Reviews roundup – Wolfpakk vs. Bolland & Bolland vs. Black Sand feat. Greg Bannis vs. Rainforce vs. Herzparasit
Album number four from Wolfpakk, the melodic metal project fronted by Mark Sweeney (ex-Crystal Ball) and Michael Voss (Mad Max, Michael Schenker).
And if you’ve heard and enjoyed any of their previous releases then I can guarantee you’re going to really like this. The ever expanding pack of guest wolves has grown to 26 in number with some of the headliners including Biff Byford (Saxon), George Lynch (Dokken), Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne), Ronny Atkins (Pretty Maids), Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne), Tony Harnell (TNT), Chris Holmes (W.A.S.P.), Oliver Hartmann (Avantasia), Timo Somers (Delain), Brad Gillis (Night Ranger), Pasi Rantanen (Thunderstone), Danny Vaughn (Tyketto), Michael Vescera (Yngwie Malmsteen).
Musically they’re still channeling an eighties metal vibe with a few power metal riffs and rhythms thrown in hither and thither. Now I enjoyed it despite not being the biggest fan of Mark Sweeneys vocals either here or back then but the music keeps you glued to your seat. There are some great riffs and songs with the Accept-like “Inside The Animal Mind” an absolute highlight and one of my favourite metal songs of the year so far.
The musicians involved all put in a sterling shift and fans of old school melodic metal should lap it up.
BOLLAND & BOLLAND
The Golden Years of Dutch Pop Music
Who? If you know the name in the UK at all it will be down to the writing credits on the Status Quo hit “In The Army Now” which got to Number 2 in the UK charts in 1986.
Four years previously the South African-born Dutch duo Bolland & Bolland released their version which went to Number 1 in Finland and Norway. But they go back a long way before that with their first Dutch hit “Summer of ’71” coming out, oddly, in 1972. That was a folk pop song as were most of their early numbers and very typical of the time.
By the time of their last big Dutch hit, “Spaceman” in 1978, they’d moved on to an early electro-pop sound which may have helped them get production work with the likes of Falco and Sam Fox. They also shortened their name to Bolland and went on to release a concept album called ‘The Domino Theory’ which took a critical look at war and US intervention in foreign conflicts from the viewpoint of the foot soldier. Sounds like it could do with reissuing in 2017! Oh, and it contains the aforementioned single “You’re In the Army Now” (the original title).
This is part of a series called The Golden Years of Dutch Pop Music and it’s interesting in a once heard, probably never repeated fashion. There’s certainly a handful of tunes that do bear up to repeated listening with the mad as a hatter “UFO (We Are Not Alone)” my personal favourite. And with all the original A- and B-sides of singles collected it makes for a well presented package.
BLACK SAND feat. Greg Bannis
I Wish You Were Here
From the cover you would think this is some long lost glam bam thank you ma’am eighties sleaze rock offering. It’s not. And whoever is on the cover is neither Black Sand nor Greg Bannis.
Black Sand are a long established German band who specialise in a seventies soft rock / yacht rock hybrid while Greg Bannis was the singer in Hot Chocolate between 1992 and 2010. Or as it’s better known the post hits, post Errol, Butlins years.
So no surprise then that this turns out to be a a seventies soft rock / yacht rock hybrid! Although one with a Lynyrd Skynyrd acoustic riff grafted on to it. It’s pleasant enough in a Eurovision kind of way but their last album ‘Stand Up’ is a better representatio of their musical sounds.
Quam Libet / Roxx Records
Some White Metal for you now. And yes that is a thing despite the fact that you may never have heard of it. The mainstream rock media tends to ignore it in favour of shades more black but the scene is there, albeit it underground.
Roxx are quite major players in that world and one of their new signings is Swiss band Rainforce. Well I say Swiss but the band which was put together by guitarist and songwriter Andy La Morte (Pylon, Disobedience & Thankful Heart) also features fellow Pylon man Matt as well as German drummer Benjamin Mann ( Power of God) and Maltese singer Jordan Cutajar ( Nomad Son / Pylon). So that’s a lot of Pylon!
But don’t come here of you’re looking for some doom metal. Because this is retro seventies / eighties hard rock. It’s also a bit of an allstar album with guests including Whitecross guitarist Rex Carroll, Barren Cross bassist Jim La Verde, X-Sinner and GX Project singer Rex Scott and Canadian singer Kevin Wright formerly of Jacob’s Dream.
It’s also very good as they’ve got the songs and the melodies sorted out big style. THe title track gets thing off in fine fettle before they hit you with one of their best songs in the shape of “My Rock” an absolute gem which would have been huge back in the day. “New Jersusalem” is another high point although they aren’t really any low ones. Things finish with a big, big ballad on “Shine A Light” and if you can put your prejudices to one side then this is fine slab of melodic hard rock.
Baby Rammstein! There you go boss. A two word review. RIght. What are you going to shove up there? Oh. So a few more words then.
OK, we’re off to Munich to catch up with the catchily named Herzparasit (Heart Parasite?) and their third album ‘ParaKropolis’. It’s chock full of crunching riffs and eighties styled electro beats which seems them working in a similar medium to [cough] fellow Teutons Rammstein.
Of course I could go out on a limb and liken songs such as “Zack! Boom” Bang!”, “Präparat” and “Vatermal” to Megaherz but that wouldn’t help your average English speaker. So I’ll stick to the R word. There is one outstanding number on offer here in the guise of “Blut Lügt Nicht” (Blood Does Not Lie) with a childrens choir to great effect on a song that appears to be about a serial killer. Nice.
I actually really enjoyed this because sometimes all you need is some blasting industrial metal to blow your head off. And this certainly does the trick.