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 this will include albums from Venus 5, Bloody Heels, Chaos Magic, Drive At Night, Dan Reed Network, Sole Syndicate, Jorn, Devil’s Train, L.A. Cobra, Classless Act and Ousey Mann.


VENUS 5 – “Venus 5” - Frontiers 10th June

Venus 5 is a new music project from Frontiers Music which features five different female vocalists from across Europe. The band’s self-titled debut album was released on 10th June. The singer best known to me is Tezzi Persson from the excellent Infinite & Divine. The others are Herma (from Sick N’ Beautiful), Karmen Klinc (from Rock Partyzani), Jelena Milovanovic and Erina Seitllari.


The track “Tom and Ms Amy Lee” featured on the NI Rocks A-Z Show in March and previously on the Friday NI Rocks Show in February. The tracks “Because of You” and “We Are Dynamite” featured on the latter Show in April and May respectively.


The writers on the album include Jake E from Cyrha and previously Amaranthe as well as guitarist Stefan Helleblad from Within Temptation. The latter also plays guitar on the album alongside Aldo Lonobile and Gabriele Robotti. Others involved are bass player Dann Arisi, drummer Alfonso Mocerino and keyboard player Antonio Agate.


Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Venus5Music



BLOODY HEELS – “Rotten Romance” – Frontiers 10th June

Latvian band Bloody Heels released their third album “Rotten Romance” on 10th June. This is their second album since signing to Frontiers. The title track was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in April.


The band formed in Riga in 2012 and released an EP called “Summer Nights” in 2014 and their debut album “Through Mystery” in 2017. They then signed to Frontiers for the release of “Ignite The Sky” in 2020.


Bloody Heels are singer Valts Berzins (Vicky White), guitarist Haralds Avotins (Harry Rivers) on guitar, Gunars Toms Narbus (Gunn Everett) on bass and Gus Hawk (Gustavs Vanags) on drums.


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



CHAOS MAGIC – “Emerge” - Frontiers 17th June

“Emerge” is the third album to be released by Chilean band Chaos Magic and it was released by Frontiers Music on 17th June. The band is fronted by Caterina Nix who was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in 2019 when the band’s second album was released – http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3619-ni-rocks-interview-with-caterina-nix-from-chaos-magic-2019


Caterina had also done a written interview for us back in 2015 when the debut album appeared.


The title track from the new album was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in April, followed by “In The Depth of Night” on 20th May.


The self titled Chaos Magic debut album in 2015 was a collaboration with Timo Tolkki, but the second album “Furyborn” in 2019 saw Caterina working with fellow Chilean producer and musician Nasson. The latest album sees that partnership with Nasson continue to excellent effect.


Nasson also plays bass and provides vocals on the album. The others involved are guitarist Mario Torres, keyboard player Mistheria (founder of the Vivaldi Metal Project) and drummer Carlos Hernandez. Elina Siirala from Leaves Eyes provides vocals on “Garden of Winter”.


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


 DRIVE AT NIGHT – “Echoes of An Era” – Pride & Joy 17th June

“Echoes of an Era” is the debut album from Swedish band Drive At Night and it was released on 17th June through Pride & Joy Music. This is an album that almost escaped me because it got lost amongst my backlog of e-mails and I only just got listening to it a couple of weeks after it was released. So there hadn’t been a track featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show until “Weekend Fun” on 8th July.


Drive At Night was formed during 2021 by Joachim Nordlund and Johan Lindstedt who are both members of Swedish band SunStrike. It is very much a band dedicated to the 80’s melodic rock sound. Lindstedt plays drums whilst Nordlund takes on vocals, guitars, bass and keyboards.


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


 DAN REED NETWORK – “Let’s Hear It for The King” – Drakkar 17th June

The Dan Reed Network released their latest album “Let’s Hear It For The King” through Drakkar Entertainment on 17th June. This is the band’s sixth full studio album and their third since reforming almost ten years ago. The track “Starlight” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show back in October and “Pretty Karma” in February. More recently “Homegrown” was on the Show on 27th May and the title track on 17th June.


The Dan Reed Network of course made their name back in the 80’s and 90’s with the release of an EP called “Breathless” in 1986 and then a self titled album in 1988. That was followed by “Slam” in 1989 and “The Heat” in 1991. I, like many others, remember them supporting Bon Jovi in The Kings Hall in Belfast in 1990. The band split in 1993 and it would be New Years Eve 2012 before they reformed. The first new studio album was “Fight Another Day” in 2016 and that was followed by “Origins” in 2018.


All five of the band members from the late 80’s / early 90’s line-up reunited for the 2012 show, but there was a change in 2015 when keyboard player Blake Sakamoto left and was replaced by Rob Daiker. The other four members of the Dan Reed Network were part of the band when it formed in 1984. They are vocalist and guitarist Dan Reed, guitarist Brion James, bass player Melvin Brannon III and drummer Dan Pred.


Website - https://danreed-network.com/



SOLE SYNDICATE – “Into The Flames” – Scarlet Records 17th June

“Into The Flames” is the third album from Swedish band Sole Syndicate and it was released on 17th June by Scarlet Records. The track “Brave Enough” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 1st July.


Sole Syndicate formed in 2015 and released their debut album “Garden of Eden” in 2017. That was followed by “Last Days of Eden” in 2020. The band features Jonas Månsson on guitar and lead vocals, Katja Rasila on keyboards and backing vocals, Henrik Zetterlund on drums and David Gustafsson on bass and backing vocals.


Website - https://solesyndicate.com/


JORN – "Over The Horizon Radar" - Frontiers 17th June

Anything that Norwegian singer Jørn Lande is involved with is going to worth checking out and his latest solo album “Over The Horizon Radar” is no exception. The album was released on 17th June by Frontiers Music. The track “Over The Horizon Radar” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in April, followed by “One Man War” on 20th May.


Jørn Lande fronted the bands Vagabond, The Snakes (with Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody) and Ark before joining Masterplan in 2002. By then he had also released a couple of solo albums. In addition Jørn has released four albums with Russell Allen (as Allen/Lande) and another with Trond Holter. He has also appeared on many other recordings and is a long-term member of Avantasia.


As a solo artist, Jørn has now released 14 solo studio albums, including four albums of covers, as well as several live and compilation albums.

The album features Jørn Lande on vocals, Tore Moren and Adrian SB on guitars, Nik Mazzucconi on bass, Alessandro Del Vecchio on keyboards and Francesco Jovino on drums.


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


 DEVILS TRAIN – “Ashes & Bones” – Rock of Angels 24th June

I’ve been a big fan of German band Devil’s Train since the release of their first album about ten years ago. “Ashes & Bones” is the third album from the band and it was released on 24th June by Rock of Angels Records. I had the grey and black marbled vinyl edition pre-ordered. The track “The Devil & The Blues” was played on the Friday NI Rocks Show in April and again on 3rd June. The track “You Promised Me Love” was included on the Show on 8th July.


Devil’s Train was formed in 2009 by singer RD Liapakis from the band Mystic Prophecy, with the aim of re-creating that 80’s rock / metal sound. The band’s self-titled debut album was initially released in 2011 and that was followed by “II” in 2015.


The album features RD Liapakis on vocals,  Dan Baune on guitars, Jens Becker on bass and Jørg Michael on drums.

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


L.A. COBRA – “Superstition” – Crusader Records 24th June

L.A. Cobra are labelled as the “only sleaze/glam/hair metal band on the African continent”....or at least in South Africa...and off hand I can’t think of any band to counter that claim. Their latest album, “Superstition”, was released on 24th June by Crusader Records. The tracks “She’s My Prison” and “Strange Desires” were included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in April, followed by “The Star” on 17th June.


L.A. Cobra formed in Pretoria in 2005 and released their debut album “How Much Snake Can You Take??” in 2010. The second album, “Shotgun Slinger”, didn’t appear until 2017 and the band then signed with Crusader Records for the release of the latest album “Superstition”.


L.A Cobra are singer and guitarist Don Cobra, guitarist Slade, bass player Ewil Honey and drummer Callie the Animal. The latest album was mixed, mastered and produced by Martin Sweet of Crashdiet.


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



CLASSLESS ACT – “Welcome to the Show” – Better Noise Music 24th June

There is probably no better time to release your debut album than when you’re on tour opening for Joan Jett, Poison, Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard. That is exactly what Classless Act have done – releasing “Welcome to the Show” through Better Noise Music on 24th June; just a few days into a fourteen week tour. The track “Classless Act” which features guest vocals from Vince Neill was included in the Friday NI Rocks Show on 27th May and the track “This Is For You” which features Justin Hawkins was on the Show on 8th July.


Classless Act formed in L.A. in 2018 and within a very short time had landed a record deal with Better Noise Music, a 40 date US tour supporting Dorothy and a major North American stadium tour with Joan Jett, Poison, Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard.


Classless Act are singer Derek Day, guitarists Dane Pieper and Griffin Tucker, bass player Franco Gravante and drummer Chuck McKissock.


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



 OUSEY MANN – “Is Anybody Listening” – Escape Records 24th June

“Is Anybody Listening” is the first album from the duo of vocalist Chris Ousey and guitarist Steve Mann and it was released on 24th June by Escape Music. This is another album that I very nearly lost in a backlog of e-mails but thankfully I managed to dig it out in time to check it out. The track “And So It Begins” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 8h July.


Chris Ousey is probably best known as the frontman for Heartland, but he has also fronted Virginia Wolf, Snakecharmer and other bands as well as releasing a couple of solo albums. Guitarist and keyboard player Steve Mann has performed with Lionheart, the McAuley Schenker Group / Michael Schenker Group, The Sweet and many others. In 2020 the two were brought together by Khalil Turk from Escape Music to work on an album.


Chris and Steve are joined on the album by bass player Angela Mann and by drummer Clive Edwards who has played with UFO, Pat Travers, Wild Horses, Lionheart and many more bands. Jason Mann provides backing vocals on “I’ll Tell You When To Stop”.