Art Nation – Liberation 2017 album review. 4.5 star rating.

artnation-liberation.jpg

Art Nation

‘Liberation’

2017 release from Sony Music/Gain.

Alexander Strandell – Vocals. Christopffer Borg – Guitar, backing vocals. Johan Gustavsson – Guitar, backing vocals. Simon Gudmunsson – Bass. Carl Tuden – Drums, backing vocals.

Artist location: Sweden.

4.5 out of 5 stars rating.

Reviewed by David.

  1. Ghost Town.
  2. Maniac.
  3. The Real Me.
  4. Kiss Up & Kick Down.
  5. When Stars Align.
  6. One Nation.
  7. A Thousand Charades.
  8. Take Me Home.
  9. I’m Alive.
  10. Paralyzed.
  11. What Do You Want.

 

 

I remember back in the late Summer of 2013 I saw a music video for a song called ‘Standing As One from a record by a new band that I knew absolutely nothing about save that Frontiers Records was putting out the album.

A young vocalist by the name of Alexander Strandell fronted the band and they were called Diamond Dawn and were out of…

well of course it was Sweden!

Thank God for Europe and it’s never ending supply of great bands is all I have to say.

Now, back on track.

So, I clicked on the video to take a listen and loved it. I promptly purchased the record and enjoyed it immensely when it arrived. It was a keyboard driven AOR album full of great songs and great vocals that saw plenty of play from me.

And then the band disappeared.

I was disappointed but after a while kind of forgot about it as I moved on with other releases.

Fast forward to 2015 and a band by the name of Art Nation came onto the scene with a voice I instantly recognized. The young powerhouse, Strandell, was back in action with a band that were every bit as good on their instruments as Alexander was at singing and the combination of these superb talents gave us the smashing ‘Revolution‘ album, an album that, for me, blew Diamond Dawn’sOverdrive‘ out of the water.

Revolution‘ pretty much continued on what was started in ‘Overdrive‘ with the strong AOR flavorings, but took the songwriting strength to a new level and delivered a terrific debut that I still spin often.

Well those Swedes have just returned with their sophomore effort and there is one word I think accurately describes my initial thoughts on this album

WOW!!

I knew I would enjoy the record as I am a big fan of Strandell’s and his work with Diamond Dawn, his new work with Andreas Gullstrand and the excellent project Creye (Click here to read my review of the new EP from that project), and of course Art Nation’s first record. I also heard two singles that were released prior to the album coming out and I loved both of those, so, as I said, I knew I would enjoy the new record.

But I did not realize just how much I would enjoy it until I gave it my first listen all the way through

and was floored!

It was a monster of a record!

The band took everything that was good about the first record, built on and around it and made it even better! And as good as that first album was, the band just surpassed it by a good leap with this new record and in so doing have given us one of my big surprises for the year so far.

You may have heard some from this record already, like the album opener. I knew as soon as I heard ‘Ghost Town‘, which was the second single released from the album, that the record was going to be something great, little did I know how great. Well that track was certainly the right choice for a single, and for the music video (which you can see by following the link near the top of the page), as it is one of the catchiest and strongest songs of the record and this kick ass track gets the album going right out of the gate for us and it really never lets up.

Maniac‘ is a fantastic follow-up track to the strong opener and it holds it’s own next to that beast of a track. A killer tune here. I love it.

The Real Me‘ is a fast paced rocker that really has a rather strong H.E.A.T. flavor to it.  Great track with an excellent and catchy chorus to it.

Kiss Up & Kick Down‘ slows things down just a small bit for a mid-tempo rocker with a bit of a pop flare.

When Stars Align‘ is another more mid-tempo track, this time opting more for a bit more of a power ballad feel and another terrific song.

One Nation‘ gets things back up with a rocker and a great, albeit short, guitar solo and it leads into ‘A Thousand Charades‘, another standout for me. A hard and heavy rocker with a great chorus.

Take Me Home‘ is the first and only real ballad of the album and it is a gem. A track that slowly builds up into a power ballad with a fantastic delivery from Strandell.

I’m Alive‘ is another rocker that has a rather strong pop rock influence to it and it takes us into the heavy ‘Paralyzed‘, which features some great guitar work.

What Do You Want‘ closes the record and is closer to a mid-tempo rocker. Certainly not a bad song but it would have to be my least favorite of the album, which is stretching some because as stated, it is not close to being a bad track.

When the album finished I immediately replayed it and once again was surprised at just how strong the entire record was. Every song on this album is a winner and with just a few exceptions they could have chosen about any of the tracks to be their singles for the album. That is just how good this whole thing is.

A very powerful record with which the band took the sophomore jinx theory and gave it a big F U by releasing their best album yet and one that I feel they will be hardpressed to surpass in the future.

This record seemed to release with little fanfare for some reason. We were given two singles early but the promotion on it seemed to be less than satisfactory for a sophomore release, especially one of this strength, which I find a real shame. But it is out now and the guys, along with a few guest writers, have taken a heavier approach this go around. Gone are the keys-laden melodies and AOR stylings and instead are replaced with some blazing guitars and a full on melodic rock sound, all the while still maintaining the catchy melodies and melodic goodness of their first album and the result is a near perfect record of some truly outstanding melodic rock that fans of bands like Eclipse and especially H.E.A.T. will feel right at home with.

If you have not heard them yet then I would not hesitate one bit to give them a chance, I do not think that you will be disappointed in the least here. This is Scandi-rock at it’s best.

Very highly recommended.

 

 

Standout Tracks:

 

‘Ghost Town’. ‘

Maniac’.

‘The Real Me’.

‘Kiss Up & Kick Down’.

‘A Thousand Charades’.

‘Take Me Home’.

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