Roland Grapow - The Four Seasons of Life (Snapper) 1997
1. "Prelude No. 1
(Presto)" [instrumental] (1:31)
When this cd first arrived in the mail from a cd trader friend of mine, I did not immediately recognize the name, despite being a long time Helloween fan. Anyhow, almost immediately upon playing the cd I recognized the guitar playing and then the face. 'The Four Seasons of Life' has a very distinct Helloween style, although it is a bit more on the flashy Yngwie Malmsteen side than the more straight forward heavy metal style that Helloween helped perfect. The difference between this project and many flashy guitar solo projects is that Roland writes good songs, rather than just something to show off his guitar playing abilities over. This is an outstanding disc, easily better than some of Helloween's late 80's discs and at least as good as the rest.
Roland Grapow - Kaleidoscope (SPV/Steamhammer) 1999
1. "Walk On Fire"
Whereas Roland's first solo disc had a sound not unlike his band Helloween, apparently his second solo album is an outlet for him to record all the songs that wouldn't fit into Helloween's metallic style. "Kaleidoscope" is exactly as the name implies, a myriad of musical styles all spun together in one very good album. There are plenty of hard rockers, moving ballads, as well as a few more metallic songs. Of course there is some fantastic guitar playing throughout the album. Despite this, however, Kaleidoscope is not just a bunch of rhythms that give Roland a chance to show off. Fact is, this is actually a very coherent cd with some excellent songwriting. The power ballad "A Heartbeat Away" for instance could easily be a radio single. "The Hidden Answer" is a powerful, melodic rocker that would rival Axel Rudi Pell or Rob Rock. The title track is another excellent song that could easily have been a single. This track is fast and furious and is one of the few tracks that probably would have fit on a Helloween disc. Along for the ride this time is vocalist Mike Vescera (Loudness/Yngwie Malmsteen), drummer Mike Terrana (Rage/Metalium) and a guest appearance by keyboard-wizard Jens Johansson (Stratovarius/Dio/Yngwie Malmsteen).