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

This month there are album releases from Hardline, Laurenne/Louhimo, Strÿkenine, Big City, Heaven & Earth, Shotgun Mistress, Resurrection Kings, Rian, Lee Aaron, Lucer, Stephen Crane & Duane Sciacqua, Dee Snider and The Quireboys.





HARDLINE – “Heart, Mind and Soul” - Frontiers 9th July


“Heart, Mind and Soul” is the seventh album from Hardline and their fourth with Frontiers since 2012. It was released on 9th July. Singer Johnny Gioeli is once again on top form and never disappoints whether it be with Hardline or Axel Rudi Pell. Three tracks from the album have featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show so far – “Fuel to the Fire” in April, “Surrender” in May and “If I Could I Would” in June.


Hardline formed in 1991 and the original line-up featured Johnny on vocals, his brother Joey Gioeli and Neal Schon on guitar, Todd Jensen on bass and Deen Castronovo on drums. The first album “Double Eclipse” was released in 1992 but the band had split by the end of that year. The brothers reformed the band in 1999 with a new line-up and released the album “II” in 2002. Joey departed in 2003 and it was 2009 before the third album “Leaving The End Open” was released.

The band signed to Frontiers for the release of “Danger Zone” in 2012. All four albums with Frontiers have featured Johnny on vocals alongside bass player Anna Portalupi and keyboard player Alessandro Del Vecchio. The last two albums have included guitarist Mario Percudani and drummer Marco Di Salvia. This is actually the first time that two consecutive albums have featured the same line-up. They all play on the “Life Live” album released in 2020 as well.


Website - http://www.hardlinerocks.com/




LAURENNE/LOUHIMO – “The Reckoning” – Frontiers 9th July


This is another of those great musical collaborations that Frontiers are so adept at producing. This one features Finnish vocalists Netta Laurenne from Smackbound and Noora Louhimo from Battle Beast. The former initiated the project and wrote the songs and produced the album alongside her husband Nino Laurenne who plays guitar on the album. The track “Bitch Fire” featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 21st May and “The Reckoning” on the Show on 11th June.


In addition to the two singers, the album features Nino Laurenne on guitar, Sampo Haapaniemi on drums, Pasi Heikkla on bass and Vili Itapelto on keyboards. There are also a number of guest guitarists. The album was released on 9th July.

Netta Laurenne has released two solo albums as well as the Smackbound album “20/20” which was released by Frontiers in 2020. She also works as an actress.

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

Noora Louhimo has released four albums with Battle Beast since 2013 and released a solo album earlier this year. She has also guested on tracks with other artists including Amaranthe, Arion and Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall. She is one of the vocalists on Magnus Karlsson’s Heart Healer Metal Opera album released this year.

Website - https://nooralouhimo.com/


Facebook page for the project - https://www.facebook.com/laurennelouhimo




STRŸKENINE – “Strÿkenine I” – Pride & Joy 16th July


Swedish melodic rock band Strÿkenine released their debut album through Pride & Joy Music on 16th July. The band formed in 2015 and released an EP called “Nowhere To Run” in 2018. The track “Once And For All” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 16th July.

Strÿkenine was formed in Stockholm by guitarist Andi Sarandopoulos, drummer Henrik Remesaho and singer Jacob Petäjämaä whilst they were still in their teens. The following year they were joined by guitarist Alex Zackrisson and bass player Tony Bakirciouglu. Also playing on the album are keyboard players Patrik Törnblom (who was a member of the band from 2017 to 2020) and Passi Oksman.


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





BIG CITY – “Testify X” – Frontiers 16th July


“Testify X” is the third album from Norwegian melodic rock band Big City, but their first with Frontiers Music who released the album on 16th July. Big City features musicians with experience from a number of other bands and it can trace its roots back to 2009 and the desire of guitarist Daniel Olaisen to form a 80’s metal influenced band. Three singles from the album have featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show – “Testify” in May and then “Dark Rider” and “The Rush” in June.

The band’s first album “Wintersleep” was released in 2014 and the second album “Big City Life” followed in 2018. A deluxe edition of the second album also included all the tracks from “Wintersleep”.


The latest album is the first with new singer Jørgen Bergersen who joined the band in 2019. He joins founding members Daniel Olaisen on guitar, Frank Ørland on guitar and Frank Nordeng Røe on drums as well as bass player Miguel Pereira.


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





HEAVEN & EARTH – “V” - Frontiers 16th July


“V” is, oddly enough, the fifth album from Heaven & Earth, a band that formed back in the mid 90’s that has seen quite a few line-up changes over the years. There have been some high profile members of the band and other big names have made guest appearances on albums, but the only constant throughout has been guitarist Stuart Smith. The track “Drive” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in May and “One in a Million Men” followed in June.

The first self-titled Heaven & Earth album was originally released in 1998 and featured appearances from Richie Sambora, Glenn Hughes, Howard Leese, Carmine Appice, Chuck Wright, Joe Lynn Turner, Kelly Hansen and others. It was re-released in 2004 alongside an EP called “A Taste of Heaven”. The second album “Windows To The World” was released in 2000 with Kelly Keeling on vocals, Richie Onori on drums and appearances from Howard Leese, Chuck Wright, and Tony Franklin. Guitarist Stuart Smith became involved with a Sweet reunion led by Steve Priest and it was a few years before the next Heaven & Earth album was released.


The third album “Dig” was released in 2013 and features Joe Retta on vocals, Onori on drums, Wright on bass, Smith on guitar and Arlan Schierbaum on keyboards with guest appearances from Leese and Sambora. That was followed by “Hard to Kill” in 2017 which again featured Retta and Smith, but this time with bass player Lynn Sorensen, drummer Kenny Aronoff and keyboard player Ty Bailie.


“V” features Gianluca Petralia on vocals, Stuart Smith on guitar, Lynn Sorensen in bass, Simon Wright on drums and George Barabas on keyboards.


Website - https://heavenandearthband.com/






SHOTGUN MISTRESS – “Shotgun Mistress” – Crusader Records 16th July


Australian band Shotgun Mistress released their self titled, debut album on 16th July through Crusader Records which is part of Golden Robot Records. The band formed in 2018 and since mid 2020 they’ve released a few singles, most of which have featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show – “Save Me From Myself”, “Collide”, “Glorious Machine” and “Bleed Me Out”.


Shotgun Mistress are guitarist Matt Wilcock, drummer ‘Diamond’ David Lee, bass player Ben Curnow and vocalist Glenn Patrick. Wilcock is well known as a death metal guitarist for bands such as The Bezerker, Akercocke and Abramelin, whilst Curnow has played with Earth and Patrick performed with Collegians.


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




RESURRECTION KINGS – “Skygazer” - Frontiers 16th July


“Skygazer” is the second album from Resurrection Kings, the band that features Craig Goldy on guitar, Chas West on vocals and Vinny Appice on drums. It was released by Frontiers Records on 16th July; over five years after the same label released the band’s self-titled debut album. The album’s title track was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in May whilst “World’s On Fire” was included on the NI Rocks A-Z Show on 22nd June.


Frontiers had contacted Craig Goldy about the possibility of doing the first album that was released in January 2016 and Alessandro Del Vecchio was a big part of that album in terms of writing, playing keyboards and production. He returns to produce the latest album and also plays some of the bass and keyboards; with Craig Goldy doing the rest.


I recorded an interview with Goldy when the first album was released - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/2459-ni-rocks-interview-with-craig-goldy-dio-resurrection-kings-etc.html - and later recorded an interview with Chas West when he released the West Bound album in 2019 - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3558-ni-rocks-interview-with-chas-west-from-west-bound.html


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







RIAN – “Twenty-Three” - Frontiers 16th July


Swedish melodic rock band Rian released their second album, called “Twenty Three”, through Frontiers Records on 16th July. The band formed back in 2016 and released their debut album “Out of the Darkness” the following year. The track “Stop” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in May, followed by “We Belong” on 9th July. “Stop” was also included on the NI Rocks A-Z Show on 29th June.


The band’s first album featured guitarist and vocalist Richard Andermyr, bass player Jonas Melin and drummer Jan Johansson. It was released on the Melodic Rock Records label. Lead guitarist Tobias Jakobsson joined the band after their first live shows in 2018.


Website - https://rianrocks.com/


LEE AARON – “Radio On!” – Big Sister Records / Metalville - 23rd July


Canadian singer Lee Aaron released her latest album “Radio On!” via Big Sister Records / Metalville on 23rd July. She is best known for the rock albums she released in the 80’s and early 90’s but in total she has now released fourteen studio albums. “Radio On!” is the first to get a vinyl release since “Some Girls Do” in 1991 and I managed to get a copy of this white vinyl version. The track “Cmon” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show during June and “Vampin” is on the Show on 6th August.


“The Lee Aaron Project” was released in 1982 and was followed by “Metal Queen” (and it’s iconic album cover) in 1984. Four more albums followed from 1985 to 1991 – all on Attic Records. The 1994 album “Emotional Rain” was released on her own label and marked a shift in sound from the previous releases. This was even more marked with the next release which was a self-titled album under the band name 2preciious in 1996. The next two albums in 2000 and 2004 were jazz albums and it was 2016 before another Lee Aaron album emerged with the release of “Fire and Gasoline” on her own Big Sister Records label. That was followed by “Diamond Baby Blues” in 2018 and a Christmas album in 2020.


“Radio On!” was recorded with guitarist Sean Kelly, bass player Dave Reimer and drummer John Cody. The initial vinyl and CD releases seem to have sold out more or less instantly and required a second pressing.


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





LUCER – “L.A. Collection” – Mighty Music 30th July

Danish band Lucer released their third album, called “L.A. Collection” through Mighty Music on 30th July. These are tracks from early in the band’s career that have been resurrected for release. It’s an album of great rock tunes that are inspired by the band’s heroes from the 80’s – AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, D-A-D etc. There’s a definite Airbourne vibe as well. So definitely one worth checking out. The track “Roll The Dice” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show back in May whilst “Make My Getaway” is featured on the Show on 6th August.

Lucer started off with three members but are now a foursome. Many will know them from their support slots with Mike Tramp and they frequently performed as his backing band on tour. The band released their debut EP in 2014 and their first album “Bring Me Good News” in 2015. That was followed by “Ghost Town” in 2019.


The band started with two brothers Lasse Bøgemark on vocals and bass and Anders Bøgemark on guitar as well as Jonathan Nørgaard on drums. Those three have now been joined by guitarist Kristoffer Kristensen.


Lucer have plans for the release of a brand new album called “The New World” in 2022. The title track from that was released in 2020 and was included on the Show then whilst the latest single “Trouble” was included on the Show on 2nd July.


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







STEPHEN CRANE & DUANE SCIACQUA – “Big Guns” – AOR Heaven 30th July


“Big Guns” was initially recorded as the self-titled debut for a band that featured Stephen Crane, Duane Sciacqua and others in the mid 80’s. The recordings have been remastered and in some cases re-recorded and were released by AOR Heaven on 30th July. The track “Gangland” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 16th July.


American singer and bass player Stephen Crane had released an album called “Kicks” in 1984. This was poorly supported by the label at the time but has since been re-released twice – most recently by AOR Heaven in March of this year. Crane, along with guitarist Duane Sciacqua, who had also worked on the “Kicks” album, went on to form the band Big Guns. They also recruited Johnny Burnett, drummer Paul Daniel and guitarist/keyboard player Matt MacKelvie. Ten tracks were recorded for an album that never materialised despite the band being popular in Hollywood at that time. Years later, following the successful re-releases of “Kicks” it was decided to resurrect the Big Guns tracks and Sciacqua was able to locate the tapes and commence remastering and some re-recording.





DEE SNIDER – “Leave A Scar” – Napalm Records 30th July


“Leave A Scar” is the latest album from former Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider. It was released on 30th July by Napalm Records who also released “For The Love of Metal” in 2018 and “For The Love of Metal Live!” in 2020. The singles from all three albums have been featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show of course. Most recently from “Leave A Scar” we had “I Gotta Rock (Again)” on the Show on 2nd July and “Down But Never Out” on the Show on 6th August.


Dee Snider of course fronted Twisted Sister from 1976 through to 1987 and again from 2003 to 2016 as well as during a few revivals in-between. He also released albums with Desperado and Widowmaker and has a long career as radio host, TV personality and actor. His first solo album “Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down” was released in 2000. It wasn’t until 2012 that the next solo album appeared – “Dee Does Broadway” being an album of show tunes given the Dee Snider treatment. That was followed by “We Are The Ones” released by Ear Music in 2016 and then the two studio albums and a live album with Napalm Records.


The album features guest vocals from George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher on the track “Time to Choose”. Performing on the album are bass player Russell Pzutto, drummer Nick Bellmore and guitarists Charlie Bellmore and Nick Petrino.


Website - https://deesnider.com/





THE QUIREBOYS – “A Bit of What You Fancy” – Off Yer Rocka 30th July



The Quireboys shouldn’t need any introduction to fans of rock music and a copy of their 1990 debut album “A Bit of What You Fancy” should be in everyone’s collection. The current line-up of the band have recorded and released a 30th Anniversary Edition of the album. The initial release through Off Yer Rocka was on 30th July, with the vinyl version (which I have pre-ordered) being released in September. The new recording of “7 O’Clock” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 6th August, followed by “Don’t Love You Anymore” on 20th August.


Singer Spike and guitarist Guy Bailey formed The Queerboys in 1994 and changed the name to The Quireboys in 1997. There had been a few line-up changes by the time Spike, Bailey, guitarist Guy Griffen, bass player Nigel Mogg, keyboard player Chris Johnstone and drummer Ian Wallace recorded and released “A Bit of What You Fancy” in 1991. It went to number two on the UK album charts. Rudy Richman had replaced Wallace on drums by the time the second album “Bitter Sweet & Twisted” was released in 1993. The band split later that year and reformed briefly in 1995 before a proper reunion in 2001 which included Spike, Bailey and Mogg.


Keyboard player Keith Weir joined the band in 2001 just after the release of “This Is Rock n Roll” and has played on all the studio albums since then along with Spike, Bailey and guitarist Paul Guerin who joined in 2004. There have been a number of changes in the bass and drum positions in the band since 2001. The four core band members are joined on the “30th Anniversary” recording by Nick Mailing who recorded the bass and drums as well as by Pat McManus on fiddle, Dave Banks on mandolin and Jasmin James and Angie Brown on backing vocals.


Website - http://quireboys.com/

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