By Bob Nalbandian

Volume One
Rising Sun

The Duncan trio, consisting of brothers Jeff (vox/guitar), Shawn (drums), and Matt (bass), team up with guitarist Hyland Church on their Rising Sun (German Import) debut. Unlike their previous release, a 5-song CD demo entitled "Mood Swings," which lacked the metallic energy, "Volume One" truly deliver the goods.

The opener, "Playing House" features a killer metal-fueled guitar riff that will surely send a steel-toe boot straight up your ass. This song really kicks, and Jeff's vocals sound stronger than ever on this track. The Armored Saint guitarist sings with power and conviction, sounding very much like John Bush in many aspects (go figure?). The tunes are well written...catchy and melodic with loads of energy and drive. A lot of diversity as well, the old-school Zep/Sabbath influence is evident, but the music also has a slight modern-rock edge hinting traces of Foo Fighters, Bush, and STP. Sometimes perhaps sounding a bit too "alternative" and dreary for my tastes, but tracks like "Na•ve Bree," "Jack And Jill" and "Pound Of Flesh" are powerful and memorable. Fortunately the band manage to stay clear of that over-played Creed, Nickelback-whining/crooner crap. The production, courtesy of Armored Saint bassist Joey Vera (go figure?) is solid and ballsy. Should appease metal fans and modern rock fans alike.

Loaded Metal Cannon
Record Heaven

The three-quarter female, three-quarter Swedish band Meldrum deliver some serious gut-wrenching metal on their debut "Loaded Metal Cannon." Led by guitarist Michelle Meldrum (formerly of the hard-rocking LA chick band Phantom Blue, now a resident of Sweden), this band consists of four extremely talented and seasoned musicians. The music is hard to categorize, which is a true sign of originality. Really cool songs highlighted by masterful riffs and blazing leads from Michelle, a solid, pounding rhythm courtesy of bassist Frida Stahl and drummer Fredrik Haake, and kick-ass vocals from Moa Holmsten. Moa's voice is unique and powerful...very throaty and raucous, yet she can sing with great melody and grace, as heard on the tracks "Feeding The Hope," "Chaos" and "Reign Mantra."

The album also has its share of impressive guest musicians; including former Thin Lizzy/Motorhead axeman Brian Robertson, who provides an impressive (very identifiable) solo on "Attackapa." Guitarist John Norum also plays a killer solo on "Through Shattered Eyes" and bassist Marcel Jacob (Talisman/Rising Force) is also featured on the disc. "Chaos" is one of my favorite tracks, a song that even incorporates a Sitar, ringing memories of such diverse classic rock bands from the Beatles and Nazareth, to Uli-era Scorps. The song is topped off with an incredible solo from Meldum. This band combines the spirit, class and brilliance of classic metal with the power and intensity of modern hard-core metal, and melds it into something refreshingly original. The CD may be hard to find, but it's certainly worth purchasing!

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