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Music Reviews: Fair Warning, Mad Max, Sonic Station, Sunstorm, UFO, Orange Goblin, & Dark Forest

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The column is a bit late this week because life has got in the way.

First up we have a wonderful greatest hits collection from Fair Warning called Best and More. This German band are big in Japan and have done numerous sell-out tours there. This release might be a good taster for American AOR fans wanting a good introduction to the band.

After a few listens, you will be singing along with the choruses as if you were a fan. They have quite a talent in writing choruses that are very hard to forget. They have done a fairly good job at avoiding the po-faced cheese this type of band can drift into. There is never a sense of trying too hard.

At 32 tracks, it is damn good value for money to boot. The first CD is made up of mostly studio tracks, while the second is mostly live outings. Live tracks range from acoustic workouts to full on live tracks recorded in a stadium. There is something for everyone on this release.

Fair Warning, who share their name with a great Van Halen album, are a band that bridges the gap between American AOR (Journey, TOTO, etc.) and Scandinavia AOR (Europe, A-Ha). Their slickly produced studio output sounds universal and attractive to all. This is probably why they are so “big in Japan” but have yet to really crack the U.S.

The band have a keen sense of humor as well with such tracks as “Generation Jedi” which clearly should be the theme song to Star Wars the Old Republic. The opener “Burning Heart” is a great heavy AOR workout that really gets things going nicely. Then there are great singalongs like “I’ll Be There”. What is great about this release is there is something from all eras of the band which shows you how the band have evolved into the force they are today.

Another great AOR release is the new one from the band Mad Max, called Another Night of Passion. As you might expect from the title, it is an album full of sex and rock & roll. Most amusing is the opening track called “Rocklahoma”, a song that is destined to be a live favorite. It is an album that was 25 years in making and the band haven’t aged their sound one bit since their ’80s hey-day.

On the other end of the AOR spectrum is Sonic Station, with their self-titled release. The tracks on here make Toto seem heavy, West Coast light AOR with both female and male vocals. it is mellow but with enough guitar not to make the rocker squirm. Perfect for a very late night or the morning after.

Joe Lynn Turner’s Sunstorm is back with a cracking new album called Emotional Fire. The title track is worth the price of admission alone, even though it was originally recorded by Michael Bolton. You will recognize quite a few of these tracks, but all of them have one thing in common: Turner sang backing vocals on the original release. It is quality musicianship mixed with some damn good singing.

For something a bit more heavy, check out the new release from chaotic veterans UFO called Seven Deadly. Now with Vinnie Moore on guitars, they seem to be a bit more stable and thus the tracks on here are consistently good. Proof if you needed it that there is life in the ole’ British rock warhorse yet.

A Eulogy for the Damned is the new one from heavy stoner rockers Orange Goblin. This is more down-tuned post-Sabbath goodness flavored with a tinge of the sweet leaf. Fans will delight and the album might win them some new fans.

Speaking of heavy rock, you have OZ with their new release Burning Leather. Yet another band that never got their due the first time round, they are back for their share of the heavy rock pie. They are Scandinavians with a history that goes back to the late ’70s and a sound that is pure NWOBHM.

And finally, testing the notion that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery are Dark Forest. Dawn of Infinity is a mixture of early Iron Maiden and Magnum. Then again, the band do it rather well and they are from England, so they have the right. Forerunners in a Nu-NWOBHM they might be, only time will tell.

Well that is enough for this week. Stay safe and rocking out there.

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About Marty Dodge

  • http://trinimansblog.blogspot.com/ Triniman

    Guitar wiz Vinnie Moore has been in UFO for about 8 years now and they continue to crank out solid heavy rock’n’roll. I just with they would tour more. They have loads of fans who have never seen them.