W.E.T. - Earthrage
New music from W.E.T. comes along all too rarely. Earthrage is just the third album from the Swedish-American trio in a decade, and it’s five years since the release of previous album Rise Up.
Some serious excitement greets the arrival of Earthrage, and luckily it’s deserved. Perhaps due to the involvement of singer Jeff Scott Soto, who apart from a brief spell with Journey has a background in heavier music (he currently fronts the prog-metal supergroup Sons Of Apollo), W.E.T. are several notches weightier than the Scandi-AOR of keyboard player Robert Säll’s main group Work Of Art, while multi-instrumentalist Erik Mårtensson of Eclipse has never been shy of admitting his love of 1987-era Whitesnake.
Watch The Fire kicks things off in magnificent fashion, and Kings On Thunder Road, Urgent and The Burning Pain Of Love are hook-laden and rarely less than triumphant, cementing the band’s position as saviours of a beleaguered yet stubborn genre. While their rivals H.e.a.t refuse to stand still, W.E.T. take the risk-free route and reap the rewards.
Earthrage is F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C. (9⁄10)
BulletBoys - From Out Of The Skies
Three years ago, BulletBoys singer Marq Torien poured scorn on hair-metal bands that simply “regurgitate their past”. This ninth BulletBoys album further distances Torien from his identikit rivals. While some of its tracks validate such talk, others – notably the pop-punk of D-Evil (featuring Jesse Hughes from Eagles Of Death Metal) – are plain risible. (5⁄10)
Signal Red - Under The Radar
Bringing together the talents of vocalist Lee Small (Phenomena, Shy, Skyscraper and most recently Lionheart) and current Ten member Steve Grocott, Signal Red’s style of rock is powerful and fiery yet well-grounded in a melodic sense. Grocott excels on guitar and keyboards, while the album reminds us why Small is one of Britain’s most underrated singers. (7⁄10)
P.A.L. - Prime
Sweden once again hits the bullseye as Peo Pettersson (the ‘P’ in P.A.L.), Peter Andersson (‘A’, obviously) and Roger Ljunggren (you’re right, he’s the ‘L’) return to the 1980s with Prime, an album crystalline, pure AOR. Hiding Away From Love, Wildfire and One Step Away offer nothing remotely new, although their sense of celebration is both unmistakable and irresistible. (6⁄10)
No Hot Ashes - No Hot Ashes
With this self-titled new album, No Hot Ashes are releasing their debut some 34 years after the band formed. How come? It’s a long story. But Eamon Nancarrow has an agreeable voice, their take on traditional hard rock themes is colourful and warm, and strong production from FM’s Merv Goldsworthy and Pete Jupp deposits the metaphorical cherry on a rather fine cake. (8⁄10)