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Jorn - 'Bring heavy Rock To The Land' (frontiers) 5/5

OK I'll admit I'm turning into a bit of fan of Norway's finest metal hero Jorn Lande and his solo band Jorn, Maybe its his sounding uncannily like Ronnie James Dio at times, maybe its cos he pens and performs balls out old school hard rockers full of lyrics like 'raise the metal signs and bring heavy rock to the land' or maybe its the cover artwork that turns me on. I suspect its all three, but whatever the reason. This band speaks to me in ways I've not been spoken to for years, they revive my teenage years when all that was really important, was getting the beers in, getting off with girls and listening to a bottom booting metal sound track while you were doing it.

Now this is the seventh studio album Mr Lande has issued under the Jorn monicker (he has done many others with Masterplan, Vagabond, Millennium and a host of other projects), and I gotta admit in my humble opinion this is one of his best. Aided and abetted by a very talented band of metal merchants including guitarist Tore Moren and drummist Willy Bendiksen he has cooked up a cracking metal album of the old school that pay tribute to and is more than equal to the metal of 25 years ago. You get slices of Dio and 80's Sabbath (natch), hints at the Michael Schenker Group, hat tips to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and even a garnish of The Scorpions for good measure.

There is not a weak moment on offer here. Highlights include the Dio-esque title track, the Rainbow influenced Chains Around You, the power drive of the Helloween tinged Time To Be King, and the closer I Came To Rock a cut that has a certain Armored Saint feel to it. There is also an interesting cover of the Christopher Cross cut Ride Like The Wind which comes over like the version Saxon originally had in mind before they had their take on it remixed and murdered for the American Radio market.

Basically this record does just what it says on the cover, it brings heavy rock to the land by the JCB bucket load, and in a world awash with ten thousand minority metal sub genres the fact that Mr Lande and friends are still producing no bullshit quality hard rock of the old school to such a high standard can only be seen as a very good thing indeed.

Buy or Die

For fans of.. Dio, Black Sabbath, Helloween, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Rainbow, UFO and classic hard rock in general.

Six Feet Under - 'Undead' (metalblade) 4/5

Formed back in the early 1990's by Chris Barnes (ex-Cannibal Corpse) and Allen West (ex-Obituary) Florida outfit Six Feet Under have become fairly major players on the US death metal underground, with eight previous studio albums and three more albums of 'fun' cover versions theur distinctive brand of groove flavoured death has won them a lot of friends and now we have album number nine to delight us.

Now despite a bit of internal upheaval in the recording of this one (guitarist  Rob Arnold quitting on the day of release having already played the bass on this one following the departure of Terry Butler early in the recording process) SFU have delivered a nice tight, competent and very entertaining record. It manages to comfortably bridge the gap between death metal and the mainstream, being heavy, and brutal enough to keep yer average Cannibal Corpse fan pit happy, whilst heading far enough into Machine Head / Lamb Of God territory without leading to any hint of an accusation of sell out.

There are 12 cuts on offer, all penned, performed and produced to a high standard. Highlights include the post Sabbath riff fest of Blood On My Hands, the groove metal workout of Reckless and the doom fueled plod and pound of Vampire Apocalypse. Impressive stuff indeed, but my fave cut on here is the closing 'micro-epic' Depths of Depravity which manages to compact a full on multi section prog doom epic into under four minutes.

All in all this is another very worthy album from a very worthy band that after 20 years or so are still showing no signs of running out of ideas.

Worth checking out

For fans of... Machine Head, Unearth, Lamb Of God, Titan's Eve.....

Richard Marx - 'Inside My Head' - (frontiers) 4/5

US based soft rocker Richard Marx has become something of an institution with the more AOR types of rockers. Ever since his big break came in the late 1980's with a string of US chart busters, such as his seminal single 'Hazard', he has built up a loyal following worldwide and is still bringing out quality records in his trade mark feel good laid back rock style.

This double album is his latest release and is a sort of semi compilation work, bringing together a number of tracks from a couple of download only albums such as 'Emotion Remains' and 'Sundown' along with a few other odd songs he seams to have had laying around.

All in all this is pretty standard Richard Marx fare. Late night chilled out ballads such as Through My Veins and Loved rub shoulders with some very listenable light weight rockers such as Over My Head, Always On My Mind and Come Running... metalheads and the like my find it a bit forgettable, but anyone with a taste for the early works of Elton John, Tom Petty and The Eagles will find a lot here to entertain them.

Chuck in the fact that Mr Marx had a bit of a talent for songsmithery; turning out catchy hooks, intelligent lyrics and hummable melodies and for anyone who likes their rock on the soft side this one has a lot to offer.

Highlights? well this album is pretty good over all, and there is any track that strikes you as duff, but my fave cuts have to be the hard edged rocker All Over Me and the funky groove workout of Scars.

Worth checking out if you like good solid soft rock

For Fans Of... Tommy Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, House Of Lords....