Jorn - The Duke
Jorn Lande is something of a vocalist wonder in the metal world. No one is quite up to his caliber (in my opinion) and manage to be so prolific at the same time. It was apparent he was going to be a special singer from the very beginning with his adept performance with Vagabond. Then he proved he could not only do AOR but mimic David Coverdale right down to the tiny details with The Snakes, conquer progressive with Beyond Twilight and Ark, totally dominate in a multi vocalist setting in Nikolo Kotezevs Nostradamus project, and nail crushing heavy metal with Masterplan.

As a chameleon, there is nothing that he has not tackled where he has faltered. Every appearance is a blessed one, and he brings a touch of magic to every endeavor. It's not just his knack for selecting great platforms to present himself, but his voice alone is enough to raise the status of anything his voice is included on. Lande sings with utter passion, he soars, he roars, he coos. He takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotion, and no matter what music is backing him, the voice not just commands, but demands the center of attention. It is nearly impossible to turn away when he is belting any tune, and that is the mark of a true, undisputed vocal god.

With that being said, his solo works have always been nice little additions to an ever expanding Jorn collection. The debut album under his own name, titled Starfire, was a mixed disc that offered some original tunes, but also paid tribute to those that influenced him (including a smashing Lou Gramm morphing display on the Foreigner classic Break It Up, coincidentally one of my favorites by the band). Worldchanger was all new stuff and was a turn to dark AOR with songs that grabbed on and would not let go. Out to Every Nation in 2004 borrowed a little more from the metal side and now we have The Duke.

After swinging double duty last year with the fantastic Masterplan release and the often cited album of the year for 2005, the Allen/Lande The Battle project, expectations are likely higher than ever to see what he will deal out next. The Duke is a great offering with a selection of eight brand new songs, a reworking of Starfire from his first solo disc, and a cover of Are You Ready by Thin Lizzy. Musically, it is a smoldering fire of melodic metal goodness that takes hard rock and shoves it down your throat as only Jorn can. The guitars are blazing and the music does not let up for a second. There is no time to catch your breath and although the songs share many similarities in tempo, each one has its own charms to keep you hooked til the very closing strains of Starfire are melting into silence.

We Brought the Angels Down cranks the album off on a splendid note. There is a crushing metallic feel established right from the beginning, but the bridge is melody oozing divine. Then the chorus, which hits hard and heavy, opening up to reveal a mind numbingly addictive hook. It festers with each guitar note that follows, including a marvelous build up as Jorn squeezes out every ounce of emotion. The song builds to an epic, sweeping feel before its crunchy close. This could easily have come crawling out of any of the first fine Dio solo albums or when he was hooked up with Ritchie Blackmore at the peak of Rainbow.

Blacksong introduces a smidgen more melody to the proceedings, but also sees Lande wailing in pure agony like he is on the verge of death with guitars that are so grippingly harsh that they grit and grind along with the skull pounding drums at the tail end.

Stormcrow soars by on razor tipped wings. No nonsense and straight up hard rockin music that pretends to be nothing else but a ripping metal track. Some lovely Dio-like lyrics are presented here and the guitars! Do they ever shred and shriek with a fury unleashed.

End of Time is an anthemic track that burns your veins and makes your blood sizzle. The lyrics reach out and grab you with their gut wrenching delivery and the mysterious way they seem to gel so nicely with the music cushioning around them.

The Duke of Love is perhaps what Whitesnake would sound like if they had recorded anything in the past five or six years. It is a sizzler of a track that has that delightfully suggestive bluesy swagger present. Jorn is laying it on thick with his Coverdale-ish nods such as the way he croons out the word baby with all the sexiness of David intact. There is no attempt to hide the fact he is morphing into a David sound-a-like, in fact, it is laid on thick and proud. This is one track that has alot of snakebite in it and will make fans of the wayward English outfit swoon with an excited rush of remembrance and turn green with envy. Cos Jorn does Covey almost better than Covey can do himself these days. Ahh but just wait til the next one...

Burning the Chains is like revisiting the Coverdale/Page project. His voice is so similiar to the Snake frontman here that it puts chills up the spine. The song is dark with a depressed undercurrent moving it along and haunting acoustic ringing out til the whispers of wind bring this soulsearcher to a closing.

After the Dying is another thick bottomed track that injects a little blues love into the music. Everything is so Black Sabbath-y crunchy that you would not expect the bluesy twists that crop up here and there. Another fantastic and stirring chorus tops it off.

Midnight Madness is the only newie that did not quite do it for me on first listen. The others draw you in and take you into another world populated by cranking heavy metal and passionate vocals, but this just seems to limp along as more of the same. It is territory already covered by the previous seven. However, on further inspection and delving deeper, the song reveals itself to have many layers to lose yourself in and does tend to grow after several listens. Just do not expect instant love like the others.

Are You Ready is the Thin Lizzy cover and it is a fairly sparse 70s rock type piece that was popular when it was recorded. Repetitive but driven here with alot of enthusiasm, which goes along way with this kind of song. Not great, but an alright addition.

Starfire has been resurrected and shot up to the skies for The Duke like a flare in the night. This was brilliant when it was first created and has not lost any of its luster with age. The guitars ram with force and sparkle with an ethereal beauty as the song naturally changes on its epic quest. It still makes my heart skip a beat and my breath catch in my throat even now. Has it improved? Hard to say, the production is crisper and brighter, which brings out its best. The guitars are more take charge than before too but it is still focused in on the hypnotizing voice of Lande.

Perhaps the only real letdowns for The Duke is the fact that Jorn does not really stretch his limits much here and song variety could use some work. It has come to be expected of him to do something absolutely mindblowing for each disc and this one plays it rather safe. A ballad to break up the full speed ahead tempo of the disc would have been much embraced and appreciated as well. Worldchanger is still holding out as the choice cut of the Lande solo discography but that does not take away from this latest at all.

The music, however, is excellent and he sounds superb, so such quibbles are to be left to the nitpicky ones. A blazing metal release that might not have enough melody to be palatable for all. If you do not have it yet, and like your stuff with heaviness around the edges and great vocals, this should be an immediate purchase. Splendid all around and another smashing accomplishment from the terrific Norweigan frontman.

Written by Alanna
Thursday, March 9, 2006
Show all reviews by Alanna

Ratings

Alanna: 8/10

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RevelationZ Comments


Comment by tungarknivor (Anonymous) - Thursday, March 23, 2006
GREAT review, i've been looking for some time now for an indepth review of this album. I have it pre-ordered and can't wait to recieve it in mid April. I've got every album Jorn has been on minus the Nostradamus lp. Jorn Rules and so does The Duke. Thanks for such a indepth review!


Comment by harrie (Anonymous) - Wednesday, March 29, 2006
the album has some good songs but the lizzy cover is terrible, no feeling at all and also the duke of love is soo cheesy. worldchanger was much better!!!!!!!


Comment by Alanna (Staff) - Wednesday, March 29, 2006
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Comments: 245
The Duke of Love may be cheesy but I think thats part of the appeal. :) I agree that Worldchanger is still Lande's best solo album though. It was packed with great songs from start to finish.

Posted by Alanna (Staff)
Wednesday, March 29, 2006










Review by Alanna

Released by
AFM - 2006

Tracklisting
1. We Brought the Angels Down
2. Blacksong
3. Stormcrow
4. End of Time
5. Duke of Love
6. Burning Chains
7. After the Dying
8. Midnight Madness
9. Are You Ready
10. Starfire (2005 version)


Supplied by Target


Style
Hard rock

Related links
Visit the band page

Jorn Lande - Official Website

Other articles
Out to Every Nation - (Alanna)

Unlocking the Past - (Alanna)

The Gathering - (Alanna)

Lonely Are the Brave - (Alanna)

Starfire - (Alanna)

Spirit Black - (Alanna)

Dio - (Alanna)



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