Artist:  Gary John Barden
   Title: Love & War
   Label: Escape Music

As one of the most respected vocalists around Gary John Barden came to fame as thee voice of MSG back in the early eighties.  Who can forget ‘The Mad Axeman’, ‘Armed And Ready’ and the like? To many the band haven’t been to same since his final departure back in 85, although not one to rest on his laurels, Barden formed Statetrooper and later became the voice of Praying Mantis, before later teaming up with Michael Voss for the Silver project. 

2004 hailed the reformation of Statetrooper and in between all these, Barden put together his long awaited solo album 'Past And Present', which he put a different spin on some MSG classics, with another unification with Voss which saw the bluesy tones of ‘Agony And The Xtasy’.  Now Barden is back with what I can only describe as his best release so far and the album name ‘Love And War’. 

With this new album Barden has once again sought out Michael Voss and together with Johann Fiegl the trio have written some fantastic rock tracks. The album opens up in emphatic style with ‘Creatures of the Night’ which made an immediate impact on this reviewer.  As a long time fan of Barden this the man at his vocal best and one that gets the album off to a fantastic start.  This outstandingly high quality just continues with this Barden's finest hour for many a year.

Things continue with ‘Unchain Me’, another hard rock extravaganza with its more gentle approach than the opener, with Barden showing he can still bring harmony to the hard rock genre.  The man has never sounded better.

The pace is picked up a few notches with the driven guitar sound of ‘When The Lovin’ Dies’ and ‘You’ before on of the many highlights of the album, the quite superb ‘Last Samurai’ (even though the promo plays ‘Last Samurai’ before ‘You’, but this is only a minor flaw).

The true highlight of the album has to be the outstanding (yes OUTSTANDING!) ‘Dragons Fire’, which starts off with a little Eastern feel intro before the track really takes off with a huge guitar sound, then Barden takes over with those unforgettable vocals.  This is very old school Barden as he shows the magic is still very much there.

The next track ‘Voices In The Rain’ was penned by Fiegl and one Carsten ‘Lizard’ Schulz, this is another slice of guitar fuelled rock before the more gentle rock tones of ‘Love Lost’, then things really pick up again with a cover of The Sweet’s ‘Burn To The Flame’, which Barden puts his own spin on this classic.

The album takes a darker harder edged path with ‘Déjà Vu’, a track that boasts some of the finest guitar riffs to found on the entire album.  The album comes to an all too premature climax for this reviewer with the title track ‘In Love And War’, another more mellower refrain with this Barden Voss composition which rounds off an album that fans of Barden have been crying out for years, not that the Statetrooper and Silver albums have been bad, but this album has something rather special about it and more reflects the man himself.

 

Tracklisting:

1. Creatures Of The Night
2. Unchain Me
3. When The Lovin' Dies
4. You 
5. Last Samurai 
6. Dragons Fire 
7. Voices In The Rain 
8. Love Lost
9. Burn On The Flame
10. Deja Vu
11. In Love & War

                  

 

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