Reviews from October/99


Dave Baldwin / Time / DukeNDuke Music/Escape/ DB 1030


Dave Baldwin - Time. Former Aerrage, Tradia and Voices frontman Dave Baldwin has now joined forces with Departure (Escape Music) on their upcoming release but until this is released we can enjoy a re-release of his solo "Time" from 1998.
At that time the AOR-genre wasn't really kicked to life again, so it was kindda brave to release an album with an overall happy feel combined with good melodies and mighty catchy tunes. This is what "Time" is full of - 50 minutes journey in Dave Baldwin's personal universe, and that is an enjoyable travel in a rare world of master songwriting. great musicianship - and musical taste and class.
The CD kicks of with the ligtfootted and cheerfull "Upen up" - and from the first beat I can hear this is both good and meant straight from the heart!!
Overall Dave Baldwin from track to track drags his listener closer and closer to his feelings - because the songs reflects all kind of emotions from the mellow and sad  "Watch me cry", "Sweet Sister" with piano, cello and violin and "I don't know" all very elegant and to the more  up-tempo tunes like opener "Open up" and "I will still be there" where he reaches notes that I didn't even knew excisted - I have to practise more than every morning in the shower to do that!!
His musical influence he has of course in his background in Tradia and drummer Anthony Damelio had followed Dave on this solowork too, but also in the more symphonic bands like Giufffria, Saga, Shout and not to forget Journey. The guitarparts are in the background - but to make up for that Dave plays the keyboards, piano and acustic guitar with elegance and the drumming is outstanding and as already mentioned the violins, celloes and organs gives this release a "classic" feel and with great, big chorouses it would have been BIG if it was released at the right moment. When it was finished I was feeling lifted - like after the first sun in the springtime.
It's essential in the AOR-genre - and therefore I thank Escape Music for this re-release, it's great.


Vanden Plas / Far Off Grace / SPV 085-31702


Vanden Plas - Far Off Grace. Dream Theater, Royal Hunt and other progressive bands - "WATCH OUT" because Germany's Vanden Plas is breathing down your neck.
It's kindda scary how precise and elegant music can be played - Vandenplas sure has taking their time to do this very nice opus. Since their debut in 1995 with "Color Temple" keywords has been to make a fusion between classical, progressive and melodic elements along with raw power  - this is also seen and heard on "The God thing" from 1997, which gave the band the great opportunity to tour with Dream Theatre in Europe.
"Far off Grace" is their third CD and is co-produced by Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69 and DC Cooper) and showcases the bands melodic approach to the more progressive metal genre as before, but still with that little extra on the technical show-off.
Lyrically the new album is built on a bunch of short stories, all circling around humans oldest dreams, but (an here comes the trick) the main caracter is still far from his ultimate destination - he is "Far off Grace".
Andy Kuntz who once had played in a theater-version of  "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" has both pain and suffering in his voice but also a crystalclear hope - great.
The band story is also chapter on its own - the musicians has been part of both music and theater and in 1991 they wrote "Keep on running", the official song of the 1. FC Kaiserslautern champion soccer team, that should illustrate the with of genre an themes on the band.


Zakk Wylde / Book of Shadows (Remastered) / Spitfire Records 5014


Zakk Wylde - Book of Shodows. After some years with big success, did Zakk Wylde resign from Ozzy Osbourne to start his own solocareer. At first he establish ”Pride & Glory” with James LoMenzo and Brian Tichy. ”Pride & Glory” present a ”Southern rock & roll style” with Zakk Wylde on lead vocal and a matter of course on guitar. The album, with the same name, was well-received.
After the ”Pride & Glory” thing, Zakk Wilde publishes his own new album, ”Book of shadows”, a so-called acoustic album - and it's re-released now. Here  he expand a whole new style, you never have heard from him before. Most of his music has become acoustic and the tempo has slowed down. It has become a lot more mainstream and superficial, but the smell of ”southern spirit” is still remaining.
At first ”Book of shadows” seems a little boring, but if you are a little patient, some very good elements shows up. Fx the first (and the best) number, ”Between heaven & hell”, is a good number, and ”Road back home” and ”Throwin´it all away” also had a good ground and well-sounded choruses.
Sometimes the album gets ”too much” acoustic for my taste and that’s a shame, but of course, no Zakk Wylde album, without guitar solos. On ”Book of shadows” he blows  regularly genuine ”Zakk Wylde-solos” off, with roots deep down to the happy Ozzy-days and thats a good thing, its shakes the album up.
In the end of ”Book of shadow” it seems that he wakes up a little. In the two last numbers, ”1,000,000 miles away” and special in ”I thank you child” you simply find heavy subharmonics.
All together it’s not one of the best album Zakk Wylde has take part of, but its ok.
Jonas Stenbæk