Lars Eric Mattsson
Released: 2001, Lion Music
I seem to be on a bit of a guitar hero kick because I seem to be reviewing a lot of these kinda CD’s lately. I believe the guitar is the foundation of metal so these types albums could represent metal in it’s rawest form; not raw as in brutal, but raw as in the basics of the genre. Next up…Mr. Mattsson.
I feel there is a back-lash against the generic, simplistic guitar playing of the nu-metal bands and consequently there has been a resurgence of guitars who can actually play their instruments world-wide. Lars Eric Mattsson was one of the first guitarists to make waves after being discovered by Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records fame. He has decided to totally re-record his debut, full-length album from ‘88, Eternity.
Eternity, really has stood the test of time. The songs today are as interesting and relevant today as they were in 1988. In the liner notes LEM suggests that he was unhappy with the original recording because of lack of time, money, experience and so on, therefore the full re-recording with new technology. This CD sounds great! L.E.M. made the wise move of adding three bonus tracks to sucker…I mean entice…guys like me who already have the original.
The packaging is quite well done, lyrics and everything, but the cover is kinda lame…a picture of L.E.M. himself in street clothes, standing against a gray backdrop holding a guitar. How unoriginal. I feel that due to his lack of exposure in North America Lars has always suffered from a lack of identity. No one truly identifiable characteristic to stand him apart from the crowd. The cover of this re-issue doesn’t help address that problem. The fact that Lars suffers from a lack of identity is not from a lack of effort, he is featured in many other bands like Astral Groove, Vision and Condition Red and another “project” called, Mattson, loaded with guest stars. With such a high calibre resume, you think he would begin to stand out from the crowd after 15 years, but nope…he can’t seem to break away from the pack of 2nd tier metal guitarists.
Musically, he is a guitar virtuoso but would not fall in the shredder category by any means. I would put him more firmly in the melodic camp of Satriani and MacAlpine as compared to shredders like Stump and Angelo or innovators like Vai and Chastain. The songs are generally short and follow a fairly traditional structure, with of solo a nice solo, not overblown, being the centerpiece. Lars also does his own keyboards and bass. As with many of these solo styles releases the drums are just… there. The drummers do their job, keep time, not too many fills or tricks, and don’t overshadow the star. The songs vary in tempo, a faster one, a slower one, a ballad, it’s all here in perfect condition.
The new singer who redid the vocals is surprisingly gruff and in the low end. I was expecting a typical euro-dude with stratospheric vocals and was pleasantly surprised to have the added flavour of a different style, maybe even shades of Ray Gillen, bluesy, raw, and some might say, not even that talented…but I liked it. He hasn’t got a lot to work with in the way of lyrics. It could be because of the language barrier from 1988 but songs like Break your Chains, Waiting For The Night, Can’t Go On Without Your Love ,Eternity and Let It Rock sound pretty dated. But did you buy a guitar hero album to read the lyrics? Probably not.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. If you love guitarists bump this rating up a notch to a 4 and go get it. If you want a little slice of L.E.M. in your collection this would be a good one to start with. Otherwise, this CD probably won’t break your chains while you wait for the night, without your love for eternity.