The Irish guitarist Stevie McLaughlin is better known for his riff attacks with the Irish metal band, Sandstone. Now, in order to live out his full musical sphere, something he is unable to do when playing with the band, the talented guitarist, songwriter and singer has recorded his first solo effort. "Toy Empires" is the title of the ten track opus, which can be described as being between hard rock and classical heavy metal. Progressive influences are just as recognizable as are influences to his style by guitarists such as Gary Moore, Rory Gallagher, Steve Vai, John Petrucci and Pat McManus. After noticing the musical talents of the Irish musician, former Judas Priest/ex-Iced Earth singer Tim Ripper Owens invited him to join his tour band. "Toy Empires" delivers ten songs which act as a colourful bouquet of flowers. Versatile, emotional and of the highest technichal standard, but basically always close to the heavy metal metier, Stevie McLaughlin is spot on, right down the line. Apart from the technically perfect guitar parts, melodies and harmonies are important components of this album. On "Toy Empires" all the musical fragments fit together to a perfect whole, pleasing the listener with its cleanly arranged, melodic metal songs, and further recommending itself with its strong, great melodies and classical guitar parts.