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 will be albums from Jeff Scott Soto, Halestorm, the Graham Bonnet Band, The Big Deal, Junkyard Drive, Skills, Lonerider and Last Temptation.


JEFF SCOTT SOTO – “Complicated” – Frontiers 6th May

Anything that Jeff Scott Soto releases is always worth checking out, whether it be with his band Soto, with W.E.T., with Sons of Apollo or in this case his latest solo album. “Complicated” was released by Frontiers Music on 6th May. The track “Love Is The Revolution” featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in March followed by “Last To Know” on 15th April.


Jeff Scott Soto’s big break was with Yngwie Malmsteen in the 80’s, but he has went on to release numerous albums with Talisman, Axel Rudi Pell, W.E.T., Sons of Apollo, Soto etc. In addition he appears on the “Rock Star” soundtrack, was part of the Queen Extravaganza, has toured regularly with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and has been a guest of dozens of albums.


JSS released his first solo album in 1994 and the second wasn’t released until 2002. In the last 18 months he has released three solo albums – “Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)” in 2020, a covers album called “The Duets Collection Vol 1” in 2021 and now “Complcated”.


Jeff was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in 2019 -



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



HALESTORM – “Back From The Dead” – Atlantic 6th May

“Back From The Dead” is another outstanding album from Halestorm and it was released on 6th May by Atlantic Records. I had my red vinyl version pre-ordered! It’s actually a bit hard to believe that this is just the fifth full studio album from the band as they seem to be in a constant state of activity and creativity. The title track was first released back in 2021 and has featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show four times, whilst “The Steeple” has appeared three times this year. A special promo feature with the band chatting about the new album was included on the Show on 29th April and was repeated on 6th May along with three different tracks from the album.  


Halestorm was founded by singer / guitarist Lzzy Hale and her brother, drummer Arejay Hale, in the late 90’s but it was 2009 before their self-titled debut album was released. Guitarist Joe Hottinger joined the band in 2003 and bass player Josh Smith joined in 2004; so the same line-up has been responsible for all the studio albums and most of the EPs.


The band had released three EPs prior to the debut album and have continued to release more in between the studio albums “The Strange Case Of..” in 2012, “Into The Wild Life” in 2015 and “Vicious” in 2018.


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



 GRAHAM BONNET BAND – “Day Out In Nowhere” – Frontiers 13th May

Singer Graham Bonnet has of course released numerous albums over the past fifty years with a wide range of bands, including Rainbow, Alcatrazz, Michael Schenker Group and Impellitteri. On 13th May he released his latest as the Graham Bonnet Band through Frontiers Music. The album is called “Day Out In Nowhere”. The track “Imposter” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in March followed by “Uncle John” on 15th April.


The album features Graham Bonnet on vocals, Beth-Ami Heavenstone on bass and Conrado Pesinato on guitars. There are a number of guest musicians including guitarists Jeff Loomis and Roy Z. Deep Purple keyboard player Don Airey performs on the track “It’s Just A Frickin’ Song”.


This is the third album release from the Graham Bonnet Band on Frontiers following “The Book” in 2016 and “Meanwhile, Back in the Garage” in 2018. Graham was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show in 2016 - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/2920-ni-rocks-interview-with-graham-bonnet


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



THE BIG DEAL – “First Bite” – Frontiers 13th May

“First Bite” is the debut album from Serbian band The Big Deal and it was released on 13th May by Frontiers Music. The track “Never Say Never” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show in February, followed by “Sensational” in March and “Top Heaven” on 15th April.


The band was formed by guitarist Srdjan Brankovic and his wife Nevena Brankovic who is one of the key lead vocalists and also plays keyboards. They brought in another female singer, Ana Nikolic, as well as drummer Marko Milojevic and were later joined by Alessandro Del Vecchio on bass.


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



JUNKYARD DRIVE – “Electric Love” – Mighty Music 13th May

Danish band Junkyard Drive released their third album, “Electric Love”, through Mighty Music on 13th May. The band have featured regularly on the Friday NI Rocks Show over the past six years and three tracks from the latest album have been included recently – “Let Me Love You” in January, “The Wonderland of Temptations” in March and “Mr Rock n Roll” in April.


The band formed in 2014 and released their debut album “Sin & Tonic” in 2017. That was followed by “Black Coffee” in 2018. The latest album was recorded and produced by Soren Andersen and mixed and mastered by Erik Martensson from Eclipse.


Junkyard Drive are Kris on lead vocals, Oliver Hartmann on guitar, Claus on drums and Mikkel on bass.


Website - https://junkyard-drive.com/  



SKILLS – “Different Worlds” – Frontiers 13th May

Frontiers have a well proven track record for bringing together talented musicians in new bands. “Different Worlds” is the first release from another of those projects. Skills features Billy Sheehan on bass, Brad Gillis on guitar, David Huff on drums and Renan Zonta on vocals. The track “Blame It On the Night” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 15th April.


Skill was formed by Frontiers to bring together the new vocal talents of Renan Zonta from Electric Mob and some of rock’s legendary musicians. Those are Brad Gillis from Night Ranger, Billy Sheenan from Mr Big, Sons of Apollo etc and David Huff from Giant. To that was added a great writing team that includes Alessandro Del Vecchio – who also plays keyboards on the album.


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



LONERIDER – “Sundown” – Escape Music – 20th May

“Sundown” is the second album from the band Lonerider and it was released on 20th May by Escape Music. The band is fronted by Steve Overland from FM. I had my limited edition vinyl copy pre-ordered (to add to the first album that I also have on vinyl). The track “Fantasyland” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show in April.


Lonerider features Steve Overland on vocals, Simon Kirke from Free and Bad Company on drums, Steve Morris from Heartland and Shadowman on guitar and Chris Childs from Thunder on bass. They released their first album “Attitude” through Escape Music back in 2019.




LAST TEMPTATION – “Fuel For My Soul” – Crusader Records 20th May

“Fuel For My Soul” is the second album from Last Temptation and it was released on 20th May by Crusader Records. The band’s first album was very much a multi-national effort with a number of guest musician, but the follow-up album features a core group of European musicians. The track “Ashes And Fire” was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show a few months ago.


Last Temptation was founded by guitarist Peter Scheithauer and vocalist Butcho Vukovic. The first, self-titled album in 2019 featured appearances from Bob Daisley, James LoMenzo, Rudy Sarzo, Vinny Appice, Don Airey and others.


The new album features Scheithauer and Vukovic as well as bass player Julien Rimaire and drummer Vincent Brisach.


Website - https://www.last-temptation.com/