Reviews June/02

André Andersen / Black on Black / Frontiers Records 8024391011423


Mr. Andersen on his own! Tracklisting:Coming Home; Tell me why; Arena; Desperate Times; Life; Black on Black; Eclipse; Sail Away; Piece of my Heart.

André Andersen - who plays the keyboards in Danish prog-rockers Royal Hunt has always been known as a work-aholic. So therefore between the touring and recording for his main orchestra he took some time off to record "Black on Black" - the second solo effort from him!
The musical style of Royal Hunt can be recognized here and there - (but André writes most of the material here, too) but the guest musicians on "Black on Black" are just as good. Besides André Andersen on keyboards, guitar and bass, he has invited Ian Parry from Elegy to handle the lead vocals, Kaj Laege on drums, Soma Allpas on cello, René Rieland from Witch Cross on lead guitar - and all are very capable of delivering a musical experience matching Andersen's very high level and HUGE arrangements.
The album has a very positive feeling towards it - the album is very melodic and on the 100% instrumental tracks like "Arena" and "Eclipse" there are a sentimental feeling on it, too - in opposition to the Royal Hunt material - which I think is more of a show off. But this seems much more varied. I am thrilled about the musical duels of the guitar, the cello and the keyboard on "Eclipse", this is very ggod.
Ian Parry can range quite few octaves (I think - I'm not educated in this) and his voice work is very impressive. On powerful tracks like "Sail away" he really shines - but is sheer breathtaking on "Piece of my Heart" plus the fact that André's hammond solo is GREAT! On the line up André says: "All of the guys are my personal friends, so picking them out was extremely easy. They all have some kind of specialty. Some are more of a progressive player, and some are more flashy or melodic in their playing style, so I just went with the flow of the songs. We had a great time recording the album. I have explored the mix of new sounds with traditional heavy rock and I think it worked out very well!" - indeed, the progressive sound mixed with the quick neo-classical feeling and straight melodic heavy rock IS very well.

Snakes in Paradise / Dangerous Love / MTM Music 0681-49


Swedish Snakes in Paradise - English hardrock from the 70's mixed with American AOR! Tracklisting:Come on join the Party; Dangerous Love; Fire & Rain; Calm before the Storm; There's something you hiding; I should have known better; Give & Take; Let the new World surround us; House of Fire; Devils Fire; Endless Highway; Move on.

There are mighty many Swedes aound the melodic rock business these years - Stefan Berggren normally appears with Company of Snakes but is also active in this sixtet. Snakes in Paradise first came to my ears when they were backing band for Mark/Marcie Free on The Gods of Rock about 10 years ago. I especially liked the bands debut from 1995 "Garden of Eden" - with its frehness. The follow up from 1998 was a bit dated although they got Brett Walker and Glenn Hughes to pen a few songs on it. But with "Dangerous Love" the band featuring Berggren on vocals, Thomas Jacobsson on guitar, Stefan Jonsson on guitar, Thomas Thorberg on bass, Peter Petersson on drums and Thomas Jansson on keyboards are all back on the right track again.
The significant trademark of the band is the unique blend of 70's British hard rock á la Whitesnake or Thin Lizzy and American AOR - with Berggrens bluesy vocals and some good melodies and competent musicians. I think the perfect cocktail for a good result. And the album is filled with good, memorable tracks like energetic opener "Come on join the Party", the melodic "Should have known better" and my favorite up tempo sing along song "Let the new World surround us" - an absolute radio classic in spe!
This is an album I really had my problems getting out of my CD player - even my wife liked the melodic parts of it - and there are a lot! Maybe Snakes in Paradise hasn't reinvented hard rock - but they remained faithful to themselves and their musical roots. But the songs are very mature and self confident - all delivered with a great attitude and high quality,
This is an absolute must have...!

Dogface / In control / MTM Music 0681 - 50


Martin Kronlund & Co. ready to follow up on last years much hailed debut! Tracklisting:Not wanted; To the Max; Alone again; Look into my Eyes; Sleeping with the Enemy; Leave this War; In control; I believe; Fake; Running; Forbidden Fruit.

Dogface were much praised and hailed in the musical press for their debut last year - and OK, "Unleashed" was a good album, but this new album "In control" is better, in my opinion!
The band is off course centered around guitar and founder Martin Kronlund - but much of the chemestry in the band lies in the partnership with former Swedish Erotica front man Mats Levin who worked with Trat and Yngwie Malmsteen, too. These two guys have joint forces with hammond organist Anders Skoog, bassist Stefan Egeman and drummer Patrik Engelbrektsson - and really work as a unit, but allowing each and every member to shine.
Like expected there are influences from Dogface to big 70 bands like especially Deep Purple and Trapeze. Mats Levins voice reminds me sometimes of a young edition of Glenn Hughes - and Skoog's classic Hammond sound is very Jon Lord'esque -but very well played, indeed. But the over all feeling on this album is that the songs are finished and being written in a constructive environment. There are powerful riffs, a lot of Levins vocal screaming, good melodies and convincing performance on "In control". After a very screaming start I think the album really starts to grow from trakck # 4 "Look into my Eyes", and the following tracks "Sleeping with the Enemy" and my favorite "Leave this War" are really good tracks - and I think Levin on track # 8 "I believe" is as much in control as he can be.
This record is a very mature kind of work - I like every duel between Kronlund and Skoog, but in the end I get a little tired of Levins screaming acts - he is good ... but don't have to show it on every single second of the album!

© Steen Peitersen 1999-2002