Spotlight on Steamhammer/SPV Records

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The folks at German label Steamhammer/SPV specialize in hard rock and as always their latest batch is a good one. Here we listen to the new releases from Rock Wolves, Freedom Call and long-running favorites Fair Warning, all of which are bands from Germany.

Fair Warning - Pimp Your Past

As the title of this album hints at, Fair Warning here revisits their early days with 2016 remakes of vintage tunes that come from their self-titled, Rainmaker and Go! albums. The band has generally not messed with the arrangements; fans will find their favorite Fair Warning melodic rockers sounding a lot like the originals albeit a little punchier. The tweaks that have been made are certainly for the better; for example some keyboards parts that make the original version of "Longing for Love" sound dated have been removed. Longtime fans will hear minor adjustments like this as the band rocks through cuts like the boogie of "One Step Closer," "Burning Heart" and the thunder of "Angels of Heaven." Yes there are some quieter moments too, including the acoustic guitar-driven "Rain Song" and the sad ballad "Long Gone." Much of the music here has in its original form been somewhat hard to find or available to U.S. fans only as an expensive import, making Pimp Your Past all the more desirable.

Rock Wolves

Here's the self-titled debut from an all-star power trio of sorts consisting of percussionist Herman Rarebell of Scorpions fame, singer and guitarist Michael Voss (Mad Max, Temple of Rock) and bass man Stefan Gudze Hinz of H-Blockx. The three have enough experience that they could have taken the music here in any direction they wanted, and they have wisely chosen to aim for big radio airplay, which should be no problem since these Rock Wolves howl with radio-ready cuts like the Scorpions-esque "Out of Time," a cover of the Heart hit "What About Love" and the passenger-side, road-trippin' sing-along of "Riding Shotgun." But what happens when these canines cross paths with a feline? Well, good things musically and romance-wise, and it plays out in the slightly-ominous sounding "The Lion is Loose." Fans of the Scorpions and melodic classic rock in general will do well to check this one out.

Freedom Call - Master of Light

Ready for a new anthem, metal fans? Then you'll love this album's opening cut, "Metal is for Everyone." With a pounding rhythm that would make Motφrhead blush, scalding guitars and bright vocals that encourage a sing-along, the ode to metal patriotism engulfs listeners in its glee faster than you can say "head bang." "A World Beyond" is marching metal for an invading horde but the synth orchestration of "Cradle of Angels" shows the band's prowess with a quieter mood. It's back to thundering warrior rock with "Hail the Legend" and another anthem to match "Metal is for Everyone" in the form of "Rock the Nation." The Celtic-informed "High Up" ends this enjoyable set on, well, a high note, something there are plenty of throughout.

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