Released: 2009, Frontiers Records
Hard to believe that this is Jorn Lande’s seventh studio album (including 2007’s covers album), but it is. The Norwegian vocalist extraordinaire is one of the most prolific singers in metal – don’t worry, I won’t run through his many credits here, we don’t have the time or space. Anyway, ever since STARFIRE way back in 2000, Lande’s popularity as a solo artist has begun to outstrip his collaborative efforts. Hell, when a European artist releases a live album from the USA, you know they are doing something right.
Of course, all of this leads us to the latest Jorn effort, SPIRIT BLACK. From minute one, it’s clear that there aren’t going to be too many surprises included on the album, as the title track covers a lot of the standard metal / hard rock bases Jorn’s been around before. The key is the panache and skill that he and his band bring to the material and they have that in spades! Jorn is as dynamic a vocalist as ever and his crack band easily handle the material offered.
So yes, Jorn covers the gamut of his career here, from his hard rock days (Millennium) to his prog phase (Ark) and everything in between. Whatever the case, the band is more than capable and it all goes down smooth with catchy riffs and sing-along melodies. Have no fear; it’s still plenty heavy though as the crushing “Road of the Cross” demonstrates. My personal favourite has to be the stadium-ready anthem, “World Gone Mad”. I’ve been spinning this album for a month now, and its central riff has been caught in my head from minute one.
Sure, there are some clunkers included: “Below” doesn’t quite get going like it should, and “City In Between” is a bit too prog-tinkley for its own good. All in all though, this is as solid a metal album as you’re likely to hear this year.
Of note is the cover of Tarja Turunen’s solo hit, “I Walk Alone”. I’m not sure if it’s a piss-take or what, but it is damn good! Probably even better than Tarja herself. It’s heavier, slower, and less bouncy than the siren’s original. Further, Jorn lends a gravitas to his vocals that make the song almost sinister. Not sure how necessary the cover is, but it’s fucking good.
Simply put, SPIRIT BLACK is another winner in a long line of them from Jorn. Buy with confidence.