Reviews roundup – Orden Ogan vs. [gaelari] vs. Leon Alvarado vs. The Lone Crows vs. Ritchie David Porter
Today we’re going to start with some power metal, with a few prog twists thrown in for good measure, which naturally means we’re off to Germany to hear the fifth album from The Order Of Fear. And it’s a good one.
For sure, they’ve moved on with their sound a wee bit, so you won’t find many folky trills in here, but as they settle into Blind Guardian / Hammerfall territory, they make a mighty fine racket as they clatter through some top quality tunes such as ‘Ravenhead’, ‘Evil Lies In Every Man’ and ‘Sorrow Is Your Tale’, the latter of which has a guest appearance from s Hammerfall’s Joacim Cans on vocals. They’ve also roped in Grave Digger’s Chris Boltendahl for a warble on ‘Here at the End of the World’, so they’re in good company these days.
Any fans of power / prog metal who’re looking for something to start off their year in fine fettle, will be doing themselves a huge favour by checking this one out. Excellent.
Gates Of Rome
Yeah, that’s a good idea. Lower case and brackets. Cheers. Lucky for [gaelari] that their latest album is so bloody good, or it would have been hurled into the annoying pile.
Of course it helps that their sound is firmly rooted in the world of eighties melodic hard rock, something that coincides with my glory years. They actually go back to 1992, when they originally formed as Shooting Gallery, before releasing three albums as [gaelari] betwixt 1996 and 2002.
They got back together a couple of years ago, and their Magnum meets House Of Lords meets Robert Hart era Company is very enjoyable indeed. There are also some Scandirock touches, as befits a Swedish hard rock band. There are nods to glam Whitesnake on tracks like ‘Let Your Love Bleed’, the big hit single that will never be is the supremely melodic ‘Wannabe’, and there are riffs galore on tunes like ‘Queen Of Time’.
The mix of eighties hard rock, blues tinged metal and AOR is a real treat, so don’t miss out.
2014 – Music From An Expanded Universe
If I were to tell you that back in 2009, keyboardist Leon Alvarado released an album called “Plays Genesis and Other Original Stuff”, then it won’t come as a surprise to learn that this EP / mini album falls firmly into the prog camp. What might surprise you is the fact that its awash with electronics and synths, a far cry from the sounds of said genesis.
It all makes more sense when you discover that he’s roped in latter day King Crimson man Trey Gunn, and it certainly has more in common with Frippertronics than anything else. As a showcase for his keyboard sounds it certainly does the trick, as he mixes cinematic sounds with touches of world music, aided by the appearance of percussionist Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates) on a couple of the tracks.
It’s quite stately in its approach, but certainly bears repeat plays, and comes highly recommended for fans of textured, prog like electronica.
THE LONE CROWS
World In Sound
Off to Minneapolis now for a band who hark back to the early seventies in their quest to marry as many different sounds and influences as possible. So it’s basically classic rock, with some blues, some psych and even a hint of groove and funk. In fact, they almost keel over into jam band territory, but thankfully remember what a song is for.
They got together in 2011 and vocalist / guitarist Tim Barbeau, guitarist Julian Manzara, bassist Andy Battcher and drummer Joe Goff have made a fair fist on this, their second album. For sure, the songs don’t always match up to the performance, but they’re certainly ambitious in what they’re doing. And when they get it right as they most certainly do on ‘The Dragon’, then you can see that there are places for them to go.
If they can purge themselves of songs like ‘Anger’, and focus a bit more on the rockier side, then they could be a band that people will remember. For the moment, though, there’s a cracking EP in here.
RITCHIE DAVID PORTER
Rocking The Blues
We’re off to Birmingham now, for a tribute to my much lamented Rockin’ The Blues radio show, which ran for 6 years on Get Ready To Rock Radio. And that’s not Birmingham, Alabama by the way.
Strange to relate, then that Mr Porter doesn’t actually play much in the way of blues rock. Nope, his blues is actually more traditional than that, albeit it with a few Peter Green style instrumentals thrown in for good measure. When he does rock out on songs like, ahem, ‘Rock Chick’, he doesn’t always convince, but when he gets into instrumental mode on ‘The Stygian Witch’, then it’s an absolute delight. He also does a fair turn on the acoustic blues of ‘Waiting For The Train’, and it’s on the latter styles that he really shines.
He’s not the best singer around, but as an acoustic and slide guitarist, he can hold his head high on a worthwhile set of originals.