New Release Round Up

As we march inexorably on towards Christmas, we take a look at some prog and AOR live releases, plus something sensational from Sweden (apart from gorgeous blondes, ABBA and Volvos!) and latest from veteran Brits.

Let’s start with an album that’s getting huge attention right now Sweden’s Ghost have delivered something special on their debut Opus Eponymous (Rise Above). It’s been rightly suggested that they’re a poppier version of Mercyful Fate, but you might also hear slight hints of Voivod-style psychedelia. Whatever, this is a remarkable first album.

JEBO are slowly becoming one of the best young prog bands in the UK. And Settle Up Or Settle Down is a musically intelligent album, without sounding too clever for its own good. With careful production from John Burns (Genesis, Jethro Tull), this is an enjoyable musical experience, bringing old school prog to a modern audience.

This has been a great year for Steve Hackett. The former Genesis guitarist has enjoyed a real revival, and Live Rails (Wolfwork) is a superb double CD, filled with some of his finest live moments recorded over the past two years. It’s a cracking, seamless album, chronicling a master at work. And he’s also got an impressive band. Find out more at www.jebomusic.co.uk

Still live, MMX: Twelfth Night Live captures the returning 80s prog heroes Twelfth Night in sparkling form. Recorded in May this year, it proves that there’s a lot more to this reunion than a desire to wallow in nostalgia. For further info, go to www.twelfthnight.info

Sweden’s Bad Habit have a 23-year career, and this is their 10th album. Atmosphere (AOR Heaven) is classy melodic rock, even if it occasionally lacks real dynamic. They’re reminiscent of Skagarak, albeit without the latter’s grace and poise.

It’s easy to forget that, at the start of the 1990s, Nelson were one of the biggest bands in the world. But the sheer volume of shrieking girls on Perfect Storm: After The Rain World Tour 1991 (Frontiers) quickly puts everything into perspective. At the time, the Nelson twins – Matthew and Gunnar – only had one album’s worth of songs, but they deliver these to perfection. In fact, you have to wonder how much touching up might have been done in the studio. The vocal harmonies are too perfect to have been done like this live – surely?!

Magnum have struggled to live up to their past since their reunion a decade ago. And The Visitation (SPV/Steamhammer) isn’t about to redress the balance. It’s not a bad album, far from it, but none of the songs are truly killer, while Bob Catley’s voice sounds a little dusty. For many bands, this would be good enough. Magnum are worth so much more. Maybe they need to bring in an outside producer?

Holy Grail feature former members of White Wizzard. And Crisis In Utopia (Prosthetic) bears a similarity to their former band. Actually, this 11-tracker is a beefily enjoyable power metal romp. However, what it lacks is that touch of brilliance which the Wizzard have.

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