posted on 6/2006 By:
Hi there. Remember me? I’m the dolt that wrote a review six months ago for Masterplan’s Aeronautics and used idiotic words like “cheesy” and “corny” to describe some of the songs and their lyrics. I didn’t give the record a bad review by any means, but I should have given it an excellent review, based on how often I’ve listened to the damned thing since then. As it turns out, Aeronautics held all the necessary elements required to land it on many peoples' top ten lists for 2005; superb songwriting, stellar musicianship, insanely infectious hooks, melodic leads, and the powerful vocals of one Jorn Lande - a Norwegian born feller responsible for vocalizing on countless other musical endeavors since his early work with a band called Vagabond back in 1993 (see also; Ark, The Snakes, Mundanas Imperium, Millennium, and Brazen Abbot).
When I wrote the Aeronautics review many, many moons ago, I was just starting to get back into the melodic/power/traditional metal genre after an extended obsession with black metal misery. Aeronautics (along with a select few other fine releases) basically rekindled my interest in the genre, and Lande’s superb vocal performance alone prompted me to investigate his other projects as well. Much of his earlier material is relatively hard to come by, but his later era solo work is quite accessible, and definitely worthwhile for fans of melodic hard rock. 2004’s Out To Every Nation again showcased Jorn’s voice perfectly, and expressly leaned towards the classic hard rock roots Lande grew up listening to in the 70s. Jorn’s latest release, The Duke, effectively picks up where Out To Every Nation left off, delivering a classic hard rock sound akin to early Whitesnake, Rainbow, Y&T, et al.
Personally, I think The Duke strikes harder than any of Jorn’s previous solo work, and it’s not surprising considering the stellar musicians he recruited for his latest hard rock vision; Tore Moren (Arcturus) and JØrn Viggo Lofstad (Pagan’s Mind) on guitars, Stian Kristoffersen (Pagan’s Mind and Firewind) and Willy Bendikson (The Snakes) on drums, and the legendary Marty Black (TNT) rounding things off on bass. Throw in Lande’s smoky, Coverdale-esque voice to the mix and you’ve got an album that not only demands fans of the genre’s attention, but one that would be damned foolish for them to pass up as well.
The Duke tears out of the gate with what might be the three strongest cuts on the record. “We Brought The Angels Down” has a chorus more infectious than a bucket of fried H5N1 chicken. Seriously. In fact, Lande’s modus operandi lately seems to stem around the idea of involving himself with projects that feature incredibly infectious music, and this album is crawling with tunes that’ll pop up in your head over and over again. The second track, “Blacksong”, stands as a personal favorite, and travels a darker path before eventually winding down with a meaty riff pattern that could have fit snuggly as a Soundgarden outro. “Stormcrow” and the excellent “After The Dying” also feature amazingly catchy hooks, with the prior track opening with a huge hard rock riff that’d make George Lynch’s bouffant jump ship in search of its true master. Even the album’s slow song, “Burning Chains” strikes true. In fact, there are only two songs on this record that I find myself skipping outright, the relatively silly “Duke of Love” and the rockiest track of the bunch, “Are You Ready”. The album closes with the superb “Starfire”, a sweeping song I definitely foresee myself cranking with the windows open on a late summer’s night drive.
Jorn’s The Duke is certainly not meant for everyone, but fans of hard rock would be foolish not to pick this one up. I recently found out Lande has decided to leave Masterplan, which is an obvious bummer, but I suppose as long as the man keeps releasing quality projects such as this, fans will keep coming back for more.
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