|Andersen Laine Readman Three||Frontiers Records|
This is easily my favourite heavy rock release of 2006 so far. Royal Hunt keyboardist/composer Andre Andersen is behind this idea and has made some inspired choices in who to bring along with him.|
Two sensational voices join with Andersen to make this record work.
If you can get past the bloody awful cover artwork, the material within is more straight forward hard rock than the at times, progressive or neo-classical leanings of Royal Hunt. What is most evident is the quite brilliant song and chorus hooks and less reliance on flashy soloing – possibly because Andersen gets to do everything himself. Guitars, bass and keyboards are all Andre's doing - credit to him – these are impressive performances.
Vocal wise, former Danger Danger frontman Paul Laine makes a welcome return to hard rock after the mellower modern pop/rock of Shuggazer; and man of the moment David Readman, frontman for Pink Cream 69, provides the other half of the lead vocals – 5 tracks apiece.
The pair trade-off songs throughout the album, which would normally run the risk of killing the flow of the album, yet it is with some surprise that I say their voices sound remarkably similar and harmonious.
Laine sounds right at home singing at the top of his lungs, especially on the opener Rise and the Danger Danger-esque rock anthem The Way It Goes – one of my picks of the album.
He also delivers one of the darker, moodier and more dramatic album tracks on End Of My Rope.
Readman gets a similar role. A few Royal Hunt like power rockers – none better than Straight To The Heart and the utterly brilliant anthem Don't Need A Thing. Then there's the darker number in Scared To Live.
The material here features a lot of the power of Royal Hunt and plenty of solos still, but is just that touch more commercial and accessible.
The choruses are brilliant and the lead vocals are inspired and powerful. With respect to John West, you don't miss his input here at all.
I have been a big fan of the last few Royal Hunt releases, but if you could think of something those albums were missing – you will find it here.
Which leaves me rather confused I'm afraid. If Andre had these brilliant songs and melodies on hand, why didn't he use them on the last Royal Hunt record?
That last album featured three rather pointless instrumental glory pieces which I didn't think had much point at all, but their inclusion makes even less sense now I have heard these great songs. John West would have had just as much fun on any of these tracks had they been used at the time. I guess Royal Hunt and melodic hard rock fans are winners in there end as here they are now, with two brilliant singers on hand to ensure they are given the treatment they deserve.
Sound wise, the production could have used a little more bottom end. Overall the record sounds a little tinny but it doesn't take away from the enjoyment of the songs. A perfect sound would have seen this rated closer to 95.
A very fine straight ahead hard rocking release that I have been playing on high rotation ever since it arrived.
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