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Neon Night > Neon Night > Reviews > hells_unicorn
Neon Night - Neon Night

The northern lights blaze red this night! - 92%

hells_unicorn, June 6th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1987, 12" vinyl, Angel Records

There were many places where one might find metal in that quasi-arena rock tinged, melodic, almost proto-power metal blend that had become all the rage during the latter half of the 1980s, but if there was an unlikely place where one might find it at its finest, Norway would be fairly close to the top of the list. For some reason neighboring Sweden always seemed to overshadow their Nordic brothers to their immediate west, as the list of bands putting out material in the 80s dwarfs the other to the ratio of about seven to one, and that is without taking the massive impact of Europe's and Yngwie's early output into account. But that is right where the obscure and one-shot deal known as Neon Night lands, right square in the middle of heavy metal's no man's land in the year 1987, like a lone voice crying out in the wilderness and resounding with the fury of a hundred avalanches.

This fold's brief run in the recording studio with what can be considered their seminal lineup resulted in a single eponymous outing, but boy if it doesn't rock out with the best of them. There is definitely a fair degree of similarity at work here with the more non-classically tinged material that came out of Yngwie's Trilogy offering, though when accounting for the vocals and the production quality, comparisons to the later released Odyssey wouldn't be out of line. The lead guitar work has more of a blues base and tends to draw greater comparisons to the likes of George Lynch and John Norum, but the riff work also has a tad bit of a Iron Maiden tinged sense of harmony to it that is perhaps a bit more reminiscent of the high period of Leatherwolf that ran from 1987 to 1989, in fact, this album does occasionally find itself predicting the brilliance that was on display in Street Ready.

Interestingly enough, even with the powerful displays out of the instrumentalists in this fold, it proves to be vocalist Leif Knashaug who ultimately steals the show here. It isn't surprising that out of everyone involved in this album that he went on to do other things in the metal world, including a brief stint with progressive metal outfit Spiral Architect, as he showcases a wide range with a particularly affinity for glass-shattering shrieks that have a very strong Rob Halford tinge to them, which makes for a curious contrast with his much smoother mid-range, which has a sort of crooning Joe Lynn Turner quality to it with a side order of S.L. Coe (aka the guy who lit it up on Scanner's Terminal Earth). He likewise proves highly skilled at blending his voice into multiple backtracks, providing a wall of choral voices comparable to what was heard on Dokken's Under Lock & Key on such songs as "Talk To Me", "Caught In A Dream" and "Queen Of My Heart".

While maybe a tad bit less gritty and dirty than what was typical to the heavy metal world in the earlier 80s, this is an all around amazing performance that manages to take the more polished and lofty sound of the later 80s and bring in a bit of that earlier gusto when called for, as such bruisers as "Into Battle" and the speed metal nod "Brainstorm" showcase. Even the more rock based "Hevvii Mettii" comes off a bit closer to the majesty of Accept's Russian Roulette than the constant power balladry that enveloped Saxon's output at this point and time. There isn't a dull moment to be found on this album, and the only thing that really plagues it is that the bass tends to get drowned out by the guitar and drums, which is kind of a shame because the bassist clearly isn't a slouch even when matched up against a wild shredder and a veritable banshee of a vocalist. For a magical heavy metal experience from that land where the sky turns funny colors at night, Neon Night definitely brings a rare level of red to the light show.