A regular feature highlighting some of the great album releases each month. I don’t do album “reviews” - these are just recommendations. A few words about the artists and the albums that appealed to me this month. These will be albums from which I’ll have been playing tracks on the Friday NI Rocks Shows recently.

This month the list features Flotsam & Jetsam, Midnite City, Brother Against Brother, Mammoth WVH, Crowne, Timo Tolkki's Avalon, Social Disorder, Constancia, Buckcherry and King Company.




FLOTSAM & JETSAM – “Blood in the Water” – AFM Records 4th June


“Blood in the Water” is the 14th studio album from American metal band Flotsam & Jetsam since their debut release in 1986. The album was released on 4th June by AFM Records. The track “Burn The Sky” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in April followed by “Blood In The Water” and “Brace for Impact” in May.


Flotsam & Jetsam trace their roots back in Phoenix in 1981, although the name only appeared in 1984. Their first album “Doomsday for the Deceiver” was released in 1986 and shortly after bass player Jason Newsted left to join Metallica. That first album also featured vocalist Eric A.K. Knutson who is the only band member to appear on all their releases as well as guitarists Edward Carlson (who played remained in the band until 2013) and Michael Gilbert (who played on the first six albums up to 1997 and returned to the band in 2011 for the last four albums) as well as drummer Kelly David-Smith (who remained in band until 1997 and returned for a period between 2011 and 2015).

The current Flotsam & Jetsam line-up features Knutson and Gilbert as well as guitarist Steve Conley (since 2013), bass player Bill Bodily (since 2020) and drummer Ken Mary (since 2017).


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





MIDNITE CITY – “Itch You Can’t Scratch” – Roulette Media 11th June


British band Midnite City released their third album, “Itch You Can’t Scratch” through Roulette Media on 11th June. The band was formed in 2017 by Tigertailz vocalist Rob Wylde and both the previous albums also made it into the ‘NI Rocks Recommends’ feature. The track “Atomic” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in March followed by “Crawlin’ In The Dirt” on 21st May. The latter track had previously featured on the NI Rocks A-Z Show in February.

Tigertailz frontman Rob Wylde formed Midnite City in 2017 and the band released their self-titled debut the same year. Wylde brought in drummer Pete Newdeck (Newman, Blood Red Saints, Eden’s Curse etc), guitarist Miles Meakin, keyboard player Shawn Charvette and bass player Josh ‘Tabbie’ Williams. That line-up has remained unchanged over the past four years.

The debut album and the second album “There Goes The Neighbourhood” were both released by AOR Records, with the latter coming out in October 2018. The band have now signed with Roulette Media. All three albums have been produced, mixed and engineered by Newdeck with Harry Hess doing the mastering.

Website - https://midnitecity.com/




BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER – “Brother Against Brother” – Frontiers Music 11th June


Brother Against Brother is a project that brings together two great Brazilian vocalists and their self-titled debut album was released through Frontiers Music on 11th June. Those singers are Renan Zonta from Electric Mob and Nando Fernandes from Lightning Strikes. The track “Valley of the Kings” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show back in April whilst “Deadly Sins” was included on the Show on 14th May.

Nando Fernandes is a highly respected singer and has been fronting bands for more than 25 years; most recently with US based band Lightning Strikes (since 2011) and Sinistra (since 2017). Renan Zonta made a name for himself on ‘The Voice Brazil’ and with his YouTube videos. His band Electric Mob was signed to Frontiers in 2019 and released a fantastic debut album called “Discharge” the following year.


The Brother Against Brother project was initiated and overseen by Frontiers President Serafino Perugino and like many other Frontiers projects involves Alessandro Del Vecchio as writer and producer. He also plays bass and keyboards on the album. The other musicians are Jonas Hornqvist on guitar and Michele Sanna on drums.


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



MAMMOTH WVH – “Mammoth WVH” – EX1 Records 11th June


Mammoth WVH is very much Wolfgang Van Halen’s band – he plays all the instruments and does all the singing. The band’s self-titled debut album was released through EX1 Records on 11th June. There were several vinyl pre-order options – I went for the orange vinyl version from the band’s official store.

The track “Distance” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in February and “Don’t Back Down” was featured on the Show twice in April. There was a special promo feature with Wolfgang Van Halen on the Show on 4th June along with three more tracks from the album. The latest track to be featured was “Epiphany” on 25th June.

Wolfgang was of course the son of Eddie and was the bass player in Van Halen from 2006 until 2020 when the band officially disbanded upon the death of his father. He was also the bass player for Tremonti from 2012 to 2016, playing on two of the band’s albums. Work on a solo project started in 2015 and the band name was chosen to reflect the early name of his father’s band before it became Van Halen.

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





CROWNE – “Kings In The North” – Frontiers Music 18th June


“Kings In The North” is the debut album from Swedish band Crowne and it was released by Frontiers Music on 18th June. Crowne brings together some great names from the Swedish rock scene so it would be fair enough to call it a ‘supergroup’, although quite often band members dislike that label. Several singles from the album have featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show recently – “Mad World” in March, “Sharoline” in April and “Perceval” in May.

Crowne features singer Alexander Strandell (from Art Nation, Diamond Dawn etc) guitarist and keyboard player Jona Tee (from H.E.A.T.), bass player John Levén (from Europe) and drummer Christian Lundqvist from The Poodles. Guitarist Love Magnusson from Dynazty also provides some guitar solos.

Frontiers of course excels at bringing together these kind of project bands and this is another successful collaboration that I imagine might return for with another album in the near future.


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





TIMO TOLKKI’S AVALON – “The Enigma Birth” – Frontiers Music 18th June


“The Enigma Birth” is the fourth album from Timo Tolkki’s Avalon and like the previous three it sees the guitarist working with several vocalists. The rock opera concept is now well established and Timo Tolkki has demonstrated that he is a master of the genre over the course of four albums between 2013 and 2021. The track “Master of Hell” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in April and “Memories” is featured on the Show on 2nd July.


Timo Tolkii was a member of Stratovarius from 1984 to 2008. He worked on a couple of other projects before forming Avalon in 2013. The first album “The Land of New Hope” followed the same year and then “Angels of the Apocalypse” the next year. Guest vocalists on those albums included Michael Kiske, Elize Ryd, Russell Allen, Sharon Den Adel, Floor Jansen and Simone Simons. The third album “Return to Eden” was released in 2019 and the singers included Zak Stevens, Mariangela Demurtas and Todd Michael Hall.

The latest album features singers Caterina Nix, Brittney Slayes, Jake E, James LaBrie, Marina La Torraco, Raphael Mendes, Fabio Lione and Pellek (the first three of those listed have been guests on the Friday NI Rocks Show). Tolkki plays all the guitars, with some assistance from Federico Maraucci and Aldo Lonibile. The other musicians are bass player Andrea Arcangeli, drummer Marco Lazzarini and keyboard player Antonia Agate.




SOCIAL DISORDER – “Love 2 Be Hated” – AFM Records 18th June

Social Disorder is a music project initiated by Anders ‘LA’ Rönnblom the Swedish bass player from the band Killer Bee. He has recruited an excellent, largely unknown singer along with some high profile names such as Tracii Guns and Rudy Sarzo. The band released their first album called “Love 2 Be Hated” through AFM Records on 18th June. The track “Windy Road” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in March and the title track featured on the Show in May.

Anders ‘LA’ Rönnblom and Canadian singer Brian ‘Bee’ Frank formed Killer Bee in the 90’s and the band released three albums then before going into hiatus and reappearing in 2011. They’ve released seven albums since then, the most recent being “Remember The Time” in 2019. His new project Social Disorder is a labour of love and the songs on the first album are very much about his life and some of the battles that he has faced.


The vocalist on all the tracks is Thomas Nordin, a largely unknown singer with a huge talent who was recommended by Leif Ehlin (the keyboard player from Perfect Plan, who also plays on the album).


Prior to forming Killer Bee, Rönnblom had formed a band called Romance in 1988 and this band reformed in 2015 as X-Romance. Three members of X-Romance also perform on this album – drummer Kenta Karlbom, keyboard player Thomas Widmark and guitarist Fredrik Tjerneld.


Other guest players include guitarist Tracii Guns from L.A. Guns, bass player Rudy Sarzo (ex Quiet Riot, Ozzy, Whitesnake etc), drummer Shawn Duncan from Killer Bee and DC4, guitarist Jeff Duncan from Armored Saint, drummer Snowy Shaw (ex Dream Evil, King Diamond etc), keyboard player Dave Stone (ex Rainbow) and guitarist Johan Niskanen from Swedish band Dust.


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





CONSTANCIA – “Brave New World” – Pride & Joy Music 18th June


“Brave New World” is the third album from Swedish band Constancia and their first with new vocalist Pete Godfrey. It was released on 18th June through Pride & Joy Music. I almost missed the e-mail about the release, but picked up on it recently and the track “Stronger” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 16th July.


Constancia was formed by keyboard player Mikael Rosengren in 2007. He brought in guitarist Janne Stark, drummer Peter Svensson, bass player Michael Müller and singer David Fremberg. Their first album “Lost and Gone” was released in 2009. Linus Abrahamson replaced Müller in 2013 and the second album “Final Curtain” was released in 2015.


When work commenced on the third album in 2019 singer David Fremberg was unable to commit the time and English singer Pete Godfrey was recruited. Godfrey has fronted Blood Red Saints and In Faith and was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show back in 2015 - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/2370-ni-rocks-interview-with-pete-godfrey-from-blood-red-saints.html


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






BUCKCHERRY – “Hell Bound” – Earache – 25th June


“Hell Bound” is the ninth studio album from Buckcherry and probably one of their best in a long time. I was so impressed by the first track that I heard that I pre-ordered the album on orange vinyl ahead of it’s release by Earache Records on 25th June. That track was “So Hott” and it was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in April and again on 25th June. The title track “Hellbound” was included on the Show on 4th June.


The original incarnation of Buckcherry, featuring singer Josh Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson, was active from 1995 to 2002 releasing the albums “Buckcherry” and “Timebomb”. Todd and Nelson reformed the band in 2005 with guitarist Stevie Dacanay, drummer Xavier Muriel and bass player Jimmy Ashhurst. The hugely successful album “15” was released that year. Three more albums followed before Ashhurst departed in 2013 and the final album with Nelson and Muriel was “Rock n Roll” in 2015. The album “Warpaint” was released in 2019.

The current line-up features Josh Todd, Stevie D, bass player Kelly LeMieux, drummer Francis Ruiz and guitarist Billy Rowe. The band tour the UK in November / December 2021.


Website - http://buckcherry.com/





KING COMPANY – “Trapped” – AOR Heaven 25th June

“Trapped” is the third album from Finnish band King Company and it was released on 25th June. It’s the band’s first album with AOR Heaven since moving from Frontiers. King Company was formed in 2014 by drummer Mirka ‘Leka’ Rantanen and the line-up has remained static with the exception of vocalist with each album featuring a different singer. The track “Dangerous Tonight” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 9th July.

Rantanen formed King Company in 2014 with vocalist Pasi Rantanen, Antti Wirman on guitar, Jari Pailamo on keyboards and Time Schleifer on bass. Their debut album “One For The Road” was released in 2016 but illness forced a change in frontman and Italian singer Leonard F Guillan took over for the second album “Queen of Hearts” that was released in 2018. The new singer for the third album is Ilkka Keskitalo.


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