After the last album, ‘Black Moon Pyramid’, Axel Rudi Pell wanted to do a tour, but Jeff Scott Soto’s schedule wouldn’t allow it. He was fully committed to his other project Boogie Knights which was a 70’s funk, R&B tribute style band. The commitment was due to a very steady paycheck. As a result, Axel took a short break and then started working on his next album which became ‘Magic’. Jeff was still on board for vocals as he didn’t want to let his friend down. While performing 3-4 nights a week with Boogie Knights, Jeff would work on the vocals for the this album. It became utterly exhausting for him as his voice had no rest.
The keyboardist for Axel’s band was Julie Greaux up to this point, but she left the band mostly because she became Jeff’s ex-girlfriend. As a result, a friend of Axel’s was brought in named Christian Wolf to help out. Christian was still in the band Rage, but was able to do this album as well. The rest of the band, Jorg Michael and Volker Krawczak were still in tact. Axel wanted to a heavier album than the previous and I think he succeeded. The album ‘Magic’ was released on May 21, 1997. Again, Axel was wanting to tour, but Jeff wasn’t feeling it. Boogie Knights was too important at this time and when it got down to it, this wasn’t his favorite type of music to sing anyway. In fact, Jeff didn’t co-write any of the songs on this one. It was all Axel. After much discussion, he parted with Axel and moved on. He and Axel are still good friends today and nice to see there were no hard feelings between the two gentleman.
Hollywood Undead brings us their sixth studio release with “New Empire Vol. 1” In what is supposed to be a change in direction and new sound that is fresh while still being Hollywood Undead, it is all of that and none of it. The music is still a mixture of nu metal and rap which is what they have always done.
However, this album though takes it further with being a little heavier at times and way more melodic at other times full of melodies and hooks that make these songs instantly memorable and you find yourself singing them even when the album is done.
But the biggest difference is the lyrics. There is still the aggression you have always seen, but they seem to be a little more uplifting especially on songs like “Heart of Champion” and “Second Chances” which features Benji Madden from Good Charlotte.
And that heaviness I mentioned, check out the singles “Time Bomb”and “Already Dead” as they come at you full throttle and leave you exhausted and wanting more. “Already Dead” is already one of my favorite songs of the year so far. And that isn’t all, you get “Enemy” slamming at you and if you want a full on melodic gem than listen to “Upside Down” with special guest Kellin Quinn from the band Sleeping with Sirens as he brings a great vocal to the song and takes it a direction that the band wouldn’t normally go.
“Empire” is a little less heavy and a little EDM thrown in backdropping the rap by J Dog and Johnny 3 Tears. What is cool with them is at times all members get to sing or rap which gives the band a broader range and able to do almost anything they want. Lots of variety.
If you are looking for straight up rap then “Killin’ It” is what you want as it is full of cockiness, swagger and with the EDM effects delivers a solid track that makes you feel you can take on the world. You also want to hear “Nightmare” which is so dramatic and powerful. A beast of a song to end the album on. Then “Enemy” explodes and the drums come slamming against your head bringing the metal back to the sound.
The change for the band wasn’t as dramatic as I expected, but it was better than I expected. I’m really drawn to the melodic sound on most of the choruses. The hooks have grabbed hold of me. I’m not a rap guy personally, but what these guys deliver is something that holds my attention and mixes well with the heaviness of the music enough to make this rock guy to sit up and pay attention.
This year has been really slow for music and this is the first album that I have gravitated towards and I have a feeling it will stick with me for some time to come. The production of the album is slick and the mix is top notch as everything sounds nearly perfect. I give it a 4.75 out 5.0 Stars only because at 9 songs and only 33 minutes, it is too short!! Bright side, I can play it over and over and not take up too much time.
I am going to go ahead and say I had no idea who this band was before listening. I saw their album reviews on other sites I visit and the ratings were really good so I decided to check out the album. And let me tell you, those reviews were no where close to how I good this album really is. I will put it out there…this is my FAVORITE album so far this year. It is unbelievable!!
Now, who is Reach? Reach is a band out of Sweden and ‘The Great Divine’ is actually their second album. I completely missed the first. The band is now a power trio and consists of the following members:
Ludvig Turner (Guitars & Vocals)
Marcus Johansson (Drums)
Soufian Ma’Aoui (Bass)
The album was was recorded at Rocksta Sound Studio, produced by Jona Tee (H.E.A.T) and mixed by Tobias Lindell (Europe, Avatar). That is the basic summary I have found on the band. They are labeled as a melodic rock band as it seems most bands from Sweden seemed to be labeled. Well, that and Glam. But I feel that label limits them. They have that sound – the strong hooks and melodies, but their sound is also so modern and varied that I think they are so much more. Ludvig’s vocal abilities are definitely showcased throughout the album.