Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world without a state. Spread across four Middle Eastern countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Turkey, Kurds been fighting for independence and international recognition for decades. The conflicts in Iraq and Syria have given them new opportunities to achieve their goals - by fighting back against Islamic State forces, and setting up autonomous regions. The Kurds have been trying to establish an independent state since the end of World War I - but the countries where they live, particularly Iraq and Turkey, have often resorted to brutal measures to suppress the Kurds' ethnic identity. But times are changing in the Middle East.
Encouraged by their continued success as a touring unit, Slaughter reorganized following the tragic death of guitarist Tim Kelly with Back to Reality, which introduces new guitarist Jeff Blando. Regardless, it's still the same old Slaughter, albeit a touch heavier than they were in their hit-making prime – they're catering to hard rock radio rather than power-ballad-hungry Top 40 programmers (which actually serves them well). Still, it's knowing their audience that's kept Slaughter around this long, and that audience wants straight-ahead, melodic, meat-and-potatoes hard rock. So even if most of the music on Back to Reality will sound somewhat rote and by the numbers to listeners who have no appetite for '80s-style pop-metal in 1999, it simply wouldn't pay for the band to take any chances or alter their sound – and, actually, as Back to Reality proves, they're still pretty good at it, delivering decent songs and convincing performances demonstrating that they aren't just phoning it in. There's nothing earth-shattering here, but the level of quality is pleasantly surprising, and certainly not that far below their commercial heyday.
Mindstorm is the rock vision of vocalist Travis Mitchell. The group is in essence the Canadian equivalent of Kingdom Come or Katmandu. Employing Al Rodgers (guitar), Bruce Moffet (drums), Russ Boswell (bass) and Gary Moffet (keyboards), the songs are immaculately constructed and delivered with aplomb. However, their credibility and creativity is compromised through the overwhelming sense of déja vu their recordings invoke. With monstrously aching riffs and thunderous drumming, Mindstorm careers along a well-worn rock ‘n’ roll path, with only the occasional musical detour. These include Eastern influences, simple acoustic bridges and brooding power ballads.