JORN - Life On Death Road
July 21, 2017, a year ago
The hoarse throat Norwegian has enlisted most of Voodoo Circle/Primal Fear to help him out on the latest dozen hard rocking anthems. After sound effects intro, the title cut screams out of the speakers, amazing amount of time to showcase Alex Beyrodt's guitar, almost like it was one of his solo outings! Wise choice in spotlighting such a talent though. “Hammered To The Cross (The Business)” is a mid-tempo number. Hammond organ prominently opens “Love Is The Remedy”, the singer initially adopting a heavier, phlegm voice, before settling into his normal register. This is the type of song that conjures references to the late Ronnie James Dio, in terms of feel. Piano greets subdued “Dreamwalker”, while the Dio-esque “Fire To The Sun”, peppered with Hammond accompaniment, goes to absurd lengths to rhyme multiple lines each verse. “Insoluble Maze (Dreams In The Blindness)” opts for more sinister guitar tones, to start, sprinkled with keyboards. It quickly finds more familiar footing.
If there's one track on this album that encapsulates Jorn, here and throughout his career, try “I Walked Away”, again employing the Hammond accent. It's not blazing fast (like the disc opener, or “Slippery Slope (Hangman's Rope)”), but ticks all the quintessential Jorn boxes. “Devil You Can Drive” is a tasty slice of ‘70s Brit hard rock, bastard son to Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and countless others. “The Optimist” is an anti-war ballad. “Man Of The 80s” is an autobiographical look back at major political/cultural events of 30+ years ago. Surprisingly it's not a paean to metal's golden era, as the title might intimate. The album finishes much as it started, with an upbeat “Blackbirds”. Like any platter with 12 selections, would be better with a little paring down, but overall, the right mix of light & dark. A good place for the curious to investigate and nothing to dissuade the faithful. Recommended.