Could this be the album to break this lot into the US? Well it damn well should be, if quality and consistency matters. And hell, if they can get away with the name China in Japan, it should work anywhere.
M.ILLI.ION - Sane & Insanity
The band has a daftly spelled name and the title of the album doesn’t make sense. Not exactly a good start for any group, maybe except for this one. Their legions of fans and successful records tell us otherwise. They claim influence of Whitesnake, Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy, although you would be hard-pressed to hear any of those influences on this CD. This is pure Scandi-hard rock, with lots of Europe and their ilk, especially considering Ulrich Carlsson is a dead ringer for Joey Tempest on lead vocals.
They have played with almost everyone in hard rock and it shows. Whatever you might say about them it's a very tight band. The only trouble is that some of the time the songs seem a bit mass produced. You have heard it all before somewhere else. There is nothing on here that really jumps out and grabs like tracks on this sort of release should. Granted there are a few that make a mark after quite a few listens, but there is nothing really instant.
The title track does have a certain quality to it, though, which makes it stand out. And like “Fuel to my Heart,” it's very keyboard heavy. The final track, “Seize the Day,” is probably the one that has the most instant pleasure. Overall this a decent CD, but having heard so much about this lot I was expecting something more impressive.
Big Lie - Big Life
Once you get past the rather odd voice of Mark Thompson-Smith there is something pretty good going on here. This is a hard-rock band featuring the talents of Steve Newman of Newman and T-S of Praying Mantis and Sweet fame. Newman has worked and performed with the likes of Steve Overland from FM, the phenomenon that is Phenomena and Grand Illusion. He is firmly entrenched in the UK-based AOR scene, and it shows in droves on this release. This is slick AOR that, while recognizable, never gets boring or samey.