Storm Force

LeBrain Train Update: In Case You Missed It

Hey all!  Just a quick update in case you missed it.  Friday’s show was four hours long so if you missed the flurry of details at the end, that’s OK.  This isn’t really an announcement; just an outline of what I’d like to do.

I’ve said since the beginning that I will keep going live every week to bring friends together and entertain you on a Friday night when you’re stuck at home doing nothing.  While the fourth Covid wave is officially happening now (thanks Delta!), most of you no longer seem to be stuck at home on Friday nights anymore.  I’ve been trying to find a time to wrap up the weekly show.  We’ve been doing this steadily every week since March of 2020 and a break would be nice.  However we’ll keep going as long as it’s necessary and I’m able.  I don’t decide; Covid does.

Viewership has started to drop compared to the peak in May 2021, so it’s obvious that some of you have got your lives back.  Others still need this Friday ritual.  Currently I’m looking at or around October 1 to do a finale.  We shall see; a lot can change between now and then.  When I’m no longer going live every week anymore, I’d still like to do it once a month.

And interviews are still happening!  We’ve already confirmed the first one of the fall which is Greg Fraser of Storm Force, back again to tell us what they have cooking.  This is very special to us because Greg was the very first interview that Deke and I did a year ago.  We’ve come full circle and Greg will be back on September 24 at 7:00 PM.  Once again thanks to Deke for lining this up.



In sum:

Hang on because we still have plenty of fun lined up for the foreseeable future.  But circumstances are changing and nothing lasts forever, not even Covid, so with any luck you can expect a LeBrain Train series finale in the fall.  If not…keep on keepin’ on, because I will.

The Best of 2021

REVIEW: Suicide Star – Isolation (2021)

SUICIDE STAR – Isolation (2021)

If you are looking for something classic but modern, with lyrics that matter, then cease your quest.  Suicide Star’s debut called Isolation should be the salve that your soul is craving.  From the ashes of former band Step Echo, with new lead singer Rob Barton, this band is ready to kick 2021’s ass.

CD buyers get a bonus that streamers and downloaders do not — an intro before the lead track “I Survive”.  This intro, complete with air raid siren, explains the “suicide star” concept (with a shout-out to Neil DeGrasse Tyson).  It’s an explosive astronomy lesson!  Isolation is available now, just give the band a shout on social media and it’ll be in your hot little hands before you know it.

Opener “I Survive” is a positive start, with lyrics like “We’ve only just begun, this is the place where I wanna feel alive.”  Rob Barton’s got the pipes and the band has the heft.  Uptempo and heavy, this is the kind of rock we need right now.  The riff by seven-stringer Les Serran kicks, and bassist Aki Maris has the groove locked with drummer Brian Hamilton (also of Storm Force).  If you wanted something energetic and defiant this summer, here ya go.

The first video is for “Mercy”, another upbeat and catchy number.  Each one of these songs has hooks, both vocal and guitar, and “Mercy” just doesn’t let up.  “Have mercy on my anger,” sings Barton with intent.  Lots going on here lyrically, but framed in such a way that you can relate to the words in whatever way suits you.

After two sledgehammer tunes, the track “Suicide Star” delivers melodies that are more on the pop side, but with the heavy backing intact.  “Hold on, before you go too far, don’t you know who you are?  You’re a suicide star.”  Cannot get that chorus out of the skull!

The “power ballad” (if you will) is “Eye of the Storm”, but the emphasis is still on the “power” rather than the “ballad”.  It has a majestic guitar riff, and lyrics with some serious heart.  Barton sings ’em with passion, which is necessary when the band rocks this heavy behind.

Back to a tune with a classic metal vibe, “21 Guns” has kick and melody.  “Just say you will,” goes the unforgettable chorus, with some killer chords in behind.  Then comes the heavy “Follow” with a staggering riff, and Priest-like vibes.  The lyrics are fascinating and open to multiple interpretations.  It certainly could be about the last year!   “When the lie becomes the truth…”

“Love Me Like You Mean It” has a Darkness kind of riff; tremendous hooks.  This continues into “No Looking Back”, another lyric that could be about current times.  “I just roll with the changes,” sings Barton.  We can all relate to that.  The hooks don’t let up on “Fractured”, a more plaintive yet still heavy rocker.  The final track is appropriately titled “The Unknown” and concludes the album-length series of catchy vocals and guitar parts.

By the time you’re done the album, you’re still fresh to go in for a second listen.  There is enough going on in terms of guitars and lyrics that you’ll want multiple listens to drink it all in.

4.5/5 stars

Check out this interview by Deke and I with Rob and Brian from Suicide Star. Get an appreciation for the album and what it took to make it.

All About Suicide Star: Brian Hamilton and Rob Barton rock the LeBrain Train!

Suicide Star is the hot new band featuring singer Rob Barton, drummer Brian Hamilton, bassist Aki Maris, and guitarist Les Serran.  Metal with a modern twist — classic music, new songs, vital lyrics.  An album written and recorded during and of this time, but with an eye on the future.   A hard rocking, uplifting, heartfelt album aptly titled Isolation.

Deke and I had the pleasure of speaking to Brian and Rob about many topics.  Among them:

  • The genesis of the band
  • The making of the album (remotely)
  • The music video for “Mercy”
  • The next video
  • The meaning of the lyrics
  • The future of recording and playing live
  • Brian’s history with New Wave
  • To solo or not to solo?
  • New Storm Force

Check out the band on your favourite streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon, or buy the CD from the band.  As revealed in this interview, the CD version has additional content not available to stream.  Physical product!  Check them out on Facebook.

Big thanks to Rob and Brian for coming on the show with us music nerds, and congratulations on a wicked CD.

Another big thank-you to last Friday’s guest Robert Lawson, who sent me a signed copy of his book Razama-Snaz! The Listener’s Guide to Nazareth.  I opened the package near the start of the video.

We hope you enjoyed this show.  Deke is off for summer holidays!  Thank you Deke for an awesome 2021 season.  Check out his new show with T-Bone, “Scotch On the Rocks”, coming this fall.

 

Brian and Rob from Suicide Star on this week’s LeBrain Train!

The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike and Deke

Saturday – Episode 73 – Brian and Rob from Suicide Star

 

Brian Hamilton, drummer for the awesome Storm Force, has a new band called Suicide Star!  Itching to keep making music, Hamilton and his bandmates from former group Step Echo found lead singer Rob Barton online, who had recently gotten back into music.  When the four decided to unite, Covid shut the world down.  But that couldn’t stop them and a new album called Isolation is here to rock the summer of ’21.  The CD was mixed by Hamilton and is out now.

This Friday, June 25, Brian and Rob join Deke and Mike on the LeBrain Train.  We’ll talk about the album in depth, the members, and what it’s been like trying to launch a new project during Covid.  Don’t miss this show – as usual you’ll want to catch it live and have your questions asked!

  • Aki Maris – Bass
  • Rob Barton – Vocals
  • Les Serran – Guitars
  • Brian Hamilton – Drums

Friday June 25, 7:00 PM E.S.T. on Facebook:  MikeLeBrain and YouTube:  Mike LeBrain.

 


Best of 2020 Part 5: Nigel Tufnel Top Ten Albums and More of 2020

2020 may have sucked, but the music didn’t.  This year I bought and reviewed more new releases than ever before, which I narrowed down to the Nigel Tufnel Top Ten studio albums of 2020 listed below.

I would like to dedicate this list to my good pal Uncle Meat who originated the concept of a “Nigen Tufnel Top Ten” earlier this year.  It has become our thing.

BEST ALBUMS OF 2020

11. Now or Never – III

10. Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo

9. Sven Gali – 3 (EP)

8. Kim Mitchel – The Big Fantasize

7. Corey Taylor – CMFT

6. Stryper – Even the Devil Believes

5. Harem Scarem – Change the World

4. Dennis DeYoung – 26 East Vol 1

3. AC/DC – Power Up

2. Deep Purple – Whoosh!

1. Storm Force – Age of Fear

 

Storm Force’s debut album goes straight to #1 on their very first appearance!  No surprise here.  I’ve been raving about this disc since February and I owe it to Superdekes for putting these guys on my radar in the first place.  This is a well-deserved #1.  Age of Fear is an uplifting album with depth.  It’s a thoughtful, heart-pounding blast of classic hard rock.

Deep Purple’s Whoosh! and AC/DC’s PWRUP prove two things:  old dogs that both learn and don’t learn new tricks can all be champions.  (I call this theory “Schrödinger’s Dog”.) Deep Purple’s growth continues while AC/DC managed to tap into the vein of success that always worked for them.  Both records deserve their spots in the Top 3.

It was a thrill for me to learn that Dennis DeYoung both read and enjoyed my review of his newest album 26 East Vol 1.  It’s a terrific, Styx-like conceptual work that will please the old fans.  As will the new albums by Harem Scarem and Stryper, who didn’t stray far from their successful classic hard rock formulas.  Kim Mitchell and Sven Gali on the other hand dared to be different.  Kim went laid back and acoustic, while Sven Gali went with their heaviest uninhibited inclinations.  As for Mr. Bungle, it has been 21 years since their last album California.  All four Bungle studio albums are completely different from one another — four different genres.  For The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, they teamed up with Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo to re-record their first thrash metal demo tape.  And it could be their best album since the self-titled debut in 1991.  Not bad for a bunch of songs they wrote in highschool.

Corey “Mother Fuckin'” Taylor makes his debut on any list of mine with his solo album CMFT.  It’s a surprising collection of commercial hard rockin’ tunes.  Also appearing for the first time is Now Or Never (NoN) with their third album called III, featuring singer Steph Honde.  It’s an excellent, dramatic metal album with light and shade.


BONUS LISTS

Most disappointing:  Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man

Song of the year:  LeBrain Train by T-Bone Erickson

Single of the Year:  Mammoth WVH – “Distance”

Ultimately whether or not you liked the new Ozzy, its success or failure falls at the feet of producer/guitarist Andrew Watt.  He is already working on the next Ozzy album, so….

Huge thanks to T-Bone Erickson for the “LeBrain Train” theme song, which amazingly and unexpectedly became the song of the year in 2020!  Weird how that happened.  No bias here I assure you.

Finally, Wolfgang Van Halen finally released his first solo music under the name Mammoth WVH.  The non-album single “Distance” is dedicated to his late father Eddie.  Though musically it’s a modern power ballad, the lyrics and especially the music video evoke serious emotion.  Well done Wolfgang.  Can’t wait to check out his album in 2021.


TOP FIVE LIVE OR COMPILATION ALBUMS IN 2020

5. Metallica – S&M2

4. Thin Lizzy – Rock Legends

3. Sloan – B Sides Win Vol. 1 1992-1997

2. Def Leppard – The Early Years 78-81

1. Iron Maiden – Nights of the Dead – Legacy of the Beast

There were a lot of cool rock releases in 2020, so we need more lists!  Of course the brilliant new live Maiden deserved some loving attention.  Meanwhile, Sloan, Def Leppard and Thin Lizzy have continued to put out quality collections of rarities & unreleased material, well worth the time and money you’ll spend on them.  The Sloan collection is a vinyl exclusive and the first in a series of LPs re-releasing some of their B-sides and non-album and bonus tracks.  Finally, Metallica delivered the goods even without Michael Kamen on S&M2, a very different live set than the first S&M.  That’s the way to do it!


BEST LOCKDOWN SINGLE

5. Queen + Adam Lambert – “You Are the Champions”

4. Scorpions – “Sign of Hope”

3. Marillion – “Made Again 2020”

2. Marillion – “Easter 2020”

1. Alice Cooper – “Don’t Give Up”


 

A LOOK AHEAD AT 2021

It’s naive to assume that major touring and concerts will return in 2021.  This appears highly optimistic at present, with Covid still ravaging the landscape and vaccinations only just beginning.  Instead of looking ahead at things like the resuming Kiss tour, or the Motley Crue reunion, we should continue to put our faith in new music.

Accept have a new album due January 15 intriguingly titled Too Mean to Die.  It is their first without bassist Peter Baltes.  Steven Wilson has a new record out at the end of that month.  In February we get new Foo Fighters, The Pretty Reckless, Willie Nelson and Alice Cooper.  Greta Van Fleet, Weezer, Rob Zombie, Ringo Starr, and Thunder will be back soon too.  Many other bands are writing and recording without an announced due date.  Ghost, Marillion, Scorpions, Megadeth and even Ratt are hard at work to make next year suck a little less.  Support the bands by buying the music.

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Storm Force – “Breathe” featuring Serena Pryne (2020 music video)

STORM FORCE – “Breathe” featuring Serena Pryne (2020 Escape Music video)

Our rock and roll friends Storm Force have released a new video for “Breathe”, and a good one it is!

These days when a band drops a new video, are you often disappointed?  Many videos today are low budget slideshows of still photos, or crude animations.  This was the trend even before Covid.  Unless you’re AC/DC, few go to the trouble of actually filming a concept/performance music video anymore.  Storm Force did a good one with “Pretty Vegas”, and now they are back to blow minds with “Breathe”, one of the strongest tunes on the new album Age of Fear.

“Breathe” deserved a proper video, and Storm Force deliver.  Lead singer Patrick Gagliardi sings from behind bars, but is it the prison of the mind?  He is joined by vocalist extraordinaire Serena Pryne, who has the grit and power of people like the highly respected Sass Jordan.  Although the lyrics are open enough to work with many interpretations, the song is about mental health, and having someone there to support you.  The video has the right tone and passion for this serious subject.  But if you want, you can just enjoy it as a mighty power ballad.

Of course, guitarist Greg Fraser has plenty of experience with music videos.  His solo on “Breathe” is cool because you can hear that it is him by the tone and technique.  Drummer Brian Hamilton and bassist Mike Berardelli create a really cool groove on this track, and Hamilton looks imposing and fearless in the video.

One must also credit Gagliardi for a collection of increasingly cool hats.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Storm Force – Age of Fear (2020 Japanese import)

STORM FORCE – Age of Fear (2020 Japanese import)

If 2020 is indeed the Age of Fear, then at least Storm Force have brought us the album that we deserve for all our suffering.  Released before the pandemic but with some eerily relevant lyrics to our current time, Age of Fear is one of the most kickass discs you are going to hear this year.

Storm Force features the stellar talents of former Brighton Rock guitarist Greg Fraser, powerhouse singer Patrick Gagliardi, drum monster Brian Hamilton, and groovin’ bassist Mike Berardelli.  Fans of Brighton Rock (R.I.P.) will recognize the tone and stylings of the six-string magician they call Fraze.  That said, Gagliardi’s arena-sized vocals cords are what will draw you in to this band immediately.

Storm Force waste little time cutting to the chase.  The single-ready “Because of You” opens with some epic sci-fi keyboards that might have you feeling you’re at the intro to a progressive concept album.  But then Fraze hits you with a cool stuttery riff, and Patrick’s in your ears with a classic hard rock voice with grit and range to spare.  But you want hooks?  Storm Force deliver on “Because of You”, a song that would have been a massive hit in an earlier time.

Without letup it’s the title track “Age of Fear”, ushered in by the mountainous drumming of Brian Hamilton.  He and Mike Berardelli are locked in.  The riff has a bit of Darkness and the melody has shades of Dio. It’s an uptempo blast through midnight, but even that is just a warmup for the third track “Breathe”. With guest vocals from Serena Pryne, it’s a full-on epic. Keyboard accents lend it appropriate drama. This song is massive, powerful and perfect.  In another universe, a hit. Watch for a music video coming soon.

“Ember Rain” gives us the first true ballad. The ringing acoustics and storytelling guitar solos recall some of the best of late 80s Whitesnake. Listen to the bass roll, and how the sparingly and effectively the drum fills are used. After a ballad, it’s best to chase it with a heavy headbanger. “Ride Like Hell” is a vicious road tune that Axl Rose wishes he wrote. The chorus nails it home, and the solos are eloquent.

“Dirty Vegas” was the first Storm Force video and you can hear why.  With a title like “Dirty Vegas” you can count on a party tune.  With bite, and a chorus that goes on for days.  Music like this is what we need right now.

Storm Force know you need a comedown after a track like “Dirty Vegas” so an upbeat acoustic-based tune called “More Than You Know” is there to sooth your aching rock hangover.  But it’s only temporary as “Marshall Law” has come to bust the door down!  It takes a real singer to deliver on a track like this and Gagliardi is world-class.  Truly one of the hottest on the scene today and one listen to “Marshall Law” is all it should take to convince you.

These guys know how to pace an album, and a piano ballad called “Different Roads” occupies the all-important second-to-last track.  The vocals on this one are on a whole ‘nother level!  Gagliardi can do so much with his voice that I could probably convince you that he is actually two singers.  For penultimate tracks, “Different Roads” is one of those ballads that could close a record in its own right, but actually sets you up for one more knock to the skull.  “Ringside”, like its title suggests, is not a ballad.  It’s a high velocity adventure in heavy metal histrionics.  And that closes the album with a slam!…

…Unless you’re one of the lucky who owns a Japanese CD (or an iTunes download).  The bonus track on those formats is “Weight of the World”, a song certainly equal to the others on the album.  A solid rocker, “Weight of the World” might express how some of us feel right now.  “The weight of the world is tearing out the heart of me.”  Ever felt that way?

Expertly constructed songs.  Thoughtful lyrics.  World class production by Darius Szczepaniak.  Veteran performances by artists at the top of their craft.  An album we desperately needed in 2020.  Get Age of Fear.

5/5 stars

If you missed it, check out our live interview with Storm Force from September 4 2020 starting at the 0:16:50 mark.  Thanks to Superdekes for helping setting that up.

 

Storm Force! Greg, Pat and Brian join Deke and LeBrain in the Age of Fear!

Thanks to Greg Fraser, Patrick Gagliardi, and surprise guest Brian Hamilton of Storm Force for joining Deke and I Friday night!  It was a free-form chat tackling subjects such as:

  • The album Age of Fear
  • Memorable impact gigs
  • Canadian Rock
  • New music
  • Secrets to singing
  • Thunder Bay
  • Touring and touring and touring
  • Brighton Rock and Gerry McGhee

And much much more!

In addition I did a CD reveal for this week’s mail.  New music from Amazon and Buried On Mars!  The only thing better than new discs is new discs from friends.  These ones mean something to me, so check it out if you want to know what I’ll be spinning this weekend.

For the CD reveals, start at 0:04:15 of the stream.

For Storm Force, skip to 0:16:50 of the stream.

Thanks again to Greg, Pat, Brian and Superdekes for setting this chat up.  It was the first but won’t be the last.

Storm Force Friday! Greg Fraser and Patrick Gagliardi join us tonight!

Deke and I are beyond psyched to welcome Greg Fraser and Patrick Gagliardi of STORM FORCE to the show tonight!

If you didn’t already know, Storm Force released their debut album Age of Fear in January.  Nine months later it remains one of the best records of the year.  If you haven’t heard it yet, you will want to after our chat with Patrick and Greg.  It’s been praised by reviewers from Canada, the US, Australia and Sweden as a must-hear for fans of melodic hard rock “the way you remember it”.

Tune in at 7:00 PM E.S.T. at the location of your preference below.

Facebook:  Michael Ladano or Facebook:  MikeLeBrain.  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain.

 

Just Listening to…Storm Force – Age of Fear (2020)

The first great album of 2020 is upon us.  Brighton Rock guitarist extraordinaire Greg Fraser has returned to the recording studio and emerged with Storm Force, a hot new band born out of the roots of the 80s.

I am hesitant to do a full-on “review” of Storm Force just yet.  Why?  It’s simple really.  Some albums sound as if purposesly concocted for certain environments.  I sense that Storm Force is going to sound bloody perfect this summer in the car with the windows down.  In fact, I cannot wait to do it that way.  I think this album demands it.  Just like certain hard rock classics of the past just sound better on a warm afternoon on the highway.

Though the band has no weak links, it’s important to single out the strength of vocalist Patrick Gagliardi.  (Check out Superdekes’ interview with Patrick by clicking here.)   His power and range is reminiscent of singers such as Jack Russell and Axl Rose.  There’s grit, soul and there are vocal acrobatics aplenty.  Whether he’s singing a ballad or screaming a road-burner, Patrick is on point!

It cannot go unsaid that Greg Fraser has pulled some killer riffs out of the bag.  These are classic hard rock riffs, and would have been at home on any Brighton Rock record from 1987-1991.  Not to mention his lead work is still fantastic.  Frase has a recognizable style and you can hear it on Age of Fear.

You won’t find a weak track inside, and they run the entire range that a hard rock album should.  Closer “Ringside” is burning hot metal, but “Marshall Law” has a vibe akin to Lizzy’s “Jailbreak”.  For a commercial “rock single”, check out “Because of You” which pushes all the buttons.  “Different Roads” features piano like a classic Aeroballad from 1987.  Hard to pick a favourite among these great tunes.

Full review to come summer 2020.  Check out the official Storm Force Facebook to get the CD (signed or unsigned).