HARD – EVEN KEEL

Out now on BLP Music

Swiftly following up last years “Time Is Waiting For No One”, Hungarian hard rockers Hard (with Sweden’s Bjorn Lodin on vocals) have wasted little time on building on the buzz generated in their homeland by the bands first album with Lodin at the mic – which saw appearances on MTV and a support slot to Kiss in Budapest.  More streamlined and straight-ahead hard rock then its predecessor, “Even Keel” is all about accessible rock with a healthy dose of deft touches to move it nicely out of derivative.

Like an amalgamation of AC/DC,  Dokken and Whitesnake in terms of approach the band punch with those heavyweights all powered along by another superb open and full sounding production from Lodin.  Speaking of Lodin, it seems his time spent in Hungary with its love of paprika loaded foods has resulted in an even spicier edge to his raspy voice, not to mention the sauciness of his lyrics!

Opener “Truth Or Dare” sets the scene well with its mid-tempo AC/DC inspired chordal attack.  “Bitten By You” sees Zsolt Vámos’ great guitar tone reminiscent of George Lynch power the track along nicely with its interplay between simple verses, and more edgy pre-choruses, whilst the chorus is designed for the arena pure and simple.  “Pretty Little Liar” is one of the more ordinary tracks on the album and is let down by a chorus which is a little too obvious, that said Lodin could probably do with a rest after the motor mouthed verses!

“Promises” kicks off with a nice “live” drum sound which leads into a stormer of a track with a chorus that really delivers and conjures up positive memories of Lodin’s other squeeze Baltimoore on their ‘Kaleidoscope’ album.  “I Wanna Rock” sees Lodin’s lyrical tongue drinking exclusively from a fur tea cup but its all good fun that’s begs to be played loud (and its an album that excels at max volume).

“Speeding Into Slow” (cool title) is a little more rhythmic with its muted riff allows Lodin to deliver the kind of vocal line that pushes and pulls that he excels at, and is a track that may take a few more listens than the rest to reveal its true colours but is worth the time spent – nice melodic solo too.  Ballad “Somewhere” is likely to receive radio play you’d imagine and shows the other side to Lodin’s voice being tender and full of warmth. This is followed by the varied “Keep Out” which has a lot of different colours to it from the melancholic verses to the rocking chorus, its nice work.

My favourite track is the penultimate number “Scream To Be Heard” with its thunderous bottom end from Gábor Mirkovics which powers the track along at a strong pace and musically actually reminded me a little in places of early Savatage. Lodin again works himself up into a frenzy whilst Zsolt Vámos takes a couple of fluid solos which are the icing on the cake.  Closing number “In Your Arms” sees the band go a little Scorpions on us with this tender orchestrated acoustic ballad but is a nice ending after all the blood and thunder that precedes it.

“Even Keel” is another strong effort from Hard, you get the impression the album is a truer reflection of the bands sound compared to the more varied predecessor; as a result it has a little more focus and identity and would make a welcome addition to most hard rock fans collections.

Check it out.

Rating – 89%


Advertisements

AN INTERVIEW WITH DANIELE LIVERANI OF TWINPSIRITS

Daniele, congratulations on the new Twinspirits album ‘Legacy’ it’s a fantastic piece of work.Twinspirits have been building rapidly since the debut ‘The Music That Will Heal The World’, with the excellent ‘The Forbidden City’ and now ‘Legacy’.  You seem to be very inspired with this band, what is it about the band and music that you inspires you?

D: Thank you very much! Well, what can I say, Twinspirits has born in 2004 and the main concept behind this line up was to gather some very cool musicians I’ve been discovering during my musical path and working with for my past projects (Genius/Khymera etc..). Twinspirits is the most inspiring environment for me at the moment, because it continues the musical thread I started with the genius rock opera back in 1998/1999, and therefore it’s the situation that represent me the most in terms of songwriting and musical vision. Of course the talent and musicality of all bands members is a constant inspiration for me, when writing and producing, and they arrangements contributions to my songwriting is also very important and it really gives life to the songs.

Can you give our readers an overview of how the creative process for the album took place?

D: Basically I write the music and Lyrics and a pre-produce a rough version of the songs by myseld which becomes a sort of sketch for the songs, then I give it to the guys and they arrange their parts, write solos, give suggestions a songs structures and I take care of their feedback, of course trying to make a synthesis of all ideas without loosing the vibe and the direction of the original songwriting. Then we record each instruments, starting from Drums, then bass and guitars, then Keyboards and finally vocals and backing vocals. Then I mixed the album in my home studio. It took almost 2 months to mix this Legacy album, since I really wanted everything to sound acoustic and natural (no triggers or stuff), and I really did my best to take care of all details and give justice to the songs, I have to say that, so far, I’m very happy of the result.

You found a fantastic vocalist in Goran Nyström whose range is very impressive, is this a voice you enjoy writing for and what role does Goran play in his vocals ideas?

D: Yeah! Goran is absolutely an amazing discover, he’s so versatile, got great range, can sing almost in all ways and styles and has a good tone…what else can you expect from a singer? Basically I submit him the preproduction’s with lyrics I write, and when we work together in the studio we go along all phrases and find substitution when the sound he wants to achieve is not compatible with the words I wrote, so there’s a good interaction with him in the studio, and he adds a lot of arrangements and gives life to the initial ideas with a lot of creative adds in terms of style, passages and stuff. Album by album we are construction a great interaction process and it becomes more natural for me to write songs for him, and for him to arrange and give songs the right mood/vibe. It’s really a pleasure to write lyrics for Goran, because you don’t have actual limits to the creative part, he can sing everything!The main nucleus of the band have been together for a while now, and having played a number of live dates in the run up to the recording of ‘Legacy’ shows in the performances and tightness of the band.

How do you feel playing live have benefited the band and music?

D: It’s been extremely beneficial, we had the change to play live many gigs during the promotion of “The Forbidden City” in 2009/2010, and that live experience has given us more strength, tightness, and you can really hear in Legacy, in my opinion, this improvement. It sounds more natural and every member is more comfortable with their role. Playing live is so important, and we’re continuing to do that as much as we can!

‘Legacy’ can be split into two distinct sides with the first half being quite commercial songs that are not tied together, whilst the second half sees a mini suite that I believe is probably the best thing you have released.  Can you tell us what led to the 2 halves or “sides” of Twinspirits and when did it become clear that this would work?

D: Well, I had in mind the concept behind “The Endless Sleep” suite since years, and I decided to record a preproduction of the whole suite (30min) and I found out that it was very inspired and I really liked the result. That’s why I decided to go ahead and include that song in the new album. I new it was a challenge, but I thing it’s a well structured multi part suite, and we’re experiencing that is working very well also live and it turned out to be the favourite song of all band members!  So the first 6 songs are more straight to the point, even if still progressive in many ways, to balance the complexity and long journey of the second part of the album which is more dramatic, intense and needs more listens to get into. “The Endless Sleep” is been one of the most demanding compositions of my life, and I’m so happy about the result and how all band members gave life to it…

‘The Endless Sleep’ suite is superb, tell us more about its creation and in what phases it was recorded?

D: Thank you! Well it’s creating lasted a couple of months, initially I wrote the lyrics and after that a put them in music. I have to say that it came out very fluently part by part, and it’s been a natural process, I didn’t had to force any aspect of the creation, and that’s why in my opinion it’s a  long piece of music that really flows fast. So it’s been written all together in a couple of months, it’s not the result of a year lasting process.

Does recording something as ambitious as this get easier over time as the last 2 albums weren’t lacking in big compositions either?

D: Well, it’s of course ambitious to create, arrange and produce a 30 min suite, and probably now the band is more mature and it was a good moment for this challenge. Anyway when I write I tend to be free from any rule or external influence and environment that the music will be produced with. I have to be free to create, and the suite “the endless sleep” just came out in this last 2 years period, you really can’t expect what will come next in your creation process, at least speaking of my type of creation process. It just came at the right point of the band evolution I think, and I feel lucky for that inspiration at the right time!

Do you provide music transcripts of the parts you want the rest of the band to play or do they play from ear and add their own ideas?

D: I provide basically full preproduction recordings (also sung by me in a rough way) in an organised multi session project that includes also midi of most of the parts (except guitars and vocals), it’s enough for the guys to pick up the song and start to work on arrangements. The midis and scores for guitar player and bass player are very useful for the more challenging parts like duets, tricky parts or tricky harmonies.

Twinspirits have their own voice in the progressive metal scene, is this something you strive hard to create?

D: Well, I think it’s the goal of every artist/band is to create their own voice on the scene. I’ve always worked in that direction, trying not to follow any stereotype and to transform all influences I had into something possibly new and fresh. It’s very difficult nowadays to be very different, so having some sort of original formula into a genre is already a great result in my opinion.

You have worked with Tommy Ermolli for a number of years now on different projects, what is it about his playing that you find inspiring and how do you feel he has grown as a player over the years?

D:Tommy has always been a mature musician, even when he was 13. That’s what’s amazing in his musical side and was the most impressive aspect I noticed when I discover him back in 2002: his musical taste and incredible melodic sense in addition to a great technical skill. This is very rare in a musician in my opinion. By the way, year by year and album by album you can hear a great evolution of his playing. Now he’s focusing also into the big picture and his style has evolved into a very consistent playing and arranging of the Twinspirits material. So I think that the talent and the musicality have always been there, but evolutions of his playing can be noticed constantly album by album.

‘Pay For Their Art’ touches on a subject that many bands are scared to speak up about – illegal downloading of music.  How has this affected Twinspirits and what do you believe the future holds?

D: Illegal downloading has affected Twinspirits and all my release of the past in a major way unfortunately. And as me, many other artists have been seriously damaged by this new era behaviour. I wrote that song cause I felt the urge to say something about this issue to our fans an to all listeners in general. It’s really a heavy topic for both label and bands in this period, many situations are at risk of disappearing if things won’t change in some ways. I think that the message of “pay for their art” is a positive message, and tries to reach the fans and let them understand what’s behind the music they listen to, the work, the passion, the nights spent in recording, producing and mixing, a live spent in writing music to deliver the “soundtrack of  your life”.

I think that the only way to solve this problem is to create a new culture that can teach to new generations a new level of sensibility of what they do when they download an album illegally. It’s became normal behaviour nowadays, and it’s been lost the idea that you’re doing something wrong and stealing something. We have to teach younger generation to become more responsible about this topic, I don’t believe that technical solutions (internet blocking or stuff) will be a solution to prevent this phenomenon, it has to start from the culture and from the right educations about this topic, that’s why I decided to write my little piece of message into the song “pay for their art”. In that song you can hear a sort of dialogue from 2 different kind of persons, a responsible one and a person who things it’s “cool” to download illegally, the first one trying to explain why he should “pay for their art”.

What other lyrical subjects are touched upon through the album?

D: Most of the songs are inspired from life thoughts, and personal experiences…we have a sort of “relationship ending” topic on song Senseless, then other topics like “the difficult world we’re living in” in Slave to this world, the difficult process of understanding our right path in life in “blind soul”…I usually write and put on paper my thoughts about life. The endless sleep is  different, it’s a visionary story I developed where a young person, due to a premature ending of his life, gets the change to discover and meet a superior entity that approaches him in the afterlife and gives him the chance to get back to the real world for a limited  period of time with a mission to accomplish that could lead to ease the pain and all the suffering of the current world…very difficult to explain all the concept and the story in a few words, but what’s nice in my opinion is that you can give different interpretations to what you read in the lyrics, I tend to write in a very open way, poetically, without explicit connections to specific religions, politics, real events, remaining very visionary and abstract to give a sort of freedom to the listeners to create their own idea of what’s behind some concepts/story I write, whatever are their life styles, ideas, profiles.

I believe the band will be hitting the road again in support of ‘Legacy’, can you give us more details of what to expect?

D: We’re doing shows in March 2011, travelling Italy and Switzerland, touching cities like Uster, Venezia, Bari, Caserta, Reggio Emilia and Vicenza…and more shows are in the organization phase, you can find all details and dates updates in our myspace profile http://www.myspace.com/twinspiritsband or our web site http://www.twinspirits.net

What else is in store for 2011 from Twinspirits?

D: Well, a lot of live appearances hopefully and some footage material of the “making of Legacy” and the making of the 2 videos we release recently “number One” and “Slave To This World”

Daniele, many thanks for your time.

D: Thanks to you for the support and to all Virtuosityone readers!!!

WHITESNAKE – FOREVERMORE

Released 25th March 2011 on Frontiers Records

2008’s “Good To Be Bad” marked the return of Whitesnake as a force to be reckoned with.  Flawed in places, it nevertheless put Whitesnake back on the map as a valid hard rock band.  2011 brings the official follow up. “Forevermore” is the band’s debut for Frontiers Records.

From the opening salvo of “Steal Your Heart Away” the stage is set. There’s hints of older Whitesnake (not in the least because of the slide guitar that can’t help but bring to mind Micky Moody), there’s obvious links to the band’s commercial peak and there’s even references to the Coverdale/Page album.

First single “Love Will Set You Free” would not have been out of place on 1987. Neither would “Dogs In The Street” for that matter. “Tell Me How” adds a modern touch while retaining the classic foundation. The fans of old Whitesnake will be well served by “Love And Treat Me Right”.  The title track closes the album on an epic yet subdued note.

With a running time of an hour, the album borders on too long but they just about get away with it. The guitar tag team of Aldrich/Beach delivers as expected, backed up by the mighty Brian Tichy on drums. It’s no news that Coverdale’s voice has suffered over the years. “Easier Said Than Done” or “Fare Thee Well” are still guaranteed to get the ladies swooning though. He seems to have a better grasp of what his voice can handle compared to “Good To Be Bad”. Production is a lot better than it was on its predecessor even if there’s still a tendency towards artificial heaviness.

Overall a fine return to form.

Rating – 90%
Review by rough an’ ready Sancho.