melodic rock fanzine #74
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DESCRIPTIONThis new issue includes reviews and interviews of Sunstorm, Ted Poley, Jorn, First Signal, Wickman Road, InnerWish, Universal Mind Project, Fury, Midnight Eternal, Wolf Hoffmann, Sunstrike, Withem, Dan Reed Network, Phantom 5, Vega and more!
08_Firs t Signal
10_ Inner Wish / Universal Mind Pr.
11_Fury / Paradox
18_Dan Reed Network
Melodic Rock Fanzine
The official Frontiers Music s.r.l. magazine
Year #12 - Nr. 3 / Issue #74
Editor-in-chief: Elio Bordi
Concept, Graphics & Design: Elio Bordi
Writers: Bruce E.J. Atkinson, Duncan Jamieson, Barry McMinn, Vitale
Nocerino, Rob “Ezy” Bone, Primo Bonali.
Headquarters and general contacts:
Frontiers Records - Via Gonzaga 18
80125, Napoli - Italy
Tel: +39.081.2399340/7753 - Fax: +39.081.2399794
E-mail: [email protected]
Editor and publisher: Frontiers Records s.r.l.
Copyright©2016 Frontiers Records. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is pro-
hibited. Printed in Italy.
Interview with: Joe Lynn Turner
Interview by: Duncan Jamieson
MRF | 5
Quest ion: I t ’ s good to have you
back with the fourth Sunstorm disc .
When you did the f irst Sunstorm
record, did you think i t would lead
to further disc?
Answer: I t was always intended to be
a tr i logy (3 albums) . So, doing this
fourth was not planned ini t ial ly . But ,
the songs were so s trong and I l iked
the fact that in this CD I would have
complete control over the songs that
would end up on the album. In the
past , I did not choose al l of them.
Addit ional ly , Alessandro was wil l ing
to work with me and take direct ion
and ideas from me.
Q: The new album has a rockier
edge than the prev ious records .
Why is that?
A: After the release of the RATED X
album, I wanted to go back to the
more me lod ic ma ter ia l o f SUN-
STORM, but I also wanted to do a
Sunstorm with a harder edge. . .not so
much "80s glass" as I l ike to cal l i t .
I th ink i t i s the best of the series!
Harder . . . s t ronger . . . and heav ie r
than be fore w i thou t l o s ing the
integri ty of the melodic sound that
the project is about . . . I cal l i t Melodic
Q: Which songs did you have most
fun s inging this t ime round?
A: All of them were great and special
in their own way. The t i t le track has
a very prol i f ic pol i t ical and social
message, one that I s trongly bonded
with. That made i t easier for me to
s ing w i th more pass ion . Bu t a s
always, I want to know what the fans
think. What are their favori te tracks
Q: Who dec ides who wr i te s the
songs and which ones make the
A: Frontiers has major input into this
and so did Alessandro. But under-
s tand that this t ime I was sent skele-
tons of the songs. I was able to add
my own input . . .changing some l ines
and melodies . I do not ask for credi t
for doing this , in fact , I do i t wi th
almost every song that someone else
wri tes . As I said earl ier , this t ime I
also had complete control over which
songs made i t to the f inal CD.
Q: Alessandro Del Vecchio has been
instrumental in the making of this
record, playing on i t and writ ing
some of the music . How do f ind col-
laborating with him?
A: Outstanding! I t was great to work
with him and he real ly l is tened to my
vis ion and made i t come to l i fe . The
songs are craf ted wel l , the messages
are profound, the performances out-
s tand ing . A le s sandro De l Vecch io
and everyone involved can be very
proud of this e f fort .
Q: It’s not easy to s ing as wel l do
for as many years . How do look
after your voice?
A: Sleep is very important which is
why I try not to do too many inter-
views before a show. I also maintain
a heal thy l i fes ty le . . .eat heal thy and
work out at the gym, even when I am
travel ing. When your body is physi-
cal ly f i t i t helps maintain a good
vocal sound. Singing is very physical ,
especial ly rock s inging.
Q: Ritchie Blackmore was comple-
mentary about you recently. That
must’ve felt good.
A: Thanks, I was very pleased to hear
tha t R i t ch ie spoke ou t pub l i ca l l y
abou t t he fac t t ha t he though t I
should have been inducted into the
Rock and Rol l Hall of Fame. I also
posted a message back to him thank-
ing him. He has of ten said “Slaves
and Masters” is one of his favori te
Deep Purple records.
Q: Were you disappointed you did-
n’t get the cal l for the upcoming
A: I would be ly ing i f I d id not say,
yes , I was disappointed. There was
some discussion over a year. . . I was
talking to his manager and there was
interest , but , he ended up working
with a s inger and some others that
were not part of the Rainbow legacy.
I wan ted an au then t i c l i neup fo r
Rainbow. I was talking to [bassis t]
Bob Dai s l ey , [drummer Bobby]
Rondinel l i , [bassis t] Roger Glover,
[keyboardis t] Don Airey… There 's a
whole bunch of guys out there that
were real ly wi l l ing to sor t o f ge t
involved wi th this… open up their
schedu les and ge t i nvo lved . And ,
apparent ly , Ri tchie didn' t wanna do
that . I t ' s regret table because we did
have some major promotion compa-
nies interested in booking a show that
would have included former members
Q: Rated X looked l ike i t was going
to more of a band situation than a
project . Wil l there be any more
music as Rated X?
A: We were hoping i t would be more
of a band s i tuat ion. That was our
intent so you are correct about that .
However, i t ended up being a learn-
ing experience in that we real ized
that we are al l very much in-demand
musicians. We make a l iv ing making
music and are very fortunate to be
able to do that . However, that means
we cannot depend on one band or
project to earn a l iv ing. Al l of us kept
get t ing of fers for various shows and
other s i tuat ions and we had to take
those of fers when they came in . We
could not postpone those of fers to
wait to see i f Rated X could get show
booking of fers . As for making anoth-
er Rated X CD, I always say “never
say never .”
Q: What’s coming up for now you
Joe? You’re not a guy to stand st i l l
A: Trying to play as many shows as I
can! There are other things in the
discussion s tages that I cannot reveal
r ight now but i f everything comes to
frui t ion i t wi l l be great . I have some
shows coming up in the USA,
Bulgaria, Finland, Sweden, Norway,
a big fes t ival in the UK and then
some dates in Spain. Lots more being
ta lked about bu t once we conf i rm
them we wi l l pos t on my websi te ,
Facebook, e tc .
6 | MRF
Questions: I understand there is a
bit of a story behind this record,
would you care to share?
Answer: Well , I don’t know i f there as
any specif ic s tory, but the concept of
the t i t le refers to me being able to
st i l l release out kind of music long
a f ter i t s na tura l “ fade” . I t ’ s no
longer the mos t popu lar s t y le o f
Q: Is this the f irst t ime that you
have worked with Alessandro Del
A: In the studio yes, but we have
played together l ive before this so we
were already fr iends. He is a great
person , very ta len ted and no ego
whatsoever. Very down to earth and
he laughs at my jokes so I love him.
Q: I also understand that a couple
of members of “Vega” were collabo-
rating with you in the song-writing
A: Yes they wrote most of the songs,
which Ale and I re arranged and pro-
duced into what you hear on the f inal
album. I love their songs and when I
add my f lavor to them I really love the
sound. I t ’s upbeat and catchy.
Q: I must say that hearing “Beyond
The Fade” it really sounds l ike you
and the others have been playing
for a long t ime… Everything is so
A: Thank you! I t’s only a solo album
in name, i t ’s very much a band ef fort
with great performances by the band,
my players, Ale, Anna, Mario are al l
amaz ing mus ic ians and they very
much inf luenced the f inal sound of the
album. I wanted the cd to be more
than just about myself . . . I wanted gui-
tar players so be able to enjoy the
leads, bass players to say “wow this
is great playing”, drummers to f ind a
coo l f i l l here and there and , o f
course, Ale layers the icing on the
cake wi th h i s keyboards . Tons o f
grea t mus ic iansh ip wen t in to th i s
Q: And of course, you sound l ike
you are having fun. . . The harmonies
are spot on, and the overall sound is
A: Thank you! I t was a lot of fun,
singing with Ale is amazing, you can
hear the blend,i t ’s very cool .
Q: So can we say that this release
wil l be considered to be your third
solo release, or are you thinking of
transforming this into a full f ledged
A: I t’s My 3rd Off icial Solo Release,
but As far as I can f igure out this is
actually my 22nd ful l length album
(not counting guest appearances on
other art is ts s tuf f) .
Q: Of course, I must ask… What
about l ive dates, anything planned
and if so, under what bil l ing?
A: I tour al l year both in D2 and as a
so lo ar t i s t . I have da tes booked
though 2017 already so I am very
enthusiast ic about f lying around the
planet s inging some new stuf f and
also the Danger Danger favori tes.
A: Thanks again, Ted for this inter-
view… All the best with “Beyond
The Fade” and it is great to hear
you once again…
A: Thank you and thank everyone who
read this far! I appreciate al l of your
con t inued suppor t ! P lease suppor t
your local “No Kil l” Animal Shelter!
Artist: Ted Poley Interview with: Ted Poley Interview by: Bruce Atkinson
Artist: Jorn Interview with: Jorn Lande Interview by: Bruce Atkinson
Question: Jorn, may we start with what
inspired you to record these classics?
Answer: There are so many songs that Ilove, and would want to do but there just
hasn’t been enough time to make it happen,
since I’m usually too busy writing/record-
ing my own music or been busy working on
various other projects. With “Heavy Rock
Radio” I finally found the time to do some
of them, but there’s still a list of 25-30
songs or so that I would like to do that did-
n’t make it on this album. Since growing up
in the 70’s and 80’s I’ve been carrying with
me many songs that I feel could be done
“Jorn style”. When I get such an idea for a
song by another artist, it just kind of “pops
up”, and I’ll know right away how to
approach it. Of course, it takes a bit of time
to get the arrangement sortet out, but as
long as the ideas are good it will always
trigger everyone involved and we’ll come
up with some good creative solutions pretty
fast. From the beginning I was not just into
rock music, but also enjoyed other music
genres, and the 60’s and 70’s was a golden
era for high quality music regardless of
music style. It was a time of true craftsman-
ship when music was create in a more gen-
uine and creative way, and you couldn’t
use technology as a substitute for the lack
of talent that so many do today. It was also
an era of more physical work and experi-
ence, which made it more natural and
authentic when channeling the expressions
through an instrument.
Q: Further, you not only covered these
outstanding pieces of music, your own
interpretation is inspiring… and in some
cases very far reaching…
A: Thank you for saying that! All the artistsand songs that capture my attention auto-
matically become a part of me, if a song
touches me and I can identify with the
lyrics, feeling and expression, it’s already
Q: I would imagine that taking on a song
such as “Hotel California” and/or “Don’t
Stop Believing” may have been a chal-
lenge. However, even in saying that,
when one listens to either one, they sound
like they are your own! Care to com-
ment on your approach to these two?
A: No different approach to the other songson the album really, Journey and The
Eagles where two of my favourite bands in
the late 70’s early 80’s. The original
Eagles recording of Hotel California is
extremely good, but it didn’t scare me from
giving it a go. Maybe it’s because the
Eagles recording is so good that there are
hardly any cover version out there.
Recording a song like Hotel California is a
bit like messing with religion, a lot of peo-
ple will be pissed of if you fuck it up. The
idea was to make it sound more “bombas-
tic” and powerful by adding a heavy guitar
structure. It killed some of the dynamics
that the original has but at the same time it
brought something new and fresh to the
song, without changing it too much. “Don’t
Stop Believing” has been rerecorded by so
many so many times over the years that I
thought it was good to skip the well known
piano intro of the song and play it with a
more stripped down “rock band
approach”. It made it sound different, and
even though many might say that the piano
is an important signature of the song, the
song itself is so strong and melodic that
even if you make the arrangements “less
commercial”, the song is still “carrying the
Q: I realise that “Heavy Rock Radio” is a
salute to your own rock heroes, which
you have many, so does that mean we can
expect some more of these musical jour-
neys from you?
A: As mentioned earlier, I had a list of 40-50 songs but had to cut down to 12, so there
are definitely some unfinished business
there. Will continue with a new original
Jorn album scheduled for a 2017 release,
but maybe after that one in a couple of
years or so, I will find the time to do anoth-
Q: Now, looking at your overall creative
output, you seem to go and grow from
strength to strength… Whether it is orig-
inal music or interpreting other Artist’s
work. Is their no rest for Jorn Lande-
A: I will continue being creative withthings and I have no plans to stop, but
might slow down a bit with making albums
so frequently in a few years. I’m thinking to
play more live as I get older and also spend
more time on the albums before releasing
them. It’s healthy to be more selective with
things when you’ve been around for as long
as I have now, so at some point soon it will
probably be a good move to take longer
breaks between each album. This way I will
also be sure that the quality I’m looking for
MRF | 7
Band: First Signal Interview with: Harry Hess Interview by: Duncan Jamieson
Question: How did you hook up with
Answer: I’ve known Daniel for 5 or 6 yearswhen he did one of the songs for my solo
record. It’s one of those records where not a
lot of people get in the same room. Frontiers
called me about the idea of another First
Signal album with Daniel writing and produc-
ing it. Songs were pitched and I threw in
which ones I liked. It was a pretty painless
Q: Do you approach the First Signal
records differently from Harem Scarem?
A: I don’t see them interfering. It’s great andit’s a different kind of style from Harem
Scarem. The fan base are interested in this
more aor, more melodic style that was on my
solo record and these albums. Harem Scarem
is more riff rock and we like to go off in differ-
ent directions with the music. There’s less sur-
prises with this kind of music. It keeps the Aor
fans happy in a way that Harem Scarem can
frustrate them. On these records, I have only
one thing to worry about as it’s way more
focussed and I only have to concentrate on the
vocals. Harem Scarem is a lot of hard work, a
very collaborative effort within the band but
we aren’t not asking for other people’s opin-
ions. I produce other bands who are new and
exciting and you can always learn something.
It keeps things fresh and not boring.
Q: How do feel about this new record?
A: It’s more of a retrospective thing. Whenwe’re making the record there’s a lot of back
and forth, via email. Everyone’s sort of on
their own, doing what they do. When Daniel
sent me his work to comment on I thought it
sounded great and only had about three com-
ments to make about the finished songs. I put
my thumb print on it and then step back.
Q: You made the original First Signal
album when Harem Scarem called it day.
Of course, happily Harem Scarem are very
much alive again.
A: Frontiers called me. We weren’ doingHarem Scarem anymore. Serafino said they
had this project idea with Dennis and when I
heard it I thought I could do a good job on it.
It’s more Aor based so there’s not much of
conflict. We’re not saturating the market.
When you hear it next to the last Harem
Scarem album it’s not the same. If it sounded
exactly like Harem Scarem that would be bor-
ing for me. It stands on its own.
Q: When can we expect a new Harem
A: Stylistically, it’ll be a mash up. It’s goingto be a bit different next time, we stretch it out.
It might annoy some but it won’t be sons you
grasp at the intro, we’ll run off at a tangent
but it’s still about songs with real choruses
but they might be dark, heavy, light or what-
ever. “We’ll be working face to face. I have a
working studio and we will commit 100% to it.
Stylistically, it’ll be a mash up. It’s going to
be a bit different next time, we’ll stretch it
out. It might annoy some but it won’t be songs
you grasp at the intro, we’ll run off at a tan-
gent but it’s still about songs with real cho-
ruses but they might be dark, heavy, light or
Q: How is being in Harem Scarem different
A: We really needed that break. We’d beendoing it for 20 years non-stop . The pace since
we got back together hasn’t been as insane.
We play some dates because we want to do it
100%. It’s not a treadmill now. We’d do it
even if no one was listening now! With social
media now you get immediate feedback now.
A lot of people like what we do. The space
between records coming back meant we had a
lot of time to think about what we do. The re-
recording of the Mood Swings album helped
us re-join the dots. It helped us get back to
Q: Can we expect to see another Harry
Hess solo record?
A: My solo work went on the backburnerwhen we did the last Harem Scarem record.
The band is my priority but I could do a solo
record at any time. I even songs, bits and
pieces. It would be written by me or with co-
writes that I do on writing trips. That’s more
straight ahead songs than Harem Scarem.
Q: How has your own writing changed over
A: When I go back to the first album, I wrotethose lyrics when I was 16 or 17 years old. I
was new to song writing. When we did ‘Mood
Swings’ we made something unique and I
wanted different words from what you nor-
mally hear. I don’t get excited hearing the
same lyrics from different bands but at the
same time I don’t want it to get too exoteric.
8 | MRF
Primo Bonali: Your debut album “After The Rain” is another
example of how Sweden became the leading country for Melodic
Rock / AOR music, nowadays. Do you think there's a particular
reason behind it? Do you guys over there eat
Toto/Survivor/Foreigner and milk for breakfast?
Wickman Road: Thanks! Yeah, we wish there would be Toto andSurvivor cereals to buy! It’s difficult to say why AOR music production
still is so big in Sweden, maybe it’s the influences from groups like
Europe, H.E.A.T and others still echoing in our music. We’re basical-
ly playing what we enjoy and it seems like that’s what it sounds like!
PB: How and when the band was put together?
WR: Well, Carl, Henrik and Robert have been playing together sincethey were really young. 2011 Eric joined the band as lead singer, after
a lot of convincing from the guys. We struggled on for a few years and
it started to sound really good but the missing part was a drummer
with same ambitions as the rest of the band. 2014 was the game chang-
ing year when Simon joined the group and Wickman Road was official-
ly born! A lot of new inspiration and motivation came along and since
then we have had a great time together.
PB: In your songs I can clearly listen to influences from classic
bands like Toto and Foreigner; which have been your most impor-
tant influences, musically talking?
WR: Yes Toto and Foreigner have absolutely inspired our music, butalso more synth driven music like Van Halen! Eddies guitar playing
has also inspired a lot of solos as you can hear! Whitesnake is also a
great inspiration along with other bands from the 80’s. But we like to
create classic 80’s music with our own modern touch.
PB: Where your monicker, Wickman Road, comes from? Any
meaning behind it? And why a title like “After The Rain”?
WR: The name Wickman Road comes from our childhood playground.It’s the name of an old forest road leading into the wilderness and it
has always awakened our imagination and inspiration. We picked the
name up after a troubling time within the old group, so we needed a
fresh start, a new road for the band to follow. The name Wickman
Road symbolizes the group finding the way back to the right path we
once were on, which we did! The title After the Rain is a direct trans-
lated Swedish saying, meaning there is brighter times ahead, which is
a great way of thinking, making us believe in the future!
PB: How did you get in touch with AOR Heaven?
WR: Our producer Ola af Trampe thought it would be a good idea tolet them hear our music, and for us to get in touch with a great and
suitable label. We sent some tracks and they liked what they heard and
two weeks later we signed a record deal!
Question: Let’s start with a little history les-son, how did UMP get started?Answer: It all started back in 2011 with MikeAlexander and Charlie Dominici writing ''TheJaguar Priest'' song, which also signified the lateralbum's title. Fellow vocalist Henrik Bäth wasalso in the game back then as well as many of ourother guests. 2012 found me coming in to do asingle song as a guest myself. It was ''The Forceof our Creation'' that we did and Mike asked meto continue with the project on more songs. So westarted writing together. Was really great! Weended up forming the nucleus of the band. Yearswent by and the first album was ready, ''TheJaguar Priest''. Then, our label, Inner WoundRecordings, had the idea that it would be cool if
we got a solid line up and turned this vision intoa band, for real. So we kept most of the workingforce already being there, me, Mike, Henrik... andwe added drummer Alex Landenburg who haddone a few songs on the record, before. Q: The album ‘The Jaguar Priest’ is the bandsdebut release, so why has it taken over fouryears since your inception to release thisalbum?A: Well, it was indeed 3...nearly 4 years toachieve this but the reasons were various. First ofall, inspiration comes and it gives you somethingbut that something takes time to be shaped andformed into what you want it to be. Both Mike andI, are kind of perfectionists so we have this prob-lem of redoing something again and again. To tell
the truth, we learned a lot through this process, soI would say we relaxed a bit after all. Perfectionis an illusion, it does not exist probably. Then, wehad lots and lots of guests and most of them werevery often busy touring or recording their ownalbums somewhere far away from home. So wehad to respect that and wait till we would get theirfiles. We wanted some very specific people forcertain songs so we prefered to sacrific time thango for someone else. Then, also the album wasready for a while but we did many things in a slowpace. You know, when you do a project solely onyour own sometimes daily life gets interfered.Also it took some time till the final team getsshaped. It is different when you in the end have aspecific number of people and you know they arethere, you can count on them to work equally asyou do. We do not regret anything, though. It allhappened at the right time, bringing the right peo-ple on our way. Q: Where did you draw your influences fromfor the album?A: My own life... Other people's lives. Alex, thedrummer, is probably my best friend, so we talkfor hours about anything and everything and he isreally into conspiracy theories, so I got a lot ofinspiration also from things he would discuss withme; aliens; this and that. The Mayan culture, ofcourse, the basis of everything on this album. Itwas a guideline I received from Mike, as well,because Charlie Dominici had written the lyricsfor the title song and already there was a tenden-cy towards this topic so I simply took it and devel-oped it further, to the point it got us somewherealtogether different as a story. In the song byDominici, the priest is described rather vicous butin my twist of the story, the priest turns out to haveso many more different sides. Turns out to be afigure with such depth that shapes the story itself,in the end.
Band: Universal Mind Proj.
Interview with: Elina
Interview by: B.Mcminn
10 | MRF
Question: If we can, let us go through the
last couple of years, and the line-up changes
you have faced… and your decision to
explore music from “Black Sabbath” and
Answer: Well, these years between our previ-ous album, “No turning back” and the newone, “InnerWish”, were quite difficult for us.As a band, but as individuals also. We had toface some lineup changes. Me and GeorgeEikosipentakis (vocals) are the two new mem-bers of INNERWISH. These changes though,was one of the reasons we had to postponesome stuff and most important of all the cre-
ation of new music for a new album. When wesettled with the new lineup we started workingon this album and now we are back, good time!The two covers we made, you can say theyworked as a “crash test” also for our new line-up. A test before we entered the studio andrecord the new album. To see the chemistrybetween us. And I think the result is prettygood, regarding that these were the firstrecordings of our new lineup. And of course itwas a good chance to have a good time in thestudio again, recording covers for two belovedsongs!Q: So with this new record, are you starting
to explore a new musical plateau? Could
you take us through how “InnerWish” pre-
pare for a recording, and was it any differ-
ent this time around?
A: You can say so, yes. It might have the char-acteristics of INNERWISH, but it’s also like amark of a new era for the band. We still aremelodic, we still have the lyrical essence, butwe became heavier and more modern in manyparts, more than ever before. And I also thinkthat the diversity in this album is way morethan in any of the previous ones. The prepara-tion, but the recording process also, had twomajor characteristics: passion for creativityand sleepless nights! The difference this time,was that this album is a team-effort, like nonebefore in the band’s history so far.Q: Upon listening to “InnerWish”, the
album… I hear a new found strength and
may I say: confidence. Obviously you have
pushed your own borders… any comments?
A: You are correct! You can hear confidence,you can hear a new found strength, but youcan also hear a lot of passion, a lot of opti-mism and a very strong belief in ourselves, butmost of all, belief to the particular lineup andthe way it works. I don’t know if we pushed ourown borders. Everything came up so naturallythat it seemed normal in the end. We were verytired with all the process of course, causebesides INNERWISH we all have our jobs,families etc, so many things to combine. Butour need and will for this new album to comeout as better as it could, surpassed everythingin the end. Maybe we pushed our borders with-out knowing so...
Interview with: F.Fragiskosa
Interview by: B.Atkinson
Band: Fury Interview with: Robbie LaBlanc Interview by: Primo Bonali
Question: Hello Robbie! It was great
to finally meet you at the “Frontiers
Rock Festival”. So let's start with this:
how has been your experience at the
Festival and which are the best memo-
ries of that event that you has kept
Answer: I had an amazing time at the
Festival for many reasons. First, it was
amazing to meet all the fans! What a
beautiful bunch of people, I'll never for-
get them. They made me feel very spe-
cial. Second, it was amazing to play with
the actual Find Me band. What an amaz-
ing group of musicians. They're great
people too. Third, it was amazing meet-
ing all the Frontiers staff again! Lastly,
what a great two day event to hear Paul
Laine, Kip Winger and all the other
great singers and bands. Great musi-
cians, all of them!
Q: It has just been released – for the
first time – the official reissue on CD
of your debut with FURY (originally
out in 1985), a real jewel of Classic
Melodic Rock. What do you recall of
those times? How was the music-scene
back then? And which had been your
musical influences in writing and per-
forming that album, together with
your brother Brian?
A: Wow, the music scene back then was
so different. I 'm not saying better
though. I feel it's so cool that bands can
record in modern day without a mort-
gage attached. We were always saving
money for studio time. The talent today
is amazing as well, the kids are getting
better quicker and at younger ages! I
loved more Pop Music than Hard
Rock/Metal, like Hall and Oates,
Foreigner, and Toto. Grand Funk too.
My bro and I could harmonize like the
Everly Brothers, the Bee Gees, the
Eagles. And we can still harmonize well!
We love melodic songs. I hope the Fury
album can still stand on its own!
Q: Are you satisfied with the final
result of the FURY CD-reissue and
how was your feeling when you have
received the final product?
A: I loved the final product, both graph-
ically and sonically. I was lucky that I
transferred the tapes before the fire in
Felix's house. My mom had all of the
pictures and my sister in law Rosanne,
helped me with the narrative. I remem-
ber feeling a bit annoyed at that time
(1985) because Felix brought in some
outside musicians. Now I wish they were
on more tracks! You live and you learn,
Q: You've played at the “Frontiers
Festival” a full electric set with FIND
ME, and – the night before (on the VIP
acoustic night) - you performed a
BLANC FACES set. Both great per-
formances! Do you plan a new Blanc
Faces release sometimes, or will you
concentrate only on FIND ME? Any
other projects on the way? When can
we expect some new material from
A: I've been on my brother to write
another BLANC FACES disc. He may
come around, I hope he does. I enjoyed
singing them at the acoustic night we
played at. Phil and Mike were great as
well! I hope to sing another FIND ME
soon! I'm keeping my fingers crossed...
Q: Anything to add for your fans in
A: Just a huge hug and kiss from me to
all of the fans. They made me feel very
welcome and changed my life forever. I
am blessed I can sing for someone at this
point in my life. Thanks to all at
Frontiers Records and to you, Primo, for
keeping the music alive! God love you
MRF | 11
“Ready II Strike”
(AOR Heaven)This Swedish group unleash“Ready II Strike”, their secondand it strikes straight to the musi-cal heart! An album that is com-pletely off the scales, every scale.Enormous energy, each selectiondripping with melody! Everysong bursting with power andharmony. Even with the ‘slower’numbers, absolute power balladsthat display that rich, deep andemotive swirl of music fromthese fine musicians, givingChristian Eriksson the opportuni-ty to match perfectly as he laysdown the vocals. The harmoniesare just as large as the music! Allof the band members, with theexception of the drummer buildthe choir of voices we hear! Andjust to make it that much better,two musical friends join in aswell: Danne Andersson, andAnnsofie Lindstrom. Elevenexcellently performed monsters;“Ready II Strike” will no doubtgarner critical acclaim for thesesix. A musical odyssey, one willsuch power—pure MelodicPower that simply rocks!Sonically brilliant in sound, mas-sive in scope, explosive in per-formance, “Sunstrike’s” sopho-more effort is destined to top theInternational Charts, and withease!! BA (90/100)
“Strong & Proud...”
(Nuclear Blast)Such a great package, “StrongAnd Proud – 30 Years Of RockAnd Metal” captures – on dif-ferent formats: 2Blu-ray-Digi,3DVD-Digi, CD and 2LP gate-fold – three unforgettable nights(including “Wacken Open Air”set), during which GermanMetal Queen Doro Pesch cele-brated his 30 years long career,inviting special guests like PhilCampbell, Biff Byford, ChrisCaffery, Blaze Bayley, HansiKürsch, Udo Dirkschneider, UliJon Roth and Joakim Brodén. Itcontains 38 songs in total,including all DORO classics,many old Warlock hits andgreat cover-versions of songssuch as “Fear Of The Dark”(with Blaze Bailey showing agreat performance) and “BallsTo The Wall” (with the one andonly Udo). The filming and cut-ting is phenomenal, and thesound no less than crystal clear.Additionally, “Strong AndProud – 30 Years Of Rock AndMetal” offers an unique music-movie with a two-hour plusdocumentary, "Behind TheCurtain, Inside The Heart OfDoro". It gives the spectatordeep and detailed insights intothe world of Doro. The packag-ing was drawn by Doro'sfavourite artist, GeoffreyGillespie. A great product forall Doro fans and for anyoneinto great Hard Rock music andclassy live performances.Recommended. PB (90/100)
(AFM Records)Formed in Hamburg in 1996,the German Power MetallersIron Saviour are back with thetheir 9th studio release‘Titancraft’. Led by the vocalmight of Piet Sielck, the bandreturn with another powerdriven metal assault. Thealbum is full blown Teutonicmetal at its most powerful,with more riffs and powerdriven rhythms than you canshake a stick at. The band hitthe ground running after theintro with the title track andinstantly we’re treat to thosefiery licks of Joachim Kustner,as the band go all out and con-tinue with their tale of themythical civilization ofAtlantis. It’s heads down metalall the way in true Iron Saviourstyle with the likes of‘Gunsmoke’, ‘The Sun Won’tRise In Hell’ and the massive‘Strike Down The Tyranny’,with the only break in thechain being the superb MetalBallad ‘I Surrender’. This iswhere Sielck shows off hismellower side, before round-ing this off in style with‘Rebellious’. Once again theseGerman’s rise like the SecondOrder of Greek mythology andto rule once more. BM(90/100)
“The Devil Strikes Again”
(Nuclear Blast)When it comes to iconicGerman metal bands Peter‘Peavy’ Wagner’s Rage arehigh on the list. Formedfrom the rampant HeavyMetal band Avenger back inthe mid Eighties and now intheir 32nd year, the band’snew line-up include guitaristMarcos Rodriguez, ex-drumtech and best friend of hispredecessor ChrisEfthimiadis, Vassilios“Lucky” Maniatopoulos ondrums, along with master-mind, frontman and bassplayer Wagner at the helm.The band return with a bangwith ‘The Devil StrikesAgain’, their 22nd studiorelease, which finds theseTeutonic metallers deliver afull on metal assault worthyof the Rage name. From theblistering ‘My Way’ whichwe first heard back inJanuary on the EP of thesame name, the massive‘Sprits of the Night’, the oldschool Heavy Metal of ‘TheFinal Curtain’ and the break-neck speeder ‘The Dark Sideof the Sun’, this is Rage attheir most brutal. To sum upthis album, it’s Metal, Hardand Loud! BM (85/100)
(Pride and Joy)Singer and songwriter forAlmah and previously withAngra, Edu Falaschi releaseshis very first solo-album,“Moonlight”, on which hepresents acoustic versions ofthe most significant songs ofhis 25 years-long career. Theparticular thing is that all thematerial has been re-arrangedfor an acoustic rendition,being Edu's voice here accom-panied only by piano, acousticguitar and orchestra; the resultis an outstanding mixture ofAcoustic, Jazz, Classic andPopular music, with Edu'svocals definitely shining thru'the 9 tracks of the Cd.Falaschi here performs togeth-er with several respectedBrazilian musicians such asTiago Mineiro on piano (whorepresents the Brazilian jazzand popular music scene),maestro and violinist AdrianoMachado (string arrange-ments), creator and conductorof the Symphonic OrchestraVilla Lobos, João FredericoSciotti on flutes and saxo-phone and Sandami on per-cussions. An unique and total-ly “different” album; some-thing you could need to giveyou some rest after your moststressful days... PB (85/100)
SUNSTORM “Edge of Tomorrow”
(Frontiers Music s.r.l.)As long as Turner's at the mic it's alwaysgoing to sound like Sunstorm even if sty-listically the sound on the fourthSunstorm album has moved slightly fromthe original aor template of the earlierrecords. This is a rockier affair, perhapsinfluenced by Turner's recent outing onthe tougher Rated X album. Alex DelVecchio takes over production and songwriting duties from Dennis Ward. Hebrings with him guitarist SimoneMularoni who helps give the material aharder edge than previous efforts. Joeseems to be singing at a lower register attimes than he might have in the past but'Don't Walk Away From A Goodbye', thetitle track and 'Everything You've Got'capture Turner's swaggering vocal abilitythat still marks him out as one of the bestin the business. With Vecchio handlingmost of the song writing (although thelikes of Soren Kronqvist and DanielPalmqvist are also involved) it meansthere isn't as much variety to the tunes ason the earlier discs. Nevertheless, ifyou're a fan of the previous Sunstormrecords and Turner then you'll want tocheck out this rockier incarnation of theproject. DJ (90/100)
TED POLEY “Beyond the Fade”
(Frontiers Music s.r.l.)“Lets Start Something”, the first track onTed Poly’s latest release, is just what weneed for the Summer of 2016! “BeyondThe Fade”, Ted’s third solo album isnothing short of a scorcher and sets up anequally molten slice of Melodic Rockfrom one of the Masters of this enduringand soaring musical idiom! Teamed withsong writers from “Vega”: Tom andJames Martin, Ted has delivered a blaz-ing collection of powered Melodicniceties that do nothing but please! Eachchorus will live long after the song finish-es. The dynamic, pulsating rhythms arethanks to Anna Portalupi on Bass andAlessandro Del Vecchio on Drums. Notonly drums, Alessandro gives us thosediscerning keyboards as well, perfectlyrendered and strengthening the powerthat is Ted’s singing! And those powercords? None other than the brilliantMario Percudian on the six-stringedslinger! With this much combinedTalent, it is no wonder that the leadvocalist of “Danger Danger” can take usall higher and way ‘Beyond The Fade’. Itis certainly good to hear this fantasticsinger once again, oh! make that very,very good! Yes-indeed! BA (90/100)
JORN “Heavy Rock Radio”
(Frontiers Music s.r.l.)“Heavy Rock Radio” is Jorn’s interpre-tation of some of the greatest songsfrom Artists that have had an impactupon the man himself. He has actuallyre-created some of these gems, but withrespect and dignity. Each selection issung and performed by him and hisband mates with new light bathing uponthem. Not to mention with enormousstrength and renewed vitality! A collec-tion of classic rock-bristling, shinningand yes, some even reaching a newfound musical spirituality! How Jornhears these songs serves us glimpses tothe man’s musical mastermind. Yesthese are songs written and performedby some of Rockdoms greats, yet theyall have a new set of clothes on thisunique Recorded Work! Just listen to“You’re The Voice”, “Killer Queen”,or “Don’t Stop Believing”, just to namea few. With Jorn’s version of“Stormbringer”, not only will it turnheads, but I bet that both Deep Purpleand David Coverdale did not foreseethe power hidden within! So there yougo: “Heavy Rock Radio” is a definite‘must have’! The defining RockAlbum of 2016!! BA (92/100)
WITHEM “The Unforgiving Road”
(Frontiers Music s.r.l.)“The Unforgiving Road” is thisNorwegian group’s second release andtheir first for Frontiers Records. The sym-phonic yet piercing guitar is from OlyvindVoldmo Larsen. Those heavy percussivepatterns are Frank Nordeng Roe workingout behind the kit, and solidifying thosecomplicated runs through the lower thirdis Miguel Pereira on Bass. Now liftingeach musical exercise to the highest oforder is Ole Aleksander Wagenius withhis incredible vocal styling’s! “Withem”are very much a working band, tried andtrue road worthiness. These warriors havelogged more miles on the circuits thanthose groups twice their age! And in themusic it shows! Tight, smart musicalexcursions, that are energized and tem-pered to the highest degree. Each per-formance sounds like they are live onstage, with breathing dynamics, full bod-ied and bombastic! “The UnforgivingRoad” is such a dynamic Recorded Work,that we have flourishes of brilliance, sonicoceans that have many undercurrents,constantly refreshing these stellar rivers ofsound. Progressive Rock hasn’t soundedor soared like this for a very long time!BA (92/100)
PHANTOM 5 “S/T”
(Frontiers Music s.r.l.)Michael Voss (Casanova, Bonfire,Mad Max) and Claus Lessmann(Bonfire) together with the talentedmusicians from the Germany, RobbyBoebel (from Frontline), Axel Kruse(from Jaded Heart) and the ex-Scorpions bassist Francis Buchholz:Phantom 5! Now with all the talentinvolved in this band, the album betterlive up to the sum of its parts I hearyou say. Well with Lessman’s unmis-takable vocals behind the band, thisquintet have put together a greatalbum. With the opener ‘All The Way’laying down the gauntlet for the rest ofthe album to follow, the bar is set highand song after song the band show thatthey are a force to be reckoned with.Highlights for me personally would be‘They Won’t Come Back’, a songabout Rocks never to be forgottenheroes who left us all too soon. Thenthe excellent ‘Renegade’ and‘Frontline’ to name but a few. Lookout Avengers and The Justice League,there are a band of new superhero’s onthe block, they are Phantom 5 and theypull no punches. BM (90/100)
DAN REED NETWORK “Fight
Another Day” (Frontiers Music s.r.l.)In all the years I’ve been doing reviews,there probably hasn’t been a more antic-ipated album than the return of the DanReed Network. It’s been 25 years sincetheir last album ‘The Heat’ and now Danand the rest of the original line-up areback, bringing their funk and grooveback to the scene, as they did all thoseyears ago with their self-titled debut backin 1987. For those who were luckyenough to catch the band first timeround, you’ll know exactly what I meanwhen is say the ‘Ritual’ has begun oncemore. ‘Fight Another Day’ is full of funkdriven bass rock songs that just oozeclass, right from the opener ‘Divided’ tocloser ‘Stand Tall’, it’s all killer, no filler.Simply put it’s 13 tracks of pure ear-candy. To pick a favourite is like pickingyour favourite child, but if I had tochoose my favourite highlights then theywould be the excellent ‘The Brave’, themellower electro infused ‘Champion’,the down right funky ‘Give It Love’ andthe excellent ‘Heaven’, but these are justa few of the many great tracks on what isa superb return. I don’t think there is sucha thing as a perfect album but this isdamn close. BM (99/100)
VEGA “Who We Are”
(Frontiers Music s.r.l.)Album number four sees the band delivertheir strongest album to date. The Martinbrothers know how to pen maddeninglycatchy choruses and there are plenty herethat will have you humming for days.Some songs have a touch of don't-bore-us-get-to -the-chorus about them but when thechoruses blast out with their sweet confec-tion of hooks and harmonies, you don'tmind one bit. 'Explode' does just that and isthe perfect lead track on the record, possi-bly the band's rockiest song to date. 'EveryLittle Monster', 'White Flag', 'GenerationNow' and perhaps the best of the lot'Saving Grace' are as good as anything theband have come up with previously. NickWorkman's vocals still add a different,nasally almost indie vibe at times. Thesevocals might be a sticking point for somebut they help separate the band out fromthe more generic sounding aor bands. Youcan hear him shine on the almost Queenlike ballad 'Nothing Is Forever' and gui-tarists Marcus Thurston and Tom Martinget to mix rock muscle with The Edge stylerhythm to good effect. There are sometracks here that you anticipate will godown a storm live, the environment wherethis band excel. DJ (92/100)
FIRST SIGNAL “One Step Over
the Line”(Frontiers Music s.r.l.)It's pure aor on the second disc from theFrontiers project which features HarryHess from Harem Scarem. This timeround Daniel Flores of Murder My Sweetand Find Me picks up the song writingand production baton from Dennis Wardwho oversaw the debut. If you enjoyed thestyle of Flores' recent Find Me record withRobbie LeBlanc then this is its equallyhandsome twin. Musically it sticks to amore generic aor template than HaremScarem but that doesn't make it any lessenjoyable. Flores tunes have just the rightcombination of melody, parping key-boards and throwback emotive guitar,courtesy of new kid Michael Palace.Although Hess didn't contribute to thesong writing his vocals are great, makingeverything sound impassioned rather thanphoned in. It's consistent; you can drop theneedle anywhere and hear made to meas-ure aor but the standouts are 'Broken', atune that has a more modern angsty cho-rus, 'Minute Of Your Time' that is humtas-tic and 'November Rain' which is a potpourri of hooks that remind you of every-thing that was great about rock music inthe 80s. This is music engineered for thesummer sun. DJ (92/100)
(AFM Records)Seventh studio album for thegerman metallers and definitelya good way to celebrate theband’s 30th anniversary. Fouryears have passed since therelease of "Tales Of TheWeird” and the band is strongerthan ever, with the longestalbum (60 min) in the wholeband history and songs that willmake you bang your head andscream out loud their lyrics!Coupled with a fantastic coverartwork (courtesy of ClaudioBergamin, who worked forHalford and King Diamond),“Pangea” sounds powerful andintense, with absolutely killerguitar-riffs, a solid drummingand Charly Steinhauer’s typicalvocals. PARADOX definitelystick to their musical roots andwho liked the band on their firsttwo legendary albums willtotally love this Cd. And – as aspecial anniversary surprise –PARADOX's mainman CharlySteinhauer re-united the origi-nal line-up from the historicaldebut-album "Product OfImagination” (1987) for thebacking vocals on “Pangea”;so, horns up and let's celebratethe past and present of a greatSpeed Metal band! PB(88/100)
“After the Rain”
(AOR Heaven)Wickman Road is the new
amazing band coming from
Sweden and playing that
typical AOR/Melodic Rock
that bands like Work Of Art,
State Of Salazar and
Wigelius (just to name three
of them) proved to play at
its best. Composed by two
couple of brothers (Eric
Ahlqvist on vocals and Carl
Ahlqvist on keyboards,
Henrik Åkesson on guitars
and Robert Åkesson on
Bass) plus Simon Rydén on
drums, Wickman Road had
been playing music together
for years; written, arranged
and played in a very mature
way, the songs on this
debut-album sound fresh
and catchy, in the true spirit
of Classic Melodic Rock.
“Breaking Free”, the heav-
enly ballad “I Believe In
You” and the supreme
AOR-hit"I Can't Wait
Anymore" are my personal
fave on this CD, although I
have to admit I really like
the whole album. Such a
great debut for a very prom-
ising band! PB (90/100)
(Nuclear Blast)The powerhouse guitarist stepsout of metal legends Accept toshow us his other side.Hoffmann released a record backin 1997 called 'Classical' thatblended classical music with hissignature metal sound to greateffect. It's taken almost ten yearsbut this record repeats this fusionof genres. Combining the twogenres can often end up clunkybut in the skilful playing hands ofHoffman it shows how muchmetal and classical music have incommon. His riffs capture thebooming bombast of classicalmusic on Beethoven's 'Scherzo',Mussorgsy's 'Night On BaldMountain' and 'Pathetique' isripe for his speed metalapproach. Bizet's 'Je CroisEntendre Encore', 'Adagio' and'Madame Butterfly' show themore melodic side of Hoffman'splaying; his lead guitar emotingas well as any string sectioncould. The arrangements byHoffmann and Italian arrangerMelo Mafali fashion the piecesinto a rock format well. He man-ages the perilously tricky feat ofmaking classical music appeal-ing to the ears of metal fans.Bands who play symphonicmetal need to listen to this recordto find out how to do it properly.DJ (90/100)
(AOR Heaven)After spells in Gypsy Rose,Don Patrol, Last Autumn’sDream, White Wolf andBangalore Choir, Rikard Quistdecided it was time to put aband together of his own mak-ing. So together with friendand talented singer Lars Boden(Appearance), and with drum-mer Niklas Osterlund(Headplate), plus the additionof British lyricist Jon Wilde,who Rikard had collaboratedpreviously, Featherstone wasborn. The ‘Northern Rumble’ isan apt title as the band set out tocause a stir in the world ofMelodic Rock with this debutrelease. The band’s namemight have feather in the title,but this feather belongs to aneagle, as it’s full of soaringmelodies and talon sharp riffs.Right from the edgy opener‘Need Myself The Most’ to thehard-hitting ‘Leave Me Be’ and‘Look Into My Eyes’, the mod-ern rocker Silhouettes On TheShade’, to mellower closer‘Part Of Me’ and all parts inbetween. This album hasenough variety to please eventhe most die-hard fans of thegenre. This is a band on thecusp of greatness, so “are youready to rumble”? BM (86/100)
(Nuclear Blast)"We are warriors, defendersof steel!“ sings Janne ”JB"Christoffersson on the sec-ond track, “Varangian”, ofthe brand new GRANDMAGUS album, “SwordSongs”. With such a clearand loud declaration, theSwedish band returns withanother Heavy Metal mas-terpiece, “faster and moreaggressive than the previ-ous ”Triumph And Power"(in BJ's own words), 9songs of passion, blood,sweat and tears, and“Viking Metal forged iniron” (as per track numberthree on the album). EpicMetal, Doom Metal,Traditional Heavy Metal...call it how you want, theresult is exactly what youcould expect from a bandwho breathes, drinks, eatsand live pure Heavy Metal,carefully following the les-son that the Gods of thegenre (Manowar, JudasPriest, Black Sabbath)delivered, years ago.Derivative? Yes. But playedwith honesty and a truespirit. Fists in the air, let'scelebrate the Heavy Metalglory! PB (85/100)
Question: How did you guys get togeth-
Raine: The band started in 2014 when
Boris Zaks asked Richard Fischer, Dan
Prestup and Mike LePond to join him in
recording a two-song demo.They reached
out to me about a month later when all the
instruments were recorded, and I was very
happy to join. We recorded the two songs
and released them, and got a great
response. At that point it was obvious to us
all that we wanted to make this project a
full-time band. We started booking some
shows almost immediately, and Greg
Manning came on board as the permanent
Q: Your singer Raine Hilai has a very
distinctive voice. She worked in musical
theatre before the band. How did you
find her and what is it about her voice
that meant you knew she was the right
fit for the band?
Dan: I had met Raine a few years back,
and when I joined Midnight Eternal I
immediately thought that she would be
the perfect singer for this band. As you
said, her voice is very distinctive and
unique, and we really liked that. We
also knew that it would help us stand
out in the scene.
Q: Most symphonic metal bands
these days seem to come out of
Europe. Do you think coming from
New York gives your music a differ-
Rich: To me, I don't think our music
has a different vibe being from New
York, it just makes us a rare commod-
ity coming from this area.
Q: You played a number of gigs
before the album’s release. How
have you been going down live?
Dan: We've been getting some great
responses! The audiences have been
great, and we've gotten many new fans that
Q: What’s the plan now the record is
Rich: Now that the album is out we plan on
playing shows and possibly getting on
some national tours to help promote the
album, because as you know, touring is
one of the best ways to promote a band in
the metal genre.
Band: Midnight Eternal
Interview with: Band
Interview by: D. Jamieson
Question: You really blend heavy
metal and classical music extremely
well . It must take a while to re-
arrange these pieces for heavy metal
Answer: Thanks, and yes, it does take
time and is not something I can knock
out quickly. As a matter of fact, this
album took years to complete! The main
reason it took so long is that I was
mostly busy with Accept and could only
work in my “off-time”. So I re-visited
this project many times over the years.
But it’s a lot of fun and very rewarding
when everything finally comes together.
Q: The pieces you’ve chosen have big
recognisable melodies. Is this what
you like in classical music?
A: Well, yes, I love these melodies ,
they are timeless! I mean, there is a
reason why these melodies are so well
known and recognisable. They have lit-
erally lasted for centuries and people
have enjoyed them for generations. So
there must be something special. Now I
am interpreting them new in my own
personal style. With the tools I have,
being a metal guitarist.
Q: Beethoven’s ‘Scherzo’ shares the
riff with Accept’s ‘Teutonic Terror’
song. Do you often get inspiration for
riffs from classical music?
A: Like I said, I have been working on
this project for years, well before
Accept got back together. I wrote the
riff for this Beethoven piece - we just
“borrowed” that ri f f back then for
Teutonic Terror. So know fans can hear
the original version.
Q: At home, what classical composers
to do tend to listen to?
A: A lot of them but certainly not all. If
you took the composers from this album
you’ll have a pretty good representa-
tion of the style and composers I like.
Q: What feedback do you get from
Accept fans and classical music fans
about this marriage of genres?
A: I have met countless fans over the
years telling me how much they enjoyed
the first album Classical”, so I am hop-
ing they’ll enjoys this one as well !
Can’t wait for them to hear it.
Q: What about the other guys in
Accept. What do they think?
A: I can’t expect all of them to have the
same passion and enthusiasm about
Classical music as I have, I mean, first
and foremost we are all rockers and
metal guys, me included. But the combi-
nation of classical elements and metal
works really well for Accept. Every
night on stage the crowd loves singing
along to “for Elise” in the Solo of
Q: Will you having a go at any of
these songs live?
A: I would surely love to perform this
material live on stage, yes ! It remains
to be seen when and where… But yes , I
would love to!
Q: Accept continue to go from
strength to strength, their power
undiminished. Is there any new music
around the corner?
A: YES !! We are working on new songs
as we speak. A new album is in the
works for 2017.
Artist: Wolf Hoffmann Interview with: Wolf Hoffmann Interview by: D. Jamieson
MRF | 15
Question: I would like to begin with
your current label, AOR Heaven…they
seem to be supporting you all the way,
being that this is your second effort…
Answer: Yes, we are very satisfied with the
work they are doing for us. And of course
it seems that they like what we are doing
as well. We share the same love for this
music and for me as a musician it has been
perfect from the very beginning. I've had
full freedom in creating my music so i'm as
happy I can be.
Q: With “Ready II Strike”, when did
you start recording?
A: Me and Johan started writing new
material for SunStrike just a couple of
month after our debut was released. And
then we wrote on and of for about a year,
until we had 12 new songs. We write and
record everything in my own studio so the
writing and recording are simultaneously,
at least for the drums, guitar and bass.
And for the vocals I do all the pre-produc-
tion. So when Christian started tracking
the vocals this autumn he had it all served
on a plate. Fredrik did all his keyboard
work this winter and the same goes for
Mats. He did a couple of great guitar
Q: Did you bring some material from
your debut sessions to these sessions?
A: No, we used everything that we did
back then. I'm not that kind of songwriter
that has a bunch of ideas laying around. I
write a new song when I need/want a new
song, that's how I work. I don't sit around
and waiting for inspiration that I know
some writers do. Maybe it sounds strange
but it works fine for me. Some days I can
write the basic idea of a new song in only
10 minutes. Like our giutar player Mats
use to say, you're like a machine.
Q: Would you take us through your cre-
ative process? And have you brought
something different to this album?
A: A new song can start off in so many dif-
ferent ways. Take ”A piece of a action”
for an example. I came up with that vocal
melody you hear in the refrain, but I didn't
know what to do with it. I thought it had a
cool attitude so I put som chords to it and
bam! A new song was born. But most of
the time it starts off with a guitar riff, and
then me and Johan play around with it,
throwing ideas at each other until we have
a song finished. We have written so many
songs together so the process is very easy.
The new album follow in the same path as
our debut, maybe that the sound is more
raw. It's more guitar this time, but still a
lot of keyboards. Just how I like it to be.
Q: I understand that you choose to work
with Erik Martensson again. He is such
a masterful musician and also producer,
please describe his relationship with the
A: Yes, he's a very nice and easy going
guy. The best you can get these days when
it comes to produce and write melodic
rock songs. I know he likes SunStrike a lot,
especially Christians vocals, and who
don't :-) He lives and have his studio only
one hour drive from where I live so we vis-
ited him a couple of times during the mix-
ing process, to see that he was behaving,
hehe. He understand the concept of
SunStrike and how we want it to sound so
there was not much we had to change in
his mix. Just a couple of levels here and
Q: By the time this interview gets to
press, the new album will have been
released, so do you have any plans for
touring? If so, where might we see you
A: That's the sad part of the story. We
have no chance of touring or doing gigs as
it is now. Christian is to much involved in
Twilight Force now and he lays 100% of
his time there now. So he has made it very
clear for us that he don't have any time for
touring with SunStrike in the near future.
And to do it with another singer don't feel
right as he is a big part of our sound. But
we have got several good offers from festi-
vals and stuff that we had to turn down.
Band: SunStrike Interview with: Joachim Nordlund Interview by: D. Jamieson
16 | MRF
Question: I would like to start with a brief
history of the group, when and how you met
and when you decided that forming a band
was what needed to be done…
Answer: As many stories go it's a long one, but
the short version goes something like this.
The band had its inception in 2011 when
Øyvind Voldmo Larsen and Kjetil Ronold, who
had worked together on previous bands and
projects, put together some material. Frank
Nordeng Røe was recording for another band
in Øyvinds' studio and got to hear some of the
Withem material and loved it. Øyvind knew
what a great drummer Frank was and they
quickly asked him to join the band. Not long
after this they contacted me to try out as a
vocalist. Øyvind and Kjetil had heard me play
for other bands during live sessions and on
recordings and thought I might be a good match
for the sound they were creating. Øyvind and I
hit it off quite quickly and went to the studio and
did a demo which was the first version of the
song "Miracle", later included on the album
"The Point of You" in 2013. The bass work on
the album was done by the fantastic Andreas
Blomqvist from "Seventh Wonder", but Miguel
Pereira took over for him shortly before the
album was released. Since this early start
Withem has been working great together both
on the road and until now when our new studio
album "The Unforgiving Road" on Frontiers
Records will be released this June 3rd. We are
looking forward to bringing the new material to
our audience at home and on the road.
Q: I believe I’m talking with you, so a point-
ed question to you—your vocal style and
range is remarkable. How long have you
been singing, and I hope you take this as it is
meant to be, a compliment, you are not the
‘typical’ Progressive Rock/Metal vocalist.
You have a very emotive component lurking
in your voice!
A: Well, first of all, thank you very much for the
compliment. Believe or not I actually started
noticing that I had a good vocal range on the
football field. For some reason the referee
always heard my complaints louder than the
rest of the players when we argued his judge-
ments. Combining this with my love of music
and my many hours on the guitar I got for
Christmas when I was 13, I slowly started figur-
ing out how to use my voice over most of my
range. I did this trying to match the guitar
chords while I was playing my favourite
Metallica tracks at the time.
At 17-18 I decided to quit football and focus all
my energy on my singing. I got in contact with
opera singer and vocal coach Anders Vangen
who became my mentor and helped me develop
my full range which I use today. He also taught
me how to put my feelings into my singing
which I think helps express not only the lyrics
but also what's behind them. Also a lot of my
earlier experience was from classical music.
Since then I have played for several bands and
projects, but I am currently focusing most of my
energy into Withem.
Q: May I ask, how did you get together with
A: When our collaboration with Laser's Edge
Records ended we were looking for a new label.
Øyvind sent Frontiers a mail with some of our
material. Happily they were very satisfied with
what they heard and our negotiations started
when we were completing the work on the "The
Unforgiving Road" album. It took a while to get
all the details finalized, but now that we have
worked with them for a while we find ourselves
very happy with the collaboration.
Now, if I may, let us go back to the actual
recording…what is “Withem’s approach?
Do you create some of this music straight
from the studio floor, or do you gather with
material already prepared?
A: It does depend a bit on the song, but usually
we will exchange riffs and other parts we cre-
ate. This is not done towards a specific song,
but just exchanging ideas. Later Øyvind will
structure these Ideas into a first sketch of a
track. We think of this a bit as painting a pic-
ture. At this point we have a line drawing and
we need to add colours, shading, dynamics and
contrasts. Our way of doing this is adding
chords, solos, keys, vocal lines and all the ele-
ments that are needed to create something real
we can present to our audience.
Band: Withem Interview with: Ole Aleksander Wagenius Interview by: B. Atkinson
MRF | 17
Question: The title ‘Fight Another
Day’ is about surrounding yourself
with positive people and give each
other the strength to fight another
day. Is this a goal you feel you’ve
accomplished at this point in your
Answer: This goal will always be an
ongoing, shapeshifting process, but I
can honestly say that I have never felt
better about the working and personal
relationships that I have the pleasure
and honour to share with so many at
this time in my life. The relationships
with musicians and my friends in DRN,
or the solo work I do, and the many
good souls in my personal life, are
filled with love, support, creativity,
laughter, humility and forward thinking
ideas. This is a blessing and it does
indeed give us all the desire and pas-
sion to take on the battle another day!
Q: Let’s talk about the cover of the
album. What can you tell me about its
A: The concept was something I brought
up first with Melvin Brannon Jr., our
bassist in DRN, while we were record-
ing in Portland Oregon last November.
We laughed about how great it would be
to see a super hero on his last leg fac-
ing yet another battle… taking a deep
breath and fighting on while severely
handicapped from a very recent beating
down. This idea was then conveyed to
Graeme Bell, our graphic designer, who
said he liked the idea and took it from
there. We weren’t sure if we wanted it
to be photo-realistic or cartoonish, so
we ended up settling with something in
the middle. I t’s a landscape that
Graeme masterfully built one element at
a time, and we fine tuned it over the
course of 6 weeks or so, sending ver-
sions back and forth and making notes.
Q: How is working with Derek
Shulman again after so many years?
A: Derek and I reconnected back in
2007 when I was living in Jerusalem.
He had a house there, st i l l does I
believe, and wrote me asking me what I
was doing l iving in there. When I
explained I was making a new album
and recording with Israeli and
Palestinian musicians he became inter-
ested in working together again. That
rekindled relationship went on for a
couple of years, but faded toward 2009
when I started working with our former
Polygram UK product manager Toni
Medcalf. When Derek heard that DRN
was planning on making a new album he
got back in touch and through the sug-
gestion of Dee Bahl, a good friend and
advisor, and manager of the great Biffy
Clyro, to work with Derek again, here
we are! It’s great going full circle with
the man who gave us our first record
deal and as an A&R man, Derek is sec-
ond to none!
Q: The new album is a classic Dan
Reed Network with a modern twist,
and some of the songs sound even
A: Thank you, and honoured to read
that you got what we were aiming for
with this new album! To be honest I
don’t know what to expect from the
music business these days, but I do
know when we perform live there are
few bands of any age that have the fire
we five have on stage, and the sheer vis-
ceral energy DRN conveys live. We are
hard workers both in the studio and on
stage, dedicated to composing songs of
substance and we ready to rock the
world anywhere, anytime… so if that all
adds up to us finding a new level of suc-
cess that we are certainly ready to take
that on. Also we have a secret weapons
in Dan Pred and Rob Daiker being that
they are both very accomplished video
directors, so that helps as well. Brion
James has always been a powerhouse
songwriter and producer, and Melvin
Brannon Jr. is one of the best bassists
in the world, both live and in record-
ing… so overall I think DRN is primed
and ready for 2016 and beyond.
Artist: Dan Reed Network Interview with: Dan Reed Interview by: Barry McMinn
18 | MRF
Band: Phantom 5
Interview with: Claus Lessmann
Interview by: Barry McMinn
Question: Probably the first question
on everyone’s lips would be how did
Phantom 5 come about?
Answer: As far as I can remember, it
was Serafino who came up with this
idea. One of these days, I think it was
in the end of 2014, he contacted
Michael with his idea, if he could bring
together some sort of a “german all
star” melodic rock band. He already
had the complete line up on his mind
and so Michael started to give every-
body a call and as you can see, every-
body jumped on board and here we
are... Phantom 5.
Q: The band has been labelled as a
“Supergroup”, but in today’s music
climate I think a rock band is a rock
band, no matter who’s involved (we
won’t mention Axl!) What are your
thoughts on these labels?
A: I think that you are absolutely
right... A band is a band. In the begin-
ning we really all had some little prob-
lems with being labeled as a “super-
group” or “all star band”, because it
is always dif f icult to handle these
things, without having writ ten or
recorded a single note. But later in the
writing process we just put all these
labeling thoughts aside and only con-
centrated on what we can do best. And
we said... Let the people decide if they
like our stuff. We didn’t want to put too
much pressure on us and Phantom 5.
What we tried to do, was not the
attempt to reinvent melodic hard rock,
we only did what everybody in
Phantom 5 is best in.
Q: When putting a band like this
together, did you already have in
mind who to approach to see the
vision become a reality?
A: What we wanted to do was creating
a fine little piece of melodic rock, cre-
ated almost 30 years after the golden
age of melodic rock back in the 80-ies.
We knew that the fans of that kinda
music are still alive and that they are
out there... Waiting for something and
that they did not change their musical
taste into Lady Gaga stuff, Rap or
HipHop. So we just went for it.
Q: Who is involved in the writing
process? Is there one main writer or
does every band member have some
A: Well I think everybody has given
some input to the songs, but mainly
they were written by Robby, Michael
and me. I also have to add that Robby
Boebel is a fantastic and awesome riff-
master. He is so talented in writing
really strong and powerful guitar riffs
and it was very inspiring to work with
him and Michael, who brought the best
out of me.
Q: Did you have a vision for the
sound of the album, or did it just
evolve along the way into the Hard
Rock monster it is?
A: In the case of Phantom 5 it was
astonishing, that the vision came along
so easily. Everything came so natural-
ly, just like it was only waiting for us
to be written and get recorded. The
chemistry, especially between Michael
and me, was just fantastic. What we
really tried to achieve was mainly to
capture the moment and ban it on
tape... and the more we worked on the
whole thing, the clearer the vision
Q: Are there any songs on the album
that you’re particulary proud of, if
so which and why? (I particularly
like ‘They Won’t Come Back’).
A: It’s kinda hard to point out a partic-
ulary song, but you might be right in
naming “They Won’t Come Back”. For
us i t is a l i t t le “THANK YOU“,
adressed to these fantastic and unique
artists, which are not among us any-
more. They have given us so much of
themselves and for that reason they
will always be alive in our hearts and
souls. Of course there are many of
them we have not mentioned in this
song, but I am sure they will know and
Q: When the world pushed Rock
music to the sidelines in the 90’s, the
German Rock and Metal scene con-
tinued to thrive. What is it about the
German scene that never seemed to
A: Well, this might be true, when we
especially are talking about this
socalled Teutonic Metal. Rock music
has become a very global thing nowa-
days. The history of german rockers
isn’t actually that long. The rock scene
was always dominated by american
and british bands. Back in the 70-ies
German Rock music was called „Kraut
Rock“, maybe because the Germans
were not able to do it better, but since
the Scorpions appeared on Germany’s
Rock scene at that time, everything
changed and „Germans learned to
rock“ and showed and prooved it to the
world. The Scorpions did a lot for the
credibil i ty of german rock bands.
Thanks to you guys! When the 90-ies
came up with that Grunge thing, a lot
of bands dissappeared or better say...
had to dissappear, but the german rock
fans kept their hunger for their music
and their belief in their heroes, no
matter what the industry tried to sell
them. Maybe this might be a reason for
it. But basicly I must say that rock fans
are the same all over the world... They
are true and stay with their heroes....
Thank you Rockers!!!
Q: Do you see Phantom 5 taking to
the road to promote the album? If
yes, are there any shows in the
A: To be honest, there are no plans
right now to go on the road, but let’s
wait and see, what the future will
bring. We are still a “Newcomer band”
with a little musical background and
experience. . . We are very suprised
about the overwhelming positive reac-
tions concerning our album. It is very
exciting to watch what is going on with
Phantom 5 and we really like the feel-
ing that a lot of people seem to like the
songs we wrote. We did not write the
songs only for ourselves, but primarily
for the people out there, who are into
melodic rock... and to say it with the
words of Serafino: “THE BEST IS YET
MRF | 21
Question: The new album sounds great
with many touting it as you’re best yet.
What do you think?
Answer: We think its our best yet as well.
With each album we don’t even book the
studio until we have an albums worth of
songs that we believe are the best yet. That
is why we write so many songs. We have a
high level of quality control and we are
very harsh critics of our own work.
Q: It’s the most diverse of your albums
so far. Was that deliberate?
A: It’s what comes naturally to us. We love
rock music but we also love music in gener-
al. So when we hear a cool movie sound-
track that can also inspire us. We are still
very much a band that will try to do things
a little different but that is out of respect
for a genre of music that was soooo good
back in the 80’s and 90’s. There is now way
anyone can replicate that, not even the
bands that are from that era. So that’s why
we try to add in different styles and
flavours. We are not re-inventing the wheel
Q: Why did you plump for “Who We
Are” as the title?
A: Album titles are nearly as hard to come
up with as band names. But because we get
a lot of comments about being “different”
we just thought it was appropriate. But the
album is also very much a commentary of
the world as it is today and the world is
what we make it. Everything that happens
in life good or bad makes you who you are.
Q: Harry Hess from Harem Scarem pro-
duced the record. How did that come
about and what did he bring to the
A: He mastered Stereo Messiah and then w
hung out together in Milan last year. It was
then that we just said ”You should do our
next record” and he said he would love to.
It was that simple.
Q: Was working at Monnow Valley
Studios in Wales, where so many leg-
endary acts have recorded, inspiring?
A: It was. We loved it there. We suffered
alittle cabin fever at the end after 3 weeks
of boing locked in but it was amazing.
Queen, Black Sabbath, Stereophonics, Ozzy
etc etc and now VEGA haha. But we were
very focused when we were there. Harry
worked with us on each song before we hit
record. Just stood around the piano fine
tuning the arrangements. Little things like
that were all the difference. It’s not you and
Every little monster both became better
songs for that hour around the piano when
it came to there turn.
Q: The record’s got a cool caricature
cover, that suggests you don’t take your-
selves too seriously.
A: Exactly. I think some people have the
wrong idea about us but that’s fine. We
also wanted a cover that would gain some
attention. In this day and age people don’t
even have the covers because they have it
on digital download. So for all the people
who hate it and feel the need to tell the
world of social media about it, thank you.
That is the main reason for doing it! Haha.
Music is meant to be fun anyway, so sod it.
It’s what’s on the cd that matters isn’t it?
Q: You’re a great live band. The tour
with Magnum should see you connecting
with new fans.
A: Thank you. Yeah we can’t wait to get out
there with new music. The biggest problem
now is how to choose 9 or 10 songs tp play
out of the 4 albums!! I think we have a good
mix of old and new though. But the geat
thing about the Magnum shows is that for
most of their audience we will be playing
them 9 or 10 songs that are ALL new to
them and that’s great. New blood! haha
Q: Have any of you got any projects out-
side of Vega in the pipeline?
A: No. We always said that VEGA is the
only band we will be in. Maybe down the
road we will, but we want to focus on
VEGA. Does the rock world need another
project? There are some bands out there
that could do an all day festival on their
own because they are in that many other
Band: Vega Interview with: Nick Workman Interview by: Duncan Jamieson
22 | MRF