Artist:  Mark Sweeney
   Title: All In
   Label: Independent Release

It can't be too bad to have toured with the likes of Dokken, Doro or Gotthard, as Mark Sweeney has done with his band Crystal Ball.  No doubt it helped him learn the ropes as it paid off when he toured as guest singer for ex-KISS member Bruce Kulick, thus forging a name for himself on the rock scene.

With this second solo album 'All In', he shows he's on the ball when it comes to the "what's hot and what's not", because he's definitely got his finger on the pulse of today's climate, and it doesn't let him down.

Having a good backing band helps so the guitar work couldn't come any better than being done by Bruce Kulick himself, and the ever young Stefan Kaufmann of Accept / U.D.O. fame.  They both put their mark on this modern sound without going over the top, 'Line Of Fire' with it's picky guitar intro and 'Why Do You Hate Me', both from the Daughtry camp of rock.

There's a heavier side to the album too, 'Gimme A Sign' and 'Chance', where Sweeney has his moody moment along with some real down n' dirty riffs and mean drumming by Jorg Michael, all adding to the dark demeanor that hangs over the song.

Not only does he have accomplished musicians, he also has guest singers appearing to give a helping hand with a couple of tracks.

Robin Beck (of the 1988 hit 'The First Time') duets on the ballad 'Leave It All Behind', showing she's got a fine voice that handles this type of song with ultimate ease, and Sweeney sounding as comfortable as one would wish to be.

The other guest is Pearl Aday, where on this other dueted ballad, steals the show, only just.  Another great voice that complements Sweeney's own subtle tones perfectly.  Both these songs would make great singles, so see what happens.

There are some Bon Jovi similarities throughout.  'Another Day' being the main culprit, though 'Stare At The Sun' comes a close second, it's soothing acoustic guitar straight out of the Ritchie Sambora text book!

Yu could say they upset the applecart somewhat at the end after all the calm and collected songs that make up 'All In', because there's a huge hole blown through due to 'Demons', the bonus track that is a mass of speeding guitar chords and drumbeats more alike to those of Dragonforce or Power Quest.

You couldn't have seen this coming at all, but truth being told, what a way to finish off the album!!

It probably won't come to anyone's surprise that top record producer Michael Voss has his influence on this album, as the sound is very together and "up with the Jones's", which can only mean everything could be looking fine and dandy for mark Sweeney in 2010.  Check this album out.

Review by: Bob Baldwin



1. Line Of Fire
2. Why Do You Hate Me
3. Still Alive
4. Gimme A Sign
5. Leave It All Behind
6. Sinner
7. Another Day
8. Stare At The Sun
9. Too Late
10. Moments
11. Chance
12. Demons (bonus track)



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