Release Date: 5th February 2016
Roger Berzerk Fauske
New releases that find their way into my inbox from Finland's Inverse records are always interesting, normally damn fine musically (it is the way of things up there), and on occasion intriguing - and this is definitely one of those.
As well as the obvious point of Graham Bonnet being involved, this one from its description is more in tune with elements of classic rock I grew up with mixed in with some of the harder end that is more common up there.
And as if that wasn't all enough, the drummer goes by the name Rip Radioactive which is second only to Thunderstick when it comes to naming drummers.
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The track with Bonnet on, 'Hippie Heart Gypsy Soul', has already been released as a single at the beginning of January and naturally enough was a good choice to gather some momentum for the band.
So to the album...
The title track 'Chasing Rainbows' is first to air and it is very much in the classic vein, and it takes all of about two bars to realise vocalist Peter James Goodman's voice is clearly suited to that genre, hints of a young Udo Dirkschneider come through from his tone although a lot purer.
This isn't just about the vocals though – from the first chord Anssi Korkiakoski's guitar crisply delivers some great melodies and fine fretwork to give the album a more than fine start. This one is a very catchy affair, well crafted, well written and definitely leads you to want to know what else is to follow.
'Science Fiction' is next up and beefs proceedings up although still very much in the same vein as the opener – thundering drums light up the chorus powering it forwards, vocals over the top again pure and shrill. The guitar is again doing its part, its sound more natural than a lot today, with effects kept to a minimum rather than being the guiding light.
One listen and I can guarantee the chorus will be stuck in your head – it is loud, fast but never loses the hook of its predecessor.
'Hippie Heart Gypsy Soul' as you know by now features Graham Bonnet and although his voice isn't as powerful as it once was he can still mix it with the best of them – and the good news is there are no bird call impressions (those who were at the first Monsters of Rock at Donington will know what I am on about!).
Melodically it is in a way what you would expect and that isn't to do down the song at all, in fact quite the opposite. Bonnet himself puts some great melody on the vocals and the guys in the band deliver a stirring performance adding to the whole feel.
This doesn't give the impression of a guest vocalist but of a 'band'. Musically it is another catchy affair and apart from the Bonnet connection a great choice as a single – that almost harks back to the days that the influences for this song come from.
'Sacrifice' has a darker feel to it, and the eerie intro sets that mood well. The guitar is more on the Metal side rather than hard rock but the vocals are very clean, powerful and purposeful. There is even a touch of the Ronnie James Dio about both lyric and delivery, and I don't say that lightly. The guitar lines are full of poetic doom, driving forward the track, rhythm section gathering pace behind it all.
'Luck Is Blind' goes back to the more classic rock side of things this time with a more than cool bass line. It chugs along at a nifty rate, reining itself in when at times it seems like it is about to run away with itself. Verse and chorus are about as memorable as each other and the rushing rhythm has interesting guitar on top of it which breaks it up nicely before the solo. Definitely old school rock but certainly not sounding dated.
'I'll Never Let You Go' reinforces thoughts that this is a very retro influenced opus – the once upon a time apparently compulsory ballad. I know that word can send shivers down the spine, but along with the far too long a list of songs that should never have been put on albums, there were also some really rather good ballads so let's see which side of the coin this one has flipped on.
The song has a very different feel to anything that has come before, vocals taking on a whole new personality, some Spanish-esque guitar adding more than a little to the mid-section, thought provoking lyrics and delivery full of sentiment.
Some nice fluttering keys complete the sound perfectly and the last minute or so sees an inspiring, and surprising, change of tempo. This is a very well done song and I'm not even sure the word ballad is the right one, but it is pulled off perfectly. For me, the vocals steal the show and the lyrics will mean something to just about everyone.
'Sands of Time' bursts into life with a drum intro before the guitar lends a helping hand, almost a Celtic sound to it initially. This is an out and out rocker and if you need something in your mind to compare it with, think early Helloween (the good Kiske era version).
Once again the vocal melody sits on top of the chopping guitar perfectly, the two of them akin to brothers in arms. There are widdly bits a plenty from the six strings but it never descends into an act of self-glorification but keeps itself restrained when it needs to. A rollicking rampageous rocker.
'Holy Mountain' again has a very nifty bass line punctuating a different feel to this one. Musically it doesn't depart from the theme of the album but the vocals have more of a purpose about them, forcing home its point in a very determined and uplifting way.
Again the guitar does more than its job in the breaks and is the driving force for the accelerating message in the chorus. And that bass line just keeps grabbing you by the dangly bits.
So to the closer 'Fire In My Soul' which starts off in more subdued mode and as much as Goodman has a cracking voice that would do any song in this genre justice, it is on this sort of track that he really shines. There is an art to combining power and feel whilst keeping the whole thing under control and he does that perfectly with an infectious tone full of feeling.
Music is a language and conveying so many thoughts on many levels is the sign of a linguist. The guitar again is a perfect foil for this type of song, even stealing the limelight when it can with some more delicious and thought provoking melody.
So there you have it and it is very impressive indeed. Musically it is heavily influenced from the past but it is never in danger of sounding dated, and the guys have put their own stamp on the sound so it is very much them.
Strangely the track that maybe you expect to stand out given the name involved on it doesn't do that and it isn't because Bonnet is below par, but because the rest of the material and the musicianship is top drawer.