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Melodic Rock Round-up: August 2014

Dave Ling on new releases from Seven, Perfect View, Seven Hard Years, AOR and Acacia Avenue

Seven: 7

This wholesome-looking bunch might have opened for Jason Donovan, Brother Beyond and Richard Marx back in the 1990s, but reunited after two decades they have somehow crafted one of the year’s most satisfying melodic hard rock releases. Seven’s story is unusual. Signed to Polydor after the MD’s wife saw them opening for Brother Beyond (yes, really), the band cut two John Parr produced singles before being dropped, despite both having just reached the Top 100. The AOR scene loves an unlikely reunion almost as much as it is fascinated by the special guests its creators can attract. 7 is an all-new set of songs that will be appreciated by fans of Dare, Magnum, FM and Foreigner. Producer Lars Chriss perfectly balances swathes of keys (performed by band member Simon Lefevre with Mark Mangold, Adam Wakeman and FM mini-legend Didge Digital) with robust guitar parts, and the band have delivered the goods song-wise, with special praise directed towards Shoot To Kill, Headlines and the gorgeous ballad Diana. (810)

Perfect View: Red Moon Rising

Rallied by the helium-tonsilled vocal stylings of Max Ordine, there’s no mistaking the fact that these Italians were weaned on the sounds of classic-era Journey, Winger, Dokken and Toto – whose Home of The Brave they cover thoroughly and with some love. It’s pretty evident that Perfect View cannot reinvent the wheel, although they make a pretty good fist of spinning it enthusiastically. (710)

Seven Hard Years: No Place In Heaven

This, the return of former shy drummer Alan Kelly, is a glorious and many splendoured affair. Kelly is joined in Seven Hard Years by a pair of rock solid guitarists, Dave Martin and Martin Walls (Marshall Law and After Hours, respectively) and a tremendous singer in the form of line of Fire’s Shawn Pelata, for a sumptuous banquet of pure-AOR that just keeps on giving, and then gives some more. (810)

AOR: LA Connection

This being the fourth album in three years from AOR (the band), it’s easy to accuse Frédéric Slama of perhaps spreading himself too thinly. But the prodigious Frenchman is back with yet another gaggle of his medium-profile musical friends (Paul Sabu, Jeff Paris, Sherwood Ball, Tommy Denander and Chicago’s Bill Champlin) and makes it all look so goddamned simple. (710)

Acacia Avenue: Cold

Ostensibly devised as a vehicle for the nimble-fingered Danish guitar wizard Torben Enevoldsen (most notably a member of Fate), the second album from Acacia Avenue offers clear, crisp, melodic rock, voiced by yet more guest frontmen, including Steve Newman, Rob Moratti (Saga/Final Frontier) and Grand Illusion’s Peter Sundell. It also features some rather great tunes. (710)