Eclipse – Monumentum

Eclipse - Monumentum
Record Info Rating: 9/10
Label: Frontiers Records Reviewed by: “AORSweden”
Producer: Erik Mårtensson
Release date: March 24th 2017
Line-up: Erik Mårtensson (vo, gu), Magnus Henriksson (gu), Philip Crusner (dr), Magnus Ulfstedt (ba)

Eclipse returns with their 6th record since 2001, the 4th since then band “restarted” with their current sound in 2008. Robban Back has left the band, new drummer is Philip Crusner, other than that the band are the same. Principal songwriter are as usual the mastermind Erik Mårtensson, one of the unsung heroes in the business. On guitar we find one of Sweden’s finest, and a guy that yet again takes a few steps forward in his playing, guitar-maestro Magnus Henriksson.

With contributions from songwriters Miqael Persson and Johan Becker, the guys has written 11 new songs that clocks in for just under 42 minutes, and it’s 42 minutes of pure joy.
It opens up with the first single, Vertigo, a uptempo song with great punches and guitarplaying, top 3 song for sure. Next is the equally uptempo Never Look Back, another great song. Killing Me and Downfall Of Eden are up next. The first one is one of the heaviest song the band has written, the latter more in the AOR-vein (minus the keys of course). The first ballad is Hurt, which also is the latest single (video). This song is brilliant, great lyrics and very emotional, just close Your eyes and listen to this fantastic piece of work. Hurt is followed up by Jaded, now we’re back with the uptempo songs, and this is another great tune. Born To Lead and For Better Or For Worse follows the same pattern, punchy guitars and great choruses. It ends heavy, really heavy, with Black Rain. Get hold of something, or else You will fall of Your chair when listening to this one, and the guitarsolo is unbelievable.

Surely this will be one of the highlights this year, the record is phenomenal in all senses. It doesn’t quite reach the same heights as Armageddonize, at least not yet, but it’s a superb melodic record. The songs from Erik Mårtensson (and co-writers) just keeps popping out, it seems so easy for them at the moment, I’ll bow down in envy. Then Magnus Henriksson, what a fantastic guitarplayer he has become, better from each record. It’s hard to think of that many guitarists today that are better in the same genre. And do You know what? The band are even better live, just imagine that if You haven’t seen them. Get Your butt out and buy this in a hurry, You won’t regret it.

Review: Coastland Ride – Distance

CR - Distance
Record Info Rating: 8/10
Label: Avenue Of Allies Reviewed by: “AORSweden”
Producer: Coastland Ride
Release date: March 10, 2017
Line-up: Marcus Nordenberg (vo, keys), Anders Rybank (gu, ba, keys, prog.), Mikael Bohlin (gu, keys, prog.)
Additional musicians: Sven Larsson (gu-solos)

This is the 3rd record from the swedish AOR / Westcoast-band since their debute in 2003, the first in 6 years. It’s still the same 3 core-members (se above) as from the start, with a great addition (particulary on the live-scene) in guitar-maestro Sven Larsson, maybe best known from his days in Street Talk. Stylewise it’s a little harder again, as it was with the last record, but it’s still in the more “lightweight” AOR. Since the last record the band has played live 2 times, both times with us from PlanetAOR present, and as a liveband (including Sven Larsson) they are really good. Now on to this record…

It opens up strongly with Winds, one of the top 3-songs on the record, a song that sets the standard for how the songs are built up (with the choruses as the main thing). Saviour and Love Is On Your Mind follows, with the latter being very similar soundwise to fellow swedes Sonic Station, a great song. Dead For Seven Days and the beautiful ballad Here In My Heart is next up. Another highlight, Eye Of The Storm, is next, a nice uptempo song with a great guitarsolo from Sven Larsson. Nation Of Grace got to be the heaviest song the guys have done, for a (once) westcoast-band to write such a song is surprising, top 3-song for sure, it brilliant. The tempo goes down again with Spotlight Sun, a song more common for the guys. Up next is the best song of the record for me, the magnificient Higher Ground, a perfectly keyboard-driven song that has it all. Princess Little Wonderland is another heavy song, once again with at superb guitarsolo. Another great ballad, Hardcoded Life, is next, Marcus voice fits really good here. Last up is Reasons To Try, which ends a really great record.

To sum it up, this is a really good record from the guys, easily the best one they’ve done yet, and I do like the previous 2. The songwriting are better, the voice from Marcus are better, but mostly it’s the production who stands out compared to the previous ones, way better. The including of Sven Larsson turned out to be a really good decision, he add another dimension to it, even if it’s “just” for the guitarsolos. If I had say something bad, it’s that the drums are programmed, which I always complain about. The band has evolved and are now more of a AOR-band than Westcoast, it’s tougher here. It’s a record that are well worth buying.

Melodicrockfest USA / Sweden

MelodicRock.com is excited to announce the return of MelodicRockFest for one more round.
MRF5 will happen in May 2018.
Stuck with the problem of deciding between two amazing locations and two amazing venues, with two great partnerships to work with, we’ve taken the only responsible option – two MelodicRockFest events, back to back!
MRF-USA and
MRF-Scandinavia

MRF5 will be happening as usual in the Chicagoland area; and for the very first time is also heading to the other side of the globe, for a special event in Sweden!
This initial announcement is being made 14 months out from the events to allow interested fans to plan ahead and save for what will be two unforgettable events.
Full lineups for both events are in advanced planning and will be announced in the not too distant future.
Both MelodicRockFest events will take place in May 2018 and will feature the best characteristics of previous fests, with a couple of new twists to keep diehard fans happy and offer up some tempting VIP options.

MRF organizer Andrew McNeice:I was initially reluctant to dive into another event, but the partnership offers on both side of the Atlantic give me the confidence and enthusiasm to really deliver two exclusive events. I’m doing this for the fans. The true fans of this small, but amazing genre. I want to put on the two best MRF events yet and discussions with artists I’d love to take part suggest they will be.
I’m going to deliver lineups that offer something you won’t get at any other event, with the emphasis on the hottest acts fans in both locations have been demanding to see.
You can expect there to be a crossover of some artists at both events and for those looking for a double holiday, there will be ticketing options that cover both events.
It’s also a great opportunity for some artists to perform that wouldn’t otherwise get a chance and I’d love to deliver a few surprises from yesteryear that the diehards will embrace.

Further details will be announced in coming weeks including locations, exact dates and the all-important lineup and ticketing details.

There will be various vendor and sponsor opportunities. If interested, please contact: ajm@melodicrock.com
Any other questions, enquiries or comments can also be directed to: ajm@melodicrock.com

Note to viewers: This articles will be updated when there’s more info about bands who will play, dates, times, VIP and more. Stay tuned….

Rockingham Live 2017

The lineup of Rockingham Live 2017 were released tonight, as usual on the Steve Price Show on ARfm.
The days of which the bands are not yet done, but here are the bands:

Vince Neil (singing the Hits of Mötley Crue)
Loverboy
Kix
Great White (Terry Ilious-version)
Brother Firetribe
Blanc Faces
Dare
Cruzh
Maverick
Harem Scarem
Honeymoon Suite
Dave Bickler
Fortune
Moritz
Vega
The Amorettes
Airrace
Bailey

We will update this news later when we know the days the bands will play and so on…

John Wetton has passed away

The melodic community has lost another of it’s great legends. Singer & bassist John Wetton passed away this morning, as he lost his battle with colon cancer, 67 years old.
Wetton is mostly known for his work with Asia from 1982-1990, and again from 2006 onwards. He were also known for his work with King Crimson in the early 70’s and UK in the late 70’s, as well as a brief stint with Uriah Heep. Wetton also had a great solo carrer for about 10 years between 1994 and 2004, where he released the fantastic record Battlelines.
John Wetton were known for his soleful voice, that always raised the quality of the band he were in, no matter which is was. He’s survived by his wife Lisa, his son Dylan, his brother Robert and mother Peggy.

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(Picture Credit: JohnWetton.com)

Review: Jim Jidhed – Push On Through

Jim Jidhed - Push On Through

Record Info

Label: AOR Heaven
Producer: Daniel Flores
Release date: January 27, 2017
Line-up: Michael Palace (v), Michael Palace (g), Philip Lindstrand (g), Ken Sandin (b), Daniel Flores (dr)

Rating: 9/10
(10: A Master Piece / a future classic, 9: Superb, near perfect, 8: Great, 7: Very good, 6: Good, 5: Average)

Jim Jidhed is a well known name in the swedish melodic rock genre, the singer from Alien and, in my opinion, the best AOR-voice sweden has ever had. Jim’s voice is even better now, almost 30 years after Alien’s debute, the man’s voice is simply incredible, maybe one of the best in the world.
This is Jim’s 3rd solorecord where he sings in English, he has released a couple with swedish vocals. The first one were released in 1990, simply called Jim. The second one, Full Circle, were released in 2003 and were the highlight of that year, stunning record. This time Jim got hooked up with producer Daniel Flores, through their mutual friend, our very own Johan Nylén. Together with outside songwriters (one of them our good friend Philip Lindstrand) they wrote 11 songs, most of them are really great.

Glorious is the first song, the heaviest song Jim has ever sung on, it must be, the song is really glorious (no pun intended). The title tracks is up next, a more traditional AOR-song and not one of my favourites here (even if it’s a good one). If We Call It Love is next, now we’re talking. A phenomenal song in every sense, my favourite song on the record. The ballad Waiting For Summer is next, a really good song that’s fits in well. Up next is The First Time, a superb ballad where Jim’s vocals are just stunning. Of the remaining 6 songs, there are 2 who really stands out (the rest are really good). Too Many Words, and One Breath Away. The first one is really emotional ballad, with great lyrics and vocals of the highest class. The second one is a more uptempo song with brilliant guitarplay.
I think that the first half of thre record are clearly better than the latter. The quality drops slightly and there are almost only ballads or semi-ballads on the other half.

There are not much to complain about on this record. One thing for me is maybe the coverart of the record, Jim could have chosen a “real” cover, but that’s just my opinion and nothing that affects my rating or has anything to do with the songs of course. Another thing is that there’s maybe a ballad too much on it, especially on the second half of the record. Other than that the record is almost flawless and a record that You should own, especially if you like Jim Jidhed’s voice or swedish AOR in general.

Jim Jidhed returns with a new record in january!

Here’s a pressrelease from AOR Heaven:

Jim Jidhed, the singer of the band Alien singer, will release his 6th solo album on 27th January 2017.
‘Push On Through’ is a heavier record than the previous ones. It still has the mark of AOR to it, but also a straight hard rock feeling at times. Producer Daniel Flores, who had a vision for this album, really nails that vision sound wise. Jim’s voice is stronger than ever at 53, and here all his experience, feeling, heart and soul come together in a very powerful way.

Jidhed was born 1963 in Gothenburg, Sweden. He began playing and singing around the age of ten, and formed his first real band when he was 12-13 years old. At the time he was 16 he started a group called ‘Glamour’, and it was with this band things began to get more serious. 1982, at the age of nineteen, Jidhed released his first ever single with the band ‘Glamour’. The label was named ‘Polar’ and the woman who signed the band was Marie Andersson, daughter of Stickan (ABBA ) Andersson.

In 1986 Jidhed wrote a musical and played that in the spring of ‘87. At the same time, in December ’86, he teamed up with a new Swedish band that took the name ‘Alien’. Alien released two singles during ‘87, ‘Headstrong’ and ‘ I’ll Survive’, and by the fall they recorded ‘Only One Woman’ at ‘Polar’ studio. Alien recorded their first album early in ’88, at ‘Sound City’ studios in Los Angeles, and just a bit later that year they got a huge hit with ‘Only One Woman’ and headlined a big tour the full spring and summer. For personal reasons Jim left the band in the fall of 1988.

Between 1989 and 2005, the Swedish born singer released five solo albums until he and the original members from Alien teamed up once more, after over twenty years. They released a single, ‘Ready to fly’, and began playing some selected shows, performing (the songs of) their debut album. They decided to write a new album, and released ‘ Eternity’ in 2014.

Jim released his fifth solo album in December 2015, titled ‘Tankar i vinternatten’. It’s kind of a Christmas record, but with Swedish lyrics more into to the depth of things surrounding Christmas, and the state of mind of people around that time of year.

This year 2016, Johan Nylén (PlanetAOR) – a true fan of Jim, Alien and the AOR genre – introduced Jim to producer Daniel Flores. Daniel had wanted to work with Jidhed for a long time, and now the two of them hooked up. ‘Push On Through’ is an album that, from the beginning, was meant to sound different from anything Jim has done in the past. And for sure, Daniel has made that happen. Daniel, who played the drums on the album himself, produced a heavier and tougher sound.
Further, on the release you find Ken Sandin (Alien) playing the bass, guitars were performed by Michael Palace and Philip Lindstrand, and Rolf Pilotti took care of the backing vocals. Jim’s son Robin Jidhed was both the engineer and sounding board when Jim recorded his lead vocals.

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Expect a review from us at PlanetAOR in a couple of weeks

Picture cover made by Mats Bengtsson

Review: Mecca – 3

Mecca - 3

Record Info

Label: MelodicRock Records
Producer: Shannon Forrest
Release date: October 14
Line-up: Joe Vana (vo), Shannon Forrest (dr), David Hungate (ba), Tim Akers (key, pi), David Browning (sy), Joey Vana (gu), Mark Baldwin (gu)

Rating: 9,5/10
(10: A Master Piece / a future classic, 9: Superb, near perfect, 8: Great, 7: Very good, 6: Good, 5: Average)

Mecca’s debute in 2002 is still the only record I’ve given a perfect score since starting doing reviews more than 15 years ago. For me, that is still the best AOR-record this side of the millenium, a masterpiece for me. The core members from that record are back here, minus the late Fergie Frederiksen of course, but David Hungate, Shannon Forrest and the creator of Mecca, Joe Vana, is here. Joe’s son, Joey Vana, plays guitars, and Mark Baldwin, Tim Akers and David Browning are the rest of the members on board. Funny thing is, that in 2002 I remember writing that Shannon Forrest is the closest thing to the late Jeff Porcaro you could come, today Shannon is the drummer of Toto and are actually compared to Jeff…
This is the third record from Joe Vana and his gang. Undeniable was released back in 2011, also a fantastic record, but not as good as the debute, or his one.

There are “only” 8 songs on this record, and a total playing time of around 34 minutes. Normally this would’ve been something that would affect the rating, but in this case it’s not, as we get 8 superb songs and no fillers. Take My Hand opens up a flawless journey of melodic bliss, followed by Unknown and the masterful ballad Alone, the latter shows how mighty fine voice Joe has, his voice has really matured through the years. Next up is the best song on the record, and the best song released this year, Gone, a simply superb song which has it all. Cry and the beautiful A Kiss In The Wind follows, with no signs of losing quality the longer the record goes. The piano on the latter one (from Tim Akers) is scaringly good, simple but yet so brilliant. The only song written without Joe Vana is Let It Go, which was written by the great Richard Page (Mr Mister, Pages), I guess it’s not necessary for me to write that the song are fantastic. Closing the record are Believe, which features a duet between Tim Akers (who co-wrote it) and Joe Vana, a nice ending of a phenomenal record.

If there’s some justic in the world, this record should top the charts, but our musically mental world don’t allow that of course.
I would be extremely surprised if this record isn’t number 1 on most toplists (in the melodic rock world) this year, it simply can’t be done much better than this. The production is superb, one of the cleanest sounding records I’ve heard in years, the songwriting is topnotch and the musicianship is flawless, it’s world class all over.