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Melodic Rock Round-up: November 2014

Album Review

Dave Ling on new releases from Dennis DeYoung, Vega, DarkHorse, Angels Or Kings and In Faith

Dennis DeYoung: The Music Of Styx: Live In Los Angeles

Despite releasing only a solitary original album in the 15 years since the fractious exit of Dennis DeYoung, Styx have re-established themselves as a live attraction here in Europe, performing the hits from the glorious DeYoung era. Although vocalist, keyboard player and songwriter DeYoung has expressed a willingness to return to Styx, the Chicagoan pomp-rock veterans remain loyal to his replacement Lawrence Gowan. Available as a double-CD and in DVD and Blu-ray form, The Music Of Styx... offers a tantalising glimpse of the joys that such a reunion might present. He’s 67 but DeYoung’s voice can still melt hearts and, backed by a young, enthusiastic and hirsute band, that’s exactly what he does. With just Desert Moon plucked from his solo career, these 17 songs juxtapose wonderfully sappy ballads such as Babe with varying degrees of heaviness in Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) and Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man). Signing off with the pomp masterclass of Come Sail Away only flushes the ghastliness of Mr Roboto down the plughole. (8/10)

Vega: Stereo Messiah

Vega set the bar impossibly high with last year’s What The Hell!. This follow-up is sonically superior but marginally less immediate, though songs such as All Or Nothing, Gonna Need Some Love Tonight and 10 X Bigger Than Love – donated by Joe Elliott and featuring co-lead vocals from the Def Leppard singer – are real out-of-the-park winners. (8/10)

DarkHorse: Let It Ride

The former Danger Danger frontman Paul Laine returns with an album rooted in country music, though he prefers the description of Southern rock. Nitpick over terminology all you like but many of these songs would outstrip Jon Bon Jovi during his own fringed-jacket era. Mixed by Bruno Ravel, Laine’s D2 buddy, this album also sounds marvellous. (8/10)

Angels Or Kings: Kings Of Nowhere

As winners of The Firefest Unsigned Band competition, Angels Or Kings (also known as AOK) will open this year’s Firefest Friday. In fairness, a previous existence 20 years ago gave the Mancunians a slight head start, though new singer Baz Jackson offers grit to match the powerfully appealing melodies on offer throughout their Kings Of Nowhere album. (7/10)

In Faith: There’s A Storm Coming

The list of Tony Marshall and Pete Newdeck’s previous and current groups could probably fill this entire column but in vocalist Pete Godfrey the guitarist and drummer have unearthed a genuine rough diamond, and this sumptuous debut album posits that the Brits can still defy North American and Scandi dominance. (8/10)

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