Reviews October/03

Michael Riesenbeck / Shounting Silence / Stemra 324877


Michael Riesenbeck - Dutch multi instrumentalist and fan of Toto and Giant! Tracklisting:Hold on me; Better Days; Dreams for tomorrow; Casualties of War; Call to Glory; Meant to be; Toto's Giant Journey; Heart of Stone; Two Hearts; Telling Lieas; Shounting Silence.

This is the debut album from the Dutch multitalent Michael Riesenbeck best known for his effort on the Toto tribute album "Fanfields". Besides Mr. Riesenbeck himself on guitar, drums and keyboards he has invited some very important guests to take care of the vocals, bass and keyboards. To name a few it is Phil Vincent, Tony O'Hara from Praying Mantis, Jeff Pilson from Dokken, Kimmo Blom from Urban Tale, Lec Zorn and Eric Ragno from Takara.
Michael Riesenbeck's own press info states that the album features 11 songs in the vein of Toto, Journey, Giant, Whitesnake, FM, Strangeways, Le Roux etc. and even if the very gifted guitarist has a track called Toto's Giant Journey it is first and foremost Mr. Lukather who is THE inspiration. As goes for the vocalists Tony O'Hara delivers the works for two tracks "Dreams for Tomorrow" and "Two Hearts" and that goes for Phil Vincent, too who is doing the leads on bombastic opener "Hold on me" and "Telling Lies" and as a Dane I must say that "Hold on me" has its moment where it reminds me of good old Skagarack!
There are several goodies on this independently released (and produced) album - and on several occasions there is a certain Stryper-sound towards it - maybe it is Ed James and Lars Säfsund voices that are a bit Michael Sweet-esque? But I'm sure that any lover of melodic rock with a complex song structure will find both rockers, instrumentals and ballads here to satisfy - i know I did.

Open Up feat. Morten Holm / Open Up / MTM 0681-77


Open Up - A project that brings Morten Holm back to life! Tracklisting:Dreams; A joyful day; Anxious Mind; Where are you Summertime; Open Up; No hard Feelings; Life goes on; U R the 1; Lonely Days; Blinded; What am I gonna do?.

Open Up featuring Morten Holm is the fascinating story of a young up and coming sprinter from Norway, who on a training in Portugal got a food poisoning or an allergic reaction and laid 13 years (!) with constant fever! Luckily Morten Holm Pettersen's world took a positive turn when he dicided to write songs - first without any instrument, but later he bought a small keyboard and managed to send a song to an artist who recorded it. The producer David Johansen liked what he heard and put a band together with Norwegian musicians and a Canadian singer called Dave Evans. The rest of the project Open Up is completed by Inge Ulrik Gundersen on bass, Stig Joneid on acustic guitar, Fredrik Johnsen on lead guitar and David Johansen himself doing the keyboards.
The story behind this record itself is like a Danielle Steele novel/film but - the musical relsult is not that exciting - don't get me wrong, it is a nice piece of Westcoast inspired music in the vein of Richard Marx, Lava and/or Toys of Joy and there ARE several memorable tunes here like opener "Dreams" and the beautiful ballad "Anxious Mind" - and i'm sure that every note in every song is meant absolutely 100% honest!
But as a record it is an album right in the middle! Not too dangerous and not too different!

Taraxacum / Rainmaker / MTM 0681-78


Taraxacum is back with their second album! Tracklisting:Disfunctional; Prayer in Unisin; Rainmaker; Never to return; Make it happen; Wake up; If I had known; Game over; Dark Sunglasses; The red Pill; In the End; Lo Que Faltó (Spanish version of If I had known.

Taraxacum is based on the ideas of former Edguy bassist Tobias Exxel and Squeeler drummer Frank Wolf and goes back to the year 2000. Their debut from 2001 called "Spirit of Freedom" was produced by Kai Hansen and on this their second album they are joined by star vocalist Rick Mythiasin from Steel Prophet, guitarist Danny Klupp from Haggard, bass player Shaker Elmosa and keyboard wizzard Ferdy Doernberg from Axel Rudi Pell and Rough Silk.
Like most German hard rock it can by categorized in one of two categories eiter fantastic or awful - this country works in extremes, and luckily "Rainmaker" is fantastic - in my opinion! It mixes a rather "soft" melodic attitude a la early Bonfire and/or Steeler but has also some rough heavy attitudes a la Running Wild and Gamma Ray - but after all this Taraxacum has its very own world concerning attitude - and the most impressing piece of artistic work is the collaboration between keyboards, breathtaking vocals and screaming guitars all produced and mixed by Tobias Exxel and Sascha Paeth. The best track for me is the melodic and epic "Wake Up" but also the piano started ballad "If I had Known" - which also shows up in the end in a Spanish edition "Lo Que Falto" because of Mythiasin's Spanish roots has its moments. But also the last 4 tracks of the album is very worth the attention "The Game is over" and "Dark Sunglasses" ( as well as the bobbly guitars on "In the End") has some references back to the orchestral 70's - fun and very well played.
All in all this is a very fine piece of hard/heavy rock with very strong melodic passages - it has a powerful production and is filled up with energy and world awerness - cool!

© Steen Peitersen 1999-2003