Frontiers Records [Release date 23.01.15]
It’s that man Jorn Lande again…hot on the heels of the latest Allen-Lande release comes “Dracula : Swing of Death”. This time it is a collaboration with Wig Wam guitarist (aka Teeny) on what has been described as a Rock Opera concept album concerning the life of Vlad the Impaler (aka Dracula).
The first thing that strikes me with this release is the quality of the tunes on offer…at last Jorn has some songs that are worthy of his rich vocals.
Hands of Your God sets the scene…crashing waves, rumbling thunder and church bells together with a lone acoustic guitar. The song then motors along at a fair old pace and reminds me of an early Ayreon epic.
The most commercial offering on display, Walk On Water follows, and it just cannot be faulted. It’s a big rock number with sing along choruses…it reminds me of one of Ten’s Celtic flavoured numbers but with a 100% improvement on the production quality.
Title track Swing Of Death switches between a creepy Alice Cooper ballad and a poppy chorus with a bit more of the Celtic flavour thrown in during the guitar solo. It works surprisingly well. Masquerade Ball is a complex tune with a lot of twists and turns which improves with every listen.
The duets then start to appear…Dracula finds his true love Mina, sung superbly by Norwegian singer Lena Fløitmoen Børresen…we have Save Me which again brings Ayreon and Alice Cooper to mind, River of Tears where Jorn does his best David Coverdale impression and features an early Queen section toward the end, Into Dark which can only be described as a sort of twisted love song…well Dracula is involved…
Instrumental True Love works well but closer Under The Gun, another duet, just fails to grab me at all…after the earlier Quality it feels almost as though it has been tacked on the end.
Plans are apparently underway to transfer “Dracula : Swing Of Death” to the stage…sort of a heavy metal Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical…unfortunately this only seems to be for Norwegian audiences…
Overall a highly enjoyable totally over the top release which has lots of twists and turns to keep things fresh…roll on part II… ****½
Review by Phil Berisford
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