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 Gus G, Jeff Scott Soto, Heartland, Lords of Black, TAO, The Grandmaster, Devoid, U.D.O., Supernova Plasmajets, Osukaru, Joe Bonamassa, Ad Infinitum & Bad Wolves are featured.




GUS G – “Quantum Leap” – AFM Records 8th Oct



“Quantum Leap” is the fourth solo album from guitarist extraordinaire Gus G and it was released by AFM Records on 8th October. Unlike the previous three albums this is a fully instrumental release, although there are six live vocal tracks included on some versions. Gus was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show back in April 2020 and he revealed then that he was thinking of making an instrumental album. Just 18 months later, with covid having prevented any touring, that idea has become a reality and the album is definitely worth checking out. The track “Exosphere” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in April, followed by “Fierce” in June. “Into The Unknown” and the live cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Cold Sweat” were on the Show on 15th Oct.


The interview with Gus G can be found here - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3749-ni-rocks-interview-with-gus-g.html


Gus G will probably be best known for his time with Ozzy Osbourne from 2009 to 2017 when he replaced and was later replaced by Zakk Wylde. By the time he joined Ozzy he had already recorded several albums with his own band Firewind as well as albums with Dream Evil, Mystic Prophecy and Nightrage. Firewind remains his main musical outlet and the band has now released nine studio albums, the most recent of which was “Firewind” in 2020, and two live albums. His first solo album, “I Am The Fire” was released in 2014, followed by “Brand New Resolution” in 2015 and “Fearless” in 2018.


Joining Gus on the album are drummer Vincent Velasco and bass player Dennis Ward. The latter mixed and mastered the album and plays bass on 8 of the 10 new tracks. The album also includes the track “Force Majeure” which was recorded with guitarist Vinnie Moore and originally released in 2018.


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




JEFF SCOTT SOTO – “The Duets Collection Vol 1” – Frontiers 8th Oct

The latest solo release from Jeff Scott Soto is a little different from his normal solo albums as this one sees him collaborate with many other singers on re-recordings of tracks from his career to date. And what a career it has been! In recent years, in addition to his solo material, JSS has released albums with SOTO, W.E.T. and Sons of Apollo. Further back he has worked with Yngwie Malmsteen, Talisman, Axel Rudi Pell and many more. He has also been part of Trans-Siberian Orchestra since 2008 and was heavily involved in the soundtrack for the movie “Rock Star” in 2001.


The track “Mysterious” with Eric Martin was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 30th July followed by “Coming Home” with Deen Castronovo on 27th August and “Don’t Let It End” with Dino Jelusick on 1st October.


JSS was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in April 2019 ahead of the release of the SOTO album “Origami”. You can find that interview here - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3579-ni-rocks-interview-with-jeff-scott-soto-2019.html


The album features guitarists Jorge Salan, Howie Simon and Leo Mancin, drummer Edu Cominato and bass player Tony Dickinson, JSS shares vocals with eleven different vocalists.


1. Livin’ The Life (from ‘Rock Star’) with Erik Martensson (Eclipse/W.E.T.)

2. Don’t Let It End (Yngwie Malmsteen) - with Dino Jelusick (Animal Drive)

3. Mysterious (Talisman) - with Eric Martin (Mr. Big)

4. Believe in Me (JSS) - with Nathan James (Inglorious)

5. Coming Home (Soul SirkUS) - with Deen Castronovo (Revolution Saints, Journey)

6. I’ll Be Waiting (Talisman) - with Alirio Netto (Shaman, Queen Extravaganza)

7. Callin’ All Girls (Eyes) - with Russell Allen (Symphony X, Allen/Lande)

8. Colour My XTC (Talisman) - with Renan Zonta (Electric Mob)

9. Warrior (Axel Rudi Pell) - with Johnny Gioeli (Hardline, Axel Rudi Pell)

10. Holding On (JSS) - with BJ (SOTO, Spektra)

11. Again 2 B Found (Humanimal) - with Mats Leven (Candlemass)

Website - http://jeffscottsoto.com/




HEARTLAND – “Into The Future” – Escape Music 15th Oct


British melodic rock band Heartland released a new album called “Into The Future” through Escape Music on 15th October. This is the band’s first album in fourteen years with the previous album “Mind Your Head” being released in 2007. Between 1991 and 2007 the band released ten studio albums, eight of which were with Escape Music. The track “A Foreign Land” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 17th September, followed by “Caught Up” on 15th October.

Heartland was formed by vocalist Chris Ousey who had previously fronted Virginia Wolf. He is the only person to perform on all eleven albums. The self-titled debut was released in 1991 by A&M Records and that was followed in 1994 by “Wide Open” on Long Island Records. The long-standing partnership with Escape Music commenced with the release of the album “III” in 1995.


“Into The Future” features Chris Ousey on vocals, Mike Slamer and Barish Kepic on guitar and keyboards, Ged Rylands on keyboards, Wayne Banks on bass and David Anthony on drums.



LORDS OF BLACK – “Alchemy of Souls Pt II” – Frontiers 15th Oct


Lords of Black guitarist Tony Hernando was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show last November when the album “Alchemy of Souls Pt1” was released. Just less than a year later, on 15th October, the band released “Alchemy of Souls PtII” through Frontiers Music. The band features vocalist Ronnie Romero and this is their fifth album. So far three tracks from the album have featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show, starting with “Before That Time Can Come” in August, followed by “What’s Become Of Us” on 3rd September and “Bound To You” on 1st October.

Link to interview with Tony  - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3788-ni-rocks-interview-with-tony-hernando-from-lords-of-black.html


Lords of Black formed in 2014 and released their self titled album the same year. Shortly afterwards Romero was chosen to front Rainbow, but he remained with Lords of Black and the band signed to Frontiers for the release of the second album “II” in 2016. The third album, “Icons of the New Days”, was released in 2018.


The band’s founding members, guitarist Tony Hernando and vocalist Ronnie Romero, have appeared on all five albums, although Romero did leave the band briefly during 2019-2020. The other musicians on the latest album are bass player Daniel Criado who joined in 2017 and drummer Johan Nunez who joined in 2020.


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



TAO – “Prophecy” – Tarot Label Media – 15th Oct



When Gary Hughes from Ten was a guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show earlier this year he mentioned that he was working with singer Karen Fell and the band TAO on their debut album. That album, called “Prophecy”, was released through Tarot Label Media on 15th October. Hughes wrote all the songs and produced the album. The track “Nobody But You” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 22nd October.


TAO features Karen Fell on vocals, Chris Gould on guitars and Dave Rosingara  on bass. The album also features Darrel Treece-Burch from TEN on keyboards, Brian Webster on drums and Gary Hughes on backing vocals for two tracks. The album has been mixed and mastered by Dennis Ward.

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

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



THE GRANDMASTER – “Skywards” – Frontiers Music 15th Oct


Frontiers Music have a long, successful track record of creating musical projects that bring together diverse talents. The Grandmaster and the album “Skywards” released on 15th October is another example of that. The band features Brazilian singer Nando Fernandes and German guitarist Jens Ludwig. The track “The Tempest” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in August, followed by “Lunar Water” on 1st Ocober.


Nando Fernandes has been fronting bands for more than 25 years; most recently US based band Lightning Strikes (since 2011) and Sinistra (since 2017). He also teamed up with Brazilian singer Renan Zonta from Electric Mob for another Frontiers project called Brother Against Brother which released an album in June this year.

Jens Ludwig was one of the founding members of Edguy in 1992 and has been the band’s lead guitarist ever since. He has worked with singer Tobias Sammet on ten studio albums for Edguy as well as a couple of the Avantasia albums.

Frontiers go-to producer and session musician Alessandro Del Vecchio handles bass, keyboards and backing vocals as well as production. The other musician involved is drummer Mirkko De Maio.

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





DEVOID – “Lonely Eye Movement” – Frontiers 15th Oct



Devoid are a French band with a German vocalist and “Lonely Eye Movement”, which was released by Frontiers Music on 15th October, is the band’s second album. The title track from that album was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 22nd October.


Devoid formed in 2017 and released their debut album “Cup of Tears” that same year. There have been a few line-up changes since that first album and the band now features vocalist Carsetn ‘Lizard’ Schulz, guitarists Shad Mae and Gwen Kerjan, keyboard player Jorris Guilbaud, bass player Geoffrey ‘Shob’ Neau and drummer Benjamin Lesous.

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





U.D.O. – “Game Over” – AFM 22nd Oct


“Game Over” is the seventeenth studio album from U.D.O. the band formed by singer Udo Dirkschneider back in 1987 when he left Accept. It was released on 22nd October by AFM Music and is the first studio album since 2018. The album follows the release last year of “We Are One” which was a collaboration between U.D.O. and the Musikkorps der Bundeswehr (Band of the German Armed Forces). Both albums feature several tracks focusing on the world’s climate issues. The track “Metal Never Dies” was feature on the Friday NI Rocks Show in July, followed by “Kids and Guns” in August and “Prophecy” on 22nd October.


Udo Dirkschneider fronted Accept from its formation in 1976 until 1987, releasing seven studio albums with the band. He then formed U.D.O. and released four albums before returning to Accept from 1992 to 1997, releasing another three albums. Since 1997 there have been thirteen more U.D.O. studio albums as well as seven live albums and three compilations.


Over the years there have been many changes in the band’s line-up with Dirkschneider being the only musician to appear on all the recordings. Bass player Fitty Wienhold was the only musician to have played on all the albums from 1997 through to the last album “Steelfactory” in 2018 but he has now been replaced by Tilen Hudrap. Guitarists Andrey Smirnov joined the band in 2013 whilst Udo’s son Sven joined as the drummer in 2015. Guitarist Dee Dammers joined in 2018.


Website - https://www.udo-online.de/




SUPERNOVA PLASMAJETS – “Now or Never” – Pride & Joy 22nd Oct



“Now Or Never” is the second album to be released by German band Supernova Plasmajets. I’d been aware of the band since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2017 and actually managed to catch them live when they played the second-stage at Rock The Ring in Switzerland in 2019. The new album was released on 22nd October by Pride & Joy Music. The title track was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show back in July whilst “Beggin” was included on the Show on 22nd October.


Supernova Plasmajets initially formed back in 2010, but it wasn’t until singer ‘Jennnifer Crush’ (Nastassja Spieß) joined in 2013 that things started to happen. An EP called “Reign in Plasma” was released in 2014 and that was followed by the self-titled debut album in 2017.


In addition to singer ‘Jennifer Crush’, the band features ‘Manni McFly’ (Markus Mantei) on guitars and keyboards, ‘Alexis Rose’ (Boris-Alexis Horn) on drums, ‘Randy Stardust’ (Andreas Defren)on guitars and ‘Cliff Bourbon’ (Tobias Heidinger) on bass.

Website - https://supernovaplasmajets.de/




OSUKARU – “Starbound” – AOR Heaven 22nd Oct


“Starbound” is the sixth album from Swedish melodic glam metal band Osukaru and it was released on 22nd October by AOR Heaven. The band’s debut album was only released in 2012 so it has been a fairly busy few years, especially considering the last album “House of Mirrors” was actually released in 2018. Two tracks from the new album have featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show – “Tainted Heart” on 15th October and “Shut It Out” on 29th October.


Osukaru was formed in 2010 by guitarist Oz Hawe Petersson (then  known as Oz Osukaru) and was inititially largely a one-man endeavour. Two EPs were released prior to the debut album “Salvation” in 2012 and then “Triumphant” in 2013. The release of “Transition” in 2015 marked a change of direction and a bigger focus on Osukaru as a band.


There were quite a  few changes to the band line-up over the years. The latest album features Oz Hawe Petersson on guitar, Fredrik Werner on lead vocals and guitar, Olof Gadd on bass and CD on drums.

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



JOE BONAMASSA – “Time Clocks” – Provogue 29th Oct


I’m not sure what there is to say! It’s Joe Bonamassa!! He’s a blues rock legend and “Time Clocks” is his new album that was released through Provogue (part of Mascot Label Group) on 29th October! The track “Notches” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in July and was played again along with the title track and “The Heart That Never Waits” on the Show on 29th October when there was a special promo feature with Joe talking about the album.

“Time Clocks” is Joe’s fifteenth studio solo album. He has also released four studio albums as part of Black Country Communion and three studio albums in partnership with Beth Hart. There have also been a load of live albums as well.


Website - https://jbonamassa.com/



AD INFINITUM – “Chapter II – Legacy” – Napalm Records 29th Oct



Last year Ad Infinitum released their excellent debut album “Chapter I – Monarchy” and followed that with “Chapter I – Revisited”; an acoustic version recorded during the period that the band was unable to tour. Singer Melissa Bonny was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in December and we talked about both albums. On 29th October the band released “Chapter II – Legacy” through Napalm Records. I had my vinyl copy of the album pre-ordered.


The first single “Unstoppable” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in August, followed by “Afterlife” on 1st October and “Animals” on 29th October. The track “Afterlife” also features Nils Molin from Amaranthe and Dynazty.


Ad Infinitum started in 2018 as a solo project for Melissa Bonny, but by the following year had developed into a full band. The initial line-up also featured Adrian Theßenvitz on guitar, Niklas Müller on drums and Jonas Asplind on bass. The latter left the band for health reasons late in 2020 and the new bass player for “Chapter II” is Korbinian Benedict.


Melissa Bonny has previous fronted the bands Rage of Light and Evenmore and recently launched a new band called The Dark Side of the Moon with Hans Platz and Jenny Diehl from Feuerschwanz and Morten Løwe Sørensen from Amaranthe. She has also worked with Rock Meets Classic, Feuerschwamz, Warkings and others.


The December 2020 interview with Melissa can be found here - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3794-ni-rocks-interview-with-melissa-bonny-from-ad-infinitum--rage-of-light.html

Website - https://adinfinitumofficial.com/


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BAD WOLVES – “Dear Monsters” – Better Noise Music 29th Oct


Bad Wolves released their third album, and first with new frontman DL, on 29th October through Better Noise Music. Ignoring any other issues, former front man Tommy Vext was a hard act to follow but DL has done a great job and “Dear Monsters” is an excellent album. The track “Lifeline” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 24th September. The band will be supporting Tremonti on their European tour and will be playing The Limelight on 21st January.

Bad Wolves was formed in 2017 by drummer John Boecklin, guitarists Doc Coyle and Chris Cain, bass player Kyle Konkiel and singer Tommy Vext. The first four are all still in the band. Their first album “Disobey” was released in 2018 and most of the tracks on it were actually written and recorded prior to Vext joining the band. The stand out tracks (for me anyway) were a track featuring singer Diamante called “Hear Me Now” and the cover of The Cranberries track “Zombie” which gained the band international recognition. The band’s second album “N.A.T.I.O.N.” was relased in 2019.


Vext part ways with Bad Wolves in 2020 and the relationship has become somewhat toxic it would seem. Focusing on the music, however, new singer DL (Daniel Laskiewicz) who was previously in the band The Acacia Strain, has done a great job. He had also been involved in the writing on the album “N.A.T.I.O.N.” so there was already a connection with the rest of the band.

Website - https://badwolvesnation.com/