Allen - Lande - The Battle
Frontiers Records
Melodic Hard Rock
12 songs (60'39)
Release year: 2005
Frontiers Records
Reviewed by Marty
Album of the year
When I first heard about the pairing of two of the best metal vocalists that there is on the same album, the prospects for a quality album seemed very good. Add in the melodic metal genius of guitarist Magnus Karlsson (Last Tribe, Starbreaker) who wrote all the music and lyrics for this record and you have the recipe for a bona fide melodic hard rock masterpiece.

Russell Allen, known mostly for his work with Symphony X (one of the best progressive metal power metal bands in existence) has also made appearances on albums such as Daniel Liverani's Genius Rock Opera as well as the Ayreon and Star One projects from Arjen Lucassen. He even performed several years ago with the Star One project for a series of live appearances. Earlier this year, he released a much acclaimed solo project Russell Allen's Atomic Soul. Symphony X just completed a very successful run with the Gigantour (featuring Megadeth and Dream Theater) this summer and are currently wrapping up the work on a new album.

Jorn Lande, besides already having a successful career both as a solo artist and as lead vocalist of Ark, is currently the lead vocalist of Masterplan, a band started by ex-Helloween members Roland Grapow and Uli Kusch. Both Masterplan albums have been excellent albums and Aeronautics, their latest, will likely make many top album list for this year.

This project really is the brainchild of Magnus Karlsson who, besides writing all the songs, also plays all guitars, bass and keyboard parts. The drums were handled by Jaime Salzaar (Flower Kings). Both Jorn Lande and Russell Allen sing solo on three tracks with the other six featuring vocal duets from the two. The production duties were handled by Anders Theander and if you think that the style of the album cover looks familiar, it's because is was done by Rodney Matthews who designed the covers for such classics as Diamond Head's Borrowed Time and Magnum's On A Storyteller's Night.

On the first listen to this CD, I knew that it was going to be something very special. Nothing really stood out right away but every track was a solid piece of 80's style melodic hard rock with rich vocals, huge choruses and very energetic guitar riffs that Magnus Karlsson doubles up for most tracks give the album much more of a guitar presence than many other albums in the melodic hard rock genre. After repeated listens, it became quite clear that this was an album that had absolutely no filler and one that just seemed to keep getting better as track after track of excellent quality melodic hard rock spills out of your speakers. The drama and emotion that made such bands as Dokken, Scorpions and Journey such heavy weights in the 80's is all here in it's glory. Songs about emotions, relationships and the questions we all have about fate and life itself make up the subject matter for most of the tracks and it can't help but lift your spirits up. Both Russell and Jorn have voices that share similarities but the differences are taken advantage of and each seems to fit perfectly with the particular song they were chosen to sing. When both are singing together, the classic Steve Perry era of the 80's Journey is revisited with perfect soaring vocal melodies.

There's a wide variety of styles and tempos with the songs from the neoclassical edge to Another Battle to the more heavier riff oriented tracks like Hunter's Night, Universe Of Light, the very spirited Come Alive and Silent Rage with it's classic Def Leppard feel. Emotional power ballads such as Wish For A Miracle, Ask You Anyway and The Forgotten Ones really highlight the vocal talents of both Russell and Jorn with Reach A Little Longer (sung by Russell) being a classic AOR ballad with a haunting arrangement, wonderful melody and a big chorus. Other tracks like Truth Of Our Time, My Own Way and Where Have The Angels Gone are more mid tempo tracks but with just as much melody and outstanding guitar work as the rest of the album. Magnus Karlsson "colors" every single track on this album with solid riffs and shredding leads for the rockers and very emotional leads and arpeggios for the quieter ballad like tracks.

I love Magnus Karlsson's songs and his guitar playing and I'm a big fan of both Last Tribe (especially Witches Dance) and Starbreaker but I think this album outdoes anything he has done so far. The combination of his songs and the voices of Russell Allen and Jorn Lande is a match made in heaven and the result is one of the best melodic hard rock albums I've heard in a very long time. This year has been a pretty good one with solid efforts by Starbreaker, Joe Lynn Turner (Usual Suspects) and Brazen Abbot's My Resurrection as far as melodic hard rock but The Battle blows all of them away. It's been a very long time since I've encountered an album that is so solid in every aspect and detail that it's really hard to pick favorite tracks. All of them are great and it just comes down to personal taste. Fans of Masterplan and Symphony X should take note that this is not a power metal album but if you love both vocalists and like very high quality melodic hard rock as well, this album is a masterpiece and should be part of your collection. This one gets an Album of the Year designation from me as there's nothing new in the melodic hard rock genre that can touch this. The Battle has just been added to my list of the best of 2005.

Killing Songs :
Another Battle, Hunter's Night, Wish For A Miracle, Come Alive, Silent Rage, Where Have All The Angels Gone and Universe Of Light
Marty quoted 95 / 100
Cody quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Allen - Lande that we have reviewed:
Allen - Lande - The Great Divide reviewed by Joel and quoted 89 / 100
Allen - Lande - The Showdown reviewed by Erik and quoted 96 / 100
Allen - Lande - The Revenge reviewed by Marty and quoted 86 / 100
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