Tag Archives: AOR

Guilty of Innocence

Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius – Guilty of Innocence

Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius – Guilty of Innocence (Melodic Revolution Records, 2017)

Guilty of Innocence is the fifth studio album from Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius. Deninzon is known for his fiery violin solos and delivers quite a few great ones.

While in the past, Deninzon has recorded progressive rock and fusion-leanings compositions, Guilty of Innocence heads into a more commercial direction, with short songs infused with hard rock, AOR and pop hooks. Sure, there are brief spectacular violin solos and notable bass lines, but it’s mainly non-progressive material.

The highlights of the album are track 9, “Dream Day Cadenza,” where Deninzon showcases the marvels he can do with solo violin and effects; and track 10, “Soul Food.” This last song begins as yet another AOR piece, but when you get passed minute 4, it’s transformed into a wild instrumental prog rock ride with electric violin and guitar wizardry as well as splendid mandolin and piano.

Personnel: Joe Deninzon on electric violin, lead vocals, mandolin, and guitar; Aurelien Budynek on guitar, vocals; Jamie Bishop on bass, vocals; Lucianna Padmore on drums.

Guests include Renaissance’s Rave Tesar on keyboards; guitar maestro Alex Skolnick on guitar; Randy McStine on guitar, background vocals; Melanie Mitrano on vocals; Eddie Venegas on violin; Earl Maneein on viola; Leo Grinhauz on cello; Patrice Jackson on cello; and Benny Koonyevsky on drums.

Buy the digital download version of Guilty of Innocence. The CD is available from store.cdbaby.com

From Here to the Impossible

Karibow – From Here to the Impossible

Karibow – From Here to the Impossible (Progressive Promotion Records, 2017)

Yet another album marketed as progressive rock that’s really not. Karibow is the project of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Oliver Rüsing. His style brings together AOR, pop rock beats, hard rock and heavy metal riffs. The only piece that you could legitimately call progressive rock is a pretty good symphonic instrumental titled “Requiem.”

This video will give you an idea:

Eterniverse Déjà vu

Light Freedom Revival – Eterniverse Déjà vu

Light Freedom Revival – Eterniverse Déjà vu (John Vehadija / Positive Imagination Media, 2017)

Despite the fantasy artwork by the great Ed Unitsky and the participation of Billy Sherwood and Olivier Wakeman, this album does not contain progressive rock. Instead, it’s a collection of sing along pop-rock and AOR songs by vocalist and songwriter John Vehadija.

I’m not sure why these type of recordings are marketed as progressive rock. Anyhow, if you like poppy rock like Asia or Styx, you might enjoy this album.

Paralyzed by Cyril

Cyril - Paralyzed
Cyril – Paralyzed

Cyril – Paralyzed (Progressive Promotion Records, 2016)

Paralyzed is the second album by German rock band. Although the album was released by Progressive Promotion Records, the majority of the album’s content is a mix of AOR melodic rock and hard rock. Multi-instrumentalist Marek Arnold adds some brief symphonic moments to the mix.

The lineup on Paralyzed includes Larry B. on vcals; Manuel Schmid on vocals; Marek Arnold on keyboards, saxophones and clarinet; Ralk Dietsch on guitars, mandolin, vocals; Clemens Litschko on drums and percussion; and Denis Strassburg on bass and programming. Guests: Susan Kammler on oboe, Herman Schade on viola, and Dan Stein on vocals.

Insipid Asia

Asia – Phoenix
Asia – Phoenix

Asia – Phoenix (Asia Music, 2016)

Asia is a band that I really dislike so normally I would feel inclined to ignore any of its new releases. Since Phoenix was a new album to me, I gave it a chance and found very little to attract my attention. Even though the four band members are known for their work in progressive rock bands Yes, ELP, King Crimson and UK, Asia delivers something between AOR and pop, with simple songs, toe tapping rhythms and cheesy keyboards. The only notable work is Steve Howe’s guitar who demonstrates that he’s too talented to stick to simplistic guitar work.

Steve Howe is an enigma to me. He could be collaborating with so many progressive rock and jazz musicians doing great things, but he insists in joining rock projects that aim for the top of the pop charts.

The lineup includes Geoff Downes (Yes / The Buggles) on keyboards; Steve Howe (Yes) on guitar; Carl Palmer (ELP) on drums; and John Wetton (King Crimson / UK) on bass and vocals.

The 2 CD re-issue includes the original European version of the album, the two bonus tracks and the US only remix. The artwork is enclosed in a six panel digipack with artwork by the great Roger Dean.