Review by Andy Hawes for MPM
Treat have been at the forefront of the Scandi AOR/Melodic Rock scene for a long time now. Their ability to move with the times while retaining the essence of their signature sound from the golden era of 80s AOR has seen them continue to produce extremely high quality albums and the new album, The Endgame continues their impressive legacy and then some.
Just one listen to the monumental (and interestingly named) opening track ‘Freudian Slip’ will be enough to convince you that you’re in for something special with this album. This track has the perfect combination of guitar power and keyboard saccharine-sweetness with an absolutely enormous chorus hook. The song hits you in the face from the first note to the last; a melodic tour-de-force that doesn’t let up even for a moment.
This is continued into ‘Rabbit Hole’ – Treat really aren’t plying the usual AOR/Melodic Rock lyric/song title furrow here are they? This has yet another colossal chorus hook, with layers of backing vocals and chugging riffery driving the hooks relentlessly into your brain. A clever mid-section and a solo section that could have come from any of Rainbow’s Dio era albums elevates this song way above the ordinary and also above the cliches that sometimes find their way onto modern Scandi AOR albums.
Treat continue to play the ‘let’s name our songs with off-the-wall titles’ game on the third track, ‘Sinbiosis’. This has a chunky down-tuned guitar riff but is yet another melodic monster. How anyone can make a chorus hook like that out of the word ‘Sinbiosis’ I just don’t know, but these guys have done it! More infectious than Bubonic Plague, it’s just absolutely immense and, with three out of three absolute belters, Treat have set their stall out for this album with very considerable aplomb!
The cheesy keyboard melody intro that every AOR album needs somewhere is dragged kicking and screaming into The Endgame in the fourth track ‘Home of the Brave’ but my goodness when that melody is kicked out by massed layered vocals in the chorus, it’s enough to make grown men weep tears of pure, unadulterated joy! More AOR than the previous three tracks, with perhaps more emphasis on the keyboards, this song really takes you back to the glory days of Treat’s 80s product. It’s a glorious throwback to days of yore but in no way sounds dated and is absolutely brilliant from start to finish.
‘Both Ends Burning’ kicks off with an atmospheric acoustic guitar and keyboard intro before another of those planet-levelling down-tuned modern Melodic Rock riffs kicks in. With an up-tempo, driving groove, this song pummels its way into your brain like a jackhammer, with more massed layered vocals emphasising the chorus hook.
Things slow down a little for “My Parade’. Bottleneck guitars appear in this one for the first and only time on this album, but don’t get the feeling that this is any cliched blues-influenced track. Oh no, this is a mid-paced AOR anthem of massive proportions.
It honestly makes you wonder where Treat find these chorus hooks; the album is chock-full of them and this one is up there with the best. They seem to have the knack of staying just the right side of ‘cheesy’ with the major key melodies – this is no mean feat in itself and it is this uncanny ability, plus a stunning production and mix that lifts this album into the realms of ‘modern day classic’.
‘Wake Me When It’s Over’ is another one that has its roots firmly wedged in the 80s but once again the band resolutely refuse to sound dated when they do this. Unsurprisingly, the chorus is massive and you really do get the feeling that you’re listening to a band who have found the top of their game and are simply staying there and almost daring the opposition to take them on. They follow this up with the intriguingly titled ‘Jesus From Hollywood’ which once again straddles the decades with a classic yet modern sound and yet another enormous chorus.
‘Magic’ is another mid-paced semi-ballad. It’s as AOR as they come with some quite fabulous keyboard playing both driving the song and adding layers of interest to the sound. An acoustic guitar solo also pops up unexpectedly proving that the band aren’t afraid to throw something a little different into the mix. It’s an absolutely beautiful song.
‘Carolina Reaper’ is next and comes out of the starting blocks like classic Talisman with a mega guitar riff and one colossal vocal hook after another battering you into ecstatic submission. This is one of those tracks where you just can’t help but scream along with the chorus, fist in the air and a massive grin all over your face. It really is that good!
There’s really nowhere else to go after a track like that, but Treat still have two more songs to give us and they really are not going to allow the quality to dip very far. ‘Dark To Light’ has a slower, more modern groove with a down-tuned guitar to match. This one has a slightly menacing feel to the huge chorus and is more representative of the band’s other more recent albums.
‘To The End Of Love’ ends the album on another mid-paced note but just to prove to us that they haven’t lost the knack, Treat pull out yet another apocalyptically huge chorus. Like many of these tracks, this one effortlessly straddles the sounds and styles from the 80s and their more recent output. It’s a fabulous way to end a stunning album.
Wow!! What an album!!
I listen to a lot of AOR/Melodic Rock. A lot of it is pretty good, but this is something else entirely. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is the best album of its ilk that I have heard in a long while.
While so many bands plying a similar trade do tend to rely on the tried and tested cliches (which is not necessarily a bad thing, of course), Treat just seem to take it up several notches and make the whole thing their own (also listen to their album Coup De Grace from 2010 for further evidence of just how awesome they can be).
The way that they combine the styles and sounds from the 80s with their more modern influences is quite astonishing.
They just don’t sound dated at all. Add to that their uncanny ability with a chorus hook and you can see why this album is just so good! Special mention must be made of lead vocalist Robert Ernlund whose spine-tingling vocals are as good if not better than they’ve ever been and producer Peter Mansson, who has given the album exactly the right balance between power and polish and made it sound a million dollars.
If you’re into this kind of music and haven’t yet picked this up you must do so immediately and without any further delay.
It’s without question my favourite AOR/Melodic Rock album of 2022 and by quite some considerable margin! Buy, beg, borrow or steal (err…ok…don’t steal…but you get my drift!) because you just have to hear this!