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Steven Reid

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The 69 Eyes: Universal Monsters – It's been a few years since The 69 Eyes cast their Goth n' Roll spell over us, however with Universal Monsters they've made an excellent return. Harking back to their classic sound, this is the album their fans have ben crying out for.

Wintergatan: Wintergatan – A 2013 effort from a band I stumbled over because of a friend sending me a video link to marvellous marble machines on youtube (google it… quite amazing!), Wintergatan (which is Swedish for Milky Way) play, well… quite hard to describe prog-dance-folk-electronica where typewriters are used as percussive instruments and glockenspiel is king. Add in occasional crashes of guitar and flurried drumming and while some may be simply confused, strap on a pair of headphones and let this band take you to the stars.

Queensr˙che: Condition Hüman – A return to the band's signature sound, I find myself continually going back to this album to immerse myself in a nostalgic trip that still sounds utterly fresh and relevant. Maybe not quite up there with Rage For Order, Operation Mindcrime or Empire, CH is still a cracking album.

Bloodbound: Unholy Cross – Sometimes it's pure, simple, power metal you crave and having impressed in their opening slot on the latest Sabaton UK tour, my current fix comes in the shape of the 2011 effort from Bloodbound. Yes, it's crammed with silly lyrics and songs with evil, war, hell and fighting in their titles, but that doesn't stop it being fist pumping, head banging fun.

John Mitchell: The Nostalgia Factory – A four track covers EP with a remit wide enough to take in obscure Steven Wilson tracks and chart bothering Phil Collins fare, the Lonely Robot/Arena/It Bites/Frost* and so on guitarist provides a pleasant, if inconsequential stop gap that proves most enjoyable (if a little forgettable).

Long Distance Calling: TRIPS – A change of singer and the introduction of an outside producer results in an album Long Distance Calling fans will instantly recognise, yet still take some time to get a handle on. It may well be their best so far.

Black Stone Cherry: Kentucky – The BSC boys return to their stripped back roots and hit hard with an album that finds a band that the UK have taken to their heart suggesting they may just be ready to make the long deserved breakthrough in their home country. Exhilarating to say the least.

Quiet Riot: QRIII – A long misunderstood album remains a firm favourite of mine, the much missed Kevin DuBrow proving what a great vocalist he was, while Carlos Cavazo and Chuck Wright lay things down hard, heavy, yet with bags of melody. Yes the keyboards are maybe a little high in the mix for a QR album, but great songs are great songs and QRIII is rammed full of them.

House Of Lords: Sahara – Another classic in the catalogue of Chuck Wright, HoL offered up their second album with a harder edge provided by guitarist Doug Aldrich. Singer James Christian is in imperious form, while keyboard maestro Gregg Giuffria shows why his long absence is such a loss for the music industry.

Spock's Beard: The Oblivion Particle – Another 2015 album that keeps getting regular airtime, The Oblivion Particle is proving one of my favourite SB releases. All the Beard trademarks are there and yet there's something pleasantly different about this album. A future classic.

Galahad: When Worlds Collide – One of the best, most consistent, most diverse UK neo-prog bands celebrate 30 years with an album that mixes re-recorded early tracks with some of the band's excellent recent work. Whichever aspect is your favourite, it's beautifully represented here. If you've never caught up with this band, this is where to start. It will be the beginning of a long, rewarding journey.

Riverside: Love, Fear & The Time Machine – After the sad, shock news of the death of Riverside guitarist, Piotr Grudziński, I've been spending a lot of time with the band's excellent catalogue. Hopefully these Polish prog masters will survive this tragic event. Love Fear & The Time Machine takes on added poignancy now, however it always was and remains a wonderful album. Rest in peace Piotr, we'll miss you.

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