HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Ghost Machine - Haunting Remains
(Sound Riot)

Finland's Ghost Machine is the domain of Burning Point's Pete Ahonen, and the sound he's come up with here is mildly intriguing symphonic power metal, intriguing because it sounds underground, under the radar, carrying the mystique of the great proto-power metal bands of Sweden in the mid-'80s. The drums and drumming sound synthetic, stiff and triggered though, but the overall presentation is varied and fortunately isolated from many of the genre's clichˇs, bands like Nocturnal Rites, Evergrey and Tad Morose coming to mind, i.e. this idea of working in a vacuum, creating shameless power metal that benefits from a certain self-imposed or involuntary obliviousness to trend or "the correct way."
Rating 7.5

The Jelly Jam - 2
(InsideOut Music)

I was egregiously in error giving the first Jelly Jam a 7.5 at the time. Repeated plays, a firestorm of criticism I received at the time, and the weight of people still talking about and digging that album have all conspired to make that thing a minor classic. So... I'm thinking the same damn thing again, only I like this one even less. True to form, Ty Tabor (King's X), John Myung (Dream Theater) and Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs, Winger) have turned in a swirling, psychedelic (Ty stick?), meandering hard rock feast for the ears and other senses. But I'm finding it, in total, a little too dreamy, same, circular in and on top of itself, obstinately unwilling to hook or rock. Jam is right, with too many slide rule math riffs dropping out for mellow verses and Ty's innocent McCartney vocal. Still, a re-sequencing would reveal (near) enough to chew on, with the manic, labyrinthine War Is..., the stomping She Was Alone, and the typical but accessible Not Today leading the prickly, electric charge.
Rating 7

Hard Reviews Page 5