Swedish rocker Magnus Karlsson is probably best known as a songwriter and associated axeman with the German-based metal band PRIMAL FEAR. He has also been involved with other projects featuring his bandmates, MAGNUM, ALLEN/LANDE, and more. Karlsson is no newcomer to the metal world and is quite the kick ass guitar player in his own right. His approach reminds me a lot of Don Dokken, brought forward with added \M/etalurgy.
MAGNUS KARLSSON’S FREE FALL is set to release Kingdom of Rock on November 6 via Frontiers Music. The album features some terrific guest singers who need no introduction including Joe Lynn Turner, Tony Martin, and Rebecca De La Motte (LAST TRIBE) as well as other heavy hitters.
The title track “Kingdom of Rock” gives a good slap in the face for what’s to come: heavy and clean guitar, lots of changes and good melody…classic Karlsson. When I listened to “Out of the Dark” it reminded me of some good old IRON MAIDEN transitioning into PRIMAL FEAR within 30 seconds. It is refreshing to hear some killer heavy guitar and clear vocals, ones in which you can actually understand the lyrics. Good dual guitar in this puppy. Really nice. “No Control” slows the tempo down a bit with great bursts of killer guitar work and excellent harmony. “When the Sky Falls” reminds me of an historical Viking war chant that might be featured going into battle. “Angel of the Night” rockets us into double-axe storytelling. The guitar work is incredible on this one and it’s my favorite on the LP.
“I’m Coming for You” is not as heavy a track, but is tastefully produced. Really lots of different parts to this song, some slower, some damn fast, clean guitar and once again excellent harmony. “Another Life” does not begin like you think the rest of the song is going to go. It begins with fairly clean guitar, briefly gets heavy, but slows down the tempo and fills in the background with keys. It’s more of a ballad to me, then an ass kicker. “Never Look Away” again reminds me a lot of DOKKEN intertwined with DIO. As with Karlsson, every song is going to kick some metal axe and this is no exception. “A Heart So Cold” could have easily been a Don Dokken/George Lynch classy tune. Very tasty for sure.
Rounding off the disc is a nice ballad sung by Rebecca De La Motte, which tugs at the heartstrings titled “The Right Moment”. I have to admit, it was a song I did not expect. She does an incredible job and has gorgeous pipes. I felt myself wanting to reach out to her and help her with the moment she wants back again. Nicely done. “Walk This Road Alone” ends the album with what sounds like some cosmic QUEENSRŸCHE influence. Some nice heavy guitar in the beginning, but there should have been more riffage.
Overall I wish the album was a bit more varied or had extended heavy guitar. All the tracks started to sound very similar after awhile. Taking away a special track from the LP which would go around in my head all during the day just didn’t happen. Of course there are lots of great harmonies and some incredible guitar work. Everything is very clean; the music and production is just excellent. Don’t get me wrong, this is a heavy rock/metal record. It just left me feeling a bit incomplete.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Kingdom of Rock”, “Out of the Dark:, “Angel of the Night”, “The Right Moment”