Released: 2005, Frontiers Records
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
THE BATTLE is an album that features two of the most skilled vocalists we’ll find in the music business today, Russell Allen (Symphony X) and Jorn Lande (Millenium, The Ark, The Snakes, Masterplan etc). But not only does the album include great singers, it holds also some very experienced musicians like Magnus Karlsson (Last Tribe, Starbreaker) on guitar, bass, keyboards and Jaime Salazar (Midnight Sun, Last Tribe, Pete Sandberg’s Jade, The Flower Kings etc).
This project’s musical foundation lies in somewhat harder melodic/progressive hard rock. It all sounds epic, grand and absolutely great and the music reminds a bit of how Last Tribe and Masterplan sound.
Magnus Karlsson has written all of the 12 tracks on THE BATTLE and he also plays almost every instrument on the album. Just as brilliant as Magnus is on guitar, just as poor is most of the material. During the first times I listened to the album I thought it all sounded awesome but the more I listen to it the more faults I find. He’s usually not a bad song writer, but on THE BATTLE the songs sound like they are left over material from Last Tribe. Maybe the songs are perfect for Last Tribe but they’re not perfect for Allen/Lande.
Russell and Jorn are doing a great job trying to save the songs but unfortunately can’t lift the material on their own. Anders “Theo” Theander produced the album together with Magnus, and Anders is not one of my favorite producers. The only thing I think that Anders have done a great job with is Last Tribe but that is only one act amongst several he has produced over the years. But this time he surprises me big time, the production sounds quite good. There’s a lot of space for the two monster singers to shine along with Magnus’ skillful guitar play. Jamie is as solid as ever, he can play any kind of music. Another positive thing when it comes to the music is that the guys have narrowed down the use of keyboards and to that I salute them.
After several listenings of this album the only songs that made it through my cut are the following: “Another Battle” which is a hard, progressive, melodic hard rock track with a lot of tempo changes. Russell and Jorn share the mic and this song has potential to become a radio hit. Russell takes care of the lead vocals in “Hunters Night”; it’s a straight-in-your-face-hitting heavy melodic hard rock track where Magnus shows off a varied and heavy metal play. “Come Alive” kicks off with a guitar solo by Magnus and both singers share the mic again, it’s a heavy riffing song with a very strong chorus.
The up-tempo ballads are called “Ask You Anything” (sung by Russell), “Where Have the Angels Gone” (by Jorn). The ballads are “Reach a Little Longer” (J) and “The Forgotten Ones” (R), they are all typical ballads written by the standard formula (that includes piano and slow soothing guitar play) and could be ejected from the start.
If the quality of the material would have been higher and not so week and uninspired this album could have been a real masterpiece. The slow songs are too many and the cover art-work looks like it’s taken from a comic book - all that makes the album lose grades. But I can strongly recommend the album to every fan of both Russell and Jorn because they really lift the album a great deal. And another reason to buy the album can be to listen to Magnus’ stunning guitar play. This album doesn’t last that long so listen to it in smaller doses.
Also available at: http://www.atenzia.com