|Musical Style: Melodic Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By: Peter Stenlund (bonus tracks: Are Simonson)|
|Record Label: Rivel||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2006||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 16||Rating: No Quote|
|Running Time: 64:43|
It has been the trend in recent years for veteran Christian metal acts to return to the studio and re-record their classic material of the past. Saint was the first to accomplish this in 2004, re-recording the six songs from its mid-eighties EP Warriors Of The Son in addition to two new tracks originally written for the project that could not be completed due to budget constraints. Rex Carroll and Scott Wenzel of Whitecross re-united in 2005 and did the same with nine of the ten songs from its 1987 self-titled debut, releasing it under the title Nineteen Eighty Seven with the hard to find track “Love On The Line” and an instrumental, “Re-Animate”, written specifically for the project. X-Sinner, dissatisfied with the guitar sound on its 1991 sophomore effort Peace Treaty, re-recorded nine of the albums ten songs and released it earlier this year under the new title Fire It Up with a new demo track of the same name. Sweden’s Laudamus was next in line, returning to the studio to re-work the ten songs from its 1999 full length debut Unlimited Love in addition to the two tracks off its 1992 single Be There Forever. The album came out in 2006 under the title Laudamus and included the four songs from the bands 1993 EP Ready Or Not as bonus tracks.
Laudamus finds the band moving in the same melodic metal and hard rock direction of its past efforts, combining its trademark polished vocal harmonies and electrifying lead guitar work with an occasional blues based or even groove flavored moment. It has always been my opinion that Peter Stenlund made significant steps and strides in his lead vocal performance from the time of Unlimited Love to the bands 2003 release Lost In Vain. And he continues that trend here with his smooth sounding mid-octave ranged vocal style, adding an element of grit to his delivery on “Unlimited Love” or even cutting loose in high pitched fashion on “Slamdancer”. As a guitarist he proves himself quite the talented musician, best showcasing his abilities on hard rockers such as “Wasting No Compassion” and “I’m On My Way”. Jonas Stenlund really stands out as well with his pronounced and at times groove-laden bass lines. Jonas Cederteg rounds out the rhythm section on drums.
The main reason I was never able to get into the original version of Unlimited Love was due to the thin sounding feel to its production. On Laudamus, however, an area of weakness has been transformed into a strength in that the material here really comes to life as a result of strong production values. Showcasing a near perfect blend of edgy rhythm guitar, rumbling bass lines and fluid lead guitar work, I cannot help but think the album captures the sound the band was looking for.
Laudamus opens with the ten tracks from Unlimited Love (albeit in a different order than the original release).
Things get underway with the albums hard rocking title track. Kicking in slow and heavy, keyboards accentuate “Unlimited Love” during its verse portions before it picks up in pace for a chorus highlighted by smooth sounding vocal harmonies. Peter steps forward and delivers several seconds of fast paced lead guitar work.
“Wasting No Compassion” begins to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar before slowly crawling its way forward in gritty fashion, the hard rocking environment maintained as it reaches a good aggressively delivered chorus. Peter again cuts loose, his ardent work on lead guitar carried over a resounding bass line. “Wasting No Compassion” presents a no-nonsense message:
Wasting no compassion, lack of sympathy
Time has come to change this bad reality
Don’t tell them Jesus loves them
Until you really love them too
“Feels Like Heaven” takes off at an upbeat tempo before a wall of rhythm guitar moves to the front of the mix prior to reaching its first verse. Driven ahead hard and heavy, the song culminates for a chorus shored up by just the right amount of catchy vocal harmonies. A high octane guitar solo helps put things over the top.
After a crunchy rhythm guitar carries the aptly named “Slamdancer” through its verse portions, it makes a transition to a raucous chorus giving rise to a cool groove-laden vibe. I like how the song slows for an instrumental passage featuring a lengthy stretch of bluesy lead guitar work. Very well done.
The six minute ballad “More Than I’ll Ever Know” proves a refreshing change of pace in following four straight hard rockers. A piano slowly leads the way through its first verse before it obtains an emotionally charged chorus underscored by a prominently placed bass line. Once the rhythm guitar steps forward to drive the songs second chorus, Peter follows with a very well done fluid guitar solo. “More Than I’ll Never Know” is a song of faith:
When problems gather over and around me
I know your pain was even, even worse
When I try to disappear, You’re right by my side
And I can’t hide
“I’m On My Way” opens quietly before taking off in a guitar driven manner, a plethora of upbeat momentum hurling the song forward until it achieves a high energy chorus talking about the believer’s promise of eternal life:
I’m on my way to heaven
Come and follow me
The journey ends in heaven
Hang on and you will see
Peter complements the rollicking atmosphere with an aggressively delivered guitar solo.
“Holy Spirit” has a good message but it is the only track from Unlimited Live I tend to pass on. Beginning to several seconds of choppy open air rhythm guitar, the song slowly moves forward to a commanding riff prior to reaching a chorus advancing at a quickly moving upbeat tempo. While certainly not bad, I find the songs melody structure to be a bit too simplistic for my taste. I can see how others might like “Holy Spirit”, though. As previously stated, the songs message is quite good:
Holy Spirit, Earth Creator
Sacrificed on Calvary
Love and grace and truth and mercy
A drum solo initiates “By His Grace” before a blues flavored riff slowly pushes it ahead. Maintaining a mid-tempo pace as the rhythm guitar fades in and out during its first verse, “By His Grace” reaches an authoritative chorus backed by a forward mix of shouted backing vocals. Peter leads the way with another stretch of very well done lead guitar work.
The hard rocking riff introducing “Evidence” helps lead the way through its first verse in good choppy fashion, an overriding bass guitar driven atmosphere put in place as the song peaks for the groove flavored chorus that follows. When considering the better tracks from Unlimited Love this is one of the first that comes to mind.
“Living God” gets underway in a hard hitting manner before taking off to a catchy riff that cannot help but bring to mind Eternal Ryte. Proceeding through its first verse at a fast paced tempo, “Living God” peaks for a hook-driven chorus with a simple but straightforward message:
He’ll never die
Peter adorns the scene with more of his lively work on lead guitar.
Once again, the material on Unlimited Love really comes to life as a result of the stronger production values here. I tend to skip over one track, “Holy Spirit”; however, the remainder of the albums compositions are well constructed and hold up under repeated play. In the end, if you enjoy Unlimited Love then by all means pick up a copy of Lost In Vain as well.
The keyboard and string based ballad “Oh Lord” is the first of the two tracks from the bands 1992 single Be There Forever. The song slowly moves through its first and second verse and first chorus until a crisp rhythm guitar enters the mix in time to buttress its second chorus in emotional fashion. While “Oh Lord” is by no means bad musically, I find the backing vocals in its chorus to be laid on a bit too thick.
“Be There Forever” is an up-tempo hard rocker that starts to a drum solo before the rhythm guitar kicks in and drives it to a melodic based chorus bolstered by vocal harmonies. Great guitar solo from Peter that kind of reminds me of Chris Impellitteri.
Both of these tracks, obviously, represent some of Laudamus’ earliest work and, while it is certainly good to hear them for the first time, serve to showcase the bands potential which is later fulfilled on its follow up efforts Unlimited Love and Lost In Vain.
“Ready Or Not” opens the 1993 four song EP of the same name. By far the best song on Laudamus, “Ready Or Not” is a creative number full of time changes galore that almost has a bit of a progressive edge to it. The song commences to a catchy riff before tapering off for its first verse as the rhythm guitar drops from the mix. Slowly and gradually moving ahead, “Ready Or Not” picks up in pace as the rhythm guitar returns and leads the way to a chorus with an infectious hook you will be challenged to get rid of.
I like how “He Will Be There” embarks to an instrumental section with an almost jazz-fusion feel to it. The song proceeds to advance strong and steady until it reaches a chorus conveying a faith based message:
He will be there there
Just like he promised to
He gives us a helping hand
To reach the promised land
The jazz-fusion feel to the song returns during a second instrumental section carried by a fluid guitar solo.
“Healed By God” is a five minute ballad carried through its verse portions by an acoustic guitar until a trace of keyboards enters the mix in time to highlight the chorus that follows. After the song breaks for a nice stretch of emotional lead guitar work, the rhythm guitar enters the mix and takes things to their close.
The gritty “In Christ (We Are Strong)” forges ahead at a mid-tempo pace to a hard rocking blend of guitar and keyboards until it arrives at a chorus giving rise to an abundance of determined impetus. A blues based guitar solo helps put the song over the top.
Track Listing: “Unlimited Love” (3:40), “Wasting No Compassion” (4:25), “Feels Like Heaven” (3:26), “Slamdancer” (3:53), “More Than I’ll Ever Know” (6:12), “I’m On My Way” (3:27), “Holy Spirit” (4:30), “By His Grace” (3:51), “Evidence” (3:45), “Living God” (3:42), “Oh Lord” (4:29), “Be There Forever” (2:52), “Ready Or Not” (4:11), “He Will Be There” (3:29), “Healed By God” (5:25), “In Christ (We Are Strong)” (3:18)
Peter Stenlund – Lead Vocals, Guitars & Keyboards
Jonas Stenlund – Bass
Jonas Cederteg – Drums
Lars Nilsson – Keyboards
Also Reviewed: Laudamus – Lost In Vain