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 there are albums from Dare, Riot Act, Black Swan, Treat, Nazareth, Ronnie Romero, Udo Dirkschneider, Stone Broken, Crashdiet, Thunder and Tysondog.


DARE – “Road to Eden” – Legend Records 1st April

“Road To Eden” is the latest album from Darren Wharton and Dare and it was released on 1st April through Legend Records. This is the band’s tenth studio album (including two re-recordings) since Darren formed it in 1985 after the dissolution of Thin Lizzy. The first single from the album, “Born In The Storm” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in January and again in March, whilst the track “Fire Never Fades” was included on the Show on 8th April.


Dare released their debut album “Out of the Silence” in 1988 and followed that with “Blood From Stone” in 1991. It would be another seven years before “Calm Before The Storm” was released in 1998 and three more albums followed between 2001 and 2009. Re-recordings of “Calm Before the Storm” in 2012 and “Out of the Silence” and 2018 sandwiched the release of “Sacred Ground” in 2016.


There have obviously been a few line-up changes over the years, and a couple of members have left and returned. The current line-up has been in place since 2014 and features Darren Wharton on lead vocals and keyboards, Vinny Burns on guitar, Nigel Clutterbuck on bass, Marc Roberts on keyboards and Kev Whitehead on drums.


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



RIOT ACT – “Closer to the Flame” – Global Rock Records 1st April

Riot Act was formed by two former members of legendary American metal band Riot with the aim of re-creating that band’s sound from the late 70’s and early 80’s. “Closer to the Flame” is their first album and it was released on 1st April through Global Rock Records. The track “Stand Or Fall” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 4th March and “Closer to the Flame” on the Show on 29th April.


Former Riot guitarists Rick Ventura (1978-84) and Lou Kouvaris (1975-78) formed Riot Act to capture the sound of Riot during the period that they were members of the band. Separately of course Riot V continues to perform and release albums – they dropped the name Riot and rebranded as Riot V following the death of Riot founding member, guitarist Mark Reale in 2012. Both Riot Act and Riot V have stressed that there is no friction between the two bands and Riot V guitarist Mike Flyntz actually performs on one of the tracks on the bonus CD.


“Closer to the Flame” features ten new tracks and there is a bonus CD featuring 12 re-recordings of classic Riot tracks. Lou Kouvaris died of covid in early 2020 but features on the tracks on the bonus CD.

The Riot Act line-up features guitarist Rick Ventura, vocalist Don Chaffin, bass player Paul Ranieri and drummer Claudio Galinski.


Website - http://riotactband.com/


 BLACK SWAN – “Generation Mind” – Frontiers 8th April

“Shake The World”, the debut album by Black Swan was one of the highlights of 2020 and the latest album, “Generation Mind”, is another excellent offering. It was released by Frontiers Music on 8th April. He title track was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in February, followed by “Eagles Fly” on 18th March and “Miracle” on 8th April.


Black Swan features the tremendous talents of Robin McAuley (MSG, Survivor etc), Jeff Pilson (Foreigner, Dokken etc), Reb Beach (Winger and Whitesnake) and Matt Starr (Ace Frehley, Mr Big etc). Over a period of about 15 months I was fortunate to have the first three of those as guests on the Friday NI Rocks Show –





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



TREAT – “The Endgame” – Frontiers 8th April

“The Endgame” is the ninth studio album from Swedish band Treat and it was released on 8th April by Frontiers Music. It is the fourth album that the band has released with Frontiers since reforming in 2006. The track “Home of the Brave” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in February and “Rabbit Hole” was featured on the Show on 22nd April.


Treat initially formed in 1981 as The Boys and changed their name in 1984. Their debut album “Scratch and Bite” was released in 1985 by Mercury and two more records followed on that label in 1986 and 1987. The band then signed with Vertigo for “Organised Crime” in 1989 and “Treat” in 1992; before splitting in 1993. Treat reformed in 2006 but it was 2010 before the album “Coup de Grace” was released and then another six years before “Ghost of Graceland” appeared in 2016. The band’s eighth album, “Tunguska”, was released in 2018.


Vocalist Robert Ernlund and guitarist Anders ‘Gary’ Wolström have been with the band since 1981 (although Ernlund was replaced by Mats Levén from 1991-93). Drumer Jamie Borger joined in 1987 and keyboard player / guitarist Patrick ‘Green’ Applegren joined in 1989. The fifth member of the band is bass player Nalle Påhlsson who rejoined Treat in 2019 after previously being in the line-up from 2006 to 2012.


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



NAZARETH – “Surviving The Law” – Frontiers 15th April

Rock legends Nazareth formed 54 years ago in 1968 and “Surviving The Law” is their 25th studio album. It was released on 15th April by Frontiers Music and is only the second album to feature new lead singer Carl Sentance. The track “Strange Days” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in February, followed by “Runaway” on 1st April.


For a band that have been around for well over fifty years, Nazareth has had surprisingly few changes to the line-up over the years – with only around a dozen different line-ups. However, bass player Pete Agnew is now the only original member of the band remaining. Guitarist Jimmy Murrison had been with the band since 1994 whilst drummer Lee Agnew joined in 1999. Original singer Dan McCafferty retired from the band in 2013 after recording 23 albums with the band. He was replaced briefly by Linton Osborne before former Persian Risk and Krokus vocalist Carl Sentance joined in 2015.


Website - http://nazarethdirect.co.uk/



 RONNIE ROMERO – “Raised on Radio” – Frontiers 15th April

Ronnie Romero is undoubtedly one of the biggest talents amongst the newer generation of rock vocalists. Although he is now 40, it is over the past 8 years that he has really come to the fore. He has released albums with several bands including Rainbow, Lords of Black and Michael Schenker Group; but “Raised on Radio” is his first solo album and it features his covers of 11 tracks. The album was released on 15th April by Frontiers Music. His cover of Bad Company’s “No Smoke Without A Fire” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in February and his cover of Foreigner’s “Girl on the Moon” was included on the Show on 25th March.


The Chilean singer first came to the fore with Spanish band Lords of Black on the self-titled album in 2014. He has now released five albums with that band. In 2015 he was picked to front Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow and has released three live albums. Since 2017 he has released three albums with Magnus Karlsson’s The Ferrymen, two albums with CoreLeoni and albums with Vandenberg and Sunstorm. He has also recorded with Michael Schenker (Fest and Group), Chaos Magic, Mad Max and others and is currently representing Bulgaria in the Eurovision Song Contest.


In addition to the Bad Company and Foreigner tracks mentioned, the album features covers of tracks by Grand Funk Railroad, Survivor, Queen, Kansas, Elf, Uriah Heep, Russ Ballard, Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin.


Performing on the album with Romero are guitarist Srdjan Brankovic, bass player Javi Garcia, drummer Andy C and keyboard player Alessandro Del Vecchio. There are guest appearances by guitarists Danny Gómez and Javier Reyes and by vocalist Corina Minda.


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


UDO DIRKSCHNEIDER – “My Way” – Atomic Fire Records 22nd April

Udo Dirkschneider rose to fame as the frontman for Accept in the late 70’s and early 80’s before forming U.D.O. With those bands he has released around 30 studio albums. On 22nd April he released a solo album of cover versions called “My Way” through Atomic Fire Records. He was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 18th March when the tracks “We Will Rock You” and “Kein Zurück” were also played. “We Will Rock You” featured again on 8th April.


Interview - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3835-ni-rocks-interview-with-udo-dirkschneider

Udo Dirkschneider fronted Accept from 1976 to 1987 and then again from 1992 to 1997. He also did a short tour with them in 2005. Over that period he recorded 10 studio albums with the band. When he left Accept initially he formed U.D.O. and that band has released 17 studio albums between 1987 and 2021. Over the last couple of years Udo has also released an album with Das Musikkorps Der Bundeswehr and an EP as Dirkschneider & The Old Gang.


“My Way” features drummer Sven Dirkschneider and bass player Peter Baltes along with quite a few guitarists including Stefan Kaufman. Amongst the 17 tracks there are covers of tracks by Uriah Heep, Tina Turner, Rainbow, The Sweet, Motorhead, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Scorpions, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Queen and of course Frank Sinatra.


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



STONE BROKEN – “Revelation” – Spinefarm 22nd April

“Revelation” is the third album from English band Stone Broken and it was released on 22nd April via Spinefarm Records. I had my red and black splatter vinyl version pre-ordered. The album’s title track was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in January and “The Devil You Know” featured on the Show on 22nd April.


Singer / guitarist Rich Moss was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in June 2018 just after the release of the band’s second album - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/3382-ni-rocks-interview-with-rich-moss-from-stone-broken


The other members of the band are drummer Robyn Haycock, bass player Kieron Conroy and guitarist Chris Davis. All four have been together since the band formed in 2013. A debut EP “The Crow Flies” was released in 2014 and the first album “All In Time” followed in 2016. This album was given a re-release by Spinefarm in 2019. The band’s second album “Ain’t Always Easy” was released in March 2018.


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




CRASHDIET – “Automaton” – Crusader Records – 29th April

“Automaton” is the new album from Swedish sleaze rockers Crashdïet and it was released on 29th April through Crusader Records. This is the band’s sixth album since forming in 2000 and the second with singer Gabriel Keyes. The track “No Man’s Land” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show back in November, followed by “Together Whatever” on 15th April and “Powerline” on 29th April.

The initial Crashdïet line-up from 2000 only lasted a couple of years before the band split but it was quickly reformed by singer Dave Lepard who brought in three new members – guitarist Martin Sweet, bass player Peter London and drummer Eric Young. Lepard died a few months after the release of the band’s debut album in 2005, but the other members of the band decided to continue and they have all been involved in the subsequent five albums.


Oliver Twisted sang on the band’s second album “The Unattractive Revolution” in 2007, but was replaced by Simon Cruz for the next two albums in 2010 and 2013. Cruz left in 2015 and was replaced by Gabriel Keyes in 2017. It would be 2019 before the fifth album “Rust” was released.


Website - https://www.crashdiet.org/



THUNDER – “Dopamine” – BMG 29th April

Let’s face it...anything that Thunder do is going to get a recommendation from me and “Dopamine” is definitely not going to be an exception to that rule. The new album was released through BMG on 29th April and I had copies pre-ordered on vinyl and CD. We were also in Glasgow for the opening show of their UK tour to support the album. The track “The Western Sky” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in March, followed by “Across The Nation” on 29th April and “The Dead City” on 20th May.


Thunder formed in 1989 and amazingly four of the original five members are still in the band – vocalist Danny Bowed, guitarists Luke Morley and Ben Matthews and drummer Harry James. Bass player Chris Childs joined in 1997, meaning that the current line-up has been together for 25 years. The band actually took a couple of short-lived breaks – from 2000 to 2002 and again from 2009 to 2011.


“Dopamine” is the band’s 14th studio album in their thirty plus year history. There are also many live albums, compilations and EPs.


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




TYSONDOG – “Midnight” – From The Vaults 29th April

“Midnight” is the fourth album from NWOBHM era rockers Tysondog and their second since reforming in 2008. It was released via From The Vaults on 29th April. The track “Midnight” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in January, followed by “Cold Day In Hell” on 11th March. The track “Midnight” also featured on the NI Rocks A-Z Show in February.


Tysondog formed in Newcastle in 1983 and released their debut album “Beware of the Dog” in 1984, followed by “Crimes of Insanity” in 1986. The band then split in 1987 and did not reform until 2008. An EP was released in 2012 and then the album “Cry Havoc” in 2015.


Guitarist Paul Burdis and bass player Kevin Wynn have both been with the band since 1983 whilst drummer Phil Brewis joined in 2012. Original singer Clutch Carruthers provides vocals on the new album, however he had officially retired from the band in 2018 on health grounds. He was replaced for the live performances initially by Bill Kendama but returned to record the album. In April 2022 it was announced that the new vocalist would be Alan Ross (son of Blitzkreig’s Brian Ross).


Website - https://www.tysondog.co.uk/