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Hodson This Strange World Frontiers Records
FRCD195
· Produced By: Paul Hodson

· Running Time: 58.53

· Release Date: July 12

· Released: EU

· Musical Style: Hard Rock

· Links: Frontiers
84%
Songs: 87%
Sound: 80%
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.
The Bottom Line
I do like the sense that the album is not quite perfect. The vocals are a little rough in places, but in this case I feel that adds character. However I found the album was being let down in one department - at times this album just sounds too busy. And the songs aren't quite as strong as what was witnessed on the Bob Catley album.
But This Strange World has a lot to offer and fans of classic British hard rock will really enjoy what's on offer.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
· Member of: Ten, Hard Rain, Bob Catley band
· Bob Catley - When Empire's Burn
· Hodson - This Strange World

Line Up
· Paul Hodson: Vocals, Keyboards, Guitars
· Vince O'Regan: Guitars
· Josie Vespa: Bass

Essential for fans of:
· Dio, Rainbow
· Bob Catley
Track Listing
· This Foolish World*
· Jelunda*
· The Calling
· My Saviour
· English Rose
· Shamen Eyes
· Soulman
· Light in the Black*
· The Swan*
· This Foolish World - Video
--*Best Tracks


24/10/04: Todd Carper - metalhead7@msn.com
Rating: 90
Like the Enzign release that came out on Z records, it is great to see the other memebers of Ten get out and try there hand at writing material since only Gary Hughes material seems to show up on the Ten CD's. Not that I am complaining, I have every CD Ten has put out sometimes in multiple versions so I have every song. I love Gary hughes music, that said, I think Ten would be a much stronger band if every member was allowed to make a contribution and share the spotlight. That couldn't be more obvious for me that it was after listening to Enzign's cast the stone CD or after hearing Bob Catley's When Empire's Burn which featured songs written by Mr. Hodson. As for This Strange World, it is easily one of the most underated cd's I have listened to this year, and with a collection of over 4500 cd's, I have heard a few. Paul Hodson is a very capable singer, the production is very well done, and the songs are what one would expect from a memeber of Ten. If you like Rainbow and Whitesnake, this music is for you. The CD is more rocking than anything, but there are mid tempo and slower pieces, and all of it is pretty strong. Give it a shot, and you will find that it was worth your time and hard earned money!

06/08/04: Freddy De Keyzer - freddydekeyzer@hotmail.com
Rating: 86
Great record from Hodson ! And you all know my ratings are mostly not that high !
Not as good as Magnum, Dio or Rainbow, but I agree with Ian that this band has a bright future ahead and that we can expect a lot more things from this unit.
I only hope it's not a one-album affair ! Good one !

06/08/04: John Ferguson - jonferg@nortelnetworks.com
Rating: 88
Paul Hodson, keyboard player with Ten and Bob Catley, came to the fore as writer and producer of Catley’s superb “When Empire’s Burn” opus back in 2003. “This Strange World” is the debut release from his own band, “Hodson,” which sees Paul also take on lead vocal duties, and is joined by Vince O’Regan on guitar (Catley, Pulse) and Josie Vespa on bass. Imagine “When Empires Burn” with Graham Bonnet’s younger brother on vocals and you have a good idea of the style and sound of “This Strange World.” Classic British hard rock in the finest tradition of Ten, magnum and Rainbow. Majestic, complex and grandiose epics such as “the Calling” and “The Swan” alongside rousing pomp rockers like “This Foolish World” and “Jelunda” demonstrate all Hodson’s talent sas writer, musician and arranger, not to mention his considerable vocal abilities.
Excellent stuff.

25/07/04: ian - ian_752@msn.com
Rating: 90
I've given Hodson such a high rating because i feel that this band has a big future ahead. What you get is overblown pomp / hard rock , in the mould of Rainbow,Magnum & Dio . And in a word it's brilliant , they say that lightning never strikes twice but Mr Hodson has done just that firstly on the Bob Catley album he wrote and now on the wonderful" This Strange World". Give tracks "JELUNDA,THE CALLING,or ENGLISH ROSE" a spin and before long their subtle melodies will burrow into your brain and stay with you long after the cd has finished.Also a special mention must be given to Paul Hodson for his vocals on this album a real revelation , very dramatic and ballsy. So in summing up if you like any of the bands i mentioned or just like over the top pomp then this is for you , a British act that can finally compete with our European counterparts .


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