a l b u m r e v i e w s


AMAZE ME / WONDERLAND
LABEL: AVALON JAPAN / Z RECORDS MICY-1092
OVERALL: 80%
Produced by: Peter Broman
  1. Wonderland
  2. Without Your Love
  3. Thousand Miles Away
  4. Shadow From The Past
  5. Higher & Higher
  6. Stuck With The Blues
  7. Heart Made Of Stone
  8. Red Lips
  9. Good Day To Die
  10. You Say You Never Cry
  11. Help Me Through The Night
  12. Every Heartbeat
  13. Next Train Back
Amaze Me are comprised of Swedes Peter Broman and Cony Lind. Peter supplies all the instrumentation and Cony the vocals. It is a team that works well.
This is another great melodic rock album. It's on the heavier side of melodic rock, more urgent and guitar driven and the vocals of Lind are excellent.
Another highlight is the multi layer vocals and effects used throughout, giving this album and epic guitar feel that John Sykes or Zeno would be proud of.
The songs though are big solid guitar ruled heavy AOR and have more melodies and hooks embedded in them than, er , well something with lots of hooks and melodies!
The first few songs of the album in particular have me totally hooked. There are just two little factors that take away from the overall good record that this is.
The instruments are all played by Peter Broman, which in itself is very impressive but there are a couple of places where a full band sound might have been better. Also the mix is a little muddy in places. Tidied up before release from all accounts, but in a couple of places it is still not crisp enough. But to the tunes...
Title track Wonderland opens the account with a small intro that gives way to a hard riffing melodic barrage of guitars.
The moodyish song rises to a killer chorus that has been in my head for several weeks now. Great hook, but it is all let down a little by the production which is average on this track. The solo sounds a little thin.
On the second track Without Your Love the production rises about 90%. The guitars and vocals are tighter and the track is a melodic powerhouse. Another great chorus and some very cool power riff's and a stack of hooks. A track I would love to see live with a full band on stage. A cool guitar solo adds to the joy! Love it.
Thousand Miles Away is a little slower than the opening barrage of guitars, but only just. It is a power ballad of the first degree.
Shadows From The Past remains heavy, but moves into proper power ballad mode - slow to mid paced and moody throughout. That and Higher & Higher display their Swedish rock feel pretty plainly and this track is pretty much your standard melodic rocker. It doesn't reach the hights of the opening 3 tracks and falls away due to a below average production, although the chorus is still OK.
Stuck With The Blues is a little better. Heavy and mid paced with an OK chorus, it at least has a snappier production.
Heart Made Of Stone is similar to Shadow From The Past. Heavy, slow paced ballad with a mid paced chorus. Red Lips starts with a thumping heavy guitar and drum beat. The vocals are more animated than the last few tunes and the production is back to sharp and snappy. The verse rises a notch again in pace and is a little lighter than the rest of the tune.
Good Day To Die ends the regular release of Amaze Me's second album. This is a dark heavy tune and is an OK hard rocker.
The Japanese bonus tracks kick in at this point. And strangely enough the volume of the CD jumps about 3 notches! Bad production there (Japanese) fellas...
The three tracks are noticeably not from the Wonderland sessions. In fact they are all lifted from the previously released self titled debut.
The four tracks have a more keyboard dominated direction and are much more pure AOR than the guitar dominated Wonderland release. Best track from these is the last one Next Train Back.
Pointless bonuses, at least they pad out the album a little. 9 tracks is a little short these days. Buyers of the Z release will not have these added tracks. No great loss!
A good solid album over all, with just a couple of songs that fill it out. Melodic European rock in it's sound and feel, it is possibly the heaviest thing you could call AOR before going to straight hard rock, but there are so many hooks and melodies, it couldn't be called anything other than AOR.
If it wasn't for the odd production let down, this would be in the 90's. Check it out.
PRODUCTION: 70%SONGS: 84%VIBE: 79%ATTITUDE: 79%
ESSENTIAL FOR: Swedish hard rock/AOR fans, big guitar and pomp rock fans.

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