Though there have been a few Swedish bands playing in the AOR style in recent years, Arkado have a slightly different flavour, which only adds to the broadening palette coming from the wintery North.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Never Say Never
LABEL: AOR Heaven
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Philip Lindstrand – vocals, solo guitar * Mats Nilsson – lead guitar * Martin Kirchner – comp guitar * Bernt Lundgren – bass * Mikael Svensson – synth * Mikael Skafar – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 So Bad * 02 To Leave It All Behind * 03 Never Say Never * 04 Don’t Rape The Nature * 05 Walk Your Way * 06 If We Are To Last * 07 My Hometown * 08 So Fine * 09 Eagle * 10 Carry My Heart * 11 Never Say Never.. Again
WEBLINKS: Site Link
As you can probably tell, the Coronavirus has affected nearly everyone on the planet. So too the music industry and its new releases, with not a heck of a lot coming down the pike. With so few releases out there, it’s good for Glory Daze as we can catch up on our back loading-import schedule.
However, we’ll take a look at this new Swedish project called Arkado, which was highlighted by DEMONAOR toward the end of last year; the album released at the tail-end of March 2020. So what are these guys about musically? From a modern AOR perspective, they sit right in the middle lane of Downtown Boulevard, though individually, the core of this band go right back to the early 80’s. So there’s a bit history here, and it probably shows.
Though there have been a few Swedish bands playing in this style in recent years, Arkado have a slightly different flavour, which only adds to the broadening palette coming from the wintery North. Of the members, the best known is singer Phillip Lindstrand, who hsa sung with Cruzh and more recently British band Nitrate reviewed at Glory Daze not long ago by Jeffrey343.
The album gets off to a cracking start which is a Xerox copy of bands like Creye, X-Romance and Rockett Love, with loads of spicy synths and a guitar solo which took a surprising turn into a hot bluesy lick. Very good start.
‘To Leave It All Behind’ consolidates the opener, with more modern synths blazing away in the background, the song cruises along nicely. Third up is the title track ‘Never Say Never’ though this one didn’t grab me as much as the first two. With this type of music, the choruses really need to take the listener to another level, it didn’t quite happen on this track.
‘Don’t Rape The Nature’ we can assume is an ecological statement by the band, plus there’s a video on YouTube as this track was their selection as a visual record. And in this era of climate change and doom-gloom you can see where there is going right? Now normally I’m a sucker for this kind of subject matter, so this was an easy capture for me. Musically, it’s quite good too, very urgent sounding as you can imagine. Very good, the highlight track so far.
‘Walk Your Way’ shines a sunnier musical disposition on things, the chorus very bright, it kinda reminded me of the Rick Astley hit ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ for some reason. Don’t let that put you off, this track is OK. In the context of light and shade, we had light on the previous track, while shade is cast on the following track ‘If We Are To Last’. Sort of like Creye though with the lights turned out.
‘My Hometown’ is not a mid-west acoustic folk ballad. Oh no, Arkado keep the synth-guitar interplay flowing down the main street like a keg full of beer. Good chorus too, and they pitch shift it a semitone or two toward the end which is something I like to see with choruses during the latter part of a song.
‘So Fine’ is Arkado’s first ballad on the album. Good that they’ve left it toward the end (track 8) but I have to say it didn’t do zip for me. Let’s get back into the action proper shall we? ‘Eagle’ is that ‘action’, aah that’s better. Not quite to the same level as the same named song from Talk Of The Town way back in the 80’s, but there’s enough here to hold the interest levels for 3 minutes plus.
‘Carry Your Heart’ could be the album’s anthem moment. It’s certainly played in that style, and musically there’s a lot happening. The keyboard work is super, so too the racy guitar solo. The album concludes with a reprise of ‘Never Say Never’, this time (mostly) as an acoustic ballad with vocal, piano and a synth backwash, before opening up with the electrics toward the end, though only briefly. A good wind down, I always like to see an album like this go out in a blaze of glory. Can’t always get what you wish for.
Arkado prove themselves as a worthy addition to the Swedish domain of melodic rock and AOR. To be honest, there’s no other country doing it in this quality and quantity on the planet.
Highlights for me: the keyboard and synth wotk is exemplary. Some tracks work better than most, but that’s the same with any album. The choruses overall are good, except the one I pointed out above (the title track). When they hit the gas pedal Arkado sound great. I have no problems recommending this, if you’re a Scandi fan. Give it a whirl.
Don’t Rape The Nature
To Leave It All Behind
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