A regular feature highlighting some of the best album releases each month. I don’t do album “reviews” - these are just recommendations to check out an album. 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, album releases from Anette Olzon, Newman, Between Worlds, M.ill.ion, Edge of Paradise, King Zebra, Robledo, Planet Fatale, Vega, Danny Danzi, Tremonti Toxicrose are featured.




ANETTE OLZON – “Strong” – Frontiers – 10th Sept


“Strong” is the excellent new solo album from Swedish singer Anette Olzon. It was released on 10th September by Frontiers Records and is her second solo album; following on from “Shine” in 2014. Olzon is probably best known as the front-woman for Nightwish from 2007 to 2012 but since then has released albums with Russell Allen and as part of The Dark Element. Three singles from the new solo album have featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show since June – “Parasite”, “Sick of You” and most recently (on 27th Aug) “Fantastic Fanatic”.

Olzon had released two albums with Alyson Avenue before joining Nightwish in 2007. She released two studio albums with Nightwish – “Dark Passion Play” and “Imaginaerum” – before leaving in 2012. Her first solo album was released in 2014 ahead of two albums with The Dark Element in 2017 and 2019. In 2020 a collaboration with Russell Allen (as Allen/Olzon) led to the release of the album “Worlds Apart”.


The other key player in the Allen/Olzon project was Swedish musician and producer Magnus Karlsson. Olzon also worked with Karlsson on the “Heart Healer – the Metal Opera” album released earlier this year and he has been involved in the writing and production of “Strong” as well as playing guitar and bass on the album. The drummer is Anders Köllerfors and Olzon’s husband Johan Husgafvel provides some growling vocals.


(Magnus Karlsson was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in 2019 - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3674-ni-rocks-interview-with-magnus-karlsson.html )


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




NEWMAN – “Into The Monsters’ Playground” – AOR Heaven – 10th Sept



British melodic rock band Newman released their thirteenth studio album, “Into The Monsters’ Playground”, on 10th September. The band is fronted by Steve Newman and the album was released though AOR Heaven. Newman have been featured regularly on the NI Rocks Shows over the past ten years or so and the track “Give Me Tonight” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show a few weeks ago.

Steve Newman had been part of several bands during the 80s and 90s before forming Newman in 1997. The self-titled debut album was released shortly afterwards. That was followed by four studio albums with Escape Music between 1999 and 2006 and then two more with Chrome Dome Music in 2007 and 2010. The first of six studio albums with AOR Heaven was “Under Southern Skies” in 2011. The previous album “Ignition” was only released in March 2020, but as the band were unable to tour because of covid, work on “Into The Monsters’ Playground” began only a few months later.

Steve Newman plays guitars and keyboards on the new album as well as providing the vocals and he also produced it. Rob McEwen played drums and percussion. The Newman band normally features guitarist Shaun Bessant, keyboard player Paul Boyle, bass player Dave Bartlett and drummer Harry Younger.


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





BETWEEN WORLDS – “Between Worlds” – Frontiers 10th Sept


Between Worlds is a band created by Frontiers Music to feature American vocalist Ronny Munroe. The self titled debut album was released on 10th September. Munroe is probably best known for fronting Metal Church, but he has also released three solo albums and albums as part of a number of other bands. The album title track “Between Worlds” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 2nd July, followed by “Soul Chaser” on 30th July.

Ronny Munroe had been in a few bands before being asked to front Metal Church in 2003. He recorded three albums with the band before it split in 2009 and he then rejoined in 2012 and recorded the album “Generation Nothing” before departing in 2014. In between the Metal Church he had released an album and EP with the band Presto Ballet as well as his first two full solo albums. A third solo album, “Electric Wake”, followed in 2014 and Munroe fronted the band Peacemaker for their 2018 album “Concrete and Terror”. He has also performed with Trans Siberian Orchestra.

Between Worlds started as an idea in 2019 with Alessandro Del Vecchio and Frontiers taking the lead. The other key musicians on the album were guitarists Pete Alpenborg and Jack Frost, bass player Alex Jansen and drummer Michele Sanna. There are guest appearances from guitarists Joel Hoekstra on “Soul Chaser” and Chris Caffrey on “Angel” and “No Escape”. The latter track also features bass player John Lee Middleton. Del Vecchio of course plays keyboards as well as looking after much of the song-writing and production.

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


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M.ILL.ION – “Back on Track” – AOR Heaven – 10th Sept



“Back On Track” marks the return of Swedish rock band M.ill.ion after a break of seven years. The band formed in 1989 and released seven studio albums between 1992 and 2011 before calling time in 2014. The new album features three new tracks and two re-recordings as well as ten remixes or remasters of tracks that appeared on the band’s first three albums. The new song “Back on Track” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 30th July.

M.ill.ion formed in 1989 and released their debut album “No 1” in 1992. Further albums followed every three or four years up to 2011 and the release of “Sane & Insanity”. Following a serious illness founding member and bass player B.J. Laneby decided to put the band on hold in 2014.


In 2020 four of the band’s original members got together to reform the band – Laneby, singer Hans Dalzon, guitarist CT Rohdell and keyboard player Marcus Berglund. Those four were joined by new members, guitarist Henrik Andersson and drummer Magnus Rohdell.


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




EDGE OF PARADISE – “The Unknown” – Frontiers 17th Sept


“The Unknown” is the fourth album to be released by LA based band Edge of Paradise since it formed ten years ago. The band is fronted by Margarita Monet. Their third album “Universe” was the first to be released by Frontiers in November 2019. When the covid pandemic prevented touring during 2020 the band returned to the studio to record “The Unknown” which as released on 17th September. The first three singles from the new album have all featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show – “Digital Paradise” in June, “My Method Your Madness” in July and “The Unknown” in August.


Edge of Paradise formed in 2011 when singer Margarita teamed up with guitar player David Bates. The latter had been working with singer Robin McAuley, bass player Tony Franklin and drummer Gregg Bissonette in a band called Bleed and they were all involved in the first Edge of Paradise album called “Mask” which was released in September 2011. The band’s second album. “Immortal Waltz” was produced by Michael Wagener and was released in 2015. That was followed by the highly acclaimed EP “Alive” in 2017. The band then signed to Frontiers for the release of “Universe” in 2019.


For “The Unknown”, Monet and Bates are joined by bass player Ricky Bonazza and drummer Jamie Morena. The album was mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen and the production teams included Howard Benson, Mike Plotnikoff and Neil Sanderson.

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




KING ZEBRA – “Survivors” – Golden Robot 17th Sept



“Survivors” is the third full album from Swiss band King Zebra, but the first to feature American singer Eric St Michaels who joined the band in 2017. The album was released on 17th September through Golden Robot Records / Crusader Records. The first single from the album, “She Don’t Like My R n R” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show back in January. That was followed in April by a track called “Wall of Confusion” that features Thundermother singer Guernica Mancini. The latest single “Hot Cop Lady” was included on the Show on 3rd September.


King Zebra formed in Zurich in 2012 and released the debut album, “Greatest Hits”, in 2013 followed by “Wild! Wild! Wild!” in 2015. Both of those albums were self-released by the band. Former China frontman Eric St Michaels replaced the original singer in 2017 and a self titled EP was released in 2019 before the band signed to Golden Robot for the release of “Survivors”.


King Zebra are Eric St Michaels on vocals, Roman Lauer and Jerry Napitupulu on guitars, Manu Judge on bass and Ben Grimm on drums.


Website - https://www.kingzebra.ch/





ROBLEDO – “Wanted Man” – Frontiers 17th Sept


“Wanted Man” is the debut solo album from Chilean singer James Robledo and it was released on 17th September by Frontiers Music. Last year Frontiers had released the Sinner’s Blood album “The Mirror Star” which features Robledo on lead vocals. So far two tracks from “Wanted Man” have featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show – “Dreams Deceive” on 30th July and “The Good Will Rise” on 27th August. The title track featured on the NI Rocks A-Z Show earlier in July.


James Robledo previously fronted Chilean band Alternancia and then Argentinian band Thabu with whom he released two albums in 2011 and 2016. He joined Chilean band Renegade in 2017, releasing the album “Given Work?” in 2018, before joining Sinner’s Blood alongside Chilean producer, songwriter and musician Nasson.


“Wanted Man” was written and produced by Alessandro Del Vecchio who also plays keyboards and bass on the album. The other musicians are Andre Hilgers on drums and Francesco Marras from Tygers of Pan Tang on guitar.

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





PLANET FATALE – “The Cycle Repeats” 17th Sept



“The Cycle Repeats” is the debut album from English band Planet Fatale and it was released independently on 17th September. The band first came to my notice in August when the guys at Duff Press sent me a press release and I checked out the video and tracks on Soundcloud. That same night I pre-ordered the splatter vinyl version of the album! The track “Break For You” appeared on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 20th August and “Talking To Myself” will be on the Show on 1st October.


Planet Fatale formed in Cambridge in early 2019. Singer Hels Johnson, bass player James Millar and drummer Ollie Wallace had previously been in a band called Powderhead together whilst guitarists Simon Murden and Chris Delay had come from the bands Unit 9 and Salamander. For the first year the band actually retained the name Powderhead, releasing two singles (“Shotgun Riders” and “Smash My Face”) and a live EP called “Live Powder”.


The album was produced by Russ Russell and features ten tracks. It is available from the band’s websites on black vinyl, splatter vinyl, cassette or CD as well as digitally.

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





VEGA – “Anarchy And Unity” – Frontiers 17th Sept



“Anarchy And Unity” is the seventh studio album to be released by English band Vega since they formed in 2009. The band have featured regularly on the NI Rocks Shows over the years and singer Nick Workman has been a guest on the Show twice. Three singles from the new album have appeared on the Friday NI Rocks Show over the past few weeks – “Sooner or Later” in July, “Ain’t Who I Am” in August and “Beautiful Lie” on 3rd September.

Vega formed in 2009 when prolific song writing brothers James and Tom Martin teamed up with former Kick and Eden vocalist Nick Workman. James also plays keyboards whilst Tom plays bass. Guitarist Marcus Thurston has also been with the band since 2009, although not ‘officially’ until 2013. The debut album “Kiss of Life” was released by Frontiers in 2010 and the second album “What the Hell!” was released by Spinefarm in 2012. The band then moved back to Frontiers for “Stereo Messiah” in 2014 and all subsequent releases have come via Frontiers.


Singer Nick Workman was a guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in October 2014 following the release of  “Stereo Messiah” and he and Thurston recorded an interview with me in Belfast whilst on tour with Magnum in May 2016 just after the release of “Who We Are”. That interview appeared on the NI Rocks A-Z Show - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/2640-ni-rocks-interview-with-nick-a-marcus-from-vega.html


The four original band members are joined on “Anarchy And Unity” by new members Billy Taylor on guitars and Pete Newdeck on drums.


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



DANNY DANZI – “Tribulations” – Escape Music 24th Sept



“Tribulations” is the third album from New Jersey based singer, producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Danny Danzi. It was released through Escape Music on 24th September. Danny is my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 1st October when we play three tracks from the album plus an earlier single. Another track called “Don’t” was included on the Show on 17th September.


The album is his first in about 18 years, following on from “Somewhere Lost In Time” in 1999 and “Danziland” in 2003. The first album had largely featured Danny playing all the instruments and doing most of the writing, whilst “Danziland” featured a full band. The new album once again sees Danny playing all the instruments, but writing has been shared with brothers Joey and Guy DeFalco.


You can find out much more if you check out the 35 minute chat with Danny - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3822-ni-rocks-interview-with-danny-danzi.html


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




TREMONTI – “Marching In Time” – Napalm Records 24th Sept



It can be pretty much guaranteed that I’m going to like anything that gets released by Tremonti and the latest album “Marching In Time” simply reinforces that! I have my silver vinyl version pre-ordered. The album is the fifth by the band and it was released on 24th September by Napalm Records. The Friday NI Rocks Show on 24th Sept included a short promo feature with Mark Tremonti as well as the tracks “Marching In Time”, “If Not For You” and “A World Away”. The latter two tracks had already been played on the Show on 23rd July and 3rd Sept respectively.


Mark Tremonti will be best known as the guitarist for Alter Bridge and previously with Creed. The Tremonti solo project started in 2010 with Eric Friedman playing guitar, bass and keyboards on the first album and Garrett Whitlock playing drums. That debut album, “All I Was”, was released in 2012. Wolfgang Van Halen joined the band as bass player just after the first album and remained through “Cauterise” in 2015 and “Dust” in 2016. Friedman took over the bass duties again for “A Dying Machine” in 2018.


Tremonti and Friedman are joined on “Marching In Time” by drummer Ryan Bennett and bass player Tanner Keegan. The album is produced by Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette who had also produced the four previous Tremonti albums.


Website - https://marktremonti.com/




TOXICROSE – “In For The Kill” – Crusader Records 24th Sept



“In For The Kill” is the second album from Swedish metal band ToxicRose and it was released on 24th September through Crusader Records which is part of Golden Robot Records. The band have a distinct sound that blends sleaze rock and metal influences. “Domination”, the first single from the new album was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show back in March. That was followed by “Outta Time” in June and “Heroes” on 3rd Sept.


ToxicRose formed in Stockholm in 2010 and released a self-titled EP in 2012. The debut album “Total Tranquility” was released in 2016 through City of Lights. The band signed to Crusader Records for their third album which gets a vinyl release in November.


Three of the band members have been there from the outset – vocalist Andy Lipstixx, guitarist Tom Wouda and drummer Michael Sweet. Original drummer Goran Imperator was replaced by current drummer Johannes Sandberg in 2018.

Website - https://www.toxicrose.org/