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  MALICE IN WONDERLAND
'The Royal Brigade'
(Crank Music Group)


Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke

Rockulus Maximus



malice in wonderland

Scandinavia is the home of many well respected rock bands and artists. Backyard Babies from Sweden; Michael Monroe from Finland; Royal Hunt in Denmark and many, many others when you really start to crank the brain in to gear.

Phew, now I'm thinking on the subject there are many names popping in my mind, but I'll wade through them and get to the nuts and bolts of why I'm here again. Share some polite and suitable salutations for this Norwegian quartet who exhibit such colourful names as Chri$ Wicked and Tracy Loveless.

The vocals are clean, avoiding snarls and the rough and ragged approach more often associated with melodic yet hard Rockin' sounds like these. I suppose you could say their style falls somewhere between sleaze and glam bands from the late 80s and early 90s. As the modern Rock and Metal fraternity embrace all of the varying styles on offer, I don't see why they couldn't remain faithful to this kind of thing as well? The title track really does ooze the sleaze/glam crossover incorporating a melody line that Big Bang Babies or Pretty Boy Floyd might well have written.

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For those of you that are on the ball, you'll already be aware of the singles 'Black Wings', 'New Year's Eve' and 'Living For Today'. They all make it on this second full length studio album. 'A Tear And A Whisper' was first unleashed back in 2008 as a single with an earlier line-up of the band, but gets a new lease of life as it concludes the album. This latter song is a moody ballad whilst the previously mentioned singles are rockers in varying degrees. 'Living For Today' especially drives along without losing sight of strong melodies.

Considering that their self-titled debut album was released back in 2005, it makes you wonder if the audience were still awaiting this second album or had moved on to pastures new? From the eleven tracks on show here, one is an introduction that lasts a few seconds and the rest of the content is all meat and no gravy. From another ballad in the shape of 'Like The Desert Misses The Rain' which doesn't quite feel right as it fades out at the end, to the attempt at an anthemic rocker with 'Have No Fear', these guys are really close to claiming the crown for the title of "New Sleaze Kings". Maybe with their third studio album they'll find that extra missing element?

Considering they have the production skills of John Fryer who has been involved with Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails releases, it sounds a little rough to my ears. If this is what they hoped to ascertain then they have succeeded, but I could imagine these songs with a super polished and crisp sound. From 'Black Wings' to the end of 'New Year's Eve' the songs shine and prance around with life and glitter. Thoroughly enjoyable until the end of the seventh track where things get a little rushed and the quality slips a little.

Diamonds
Black Wings
Live For Today
Moonchild
The Royal Brigade
New Year's Eve
Like The Desert Misses The Rain
Tenebrous Lane
Darkened Soul
Have No Fear
A Tear And A Whisper


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