A monthly feature highlighting some of the great album releases during that month. A quick overview of some of the albums released during May that I would really recommend checking out.

This month there are albums by Sara Baldwin, Trucker Diablo, Diamante, Robin McAuley, Skarlett Riot, Sumo Cyco, Sonic Haven, Sunbomb, Levara, Kikimora, Myles Kennedy & Thundermother.



SARA BALDWIN – “No Turning Back” – self released 1st May


I first picked up on the name Sara Baldwin only a few weeks ago when she was tagged by another musician on Instagram and I checked out the track that was mentioned. That led me to check out a few singles by the American singer/guitarist on iTunes and then to purchasing her debut album “No Turning Back” when it was released on 1st May. The track “Separates Me” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 26th February, followed by “Trigger” on 30th April.

As well as Sara Baldwin on vocals and guitars, the principle musicians on the album are Mic Dangerously (Michael Raul De La Torre) on guitars and bass and Scott Wittenberg on drums. The band line-up includes bass player Dylan Wilson, but on the album credits he seems to be listed as a bandmate rather than having played on this recording.

What actually led me to the album initially was the guest musicians that appear on it. Guitarist Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper Band) plays on “Animal”, guitarist Sin Quirin (Ministry) plays on “Separates Me” and guitarist Nikki Stringfield (The Iron Maidens & Heaven Below) along with violinist Emily V play on the track “Trigger”. Keyboard player Katt Scarlett (Femme Fatale) plays on all three of those tracks.


Links – https://linktr.ee/Sarabethmuzic



TRUCKER DIABLO – “Tail End of a Hurricane” – self released 7th May


Northern Ireland band Trucker Diablo released their fifth album “Tail End of a Hurricane” on 7th May. Like the previous 2017 album, “Fighting For Everything”, this one has been released independently by the band. Singer Tom Harte was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 14th May when we played four tracks from the new album. The four tracks released ahead of the album had all featured on the Show during March and April.


Interview - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3812-ni-rocks-interview-with-tom-harte-from-trucker-diablo.html


Trucker Diablo formed in 2008 and released their debut album “Devil Rhythm” in 2011. That was followed by “Songs of Iron” in 2013, “Rise Above The Water” in 2015 and “Fighting For Everything” in 2017. During that time the band have played at numerous festivals and supported touring bands such as Black Stone Cherry and Thunder.

The band went through a short hiatus in 2014 before re-emerging with a slightly different line-up, but this has remained constant since then. That is Tom Harte on guitar and lead vocals, Simon Haddock on guitar, Jim McGurk on bass and Terry Crawford on drums.


“Tail End of a Hurricane” is released independently in the UK and by Bad Reputation worldwide.

Website - http://bigtruckkeepsonrolling.com/





DIAMANTE – “American Dream” – self released 7th May


I’ve been following the career of American singer Diamante for about five or six years and on 7th May she released her second full-length album called “American Dream”. I’d purchased the singles as they were released over the past few months and downloaded the album from iTunes when it became available. Her collaboration with Breaking Benjamin on a great cover of the Goo Goo Dolls track “Iris” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in January, followed by “Ghost Myself” on 9th April and “Obvious” on 30th April.

I first discovered Diamante after the release of her “Dirty Blonde” EP in 2015, when she was still just 19 years old. The title track and the song “There’s a Party in My Pants (And You’re All Invited)” were played several time on the Show. Her debut album “Coming in Hot” was released in 2018 and several singles / tracks from that album also featured on the Show. In 2017 she’d performed backing vocals on the cover of “The Thunder Rolls” by All That Remains, but the collaboration that probably gained her the biggest recognition was that with Bad Wolves on the excellent track “Hear Me Now” which was played numerous times on the Show during 2018.


In 2020 Diamante made the decision to leave Better Noise Records and to release “American Dream” independently. There are CD and vinyl versions available from her website, but not at the moment from any UK / Europe distributors as far as I’m aware. The previous album “Coming In Hot” is available to purchase in the UK – I have the blue vinyl version!


Website - https://www.thisisdiamante.com/





ROBIN MCAULEY – “Standing on the Edge” – Frontiers Records 7th May


Singer Robin McAuley released a long overdue second solo album, called “Standing on the Edge”, via Frontiers Music on 7th May.  Most recently McAuley will be known for fronting Black Swan and the two Michael Schenker Fest albums, but of course he has a long history with the McAuley Schenker Group, Survivor, Grand Prix, Far Corporation etc. Robin will be a guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in the near future, but we’ve already featured the tracks “Standing on the Edge” and “Say Goodbye” on the Show. (The interview and 4 tracks from the album were on the Show on 28th May - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3813-ni-rocks-interview-with-robin-mcauley.html ).

Born in Ireland, McAuley rose to prominence with Grand Prix and Far Corporation before joining Michael Schenker in the McAuley Schenker Group between 1986 and 1993. He released three studio albums and a live acoustic album with Schenker. His first solo album “Business as Usual” was released in 1999. He went on to front Survivor from 2006 to 2011.

Most recently McAuley joined vocalists Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Doogie White on the two Michael Schenker Fest albums “Resurrection” (2018) and “Revelation” (2019) before fronting the band Black Swan for the release of “Shake The World” in 2020. That band featured bass player Jeff Pilson and guitarist Reb Beach, who were both guests on the Show last year, as well as drummer Matt Starr. That album is getting a release on vinyl by Frontiers in June.


The new solo album was produced and co-written by Alessandro Del Vecchio (who also plays bass and keyboards) and overseen by Frontiers president Serafino Perugino. The track “Like A Ghost” is co-written with former Grand Prix bandmate Phil Lanzon (now with Uriah Heep) and Tommy Denander co-wrote “Do You Remember” and “Chosen Few”; whilst Howard Leese of Heart and Bad Company fame co-wrote “Supposed to Do Now” and plays the guitar on that track. The principle musicians on the album, in addition to McAuley and Del Vecchio, are drummer Nicholas Papapicco and guitarist Andrea Seveso.


Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/RobinMcAuleyRock






SKARLETT RIOT – “Invicta” – Despotz Records 7th May


English band Skarlett Riot released their latest album, “Invicta”, through Despotz Records on 7th May and it is their heaviest offering so far. The band formed back in 2010 and since then has released four EPs and three albums. I’ve been following them and featuring their tracks since early 2015 when they came to my attention with the release of their third EP and a UK tour in support of Gus G. Two singles from the new album, “Gravity” and “Stronger”, both featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show earlier in the year. Another track, “Human”, was actually released in early 2020 and was included on the Show then.

The original band members met in school and released their first self-titled EP in 2010. Three of those original members remain – vocalist Chloe ‘Skarlett’ Drinkwater, guitarist Danny Oglesby and drummer Luke Oglesby. Original bass player Tom Mansfield remained with the band for the second EP, “Villain” in 2012 and the debut album “Tear Me Down”, before being replaced by Martin Shepherd. That new line-up released the EPs “We Are The Brave” in 2015 and “Sentience” in 2016 as well as the album “Regenerate” in 2017. Singer Chloe Drinkwater was my guest on the Show in 2016 following the release of “Sentience” - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/2609-ni-rocks-interview-with-skarlett-from-skarlett-riot.html

“Invicta” is the first release to feature new bass player Tim Chambers who joined the band in 2019. The new album also has a harder, heavier edge than the previous album, although there are still a few tracks that retain a more melodic, softer sound, particularly a great track called “Into Pieces”. There is a much wider use of harsher vocals on most of the eleven tracks on the album.


Website - https://www.skarlettriot.co.uk/




SUMO CYCO – “Initiation” – Napalm Records 7th May


“Initiation” is the third album from Canadian band Sumo Cyco since they formed ten years ago and their first since signing to Napalm Records in early 2020. Over the past ten years Sumo Cyco, fronted by Skye Sweetnam, has developed a large, loyal fanbase and gained a reputation for being a hard-working outfit with a well defined brand. The latter is amply demonstrated in the band’s music videos. Whilst the brand may be well defined, the band is much harder to pigeon-hole into any genre of rock and metal and their music mixes many different influences.


Skye was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 9th April when we played the singles “Bystander”, “No Surrender” and “Vertigo”. The first two had already been featured on earlier Shows and the latest single “Bad News” was included on the Show on 7th May.

The interview with Skye can be read on the website and the Show is available from our MixCloud page - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3808-ni-rocks-interview-with-skye-sweetnam-from-sumo-cyco.html


Singer Skye Sweetnam had already made a name for herself as a solo artist from 2003 to 2009, releasing two albums, recording tracks for movies and television and touring as support to Britney Spears. She then formed the band Sumo Cyco with guitarist Matt Drake with Sumo Cyco played their first gig in April 2011, supporting Hollywood Undead.


The band’s first album, “Lost in Cyco City” was released in 2014, followed by “Opus Mar” in 2017. The latest album was originally planned as another independent release on the band’s Radio Ghost Music label and two tracks – “Love You Wrong” and “Run With The Giants” - were released initially in 2019. This is their first album to appear on vinyl - I had pre-ordered the orange vinyl version!

There have been a few line-up changes over the years, but Sweetnam and Drake are at the core of the band. On “Initiation” they are joined by Oscar Anesetti on bass and Matt Trozzi on drums.


Website - https://sumo-cyco.myshopify.com/





SONIC HAVEN – “Vagabond” – Frontiers Records 7th May


German power metal band Sonic Haven, formed and fronted by singer Herbie Langhans, released their debut album “Vagabond” through Frontiers Music on 7th May. Langhans will be familiar to many as the singer for Voodoo Circle, Avantasia, Firewind and other bands. The formation of Sonic Haven sees him return to fronting his own band as he did with German Christian metal outfit Seventh Avenue from 1989 to 2012. Three tracks from the new album have featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show so far – “Vagabond” in March, “Back to Mad” in April and “Striking Back” in May.


Herbie Langhans released six studio albums with Seventh Avenue before the band split in 2012. During that period he had also guested on albums by Kamelot, Mob Rules, Rhapsody of Fire amongst others and from 2008 had also been fronting Sinbreed. Since departing Seventh Avenue he has recorded with Avantasia, Sascha Paeth’s Masters of Ceremony, Voodoo Circle and Firewind to name a few.


Joining Langhans in Sonic Haven are drummer Andre Hilgers (Bonfire / Rage / Silent Force), guitarst Carsten Stepanowicz (Radiant) and bass player Dominik Stotzem (Beyond The Bridge). The album is mixed and mastered by Sascha Paeth.


Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/SonicHavenofficial




SUNBOMB – “Evil and Divine” – Frontiers Records 14th May


Sunbomb is the name given to a project that sees a perhaps unlikely uniting of two great musical talents – singer Michael Sweet from Stryper and guitarist Tracii Guns from L.A. Guns. The result is an excellent album called “Evil and Divine” that was released by Frontiers on 14th May – I had pre-ordered the red vinyl version. Several tracks have featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show - “No Tomorrows” in February, “Life” in March and “Evil and Divine” in May.

Tracii Guns will be best known as the guitarist for L.A. Guns and his links to Guns n Roses, though he has been involved in numerous other projects including Contraband, Brides of Destruction and Devil City Angels. He was my guest on the Show back in 2015 - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/2196-ni-rocks-interview-with-tracii-guns.html


Michael Sweet is best known as the front-man for Christian rock band Stryper, but also sang with Boston for three years and has released several solo albums. It’s not the first time that the Stryper frontman has teamed up with a guitarist on what might seem an unusual project – the excellent Sweet & Lynch albums with George Lynch being another example. However, the Sunbomb album “Evil and Divine” has a very different sound. Sweet was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show back in 2015 as well - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/2282-ni-rocks-interview-with-michael-sweet-from-stryper.html

Joining Guns and Sweet on the album are drummer Adam Hamilton and bass player Mitch Davis. The latter plays on all the tracks except “They Fought” which features L.A. Guns bassist Johnny Martin.


Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/SunbombMetal




LEVARA – “Levara” – Mascot Records 14th May


This is an unusual recommendation on a couple of levels. Firstly, because I never thought I’d mentioning boy band One Direction in a post – Levara features the band’s former drummer Josh Devine. Secondly, because the band seems to have imploded even before the album was released with founder Trev Lukather seemingly being booted out of his own band. This only seemed to come to light after the album’s release by Mascot Records on 14th May.

There was a promo feature with Trev Lukather talking about the album on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 14th May and the track “Heaven Knows” was on the Show back in March. Some of the tracks are a bit mellow or pop-like for my tastes, but overall “Levara” is definitely worth a listen.


Levara was formed by Trev Lukather, son of Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, who has been around the music scene for a while, working with Halestorm. Diamante and others. He recruited former One Direction drummer Josh Devine and French singer Jules Galli. Those two now seem to have kicked him out of the band and they plan to continue without him.


Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/levaramusic





KIKIMORA – “Dirty Nails” – Escape Music 14th May


Kikimora is a Bulgarian band formed by guitarist Nikolo Kotzev in 2011. Originally the intention was to record tracks in the Bulgarian language, but over time the band started doing large concerts showcasing the music of bands such as Deep Purple, Rainbow and Whitesnake. Work on an English language album commenced in 2020 and the album “Dirty Nails” was released by Escape Music on 14th May. The track “Bogeyman” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 7th May.


Guitarist Nikolo Kotzev might be familiar to many as the founder of the band Brazen Abbot which released five studio albums and a live album between 1995 and 2005. Each of those studio albums would feature a number of vocalists, including Göran Edman, Joe Lynn Turner, Glenn Hughes, Jorn Lande, Tony Harnell and Thomas Vikström. He also released the rock opera “Nostradamus” in 2001 – that featured Turner, Hughes, Edman and Lande as well as Alannah Myles, Doogie White and Sass Jordan.


In addition to Kotzev on guitar, Kikimora features vocalist Nikola Zdravkov, drummer Nikolay Todorov, bass player Nikolay Tsevkov and keyboard player Alexander Antov.


Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/kikimora2011






MYLES KENNEDY – “The Ides of March” – Napalm Records 14th May


“The Ides of March” is the second solo album to be released by Myles Kennedy, following on from “Year of the Tiger” in 2018. The album was written and recorded during the covid pandemic when Kennedy had an enforced break from touring with Alterbridge or Slash. There was a special promo feature with Kennedy talking about the new album on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 14th May to coincide with the release of the album by Napalm Records. The tracks “In Stride” and “Get Along” had featured on the Show previously and the title track was on the Show on the 21st May.


Myles Kennedy has been fronting Alterbridge since 2004, releasing six studio albums and four live albums. He has been working with Slash since 2009, singing two tracks on the first album before becoming the sole lead singer for the next three albums.

The first solo album had more of an acoustic focus, but “The Ides of March” is a much harder hitting release. It once again features Kennedy’s collaborators from “Year of the Tiger” – drummer Zia Uddin and bass player Tim Tournier – and was recorded with producer Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette in Florida.

Website - https://myleskennedy.com/





THUNDERMOTHER – “Heat Wave – Deluxe Edition” – AFM Records 21st May


Swedish band Thundermother released their fourth album “Heat Wave” in July 2020. That version featured thirteen tracks, but the band have now released a ‘Deluxe Edition” with an extra ten tracks, including three brand new ones. Two of those – “The Road Is Ours” and “You Can’t Handle Me” have featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show recently.


Thundermother formed in 2009 and released two albums with Irish singer Clare Cunnigham – “Rock N Roll Disaster” in 2014 and “Road Fever” in 2015. There was then a big change in line-up in 2017 which left just founding member, guitarist Filippa Nassil remaining. She put together a new line-up that released the album “Thundermother” in 2018 and “Heat Wave” in 2020.


Thundermother is Guernica Mancini on vocals, Filippa Nassil on guitar, Emlee Johansson on drums and Majsan Lindberg on bass. The new bonus tracks feature guest appearances from Jesper Binzer (D.A.D.), Dregen (Backyard Babies / Hellacopters) and Pontus Snibb (Bonafide).


Website - https://www.thundermother.com/