John Norum Optimus Mascot Records
· Produced By: John Norum

· Running Time: 38.02

· Release Date: February 23

· Released: EU

· Musical Style: Modern Hard Rock

· Links: John Norum
Songs: 50%
Sound: 80%
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.
The Bottom Line
Die-hards will enjoy another release from a magnificent guitar player, but those looking for something reminiscent of the style of his first solo releases will be sorely disappointed. If modern, tuned down hard rock with gruff vocals is your thing – Optimus might impress. It features some great chops, but misses the mark when it comes to songwriting and memorable hooks.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
· Total Control
· Face The Truth
· Another Destination
· Worlds Away
· Slipped Into Tomorrow
· Optimus

Line Up
Promo: Not Listed

Essential for fans of:
· John Norum - Slipped Into Tomorrow
· Europe - Start From The Dark
Track Listing
· Chase Down The Moon
· Nailed To The Cross
· Better Day
· One More Time*
· Time To Run*
· Optimus
· Taking The Blame*
· Change Will Come
· Forced
· Solitude
--*Best Tracks

01/05/06: Karolien -
Rating: 85
I didn't get blown away after the first time I listened to the album but now I really love it. The CD really grows on you the more you listen to it. It has some amazing songs like Chase Down The Moon, Change Will Come and Forced. Well done John!

22/01/06: Renan Norum Tirana -
Rating: 85
Good night as guitarist and fan of John Norum I can affirm that Optimus is far for example of Total Control (this album will be forever the greater of the Jonta master). But Optimus also is a great album and adored to hear the ground of Nailed to the Cross. He has much time did not hear John Norum with that speed and aggressiveness, therefore I sincerely did not like Start From The Dark, with exception of Got You the Have Faith. John Norum had a shining start with Europe, and at the that time we can perceive that it sounded very similar to John Sykes, Gary Moore and Michael Schenker. The times had been passing and it very was seemed Yngwie Malmsteen at the time of Total Control. However after Face The Truth did not sound more as a Eurometal, and itself mcomo an authentic British guitarist blues. There E in the last years it passed more if to dedicate to rifs the Zakk Wylde and Tony Iommi. It enters the two types of John's, I am with the John Norum of the age 82-92. E another thing... still that the Kee Marcello is is well of the Europe, John Norum fuck Kee Marcello!

16/10/05: Telis -
Rating: 90
Great cd... I love John Norum... For me he and Yngwie are the best metal quitar players... This cd is very good... Slipped into tomorrow was the weakest cd of John... And Face the truth and Words away are the best of him...
Start from the dark is better than Optimus... Optimus is better than Melon Demon Divine of Kee Marcello...
The reviews of Melodicrock to Start from the Dark and to Optimus are very bad...

03/07/05: Kati -
Rating: 95
Let me see... People change... artists do change as well. If you relly like someone, you like him after 10-15 years too, because he gives you something else, but maybe by that time you need something else as well. I love Europe. I loved them in 1985 and I thought their time was over, when I saw them last year in Sweden. It was like meeting an ex-love :-) I am different, they are different, and I have to admit, I still love them after 20 years. Same with Norum. I grew up on Black Sabbath, but I started to like the "Zakk Wylde kind of" music only about a year ago. And here comes John wih this album! What can I say?! "He's my hero!" :-) If anyone here is angry, and wants something more melodic, try some Last Autumn's Dream. It will heal you! :-)

07/06/05: ben -
Rating: 70
There are 2 John Norum : the first one died right after the face the truth album. The second one was born just after. 2 directions for 2 kinds of listeners.

25/03/05: scott - n/a
Rating: 85
I like the album very much. For me, it's his best since Face the Truth. His previous three took some time to grow on me, but Optimus had me hooked after the first listen. I also love Europe's 'start from the dark' and some of the songs on 'optimus' would've been nice additions (although I wouldn't want to subtract anything either). Optimus rocks!!

24/03/05: frytz -
Rating: 90
well, being a fan of Zakk Wylde I know that John also into the main reason why I like this album is the similar approach to the songs (concerning the tuning especially)! I thought the last Europe CD rocked and John's guitar work was awesome and it's the same here! Plus I totally love his voice! Well there's some truth to Andrew opinion that the songwriting department lacks a classic but I think the guitarsolo on chase down the moon is a good enough reason to get this album as fast as possible!! This Rocks....with a modern edge!

24/03/05: Marc Fevre -
Rating: 85
"Optimus" may not the pentultimate album from John Norum, but it's certainly not as weak as some of the reviews above would have you believe.

Yes, as with Norum's other recent albums, "Optimus" is a bit on the darker, crunchier side, but not to the sacrifice of melody, which Norum still has a definite ear for. Indeed, on some songs, the album has a breezy, laid back, almost bluesy feel that I don't recall having seen on any of Norum's previous works.

By and large, though, its the heavier material that grabs your attention the most. Rock solid riffing, tight soloing and fill work, all done with Norum's unparalelled sense of melody, tone and vibrato; this album offers Norum fans all that they could want in the guitar department. And Norum's vocals are, as always, tastefully delivered. No, he's no Glenn Hughes, but he's no Lemmy either!

All in all, if this album leaves anybody wanting anything, it's more. The album is a bit short by today's standards, clocking in as it does at @ 38 minutes, but as the album sessions were basically wrapped up in order for Norum to begin work on the Europe reunion album and tour, I suppose that explains it.

Bottom Line: "Optimus" is a worthy addition to Norum's solo catalog, and while for some it may not reach the peaks acheived by some of his earlier work, it doesn't drop below the level of quality that one would expect from a performer of Norum's calibre either.

Check it out!

23/03/05: Ellen -
Rating: 95
I like Optimus very much. I think that it's a great album. Tracks like Nailed To The Cross, One More Time, Change Will Come is really good!... This album is really worth buying. John Norum is a great guitarist.

20/03/05: Marc -
Rating: 75
Unfortunately, much like Europe with The Final Countdown, John will never top the Face The Truth album. While I like John's solo stuff very much, only about 2 or 3 songs really do anything for me, and they are the instrumentals. Certainly not his best, but an ok album nonetheless.

20/03/05: René -
Rating: 92
It was no surprise that Andrew kicked this wonderfull album as he kicked Europe´s great Start from the dark. Its the same story where people tends too hang on too great records recorded 20 years ago and link them together. I love face the truth and his debut as well but why can´t a full blown guitar hero Like John Norum stretch his stuff to other genre´s within genre. Why can´t he be motivated and struth his version of new moderne tougher sounding hard rock. Why shall we have all the harmonies and curly hair. Don´t get me wrong I would DIE for the return of the eighties but I realise that musicians grow and many die hard fans stick too the best release.
John has made a wonderfull record. Some of the material sounds like leftovers from SFTD. The first 5 songs are rated 100% on my paper. Song 7 must be the song that anyone could compare to his debut. It got a bit off that feel and again not. The Thin Lizzy soloing/rythm is present. Anyway John does not miss a single moment to fill your head with great metal including a MONSTER ballad (4 one more time) that I have rarely heard better. The riffs here are really tough someone like Mr wylde.
Let me end it here and beg you readers go out and by this gem. I am a die hard rock fan 40 years old still loving old and new rockers. My world broke when bands like metallica started too spoil it with noise and bad singing so trust me I am a die hard eighties fan. Lastly Andrew this is not personal AT all just my view. Your site is still this cyberuniverse all time best one and my dayly medicine. Keep on rocking out there.

John Norum best wishes from Denmark keep up the good work

19/03/05: Freddy De Keyzer -
Rating: 10
Too bad for words, I'm afraid ! Downtuned guitars, even worse than on the new Europe record !
Songs ? Not heard ?
Running time ? Way under the 40 minutes !
And we should have to buy this crapt ?
John has lost it all ! You better retire, mate !

19/03/05: Valerie Andrews -
Rating: 90
I really like Optimus. I am also a very die-hard John Norum fan and have been for almost 20 years. This one has a more Sabbath/Ozzy/Thin Lizzy influence I think and I really like it. A bit more melody in some songs and the others are just straight ahead rockers. There are a couple of songs that probably with repeated play, I will like more, but the majority of the songs I really, really like. Chase Down the Moon, Nailed to the Cross (a very headbanging song! I love this one), One More Time, Time To Run, Optimus, Solitude, and Change Will Come are my favorites. The song writing is just great and John's playing is as stellar as always. Thank you John and a job well done!

18/03/05: Lars Seeliger -
Rating: 85
I'm a kind of die hard John Norum-Fan and have to say, it's not his best recording, but I like it a lot more than Slipped into tomorrow and also a little more than World's away. But he will never top the Face the truth-Album again!

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