Music Reviews

Music Reviews

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...

Quiet Riot – One Night In Milan (Review)

Artist: Quiet Riot Album: One Night In Milan Genre: Classic Metal Label: Frontiers Music srl. Release Date: January 25, 2019 Review: Quiet Riot has been on the scene since 1970's.  Early lineup's featured Randy Rhoads and wild frontman, Kevin DuBrow.   The band finally hit the jackpot in 1983 with their Metal Health album.  Although the band had a varied lineup over the years, it wasn't until DuBrow's untimely death that the band went through lead singers faster than Donald Trump's Whitehouse goes through staff members.  Finally in 2017, former American Idol contestant, James Durbin took over the vocal duties.  Now, I'll be the first to admit, that several of Frankie Banali's replacement singers sounded very similar to DuBrow's original sound.  However, after listening to this live album, i'm convinced that they have the right guy for the job now in Durbin.  So, I'm not going to lie, Durbin doesn't sound...

Jetboy – Born To Fly (Review)

Artist: Jetboy Album: Born to Fly Genre: Hard Rock / Melodic Metal Label: Frontiers Music srl. Release Date: January 25, 2019 Jetboy have at long last returned with a full album of new material.  Jetboy was always a bit of a square peg in the 80's glam metal scene.  Musically, they weren't that different than bands like L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat and Ratt.  However,  a lot of people weren't sure what to think of lead vocalist, Mickey Finn's hairstyle, his trademarked mohawk.  Many people saw them and instantly labeled the band as punk because of it.  If they didn't listen to the band's music they truly missed out on some cool stuff, because Jetboy could definitely rock with the best of them.  Their brand of Rolling Stone style-infused rock mixed with glam metal was a standout in the field of a lot of imitators.  Fast forward to 2019 and  the band...

Starbreaker – Dysphoria (Review)

Artist: Starbreaker Album: Dysphoria Genre: Metal Label: Frontiers Music Srl. Release Date: January 25, 2019 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron Review: Wow! Just sat down to listen to Starbreaker's new album Dysphoria and the first song, "Pure Evil" is heavy and fantastic.  In case you're not familiar with Starbreaker, it features ex-TNT vocalist Tony Harnell on vocals and the first song sounds similar to TNT's Knights Of The New Thunder album.  Next up is "Wild Butterflies", a nice mid-tempo rocker that's not as light as the title sounds. "Last December" is a nice rocker that wouldn't have been out of place in TNT either. "How Many More Goodbyes" is a slow rocker bordering on a radio ballad, followed up by "Beautiful One", which is definitely a ballad with mostly piano backing through to the chorus. It's an emotional track, but a little to light for my taste. Not to worry though,...

Devil’s Hand ft. Slamer – Freeman (Review)

Artist: Devil’s Hand ft. Slamer – Freeman Album: Devil’s Hand ft. Slamer – Freeman Genre: Melodic Metal Label:Frontiers Music Srl. Release Date: December 7, 2018 Review: I am becoming increasingly impressed with each album that I hear featuring Last In Line vocalist Andrew Freeman.  And Devil's Hand is absolutely no exception to that rule.  In fact this probably one of the best metal albums to be released in 2018.  A fantastic album from start to end. The musicianship is excellent and the songwriting is well above par for most anything you're likely to hear nowadays. Freeman really has a voice that has a legendary quality to it.  He voice has a natural, organic sound to it rather than imitating other vocalists. Every song, and I mean every song on this album will stand the test of time as great rock tracks!  The biggest disappointment to me is that so many people may...

Bonfire – Legends (Review)

Artist: Bonfire Album: Legends Genre: Melodic Metal Label: AFM Records Release Date: December 14, 2018 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron Review: Wow! Talk about getting your money's worth for an album. Legends comes in at over 2 1/2 hours running time with 32 tracks! On Legends, Bonfire pays tribute to a great number of bands with their own version of classic songs. Covering the likes of Toto, Rainbow, UFO, House Of Lords, Queensryche, Survivor and more.  What's really great about this album is that it gives Bonfire a chance to show off their versatility in covering such a wide array of styles. I mean after all, who expects to hear Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger" on the same album as "Man On The Silver Mountain"? But, Bonfire have the ability to make these covers both fun and interesting. The band hits pay dirt on tracks like "Jet City Woman",  I Wanna...

Unearth -Extinction(s) (Review)

Review: Incomparable heaviness rains down upon the head of the listener of Unearth's latest masterpiece "Extinction(s).  A brutally heavy metal album from beginning to end, it's relentlessness will have you pummeled into dust before it' reaches it's finish.  Starting with the incredible song "Incinerate", the band simply shreds your hearing, imagination and ultimately your existence with this warning of impending doom. These are some of the best songs ever recorded by Unearth.  Like a machine programmed to destroy,  the band deliver the goods song after song.  If your requirement for metal is that it must be heavy....you have found the mother lode with this album.  This album shows Unearth to be a worthy successor to the heavier metal bands that have been slowly leaving the game, like Slayer and Pantera.  The band sounds tight and completely in sync while maintaining a brutal, almost primitive sound.  Metal fans rejoice. You have...

Dan Reed Network – Origins (Review)

Heard of the 30 year overnight sensation that is Dan Reed Network? I wasn’t born when DRN first hit the music scene in the late 80's, but I grew up listening to their music thanks to my parents, Since they reformed 5 years ago I've become an even bigger fan and the band are now perhaps more popular than they were the first time around. Origins is the second album to be released since the band’s comeback in 2013. In truth it is more of an EP, featuring 4 new tracks that sit alongside re-recordings of some of the band’s best loved songs, and it works so well. https://youtu.be/eJQogH3ZfRg    Watch the video for Fade To Light The record gets off to a great start with first single, Fade To Light, a song based around the concept that not only can things in life get worse and go badly, but they...

The Wizards – Rise Of The Serpent (Review)

Artist: The Wizards Album: Rise Of The Serpent Genre: Metal Label: High Roller Records Release Date: November 9, 2018 Reviewed by: Bobby Caughron Review: The Wizards have a lot of fire and energy in their album "Rise Of The Serpent".  With shades of Black Sabbath throughout, while incorporating a vocal style closer to Iron Maiden with Dianno at the helm.  There should be a lot for fans who like bands like "The Sword" and other doom laden stoner sounds mixed with metal. Musically, the band hits all of the right notes with this retro mix of classic sounds. My least favorite thing is probably the vocals, but they don't prevent me from enjoying the songs. The opening song Apocalyptic Weapons gives you a taste of what to expect and the band deliver consistently throughout the entire release. Those hungry for monster drum beats and hellacious riffs have found a real treat with...

Stephen Pearcy – View to a Thrill (Review)

Review: Extra! Extra! Read all about it....The latest news headlines should read Stephen Pearcy releases great new Ratt album, on his own!  Why? Because the material on Pearcy's latest release "View To A Thrill" sounds so much like Ratt, that only the names differentiates them.  Yeah, I know....A bunch of you are going to jump in and say it's not Ratt without Warren, Juan or Bobby performing.  But, I'm going to argue otherwise.  First of all, Stephen Pearcy is Ratt! I love the original band and the new breed of Ratt sounds really good as well, but nothing sounds like the Ratt sound without Pearcy on vocals.  Oh sure, the other band members tried to replace Pearcy with Jizzy Pearl once, but let's be honest, it didn't sound like Ratt, even with most of the original band backing him.  So, now that I've got all of that out of the...

Jake E. Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel – Patina (Review)

Review: I loved Jake E Lee when he was Ozzy's guitarist. I always thought he got a bad rap for unfortunately having to be the guy to follow Randy Rhoads. The fans put Randy on an other-worldy level after his death. And while I loved Randy's guitar work too, his death seemed to overshadow Jake E' Lee's brilliant guitar playing for Ozzy.  The two stellar albums that he made with Osbourne in the 80's are burned into my brain, simply because I have played them so many times.  After Jake's exit from the Prince of Darkness' band, he went on to form the absolutely fantastic band known as Badlands.  Again the albums produced under the Badlands name were absolutely brilliant. Now, Jake has followed up his Red Dragon Cartel's first album with their sophomore release entitled "Patina".  I'm here to proclaim that it indeed is everything that I had hoped...

Greta Van Fleet – Anthem Of The Peaceful Army (Review)

Review: When I first heard Greta Van Fleet, I,  much like many others, was amazed at how much the band reminded me of Led Zeppelin.  However, I was simply blown away by the great original songs that they produced on their debut EP.  Now, the guys have followed it up with their first full length album and after my first spin, I'm really impressed. The opening track, Age Of Man has a bit of a different sound than what I heard in the first two, previously released singles. Most notably, the addition of keyboards that deliver the song, like a drifting ship along a winding river. The Cold Wind follows, with a nice guitar riff that opens the uptempo track.  It's a really nice straight ahead rock n' roll song that will be sure to put a smile on your face. When The Curtain Falls is simply fantastic.  It was...

Groundbreaker (Review)

Review: Let’s face it, Steve Overland has sung on a lot of records. Whilst fronting the mighty FM, Steve has worked on a number of other outside projects over the years. His vocals have been always been top notch, but some of these albums have been stronger than others. Groundbreaker is the latest venture to feature Mr O’s glorious voice, a self-titled release on Frontiers Records. It’s a collaboration between Steve and Robert Sall, Swedish guitarist and songwriter with Work Of Art and W.E.T. Let me tell you - this album is right up there as one of the best that Steve Overland has appeared on. Opening track, Over My Shoulder was the first single to be released. It took a while to grow on me, but in context with the full album, it’s a really great fit. The catchy melody line over genius guitar solo is just wonderful! However, my favourite track is without a doubt Will...

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. 

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