Tuesday, April 15, 2014

FREE SPIRIT: ”All the Shades of Darkened Light”

Rating: RRRR
Label: Carpel Music Oy 2014
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Although this is only the second album from Free Spirit, the band has been slugging it out for over twenty years. I've heard some of their early work and it was quite different to what the stuff they are playing now. The band had a darker sound which reminded me of The Cult (their late eighties' era). A few years ago the band went through some line-up changes and fine-tuned their sound towards Melodic Hard Rock. Their first album "Pale Sister Of Light" got some rave reviews, but I wasn't blown away. With ”All the Shades of Darkened Light” I think they've taken another step further, and they're starting to compete with bands like Brother Firetribe and H.E.A.T.

Just like the aforementioned contemporaries, Free Spirit draws influences from the big commercial melodic rock bands like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard and especially their "vintage" stuff. You can easily spot "Hysterical" arrangements and production tricks or maybe a Bon Joviesque bassline. I can't blame them for that because just about every other melodic hard rock band on the planet does the same thing... maybe having a song called "Hysteria" is pushing it a bit too far, but damn if isn't one of my favourite tracks here!

Just about every one of the songs boasts a huge, anthemic chorus and I could imagine them transforming into big live favourites. Some of my personal picks would be "The Dew Of The Rose", "Fever" and "Ever Come True", but I can't really find a real filler among the eleven tracks.
Vocalist Sami Alho's vocals aren't exactly to my liking, he has a style that's slightly similar to that of Jakob Samuel of The Poodles or Leppard's Joe Elliott - a bit uncomfortable sounding at times, especially when most of the songs require him to sing in high register. With songs as strong as these it's easy to overlook, and really it's a question of personal taste (or the lack of it). Anyway, highly recommended and easily one of the better albums of this year so far.


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