Hugo's Voyage-Inception   ©2023 Frontiers Records
​Hugo is definitely not new to me, but if you haven't heard anything by him through his career, now is as good of a time as any. After fronting Valentine decades ago as well as a release under the name Open Skyz, Hugo did some solo stuff as well. There are obvious comparisons mentioned in both looks and vocal sound to Journey's Steve Perry. I always appreciated the fact that Hugo was able to deliver high quality music and this new release under the name Hugo's Voyage is no exception. Songs are based in a melodic rock sound and are of the quality I always come to expect from him and his band due to a very good track record. This is an album full of potential hits. If it were the 80's when this stuff reigned supreme, this would have probably been a huge record. As it is, it's still huge to me and probably plenty of others. Do expect an excellent musical journey!
Release Date:  November 10, 2023
Hitten-While Passion Lasts    ©2023 High Roller Records 
​I had been meaning to dig into Hitten much deeper long before now. I had checked out a bit of what they do, but somehow always got sidetracked. For those unfamiliar, Hitten is a heavy rock band with a sound very reminiscent of the mid to late 80's. These guys hit everything perfect. Song structure, tone, tempo, vocals, etc are all so familiar if you dig that era of music. I was definitely feeling a heavy dose of deja vu with this record and that is a good thing. As I bounce around YouTube from time to time, I see people looking at all of the 80's stuff and mentioning how they wish they could get more of that type of stuff. This band will definitely scratch that itch. People just have to dig a little. Seek this kind of stuff out. Hitten has great songs, plenty of flash in their delivery and a heavy dose of nostalgia to go with it.  A very easy record to recommend!
Release Date:  November 24, 2023
Masterplan-Masterplan [Anniversary Edition]  ©2023 AFM Records
​Coming soon to celebrate it's 20 year release anniversary is Masterplan's self titled release. Masterplan are one of the bands from the melodic speed metal genre as I usually call it. They fit in well with bands like Helloween or Gamma Ray. This album featured the talented Jorn Lande on lead vocals. As a matter of fact, the lineup of this particular album was pretty star studded with some of the best musicians from Europe. As far as the music, most fans of the genre will be aware already, so I want to talk more about release specifics. The album has 3 bonus tracks including a cool version of Zeppelin's 'Black Dog'. It also comes with a DVD of 'Live in Gothenburg 2003'. There are also 2 limited vinyl versions. There is some time between the European and U.S. releases. According to the press release Europe should already have it and the U.S. gets released in January. 
Release Date:  January 19, 2024
Vitalines-Wheels Within Wheels   ©2023 Frontiers Records
​Excellent melodic rock release that features a collaboration of Tommy Denander and Robbie LaBlanc. I was pretty satisfied upon my first listen, but as I went back to this one with subsequent listens it just kept getting better and better. At time it reminds of a mid 80's Foreigner album, but you could also make the case for other greats from the genre like Survivor or Journey. Very melodic and the guitar work is so smooth. Some of my favorites include 'When Spirits Fight', 'Life Waits For No One', and 'Nothing But Silence'. The whole album is very good however. I would love to see more music from these guys in the future. Very confident and well written music. Also featured on the release are Neil Anami on Drums and Micke Devine on backing vocals on the track 'Love Not Fantasy'. This one may have come later in the year, but is definitely one of the years best!
Release Date: October 20, 2023
Temple Balls-Avalanche   ©2023 Frontiers Records
​Showing that the success to this point for the band has been no fluke, Finland's Temple Balls return with another burner full of all of the hard rock flash you can handle. When we took a look at the band's previous release 'Pyromide' back in 2021, we felt like this band reminded us quite a bit of Sweden's H.E.A.T. This time around we still think that. Good heavy rockers fill out this album and show the fire that this band has. They have been increasingly getting exposure and I feel when it comes to more bombastic hard rock, these guys are one of the better younger bands. I liked the production on this album as well. That was handled by Tobias Lindell who has worked with other acts like H.E.A.T., Mustasch as well as Europe. He knows how to really help the band develop this type of sound. To sum up, this is a great hard rock record. Easy recommend!
Release Date:  November 10, 2023