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'Kingdom Of Rock'
Release Date: 6th November 2015

Ian Sutherland
ian sutherland

magnus karlsson's free fall

Magnus Karlsson is a busy man. Not only is the multi-talented Swede a member of Primal Fear but he has his song writing, musical and producing skills involved in numerous other areas including recent output from Kiske/Somerville and Allen/Lande. Among all that other work he has managed to find time to record a follow up to the Free Fall project album he released back in 2013.

The Italian based Frontiers label seems to have become the world leader in releasing Metal project style albums, where the intention is just to make an album, not create a band with touring to follow the release. This makes it the perfect home for Free Fall.

The idea is simply that Karlsson puts together a list of his favourite singers, invites them to join him and writes songs which he thinks suit their particular talents. Despite amassing a stellar cast of melodic Metal singers to record the first album that wasn't enough for the Swede so here we are with a follow up.

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This time there are vocal performances from the likes of Tony Harnell(TNT/Skid Row), Jorn Lande, David Readman(Pink Cream 69, Voodoo Circle), Joe Lynn Turner(Rainbow, Deep Purple), Tony Martin(Black Sabbath) and Harry Hess(Harem Scarem).

As well as writing the songs the host sings two songs himself and plays all the guitars, bass and keyboards on the album. Surprisingly he allows some others a look in so Jaime Salazar gets to play the drums and the excellent production is courtesy of the experienced Jacob Hansen(Volbeat, Amaranthe and more).

All the songs here are written by Karlsson himself and if you are familiar with his work with Kiske/Somerville and Allen/Lande then you will recognise the style and intention. This is big time, hook laden melodic Metal in a traditional sense with some heavy riffing where required but the melodic vocals and lead guitar turned up to eleven.

The title track starts things off as they will continue with both lead guitar and keyboards aplenty and Jorn Lande given free range to show his old school hard rock vocal chops. Elsewhere Jakob Samuel from Swedish Glam Metallers The Poodles gets something just a touch heavier to play with in 'Out Of The Dark' while Joe Lynn Turner goes for a more hard rock approach than the smoother AOR style he is known for on 'No Control'.

'When The Sky Falls’ benefits from having a slower, epic feel but has echoes of Karlsson-era Primal Fear and a fine vocal performance from Tony Martin. David Readman serves the galloping rhythms of 'Angel Of The Night' well and Masterplan's Rick Altzi really gets to stretch those big lungs out on the jaunty 'Another Life'.

'Never Look Away' lets Tony Harnell relive the glory days of TNT and 'A Heart So Cold' really sounds like a Harem Scarem song and more like Karlsson appearing on an album with Hess' Canadian AOR legends rather than the other way around.

Rebecca De La Motte is the only female singer in the line up and somewhat predictably gets the Metal power ballad to play with in 'The Right Moment'. It is interesting to me that in the two songs that are sung by the man with his name on the cover, despite the abundance of vocal talent around him it doesn't sound like there is a huge difference in quality when he steps up to the mike.

He's not the hard rock roarer like Lande or Altzi but he fits the material perfectly. In fact the stomping melodic power of album closer 'I Walk This Road Alone' is one of the better moments on the album.

Working through the album while the singers change and the playing is superb the songs mostly sit around the same place style wise and while enjoyable it gets a little predictable and safe for me. One song at a time it sounds great but I find I have to be in the right mood to play the album all the way through.

Magnus Karlsson is a hugely talented man and there is a hell of a lot to enjoy on here alongside all that vocal talent he has assembled. I'd love to hear him doing something even more ambitious next time though and vary the style a little more.

Magnus Karlsson - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
Jaime Salazar – Drums

Jorn Lande, Jakob Samuel, Joe Lynn Turner, Tony Martin, David Readman, Tony Harnell, Rick Altzi, Rebecca De La Motte, Harry Hess.

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