HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Another Night In The Sun/Live In Helsinki

The story with this one goes that Hanoi Rocks legend Michael Monroe gathered up his gang of punk metal brats for a kick of a live gig in Helsinki, in front of fan club members and street team folks, with the expressed purpose of greasing the machine as they work on a studio record. And by the raucous execution and sound of Another Night In The Sun, a good time was had by all, the band bashing tightly their way through a collection of Mike solo, Hanoi Rocks and Demolition 23 material, plus, perhaps most pointedly, 'Love Song' and 'Machine Gun Etiquette' by The Damned, 'Ain't Nothin' To Do' by the Dead Boys and '1970' by the Stooges, all of which fit the aggressive, punchy vibe of the night, with Monroe's voice... it's an acquired taste, 'cos frankly, all those things folks say about the shouty, bulldozing fatigue of a Mick Jagger, they apply to Monroe, who doesn't sound anything like he looks - he's more a hollerer than anything approaching a crooning technician, his value emerging more so from the package and live persona than his pipes.
Rating 6.5

Vol. 1
(Andrew DiGelsomina/Mermaid's Song)

Warned by smart people not to let this one pass without a play, and I'm glad I didn't, Lyraka being some sort of indie-released "heavy metal opera." But forget that summation, 'cos it'll just send you running in the other direction. A more accurate (and point form-y) description might read, story by Jasmine Lyraka, all songs and guitars by Andy DiGelsomina, art by Ken Kelly (Kiss, Rainbow), six long songs, one vocal by Veronica Freeman (don't know her), one by Tommy Heart (Fair Warning), and four (and all the long songs), by Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, MSG, Alcatrazz - a god amongst mortals). The music is hard to describe, but there's something "outsider" about it, along with both the white and black magic one felt in confrontation with the Diamond Head catalogue, namely not great production, some amateurish music choices, but mainly a strangely irresistible yet measured flood of fresh, catchy, creative, NWOBHM-ish ideas that draw you to the conclusion that with a pile of work, by stamping out all the cheapness, this is the next Led Zeppelin. And yes, Lyraka somehow floats along on this hallowed plane, causing quiet marvel, but with an underground NWOBHM vibe, or like better than the best of the proggiest NWOBHM bands (slim pickings), or maybe something akin to early Fates Warning. So that's it, really, and as a closing thought, through six songs and 41 minutes, you'll never be bored, the added bonus being, like I say, this sturdy confidence that you are partaking of the thought process of a great songwriter.
Rating 8

Hard Reviews Page 5