Kee Marcello - Melon Demon Divine
Maybe the Melon Demon is a distant cousin to Helloween's pumpkin dude, but that - and bad record titles - is where the comparison shall mercifully rest. What you get here is more or less a solo record from Europe's guitarist, who has a bass player named Klatuu, plus journeyman Snowy Shaw, along for the ride. Kee produced this whole thing himself in his own, new studio, and it's a bit flat in that department. Musically, what you get is a mix between modern rock, Frontier-style AOR, and various forms of guitar hero metal anthems you might expect from Richie Kotzen or Paul Gilbert. Very nice AOR-ish vocals from Kee are a positive (Charlie Huhn or Brian Howe comes to mind), as is the variety and general "updatedness" of the guy's mindset.
Unearth - The Oncoming Storm
Rising astonishingly quickly to the forefront of the New Wave Of American Metal, Massachusetts' Unearth deserve it with a Swedish-thrash inspired record like this, The Oncoming Storm combining the best blistered production elements from that metal phalanx with the tight, economical, close hardcore ethic espoused by bands like Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage (a very busy Adam D. produces), even getting vaguely Finnish at times (see 'Predetermined Sky'). Solid songs abound, the thrash tempered expertly by twin lead melodic parts, driven hard by the perfect percussion moves of Mike Justian, sorta the band's secret weapon and a big reason these songs fly out of the speakers. Highlights: 'Bloodlust Of The Human Condition', with its Pantera-esque stutter while hands-down winner is 'Endless', a groovy straight-ahead blaster that turns Meshuggah-like, signaling an unraveling to many surprises. Refreshing to hear a record packed with good songs at the back-end as well as the front.
Hard Reviews Page 4