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 Beyond The Black, Ten, Black Star Riders, Big City, Heroes & Monsters, Liv Sin, Ronnie Romero etc


BEYOND THE BLACK – “Beyond The Black” –Nuclear Blast 13th Jan

I’ve been a big fan of German band Beyond The Black since hearing some tracks back in 2017 when their second album was re-released. Since then I’ve bought their first two albums on CD and have had the next three albums pre-ordered on vinyl. Their fifth album is self-titled and it was released by Nuclear Blast on 13th January. The first single from the album, “Reincarnation” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in June and August and was also featured on the NI Rocks A-Z Show in August. Since that first single, “Is There Anybody Out There” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in August, “Winter Is Coming” in October, “Dancing in the Dark” in December and “Free Me” on 15th January.


Beyond The Black formed in 2014 and released their debut album “Songs of Love and Death” in 2015 followed by “Lost In Forever” in 2016. Shortly after the second release there was a complete change in the band’s line-up, with the exception of lead singer Jennifer Haben. The new members included Chris Hermsdörfer (lead guitar), Tobi Lodes (rhythm guitar) and Kai Tschierschky (drums) who all remain with the band.


Jennifer Haben was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in 2018 when the band’s third album “Heart of the Hurricane” was released. The fourth album “Hørizøns” was released in 2020.



Website - https://beyond-the-black.com/



TEN – “Something Wicked This Way Comes” – Frontiers 20th Jan

“Something Wicked This Way Comes” is the sixteenth studio album from British band Ten and it was released by Frontiers Music on 20th January. At the core of the band of course is singer Gary Hughes – he was a guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in 2021 when he was releasing a solo album. The track “The Tidal Wave” from the new album was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in November and “Look For The Rose” was featured on 23rd December.


Gary was a guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in March 2021 when his new solo album was released -

Interview - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3805-ni-rocks-interview-with-gary-hughes


Ten was formed by Gary Hughes in 1995 and their debut album “X” was released the following year. Since then they have released another fifteen studio albums, a live album and six compilation albums as well as a few EPs.

Keyboard player Darell Treece-Birch and bass player Steve McKenna joined the band in 2012, whilst guitarists Dann Rosingana and Steve Grocott joined in 2014. The guest drummer on the last two albums has been Marcus Kullman.


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



 BLACK STAR RIDERS – “Wrong Side of Paradise” – Earache 20th Jan

Black Star Riders released their fifth album, “Wrong Side of Paradise”, through Earache Records on 20th January. It’s the first album not to feature founding member Scott Gorham on guitar, although he is joining the band on tour over the next few weeks. That tour includes a show in The Limelight in Belfast on 11th February.


There was a special promo feature for “Wrong Side of Paradise” on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 13th January – that included the tracks “Better Than Saturday Night”, “Pay Dirt” and “Crazy Horses”. All three tracks had featured on the Show previously – the former in June and September (as well as on the NI Rocks A-Z Show in August), “Pay Dirt” in September and “Crazy Horses” in November. In addition, the track “Riding Out The Storm” was included on the Show in December and “Catch Yourself On” on 20th January.


The latest album features Ricky Warwick on vocals and guitar, Robbie Crane on bass, Christian Martucci on guitar and Zak St John on drums. Ricky is the sole surviving member from the original line-up and the only one to appear on all five albums; whilst this is the fourth album for Crane, second for Martucci and first for St John.


The band’s debut album “All Hell Breaks Loose” was released in 2013, followed by “The Killer Instinct” in 2015, “Heavy Fire” in 2017 and “Another State of Grace” in 2019.


Ricky was a guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in March 2021 when his latest solo album was released - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3801-ni-rocks-interview-with-ricky-warwick


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



BIG CITY – “Sunwind Sails” – Frontiers 20th Jan

“Sunwind Sails” is the fourth album from Norwegian band Big City and it was released on 20th January by Frontiers Music. It is their second with Frontiers and second with vocalist Jørgen Bergersen. The track “I’m Somebody” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in November, followed by “Diamond in the Rough” on 23rd December.


The band’s debut album “Wintersleep” was initially released in 2014 and the second album “Big City Life” followed in 2018. Those albums featured original vocalist Jan Le Brandt but he was replaced in 2019 by Jørgen Bergersen who had previously fronted a Europe cover band called Rock The Night. The band then signed with Frontiers for the release of “Testify X” in 2021.


The remaining founding members of Big City are guitarists Daniel Olaisen and Frank Ørland and drummer Frank Nordeng Røe. The bass player is Miguel Pereira.


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



HEROES & MONSTERS – “Heroes And Monsters” – Frontiers 20th Jan

The self-titled debut album from Heroes & Monsters was released by Frontiers Music on 20th January. The band features Todd Kearns, Stef Burns and Will Hunt. The track “Locked and Loaded” featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in October, followed by “Raw Power” in November and “Let’s Ride It” on 27th January.


Todd Kearns will be known to many as the bass player in Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, but he also has a proven track record as a singer, songwriter and producer. He has fronted bands such as The Age of Electric, Sin City Sinners and Toque as well as performing with numerous other bands. He is the lead singer and bass player in Heroes & Monsters.


The drummer in the band is Will Hunt from Evanescence. He has also performed with Black Label Society, Slaughter, Dirty Shirley, Michael Sweet, Gus G and many more. The guitarist is Stef Burns who has his own band and has recorded or performed with artists such as Alice Cooper and Y&T.


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



LIV SIN – “KaliYuga” – Mighty Music 27th Jan

Liv Sin is the solo project featuring Sister Sin vocalist Liv Jagrell. “KaliYuga” is the third album from Liv Sin and it was released on 27th January by Mighty Music. The track “Kings of Fools” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in August, followed by “Antihero” in October and “I Am The Storm” on 13th January.


Sister Sin formed in 2002 and released five albums between 2003 and 2014. When the band split in 2015 singer Liv Jagrell launched her own solo project and released the first Liv Sin album, “Follow Me” in 2017. A second album, “Burning Sermons” was released in 2019. At the end of 2019 Sister Sin announced that they would be reforming but a new album hasn’t been released yet.


Liv was a guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show back in 2017 when her first solo album was released - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3121-ni-rocks-interview-with-liv-jagrell-liv-sin


Performing with Liv on the new album are Daniel Skoglund on bass, Jay Matharu and Patrick Ankermark on guitars and Per Bjevoluk on drums.


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



RONNIE ROMERO – “Raised on Heavy Radio” – Frontiers 27th Jan

Chilean singer Ronnie Romero is undoubtedly one of the best rock vocalists around at the moment. As well as fronting bands such as Rainbow, the Michael Schenker Group and Lords of Black he has worked in numerous other projects and bands. “Raised on Heavy Radio” is his second solo album, following on from his debut “Raised on Radio” which was released last year. It was released by Frontiers Music on 27th January. “The Shining” featuring Chris Caffery was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in November, followed by “Metal Daze” on 23rd December and “No More Tears” featuring Gus G on 27th January.


Ronnie Romero has released albums as the frontman for Lords of Black, Rainbow, The Ferrymen, CoreLeoni, Vandenberg, and Michael Schenker Group. He has also contributed to a number of other projects. “Raised on Heavy Rock” and the earlier “Raised on Radio” feature Ronnie performing covers. On the latest album he is joined by Jose Rubio on guitars, Javi Garcia on bass, Andy C on drums and Alessandro Del Vecchio on keyboards.


There are special guest appearances from guitarists Gus G, Chris Caffrey, Roland Grapow, Alfredo Alonso and Nozomu Wakai as well as singer Corina Minda.


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




GIRISH & THE CHRONICLES – “Back On Earth” – Frontiers 27th Jan

Indian band Girish and The Chronicles have re-recorded their first album “Back on Earth” and released it through Frontiers  Music on 27th January. It was originally released back in 2014, but is now being opened up to a wider audience following their signing to Frontiers. The track “Loaded” featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in November and “Ride To Hell” was on the Show on 6th January.


Girish and the Chronicles formed in 2009 and released “Back on Earth” in 2014. Their second album, “Rock The Highway” didn’t appear until 2020 and their third album – and first with Frontiers – “Hail to the Heroes” was released in 2022.


The band consists of Girish Pradhan on vocals and rhythm guitar, Yogesh Pradhan on bass and keyboards, Suraz Sun on lead guitar and Nagen Nags on drums.


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



ELECTRIC MOB – “2 Make U Cry & Dance” – Frontiers 27th Jan

“2 Make U Cry & Dance” is the second album from Brazilian band Electric Mob and it was released by Frontiers Music on 27th January. The track “Sun Is Falling” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in October, followed by “By The Name” in November and “Love Cage” on 23rd December.


Electric Mob formed in 2016 and released an EP called “Leave A Scar” in 2017. They came to the attention of Frontiers Music who signed them up for the release of their debut album “Discharge” in 2020.


The band is fronted by Renan Zonta, who since 2020 has provided vocals for a few other Frontiers projects. The other band members are guitarist Ben Hur Auwarter, bass player Yuri Elero and drummer André Leister.


Website - https://www.electricmob.com.br/



CROWNE – “Operation Phoenix” – Frontiers 27th Jan

Crowne features members from some of the best Swedish bands around and “Operation Phoenix” is the second album to be released by the band. It was released by Frontiers Music on 27th January. “Champion” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in November, followed by “In The Name of the Fallen” on 23rd December and the album title track, “Operation Phoenix” on 6th January. “Champion” also featured on the NI Rocks A-Z Show in December.


It would be safe to use the term ‘supergroup’ about Crowne as the line-up features singer Alexander Strandell from Art Nation, bass player John Levén from Europe, drummer Christian Lundqvist from The Poodles, guitarist Love Magnusson from Dynazty and keyboard player Jona Tee from H.E.A.T. The latter also plays guitar and he produced the album.


Crowne’s first album, “Kings In The North”, was released by Frontiers in 2021. The track “Perceval” was one of my favourite tunes of the year.


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



URIAH HEEP – “Chaos & Colour” – Silver Lining Music 27th January

“Chaos & Colour” is the 25th studio released by Uriah Heep since they formed in 1969. It was released through Silver Lining Music on 27th January. The track “Save Me Tonight” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in November and again on 27th January as part of a special promo feature with Mick Box talking about the new album. The tracks “Hurricane” and “Fly Like An Eagle” were also included on that Show.


Guitarist Mike Box is the founding member to remain in the band. Vocalist Bernie Shaw and keyboard player and backing vocalist Phil Lanzon joined in 1986 and have been involved in nine of the 25 studio albums. Drummer Russell Gilbrook joined in 2007 and the newest member is bass player Dave Rimmer who joined in 2013.


Website - http://www.uriah-heep.com/2020Site/Index.html