· FREEROCK SAINTS - BLUE PEARL UNION (GYR154) ·
::T R A C K S::
01. FROM THE ASHES
FORMAT: Audio CD / 4 PANEL WALLET
Super excellent debut studio disc by this awesome female-fronted hard rock band from Greece featuring the amazing vocal talents of Areti Valavanopoulou and Stavros Papadopoulos on guitar. Includes 13 tracks of outstanding, blues-based, powerful, dynamic, retro hard rockin' excellence which gives us faith, hope & love that REAL music still exists & lives strong in the world of the Freerock Saints on the essential "Blue Pearl Union" disc.
Areti Valavanopoulou is an incredible, undiscovered female hard rock vocal talent who makes her stunning debut on the Freerock Saints: "Blue Pearl Union" disc. A true rock vocal goddess whose powerful vocal delivery lands with the prefect blend of silky smooth meets whiskey grit steeping in soul-powered, blues-based hard rock bliss. Areti's awesome vocals define clarity and focus that shine forever with strength, class & melody. Marking the first female vocalist to land and grace a Grooveyard Records disc, we are proud and honored to have our good musical sister Areti be part of the Grooveyard family with her stunning, killer vocal power. Our good musical brother Stavros Papadopoulos from Super Vintage plays guitar, wrote all the songs and produced the amazing Freerock Saints: "Blue Pearl Union" disc. An incredible guitar rock talent who has a strong passion for Keeping the Rock alive and whose song writing plus guitar playing abilities are outstanding, prolific and classic. Freerock Saints also features the powerhouse rock solid Lazaros Simitsis (Super Vintage) on drums and Dinos Maltezos on bass, both excellent players and hard rock demons of the night who nail down the Freerock Saints sound to solid ground.
The Freerock Saints: "Blue Pearl Union" disc is an essential, blues-based, hard rockin' musical slice of pure "Rock N' Roll For Your Soul" that is Highly recommended to fans of Super Vintage, Sass Jordan, Stevie Salas, Richie Kotzen, Paul Rodgers, Black Crowes and all other world-class, top-shelf, hard rock saints on the third stone from the sun. An outstanding, timeless musical display of superb, memorable hard rock excellence.
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· reviews ·
It is not often that a cd from a female fronted hard rock band comes across my table these days. It is a shame as singers such as Sandi Saraya, Sass Jordan, as well as bands such as Baby Animals, Phantom Blue, and 4 Bitten, have brought some very memorable music to the hard rock community. It was to my delight that I received a copy of the cd from a new band carrying on the legacy of powerful female-fronted rock in the form of Greece’s Freerock Saints. From album opener, “From the Ashes” to the album closer “Goodbye,” listeners are taken on a hard rockin’, soul soaked, just plain bone groovin’ record. Vocalist Areti Valavanopoulou most prominently brings to mind Rats-era Sass Jordan, but you can hear the diversity, dare I say commercial potential in her voice as well via tracks such as “Goodbye” and “Blue Pearl.” What I really like about this disc upon repeated spins is that the vibe is consistent and the tracks all fit well together with nothing out of place. Even more straight ahead commercial rockers are Freerock Saints “own deal” all the way. The rhythm section of Dinos Maltezos and Lazaros Simitsis provide a powerful platform for the hard rockin’ bluesy, funk-twanged riffage of guitarist Stavros Papadopoulos who is a master manipulator of six strings with both rhythm and lead capabilities. These guys provide the sonic canvas for Areti to strut her stuff. This is a disc that is meant to be a soundtrack and hopefully if there is any justice it will be a soundtrack that we will get to witness in a live context here in America one day. Years ago a band like this would have been taken out as an opener for a bigger act such as Journey, etc. to get the exposure they deserve. I look forward to more new music from Freerock Saints in the coming years and would love to hear Areti in the context of a vocal duet – can anyone say “Rob Lamothe” or “Lance Keltner” – hint hint! ;0)
Steve Bauer / Academy Of Shred (April 2017)
Amidst the thousands of albums that one can find on the digital music store, it is really hard to put your eyes on the right album, the one you are looking for. Many good albums end up forgotten among piles of mediocrity. You need a catchy name, an appealing album cover, or a recommendation that you cannot overlook. And that's how I came accross Freerock Saints. The name, free-rock-saints, like a mix of keywords that shout "soul-blues-rock" to your face. The cover, ellegant and classic. The recommendation was from a musician who told me, "check this band out, you might like them". And this is how I discovered them.
With a recently released debut, Freerock Saints were born out of Stavros Papadopoulos' (Super Vintage's guitarist, singer and songwriter) creative musical mind. It was not enough for him to release an album per year with his main band, so he has now jumped in this project, where he can write a bunch of songs for a shinier star: Areti Vanavanopoulou. A name too hard to remember, that would probably benefit from a catchier pseudonym that fits her master voice. Maybe because we are in front of a spin-off of Super Vintage, one could expect a bunch of outtakes that did not fit the style of the band. But that's not quite the case. On the one hand, these songs are as inspired as the ones that featured in "Welcome To Mojo Land", if not more. On the other hand, the specific traits of Freerock Saints permit the exploration of new musical roads, roads that always take to rock as a lifestyle. Thanks to Areti's vocal versatility, the songs breathe and fly away towards more melodic grounds. One can find nuances that resemble those of Sass Jordan: Areti is a gifted singer with same shades of black and a wide vocal range that can show both clean and torn nuances: a debutante that has found her place in the crossroads between rock, blues and funk.
The riffs and the solos flow seamlessly, and they find their perfect balance in the catchy choruses and soul backing vocals. You will find more melodies, less tight structures, making the music fresh and rarely arid. While some tunes like "From The Ashes" or "All I Need" revolve around commercial hard rock, others like "Take It" or "Funk Boogie Train" take you back on the road of funk. Some cuts, such as "Blue Pearl" or "Touch The Sky", have some pop traces that make the album ever more refreshing, giving some of the best moments in the whole album.
Freerock Saints the debut album is not only a proof of Papadopoulos' never-ending creativity (he might be the hardest-working musician at Grooveyard Records), but also a chance to discover a new star, while enjoying a collection of new songs from which not even one can be considered mediocre. Just like looking at the same object through a different lens, Freerock Saints paint the same landscapes that Super Vintage do (roads, dust, spirituality, rock as an end in itself), but they do so by their own means, their own colour palette. At this quality heights, whether the former is a better band than the latter is just a matter of personal taste. But, remember: if you find this album among another thousand, notice the name, look at the cover, and remember this recommendation.
Julen Figueras / PALABRA DE ROCK (February 2017)
Now here's a new exciting offering from Greece! Bluesy hard rockers Freerock Saints, fronted by female Areti Valanopoulou. A vocal power pack with a smooth side to it. Flanked by Super Vintage guitarist Stavros Papadopoulos the two serves a platter of outstanding 70s oriented hard rock with a bluesy touch and some Zeppelin tricks for good measures. Tracks like 'Roll With The Wind' offer the classic take-a-break-while-I-sing verse. It's not only how well you fill that gap, but also how you follow it up that matters. The duo checks both approved boxes. Areti delivers some great whiskey tinged Plant-like vocals and Stavros then kicks in with riff magic a la carte. I mean, he's already showed in his other band that riffing is his business, and he does it like pro. 'Shot Down In Flames' takes us to Bad Company territory, and it also shows that you can make a sound ballsy even though you have a dangerously clean guitar sound. It also helps the overdriven guitar solos pop out a bit more. 'Blue Pearl' opens with Stavros letting his Hendrix vibe fly freely. A cool bluesy ballad where Areti's soulful vocals lifts it up a notch. If you're into stuff like Sass Jordan, Black Pearl or Skyline, check this band out!
Janne Stark / Stark Music Reviews (February 2017)
Freerock Saints are a female-fronted, hard rock band that hail from Greece. The four-piece are an incredible vehicle that showcase vocalist Areti Valavanopoulou. Situated between Sass Jordan and Lee Aaron with the edginess of Blues Pills, the band prove they can handle the nuances of hammering out a robust selection of 13 heavy rock classics. Songwriter and guitarist Stavros Papadopoulos (Super Vintage) leads the compositions ranging from straight-up rock to grinding blues while bassist Dinos Maltezos and drummer Lazaros Simitsis (Super Vintage) lock down a tight and pounding rhythm section. Opening track ‘From The Ashes’ offers a refreshing flashback to when “guitar rock” ruled the airwaves with Areti’s distinctive voice powerfully mature and equally aggressive. However, it’s ‘Game Of Pain’ where the real guts of the band lay claim. A strident blues rocker, the song takes the swagger of the Black Crowes mixes it with the classic R&B nature of the Rolling Stones to create an original spine-tingler.
Title track ‘Blue Pearl’ is the slower paced Allman Brother-like ode to Southern Rock. The song is gorgeously put together with melodic guitar intro and swelling keyboards before the drum and bass kick in. A hook chorus seals the deal with several tasty guitar solos sewing it all together. Both ‘Shot Down In Flames’ and ‘Saints And Sinners’ have a similar vibe with bolstered guitars and a slight country twang. The solo work on ‘Saints And Sinners’ brings Stavros into the spotlight as a major guitar slinger whereas ‘Roll With The Wind’ and ‘All I Need’ showcase Areti scorching pipes and incredible range. Personal favorites ‘Take It’ and ‘Never Lost My Faith’ keep the riff aggressive, the vocals soulful and feet stomping to a catchy beat. Slightly outside the box is the radio-friendly ‘Touch The Sky’, the good-time shake of ‘Funk Boogie Train’ and the delicate Fleetwood Mac-ish ballad ‘Goodbye’ that add color and texture to a well balanced offering.
Todd K. Smith / The Electric Beard (February 2017)
Having just reviewed, and absolutely loved the brand new Super Vintage album Welcome To Mojo Land, I have to admit to worrying about whether Freerock Saints would be a step too far for guitarist Stavros Papadopoulos. For not only is this talented six-string-man the songwriter, singer and fret-master in Super Vintage, but he's also the sole song crafter, guitarist and keyboard player in this new venture. Backing up the mainman is bassist Dinos Maltezos and Super Vintage drummer Lazaros Simitsis. However, arguably it's actually Areti Valavanopoulou who is the star here and possibly the real reason for Freerock Saints to come into being in the first place. Recent years have thankfully, and much later than it should have, found women staking a claim for their place in rock and metal, but even with that in mind, this young lady is one hell of a find.
For some an accented singer may pose some challenges, so rest assured that Valavanopoulou suffers not even slightly from that affliction, her clear, rich voice handling the lyrics like a past master. As you'd expect from an album featuring musicians who've only just released one of the best commercial slices of blues rock I've heard for quite some time, the Freerock Saints sound stays pretty true to the Super Vintage course. And yet, with such a talented vocalist fronting these tunes, cleverly Papadopoulos has toned things down ever so slightly. Yes he still melts the frets on the solo to opener "From The Ashes" and continues to mesmerise across the whole album with his tasteful, fiery style. However, as often as not, it's the blues that are ramped up in favour of the rock, allowing Areti to fully flourish and delight with her vocal prowess. That doesn't imply that this front lady can't add a rough edge to her delivery, or that her vocals are all sugary sweet, far from it. However the skill of a songwriter is in being able to fully utilise the tools at their disposal and with a singer of this talent, power and precision in their fold, it would be folly for Freerock Saints not to allow her the room to sit front and centre.
"Still Bleeding" is a perfect example, a patient introduction building into a seductively melodic illustration of how to make the blues commercial and sexy. Underneath the consummate vocals, Stavros lays down a refined, intricate melody that buries deep into the mind, before ripping out a solo that impresses, while remaining completely sympathetic to its surrounds. It's a fine line expertly walked, but it's also a trick pulled off time after time, "All I Need" a more insistent, powering and irresistible neck-strainer, "Roll With The Wind" a grittier, dirt under the nails rocker that hits home through its pulsating bass line and scintillating layers of backing vocals, also provided by the golden voice of Valavanopoulou.
In Stavros Papadopoulos Grooveyard Records really have unearthed a supreme musician and songwriter. That they've also discovered a superbly talented singer in the shape of Areti Valavanopoulou says much for their dedication to all things heavy blues rock. Greece is hardly known as a hotbed of rock n' roll, but if Freerock Saints and Super Vintage are anything to go by, that's about to change soon!
Steven Reid / Sea Of Tranquility (January 2016)
In the Greek hard rock scene, everybody knows everyone. Enter an excellent new blues-based hard rock band called Freerock Saints who classify their music as "Hard Rockin' Blues Funk Mojo". This description is a tight solid fit and their debut studio disc featuring the excellent female vocals of Areti Valavanopoulou really delivers the rock.
Areti Valavanopoulou is a guest vocalist on Papadopoulos' new Super Vintage disc called "Welcome To Mojo Land" and now debuts herself as a world-class vocalist with the Freerock Saints on the "Blue Pearl Union" album. For this excellent disc, we find Areti on lead vocals and Stravos Papoudopoulos (guitar, keys), Dinos Maltezos (bass) and Lazaros Simitsis (drums, percussive). Produced and written by Stavros Papadopoulos, "Blue Pearl Union" is an album featuring thirteen outstanding original songs that define true hard rock. An excellent Grooveyard Records release.
Out of the gate and on the opening track "From The Ashes", we get to hear the excellent vocal talents of Areti Valavanopoulou, who creates a great hard rock number with Papadopoulos. "Game Of Pain", "Roll With the Wind" and "Shot Down In Flames" follow very close in greatness and then the band delve deep with the beautiful ballads: "Blue Pearl" and "Still Bleeding" which possess great dynamics and excellent songriting skills which are a rock solid musical platform for the awesome vocals of Areti Valavanopoulou. The dynamic peace is short-lived and on the fiery, recognizable "Take It" Freerock Saints chooses energetic hard blues-based rock. The intro of "Touch the Sky" reminds me of Queen, "Funk Boogie Train" by definition is very funky, "Saints & Sinners" includes excellent dynamcs that rock hard and "Goodbye", the closing ballad finds Areti Valavanopoulou very much in the spotlight. On this excellent well-written song, Aretu gets great musical support from Stavros Papadopoulos on acoustic guitar .
The Greek hard rock scene kicks ass with feminine elegance and power supplied by Areti Valavanopoulou & Stavros Papoudopoulos on the excellent new Freerock Saints "Blue Pearl Union" disc. A classic female fronted hard rock album with strong blues-based Classic Guitar Rock influences that is Highly recommended to fans of pure "Rock N' Roll For Your Soul".
Eric Schuurmans / Rootstime-Belgium (January 2016)
There’s new blues-rock magic on the block, and you’re not gonna wanna miss it. Driven by an outstanding female singer’s singular mojo, one is tempted to think Joplin. But, no, ARETI VALAVANOPOULOU (a tongue -twister with a golden tongue) is much more sophisticated — both in terms of the singer herself and the band that accompanies her (Big Brother move over!). STAVROS PAPADOPOULOS, the guitarist, is pure dynamite, every bit as articulate on his strativarius as she is on her pipes. Superbly augmented by DINOS MALTEZOS on bass and LAZAROS SIMITSIS on drums, the band is called FREEROCK SAINTS, and their style merges rock with metal, funk, and completely original soulful melodies. “BLUE PEARL UNION,” their first CD, leaves you thirsting for more and yet satisfies in its own right. Although their unique talents and uncanny abilities speak for themselves, exactly how they pull it off is Greek to me. Highly recommended.
Steven J. Rosen / Author + Journalist (December 2016)
American label Grooveyard Records comes up trumps again with yet another Greek blues rock band in Freerock Saints. Unlike Super Vintage who were the most recent band I reviewed from this label, Freerock Saints have a more traditional blues/rock approach, throwing in hip shaking funk on "Roll With The Wind" and "Take It" while focusing on the vocals of Areti Valavanopoulou rather than the more guitar orientated sound of Super Vintage.
It's a good plan because her vocals are excellent, having the soul and emotion of Elin Larsson (Blues Pills) and the grit and sheer power of Colleen Rennison (No Sinner). She is the key element of this record taking songs to the next level of their evolution although the rest of the band don't just leave her to it. This is mainly because the rest of the Freerock Saints are also members of Super Vintage with Stavros Papadopoulos giving yet another stellar guitar performance (Shot Down In Flames) as well as producing and writing the songs, bringing in Lazaros Simitsis from SV on drums and Dinos Maltezos on the bass for a solid foundation for both Stavros and Areti to work their magic.
The middle of the record slows the pace with solo filled classic rock ballads "Blue Pearl" and "Still Bleeding", but it rocks back up again with "All I Need" and "Never Lost My Faith" which sashays with an attitude. "Blue Pearl Union" is a strong debut from yet another blues-based hard rock band from Greece. This seems to be a trend recently and I suggest you follow it if you love soulful Black Crowes-like rock n roll.
Matt Bladen / Musipedia-UK (January 2017)
Greece based, Freerock Saints is a female fronted project playing blues infused classic rock. Featuring the amazing vocal talents of Areti Valavanopoulou and Stavros Papadopoulos (Super Vintage) on guitar. The duo's debut release, 'Blue Pearl Union' ticks every box on my get go list, great musicianship, a real bluesy, soul tinged sound, and songs which stand up better after several listens than they did when I was first heard them. Sound checks to Black Crowes, Heart and Saint Jude are clearly evident, but it all melds together in such a tight smooth way. Areti Valavanopoulou, has a delivery that bags of power and confidence. The opening track "From The Ashes"is absolutely top drawer. It's like a modern take on great seventies rock, without ripping anybody off or sounding like an inferior version of all those great seventies bands. Valavanopoulou's voice is excellent and combined with the great riffs and hook in the chorus, I was immediately impressed. "Game Of Pain", "Roll With The Wind"and "Shot Down In Flames" are just as good, before the pace slows a bit with "Blue Pearl" and "Still Bleeding". Things cranks right back up with the fiery "Take It" from there on it's a mix of high energy blues rock. Sure the influences are pretty near the surface but, hey, The Stones, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin etc. all cast long shadows. Their influences are to be celebrated but Freerock Saints also bring their own undeniable passion and commitment both of which ooze through on each track. Sometimes you need to listen to an album a couple of times to like it - not this one. Highly Recommended.
Tony Sison / The Dedicated Rocker Society (December 2016)
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