Friday, February 5, 2016

GRAND SLAM: ”A New Dawn”

Rating: RRRR
Label: AOR Heaven 2016
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Despite their rather familiar-sounding name, Grand Slam are a new(ish) band from Sweden. Yes, again, must be something in the water… or some wicked plan of the Swedish government to take over the music biz completely! Anyway, rather than yet another supergroup of ex-members of This Band and That Band, Grand Slam is indeed a new, fresh band with young musicians you may have never heard of before. Maybe that’s why they have a fresh approach to this thing we call ”AOR”.

”A New Dawn” is a pretty impressive debut and it’s been getting some serious airtime in my player. It’s well-produced and surprisingly uptempo for its’ genre - there are no real ballads on this AOR album. Vocalist Andy Sinner impresses with his range and uncanny vocal resemblance to Tracy White of Shotgun Symphony/Intruder, while the rest of the band build a perfect melodic, yet suitably rock hard foundation.

The first half of the album is a stronger than the second one, but that’s only because the first few songs are very, very good. ”Light Up The Sky” and ”Rock My World” are both keyboard-heavy AOR songs which may not offer anything really new but somehow sound fresh and catchy. ”Face” mixes AOR elements and the pomp of Power Metal in a very appealing way, I kid you not! Hammerfall meets Treat! ”One Way To Heaven” sounds like the band have taken influences from Lady Gaga and brought them into the world of AOR, and it actually works! ”Get High” has a bit similar vibe, some modern pop influences… The chorus hook sounds a lot like Madam X’s ”Come One, Come All”, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the band had never heard of that fairly obscure 80’ies band.

”Don’t Leave” is the closest thing to a ballad, a mid tempo track with a dramatic, almost progressive style, while the melodic trio of ”Take Me Higher”, ”Waiting For Tomorrow” and ”I Wanna Live” is more ”standard” AOR material, all really good songs though. The only song that fails to get a grip of me is the last one, ”Don’t Mess With Me”. It’s just too experimental and twitchy for its’ own good…  ”all of them tempo changes - not good for my anxiety, boys!” says the old geezer living in my head…

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