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'High Road'
(Frontiers Records)
Release Date: 6th June 2014

Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke

Rockulus Maximus

night ranger

These guys always seemed to be more popular in their native nation of the USA than in the UK, although that's not to take anything away from their smooth delivery or the quality of their consummate professional approach to their craft.

When I spoke to Jack Blades recently, he came across upbeat and proud of what was accomplished with this 11th studio album. In fact my first question to the good man was along the lines of what's it like approaching the recording process of an 11th album, haven't you said it all already?!

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Since their profile was re-established with the critically acclaimed 'Somewhere In California' in 2011, it might be fair to say there's a sense of expectation surrounding the release of 'High Road'. When you crank your music playing machine up and hear the first three tracks, you'll be smiling from ear-to-ear I strongly suspect.

Upbeat, energetic and hook-laden magic assaults the ears with no apology and I ain't complainin'. 'Knock Knock Never Stop' is irresistible and 'Rollin' On' contains a chant-a-long "Hey-Hey-Hey-Yeah" moment which cheese fans will nod in approval with.

'Don't Live Here Anymore' signals a change in approach and tempo from the opening salvo of the first three tracks. Lyrically it tackles the subject matter of addiction and how it is possible to change. The main melody line running through this song gives it a presence as it builds the drama and unfolds in to a blossoming power ballad with an epic heart at its core.

Talking of such sentiments, 'Only For You Only' waves a candle in the air thanks to some beautiful piano and emotive lyrics. This would have been a huge hit single back in the late 80s in the U.S. but in this day and age is a quality ballad to discover on the album.

The line-up which still includes the original three members of Brad Gillis (lead and rhythm guitars), Kelly Keagy (drums and vocals) plus Blades on bass and vocals retain the direction that's associated with the Night Ranger sound. Joined by Joel Hoekstra on lead and rhythm guitar and Eric Levy on keys, the band is tight. Such examples can be witnessed on tracks like the rockin' 'St. Bartholomews' and the slightly rousing 'X Generation'.

Personally I prefer 'Somewhere In California' to this album, but that isn't to say this is anything like bad. You can experience different levels of good quality music if you know what I mean. 'Hang On' produces a luscious chorus but the general arrangement wrapped around it feels a little too elaborate as it incorporates strings and various sections.

That same laborious vibe filters through on 'I'm Coming Home' which tries to establish where it wants to begin, before eventually settling in to a cool and somewhat familiar groove building toward a chorus. The song tackles how it feels when the band are close to home after being on the road for a length of time, and the chorus is okay although not one of their strongest.

By popular acknowledgement, they have a patchy back catalogue in places but in recent years have re-discovered their mojo. This album is good, but not their best. Outstanding moments arrive when the band are trimming the fat off their tracks and deliver a strong hook and tight musicianship. Thankfully there is more on this album to celebrate than to criticise so 'High Road' gets a healthy rating.

High Road
Knock Knock Never Stop
Rollin' On
Don't Live Here Anymore
I'm Coming Home
X Generation
Only For You Only
Hang On
St. Bartholomews
L.A. No Name (Bonus Track)





Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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