by Franco Cerchiari
– Senior Columnist —
One would be hard pressed to find anyone who considers himself or herself a true follower of Rock and Metal and not be a fan of Norway’s powerhouse, Jorn Lande. Indisputably one of Hard Rock and Metal’s most prolific and creative vocalists, his raspy, growling vocal style has made Masterplan, Ark, Avantasia, Beyond Twilight, Millennium, Oceans of Time, Ayreon and his outstanding collaborations with fellow vocal god Russell Allen all rank as some of the best releases within the Metal genre.
Projects with Ken Hensley (Uriah Heep, Blackfoot,) Trond Holter (Wig Wam,) Vagabond (made up of members of TNT,) and Pentakill, as well are all worth a definite listen. Here, Jorn brings to us his latest studio album released once again on the Frontiers Records label. For those not familiar with the great Jorn Lande – should there be any – fans of Axel Rudi Pell, Pink Cream 69, Axxis, At Vance and Thunderstone will want to pick up any Jorn release, and quickly add everything he has been associated with to their collections.
By way of comparison to 2013’s Traveller, and even more so 2009’s Spirit Black, this time around Jorn seems to have pulled the reigns back somewhat and shifted the sound from Power Metal to somewhere within Hard Rock. But still, the production and sound is huge, the guitars are melodic but loud, (think John Norum, Uli John Roth, or John Sykes,) the drums hard hitting, and keyboards are sprinkled throughout. The songs come across as a throwback of 80’s Metal of sorts, with of course, front and center is the commanding voice of Jorn Lande, as his voice is the focal point of each song, with the members of Primal Fear (Mat Sinner, Axel Beyrodt, and Francesco Jovino) working alongside super-producer/keyboard maestro Alessandro Del Vecchio. The overall sound is excellent, with no scratches heard and each instrument comes in and out of focus perfectly.
Listen to the almost Dokken sounding “Hammered To The Cross (The Business)” which is a perfect vehicle for the intensity, authority, and strength that is the voice of Jorn Lande, as here he is heard going from clear melodic to upper octave screams. Also great was the riffing “Fire To The Sun,” the organ of the infectious, volume knob reaching, CD highlight “Love Is The Remedy,” the beautiful piano and electric acoustic guitars of the reflective “Dreamwalker,” and the bluesy “I Walked Away.” The telltale growls of Jorn are all over “The Slippery Slope (Hangman’s Rope,)” the loud “Devil You Can Drive,” and “Man Of The 80s” is all about having to keep one’s mind on a task at hand, but still remembering those artists and times which made the early days of radio and TV something special. Mentions of Elvis, television “in its prime,” James Dean, “being a young man in 1979, and a man of the 80’s” made this a great song indeed, fun as hell to listen to, melodic with great harmonies, and lush guitars. For those of us who grew up in the 1980s, will relate to one of the lines heard on this track, “…I am a man of the 80’s, but still going strong. And closing Life On Death Road is “Blackbirds” that opens with gentle refrains, accompanied by the sounds of thunder, but quickly the song explodes into an all out assault.
2017 has thus far been a great year for Rock and Metal fans with Inglorious, Art Nation, The Ferrymen, Adrenaline Mob, Iced Earth, Labyrinth, Accept, Ten and Secret Sphere all releasing outstanding music that of course shit American radio will completely ignore. To add to one of the releases that must be heard in 2017 is this one, Life On Death Road. But then again anything done by Jorn is worth hearing, and this release is another strong one to add to the seemingly never-ending body of work that comes from the always fantastic Jorn Lande.
Genre: Hard Rock
Jorn Lande – vocals
Mat Sinner – bass
Axel Beyrodt – guitars
Alessandro Del Vecchio – keyboards
Francesco Jovino – drums
1. Life On Death Road
2. Hammered To The Cross (The Business)
3. Love Is The Remedy
5. Fire To The Sun
6. Insoluble Maze (Dreams in the Blindness)
7. I Walked Away
8. The Slippery Slope (Hangman’s Rope)
9. Devil You Can Drive
10. The Optimist
11. Man of the 80’s
Label: Frontiers Records
Hardrock Haven rating: (8.9 / 10)