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Friday, March 18, 2011

Allen / Lande - The Showdown album review

Allen / Lande – The Showdown album review
Released on: Frontiers records. Release date: Available now.

Allen / Lande, although featuring the great talents of Russell Allen (Symphony X and more!) and a certain Jorn Lande (Yngwie Malmsteen, Masterplan, The Snakes, Millenium), the mastermind behind the project is one Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear) and this is the third full blown Allen / Lande release.

I will admit this, I loved the album ‘The Battle’ but I confess I have never heard second album ‘The Revenge’ so ‘The Showdown’ is only the second album of this project that I have had the pleasure of listening to and I do mean pleasure!

I really hadn’t listened to Russell Allen prior to ‘The Battle,’ but Jorn I’ve been aware for a few years and his name first came to my attention when I heard some of his excellent vocals on The Snakes project, which was essentially a great Whitesnake lineup , sans David Coverdale of course and even included the late great Cozy Powell (RIP) at one stage.
Jorn also released the excellent Dio tribute release through Frontiers Records last year too.
Anyway enough on that, let’s move on to ‘The Showdown!’

The album opens with the title track and ‘The Showdown’ is a fine piece of hard edged melodic heavy rocking stuff!
Jorn’s voice is so strong and impressive, but musically this borders on symphonic / progressive metal, it really does and Karlsson’s own input is all guitars, keyboards and bass. It’s really very good indeed and at times, the Jorn Dio’isms do standout!

I’m failing to mention the other member and piece of this excellent project and that is classy thunder-house drummer Jaime Salazar, who’s very apparent with his fills in the intro of next track ‘Judgement Day.’
The opening verse actually kind of reminds me a little of Thin Lizzy, but it soon moves on a long way from there.
At times this project is almost reminiscent of a commercial T.S.O. to me and ‘Judgement Day’ has so many layers to it, it really is a mini epic, but to be honest, there’s a few of those here!

‘Never Again’ starts softly before cymbals and powerchords come crashing in and then it eases back again before picking up in the chorus and Russell Allen gets a shot at flexing his larynx here and it’s another big song with lots going on.

I really love the melodies in the chorus of ‘Turn All Into Gold’ next, the verses are pretty heavy chug along affairs.
Karlsson’s application of keyboards, big orchestral sounds and gentle piano here and there too fits perfectly!

It almost sounds like David Coverdale on ‘Bloodlines’ next in the opening verse, it then picks up but for the most part it’s a heavy kind of power ballad, in the true sense of the word. Some killer guitar here both light and dark.

Closer to being a real melodic power ballad is next track ‘Copernicus’ which sounds a lot at time like Journey, for real!
Really love it and Karlsson here kind of out ‘Schon’s’ Neal Schon’s style with his soloing.

‘We Will Rise Again’ is almost ‘Judgement Day’ revisited as it opens to be honest, no bad thing and then loads of piano through a gentle verse and then the song picks up in the chorus. There’s loads of melody throughout and the pre-chorus and chorus seem to grow more towards the latter part of the song.

In ‘The Guardian,’ it’s a grower. Fine harmony guitar piece soon after the song starts, which seems to hold as the songs underlying riff here and there.
Nice harmony guitar just about two thirds into the song too.
The vocal performances throughout the album, are very strong indeed from both vocalists.

‘Maya’ next provides another big, chug along power ballad, that sounds great!

‘The Artist’ next blend light and dark well, with the light keyboard drive sound, then plunging into a more progressive metal type sound. The time signature changes are all over on this one, yet it’s great playing and I’m not your typical prog rock or prog metal fan, so that should tell you that there’s a lot more to this project, than you might first think.

It’s funny how the album seems to be split evenly between some very strong rockers and then the other half is big power type ballads – Although always with huge backing powerchords! – and ‘Eternity’ next is of the latter half of material, but then you hear Karlsson’s guitar solo and it takes it to another level.

Apparently, ‘Alias’ next is the bonus track here. It’s a rocking closer to the album, it almost has hints of Rainbow about it, but just with a much heavier sound to it.
Great guitar work once more from Karlsson and his style is very much in the way of say Malmsteen, Vai, etc.

So there you have it, a pretty good rocking album, with loads of melody, plenty of ‘widdly’ guitars and a massive mix of sound.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5
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