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MTM Records 2001
A huge step back. After 2000’s powerful "Holy Man", new Turner‘s work looks lame. Trying to squeeze it out before joining forces with Glenn Hughes was a mistake. Album done by the same team, the difference’s shocking. Opening “Bloodsucker” comes fragmented due to its rawness, as if Joe recorded his vocals over a demo rather than proper backing track, even Akira Kajiyama’s guitar and Paul Morris’ organ solos feel like sketches. Early spell’s difficult to cure, so “Cover Up” and “Hard Times” might be RAINBOW out-takes and “Dark Days” the “Death Alley Driver” rip-off.

A real hero here is bassist Eric Czar, his groove pouring a life into laid-back “Posession” and helping Joe out with “Show Yourself”. Good advice, latter, and a good song: embryonic rocker slowed down to rhythm-and-blues to gain a weight near the end. Yes, currently Turner wins on bluesy turf of “Eye For An Eye” and in “Deliver Me” he goes further into that soulful ground and then balladeering he’s always been impressive at. “Heart Of The Night” is cut off the same cloth as “Love Conquers All” and equally heart-wrecking. In any case, the impact’s stronger than that of the title track, jazzy yet tuneless and pseudo-experimental. OK, it may be better than “Stormbringer” riff re-used for “Evil”, dull to the bone. Still, lest not forget Turner’s not so young now yet he always leaves a hope for a change, this time as well, in wonderful “Always Tomorrow”. Let it be so, though goods would be more preferrable today.


Go Big Or Stay Home
Frontiers Records 2002
A long time in the making, drummer Jeff Austin’s mindchild finally gets a release bringing the project to the fore of melodic rock. Nine songs with a good pop appeal cut in with “Lisa”, the prime example of ’80s AOR: Rex Alan’s bass thundering away, Mark Severns delivering a cute solo and all the lot joining in on choruses. These choruses never fail, even though guitar work may seem a bit obsolete to ditch songs like “Too Late For Love”. Bolder attitude to rendition would do great to complement Austin’s songwriting verve, that’s why the best thing on offer and a centerpiece is a cover of COBRA’s “I’m A Fighter” – gusty and gutsy and allowing Mark Roebuck to explore the lower register of his voice while the high notes get hit in “So You Ran” written by Barry Goudreau of BOSTON fame. But Austin and Co, they’re not averse to experimenting to push “Too Many Midnights” and “Caught In The Ecstasy” to almost prog boundaries. Here shows a future that undoubtedly justifies the album’s title.


Shine On Brightly
N-M-C Music 2002
A rare example of American art rock band which drew too heavily on the British to make it big on their own. Let alone the title track which is not a PROCOL classic and which starts very ELP-like, comparisons to YES are inescapable not only due Terry Luttrell’s voice but also the overall method outlined with “Fountains Of Light”. With less extravaganza to their show, as this 1978’s concert proves, the band found a steady following anyway. No wonder with music of such elegance, set by five-part vocal harmonies, Herb Schildt’s meaty organ and Matthew Stewart and Stephen Hagler twin guitar web. Light as they might be in “Could This Be Love”, within “Forces” ‘CASTLE pulled in more folk rather than YES’ cosmic matters. Surpisingly, there’s a humour hidden in inserting Hendrix wah-wah’s bouncing off leader Gary Strater’s bass, so in this fomula pop of “Can’t Think Twice” fits extremely well – but wasn’t then a time of SUPERTAMP’s worldwide success?

This lightness had the other side to it, in epic “Lady Of The Lake”, rumbling bass and Stephen Tassler’s expressive drumming notwithstanding, Gargantuan soloing lacks the pepper of ELP’s “Pictures” that ‘CASTLE seem to rely on, surging well but not as deep as could be. And it could be, as witnessed by “Breath And Thunder” amassing synth spell and sonic battle; swingier signatures, introduced in “Change In Time”, come of stronger appeal than common drift. Then-promoted “Citadel” was the last solid outing from the band bound to fall in a couple of years, so the glimpse into this stellar fortress feels more than welcoming.


Drakkar Records 2002
A kind of metal opera hailing from Argentina, “Infinity” is a soothing thing in feel and clever from vocals point of view. Using metal as a background, Vazquez offered the spots to the most oustanding female singers on the scene: NIGHTWISH’s Tarja Turunen, EDENBRIDGE’s Sabine Edelsbacher and Candice Night of BLACKMORE’S NIGHT. Contrast between the cold clear tones of the former two and the latter’s warm homely voice translates into music itself, stretching from precise Scandinavian metal (there’s STRATOVARIUS’ Jorg Michael drumming) to medieval dances. A difficult task, presumably, for a hot-blooded South American whose real soul may lie in “The Battle Of The Past” finale sung by Fabio Leone from RHAPSODY. And so it goes, parts written for a certain singer and somehow coalescing into a whole.

Tarja’s leads into a story with “Until Dawn” arguably better than in her own band. The reason is music being rather progressive pop than real metal to mellow more in harpsichord-adorned “Wizard” which finds Tarja and Sabine duetting – but with a little distinction to them, effect’s lost. Whatever soft Turunen delivers “Sadness In The Night”, ballad’s too straight, even with piano and exquisite acoustic guitar, to stand against simple joy of Night’s suite “Voyagers Of Time”, all flutes and whistles, exactly what one might expect from Candice (except for the sax solo, an unlike setting for Lady Night), yet instrumental “Infinity Space” savagely divides the idyllic stance. Not harder though than another Tarja/Sabine duet, bass-filled “The Laws Of The Future”, before three voice unite for “Promises Under The Rain”. In this one, the trick works and that could be a fitting end to a good work… But it’s rock’n’roll, so “The Battle” for an encore isn’t bad as well.


So Glad To Be Here
Jam Records 2001
Jeremy Morris‘ children, April and Mark play a pop kind of Americana that’s hard not to sympathise to thanks to its simplicity and sincerity. From the tone-setting “Lydia”, April’s clear voice breezily glides across Mark strumming and dad’s spectral keys. Very radio-friendly music, this autumnal, nostalgic feel seem strange for such young musicians but, at the same time, there’s a reflection on life in the songs like “Can You Help Me?” with its psychedelic shades and “Out To The Moon”, a quest for a perspective. Yet that comes from April, an elder of the siblings, while Mark’s “Forget About It” bears a hook and a poignancy in both melody and guitar parts. Be it earning “The One I’m Waiting For” that gave the album its title, or jolly “What Good Would That Do?”, enduring romanticism is what soothes the pain of growing up poured out in “I Shoud’ve Known”. And it’s what keeps eyes open wide to savour the view of the world whatever harsh it may be.


Massacre Records 2002
The third chapter of Metalium The Hero saga sees his soul going through some reincarnations and here’s a reason for the title. Pitifully, the METALIUM’s conception would allow much more colors than other bands’ but the quartet just left it rot with likes of “In The Name Of Blood”. If “Source Of Souls” prelude and closing title track are strong showcases for Henning Basse’s impressive pipes and Michael Ehre’s drumming, there could be more spice to the story in-between. Lars Ratz’s bass leads into “Revenge Of Tizona”, the embodiment of El Cid with no Spanish thing in it, just like there’s nothing Russian in “Rasputin”. Thus, it’s steady yet regular metal even though onboard come two veteran keyboardists. Masters’ roles aren’t that noticeable amidst the power drift but Don Airey’s hand is instrumental for “Odin’s Spell” orchestration and Ken Hensley‘s Hammond B3 bolsters “Fate Conquered The Power” impact alongside Matthias Lange’s guitar. “Infinite Love” couples Basse’s voice with operatic soprano of Carolin Fortenbacher but, again, the song’s potential isn’t fully realized. If it’s the only obstacle, let’s wait for the next one – yet don’t miss the hidden hymn to the real, living hero.


– Error Of The Moon
LA 1999
Bizarrely-named Israeli band present their perception of “Otello”, the view sinister. “Divinity Of Hell”, an epic in itself, sets a Gothic ambience with roaring/whispering voice coming across predatory keyboards, spectral drums and howling guitars – rather Poe than Shakespear and avant-garde rather than art rock. The feeling zooms in in jazzy-ticking “Senat” which somehow swallows a listener by its insistent drone. But where’s the Moor himself? Come thee and see him dancing to the “Caracin Clink” mad swirl – here’s the genuine Middle Eastern flavour fills the air to soar arrestingly with dazzling choir of “King Victor”. And then, blackout! “Handkerchief”, the tragedy centerpiece: anxiously urgent soundscapes swell and burst, a mind blanks and unfurls in crazy, overtly CRIMSON-esque “‘Tis Of Aspics’ Tongues”. Muezzin licking the aural fudge is not for faint-hearted, indeed. Yet there’s plaintive “Willow Song”, a heart-wrecking piano-driven ballad in the vein of early Bowie. All murky, dark and gloomy, the album may lack some of the “Otello” humour but this musique concrete perspective of classic doesn’t feel sacrilegious at all. An interesting new angle on the old strangler.


JEREMY – Pop Rules!!!
Jam Records 2001
Jeremy Morris is a relentless purveyor of sunny pop that simply doesn’t belong now, and it’s just amazing how this Sixties’ innocence still lives in someone’s heart. Starting the album with a song like “It’s Getting Better” feels a statement garbed in jingly-jangly sequinned suit of THE BYRDS’ stripped off their psych. But there’s not a band behind 20 bouncing tracks, only Jeremy picking guitar to get high with a scorching solo of “Good Times”, and his life-long friend Dave Dietrich on drums grooving in genuine 1967’s “Chain Reaction”. Even though the first half of the album appears stronger, to single out a tune seems quite a task – especially with a conception where question of pretty “Where Is Love?” is followed by poignant “The Answer”. Ha, 33-second “Happy Helmet” is the one! With his mellow rock’n’roll underlying “Can’t Go On This Way” and “Where Were You?” tight harmonies, Jeremy picks up where the Fabs left off. No shade of pretension, no freak-out of modern age make the collection a soundtrack to lying both on a beach and on a sofa with your sweetheart. That’s why pop rules – these feelings are timeless.


Abigail II: The Revenge
Metal Blade 2002
The pioneer of theatrical metal feels obsolete these days when the genre’s brimful of good singers whose ability isn’t confined to roar and falsetto use. With many a competitor for the throne around, taking a risk was a dangerous thing to do yet it’s King’s status that matters now, not his music, and comparing original “Abigail” to “The Revenge” may come not “More Than Pain”, as the man himself says. Still a seminal figure, in “Mansion In Sorrow” Diamond’s no slouch in reminding the lot who was the first on the scene. And if there’s a story with no end a sequel’s always in tow, so the old are drawn to it by curiosity, the new by legend, the rest remain unconvinced. Thunder and rain and a crypt are the obvious setting for “The Storm” break that sharp riff drives and King’s rap slows down. Sometimes, literally: “Little One” plays with blues in the same measure as with guitar gamuts which, excellent “Spirits” aside, becomes dull nevertheless. Maybe, “The Wheelchair” is not a place for Diamond to be but to end the story with “Sorry Dear” seems no coincidence.


TWO FIRES – Ignition
Frontiers Records 2002
TWO FIRES do their second round more convincingly than the first. Fuel to the fire adds unsurpassed melody-maker Jim Peterik, so the opening title track melts the ice effectively and “I See Red” sharp riff blinks alert. “More Than A Mistery” is even better though it tastes a bit like icing to cliched soft metal schemes singer Kevin Chalfant and guitarist Josh Ramos (both ex-THE STORM) stick to when left to their own devices: “Somewhere Far Away” is a good definition, no heart strings attached to sheer craftsmanship. Much more soul is poured in compelling “You’re Bringing Me Down”, Chalfant singing his tune strangely out-of-tune, but in maudlin “I’m Falling” soul’s too much. This AEROSMITH-esque pomp blues gets examplified by “This Night” while “The Man I Want To Be” feels a weird tread on “All The Young Dudes” guitar hook and “I Will Remember You” comes quite raw to digest it well. After this, “What The Whole World Needs To Know” cooks with a substantial slice of organ – should TWO FIRES take the song’s statement seriously, they’re doomed now, high expectation burning too slow. Still, don’t miss the bonus, “Rhythm Of The World”, the scorching one.


Soulless & Proud
Steamhammer 2001
Swedish band are said to have invented goth’n’roll, quite a curious blend: the Gothic faction crawls in to steal a fun from MOTORHEAD-influenced animal rock up on the sleeve with “Shadowman”, all thick textures wrapping guitarist Anders Strokirk’s phased roar and making it rather lifeless. Or soulless, as the title tracks goes, angry and breathtaking – holding a breath would be a mistake though as songs tend to blur into one streamline arrow that hits a heart occasionally like in solo of “Soulless & Proud”. The band’s cropping of heads is shaped in “Servants Of The Harvest” and they can be hot – proclaiming “Love Our Hell” – to convince the doubtful in two minutes of “Light The Fuse”. Still, fire and ice struggle for the latter to win the day with “Choked With Feathers”, where Goth comes forth in sharp if repetitive melodic lines. It’s the bewitching brew Strokirk and the team (drummer Hakan Eriksson, bassist Fredrik Holmberg and guitarist Joakim Stabel) pour out of tar-smelled “Blackheart Brain” and SABBATH-derivative “Fullmoon Rising”, so whatever they proudly say, there is a soul too.


Metal Machine
Limb Music 2001
You can’t be more wrong running away after seeing titles like “Metal Gods” or “Metal Will Stand Tall”. With too much metal on display, it may be either dumb pretention or sheer fun. Fortunately, it’s the latter – and we’ve not been fed with danceable metal for many years. Here, satisfaction guaranteed, which is all but unpredictable from organ-backed (welcome THE FLOWER KING Richard Anderson!) chorale intro of “Metal Gods” erupting through Magnus Karlsson’s sharp chops into cute disco-shaped chorus – the pinnacle of the form comes with the title track. A touch different but equally catchy appears “Distorted Eyes” helped by Anderson’s hooky line and Jakob Samuel’s tremendous vocals. So off it goes – renown drummer Jaime Salazaar and bassist Jonas Reingold laying down profound groove for voice to fly over “Dungeons Of Steel” and “Steel To Steel” (ain’t it a loadful of metal?), though the real showcase of the singer’s abilities is hidden track, a poignant acoustic ballad. There might be not much new in terms of stylistics yet overall sensation shining through melodies like that of dry “Temple Of The Grail” or the most PRIEST-ey “Fight” feels tasty. Don’t fear the ripper then: “Your Blood Burns In Hell” valediction turns into spectacular blues while “Keeper Of The Gate” zooms stroboscopically right to the glam times – that’s where the roots of “Metal Will Stand Tall” proud claim lie. Riding their machine, MIDNIGHT SUN know how to convince.


Sacred Pathways
Frontiers Records 2002
After a break, the five enter the world to make another shot. This time attention to ARTENSION is increased due to Vitalij Kuprij’s stint in Mark Boals‘ RING OF FIRE, John West’s in ROYAL HUNT and Mike Terrana’s in RAGE. With these groups having released albums a year before, “Sacred Pathways” is suprprisingly strong. “Nightmare” is no less than a neoclassic gem poising all elements to a great melody and putting forth Kuprij’s piano. It’s a keyboardist’s ensemble, and classically-trained leader makes his best Don Airey impersonation in a line of instrumental pieces, “Voyage To Nasca” kicking the ball and piano of “March To Ruin” stomping on. There’s a tradition oozing out of “The Killing”, not classical but that of classic rock. This, along with West’s soaring vocals and Terrana’s imaginative drums, enlivens the picture keeping it from being rather sterile like the title track feels. Sometimes, though, mix goes wrong, and otherwise good songs “The Emperor” and “Your Voyage” see fingers running the keys thinly and Roger Staffelbach guitar’s given just some spots for scale-exploring, while Kevin Chown’s six-string bass only fills the space to step off in fragile orchestrated ballad “Flower Of The Orient”, another solid song. ARTENSION could deliver much more of the kind, had they not been hurrying on their pathways.


I-10 & West Ave.
Emigre Records 2001
It’s something unique, a kitchen-sink symphony but of kitchen containing all the world in it, an ambience as domestic as spaced-out provided with “Low Birth”. Soft-voiced bassist Ross Marlow, guitarist James H. Sidlo and drummer Lisa Kuehl creat a minimalistic animalistic cosmos that raga-drone of “Famous Animal” opens the gates to. Mesmerising, absorbing “Bad Day” tucks a listener’s head under its comfortable wing and sends one to a tribal dancefloor of electronica-tinctured “Beddie-Bye” ditty before sacrificing it on shamanic organ of “Beat Again”. Even more brilliant is “Pards”, pure Dylan on acid gone Wild West; steel guitar, sitar and accordion draw in an imagery of multicolor psychedelic pots and pans marching across the kitchen on the journey to the sink. DIY ethics somehow marks this twisted path, punky spikes prick out of “Invisible” and turn out Ziggy-hazy for “Eye On You” and “All Fall Down”. This dreamy haze comes down on “Arabesque” woozy desert – here’s the delicious night, and then, morning dewdrops fall in spacious “Renata” soundscape. The other end of sink is a new day, isn’t it cooking?


Tenth Dimension
Steamhammer 2001
A stint with MAIDEN didn’t do Blaze Bayley no good, and with second album to the project of his name singer keeps acting as a second-rate Bruce Dickinson. Here, “Nothing Will Stop Me” may sound like a statement, had it not been heard many times before. Nothing bad about the players though, they’re a well-oiled engine while twin guitar unit seems a bit redundant in terms of John Slater’s and Steve Wray’s similar style. Thus, even good ideas that shine through SABBATH rip-off “End Dream” remain undeveloped fully where a track duration – especially that of “Stranger To The Light” – leads to boredom. Given this, one can’t deny the title track’s catchiness. Still, more haste makes waste, and putting another futuristic record in the wake of “Silicon Messiah” released the previous year, the band overstretch songs which are rather strong if not too clever, like “Kill And Destroy” as primitive as its title suggests.

At the same time there’s a certain coherence to the songs, coupling of ballads “The Truth Revealed” and “Meant To Be” – one short, one long – gives the album a spacious capacity, resonant of Rob Naylor’s deep bass. Strapped to Jeff Singer’s galloping drums in “Speed Of Light”, it cuts and music has the edge as well, that’s why rocking “Land Of The Blind” or angry “Leap Of Faith” feel refreshingly raw – but less melodic. In “Stealing Time” this direction becomes clearer and, once set to pursue it, Blaze could find a dimension of his own.


25 & Alive: Boneshaker
Steamhammer 2001
Warts and all, old hooligan Lemmy reins the ball in celebration of his rocking circus anniversary with this DVD+CD release. Quarter of the century down the line from being kicked off HAWKWIND, Ian Kilminster still generously shares his simple delights with millions. It’s visual and at the same time aural pleasure, as ‘HEAD don’t pull on that much of a show except for occasional dancing routine from Lemmy and Phil Campbell. Be the show more spectacular it may turn into sheer idiotism seen in bonus videoclips of “Sacrifice” and “God Save The Queen” (“not the last single but the latest one”). Queen? Up the Brixton Academy stage on October 22nd, 2000 was unlikely Brian May rather than Ozzy one might expect to. Oz does his cameo appearance anyway – in the archive film following the band’s progress. The more poignantly is to see the current looks of a guest from the past, “Fast” Eddie Clarke, and witness him not having lost a bit of fire. He joins Lemmy, Campbell and Mickey Dee for the good part of the concert and puts in his five cents to the backstage interviews which are relatively brief compared to the trio musings.

Perusing the obscure releases and the band galleries is, sure, curious but hearing the “We Are Motorhead” growl brings forth an animal kind of joy. There’s no other classification to this feel justifying “No Class” appeal. The band present an illustrious selection of smashes old and new, and though the cream – “Iron Fist”, “Bomber” (the metal construction changed a little with the years, ain’t it?), “Ace Of Spades” and “Overkill” – are kept to the end, it’s all relentless “orgasmatronic” rock’n’roll, down to Little Richard-ish (an influence) “Going To Brazil”. Musicians talk interrupting each other and swear: the camaraderie thrown from the stage is enormous, ‘HEAD not just claim they’re “Born To Raise Hell” – they do raise it. And there are girls, Doro Pesch and Sam Fox, jamming too – it’s Lemmy after all! – while the bass-plucking ringmaster never falls out of focus. Was he 55 at the moment? Well, yes – 55 and pretty much alive. Lemmy comes from “Lemme a fiver”. Take another 25 instead!


Salvation By Fire
Limb Music 2001
Debut outing from another Finnish metal combo demonstrates quite a skilful bunch of guys lacking only one – yet crucial – thing: imagination. Their music’s solid but simply not interesting. Undeniably melodic if too smelling of MAIDEN while trying to pull in some heroic outfit for “Fall Of Thy Kingdom” and “Black Star”. If there’s anything distinctive about the quartet it may be the Pete Ahonen’s relatively low voice which creates a good combination with fiery guitars of his and Jukka Kyro’s in “Under The Dying Sun” speed metal example. Strangely, sometimes guitars appear almost withdrawn, reduced to limp riffing to leave voice bounce off Jari Kaiponen’s bass and Toni Kansanoja’s drums, like in “Stealer Of Light” or extremely dumb “Signs Of Danger”. Besides quasi-balladeering of the title track, an ear only fails struggling in vain in search of memorable tune. Melodies are there, so primitive and elusive once the song ends. Burning seems rather pointless.


Uncle Buzz / Dogfingers 2001
DREAMLAND, keyboardist Johnny A. Rodriguez and guitarist James H. Sidlo, are the best soundscapes explorers this side of Fripp. Human side, that is, as their music is extremely warmhearted and nature-oriented – spot a bumblebee buzz in opening “Sunspots”. Loops, native American flutes and trembling ambience are mixed into suspended minimalist picture of anxious jungle just after sundown. Cosmic “I Frequency. Dream In Soundwaves” gets deeper with lower tones; superficially futuristic, it’s the first dive underwater where slowed-down voice echoes and wraps around the dark space blurring the bleak beams hanging from deserted sky. These beams borne from “Brief Moon” weaves a gentle electric guitar which eases the strain to light new age lace, drone lapping over strum and other way round – a delicious ghost dance on the verge of storm. At last, the sonic puzzle fits in a five-part title track reliving the experience anew: insistent piano-splashed “Descent” relaxes in devouring “Floating” to pan in enigmatic “Echolocation” and still on to “Deep Zone” drop-spilling before weary “Ascent”. A wonderful journey that needs a home, a label and a distribution.


Warmth In The Wilderness
A Tribute To Jason Becker
Lion Music 2001
This is a harsh world we live in but seeing an amazing young talent falling victim to ruthless illness makes it a real wilderness. Jason Becker was a guitarist loved by many who fill his wilderness with warmth and voice. All profits from this double CD tribute go directly to Jason struggling with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Paying homage to Becker’s work, it’s mostly a guitarists effort, and the line of admirers stretch from lesser-known players to big names. Steve Morse takes part in one of the special dedications to the genius, COSMOSQUAD’s mighty “A Jam For Jason” that Jeff Kaufmann wrote and shared with Morse, Vinnie Moore (a maginifient acoustic lace!), Jeff Watson and Chris Poland, while Paul Gilbert unwinds magic “Hawking” and Marty Friedman soloes lonely in “Black Stallion Jam”, previosly split with Jason. Vocals-wise, except for “Tell The Truth” that HAVEN’s Pamme, Johnny Lima and Robin McAuley lead, there’s just one standout track, a take on “Hammerhead Shark” by Mark Boals, the only singer on offer to fit in David Lee Roth’s class, and Lion Music’s Lars Eric Mattson, a man behind the project.

The material herein reflects all facets of Becker’s work: STORMWIND opt for hard rocking “A Little Ain’t Enough”, Torben Enevoldsen touches vibrantly classical-tinged scales of “Attitudes”, HIT THE GROUND RUNNIN’ do the “Jasin Street” bluesy strut, all compiling the Becker-approved textbook for the young. Unlike speed-obsessed youth, there’s a lot of deep emotions in Becker’s world, compelling Paul Nelson-delivered “Blue”, stately “Opus Pocus” from PROJECT ALCAZAR, delicate “Air” which Phi Ansari Zek & Lale Larson play and MISTHERIA-orchestrated “Urmila” write the rule of how symphonic should be translated into rock. That’s the tradition inherited from Jeff Beck, the reason for the titles of “Becker’s Bolero” given the Jeff Pilson light treatment and funky “Becker-Ola”, here done by PUA.

Only five records – with Roth, Friedman and solo – under his belt, Jason Becker has immortalised himself in guitar scriptures, and whatever harsh, for him there’s no wilderness but love, documented on these CDs. Go buy and add your quark of warmth.


Frontiers Records 2002
Former Alice Cooper and DOKKEN guitar-slinger goes solo with a band of his own and a mixed bag of tunes. His is a sharp rock’n’roll, like striding title track shows, but chosing the grungey buzz and phased voice for “Dark Places” hardly feels original, that’s where many an axeman went before in order to spill fragmented solo between distorted riffarama. It’s trendy, this alternative sound, memorable “Sorrow Strained Eyes” and “Bleed”, if rightly boosted, are capable to get a lot of airplay, and “Better Shade Of Gray” has its hooks. The problem is there are many similarly shaped songs around that one just grows tired of them, so no matter whatever skillful Beach is, it’s hard to say who he’s shooting at. “Fanatic” seems a bridge between heavy tradition, melodic verve and modern arrangements, but it’s too complicated to relate to and loses to galloping funk of “Red” or light-hearted “Ghost”. Masquerading’s good yet rock is Reb’s real face as lit by vertiginous instrumental “Get Out And Walk”. There’s the truth lies, in being oneself, heart laid bare in cello-adorned “Love So True”. Release the mask.

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