Reviews April/02

Token / Tomorrowland / MTM Music 0681-47


Token - Swedish super group! Tracklisting:How does It feel; Human; Someone's watching; Eternally yours; Destination Nightmare; Think about It; The undiscovered Rose; Dark Side of Fate; Wings of Desire; Last to know; Speechless; Tomorrowland (Rainbows End).

TOKEN could be named a Swedish super group in spe. This Swedish Quintet featuring Mikael Rosengren on keyboards who previous played for Scudiero and melodic rockers Damned Nation, HB Anderson on vocals sang on the first Scudiero album "Walking through Mirrors", Johann Sjöberg on guitars worked together with Tommy Denander, Pontus Ageryd on drums and Niclas Holmquist on the bass has been active on the Swedish melodic rock scene for several years!
And the album really kick starts with "How does It feel" a real up tempo melodic rock anthem - with a discint touch of Scandinavian class. And "Tomorrowland" is a real Tour de Force in Swedish/Scandinavian melodic hard rock with quality printed all over it. All five musicians deliver a really good job - from up-tempo tracks to powerful ballads and groovy metal anthems like "Destination Nightmare", which is one of my favorites!
But the album consists memorable tracks only - all wrapped in a crystal clear production, with fine melodies, excellent musicanship and marvellous background vocals - but with a undertow of pompous gestures. Let me mention "Human" with it's terrific chorus and the beautiful intro to the powerful "The Undiscovered Rose", which reminds me of some of Danish Skagaracks finest work - with the vocals of HB Anderson sounding a bit like Torben Schmidt!
So this release is about the best of Scandinavian melodic hard rock - good catchy melodies, powerful guitar riffs, excellent singing and virtous musical performance - like other premier Scandi-bands like Treat, Europe, Pretty Maids and/or Skagarack I like it - if you have the same addiction TOKEN must be a band for you!

Jaded Heart / The Journey will never end / MTM Music 0681-48


Jaded Heart - Sehr gut German melodic hard rock!! Tracklisting:Intro; Kid is going down; The Journey will never end; On the rise; We'll drag you down; Only Human; Lucky Son; I'll be there; Larger than Life; Dangerous Destiny; These are the good Times; Sunshine Memories; Sign of the Times.

Jaded Heart is for me THE German band band at the moment! Since their "IV" from 1999 I have been a huge fan of especially Michael Bormann's raspy, powerful and high pitched vocals. And with Boris Kopic on guitar, Michael Müller on bass, Axel Kruse on drums and new keyboardist Henning Wanner to back it up the bands new effort "The Journey will never end" somehow has it all.
The music is riff based hard rock with a very significant German/mid-European feel towards it - but I like the drive and power that is manufactured in this crystal clear production by Tommy Newton.
And like other productions from German top bands (like Fair Warning, Soul Doctor, Bonfire) there are a variety of genres on the album from powerful hard rockers to soulful ballads - and Jaded Heart opens the new album with a real macho song called "Kid is going down" - but already on track #4 "On the rise" we are on the Kleenex level - a very hard punching ballad with a BIG BIG guitar solo from Herr Kopic in the end but another ballad "Only Human" is on the same high level - especially with its huge background choir! There are a couple of surprises on the album though, "We'll drag you down" has a almost gangsta-rap feeling and attitude towards it, and in the vein of other Jaded Heart albums there is a cover song on the album, on "IV" there where two - "Stonecold" (Rainbow) and "Easy Lover" (Phil Collins) and surprise surprise now it's "Larger than Life" from BackStreet Boys! I have never heard that kind of contribution before - but it ende up as a good powerful rock track ?!
If you have the same rush for German hard rock with an attitude, a style and the melodies and musical abillities to back it up Jaded Heart is definitely a band for you - buy buy!

Star One / Space Metal / InsideOut 6 93723 65042 5


Multi instrumentalist Arjen Anthony Lucassen is THE mastermind of Star One!! Tracklisting:Lift-Off; Set your Controls; High Moon; Songs of the Ocean; Master of Darknes; The Eye of Ra; Sandrider; Perfect Survivor; Intergalactical Space Invaders; Starchild.

The Star One project is first and foremost the project of Dutch multi instrumentalist, producer and song writer Arjen Anthony Lucassen known from the progressive opera metal band Ayreon.
With him on this new CD - named after a episode of Arjen's favorite sci-fi series called "Blakes 7" - there are a lot of talented and musically high skilled musicians.
The singers are: Sir Russel Allen from Symphony X, Damien Wilson from Threshold, Floor Jansen from After Forever, Dan Swanö from Edge of Sanity and of course long time friend an companion Robert Soeterboek from Wicked Sensation. Mr. Lucassen manages to play the guitars, basses, Hammond, Mellotron, analog synths and Solina strings himself but combined with the talents of Ed Warby on drums, Jens Johanssson and Erik Norlander on keyboards and Gary Wehrkamp from Shadow Gallery on guitar is an explosive cocktail of musical ability! I had to squeeze my arms occationally - just to check if i was awake or dreaming.
All songs on the CD "Space Metal" are (of course) written, composed, recorded, produced and mixed by A.A. Lucassen and every song is inspired by and based on a film that took place in space - I wonder how many Sci-Fi freaks there are able to recognize each and every film? (I thought "Song of the Ocean" was based on "The Abyss"... but i'm not a Science Fiction expert at all - and taking place in space....?)
One of the real clues on this CD - compared with other rock opera's - is Lucassens use of different sounding singers, and though they appear in the same song they are used to convey different moods. Swanö sings the low parts, Allen sings the powerful powerful rough parts, Wilson sings the high clear parts - and to top it the really high chorus is handled by Mrs (or miss) Jansen and Coverdale (oops sorry!) Soeterboek is doing a perfect job on the backing vocals with his huge smoky voice! ...and don't get me wrong, they really ARE heavy!
All in all this is a very unique experience to sit with this CD in my hand - the cover art work is perfectly painted by Vincent DiFate and made by Matthias Norén and is making the perfect box for this unique music. On the bonus CD (on the limited edition) Lucassen managed to get Hawkwinds charismatic front man Dave Brock to make a guest vocal appearance on a Hawkwind medley - this is a tiny hour of sheer pleasure!

© Steen Peitersen 1999-2002