Jorn – Life on Death Road
At this point, I know what to expect from a Jorn Lande solo release. Life on Death Road is really no different than any of his previous release– catchy melodic hard rock with Jorn’s amazing vocals that seem to channel Ronnie James Dio AND David Coverdale (“I Walked Away” could easily be a lost track from the Slip of the Tongue sessions and “Blackbirds” could’ve come off the last few Whitesnake releases).
The only question I usually have is, “Okay, which Dio song is he covering on this one?” Surprisingly, the answer is that he isn’t doing a single cover song at all! These are all Jorn originals, to my knowledge.
While promoting this release, Jorn stated this is his best work yet. That’s the type of talk you expect when an artist releases a new album. I don’t think I agree with that statement, but Life on Death Road is an entertaining release with more than a few gems. A welcome addition to Jorn’s catalog.
Highlights: “Life on Death Road”, “Love Is the Remedy”, “Dreamwalker”, “I Walked Away”, “Man of the ’80s”, “Blackbirds”
Mike Tramp – Maybe Tomorrow
Mighty Music/Target Group
Similarly to Jorn, Mike Tramp is consistent, dependable, and reliable when it comes to his albums. My initial reaction to this album is that it is a little more uptempo than the last couple of releases. Even so, I wish he would return harder and heavier sound more like White Lion had (it doesn’t have to be White Lion). Despite that, his current style of singer/songwriter melodic rock that mixes acoustic with electric is still enjoyable. Like his three previous releases, the tone of the album is melancholic, reflective, earnest & wistful.
While not sounding like him musically or vocally, Mike Tramp’s recent solo stuff can draw comparisons to Bruce Springsteen in terms of mood and intention, at least, I think. Like Springsteen, Tramp is a weathered storyteller sharing a view of the world through his own weary eyes.
Highlights: “Coming Home”, “Rust and Dust”, “Maybe Tomorrow”
Snakecharmer – Second Skin
Snakecharmer founding member and original Whitesnake guitarist Micky Moody left the band in 2016, but the ‘snake connection remains as original Whitesnake bassist Neil Murray is still in the band.
If you liked the band’s self-titled debut from 2013, you’re in luck. Second Skin is a second helping of the bluesy melodic hard rock and AOR that you’d expect from a group that includes ex- and current members of Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne, Wishbone Ash, Magnum & Thunder.
The old school Whitesnake connection is what keeps me checking this band out. Solid album, but not spectacular.
Highlights: “Sounds Like a Plan”, “Hell of a Way to Live”
Steelheart – Through Worlds of Stardust
A long awaited release for me. I loved Good 2B Alive (2008), despite the fact that it sounded nothing like the original Steelheart band. I didn’t think it got the press and respect it should have and even in reviews for this album it seems like some writers are completely unaware that Good 2B Alive exists. That’s a shame.
For anyone who is aware of Good 2B Alive, your feelings for that album will likely be duplicated here. Through Worlds of Stardust picks up right where the last one left off — it’s heavy, it’s alternative, it’s melodic. There is no attempt at redoing the past and offering the type of hard rock/AOR that you might expect from a label such as Frontier Records.
And, of course, Miljenko Matijevic’s signature vocals are the star of the show. Even in his early 50s, Miljenko’s vocals don’t seem to be aging much at all.
A worthy follow-up to G2BA, even if the second half of the album drags a bit because of the slower tempo. First half definitely rocks.
Highlights: “Stream Line Savings”, “My Dirty Girl”, “You Got Me Twisted”, “Got Me Runnin'”