NEWMAN - The Elegance Machine

AOR Heaven 2015

"The Elegance Machine" is exactly the stuff AOR/Melodic-freaks are waiting for. You've got plenty of brilliant melodies, mighty keyboards all over the place and songs which are nothing but right on the spot. The tenth album by now kicks off with "The Suit (Skyscrapers)", an epic sounding track with lots of groove dealing with greed in modern economy. Despite all types of arrangements and sounds crucial to the melodic genre, also the following material mostly deals with serious topics like human space exploration ("Prayer For Apollo"), dealing with and overcoming loss ("Scars") or even domestic violence ("She Walks In Silence"). You won't find the love, sex and drugs cliches in Steve Newman's lyrics. Musically, most of the material is definitely classic Aor/Melodic Rock, nevertheless here and there Mr. Newman proves to be able to incorporate slices of contemporary sounds without betraying the genre lovers ("Halo" or "The Elegance Machine"). NEWMAN delivers!



Pentagram - Curious Volume

Peaceville Records 2015

Virginia’s Pentagram need no introduction; existing from the 1970s through today. Vocalist Bobby Liebling’s life was recently chronicled with the documentary Last Daze Here and from that you can see how much of a stabilizing force Pentagram have on him as a whole. Add longtime guitarist Victor Griffin to the mix and you can just about see where the core sound of this band comes from. Curious Volume continues the path tread by the band on their previous effort. Bounding out of the gate with two burners including the blue riff-centric “The Tempter Push,” Griffin’s stellar axemanship is on constant display. While not the heaviest riffs he has ever written like “Pentagram (Sign of the Wolf)” or “Ask No More” for example, the riffs here serve the purpose of pushing along a classic sounding Pentagram jam down your throat. “Dead Bury Dead” is another fine example of great songwriting for the band as the band keeps the pace light and the riffs wonderfully heavy.

What seems to be noticeable is that Liebling isn’t quite as stellar of a vocalist as he had in the past, but this newer material seems to have been paced to accommodate his more recent attributes. That is a testament to Griffin’s riffs that can either plod or fire out of the gate; he’s the real star of the show with Curious Volume. “Misunderstood” is the other side of the spectrum as it is a bit more speedy; though this seems to support the feeling that Liebling may have lost something.

Fans of Pentagram will not be disappointed with Curious Volume.Their ninth album is a solid entry for the band in 2015. For fans looking for some modern doom; this is a well done album, especially on the guitar front as Griffin can riff along with the best. However, this is not vintage Bobby Lielbing. One thing is for sure; Pentagram are making new music for a new generation and that in total can only be a good thing.

Tom Campagna


BLACK MAJESTY - Cross Of Thorns

Pride & Joy Music
Release date:September 4th, 2015

Power Metal from Down Under. Australian BLACK MAJESTY are back after a short break and deliver. Anthem-like, melodic songs presented by extraordinaire singer John Cavaliere, that's the deal here. The GARY MOORE cover "Out In The Fields" is well crafted but because of the strong material not really necessary. Sometimes very QUEENSRYCHE, at times JUDAS PRIEST or early HELLOWEEN when it comes to doublebass-attacks, BLACK MAJESTY pretty well know what quality is, but definitely have their distinct sound.



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