|Musical Style: Hard Rock/Metal||Produced By: Lars Chriss|
|Record Label: Rivel||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2005||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 43:26|
Audiovision, the highly anticipated side project of Narnia lead vocalist Christian Rivel, takes a foundation of straightforward hard rock and combines it with elements of melodic metal and power metal on its 2005 debut The Calling. Rivel puts forth a strong but versatile performance, adding a touch of grit to his trademark smooth sounding vocal style on tracks such as "The Calling", "The King Is Alive" and "The Rock Of My Soul". Lars Chriss (Lion's Share) joins Rivel on rhythm and lead guitar in addition to playing a major role in the projects songwriting. Bassist Mikael Hoglund (Punchline) and drummer Thomas Broman (Glenn Hughes) comprise a formidable rhythm section. Please note that in order to help round out on the project Rivel brought in a number of talented musicians and artists including the likes of Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia), Jeff Scott Soto (Talisman), Bruce Kulick (Kiss), Tony Franklin (Whitesnake), Mattias Eklundh (Freak Kitchen) and many others.
The Calling showcases a refined production job allowing for just the right amount of polish. The rhythm guitar projects the needed edge and crispness and underscores a clean mix of lead guitar. The rhythm section packs just the right amount of punch and power.
Getting underway to a rhythm guitar with just the right amount of edge, the albums title track advances in an energy-laden fashion to a chorus driven by a plethora of heavy duty vocal harmonies. Chriss furnishes several seconds of blistering lead guitar work that bounces between the left and right channel. "The Calling" lifts up God's eternal Kingdom:
I carry on
My soul is strong
I got my call
I am Your Son and
Through it all
I will stand tall
You'll never let your Kingdom fall
After "The King Is Alive" jumps out of the gate in an upbeat manner, it slows for a blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards upon reaching its first verse. Picking up in pace, the song peaks for an arresting chorus celebrating the fact the King is alive and risen from the dead:
The King is alive
The King is alive
Just remember I will rise from the dead
The King is alive
Once for all I'll set you free
Carl Johan Grimmark contributes just under a minute of sharp sounding lead guitar work.
The crunchy rhythm guitar opening “Evil Or Divine” is backed by a well placed dose of keyboards that almost comes across industrial in feel. Subsequent to the rhythm guitar dropping from the mix as the song reaches its first verse, it returns and leads the way to a chorus ending to a hard hitting riff underscored by more industrial keyboards. Inexplicable, "Evil Or Divine" is the albums only track not to include a guitar solo.
The driving rhythm guitar at the start of "The Rock Of My Soul" fades to the background of the mix as the song reaches its first verse. After the rhythm guitar moves back to its place of prominence, "The Rock Of My Soul" attains a double bass driven chorus carried by a screaming voice in the background. Chriss nails just under a minute of the albums best lead guitar work.
Once a quietly played guitar line takes "Read Between The Lines" through its first verse, it gains momentum as the rhythm guitar provides the needed crunch to bring out the best in a good powerfully delivered chorus. Eklundh shows off his flashy and fast fingered style of playing throughout a sweeping instrumental passage.
Taking off at a frenetic upbeat tempo, "Face To Face" quickly moves through its verse portions until it culminates for an energy-laden chorus fortified by a full mix of vocal harmonies. Kulick spices things up with his grit flavored lead guitar work.
Several seconds of fiery soloing from Eklundh commences "Show Me The Way" before it launches into a fast paced double bass driven riff. Advancing through its first and second verse at breakneck speed, the song evenly flows to a sweeping chorus ending to more fiery riffing. Eklundh returns to highlight a thirty second instrumental passage with his lightning-like lead guitar work.
One of the albums highlights is the cover of Sweet's "Love Is Like Oxygen". Introduced to a combination of vocal harmonies and keyboards, the rhythm guitar steps forward and immediately take the song to a catchy chorus underlined by a piano in the background. The rhythm guitar drops from the mix as "Love Is Like Oxygen" slows during a verse in which Rivel shares lead vocal duties with Jeff Scott Soto. A minute and a half long instrumental passage features a nice extended guitar solo from Janne Stark (Locomotive Breath).
After a blend of rhythm guitar and organ propels "Hold Me" through its first verse at a mid-tempo pace, the organ drops from the mix at the start of the second. The quickly moving chorus that follows almost comes across mesmerizing in feel. Tommy Denander (Radioactive) contributes a brief but very well done guitar solo.
The album closes to an above average-to-good instrumental in "Colors" that, as far as I can tell, was added to fill space. An amalgamation of guitar and piano carries the extent of a song in which Chriss exhibits his talent on lead guitar.
The Calling maintains terrific continuity in opening to seven straight hard rockers of equal quality before reaching the terrific cover of "Love Is Like Oxygen". While "Hold On" is every bit as good as the first seven, "Colors" proves the only potential drawback to what otherwise is a very fine album. A top notch production job combined with guest appearances by several talented artists only adds to its appeal. That being said, The Calling is a bit short in coming in at just over forty-three minutes. When considering that one track is filler and another a cover, I cannot help but think The Calling would have been a more noteworthy release if Rivel and company had come up with a few of more songs.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "The Calling" (3:27), "The King Is Alive" (4:21), "Evil Or Divine" (4:12), "The Rock Of My Soul" (3:58), "Read Between The Lines" (4:29), "Face To Face" (3:49), "Show Me The Way" (3:47), "Love Is Like Oxygen" (6:36), "Hold Me" (3:56), "Colors" (4:46)
Christian Rivel – Lead Vocals
Lars Chriss – Guitars
Andreas Lindahl – Keyboards
Mikael Hoglund – Bass
Thomas Broman – Drums
Mats Leven & Jeff Scott Soto – Lead Vocals
Hubertus Liljegren – Growling Vocals
Mattias Eklundh, Carl Johan Grimmark & Bruce Kulick – Guitars
Tony Franklin – Bass
Michael Andersson, Sampo Axelsson, Tommy Denander, Linus Kase, Mic Michaeli & Jorgen Schelander – Keyboards
Eric Clayton – Narration
Also Reviewed: Divinefire – Glory Thy Name, Divinefire - Hero, Divinefire - Into A New Dimension, Divinefire - Farewell, Flagship – Maiden Voyage, Narnia – The Great Fall, Narnia - At Short Notice, Narnia - Enter The Gate, Narnia - Decade Of Confession, Wisdom Call – Wisdom Call