By Rich “The Meister” Dillon

In an examination of my current iPod style MP3 playlist, I thought that I would package together a few of the recently issued perhaps lesser known albums that are currently in the mix of my listening rotation. My hope here is of course to turn some of you onto some great new music from some bands that you may never have heard of previously. With the year winding down expect to see a few of these appear on my top of 2014, so check out these ten albums that I think are great and drop me a line with your thoughts.

Bullet (2014)-SBullet-Storm of Blades Covertorm of Blades.

Bullet hails from Vaxjo, Sweden and have a straight forward hard rock sound oft likened and compared to that of AC/DC. With a five album discography to date Storm of Blades is their latest effort and one of their strongest. Seemingly, they have not lost any steps with new guitarist Alexander Lyrbo replacing Erik Almstrom.  Lyrbo joins vocalist Dag “Hell” Hofer, bassist Adam Hector, drummer Gustav Hjortsjo and guitarist Hampus Klang. The title track (“Storm of Blades”) is available in video format as well as “Rolling Home” and “Dusk Til Dawn” among others.


Skrou-A Place to Shake

Skrou (2014)-Skrou.

Skrou are an unsigned band based in Toronto Ontario. The name is derived from a play on words using the name of singer/songwriter/founder Sam Kirou. A few songs off Skrou’s debut CD release back in January of this year still remain members of my ever changing set list. Songs such as; A Place to Shake”, “No One’s Home,” “Cold Heart,” “Ride On,” and “Dirty Little Fantasy.” Backing Sam Kirou is John DeFino on guitar, R.C. Ricci on bass and Eric Bonatti behind the kit. Check out “A Place To Shake” with the recently filmed official video and message the band to purchase your copy of the CD.


Ammotrack (2Ammotrack-Raise Your Hands014)-Raise Your Hands.

Raise Your Hands is a compilation album taking material from the previous efforts of Sweden’s Ammotrack, 2008’s Ammotrack and 2011’s Come Die With Us. Leading off with the title track, “Raise Your Hands”, a new composition it seems that Ammotrack prefers their sophomore album as of the remaining eleven tracks, seven are from the later issue. However, the whole collection is fully loaded with their brand of street rock/sleaze metal packed with anthem choruses and melodic hooks. A couple of songs to check out: “Living Like An Angel” | “Hitman” | “Come Die With Me”


A Sound of Thunder-The Lesser Key of Solomon

A Sound of Thunder (2014)-The Lesser Key of Solomon.

Female fronted Washington DC band A Sound of Thunder issued their fourth album, The Lesser Key of Solomon through a crowd funding campaign that saw over $23000 raised! The album is a delicious blend of power metal, NWOBHM, progressive and rock with many of the compositions having lengthy run times. The over nine minute “Elijah” served as the lead single. But the tracks that rule the roost for me are; “Udoroth”, “Master of Pain”, “Black Secrets”, “One Empty Grave” and “House of Bones.”


Step Echo (201Step Echo-Songs For the Broken4)-Songs For the Broken.

Step Echo hail from Canada’s Niagara Region. Earlier this year they released their sophomore effort, Songs For the Broken. The first album, Jagged (2011) was issued independently and spawned several videos. “Jagged”, “I Love It”, “Just As Messed As You” and The Payolas cover Eyes Of A Strangerall made it to video. The band won “Indie Band of the Year” from Image FM and were nominated for “2011 Song of the Year” at The Niagara Music Awards. This new album is on Red Dragon Records and shows a great hard rock/alternative style.


Kilmara-Love Songs & Other Nightmares

Kilmara (2014)-Love Songs & Other Nightmares.

Born in Barcelona, Spain they originally wrote in Spanish until the arrival of a German vocalist saw them begin to employ the English language. This third in their collection again sees Roland Grapow at the helm while the album cover artwork was created by Canadian artist Jessica Allain, who is known for her digital photo manipulation work. Combining elements of power metal, the NWOBHM movement along side melodic vocals with periodic guttural growls makes it difficult to put a specific label on the sound of Kilmara, but I like it! “Cold Rain”


Hessler (201Hessler-Ghost Dance4)-Ghost Dance (EP).

This Chicago band was almost derailed when frontwoman Lariyah Daniels departed to relocate. They regrouped, added frontwoman Jessikill and have issued a collection of their strongest material to date in Ghost Dance. The song “Last Alive” was originally recorded with the former vocalist and sounds quite different here with the expanded vocal range of Jessikill. I was recommended to this band through a friend and have since added 2011’s Bad Blood and 2012’s Comes With the Territory to my personal library. “Never Lost My Way” | “Last Alive” (with original vocalist)


Thundermother-Rock n Roll Disaster

Thundermother (2014)-Rock ‘n’ Roll Disaster.

This quintet of ladies could have easily been AC/DC had the Aussies been younger and of the opposite gender. With a little of a punk influence thrown in for good measure, this Swedish band delivers a mix that equals anything other than a disaster! As for their debut release, Rock ‘n’ Roll Disaster, the lead track, “Man With Blues” gets things going, it only gets better from there. Once we get into “The Dangerous Kind”, “Thunderous”, “Please Me”, “Shoot to Kill” and “Cheers”. Take a listen to this no frills, ball busting rock and roll!


Pretty Maids (Pretty Maids-Louder Than Ever2014)-Louder Than Ever.

Known as “The Danish Dynamite” these guys from Horsens, Denmark began back in the early 80’s and their repertoire contains 13 full-length releases. Known for their catchy riffs and melodic choruses, founding members Ronnie Atkins (vocals) and Ken Hammer (guitars) remain the sole original Maids today. Louder Than Ever is comprised of seven re-recorded tracks from the back catalog and five brand new creations. I recommend listening to this new Pretty Maids release at a Louder Than Ever volume to achieve the optimum results! “My Soul to Take” | “Nuclear Boomerang”


Sister Sin-Black Lotus

Sister Sin (2012)-Now & Forever.

While this release did not arrive this year, portions of it and earlier albums are stalwarts in my portable music library. The full Now & Forever album has just recently made a reappearance in anticipation of their forthcoming Black Lotus in late October. TThe female fronted Swedish group consists Liv Jagrell (vocals), Dave Sundberg (drums), Jimmy Hiltula (guitar) and Strandh (bass). The lead single, “Chaos Royale” is available as a lyric video as well as, “The End Of the Line”, “Fight Song”and “24/7” (U.D.O. cover).


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