One would think that two of metal’s most prominent singers collaborating would set the scene ablaze. But, the joint effort between Russell Allen and Jorn Lande remains relatively under the radar. Russell Allen is the vocalist for symphonic metal band Symphony X, and Jorn has been in numerous musical ventures including Masterplan, Vagabond, and his solo career. This album, although not bad in any way, is rather disappointing.
In my opinion Russell Allen is a great singer, one of the best out there today. His voice isn’t the typical high-pitched power metal tone that one would usually find in a band like Symphony X. But instead, he has a powerful, mid-range voice which he uses as a vehicle to bring out boatloads of emotion. Jorn’s voice is similar to Russell’s, but it is a little deeper and raspier. All of the songwriting is done by Magnus Karlsson, and he also takes care of the guitar, bass, and keyboard duties. I was disappointed when I realized that he wrote all of the lyrics, as I expected that, this being a vocal collaboration, they would be written by Jorn and Allen. So this is pretty much two big-name vocalists singing a guitarist’s songs. Also, one should realize that this is not a metal CD, but rather just standard hard rock. There are very few metal elements on this album, with exception to the guitar solos; Magnuss shreds just as much as any other metal guitarist.
By and large, the songs on the CD are nothing special. There are a couple standout tracks such as “Master of Sorrow,” “Will you Follow,” “Wake up Call,” and “When Time Doesn’t Heal.” The rest of the songs aren’t bad, but they’re just kind of… there. The songwriting isn't exactly exceptional, and there is really no point to having two vocalists. Jorn and Allen don’t “duel” like I expected them to. Instead, on the songs that they sing together they just harmonize sometimes. There is no dueling like say on a Taking Back Sunday CD or The Sound of Animals Fighting’s debut (sorry for the genre jump, those were all I could think of). Also, Jorn and Allen’s voices are so similar that sometimes I didn’t realize which one was singing, which kind of defeats the purpose for having two vocalists. The vocal performances themselves are good, as Jorn and Allen are both very good at what they do.
Magnuss is a pretty good musician. His guitar playing is on-par with most other guitarists. For the most part, his riffs have little technicality to them, but he shows off his skills on the guitar solos. As I mentioned earlier, he also plays bass and keyboards. The bass playing is there, but it is mixed out for the most part, but when you can hear it, there are some pretty groovy lines going on. The keyboards don’t play a big part on this album. There is a piano or synth line thrown in every once in a while to heighten the atmosphere, but it is clear that Magnuss is primarily a guitarist.
The drums are played by Jaime Salazar. He does a good job collaborating with Magnus’ bass playing to make up the rhythm section. He isn’t overly-technical, but keeping in mind that this is a hard rock album, he is on the high-end of drummers in that genre.
I realize this review may seem rather negative, but I’m just bitter over the disappointment that I felt when I got this CD. It is by no means a bad album. It is a good straight-forward hard rock album. Magnus Larlsson is a decent songwriter and there is solid musicianship emanating from everyone in the project, I just feel that it isn’t as good as it could have been.
Master of Sorrow
Will you Follow
Wake up Call
When Time Doesn’t Heal