Reviews March/04

Cornerstone / Once upon our Yesterdays / MAS PC0374


Cornerstone - A Danish/Scottish powerhouse! Tracklisting:Welcome to Forever; When the Hammer falls; Passion to Warfare; Hour of Doom; Man without Reason; 21st Century Man; Once our Yesterdays; End of the World; Some have Dreams; Scream.

Cornerstone has become more and more a band - an ongoing proces culminating on this 3rd release. On their second album "Human Stain" the band already featured the "dynamic duo" of founders Steen Mogensen on bass/keyboards and Dougie White on vocals as well as former Mike Tramp fret-acrobat Kasper Damgaard and drummer Allan Sřrensen. This album "Once upon our Yesterdays" is by far their best because of the more band orientated sound and of course of the great songs! They are all melodic grandious, and spectacular - all delivered with musical elegance each and everyone, also special guest star André Andersen of Royal Hunt.
The album kicks off with a very powerful quartet as the first 4 songs are delivered wih a lot of energy. The fast "Welcome to Forever" is followed by the heavy "When the Hammer falls" and the grand "Passion to Warfare" - but the hightlight is the well structured "Hour of Doom" which starts off with a quiet riff and has a powerfull chorus and a splendid solo section! But on the record there are nothing but listenable tracks - a very radio friendly slow ballad like "Man without a reason" would have been a smash hit in the mid 80's!
Cornerstone has made an album that really stands out - there is not one superfluous track on "Once upon our Yesterday". My favorite track though is "End of the World" with the fast violin intro - inspired by Kansas and Swedish folklore, I presume. Dougie White is a top class vocalist - if you ever doubted that - and Steen Mogensen is one hell of a songwriter. Together they are bigger than the sum of all members!
Cornerstone is a must have, and they make better and better albums - thank God for that fact when it comes to mind that Royal Hunt has lost Mogensen as their bass player.

TNT / My Religion / MTM 0681-92


TNT - Finally they are back! Tracklisting:Invisible Noise; She needs me; Lonely Nights; My Religion; Give me a Sign; Perfectly; You'll be there; Flow; Live today; Everybody's got a Secret; Everything U R; Song 4 Dianne; The last Word.

TNT is really Odd-Man-out here... in a time where Scandinavian bands are limited in making re-releases! Nothing wrong with re-releases but it IS very refreshing with new material from good ole bands from time to time. And Tony Harnell, Ronni Le Tekrö, Morty Black and Diesel Dahl has actually made one hell of an album! I was hooked on TNT in their high light days in the mid and late 80's with their classic releases "Tell No Tales" and especially "Intuition" from 1989.
"What can a band formed back in 1982 in the Northern of Norway bring the music world of today?" You might ask, and the answers are simple: Great melodies, marvellous production, big choruses, a great vocalist, a great guitarist, a great bass player and a great drummer, there you are! TNT has it ALL - on this album there are signs of the early melodic inspiration alongside traces to the future of melodic rock! Tony Harnell has quite a vocal range that gives life to the rockier stuff as well as the ballads and Ronni Le Tekrö has a very significant sound and technique with alot of small "bobbly" effects which obviously has inspired Matthias Eklundh from Fate/Freak Kitchen.
To the first category of more main stream melodic rock tracks are especially "Lonely Nights" with a smashing chorus and a guitar solo a la Brian May, "You'll be there" with a groovy rhythm guitar and "Everybody's got a Secret" with a great 8's intro - 3 great tracks! But the band also manages to perform tracks in a new and refreshing way with! And "Invisible Noise", "She needs me" and "My Religion" are to become classics. "Song for Dianne" with the small flute and tiny female background voice by Mrs. Harnell is a perfect showstopper - almost Celtic in its foundation!
TNT has made maybe their most integrated album ever - "My Religion" has all the elements of making this album an all time classic. The significant music style, with a unique guitar sound, a special vocalist and great songs all wrapped in a good production by Tony and Ronni and mixed by mighty Tommy Hansen in the Jailhouse Studios. I presume every fan of the old TNT will be satisfied as well as all newcomers - i'm impressed!

Axia / Axia / MTM Classix 0681-93


Axia - A re-release with PEO on guitars and vocals originally from 1986! Tracklisting:Intro; It ain't Love; Loser; In for Rock'N Roll; Falling apart; On my way; Angela; Get down; Confessions of Love; Fire; Increasing Action (bonus track); Forced into Darkness (bonus track); Never ending Love (bonus track); The Savage Ramplers (bonus track).

Finially I found out a little about PEO's past - he was the main man in Swedish hard rock pioneers Axia. This Swedish band saw the light of day in 1984 and was formed by Peo Pettersson on vocals/guitars/keyboards, Morgan Blomquist on guitars, Niclas Ericson on basses and Michael Alexandersen on drums. The rehearsals and recordings of the first EP took place in an old military fort where PEO's recording studio was located. In 1985 Niclas Ericson was replaced by Peter Andersson and this formation recorded the bands debut in 1986 originally released on PEO's own PoP Productions and distributed by Polygram Sweden. Now this debut as well as the 4 tracks from the EP is re-released worldwide by MTM Classix.
The album is great - right up my alley with a clear melodic Scandinavian mid-80's sound a la groups like Treat, Fate and/or Skagarack! Tracks like "In for Rock 'N Roll", "On My Way" and "Get down" almost has a hypnotic effect on me. Of course there are ballads, too just listen to "Falling apart" and "Angela" superb!
The sound an titles on this album may be dated and far to "80's sounding" - but I find this album very amusing. If I had known the band back then I definitely would have bought the album!
Later on in 1995 PEO and Australian writer Rod West recorded "Look what i've started" and I have have heard that he has made a second album "The Man behind the Face". PEO started his musical career at the age of 15 with his first recording studio. Besides that he was in numerous pop and rock bands and even toured internationally.
In 1989 PEO left Axia and became vocalist at the melodic Christians Leviticus - with whom he recorded an album produced by the famous Elephante brothers called "Nights of Heaven".
To me this release with Axia is essential in understanding the evolution of Scandinavian melodic rock - great job!

© Steen Peitersen 1999-2004