|John Norum Optimus||Mascot Records|
I am – or at least was – a huge John Norum fan. I simply adore his guitar playing style – few guitarists can deliver such chunky riffs so smoothly. But since Face The Truth each solo album he releases is worse than the one before and this is no exception. In fact, I rate this his worst album to date.|
Why do we have to suffer another tuned down, grunge style, modern rock album from a classic rocker? How many fans really would choose this style over something more traditional?
John has had a definite interest in this sound, as he was toying with it on Slipped Into Tomorrow and even World's Away.
Same with the Europe album – tuned down to the max. But at least the Europe album had some great songs. Any album John records will rock, as he has that big fat guitar sound that just oozes riffs, but this album just bores me. I'm sure I'll get some flak for that comment, but this really isn't a patch on his past glories. The song quality is just not there.
John's debut Total Control was a great extension of what Europe was doing at the time and remains a favourite of the era. Then Face The Truth blew just about everything else out at the time out of the water – what a monster rock album that was, with vocalist Glenn Hughes providing some of his best hard rock vocals ever.
Since then it's been down hill - Another Destination was a patchy follow-up, but still had a few highlights, and I don't listen to World's Away or Slipped Into Tomorrow much anymore -although the latter was still a decent hard rock record.
This album may rock – but I won't be playing it much after this review. I have flogged it for the best part of a week or two and like a couple of tracks, but I can get better elsewhere if it is this style I wanted to listen to.
It's not John's dark and gruff vocals, I've enjoyed him singing in the past – although he's no Goran Edman or Glenn Hughes! What it is, is the repetitive tone of every track – that same down-tuned guitar riff over plodding mid-tempo rockers that simply don't have any spark or definitive hooks to draw the listeners back in. Two instrumentals out of 10 tracks doesn't help either.
The better tracks include One More Time - a mellow, dark ballad; Time To Run is a good modern rocker with a Sabbath-esque vibe and Taking The Blame reminds me of John's earlier style – although still featuring that tuned down sound.
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