This is the latest of my monthly posts looking at some of the album releases that have caught my attention. This one, obviously, is looking at some of the great albums released during April 2021.

This month it covers releases from Maverick, Blaze Bayley, Infinite & Divine, The End Machine, FM, Motorjesus, Sweet Oblivion Ft Geoff Tate, Icon of Sin, Temple Balls, Frozen Crown, My Refuge and Gilby Clarke.


MAVERICK – “Ethereality” – Metalapolis 1st April


Local band Maverick released their fourth full-length studio album on 1st April. “Ethereality” is the band’s third album with Metalapolis, following on from “Big Red” in 2016 and “Cold Star Dancer” in 2018. Maverick’s first release was an EP called “Talk’s Cheap” in 2013 and that was followed by their debut album “Quid Pro Quo” in 2014. The band is regularly featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show and four tracks from the new album have been included on the Show so far this year.

Maverick have been through a few line-up changes over the years and this is the first album with new drummer Jason-Steve Mageney. “Ethereality” also sees the return of guitarist Ric Cardwell who performed on the band’s first album. Singer David Balfour, guitarist Ryan Balfour and bass player Richie Diver have been at the heart of the band throughout. David was a guest on the Show back in 2016 when “Big Red” was released -


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BLAZE BAYLEY – “War Within Me” – Blaze Bayley Recording 9th April



Singer Blaze Bayley released “War Within Me”, his eleventh solo studio album, through his own recording label on 9th April. Blaze will also be well known for fronting Wolfsbane and for taking over as the front-man for Iron Maiden for five years in the ‘90’s. The album once again see’s Blaze working closely with Christopher Appleton from Absolva. The track “18 Flights” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 2nd April. Blaze is scheduled to play the Diamond Rock Club in Ahoghill on 4th September.


After releasing several albums with Wolfsbane and two albums with Iron Maiden, Bayley releases three albums as ‘Blaze’ between 2000 and 2004. Two more albums were released as the ‘Blaze Bayley Band’ in 2008 and 2010 before the ‘Blaze Bayley’ albums commenced in 2012. These include the “Infinite Entanglement” trilogy between 2016 and 2018 and two live albums in 2019 and 2020. He also released an acoustic album called “December Wind” in 2018. I recorded an interview with Blaze at the time of the release of the second part of the “Infinite Entanglement” trilogy in 2017 -


The new album “War Within Me” was recorded at Blaze’s studio as well as that of Christoper Appleton and those two also did the mixing and producing. Appleton plays guitars on the album whilst Absolva bandmates Martin McNee and Karl Schramm play drums and bass.


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INFINITE & DIVINE – “Silver Lining” – Frontiers Music 9th April


“Silver Lining”, the debut album from Swedish band Infinite & Divine was released by Frontiers Music on 9th April. The band is a collaboration between singer Tezzi (Terese Persson) and musician/songwriter/producer Jan Åkesson. The track “Infinite & Divine” featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in February, followed by “I Feel Alive” in March and “Off The End of the World” in April.

Tezzi has been active as a vocalist for a few years, but the only other release she seems to have featured on was the Epysode album “Fantasmagoria” in 2103 when she appeared alongside artists such as Mike Lepond of Symphony X, Simone Mularoni of DGM and Tom Englund of Evergrey.

Jan Åkesson started off a songwriter, but has performed in a number of bands, releasing seven albums with Stonelake between 2005 and 2018 as well as an album with his solo project Shadow Rain in 2017. He plays guitar, bass and keyboards on the album. The drums are provided by Jens Westberg.


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THE END MACHINE – “Phase 2” – Frontiers Music 9th April


The initial line-up of The End Machine brought together three band members from the classic Dokken years. Their debut album was released in 2019 and the second album “Phase 2” sees a slight change of membership, but the undeniable Dokken sound is probably even more evident. The tracks “Blood and Money”, “Crack The Sky” and “Dark Divide” have featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show over the past few weeks.


When The End Machine first formed in 2018 if featured Dokken members George Lynch on guitar, Jeff Pilson on bass and Mick Bown on drums. Singer Robert Mason, from Warrant and ex Lynch Mob, completed the line-up. Mick retired from music in 2019 and his place has been taken by his brother Steve Brown.

Both Lynch and Pilson have of course been involved in numerous other projects and both have been guests on the Friday NI Rocks Show. Lynch back in xx and Pilson more recently, in February 2020 when the Black Swan album was released.

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FM – “Tough It Out – Live” – Frontiers Music 9th April


Generally I haven’t included that many live albums in the ‘NI Rocks Recommends’ section, but I wanted to give the latest live album from FM a quick mention. This album features live performances of the 11 tracks from the original release of “Tough It Out” in 1989 as well as another 11 tracks. The album was recorded during the band’s tour in 2019.


“Tough It Out” was the second album from FM and it was released by Epic Records. Three of the band members that recorded that album remain in the band and perform on the new live album – Steve Overland on vocals and guitar, Merv Goldsworthy on bass and Pete Jupp on drums. They are joined by Jim Kirkpatrick on guitar and Jem Davis on keyboards. Another original band member, keyboard player Didge Digital, also appears on the live album.


The live version of “Tough It Out” and “Someday (You’ll Come Running)” were featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show during March.


Merv Goldsworthy was my guest on the Show in May 2020 when the band’s album “Synchronized” was released -


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MOTORJESUS – “Hellbreaker” – AFM Records 9th April

“Hellbreaker” is the latest album from German hard rock / metal band Motorjesus  and it was released on 9th April. Originally known as The Shitheadz when they formed in 1992, their first album, “Dirty Pounding Gasoline” wasn’t released until 2004 and they changed their name to Motorjesus in 2006 to overcome censorship issues. The track “Firebreather” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 16th April and “Hellbreaker” had been featured on the NI Rocks A-Z Show in February.


Motorjesus are vocalist Chris ‘Howling’ Birx, guitarist Andreas Peters (who both joined The Shitheadz in 2000), drummer Adam Borosch, guitarist Patrick Wassenberg and bass player Dominik Kwasny. None of the original founding members of The Shitheadz remain in Motorjesus.


“Hellbreaker” is the band’s first album with AFM Records. Their first album as Motorjesus was “Deathrider” – originally released in 2006 by Locomotive Records and then re-released by Drakkar Entertainment in 2011. The latter label also re-released The Shitheadz album “Dirty Pounding Gasoline” under the Motorjesus name in 2011 as well as releasing “Wheels of Purgatory” in 2010, “Electric Revelation” in 2014 and “Race to Resurrection” in 2018. A live album was released in 2020.


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SWEET OBLIVION FEAT. GEOFF TATE – “Relentless” – Frontiers Music 9th April


Frontiers President Serafino Perugino had overseen the creation of the Sweet Oblivion project to showcase Geoff Tate’s vocals and re-create the classic Queensryche sound. The band’s first, self-titled album was released in June 2019 and the second, “Relentless”, was released on 9th April. The track “Strong Pressure” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in February, followed by “Another Change” in March.


The production and song-writing on the first album was mainly handled by Simone Mularoni from the band DGM, but this time those roles pass to Aldo Lonobile from Secret Sphere, Archon Angel etc. Tate was more involved in the song-writing this time.


In addition to Tate on vocals an Lonobile on guitars, the album features Luigi Andreone on bass, Antonio Agate on keyboards, Michele Sanna on drums and guest appearances from guitarists Walter Cianciusi and Dario Parente.

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ICON OF SIN – “Icon of Sin” – Frontiers Music 16th April


I hadn’t read anything about Icon of Sin when I first played a track that had been sent to us, so the fact that the singer sounded so much like Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden came as a bit of a surprise. It was only when I did a bit of reading that I discovered that Brazilian singer Raphael Mendes is widely recognised for that similarity. He is now fronting Icon of Sin and the band released their self-titled debut album through Frontiers Music on 16th April. The track “Shadow Dancer” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in February, followed by “Night Breed” on 2nd April.

Singer Raphael Mendes is a YouTube sensation and when he was spotted by Frontiers Music they brought together Icon of Sin to showcase his talents. They brought in two other Brazilian musicians that were signed to Frontiers to help with the album – Sergio Mazul from Semblant and Marcelo Gelbcke from Landfall. The result is an album featuring 13 great, classic, heavy metal tracks that any fan of Iron Maiden or 80’s era metal bands will love.


Icon of Sin features Raphael Mendes on vocals, Caio Vidal on bass, Sol Perez and Mateus Cantaleano on guitars and CJ Dubiella on drums.


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TEMPLE BALLS – “Pyromide” – Frontiers Music 16th April


Finnish band Temple Balls signed with Frontiers Music for the release of their third album, “Pyromide”, on 16th April. In only a few years the band have developed a big fan-base around the world, toured through Europe and Japan and shared a stage with some big name bands. Their latest album with Frontiers will certainly expand their popularity! I played the track “Thunder From The North” on the Friday NI Rocks Show in February and “T.O.T.C” in March.


Temple Balls released their first album “Traded Dreams” in 2017. It was recorded in Thailand and produced by Tobias Lindell. The band toured Finland supporting Battle Beast as well as playing in Ukraine and Japan. A second album, “Untamed”, followed in 2019. Their third album, “Pyromide”, sees them working with Jona Tee from H.E.A.T.


Temple Balls are Arde Teronen on vocals, Jiri Paavonaho and Niko Vuorela on guitars, Jimi Välikangas on bass and Antti Hissa on drums.


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FROZEN CROWN – “Winterbane” – Scarlet Records 23rd April


Italian band Frozen Crown released their third album, “Winterbane”, through Scarlet Records on 23rd April. Three of the original five band members departed in 2020 and the replacements were announced in February 2021 after the album was recorded. The track “Far Beyond” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 12th March.


Frozen Crown was formed in 2017 as a female fronted power metal band. Singer Giada ‘Jade’ Etro and guitarist / keyboard player / vocalist Federico Mondelli remain from that original line-up. They, along with guitarist Thalia Bellazecca, bass player Filippo Zavattari and drummer Alberto Mezzanotte released two albums before the change of line-up. Their debut album, “The Fallen King”, was released in early 2018, followed by “Crowned in Frost” in 2019. The videos for the singles from those albums have gained over 18 million views on YouTube.

The departure of Thalia, Filippo and Alberto was only announced in January and the new band members were unveiled the following month. They are Fabiola ‘Sheena’ Bellomo on guitar, Francesco Zof on bass and Niso Tomasino on drums.


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MY REFUGE – “The Anger Is Never Over” – Pride & Joy Music 23rd April


This is the second full length album from My Refuge, a band formed in Italy by guitarist Mauro Paietta about ten years ago. However, “The Anger Is Never Over” differs from the previous album as the twelve tracks feature eleven different singers, with the other track being instrumental. It is also very much a multi-national album with musicians from five different countries and the singers coming from nine different countries. The album was released on 23rd April by Pride & Joy Music. The track “Immortal Fire” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 7th May.

Guitarist Mauro Paietta formed the band in Milan in 2010 and two EPs were released with different line-ups in 2010 and 2013. The line-up remained unchanged for the release of the band’s debut album, “A Matter of Supremacy” in 2015, but there were significant changes over the next few years and in 2020 Paietta decided to turn the band into an international project.

Guitarist Simone Dettore and bass player Salvatore Chimenti, who both played on the previous album contribute to the new release as well. They are joined by Spanish bass player Javier Perez and German drummer Mark Vetter as well as by keyboard players from the Czech Republic and Ukraine.

The vocalists are - Berzan Onen (Turkey) on “Immortal Fire”; Iggy Rod (Argentina) on “War In Heaven”; Ronny Castillo (Venezuela) on “The River and The Rain”; Davide Vella (Italy) on “Mistress of The Dark”; R.A. Voltaire (Canada) on “Winterland”; Ilias Michailicos (Greece) on “What If Tomorrow Never Came”; Andra Ariadna Chitu (Romania) on “Memories”; Rafael Dinnamarque (Brazil) on “After Ten Years”; Arthur Pessoa (Brazil) on “The Anger Is Never Over”; Fernando Neri (Brazil) on “The Last To Die” and Kike Valderrama (Colombia) on “Until The End”.


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GILBY CLARK – “The Gospel Truth” – Golden Robot Records 23rd April


“The Gospel Truth” is the first solo album from guitarist and singer Gilby Clarke in twenty years. It was released on 23rd April by Golden Robot Records and features guest appearances by Nikki Sixx, Kenny Aronoff, Matt Starr and others. The first three singles from the album were released last year and all featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show then – “Rock n Roll is Getting Louder”, “The Gospel Truth” and “Tightwad”. The track “Dangerous Sin” was included on the Show on 30th April.


Gilby Clarke is probably best known for a short stint with Guns n Roses during which he worked on “The Spaghetti Incident” EP that was released in 1993. He was part of the “Use Your Illusion” tour from 1991 to 1993 and therefore also appears on the “Live Era 87-93” album. He was also later part of Slash’s Snakepit and has worked as a musician or producer with many other bands.


Clarke’s first solo album, “Pawnshop Guitars”, was released in 1994 and featured guitarist Ryan Roxie amongst others. Further solo albums followed in 1997, 1998 and 2001. There was also a live album in 1999.

Clarke plays all the guitars on the album as well as doing the vocals and playing bass on some tracks. Others involved include bass players EJ Curse, Mark Dutton, Nikki Sixx, Sean Kelly and Sean McNabb; drummers Dave Langguth, Jorma Vik, Kenny Aronoff, Matt Starr, Morgan Young, Stephen Perkins and Toy Patrick Farrell; and keyboard player Teddy Andreadis.

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