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As the fledgling raven tries his wings... - 70%

Kustin, June 24th, 2012

As if you have only just heard the name of this Norwegian rocker, Jorn Lande has made his vocal contributions in numerous bands such Avantasia, Ayreon, the Allen/Lande project, Masterplan etc. My best memories with him was when I heard him for the first time through the latter band, when I happened to explore the metal territory in my teenage days. Getting the impressions from that band, it helped make me a believer in metal music in due time...

Now, about Jorn Lande... This man is a Norwegian powerhouse of vocal talent. The people's comparisons of his voice with David Coverdale's timbre and Ronnie James Dio's power are quite common these days. His passion in music and his convincing vocal delivery but also his charisma has generally earned him respect from fans and musicians alike. So if you're the one who has only heard quite a bit from him in different metal circles, you're probably curious if his solo albums are something for you. That would depend...

... On what kind of heavy metal you like? Throughout his discography, Jorn and his solo band has covered various elements of metal and hard rock, while generally staying with a dark, raw but modern tone of the traditional metal sound. Worldchanger and Out To Every Nation goes in different metal directions at best and got some progressive moments while Lonely Are The Brave and the later albums puts more emphasis on the 70's/80's hard rock sound. The Duke served as a bridge as the band changed their sound to something they're more comfortable with. Not much has been said or praised about his debut album, Starfire, as his later follow-ups and it's not a big surprise, I suppose, as Jorn himself said to have seen this album more as a demo rather than as an LP release. Half of it consists of cover songs of his favorite bands while there are a couple of songs where he explores his influences, which makes the record the most diverse per definition.

The hard rock sound sums up the majority of this record, with my favorite track being the anthemic "Starfire" that opens the album and the well-performed Journey cover "Edge Of The Blade". I could say the same for the Deep Purple cover "Burn" and City Boy's "The Day The Earth Caught The Fire", which got quite a re-vamp on The Gathering compilation album as I think these justify better for cover songs.

Some tracks have got the AOR in their veins as well, which may gain mixed response depending on your taste. As for me, I'll pass the Foreigner cover "Break It Up" as an OK track.

But in contrast to that, this record holds some heavy metal tracks that would define his solo band's sound for the following records. "Gate of Tears" serves as the crowning moment of the album with its driving tempo and thought-provoking lyrics; while "Abyss Of Evil" is a pounding beast of a track, seemingly influenced by Dio/Black Sabbath.

There are a couple of oddball tracks in-between, with what you could call a sappy ballad entitled "Forever Yours" setting a lighter mood while "End Comes Easy" plays out with a middle-eastern folk setting and I definitely found it an interesting track. (did I hear somebody mention a Led Zeppelin reference?)

While I find a good deal of tracks enjoyable enough to get this CD, I would rather suggest the Jorn neophytes to rather check in his compilation albums "The Gathering" and "Unlocking The Past" for most of the improved re-recordings of the best songs here. Some exclusive tracks might be better off downloaded separately. But, as a whole, the production on this album is decent enough and the musicians played their roles well in the music! It shows that Jorn had the ambitions enough to set his own niche (or band) with satisfying results. And for the years to come, the raven has soared high with every release, so far.

Highlight tracks: Starfire, Gate Of Tears, The Day The Earth Caught Fire, Burn and End Comes Easy.