|Allen / Lande The Revenge||Frontiers Records|
You could be forgiven for thinking the Allen / Lande debut would be a one-off project. After all, the vast majority of these all-start projects are just that.|
But credit too all involved – they are back for more and have the potential to start a true franchise here, as long as mainstay Magnus Karlsson can continue to deliver the songwriting and musical performance that has now delivered two great albums.
Singers Russell Allen and Jorn Lande of course are the icing on the cake. They mesh together perfectly – at times taking songs themselves, but for at least half the record, their vocals are entwined beautifully, creating a rich vocal tapestry for the listener to untwine thread by thread as they get to know the songs.
The debut was an almost perfect album. Powerful, emotional and extremely melodic for such a typically metal styled release.
The Revenge picks up from where the debut left off, using the same blueprint of power and melody, but at the same time it is also a little different – a little unique in its own way.
First of all, the sound is a little less melodic, less polished than the very slick debut and the production is also a little different. Dennis Ward mixed this record – to his usual high standards I might add – but that gives it a slightly different vibe than the debut, which was handled all in-house by Karlsson.
The songs this time around are less instant and less driven by soaring choruses. They are a little more complex and the record requires more time to get to know than the fairly immediate debut. It could be argued that from start to finish this record is missing a couple of bigger stand out tracks and perhaps a few more brilliant choruses.
But once again there are some absolute classic songs here and tremendous performances by all, but I think overall, the songwriting doesn't quite match the near perfection of the first release. For me, the album really kicks in with the powerful and utterly fabulous rock ballad Master Of Sorrow, sung by Jorn.
Preceeding that The Revenge and Victory (as good as they are) are very similar to what was already served up on the debut and the Russell Allen sung hard rocker Obsessed doesn't have the knockout hook to drive it home.
But following the ballad it really gets interesting. The double time intensity and raspy vocal from Allen on Will You Follow is great and builds a platform to even heavier and more intense duet Just A Dream, which is as good as anything from either album.
Jorn goes it alone again for Her Spell, which continues to impress, and Allen delivers maybe his best individual vocal of the two albums on the classic mixed tempo Gone Too Far.
Then there is the urgent and powerful anthemic rocker Wake Up Call, the track that blows the album apart with two dynamic performances and a maybe the best chorus of the record.
The Jorn sung Under The Waves is a little more reserved, but still a strong melodic metal track in typical Jorn fashion.
The guys re-unite in tandem for the album's last 2 songs. Who Can You Trust rolls along effortlessly, adding a little muscle to the album's sound and a strong chorus underlined by a double kick drum beat.
When Time Doesn't Heal is nothing sort of magic. Heralded by Karlsson as the best ballad he ever wrote, it could be just that. Both Jorn and Russell pour their emotions into the song which builds through its 6 minute running time to close the album with a fitting conclusion.
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