Friday, October 21, 2016

Turbo Shokk-Get Radical

Edgewood Arsenal Records
I don't know about anyone else, but sometimes I wonder where we would be at had grunge not come along and killed hair metal? What if instead of album's like "Nevermind" (Nirvana) and "Badmotorfinger" (Soundgarden) being the gloomy voice of a new generation it was G N' R's "Use Your Illusion" I and II? Would that have made the nineties hard rock scene a bit more optimistic? How about all of the years that followed? Could you even imagine a possible timeline where (post-2000) heavy metal wasn't so goddamn serious 24/7? For sure it's a weird thing to wrap your head around, but had such an event taken place I can't help but feel that albums like "Get Radical" would be more the norm and less of an oddity. As usual though I'm getting w-a-y too far ahead of myself so let's hit the rewind button and do a proper introduction. Ladies and gentlemen let's give a big round of applause for heavy metal's new saviors, Turbo Shokk. Under the guise of such aliases as Stack Manley (vox), Razor O’Shea (guitars and bass), and Michael Arcane (drums), Turbo Shokk is a (purposely vague) trio whose rock and roll-infused sound pays homage to the heroes of  hard rock and hair metal. Or at least the one's who ruled the radio back in the late eighties/early nineties. Sent my way by the fine folks at Dewar PR, "Get Radical" is what happens when you give proper studio time to a bunch of fun-loving musicians who just so happen to dig classic bands like Van Halen, Dokken, Guns N' Roses, Bon Jovi, White Lion, Poison, and Great White. Add in some (dynamite!) lead solos from guitar prodigy Hedras Ramos and this album goes from good to great quicker than you can yell "Let's get this party started!". More or less a side-project for it's disguised players, Turbo Shokk doesn't get hung up on politics and they aren't here to preach. When it comes to the aptly-titled "Get Radical" it's all about getting lose and letting go of your inhibitions. If ever there was a time for that kind of message it's right here and right now! Due to drop in early December, "Get Radical" is sure to please it's targeted audience considering just how much damn fun it is! What's it's targeted audience you might be asking?  Well, it's anyone with a pulse that's who!!!

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Pretty Maids-Kingmaker

Frontiers Music s.r.l.

Pretty Maids is a (critically-acclaimed) Danish hard rock/melodic heavy metal band that hails from Horsens and was first formed in 1981. Run by longtime songwriting partners Ronnie Atkins (vocals) and Ken Hammer (guitars), Pretty Maids actually started out life as a cover band that (reportedly) played mostly Thin Lizzy songs before making the natural transition over to all original material. Having first made a name for itself with the release of the classic 1984 album "Red, Hot and Heavy", Denmark's Pretty Maids has slowly, but surely built up a nice catalog for itself over the years. In the process this veteran group has seen more than it's fair share of line-up changes and they have witnessed trends come and go. They've also logged a lot of miles under their wheels. Now in it's mid-thirties, Pretty Maids is at that point in their career where they could be forgiven for slowing down a bit. After awhile a lot veteran hard rock bands have this tendency to start phoning in new albums. Staying fresh and relevant came be extremely difficult for anyone...let alone a band that was right there during heavy metal's heyday! Thankfully that's not the case when it comes to Pretty Maids' new album. Actually it's about as far from being the case as one could get when it comes to this Danish hard rock band's 14th studio album. That's right, "Kingmaker" is album number 14(!) for vocalist Ronnie Atkins and guitarist Ken Hammer! Obviously this Danish group has come a very long-way since their humble beginnings as a cover band, but who in their right mind could have predicted that they would sound this good some 32 years after their "Red, Hot and Heavy" debut? Exquisitely produced by the one and only Jacob Hansen(!), the forthcoming "Kingmaker" features some of the strongest material of all time from the pair of Atkins and Hammer! Serving as the group's first recording of all new material since 2013's praise-worthy "Motherland", "Kingmaker" finds these talented songwriters/musicians joined by two great musicians in their own right, bass guitarist René Shades (Shades & Peters, ex-!pride!, ex-Sateria, ex-Vegas Vampire) and drummer Allan Tschicaja (Missing Tide, Jane Doe, ex-Royal Hunt (live shows only), ex-Furious Trauma). The end result is a (must-own) album that is chock full of instant classics and all new Pretty Maids' favorites! One song that fits into both categories for me is "When God Took A Day Off". As the album's furious opening track this (heavy rockin'!) song set's the pace for "Kingmaker" and shows just how great it can be when you have a winning combination of strong lyrics and absolutely stellar music. Easily worth the price of admission on it's own, "When God Took A Day Off" is followed by the equally satisfying (and similarly heavy) title track and, in all honesty here friends, it took less than a minute of that song ("Kingmaker") to realize just how special this album was going be! By the album's third track ("Face The World") I was completely hooked, but just in case there was any question as to the overall strength of the "Kingmaker" I kept my ears firmly glued to the speaker and waited for any potential flukes and/or fillers. In-between the hard rock of "Humanize Me" and the heavy metal of "Bull's Eye" there is the timeless ballad  "Last Beauty On Earth" and not one of those three songs failed to bring a smile to my face. Six songs in and "Kingmaker" had  proved my suspicions right. When you get right down to it, "Kingmaker" is Pretty Maids at their absolute best! Whether it's the melodic notes of  "Heavens Little Devil", the AOR-leaning "Civilized Monsters", or the the monster rock of "Sickening" there is not a single miss on "Kingmaker". It's just one good track after another up to and including "Was That What You Wanted". CD-wise the group's new album ends with that cool number. Meanwhile digital copies of "Kingmaker" will supposedly sport an extended version of the killer track. As for what version one should get? Well, that's a tough one, but here's the key thing to remember. Whichever version you opt to spring for you're still getting a Grade A recording from one band that just seems to get better with age. Every song on "Kingmaker" sounds great and so do the musicians involved with this praise-worthy release. At the end of the day not only is this album a must-have for Pretty Maids fans, but anyone that loves (Top of the shelf!) hard rock/melodic heavy metal.

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