Home Run: Black World

If melodic hard rock with some delicious dark tones permeating its veins is your kind of flavour to relax to then the new release from Italian rockers Home Run has to be on your next list of bands needing attention. Returning with Black World, their follow up to debut Dont Stop, the band with its new line-up are pushing  to step up a few levels by giving 13 tracks of striking melodic rock n roll to please all hard rockers.

Formed in 2000 under the name Dead Poets the band soon moved from a cover band into creating their own strong songs. As they worked on a debut demo they changed the name to Home Run in reference to the Gotthard album and also as it represented the bands new sound and ideas that were as tight, fast and strong as a baseball homerun hit. Plenty of gigs followed as the band blended in their own compositions with covers  and then in 2005 they released a demo EP, Start Again to some strong acclaim. Work on their debut album Dont Stop began in 2007 accompanied by help from guitarist Frank Caruso of Arachnes and Stefano ‘Sebo’ Xotta in working on a deal to have the album released which happened in April 2008. The album too garnered strong acclaim from media and fans but then came a line-up change as members left. The following year saw bassist Paolo Luoni, drummer William Battiston, and guitarist Valerio Castiglioni join band founders vocalist Matteo Albarelli, guitarist Andrea Ringoli and Walter Borrelli who played the keyboards. With Black World completed early 2011 the sextet signed with Italian independent label Tanzan Music for its release and immediately found more strong praise.

The songs within the album run from straight rock, southern flavoured sounds, to melodic tunes with a power ballad feel. It is a light album even with the darker tinged elements and aggression and run throughout lyrics and music. After an ominous combative intro the album kicks off with Silences Broken. It too begins on a sinister edge before the track builds into a fine rock piece with flowing keys. Immediately one is impressed with the harmonies and melodies achieved  and the compulsive throbbing bass line beneath all the smoother sounds. Albarelli joins the mix with strong vocals and delivery bringing more of the defined hard rock sound, his voice using the standards approach and very well.

The hard rock sound is a set base for most of the tracks on Black World with different layers placed upon them and tracks like Ephemeral Light, the funky pulsating Intoxication Of Love, and the ballad As We Did Before all show the bands skill at writing songs to engage and please, each in their own way playing with ease within the ear and with strong satisfaction.

For non hard rock fans at times there does seem a sameness across the album and a lack of real surprises though three tracks do stand out to elevate the album into a higher level. No More hits firmly with strutting riffs and synth sounds that wrap pleasingly around the song, whilst the title track swoops in with a vibrant and enticing riff and flowing keys once more. The bass throbs with mischief as it leads one through the track with a wicked glint and the guitars play like a dancing girl swinging all their wanton skills for the ear to digest. The third song is the albums highlight and another where bassist Luoni is the mesmeric lure. Lipstick has a slight 80’s feel especially from the keys and the song itself is semi anthemic with its fist pumping chorus.

It is fair to say if the likes of Suicide Silence or Behemoth are your ideal sound there is not a lot on Black World to excite but for anyone who breathes in hard rock readily, the album though not a classic has more than enough quality and fun to spend plenty of time with. http://www.homerunrock.it

RingMaster 26/10/2011

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David Stockdale – Dark Riders

American Folk/blues songwriter David Stockdale has pleased audiences with his folk/blues music and albums for over a decade, sending his soulful sounds into eager hearts. With his fourth album Dark Riders released via Tanzan Music, he has returned with a new direction in his musics evolution.  Maybe direction is a bit dramatic but he has certainly expanded it with added pop and R&B sounds and across the release there is a pacier feel without any detriment to his trademark emotive essence lyrically and aurally.

Santa Barbara born Stockdale has brought an even deeper and attentive touch lyrically to his songs on Dark Riders, relating social themes and personal experiences with very adept skill and feeling. He gives the songs with his poetic words, a depth that behind the livelier sounds continues his reputation for bringing introspective and emotionally strong power into his music. Dark Riders has a freshness and familiarity that instantly endears itself to listener and brings one into its heart with ease.

From the opening grace of Here Comes The Night the album plays nicely within the ear. Stockdales vocals are smooth and full of feeling and he is immediately shown as an artist in confident control of his ability and vision. Behind Stockdale the delightful voices of Elisa Paganelli and Martha Tansini give a soothing and extra layer to the tone of this and each song, and whether on this mid pace opener, the ballad Oh To Be Loved or the poppy Boogaloo You the combination is eagerly welcome.

High As A Kite a song combining a soul groove and pop essences, is another to light up the senses with its easy flow, and the guitar of Marco Tansini, who also provides the album’s keys, bass, production and more, within it is a joy. He never overdoes things to become the focal point of any song but flavours them with distinct and exciting touches. The track is an example of the good variation within the album and even if your taste is for heavier and striking riff laden sounds there is plenty within Dark Riders to get enthused about.

Tracks like the touching Earthquake, the excitable and lightly bustling Who, plus closing song Right From The Heart featuring Sofia Fragile on backing vocals and another track that rings deeply with an honesty and truth most can relate to in some degree, show the strength of Stockdales writing and performance. Though this is not the kind of music that would be first choice on this reviewer’s daily playlist it is impossible not to become wrapped up in its flow and tender arms and certainly for all singer/songwriter fans David Stockdale and Dark Riders is worth more than a moment of your time.

RingMaster 23/02/2012

Copyrighted 2011-10-29 15:06:50 UTC

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Smokey Fingers – Columbus Way

With a sound steeped in the southern rock inspirations of the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Allman Brothers, Italian rock band Smokey Fingers release their debut album Columbus Way on Tanzan Music. Fusing hard rock, blues and country to their southern base sound the quartet from Lodi have brought a fresh and invigorating feel to their music, creating songs that do not hide their open influence but instead excel in its spirit and glory whilst bringing it into a modern arena.

Smokey Fingers began officially in 2008 when drummer Daniele Vacchini and guitarist Diego “Blef” Dragoni teamed up with old friends in vocalist Luca Paterniti and bassist Fabrizio Costa, the various members having played with another in such bands as Smell Of Dog, Dixie Line and in the Double Trouble Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute band. Together they began working on new songs as well as revisiting and developing tracks and melodies from songs written as far back as 2006. What evolved was a flavour of southern rock in the distinct style and touch of Smokey Fingers and a self produced EP Smokey Fingers in 2009 that first brought them a strong attention. Now with Columbus Way and its solid and creative sounds the thought that Smokey Fingers will wake up an unsuspecting world to their music is rife and really there is no reason why it should not be so.

The album consists of twelve tracks that ooze class and vibrancy, with stirring guitars, firm and engaging riffs, and playful smart melodies and harmonies. There is strength across the whole release that not only eagerly grabs attention but satisfies and pleasures. There is also in many ways something for everyone, even those who head for the heavier assaulting riffs and intense attacks. Smokey Fingers brings rock ‘n’ roll to trigger anyone’s inner rhythm. 

The album opens with ‘Old Jack’, a get down and get dirty track that plays easily upon the ear. With a catchy chorus, a great resonating bass, and scorching guitars the song sets the scene for the band’s sound and the album to come, lively and fun it is the perfect lead into the release.

Immediately second track ‘The Lover’ comes in with confirmation of what one first noticed in the opener that Costa is a classy and accomplished bassist. For the second time and not the last on the album, his bass resonates and throbs to give the song an organic feel, a pulse that brings the track even more alive. The other notable thing is how American the band comes over, the expectation was of a sound, certainly vocally, tinged with an Italian flavour but far from it. It also does not feel wrong either, usually one complains of a European band trying to sound American but here it is so natural and easy the thought does not arise.

Across the album produced by Mario Percudani (Hungry Heart), there is a good variety and a very strong consistency with tracks such as the skilful ‘Chains Of Mind’, the emotive grace of ‘Ride Of Love’, and the album’s best track ‘Die For The Glory’ complete with another addictive bassline and stunning creativity, all reinforcing what an extremely well written and performed collection of songs this is. The guitars of Dragoni as everywhere lay down mesmeric patterns with his play and the beats of Vacchini keep everything controlled and neatly paced. Vocally Paterniti is spot on; there are no negatives to send his way even if he sounds more American than should be possible. Combined the band bring America and “the sunny and dusty roads of Alabama!” to the ear but in their own stylised way.

Columbus Way is an essential listen for all Southern and hard rock fans, but anyone who enjoys great melodic rock ‘n’ roll should take a listen. Smokey Fingers has one tasty release for all rock fans to feast upon.

Ringmaster 23/09/2011

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