Saturday, September 3, 2016

PALACE: ”Master Of The Universe”

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Palace is a new Swedish AOR band. The band’s leader is vocalist/guitarist Michael Palace, who might be a familiar name to those who witnessed Find Me live at Frontiers Festival, and he’s been involved in a few other AOR projects as well. He and producer Daniel Flores played almost all of the instruments on this album, but Palace is definitely a band now. Rick Digorio is the guitarist and he played a few solos on the album too, Marcus Johansson of Reach/Adrenaline Rush is the drummer and on bass there’s Stockholm’s busiest bass player Soufian Ma'Aoui.

Just like the title of the album suggests, ”Master Of The Universe” is a throwback to the eighties, yet it sounds rather fresh. Even though there’s no keyboard player in the band, the music is very keyboard-dominated, reminding me a lot of Brother Firetribe. Palace’s vocals bring up another comparison - Steve Newman of Newman. Of course I should drop a few eighties’ band names here too - well, how about Whitesnake’s most AOR moments, Toto, Survivor…

The production is flawless and I’m especially impressed by the layered backing vocals and the overall smoothness of it all. If there’s one thing missing it’s that one special ”hit” that would stand out and shout ”you won’t hear a better song anytime soon!”. Then again, almost all of the songs are very enjoyable, with ”Cool Runnin’” and ”Rules Of The Game” being my favorites. Other noteworthy tracks include ”She Said it’s Over”, the bouncy ”Young/Wild/Free” and the title track with its’ two pretty cool pre-choruses. I can’t say I’m too crazy about its’ actual chorus though, the vocal melody goes very high and Mr. Palace wails like Axl Rose on it. If this becomes the band’s signature song, Michael is going to curse himself for writing it - he can hit those notes now, but what about 20 years from now…

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