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Friday, 27 January 2017

Reviews: Pride Of Lions, Burnclear, Shattered Skies

Pride Of Lions: Fearless (Frontiers)

Survivor guitarist/keyboardist Jim Peterik and vocalist Tony Hitchcock have been doing this project for a while now and Fearless is another addition to the catalogue. It's the same kind of classy, polished AOR that both men have done all of their respective careers. A new Pride Of Lions record is always a cause for celebration sounding more like Survivor than the original incarnations, Peterik has a knack for writing catchy tunes and Hitchcock has one of those voices that could only come from the 80's so when both of them are together they always have one or two could be anthems on every record.

The record makes its way through the FM band of American radio and reinforces that it's the Yanks that do AOR better than anyone poppy choruses in songs full of pomp and sparkle with bouncy highs and ballads that will linger in the memory. Fearless is AOR at its most melodic and soulful much like the previous Pride Of Lions releases if you love Survivor, Foreigner, Toto and Chicago then another Pride Of Lions release could be the soundtrack to your (American) heartbeat. 7/10 

Burnclear: Lost For Life (Self Released)

Just seeing the album cover of Burnclear's record was enough to get me interested in them so I did some research (Research! Us? Who knew!) and Burnclear are a symphonic/power metal band from Finland. Now Finland has produced probably two of the greatest bands ever to play power metal in the shape of Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius, so there is a lot to aim for with any new band that enters the genre from this country.

It's to their benefit then that even though the band are new, the members unknown, the surname of the vocalist Tony is instantly recognisable to anyone familiar with Nordic metal, he is a Turunen the brother of Taja formerly of Nightwish and recognised as one of the best vocalists in the business. So Burnclear come from a country that is at the forefront of power metal and they have a vocalist who is associated with a metal singing dynasty, not much to live up too then right?

Well Burnclear do a fine job of stepping up to the plate their musical style is similar to that of Serenity or Kamelot, symphonic but progressive as the keys of Petri take center stage and the addition of having two guitarists (Karri and Tomi) means that the riffs and leads have more depth than the aforementioned acts with Olli and Jukka bringing the technically intricate rhythm section.

Burnclear's debut album is packed with muscular power metal numbers that are sung impressively by Tony who shows that talent runs in the family sounding a little like another Tony, Tony Kakko the singer of Sonata Arctica. Lost For Life is confident, powerful and musically robust album coming from seemingly out of nowhere and does not disappoint. 8/10

Shattered Skies: Auxilium // Vol I (Self Released)

Shattered Skies are one of my favourite djent style bands a position that was bolstered by seeing them in a small room in Bristol. Since their debut record there have been a few changes with the band losing their original vocalist and bassist. For a lot of bands this kind of set back could have meant the end of the whole thing. However with both of those vacancies now filled they can concentrate on new music and this EP is the first part of a concept and it is once again filled with technical, palm muted riffs, odd time drumming (The Reprisal) and thumping bass.

However where Shattered Skies separate themselves from many of the peers in this most recent genre of music is that they use a lot of classical piano (Hold On For Your Life) along with shimmering synths on their songs which takes their sound to another level. One of the key reasons why I loved Scattered Skies was their reliance on clean vocals and though their new singer has a different style of vocal to his predecessor he is a great fit for the band and displays his range on The Reprisal. It makes me very pleased that Scattered Skies have returned and this EP sets them up to really take off after their slightly stuttering start. 7/10

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