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%


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