Rawk roundup – Venrez vs. Human Fortress vs. Seventh Key
VENREZ American Illusion VENREZ
American Illusion
Monarch Music Group

Album number two from American post-grunge rockers Venrez. Well, I say post, but it should really be pre, as the band do like to throw in a few classic rock riffs. But it’s nothing that Alice In Chains didn’t do first.

It starts off reasonably well as ‘Unforeseen’, ‘Sanctity’ and ‘Hot Air’ rattle along at a rare old pace, but things dip rather quickly, and I was toiling to remember many of the songs thereafter. Vocalist Steven (Ven) Berez has a nice husky style and the rest of the band know hot to clatter out a racket, but I’m afraid it doesn’t really go anywhere.

It’s my own fault really, as I should have known better when I saw that two of tha band used to play with Juliette Lewis. That would be guitarist Jason Womack and drummer Ed Davis, alongside Alex Kane (formerly of Life Sex and Death (LSD) and Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg) and bassist Michael Bradford. Luckily, they save the worst for last, so if you survive ‘Temptress Of The Moon’, then you’re a braver man than me.

A good EP dragged out too far.

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HUMAN FORTRESS Raided LandHUMAN FORTRESS
Raided Land
AFM

Aiiiiieee!!! Time for some Germanic epicus melodicus metallicus from Hannover based Human Fortess. They’ve been away for a while, but this album sees a former members Todd Wolf (guitars), Volker Trost (guitars) and Apostolos “Laki” Zaios (drums), joined by new members Dirk Liehm (keyboards), Andre Hort (bass) and new vocalist Brazilian Gus Monsanto (ex-Revolution Renaissance/Adagio).

The band claim that they’re going back to the roots of their first two albums – “Lord Of Earth And Heavens Heir” (2001) and “Defenders Of The Crown (2003)”, and this fourth album really does the biz. They’ve abandoned the down-tuned guitars of “Eternal Empire”, back in 2008 and, even better, brought in a singer instead of a shouter.

There are some cracking tunes here which will please fans of Kamelot, Iron Maiden and their ilk, with ‘Child Of War’, ‘Evil Curse’ and ‘Pray For Salvation’ the best of a very good bunch. It might be a bit late in the day to try and reclaim ten years worth of lost ground, but it’s a mighty fine attempt.

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SEVENTH KEY I Will Survive SEVENTH KEY
I Will Survive
Frontiers Records

First I was afraid, I was petrified. Wondering if melodic rock was going to change my life. Well, it bloody well wouldn’t if I’d been holding my breath waiting for a new Seventh Key album! Nine years ago it was. Gits.

But here we finally have the follow up to “The Raging Fire”, which came out in 2004. I would say it was worth the wait, but nothing, short of Sandra Bullock, is worth waiting that long for. However, Mike Slamer of City Boy and Billy Greer of Kansas have put together a really excellent album.

There’s no Terry Brock this time (apart from on backing vocals), but Greer does a good job. Of course Slamer and Greer have been working together since the days of Streets, with Greer holding down a job in Kansas as well, and this is very much a combination of the two. Plenty of melodicism, some seventies organ sounds and a swathe of prog. Yum. Granted, there are more guitars than you would get in a Kansas album, but that’s fine with me. However, with Kansas violinist David Ragsdale popping in now and then, the prog is never too far away.

There are no bum tracks here, so it’s hard to pick out winners, but if pushed I’d go for ‘It’s Just A State Of Mind’, ‘Love Sets You Free’ and the balladic ‘What’s Love Supposed To Be’. An absolute gem.

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