|Musical Style: Melodic Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By: Ken Tamplin|
|Record Label: Escape Music||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2003||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 41:18|
The Swedish power trio Laudamus returns with a very fine sophomore effort entitled Lost In Vain in which the band showcases its brand of catchy and well-crafted eighties influenced melodic metal. Frontman Peter Stenlund contributes a solid mid-octave ranged vocal style to the project, displaying significant improvement in his performance over the bands inconsistent and rough sounding 1999 debut Unlimited Love. Stenlund fills in on rhythm guitar in addition to handling much of the albums lead guitar work, while bassist Jonas Stenlund and drummer Jonas Cederteg round out the rhythm section. Please note that what helps Lost In Vain to stand out as a project are its numerous guest appearances: Marty Friedman, Mattias Eklundh, Ken Marcello, Howie Simon and Ken Tamplin contribute their talents on lead guitar, while Jeff Scott Soto, Rob Rock and Tamplin help out on lead vocals.
A production job on the thin and muddy side detracts from Lost In Vain. A muffled sounding low end prevents the bass and drums from standing out in the mix as they should. The rhythm guitar tones sound weak and transparent. Only the lead guitar rises above the instrumentation as it should.
After the albums title track gradually fades in, a hard rocking combination of driving rhythm guitar and heavy duty bass lines urges it to a catchy chorus carried at an upbeat tempo. Marty Friedman steps forward with several seconds of blazing lead guitar work.
Driven by vocal harmonies during its first and second verse, “Mother Evolution” culminates as a trade off between Stenlund's mid-octave ranged voice and the vocal harmonies in question carry its chorus. Mattias Eklundh contributes a flashy fast fingered guitar solo to a song taking a tongue in cheek approach to the theory of evolution:
Theory whispers in my ear
I came with a great big bang
Just a cell, no lungs or brain
A little floating thing
I got better later on
With limbs and hair to comb
I had a lot of trees to climb
With new limbs I began to roam
Can you see that they are making a monkey out of you and me?
Initiated by a drum solo, "My Hearts On Fire" moves forward in a strong and steady fashion until it gains momentum for a chorus accentuated by huge Stryper-like vocal harmonies. Stenlund tops things off with an aggressively delivered guitar solo.
The hard hitting riff introducing "In The Final Hour" gives way to a lead vocal trade off between Stenlund and Jeff Scott Soto, Stenlund taking the first and third verse with Soto's gritty voice handling the second and fourth. The same riff opening the song returns to fortify an immaculate chorus underlined by keyboards. Stenlund combines with Howie Simon for just under a minute of dual lead guitar work.
Ken Tamplin and Rob Rock join Stenlund on lead vocals on the straightforward hard rocker "Die". Highlighted by a just the right amount of keyboards as it moves through its first verse, “Die” culminates as it attains a strong chorus with a heavy groove feel. Pounding drums open an instrumental passage featuring a lead guitar trade off between Stenlund and Tamplin.
The vocal harmonies at the start of "Free" give way to a driving guitar riff that fortifies its first verse at a hard and heavy mid-tempo pace, the vocal harmonies returning to reinforce the chorus that follows in a smooth sounding manner. Ken Marcello tops things off with his fast fingered lead guitar work. "Free" deals with the issue of legalism:
Some might think my hair is too long
Some might fear the beat of this song
So much religion, so many rules
But this is us, and we are tools
I might offend you by how I look
But God will not, according to His book
It's by our fruit that we will be judged
To show the world Jesus' love
After the fast paced "I Am" jumps out of the gate to a plethora of rapid double bass, the bass guitar carries its first verse and rhythm guitar the bridge that ensues. Double bass continues to underscore the song as it picks up in pace for an energy-laden chorus with a good catchy hook. Stenlund contributes several seconds of intense lead guitar work to a song based around John 14:6:
Believe in the Son and you won't be denied
Don't be deceived by the great lie
I am, the way, the truth/I am the life
The bluesy mid-tempo paced hard rocker "Lay Your Burdens Down" opens to a drum solo before an upfront mix of rhythm guitar takes it to a chorus buttressed by deep sounding vocal harmonies. Stenlund steps forward with twenty seconds of razor sharp lead guitar work
Subsequent to a crunchy rhythm guitar pushing "Salvation" through its first verse, the song gains impetus for a chorus ending with the word "salvation" emphasized in heavy handed fashion. Howie Simon and Stenlund furnish a minute of electrifying dual lead guitar work. "Salvation" is about exactly that:
Ancient of days, fountain of life
A love beyond measure, everlasting life
Highway to grace, eternal delight
We are His treasure if we trust Him with our lives
"Hear My Prayer", a classy acoustic based ballad coming in at just under six minutes, showcases Ken Tamplin's tasteful work on Spanish guitar. An acoustic guitar slowly propels the song through its first verse until the rhythm guitar steps forward just before it builds in momentum for a strong commercial flavored chorus. "Hear My Prayer" closes as an acoustic guitar solo transitions to over a minute of lead guitar work.
Lost In Vain proves a solid effort from front to back musically in that all ten of its tracks hold up under repeated play. While the album is held back by a thin sounding production job, its numerous guest appearances and the band energetic performance help to put it over the top.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Lost In Vain" (4:35), "Mother Evolution" (4:02), "My Hearts On Fire" (3:49), "In The Final Hour" (3:36), "Die" (4:10), "Free" (3:52), "I Am" (3:15), "Lay Your Burdens" (4:05), "Salvation" (4:07), "Hear My Prayer" (5:48)
Peter Stenlund – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Jonas Stenlund – Bass
Jonas Cederteg – Drums
Jeff Scott Soto, Rob Rock & Ken Tamplin – Lead Vocals
Marty Friedman, Mattias Eklundh, Ken Marcello, Howie Simon & Ken Tamplin - Guitars
Ed Roth - Keyboards
Also Reviewed: Laudamus - Laudamus