‘Swing Of Death’
2015 release from Frontiers Records srl.
Jorn Lande – Vocals. Trond Holter – Guitar, piano. Bernt Jansen – Bass. Per Morten Bergseth – Drums. Lena Floitmoen Borrsen – Vocals on tracks 5,6,8,10, backing vocals. Cornelia Tihon – Pan flute. Catalin Popa – Violin.
Artist location: Norway.
4 out of 5 stars rating.
Reviewed by David.
- Hands Of Your God.
- Walking On Water.
- Swing Of Death.
- Masquerade Ball.
- Save Me.
- River Of Tears.
- Queen Of The Dead.
- Into The Dark.
- True Love Through Blood.
- Under The Gun.
- Hands Of Your God (Acoustic Japanese bonus track).
When I first heard that Jorn Lande and Trond Holter (ex-Wig Wam, Jorn) were doing another album together I was excited. I love Jorn’s voice and I am a big fan of the first two Wig Wam records, so I was looking forward to hearing what these two guys came up with together outside of Jorn’s usual solo material.
And then I heard the concept of the album.
A rock opera. 😦
Based on the tales of Dracula. Huh?
Interest level instantly dropped way down for me. First of all, an entire album about Dracula? That just did not sound very appealing at all.
And secondly, I am very leery of rock operas. In fact there are only two artists I have found that have ever really done that little niche justice and that would be early Meat Loaf (though I guess credit there should go to Jim Steinman) and Tobias Sammet with his Avantasia project. Both of these I love and am a big fan of and they are brilliant pieces of work, but otherwise it is not a genre that interests me much at all.
So with waning interest I put thoughts of the release in the back of my mind and all but forgot about it.
To be honest I am not sure what I was expecting with the record once I heard what it was, but when the first single, ‘Walking On Water‘, released from it then I clicked on the video, curious to see how it was going to soun but pretty sure that I was not going to enjoy it.
I was pleasantly surprised. This song did not sound like a rock opera style song at all. In fact it sounded like a song you would find on any of Jorn’s albums.
Interest began to climb again after that and I heard the next song, the title track ‘Swing Of Death‘, and I knew I was going to have to purchase the album, so purchase it I did.
Well upon receiving the record I gave it the first spin and had mixed feelings about it. First, not every song was as strong as the first single (to be expected of course), and secondly it definitely gets in to rock opera territory. However with a few little hiccups, the album actually turned out to be a pretty impressive release overall. And the more I listened to it the more I enjoyed it, cheesy lyrics and all (and cheesy they can most certainly be).
‘Hands Of Your God‘ starts the record off. This song is good but a bit different. This is seen as the opening act of the “opera” and it starts slow and slowly builds. Jorn, as usual, is in excellent form here and pretty much is the sole reason for this song being a hit as I cannot imagine any other vocalist really singing this and giving it the life that Lande does. Which is basically true of pretty much everything the man sings.
Track two is the first single, ‘Walking On Water‘. As I said, this is pretty much a song you would expect from Jorn. A heavy, rocking track with a fantastic chorus and killer vocals.
The title track is up next and it is a bit different then what you would expect to find here. Flirting the line with rockabilly, ‘Swing Of Death‘, is an interesting track to be sure, but the chorus is terrific in my opinion, though I can certainly understand if it is not to your liking.
‘Masquerade Ball‘ starts out very mellow with a piano accompanying Lande before it cranks up into a heavy number. This is the first track of the album that really has a rock opera feel to it as it goes through different stages in the song and melody. Tremendous vocal delivery from Lande. From this track on the record takes the turn to rock opera and it brings us into the first track that I do not really care for, ‘Save Me‘. This song is a duet with Lena Floitmoen Borrsen, who has a good voice and she and Jorn mesh well vocally, but the song just doesn’t do much for me.
‘River Of Tears‘ also features Borrsen but this heavy rocker is far better then the previous track and ‘Queen Of The Dead‘ brings us back to a bit more of typical Jorn territory with a hard rocking, head banging track and another great delivery from the king of metal.
‘Into The Dark‘ sees Borrsen back and this time around we have a hard hitting track that has an almost Evanescence type vibe to it on the chorus. Great song and two terrific vocal deliveries from Lande and Borrsen.
‘True Love Through Blood‘ is Trond’s moment in the sun. A head banging instrumental where Holter, who has sounded fabulous throughout the record, shows his incredible abilities yet again. This guy is one seriously great guitarist.
‘Under The Gun‘ is the final track to feature Borrsen and it may just be the best one with her yet. Another rocking number here and again, more great vocals present.
An acoustic version of ‘Hand Of Your God‘ ends the record. Nothing different about this version compared to the one that starts the record save being acoustic.
If it weren’t for Jorn I don’t think I would have even bothered with this, to be quite honest, and I don’t think any other singer could have really pulled it off. But Lande does, and he does it so very well that you really don’t even care that it is a whole record dedicated to Dracula or that the lyrics can be overly ridiculous at times. The man is just one amazing singer, that is all there is to it. In metal, there are not many singers I feel can hold a candle to him.
This is obviously not going to be for everyone. Rock opera is a very niche part of the genre. But if you can open your mind a bit and enjoy something slightly outside of the norm or if you are a fan Jorn or other rock opera projects then most certainly give this a try because, like myself, you may find yourself very pleasantly surprised with what you get here.
‘Hand Of Your God’.
‘Walking On Water’.
‘Swing Of Death’.
‘River Of Tears’.
‘Queen Of The Dead’.
‘Into The Dark’.
‘Under The Gun’.