Melodic Rock Round-up: June 2016

Dave Ling on the latest releases from The Defiants, AOR, Human Zoo, Chris Ousey and Tainted Nation

The Defiants band photograph

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The Defiants: The Defiants

Mixed emotions flew in 2004 when Paul Laine ended an almost decade-long spell as frontman of Danger Danger. Though fans were delighted by the return of original singer Ted Poley, the courtroom saga surrounding the East Coast act’s Cockroach album had cast a long, exhausting and potentially virulent shadow. Nevertheless, buddy status was regained, the singer guesting with his former colleagues during Firefest 2008.

Reuniting Laine with co-founding bassist/producer Bruno Ravel and Rob Marcello, The Defiants represent a tangible cementing of that friendship. Filled to bursting point with full-throttle riffs, dancing keys and surging, anthemic choruses, the trio’s manifesto of turning back the clock to the 80s has been well and truly achieved here. Though nothing is bawdy enough to upstage golden oldie Slipped Her The Big One, When The Lights Go Down and Lil’ Miss Rock ‘N’ Roll provide the inevitable locker-room-friendly quota, but the quality of Waiting On A Heartbreak, Underneath The Stars and the more-Jovi-than-Jovi Take Me Back is what really strikes home. Buy, play and repeat. (910)

AOR: LA Darkness

LA Darkness is Frédéric Slama’s fifteenth record under the banner of AOR. The blueprint of West Coast soft rock coloured by multiple guest contributors is long established, and Slama is just so bloody good at what he does. There’s no disrespect intended, but surely I ain’t alone in wondering just how he’d perform under his own steam? (710)

Human Zoo: My Own God

After five years away this six-piece group from Balingen, Germany, has surely made one of the best melodic rock releases of 2016 so far. Co-produced by Claus Lessmann of heavy metallers Bonfire fame, this their fourth album is just so darned fresh, exciting and full of joie de vivre that it easily could pass for vintage-era Gotthard. Not to be missed. (910)

Chris Ousey: Dream Machine

Currently the voice of Snakecharmer, Ousey remains among this country’s most underrated singers despite creditable exploits with Monroe, Virginia Wolf, Heartland and The Distance. His smoky delivery remains exemplary on Dream Machine, a wonderful slice of mid-Atlantic-style melodic hard rock that was penned mostly with the ubiquitous Tommy Denander. (810)

Tainted Nation: On The Outside

The Brit-Scandi modern rockers return with a second collection of stomping, fist-waving bruisers. Channelling the frustration of everyday existence, Fight and Defiance deserve their aggressive titles but along with guest spots from Issa Overseen and members of Vega and HammerFall, an inherent commerciality cloaks and sweetens Tainted Nation’s core metallic ingredients. (710)

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.