Dark Sky – Believe It

Dark Sky – Believe It

Tracks:

  1. Rock Me
  2. Stay Young
  3. Masih Ada Rindu
  4. In The Name Of God
  5. Pray For The World
  6. On And On
  7. Magna Quaedan Spectare
  8. Gimme A Try
  9. Believe It
  10. Tell Me Why
  11. Jane
  12. Living In Paradise
  13. Call Me
  14. Eternity

Album Cover:


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Label: Goodlife Records
Producer: NikHerb
Year:
2000

Total Playing Time: 57:13 m:s

Review date: 21/01/2001

Web site:   www.dark-sky.de
 

Email: 

Rating: 85 %
Verdict: Impressive keyboard laden rock.
When I first popped this in the CD player my expectations weren’t that high. I expected a average album of typical Euro-rock with a Germanic flavor. The first listen through changed all that. The band which consists of Frank Breuninger on vocals, Ashes on guitars, Winny Zurek on bass, Uwe Mayer on drums and Claudio Nobile on keyboards, have create little gem here.

The opener, “Rock Me”, immediately hits you with a very Europe (ala Final Countdown) slice of keyboards. This distinctive keyboard style has you thinking about Joey Tempest & Co. throughout the tune. The strong start is continued on another melodic rocker called “Stay Young”. The next song, Masih Ada Rindu, is ballad sung in Malaysian. Well, if a German band are going to sing in English, why not Malaysian as well!

 “In The Name Of God” is another keyboard laden tune that develops into a mid-paced rocker. The lyrics have a bit of a cheesy whiff to them, but it isn’t easy writing lyrics in a foreign language. The religious theme continues on the equally impressive and similarly paced “Pray For The World”. “On And On” is a fairly sparse affair where the vocalist does the majority of work and the backing in minimal. This is a good contrast to the more densely packed rockers.

“Magna Quaedan Spectare” is suitably orchestral, but brief instrumental which flows into “Gimme A Try”. “Gimme A Try” is a chunky rocker with a few little touches that remind me of The Scorpions. The title track, “Believe It”, is a mid-tempo romp that, with it’s combination of The Scorpions and Europe, typifies what Dark Sky are all about.

“Tell Me Why” is a upbeat acoustic ditty that changes the atmosphere right from the first few bars. This is followed by a rather predictable ballad called “Jane”, which I wouldn’t describe as a low point, but which doesn’t match the class displayed elsewhere on the album. The band immediately redeem themselves with the catchy “Living In Paradise”. That catchiness is continued on “Call Me” where the chorus sounds familiar right from the first listen making it the most immediate tune on offer. The final tune is a ballad called “Eternity” which has a suitably epic feel.

Impressive songs and good production combine to make this a good debut and definitely one worth checking out.

Return – Live

Return – Live

Tracks:

 

  1. Change The Attitude
  2. Having Fun
  3. Friends Will Be Friends
  4. Sing Me A Song
  5. Medley – United In A Scream/Be Good/Still Waiting
  6. The Loner
  7. Take This Heart
  8. Life Must Go On
  9. Half A Man
  10. Bye Bye Johnny
  11. Can You Forgive Me
  12. Medley – To The Top/Heaven And Hell/The Day After
  13. Main Man (Bootleg Bonus)
  14. Straight Across My Heart (Bootleg Bonus)

Album Cover:


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Label: OSLOVE
Producer: Tomas Siqveland
Year:
2000

Total Playing Time: 73:26 m:s

Review date: 12/1/2001

Web site: www.rockofnorway.com   
 

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Rating: 77 %
Verdict: A successful reunion.
Return are a new name to be, but fortunately the CD leaflet gives a brief history. The band formed in 1980 in Stange, Norway. The band played locally of a number of years before changing their name to Return and winning the Norwegian Championship Of Rock in 1985. The band released 5 albums until they broke up in 1994. The band reformed in January 2000 to promote their “The Best Of” album. The band toured throughout the year and recorded this first “Live” album 29.08.2000. The bootleg bonus tracks were recorded in 1991. The band consists of Knut Erik Ostgard on lead vocals and guitars, Steinar Hagen on guitar and vocals, Tore Larsen on bass and vocals and Oyvind Hakonsen on drums, plus Henning Ramseth on guitars, keyboards and vocals. I think the band may well have called it a day again after this album was recorded. Still with a name like “Return”, they may well be recording together once again.

When you record a live album you can either go for the warts and all version or you can go into the studio and perform numerous overdubs. The CD leaflet assures us that the album is of the former kind and presents an accurate portrayal of how Return on stage.

The album kicks off with bright and breezy “Change The Attitude”, before the band crack up the guitars for getting down to the main objective – “Having Fun”. Both “Friend Will Be Friends” and Sing Me A Song” are slow tunes.

With 5 album’s worth of material to plunder, the band do a couple of medleys to give the fans plenty of reminders of their past material. The first one is a rocking affair which culminates with the Diamond Dave sounding “Still Waiting”.

“Take This Heart”, “The Loner” and “Half A Man” are all ballads, which make me think that a good supply of lighter fuel would be a good idea at a Return concert. The slow rocking of “Life Must Go On” splits these up. There is a bit of a Whitesnake feel on display.

The band should be shot for coming up a title as naff as “Bye Bye Johnny”. Still the crowd seem happy enough singing along to this one. The simple combination of vocals and acoustic guitar give “Can You Forgive Me”  a good atmosphere and makes it stand out from some of the other ballads.

Then it is the second medley. It starts of with a catchy melodic rocker called “To The Top”. Whilst listening to album for the first time I found myself mindlessly singing along halfway through this medley. It took longer than it should have from me to realize that that the “Heaven & Hell” was in fact the Sabbath tune from one of my favorite albums of the same name. Their choice of cover version certainly helped me warm to the band after that. The first bootleg tune, “Main Man”, is a pulsating tune that recalls “Ready & Willing” era Whitesnake. By this stage it shouldn’t be a surprise when I say the band close the album with a ballad.

Return clearly put on a good live performance the night this concert was recorded and are to be commended for issuing a truly live album rather than doctoring it in the studio. If you’re an existing fan of a band it is always nice to hear the differences in songs that the band have introduced in their live performances.

I enjoy listening to my first introduction to Return and I’d describe it as a pleasant, rather than exciting experience. For me the album is a little too ballad heavy, especially as some those ballads have a few Eurovision-like tendencies.

Damned Nation – Grand Design

Damned Nation – Grand Design

Tracks:

  1. Stonecold Woman
  2. Hiding from the World
  3. Heart On The Run
  4. Fortune-Teller
  5. Desperate Call
  6. Eyes Of A Stranger
  7. Hands Of Time
  8. Going Crazy
  9. Scream Of Anger
  10. Love Reaction
  11. Dance In Darkness

Album Cover:


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Label: Z Records
Producer: Damned Nation
Year:
2000

Total Playing Time: 51:54 m:s

Review date: 24/12/2000

Web site: www.zrecords.net, listen.to/damned.nation   
 

Email: 

Rating: 85 %
Verdict: Classy Melodic Hard Rock
This album arrived for review when I was fully occupied coping with a house move and the arrival of my baby daughter. The result was that listening to the album, never mind writing the review, started, stopped, and then was put on the back burner quite a few times. However, initial impressions weren’t that positive.

Eventually the album was transferred into my car (most Mood Swings reviews are formulated on the drive to and from work) and on that first morning listening to the album it was like listening to a different album. I listened to the album and was suitably impressed. Writing the review of the album got put on hold yet again.

Finally, with a little spare time over Christmas, I’m listening & writing the review. Damned Nation haven’t changed the basic formula I heard on the previous album. They’re still purveyors of melodic hard rock. Indeed many of my comments from the last album apply again here.

“Stonecold Woman” starts the album off well enough, but it a song I’m sometimes more enthusiastic about than others. The few doubts about the opener are dispelled by “Hiding From The World” where the band seem to move up a gear in term of melody and quality. The band move a little away from the hard rock of the openers with the Harem Scarem style AOR of “Heart On The Run”.

It is almost as if the band have been building up to Fortune-Teller. This slice of Rainbow-ish melodic hard rock is the highlight of the album for me. The connection to the next song, “Desperate Call”, is that this time I’m reminded of another Purple spin-off, Whitesnake. The band attack “Eyes Of A Stranger” with more aggression, yet maintain a sense of melody. The riff heavy “Hands Of Time” reminds me of Eye Witness. As with the previous slower tune, “Going Crazy” has a hint of Mr Coverdale about it.

Just as I’m about the accuse “Scream Of Anger” of being average Euro-Rock, a decent chorus rides in to save the day. With “Love Reaction” the redeeming chorus isn’t in evidence. However, the band are back on track with the slow burner closer, “Dance In Darkness”.

I listened to this for a hell of a long time before writing this review and the album, a few initial doubts dispelled, has stood the test of the prolonged review period. Damned Nation create classy melodic hard rock and this album follows on where the previous one left off. This genre of rock isn’t going to win any prizes for originality or invention. So when you decide to pursue a career in this area you’ve got to be good. And that is exactly how I’d describe Damned Nation – they’re a tight unit with considerable talents in all departments.  Their chosen genre of rock makes them easy targets for criticism, but if you’re like me and enjoy melodic hard rock – well just sit back & enjoy listening to the music.

Position – Nobody’s Hero

Position – Nobody’s Hero

Tracks:

 

  1. Nobody’s Hero
  2. In My Heart
  3. Out Of Reach
  4. Take The Time
  5. KT
  6. Philly Stomp
  7. Johnny Blues
  8. LR 2000
  9. Drivin On

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Label: –
Producer: Dave Natale
Year:
2000

Total Playing Time: 33:55 m:s

Review date: 27/12/2000

Web site:   
 

Email: positionnj@aol.com 

Rating: 73 %
Verdict: A HM sandwich with an interesting filling.
For their new album Position have drafted in Dave Natale (who has helped to create the live sound for the likes of Plant/Page, Van Halen and Bon Jovi) on production duties. The album took a year to record and is a follow up to last year’s “The Message”.

Listening to the opening two tracks and indeed the final two tracks takes me back to the days of the NWOBHM. Although the music isn’t an exact match, lead singer Lil Al Bufano sounds like Biff and NWOBHM stalwarts Saxon are the first band that spring to mind when thinking of comparisons. These four songs are all out and out rockers. Second track, “In My Heart”, is my favorite from these. A little bit of acoustic guitar is thrown in giving another dimension to the song. The third track, “Out Of Reach”, has a decidedly  moody start before developing into a good power ballad where this time the music and the vocals combine to sound very like Saxon.

After the trio of opening rockers “Take The Time” is a bit of a shock to the system. It’s a slow country rock tune that reminds me of Neil Young. The variety continues on “KT” which is a riff-based instrumental that has plenty of guitar histrionics and the very short “Philly Stomp” metal/punk shout rather than song. “Johnny Blues” lives up to its name by being  a mid-paced blues rock song.

The best way to describe the album as a whole is “a sandwich”, with a bit of a surprise filling between the slices of traditional HM bread. Being mainly an AOR fan, my favorite track is “Out Of Reach” and I would have liked to see a few more tracks in a similar vein to stretch the album beyond the rather short playing time of 33 mins, although I do realize that recording budgets etc may be main reason for the album’s brevity.

Hit The Ground Runnin’ – Control Yourself

Hit The Ground Runnin’ – Control Yourself

Tracks:

  1. Control Yourself
  2. Back Again
  3. Shanghaid
  4. Lost
  5. Still Life Lover
  6. Born To Be With You
  7. Pain
  8. Holding On
  9. I.C.V.
  10. Dirty Girl
  11. Surrounded By Fire

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Label: Smash Records
Producer: Paul Piccari, Daneil McKeown & HTGR
Year:
2000

Total Playing Time: 48:36 m:s

Review date: 28/09/2000

Web site: www.hitthegroundrunnin.homepage.com 

Email: smashent@home.com  

Lineup

Blair Ramsey – Lead Vocals

Rating: – 78 %
Verdict: HTGR have jumped on the reunion bandwagon and lived up to their name.

HTGR released their first album, “Sudden Impact”, back in 1988. They recorded 4 master tracks for a follow up album, but called it quits amid legal hassles in 1990. Ten years later they released the pre-production demos from those “Control Yourself” sessions on MP3. The interest that was generated inspired the original members to reform the group and the band are currently recording a third album.

The band’s origins back in the 80s give a clue as to what they are going to sound like. On my first listen through REO Speedwagon was the first name that came to mind, but that was mainly because of one track. On repeated listens I felt that “a less refined REO Speedwagon” was the about the only comparison I could think of, but then Aviator popped into my head. So HTGR’s music is the type that falls between AOR and hard rock. Let’s call it “hard AOR” just to put a tag on it.

“Control Yourself” is a big rocker to start off proceedings. There are a few lighter sections, but the overall impression is given by the crunchy guitar playing, especially on the guitar solo. The band continue the uptempo start with another uptempo romp. This is where the Aviator comparison started to form. The album has a raw feel to it overall. For example, on this track the cymbals are just a tad too noticeable for my personal tastes. “Shanghaid” is rather standard pseudo-metal offering that retains just enough melody to stop it getting slammed by me. If you heard “Lost” on the radio you’d swear it was Reo Speedwagon. It is back to Aviator for “Still Life Lover” which has enough hooks to counteract the lyrics which would have been perfectly acceptable in the 80s, but now seem slightly corny.

“Born To Be With You” has got a pseudo rock ‘n’ roll feel in a Billy Joel kind of way. The synth sound and the vague ‘new-wave’ make “Pain” a definite 80s sounding track. Still, it is high on melody and very acceptable. “Holding On” is a semi-ballad and this style never fails to conjure up the name of Journey. For “ICV” and “Dirty Girl” the band decide to turn up the wick and rock out more than on previous tracks with unspectacular results. After those couple of duffers the band get very much back on track with “Surrounded By Fire” which is a great slice of hard AOR that leaves you wanting to hear more from the band.

The band have reformed and put out this album pronto. With a couple of duff tracks and a production that could be more refined, I can’t give this full marks, but these are really only minor concerns because the band have delivered an album of good hard AOR. Once you hear this album I think your appetite will be suitably wetted for the new album that the band are currently recording.

Treason – Code Of Silence

Treason – Code Of Silence

Tracks:

  1. Last Stand
  2. Cycles
  3. Supercool
  4. Spinning
  5. State Of Grace
  6. Deff Bendir
  7. Kali Ma
  8. Holy Water
  9. Visual
  10. Cold Tears
  11. Lethal (Bonus Track)

Album Cover:


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Label: Treason Productions
Producer: Ted Stockwell
Year:
2000

Total Playing Time: 49:20 mins

Review date: 28/09/2000

Web site: www.treason.net 

Email:

Rating: 81 %
Verdict: Melodic Rock for the new Millenium
Treason are new band trying to make it in the big bad world of rock. To help them make this album, they enlisted the help of Sue Ennis (lyricist with Heart), John Giblin (Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Simple Minds, Kate Bush,…) and Ron St Germain (mix man for Soundgarden, U2, Creed, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Living Color, 311 & Tool). As I’ll mention later Heart’s Ann Wilson also helps out.

With the exception of Heart, those are a list of people not closely associated with AOR or melodic rock and that maybe gives a clue as to where Treason are coming from. This is melodic rock, but with a contemporary twist. When it came to thinking of comparisons for Treason Voice of Reason era Harem Scarem was the first one that floated to the surface, not because of the sound, but the approach to creating a contemporary Melodic Rock album. The also happen to hail from Seattle which I guess is bit clue as to where they are coming from.

“Last Stand” starts the album off with a big sound that highlights the band’s dark style, but don’t worry this isn’t an out and out grunge-fest. That darkness is very much evident on “Cycles” which plods along in a Pearl Jam kind of way. If the first two tunes don’t do much for you (and that is case for me), then “Supercool” is much better prospect. This one steps up the pace and adds more of sense of melody, giving us the best tune on the album. The band do their best Tangerine Dream impressions at the start of “Spinning” which is a mellow ballad. This song highlights the deep rich quality of the vocals that are impressive throughout the album. On the downside the tune does feature an annoying drum machine clicking sound during the verses that had me wondering if there was a fault with my CD player, but I guess it does give the song a more contemporary feel. “State Of Grace” is another mid-tempo number similar in style to the opening two numbers, but with a more memorable chorus. As is becoming the norm on the album the swirling keyboards are brought in to fill out the sound and give the choruses more impact. “Deff Bendir” is suitability off the wall instrumental that seems to take on a new dimension when listened to using headphones. “Deff Bendir” leads into “Kali Ma”. If the preceding instrumental gets your brain ticking, then “Kali Ma” will finally make it click that it was King Crimson that you were struggling to think of. These two tunes add a new dimension to the album and add a sense of depth. For “Holy Water” it is back to more traditional rock fare with a by comparison mundane mid-tempo rocker. “Visual” has the band back on more solid ground. ‘Cold Tears’ is duet with Heart’s Ann Wilson fulfilling the female role. Unsurprisingly this is a slow ballad very much in the style of Heart and is one of the album highlights. “Lethal” is billed as a bonus track which I usually find means ‘avoid!’. But with Treason “Lethal” really is a bonus. It is a slow burning rocker that takes off with one of the best choruses on the album.

As a result of bypassing on the August update to the web site I’ve had longer than normal to listen to this before writing the review. In that time I’ve gone from initially thinking it was a fairly OK melodic rock album, to picking up only on the more ‘Seattle’ side of things and wondering if I’d ever listen to it after writing this review. After a good few more listens, the album has grown on me again and I’m sure I’ll be listening to it after this review has been completed and posted online. This is an album that manages to give the sometimes tired world of melodic rock a kick up the arse. 

Joe Lynn Turner – Holy Man

Joe Lynn Turner – Holy Man

Tracks:

  1. No Salvation
  2. Holy Man
  3. Anything
  4. Honest Crime
  5. Wolves At The Door
  6. Angel
  7. Something New
  8. Freedom’s Wings
  9. Love Is Blind
  10. Midnight In Tokyo
  11. Babylon
  12. Closer
  13. Too Blue To Sing The Blues

Album Cover:


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Label: MTM Music
Producer:Bob Held & JLT 
Year: 2000

Total Playing Time:  57:43 m:s

Review date: 22/09/2000

Web site: www.mtm-music.com  

Email: 

Rating:  65 %
Verdict: Workmanlike
In March 2000 Joe Lynn Turner got together with a few mates, including Andy Timmons and Al Pitrelli, to record a new solo album. The whole process took less than month. For this solo outing JLT has decided to look back to his days in Rainbow, throw in a few touches of Free and the result is a bluesy hard rock album.

The album kicks of with all guns blazing on “No Salvation” which reminds me of the JLT era Deep Purple tune “Fire In The Basement”. The title track is more “Deep Rainbow” with the guitar player joining in and doing a good Ritchie Blackmore impersonation. The pace slackens for “Anything” and the blues element gets turned up a notch on this mid-tempo ramble. “Honest Crime” and “Wolves At The Door” are both guitar based blues rock, with “Wolves At The Door” having a predicable blues theme of being in debt. “Angel” is a slow to mid-tempo tune with an injection of melody making it more AOR-like. For the next three tunes, “Something New”, “Freedom’s Wings” and “Love Is Blind”, it is back to the blues-based rock, with “Freedom’s Wings”, whilst not being stunning, an slight improvement over the past few tracks. With a title like “Midnight In Tokyo” it just has to be Deep Purple/Rainbow and it is, giving one of the more memorable tracks on the album. The Rainbow theme continues on “Babylon” which actually reminds me more of RJD era Rainbow. “Closer” is the nearest the album gets to an AOR tune, but the chorus isn’t definite enough to give the song that extra lift it needs. “Too Blue To Sing The Blues” has bit of a swing about it and again echoes Purple’s previous output.

Joe Lynn Turner has a great voice and I’m a fan of his singing, but on this album, there just aren’t enough good songs for JLT to add his touch of magic to. The tunes with the Purple and Rainbow influences are the ones that work best for me. Next time, I’d like to see Joe take his time writing and recording the songs and then perhaps we’ll get the songs to match the quality of Joe’s voice.

Air Pavilion – The River/The Life

Air Pavilion – The River/The Life

Tracks:

  1. The River/The Life
  2. The Flood
  3. Great Flow
  4. Holy River
  5. The Canyon (River Of Dreams)
  6. End Of The River
  7. Stream In A Tube
  8. The Road (To Rome)
  9. Remembering (instrumental)
  10. Overture – The River/Our Lives

Album Cover:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Label: Atrheia Records
Producer: Juan C Croucier
Year:
2000

Total Playing Time: 50:43 m:s

Review date: 12/08/2000

Web site:    

Email:

Rating: 62 %
Verdict: A talented bunch of musicians who fail to deliver on the song front. 

This is the second album, following the “Sarrph Cogh” debut from the band formed by Japanese guitarist and composer – Tak Yonemuchi. The lineup consists of Kelly Hansen (Unruly Child/Tangier/Hurricane) on vocals, Tak on guitars, Tom Croucier on bass, Jay Schellen (ex-Signal) on drums and Yuko Hirose on keyboards & vocals. Tom’s bother, Juan (ex Ratt), produces the album. A fairly impressive lineup of AOR luminaries.

The album opener and title track caught me unawares on the first few listens. The six and a half minute track is just about the most gentile album opener I’ve heard in a long time. Yes were the first band that came to mind when I initially heard the tune. This slow lumbering tune definitely is a surprising choice as an opener. It might have more impact tucked away mid-album, but if you take the time to listen, it really is a good song. Appetite suitably wetted, “The Flood” starts. Oh my God! What have they done! An uptempo pomp/progressive romp that reminds me of progressive rockers Magellan. I assume to convey emotion, the vocals drag out certain words in the lyrics which I find annoying. There is an absence of melody and the song seems like a race between all the instruments.

“Great Flow” is better, with a more sensible pace and more melodic vocals. That annoying vocal style I mentioned earlier returns with a vengeance on “Holy River”. The frantic activity and lack of melody returns in “The Canyon”. More annoying vocals on “End Of The River”. This is the heaviest tune on the album and at times the whole thing sounds a bit mindless.

Eloy are a reference point for some of the keyboard dabbling on “Stream In A Tube”, which also has a female backing vocalist and a jazz improvisation in an attempt to breath some life into it. “The Road (To Rome)” is a simple piano ballad, that whilst it isn’t that spectacular in absolute terms, fairs well against the competition provide by the rest of the songs on the album. If nothing else it highlights the fact that Kelly Hansen has a good voice if used correctly.

“Remembering” is the expected uptempo instrumental that proves the players are all very capable. “Overture” starts off with orchestral string-style keyboards, then piano before turning electric. The song continues where the opener left off.

As you’ve guessed by now, this one doesn’t do that much for me. The album starts and finishes well, but in between there isn’t much to hold my interest. Considering the wealth of talent involved, I can’t help but feel that this should have turned out a hell of lot more interesting.

Brian Mc Donald – Wind It Up

Brian McDonald – Wind It UP

Tracks:

  1. Wind It Up
  2. Head Back Home
  3. Words Come So Easy
  4. I Don’t Wanna Want You Touch
  5. When The Lightening Strikes
  6. The Night Heaven Falls Down
  7. The Rhythm Of Money
  8. Somewhere On The Highway
  9. If I Could Only See You Now
  10. Just A Heartbreak Away
  11. Amnesty
  12. The Hope One Child Can Bring

Album Cover:


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Label: www.mtm-music.com 
Producer: Brian McDonald
Year:
2000

Total Playing Time: 50:14 m:s

Review date: 12/08/2000

Web site: www.brianmcdonald.com   

Email:  

Rating: 84 %
Verdict: Well executed arena rock ala Def Leppard/Winger
If you want to create an album that mixes the styles of Def Leppard and Winger, then having Reb Beach on board certainly helps with at least one side of the equation. Def Leppard (along with Carl Sagan & JR Tolkien!!!) not unsurprisingly get a mention in the ‘influences’ list.

Whenever you borrow heavily from other artists the one hope you’ve got, to stop critics flaming you for plagiarism, is to create a top notch product to win them over. When I heard the MTM sampler from last year with a the title track from this album on it, I was less than convinced.

With my flame-thrower at the ready, I put this album in the player and prepared to give it a scorching. To my surprise I’ve ended up liking the album. If you haven’t guessed so already by the mention of the two main influences, the album is full of catchy arena rockers with pristine production.

“Wind It Up” hits you with big vocals and a big chorus on this opening track. And yes, the Def Lep influence is present. Brian really sets the scene for the rest of the album on the two opening tracks. “Head Back Home” is an uptempo AOR tune, but this time with the Winger influence present. If the first couple songs have maybe lacked that killer touch then “Words Come So Easy” increases the infectiousness factor, giving the first genuinely memorable tune. “I Don’t Wanna Want Your Touch” is a ballad that could have been lifted off Hysteria. For “When The Lightening Strikes” it’s back uptempo.

“The Night Heaven Falls Down” is a big sugary ballad. In this area of potential boredom, the great vocal harmonies keep the listener interested. “The Rhythm Of Money” has a big guitar sound when they kick in. This tune is bit on the catchy side and one of my favorites on the album. The dominant influences get pushed to the side for “Somewhere On The Highway” which sounds like Nelson meet Foreigner which is a good combination in my book. Nelson could well come to mind again when listening to “If I Could See You Now”.

Whereas previously the Winger influence has always been mixed with a little Def Lep, it gets to shine through on its own on “Just A Heartbreak Away” and “Amnesty”. Yes, “The Hope One Child Can Bring” is the predictable closing ballad.

This album doesn’t exactly push forward the frontiers of melodic rock and a cynical old reviewer like me might well be tempted to dismiss it as mere plagiarism. In fact, the whole project oozes so much class that it is difficult to do anything other than enjoy the music.

Kharma – Wonderland

Kharma – Wonderland

Tracks:

  1. Free Yourself
  2. Wonderland
  3. Knowing You
  4. Burn Forever
  5. In Chains
  6. Standing Alone
  7. Part Time Lovers
  8. Angel Eyes
  9. Ray Of Sunshine
  10. Spell On You
  11. Don’t Close Your Eyes
  12. Hold On
  13. Wings Of History

Album Cover:


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Label: www.mtm-music.com 
Producer: Dragan Tanaskovic & Kharma
Year:
2000

Total Playing Time: 66:24 m:s

Review date: 12/08/2000

Web site: www.mtm-music.com  
 

Email: 

Rating: 85 %
Verdict: Retro Pomp-AOR with vitality
Kharma consists of Goran Edman on vocals, Dragan Tanaskovic on guitars, Atilla Szabo on keyboards, Joel Starander on bass and Imre Daun on drums. Goran Edman will familiar to those of you with a liking for Yngwie Malmsteen.

This one was a released a while ago and you’ve probably seen quite a few reviews around the net already. Most reviewers seem to describing the sound as a combination of Styx and Foreigner. I’ll throw another name into the ring – Uriah Heep – I was certainly reminded of the “Sonic Origami” album I’ve reviewed. The band play pomp AOR with plenty of keyboard to fill out the sound.

Opener, “Free Yourself”, grabs your attention with the fresh clean sound that the album has throughout. The organ heralds “Wonderland” and it is used in conjunction with piano to good effect. The pomp overtones, song structure and Goran’s Dennis De Young style vocals all combine to remind of Styx. Guitars and vocal give “Knowing You” a good opening before it develops into a melodic rocker than bounces along, with the organ parts giving the first Heep touch. The piano and vocals that start the semi-ballad, “Burn Forever”, give a Styx feel that gets stronger as the song progresses.

For “In Chains”, the stabbing keyboards and strong vocal harmonies give a Foreigner feel which continues on the mid-tempo rocker, “Standing Alone”. For the first 30 secs it sounds like “Part-Time Lovers” is going to develop into a Southern Rock tune, but instead it’s Uriah Heep, especially when the organ kicks in. So far the band have hardly put a foot wrong, but the high standards are dropped by the monotonous ballad “Angel Eyes”. Despite a very Jethro Tull start, “Ray Of Sunshine” has more in common with Heep & Styx.

“Spell On You” is the song that is going to make the biggest impact on first listen. It’s a speedy number with a great memorable chorus. For “Don’t Close Your Eyes” the Foreigner blueprint get re-examined. With all this pomp activity, it you’d imagine it’s only a matter of time before a tale of princes and kings turns up. “Hold On” is meets those expectations. “Wings Of History” is a slow, almost Eurovision-like, ballad that closes the album in a predictable fashion.

Sometimes it good to look back at what has gone before, indeed the band discuss this very subject on that closing song – Wings Of History. The band take that pomp-AOR sound from  yesteryears, give it the “Scandi treatment” and the result is an album full of classic-sounding songs that still manage to sound fresh. Whither the songs will turn out to be classics, rather than classic sounding it another matter, only time will tell. For the moment, what we have here is a album full of some the best pomp-AOR that has released in quite some time.