In the past I’ve posted individual recommendations for albums after they were released; focusing particularly on albums that I’ve been playing tracks from on the NI Rocks Shows on Rock Radio NI. For various reasons I’ve decided to move away from those individual posts and instead do a monthly post focusing on all the album releases that have caught my attention during that month. This is the third of those posts, looking at some of the great albums released during March 2021.

This month there are recommendations for album releases from Mason HillRonnie Atkins, Chez Kane, Thunder, Sunstorm, Heart Healer, Gary Hughes and Touch with some more possibly to come.



Mason Hill – “Against The Wall” – 7Hz Productions 5th March 2021


Glasgow based band Mason Hill released their debut album “Against The Wall” on 5th March through 7Hz Productions Ltd. I’d pre-ordered the vinyl picture disc version of the album. The tracks “Against The Wall” and “Broken Son” have featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show since February whilst the title track and “Hold On” were on the NI Rocks A-Z Show during January.

Mason Hill was formed in 2013 by school mates, singer Scott Taylor and guitarist James Bird. The other members of the band are guitarist Marc Montgomery, bass player Matthew Ward and drummer Craig McFetridge. A self-titled, four track EP was released in December 2015.


Over the next few years the band’s profile increased with a growing number of festival appearances, support slots and headline shows. Initially linked to Frontiers Music, the band switched to 7Hz Productions in 2020 and commenced an effective launch campaign for their debut album. That campaign saw the album debut at number one in the UK Rock Charts and at number 19 in the UK album charts.

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RONNIE ATKINS – “One Shot” – Frontiers Music 12th March 2021


Ronnie Atkins will be known to many as the front man for Danish band Pretty Maids since the early 80’s. On 12th March he released his first solo album – the decision to do that now seems as much influenced by his recent cancer diagnosis as by the enforced break from touring resulting from the ongoing covid pandemic. Work on the album, which was released by Frontiers Music, commenced not long after Ronnie had been my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in June 2020 -


Ronnie Atkins formed Pretty Maids in 1981 along with guitarist Ken Hammer and the band has released 16 studio albums between 1983 and 2019. Their latest studio album was “Undress Your Madness”, but that was followed by the live release “Maid in Japan – Back to the Future World” in 2019. Pretty Maids bandmate Chris Laney produced “One Shot” and plays guitar on the album, whilst Jacob Hansen did the mixing.


Joining Atkins and Laney on the album are drummer Allan Sørensen on drums, Morten Sandager on keyboards, Pontus Egberg on bass and Anders Ringman on acoustic guitars. There are a number of guest guitarists including Kee Marcello, Olliver Hartman and John Berg. Linnea Vikström Egg is amongst the backing vocalists – she was my guest on the Show back in 2018 -


Three tracks from the album have been featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show since December – “Real”, “One Shot” and “Scorpio”.


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CHEZ KANE – “Chez Kane” – Frontiers Music 12th March


Welsh singer Chez Kane released her debut, self-titled solo album through Frontiers Music on 12th March. The tracks were written and produced by Crazy Lixx front man Danny Rexon and he chose Kane’d singer Chez Kane as the woman to deliver his vision for the album. Chez was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 12th March and we played four tracks from the album -


Chez Kane is one of three sisters who have been fronting the band Kane’d for over ten years; and during that time they have released three albums. There are a couple of tracks from their latest album “Show Me Your Skeleton” on the Show along with the interview with Chez.


Crazy Lixx singer Danny Rexon has been a guest on the Show twice, most recently in May 2019 - - He wrote all the tracks as well as playing most of the instruments and producing the album. It was mixed by Erik Mårtensson from Eclipse and W.E.T. (who was also actually a guest on the Show in November 2020 - )


In addition to the four tracks on the Show on 12th March, the tracks “Too Late For Love” and “Rocket on the Radio” have featured in recent weeks.


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THUNDER – “All The Right Noises” – BMG 12th March



Rock legends Thunder are of course big favourites of everyone at Rock Radio NI. Including their latest studio album “All The Right Noises” in the album recommendations feature for March is a fairly obvious choice therefore! I had my coloured vinyl version of the album pre-ordered from Townsend Music. It was released on 12th March through BMG and the band proved their continuing popularity with the album reaching number three on the UK Charts.


The first single from the album was “Last One Out Turn Off the Lights” which was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show last November. The latest single “You’re Gonna Be My Girl” was on the Show on 19th March.


Thunder are (of course) Danny Bowes on vocals, Luke Morley on guitar, Ben Matthews on guitar and keyboards, Chris Childs on bass and Harry James on drums. Like many other bands, they had to reschedule their original tour dates in support of the album and those concerts will now happen in May 2022 – we’ll be heading to see them in Glasgow!


Danny and Ben were guests on the Friday NI Rocks Show back in 2013 ahead of a show that they played for Rock Radio NI in Belfast -

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SUNSTORM – “Afterlife” – Frontiers Music 12th March


This is the sixth album to be released by Sunstorm, but the first to feature the talents of Chilean singer Ronnie Romero rather than Joe Lynn Turner. Romero rose to recognition with Lords of Black before being chosen to front Rainbow and has since been involved with various projects that I’ve rated very highly. I included the track “Swan Song” on the Friday NI Rocks Show in January and the title track “Afterlife” was featured on the Show on 2nd April.

The first, self-titled, Sunstorm album was released back in 2006 and the key-players were vocalist Joe Lynn Turner and bass player Dennis Ward. The project was developed by Frontiers president Serafino Perugino.  The second album “House of Dreams” followed in 2009 and the third, “Emotional Fire” in 2012.  The first album not to feature Dennis Ward was “Edge of Tomorrow” in 2016 with Alessandro Del Vecchio taking over production and song-writing. The previous three albums had featured numerous song writers. The same formula was repeated for “The Road to Hell” in 2018.


“Afterlife” is once again written and produced by Del Vecchio who also plays keyboard. Guitarist Simone Mularoni and bass player Nik Mazzucconi who both played on the two previous albums also return alongside new drummer Michele Sanna. As well as singing with Rainbow and Lords of Black, Ronnie Romero has also fronted bands such as The Ferrymen, CoreLeoni, Vandenberg and most recently the Michael Schenker Group.

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HEART HEALER – “The Metal Opera by Magnus Karlsson” Frontiers Music 12th March


“The Metal Opera” is the latest project from Swedish musician, song-writer and producer Magnus Karlsson and it was overseen by Frontiers boss Serafino Perugino. The band itself is actually seven different female vocalists who play their part in a rock/metal opera about The Heart Healer. The track “This Is Not The End” which features all seven vocalists was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 26th February.


Magnus Karlsson was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in October 2019 - . At that time we focused on the latest album from The Ferrymen (featuring Ronnie Romero who was mentioned on the Sunstorm post above) as well as talking about his involvement with Primal Fear, Kiske Somerville, Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall and Allen-Olzon.

The multi-national vocalists are Americans Adrienne Cowan (Seven Spires / Sascha Paeth’s Masters of Ceremony / Avantasia) and Margarita Monet (Edge of Paradise), Spanish singer Ailyn Gimenez (Her Chariot Awaits / ex Sirenia), Lebanese singer Youmna Jreissati (Ostura), Swedish singer Annette Olzon (Dark Element / Allen-Olzon / ex Nightwish) and Finnish singers Netta Laurenne (Smackbound) and Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast).


In addition to Karlsson (on guitars, bass and keyboards), the musicians are Anders Köllerfors on drums, Daniel Tengberg on cello and Erika Sävström Engman on violin.




GARY HUGHES – “Waterside” – Frontiers Music 12th March



Like many others probably, I’m more familiar with Gary Hughes’s work as the front-man for Ten, than with his solo material. On 12th March Frontiers provided an opportunity to amend that by releasing not only a compilation album of his solo work, called “Decades”, but a new solo album called “Waterside”. I also had the opportunity to chat to Gary and that interview was on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 19th March along with three tracks from “Waterside” and one from “Decades”. I’d already played “Waterside” and “Electra-Glide” on the Show previously.


The interview with Gary is available here -


Gary Hughes released his first solo album “Big Bad Wolf” in 1989 and it was re-released the following year as “Strength of Heart”. That was followed by a self-titled album in 1992 and “Precious Ones” in 1998. In 2003 he released the albums “Once and Future King Part I” and “Part II” on which the tracks were written by him, but largely performed by other singers. Those were followed by “Veritas” in 2007. Between 1996 and 2018, Hughes has also released fourteen studio albums with Ten.

On “Waterside”, Hughes works with guitarist Dann Rosingana, bass player David Rosingana and Darrel Treece-Birch who plays keyboards and drums. Karen Fell provides backing vocals and his son Scott also appears as co-singer on a track.


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TOUCH – “Tomorrow Never Comes” – Escape Music 26th March


Amazingly, “Tomorrow Never Comes” is not only the first new material to be released by American band Touch in over forty years, but it also brings together all four members of the band that released their self-titled debut album in 1980. An interview with keyboard player, song-writer and producer Mark Mangold was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 26th March along with four tracks from the album.


Check out the interview here -


Touch was formed in New York City in 1978 by keyboardist Mark Mangold, drummer Glen Kithcart, guitarist Craig Brooks and bass player Doug Howard. The first three had all played together in the band American Tears. They released their debut album in 1980 and that same year were the first band to perform at the inaugural Monsters of Rock Festival. A second album was recorded in 1982 but never released. It only appeared in 1998 when a Touch boxset was released.

Mangold was the only member of the band involved in a reunion for Firefest in 2014, but that spurred on efforts for a full re-union that eventually led to the recording and release of “Tomorrow Never Comes”.