Tuesday, September 1, 2015

OZONE: "Self Defense"

Rating: RRRRR

Label: Escape Music

Review By: Alan Holloway

Welcome to the ‘O’ zone, the Os in question being Overland and Ousey, without a doubt two of the most talented vocalists in the melodic rock game. Steve Overland, the man with the golden tonsils, fronts British pack leaders FM, whilst Chris Ousey will be fondly remembered from Heartland back in the day and for his excellent work with Snakecharmer nowadays (with many more inbetween). If you are a fan of both these guys, you will certainly understand the excitement surrounding this collaboration between them and Mike Slamer.

Slamer, Ousey and Overland all contributed to the song writing, and it shows throughout an album that does not have one single boring moment, not one song that is anything but an example of exactly how AOR should sound. Ousey’s amazingly bluesy voice is complemented perfectly by Overlands more soulful, smooth vocals, and an experiment that could have gone so wrong  goes so right instead. It’s not all dual vocals here, as the album has been planned extremely well. The duo share vocals at times, at others take turns, and on occasion are allowed to shine by doing the main vocal on a tack with the other singer providing backing. It’s wonderfully effective.

And so to the songs. I’ve listened to this album about twenty times now, and I genuinely do not have a favourite track, because I can listen to any one and be happy. The two vocalists are well backed by guitars from Slamer and Tommy Denander, with Slamer mixing the whole thing very well so we get keyboards as an underlying presence that are heard but do not overwhelm the guitars. The riffs are solid and the solos are appropriately widdly, with the melodies fast and catchy. Fans of Steelhouse Lane’s debut classic will certainly recognise some of the ‘Slamer Sound’, and I have to say that fans of that will go mental for this, although it is by no means a copy.

Ozone is without a doubt the best album I have heard this year. The songwriting just speaks to me as an AOR fan, and the vocals and mix could not be better. It’s fast paced, which is always a good thing, and even the ballad ‘So Blind’ soars, helped by the exceptional vocal performances within. This is an album that should take pride of place in any collection, a must for all fans of pure, unadulterated AOR – music made to be enjoyed. 

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