Reviews September/07

MASS / Crack of Dawn / ESM 153


MASS - Finally back! Tracklisting:It's you; Crack of Dawn; Someday; Empty Soul; Hello; Magic Train; Monkey Brain; Sweet Lady Jane; Seven Days (bonus track); Castle; Leaving you; Who am I.

MASS has existed since 1980! And released 5 records - and had a lot of bad experiences in the hard rock bizzz, i.e. they never released their first album produced by Tom Allom due to strained relationship between A&M records and the band's current manager. The as you can figure is well experienced and they really paly it like this. The four members Louis D'Augusta on vocals, Gene D'Itria on guitars, Lou Spagnola on bass and Joey Vadala on drums deliver an excellent performance and combined with the tight production by Martin Kronlund (and MASS) "Crack of dawn" is a great record that shows a mature band with all the qualities of great melodies, excellent musicianship and a nice production.
The record starts out with "It's you" a little sing-a-long tune, that I have discoved works very well in my shower;-). But also "Hello" has that same feeling - and with a great hammond-ish sound in the background. The bands fourth CD back in 1988 was recorded with Michael Sweet of Stryper fame, and he produced ""It's you" and "Empty Soul" - both tracks is on this new one in an updated version, great. The band also have hard hitters like "Magic train" with harmonica and rough guitars. But also "Monkey Brain" is an outstanding track - with a more funky attitude. But the whole record "Crack of Dawn" is a great one, i will highly recommend it.
Their last record was almost 20 years ago - but the band have not forgotten how to rock. I'm sure that old fans will love their attitude and melodies - and for the new fans... start here!

Astral Doors / New Rvelation / LM 527 CD PROMO


Astral Doors - Their fourth album! Tracklisting:New Revelation; Freedom War; Pentecostal Bound; Bastard Son; Waiting for the Master; Planet Earth; Quisling; Cold War Survivor; The Gates of Light; Shores of Solitude; Mercenary Man.

I have always had a soft spot for the charming Swedes Astral Doors - both their sound, their attitude and of course the Dio-esque dramatic vocals by Nils Patrik Johansson!
It's nice to hear that the influences from bands like Iron Maiden, Accept, King Diamond and DIO can be united with a more "modern" sound and influences. The six magnificent members of Astral Doors are. Nils Patrik Johansson on vocals, Martin Haglund on guitars, Joachim Nordlund on guitars, Mika Itaränta on bass, Joakim Roberg on keyboards and Johan Lindstedt on drums. "New Revelation" takes off where the 2006 relase "Astralism" landed. After a very successful tour with the German power kings Blind Guardian they started to write and record new tracks and added more power, moods and variations to the already "classic" sound.
There are several memorable tracks here worth a mention: "New Revelation" is classic Astral Doors the big vocals and magnificent production, but wait it gets even more dramatic with a track like "Waiting for the Master" and "Planet Earth" - excellent. The final tracks "Mercenary Man" starts out with Hammond organ like the good ole Depp Purple... But Astral Doors also have a more melodic side - and they get almost radio friendly with "Shores of Solitude", with an outstanding guitarsolo-part in the middle .
A great record by the new masters of the classic hard rock style - but with an updated sound and expression. Great.

Circus Maximus / Isolate / FR PR CD 345


Circus Maximus - Maximum power! Tracklisting:A darkened Mind; Abyss; Wither; Sane no more; Arrival of Love; Zero; Mouth of Madness; From Childhood's Hour; Ultimate Sacrifice.

Like their first album "The 1st Chapter" Circus Maximus mixed their second "Isolate" in the Jailhouse Studios with Tommy Hansen. The band features the talents of Michael Eriksen on vocals, Mats Haugen on guitars, Truts Haugen on drums, Glen Cato Møllen on bass and Lasse Finbråten on keyboards. And the new album has all the qualities from their debut - and a lot more. The band has a wide variety og musical influences, from pop/rock to AOR over 70's prog-art-rock to heavy and even death metal. The 2007 sound is incredible and several Prog festivals has made contracts with the band. Progpower Europe, Progpower Scandinavia, Sweden Rock and MetalHeart- And with a style that brings out the best memories of Symphony X, Kamelot and Pretty Maids i'm sure that they will bring happiness.
My absolute favorite track on this brilliant release must be the more melodic "Arrival of Love" with its enchanting riff magnificent vocal work and great musical middle section - which is almost Kansas-esque."Ultimate Sacrifice" is almost that melodic. But also the mellow "Zero" is a great track. There are several more heavy tracks that will bring the blood to the boiling point like opener "A darkened Mind" and "Abyss". The highlight for the prog-interested must be the over 12 minutes long "Mouth of Madness". Great! All in all a worthy follow up to the magnificent debut. This is even better - and I get the impression that the next one will be even better. The sky is the limit for these Norwegian guys.

© Steen Elstrup Pejtersen 1999-2007