Reviews May/07

JK Northrup / Wired in my Skin / Alien Records


JK Northrup - a great guitarist with great vocalists! Tracklisting:Black Moon (instr.); Wired in my Skin; Big blue Sky; The Road; Perfect Imperfection; mark my Territory; Cemented Eyes; So long; Metamorphosis (instr.); Grind me down; If I were James Taylor (I could finish this Song).

One of my all time favorite guitarists JK Northrup known from his work King Cobra, Johnny Edwards and Paul Shortino has finally come up with a new solo effort.
It is his second - his first self-titled album released in 2001. This time he has joined forces with a whole bunch of star lead vocalists such as: Long time associate Johnny Edwards, Kelly Keeling, Terry Ilous, the great Ted Poley and David Zaragoza (CATEGORY 7).
"Wired in my Skin" starts off with a little "show off" - an instrumental track called “Black Moon”. It kindda remind me of Joe Satriani’s “Flying In A Blue Dream”-era. Elegant guitar masturbation with a twist. And that is to say on the two other instrumental tracks, the ripping and aggressive “Mark My Territory” and the more spheric "Metamorphosis". I like the mighty Johnny Edwards a lot - and he is not failing on title track "Wired In My Skin" which features some killer guitar riffs, a catchy/ melodic chorus and one of Northrup’s best guitar solos on the release. "Cemented Eyes" which is with the (for me) unknown singer David Zaragoza is a bit more grungy - especially on the drum parts, while Kelly Keeling is grand on "Big Blue Sky" - this is a more "classic" melodic rock track. Terry Ilous is as recognizable as ever on three tracks on the album, the ballad-esque feeling "The Road", the more mellow "So Long" with a tasty guitar solo, and the more heavier “Grind Me Down.” Both could be on a XYZ release, too - a bit industrial, though melodic.
My favorites tracks are "Perfect Imperfection" and "If I Were James Taylor (I Could Finish This Song)" featuring the mighty Ted Poley. His always elegant high pitched vocals really polishs the album of - and I caught myself humming along the acoustic ballad "If I Were James Taylor..." for days now, great!
JK Northrup’s " Wired in my Skin" is a great album which features all elements to expect from a "guitar-hero" - soft and furious instrumentals and melodic rock tracks of all genres featuring a vocalist for every mood, nice! JK Northrup certainly has a great hand, a nice flair for a good rock song and the talent and aura to lift it up on a higher level with star vocalists gallore. Rumours has it that Ted Poley and JK Northrup is working together as we speak for poleys fothcoming release on Frontiers. Let's hope its true... its a very dynamic duo!

Knight Area / Under a new Sign / LE 1047


Knight Area - Dutch prog masters! Tracklisting:A different Man; Exit L.U.M.C.; Mastermind; Under a new Sign; Courteous Love; Dreamweaver; A different Man (part II).

The Dutch Knight Area is absolutely one of my favorite prog-rock bands. 100%
Their new album "Under a new Sign" is right up the traditional lovers of bands like Pendragon, Marillion and IQ - but with a more heavy sound this time which also appeals to fans of Enchant and/or Magellan.
Three years after Knight Area’s debut "The Sun also Rises" - which was more on a project level. This album is more of a band thing, featuring the two main writers brothers Joop and Gerben Klazinga on flute and keyboard, respectively. The new album has - as mentioned - a much much more "aggressive" sound and approach that begins with track two, “Exit L.U.M.C.,” and takes off on tracks like "Mastermind" and "Dreamweaver". The band (now featuring 7 members!) also also: Mark Smit on vocals and Fender Rhodes, Rinie Huigen & Mark Vermeule on guitars, Gijs Koopman on bass and Moog Taurus and finally Pieter van Hoorn on drums, Phew...! But there guest musicians like Ruben van Kruistum on cello and Bas Immerzeel on guitar and 12-string guitar.
It's hard to pick tracks out here, as the whole album is (as prog albums often are) a whole... But please listen to the melancholic “Courteous Love” - also the openeing and closing duo of "A different Man" part 1 and 2 are remarkable tracks that can only leave you stunning. "Under A New Sign" (the track not he album;-) is another instrumental and a very happy-go-lucky kindda feeling towards it. The outstanding instrumentals is nothing without the great (but almost transperent) vocals by Mark Smit - accompanied by dynamic flute interplay, very rich Jon Lord-esque Hammond organs and unusual edgy guitars sums this modern prog album off.
I think that Knight Area once again has made a killer album, with a killer attitude - in every corner of artistic expression (check out the cover by Mattias Norén). This is an absolute classic...!

Manticora / The Black Circus part 2 - Disclosure / LM 449 CD Promo


Manticora - Danish power/progressive metal! Tracklisting:Entrance; Beauty will fade; Gypsies Dance part 2; Intuneric V; Haita Di Lupi; When the Soulreapers cry; Intuneric VI; All that remain; Intuneric VII; Of Madness in its purity.

Manticora's new album "The Black Circus part 2 - Disclosure" is again produced by Tommy Hansen at the Jailhouse Studios and its the Danish power quintets sixth full length album.
It is (as the title may clue) the second and last album in the concept horror story of a travelling circus in the 19th century New England - and the album has a very big production that reveals and allows the more dark/progressive sides along the more powerful metal aspects.
The Danish quintet counts musicians: Lars Larsen on vocals, Kristian Larsen on guitars, Martin Arendal on guitars, Kasper Gram on bass and Mads Volf on drums - but also features guest musicians like Finn Zierler (Beyond Twilight) on keyboards and Jacob Hansen (Invocator) on vocals.
The story is a horror and shock tale - and it is perfectly delivered with magnificent vocals, thunderous drums and chainsaw guitars. The album has a nice cover layout and is very authentic.

© Steen Elstrup Pejtersen 1999-2007