Frontiers [Release date 07.08.20]
Arctic Rain’s music is gloriously reminiscent of the melodic rock genre’s more hypnotic moments. On most tracks, you can tell that they have been thumbing through a dog eared copy of the Eighties’ AOR Blueprint. Doesn’t make them bad people of course.
Many, many bands have since got into bed with the same successful formula, but “The One” is a triumph of pastiche over parody, of passion over plagiarism. It’s all down to the calibre of the songwriting and the band’s studio execution of course. And that’s where Arctic Rain is head and shoulders above most of its melodic rock contemporaries.
You can hear clear echoes of Treat and HEAT running through highly derivative AOR of ‘Lift Me Up’ and ‘Love Of My Life’ which opens the “The One”. But the album unquestionably pivots around the second track, ‘Lost’.
It’s full throated stuff, given real weight by an upwardly mobile chorus that races to crescendo, like a pumped up Survivor, (main songwriter Alpenborg worked with Jim Peterik collaborator, Toby Hitchcock, as well as Kee Marcello and Denis Ward).
Vocalist Tobias Jonsson projects the same vocal magnetism, fuelled by the same relentless energy as that of the late Jimi Jamison. It’s a quality you can hear on other AOR gems that adorn the album’s coat of many melodic rock colours…’Friends’ and ‘Free My Mind’ are particularly notable for their vertiginous, heartlifting hooks, and the fact that they mix a variety of influences while still sounding fresh and new.
Elsewhere, the picks would be the polished, big sounding ‘Night After Night’, a finely filigreed ballad, and ‘The One’, where the compact drama opens out onto a huge musical landscape, in the manner of Unruly Child.
No question, Arctic Rain’s debut is a truly magnificent listen. ****1/2
Review by Brian McGowan
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 1 August 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week and an interview with “metal queen” Lee Aaron.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 7 September 2021.
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