Reviews January/02

Company of Snakes / Burst the Bubble / SPV 085-72682


Company Of Snakes - Marsden/Moody without Coverdale Tracklisting:Ayresome Park; Labour of Love; Ride, ride, ride; Burst the Bubble; Sacrificial Feelings; What Love can do; Little Miss Happiness; Hurricane; Kinda wish you would; Days to remember; Back to the Blues; All dressed up; Can't go back; She; Ayresome Park - reprise.

The Company of Snakes has been a attractive live act for some years now - for about a year ago they released the live record "Here they go again - live" - referring of course to the fact that they played a lot of Whitesnake tracks along with Bad Company tracks as they were fronted by former BC vocalist Robert Hart. Nowadays the band features original members Bernie Marsden, Mickey Moody and Neil Murray from Whitesnake but now fronted by Swedish vocalist Stefan Berggren from Snakes In Paradise and with Manfred Mann/Roger Chapman drummer John Lingwood hitting the skin very delicate!
I don't know what I expected - but "Burst the Bubble" is a VERY positive and refreshing experience - in a retroperspective kind of way (did you get that?). The record don't come up with any surprises but the tracks is so well played and sung that I can't help humming along every tune.
The record is produced by Nikolo Kotzev and mixed by Herman Frank - and they have captured the essence of the Whitesnake spirit and put it into the new Millennium - allowing especially Stefan Berggren to have a life of his own. But on some tracks like "Little Miss Happiness" it is like putting "Saints & Sinners" on the record player again! Great track, by the way.
As I said there are only a few surprises on this one but one of them is the magnificent vocalist Stefan Berggren, who shines on this. His vocal work on the rockier tracks like "Kinda wish you would" is great but the ballads - ...uhh the ballads is GREAT. "What love can do" reminds me of "Here I go Again" - even the breathing is alike, i like that track, too.
But the over all feeling and musicianship is breathtaking. I havent heard slide-guitars like Mr. Moodys for a very long time. I am playing the air guitar of "Kinda wish you would" on the floor everytime it pops up - and I think Don Airey has put a few Hammond chord to that track - YEAH....

Wicked Sensation / Reflected / MTM Music 0681-41


Wicked Sensation - a new class act of MTM! Tracklisting:Magic Moments; Someone strong; You're the Answer; Stand tall; Highspeed Chase; The Preacher; Night on Fire; Love is strange; Caught in a Fantasy; Get down to Business; Let it ride; Joker in the the Pack; Reflected.

Wicked Sensation is a multi cultural band with musicians from the Netherlands, Germany and Thailand. "Reflected" is an ambitious debut released through the ambitous record label MTM Music. The clue to this album is the cooperation between former Ayron vocalist Robert Soeterboek's Coverdales-esque vocals and the twin guitars by Michael Klein and Sang Vong - it reminds me of Coverdale/Sykes/Vandenberg/Vai anno "1987" or "Slip of the Tongue" especially an a track like "Stand tall". But lets not forget the keyboards of Bernd Spitzner, the bass by Martin Mannhardt or the thunderous drumming by Björn Greff.
As I said it is a very ambitious project and Wicked Sensation is guided by Arjen Lucassen from Ayron, mixed by no other than Dennis Ward from Pink Cream 69 - and backing vocals is made by Damien Wilson from Threshold.
On the album there are several outstanding tracks like the before mentioned "Stand tall" but also the energetic "The Preacher" - both very Whitesnake-esque - but the band can do better than just "copy & paste", and the more fast tracks like starter "Magic Moments" or "Highspeed Chase" leaves Dokken, Heavens Edge or even Royal Hunt with a short breath. After having heard the record dozen of times the last few days one track keeps popping up - "Night on Fire" with the magnificent drumming and the almost jazzy guitar solo. "Love is strange" is a perfect ballad that never explodes but stays in the acustic corner, very emotional and authentic.
Wicked Sensation is to be recommended to every lover of Hard Rock - but especially if you have a soft spot for Coverdale's work. Believe me Soeterboek is more than just a copycat - he really has an impressive range and some great song and a marvellous band to back all this up.

Cry Holy / Ten from two / AOR Heaven


Cry Holy - Christian AOR! Tracklisting:I wanna be free; Masquerade Ball; History; Shadow of my Wings; Turnin' around; Life with an Angel; He lives in you; Every Corner of my Heart; On the Move; Shine through me (live).

I have always been a sucker for a good catchy chorus and multi layered vocals - and you get all of this with the Christian 6 piece Cry Holy from Seattle.
With melodies and vocals in the vein of The Storm, Dave Baldwin and/or Two Fires you can imagine "Ten from Two" is absolutely candy for the AOR lover all over the world. The high pitched lead vocals by outstanding vocalist Randy Loran, the dynamic guitar duo James Henry and Scott Loran, keyboard/piano player Gary Reems and the rhythm-section featuring bassist Erik Routson and drummer Mike Maxwell are all disciplined musicians who are very focused on the team work and over all approach.
As for other bands with a Christian approach Cry Holy are very "trained" in making the vocals sound as grand and pompous as possible - probably as a result of being musically brought up by the choir of the local church - this you can hear in the magnificent track "Turnin' around". A monster of a melody, a complex hook-line, some excellent background vocals and Lorans vocals. It continues in the semi-acustic ballad "Life with an Angel" - i was totally sold after this track. But the whole album is filled with rock solid AOR tracks with a cause and a purpose - and I have missed that from some bands lately!
Go to AOR Heaven and check it out - this Seattle 6 piece is as far from the Grunge scene as possible - and thank God for that! They deserve a chance - Cry Holy has made a good album and considering NOT having a major deal/producer/studio and so on behind them the result is remarkable.

© Steen Peitersen 1999-2002