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Mr. N. J. Henderson (Bude, Cornwall)
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The Strange Case Of...
The Strange Case Of...
Price: £12.54

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing strange about this one..., 2 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Strange Case Of... (Audio CD)
Halestorm's sophomore album sounds exactly like I expected it too.
It's hard, heavy, loud and complete with Lzzy Hale's stunningly strong and seductive voice, its mainstream hard rock made for today's rock radio.

I was eagerly anticipating this album after thoroughly enjoying their debut, lead single "Love Bites (So Do I) is the heaviest and most uptempo track they've made, close to being a heavy metal track. Just crying out for a longer guitar solo in the middle, it's far too short!

Elsewhere the wonderful transition between "Mz Hyde" and "Miss The Misery" keeps the opening rock numbers strong, ("Freak Like Me" being the only notable exception) before we hit three ballads in a row "Beautiful With You," "In Your Room" and "Break In." The latter is the strongest of the three being superbly piano based and the former more of a tempo ballad, similar to "Better Sorry Than Safe" from their debut.
Neither of these songs though (as strong as they are) drift into real power ballad territory, something which I think Halestorm really need to nail down for their next record.

Beyond that the record goes a little patchy for me. "Rock Show" "Daughters of Darkness," "You Call Me A Bitch Like It's A Bad Thing" and "American Boys" are decent enough but nothing memorable, especially after you've listened to them a few times. The first half of the album is definitely stronger than the second.

Lastly we get another tempo ballad in "Here's To Us" which is a nice way to close an enjoyable record, rather surprisingly this is the albums second single, which in my view is an odd choice as it isn't strong enough. It's an album track at best, not a single.

Those of you that have brought the deluxe edition will be treated with three extra bonus tracks, a couple of which are possibly stronger then the album tracks themselves, "Don't Know How To Stop" and "Hate It When You See Me Cry."

Overall, "The Strange Case of..." is a good album, just not a brilliant one. Halestorm are deserving of their place amongst today's most successful rock acts and you won't find many other female fronted rock bands showcasing mainstream rock music as well as this.
I enjoyed it and it comes recommended.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2012 4:12 PM BST


Live at Wembley - European Tour 2011 CD + 2DVD [Digipack]
Live at Wembley - European Tour 2011 CD + 2DVD [Digipack]
Price: £17.76

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, you can't really say anything else, 27 Mar 2012
I've been a massive fan of Alter Bridge for years now, ever since I saw them live for the first time in Portsmouth in 2008.
They've gradually been getting more successful since, no doubt helped by the fact that they put on such a superb live show and Myles Kennedy was chosen by Slash to be his vocalist/guitarist for his solo tour.

I was unfortunately not able to be at this Wembley show, but I was there for the Birmingham leg of the tour and it was simply a sublime show.
Alter Bridge never disappoints and the production and quality of this DVD/Blu-ray is a joy to behold.

They showcase songs from all of their three studio albums, although the set list is focused primarily on their latest release, "AB III."
Personally I miss hearing songs like "Down To My Last" and "In Loving Memory" but with more material to play some songs won't make the cut anymore.

Live staples "Open Your Eyes," "Metalingus," "White Knuckles" the awesome "Blackbird" all show up, (the latter has possibly one of the best guitar solos ever written) along with acoustic versions of "Watch Over You" and "Wonderful Life."
Nice to see "Coeur d Alene" included as well, for those of you who don't know that is the name of a lake that is close to where Myles resides in Spokane.

Everything about this show is perfect, the presentation, the musicality, the vocal and even the crowd make it an essential purchase for any Alter Bridge fan.
(The live audio CD as well is a nice bonus for listening in the car)

Nice to see them not taking ages to release it as well, this show was recorded in November 2011 and gets released in March 2012.
Makes a change from "Live In Amsterdam" which took over a year to hit shop shelves.

In summary, "Live at Wembley" is an essential purchase for anyone who follows Alter Bridge and comes highly recommended.


Amaryllis
Amaryllis
Price: £7.14

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's not their best..., 27 Mar 2012
This review is from: Amaryllis (Audio CD)
"Amaryllis" is the fourth studio album from American rockers Shinedown which although showcasing all the traditional hard rock and sweeping ballads the band have become known for, there's something not quite right with it.
Now don't get me wrong, this is not a bad record, but as a follow up to what was in my opinion one of the best hard rock records of the past ten years in "The Sound Of Madness" this record falls painstakingly short of that level.

Lead single "Bully" although commercially successful stateside is probably their weakest single overall and noisy rockers "Adrenaline" and "Enemies" don't endear themselves too well either.
It's very much a mixed bag; the strongest songs on here are the slower, toned down numbers, especially title track "Amaryllis," single candidate "Miracle" and power ballad "I'll Follow You."

If I was trying to summarise my problem with "Amaryllis" then it would be that I think it just feels forced, almost too rushed.
Too many of the songs feel like the band are trying to get fans out of their seat from the very first listen and it just doesn't work.
Singer Brent Smith said in the build up to this record that "Amaryllis" is the "centrepiece of what Shinedown is" but that statement doesn't ring true for me.
It has grown on me the more I have listened to it, but I cannot escape the fact that it simply isn't as good as any of their previous three studio albums.

That said however, it has its enjoyable moments but I cannot give it four or five stars because their previous work has been far superior.
Taking everything into consideration, "Amaryllis" stands tall on it's own as a decent hard rock record and I expect it to sell very well, no doubt about that.
But therein lies the problem, it is just "decent," nothing spectacular.
There's no crossover hit here like "Second Chance," no rocker as strong as "Devour."

If you're a fan of the band then I strongly recommend this record, but if you're new to Shinedown you'd be best advised to check out their earlier material first before listening to "Amaryllis."
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 16, 2012 5:33 PM BST


Here And Now
Here And Now
Price: £8.32

12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Seventh studio album for Canadian rockers..., 21 Nov 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Here And Now (Audio CD)
I'm going to do something quite unique with this review. I fancy myself as a bit of a music critic (see my other reviews) and so for this album I'm going to review it twice, once from my personal perspective and then again from a critical one.

Personal Review - 3.5 Stars

Like most people, I was immediately drawn to Nickelback back in 2001 when their smash hit single "How You Remind Me" propelled them into the musical mainstream. It seemed to be on the radio for an eternity, and can still be frequently heard today.
Since that point Nickelback have consistently churned out mainstream sounding rock records, none of them have been particularly groundbreaking but it's music people like to hear and that's why they sell millions of copies every time.

"Here & Now" is essentially the same as its predecessor, "Dark Horse." Nickelback know the formula, it's not very big or bold, but it's catchy, melodic and it's made for mainstream radio.
Songwriting leaves a lot to be desired though, Chad throws in an abundance of sexual innuendo in his lyrics, see tracks "Midnight Queen" "Gotta Get Me Some" and "Everything I Wanna Do" as prime examples.
Semi acoustic "When We Stand Together" is a decent song and a good choice as lead single, but as is tradition for Nickelback it's on those ballads that they produce their best work, "Lullaby" and "Trying Not To Love You" ooze single potential.

It's quite a short record, at just eleven tracks it's all done in just under 40 minutes, at the time of writing I'm not aware of any bonus tracks that normally accompany most records these days.

Will it win Nickelback any new fans? Probably not. Anyone expecting musical miracles with any new Nickelback record will be sadly disappointed, but take it for what it is and you'll most likely enjoy it.
I did just that - it's exactly what I expected, nothing more and absolutely nothing less.

Music Critic Review - 1 Star

When I first heard the new Nickelback record, I knew exactly what to expect.
Unsurprisingly then, I wasn't surprised at all.
If you've heard any Nickelback records in the last few years then "Here And Now" is absolutely no different.

There's only so much of the same you can take - Nickelback are so unmistakably predictable it's worse than night and day.
Anyone would think Chad can't write a song without throwing in some uncomfortable, questionable and suggestive lyrics about either sex, drugs, or drink.
Can't he think of something different to write about? Didn't he cover all that on "Dark Horse?" See "Shakin' Hands," "Something in Your Mouth" and "S.E.X" in case anyone needs reminding.

It's tiresome now and overused, even ballad wise there's nothing that Nickelback haven't covered a million times before.
Nickelback's sound used to be a lot rawer and heavier than this, especially their material before they broke into the mainstream - see the "Curb" and "Hesher" albums from the 90's. You're left longing for a return to this sound - but I suppose their never going to change a formula that sells millions of copies worldwide.

None of that detracts from the fact though that "Here And Now" is simply awful. Once you've listened to it and picked the bones out you're left with a very unpleasant sound in your ears.
It doesn't matter which way you want to spin it, or which side of the fence you sit on, Nickelback have been awful for years and "Here And Now" continues that trend, it is without question downright dreadful.

Summary:

So there you go, it's entirely up to you which review you agree with.
As I've said from a personal point of view it's an enjoyable record and one that I have listened too, and I'm sure will continue to do so.
But once I switch my critics head on I can't escape from the fact that it's an appalling record, although that doesn't have to mean that I can't listen to it and enjoy it.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 15, 2012 5:58 PM BST


Break The Spell [Deluxe Version]
Break The Spell [Deluxe Version]
Price: £22.02

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Modern, mainstream rock and nothing more..., 21 Nov 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It was somewhat of a surprise that Chris Daughtry didn't win American Idol in its fifth season. Thankfully though that didn't hinder his progress, two platinum selling albums later and now we have "Break The Spell," this the third album from his self titled band.
Prior to the albums release, Chris said in an interview that the new record sounds nothing like the other two. Well that's definitely not true, it's very similar, but Daughtry does try to experiment slightly with his sound, with somewhat mixed results.

Lead single "Renegade" is a prime example, it's the heaviest song on here and after a few listens you really begin to hear probably one of the catchiest choruses in any Daughtry song, a definite album highlight.
Chris reverts exactly to type though on the next single "Crawling Back To You," which although a decent song sounds just like any other he's chucked out before.
"Outta My Head" is about as uptempo as it gets, not initially a strong song but grows on you after a few listens.
"Start of Something Good" is the best song on here, without question. Mid tempo and acoustic in it's delivery with meaningful lyrics, this should be the next single and sits quite rightly towards the top of the record.

Elsewhere although there's still plenty of good songs with the same catchy melodies and choruses, they somehow all seem to sound a bit bland and predictable.
I've always felt with Chris's previous records that almost any song could be released as a single, they were all that strong. Something's missing though this time, nothing really bad on here but certainly songs like "Break The Spell," "We're Not Gonna Fall" and "Losing My Mind" are all far too similar.

No real power ballad on here either, unlike "Home" and "Learn My Lesson" from his previous albums. "Gone Too Soon" comes close, but never really builds up to that big chorus the song badly needs. Nice lyrics though.

If you've brought the deluxe edition then you'll get four extra tracks, the best of which are "Maybe We're Already Gone" and "Everything But Me." The former is a great song, should have slotted into the final twelve album tracks to break up the slow tone to the albums middle.

Overall, "Break The Spell" is still a highly enjoyable record. Chris delivers modern, mainstream rock and absolutely nothing more. He does it very well, there's plenty here to keep the array of Daughtry fans very happy, even though it's not his best record.

Definitely download:
"Renegade," "Start of Something Good," "Rescue Me" "We're Not Gonna Fall."


Stronger
Stronger
Price: £10.00

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The same trusted formula for Kelly..., 24 Oct 2011
This review is from: Stronger (Audio CD)
Kelly Clarkson is probably the most commercially successful artist of all the American Idol winners. Since she won the show back in 2002 she's sold millions of albums worldwide, her most successful album being "Breakaway" released in 2004.

Fast forward to 2011 then, and we have "Stronger," this her fifth studio album.
It follows in a similar vein to its predecessor - uptempo, modern pop rock with big sing along choruses.

Lead single "Mr Know It All" is an excellent choice as lead single, before some electronic sounding influences show face on tracks "What Dosen't Kill You (Stronger)," and "Dark Side." The latter has a weak chorus, surprising this is the third song on the album.
"You Love Me" and "Einstein" quickly recover matters though, "Einstein" is short at just under three minutes but is very catchy and could be a single.

Elsewhere the tone and tempo finally drops for the albums first ballad "Standing In Front of You," closely followed by fast and frenetic tracks in "I Forgive You" and "Hello."

Without question though the most emotional and moving song Kelly has done for some time is the albums closing number "Breaking Your Own Heart."
I'd release this as a single tomorrow if it was my choice, a quite superb song with poignant lyrics - a real tear jerker if your circumstances fit as such.

If you've brought the deluxe edition you get four bonus tracks, the best of which is the country themed duet with Jason Aldean "Don't You Wanna Stay."
Kelly has gone genre hopping before on her albums, (see the alternative rock record My December) and after flirting again her voice could easily suit an album of country songs, maybe we might see more of that on her sixth record.

For now "Stronger" is an impressive collection of pop rock, ideally suited to the mainstream musical audience. I expect it to sell very well, even though it's perhaps not as good as "Breakaway" or "All I Ever Wanted."
Make sure you pick up the deluxe version as already mentioned; the bonus tracks are worth your while.


Evanescence
Evanescence
Offered by MediaMine
Price: £5.99

37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Five years in the making, good but not great..., 10 Oct 2011
This review is from: Evanescence (Audio CD)
Evanescence are a bit of an enigma for me. I loved their debut album, I felt they lost their way a little with "The Open Door," and now their self titled third album still leaves me with mixed emotions.
Numerous line up changes haven't helped the band and the mainstream musical market has moved on somewhat since "Bring Me To Life" dominated radio, charts and sales in 2003.

Five years have passed then since "The Open Door," this time Evanescence have delivered an album that's fills a void in the market (female fronted rock bands are at a premium these days) but does so at a price, it's good but at the same time unspectacular.

Lead single "What You Want" is a prime example, uptempo, catchy and loud but not entirely memorable or gripping. Its chart performance reflects this; it's not a song strong enough to welcome Evanescence back with a bang or good enough to support initial album sales.
One of the reasons why "Fallen" was so successful in 2003 wasn't only because it was a great album, but because that initial single was so brilliant. The song was everywhere, in fact I remember specifically going into town to buy it as a CD single, and I didn't really listen to much rock music at that time.
It was a chart topper worldwide, I'm not for one second saying it's easy to write and record hit records like that but for any album that first single has to catch on well, "What You Want" simply hasn't done that for Evanscence this time around.
That doesn't make it a bad song though, far from it in fact, but it won't appeal to everyone.

Elsewhere the tempo and melody remain similar, some of the best tracks on here are the heavier songs, especially "Erase This," "The Change" and "Oceans."
Ballad wise there's nothing that quite matches "My Immortal" or "Lithium," but "Lost In Paradise" is a superb tempo ballad and closing number "Swimming Home" is beautifully atmospheric in its delivery.

Bonus track wise you get some filler "New Way to Bleed," and "Disappear" but also a superb rocker in "Say You Will" (should have been an album track without question) and a slow ballad in "Secret Door," itself a very good song, surprising also that this only made the bonus tracks.

My advice would be to listen to it with an open mind and see where it takes you.
On first listen I wasn't overly impressed, but it's grown on me and with each listen you'll start to hear things your ears may have missed the first time around.
I expect it to sell well, it'll appeal to die hard Evanescence fans immediately but for everyone else it might take a bit longer.
I can't quite get to four or five stars, but it's a decent 3.5 without question.
It's good to see them back; Amy Lee has one of the most powerful voices in rock and to hear it back on a new Evanescence record sits very well with me.

In final summary, it's just not that perfect Evanescence record we all hoped for, but it's a good try.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 21, 2013 8:51 PM BST


Staind
Staind
Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £7.83

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where have all the Staind fans gone?, 24 Sep 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Staind (Audio CD)
Back in 2001, Staind were on top of the world. Their "Break The Cycle" album topped the album charts back then both here in the UK and the US and broke the band into the musical mainstream. It went on to sell around eight million copies worldwide.

Fast forward ten years then, Staind's popularity has gradually been waning. Perhaps not helped by their changed in musical direction, each album has become more and more commercial, and although still heavy, a far cry from their heavy metal roots with Aaron's screaming vocals.
I personally enjoyed their last album though, there's some great songs on "The Illusion Of Progress," but it wasn't for everyone and it resulted in Staind's lowest selling album to date.

So, with their self titled seventh studio album Staind have gone right back to basics. It's there heaviest record since "Break The Cycle," it's exceptionally loud, and rocks very hard. Aaron's screaming vocal abilities are back on nearly all the tracks, the melodies are tight and controlled, it's easily Staind's best album for over a decade.

Opening track "Open Your Eyes" (along with Paper Wings) is the heaviest track here, screaming everywhere but still Staind fit in one of the catchiest choruses I've heard in any of their tracks. Lead single "Come Again" is more melodic and an excellent single choice, before mainstream rockers "Throw It All Away" and "Now" carry on the rocking momentum.
"The Bottom," itself an excellent song that found its way onto the Transformers 3 soundtrack is classic Staind, the only track for me that perhaps sounds a little uncomfortable is "Wannabe," questionable lyrics with an almost "rap rock" sound, it doesn't really fit.

Just when you think Staind aren't going to throw in the customary rock ballad, closing track "Something To Remind You" is brilliantly emotional and moving in its delivery, a superb way to close a brilliant record.

In summary "Staind" is an immense record. Fans longing for the heavy Staind to return have just had their wish granted. Forget "The Illusion Of Progress," "Chapter V" or even "14 Shades Of Grey," this record sounds nothing like any of those.
It's the Staind from ten years ago, and they sound better than ever.

Without doubt "Staind" is the best metal album you will hear this year.


War of Angels
War of Angels
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £13.28

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable hard rock..., 14 Aug 2011
This review is from: War of Angels (Audio CD)
I was somewhat surprised that Pop Evils debut record released back in 2008 didn't really catch on, it was a very solid rock record made for mainstream radio. Universal Republic gambled on the band but unfortunately dropped the band prior to the release of this their second album, "War of Angels," thankfully though E1 Music picked up the band and this excellent record saw commercial release in July.

"War Of Angels" breaks no new musical territory in it's style or approach, but that's not what Pop Evil are about. Every hard rock cliché is ticked with aplomb, the hard hitting rockers, see "Last Man Standing" Epitaph" and "Daisy Chain," the customary power ballad, see "Let It Go" & Monster You Made" and the sexed up rocker, see "Boss Daughter."

Deserving of its own mention though is the awesome track "Purple," a mainstream melody, thoughtful lyrics with a mix of acoustic and electric elements resulting in probably the albums strongest song.

Overall, "War Of Angels" is an excellent rock record. It's all music that's been done many times before but for me the formula never wears thin, my iPod is full of music like it and Pop Evil fit it very nicely.
4.5 stars


Superfiction
Superfiction

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great to see them back..., 14 Aug 2011
This review is from: Superfiction (Audio CD)
In their early career during their height of their popularity, Cold had the support of a major label, Geffen Records. (Owned my Universal) However as their popularity began to wane Geffen parted ways with the band and they now find themselves attached to Eleven Seven Music. To be fair though at least that's a label that only supports rock artists and so Cold are in good company, the downside of course if promotion tends to be limited.

"Superfiction" is the first album from cold in six years, and it's exactly what I expected.
It's quite a dark record, nothing like there last album "A Different Kind Of Pain," heavy and melodic and will probably take the average listener a few spins before you finally start to appreciate what Cold have delivered here.

Opening song and lead single "Wicked World" is an uptempo rocker, "What Happens Now" is similar in style for a very mainstream mid-tempo song "American Dream" shows Cold haven't lost their commercial edge.
It's on a couple of the albums slower songs though that Cold deliver the albums strongest moments, especially on songs "Delivery The Saint" and "So Long June."
Oddly enough the albums best song can be found way down at track ten, "The Park," is a real catchy rock song which should find itself released as a single.

In summary "Superfiction" is a decent return from Cold. It probably won't win them many new fans, but anyone who's been missing that rather distinctive spider logo will be glad to see it back on the front of a new Cold album.
After six years, it's good to be Cold again.


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