Artist:  Allen - Lande
   Title: The Showdown
   Label: Frontiers Records

In 2005 we saw the first collaboration between Russell Allen and Jorn Lande with the now infamous 'The Battle', an album that took the rock word by storm as both vocalists set out their stalls with some of the finest Melodic Metal of that year.

This was followed in 2007 by the equally impressive second album ‘The Revenge’, a heavier opus and with Dennis Ward taking up production duties, the album was a tight as a fishes you know what! Once again the album got critical acclaim, now in 2010 the Allen/Lande collaboration continues with what I see as their finest album so far, the quite superb ‘Showdown’.

Again we see Magnus Karlsson on writing duties and Rodney Mathews again providing the cover artwork, but this time we see Achim Kohler in charge of mixing the album, the result is just magnificent as he brings out the best in both vocal talents, although the music behind these two frontmen is just excellent.

If you are fan of the previous two releases then you are going to be blown away with this new opus.  Perhaps a little heavier in places than the previous two album, but the quality of musicianship from Karlsson himself who provides all guitar, bass and keyboards and Jamie Salazar on drums is just outstanding, and of course the two vocal might’s of Lande and Allen are just the icing on what is a very power and dynamic Melodic Metal cake.

Things get underway with the title track ‘The Showdown’.  As opening tracks go this has to be one of the best ways to start off any album, as Lande strikes first blood on the vocal front with Allen joining in on the chorus.  Karlsson puts together some superb opening riffs as well a mighty bass line, keeping it real is Salazar who delivers more punch than Mike Tyson on the skins.

After that opener I just couldn't wait to hear the rest of the album because if this is just a sample of the quality on display, I was prepared to be blown away.

I wasn’t to be disappointed as ‘Judgement Day’ fires out of the speakers I’m left speechless by the quality of this release.  The word epic just doesn’t do this album justice. The soaring guitars from Karlsson are just fantastic and get this track off to a tremendous start and when the vocals come in things only get better.

That epic feel to proceedings continues with the almost film score metal of ‘Never Again’.  Again the quality musicianship from Karlsson really blows my away.  Huge guitars and monster bass lines all interwoven with a subtle orchestral keyboards, all built around that stellar drum beat of Salazar.

The heavier side of the whole Allen/Lande project is brought out on the excellent ‘Turn All Into Gold’ as Karlsson lays down some of his heaviest licks so far.

The tempo is brought down again with ‘Bloodlines’ but not to balladesque state, that is left to the sublime ‘Copernicus’, a real classy track that just sweeps you away on a carpet of melody and grace as only Lande can.

Thing get a little rockier with the superb ‘We Will Rise Again’ and the exceptional riff spewn splendour that is ‘The Guardian’.

It's hard to pick out individual favourites from this album because each track has its own special moments but if I had to pick just one track that has left its mark on me more than most, then it would have to be ‘Maya’.  This song for me depicts what this album is all about.  Great melodies a fantastic vocal and great guitars and keys all on a foundation of a solid rhythm section.  This for me is Melodic Metal as it should be.  

That film score epic feel is back with the wonderful ‘The Artist’, a thunderous back-beat keeps this one firmly based in the heavier side of things, again featuring some stirring riffs from Karlsson adding that extra edge to things.

The album closes with two real gems first up ‘Eternity’ the closest thing to a Metal Power Ballad you’ll get, and secondly the bonus track ‘Alias’, an old school rocker that caps off what is another wonderful Allen / Lande / Karlsson collaboration.  I can't wait for the next chapter because each album has excelled its predecessor and not many albums manage to achieve that these days.

Definitely my all out album of the month for November 2010's releases. 

Tracklisting:

1. The Showdown
2. Judgement Day
3. Never Again
4. Turn All Into Gold
5. Bloodlines
6. Copernicus
7. We Will Rise Again
8. The Guardian
9. Maya
10. The Artist
11. Eternity
12. Alias (Bonus Track)

                   

 

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