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Album Review: JORN / LIVE ON DEATH ROAD

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2018 was a significant year for JORN LANDE in so much as it was also a celebration of his 50th Birthday. To mark this anniversary there was a release of a 12album studio box set, and a few select live shows sprinkled through the year. One of these shows was a headlining slot in April at the wonderful FRONTIERS festival in Milan Italy which thankfully was recorded and filmed for this deluxe release to enable the likes of myself who could not attend witness the powerhouse vocals of JORN LANDE. 

16 songs spread over 2 CDs featuring a handful of more obscure tracks from the depths of his back catalogue with a top notch guitarist in tow “ TORE MOREN” and one of my favourite Bass players in “SID RINGSBY” and of course “BEATA POLAK” on drums, and the man who needs no introduction what so ever “ ALESSANDRO DEL VECCHIO” on keyboards all in all a formidable live outfit indeed. 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8QOk3xLSvg&w=560&h=315]

           With the soft keys introducing opening song “MY ROAD” the listener is treated with an unusual choice of track but one that is hugely successful in the fact that its just JORN accompanied by gentle back ground work from “ALESSANDO” and we have the most uplifting powerful solo vocal from the Nordic man mountain. So many artists attempt to hit the stage running with a fast tempo song but I much prefer the way its done here as it just adds to the dramatics. The first introduction to all the members playing as one is on second song “BRING HEAVY ROCK TO THE LAND” with its slow to mid paced tempo with both guitar and vocals taking centre stage on this riff heavy monster track. First up tempo song is the ruthless “LIFE ON DEATH ROAD” with BEATA POLAK hammering out a bonkers drum beat that does its best to drown out the howling vocal before it all breaks down into a melodic midsection before JORN announces “Rev Your Engine” and its the guitar that step up to the mark and its normal service resumed. Great stuff indeed. This production as a live release is very good with not too much polish enabling the listener to actually imagine they are there especially with the audience between song applause, again a very nice touch. “WORLD GONE MAD” gets JORN encouraging the crowd to sing along and with lyrics that reflect the world we live in today as well as a very catchy chorus its a safe song to perform on stage, then its headlong into “STORMCROW” from the “DUKE” album and its up a notch with heavy riffs and pounding drums and JORN sounding in certain places like DAVID COVERDALE this is throwback to classic 80s metal with no let up for its duration not many artists can produce this solid heavy music like this great outfit. Not to be taken as a negative because JORN is well known for his cover versions and never shirks his input into replicating them to a high standard, but the first 2 cover songs fall slightly short of the opening barrage of original material. First up is Christopher Cross “RIDE LIKE THE WIND” and then Ozzies “SHOT IN THE DARK” both good songs in their own right and performed here faithfully, but its something JORN can sing in his sleep and does see a slight loss of momentum, but saying that most bands releasing a live document would give a arm and a leg to have those tracks and that musicianship nestled in their new album.  

With more nicely textured keyboards and that voice growling and grumbling away its normal service resumed with the 9 minute “WALKING ON WATER” containing a groove with many twists and turns and simply worth the album price alone. With a guitar playing a GARY MOORE feel in the Gaelic / Irish tradition its a lovely reminder of the much missed Irishman. With the crowd being encouraged to join in and sing back to the band and then more beautiful guitar brings this wonderful song to an abrupt end. “TRAVELLER” kick starts with a barrage of drums and an unfolding story sang against a backdrop of more crunching guitars and that reliable Bass guitar. The middle section of the song is a face-off between guitar and keyboard both taking it in turns to exchange short solos in this grinding mid paced dramatic song. 

There is only one singer that can come close to RONNIE JAMES DIO and that is evident in both “THE MOB RULES” and a version of “RAINBOW IN THE DARK” which follow in quick succession. The power and range of the man from Norway is impressive and does both those songs the justice they fully deserve, with a tip of the hat to the musicians who perform as close to the originals as possible, Set Closer “LONELY ARE THE BRAVE” with its biting riff and lyrics repeating the words ROCK N ROLL best sums up the gig. Anyone thinking of attending a show or wanting to hear what all the fuss is about then look no further than this release. If you like your lyrics to be mystical with demons/ wizards/towers/ and in the realm of fantasy then this is for you. For fans of RAINBOW, DIO, SABBATH and all things classic then you wont hear better than this. Also released on DVD/BLU RAY for those that want a visual reminder of this class act. 

 Review by Steve Bruty for metalplanetmusic

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