Music Reviews

Music Reviews

Edge Of Paradise – Universe (Review)

Artist: Edge Of Paradise Album: Universe Genre: Melodic Metal Label: Frontiers Music Srl. Release Date: November 8, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron Review: Edge Of Paradise continues to impress with their latest release entitled "Universe".  I've had the opportunity to watch the band move up the ranks from being an unknown independent band to gaining serious notoriety by charting on iTunes, Billboard and Amazon Music.  Singer Margarita Monet has a powerful yet gentle sounding voice.  With "Universe" the band expand on what they have done in the past and move into the same modern metal territory as Halestorm, Within Temptation and In This Moment. This album features a little more electronic sounds and industrial style keyboards than previous albums, but never loses the heaviness or the subtle sounds that have made them popular. One thing that has always impressed me about Edge Of Paradise is the bands' hard work ethics...

The Dark Element – Songs the Night Sings

Artist: The Dark Element Album: Songs the Night Sings Genre: Symphonic Metal Label: Frontiers Music Srl. Release Date: November 8, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron Review: Sweeping and epic, The Dark Element has returned with a brilliant new album called "Songs The Night Sings".  Anette Olzon's vocals are as beautiful as ever and Jani Liimatainen has some incredible blazing guitar solos throughout. Musically, these songs are really strong and lyrically they are the equivalent of brilliant story-telling.  This time out the band has a really mature sound and it's easy to tell that they were riding an incredible wave of creativity throughout the recording process.  The title track is simply outstanding, but to be perfectly honest, I was completely hooked after "Not Your Monster", the album opener.  This album is a perfect blend of the right amount of heaviness and the perfect amount of melody.  I simply love the menacing,...

Pretty Maids – Undress The Madness (Review)

Artist: Pretty Maids Album: Undress Your Madness Genre: Melodic Metal Label: Frontier Music Srl. Release Date: November 8, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron Review: The Pretty Maids have been making consistently great albums for several decades now.  Their latest, "Undress Your Madness" is no exception to that rule.  Reviewing this album is bittersweet though because lead vocalist, Ronnie Atkins recently announced that he had been diagnosed with Lung Cancer.  According to a statement by Ronnie, his prognosis is good and I certainly wish him well in battling this illness. It certainly did not affect his vocals on this album, as his voice sounds stronger than ever.  While Pretty Maids have always been one of those bands that should have seen a much larger audience, they climbed to fame over the years with the "Futureworld" album finally breaking them into the American metal scene.  If you haven't listened to the band...

Tyketto – Strength In Numbers Live (Review)

Artist: Tyketto Album: Strength In Numbers Live Genre: Hard Rock \ Melodic Metal Label: Frontiers Music Srl. Release Date: November 8, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron Review: Strength In Numbers is one of Tyketto's best albums so it only makes sense to cover it live.  And though Tyketto fans may be familiar with the studio album, there is something to be said for this energized live performance.  The production quality of this live concert is outstanding, which really matters to me. When I'm listening to an album, live or studio, I want it to sound great.  Tyketto has a great interaction with the audience introducing the songs and giving a little history about them along the way.  Strangely enough, the live album tracklist is not in the order of the original songs on the studio release.  There is also an unreleased track that was recording during the original album sessions...

7 Miles To Pittsburgh – Revolution On Hold (Review)

Artist: 7 Miles To Pittsburgh Album: Revolution On Hold Genre: Hard Rock / Melodic Metal Label: A67 Records Release Date: October 19, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron   Review: So if you've ever wondered what happened to Andrew Elt, the lead singer for Sleeze Beez....wonder no more.  While this is the second album for 7 Miles To Pittsburgh, it's my first exposure to the band.  I am actually quite a fan of Elt's former band.  Sleeze Beez came into the mainstream at what could be only called the very end of the sunset strip/hair metal hard rock scene.  They scored a big hit with the single "Stranger Than Paradise" on their 1990 album "Screwed, Blued, and Tattooed", in part thanks to a heavy rotation of the video on MTV.  The band continued to make several great albums after that and finally seemed to just disappear from the radar.  It's great...

Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper- At The Gates (Review)

Artist: Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper Album: At The Gates Genre: Metal Label: Dissonance Productions Release Date: November 1, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron Review: Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper has returned with a fantastic follow up to "Walking In The Shadows".  For those unaware, Steve Grimmett battled through some very serious health issues after the last album was released, which ultimately resulted in the amputation of one of Steve's legs.  Opening with the title track "At The Gates", which references the gates of Hell, is a triumphant return for both the band and personally for Steve Grimmett following his life-threatening health scare.  The entire album is filled with great classic sounding metal songs that continue to delight and do justice to the Grim Reaper name and legacy.  This album features a brand new rhythm section with the addition of Julian Hill on bass and Mark Pullin on drums.  They supply a...

Airbourne – Boneshaker (Review)

Artist: Airbourne Album: Boneshaker Genre: Hard Rock \ Metal Label: Spinefarm Records Release Date: October 25, 2019 Review by: Bobby Caughron   Review: Airbourne has returned with another spectacular album, filled with the sweaty, alcohol-soaked sound that we've all come to expect.  If you're not familiar with Airbourne, where the hell have you been?  These Aussie guys don't mess around and get right to the point with this straight-forward rock album called "Boneshaker".  Although people often compare their sound to that of another Australian band, AC/DC, Airbourne have been doing this long enough to claim their own stake in the rock-n' roll game.  Make no mistake, "Boneshaker" is a top-notch, nitro-fueled rock n' roll rollercoaster ride from the opening riff.  This is exactly what I want from a rock band.  Not only is this album a blazing good time, but it's also well-executed by a band of great musicians. If...

BlackRain – Dying Breed (Review)

Review: BlackRain channels the best of the 1980's hair metal style with their debut album, "Dying Breed".  The vocals are often reminiscent of W.A.S.P. singer, Blackie Lawless and musically it's a mixed bag of influences of everyone from Kix to Motley Crue.  Basically, they sound a lot like everyone from the 80's Sunset Strip scene without really sounding like a rip off of any one of them.  The songs are catchy as hell while covering the spectrum lyrically that you would expect with this type of music.  These guys have done their homework and have a really great retro feel that transports back to the time of hair metal greatness.  The title track is a great opener and it puts the bands' talents on full display.  Vocalist Swan has a nice gritty voice that is well suited for their sound.  Musically the band is spot-on throughout the album, delivering just...

Blacktop Mojo – Under The Sun (Review)

Artist: Blacktop Mojo Album: Under The Sun Genre: Hard Rock Label: Cuhmon RecordsRelease Date: September 13, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron Review: Texas rockers Blacktop Mojo have returned with their third album, entitled "Under The Sun".  The band shows a much more mature side with this album.  The band sounds tighter, leaner and meaner than their last outing, which coincidentally, I thoroughly enjoyed.  It seems the members have defined their sound and developed stronger chemistry as a cohesive unit over the last two years.  Tracks like the infectious "Lay It On Me", It Won't Last"  and "Can't Sleep" make "Under The Sun" an outstanding rock album that should tear the charts on active rock radio.  I caught the band on tour last year and their live show also shows a band that is maturing and coming into their own.  Sounding at times like a heavier, Southern Rock version of Creed,...

KXM – Circle Of Dolls (Review)

  Review: To say that I'm blown away by KXM's new album "Circle Of Dolls" is an understatement.  Each album by the band has shown a musical progression and the willingness to take chances.  But this new album is simply the best of the output to date.  From the first few notes of "War Of Words," you know this one is going to be a banger.  Hell, why shouldn't it be?  The combined members of the band have had phenomenal success with their respective bands.  I mean, come on, you've got one of the best living rock guitarists in the world with George Lynch, an incredible bassist, and vocalist with King's X's Dug Pinnick and Korn's hard-hitting drummer, Ray Luzier. Anytime that you bring musicians of this caliber together, you're bound to get something creative.  You get all of that an more. Music critics, like myself, are always complaining that...

Liv Sin – Burning Sermons (Review)

Review: Liv Sin, featuring the former vocalist for "Sister Sin" has come out swinging with their sophomore album "Burning Sermons".   Wasting no time, "Blood Moon Forever" kicks it all off with an in-your-face, full-on metal track with a catchy chorus.  If you were a fan of Sister Sin, this album will remind why you were.  While I thoroughly enjoyed Liv Sin's debut album, this one is absolutely spectacular and far superior in every way.  One reason is that the band sounds like they now have real chemistry, playing together.  The sound is tight and heavy, which has provided both whiplash beats and catchy melodic musical phrases that allow Liv Jagrell to really give these songs the star treatment.  You'll find riffs that would make Judas Priest proud as the guitar duo of Patrick Ankermark and Chris Bertzell simply shred throughout its entirety.   The thundering bass of Tomie Winther and pounding...

Black Star Riders -Another State Of Grace (Review)

Review: The Black Star Riders have done it again and might I say, even better this time around. With their new album "Another State Of Grace" the band are firing on all cylinders.  And let's be honest, if you're a Thin Lizzy fan, this is right line with the rest of their outstanding discography, as well.  Ricky Warwick's vocals are incredible and powerful throughout this whole album.  These songs have all of the energy, plus a lot of heartfelt emotion in the lyrical content.  One song that's bound to be controversial, depending on your political leanings, is "Why Do You Love Your Guns?"  It's an emotionally charged song that's timing is more than relevant, considering the number of recent mass shootings in the U.S. lately.  Depending on your point of view regarding the 2nd Amendment, you might love it or hate, but either way, the statement is profound and leaves...

H.E.A.T Turn Up The Temperature – ‘Live At Sweden Rock Festival’ Album Review + Interview

How many bands put on a show like the mighty, H.E.A.T? To be honest, I don’t think there are many, so the latest release from these insanely talented Swedes could act as a masterclass in rock n roll to many. H.E.A.T's Erik Grönwall - "What you’re hearing is the real vocals. It’s all live.” (Photo credit unknown) Live At Sweden Rock Festival, recorded at the mammoth Sölvesborg event last year has just been released on CD and Blu-ray. What can you expect? Well, if you’ve never listened to H.E.A.T before then I would highly recommend this as a place to start as it features a brilliant mix of fan favourites, from firecracker opener Bastard Of Society (from last studio album, Into The Great Unknown) to infectious oldies such as Beg Beg Beg, and Late Night Lady from the self-titled debut. I spoke with H.E.A.T’s singer, the one and only Erik Grönwall last week...

SOTO – Origami (Review)

Artist: Soto Album: Origami Genre: Metal Label: InsideOutMusic Release Date: May 24, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron Review: Jeff Scott Soto has been making music since he was literally a teenager.  Soto's spectacular vocals became known early on, thanks to being chosen as Yngwie Malmsteen's vocalist on his first two solo albums.  Following his tenure with Malmsteen, Soto has been almost constantly active in music and is one of the true journeymen of rock music. Jeff Scott Soto has an incredible range and is quite an adaptable vocalist, singing everything from straight up heavy metal, to soul music.  He's accomplished a lot in the AOR scene as well as the metal genre. Having been a fan of his work for many years, I was excited to hear that he was indeed releasing a new SOTO album in 2019 entitled "Origami". It's great to hear Jeff return to his more heavier...

Death Angel – Humanicide (Review)

Artist: Death Angel Album: Humanicide Genre: Metal Label: Nuclear Blast Records Release Date: May 31, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron   Review: If the new Death Angel album Humanicide was your opponent in a boxing match, you'd be pummelled into unconsciousness before you even knew what happened.  This an exceptional dark, brutal outing that demands to be heard.  Aggressive doesn't even begin to cover the tone of this album. Death Angel goes straight for the kill with the opening song and title track 'Humanicide".  If this isn't a modern day thrash metal masterpiece I don't know what would be. This album is all the proof you'll ever need to prove that metal is alive and well.  I absolutely love this album!  With standout tracks like "I Came For Blood", the intensity of "Alive And Screaming" and possibly my favorite 'The Pack".  If "The Pack" doesn't get your blood pumping then...

Whitesnake – Flesh & Blood (Review)

Artist: Whitesnake Album: Flesh & Blood Genre: Hard Rock / Classic Metal Label: Frontiers Music Srl. Release Date: May 10, 2019 Review By: Bobby Caughron   Review: It seems like it's been an incredibly long wait for an album of new material from Whitesnake.  While their last release 2015's "The Purple Album" wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, it also felt more like a David Coverdale solo album, with David paying homage to his past with the almighty Deep Purple. Flash forward four years and Whitesnake has blasted back into action with an incredible new album called"Flesh & Blood".  When I heard the first single "Shut Up And Kiss Me", I was intrigued.  It was only after hearing "Trouble Is Your Middle Name" did I start to realize that not only is this album going to be something special, but after a full listening, it became apparent that this was going...

Queensryche – The Verdict (Review)

Artist: Queensryche Album: The Verdict Genre: Metal Label: Century Media Release Date: November 16, 2018 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron   Review: The Verdict is Queensryche's fifteenth studio album and it's third to feature Todd La Torre as the vocalist. Over the last six years, the band's chemistry has only gotten better.  And "The Verdict" is the best album so far with this lineup.  But, it goes much deeper than that.  "The Verdict" is one of the best albums since Queensryche's inception.  This album officially heralds the second coming of "Queensryche".  A resurrection, if you will, of one of the most original and inspiring bands in the metal genre. Todd La Torre has been put in one of the most difficult positions as the lead singer who has had to step up and front a band which previously had, arguably one of the best vocalists in modern metal history in Geoff...

Every Mothers Nightmare – Backtraxx (Review)

Artist: Every Mothers Nightmare Album: Backtraxx (Re-Issue) Genre: Hard Rock Label: HighVol Music Release Date: Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron Review: I've been a fan of Every Mother's Nightmare since their debut.  Somehow, I missed Backtraxx the first time that it was released, so I was happy to see it get the re-release treatment through HighVol music. The band has always had a Southern rock vibe mixed into what they do but never has the band mixed the southern style rock with plain old country music as they did with Backtraxx.  Let me say that a little known fact about me is that I'm originally from Oklahoma.  I originally got into rock music at an early age as a way to rebel against the popular music in my area, which happened to be country music.  Having said that,  I actually really like what EMN have done here.  For some reason, I...

The Damned Things – High Crimes (Review)

Artist: The Damned Things Album: High Crimes Genre: Rock Label: Nuclear Blast Records Release Date: April 26, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron   Review: The Damned Things are an interesting rock supergroup featuring Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy, Scott Ian of Anthrax, Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die, and Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio.  I'll be the first to admit when the band released Ironiclast back in 2010, I wasn't the biggest fan.  Maybe I was expecting something different.  Maybe I thought it would be much heavier with Scott Ian in the mix.  Maybe it was ahead of its time and I just hadn't caught up yet.  Whatever the case, I am impressed with the band's latest release, High Crimes.  The band seems to channel a lot of different sounds this time out and I'm really digging it. I especially like the fun atmosphere of...

Joyous Wolf – Place In Time (Review)

Artist: Joyous Wolf Album: Place In Time Genre: Rock Label: Roadrunner Records Release Date: April 19, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron   Review: In the evolution of rock n' roll, we've seen sounds slowly migrate in any particular direction and occasional radical mood changes.  However, it's hard to find a band that can merge several sounds effectively without it sounding contrived.  Joyous Wolf is one of those rare bands.  Seemingly appearing out of nowhere, Joyous Wolf is the perfect missing link between classic rock and the alternative/grunge movement of the early '90s.  If you were to put Led Zeppelin and The Black Crowes into a musical blender with Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, you'd get something close to the sound of Joyous Wolf.  While this is the band's debut EP, it sure doesn't feel like it.  It's very mature both musically and lyrically.  And if you've never had the chance to...

Battle Beast – No More Hollywood Endings (Review)

Artist: Battle Beast Album: No More Hollywood Endings  Genre: Metal Label: Nuclear Blast Records Release Date: March 22, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron   Review: Battle Beast have been steadily building a huge following with metal heads worldwide and their latest album, "No More Hollywood Endings" should only cement their reputation further as one of a truly epic metal band.  I absolutely love the opening track "Unbroken".  So much so, that I often replay it several times before moving on to the other tracks on the album.  That's not to say that I don't like the rest of the album, because the entire album is a masterpiece of melodic metal, but if I didn't state that "Unbroken" is my favorite song, I'd be lying.  Vocalist Noora Louhimo has one of the most enchanting voices in rock, combining the power of singers like Doro and Lzzy Hale with the timelessness of...

Anthem – Nucleus (review)

Artist:  Anthem Album: Nucleus Genre: Metal Label: Golden Robot Records Release Date: March 29, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron   Review: Anthem is one of the biggest Japanese metal bands from the 80's metal scene.  While Loudness was able to break into the U.S. Metal market during that time, so many other great bands struggled to find a foot hold in the U.S.  Anthem, unfortunately falls into that group.  It certainly wasn't for lack of trying or musical talent.  I have been a huge fan of the band, well....since the 80's and have continued to follow their career as they have released some incredible albums over the years. Nucleus is a greatest hits compilation that has been re-recorded with English vocals.  If you're a die hard fan like me, you already know these songs, but it is nice to hear them sung in English and re-mastered with great sound. However,...

L.A. Guns – The Devil You Know (Review)

Artist: L.A. Guns Album: The Devil You Know Label: Frontiers Music Srl. Release Date: March 29, 2019 Review: Who would have thought that L.A. Guns would have released one of the best albums of the entire career 31 years after their debut album?  However, that is exactly the case with "The Devil You Know".  There's an undeniable chemistry between the musical combination of Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns that's rare in music these days.  This album is right up there with their debut album and Cocked & Loaded.  When I spoke with vocalist Phil Lewis recently, I asked if the sound of this album was a purposeful retro throwback or just what happens when He and Tracii work together and he answered with a rousing "That's exactly what fucking happens when you put Tracii and I together.  The two reconciled their differences and put out a great album with "The...

Tesla – Shock (Review)

Review: Well, this is probably the most disappointing rock album release of the year for me .  I'm not sure who to blame the most for this mess of a release, co-writer and producer, Phil Collen (Def Leppard) or the Tesla band members for allowing it to happen..  This is as formulaic as it gets.  It's as if Phil Collen went into the studio with the Tesla boys and used the same template from the last four Def Leppard albums as a starting point.  Now, let's be clear....I don't hate Def Leppard.  But if I wanted a Def Leppard album, I would have bought a Def Leppard album.  I have been a huge Tesla fan since Mechanical Resonance was released and this is by far, their worst album to date, in my opinion.  I'm not sure if Tesla was getting bored and wanted to try something new or maybe saw...

The End Machine – The End Machine (Review)

Artist: The End Machine Album: The End Machine Genre: Metal / Hard Rock Label: Frontiers Music Srl. Release Date: March 22, 2019   Review: While I have jokingly referred to The End Machine as Dokken without Don, musically it could have easily been labeled as a Lynch Mob album.  Yes, all of the members minus vocalist Robert Mason (Warrant, Lynch Mob) were in Dokken, but the band seems to have purposely tried not to sound like classic Dokken in most cases.  However, it's really not that hard to imagine Don Dokken singing on these tracks either.  Essentially what I'm getting at is the apple didn't fall from the tree, but it's not exactly Dokken either. The production quality is quite bass heavy and smooth, but it stills allows George Lynch's monster guitar tone to shine.  Lynch's solos are other-wordly and this album is no exception.  Leap Of Faith was a...

WEST BOUND – Volume I (Review)

Artist: West Bound Album: Volume 1 Genre: Hard Rock / Classic Metal Label: Frontiers Music Srl. Release Date: February 22, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron   Review: Chas West has been around the L.A. music scene for years, although many of you might not be that aware of him.  He's sang for bands like Bonham, Jake E. Lee's Red Dragon Cartel, Lynch Mob and many more.  Chas is fronting his own band this time around appropriately called West Bound.  When the opening track "Never Surrender" kicks off, I was hooked.  First off, the album is much heavier than I was expecting it to be.  Roy Z burns up track after track with incredible riffs and solos.  West Bound can go from a classic 80's metal sound on one song to a more Led Zeppelin-esque sound on the next.  There's a lot of fun Sunset Strip style hard rock happening throughout...

Spirits Of Fire – Spirits Of Fire (Review)

Artist: Spirits Of Fire Album: Spirits Of Fire Genre: Metal Label: Frontiers Music Srl. Release Date: February 22, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron Review: Spirits of Fire is like the third release featuring Tim Ripper Owens on vocals in about as many months. Ripper must be working harder than a one-legged cat trying to bury a turd on a frozen pond to have this many albums in the works at practically the same time.  Vocally and musically, this reminds me a lot of the two studio albums that Owens recorded with the mighty Judas Priest.  That's not a bad thing.  I actually like Owens' work in Judas Priest and I think a lot of other listeners did too, but following up Rob Halford as the lead vocalist of Judas Priest in a rough task for anyone to under take no matter how talented they are.  With a such a large body of...

Find Me – Angels In Blue (Review)

Artist: Find Me Album: Angels in Blue Genre: AOR / Hard Rock Label: Frontiers Music Srl. Release Date: February 22, 2018 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron Review: Fans of bands like Survivor and Giant have found their modern day champion in Find Me.  Melodic rock fans are simply going to lose their minds in pure aural ecstasy with the Angels In Blue album.  This is incredible stuff and the band delivers a powerful, emotional performance on this album.  The song True Believer sounds like a lost title track to a great 1980's movie.   Vocalist Robert Lablanc has a voice tailor-made for this type of music and simply takes these songs over the top.  This is without a doubt the best melodic rock release that I've heard this year and will probably stay in that position.  I have a really hard time believing anyone will release an album in the AOR genre that can...

Last In Line – II (Review)

Artist: Last In Line Album: II Genre: Metal / Hard Rock Label: Frontiers Music Srl. Release Date: February 22, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron   Review: So prior to this release I had heard only the first single "Landslide".  I thought it was a good track and it sounded on par with the band's debut album.  Following the albums' opening intro track, we get the fantastic "Black Out The Sun" which is a great driving metal song that made me curious for more. Some of the guitar parts of "Gods And Tyrants" sound a bit like Led Zeppelin. I'm actually okay with this because it's a well done song that delivers some decent moments, including a blistering solo from Campbell. I'm not really sure what all of the fuss is about with some people complaining about them forming this band after Ronnie James Dio's death.  While these guys may have...

Beth Blade And The Beautiful Disasters – Show Me Your Teeth (Review)

I am lucky enough to have spoken to many artists, and something which stands out is when they have a genuine love for music. I met the lovely Beth Blade last year and it was clear that music runs through her in every way. It is therefore no surprise that this passion shines out on her brand new record. The Welsh rocker and her band have been building a great live reputation, so much so that Beth Blade And The Beautiful Disasters were asked to join the likes of the Dead Daisies on last year's Kiss Kruise off the coast of a sweltering Florida. It may be chillier in the UK, but winter brings a brand new BB&TBD album Show Me your Teeth, the follow up to 2015 debut, Bad Habit. I met Beth Blade after her storming set at Monstersfest So what have we got? Lead single, Give It All you Got is an enjoyable...

XSROCK Music Reviews

XS ROCK reviews material from many different labels, bands, artists and distributors. Reviews are done by various members of the XS ROCK team and reflect the opinion of the writer for each individual review. 

Translate »