Reviews roundup – Cornerstone vs. Gunhill vs. Architects Of Agony vs. The Stone Angels vs. Fractalmind

811lfmmji5l-_sl1200_CORNERSTONE
Reflections
Atom Records

Not to be confused with the Doogie White (Malmsteen/Rainbow/Schenker) fronted outfit, this Cornerstone is the Austrian female fronted melodic rock band.

They’re onto their third album, albeit it with their third vocalist, so they’re now made up of
Alina Peter (Vocals, Guitar), Michael Wachelhofer (Bass, Keyboard, Vocals), Steve Wachelhofer (Guitar, Vocals) and Christoph Karas (Drums, Percussion).  They’ve done plenty of touring over the years and I’m sure their eighties tinged AOR meets melodic rock sound will go down a treat.

This record certainly sounds good which may be connected to the mastering job by Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) but with a handful of good songs it probably would have sounded good anyway.  They’ve got the genre sound down pat on songs like “Nothing To Lose”, “Last Night” and “True Confessions” and if this were 1983 you’d be predicting really big things for them.

If they manage to hook up with a big name for a decent tour then they could spread thei name with ease in the AOR world and it’s certainly an album that fans of the melodic rock genre will find to their liking.

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61jfiav7xblGUNHILL
Nightheat / One Over The Eight
Jlb Media

An odd one this.  Gunhill was a nineties outfit which featured John Lawton, former lead singer with Lucifers Friend / Uriah Heep. The bad seem to have been largely a club act so there are a lot of cover versions here, but fans of John Lawton will find it of interest.

‘One Over the Eight’ which came out in 1995 was actually a cassette only fan club release and even with a 2016 remastering job it still suffers a bit soundwise.  Two years later and their sole album proper ‘Night Heat’ feels more like the real deal.

You’re getting well known songs like “Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues”, “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Ready For Love”, “Better By You Better Than Me” and “Harlem Shuffle” which show the roots and influences of the band alongside a sprinkling of originals with familiar names.  That would be “Can’t Get Enough” and “‘Don’t Stop Believing”.

There’s even a couple of Heep songs (“Sympathy” and “Come Back To Me”) thrown in on what is an interesting, if not essential, sidebar in the musical history of John Lawton.

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61zho4gfmll-_ss500_ss280ARCHITECTS OF AGONY
Down The Rabbit Hole
independent

Modern US metal now with the second album from Architects of Agony.  And it’s a concept album all about Alice in Wonderland who returns there only to find chaos and darkness. She has to face up to the enemies of her nightmares to save the land she once called home.  So now you know.  Oh, and she’s become a softcore model as well, if the cover is anything to go by.

Architects of Agony are a band who only exist in the studio as it’s a project conceived by The Last Alliance’s Dan Capeau, who with the help of Jimmy Cecco (bassist in Misnomer) got together to record their debut album ‘My Dark Sanctuary’.  They went back to their main bands but now Dan Capeau along with fellow The Last Alliance’ member John Ryan has returned to have another go.

And it’s certainly interesting, with guests such as Jes Inzitari and Alexis Ruiz, a classically trained soprano adding to the vibe.  Musically, it’s in a similar place to the likes of Disturbed with a few goth influences here and there.  On the best of the tracks such as ” Roads to a Distant Land” and “The White Queen’s Lament” you feel that the assorted members have a lot to give musically and hopefully it won’t be another four years before we hear something new from them.

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51ijwtmpnkl-_ss500_ss280THE STONE ANGELS
Spirit, Love & Higher Meanings
independent

A two man alt-rock band from Torquay, Dan Hughes and Sam McIver seem to have a particular fondness for the eighties.

There are a lot of synth sounds here that would make many a Depeche Mode / Gary Numan fan moist with pleasure, but there are still plenty of guitars on offer for those who like things pumped up a bit.  The opening track “Spirit of Ecstasy” even has some prog swooshes which shows how far and wide their influences come from.

They can do pop / rock as well, which is best demonstrated on “One Track Mind” and they even get broody on “Escape”.  There’s a splendid power ballad in the shape of “Come Alive” and they can rock properly on “Have Mercy With Me”. And for anyone who likes things a bit doolally then they need to check out “Golden Rays of Salvation” which is a mentalists dream.

It’s certainly out there and worth making a visit to for dedicated sonic explorers.

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51tseflqmrl-_ss500_ss280FRACTALMIND
Stainless
Lynx Music

Polish prog metal time with Fractalmind.  And they certainly know how to get all complicated.

This is the place to come if you find King Crimson a bit too poppy as Jarek Jaśkowiak – guitar, Mateusz Wiśniewski – drums, Marcin Chmielecki – guitar, Jakub Miąskowski – bass and vocalist Marcin Walczak set about messing with your head.

Across tracks like “Hellbound”, “Sleepwalkers Dance” and “My Oleander” they strive to make as many time changes as possible without imploding in a frenzy of flash.  And they’re pretty good at.  I can’t pretend to understand what they’re on about, but anyone with an applied physics degree might like to know that “fractals, seemingly chaotic structures that are in reality infinitely looped, perfect creations, as well as the mind, that gives birth to our every thought, serve as an ideal description of band’s music.”

So there.

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