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Tuesday 17 October 2023

Reviews: Ronnie Atkins, Edge Of Forever, Nitrate, Kings Crown (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Ronnie Atkins – Trinity (Frontiers Music Srl)

The third album from Danish singer Ronnie Atkins (as if the title didn’t give it away), is harder edged than the previous two. Atkins puts this on the record being written on a guitar rather than a piano, the title track definitely moves towards metal rather than rock, though the huge orchestral parts are still on the forefront. It continues to be heavy on chuggy Ode To A Madman, or the thrashy Godless, where the influence of the guitar is at its height, sounding like a Symphony X track as it’s preceded by guitar instrumental Via Dolorosa.

The former Pretty Maids singer has gone away from the melodic rock he made his name with but not forgotten it all together as it’s the chorus or vocal hook that dictates the songs, just see Shine where all the European slickness comes out as If You Can Dream It goes back to simplistic 80’s glam rocking. Atkins is always on such good vocal form, but here he leans into his snarl a bit more when things get nasty, but on Sister Sinister and ballad Soul Divine he’s in the hard rock crooning we all know and love.

Producer/guitarist Chris Lahney and Marcus Sunesson’s guitars are superb across the 12 tracks be they metal or rock, the Zep-like Raining Fire is a particular favourite. While the rock solid grooves of Pontus Egberg (bass) and drummer Allan Sörensen never back down, adding another level of drama to the closing ballad What If as well as the power to tracks such as Paper TigerTrinity sounds like a record dying to be played live, another strong entry in Atkins solo cannon. 8/10

Edge Of Forever – Ritual (Frontiers Music Srl)

Alessandro Del Vecchio appears on I’d say 70-80% of the Frontiers Music albums, as singer, bassist keyboardist, writer or producer, is name crops up everywhere. So too does Aldo Lonobile of Secret Sphere/Sweet Oblivion), in fact Edge Of Forever is basically Frontiers version of Toto in that it’s four of their most used session members in a band together. 

Having been re-activated by Del Vecchio in 2019, they have released two albums, with Ritual being the latest. It’s a concept album about “the last two indigenous people speaking a language soon to be forgotten” and explores the life of twins searching for each other over many years to be reunited. Sorry for the spoiler but it’s the journey not the destination as Ritual is a 13 track musical accompaniment to this story, the orchestrations finer than they have been previously while the riffs are heavier too due to Lonobile I’d assume and his background in prog metal. 

Del Vecchio is a great singer and of course a supremely talented musician/producer so it stands to reason that with the advanced musicians around him that Ritual wasn’t going to be amateur hour. But Id’ say that I enjoyed Ritual much more than the last two records, things get really cinematic from tracks seven which is the start of the Ritual suite, including two short interludes that up the prog quota. Again Edge Of Forever manage to blend multiple styles together for a dynamic album built around a concept and virtuoso musicianship. 7/10 

Nitrate – Feel The Heat (Frontiers Music Srl)

Having been through a few changes in the line up of Nitrate over the years the constant has been bassist Nick Hogg who has lead this AOR mob through three previous albums. On Feel The Heat the lead guitar player and drummer have changed again since Renegade and they seemed to have settled on an AOR style that incorporates Journey and Def Leppard. Journey coming on the title track, which shares similarities to Ask The Lonely while Needs A Little Love and Satellite are very Def Leppard, due to the drums of Alex Cooper. 

Hogg calls this the “best album we have written and recorded” it’s a strong promotion of the album but everything is very positive about Feel The Heat, the ballads are romantic/tragic but never too saccharine, the rockers drive forward on Tom Martin’s riffs and his brother James’ keys (both of Vega), they also produce the album but bring the Survivor strut to Live Fast, Die Young, as Wild In The City coming from the heavy synth base of Asia, although with some screaming solo guitars from Richard Jacques. 

On One Kiss (To Save My Heart) they take bit of Stevie Nicks & Don Henley and Haven’t Got Time For Heartache has more than a touch of Europe. Bringing in all of these influences to make for a potpourri of AOR slickness, complete with some high quality co-writers and a firm line up, Feel The Heat is definitely the best Nitrate album so far. 8/10

Kings Crown – Closer To The Truth (Frontiers Music Srl)

Closer To The Truth is the debut album from Swedish rock band Kings Crown. As you can always pretty much anything from Sweden will be good Kings Crown come fully formed, no first album jitters here as Kings Crown (in a dramatic turn of events for Frontiers) is a band made up of veterans of the Swedish scene. 

Formed by former Gypsy Rose, Phenomena and Dogface guitarist Martin Kronlund, he had an idea to play some 70’s heavy rock influenced by Deep Purple, Rainbow, Montrose and early Whitesnake, the sort of thing that’s big and bombastic and features as much Hammond organ as it does guitar (guitars going wild on Down Below). 

Martin tapped up Lee Small from Phenomena to sing and his Glenn Hughes meets Sammy Hagar vocal is perfect for theses tracks, from the towering Servant to the bluesy Standing On My Own. Then he brought in Dogface organist Anders Skoog who basically gets to go full Jon Lord on tracks such as Stranger. Rounding things off with Pontus Engborg who drums for Glenn Hughes, so is an ideal percussionist for tracks such as Closer To The Truth but also ballads such as Stay The Night as Basberra Holmgren’s bass controls the groove of I Will Remember

It’s a classic five person hard rock line up playing songs that remind you of some of the best organ toting rock bands of the 70’s. What’s not to like? 8/10

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