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

MM#36/June 2004:

AFTER FOREVER-Invisible Circles (Transmission Records)
With their latest release “Invisible Circles”, Holland’s AFTER FOREVER will try to follow-up their excellent 2001 opus “Decipher” with another strong effort. In my opinion they have succeeded in unleashing a worthy successor and “Invisible Circles” is the finest release in the young bands career. What we get here is twelve songs and fifty-nine minutes worth of energetic, emotional and passionate music from this Dutch group. The intro track “Childhood In Minor” sets the stage for the epic symphonic bombast of “Beautiful Emptiness”. Next we have “Between Love & Fire” another definite highlight. The next track “Sins Of Idealism” keeps things going strong. The band slow things down a bit with the next track “Eccentric”, a beautiful piano-laden ballad, that really allows vocalist Floor Jansen an opportunity to shine. She is in fine voice throughout and really delivers a strong vocal performance. “Digital Deceit” kicks up the pace once again. Other highlights include: “Through Square Eyes”, “Two Sides” and “Life’s Vortex” bring this epic to a close. Sander Gommans provides death grunts on many of the songs. The interplay between him and Floor is interesting as both seem to be playing different characters. Guitarist Bas Maas provides clean male vocals where needed. “Invisible Circles” is a concept album, that tells the story of child neglect. An interesting idea for a concept, but the songs are first rate and the presentation excellent. Hopefully, this will be the album to propel them to the same level as NIGHTWISH. Even if it isn’t, AFTER FOREVER is a band that gets better and better. [10 points] (Tony Cannella)

ANIMETAL LADY-Animetal Lady Marathon II (Cutting Edge)
What a peculiar CD! It contains a lot of different styles, twenty three short songs, and a lot of heavy guitar work. It’s impossible for me to give you any band member names or song titles, because all those Japanese characters are not on my keyboard. The only thing that I know is that Marty Friedman provides a guitar solo on the seventeenth song. The other thing that I know for sure is that I like the half hour of metal music a lot. Think about very short metal songs with female vocals. I hear touches of IRON MAIDEN and DEEP PURPLE (in track ten we can hear an excerpt from “Woman From Tokyo” for example), and some other classic rock bands, but the whole CD is almost too weird to describe in words. In track fifteen, we even hear some Dutch lyrics, something you would never expect on a Japanese metal CD, be honest! This band also plays live, and when you look at the pictures, you can see that the band is all dressed up in leather, sexy outfits with feathers, and it all looks very mysterious, and again undescribable weird. Two of the last three songs are recorded live, by the way. The musical part is very good, which explains the high rating, that I gave for this release. And if you’re open for strange vocal arrangements (like me), you will be delighted by the sound on this silver disc. It will be very difficult to find this CD though, but now you know that it’s there anyway. You can also check out the website of the band, but better make sure that your Japanese is in good shape, when you do. http://www. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

APHASIA-Wild And Innocent (King Records)
APHASIA is back with a new album, and every time I hear them, they’re getting better and better. With “Wild And Innocent” they present us eleven new songs with a total running time of about forty-five minutes, in a style that sounds very similar to the old IRON MAIDEN stuff. Just listen to “Break The Ice”, to get the idea. “Lonely Rainy Night” contains a lot of power, and a very nice guitar solo as well. “Wild Rose” sounds a bit sweeter maybe, but it is still a very nice melodic rock song. “Blue Sky” on the other hand sounds very commercial. However, with “Through The Fire” we can bang our heads again. It’s good to hear that this band still commit themselves to the traditional melodic rock sound. No death grunt or sweet commercial soft tunes here, but straight forward rock music. Even with the addition of some horns in a few songs, APHASIA sounds good and solid as a rock. “Against The Wind” got a more MALMSTEEN like approach, especially in the guitar sound. “Mist” is the short ballad, that closes this album. An album that is well worth checking out, from these four Japanese metal vixens. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CHALICE-Augmented (Modern Music Invasion)
CHALICE are from Down Under, and their line up consists of two ladies and four men. Their sound is a fusion of gothic metal, progressive rock, new age and folk. In their biography, they sum up some important components of these styles to give you an idea of their sound. For example I read names such as JETHRO TULL, EVAN-ESCENCE, DREAM THEATER and ENYA. I can live with these comparisions very well. Although I must admit, the softer side of these bands really seems to dominate here. This doesn’t have to be negative, but sometimes I miss the power in their music. CHALICE consists of Adrian Bickle on drums, Justin Hartwig on guitars, Simon Henderson on bass, Sean Graetz on guitars, Alana Probert on flute and Shiralee Morgan on vocals and keyboards. The CD was mixed and engineered by Astennu, who some of you might know from DIMMU BORGIR. The vocals of Shiralee are very full of emotion and sometimes pretty high. They match very well with the music of the band. In the beautiful and long “A Winter In The Desert Sky”, the instrumental part of the sound gets a bit more attention. And at the end, the DREAM THEATER like parts can be heard. Right after that, the speed goes down a lot in "Portrait”, a ballad like epic with riffs that could well come from bands like WITHIN TEMPTATION of AFTER FOREVER. I would especially like to mention the flute playing of Alana, who brings a lot of rest in the soundscapes which are completed with the sound of waves and wind to give it all a special dimension. I also liked the short instrumental part in “Child Of The Matador” a lot. For a moment I thought of PINK FLOYD here, until the vocals took over again. Seven songs, will take you away to a world of peace and serenity for almost a full hour, on this nice album. An emotional trip, that can only be enlarged when you push the ‘replay’ button on your stereo. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CHICK FLICK-Sneak Preview (MCD) (independent)
This is another band from Australia, but their music is totally the opposite of CHALICE, whose CD is also in this review section somewhere. This is rock, with a quite catchy character. Think of AC/DC, but then the female version. A touch of glam, sex, some glitter and dynamite, it’s all in there. Just listen to opener “Nasty Girl” to hear all the ingredients mentioned above. Five songs with a total length of about fifteen minutes are played by a band that consists of Leah Dent on drums, Kylie Lovejoy on bass, Maree Taylor on guitar and Cassandra Napier on vocals. Yes, that’s right, we’re dealing with an all-female rock and roll band here. A bit naughty sometimes, but definitely with enough talent and quality to be mentioned in our magazine. Sit down and listen to “Whole Lotta Woman”, and you’ll know what I mean. Catchy choruses, and a lot of guitar dominate this song, which is by far the best on this EP. “Scream” opens with a RUNAWAYS like riff, but then continues in a more reggae like style. The last song, called “Elastic Paints” also opens with a few riffs that sound very much like THE RUNAWAYS. But that’s only in the very beginning, the rest is great AC/DC like boogie rock and roll. On the CD you will also find back a bonus CDR part, which contains the video clip, that the band made for “Nasty Girl”. I am glad that I’ve heard a “Sneak Preview” of this CHICK FLICK ladies, because they really know how to rock! Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CRUSHING BLOW-Far Away (Brennus Music)
CRUSHING BLOW from France were formed in 1997, and this is their debut album, which is called “Far Away”. The fact, that they are signed by Brennus Music, already gave me a positive feeling. This French record company always delivers high quality bands. From the first notes on, I could tell that this CD would sound great too. Great heavy metal with female vocals. The ten songs have a total length of about forty-five minutes and the songs have the right ‘old school’ spirit, that I like so much. Just listen to a song like “Hate Me”, which bears a lot of dynamite in it. “Humanity” opens a bit slower. However, after a few moments, the band puts the pedal to the metal again. This time they used some choir vocals, only the guitars sound like IRON MAIDEN in their early days. CRUSHING BLOW consists of Patrick Prunetti on drums, Guillaume Stamm on guitar and backing vocals, Benjamin Truelle on guitar and backing vocals, Gerald Krist on bass and the female voice of Audrey Bucci. “Believe” starts off like a ballad, but it gains speed and power during the end of the song. Just listen to the high screams of Audrey here. We’re dealing with a highly talented band, that not only knows to write good metal songs, but also plays them very well. If they sound as well live on stage, they would form a nice package with their fellow French metallers of MYSTERY BLUE. “Idols” (not the popular TV program) is one of the highlights on this album for me. Especially the great guitar work and the high screams of Audrey makes my skin crawl! The last song on “Far Away” is called “Shadow”, and it is recorded here in the acoustic version. CRUSHING BLOW are well worth checking out. I am sure they will surprise you in a very positive way. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DREAMAKER-Human Device (Arise Records)
DREAMAKER is the band of former DARK MOOR members Albert Maroto on guitar, Jorge Sáez on drums and Elisa C. Martin on vocals. Besides these people, the band consists of Carlos Pena on bass and Matias Sosa on guitars. This new album contains twelve new songs with a total running time of about forty-five minutes. And the DARK MOOR fans don’t have to worry, because DREAMAKER continues where DARK MOOR left off, when Elisa quit the band. Lots of galloping HELLOWEEN rhythms and the powerful voice of Elisa on top of it, fill your room after the short instrumental opener “Dream Machine”. I like the somewhat industrial, dark part in “Nightmares Factory”. It really gives this dynamic song an extra dimension, and turns it into something special. I don’t think that “Killing” and “Enemy” are very special, and maybe “Forever In Your Arms” isn’t either. But the end of the latter song does make it a bit special in a certain way. The high class musiciansship makes DREAMAKER sound pretty good. And the recognisable voice of Elisa lifts them easily beyond average, although I must admit that a little bit more variation in their songs would be very much appreciated next time. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MELISSA ETHERIDGE-Lucky (Island Records)
The waiting is over and the new MELISSA ETHERIDGE record is there. In contrary to her previous album “Skin”, Melissa is feeling extremely happy and especially ‘lucky’ again. And you will hear this back on the thirteen brand new songs on this fifty-five minute CD. The hoarse voice of Melissa dominates again on this album and makes every song very recognisable. Great for a loooong ride on the American highways. Melissa called in the help of some very skilled musicians on this album, like Brian Macleod on drums (ex-CHILLIWALK, ex-HEADPINS), Kenny Aronoff on drums (ex- CINDERELLA & JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS) and to my surprise (and with an impressive solo career, too!) Blues Saraceno on guitar (ex-POISON), among others. Highlights on the album are the three most wild and exciting songs “Secret Agent”, “Come On Out Tonight” and “Giant”. Especially this last song is a true killer, in the best LYNYRD SKYNYRD tradition. A great follow up to “Somebody Bring Me Some Water”. You’d better believe me! It’s just pure Southern rock, that you hear. Okay, there are also some slow, sweet ballads like “Meet Me In The Dark” on this album. But a MELISSA ETHERIDGE album without such ballads just wouldn’t be complete. You have to agree with me on this one. It’s not clear yet, who will be in her band when she comes over to Europe, but I guess her shows will become an enormous success again. “Lucky” is a very strong album, and I wouldn’t have expected anything else by this great singer/songwriter. Not for true metal heads, but only for the real music lovers. Internet: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FALLEN SILENCE-Dog’s Life (VideoRadio)
FALLING SILENCE are from Switzerland, and they consist of Lore on vocals, Seba on guitar and vocals, Erick on drums and Mao on bass. I hear influences of BIOHAZARD, SOULFLY, MACHINE HEAD, NAILBOMB, CRISIS, SEPUL-TURA, SLIPKNOT and a thousand other ‘newer’ metal bands in their music, blending it all together to a style of their own. Remarkable difference between FALLING SILENCE and the above mentioned bands are the female vocals of Lore (except for CRISIS!). There’s a lot of power on these fifteen songs, that fill the fifty-five minutes on this CD. Screaming, sometimes distorted vocals, furious rhythms, industrial beats and new millennium based soundscapes are what you get, when you lend your ear to this new FALLING SILENCE CD. The band exists for almost ten years now, and you can definitely hear this back in their great and powerful sound. CD closer “Can’t Live Without Water” is the odd one out here. It’s a short acoustic ballad, that takes care of some variation in a certain way. FALLING SILENCE is a very promising band, check ‘em out. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KAREN GLENN-Tattooed In Skin (independent)
Karen likes her rock wild, hard and heavy. She teamed up with Todd Jasmin on keyboards, Eddie Rogers on drums, a handful of session guitar players and Billy Sheehan (ex- TALAS, DAVID LEE ROTH, MR BIG) on bass and she recorded twelve songs on a CD, called “Tattooed In Skin”. What we hear is typical American hard rock, that could have well been released in the mid- eighties. Think of bands like CINDERELLA, WHITESNAKE and BON JOVI for example, to know what her sound is about. A song like “Carousel” however wouldn’t have been misplaced on one of the newer SAVATAGE albums. Karen knows what she is doing. She has an impressive list of things, that she has already accomplished. She once was a keyboard player for the ALICE COOPER tribute band ALICE’S NIGHTMARE for example, and she also toured the Southeast club circuit with former PAT TRAVERS bass player Mickel Amico. The twelve songs on this album have a running time of about forty-five minutes, which is enough to get a good impresion of the work of this sexy, blonde, high heeled rock and roll animal. She’s a “Rock N Roll Woman”, so she tells us in one of the songs and she clearly proved that on this CD. “Carousel” is the highlight of it all, but I’m sure that you’ll like to listen to the other songs as well. Check out the website of this blonde vamp at: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE-The August Engine (Cruz Del Sur)
I hadn’t heard of this band before, until I read somewhere that this band must be heard to be believed. And the people, who wrote this were right. HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE are indeed too good to be true. It’ll be almost impossible to compare them to any other band in this scene. I hear many different influences in their music, ranging from BOTTOM to BLACK SABBATH, THE BEATLES, PINK FLOYD, HAWKWIND, ANNIHILATOR until THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG. Long compositions show you the diversity of this band. They don’t tie themselves down to one certain style. No, they easily switch from acoustic parts to staccato riffs and thundering doom rhythms. It goes far beyond the stoner paths, set out by bands like KYUSS and QUEENS OF THE STONE AGES. Although their paths also cross the road of HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE here and there. The band line up that plays on the album is Chewy on drums, John Cobbett on guitars, Janis Tanaka (ex-STONE FOX & L7, now PINK and FIREBALL MINISTRY fame) on bass and vocals, Mike Scalzi on vocals, Lorraine Rath on vocals, Kris Force on violin and Sitara Kapoor on cello. The band now consists of Chewy, John, Mike and Jamie Myers on bass and Sigrid Scheie on organ, piano and vocals. These last names are the two new female members in this band, that just needs to be discovered by many music lovers. Simply because they have enough potential to please a lot of you readers out there. Check out the long, varied compositions of this band from the well-known Bay Area. Let them surprise you, as they surprised me, and let them take you away on a nice trip that lasts for only seven songs. But these songs are worthy of forty-five minutes of good and very honest music. I think, I’d better start searching for their debut album “The Bastard” too, ‘cause I definitely want to hear more from this great band. Their website can be found at: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HER-Straight From The Loft (Her Records)
Drive Northeast through Ontario, Canada and you get to London. Music supporters know it as the home of KITTIE, SCRATCHING POST and a few other bands. You can now add HER to the list. They aren’t as heavy. They are as talented. The first thing you notice are Rose Cora Perry's vocals. They are very clear and precise. Rose Perry also plays guitar and writes the words. Trisha Doan is on lead guitar. She comes up with the central riffs, the songs are built around. Kerry Haydin has learned how to play drums well. The last part of the puzzle is Cara Mater. She tought herself how to play bass. All of the songs have something to say. One of them is called “American Perfekt”. Perry says: “It’s a term I created that refers to the stereotypical bleached-blond large breasted ditzy girl, that all the guys want purely based on her looks as she has the I.Q. of a door knob." HER doesn’t like that kind of girl. That’s not their idea of what being female is all about. “Teenaged Superstar” is a little bit faster. The guitar notes stand out. Lyrics differentiate between pop stars, who are the creation of advertising and marketing and bands, who have talent and are in it for the long hall. If this is what you think needs to be said, give HERs music a listen. Contact address: Her Records, c/o Rose Perry, 135 Haliburton Rd., London, Ontario, Canada, N6K 2Z2. Website: Or send an Email to: [8 points] (Jack Little)

IGNITOR-Take To The Sky (independent)
You’d better check this one out, because it’s hot! IGNITOR hails from Texas, and since human memories go back in metal history, metal from Texas is great and ultracool. Just remember great bands like S.A. SLAYER, RIPPER and WATCHTOWER, to name but a few. This great six track CD opens with a diamond in the rough, called “Demonslayer”. The name of this song alone, will let you know that IGNITOR is a traditional heavy metal band in its purest form. The band consists of Stuart Laurence on guitar, Pat Doyle on drums, Brendon Bigelow on bass, Beverly Barrington on guitar (ex-TANG) and female siren Erika Swinnich (ex-AUTUMN TEARS) on vocals. The riffs in “Execution” are sharp like a knife, and the high screams of Erika makes your skin crawl. This is really a killer song! Same goes for “The Gray Ghost”, which opens with IRON MAIDEN like guitar riffs and it contains some great twin guitar work in the middle. At the end of the song, Erika yells out another high scream, marvellous! Title track “Take To The Sky” opens with the sound of an air raid, followed by the human air raid of Erika herself. My goodness, what a great voice! “Death To False Metal” is part of the lyrics in this song. Need I say anything more here?!?? I don’t think so. IGNITOR has got me right by the balls and I think I like it. The band will be introduced to you much closer in one of the upcoming issues of our magazine. Right now, the only thing you need to know is that this thirty minute metal attack is out there waiting for you to be checked out. For more information about this great Texas metal band, rush to their website at: Final warning!!! This band is only for real die hard heavy metal freaks, not for wimps and posers! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IMMEMORIAL-After Deny (Conquer Records)
IMMEMORIAL consists of Melody on guitar, Fizyk on drums, Frost on drums, Tadra on guitar and Karla on vocals. Karla (Karolina Czertowicz) replaces the first lady singer of the band Marta Meger, who sings in ENTER CHAOS now. She has a voice, which could be described as a meat grinder that is powered by pure hydrochloric acid. She grunts about death and destruction on this second album by this Polish death metal invasion. Especially the growling voice of Karla, and the SLAYER like guitar erruptions, make you aware that we’re dealing with one of the most brutal death metal bands in the Polish metal scene here. Another comparision I’d like to make is the one with SINISTER. They also play these fast SLAYER like slashing riffs, and have a female grunter, that can meet the high standards of their male collegues like Glen Benton (DEICIDE) and David Vincent (MORBID ANGEL). Karla must have had a very tough youth, but in the twelve songs on this album, she is able to shout and scream away all the frustration that she has hidden in her body. Highlight for me on this great album is “Evil Fills Me”. Don’t try to sound like this at home, because you will be slaughtered by your neighbours. IMMEMORIAL is only interesting for people, who like their metal brutal, evil, mean and raw. All others better stay away from these death meat grinders from Poland! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

INFLUENCE-Live From The Other Side (independent)
“Live From The Other Side” is an honest reflection of how INFLUENCE sounds live on stage. The songs were recorded on September 13th, 2003 at the Music Centre in Schagen, The Netherlands. Fourteen great metal songs are on this silver disc, that runs for about seventy-eight minutes. Every space they could use on this CD is filled with the heavenly sound of this great heavy metal band. Although the band hails from Holland, they have this typical NWOBHM sound in their music. This is especially because of the two guitar players in the band, that are constantly batteling with each other in long twin solo duels. The singer has a high screaming voice, most of the time, with the well-known high pinches that we know from people like KING DIAMOND (just listen to his voice in “Steel Angels” for example). Something that is unbearable, when you want to create an old fashioned heavy metal style. The expression ‘old fashioned’ is meant in a very positive way here, because the band commits themselves constantly to the authentic heavy metal style, that was created in the late seventies, early eighties by bands like IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, ACCEPT, SCORPIONS, SAXON and hundreds of NWOBHM bands. INFLUENCE consists of Bas Assenbroek on vocals, Erwin van Egmond on guitar and vocals, Martijn de Vries on guitar and vocals, Fabian de Bakker on drums and metal maiden Chantal van ‘t Wout on the bass guitar. During “Those Tears Are Gone”, the band takes back some speed and it’s time for a sensitive ballad. Something, that made most metal bands quite famous in the eighties by the bigger audience. And it’s good to hear that there are still bands in the metal scene, that can and will write a good ballad. I had a great time listening to this live CD, and I can’t wait to hear their new studio album, that they are working on at the moment. I predict a great future for this band, especially when they can keep this line up together. The talent is there, they know how to use it, they sound fresh and they are still young. All ingredients are there to become the masters of the new class of heavy metal bands in Holland. For more information, you can check out their website at: They receive the full score for this product, because that’s what they deserve! [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS-Naked (Victor Entertainment (JAP))
JOAN JETT presents us her new CD, which is called “Naked”. It’s a bit strange maybe, that Japan gets the exclusive premiere of this cheerful fact, but the reason for that is explained in the booklet. Joan also gives a short comment to each of the sixteen songs, that are on this sixty minute plus CD. The CD opens with title track “Naked”, followed by a ballad called “Bad Time”. “Fetish” is already well-known by all the die hard fans of Joan, I guess. And so is THE REPLACEMENTS cover “Andro-gynous”, which is on next. Then it’s time for one of the songs, that Joan performed in the Broadway version of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW. According to the booklet, this version is much louder and more rock and roll than the original version, people got to hear in the theater. “Right In The Middle” was co-written by Linda Perry (ex-4 NON BLONDES). “Turn It Around” is a punky rock and roll song, which has a nice guitar solo right down in the middle. It wouldn’t have been misplaced on one of THE RUNAWAYS albums indeed, so the CD booklet tells us already. I’d expected more of “Everyone Knows” and “Baby Blue”, although the latter sounds like a real JOAN JETT classic in process. I think, I like her uptempo songs a bit more, but I can hear the potential of “Baby Blue” to become a hitsingle. Joan was made to rock, that’s why I was a bit surprised by the experimental character of “Kiss On The Lips”. Although it has the right groove, you have to listen to it several times to get the right feeling It doesn’t grab you by the balls immediately, if you know what I mean. After “Watersign”, it’s finally time to rock again with “Tube Talkin’ ”. This is what I expected to hear from the uncrowned queen of punk rock music! It’s there, you only have to wait for a while. But it’s all over after three and a half minutes, and the mood gets dark again with a song, called “Season Of The Witch”. Again I ask myself why Joan uses such a dark and depressing intro, before she explodes into the chorus of this song? As you can see, the CD is full of variation, which makes it an easy ride to sit out, for the people who are not a die hard JOAN JETT fan. Then we get “Bad Time” again. This time it’s not the rocking version we already heard, but the so-called ‘monster mix’. Joan wrote this song together with Joey Levine, who’s the man who created all the Dr. Pepper commercials, in case you didn’t know. “Can’t Live Without You” is one of Joan’s faves on this CD. It’s a song, co-written by Jimmy Vallance (BRYAN ADAMS, AEROSMITH, MAGNUM, OZZY OSBOURNE). And when you hear the name Jimmy Valance, you immediately think of catchy rock songs, that are easy to sing along to, and ready to enter the charts. Well, what you see is what you get. It’s a great catchy rock song, and it has a nice guitar solo. “Five” closes this Japanese import release. It’s co-written by Kathleen Hanna (BIKINI KILL), whose name appears many times in the CD booklet as co-writer on this “Naked” album. To be honest with you, I really liked this album. Especially the beginning and the end, in the middle my attention seemed to fade away for a couple of songs, but I still believe that this new album will definitely please all the die hard JETT heads, who were eagerly waiting to hear this new album. I think, it was well worth the waiting. Now the new album is finally there, we only have to wait and see Joan hit the stage again in The Netherlands and the rest of Europe. I’ll keep my fingers crossed, while listening to “Naked”, decently dressed of course. Visit her official website at: or for more information. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KANARY-Haunted (MCD) (independent)
Three songs on this six song MCD were already on the latest release of KANARY, which we reviewed in MM#25. KANARY still consists of Mary Kay on bass and backing vocals, Tony Matteucci on drums and former PRECIOUS METAL member Leslie Knauer on guitar and vocals. “Bad Luck” is a song, that JIMI HENDRIX could have written, when he was still alive. The slightly hoarse voice of Leslie fits really well in “Don’t Be Scared”, which also has this seventies attitude. Add to this the MOTHERS FINEST like funky bass playing of Mary and it’s a catchy song indeed. Title track “Haunted” sounds like MELISSA ETHERIDGE in a certain way. It’s a bit more modest than the rest of the songs we heard so far. “Something Beautiful” is a catchy shuffle, which we already heard on the three track EP. Same goes for “Kookaboo”, which was then called “Kookaboo Zoo”. Another song which easily could have been sung by MELISSA ETHERIDGE, and they must see that as a big compliment. There are worse artists to be compared to. “Woke Me Up” closes this twenty-three minutes MCD. It’s a nice laid back song, with a touch of psychedelica in the instrumental part. A song that could have been written by the early FLEETWOOD MAC for example. I liked the six songs on this MCD very much. They are full of variation and they show us a band that are not willing to tie themselves down to one style. Website: http:// [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LIVA-Requiem (Stoke Records)
LIVA are from Quebec and the band consists of Pier Carlo Liva on guitar and vocals, Sébastien Breton on drums, Simon Roy-Boucher on bass and Catherine Elvira Chartier on viola, electric viola and vocals. You’d expect that the band would be singing in the French language, when coming from the French part of Canada. To my big surprise, they sing in Latin, which sounds pretty well with the gothic like metal, that they do. The band has won many contests, and they already supported bands like GORGUTS and VOI VOD. They are about to support NIGHTWISH during their one and only show in Canada. And I think that the fans of NIGHTWISH will definitely like this band. Mainly because of the beautiful alto voice of Catherine Elvira. Because of the Latin lyrics and the alto voice, I sometimes get the idea that some parts of the songs of LIVA could well be used for horror and thriller movies. “Kyrie” and “Dies Irae” are pretty open, perhaps even catchy in some way. But in “Tuba Mirum”, I hear the more experimental sound that I’d expected already, even before I heard one single note of this band. Especially the beginning of this song is quite far away from the things that I hear in general. For me, this song was one of the highlights of the album. On this CD there’s also a live video of this particular song, so somehow it must be quite special for the band as well. There is an interview with the band as well. While the CD spins around, I have the idea of calling this band the Canadian version of HAGGARD, without the orchestra. Classical sounds, Latin lyrics, mixed with heavier parts. The short, but beautiful “Lacrymosa”, is followed by the fast and heavy riffed “Domine Jesu”. The CD closes with “Sanctus” and “Agnus Dei”. LIVA celebrates their own mass, on metal music. If you’re interested, you can check out their website at: http://www. or contact their management at: http://www.; Email: Amen! [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LUCUBRO-I.O.I. (Diumus)
LUCUBRO is Roman-Latin for to work at night. If it were spelled as it is said, it would be loo-coo-bro. That’s a good name for this band. Bands do their best work after dark. This band’s music is dark and doomy sounding. Krista Van Guilder (former WARHORSE co-founder) is the vocalist. She expresses a lot of sorrow and pain with her voice. She also plays guitar. You hear Krista's chords and notes throughout the CD. Heath Thayer contributes to the gloominess on bass guitar. He's heard more than some bass players. Chris Gervais (formerly RAWHEAD REXX) sets steady rhythms with the drums. First off is “Star Utopia”. It chugs along for 6:25. There's a slow haunting introduction. Then the guitar comes in, taking it into the slow metal realm. Later there is a higher guitar solo. Krista sings deep to mid-range vocals. “Turning Into You” is a little faster. It starts off with death grunt vocals. The rest of the time, the words are clear. He introduced her to it and told her not to do it. To her surprise, she's now doing it. She realizes that she's becoming what she didn't want to be. None of the other songs are very fast. All are emotional, usually unhappy. LUCUBRO do what they intend to do. They do it well. Fans of slower metal will like this. Contact address: LUCUBRO, P.O. Box 2616, Worcester, MA 01613-2616, USA. Email:; Internet: [9 points] (Jack Little)

COURTNEY LOVE-American Sweetheart (Virgin Records)
This is not a new HOLE album, but COURTNEY LOVE’s solo debut album “America’s Sweetheart”. And I must say, it’s a damn good album, too! Just listen to rocking openers such as “Mono” and “But Julian, I’m A Little Bit Older Than You”. Well, after such a flashing start, it’s time to take some rest in “Hold On To Me”. But you can’t keep an animal on a leash for much too long, so she proves in “Sunset Strip”. This lady has gone through so many bad aspects in her life. It’s good to see, that music is still one of her priorities, because songs like “I’ll Do Anything” sound very cool. There are moments, when Love takes back some speed. These are the songs, where the lyrics are more important, and the subjects are a bit serious. The drawings of the CD booklet, and especially on the cover, are really excellent. The line up of her current band (?) is not mentioned in the booklet. Only the names of the people, who contributed on “America’s Sweetheart” are named in it, like Emilie Autumn, Greg Collins, Jerry Best, Scott McCloud, Patty Schemel and Samantha Maloney. “America’s Sweetheart” has become a good solo album of this beautiful femme fatale extraordinar, which runs for about forty-five minutes. We get a close look into her heart, and she even unveils her early influences like THE BEATLES and LED ZEPPELIN (!!) (just listen to “Life Despite God” and “The Zeplin Song”; Need I say more?). It’s hard to see, that a well-talented lady like Courtney, throws her life in the bin so easy. Her solo CD is highly recommended by me, whatever they say about her. The CD is ‘copy controlled’, but I guess that every music lover should own an original copy of this good CD. And that’s my final statement on this one. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MOONSTONE-The Second Rune (Brennus Music)
MOONSTONE are from France, and “The Second Rune” is the second album by this heavy metal outfit. I must say, they surprised me with their powerful sound on this one. Paula’s voice is very strong, and she carries the total sound of the band to a higher level. Nine songs, with a total length of about forty-five minutes, make you long for more and that’s for sure. Just listen to “Mindlord”, which has a great guitar solo. Paula’s voice reminds me of Jutta Weinhold (ex-ZED YAGO/VELVET VIPER) here, and I also noticed some similarity with Jo Phipps of the English cult band MASQUE. MOONSTONE already played live in the UK, Germany and France, and it would be nice to see them on stage in Holland soon, too. After great releases of MYSTERY BLUE and CRUSHING BLOW, Brennus Music pesents us a third well-talented band from France, that plays true metal, in the finest way possible. To hear a good example of this, just listen to the guitar solo in “Run”, and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what I am talking about. Whereas other bands simply refuse to play a decent guitar solo, this man goes totally over the top; excellent!!! It’s a shame, that former KILLERS (F) guitarist Roman Jacques, is not a member of the band anymore. But hey, you can’t have it all. Title track “The Second Rune” is quite catchy. In a way, it’s pretty easy to sing along to the chorus. It also contains another great explosion on guitar! Then it’s time for the obligatory ballad, I should almost say. Because in the eighties, where the roots of this bands are if I’m not mistaken, your album was nothing without a good ballad. This one is called “You’re Leaving Me”, and it’s a ballad according to the book, so to speak. The CD closes with a couple of powerful songs like “Burning Fire”, “Pure Evil” and “I’m Back”, and the titles alone will give you enough information to make sure we’re not dealing with a pop band here. Believe me on my word, when I say that this CD grabbed me right away, and it made many turns in my stereo already after this first introduction. MOONSTONE consists of Paula Guittard on vocals, Micky Lee on drums, Gilles Lesoin on bass and the dragon with the two heads Franck Vidal and Emilien Vincente on the metal axes (which some of you might know as guitars). Do yourself a favor, and buy the god damn CD. I hope that my advise is clear enough now! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ORPHANAGE-Driven (Nuclear Blast)
We had to wait a long time (four long years) to enjoy this new CD of Dutch pride ORPHANAGE. And the waiting was worth the while. Their new album is called “Driven”. It contains fourteen songs, and it runs a little over sixty-five gorgeous minutes. George Oosthoek sounds very angry again, and the angel-like voice of Rosanna tries to temper this anger with her heavenly singing. “The Sign” is a powerful opener, and “Black Magic Mirror” gives me the idea of a ride on a carousel. Maybe it’s because of the short intro to this song, but it definitely became one of the highlights on this new CD for me. Although the line up of the band has undergone a giant makeover, the sound of ORPHANAGE is still very strong. Mind you if I say, that “Driven” has become the almost ultimate ORPHANAGE album. The band easily switches from songs like “My Master’s Master”, with the well-known song structures, to a short instrumental as “Back Gate”. Right after that, they explode again in “In Slavery”. This short instrumental piece grabs your attention right away, and it makes sure that you stay focussed on the next song, which is very well done. It makes the album complete for me, until the smallest details which I expected to be part of it. Besides George and Rosanna, the band consists of Guus Eikens on guitar, Remko van der Spek on bass guitar, Lasse Dellbrügge on keyboards and Sureel on drums. On “Infinity”, the band goes insane for a couple of minutes. The riffs are kind of industrial sometimes, and there’s quite a lot of power on this one. “Beyond The Fall” brings you back to earth again. “Ender’s Game” closes the CD, that brings out the best of ORPHANAGE so far. I hope, that we don’t have to wait another four years to hear the successor to this album. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

OMNISCIENT-Ultima Destructo Infinitus (MCD) (independent)
When I noticed the unreadable logo of the band, I already prepared myself for a real vicious attack. And I was right: this band from Wilmington, North Carolina presents you a very brutal death metal MCD here. “The Mastermind Helix” opens the nineteen minutes death metal flow that will destroy your room. Aggressive vocals, hyperblasting ultrafast drumbeats (this guy is real fast!) and the twin axe attacks show us that OMNISCIENT is a band you don’t want to mess around with. The female input in this band comes from keyboard player Leslie Hargrave. But when you take a good look at the names of the band members, you will recognise more Hargraves in the line up. We also have Andy Hargrave on guitars, and the four legged drummer James Hargrave. The band is completed by Steve Benoy on guitars, Bob Daugherty on vocals and David Chaney on bass. In “Witnessing Atrocity”, we hear some of the keyboard parts of Leslie upfront. The keyboards are returning in title track “Ultima Destructo Infinitus” and my mind goes out to DIMMU BORGIR for a couple of seconds. Add to this the great guitar parts that reminded me of early SLAYER, and you can guess already that this was the highlight of this four track MCD for me. Especially the doomy, dark horror like sound effects at the end of this song, make it to a killer death metal outcry. The MCD closes with “Dimension Art Of Soul Hypocrisy”, which leaves in full speed again. Beware that the brutal sound of OMNISCIENT is only for the grave diggers and the necrophilists among us. When you haven’t practiced your ears already to listen to good death metal, please don’t even try to listen to this brutal masterpiece, because you definitely won’t survive. Let this be a warning!! [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE PAYBACKS-Knock Loud (2002) (Get Hip Recordings)
THE PAYBACKS are from Detroit rock city. Meaning, that we’re in for a thirty minutes rock and roll party on their latest album “Knock Loud”. Opener “Just You Wait” is already one of the highlights for me on this ten tracker. It has a sound that only FRANKIE MILLER could have created. A tango on a rock and roll beat, which is absolutely fabulous! THE PAYBACKS consist of John Szymanski on bass, Mike Latulippe on drums, Marco Delicato on guitar (who has now been replaced by former MUGGS guitar player Danny Methric) and Wendy Case on hoarse voice and guitar. “Black Girl” is another great rocker, and “Blackout” reminds me of the early TWISTED SISTER stuff. It R-O-C-K-S, it’s super!! Crank up that guitar, wild mama!! That same TWISTED SISTER atmosphere can be found back in other songs, like “If I Fell”. It’s a good mix of rock and roll, loud guitars and a wild screaming vocalist, that may be even wilder on stage. Others may say it’s simple. I say that those people haven’t understood what it’s all about. THE PAYBACKS are there to give you a good time, and if you’re ready to celebrate a party, then this is the band to check out on a Saturday night! “Tie Me In A Knot” is early AC/DC with a female vocalist. Well, the hints must be clear now. THE PAYBACKS will bring back the colour in your life. Away with the grey, rainy days. Just listen to “Knock Loud” and feel good again. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JANA PERI-Jana Peri (Hot Jupiter Records)
JANA PERI has synthesized a lot of different music. The CD starts with an American view of British rock in the 1960's. A lot of us grew up with that kind of music. We imagined going there and joining in. On "The La La Song", Jana does it for us. It's as energetic as an early BEATLES tune. There's a lot of guitar along with it. Then there's "Dating Sucks". It has more in common with punk rock. The three verses are three men, you don't want to know. They lead to relationship disaster. She says "At some point I began to hate them through and through." in the chorus. Some good note playing by Jana adds to it. "Blizzard" is a little softer. It's catchy and has enough rhythm to keep you interested. Some will think of early 1960's guitar, when they hear this song. The piano introduction to “Damn You / Damn Me” caught my eye. In some ways, it reminds me of singer/songwriter music. The string bending on guitar rocks. Jana uses a deeper, stronger voice on this song. It's about a relationship that has gone too far and too fast. It has now reached a dramatic point. The song sets the mood well. She says "If you’re looking for a strong woman who makes great music, you've come to the right place". I agree with that. [9 points] (Jack Little)

PREY FOR ROCK AND ROLL-S/T (soundtrack) (Hybrid Recordings)
This is the soundtrack album of “Prey For Rock & Roll”. It’s the movie of the play, that was written and put together by CHERI LOVEDOG and JAN TILLEY. You can read all the facts about this project in MM#27. The CD of the play was reviewed in MM#24. There are fourteen songs on this album, which is almost as raw, uncomplicated and ‘in your face’ as the original. The story of an all-female rock band has its ups and downs of course, and these moods reflect themselves in uptempo punky rock songs and almost tender ballads. The band consists of Gina Gershon on vocals (who reminded me of STEVIE NICKS of FLEETWOOD MAC in “4 Into 3”, while she sounds very much like CHRISSIE HYNDE of THE PRETENDERS during “Sam”), Gina Volpe (LUNACHICKS) on guitar, piano and background vocals, Cheri Lovedog on guitar, Stephen Trask on guitar and keyboards, Sara Lee (B-52’s) on bass and Samantha Maloney (HOLE, COURTNEY LOVE) on drums. “Studiostar” however was performed by Gina Gershon, Linda Perry (PINK, 4 NON BLONDES) and Patty Schemel (HOLE, COURTNEY LOVE). There you have it: a soundtrack to the movie that perfectly reflects the life of an all-girl rock and roll band. The movie will also play in Europe this fall, and I can’t wait to see it. The music alone will make it worth the wait and prove is given on this fifty minute CD. More information about the play, the movie, the soundtrack, DVD, etc. can be obtained from: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

RATEOFDEPRESS-Bleach The Sky (Casket Music)
My first thoughts go out to RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, when I listen to the chords and lyrics of “D.O.A” of RATEOFDEPRESS. Fast aggressive riffs, brutal screaming, and yet creating a catchy atmosphere. The band is definitely heavier than the average nu-metal band, but I would definitely like to categorise them as a nu-metal band. The biggest surprise was that this band comes from the UK, while they sound very American. RATEOFDEPRESS consists of Marc Prior on vocals (which are sometimes a bit disorted!), Rich Prior on guitar and backing vocals, Toby Emery on guitars, Thom Browning on drums and metal maiden Rachel McGeehan on bass. The songs on “Bleach The Sky” are suitable for radio airplay. They are alternative, and based on the giant nu-metal scene, that rules the sound on the radio today. Think about the success of CREED, NICKELBACK, PAPA ROACH and LINKIN PARK for a second. If they can do it, why wouldn’t this approach work for RATEOFDEPRESS? When I speak for myself, I have nothing at all with this style of music. But I believe, that I can distinguish the no-hopers from the well talented bands, and in my opinion RATEOFDEPRESS belongs to the latter category. This is mainly because of the variation they put into their songs, and like I mentioned earlier, RATEOFDEPRESS easily sounds louder than the average nu-metal band. A good example would be the title track of this album “Bleach The Sky”, which opens like one of the more modest songs of LINKIN PARK but ends like a giant whirlwind creating a huge slampit in front of the stage. Same happens in “Two Steps From Paradise”, by the way. You can almost wait for the sound explosion in this song! The band already opened for bands like TRIBUTE TO NOTHING, BRUTAL DELUXE and DEFENESTRATION, but I believe that it won’t take long until they can start to headline their own shows. While they might be playing at the bigger festivals next year. Things can go really fast sometimes. Official site: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE RIPLETS-Love Special Delivery Boy (U-Sonic Records)
This is the second album of the all-female threesome THE RIPLETS. It contains eleven songs and runs for about thirty minutes. The band still consists of Janneke Riplet on vocals and bass, L.A. Sun on guitar and vocals and Valesca Riplet on drums and vocals. The first thing I noticed when I heard this new album, is that the keyboards are very much upfront in the mix sometimes (played by Honey Lovebux, by the way). Are THE RIPLETS getting modest?? Well, that’s a statement that I wouldn’t make here, but if you listen to songs like “Son Of A….” and “Lucky”, then they will also attract to you, I guess. “Hey Mickey” is on the CD as well. It’s the all time favorite song of the band, which was made famous by TONI BASIL somewhere in the early eighties. “Randy” sounds like “The Leader Of The Pack”, the famous song of THE SHANGRI-LAS from 1976. The band still rocks, which they prove on the title track of the album. But their sound is much more accessible nowadays, and with this approach they will probably reach a bigger audience of course. Ranging from the Motown sound to Detroit based rock music, it’s all on the new album. A step back in rawness maybe, but a big leap forward on their way to fame and success. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SCHANDMAUL-Wie Pech Und Schwefel (Fame Recordings/Rock Inc.)
Spain has got MAGO DE OZ, while England has SKYCLAD and JETHRO TULL. Now Germany has SCHANDMAUL next to the already existing collegues of IN EXTREMO and SUBWAY TO SALLY, bands that mix joyful folk songs with loud guitar riffs. We already wrote about the live CD of this band in MM# 34. This is the new studio effort, and the band has become a little bit heavier in my opinion. SCHANDMAUL consists of Stefan Brunner on the drums/percussions, Matthias Richter on bass, Thomas Lindner on vocals/accordion/acoustic guitar, Martin Duckstein on guitars, Birgit Muggenthaler on vocals/ flutes/bagpipes/shawm, and Anna Kränzlein on vocals/mellotron/hurdy gurdy and violin. This band plays the national anthem of the land of fairy-tales, kings, jesters, dragons, castles, witches, midgets, elfs and wizards. The album will also be promoted live, and this year you will find the name of SCHANDMAUL on a lot of festival bills, like Summer Breeze and Wacken Open Air. It’s there where they will create their perfect blend of todays rock music and medieval sounds, live on stage. “Wie Pech & Schwefel” has become a better album than the aforementioned live album “Hexenkessel”. Maybe it’s because this is really a band for studio albums, because it’s quite difficult to create this sound in a live situation as well. You also must go through the German lyrics of the different songs, but this is just part of the folk tradition. These are the stories of a certain country, and it’s best to sing them in their native language of course. Music wise, it has become an album that knows a lot of variation and it also shows some progression, when you compare it to there previous album. The fifteen songs have a running time of a little bit more than a full hour. So there’s time enough to get used to the German lyrics and the folk metal sound of this new talented band. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SERAPHIM-Ai (Magnum)
“Ai” is the title of the new album by this melodic power metal band from Taiwan. There are thirteen songs on it, which are good for about seventy minutes of powerful riffs and Malmsteen like guitar solos, the beautiful soprano voice of Pay next to the angry voice of bass player Jax, and the beautiful song arrangements of this band. The lengthy songs give the band enough room to improvise, during the instrumental breaks. Mix STRATOVARIUS with ANGRA and NIGHTWISH, add a little bit of MALMSTEEN guitar flavour to the whole, and pour some hot CRADLE OF FILTH sauce over it to get the recipe right for the SERAPHIM sound. Sometimes the band reduces speed to take a deep breath, like in “My” (with IRON MAIDEN like guitar work). You’ll need these point of rests to reach “The End”, which is the final song on this CD. Meaning that there is a lot more power on this new SERAPHIM disc then before. The instrumental track is one of the highlights on the album, next to “Before”, which comes right after it. “Is That?” is another piece of rest on this solid metal album, that easily stands proud next to the bigger names in the scene. Besides Pay and Jax, the band consists of Simon on drums, Kessier on guitar and Lucas on guitar. You can obtain all the information you need about these Taiwanese metal heads on their website at: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE SIRENS-Meet The Sirens (Get Hip Records)
The glam rock of the eighties is back on this twelve song CD of THE SIRENS. Think about SUZI QUATRO, SLADE, SWEET, T-REX and GARRY GLIITER, and you’ll have the right direction. “I Didn’t Know I Loved You (Till I Saw You Rock And Roll)” opens the CD. We know the song already by GARY GLITTER of course, and later on, it became a little hitsingle for ROCK GODDESS as well. THE SIRENS consist of Muffy Kroha on vocals, Double D (I don’t know if that’s the size of her bra, or her real name:-) on drums and backing vocals, Baby Ruth on guitar and backing vocals, Miss Shelly on bass and backing vocals and Melody Licious on guitar and backing vocals. There’s doo wop, glam, rock and roll, surf and riot grrrl like material on the thirty five minutes music that fill this silver disc. And next to new glam rock classics like “Deversion”, which I liked a lot by the way, we also get to hear some good old classics like the SUZI QUATRO song “Glycerine Queen” and the SLADE cover “Gudby T’ Jane”. The sound is authentic, even a bit fuzzy, and definitely not overproduced and smooth or polished. THE SIRENS are ready to create a giant party, when they will play these songs live on stage, that’s for sure. Read the exclusive interview in this very issue of MM#36, where you can “Meet THE SIRENS”. More information about this band, can be obtained on their website at: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SKEW SISKIN-Album Of The Year (Ulftone Music)
I hear MOTÖRHEAD influences in opener “We Hate”, LITA FORD in “Shake Me” and AC/DC in “All Fired Up”. Yes dear readers, this is the new album of SKEW SISKIN. Nina is the well known blonde female frontlady of this German metal band, that likes her music loud and simple. But their simple sound is also very sufficient, because they have slowly moved away from being an underground rock band to one of the hottest bands in theGerman metal scene. They’ve supported Lemmy’s MOTÖRHEAD more than once, which means you must be good. Lemmy doesn’t want you around a second time, when you can’t hit a note right, believe me! But he was responsible for some of the vocals on this album and he can even be heard in the background choir of “Shake Me”. “Hate Lies” is the odd one out here. It sounds very industrial, like MARILYN MANSON, MY RUIN or THE GENITORTURERS. I do like the guitars in the song, by the way. The same happens in the beginning of a song, called “Lips”. I’d like to refer to it as an industrial blues song. I don’t think, it has to get any weirder than this! There are fourteen songs on this album, that runs for a full hour. “White Thrash” has the same beat as “Let There Be Rock”, but who cares? Just rock and roll, and let it all out, that’s the main message on this album. And I can go for that as well. I like the straight forward approach of this band. SKEW SISKIN consists of Nina C. Alice on vocals, Jim Voxx on guitars, Spray on bass and Damien Insane on drums. I like the use of the keyboards here and there. Mostly in the faster parts, which gives it a more rock and roll character. In “Strike Me Blind”, we can hear SKEW SISKIN sound like LED ZEPPELIN. As you can hear, the band uses a lot of influences and yet they knew how to create a sound of their own. They even know how to make a ballad like “War And Peace Song” sound like it fits very well to the overall sound of SKEW SISKIN. I will not go that far to call it the ‘album of the year’, but it sure is a damn good album with a lot of variation. More information about the band can be obtained by going to their website at: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STAGE DIVE-Begin The End (2002) (Alternative Music)
I was pleasantly surprised by STAGE DIVE’s CD. They use a variety of musical styles to express an idea or mood. All are easy to listen to. It is also due to the quality of the arrangement and production. Angel is the vocalist. She can sing softly or tensely, when it is called for. She plays second guitar, too. You may know Falcon for short ram skate boarding. He wrote, arranged and produced these songs. Falcon plays guitar. He has the good sense not to over right his own part. Instead, the guitar falls in, where it can get your attention. Krystal can play bass guitar strong or subtle. On the CD package Misty is pictured as a mannequin. Her drumming is far more lively, than the picture suggests. “Sunshine Girl” has a fast drum intro. In some verses there's a heavy chugging sound. On this one, a man sees a woman but is afraid to make contact with her. Then there is a not as heavy chorus. When she speaks, the music is lighter. She is willing to be his “Sunshine Girl”. Up until now, I had never heard a song about calling technical support. I find myself in it. There's some strong guitar and good lyrics here. “Leave Me” starts out like slow metal. Then Falcon comes in on guitar. STAGE DIVE create an unsettling sound, that lingers. The lyrics tell us: "You can leave me on the outside, but you'll never be over me". If a good CD doesn't have to be all the same kind of music, this is it. Website: Email: stagedive_2000@ [10 points] (Jack Little)

TO ELYSIUM-Nightmare’s Nest (Ebony Tears)
This is the second album by TO ELYSIUM, a band who are slowly connecting their name to the big names in the Dutch gothic metal scene, like WITHIN TEMPTATION, AFTER FOREVER, AUTUMN, EPICA and ORPHANAGE. It’s a scene that is growing fast, and only the strong will survive in the end, I guess. TO ELYSIUM is one of these strong bands, because the second album already sounds much better than their debut “Dearest Vile”, which was a good start. Their concept is easy and perhaps done many times before already. Take an angry vocalist (Rein Doze) and a female singer with a beautiful opera voice (or a whispering voice, that's okay too!) like Esther de Vos, then add some heavy guitar riffs, a carpet of keyboards, an ultrafast drummer and well thought of lyrics with statements that give you something to think about. Some bands add even more to it, like TO ELYSIUM does for example, and those are the bands that catch our attention. I read quotes of well known people in the accompanying CD booklet (Horace / Nietzsche / Poe / Escher), which gives the concept a special dimension, I think. I hear back some Blackmore like guitar riffs in some of the songs, which points at a more traditional approach than most of the bands are doing. I bet that guitar player Manny van Oosten is behind that. Manny played in a Dutch band called BLACK OUT, and you can never hide from your roots. Although his roots are gone for ninety-five procent, I still hear the small input of traditional (hard)rock in some of these songs. Besides Manny, Esther and Rein, the band consists of Ray van Lente on guitars, Andries van der Worp on bass, Marcel Winkes on synthesizers and Sjoerd Visch on drums. In Holland, a lot of people are already embracing the talents of TO ELYSIUM, so what about you? Don’t be shy, and just give them a spin or two to be convinced of their strength. You won’t be disappointed! [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VARIOUS-The Second Wave – 25 Years Of NWOBHM (Communiqué)
It’s already 25 years ago since the NWOBHM scene started its musical revolution in the UK. And I am hooked and devoted ever since. The old scene was so rich, that it grabbed me by the balls immediately. And twenty-five years later, I am still excited when I hear that there is a CD coming out from a band, who had their moment of fame in that period, big and small. The only shame about this period is that there weren’t much ladies involved. I know that SATANIC RITES had a lady in their line up. And there were post-NWOBHM bands like ORAL, THUNDERSTICK, SHE and MASQUE with ladies in their line up. And of course you had two all-female bands like ROCK GODDESS and GIRLSCHOOL, of which I consider GIRLSCHOOL as the one and only NWOBHM band, if I may. GIRLSCHOOL is on this great sampler, together with OLIVER/DAWSON SAXON (a division of the original SAXON) and TYGERS OF PAN TANG (with original member Rob Weir). GIRLSCHOOL present us their best, and most recognisable songs from their latest album “Not That Innocent”. I’m talking about “Innocent”, “Mad Mad Sister” and “Coming Your Way” here. All three songs have got that certain GIRLSCHOOL approach, which is that kind of catchiness combined with great heavy guitar riffs and the double bass drum of rock and roll animal Denise Dufort. Besides Denise, GIRLSCHOOL 2004 consists of Kim McAuliffe (she’s still my favorite GIRLSCHOOL member after all these years) on guitar and vocals, Enid Williams on bass and Jackie Chambers, the beautiful new blonde guitar goddess. But there’s more, because GIRLSCHOOL also plays two new songs on this album, which makes it even a more interesting buy for the fans. We hear “Passion” and “Believe” on this CD. And if this is the sound of the new GIRLSCHOOL, they can go on for another twenty-five years, as far as I’m concerned. To be honest with you, if I must compare the GIRLSCHOOL songs to the the other two bands on this CD, than it’s plain and simple that GIRLSCHOOL beats them with a knock out in the first round. TYGERS OF PAN TANG are renewing the sound of old classics like “Love Potion No 9” and “Hellbound” for example, and OLIVER/DAWSON SAXON try to sound like SAVATAGE and old QUEENSRYCHE (vocally), but not really convincing. Please don’t get me wrong here. On a scale from one to ten, the two male contibutions score seven to eight points on this compilation, but the ladies score is between nine and ten. It’s clear, that this is an interesting sampler after all, and I’m dying to hear the new GIRLSCHOOL stuff after this pretaster. There are fifteen songs on this album, with a total length of about sixty-five minutes. And after listening to this album, I am getting ready for the next twenty-five years of NWOBHM sound. Our thanks go out to Jackie of GIRLSCHOOL and Tom Doherty of Plastic Head (UK) for making this review possible. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VARIOUS-Blackmore’s Castle (Lion Music/LMP)
The ‘man in black’ has always been a giant inspiration for many bands and guitarplayers in this world. And it’s not really strange, that many tribute albums are already dedicated to the man and his guitar. This tribute CD contains bands from the Lion Music Group, paying respect to Ritchie Blackmore. And it’s good to see that all the bands have chosen songs from DEEP PURPLE and RAINBOW on this album, and not the modest stuff that the man plays nowadays with his wife Candice Night in BLACKMORE’S NIGHT. The result is a pretty heavy tribute album, which contains quite some female input. Just listen to the renditions of ARABESQUE, CONDITION RED and HEADLINE here, who have three songs out of thirteen on this CD. ARABESQUE plays a good version of the RAINBOW classic “Stargazer”. They added a little bit of their own vision into the original song, without actually changing the structure. HEADLINE plays their version of “The Battle Rages On”. I always like it, when bands don’t simply chose for “Smoke On The Water” or “Since You’ve Been Gone”, because they were the most successful songs. These bands chose the songs, that fitted best to their own music, or the songs that they like most. And so we get to hear songs that are not too obvious choices here, like “Self Portrait” (LARS ERIC MATTSSON), “Bloodsucker” (MISTER KITE) and “Gates Of Babylon” (IRON MASK). CONDITION RED is the third band with female input on this compilation album, and they chose to do “Black Night”. They return again at the end with “Still I’m Sad”, however without Ella Grussner, who plays violin and flute on the first song. The thirteen tracks are good for over seventy minutes of wonderful traditional hard rock songs, that all have a little input of the artist performing the song (sometimes the input is quite big, just listen to ERIC ZIMMERMANN’s version of “The Man On The Silver Mountain” for example!), build upon the solid base of the ‘man in black’ himself. A great compilation album by a great group of musicians, paying tribute to one of the best guitar players in the world. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VENUS 6-S/T (Bone Crazy Music)
The most recent line up of VENUS 6 is Joan Sceline on guitar and vocals, Sugar Plum Ferris on bass and Mark Curry on drums. On this CD however we hear Joan Sceline on guitar and vocals, Laurie Es on bass and vocals and Andrea Kusten on drums. There are ten songs on this CD, that runs for about thirty minutes. Joan is from the L.A. area, while the other two members on the CD come from New York City. Maybe that’s why this line up wasn’t stable enough? Anyway, they still made some impressive songs that we can all enjoy here on this silver disc. Their poprock is covered with a slightly alternative sauce on top. I think about VERUCA SALT, L7 and GARBAGE, to give you an idea in which direction this one goes. Bone Crazy Music was established by Joan to get her music distributed, which I think is kinda strange because it is catchy enough to attract a lot of listeners. There are a lot of influences of todays music in the sound of VENUS 6. Besides pop, rock and guitars, we also hear some dance like beats and rhythms here and there. Joan already gained experience in bands like DOPPELGANGER and SLOTROCKET, and now she can develop her talents in VENUS 6. The highlights on this CD were definitely opener “Going For A Drive”, “Sentimental Blue” and the mighty “Midnight Blind”, while most of the other songs were more poppy, than I thought they would be. [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VIVA LA VENUS-The Never Ending Mending Story (Shiny Pants Records)
VIVA LA VENUS make a good sound together. It ranges from rock to the blues. Often they play short notes and create a feeling of tension. Susan Darney plays guitar on some of the songs and bass on others. Mary Ann Barckhoff plays both, plus adding some backing vocals. Leigh Peterson uses good judgment in varying the strength of the drum part. Wendy Brancaccio plays guitar and sings. Her vocals are precise. She can handle sultry blues numbers too. A lot of the songs are about not taken seriously. They’re about not being appreciated. About times when no effort is made to understand them. It's safe to say, that they find men disappointing. The bands name has Venus not Mars in it. “The Never Ending Mending Story” starts out with “Mystery”. You'd call this rock with touches of hard rock. The sound is up tempo, using some good chords. It's a breakup song. Was it easy to forget me? All the time I wasted on you. Sorting out emotions like those. “Killer” alternates between blues and rock. That held my attention. “Meat Loaf Night” might not be serious. It's faster paced and has a good second part. There are two surprises. One is how well VIVA LA VENUS put it all together. The other is how well they do it. Contact address: VIVA LA VENUS, 1114 Preston Grove Avenue, Cary, NC 27513, USA. Internet: http:// Email: [8 points] (Jack Little)

WYKKED WYTCH-Nefret (Demolition Records)
Get ready for the new WYKKED WYTCH album, because it’s an ultraloud blast again. Ipek has been drinking hydrochloric acid for a couple of months to keep her voice in good shape, and now she is practising it on nine new songs. WYKKED WYTCH consists of demoness Ipek on monstrous vocals, Gio Geraca on guitars and bass, Steve Brubaker on drums and Salvatore LoPresti on keyboards. Sean Young helps out the band on guitars, when they play live. The CD spins for about forty minutes, which is about all the brutality you can take without destroying your room, strangling the cat of the neighbours or getting suicidal. Opener “Nefret” is just great! It contains the screaming voice of Ipek, a more opera like voice and a sort of ‘Excorsist-the movie’ voice, and it also captures some great riffs. And this concept is also used in “Fatal Intentions”, in which Ipek uses several degrees of singing again. I also like the change of mood a lot at the end of the song. It’s something that not a lot of death/black metal bands would dare to do. In the short “Eternal Lies” Ipek adds her speaking voice to the song, which adds another dimension to the several song structures. Talk about variation here. I think that “Nefret” is definitely the best CD of WYKKED WYTCH until now. I don’t really hear the NAPALM DEATH like outings anymore, but I still spotted some of the IRON MAIDEN like guitar parts, which are more hidden underneath their brutal sound. The use of several different voices and the mood and speed changes are very well done, and to me it’s just a killer album. Highlight for me was the lengthy, but yet very brutal “Many Lives”. I also like the new band logo a lot, whereas the letter “T” is represented by a sword. Very well done! Conclussion, a very brutal album, that contains the best material of WYKKED WYTCH so far. Now it’s time for other people to discover the strength of this Florida based band! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

YOUNG HEART ATTACK-Mouthful Of Love (independent)
YOUNG HEART ATTACK is being discovered by many magazines in The Netherlands already, which is very good indeed for a band that released their album independently. The band hails from Austin, Texas. And this says it all. Coming from Texas, means that you are good. That was a golden rule in the eighties, and it still is one as far as I’m concerned. The bands over there really know to make good music, and they seem to isolate themselves from what’s going on in the music scene nowadays. Their musical taste is different (read: better) and more traditional than the rest. This applies to YOUNG HEART ATTACK as well. These people grab back to the traditional roots of LED ZEPPELIN, AC/DC and THE ROLLING STONES. Bands that were world famous in a time, that is loooooong gone. YOUNG HEART ATTACK and THE DARKNESS (who are another good example here maybe!), they are the base of today’s rock music. Every song can be brought back to the originals of these bands. This doesn’t mean they are copycats or they can not create their own face in music. On the contrary, they just use the perfect base to build their own songs upon, and it all sounds refreshingly well. Prove is given on this debut album. A rock and roll party of ten great songs, worthy of almost forty minutes enters your room, when you push the ‘play’ button on your stereo set. Have a look at the name of the band. The letter “Y” is represented by a ‘Flying V’. What a great thought! The line up of the band consists of Chris Hodge on guitar and vocals, Jennifer Stephens on vocals, Frenchie on guitar, Steven T. Hall on bass and Joey Shuffield. OK, I’m ready to hear their music now, so let’s f*cking rock and roll. Wow! Better turn down the volume, if you don’t want the windows to crack. What a great production! “Mouthful Of Love” (is this another description of an ordinairy blowjob??) really ripps! Their music is like NASHVILLE PUSSY, which means that it’s freaking good. “Starlite” opens with the riff of “You Won’t Get Fooled Again” of THE WHO. It’s f*cking brilliant. While “El Camino” is the “Rock And Roll” (LED ZEPPELIN) of YOUNG HEART ATTACK. It has a strange midpiece, which could fit in “Whole Lotta Love” as well. Way to go, guys (and girl)!! I like it, it’s ultracool. After a short part, in which you almost start to sing “It’s Only Rock And Roll, But I Like It” (ROLLING STONES), the guitars explode. Marvellous! In “Tommy Shots”, we hear Chris’ voice sounding a bit like Glen Murdock. It could easily have been recorded for “Another Mother Further” or “Iron Age” by MOTHERS FINEST. Jesus, f*cking Christ, all these influences, I just love it!!! “Take Me Back, Mary Jane” is the perfect blend of GEORGIA SATTELITES’ “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” and THE CULT’s “Wild Flower” or any CHUCK BERRY classic you can name. This is an album, you don’t experience by reading about it, like you do now. Better run to the nearest CD store, grab your last dollars (or euros), buy the damn thing and have a good time. That’s the only advise I can give you after experiencing this pure rock and roll attack. I wonder, if they can live up to these expectations on stage as well. But I think, they are experienced enough. It’s been a long time, since an album left such an incredible impression on me, like “Mouthful Of Love” did. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANOUK (CDsingle)-Margarita Chum (Dino Music)
What can I say? I think this will close a period of the more modest side of ANOUK. The same thing happened last time, when she got her first baby. The album was modest, almost soft, but when the baby was there, ANOUK got ‘bitchy’ again and started rocking like she’d always done before. I think, that “Margarita Chum” will be the last single (and the first without an accompanying video clip), before the release of her new album in September. I really hope her sound will be wild and exciting again. After all, ANOUK is a married woman now and mother of two children. Let’s hope she won’t settle down because of that. So hopefully for the last time, you can chill out on the ‘acoustic version’ and the ‘album version’ of this song for eight minutes. The CD single is again ‘copy controlled’. But to be honnest with you, I had a hard time to stay awake during this song. I know it’s musically alright, so I give this blonde lady the benefit of the doubt (again!). She’d better starts rocking on her next album, ‘cause next time I won’t be generous anymore! Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AYREON (CDsingle)-Day Eleven: Love (SPV/Inside Out)
Very soon, the release of the new AYREON album “The Human Equation” will be a fact. This CD single is a pre-taster and it’s a limited edition with two non-album tracks. The story of the full-length album will be told in the actual CD review (MM#37), but I’ll give you some other details for now. Arjen Lucassen searched for many new male and female singers for his new project. On the radio edit of “Day Eleven: Love”, which is the first song on this single, we get a preview of (nearly) all of them. What would you say of James La Brie (DREAM THEATER), Devon Graves (DEAD SOUL TRIBE, PSYCHOTIC WALTZ), Magnus Ekwal (THE QUILL), Mikael Akerfeldt (OPETH) Heather Findlay (MOSTLY AUTUMN), Irene Jansen (KARMA) and Marcela Bovio?!??? On the next track, we also hear Eric Clayton (SAVIOUR MACHINE), which leaves only Devon Townsend and Mike Baker (SHADOW GALLERY) out. Remarkable are the much heavier guitar and drum sound on this single, which is probably why they decided to chose more prog metal singers for this project. The song “Day Eleven: Love” has a very recognizable chorus and is quite suitable for radio airplay. I think that’s one of the reasons, why it was picked as the first single. The second song is the full album track “Day Two: Isolation”. It starts off slowly with the voice of Eric Clayton, who sounds very similar to DAVID BOWIE. This lengthy song has its heavy parts (and even a flute solo!), too. The most interesting songs are of course the non-album tracks. First of all, we have the LED ZEPPELIN cover, “No Quarter”. It’s very acoustical and sticks very close to the original song. The lead vocals are done by Devon, Magnus, Eric and James. The other track “Space Oddity” (DAVID BOWIE cover) has the voice of (what a surprise!) Eric Clayton only. This one is performed a bit slower than the original, which makes it even more exciting, I think. But still remaining the typical AYREON space sound. I can’t wait for the full-length album to be released on May 24th, which comes in three different versions: the standard 2CD package, a special edition in fold out slipcase (2CDs + DVD) and the very limited edtion, which contains the 2CD package + DVD in a box. [9 points] (Marcel van Santen)

CREMATORY (CDsingle)-Greed (Nuclear Blast)
I don’t know, if the fact that Katrin became a mother, had something to do with the short split up of CREMATORY. But the band is back in business again, and this is their first single, called “Greed”. We review the ‘special DJ edition” here, which contains three songs and eleven minutes of music. There is also a normal version, which contains the METALLICA cover “One” and a video clip, so watch out which version you want to buy, before spending your money. “Greed” is how we remember CREMATORY, heavy but with some ocassional alternative beats. There are a few more beats on “Tick Tock”. This song is much darker and although the riffs are still sharp, it was not really my cup of tea. Gothic and new wave fans will dig this, but I’m in trouble. Someone, please give me the kiss of death, so I can have a listen to “Revolution” next. These drumbeats, the electronic beeps, what have they done?? No, I think that I’m not the right person to review this single, sorry. Maybe that the whole album is OK, but I’d rather remember this band from their great farewell show at Wacken Open Air. Website: [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ILSE DELANGE (CDsingle)-All The Answers (WEA)
What a great choice to choose “All The Answers” as the new single of ILSE DE LANGE. I love her voice, and with this song she has touched a soft spot in my metal heart. I didn’t even know that it was there, but I get the shivers over and over again, when I hear this song. The proceeds from the sale of this single will go to War Child, which is an organization, that helps children that live in the middle of the many war fields of this cruel world. The same song is also edited as a video on this single. Buy it, if it was only to help War Child. Internet: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MELISSA ETHERIDGE (CDsingle)-Breathe (Island Records)
The recognisable voice of MELISSA ETHERIDGE gives you a secure feeling. It fits just perfectly in this song, that may end up high in the national charts again. Simply because it creates that same atmosphere as all the other big hits of Melissa. There are two songs on the single version. They are “Breathe” and another airy song, called “Kiss Me”. It’s a shame maybe, that Melissa didn’t add something extra on this single for all her fans. But people with a smaller budget can still enjoy two of the better songs from her new album “Lucky Days”. Both songs would be perfect to perform live, when she visits our country in July for two shows. Seven minutes of good music of this great pop rock queen, that’s my final conclusion here. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LEAVES’ EYES (CDsingle)-Into Your Light (Napalm Records)
LEAVES’ EYES is the new band, that features ex-THEATRE OF TRAGEDY vocalist Liv Kristine Krull. For this project, she has hooked up with husband and ATROCITY mainstay Alex Krull to create a band that many people (myself included) have been looking forward to hearing. The band line up is completed by Mathias Roderor (guitar), Thorsten Bauer (guitar) Chris Lukhaup (bass) and Martin Schmidt (drums). “Into Your Light” is the title of the bands debut single. It is a prelude to their forthcoming debut full-length, which should be out in the next couple of months. The single contains four tracks and almost nineteen minutes worth of high quality music. “Into Your Light” sets things in motion. It opens with a cool orchestration part as Liv’s sweet sounding voice comes in. The song then becomes heavy, as Liv sounds as good as she did on the first few THEATRE OF TRAGEDY albums (when they were heavy). In my opinion, this song does have some radio potential, but that is not to say that it’s too commercial. It balances the heaviness and melody very well and it makes for a catchy song. Next we have the radio edit of the title song. This version is minus the orchestral intro. Next we have “Leaves Whisper”, another heavy yet melodic song. An acoustic remix of the title song brings this single to a close on a positive note. It also includes a CD-ROM multimedia section for the PC, including a screensaver. This single was produced by Alexander Krull. Liv Kristine sounds as good as she ever has and sounds revitalized in her new setting. I for one am excited about the debut album. If this single is any indication, we should be in for a treat. For more info on LEAVES’ EYES check out their website at: [8 points] (Tony Cannella)

NODAL POINT (CDsingle)-Just Because (independent)
Here’s a good pretaster of the new album by NODAL POINT. The album will be reviewed in our next issue. This time we introduce you to the fifteen minute single, taken from the album, by this well-talented band of the south west area of our country. “Out Of Control”, “Road To Nowhere” and “Just Because” are good songs, that are a seemless addition to the bands previous album “Crying Out Loud”. Opener “Out Of Control” shows us, that Mireille Quist still has that raunchy ANOUK twist in her voice sometimes, but the guitar sound of Ron Berger is much louder and wilder, than the more modest guitar input within ANOUK’s band. And this great melodic rock touch continues in “Road To Nowhere”. A song, that has a nice speed change at the end, which results in a great guitar solo. And I must emphasise this a little, because the guitarist as well as and the bassplayer are new members in NODAL POINT, and it looks like they have found their place in the band already. “Just Because” is a nice ballad and it has the right string arrangements. I am very positive about these three songs. If they represent the average sound of the new full-length album, then I can only say that this band has grown a lot in a very short period of time. It would be nice, if they could expand their abilities and cross the border, because they really have the potential. Otherwise, they will definitely grow towards international recognition, believe me! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VANILLA NINJA (CDsingle)-Tough Enough (Bros Music)
I would like to call VANILLA NINJA the Estonian version of BAD CANDY. Four ladies (and an invisable guy behind the drums!), who know how to play music and write songs and also look good and sexy. Put these ingredients together and you have a concept, that can’t go wrong! In sixteen minutes we get to hear the radio edit, the ambient mix, the extended version and the unplugged version of a catchy rock song, called “Tough Love”. Put the CDsingle in your PC, and you can also see the video clip of the song. Very well thought of strategy, because after you’ve listened to all these versions, you’ll immediately start singing along to it, next time you’ll hear it again. Their music may not be heavy, but it’s catchy, melodic and perfect for the youngsters, who want to enjoy a catchy song while looking at four ladies, who look good enough on a poster in their bedroom. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VANILLA NINJA (CDsingle)-Don't Go Too Fast (Bros Music)
This is the second single of the band that I introduced to you earlier with their debut release “Tough Enough”. Again they’ve put several mixes on a single. Here we can listen to the single version, extended version, unplugged version and the radio edit, and yes, there’s also a video of “Don’t Go Too Fast” on this silver disc. VANILLA NINJA consists of Lenna Kuurma on vocals and guitar, Katrin Siska on vocals and keyboards, Maarja Kivi on vocals and bass, and Piret Järvis on vocals and guitars. “Traces Of Sadness” is the title of the new album, which will be out, as we speak. I think the Estonian youth will have this band in their heart by then, but how about you?? Internet: The audio part of this CDsingle turns for fifteen minutes. Fans of THE RASMUS might dig this all-female band! [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: Aug. 03, 2004]


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