It might be my birthday, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't write up a bunch of CDs that have been occupying my CD player and iPod for the last week or so. I am sorry for the lack of columns, but I was bereft of a connection to the web for quite a few days while I changed ISPs to one that actually was broadband and worked.
Gary Hughes: Veritas
Gary Hughes, lead man of the band Ten, has quite a solo career as well. This, his latest collection, is vintage Hughes. Oddles of catchy melodies and choruses, this is the sort of thing that would have been in the charts in the 80s. Think Richard Marx before we went off the boil or Brian Adams at his best.
I am sure this will go down a storm in Japan. It's pleasant and competent hard rock done with oodles of talent and aplomb. I am sure I will return to this CD time and time again, just as I did with his last solo release.
You will enjoy it and find yourself humming the choruses for many days to come. Hughes has talent, of that there is no doubt, and this CD just serves a reminder.
Seven Tears: In Every Frozen Tears
Heavy rock with oodles of keyboards is the fare on this disc. If you think that Europe at their heaviest was great, then you would probably like these guys. We are talking the normal hook ladened hard rock you have come to expect from this sort of band. It's quality stuff that merits turning it up and enjoying the quality.
You can't fault the talent on this disc. Yet another band to explore if you like your heavy rock with keyboards and a great deal of passion. Well done to Frontiers for introducing everyone to this band.
Vengeance: Same/Same… But different
This is great Dokken-esque/Van Halen inspired heavy rock. It doesn't even matter that it's live and you have never heard it before. The stuff on here is so infectious you will swear you have heard it before even if you know you haven't. It's not samey, but pleasantly recognisable and easy to get into. From the great "Take it or leave it" to the ending "Arabia" this is perfect car stereo cranking fodder. It might not be summer, but you will think it is with this on. I loved every minute of this CD and think you will to.
Glyder: Playground for Life
I loved the first Glyder CD and this sophomore effort has done nothing to quell my enthusiasm for the band. It might be a bit more "mature," but that does not mean it doesn't leave a great smile on your face. They still sound like an updated version of Thin Lizzy, now they mix in a rather interesting touch of Pink Floyd. The last track on here sounds like prime Gilmour-fronted Floyd; "The Merrygoround" is just a stonking track. It's a pleasant end to a great CD. Glyder also realise that there is no need to hang around too long if you got the tracks. This release leaves you wanting more.
Glyder is a great band and this CD just adds to that opinion. If you don't have the first CD then get it and if you do then make sure you add this one to your collection. Glyder are one of the best kept secrets of the European rock scene. Seek their CDs out… you really won't regret it.
Helloween: Gambling with the Devil
Helloween are back with another album. As with every Helloween CD, there is a one catchy as stink track with "As Long As I Fall". You can get this as a video bonus with the special edition with two bonus tracks. Is this up there with the band's best? Well no, not really. It's a fairly average release from this band that can produce cracking stuff. I suspect that as with many of their CDs this will take many listens to get into. The tracks on here just don't leap out at you other than the video/single.
Tarja: My Winter Storm
I have heard Tarja-sans Nightwish and given my opinion on it… so I had to see what her solo CD was going to be like. Let me warn you that the first single; the catchy "I walk alone" is not typical of the rest of the CD. In fact, you could argue that it's a bit self-indulgent overall. One has to wonder why she covered Alice Cooper's "Poison." However, it is not too self-indulgent like say Amy Lee's latest.
All the songs on the CD are great examples of Tarja's vocal talent and are bloody good to listen to. However this is not very similar to Nightwish or similar bands so caveat emptor. I'm not saying this isn't far better than the new CD from her former band.
Anyway, I predict that Nightwish and Tarja will do one or two CDs without each other and then reunite. It is clear they both need each other. There is nothing on here that comes close to anything she did, especially on the last CD, with Nightwish. And you all know the last Nightwish CD isn't anything special either.
Alright, that is your lot for this column. I have a deceptively tall pile of review CDs in their thin sleeves. I hope you have a good holiday season and hope this column will help you with your purchases.
Stay safe, stay rocking, and check out all the live music you can.