AOR Heaven [Release date 29.01.16]
New rock music out of Sweden is getting more prolific than a Joe Bonamassa release – like a long-running TV soap opera, sometimes it’s great and mostly it’s annoying. But fair’s fair, open mind and all that….lo and behold, this week’s offerings turn out to be the “Dirty Den”, “Who Shot JR ?”, and Christmas Special versions of the soap opera.
First up is Wigelius with their second album “Tabula Rasa” which apparently is Latin for “blank state” (as opposed to “state of blankness”, I suppose). Smelling alarmingly like a Journey/FM collaboration with some Leppard-ish drum sounds on one of the album highlights, “Long Way From Home”, Wigelius brothers Anders (vocals) and Erik (drums) along with axeman Jakob Svensson and bassist, Patrick Jansen, have mixed up an extremely decent cocktail of AOR.
Probably a tad too mushy and sophisticated for today’s heavy-loving young hipsters, these qualities are exactly what make this album a stocking-filler shoe-in for any 60’s-born love child.
In this day and age when it’s almost impossible not to produce, mix and master a very acceptable-sounding record but market clutter makes it difficult to achieve sustainability lasting more than five minutes, “Yesterday’s News” stands-out for structure and execution and “Time Well Wasted” has a distinct classic-era Bon Jovi feel to it.
“9 Out Of 10” is not quite the rating for this album but a great example of how to build on a catchy acoustic opening with an orchestral backing. Album opener “Do It All Again” will tell you all you need to know about this album.
In keeping with most melodic AOR, if Wigelius lived in the MTV era, sported the kind of big hair-do’s that women will pay a fortune for and got a support slot on a Journey US tour, you’d be buying their Greatest Hits package this Christmas. They didn’t, they don’t and they didn’t but consider putting Tabula Rasa in your letter to Santa this year. ***1/2
Review by Mark “Mad Dog” Shaw
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