Released: 2005, Frontiers Records
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
Let me clarify my numerical rating a bit: if you like poodle-haired power rock, like Journey and Whitesnake, or are a rock-oriented musician who is into “musician bands,” or are simply really old, pursue this as a “3.5”. It’s well-played, and well-written.
If you dig 80’s-styled Heavy Metal, and a few Progressive Rock bands, pursue this like a “2.5,” as it’s passable, but not terribly aggressive.
If you listen to Nile and At The Gates…well, you’ll probably just point and snicker, anyway. Maybe you could buy this for your mother, so she’ll put the Air Supply and Bread away.
Despite an altered line-up, this is perhaps as strong of a release as the band’s previous, self-titled LP. But then, if you are not a fan of Dokken-styled Eurocentric Melodic Metal or Asia-styled Arena Rock, this doesn’t mean jack shit, then, does it?
L.A.D., neither young nor strapping, features ex-Fair Warning guitarist Andy Malacek, Marcel Jacob and Jamie Borger of Malmsteen/Talisman “fame,” ex-Crystal Blue keyboardist Thomas Lassar, as well as critically acclaimed Swedish solo artist Mikael Erlandsson. In a sense, it is a “supergroup,” but only if you live near to a fjord.
Americans will, of course, ask, “Is it all nearly as gay is this all sounds?” To which, I cannot answer. Is Dokken “gay”? Were LA Metal staples (and Transformers: The Movie icons) Lion “gay”? Dream Evil? Europe? King Kobra? If you answered “yes” to any of these, you might want to shop elsewhere. But if your manhood isn’t threatened by the presence of bands that might appear in Metal Edge or Hit Parader (circa 1983), read on, and save your boat tokens for another pricey import that you’ll trip out of the bathhouse to obtain.
The band is melodic and classy. Are they heavy? No. Similar in spirit to Dokken’s debut or mid-period Malmsteen, this is the sort of AOR stadium rock that proliferated and thrived in the mid-eighties. Old people listen to this; and musicians will probably like it—the guitarwork is actually genuinely inspiring, if not a bit understated. Fans of the radio rock of yore will adore and idolize this—and your girlfriend will probably give it a spin or two. “Lost In You” has a decent groove—though the Asia-styled keyboards and backing harmonies threaten to rob it of any aggression. The vocals are what salvage the track—Mikael sounds like a young Bryan Adams, before he became a schmaltzy balladeer. (You do remember that he used to play actual Rock Music once, right?) “Heat Of Emotion” sounds like a Stan Bush soundtrack burner. Sometimes, the musicianship reaches near-Progressive heights, but in an effeminate sort of way—kind of like if Dream Theater were playing for their wives’ dinner social.
All in all, this is ballad-heavy AOR, and anathema to those who rock with balls out and both fists in the air. It is kryptonite to codpieces. Even Stryper, Ratt, and Fastway, with one guitar tied behind their backs, could out-rock this. For fans of the style, it might just do the trick…but know that their names are not, nor never will be, written in the Book Of Heavy Metal.