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Melodic Rock Round-up: June 2013

Dave Ling on new releases from Burning Rain, Laneslide, Snowfall, The Poodles and Escape

Burning Rain: Epic Obsession

Burning Rain were formed in 1998 by ex-Lion/Bad Moon Rising guitarist Doug Aldrich – later, of course, a member of Dio and currently David Coverdale’s trusted co-writing foil in Whitesnake – and ex-Montrose singer Keith St John. Back after a 13-year break and with a revised line-up completed by erstwhile Quiet Riot, Great White, House Of Lords bassist Sean McNabb and drummer Mat Starr (Ace Frehley), Epic Obsession is the US outfit’s third album. A brave cover of Zep’s Kashmir confirms Burning Rain’s commitment to classic hard rock via strong, chorus-friendly tunes. Aldrich’s guitar is a dominant feature, though St John is no mere junior partner. It all comes together best on Till You Die, a strident, riff-centric hard rocker, and the Zeppelin-friendly mood escalates with a colourful ballad called Heaven Gets Me By that allows St John full room to excel. Meanwhile, it’s easy to imagine Coverdale himself belting out Our Time Is Gonna Come. To dismiss Epic Obsession as a vanity project from a mere sideman would be a grave error – this is strong stuff. (810)

Laneslide: Flying High

A collective comprising members past and present of Hardline, Lionville, Bonfire, Marcello/Vestry, Brunorock and others, as well as Michael Bormann (Jaded Heart) and the ubiquitous Erik Mårtensson on backing vocals, Laneslide have pedigree to spare. They have the songs, too, ensuring that Flying High is a slick and irresistibly satisfying opening statement. (810)

Snowfall: Cold Silence

Though named after a feature of the group’s Swedish home, Snowfall’s classy melodic hard rock is voiced by an Englishman – Lee Small of Shy, Phenomena and Omega fame. Small still warbles like Glenn Hughes’s bastard son, but his bluesy tonsils add crucial warmth to the superior arrangements of Don’t Drive Me Home Tonight and Wolf’s Lair. (710)

The Poodles: Tour De Force

Having toned down the dodgy glam visuals with 2011’s hugely impressive Performocracy, Tour De Force represents the next maturation step for these enduring and rarely less than entertaining Swedes. Songs such as Shut Up!, Miracle and Now Is The Time confidently straddle the fine line between Velcro-sticky hard-rock songs and cheesy party metal. (810)

Escape: Borderline

Arriving just six months after their encouraging debut album, Unbreakable, Borderline represents a speedy return for the UK-based quintet, fronted by Stevie K (ex-Contagious) – but it’s possibly a little too premature. If you enjoyed the pure AOR served up last time then you’ll derive something from this, though Escape too often sound desperately generic. (510)