Label: Avenue Of Allies
Review By: Alan Holloway
Okay, so you may not have heard of Rik Priem, but he was the guitarist in Frozen Rain, and is joined on his debut solo/project by that band’s well respected vocalist Carsten ‘Lizard’ Schulz. Priem himself hasn’t been around much, but it’s instantly obvious that he’s certainly spend more than a few years learning how to play the shit out of an electric guitar.
The album kicks off with the now obligatory intro piece, although this one’s nearer three minutes than the usual one and is, of course, eminently skippable. Aside from this there’s twelve tracks, all of which have a fair bit of meat on them. This means a fifty minutes plus album, and as usual with such length there’s an overall feel that it’s about two tracks too long. This is not to say there’s any rubbish here, because Rik Priem and the lads have produced a very strong debut indeed.
In general the music is hard and heavy with a strong melodic base, propped up by Schulz powerful vocals and Priem’s deft guitar work. Things could have been very middle of the road, as there’s a lot of this sort of stuff around, but the quality of songwriting shines through at every opportunity, throwing serious riffs and catchy choruses all over the place, as well as a few sneaky slips into power prog territory. I have a special fondness for the instrumental track ‘Chameleon’, which showcases Priem’s talent beautifully without resorting to being another dull widdle-fest.
I’m reminded of some of Malmsteen’s solo work, along with plenty of other late 80’s and early 90s bands who produced great and often under appreciated albums. It’s always good when someone manages to merge properly powerful heavy rock with genuinely catchy AOR without sacrificing either style at the same time. Although I feel the name is a bit rubbish, what’s inside more than makes up for it, and this is certainly worth a listen regardless of what type of rock music you are into.