Gildan's Guide to Good Music
The world of music is a vast ocean of crap - join me on a voyage to the tiny isolated islands of excellence.
As the tagline not so subtly suggests, it's really easy to find terrible music - you have but to turn on your radio, and lo, bad music abounds. The good stuff though, well that's rarely quite so easy to find, and while some popular music actually deserves the accolades it receives, most excellent music languishes in comparative obscurity. And that's where I come in!
What I aim to accomplish with these articles is to showcase quality albums from bands you've never heard of, in the hopes that at least one of the comparative handful of people who actually read my rambling and
rampantly egotistical definitely quite humble reviews has found them useful.
After examining the depressing (but exquisite!) Requiem - Mezzo Forte in my last article, I thought it might be best to focus on significantly more upbeat fare this time around. And thus I'm reviewing what might possibly be my favorite side project ever, huzzah!
Musical Genre: Hard Rock/Melodic Heavy Metal
Running Time: 60 minutes
# of Tracks: 12
Particularly noteworthy songs: Silent Rage, Where Have The Angels Gone, The Forgotten Ones
I've been sitting here for ages trying to start this endless stream of effusive praise masquerading as a 'review' in some fashion that preserves even the pretense of objectivity, and for the life of me I can't think of any good way to do that - so I'll just get the really obvious fact out of the way:
This album features the vocal talents of Russell Allen and Jorn Lande.
If that sentence doesn't really mean anything to you, then your life is suffering from a deficit of concentrated awesome. Read on to correct that!
Allen/Lande is a side project formed by guitarist Magnus Karlsson (Lost Tribe, Starbreaker, Primal Fear), who writes all the music and plays all the instruments (except percussion). So far they've released 2 albums (The Battle, The Revenge), and a third (The Showdown) is apparently set for release later this year (yay!). Calling the band Allen/Lande was probably an inspired bit of marketing, as they're both well known quantities (well known for Metal anyways) and Karlsson himself is fairly unknown (he shouldn't be though).
For those who don't know, Russell Allen is the vocalist for the American progressive metal band Symphony X, and Jorn Lande is a ridiculously prolific Norwegian hard rock god who's released albums with at least 15 different bands since 1994. They also happen to be two of my favorite voices in Metal - Jorn is in fact my favorite vocalist in any genre, ever, the end - so I was understandably pleased to see them collaborating!
Far from being a 'battle' between the two leads as the album title might suggest, they sing as a complimentary duo on 6 of the 12 tracks, with the other 6 split evenly between Allen or Lande as a solo effort (excepting backing vocals of course), with the solo tracks evoking Lande's work with Masterplan or Allen's own solo effort Atomic Soul (this is a good thing). Overall Jorn's voice tends to take prominence when they're singing together, but that's hardly much of a detraction considering Jorn is freaking awesome.
What they've delivered is extremely catchy and upbeat hard rock/metal, chock full of quality hooks and wonderful singing - this is exactly the sort of music that should be playing on the radio, instead of the equally catchy but way the hell crappier stuff that actually gets time on the airwaves - of course that will never happen, as traditional melodic metal is "out of style", and the songs are all too long (the shortest is 4:24).
I mentioned that to make it clear that this is not especially complex or 'deep' music - the lyrics are sometimes a bit cheesy, the song structures aren't groundbreaking, the riffs are good but they're not really the focus (the understated but omnipresent use of keyboards is rather nice though), and practically every song has a 'sing-a-long chorus' - what it is though is really good music that will appeal to just about anyone with even a passing fancy for harder-edged rock. That's not really an exaggeration by the way - my sister, who shares certain of my musical sensibilities but barely tolerates most of the music I enjoy (like say... most of the bands I've reviewed so far), finding my passion for metal to be baffling and kind of annoying... positively loves the Allen/Lande albums. So long as you don't go in expecting highly technical or experimental fare, you won't be disappointed.
There is not a dull track to be found on this entire album - singling out a few favorites was actually rather difficult to do because they're all wonderful. So when I tell you that "Silent Rage", "Where Have The Angels Gone", and the closing power ballad "The Forgotten Ones" are my favorite tracks on an album consisting of nothing but tracks I adore, you'll know I really like those. All right, enough yammering from me - time to make with the embedding so you can hear this for yourself.
If you enjoyed those songs, you're quite welcome! If you didn't enjoy them, we're done professionally (ha ha!). But seriously though, I can only hope this article has served it's intended purpose as a conduit to awesome music you've never heard of before, and that you're rocking out to Allen/Lande right now.
Well, that about wraps up another entry in the only guide to music you can be certain came from somebody calling himself Gildan - accept no substitutes or imitations! No really, you don't know where those guides have been, best not to risk it.
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