So.. Jørn Lande and Trond Holter put out an album together.. this has got to be just a ton of win, right? An outstanding and versatile vocalist with a resume that includes MASTERPLAN, AVANTASIA, and AYREON, alongside the extremely talented guitarist from WIG WAM? There’s no way this isn’t just a complete home run – or, so one would think. And hope. Unfortunately…
Jørn Lande and Trond Holter present DRACULA – Swing of Death (January 27 via Frontiers Records) had so many things going for it, up until you actually listen to the album while paying any attention to the actual content. Jørn’s vocals are spot on and full of the growly goodness that makes us love him so much. Trond’s guitar playing is greatness – I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song he played on where I didn’t love the music, and this album is no exception.
The problem with this album, and it’s a large one, is that the concept and most of the lyrics are just horrible. The concept is overblown and pedantic – Dracula and vampires in general had their day, and it’s not the present. The insistence on precisely rhyming every other line went out of vogue in the 1980’s and reminds me of a teenager on the north side of puberty writing horrible love poetry in their dark bedroom. The lyrics are insipid, boring, and forced – just because words rhyme, it doesn’t mean they go together.
One of the actual few high points of the album is the performance of Lena Fløitmoen – she’s a refreshing female vocal talent, and I wouldn’t mind hearing more of her in the future. Other than the songs she appears on, I’d think I’d prefer it if Jørn had just growled wordlessly along with the songs – I’d have given the album an easy 7/10 if I didn’t have to listen to the actual lyrics.
I’ve always wanted to be Jørn’s BFF, so we could hang out and do things. One of those things I’d have done for my pal would have been to do whatever it took to stop this album from being made. Hopefully my dream does not die with my brutal honesty.
Standout PRETTY GOOD TRACKS: “Save Me”, “Into The Dark”
– FRANK ZABER