Reviews July/05

Northern Light / Northern Light / MTM 0681-134


Northern Light - Norwegian guitarist Tor Talle with a lot good friends! Tracklisting:Eye to Eye; I will follow you; Living on a Lie; Don't turn away; While there still Time; When i close my Eyes; High above the Sky; Lay down your defences; Still my Hero; Wherever you go; Rain of Tears; The Story lives on.

I cannot help being slightly impressed by Norwegian guitarist Tor Talle and his newest project Northern Light. And how could you not be? With his use of such ace vocalists like Peter Sundell, Tony Mills, Kimmo Blom, Fergie Frederiksen, Rob Moratti, Mikael Erlandsson and Talle's own "breed" Persa (from After Eight).
Besides the many frontmen the core of this project are Fredrik Bergh and Egil Orvedal on keyboards, Rune Gandrud and Roger Allan Ivin on basses, Jango Nilsen on drums and of course Tor Talle on nearly everything playable - but his handling of a 6-string is breathtaking. He can be soft, rough, emotional and just about every mood you fancy - you can find on this fantastic record! The compositions are mainly Talle's with help from Fredrik Bergh, Jorn Lande, Terje Eide, Peter Sundell and Kimmo Blom - great!
Im my opinion there are NO fillers on this record - all 12 tracks are worth listening to, i had the CD running almost constanly for 2 whole days and never got bored with the nice riffs of "Rain of Tears" (with Persa on vocals), the high pitched vocals by Fergie on the anthem "Eye to Eye" - but also the nasal voice of Rob Moratti works wonderful on "High above the Sky"... and Peter Sundell's voice is always amazing but opener "I will follow you" is great and Kimmo Blom's contribution on the soulful "Still my Hero" and especially the utterly beautiful "Lay down your Defences" .....
As you can see i'm still very "into" this record - but if i shall try to be objective i will say that Tor Talle's songwriting has matured a lot since his debut in 1999 - with a lot of instrumentals and a few vocal songs (with Jorn Lande). At that time he was mostly influenced by the jazzier side of melodic rock - this time around he is more straight AOR and with his obvious Scandinavian way of songwriting the "Northern Light" album must be one of the best melodic records of all 2005!

Return / Return / MTM 0681-135


Return - Melodic Rock from Norway! Tracklisting:Every little Step; Save the Heart; All the way; Tv-song; All that I see; Mr. president; Fallen Angel; Holy Water; Heroes and Knights; Walk It like you talk it.

Return started out as Polish way back in 1980 - when 4 very young guys rehearsed like crazy in an old barn in their hometown of Strange, Norway. But things really started to happen in 1985 (20 years ago, amazing!&?) when Tore Larsen on bass, Steinar Hagen on guitar, Knut Erik Østgård on lead vocals, Øivind Håkonsen on drums and Henning Ramseth on keyboards/guitar released the single "Sheila" and made them the winners of "Norwegian Champions of Rock" that year. Later they released their debut "To the top" in 1987, "The best of Return" and "Return - Live" and had toured Norway countless times!
The musical style is melodic rock - but with an edge! The edges are modern sounds and small amount of punkish attitude (like on "Tv-song") but always with a clearly melodic reference and 1980's-kindda-core to it! I like this cocktail of old and new in a very authentic and trustworthy atmosphere - you can hear that these guys really are serious about every note!
There are many tracks worth listening to! My favorites right now are first and foremost "Mr. President" with a obvious reference to the war in Iraq and the world order in general... great to hear that rock musicians can bring up these topics again, but also opener "Every little step" and "Save the Heart" are great tracks - the latter with some country-twang-feel to it, too! But don't get me wrong "Heroes and Knights", "Fallen Angel" and "Walk it like you talk it" aren't bad - no fillers here either!!
It's good to hear a band with their musical roots way back in the 80's can rise and shine in 2005, too. Return has taken the bull by the horn - and released an album totally up to date both in production and musically. They can be proud of this...!

Circus Maximus / The 1st Chapter / FR CD 240


Circus Maximus - Norwegian Power and Danish precision! (click to enlarge) Tracklisting:Sin; Alive; Glory of the Empire; Biosfear; Silence from Angels above; Why am i here; The Prophecy; The 1st Chapter; Haunted Dreams (bonus track).

Circus Maximus is very interesting cocktail of progressive metal, melodic rock and straight forward hard rock! The band is from Norway and features the talents of brothers Mats and Truls Haugen on guitar and drums respectively alongside long-time band mate Michael eriksen on vocals - they are now supplied by Espen storø on keyboards and Glen Cato Møllen on bass.
These young guys has a wide variety of musical influences - from pop/rock to 70's prog rock and heavy and power metal! But they are very true to their musical expression - there are a lot of tempo changes here, but they always return to the melody dispite off the groovy tunes, heavy riffs and keyboard/guitar duelling.
In 2004 Circus Maximus got signed to the Danish based metal agency Intromental Manegemant and the album "The 1st Chapter" is mixed in Denmark, too - by Tommy Hansen at the Jailhouse Studios and as always he has managed to give this big sounding and ambitious band the right sound - all instruments are on the right spot and Eriksen's vocals is picture-perfect! I like the combination of Dream Theater, Pretty maids, TNT and/or Symphony X - catch my drift? It is hard to pont some tracks out in spite of the rest. But "Why am i here?" is a great track which incarnates all these before mentioned qualities... - but also "The Prophecy" is a great track - which reminds me of Kansas???
So if you want some musical challenge in your summer holiday - just buy Circus Maximus "The 1st Chapter" and you'll get all the excitement you need. This is one of the most convincing debuts of all times - if they can be steady on this level, they are amazing!

© Steen Peitersen 1999-2005