Cry Of Dawn - Anthropocene (Frontiers Music Srl)
When Cry Of Dawn released their first album I instantly knew who was singing without even looking at the PR. Göran Edman has sung for Yngwie Malmsteen amongst many others but in this Frontiers collaboration he moves away from the Neo Classical style into the melodic rock/AOR, a style he is also synonymous with. Though Cry Of Dawn is much more melodic than a lot of his background. As you could hear on the debut and on this follow up, Cry Of Dawn is very much melodic rock/AOR, taking the Yacht Rock template of Toto, ideal for sunny days by the sea.
Partnered up with guitarist/producer Tommy Denander who plays everything else on Anthroposcene, it's some slick bright American FM radio music, the vocals of Göran perfect for this punchy style of melodic rock from the driving Before You Grow Old, to swaying ballads such as Edge Of A Broken Heart it's got a lot of Toto to it with lots of keys, chunky guitars and that voice this record is AOR at its most melodic, the rock giving way to the more poptastic sounds. Cry Of Dawn is an ideal record for anyone that loves some extremely upbeat melodic rock. 7/10
House Of Shakira - XIT (Frontiers Music Srl)
Not a rock band fronted by the woman who's hips always tell the truth. House Of Shakira are a veteran Swedish hard rock band who's 10th studio album XIT sees them plugging their distinct sound once again. By distinct I mean they have a kind eclectic rock sound that steadles any genres and is quite hard to pinpoint. But they have been producing this for the best part of 20 years so on XIT they have refined to the point that it's second nature. If I were to describe it, House Of Shakira's style is kind of Def Leppard meets Asia with Phil Collins on vocals.
Eclectic songs made with huge choruses Toxic Train is very in the realms of Genesis as the hard rock and funk fused, Your Exit brings more prog with lots of Yes-like vocal harmonies as Too Much Love comes from the more direct rock domain but elsewhere there's some influence from both Journey and Rush which is a bit of genre clash but House Of Shakira handle it all really well. I'll admit this is the first House Of Shakira album I've heard (I think) but it left an impression on me, from the virtuoso guitar playing to the great harmonies I very much enjoyed this album.
If they've been playing music this eclectic and accessible for 20 years then I have a lot of catching up to do as XIT is a HIT in my book! 8/10
Circus Of Rock - Lost Behind The Mask (Frontiers Music Srl)
Circus Of Rock is another collaborative project from the Frontiers music factory. This time it's the creation of King Company and Hevisaurus(!) drummer Mirka Rantanen, who is now into his second go a ring master for this Circus. It takes a similar tact to the first record where there's a host of talented players and singers on each song the highest profile here being Jeff Scott Soto, Bernie Shaw, Mark Boals, David Readman and Mr Lordi himself but everyone who contributed is immensely talented and there's more than a couple of Frontiers young guns getting a bit more attention as the album opens with Girish Pradhan (Girish & The Chronicles) giving his rock n roll growl to Alive And Kickin' before JSS belts out Keep On Shining.
Having these two next to each other is a genius move as the have two of the best rock voices out there. Mark Boals soars on The War Is Over while Mr Lordi scares on Nine Lives. The music is based of course in hard rock but with some added theatricality of the Avantasia or Phenomena variety, the revolving vocalists making each song unique but also slotting into the album perfectly. They are written for each voice which is why Is It Any Wonder sounds like Pink Cream 69 and Sunrise is all Uriah Heep pomp. Frontiers projects like this are always decent if a little bloated, Circus Of Rock is a bit more entertaining than most. 7/10
DeVicious - Code Red (Metalapolis Records)
DeVicious are European style melodic rock, I mean not just European, but that Scandi style that will kill at any Eurovision, the repeating refains and upbeat chorus on Are You Ready For Love, probably would have done better than both countrymen Lords Of The Land and Aussies Voyager as like most of DeVicious' music it's got the best bits of Journey, Def Leppard and bands such as Europe and H.E.A.T.
Synths and guitars in unison, the synths the main melodies while the guitars are used for rhythm and solos mainly, there's some electronic brass on Highway To The Stars, some heavier bluesing on Madhouse a song that is as dark and brooding as DeVicious get as the Europe influence is strong on Stuck In Paradise, while Raise Your Life has a symphonic metal-like chug.
I could definitely see DeVicious holding their own at any of the AOR/Melodic Rock Fests against any of the big hitters as they've got, slickness in the songwriting/delivery, musicality from the players and choruses that are as hooky as something Delboy & Rodney would sell on Peckham Market.
With a change behind the mic, Baol Bardot Bulsara now the singer after the departure of their previous vocalist and he let's loose here his expansive background meaning he's adaptable. Code Red is a return to form for DeVicious, after some sonic experiments on the last album and the pandemic effecting touring it, Code Red is made for arenas. 8/10