Reviews July/06

Evil Masquerade / Third Act / ESM 134


Evil Masquerade - Danish theatrical horror rock! Tracklisting:The Devil's last Temptation; Third Act; Black Raves cry; Descended from the Grave; Far away; The Dark Minstrel plays; I'll make you burn; Under the Surface of Water; Orchestration for more than one Horn; Bring on the World; The final Goodbye.

Evil Masquerade is now mastermind/composer/producer Henrik Flyman (Zool, Wuthering Heights) on guitar, new vocalist Apollo Papathanasio (Time Requiem), Dennis Buhl (Sinphonia) on drums and newcomer Thor Jeppesen on bass - but one of the big things in this release is the presence of the two special guests David Rosenthal and Richard Andersson (Time Requiem) on keyboard - the latter had performed on the abnds two previous records, too!.
The musical style is just as ambitious as their musical past... the style is very much their very own "theatrical" metal but there are traces from Vanden Plas, Rainbow, Royal Hunt, Blackmore's Night and Queen in the tracks. The whole thing is produced by Flyman himself, who also wrote all of the songs! and mixed by Tommy Hansen in the Jailhouse Studios. There are a lot of challenging and impressive arrangements all over this - the bands second coming - but the outstanding tracks to me are opener "The Devil's last Temptation" which is marvellous big and pompous, "Descended from the Grave" and "Under the Surface of Water" which opening guitar or keyboard lines matches some of Jethro Tulls legendary sound!
If you're into easy digestable melodic rock - you can challenge youself with this one by Evil Masquerade. The progressive ("theatrical") elements are packed with a lot melodic stuff, too. Flyman & Co. has a lot to offer the melodic metal world... And new vocalist Apollo Papathanasio has a more dramatic performance than Henrik Brockmann - so all in this is a very ambitious project - keep up the good work!

John Waite / Downtown Journey of a Heart / FR PR CD 293


John Waite - The return of one the great voices! Tracklisting:The hard Way; In Dreams; Blue Venus; Missing you; Keys to your Heart; Highway 61; Isn't it Time; St. Patricks Day; New York City Girl; Headfirst; Downtown; When I see you smile.

John Waite is re-inventing himself these days... this is a kind of a "best of.."-record with new recording of well known Waite-tracks - and by all means, they are great recordings. The whole concept was, according to the press material, to be very simple and to have a basic sound based on guitars, hammond organ and piano - with no sunths added.
With this tour de force through his career with tracks from The Babys and Bad English - John Waite has to offer a bit more than this - so he added two new tracks, the bleeding ballad "St. Patricks Day" and the Dylan cover "Highway 61". And they are good. But my favorite tracks are the more well known chart hits like "Headfirst","Missing you" which he do as a duet with a female vocalist, "When I see you smile" - but i like the titletrack "The hard way" from his previous record, too even though it was never classified as a smash-hit;-)
So if you are looking for a record to brush up your John Waite collection, this is definitely the record for you!

Shooting Star / Circles / FR PR CD 291


Shooting Star - Kevin Chalfant & Co back in business! Tracklisting:Runaway; Without Love; Trouble in Paradise; George's Song; Borrowed Time; Everybody's crazy; Temptation; I'm a survivor; We're not alone; What Love is.

Shooting Star's story began back in 1960 when Ron Verlin moved into Van McLain's neighborhood in Kansas City. But it took 18 years before they landed their first deal with Virgin. At the time Shooting Star were formed by guitarist Van McLain, bass player Ron Verlin, violinist Charles Waltz and drummer Steve Thomas, with the addition of keyboard player Bill Guffey. In January 1980 the band debuted with the self titled album and toured the US in support of Robin Trower. On the heels of the great acclaim generated, Shooting Star released another four studio albums (“Hang On For Your Life”, “III Wishes”, “Burning” and “Silent Scream”) and toured with such bands as ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, Starship, Journey, Heart and Bryan Adams before calling it quits in 1986. But in 1989 the band decided to release independently “The Best of Shooting Star” which marked the first time that any Shooting Star record appeared on CD and featured a new song by Van called “Touch Me Tonight”. With the success of “The Best Of” the band was offered a new contract with Enigma Records. Returning to the group were original members Ron Verlin and Van McLain. To fill out the band, they recruited Dennis Laffoon on keyboards, Rod Lincoln on drums and vocalist Keith Mitchell. In 1990 the band recorded their sixth album, “It's Not Over” and kindda retired - performing a few lave dates now and then...
In 1999, while vacationing in Nashville, Tennessee, Van was reunited with his old friend, producer/engineer Kevin Beamish (REO Speedwagon, Jefferson Starship, Night Ranger). Out of this chance meeting grew the plans to record and release Shooting Star's seventh album, “Leap of Faith”. With a new found energy the band continued to tour and 2004 saw the return of Steve Thomas to the band after nearly 20 years in addition of Shane Micheals on violin. At the same time Shooting Star was offered this deal with Frontiers Records and “Circles” was in the making. Joining the band as their new vocalist is Kevin Chalfant (The Storm, Two Fires)!
All in all this is a great release with "classic" American Hard rock sound a la the berfore mentioned Chalfant references... but it really opens the musical spectrum adding violins and heavy Hammond organs. On tracks like opener "Runaway" and "Trouble in Paradise" the band really seems inspired and rocking! personally i could live without the ballads - but i guess songs like "Without Love" and "George's Song" will always be on Chalfant's repertoire - and he does an excellent job;-)
A very nice "comeback" album - buy or die!

© Steen Elstrup Pejtersen 1999-2006