It’s been 17 years since Jorn Lande the Norwegian vocal powerhouse decided to start a solo band.
Jorn who was already quite known from his work with bands like The Snakes, Ark, Beyond Twilight and later on with Masterplan. He’s the type of singer that it’s hard getting by unnoticed once you’re exposed to his voice. A style instantly recognizable. A perfect cross between David Covedale (Whitesnake, ex-Deep Purple) and Ronnie James Dio (if you don’t recognise THAT name stop reading now!) mixed with a personal approach and tons of charisma and there! You got yourself one kick ass singer who can compete anyone of the already established great ones!
Jorn (the band) has been Lande’s vehicle of delivering new music for quite some time now. In fact LIFE ON DEATH ROAD is his 13th studio release. Lucky or unlucky? Let’s check it out.
LIFE ON DEATH ROAD follows the same recipe Jorn albums have been following since their 1st release back in 2000 titled “Starfire”. Jorn are trying to fill the gap between the established arena metal/hard rock bands of mid ‘80s that means flashy and meaty guitars embellished with plenty of solos with a slight neoclassical touch (paying maybe a tribute to the great Yngwie Malmsteen), massive drum sound, plenty of sing along moments, some emphasis on power ballads and of course Jorn Lande’s dominating voice in the center of the mix. So as you can imagine new album doesn’t distance itself from past efforts on the contrary it embraces them as much as possible. However it’s what this recipe aiming for that always put me off (and the same goes for the majority of ‘80s giant metal/hard rock bands). In order of becoming approachable to a large audience you tend sacrificing things like speed & power and generally create music that doesn’t rely so much on heavy guitar riffs but mostly on hooks. And this is were things can really go wrong ‘cause no matter how good and talented musicians are it doesn’t necessary mean they can write good or catchy songs! The result sounds a bit generic to my ears and Jorn’s latest offering definitely isn’t an exception to the rule. LIFE ON DEATH ROAD is mostly driven by mid tempo tunes and of course Jorn as always excellent singing. But that’s all. The whole record sounds predictable with few aces under its sleeves (if any).
It’s more than obvious that all members of Jorn are accomplished musicians and the level of performance is set quite high, but what good is this if you don’t have the music to back your skills up?
One thing that annoyed me was the fact that there are no really interesting melodies for Jorn’s voice to truly shine. A few exceptions exist on songs like “The Optimist” where Jorn shows a surprisingly softer side of his singing and almost sounds like a different man! The whole album reminded me a bit of Dokken and it seems that this is the gap that Jorn are trying to fill up but in my opinion the effort is half -hearted.
For me Jorn should really go out and create a full metal album who isn’t afraid of being of what each member actually is in reality, and that’s heavy metal musicians. It’s sad to see so much potential remaining unused and underutilized in favor of general acceptance and radio friendliness. Hope this will change in the near future!
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