Melodic Rock Round-up: April 2015

Dave Ling on new releases from China Sky, Eclipse, Last Autumn’s Dream, Issa and Maverick

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China Sky: China Sky II

In 1988 China Sky released a debut that AOR anoraks still cite in those lists of ‘the ones that got away’. The US trio appeared to have everything in their favour – brilliant songs, a singer to die for, sublime production from Grammy winner Karl Richardson… Amazingly, within six months the sun had set on China Sky.

Now, two-thirds of the original line-up – vocalist Ron Perry and bassist Richard Smith – are taking a second bite of the cherry. The absence of guitarist Bobby Ingram (who left to join Molly Hatchet), who they appear to blame for the break-up, is glaring. Whether reworking Dreams I’ll Never See and the hiring of a former Hatchet man, Bruce Crump, on drums, is intended to provoke Ingram only Perry and Smith will know. But the music is rarely less than spine-tingling.

Perry still hits the notes, and One Life, I Wish I Could Fly and You’ll Get Yours are belting tunes, and back in the long-lost days of rock radio the romantic schmaltz of The Richest Man In The World would’ve been a sure-fire hit.

What a shock, what a joy: China Sky are back. You’d better believe it. (910)/o:p

Eclipse: Armageddonize

Okay, the title of this record is cringeworthy. But when it comes to mixing metal, pop and melodic hard rock, Sweden’s Eclipse are simply the kiddies. Erik Mårtensson and company appeared to have outdone themselves with the Bleed & Scream album back in 2012, but Armageddonize represents a further refinement of the formula. (910)

Last Autumn’s Dream: Level Eleven

Among melodic rock’s most cruelly underrated groups, Swedish/German rockers Last Autumn’s Dream (who since their 2003 debut have 10 albums to their name prior to this aptly titled newie) should be far better known. Typified by the excellence of Follow Your Heart and Losing You, Level Eleven sees the band surviving the departure of guitarist Andy Malecek, and doing so in style. (810)

Issa: Crossfire

Special guests abound on the fourth album from Nordic singer Issa Oversveen, who is joined on the record by FM’s Steve Overland on Raintown, plus the Martin twins from Vega (including her husband James), Robert Säll, Alessandro Del Vecchio and Steve Newman. This album is not to be missed by fans of Roxette and Romeo’s Daughter. (810)

Maverick: Quid Pro Quo

The members of Maverick were raised on Winger, Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row and Van Halen, among others, but the Irishmen’s sound also displays elements of sleaze rock via the super-hummable Snake Skin Sinner (a song inspired by W.A.S.P.’s character Chainsaw Charlie), and party metal with In Our Blood and Got It Bad. Although Maverick will never win prizes for originality, their enthusiasm is pretty contagious. (610)/o:p