|Code The Enemy Within||Escape Music|
Code is a brand new project featuring two mainstays of popular, but now sadly defunct Swedish pomp/AOR outfit Grand Illusion – guitarist Ola af Trampe and multi-instrumentalist Anders Rydholm.|
Joining them is the great (but not heard enough from) vocalist Sherwood Ball (of Jay Graydon fame among others).
The team quickly hatched a plan for a project that would pay tribute to their roots and bring in influences from Toto and Giant.
True enough too, as the first thing I thought of when listening to this album – especially the vocal tones of Mr. Ball – was Fee Waybill's classic Read My Lips release, which was more or less Toto with Waybill on vocals.
This has a classic AOR feel, with the required touches of pomp and classic rock, mixed with a big 80s Toto-esque feel and the odd more technical twist. Drummer Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani) joined in for the recording process, to ensure the guys had a solid base to work off. The album takes a few listens to get to know properly, but the rewards are definitely there once you do.
This is a finely crafted old-school melodic rock/AOR release, yet one which doesn't sound in any way out of date or deliberately influenced by the 80s. It just sounds pretty natural.
The production has a certain feel, but is very good and the attention to detail throughout is second to none, with a lot of overdubs, harmony vocals and lush arrangements including some epic moments.
Track By Track:
The Enemy Within is a solid, if not remarkable album opener, with keyboards and Sherwood's strong vocals dominating the track.
The groovier, guitar driven Sign Up For Love is a stronger statement from the band and reminds me a little of how Tommy Denander does his take on the Toto/Westcoast AOR sound. A well placed keyboard fill and a solid chorus keeps you coming back for more.
Home Away From Home is a mysterious and somewhat moody track that builds into a real groovy Westcoast rocker. Sherwood's vocals are outstanding and the track this time reminds me of Mike Slamer's style.
In The Shadows is a darker and heavier number with keyboards and guitars vying for equal billing. I love the vocal here and the chorus is classic Fee Waybill style AOR.
How Do We Stay In Love is nothing short of a massive piano lead power ballad, straight out of the Michael Bolton 80s soundtrack hand book. All meant in a very positive way of course…
My Time is a more subtle, slightly progressive track with a lot to absorb musically speaking. This track has a big groovy Giant style chorus with several layers of vocals in play.
After a couple of mid-tempo tracks, Alive picks up the tempo after an interesting drum rhythm intro. This is a fine guitar driven rocker with more Giant vibes and a layered anthem chorus that bursts through a more relaxed verse.
Uninvited Guest keeps the tempo up, this track a fairly straight forward pop rocker with some nice guitar work and a couple of slight twists along the way.
Change The World is a softer more Westcoast track, again featuring some fine guitar parts and lots of keyboards, plus a nice easy going chorus.
The uptempo pop rocker Flying High isn't a track that stands out for me, but suits the run of the album and does get better as you get to know it.
Sworn To Silence is the second of the big ballads for the album and again could be slotted into a movie soundtrack with ease. This is a classic style, sentimental ballad with a great guitar solo and more passionate vocals from Sherwood Ball.
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