Reviews February/04

Tesla / Into The Now / TT00600


Tesla - The classic line up is back! Tracklisting:Into the Now; Look @ me; What a Shame; Heaven nine eleven; Words can't explain; Caught in a Dream; Miles away; Mighty Mouse; Got no Glory; Come to me; Recognize; Only you.

Tesla was one of my favorite bands back in the second half of the hairy 80's. Their two first albums "Mechanical Resonance" and "The Great Radio Controversy" I still can enjoy on vinyl sometimes! I kindda lost the interest with "Psycotic Supper" but was again very found of "Five Man acustical Jam" - I never got to listen to "Bust a Nut". But here they are again - and what a triumphant return, I think!
The album "Into the Now" has all the elements of the "classic" Tesla sound - the hoarse voice of Jeff Keith, the experimental dynamic guitar duo Frank Hannon & Tommy Skeoch combined with the tight rhytm section of Brian Wheat on bass and drummer Troy Luccketta. It took the band 2 years to finish this record - and it was definitely worth the effort. Tesla sounds like Tesla but in a very updated edition - they have evolved, but just exactly that much making it interesting AND recognizable at the same time.
The whole album is very good and it is hard to find tracks better than the rest - but my favorites are: The hard hitting (almost grungy) opener "Into the Now", the semi-acustic "What a shame" and of course the "Heaven Nine Eleven" which is a very emotional mood concerning the tragedy on September 11th. But as a stated earlier this is definetly a band effort - and despite the long absence from the stages Tesla is a live band. But also a band that manages to get this live feeling on record, and I think the whole album has a live feeling mixed with aggression and hunger! Which is not a bad cocktalil for a great record! "Into the Now" is recorded in Hannon's Sacremento studio and produced by the band itself helped by Michael Rosen and besides being cheaper for the band it gives Tesla the possibility to cuddle with every little detail and effect - like the superb bubbly guitar sound on "Come to me", great!
If you are into genuine hard rock with a mature attitude Tesla is definitely your band! - welcome home, boyz!

Vixen / The Works / PAR 888-004


Vixen - featuring Marty Friedman! Tracklisting:Angels from the Dust; New age Rock-n-roller; Living in Sin; Escape the Night; Beg for Mercy; House of the rising sun; Secret of the Stars; Give it all you got; Rocking me hard; The young & the reckless; Lady Savage; Angels from the Dust (original version); Living in Sin (original version).

Thank God for Evolution. Vixen is NOT the melodic all-girl band from the late 80's. It is the early 80's American metal band who's line-up featured former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman and vocalist Kim La Chance.
This newly re-mastered CD features the complete "Made in Hawaii" sessions as well as 7 previously unreleased tracks. But to me it all sounds very dated, and I suppose it was OK at the time - but now the voice of La Chance sounds like a sad mix of Debbie Harry and Kim Wilde. It is not very good and it turns to pure heartwrenching torture on the copy track "House of the Rising Sun" - yak!
As I said in the beginning there is a positive thing here though, Marty Friedman evolved into a much better guitarist later, but on this record his solo work is pretty lame and the rhythm parts are even worse.
Now, let's get back to the music!

Knights Area / The Sun also rises / LE 1037


Knights Area - Progressive melodic rock in the vein of Arena, Pendragon and/or IQ! Tracklisting:Beyond...; The Gate of Eternity; Conspiracy; Forever now; The Sun also rises; Conviction; Mortal Brow; Moods inspiring Clouds; A new Day at last; Saevis tranquilis in undis.

Ahh... this is absolutely medicine for the ears! Knight Area is a Dutch project started by the two brothers Joop on flute and vocalist Gerben Klazinga who also plays keyboards and drums.
The whole concept was originally concieved more than 20 years ago and has been in the making for that long. the album "The sun also rises" was ultimately composed and recorded during the last 3 years with the "cream of the crop" from the Dutch progressive rock scene. I will not even try to spell their names - but believe me, they are great.
Knight Area uses a full sonic palette that will appeal to every lover of the more mellow and melodic sides to progressive rock music - like Pendragon and IQ for example. Mellotron/flute interplay, big Hammond organs, fluid synths and very well structured guitar solos. All wrapped in a highly dramatic scene of big vocals and lots of melodic fragments but with a good vibe and a breathtaking story behind it. In all this it is also important for me to mention the cover artwork - the whole product is like a big fairytale and Mattias Norén at has done it again. He has made a marvellous cover with a lot of highly detailled bombastic drawings of a medieval scenery - with knights, castles, axes, swords and shields! It gives the music a lot of pictures - in case you miss some.
It is very hard to pick out highlights on this album - the whole album IS one big highlight! But the two tracks "Conviction" and "Mortal Brow" with a splendid vocalist called Mark Smit is so well structured and fascinating in fundament that this section is my favorite. The outragious lead guitars from Peter Von Heijningen is also worth listening to! But as I said - if you are into the melodic prog rock, art rock it was named in the 70's, I think, this is an absolute MUST HAVE! Lets hope that the two brothers don't need another 20 years for the next story.

© Steen Peitersen 1999-2004