (AFM Records)
It’s Christmas time. Light the fire and relax and in the meantime, it’s maybe wise to have a listen to this new CD single of DORO. We can listen to the nice ballad “In Liebe Und Freundschaft” in the German version first, followed by the English version. The extras on this single are the main reason of buying it. First up, there’s a non-album track called “Never Get Out Of This World Alive”, which is a good uptempo rock song with a catchy chorus. A great song to sing along to on one of the many festivals during the upcoming year. The single closes with “Lonely Wolf”, which brings the total time of this release to sixteen minutes. But there’s more to enjoy here. As we know, that DORO always wants the very best for her fans, there’s also a live video track of “All We Are” added to this single, filmed at the Bang Your Head festival in Ballingen 2005 (Germany). A real treat to all the fans of this blonde metal queen from Germany. And a real ‘must have’ item for every devoted fan! The new DORO album will be out in spring of 2006. All other news about DORO, can be read on her website at: http://www.doropesch.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IGNITOR-Reinheitsgebot: Metal Is The Law (CD single)(independent)
It’s strange to hear the German version of “Reinheitsgebot: Metal Is The Law” on this new three tracker of Texas metal band IGNITOR. But at the Keep It True festival in Lauda, the song was a giant success already, since it was especially written for their German fans. It’s a great anthem to scream out your lungs, and raise your fist in the air, like it was the very last thing you would ever do in your whole life. The English version is on next, which gives me the same feeling all over again. And I just keep banging my head, for the full seventeen minutes, because as a special bonus we hear the JUDAS PRIEST cover “The Hellion / Electric Eye”, which is a true metal classic of course. IGNITOR is a real champion in the underground scene nowadays. They dared to make this giant step and come over to the European continent, and show the European metal heads, that they are one of the finest true metal bands in the USA. For this special ocassion, they even recorded a special single, which they easily sold out on the day, they played live in Germany. Now that’s what I call an excellent strategy to reach a higher level on the ladder to the big success. Metal is the law, and IGNITOR easily proves that with these three great metal songs. Buy or die! Website: http://www.ignitor.org. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IN SO FAR-The Fall (CD single) (Casket Music)
CD single release by this English pop punk quartet. The three songs on this single have a total playing time of almost twelve minutes. IN SO FAR consists of Paul Brigstock on vocals, Hannah Marie on guitar and backing vocals, Martin Richardson on bass and Stu Messer on drums and backing vocals. The songs sound like they are ready to enter the national charts. Catchy short pop punk songs with some influences of GREEN DAY here and there. I liked the guitar solo in opener “The Fall”, of which they also recorded a video clip. The band has already supported MINDLESS SELF INDULGENCE in the UK, which is a next step on the ladder of success for this band. “Drowning” and “Chocker” also are catchy and down to earth punk tracks, ready to be picked up by the new generation of pop punk rockers. Website: http://www.insofar.co.uk. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KREZIP-I Apologize (CD single) (Sony BMG)
Every time I hear the first notes of a new KREZIP single, I think that they are about to play “Silent Lucidity” of QUEENSRYCHE. But that’s only for a few seconds of this new acoustic single “I Apologize”. The second song on this seven minutes single is the OASIS cover “Don’t Look Back In Anger”. Although I like covers very much, I have to say that KREZIP doesn’t really need covers, because they have the ability to write great songs themselves, like almost no other band can. But this songs matches quite nicely to the first song on this single. With this single you also have the opportunity to download some more material, that they recorded live at the Sky Radio Kampvuur concerten 2005. So put this single in your PC and enjoy some more music, than you have already done by now. KREZIP knows to treat their fans well, so for me they don’t need to apologize themselves. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STARLET SUICIDE-Out Of Your League (EP) (independent)
Put a lot of hairspray in your hair, because it’s glam rock time again with this four track EP of STARLET SUICIDE. Their music is a mix of glam punk, bubble gum rock and a lot of hair. Take HANOI ROCKS and put JOAN JETT in front of the mike. It’s as simple as that and it works perfectly. This band from Stockholm, Sweden was formed in 2004. And judging by these four songs, they show a lot of potential for the (near) future. You are able to enjoy “Try To Break Me”, “Hairspray Lover”, Over The Top” and “I’ll Be Gone” in thirteen minutes sharp and on top of that, to create a mini party for yourself. If anybody else won’t do the trick, STARLET SUICIDE will! The band consists of Sammy Sparks on drums (ex STIKY LIXXX), Rikki Riot on bass and backing vocals, Theodor Paine on guitar and backing vocals (ex PARADICE) and blonde frontlady Jennyfer Star on lead vocals and guitar (ex MISS COCAINE, SWINDLE-A-GO-GO, MAGICK PSYCHO SHOCK). In October 2005, the band did a tour over here with a French band, called BAM. It’s good to know, that there are still some bands out there that sound like the glam punkers of the early eighties, and who even look like they came from this period of time. This EP will put you back to the eighties, because it sounds that authentic. More about STARLET SUICIDE on: http://www.starletsuicide.com or visit your local record store or your hair dresser. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: February 20, 2006]

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