24 Aug 2023 - Knut
Hard Rock | Heavy Metal | Majestic Mountain Records | Release date: 25 Aug 2023 | Favorite song: Remember the Rain
Seasoned rockers with a hundred years of shared experience from almost every existing heavy genre, be it Black Metal or Hard Rock, pick up their instruments and create their own music to hail the giants of the 70s and 80s. The result is a hard-hitting release filled with engaging music for those of us who time after time are about to rock.
The four musicians are all shaped by the musical melting pot of Norway´s west coast city Bergen, thus the title of the album. And they are also inspired by West Coast US Hard Rock - and of course everything from Black Sabbath to Kiss. This could be dull, kind of a cover style-thing. But far from it: The release is highly up-to-date with an anarchistic fuzzy stoner and grunge approach to Heavy Metal and Hard Rock fusing timeless melodic songs with uncompromising energy.
It is quite amazing how the songs´ writer and composer, Luis-Alberto Salomon, has written eight songs where each of them on its own is a crowd-pleaser with a lot of sing-a-long potential (or for yourself to howl away in the shower). This is an album full of captivating earwormy Hard Rock songs delivered so energetically that you sense the joy the band has playing these songs.
An example is the song ”Remember the Rain” which opens with fast chugging guitars and strong vocals. The whole band joins in to follow suit, repeating the opening chugging before it opens to a wonderful instant-hook of a chorus. Before your inner eye, you see a head-banging audience singing along. It is followed by a high-pitched solo, then back to the chuggy part, and then the next discharge of another engaging chorus with strong vocals, heavy riffs, groovy bass, and steady drums.
You feel the heavy groove already in the opener ”1979” where fuzzy guitars appear in each of the stereo channels with the melodic theme of the song. Then the heavy deep low-end bass begins the groove that will follow and often lead through the album; it plows through the layers to lay the path for the immensely diverse drums and the riffing guitars while the singer in his clear and firm voice sings ”Nothing seems to go the way it used to lately / dragging me in and out of this black hole”. These kind of vocals drive the song forward urgently. Mid-song the pace is broken up by a widened section held by the low-end bass while the guitars lay sound effects above it until the drums take the lead and one guitar breaks out in a high-pitched guitar solo. This is a showcase of how hard rock´n´roll is at its best.
The lyrics are often cinematic like the text line ”Standing on a corner of a runned down hotel / with an open suitcase and a body that went through hell” from the song ”Looks Like a Man”. The song begins with clear melodic guitars and the bass slowly picks up that melody and the drums and cymbals carry the opening. There is also a strumming acoustic guitar in the mix before the text line above. The pace slows down and an acoustic guitar is used to great effect to add to the desolate confusion of the song´s protagonist who later finds himself in a ditch. The track turns to repetitive rhythms that become more and more intense as a fuzzy solo rises from it, still with the acoustic guitar in the mix; the music surges with the repeating insisting chorus, morphing into a fast-paced heavy metal song.
While the bass plows the deep grooves, the drums not only give the rhythm throughout the album but sometimes drives and pushes the music forward. It is tough and direct, diverse and uniform - always perfectly fitting the song’s mood. On ”Five Seconds of Fame” when the track surges into what becomes a crescendo of fast-paced music with swirling guitars and a high-pitched solo in the mix - the drums deliver a breathtaking drive and for a moment spin into blast mode in the middle of the whole wall of sound.
Enormous fuzzy riffs are often used to great effect to underline contradictive text lines like ”I wanna remember / how to forget your name” in the song ”Brings Me Down”. In this song, and on every other song, the intricate high-pitched guitar solos may take your breath away. After gargantuan repetitive riffs and a catchy chorus, one of the guitars breaks away with an astonishing high-pitched solo effort heavy on the wah-wah and the whammy bar.
The album ends with ”Where Are You Now” that opens with bass, the occasional hit on the cymbals, and some dissonant guitar sounds before everything fuses into a heavy metal song where guitars swirl and soar accompanying the echoes in the vocals. The fuzzy stoner mentality of the band comes through fully on this song, even when it simmers down with sound effects surrounding a clear guitar before a single guitar goes loose and the music is driven forward by chugging riffs and grooves from the rhythm section. The guitars begin to ride a lighting of frenzied solos to introduce the vocals, again repeating the title of the song accompanied by heavy riffs until the song ends and all you hear is a small burst of good-natured laughter.
Or it might be the laughter of relief that they have pulled this off: Making an immaculate Hard Rock and Heavy Metal album with engaging music based on all their experience from bands like Lost at Last, Abbath, Immortal, St Satan and Royal Rooster. And produced with the help of Enslaved drummer Ivar Sandøy and mixed by the legendary Gene “Machine” Freeman who has worked with Clutch, Lamb of God among other legends. When you have experience and a “back office” like that you just have to come up with some good songs. And that is what they have done. Because of passionate musicians like this, purified Hard Rock and Heavy Metal will never die, never fade away.