Released: 2005, Massacre Records/Sound Pollution
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
Massacre Records have tied the knot with the Swedish/Spanish guitar player, Sandalinas, and LIVING ON THE EDGE is the band/projects debut. All of the members are well experienced musicians and lead by Jordi Sandalinas.
Jordi was born in Barcelona Spain and started off with playing the piano at the age of 9. He was 14 when got inspired by the guitar play of Adrian Smith from Iron Maiden, and bought their albums POWERSLAVE and LIVE AFTER DEATH. After those albums he was hooked on both guitar and heavy metal. During 1992 Jordi traveled between Spain and the US, where he studied guitar at New Milfords NGSW for Terry Syrek. Terry was a classmate with Zakk Wylde at Berkeley school of music, and he is one of the best guitar shredders in the US.
The Sandalinas project started out during 2000 when Jordi gathered some compositions he wrote during his early years. Jordi wanted them to be recorded in the best studio and by the best producer possible; therefore he got in touch with Andy LaRocque (King Diamond), the owner of Los Angered Studios in Gothenburg Sweden. Andy was a bit hesitant towards Jordi’s songs from the beginning, but the more he listened, he realized they sounded pretty good. Andy said yes to cooperate with Jordi and introduced him to Apollo (Time Requiem, Meduza, Faith Taboo) – lead vocals, and Daniel (Runemagick, Relevant Few, Notre Dame) – drums. The two really liked Jordi’s material and wanted to be in the project; then it was time to get to work. How Fran on bass, and Victor on guitar ended up in Sandalinas; I don’t know.
This band/project evolves around Jordi, who is considered being a guitar hero according to the bio.
LIVING ON THE EDGE was recorded in Los Angered Studios by Andy and Jordi. The production sounds rich and detailed with a lot of space left for guitar and Apollo’s lead vocals. They have managed to take the feel of 80’s heavy metal and combine it with an updated soundpicture for the 21st century.
Apollo did a very pale impression on the last Time Requiem album and that may depend on that the band leader, Richard, wanting total control and not letting the members improvise and go their own way. Here it sounds like the tables have turned. Apollo shows all of his vocal register and sounds absolutely brilliant. He has enormous feeling when he sings and I’ve never heard him sing as well as this. It sounds like he really has fun when he sings too, and that can only be a positive thing.
Jordi is very skilled on guitar and shares a lot of dazzling guitar duels with Victor. Jordi may have the potential to become a future guitar hero for the young ones today, but to be sure of that I really need to hear more of him. The music mainly consists of guitar and lead vocals but there’s also some use of keyboards here and there, but it doesn’t say who plays it. Andy hasn’t just produced this album; he also contributes with guest lead guitars on “All Along the Everglades” and “If It Wasn’t for You”.
The bio describes Sandalinas as this; “Musically you would be able to compare Sandalinas to classic hard rock acts like Rainbow, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, but there are also inspirations from the neo-classical guitarists such as Malmsteen and Uli Jon Roth, from melodies of AOR acts in the vein of Ten or Harem Scarem, even a touch of power metal might appear here and there, and that’s exactly what makes Sandalinas a unique band”. I wouldn’t go that far in my description of Sandalinas, but I’d say that this is a combination of 80’s heavy metal and melodic hardrock with an updated production. It sounds fresh but not unique.
The quality of the material is heavily varied, but the musicians do wonders with Jordis material.
Sandalinas run through 10 tracks on this debut and if Jordi wrote these songs when he was really young, he really is a talented songwriter to say the least.
There are some ballads on the album like “Follow Me”, “The Day the Earth Died”, “Heaven is You”, and “Die Hard”. Two of them are pure ballads and the other is more up tempo ballad. Those songs have nicely been placed amongst the harder songs.
If I should pick any favorite tracks it ought to be “Living on the edge”, that kicks off the album. It’s a pretty heavy 80’s heavy metal track, combined with melodic hardrock. In “All Along the Everglades” lies Apollo at the top of the mix and below him lies the keyboard. Somewhere in the middle Andy plays a real edgy guitar solo. “The Ritual of Truth” varies between heavy metal and heavier melodic hardrock. The song has a catchy chorus and the biggest part of the soundpicture belongs to Apollo. “If It Wasn’t for You”, is a heavy metal tune influenced by neo-classical metal, and has a really catchy chorus that sticks to your brain at once.
The material is of a really high class and even though I’m not a fan of ballads, I have to admit that the ones here work pretty well and sound very good. The biggest surprise here is Apollo and his amazing voice; that really takes the material to another height, but all of the other musicians sound very skilled as well.
The only minor negative thing I can come up with; is the ugly artwork that doesn’t belong on any cover whatsoever.
This album is an obvious purchase for everyone that wants to listen to a new and fresh band.