Reviews January/07

Code / The Enemy within / ESM 144


Code - Rydholm and Trampe alongside Sherwood Ball! Tracklisting:The Enemy within; Sign up for Love; Home away from Home; In the Shadows; How do we stay in Love; My Time; Alive; Uninvited Guest; How can i change the World; Flying High; Sworn to Silence.

It doesn't happen very often - that i'm blown away from a record. But with Swedish/American band Code i'll make an exception! This is absolutely fantastic!
Made out of the ashes of Swedish westcoast melodic rock outfits Promotion/Grand Illusion songwriter/composer/bassplayer/keyboardplayer Mr. Anders Rydholm and guitarist Ola af Trampe joined forces with American vocalist Sherwood Ball. Actually a funny story starting with Rydholm heard Ball's voice on the radio - on Jay Graydon track "Holding on to Love" - they got in contact and liked each other, and here we are... Before that Sherwood Ball made vocals for names like Bruce Springsteen, Jay Graydon, Steve Lukather, David Foster, Alice Cooper and Jackson Browne.
Code has now made this outstanding album "The Enemy within" on Escape Music and including special guest Gregg Bissonette on drums - and what drums!!
”The enemy within” doesn't sound like Rydholms former bands - but then again... The compositions is more straight forward and not as big big big as the work of Grand Illusion - but "the spirit of Rydholm" shines through, though. The structures of the songs and the handling of the musical expression can be recognized! Even if it is very early of 2007 - this must be one of the best recordings this year. The tracks are all classics in spe - but one of my favorites is ”Alive” where Sherwood is referring to his Native American roots. Very dramatic and cinematic - building up to a a very catchy chorus (which is a bit Grand Illusions-esque). And Ola's guitar work is eminent on this one - what melody and sound.... But also the title track ”The enemy within” is a very strong catchy and great song. On the more rockier side a track like "Uninvited guest" is very welcome - with its very Jon Lord-like hammond organ it is one of my absolute favorites. But also ”In the shadows” and the beautiful beautiful ballad ”Sworn to silence” are tracks that I hum in my shower - and they are still growing.
Sherwood Ball really got this record going - you can wonder why he hasn't a name as a lead vocalist yet. He sings with pondus and a nerve that leaves nothing to Michael Bolton and Steve Perry. But also Ola af Trampe has a great future ahead of him - watch out Steve Lukather. But over it all Anders Rydholm shines. He has a unique flair for composition, melody and production - and when all three things unite like this it is a very breathtaking experience. This is a classic-in-spe - a unique album!!! Buy buy buy!

Torok/ Addiction of Fools / G & J Records 38455-7


Torok - Independent hard rock! Tracklisting:Wolf within; Full Moon; 1000 Reasons; Addictions of Fools; Infamy; Do U harm; 'Y'; Breathin'; The Burden; Forsaken.

Torok is a totally unknown band to me, but according to their press material they have excisted for at least 12 years. Their first recordings was from 1995 and "addiction of Fools" is their 4th release (according to their website). The touring band currently consists of Michael James Torok on guitars, Bryan Erickson on vocals, John Jankowski on keyboards, Bill Holmberg on bass and Tim Davis on drums. But, the album was recorded by Mr. Torok and Bryan Erickson supported by guitar mastro Todd Duane, singer Mark Westlund (of Touched), drummer Brian Waterman (former King's machine), bass player Ken Olson (sometimes Y), drummer Tom Croxton (Imaler), keyboard player Tim Temple (Ragged Radio) and session drummer Greg Morrow.
Guitarist and founding member Mike Torok started out as guitarist in 80's shock rock band Impaler. And I must admit that I was suprised by hearing the full album. The band themself describe their music as a mixture of 70's giants such as Led Zep and Purple with the 80's hard rock bands like Van Halen and Whitesnake. But i don't recall any 70's atmosphere her - but it smells a lot like the good ole 80's!
There are a lot of good tracks on this album - opening track "Wolf Within" is one of them with the graet drum track and Mr. Erickson's great raw vocals all over it. But also "1000 Reasons" is a tour de force by the vocalist - supplied by great fretwork, too by the way. The title track which is the fourth track, is a piano led ballad that stands out as the only "quiet" track on the album - and therefore stands out in a positive way. The funky track titled "Y" has a funky vibe toward it - like a Living Colour/Extreme-esque feeling (get it?).
Torok has made a good album - for an independent band. They are focused and has a good flair for a great melody and composition. The album does not have a Mutt Lange-wall-of-sound over it (of course) but what it is short of in production it has in enthusiasm and joy... A pleasant CD. Good luck;-)

Jorn / The Gathering / FR PR CD 316


Jorn Lande - A dynamic and strong Norwegian! Tracklisting:Something real; Gonna find the Sun; Bridges will burn; Young forever; Tungur Knivur; One Day we will put out the Sun; Sunset Station; Hourglass; Gate of Tears; House of Cards; My own Way; Worldchanger; Abyss of Evil; Where the Winds blow; Christine; Big.

Jorn Lande from Norway is one of the most used singers in the world - and what a voice he has. It's no wonder that he has worked with artists like Masterplan, Vagabond, Yngwie Malmsteen, Bernie Marsden/Micky Moody, Ark, Brazen Abbot and Russell Allen. Jorn lande is magnificent, grand and melo-dramatic as well - like no one else. The last few years he has med a name for himself - especially with the Russell/Lande project i felt was a statement - and with Tommy Hansen in the Jailhouse Studios behind the mixer desk the records has a sound to fit the vocal work!
This month there are two albums from Jorn Lande ready to release - "The Gathering" and "Unlocking the Past". The latter includes some previously unreleased cover songs. But with "The Gathering" Jorn Lande gives us a small view in the work he did before joining Germans Masterplan. "Some songs that I believe stick out and deserve a second chance in history", Jorn Lande says in the following press material. Some of the tracks have been re-recorded from scratch with new arrangement and approach, while others have merely been remixed by Tommy Hansen for a better outcome and sound improvement - and they have indeed.
Of course Jorn Lande sounds like Coverdale at times i.e. on "Sunset Station" and you'll also find slightly heavier arrangements like "Tungur Knivur" (Heavy Knife - a sentence from a 80's Viking film) and the Millennium (featuring Ralph Santolla) era "Hourglass" - also very Coverdale-esque. "Bridges Will Burn" and "Worldchanger" are indeed some of the better melodic metal songs of all times and i think is a great introduction to Jorn's past and one of the biggest voices of rock, ever. What will the future bring? Oh yes, a cover album - check out my site later for a review on that one... Until then, enjoy this one - heavy, heavy, heavy;-)

© Steen Elstrup Pejtersen 1999-2007