Sunstorm: Edge Of Tomorrow (Frontiers)
Sunstorm was formed in 1999 by ex-Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner along with Dennis Ward, Uwe Reitenauer, Chris Schmidt all from Pink Cream 69. With this line up they record three albums all of which sat very comfortably in the warm, embrace of AOR that Ward and Turner are especially skilled in. Think big racks of keyboards, clean guitar riffs, crooning vocals and big sexy hooks (as Michael Bolton would call them) and if you like AOR then you'll be licking your sugar coated lips with anticipation. Edge Of Tomorrow is the bands fourth album in total and their first since 2012's Emotional Fire (is there a more AOR title than that?) it is the first not to feature any of the previous members except for Joe Lynn Turner who's unmistakable leather lunged vocal prowess is at the forefront of every song on this record. This Sunstorm album is a little bit heavier than it's predecessors as it comes off the back of Turner's Rated X project which was more a melodic rock sound that pure saccharine AOR.
Thankfully then Edge Of Tomorrow is a rockier prospect and it benefits from it meaning that it sounds a bit more like Turner's tenure in Rainbow, this can be heard on Heart Of The Storm, Don't Walk Away From A Goodbye and You Hold Me Down which all have hard rock edge to them, on the other side of the coin there is still plenty of AOR melodies The Sound Of Goodbye is very Journey in it's synth driven thump and of course there are also huge ballads such as the over-blown Angel Eyes and the muscular The Darkness Of This Dawn which ramp up the cheese factor. Much of the album's sound comes from the songwriting, production and keyboard playing of session man extraordinaire Alessandro Del Vecchio who seems to have a new band every week but all of them have the same high quality sheen to them, the rest of the band are also Italian with the band replaced wholesale from it's original members. The quality of this record is very huge indeed and should see Sunstorm back with a bang! 8/10
Astrakhan: Adrenaline Kiss (Dead End Exit)
Astrakhan hail from the snowy shores of Sweden and much like countrymen Katatonia they add a humanistic touch to their progressively tinged hard rock. They play their music in the shadow of Floyd having an ear to the Scandinavian cousins The Von Hertzen Brothers the band are made up of a singer who has background in musical theatre, a drummer, a guitarist that was part of Evergrey (one of the other acts that I would put in the same category as Astrakhan) and was founded by two brothers who are the bass and keys. The album is a musical melting pot of styles, Silver Dreams is an ominous dramatic number with spiralling keys throughout it, it's a contrast to the two opening songs that are almost two halves of one mammoth piece, in fact this entire album has thematic link to it there is an aching and longing throughout, Adrenaline Kiss is not a happy album, it's melancholic and poignant as much as it is also dynamic and rocking, the band are all masters of their instruments and this is reflected by the complexities of the songs on this record, the title track moves into the eastern influence as the keys once again show their influence, One More Day is swaying, acoustically-laced rocker that leads into the stirring melody of Ballade De Rhodes which owes a lot to Katatonia and Anathema almost as much as Gravity owes to Pink Floyd. Adrenaline Kiss is an interesting album and one that needs time to be considered properly, just enjoy the ride and let it open up it's charms. 7/10
My Regime: Dogmas (Scarlet Records)
My Regime's frontman is Spice, perhaps best known as the original singer of Swedish Stoner merchants Spiritual Beggars as well as melodic thrashers Kayser (who I still hold in high regard). Dogmas is his most aggressive record to date as he says himself: "This band is my ventilation to get rid of some unhealthy anger. Both in a musically way, but also in a mental way" there is frustration at the global socio-political situation delivered with stripped back lightning fast thrash metal. I'll get this out of the way now Dogmas sounds like Slayer, exactly like Slayer, the songs have rapid guitar riffs, frantic blast beats, Spice's Arya like vocals, political lyrics and the entire record sounds like it was recorded in a toilet. I was four songs in before I realised the track had changed such is the familiarity of these songs, the album just sounds the same and never really breaks away from South Of Heaven sound. If you worship Slayer you might get a kick out of Dogmas however it's really just too much of a blatant rip off for my liking. 5/10