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Music Reviews: Vard, Jane Bogeart, FM, Edenbridge, Glyder, and Svartsot

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Another week, and the pile of review material does not abate. We have a good variety this week and I hope you will find something that suits your fancy.

CD Reviews

Varg: Blutaar

Here we have Germanic pagan metallers who seem to be more of the death metal variety than the power metal kind. There is not as much fun on this release as say, something from Tyr or its ilk. As its sung in German you have an idea if its pagan or satanic anyway. What it seems to lack are the catchy choruses and sing-a-long even if you don’t know what the hell they are saying vibe to this release.

There is something a bit less than impressive about this release. There is nothing really interesting about any of the tracks. It just seems to be a bit bog standard death metal plod of a Central European variety. There is nothing here to really distinguish this release to much of what else is out there. I can’t seem to think of one track that actually left an impression on me.

Then again, considering some of the quality releases in the genre, it's probably quite hard to hit the mark. This sort of metal should get you all feisty and fired up about it. This just doesn’t do that one bit. In fact, by the end of the release, you find yourself feeling rather bored as the tracks are a bit samey. Lots of potential, but not fulfilled on this release.

Jane Bogeart: Fifth Dimension

She's been playing piano since she was 10 and she is a former Miss Switzerland, but does she have the chops to sustain an album? Well, she represented her country at Eurovision and was a lecturer in music at a Swiss university. With a great voice and a whole bunch of classy friends along for the ride, it would be a shame if it were all wasted. And thankfully, for a change on this sort of release, it isn’t. This a better than decent hard rock album that has some pop sensibilities.

Along for the ride are the ubiquitous talent that is Jeff Scott Soto, a guy who seems to want to sing with anybody anytime. She also has Joe Lynn Turner, another journeyman vocal talent to sing with her. And to help with keeping this all going smoothly an Elton John band guy, Charlie Morgan, a member of Rod Stewart’s band Matt Beck, and finally, to give it that extra blues boogie kudos, a bloke from Status Quo in the form of John “Rhino” Edwards.

Had this been released in the 80s, she might have had a hit album on her hands. Nonetheless, fans of mainstream rock will enjoy this outing. Nothing horrid, very low on cheese, and all quite a pleasurable experience.

Glyder: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Could the album title be a bit of homage to the perennial hard rock blues band from San Francisco Y&T (formerly known as Yesterday & Today)? The music therein certainly hints at an influence of Dave Meniketti’s band of rockers. There is lots of soul and blues hooks on these tracks. This is classic rock for the new generation, and this album just adds to the class of their previous releases. Oh yes, the reason it sounds like Meniketti is because it is he playing the blistering solo on the title track.

Its obvious their touring with every classic rock band of note, including Y&T, has had its effect. They even managed to open for Metallica in Dublin. All the touring has obviously help the band raise its game. On the basis of this album, they could probably see themselves as the successors to the late, sorely missed Thunder. The band is tight and just there. The music is catchy and rocking from start to finish. Just goes to show that ain’t just The Answer flying the flag for young hard rock across the pond.

If you have never heard of Glyder, then this might be the right time to check them out. This is their strongest release to date. It might be your last chance to get into them before they hit it big. They are a great band that fits rather nicely into the pantheon of heavy rock. Glyder should be part of the music collection of anyone who calls themselves a hard rocker.

FM: Metropolis

FM is back, with their catchy choruses, lighter in the air ballads (where legal), and gorgeous brand of hard rock. It's about bloody time too, as they were sorely missed since their 1996 break-up. It took them 11 years to return to play live, and the reaction to that gig pushed them to become a band again.

No doubt weary of some of the steaming piles of dung that many release as “come-back” albums in order to tour, they took three years making this. It shows in its quality and appreciation for what made FM a great band in the first place. Steve Overland’s voice seems to have not been worried by age. His dulcet tones and range continue to propel FM’s music to epic heights. The man has lost not one bit of soul in his voice.

They even manage to retain this quality over thirteen tracks. That said, the quality on this release is not necessarily as immediate as some of their previous releases. It does take a few listens to rise from “a decent comeback” to great. However, repeated listens are rewarding enough to make it worth the wait. If your life needs a bit of grand AOR to give it a lift then this is a CD to recommend.

Edenbridge: Solitaire

Yep, this lot of Austrian symphonic metalheads are definitely back with a vengeance. No resting on laurels or gliding along for this lot. This is female-lead symphonic metal that is more power metal and less like Within Temptation. This is serious heavy rock with none of the pretensions of some of the more “gothic” types in the genre.

While there is a power ballad, with emphasis on the word power rather than ballad, in the form of “Skyline’s End,” this album is far more metal tinged. The songs are epic in scope and scream sound-track to a fantasy computer game. Heavy uses of keyboards and strings help to give the songs a vast scope. There is really nothing on here that comes over as twee or a bit too much. They have avoided the common pratfalls of this sort of music.

Its seems that Edenbridge have lost none of their talent or drive, considering only two original members remain. If you like you symphonic power metal with a touch of the feminine then you might enjoy this release. This release shows that female-sung symphonic metal has lost none of its lustre.

Svartsot: Mulmets Viser

Danish Viking/pagan folk metal you say? Say no more; I am all over it. I have no idea what they hell they saying, but I know I like it a lot. The tin whistle and other trad instruments make you want to dance. This is one of those albums that makes you want to find a pint of something heavy and dark, to drink and fill repeatedly: Hairy, fur, and leather covered folk metal then.

Despite possible misgivings about the quality of the release due to the significant turmoil in the band involving not only “musical differences” but illness, this is a pretty strong release. There are all the qualities you want in your folk metal. Heavy metal combined with traditional instruments in abundance. The music is tight and heavy, but melodic enough to cause a sing-along. Chanty choruses don’t hurt the effect.

It's not just butter and bacon or modernist furniture that comes out of Denmark. Some very fine metal with added twist of Danish heritage exists for your listening pleasure.

And with a track called “Lindisfarne,” how can you go wrong? This is music to listen to the night before you launch your longboat to go raiding. These guys certainly have the spirit of Holger Danske flowing through their Danish veins.

So that is your lot for this week. Stay safe and rocking, however you chose to do it.

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