1 CATS IN SPACE Scarecrow
Their debut was pretty damn fine, so high expectations and they delivered! A marvellous mix of 70s’ rock, pomp, pop and more melodies than you can shake a stick at.
2 THRESHOLD Legends of the Shires
Returning vocalist Glynn Morgan helps the band to make one of the finest albums to date. A real return to form.
3 LONELY ROBOT The Big Dream
Part two of the trilogy and another fine set of musical adventures. No name guests this time as John Mitchell does it all bar the drums and some backing vocals.
4 BOULEVARD IV
Finally we get a new album from Boulevard. Fantastic tunes and production, deserves a place in every melodic rock/AOR fans collection.
5 THE YOUNG ‘UNS Strangers
Folk acapella from this talented three piece. Each song is based on a true story and the songs are all positive and uplifting.
6 STEVE WALSH Black Butterfly former Kansas vocalist returns with an album chock full of melodic rock treats.
7 SONS OF APOLLO supergroup featuring Jeff Scott Soto, Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinan and Billy Sheenhan. Fantastic joining of music talents and the music lives up to expectations.
8 LIONHEART only 20 odd years since their last album…with Lee Small (Shy/Phenomena) on vocals, Lionheart deserve a place in any melodic rock fans collection.
9 IT Home thought provoking and timely progressive rock backed by oodles of melody.
10= H.E.A.T. Into The Great Unknown they have changed their sound a bit which may upset some fans, but for me they are heading onwards and upwards.
10= PUGWASH Silverlake the power pop album of the year. If you like ELO, Duckworth Lewis grab a copy of this.
10= BARENAKED LADIES Fake Nudes another set of memorable melodies and lyrics that don’t always take themselves too seriously…
HAREM SCAREM United they keep on churning out classy melodic hard rock and long may that continue.
THE BITERS plenty of retro on this one, with the T Rex sounding songs
JEFF SCOTT SOTO Retribution not as instant but stick with it
BIGFOOT one of the debuts of the year. Modern hard rock and the singer doesn’t half sound like Tyketto’s Danny Vaughn at times!
THE NIGHTS more classy Scandi melodic rock with hook filled choruses big enough to land a whale.
THE NEW ROSES One More For The Road good time hard rock, no frills and plenty of riffs.
NIGHT RANGER Don’t Let Up they show no sign of letting up quality wise, another ‘must have’ for fans.
DANKO JONES Wild Cat if you like 70’s rock, Thin Lizzy and foot tapping tunes look no further.
THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA Amber Galactic like Brother Firetribe their ‘day bands’ are heavy yet here they show their love of 80’s melodic rock and AOR.
Fellow GRTR! reviewers choices can be found here
INTRODUCING… SONS OF APOLLO FEATURING EX-MEMBERS OF DREAM THEATER, GUNS N’ ROSES AND JOURNEY DEBUT ALBUM, ‘PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY,’ DUE OUT 20th October ON INSIDEOUTMUSIC/SONY MUSIC
APOLLO: The ancient Greek and Roman God of music and poetry.
SONS OF APOLLO: The new supergroup featuring members of Dream Theater, Mr. Big, Guns ‘N Roses, and Journey.
For the past few months, rumours have been circulating about a new secret project including former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian. Now, the time has come to make the grand and highly anticipated introduction to their new band, SONS OF APOLLO.
Reuniting to form SONS OF APOLLO, Portnoy and Sherinian have joined forces with Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force). Their debut album, PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY, will be released 20th October on InsideOutMusic/Sony Music. An album teaser can be seen on InsideOutMusic’s YouTube page here:
PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY was produced by the dynamic production duo of Portnoy and Sherinian, also affectionately known as “The Del Fuvio Brothers,” which is the nickname given to them over 20 years ago during their time together in Dream Theater.
SONS OF APOLLO got together very organically, as Portnoy explains: “Derek and I reunited shortly after I left Dream Theater in 2010 and we put together an all-instrumental touring band with he and I, Billy Sheehan, and Tony MacAlpine. That was my first time working with Derek since the ‘90s when he was in Dream Theater and it was just great to be working with him again. Ever since that tour, which was really just a one-off live thing, he has been nudging me to start a real, original, full-time band. The timing just had never been right, because I had too many other things on my plate. Long story short, the time was finally right to take the bait and put together a band.”
“Mike and I work at a relentless pace in the studio,” continues Sherinian. “The music is modern, but we have an old school soul. What is unique about SONS OF APOLLO is that we have true rock n’ roll swagger along with the virtuosity– a lethal combination!”
But what to call the next great supergroup? “Derek was mainly the one behind the name,” says Portnoy. “I have a list that I keep on my phone of about a hundred different band names, which I constantly have to refer to every time I have a new band every year (laughs). So, I pulled up the list and Apollo was one of the names on the list. It was a word that both of us really liked. We started fiddling with different variations of the word. One of the original band names we were working with was Apollo Creed, the character from the ‘Rocky’ movies, but after lots of different discussions on different variations, Derek suggested SONS OF APOLLO and it seemed to stick. Apollo is the God of Music so with that in mind it seemed like a fitting name.”
Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinian and Billy Sheehan previously toured together in 2012 and 2013 as PSMS (along with guitarist Tony MacAlpine), playing all instrumental versions from each of their previously recorded music. SONS OF APOLLO is the next logical progression by adding a vocalist and creating all-original material. The band incorporates the progressive style and individual technical prowess that Portnoy & Sherinian shared together in Dream Theater combined with the swagger and groove of Van Halen, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.
“I have known Mike and Derek for a long time, so when they came to me with Sons of Apollo, I jumped on this straight away,” says Thomas Waber, Label Manager/A&R International of InsideOutMusic. “However, the album they ended up recording exceeded my already high expectations by a long mile! We couldn’t be happier about it!”
SONS OF APOLLO will hit the road in 2018 for their first worldwide tour.
“This is a real band,” Portnoy declares. “This is going to pick up for me and Billy where The Winery Dogs left off, in terms of this being the next logical full-time thing for us. I’m not saying The Winery Dogs have broken up, because we haven’t, we’re just on a break. SONS OF APOLLO is absolutely going to be a full-time band and we plan on touring all over the world all throughout 2018 and, honestly, it is the priority for all five of us.”
Sherinian agrees, “We will go on a worldwide crusade in 2018 to bring SONS OF APOLLO to as many people as possible. Apollo was the God of Music, and we are his mighty offspring!”
SONS OF APOLLO online:
Bob Kulick has a new solo album ‘Skeletons in the Closet’ due later this year. It includes guests Dee Snider, Vinnie Appice and more. This phone interview was done back in early 2011…
Bob Kulick has worked with Meat Loaf, Kiss, Balance, Skull and many more besides, along with a serious of popular tribute albums. The latest of these is a reworking of songs associated with Frank Sinatra. The album entitled ‘Sin-Atra’ features a whole host of top draw rock and metal vocalists including Geoff Tate, Dee Snider, Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna, Mr Big’s Eric Martin and Devin Townsend who does a show stealing version of ‘New York New York’.
How did you come up with the ides of this tribute?
It came about after the Christmas album where we took all those great Christmas songs and turned them into something totally different where people had never heard them that way before. Lemmy, Dave Grohl and Billy Gibbons doing ‘Run Rudolph Run’ and the great Ronnie Dio, may he rest in peace, doing ‘God Rest Yee Merry Gentlemen’ with Vinnie Appice and Rudy Sarzo. We took that kind of formula as a way to take on of these Frank Sinatra songs and turn it into something it was never conceived for without reinventing it.
This is a rearrangement in a rock and metal way of some of the greatest songs ever written, rivalling even some of the Beatles songs.
Who came up with the idea of using Devin Townsend on ‘New York New York’? That is a stroke of genius an excellent version.
It was one of the last songs we recorded where we realised that unless we had the perfect singer, as it is the most famous Frank Sinatra song, it wouldn’t sound right. After listening top some of his albums hat’s when we realised Devin would be prefect for this song. He was one of the artists who couldn’t come to the studio, most of the artists could. We had to trust he knew what to do as we supplied the track and backing, he did all of the vocal arrangements. I remember the look on our faces when we got it back, one of the happiest moments as the guy totally made it his. That was the big lesson from this record, in that Frank Sinatra never wrote any of these songs, not a lick, not a melody. But what he did do was make those his and made it his, so you believed every lyric he sang. Devin Townsend did this on this version and you can see online Devin Townsend kicks Frank Sinatra’s ass all over ‘New York New York’.
Do you have an idea in your head who you want to sing a particular song? Or do you see who is available or do people come to you?
All of the above but mainly we try to concoct what the style of the song we want and make a list of who we want to sing it. We came up with the ‘Summer Wind’ arrangement we thought Geoff Tate, here was somebody who could totally song this tune and be recognisable from the beginning and to be hold those notes. We sent it too him, he usually likes to think about things and take his time responding but he came back to me straight away saying ‘That is an insane arrangement, I have to sing that song.’
I wanted to see people who were excited to put their stamp on these songs as we were. To do the Frankenstein job and make them into something new. I love it, I would put a track on and people would say what the heck is that? It’s ‘Fly Me To The Moon’!
Funny you should mention that track. I am a big Cheap Trick fan and you wouldn’t know it was Robin Zander, as his vocal style is very different.
We kind of pushed him. We had a good weapon between Devin Townsend and Glenn Hughes. Whenever there was an issue with a couple of guys who sang good but we played there songs and they’d realise good is not even close enough. We’d say to them you haven’t made the song yours yet. Once they heard that they really went out and sang their balls off!
I remember seeing Glenn Hughes at Wendy Dio’s New Year’s Eve party and him saying to me ‘So I hear you terrorised everybody with my vocal I hear’. (Laughs) All the guys called him up saying we heard what you did with ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ we had to go and change our performance.
’Witchcraft’ with Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens is the most metal song and you wouldn’t even know it was a song sung previously by Sinatra.
That was a song was not on the original list as you couldn’t say it was one of his biggest hits but the lyric meant it was a song to be hammered. We finally figured out Ripper Owens was the one to do the hammering! To me that track really came out amazing – the huge powerchords, the way the orchestration sits in there. One of my favourite pieces and one of my favourite singers.
The one song rock fans may know if they don’t know Sinatra is ‘That’s Life’, made famous by Dave Lee Roth. How hard was it for Jani laine to cover this one as many rock fans may thinks it’s a Dave Lee Roth song.
Jani had come to the studio and had done things with us previously. He’s a tremendously talented guy, given a bad rap by being in a band that really is not as good as he is. I love them all but Jani Laine is extremely talented. At the time he was having a bunch of personal problems and asked specifically if he could sing that song. It was perfect as we wanted him. If someone’s life was in turmoil they would really bring themselves into the song like Frank did and that was the goal.
Ripper he totally did, Glenn Hughes, a couple of the other guys needed prodding. I had to get the cattle prod out a couple of times but the end results your hearing are worth it. I have seen online comments saying Frank must be spinning in his grave but I didn’t see that, I saw Cole Porter and other great songwriters standing their like the apparitions at the end of ‘Star Wars’- Yoda, Darth Vader – watching the celebration that was what we saw. We know Frank hated rock music stylistically.
The label were like ‘what?’ when we pitched this album. But we said its not going to be cookie monsters but guys that can sing. They were happy to here that.
Who would you like to do next? You’ve done Queen, Shania Twain, Cher, Kiss and more already.
We had a little cottage industry going doing these, all with great singers. Its about the playing and the experience. Dave Grohl had great fun in the studio with Lemmy.
Dee Snider enjoyed this and realised he could sing these songs. So he joined the Broadway show ‘Rock Of Ages’ and now we are right in the middle of ‘Dee Does Broadway’, where Dee does all these Broadway classics. Hammering these songs in a way they have never been done before. So ‘Sweeny Todd’ sounds like Ozzy Osbourne. We are having a blast with this.
I am kinda thinking the tribute thing could be winding down and we’ll do things focussed on one artist like Dee. We are doing a song with Ripper Owens where we are co-writing some songs.
The Sinatra record took a year to do. We took it very seriously and there were some people who didn’t end up on the record. If somebody couldn’t make it theirs we didn’t use it.
What was it like doing the Balance album after so many years away?
It was kinda a tooth extraction as we didn’t really want to do it but the label boss at Frontiers was a big fan and really wanted us to do it. When I was finally able to talk to Peppy (Castro vocalist) and Doug (Katsaros keyboards) we had some songs we had from back in the day. We used these rather that write modern songs which wouldn’t sound like the band. There are three or four things on there that are exceptionally good. It was difficult as back in the day it was very compartmentalised and now I want to be involved in all aspects, I don’t want to stand on anyone’s toes. Back then I was maybe less well known but now I am more known than the other guys as I have been out there more. The reviews and response on Facebook made it worth it. That’s what I like that my work is appreciated and I can give someone that joy through the music.
The really great news was that it reunited me and Doug. He worked on the Sin-Atra album and the Dee Snider album we are doing now. We will taking Dee Snider and the songs on the road with a big theatrical show. His is one of the top three songs on the album.
Eric Martin was another good one. He had to sing it a couple of times to get it there but now it sounds like ‘wow’ he made it his own. I am really glad where people are interested like the papers including the ‘New York Post’. It was unique enough to tweak their interest. I have seen some good comments coming through.
How did the Blackthorne album with Graham Bonnet come about?
I try to keep moving forwards, not looking backwards. That was a band that should have done better than it did. Unfortunately we were a little late in the game. Graham was another case of being dragged screaming and I had to dish it out to get it done. Again on that record there are three or four songs that are great on that record.
What was it like working with Meat Loaf?
Eagle put out a 1978 gig. There are some parts where you go ‘woah’ but you watch it and look back and think what a really great band. I could look at myself and think I was in tune and played my ass off. I was impressed with myself. Meat Loaf was always great vocally.
What made you want to pick up guitar in the first place?
Initially it was like I never played any instruments that were offered to me as a child. It was like ‘Want to play the piano? ‘ ‘No’. Then I played guitar after hearing family members play folk songs at family gatherings and then the Beatles came along. They and a New York DJ called Marty Dekay, who would play all the best music of the time. He’d do holiday shows and have ten, fifteen of the biggest artists of the time. We’d go religiously to see this, sit in the front rows and see artists sing like the Moody Blues, Peter & Gordon, the Hollies. That was my indoctrination into music. Seeing those singers fuelled my desire to be a musician, a rock star.
A message for your fans…
I would like to thank everyone for their support and digging past projects. I really hope this Sin-Atra album matching those classic songs with some of our rock idols is something they will appreciate. Keep rocking and check out our Dee Snider one up next.
I am going to keep a rolling top 10 – no more as otherwise I end up with at least a top 40! So up to June (and including Cats In Space’s ‘Scarecrow’ which I have ben luckily enough to have a promo for review) here are my top 10 albums of 2017 to date:
- CATS IN SPACE ‘Scarecrow’
- NIGHT RANGER ‘Don’t Let Up’ Frontiers
- BIG BIG TRAIN ‘Grimspound’
- NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA ‘Amber Galactic’ Nuclear Blast
- BITERS ‘The Future Ain’t What It Used To be’ Earache Records
- HAREM SCAREM ‘United’ Frontiers
- ORDEN OGEN ‘Gunmen’ AFM Records
- DON BARNES ‘Ride The Storm’ MelodicRock Records
- LONELY ROBOT ‘The Big Dream’ Inside Out
- IT ‘We’re All In This Together’ Progressive Gears Records
I have yet to hear fully the new Styx and Cheap Trick albums which based on reviews could challenge for a top 10 spot once I have listened to them.
After a six-year hiatus, Swedish heavy metal band LION’S SHARE has just released a new lyric video, “Another Desire”. This is the group’s first new release since the Dark Hours album in 2009.
“The plan was always to release more LION’S SHARE material. And even though Lars [Chriss, guitar] and I live quite far apart, we have managed to squeeze in songwriting sessions here and there throughout the years,” lead singer Nils Patrik Johansson reveals.
“I’ve been working full time as a producer/mixer for the last six years, and Patrik has released albums and toured with both Civil War and Astral Doors, so it’s not like we’ve been out of the music business, even though LION’S SHARE as a band hasn’t been very public”, Chriss adds.
Both remark that they have always worked very well together, and at this point it feels the most natural to keep LION’S SHARE as a duo, with friends helping out wherever needed.
Well over 20 new LION’S SHARE songs are more or less written. About half of them are partly recorded as well, with original member Andy Loos handling the bass duties on the first batch of tracks. The plan is to release a couple of lyric videos – one by one – a couple of months apart, and to take it from there, depending on the response from fans.
The official lyric video for “Another Desire” can be seen below.
THRESHOLD have released the first official picture of their new line-up featuring returning vocalist Glynn Morgan.
The band are currently at Thin Ice Studios in England putting the finishing touches on their new concept album ‘Legends Of The Shires’. The record is due for release through Nuclear Blast later this year and it will be the band’s first ever double album.
Karl Groom commented: “The music just would not stop flowing during the writing process. We decided that while the ideas were of a high standard, we would keep writing and are very excited by what we have.”
THRESHOLD will be back on the road across Europe at the end of the year, kicking off in Athens on November 12th and rounding off with a homecoming show in London on December 10th. Glynn Morgan will also play guitar during the shows, which will include tracks from ‘Legends Of The Shires’ as well as plenty of blasts from the past!
THRESHOLD – ‘Legends Of The Shires’ Tour 2017
12.11 GR Athens – Kyttaro Live Club
17.11 UK Pwllheli – HRH Prog
w/ DAMNATION ANGELS, DAY SIX
28.11 NL Weert – De Bosuil
29.11. D Hamburg – Markthalle
30.11. D Berlin – Lido
01.12. D Aschaffenburg – Colos-Saal
02.12. D Munich – Feierwerk
03.12. CH Pratteln – Z7
05.12. D Stuttgart – Club Cann
06.12. D Hanover – Musikzentrum
07.12. B Kortrijk – De Kreun
08.12. D Essen – Turock
09.12. NL Zoetermeer – Boerderij
10.12. UK London – O2 Islington Academy