Hard Reviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Various Artists - Fire Woman: A Tribute To The Cult
(Versailles)

Stacked full of surprises good and bad, this has all the appeal of a good car crash. If you want to hear one of the best vocalists in the world sing awful, look no further than Enuff Znuff's She Sells Sanctuary. American Dog, of course, is destined to blow away all comers, and they don't disappoint, with their chunkified blast through Peace Dog, followed closely by their collaboration with firecracker Jason McMaster on King Contrary Man (Steve Rachelle on Outlaw ain't hard on the ears either). However, the Dog's backing instrumentalization on Fire Woman blows, as does Jizzy's vocal performance, the man usually frighteningly rock 'n' roll mammoth in all he does. Then again, American Dog do fine (if mainly functional) on Wild Flower, sung by Gilby Clarke, and expectedly inspired on Sweet Soul Sister, sung by Paul Shortino in his distinctly bluesy style. No namer Richard Kendrick does a clear, clean job with Edie (Caio Baby), but then (here comes the sickening brakes-locked slide), wot the hell is that Joe Lynn Turner thing? Man, fussy-head is alright on it, but the music sounds like an out-take from Iggy's Kill City. Easily the cheap date on here, dragging down an uneven album with a good four or five middling to poor at-plates. Nice touch: a little liner essay from Jason McMaster, as well as detailed band histories for the rockscrabble collection of performers enclosed.
Rating 7

Andromeda - Extension Of The Wish
(Century Media)

Well away from power metal but certainly creating some creamy dreamy form of prog metal, Andromeda are a new Swedish act brainstormed by a young axe whiz by the name of Johan Reinholdz. Closest comparative would be Dan Swano's Nightingale project or perhaps recent Anathema, Andromeda using those same old prog influences and then layering in a ton of intricate guitar glazed over with old and new synth and organ tones, occasionally approaching a cross between Deep Purple and particularly gothic Rainbow tinged with UK or '80s Rush. On board vocally is ex-Darkane vocalist Lawrence Mackrory who is extraordinarily clean, proggy and epic, although within lower darker frequencies than anything power metalish. But much of Andromeda perks along without any vocals, the band grooving large for extended passages down classic rock roads that simply sound important, and I guess, thus are.
Rating 8

Hard Reviews Page 5