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Solid Dio worship right here. - 80%

hells_unicorn, December 28th, 2010

For about as long as Jorn Lande had been known for fronting the pioneers of current AOR infused power metal Masterplan, he has also been cranking out solo albums paying tribute to Coverdale and Dio, with music that largely tends to resemble the latter. Many got on his case for putting out a rather auspicious album of covers immediately after Ronnie’s unfortunate passing, but given the heavy tendencies towards emulating the now fallen elf wizard in his own compositional efforts; one might argue that such an album would have come to pass whether or not RJD had failed to slay the dragon. It’s tough to say whether this project or Masterplan is the better overall, but those who want a sound that is actually less geared towards mass consumption; this would be the one to explore.

There are 3 principle albums that were doubtlessly influential on this rather impressive mixture of 80s metal clichés and modern production tweaks, those being “Mob Rules”, “Holy Diver” and “Dehumanizer”. The famed Dio debut is the most direct influence, as the specter of Vivian Campbell is all over the riff work and wild lead guitar sound, although here it is translated into a two guitar arrangement, which actually expands on the harmonic possibilities without the need of a full time keyboardist. The other two albums featured during Ronnie’s two stints with Sabbath largely influence the atmosphere of the album, expressed in a dueling traditional metal vs. doom metal presence, which creates an interesting sense of tension which Jorn plays to with a concentration on the bleaker side of lyrical endeavors, with somewhat of a less poetic approach than that of RJD.

The album largely coasts in slow to mid-tempo land, accentuating the darker aspects of the 80s sound that are being called upon, and actually coming off somewhat similarly to Dio’s work in the early 2000s, intermingled with a few older elements here and there. Even somewhat retro sounding riff monsters like “Night City” and “Man Of The Dark”, which are more catchy than menacing, still have this depressing air to them that is darker than what “Straight Through The Heart” or “Breathless” would sound like, even with the added power of modern recording technology. But the real goods on here are found in “Soul Of The Wind” and “Hellfire” where the influences of “Dehumanizer” become the most pronounced and Jorn takes the listener through a tortured journey through woeful melodies and slow trudging, bluesy riffs that walk somewhere between vintage Sabbath and recent Candlemass.

If nothing else, Jorn has proven himself as quite a versatile contender in a rather wide field of musicians seeking to keep metal rooted in where it originally came from. Between his exploits with ex-Helloween axe man Roland Grapow, his collaborations with Symphony X front man Allen Russell, or this impressive slab of old school heavy metal, there is a lot of ground being covered that most musicians young and old tend to shy away from undertaking all at once. “Lonely Are The Brave” is a polished album that might be a little heavy on the pomp for those who are used to an older, arcane approach that typifies Dio’s dated though times achievements, but it should be looked into by anyone who wants to hear some good metal with commonalities to the now fallen poet who caught the rainbow for the better part of 40 years, not counting his earlier stints in 50s and early 60s rock n’ roll bands.