AOR Heaven [Release Date 20.05.16]
It seems to be par for the course for Scandinavian musicians from a heavier background to create new side projects to indulge their love of more commercial melodic rock. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Brother Firetribe and the Magnificent are Sunstrike, formed by Astral Doors members Joachim Nordlund and Johan Lindstedt and also featuring singer Christian Eriksson.
This, their second album, opens with a prime slice of classic AOR in ‘Head Over Heels’, the uptempo keyboards, a great guitar solo and soaring vocals coming over like a cross between Treat and TNT. At times though other clichés of the genre are also apparent on ‘Rock This House’ and ‘Piece Of The Action’, the latter like a watered down version of Reckless Love.
‘I Stand By You’ is a superb ballad with great vocals on a big chorus, which would have nestled nicely alongside efforts by the likes of Firehouse and Steelheart on MTV’s schedules circa 1990. Other highlights include ‘Angel In My Room’ and the good time choruses of ‘Hurricane’ (though their accented English made it sound like ‘Harry Kane’ to these ears) and ‘Heaven’.
Throughout they play with great vim and enthusiasm and the pace is relentlessly uptempo, with guitars and keyboards in perfect balance. It is though rather generic European melodic hard rock and the band have yet to develop a distinctive trademark sound.
While not an essential purchase it would be a shame if this album got lost among the seemingly endless crop of melodic rock releases at present. ****
Review by Andy Nathan
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