Released 26th August 2011 on Frontiers Records
Xorigin are a new signing to Frontiers with ‘State Of The Art’ representing the debut release from this new band based around two musicians with a history dating back to 1999. Vocalist Johannes Stole (P.O.B.) and guitarist Daniel Palmqvist (solo/ex The Murder Of My Sweet) first met when students at Musicians Institute in Los Angeles where they formed the band Orange Crush. The time over on American shores for these Scandinavians was obviously well spent with the influence of the likes of Toto, Giant and Foreigner etc run high throughout the sound of this 11 track debut.
Stylistically this is right what you’d expect for Frontiers i.e. melodic vocals, big hooks, lots of keyboards and a keen commercial edge with a production by Daniel Flores (The Murder Of My Sweet / Mind’s Eye) who also plays drums on the album.
Opener “Can’t Keep Running” is an infectious track, very eighties in outlook and sound with its synth bass sound and big chorus hook which sees well layered vocal melodies it’s a strong opening number. Yet sadly is the first indicator of a production flaw that runs throughout the album, namely Daniel Palmqvist’s guitar solos being mixed too low for my tastes, a shame as Palmqvist is no slouch on the guitar.
However, back to the music and the album continues along a path of solidly constructed numbers with the mid- tempo waters of “Crying For You”, “The One For Me” (which I thought was going to break into the ‘1987’ version of Whitesnake’s ‘ Here I Go Again’ at the intro) and “What Love Is All About” being tracks that are easy on the ear with their pleasing melodies and enjoyable instrumentation.
Elsewhere “Gina” (not a Michael Bolton cover) has traces of ‘Big Generator’ era Yes which works well, “This Is It” is a little darker than much of the material for the verses but hits a vibrant stride with its chorus, whilst “Said And Done” offers up a more straight rock feel.
Big power ballad fans are well catered for with “In The Blink Of An Eye” sounding like the perfect companion to the likes of Winger’s ‘Miles Away’ or Damn Yankees ‘High Enough’. Good stuff just 20 years too late but hey nothing wrong with nostalgia when it’s well crafted like this. The album closes with a slightly more contemporary and modern sounding ballad in “Mend My Heart” and it’s a nice way to see the album out.
At a hair under 48 minutes this is about the perfect length for anyone wanting to revel in some melodic rock that for the most part if high in quality with good performances to boot. The slight flaw in the mix is a little disappointing but otherwise this is a good release and one that will hopefully pave the way for future works from Palmqvist and Stole.
Rating – 84%