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Monday, 3 April 2017

Reviews: Night Ranger, Mage, Beyond The Labyrinth (Reviews By Paul)

Night Ranger: Don't Let Up (Frontiers Records)

If you like your hard edged melodic rock then Night Ranger, the multi-million selling AOR merchants from the 1980s will be very familiar. Of course, this is the band forever associated with that horrible Sister Christian which charted in 1984. The band have travelled a long way since then and this is album number 12, following on from 2014's High Road. Don't Let Up features the exceptional guitar work of original guitar hero Brad Gillis who filled in for Ozzy after the tragic death of Randy Rhoads in 1982.

Gillis is joined by newbie Keri Kelli who has replaced Joel Hoekstra whilst the old school partnership of Kelly Keagy and Jack Blades remains intact on the driving rhythm section. Eric Levy's keyboards complete the line-up. As far as the music goes, well, it is polished, smooth and exceptional melodic rock, the kind that filled the airwaves in the 1980s and died a death in the 1990s. Tracks such as Somehow Someway, Running Out Of Time, Truth and the title track ooze quality. The combined vocals of Blades, Gillis and Keagy harmonise beautifully over the cheesiest tunes. Night Ranger has been a force in this genre for many years. This album cements their position in the top 10 without a doubt. Get the tightest jeans, back comb your receding hair and rock out (very lightly). 8/10

Mage: Green (Self Released)

Album number 3 from Leicestershire Stoners Mage, and it's a sweaty slab of fuzzy riffs, crashing drums and dirty vocals that demand you grab a beer or two whilst thumping the table. Mark, Woody, Tom and Andy don't mess about. they follow the Orange Goblin, Witch Tripper style from start to finish with some heads down doom tinged metal. Chaos ensues on Heroic Elegy, dirty guitar and charging power chords crash over you. There is essence of other swampy heroes in here, Clutch, Kyuss and Sleep all come to mind as influences. Good stuff from start to finish and if you like a big helping of some massive riffage, then Green should be on your menu. 7/10

Beyond The Labyrinth: The Art Of Resilience (Spinal Records)

Belgian rock outfits are few and far between. A studio project since 1996, but fully operational since 2004, The Art Of Resilience is the fourth full release by the band originally from North Flanders. Apparently, "the boundaries of musical definitions are too narrow to describe our music". Well, any band with a fucking mission statement, however, well intentioned, will get a definition from me regardless. Melodic hard rock at best, pompous overproduced bloat at worst. There. Have that as a definition.

The album contains a mix of vocalists who deliver some of the most histrionic performances heard for many a year. Tony Carlino's exhortations on Shape Shifter, a horrible prog rattler might just win whilst the angst drenched gushings of Geoffrery Tarallo on the awful Liberation Day run it close. The band stick to more solid ground on tracks like Carry On and Can't Get Over You, with the latter another one of those misogynistic gut churning rock 'love' songs which should have been consigned to Paul Rogers in 1975. Salve Mater is another grating dollop of total tripe, with Flilip Lemmens vocals flat and uninspiring. The more it goes on, the worse it gets. This track is possibly the worst song I've heard all year. Give this release the swerve. It's dire. 3/10

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