• PISTOLS AT DAWN -Ascension (JFL Entertainment)

    After independently amassing over 6 million streams and collaborating with icons such as GRAMMY® Award-winning producer and engineer Sylvia Massy [Tool, System of a Down, Johnny Cash], the group deliver eight anthems on their 2022 full-length album, Ascension. This followup to its strong 'Noctural Youth' EP from last year, confirms the quality of this American alternative rock band. Heavy, energetic, catchy, ballsy and groovy, that's what Pistols At Dawn is all about. Refering to the technical crew behind the band, this is very well recorded. PAD is undoubtly heading for bigger things. To my ears this is the better side of alternative rock because there's also some classic elements in there which gives the band also a vintage side turned into a contemporary sound and musical concept. With eight songs, this album has the right playing time and doesn't lose its tension. Great songs, great playing! Enough said! Recommended!

    (Geert Ryssen)

  • STORMBOUND - December (Independent)

    StormbounD was formed in 2018 in Tel-Aviv, Israel by basist Pavel Kleiman and guitarist and vocalist Ofer Friedman. Next to join were Ofer's wife Shani Friedman on guitar, Yuval Partush on drums, Rotem Sadia on keyboard and Yael Horwitz as lead singer. All members of the band are well established professional musicians. So far the history of the band. The band uses the usual elements to create its symphonic metal: female lead singer, male antagonist, dramatic melodies and orchestral arrangements backing a full blooded metal band. Stormbound has a very powerfull and intense sound, which I always like. They write good well constructed gsongs and know how to arrange them with lots power and detail. There's many contenders in this field, but StormbounD will certainly interest fans of this genre, who like it really heavy with some real metal elements like a grunty voice here and there (but not too much), a dark atmosphere and a pounding rhythm section. Symphonic metal with a real dose of the latter! StormbounD is much heavier than most of their colleagues in the genre. the eleven minute long title track is their tour de force, building up towards a climax. Then, 'Shadows' shows a more subtle side of the band. 'Flying High' starts with a folk intro but changes quickly into an uptempo melodic rocksong then changes again with another folky break. Yes the album has a lot to offer, the trick is to really listen and discover the details.

    (Geert Ryssen)

  • THE CASSINI PROJECT - Blue Ocean Event (Independent release)

    'The Cassini Projekt (TCP) is a one-man band, set up by Alex McDonnell to create rock music
    without boundaries, allowing him to experiment with a wide variety of genres, filtered through a
    particular style enamoured with the grandiose, irrational, and esoteric. All of which is
    encapsulated perfectly on the release of a remastered version of ‘Blue Ocean Event’ on July 18th 2022.'
    That's what the bio says about The Cassini Project. Considering that this is a one-man project, the result is quite impressive. McDonnell combines a harsh rocksound with progressive songstructures and realises a spontaneous and pure record. Not the state of the art kind of production that comes with most progressive metal records these days, but a raw and energetic organic sound that makes one listen to what's going on. The overall tone of the record is heavy rock- and guitar-based, yet there's enough variation to keep things interesting. McDonnell clearly loves dynamics and contrasts and he manages to create this in his instrumental backing, but in his singing as well. This is a real talent, worth discovering. I love the honesty and intensity of this record. And yes, listen to 'Go Down' for some stunning guitar work-out! Or to 'Fight To Believe' for a Syd Barrett-type semi acoustic song evolving towards epic proportions. Yes it's all there. The album concludes with the nine-minute long heavy track but nevertheless with again some references to Syd Barrett's style. The heavy guitars give the song an extra dimension that goes beyond the Barrett connotation.

    (Geert Ryssen)

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Crash! Bang! Wallop! (Excelsior Recordings)

At the turn of the seventies and the eighties of the 20th century the punk and new wave explosion was followed by a new wave of heavy metal bands, combining the hard rock power of the classic bands of the seventies with the energy and anger of punk. The result was a fast and furious heavy metal style defining what was to come in the next years and finally defining the new direction the genre was heading in. The so-called 'New Wave Of British Heavy Metal' (NWOBHM) inspired bands all over the world. The Netherlands and Belgium had it's own bands creating their own new wave of heavy metal. Belgium had Killer, Crossfire and Ostrogoth, the Netherlands had Picture, Teaser and Bodine. But besides these well known bands there were al lot of contenders who made a fuss: Warhead, Acid, Steelover, Hammerhawk, Lion's Pride, Black Widow, Gilgamesj, ... They're all present on this excellent compilation along some obscure bands (Jack Pisters/Avalon, Mover, S To S, Vopo's, The Rodgers, Victim, Danger, Vault). The double album is available in a boxset with a beautiful book showing memorabilia and stories by the people who were around at the time and had a hand in promoting this new heavy metal. Unfortunately for those who don't read Dutch, there's no English version of the book, but it's nevertheless a great thing to own because of the many illustrations. The compilers (A.H.J. Dautzenberg & Vincent Loozen) have done a great job in making a perfect selection to prove what this was all about. Some of these bands are still going or are reforming regulary, be it in new line-ups. Some of the musicians in these bands have gone to greater fame afterwards, like Arjen Lucassen and Adje Vandenberg. This is a piece of essential metal history of the lowlands, beautifully packed and in good sound with excellent mastering! Also available on 2cd.

(Geert Ryssen) 

  • ROLAND VAN CAMPENHOUT - Wonderful Human Beings (Meyer records)

    Roland has found a new breath and home in terms of recordings at Meyer Records, a German label that searches for authentic roots music with a contemporary twist. 'Wonderful Human Beings' is his fourth release for Meyer and includes recordings made between 1995 and 2020. Roland combines his own blues style on a couple of songs with big name from literature and poetry (Bukowski, Dylan Thomas, Van Ostayen). His deep weathered desert voice, the combination of sounds and traditional instruments and his collaboration with musical greats deliver a great album that we consider Tom Waits-worthy. Roland has sucked up a mass of world music and fused it with his blues feeling. It makes an intriguing record that we like to put on replay. Meyer releases are available on cd and vinyl. Especially the latter format is recommended because of the impressive artwork and the excellent pressings.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Roland Van Campenhout (guitar, vocals, samples, omnichord, plastic record players, proteus strings), Bart De Nolf (double bass), PJDS (drums, vocals, guitar), Steven De Bruyn (harp), Tony Gyselinck (drums, percussion), Jeroen Stevens (drums, percussion), Carl Ludwig Hübsch (vocals), Ad Cominotto (synthesizer), Teun Verbruggen (sound effects), Kobe Proesmans (drums, percussion), Rony Verbiest (accordeon), Mirko Banovic (bas, guitar), Frank Vanderlinden (guitar)

  • THANATEROS - On Fragile Wings (Echozone)

    Thanateros is a German gothic rock band with some folky touches due to the presence of violin player Christof Uhlmann. The band released four albums between 2001 and 2009 and split in 2010. In 2019 singer Ben Richter reformed the band with all new musicians and a fifth album was released. New album 'On Fragile Wings' is its first on Echozone and sounds superb. The band manages to combine that dark melancholic feel with a powerfull sound, good songs and strong arrangements with an interesting bonus because of the presence of the violin. It gives the band a great sound and blends well with the power of the rock section. Frontman Ben Richter is a seasoned vocalist who knows exactly what a band like this requires in the vocal department: deep, dark and melodic singing. New drummer Markus Felber is a real powerhouse drummer who's perfectly captured in the production. Great album!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Ben Richter - vocals
    Christian "Chrys" Ryll - bass
    Chris Lang - guitars
    Christof Uhlmann - violin
    Markus Felber - drums

  • SUNRUNNER - Sacred Arts Of Navigation (Fastball Music)

    This is the fifth studio album by American progressive metal band Sunrunner. It took us some time to get into this as the band has a complete individual style with a rough production and musical influences that go from Greek Mediterian music to stonerrock and some subtle neo-prog sounds in between. With every spin the band reveals more of it's qualities. They have well constructed songs with little references to what we've heard before in this cross-over metal. Bruno Neves is a fine singer and guitarist Joe Martignetti has more than one trick up his sleeve. Subtle passages alternate with heavy riffing. One thing one can say about Sunrunner is that it is a very individual and original band that makes authentic heavy progressive music. Fans of Manilla Road will also like this we think. Pure music, without compromise, not polished, lyrics that make sense! Interesting band!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Joe Martignetti - guitars, bouzouki, backing vocals
    Ted MacInnes - drums, percussion, bakcing vocals
    David Joy - bass, bakcing vocals
    Bruno Neves - lead vocals

    Guests on two tracks:
    Marcus Jidell - slide guitar, bakcing vocals
    Frank Navarro - bass

  • THE MOTHERS FILMORE EAST - JUNE 1971 (Zappa Records)

    In June 1971, Frank Zappa and The Mothers recorded four shows at the Fillmore East (New York). In many ways it was a first as they were recorded on 16 track analog tape and originally edited a conceptual live album. The recordings were released in 1971 on a single album, which of course omitted big parts of the concerts. Now the best recordings of each performance have been chosen to restore the whole concert. The result is a triple album (on vinyl) that includes the appearance of John Lennon & Yoko Ono (some of these recordings were previously released on John & Yoko's album 'Sometime In New York City'). All recordings have been remastered with the original album on record 1. Record 2 has the John & Yoko set and a great performance of 'King Kong - Solo's'. Record 3 is taken by 'Billy The Mountain'. Some of these recordings have been released before, but never in this form. This is the perfect way to experience what these concerts were all about. Today they still stand as top Frank Zappa, recorded with a shortlived but essential line-up of The Mothers Of Invention. It lasted for only two years, but the combination of The Turtles' singers with the weirdness of The Mothers worked perfectly.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Frank Zappa - Guitar & Dialog
    Mark Volman - Lead Vocals & Dialog
    Howard Kaylan - Lead Vocals & Dialog
    Ian Underwood - Winds & Keyboards & Vocals
    Aynsley Dunbar - Drums
    Jim Pons - Bass & Vocals & Dialog
    Bob Harris - 2nd Keyboard & Vocals
    Don Preston - Mini-Moog

  • FRANK ZAPPA & THE MOTHERS - RAINBOW DECEMBER 10 1971 (Zappa Records)

    In November/ December 1971, Frank Zappa & The Mothers undertook a European tour that was interupted because of the fire at the Montreux Casino where Zappa was giving a concert. All their gear was destroyed and they had to cancel the rest of the tour until December 10 and 11, when tey resumed at the London Rainbow. The band played on all new gear and lots of things weren't working properly. Nevertheless the shows were recorded and they turned out to be great and the audience was in heaven. Until a "fan" jumped on stage and pushed Frank off stage with several injuries as a result. That was just after the encore, so it didn't affect the show, but the consequences for Frank were serious. He spend most of the following year in a wheelchair! Of course the "fan" was arrested but it also meant the end of this great line-up. Except for 'King Kong' this triple vinyl album has no doubles with the Fillmore set and sound and performance are great. Lots of these recordings have been released before on the 'You Can't Do That On Stage' series and the 'Playground Psychotics' cd (1992), but this is the real McCoy with a complete concert in runnig order. Essential Zappa!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Frank Zappa - Guitar, Vocals
    Mark Volman - Vocals
    Howard Kaylan - Vocals
    Ian Underwood - Keyboards, Alto Sax
    Aynsley Dunbar - Drums
    Jim Pons - Bass, Vocals
    Don Preston - Keyboards, Electronics

  • THE RISEN DREAD - Night Hag (Independent release)

    Once in a while one is triggered outside its comfort zone. Singing with forced throat sounds is usually a no-go for yours truly. Nevertheless, the Irish The Risen Dread knows how to strike a chord. The eleven songs are all part of a thematic album about mental illness. This debut makes an explosive statement. Let's hope that the singer knows what he is doing with his voice because we don't think you can keep this up for long. What makes the record strong is the instrumental accompaniment that pops out of the speakers in a clenched and aggressive way. This group has mastered its trick perfectly. The help of Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser on 'White Night' adds to the credibility. This fires from start to finish, super tight with splitting riffs, roaring drums and thundering rhythms. We take the vocal primal screams along with it.

    (Geert Ryssen)

OPENSIGHT - Mondo Fiction (Independent release)

I have this cd in my possession for some time now, and it took me only one spin to like it, but it took me a lot more time to write a review about it, because this band has really an original approach and is hard to classify. Hard rock, art rock, cinematic rock, epic rock, conceptual rock, progressive rock- and metal, ...,  the list of musical influences is endless. The band is led by London based Colombian Ivan Amaya who writes the music and is the singer, guitar- and keyboard player. 'Mondo Fiction' is bathing in an atmosphere of suspense by creating a very visual sound. The final track is a somewhat twisted interpretation of the James Bond related classic 'Thunderball'. The start of the album makes you expect a melodic contemporary heavy metal album, but that changes into a collection of songs with a lot of light and shade, well composed and and wonderfully arranged. The instrumental support of the foursome is full of intrigue and different colors, even with Western-related passages. If you can imagine a cross-over between The Darkness (the flamboyance) and Ghost (with the dark side replaced by suspense), you may have an idea how Mondo Fiction sounds like. This is one of the most interesting metal-influenced albums I heard for some time. A recommended listen! Originality still exists!

About the band:

The band has an interesting history. Ivan Amaya started the band in his homeland Colombia where one album was released ('Prosthetic Soul' - 2008) and a couple of its songs were featured on compilation albums. In 2012 Ivan moved to Londen where he gave Opensight a new start. After two EP's ('The Voice Of Nothing' - 2011 and 'ulterior Motives' - 2015) this first UK-based full album 'Mondo Fiction' was released on February 4th 2022. 

Line-up:

Ivan Amaya - Vocals/Guitar/keyboards

Neil McLaughlin - Guitar

Duncan Arkley, Bass

Redd Reddington, Drums

(Geert Ryssen)

Link: https://www.opensightband.com