Reviews roundup – Blackmore’s Night vs. Strongheart vs. 21Octayne
All Our Yesterdays
Frontiers Music srl
Ritchie Blackmore has started muttering about a return to rock, now that he’s in his eighth decade, and after eighteen years of hey nonny noing, he’s maybe ripe for a change.
This tenth studio album, though, continues in the vein of everything that has gone before, joyful and maddening in equal measures. Because, despite what people might say, there is always something worth listening to on a Blackmore’s Night album. This time around they include the instrumentals ‘Allan yn n fan’ and, especially, ‘Darker Than Black’, which highlights just how good a guitarist he can still be.
But then they go and do something stupid like covering Mike Oldfield’s ‘Moonlight Shadow’. Luckily, though, it pales into insignificance next to the horror of a Blackmore’s Night version of Sonny & Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’. They also cover themselves with an uptempo retake on ‘Where Are We Going From Here’ from the 2003 release “Ghost Of A Rose”, where they a least had the decency to cover Joan Baez and Jethro Tull.
Fans will like it but there is nothing here that will make people change their mind. It’s available as a deluxe edition, with a DVD featuring a pair of music videos and a making of interview.
Scream Out Loud
Off to Sweden now for some modern hair metal. Now, the one good thing about being as old as me, is that I was there in the eighties, right slap bang in the middle of a spandex explosion. And, oh, it was good.
Thankfully, StrongHeart from up there in the north of Sweden, have taken the good stuff as inspiration, going for the harder side of glam metal, as their template. So, what you’re getting is mid to late eighties Ratt and roll, with an edge of Danger Danger.
Now, I’m not going to tell you this is the best thing ever, but as a self released homage, it works well. They do have some strong songs, with ‘Last Chance’, the title track and ‘Rebel Queen’, the best of the bunch. The vocals are serviceable, but the riffs make up for it, and given some roadwork, and a bigger budget, there could be a really good record in them.
I still can’t get used to 21 Octayne not being an AOR band. Everything about them says they should be, but their debut album, “Into The Open” was a straight down the middle attempt to conquer the US heartland occupied in years gone by the likes of Creed and Nickelback. And this is more of the same.
Vocalist Hagen Grohe (The Joe Perry Project), guitarist Marco Wriedt (ex-Axxis) and drummer Alex Landenburg (Rhapsody) have polished up some new riffs and melodies, and put together another set with the same aim.
There are some radio anthems here designed for blasting out of a car stereo while riding down the freeway, with ‘When You Go’ and ‘Devil In Disguise’ the highlights. Shame, then that this German outfit aren’t over there, instead of over here. The production is full and in your face, and if they could crack some airplay in the United States, there could be big things ahead of them.