HardReviews 5
by Martin Popoff

WINTER'S VERGE
Eternal Damnation (Limb/SPV)

Rote power metal from Cyprus full up with energy but badly compressed production and too much keyboard priss. There's adequate electricity and enthusiasm here but yeah, theirs is nothing new brought to the table, although 'Get Me Out' roils with a Blind Guardian sense of the theatre. O'er to the vocals, and this strikes me as one of those occasions where the guy doesn't sound all that convincing - or even firmly on tune - because he's decided to be too comfortable within his range and is not really projecting and pushing air. Drums sound triggered or digital and all those keyboards sound even more synthetic. I dunno... it takes added or exaggerated or even eccentric personality to rise above in this aseptic genre, and these Cypriots don't have that yet.
Rating 5.5

UFO
No Heavy Petting (Chrysalis/EMI)

With UFO tooling around America and doing a flash job of it to crowds with tears in their eyes loving every minute of it (this trooper drove six hours), it's nice to see that in conjunction, EMI Europe is pokeying along through a plush reissue program for all the classic years albums - the first wave of three includes Phenomenon ('74), Force It ('75) and the present spread ('76). This all started with UK's Rock Candy Records and their desire to do the catalogue in fine Rock Candy style. What happened instead is that the label's Derek Oliver and Dante Bonutto were put in charge of overseeing the process for Chrysalis/EMI. Liner notes are by a variety of journos with a sweet spot for UFO, and this one in particular is documented by Mark Blake. And what a massive job all 'round. The booklet includes the full story of the album, band shots, pictures of ads and 45 sleeves, as well as press clippings, all solidly assembled by a fine graphic artist. A quick note on the album - personally, this is a favourite pf the entire Schenker run, keyboardist Danny Peyronel (his lone UFO album) adding a glossy touch to a sound that previously was quite rude. Highlights include the frantic 'Can You Roll Her', the frantic but with Springsteen soul 'Highway Lady' and the wrench-headed 'Natural Thing', amongst a generally fine and well paced selection of the band's many moves. Bonus material, you ask? Hell yeah, including covers of Faces and tippling labelmate Frankie Miller. But there are also three very rare UFO originals, recorded in the same sessions as the album, and sounding damn good. Now, 'French Kisses' and 'Do It You Can' are a little Pete Way-obvious, but they are fully fun and serviceable. Then closing the show is a Queen-like Peyronel piano ballad called 'All The Strings'. Again, glad it's been gathered up, but yeah, something with a scorching Euro-metal Schenker riff would have been nice.
Rating 9