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Gus Monsanto - 'Karma Café' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/ad/48/eb/Gus-Monsanto-Karma-Cafe-68-1495997568.jpg Hot

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Certainly not an instantaneous album, however, fans of well-produced Melodic Rock/AOR should really check it out.

Gus Monsanto is a Brazilian singer who has sang on many albums and has an impressive résumé including providing lead vocals on albums by Code Of Silence, Adagio, Revolution Renaissance, Takara and Human Fortress. With the latter bands in mind, it will come as quite a surprise that Monsanto's first solo release, 'Karma Café', is a collection of Melodic Rock and AOR songs and not Hard Rock or Metal tunes.

For 'Karma Café' Monsanto decided to record the album in his own home studio. He utilised the talents of several multi-talented musician friends, including guitarists Rogério "Percy" Lucas and Wiliam Belle, bassist (and younger brother) Jayme Monsanto and keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Bruno Sá. To quote the man himself, "No pressure, no record label, no rules, no deadlines. Music for the joy of making music, in your time". The fourteen tracks on offer were written over many years, however it would be difficult to distinguish between the differing time periods in which they originated.

The title track kicks off the album and ticks all the right boxes; well written, catchy, well-played and superbly produced by Monsanto himself, along with Celo Oliveira, while 'No Candle Left In The Box' continues the album's upbeat start. 'Elephant In The Room' introduces some orchestration and, together with some stellar guitar playing, is a real highlight. Contrary to its title, 'Fire And Dynamite' is a mid-tempo Blues-drenched tune filled with emotion. 'Time' is a highly infectious AOR/Pop song whereas 'A Girl I Know' tips its hat to old-style Rock 'n' Roll, albeit with a Modern twist. 'Shooting Star' has a definite Brett Walker vibe which naturally makes it another winner in my book – the song is a real AOR gem.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The Beatles influence can be clearly heard on the acoustic-based 'Fel'. 'Forbidden', on the other hand, goes completely leftfield and is the heaviest track on the album, even sounding (purposefully) out of tune on the chorus. 'Why?' and 'After The Storm' returns to the AOR style of much of the album and then the pace picks up slightly for closers 'Change The World' and 'Nothing Is Impossible'.

'Karma Café' is certainly not an instantaneous album, however, fans of well-produced Melodic Rock/AOR should really check it out. That said, fans of Gus Monsanto's other bands should approach with caution, but if they are open-minded and like the lighter side of Rock, they will also be well rewarded.

Mark Donnelly

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