A regular feature highlighting some of the best album releases each month. I don’t do album “reviews” – this is simply a personal recommendation to check out an album - just a few words about the albums that appeal to me and about the artists releasing them. These will also be albums from which I’ll have been playing tracks on the Friday NI Rocks Shows recently. This month it will include albums from Nordic Union, Sunstorm, Restless Spirits, Thundermother, Five Finger Death Punch, Revival Black, Dynazty and Santa Cruz.


NORDIC UNION – “Animalistic” – Frontiers 12th Aug

“Animalistic” is the third album from Nordic Union – a collaboration between singer Ronnie Atkins from Pretty Maids and musician/producer Erik Martensson from Eclipse, W.E.T. etc. The album was released on 12th August by Frontiers Music. The track “In Every Waking Hour” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in June, followed by “This Means War” on 22nd July and the title track “Animalistic” on 12th August.


The first, self-titled Nordic Union album was released by Frontiers in January 2016 and that was followed by “Second Coming” in October 2018. The partnership of Atkins and Martensson has been outstanding across all three albums. In addition to doing much of the writing, as well as the production, mixing and mastering, Martensson plays guitar, bass and keyboard and provides backing vocals. On this latest album the two are joined by guitarists Fredrik Folkare and Thomas Larsson and drummer Henrik Eriksson.


Both Atkins and Martensson were guests on the Friday NI Rocks Show during 2020 – the former in June and the latter in November.




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


 SUNSTORM – “Brothers In Arms” – Frontiers 12th Aug

“Brothers In Arms” is the seventh studio album from Sunstorm and the second to feature Ronnie Romero on vocals. It was released by Frontiers on 12th August. The band was formed by Frontiers back in 2006, largely as a platform for singer Joe Lynn Turner, but the line-up has changed over time. The track “Brothers in Arms” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in June followed by “Games We Play” on 8th July and “Hold The Night” on 12th August.


The first five Sunstorm albums, released between 2006 and 2018, all featured singer Joe Lynn Turner, and the first three, released up to 2012, featured bass player Dennis Ward, guitarist Uwe Reitenauer and drummer Chris Schmidt. From “Edge of Tomorrow” (2016) there was a radical change in the line-up and sound of the band. Alessandro Del Vecchio took over on keyboards and did the production and much of the writing. The final album to feature JLT was “The Road to Hell” in 2018 and the first to feature Ronnie Romero was “Afterlife” in 2021.


Romero and Del Vecchio are joined on the album by bass player Nik Mazzucconi, who has played on the last four albums, drummer Michele Sanna, who also played on the previous album, and new guitarist Luca Princiotta.


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



RESTLESS SPIRITS – “Second To None” – Frontiers 12th Aug

Restless Spirits is a band formed by Lords of Black guitarist Tony Hernando and their second album “Second To None” features four great vocalists – Johnny Gioeli, Kent Hilli, Chez Kane and Renan Zonta. The album was released on 12th August by Frontiers Music. The track “I Need A Lil White Lie” featuring Kent Hilli was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in June and “Dreams of the Wild” featuring Chez Kane was on the Show on 1st July.

The first, self-titled Restless Spirits album was released in 2019 and featured Johnny Gioeli, Deen Castronovo, Dino Jelusick, Kent Hilli, Alessandro Del Vecchio and Diego Valdez on vocals. The second album sees the return of Gioeli (Hardline / Axel Rudi Pell) and Hilli (Perfect Plan / Giant) and the introduction of Chez Kane and Renan Zonta (Electric Mob).

Tony Hernando was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in November 2020 and we chatted about Restless Spirits as well as Lords of Black at that time - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3788-ni-rocks-interview-with-tony-hernando-from-lords-of-black 

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


THUNDERMOTHER – “Black And Gold” – AFM 19th Aug


Thundermother released their fifth album, “Black And Gold”, through AFM Records on 19th August. The all-girl band continues to go from strength to strength over the past few years and is currently on tour with the Scorpions in North America. So far, four tracks from the album have featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show – “Watch Out” in April, “I Don’t Know You” in May, “Hot Mess” on 1st July and “Black and Gold” on 5th August.

Thundermother formed in Sweden in 2010 and released their first album “Rock n Roll Disaster” in 2014, followed by “Road Fever” in 2015. Those first two albums featured Irish singer Clare Cunningham (who was a guest on the Show back in 2014), but in 2017 the band underwent  a huge change with four members leaving and only founding guitarist Filippa Nässil remaining. A new line-up emerged for the release of the “Thundermother” album in 2017 and then “Heat Wave” in 2020.

The band line-up for “Black And Gold” is Filippa Nässil on guitar, Guernica Mancini on vocals, Emlee Johansson on drums and Mona Lindgren on bass.

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


FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH – “Afterlife” – Better Noise Music 19th Aug


“Afterlife” is the ninth studio album from Las Vegas legends Five Finger Death Punch and it was released on 19th August through Better Noise Music. The band formed back in 2005 and has consistently released amazingly powerful tunes ever since. They’ve been a regular on the Friday NI Rocks Show and on my own playlists for many years. I had the latest album pre-ordered on white vinyl. The title track “Afterlife” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in April, followed by “IOU” in May and “Times Like These” on 8th July. “Welcome to the Circus” featured in June and again on 26th August.


FFDP are Ivan Moody on vocals, Zoltan Bathory and Andy James on guitars, Chris Kael on bass and Charlie Engen on drums. The band’s debut album “The Way of the Fist” was released in 2007, followed by “War is the Answer” in 2009. Both Moody and Bathory have been involved in all nine albums, whilst Kael joined for the third album “American Capitalist” in 2011. This is the third album for Engen and the first for James.


Website - https://fivefingerdeathpunch.com/


REVIVAL BLACK – “Under The Light” – TRM Rock Records 26th Aug


English band Revival Black released their second album, “Under The Light”, through TRM Rock Records on 26th August. The track “Broken Home” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 12th August, followed by “See You Again” on 2nd September.


Revival Black released their first album “Step In Line” in 2019. The band had previously released two EPs as Black Cat Bones in 2016/2018, with a different lead singer. The new lead singer for Revival Black was Dan Byrne. The other members of the band are Alan Rimmer and Adam Kerbache on guitars, Jamie Hayward on bass and Ash Jones on drums.


It was announced on 7th September that Dan Byrne had left the band. He has been replaced for the upcoming tour by Kim Jennett.


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


SANTA CRUZ – “The Return of the Kings” – M-Theory Audio 26th Aug

“The Return of the Kings” is the fifth studio album from Santa Cruz and it was released on 26th August through M-Theory Audio. The band formed in Finland back in 2007 but over the past few years there has been a rapid turnover in members and much of the band is now LA based. The track “Under The Gun” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 29th July, followed by “Take Me To America” on 2nd September.


Santa Cruz was formed by singer Arttu ‘Archie Cruz’ Kuosmanen and guitarist Joonas ‘Johnny’ Parkkonen in 2007. They were joined by bass player Mitja ‘Middy’ Toivonen in 2008 and drummer Taz Fagerström in 2009. Together that line-up released three albums between 2013 an 2017. However in March 2018 all but Cruz left the band. A number of musicians came and went over the next two years and when the fourth album “Katharsis” was released in October 2019 all the instruments were player by Cruz or producer Kane Churko.


For “The Return of the Kings” Cruz has recruited LA based guitarist Jerry Jade, bassist Tommy Bradley and drummer Randy McDemian.


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


DYNAZTY – “Final Advent” – AFM 26th Aug

Swedish band Dynazty released their eighth album, “Final Advent”, on AFM Records on 26th August. This is the band’s third album with AFM Records and tracks from those albums have appeared regularly on the Shows. From the latest album - “Yours” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in March, followed by “Presence of Mind” in June, “Natural Born Killer” on 1st July and “The White” on 12th August.


Dynazty formed in 2007/08 and three of the five original members remain with the band – vocalist Nils Molin, guitarist Love Magnusson and drummer Georg Härnsteg Egg. Guitarist Mikael Lavér joined for the third album “Sultans of Sin” which was released in 2012 and bass player Jonathan Olsson joined for the band’s fourth album “Renatus” which was released in 2014.


Nils Molin is also one of the vocalists in Swedish band Amaranthe – replacing Jake E in 2017.


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