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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

NEWS: Running Wild - Shadowmaker - Cover art and Boxed Set Information Revealed

Running Wild - Shadowmaker (to be released Germany 20th April, rest Europe 23rd April, and US/Can 24th April) artwork has been revealed today at Running Wild's official website If you can by any way judge "the book by it's cover", then Shadowmaker is a bit of a mystery. The cover is quite exceptional and different by any previous album's cover artwork, and definetely does not nod to any pirate themes. It almost brings U.D.O's album covers to my mind a bit. It's simplified and sort of futuristic. I really don't know what to think out of this at the first glance -- but I certainly hope Rolf is not bringing out another Toxic Taste'laden record (Rolf's recent band project with more party hard rock feel). But we'll see. The cover was created by Jens Reinhold (Evergrey, Kingdom Come, Tank) and Rolf. You can see the cover of Shadowmaker below, feel free to express you opinion and expectations considering it!

The more specific info about different releases was also handed out:

  • Limited first edition CD in black jewel case with silver printing, slipcase plus a 40min bonus dvd containing making-of-documentary and track-by-track commentary by Rolf himself.
  • Double gatefold LP with printed innersleeves and clear vinyl.
  • Box-set limited to 1 000 copies containing 2 LP's (clear vinyl, same tracklist than regular "Double gatefold LP release"), black jewel case CD with bonus DVD (same as above I assume), poster, sticker, 30 page book in LP size about the history of the band with photos. The set is hard cardboard material with top
  • Obviously there should also be regular CD release, which was not mentioned in the official site.

Tracklist one more time:

  • 01. Piece Of The Action
  • 02. Riding On The Tide
  • 03. I Am Who I Am
  • 04. Black Shadow
  • 05. Locomotive
  • 06. Me & The Boys
  • 07. Shadowmaker
  • 08. Sailing Fire
  • 09. Into The Black
  • 10. Dracula

Monday, January 23, 2012

REVIEW: Norden Light (SWE) - Shadows From The Wilderness (1987)

Norden Light (no, not northern, as you would expect) was yet another one of those one-hit-wonder bands from Sweden, Gothenburg, which released one great quality album and nothing else. I did not find information about when this band was formed, but it featured Christer Mentzer on vocals, who had previously done vocal duties in Silver Mountain and Michael Von Knorring on drums, who had been in Yngwie J. Malmsteen band, at one point. The band released their only album , Shadows From The Wilderness, at 1987.

Shadows From The Wilderness was a pleasant surprise for me, as I did not really know what to expect! It's not only a good album -- it's a great one! Norden Light is a band, who I feel is bit ahead of it's time sound- and production-wise. The record has almost that flamboyant early nineties soaring heavy metal touch at places, but it still maintains definite eighties core sound, featuring that bit more commercial hard n' heavy -feel along with poppy and soft keyboards, but tight and reasonably heavy riffs, especially for this type of music. I'd say that Shadows From The Wilderness is heavy metal / hard rock combination, with a slight focus that favours metal. Tight guitar playing is the key area that raises this album straight above being just "hard rock". Norden Light are not exactly Van-Halen-heavy band. If they were, I probably would not review them here. Imagine heavier version of Europe or Swedish Universe, with more chugging riffs and bigger emphasis on rhythm guitars, but with slightly mellow keyboard backed sound combined.

Mentzer's (ex-Silver Mountain) powerful vocals shine throughout the album, making it quite memorable effort. He sings in a very melodic soaring way from middle to bit higher pitch, but featuring certain more commercial "street-credibility" in his voice, with powerful bluesy roughness. Very charismatic singer! There's bit of AOR'ish feel at the times in this record, mainly because of the use of mellow poppy keyboards, and few more "radio-friendly" tracks, which, however feature very catchy and irresistible melodies. Have no fear tough. Generally,  keyboard-hater like me can fully enjoy this record, for they are used as backup creating atmosphere rather than stealing the whole show. As for radio-friendliness, they are not more fit to radio than say, Saxon's mid-eighties material such as Rock'n'Roll Gypsy. As melodic as Norden Light is, the sound is also damn tight and very refined. Wall of sound is nicely thick with all the instruments combined. There's nods towards lighter bands like Europe and swedish Universe & Keen Hue, but these guys just generally play it louder most of the time.

One big thing that keeps this record as heavy metal / hard rock combo, rather than being full-blooded heavy metal effort, in addition to hard-rock-way mellow occasional melodies, is the tempo. Tempo sails mainly between bit slower and mid-fast pace, but the band never really shows that much fury, speed, and aggression combined. However, there are tons of great atmosphere and memorable melodies. Mentzer's soaring vocal performance stands out greatly -- and so do backing vocals used frequently -- but that's not to say other members wouldn't shine either. Johan Herlogsson does very good job on guitars, with biting yet melodic riffs and nice shredding here and there. Bass is quite loud and very audible, pounding and creating thickness, complimenting melodic guitars. Drumming is pretty standard, but then again most of the songs don't require drummer to tear himself apart.

Shadows From The Wilderness surprised at least myself very positively by combining soaring Swedish melodic heavy metal with eighties style mellow Europe-like hard rock successfully. It pretty much offers best of the both worlds, and managing not to sound too sissy at the same time. Rather mellow keyboards are well executed and deliberate throughout the whole album, complementing the actual songs. This album is melodic yet it also "rocks" hard at the same time. The thick rocking sound with pounding bass is featured in majority of songs, along with rather big amount of shredding and licks. Dancer kicks most butt, being perhaps the most metallic song of the album, with thick chugging guitar riffs and sparkly keyboards, and totally strong vocal performance by Menzer, though, featuring very mellow but good chorus. It Hurts is yet also another quite ripping number, especially pre-chorus and chorus parts - almost symphonic! Though, once again, gas pedal is kept far away from the floor. Bit faster, heavy and pounding hard rock number Aspen is another very, very, catchy number, and my favorite of the album along with more metallic Dancer. Save Me and Night Life are bit more AOR'ish moments of the album, but both tolerable. Slow and atmospheric Europe-laden rocker, Crossfire, is perfect chill out track with dreamy and hazy keyboards, and features some nice mellow choir-style backing vocals. No Escape is really attempt of the band trying to be more fast and furious, but succeeds of being average at best.

I really enjoy this album as whole - in exception of, perhaps, poppy AOR flavored 'Night Life', which I often tend to skip. It has no single really weak track, and most of them are very good. If you like soaring heavy metal with powerful mid-range vocals and aren't bothered by rather large amount of symphonic sounding, heavy, eighties hard rock with slightly commercial edge thrown in, with hazy and recognizable keyboards, then I warmly suggest checking this obscure record out! The album is very solid through and through, combining heavier straight-forward rhythm riffs with more mellow hard rock melodies, fine solos, and being generally rather uplifting effort. The album is quite emotion packed. It's got great production values, too. Shadows From The Wilderness sounds a bit like more aggressive, thicker, and metallic Europe or Universe.

87 | reviewer: dungeoncrawler

  • Peter Bodefjord Bass
  • Michael Von Knorring Drums
    • See also: ex-Mentzer, ex-Yngwie J. Malmsteen
  • Johan Herlogsson Guitars
    • See also: ex-Mentzer
  • Peter Jeansson Keyboards
  • Christer Mentzer Vocals
    • See also: ex-Mentzer, ex-Silver Mountain

  • 1. It Hurts 04:48
  • 2. Shadows 03:59
  • 3. Nightlife 04:03
  • 4. Aspen 04:16
  • 5. Dancer 03:17
  • 6. Save Me 04:03
  • 7. Crossfire 04:45
  • 8. No Escape 04:04
  • 9. Legends 03:58
  • 10. Daytime Loser 04:43
  • Playing time 41:56

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction, my bet is you can double them up)
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Label – Sonet/SLP2788
Type – LP/SW/87
Near Mint – $35
Very Good+ - $20

Notes - Reissued '95 on CD