A while ago I did a review for the new ENFORCER album that saw the band trying out some AOR / Hard Rock directions, sometimes with great results, sometimes not. Now we’re dealing with a side project by ENFORCER drummer Jonas Wikstrand, which is totally focused on those styles; and actually a lot more AOR than hard rock.
The thing I like about this album or THE NIGHTFLIGHT ORCHESTRA stuff, which is quite similar, is that you can feel how much heart and soul has been put into them. Wikstrand, who performs almost everything on this album, is 100% into the stuff he plays, he reaches out to the roots of AOR back in the 70’s, throws in a good amount of disco catchiness and does a wonderful recreation of a long gone music era. His vocals are really good, melodic and a little gritty, with a pop sensibility and a rock edge whenever needed. All songs have a multitude of melodies and instrumental parts that make them very interesting.
The album is really enjoyable with many highlights. “Call Out my Name” is an absolute disco-AOR killer that will remind you of 80’s soundtracks. “Rosebud” is a very playful song with lots of piano parts, a little bit of funk and disco, a great chorus and an interesting melancholic twist, a really good composition. “Runaway Through time” shares the same disco flavor in the chorus but it has an epic feel in the verses with metallic galloping guitar riffs in the background, a great track too. “Hell to pay” is a rather simple AOR track but its beautiful melody really grew on me. It also has a killer keyboard solo. “Mayday” is the track that rocks more on the album, it has URIAH HEEP written all over, imagine “Easy Livin” meets “Sympathy”. “Blame me for Trying” is also rooted in 70’s rock with an addictive rock ‘n’ roll rhythm. Variety is definitely one of the album’s virtues.
You may disagree with me on this, but I love the whole retro thing that’s been going on for at least ten years. We’ve seen retro heavy metal, retro hard rock, so it was time for retro AOR too. FOREVER is a great addition to any AOR collection and hopefully we’ll hear more of Jonas Wikstrand’s project in the future.
Wouldn’t it be great if more bands opted for this retro sound instead of the blunt melodic rock thing that has dominated the AOR scene?