Reviews roundup – Greg Lake vs. Lucifer’s Friend vs. Melodious Deite vs. Chalice’n’Crown vs. Wild River

711efve2bwbl-_sl1203_GREG LAKE
Greg Lake / Manoeuvres
Creative Musical Arts

These albums have been reissued a few times over the years, but they’re back again in a 2CD set, with some new liner notes and bonus tracks.  I remember buying the single ‘I Love You Too Much’ when it came out, as I’d seen in Sounds that Gary Moore was playing guitar on the album.  I then played it and thought “what is this shite?”.

So it was a few years before I listened to either of these solo albums.  And they weren’t as bad as the single, just a bit out of focus.  Which was a shame, as he’d put together a red hot band for recording.  But for every ‘Nuclear Attack’ on the first album, there was an array of soft pop-rock songs aimed at US radio.  Granted, the odd good song creeps in, such as ‘The Lie’, which should have been a power ballad hit, but the album is really only for Lake / Moore completists.

This issue sees three bonus tracks featuring Lake in the company of Toto, which have been released before, but only on a rarities set.  Then comes “Manoeuvres, Lake’s second solo album, which after all these years, is better than I remembered.

It’s still commercial pop/rock, but Gary Moore seems to be trying harder, and the ballads are actually stronger than on the first record.  For sure, they’re still ballads, but some decent promo might have pushed ‘A Woman Like You’ and ‘Haunted’ into the US radio schedules.

Just the one bonus on this side – ‘Hold Me’ – which like the Toto tracks, appeared on “Deeper Into The Mine”.

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51nhq7iqnklLUCIFER’S FRIEND
Live Sweden Rock 2015
Lucifer’s Records

Last year saw the two disc album / EP “Awakening” anthology appearing to much acclaim.  Well, I liked it.  Even the new songs.  And then the regurgitated Lucifer’s Friend took to the road, including a trip to Sweden Rock 2015.

This is the recording of the show and I must admit to being worried when I saw the wrods official and bootleg scrawled on the cover.  Because that usually means “shitty recording”. However, this actually sounds pretty good.

And they’re not resting on their laurels, as three of the four new songs that appeared on “Awakening” are here in their live incarnations.  John Lawton may be knocking on the doors of 70, but he can still hold a tune, and is in excellent form throughout.  As are the rest of the band, especially on the fantastic version of ‘Ride the Sky’.

They’ve got a new drummer on board, but it’s keyboard player Jogi Wichmann who really fleshes out the songs, with some absolutely amazing work.  If you missed the reunion and the anthology, then do yourself a favour and give this a listen.

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813n9yodlzl-_sl1425_MELODIUS DEITE
Episode II: Voyage Through the World of Fantasy
Record Jet

We’re on the train to Bangkok, aboard the Thailand Express.  And the reason we’re doing that is to listen to Melodius Deite.  And what do they do over there?  Why they play Euro power metal!

I’m not sure why this record is getting another push, as it seems to have come out a couple of years back, but I missed that time around, but am happy to play catch up.  The brighter amongst you may have worked out that “Episode II: Voyage Through the World of Fantasy” is a sequel to Episode I.  And if that is half as mad as this one, then it will be well worth a listen.

It’s completely over the top power metal, with a healthy emphasis on the epic.  There’s an array of guest vocalists from across the globe playing their parts to bring the story to life, it’s got all the guitar widdling you would want, some symphonic keyboards, and the obligatory stratospheric singing. Of course, there is nothing new here, but who cares.

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front__CHALICE’N’CROWN
Confessions
independent

We’re sticking with the metal, and this time we’re off to Germany (yes, really) and a band who don’t seem to know their own name.  So it’s either Chalice’n’Crown or Chalice And Crown.

Whoever they are, they’re in the business of melodic power metal.  That’s Peter Nemmert on vocals, Arnd Köhn on guitar, Thomas Korndörfer on guitar, Ingo Schulz on bass and Stefan Krück on drums.  Turns out they’ve been on the go in one form or another since 1992 with Messrs Köhn and Krück the surviving original members, although there was a lengthy hiatus in the noughties.

There are a lot of seventies rock influences in amongst the more obvious power and prgo metal touches, with actually gives more depth to their sound.  The band are all musically competent and there are a few good tunes in here, which will engage the power metal fans out there.  The best of the bunch are the opening ‘Fight’ and the lengthy title track.  There is a lot of competition in this market, but they have got an enthusiasm that shines through.

61vgvfgb2bxl-_ss280WILD RIVER
Burn Your Chains
Sildn Records

Time for some blues / stoner rock from Italy, replete with some seventies rawk guitars and a heft of attitude.  That’s when they’re not doing slushy ballads.

They’re not trying to do anything different here, but that doesn’t matter, when it’s obvious that they’re having a mighty fine time doing it.  So, well done to Roberto Spagnoli (vocals – guitar) , Andrea Bonifaci (guitar) , Francesco Patane (bass) and  Ludovico Lovecchio (drums) for putting on a good show.

They can all play, and there a few good tunes here that get the toes tapping and the head nodding, which is pretty much all you need with this kind of vibe.  For sure, it’s not the strongest production in the world, but when they hit a good note, as they do on ‘Another Day’, ‘Stoner’ and ‘On the Road’, then it’s easy to just kick back and enjoy the ride.

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