What a pleasant surprise!
Sweden gives us another wonderful pearl of Melodic Hard Rock, the self-titled debut of WINDING ROAD is an almost perfect album for the genre, a record that cannot fail to end up in the collections of AOR and Melodic Rock lovers all over the world. According to the information in our possession the band was founded by two musicians, very active in the Swedish scene, Magnus Åkerlund (Guitar, Bass, Keyboards) and Jan Hedlund (Drums, Keyboards) joined later by the talented singer Jonas Tyskhagen.
WINDING ROAD is a sensational album, endowed with immediate catchiness, which showcases the excellent artistic maturity of these musicians as well as their undisputed song-writing skills.The songs all have an incredible charge, with captivating refrains and wonderful melodies that bring back to life the spirit of the ’80s Arena Rock and the unforgettable atmospheres of bands like Journey, Europe, Def Leppard and Foreigner and they do it absolutely not with nostalgia or as a simple ‘revival’ but rather in a fresh and modern way in the wake of the best New Melodic Rock bands of the moment worldwide i.e. Eclipse, H.E.A.T, One Desire and a few others …Having described the atmosphere and the general sound of the album, it is time to switch to the tracklist; the songs are really well composed and enjoyable from start to finish, but I want to mention a few in particular because, in my view, they are real little masterpieces for this type of music that could (and I really hope so) launch WINDING ROAD on the international scene; first of all the rousing SUMMERTIME, which combines edgy guitars, fantastic keyboards, incredible solos, a relentless rhythm section and with a gritty voice that climbs along the melodic paths of the song; then I’d like to spend a few words for two absolute pearls: OUT OF CONTROL and ON MY OWN AGAIN, both exciting, passionate with that pinch of pain and suffering in the background that support the superlative performance of singer Jonas Tyskhagen and with a guitar work that is always elegant, incisive, perfectly suited to the mood of the song and never unnecessarily hyper-technical…two simply perfect songs. And to conclude I cannot fail to mention the fantastic final double that is BEFORE IT ALL FALLS DOWN, a touching and passionate ballad that really manages to touch the heart and to excite, and that gives the singer Jonas Tyskhagen the opportunity to show off his scratchy bluesy voice, and WE CAN RUN AWAY a romantic and wild anthemic hard rock song that brings back to mind BON JOVI of the early 80’s …a truly impressive ending!
The only defect of this album (and for this reason at the beginning of this review I wrote a ‘near perfect’ album) is that for a debut album it is a bit too long. In my opinion it should have been a ten track album. There are a couple of songs that make the album lose energy, and I refer to the ballad TAKE AS I AM, too predictable in the song-writing and a bit boring in the arrangements, and SHOOTING STAR a song that’s a little flat and which does not reach the high level of the others on the setlist. Maybe these two tracks could have been used as b-sides in some single or as bonus tracks for the Japanese market, in any case, personally, I would not have included them in the final tracklist. But we are talking about a defect, which in a debut album is absolutely justifiable …
To conclude, from a stylistic and compositional point of view, we are faced with the perfect summa of the North European Melodic Hard Rock: great melodies, anthemic and engaging choirs, a prevalence of mid-tempos, a great voice that is very original and different from what we generally find in this type of music, powerful and never lazy guitar arrangements that always keep the right amount of melody (both in riffs and solos), enveloping keyboards in the background, elegant touches of electronics where needed and bass and drums rightly in the background but damn suitable for maintaining the songs in the right direction! As for the the production (the album’s produced by guitarist Magnus Åkerlund) seems an authentic modern tribute to the 80’s: the whole sound of both the instruments and the voices tries to revive the glories of the mega-productions of the 1980s and the result is really amazing. There is little else to add, WINDING ROAD have all the credentials to quickly rise to the top of this genre of music … They have a great future ahead of them and feelings are that these guys are definitely destined for stardom!
In the meantime, if you are a fan of this kind of rock, the advice is definitely to add this album to your collection.
Well done WINDING ROAD!