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The comeback rarely tops the instigating blow. - 74%

hells_unicorn, September 8th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2007, CD, Frontiers Records

Super groups, particularly ones that originate at the behest of a label executive, tend not to be terribly prolific or long-lived. The clashing of egos is the bane of longevity for any project, and bands inside and even more so outside the metal genre that follow this model have those in excess. The Frontiers Records birthed super group Allen - Lande sort of stands alone in that it bucked this trend and has hung in the game for over a decade now and has produced four well realized studio efforts that bridge the gap between arena oriented rock and heavy metal, in no small part due to each member being highly compartmentalized. The talent, aka the singers of this band's namesake, are focused solely on bringing the words to life, whereas the creative process centers solely around Magnus Karlsson, making for a consistent format with limited friction between personalities.

Be this as it may, one of the effects of this format is that this project is largely a slave to Karlsson's highly formulaic songwriting, which was still in a fairly developmental stage in 2007 when The Revenge, the second offering of this project, was put together. In much the same fashion as his concurrent project The Codex, this an album that is largely marked by a heavy emphasis on melody and hooks, accompanied by a generally by-the-numbers musical backdrop that is somewhat comparable to the first Eden's Curse album, though the guitar work here only really breaks out during the lead/solo passages and doesn't really lend itself to anyone craving some riffs to go with their shred. By the admission of this project's creator and mastermind Serafino Perugino, this is a vocal-centered endeavor, and while Jorn makes several worthy showings that mirror his masterful contributions to Masterplan and his own solo band, Russell Allen ends up stealing the show here.

The most common criticism thrown this project's way, apart from the charge of being an artificial construct of a label's imagination, is that it tends to play things a bit too safe, and this album tends to exude this more so that its predecessor and successors. There aren't really any peaks or valleys with this band's formula to begin with, let alone any break out of their mid-tempo, upper mid-tempo and lower mid-tempo trifecta approach to pacing, but here the true standout moments are a bit fewer. The Allen dominated, heavy ended groove machine "Obsessed" is the most memorable and power metal leaning offering to speak of, and along with the faster and more riff happy rocker "Will You Follow" represent the strongest offerings found here. This isn't to say that Jorn is left with all the inferior AOR and ballad-based filler, as the Stratovarius inspired up beat number "Her Spell" proves a formidable highlight among the bunch, but sappy semi-ballads like "Master Of Sorrow" and "Under The Waves", while short of being lousy, come off as a little too contrived for their own good and see the famed Nordic answer to David Coverdale sounding less than exceptional.

Bands cut from this grain are obviously not for everyone, and even among power metal circles it is viewed with a high degree of skepticism given the massive distance that it puts between itself and the speed metal roots of Helloween. Having said that, this is probably the one album that could be skipped by all except the more committed fans of the vocal and songwriting talents under consideration. It is a consistent and worthy representation of this project, but it doesn't quite match the freshness of the debut, nor the intricacies of the latest offering with Timo Tolkki handling the guitars and songwriting. It is a foregone conclusion that Karlsson's songwriting was impacted by his now ongoing collaboration with Primal Fear, and this represents the last studio offering of his that came into being prior to said partnership. It is best treated as a middle of the road episode in an ongoing series, which is the best way to approach Magnus' massive and still growing body of work.

Less than the sum of its parts - 40%

chaxster, November 21st, 2007

Write a bunch of power metal anthems, get two gravelly voiced singers to come belt it out over them, and you're guaranteed a hit album, right? That's evidently what Magnus Karlsson thought when he came out with The Battle, and just to show you how committed he was, he managed to rope in Russell Allen from Symphony X and Jørn Lande from...well, a lot of shit. Following the lukewarm reception it received, Karlsson took the logical course of action - release the same thing again with a different name, and call it a sequel.

So in The Revenge, Allen and Lande reprise their roles as hammy prima donnas battling for the mike. Presumably the revenge mentioned is meant for all the detractors of the previous album. Musically, it sounds like Lionel Richie and Donna Summer grew balls and have moved on since Endless Love. Lyrically, it sounds like two Magic: The Gathering players talking trash to each other. It's difficult to tell whether either of them take any of this seriously or are just playing along to humour Karlsson, but judging by the nature of their own work, I'd lean towards the former.

It's not bad music, actually. It's just so rigidly entrenched in the bombastic power ballad format all throughout that halfway through the album, even the most staunch fan is going to be getting restless. Karlsson does his part, shredding like a bitch here and there, but as for song arrangements, he's no Arjen Lucassen. Result being the considerable talents of his singers aren't tapped all that much. You can't really tell who's singing most times, and they generally put in sub-par performances. Of course, with these guys, even that sounds pretty decent, but you can't help wishing for more. A stark contrast with something like Lucassen's Ayreon, where all the guest singers give distinctive and convinced deliveries.

The best way to hear this is to listen to one random track at a time. That way, you may actually end up liking this over a reasonable period of time. Then again, that's not much of a recommendation. My favourite part was during the title track and after an Allen delivery, we have what sounds like an aside from Jørn, waiting in the wings - "My revenge! Oho! My turn to ROCK! Grawr...etc." Haha, yeah that about sums it up.

Jorn saves the album - 78%

CrystalNight, May 15th, 2007

The first Allen/Lande album is one of the five best albums I've heard. It had everything. Catchy choruses, talented vocalists, cool guitars, you name it. But their sophomore album can't really keep up with it's proceeder.

First of all, Jorn Lande and Russel Allen are both great singers. So an album with both of them really can't fail. At least not for a fan for their genre. But unlike the debut "The Battle" there's something missing on "The Revenge".
The songs are well produced and more often than not do the guitars, drums and keys work in perfect harmony. But this album has no really hit song, and there's actually some quite boring songs here.

Second track "Obsessed" featuring only Allen on vocals is a huge bore. The verse is absolutelly tasteless and the chorus is mediocre. And "Gone To Far" isn't that fun either. Actually, Allen's solo songs are much worse than Jorn's. And not only by vocal performance.

But there are some realyl bright spots on the album as well. Opener "The Revenge" is a song in the same vein as "Another Battle" on the last album. "Under The Waves" and "Her Spell" are both really catchy and beautiful.

All in all, this isn't the album I wished for, but it's still solid melodic metal. Jorn deas a great job on the vocals, Allen is OK. It's an album to at least download a few songs from and see if you like it if you enjoyed Masterplan, Jorns solo work or the last Allen/Lande album.