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 includes albums from Ellefson/Soto, Drown Again, Orianthi, Alter Bridge, Pefect Plan, Turkish Delight, The New Roses, Stryper, Iron Allies and Wild Heat.


ELLEFSON / SOTO – “Vacation in the Underworld” – Rat Pak Records 7th Oct


Bass player David Ellefson and singer Jeff Scott Soto have collaborated on a new project simply called Ellefson / Soto. Their debut album, “Vacation in the Underworld” was released through Rat Pak Records on 7th October. I had the limited-edition turquoise and black splatter vinyl version pre-ordered. The album gets a European release through Rock of Angels Records on 11th November.

The track “Vacation in the Underworld” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in August, followed by “Like A Bullet” on 16th Sept and “The Reason” on 14th Oct.


David Ellefson is of course best known as the former bass player in Megadeth. More recently he has released a solo album (“Sleeping Giants” 2019), a covers album as Ellefson (“No Cover” 2020) and an album with The Lucid (“The Lucid” 2021). Jeff Scott Soto currently fronts Sons of Apollo, Soto and W.E.T. and in the past has sang with Talisman, Yngwie Malmsteen, Axel Rudi Pell and others.


Ellefson and Soto are joined on the album by drummer Paulo Caridi and guitarist Andy Martongelli, who also plays keyboards. On tour they have added guitarist Valerio De Rosa. Guests on the album are Giada Jade Etro from Frozen Crown for the track “The Day Before Tomorrow” and Steve Conley and Ken Mary from Flotsam and Jetsam on “Vacation in the Underworld”.


Both Jeff Scott Soto and David Ellefson were guests on the Friday NI Rocks Show in 2019 –




Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/ellefsonsoto


DROWN AGAIN – “Emerge” – Independent Release 10th Oct

“Emerge” is the debut album from Drown Again, a band fronted by a German/Italian living in Ireland and featuring musicians from the USA. That frontman is singer and producer Rob Mancini. The track “Measure of Man” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in August and “Drown Again” was included on 9th Sept.


Rob Mancini is no stranger to Rock Radio NI with previous projects such as his solo album “Rock n Roll Circus”, Portuguese band Scar for Life and Irish band Boneyard Dog (alongside Davy K) all getting airplay. The US based contingent in Drown Again are guitarist Frank Blair, bass player Erik Lundquist and drummer Jason Blessing.


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


 ORIANTHI – “Rock Candy” - Frontiers 14th Oct

“Rock Candy” is Orianthi’s fifth studio album and it was released through Frontiers Music on 14th October – just a few weeks after the release of the live album “Live From Hollywood”. I had the pink vinyl version pre-ordered! The first single “Light It Up” appeared on the Friday NI Rocks Show in September, followed by “Where Did Your Heart Go” on 14th Oct and “Witches & The Devil” on 28th Oct.


Australian guitarist rose to prominence when she was chosen by Michael Jackson to play on the ill-fated “This Is It” tour in 2009 – having already released her first solo album “Violet Journey” in 2007. Her second album “Believe” was released in 2009 and she joined the Alice Cooper Band in 2011; remaining with them until 2014. A third solo album, “Heaven in this Hell”, was released in 2013. The following year she started working with Richie Sambora on what was to become RSO – the album “Radio Free America” finally appeared in 2016.


I recorded my first interview with Orianthi in the Ulster Hall when she performed with Richie in 2014 and a second in 2020 when her fourth solo album “O” was released. http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3791-ni-rocks-interview-with-orianthi-sp-641207451


On “Rock Candy” Orianthi has worked with Jacob Bunton who produced the album as well as playing bass, guitar, keyboards, piano and violin and providing backing vocals. The drummer is Kyle Cunningham. Bunton has worked as a songwriter, producer and musician for many big names. He first appeared on my radar when he fronted the band Lynam and then Steven Adler’s band Adler for the album “Back From The Dead” in 2012. I posted an interview with Jacob back in 2013 - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/1164-ni-rocks-interview-with-adler-frontman-jacob-bunton


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



 ALTER BRIDGE – “Pawns & Kings” – Napalm Records 14th Oct

Since forming in 2004 Alter Bridge have released a new studio album every three years. “Pawns & Kings” is the seventh studio album from the band and it was released on 14th October by Napalm Records. The album title track was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in July and “Silver Tongue” appeared in August. There was a special promo feature with Myles and Mark on the Show on 14th October that also included the tracks “Holiday”, “Sin After Sin” and “Pawns & Kings”.


Alter Bridge formed in 2004 when former Creed members, guitarist Mark Tremonti, bass player Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips joined forces with vocalist Myles Kennedy. Over the past 18 years those four have made Alter Bridge into one of the biggest names in rock, releasing four live albums alongside the seven studio albums.


At the same time Mark Tremonti has released five albums with Tremonti and most recently a solo album called “Tremonti Sings Frank Sinatra”. Myles Kennedy has fronted Slash’s band for 12 years and released four albums as Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators. In addition he has released two solo albums.


Website - https://alterbridge.com/


PERFECT PLAN – “Brace for Impact” – Frontiers 14th Oct

Swedish band Perfect Plan released their third album “Brace For Impact” through Frontiers on 14th Oct. The band features current Giant frontman Kent Hilli on vocals. The track “Surrender” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in August, followed by “Can’t Let You Win” on 23rd September.


Perfect Plan released their debut album “All Rise” in 2018 and the second album “Time for a Miracle” in 2020. They also released an EP of covers called “Jukebox Heroes” in 2019.


In addition to Hilli on vocals, the band features Rolf Nordström on guitar, Leif Ehlin on keyboards, Fredrik Forsberg on drums and Mats Byström on bass.


Website - https://perfectplan.se/



TURKISH DELIGHT – “Volume One” – Escape Music 21st Oct

This is an album that has been created by Escape Music’s co-owner Khalil Turk as a celebration of the music that he has been supporting for over 30 years, and particularly since Escape Music was formed in 1995. It features a wealth of well-known musicians, many of whom have released albums through Escape Music. I had my coloured, double vinyl copy of the album pre-ordered. The tracks “Harder They Fall” with Jeff Scott Soto on vocals and “Bad To Good” with Steve Overland on vocals were included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 21st October.


Over the past few years I’ve worked with Khalil to arrange quite a few interviews including Bobby Barth from Axe, Gary Pihl and Robert Berry from Alliance, Mark Mangold from Touch, Danny Danzi, John Elefante and Steve Mann. I’ve also purchased a lot of vinyl from the label’s website. Check out https://www.the-music-shop.net/ to see what is available!


Some of the artists contributing to the album include Billy Greer, Jeff Scott Soto, Robin McAuley, Chris Ousey, Ronnie Romero, Tony Harnell, Steve Overland, Mat Sinner, Joel Hoekstra, Jeff Pilson, Gary Pihl, Billy Sheehan, Chris Childs, Jim Kirkpatrick, Steve Mann, Mark Mangold, Marco Mendoza, Brian Tichy, Mark Stanway, Robin Beck etc.


THE NEW ROSES – “Sweet Poison” – Napalm Records 21st Oct

“Sweet Poison” is the fifth studio album from German band The New Roses and it was released on 21st October through Napalm Records. The track “The Usual Suspects” has featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show twice – in August and again on 29th October. The track “1st Time for Everything” was included on the Show on 23rd September.


The New Roses trace their roots back to 2006, but their self-titled EP didn’t appear until 2012 and that was followed by their debut album “Without A Trace” in 2013. They signed with Napalm Records for further albums releases in 2016, 2017 and 2019.


The New Roses are singer and guitarist Timmy Rough, guitarist Dizzy Daniels, bass player Hardy and drummer Urban Berz.


Website - https://thenewroses.com/index.html


 STRYPER – “The Final Battle” – Frontiers 21st Oct

“The Final Battle” is the fourteenth album from Stryper during a career extending over almost forty years. Like the previous four albums, it was released through Frontiers Music. Four tracks from the latest album have been featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in recent months – starting with “Rise to the Call” in July, “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” in July, “Transgressor” in September and “Same Old Story” on 7th October.


Stryper formed in California in 1983 and released their debut album “The Yellow and Black Attack” the same year. They released four more albums between 1985 and 1990 before splitting in 1993. The band reformed briefly in 1999 before returning properly in 2003. The album “Reborn” was released in 2005 and eight more albums have followed since.


Guitarist and singer Michael Sweet, guitarist Oz Fox and drummer Robert Sweet have been constant features in the Stryper line-up through all the albums. Bass player Perry Richardson joined in 2017.                                                                                                      

Michael Sweet was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show back in 2015 when “Fallen” was released - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/2282-ni-rocks-interview-with-michael-sweet-from-stryper


Website - https://stryper.com/


IRON ALLIES – “Blood In Blood Out” – AFM 21st Oct

Iron Allies is a new band featuring former Accept members Herman Frank and David Reece. The band’s debut album “Blood In Blood Out” was released on 21st October by AFM Records. The album’s title track was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 16th September and the track “Full of Surprises” was on the Show on 4th November.


Herman Frank was the guitarist in Accept from 1982 to 1984 and again in 2005 and from 2009 to 2014. He is also a member of the band Victory with whom he has released nine albums since 1986 and he has released a number of solo albums. David Reece was the vocalist in Accept for a short period in 1988-89 and released one album with the band. At various times he has also fronted Bonfire, Tango Down, Bangalore Choir and other bands as well as releasing a number of solo albums.


The other members of Iron Allies are drummer Francesco Jovino (U.D.O., Primal Fear, Jorn, Sinner etc), bass player Malte Burkert (Victory, Reece) and guitarist Mike Pesin (Thomsen, Victory).


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


WILD HEAT – “Hustle” – Distortion Project Records 28th Oct

“Hustle” is the second album from local band Wild Heat and it was released on 28th October through Distortion Project Records. The band have featured regularly on the Friday NI Rocks Show over the past few years and a new album finally provides more tracks to pick from. The track “Long Gone” was included on the Show on 4th October, followed by “Red Lights” on 29th October, “Dynamite” on 5th November and “Hypnotised” on 19th November.


Wild Heat released their debut album “Call of the Void” in 2018. That album and “Hustle” were both recorded, mixed and mastered by Frankie McClay at Einstein Studios in Antrim. The band line-up has stabilised since 2018 and “Hustle” features Tommy Vice (Tommy Bell) on vocals, Carlos Goggin and Dave Zane (Dave Thompson) on guitars, Neal Fowler on bass and Konstantin Gkialos on drums.


Website - https://wildheatband.weebly.com/