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Melodic Rock Round-up: November 2010

Album Review

Dave Ling on new releases from White Widdow, Tom Galley, Richard Page, China and Smilek

White Widdow: White Widdow

The band’s name inevitably conjures up images of stoner rock, but Melbourne-based five-piece White Widdow were raised on the classic, harder-edged but distinctly pompous melodic bands of the 1980s. With an excellent, clear sound mix from Martin Kronlund (Steve Overland, Joe Lynn Turner) and embellished by the keyboard flourishes of Xavier Millis, this finely hewn and slightly ostentatious debut album offers discernable echoes of White Sister, Giuffria, Icon, Touch, Surgin and early Bon Jovi. Frontman Julez Mephisto has a rousing, powerful voice that’s every bit as good as his brilliant stage name. And although songs with such well-worn titles as Tokyo Rain, Broken Hearts Don’t Last Forever and Shadows Of Love sound pretty much as you’d expect them to, there’s no mistaking White Widdow’s levels of musicianship and commitment. This album isn’t original by any stretch of the imagination, but one thing’s for sure: it’s a whole lot of fun. (8/10)

From Tom Galley, The Creator Of Phenomena: Blind Faith

You might have expected Phenomena’s concept of guest-loaded melodic hard rock albums to have run dry by now. But no. Blind Faith is a potent, classily executed collection of material featuring Steve Overland, Terry Brock, Robin Beck, Rob Moratti, Tommy Denander, and many more. (7/10) 

Richard Page: Peculiar Life

The second solo album from the reclusive former Mr Mister bassist/vocalist is a beautifully serene and virtuously varied record. Befitting its seemingly effortless West coast-style strains, Richard Page still has one of the finest voices in rock music. Richard Marx also makes an appearance on the song Worldly Things. (8/10) 

China: Light Up The Dark

Back with their first studio album in 15 years, Swiss five-piece China have added a slight modern edge to their hard-driving yet meticulously hummable music. Oddly, two of its best songs (Trapped In The City and Right Here Right Now) are saved till the end, but overall this remains a very strong album indeed. (7/10) 

Smilek: Stranded

Named after bassist/vocalist Marty Smilek and with former Molly Hatchet veteran Bruce Crump on the drum stool, Virginia-based trio Smilek sometimes venture too far into Firehouse territory (check out I Ain’t No Good, for example), but their blend of melodic sounds and blue-collar Americana still causes the corners of one’s lips to elevate. (7/10)

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