|Hodson This Strange World||Frontiers Records|
Hodson's main man is of course Paul Hodson, the keyboardist for Hard Rain and Ten and was the man behind the music for the acclaimed Bob Catley album When Empire's Burn.|
Paul's new Hodson project features Pulse guitarist Vince O'Regan, himself part of the Catley team and a fine axeman. This album continues the tone set by the Bob Catley material, but takes it a little further again. The even more intense and dramatic music of This Strange World could best be compared to the classic hard rock of Dio and Rainbow.
This is however, a little rougher around the edges than the immaculately produced Catley album. The material presented is very complex – there is a lot to absorb and a lot of different elements happening at the same time.
I really like the songs – I think they are well crafted melodic hard rock songs. But I still find something not quite fitting in the execution - maybe the songs are a little too busy - maybe it's the overload of swirling keyboards or maybe it's just the mix, where the vocals aren't placed high enough to outshine the many layers of musical accompaniment.
The variety in songwriting displayed on Bob Catley's album isn't as prevalent here. I found the majority of the album to be pretty similar – which is flat out classic hard rock/melodic metal.
Track By Track:
This Foolish World is a great opening track – full of the essential ingredients needed – a building intro, a powerful riff and a memorable verse/chorus hook. The track rocks, but saves the heavier stuff for midway through the album.
Jelunda is probably my favourite chorus – this is a powerful and hard hitting rock epic, with a great hook and a passionate vocal, although I would have liked extra space for the great vocals to breathe a little more.
The Calling is another epic – over 8 minutes in length this time and once again is filled to the brim with layers of keyboards and guitars. This one takes a little longer to get going, but reminds me of an epic Ten number from either of their last few albums. Big and complex in its sound, the melody however isn't as memorable as some other tracks.
My Saviour is another solid track with a good hook and powerful chorus. Again I am reminded of classic hard rock/metal along the lines of Iron Maiden and Rainbow. It's a very busy song and takes several listens to digest.
English Rose is a flat out rocker, which ups the already flat out tempo. It's a shorter track in comparison to others on the album, but still contains a lot of music to absorb. This is a real show off track for guitarist Vince O'Regan – he displays some fantastic skills with his heavy riffing and soloing to match.
Shamen Eyes continues the increased tempo of the last song or two. Another full track with a lot of energy inline with the rest of the album's tracks.
Soulman is another very intense track, with a solid chorus, but the tempo and the style is nothing different from the tracks already passed.
Light in the Black is a true to form cover of the Dio classic from the album Rising. This is a pedal to the metal rocker with a darker tone. A cool addition to the album.
The Swan is the only track that isn't a flat out rocker. This is reminiscent of the Catley and Ten albums and features a more laid back epic rock ballad vibe. Paul gives an impressive vocal performance on this and the slower tempo is most welcomed and gives guitarist Vince another chance to shine.
But This Strange World has a lot to offer and fans of classic British hard rock will really enjoy what's on offer.
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