Released: 2010, Frontiers Records
THE SHOWDOWN is the third effort from the pairing of two of the metal world’s most respected vocalists – Russell Allen (Symphony X) and Jorn Lande (Jorn, Ark, Masterplan, etc.). As before, all of the music was written by Magnus Karlsson, who has written music for Bob Catley and Kiske/Sommerville among others, and is a member of Primal Fear. That’s a lot of star power right there. Unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to check out the two previous albums by this pair but given the talent involved, I was looking forward to this one.
As you’d expect, THE SHOWDOWN is chock full of melodic hard rock/power metal with the occasional progressive touch. Lande and Allen are both highly regarded singers, and they prove why throughout the album with classy, powerful performances. These guys are heavy metal vocal royalty and it shows. As for Karlsson, he’s provided them with 13 (including the bonus track) equally regal songs, even if they are a little paint-by-numbers. After the fiery pomp of the album-opening title track, it takes all the way until the tenth song, “The Artist”, for anything to truly stand out. While I wouldn’t say there are any bad songs on the album, too many of these songs are merely OK; which is a reflection on the song writing, not the performances. I don’t know, maybe Karlsson needs to take a break. The guy is one of my current favourite writers, but with all of the work he’s been doing lately, I’m sensing some burn out.
As a showcase for Allen and Lande, THE SHOWDOWN is a definite success. However as a cohesive album, it doesn’t quite add up. Fans of the vocalists will eat this up without hesitation, but casual listeners would be better off checking out the best songs first.