Label: Frontiers 2012
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
There were doubts. Would Erik Martensson still have enough energy to provide another album full of great songs after all the work he's done lately? Would Jimi Jamison connect with Erik's songs and could he still deliver a top notch performance? Would this sound too much like Eclipse or W.E.T. or would it be just a second-rate Survivor copy? Well, the answers would be yes, yes and no, no!
As if Eclipse's great new album wasn't enough, songwriter/producer has been responsible for creating yet another contemporary melodic rock classic this year, and it's this album. Immaculately produced, played and written, these 11 songs should appeal to anyone into classic AOR á la Survivor or Journey, yet they sound like they were recorded in 2012, not 1982. There's not a weak song in sight, only good or even better ones, and on top of it all, Jimi Jamison, one of the legendary voices of AOR, sounds great. Maybe there's a bit more rasp in his voice and some of the high notes aren't reached as effortlessly as back then, but those little things only add character and make this AOR God sound almost mortal...
Martensson has given this album a nice, hard rockin' edge when it comes to arrangements and sound, yet we're clearly talking about an AOR album with truckloads of majestic melodies. To pick a favourite song is almost impossible, but at the moment my favourites include "Never Too Late", "I Can't Turn Back", "Street Survivor" and "Bullet In The Gun". I should also mention the superb ballads "The Air That I Breathe" and "Heaven Call Your Name", just listen to Jimi's vocals... this guy really shows the young pretenders how it's done.
As for the album sounding like Erik Martensson's other work, no such worries. There may be a couple of moments which might sound familiar for those familiar with Erik's work, but nothing stands out as blatant self-plagiarism. The most familiar moments remind me of other artists' work, namely "Not Tonight" which bears some resemblance to Heart's "Never" and "Heaven Call Your Name", which has a chorus that's quite similar to Giant's "I'll See You In My Dreams". Not that those bother me at all, both songs have enough identity of their own.
There you have it, my first RRRRR review since the change to this rating format.