|Musical Style: Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By: Endre Kirkesola|
|Record Label: Ulterium||Country Of Origin: Norway|
|Year Released: 2007||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 39:08|
Norway’s Grand Lux got its start in 2005, releasing its full length debut Iron Will prior to signing with Ulterium Records and putting out its sophomore effort Carved In Stone two years later. The album finds Grand Lux continuing to take an eighties influenced blend of straightforward hard rock and classic metal and touching it up with elements of power metal or even the blues. And it works. The band, for example, delivers a solid foundation of mid-tempo tracks in “Fallen Angel”, “Escaping The Clouds”, “Eye Of The Storm”, “Love Reflection” and “Rainbow’s End” but when choosing to kick it up a notch can compose a quality up-tempo number as well, reflected in the non-stop hooks found on “1000 Paper Cranes”, “Like Hail From Blue Sky” and “Eternity In Fire”. Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out that the material on Carved In Stone did not immediately grab my attention in the same manner as that on Iron Will. The key word here, however, is “immediately” in that it took a certain amount of time – actually, close to a half a dozen listens – before Carved In Stone started to grow on me. But in the end my patience was rewarded in that musically the album proves every bit as strong as Iron Will.
Phil Goode returns with his gut level and mid-octave ranged lead vocal style, contributing a delivery that is at times smooth sounding and at others reflecting a more grit-laden feel. The guitar team of B. D. Hughes and Kirk Evin continue to showcase their abilities with a more than adequate amount of upfront rhythm guitar – Carved In Stone proves the heavier effort when compared to Iron will – and adept lead guitar work. (Check out the bluesy leads decorating “Fallen Angel” or the fiery soloing on “Escaping The Clouds”.) The rhythm section of bassist Zack Rament and drummer Ran-Dee maintain the same high level of performance.
The production values to Carved In Stone prove a noticeable upgrade over Iron Will. All around, the sonics here come across crisper and cleaner in highlighting an edgier rhythm guitar sound and a low end that projects added punch and power.
“1000 Paper Cranes” opens the album to wailing sirens and narration in Japanese. A drum solo ensues that gives way to a raucous riff, an energetic scene upheld as the song roars its way to a catchy chorus delivered in exuberant fashion. The sirens return at the start of a rhythm guitar driven instrumental section.
Things settle down a bit with the gritty “Fallen Angel”, a more mid-tempo pace maintained as the song incrementally maneuvers through its verse portions until reaching an extensive chorus giving rise to a melodic but edge-laden feel. A run of bluesy lead guitar work shores up a spirited instrumental section.
“Escaping The Clouds”, a track in which Grand Lux recently recorded a video, begins its first verse to an ominous blend of keyboards and quietly played guitar. Once a razor sharp rhythm guitar steps forward, however, the song aggressively charges ahead to a chorus in which an anthem-like setting is put into place. Stopping dead in its tracks, “Escaping The Clouds” transitions to an instrumental section bolstered by a fiery guitar solo.
An upbeat tempo is maintained on “Eye Of The Storm” from the start, the song not tapering off until reaching its first verse only to regain the lost momentum for a muscular chorus delivered with just the right amount of emotional ardor. More lead guitar work of a bluesy variety helps this one to stand out in the crowd.
“Through Dirt” is the only piece here I find to not quite make the grade. While another mid-tempo number carried by the bands trademark guitar driven energy, the song fails to deliver that notable hook or extra once of energy the albums better material brings to the table. Far from bad, I can see others getting into this one though I tend to pass.
Getting underway to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar, “Like Hail From Blue Sky” expeditiously charges ahead to a catchy guitar riff only to decelerate for a weighty chorus sustained by Goode’s gutsy vocal delivery. The albums crystal clear production really shines here as does the guitar team of Hughes and Evin.
“Love Reflections” represents this reviewer's choice track off Carved In Stone. The rhythm guitar crashes its way in and out of the mix as the song doggedly powers through its verse portions, the tenacious manner in which the subsequent chorus is delivered is guaranteed to pull you in and refuse to let go. Impassioned, emotional and resolute are the first words that come to mind here.
The driving hard rockers “Never Fall” starts to a galloping riff that fortifies its verse portions strong and steady, leading the way with a plethora of determination until a chorus of a straightforward and purposeful variety is obtained. This one might not be the albums catchiest track but the bands resolve and able performance put it over the top.
“Eternity In Fire” jumps out of the gate in quickly moving fashion, aggressively pushing itself ahead prior to acquiring a pointed but catchy and hook-filled chorus. Evening out, the song moves on to an instrumental section carried by a tight sounding stretch of rhythm guitar. This one is a groove flavored number with a hook you will be challenged to rid of your mind.
Opening slowly to a quietly played guitar line, “Rainbow’s End” picks up in pace as a crunchy rhythm guitar forces its way into the mix. The song proceeds to progress at a steadfast mid-tempo pace, a smooth transition made as it achieves an anthem-like chorus sustained by a deluge of pounding drums. I enjoy how the song slows for a sweeping instrumental section fortified by a bluesy guitar solo as an organ decorates the background.
Carved In Stone is a very good album. As previously stated, it took a bit of time for its material to grow on me – in comparison to Iron Will – but ultimately it stands out as the heavier effort while showcasing stronger production values as well. The album, all in all, also proves quite solid musically (again, I only hit the skip button once) in showcasing an even blend of mid-tempo and up-tempo tracks. If you enjoy Iron Will or any type of eighties influenced hard rock or classic metal then Carved In Stone comes with a strong recommendation.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “1000 Paper Cranes” (3:13), “Fallen Angel” (3:24), “Escaping The Clouds” (3:50), “Eye Of The Storm” (4:09), “Through Dirt” (3:37), “Like Hail From Blue Sky” (4:37), “Love Reflections” (3:37), “Never Fall” (3:47), “Eternity In Fire” (3:34), “Rainbow’s End” (5:14)
Phil Goode – Lead Vocals
B.D. Hughes – Guitars
Kirk Evin – Guitars
Zack Rament – Bass
Ran-Dee – Drums
Also Reviewed: Grand Lux – Iron Will