It would be easy to compare Captain Black Beard with The Night Flight Orchestra, however, while NFO goes for a retro 70’s Disco feel; CBB is closer to 80’s Synthwave.
Written by: DaveT
ARTIST: Captain Black Beard
ALBUM: Sonic Forces
LABEL: AOR Heaven
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Sweden
LINEUP: Martin Holsner – vocals * Christian Ek – guitar * Robert Majd – bass * Vinnie Stromberg – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Headlights * 02 Lights And Shadows * 03 Disco Volante * 04 Tonight * 05 Sonic Forces * 06 Time To Deliver * 07 Midnight Cruiser * 08 Young Hearts * 09 Gotham City * 10 Emptiness
‘Sonic Forces’, to be released May 15 2020, is the fifth album in the discography of the Swedish band from Stockholm since their inception in 2009, with their self-released and also self-titled debut having been released in 2011. Several lineup changes occurred as well as different record labels until Martin Holsner and Vinnie Stromberg joined on vocals and drums, respectively, for this first release on the AOR Heaven roster.
While the previous album had been produced by H.E.A.T.‘s keyboardist Jona Tee, this time guitarist Dave Dalone from the same band is in the production chair. It’s easy to review an album with ear candy tunes, those that, contrarily, are not so easy to compose and portray on record. This is the case here. The emphasis is on melodies and keyboards more than guitars, and that’s not a bad thing.
Aesthetically from the cover, it would be easy to compare Captain Black Beard (CBB) with The Night Flight Orchestra (NFO). However, while NFO goes for a retro 70’s Disco feel; CBB is closer to 80’s Synthwave, though no keyboard player is credited. Brother Firetribe is the best comparison I can find, especially with regards to Holsner’s powerful delivery and the vocal lines he crafts, with bits of the most lively H.E.A.T. thrown in for good.
Accessible melodies find a place in your head and feet with ease, such is the case for the opening trio of the palpitating ‘Headlights’, the upbeat ‘Lights And Shadows’ and the ostinato keyboard riff that frames the pumping ‘Disco Volante’. The midtempo ‘Tonight’ leans on 80’s classic AOR while the synth-driven title track finds the singer delivering his best Stadium Rock performance.
‘Time To Deliver’ is a tougher affair, that kind of hard rock with prominent keys and Whoa Oh Oh’ lyrics a la H.E.A.T., while the drum-heavy ‘Midnight Cruiser’ follows a similar path. One of the best songs to these ears comes in the form of the uplifting AOR midtempo ‘Young Hearts’.
The album doesn’t seem to lose steam towards the end with the finely crafted riff of ‘Gotham City’ and the space-themed last song ‘Emptiness’, a near synth-pop number that features an elegant sax solo.
Captain Black Beard delivers consistency in an album that flows nicely with no fillers and several high points. This is Hi Tech and Synthwave for the 2020’s decade within a Melodic Rock and AOR context. With The Night Fight Orchestra‘s ‘Aeromantic’ and now Captain Black Beard’s ‘Sonic Forces’, the year 2020 is starting to ‘H.E.A.T.up’ (if you know what I mean).
Time To Deliver