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Album Review : Rian: Wings

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Review by Andy Hawes for MPM

Rian is a new band to me although Wings is apparently their third album, released on Frontiers Music s.r.l. Musically, they inhabit the Melodic Hard Rock world, although keyboard player extraordinaire Eric Ragno joins them for this album to add a rather lovely AOR sheen to their tunes.

From the outset, it’s clear that this is going to be a guitar-fuelled album, as the guitars sit front and central and loud and proud on opener ‘Carry My Wings’ which is the perfect opener to this kind of album: Guitars and keys combine effortlessly to drive the powerful melodies, huge powerchord riffs, rippling lead lines and delicate clean arpeggios are the order of the day here and the chorus has one helluva hookline! Yet another Swedish band who are obviously mining the motherlode of kick-ass choruses! Great start, Rian. What else do you have for us?

‘We Ride’ offers more of the same, huge layers of guitar ably supported by Ragno’s unobtrusive keys and more of those powerful melodies, although the chorus hook is slightly more subtle. Guitarist Tobias Jakobsson certainly knows his way around the fretboard and isn’t afraid to shred things up a little, adding to the overall power of the song.

A tolling church bell and atmospheric guitars herald ‘Don’t Wait For the Fire’ which reminds me of classic 1980s Dokken when the power chords kick in and the chanted backing vocals in the chorus only serve to add to the comparison. This is no mere clone-job though, as Rian’s identity shines through thanks once again to Ragno’s delicate keyboard contributions.

‘Dance The Night Away’ has another delightfully atmospheric intro combining delicious keys and guitars, with loads of space for Richard Andermyr’s vocals to shine. This is a stonkingly good AOR tune with more of those gloriously chunky driving guitars, superb keyboards and one helluva catchy chorus hookline. Lovely stuff indeed!

‘War Is Over’ is next and kicks in big time with thunderous bass and monster riffs and another cool chorus. Rian do seem to have the knack of combining the harder-edged guitars with the big melodies and while the hookline here isn’t quite as enormous as previous tracks, it’s still catchy enough.

‘Look At The Stars’ piles on the cheesy major key melodies from the very first notes of the intro. It’s pretty generic Scandi AOR but somehow they get away with it – probably because there’s more variation across the other tracks. It’s a ridiculously catchy piece of AOR, but we’ve heard it a gazillion times before with a gazillion other Scandi bands. It’s all very good fun though and did put a smile on my face, so don’t hold it against them!

Rian break out the acoustic guitar for ‘One In A Million’ which starts off with yet more hugely catchy and familiar melodies on a rather nice little ballad which somehow avoids the typical Scandi-AOR trap of being too saccharine-sweet and works nicely coming in at exactly the right point in the track listing.

‘On The Wind’ takes us back into Dokken-esque territory on a chunky piece of Melodic Hard Rock which manages to throw in another ridiculously catchy Euro-Rock chorus and a Europe-esque guitar solo  before the virtuoso riffery of the intro to ‘When You’re Gone’ which sounds like it’s going to be in Extreme territory before the verses somewhat surprisingly takes us into AOR-land, although the chorus on this one isn’t really big enough to carry it beyond the ordinary. Cool guitar work though – stylistically very John Norum (Europe) I its style.

Rian are on the home straight now with ‘The Silence of Our Dreams’, which is a mid-paced piano-led ballad. It’s nice enough, but isn’t anything particularly special, being a rather generic Scandi-AOR ballad.

The album ends with ‘Eternity’ which takes us back to the slightly harder-edged style of the opening tracks, albeit tempered with more gorgeous keyboards to soften the overall feel a little. It’s a delightful slice of summery AOR and is a lovely way to end the album.

Overall, this is a nice little album. The stars of the show here are guitarist Tobias Jakobsson and guest keyboardist Eric Ragno. When they combine most effectively, the results are delightful.

I also love the slightly Dokken-esque moments, as they are a little different from most of the Scandi music out there currently. AOR fans, especially fans of the Scandi scene will doubtless enjoy this a lot. It doesn’t really stand out head and shoulders above the crowd, and it has a few rather generic moments but it’s a lot of fun regardless. Check it out!

Here’s the track listing for WINGS:
1.  Carry My Wings
2.  We Ride
3.  Don’t Wait For The Fire
4.  Dance The Night Away
5.  War Is Over
6.  Look At The Stars
7.  One In A Million
8.  On The Wind
9.  When You’re Gone
10. The Silence Of Our Dreams
11. Eternity

Richard Andermyr: Vocals & Guitars
Jan Johansson: Drums
Jonas Melin: Bass
Tobias Jakobsson: Lead Guitar
All keyboards by Eric Ragno

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