Saturday, October 18, 2014

Allen/Lande - The Great Divide (2014)

Russell Allen and Jorn Lande. Two amazing singers that has contributed to some fantastic music during their individual careers. One spends his time with fronting Symphony X and Adrenaline Mob, while the other is a former Masterplan singer and now focuses most of his energy on his solo band. But at the side of their main projects, these guys have also done 3 albums together under the name Allen/Lande, taken from their surnames of course, a project that has now reached its fourth album entitled "The Great Divide".

The big thing that separates this album from the other three is the main composer. The previous three albums had music written by guitarist Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear, Starbreaker, Magnus Karlsson's Free Fall), but he left the project in 2010. And his successor is... Timo Tolkki, who we all know is the former guitarist of Stratovarius and the man who recently started his own solo project called Timo Tolkki's Avalon, whom released two very mediocre albums, so I was worried that the music on "The Great Divide" would be substandard.

Fortunately, my fears were dismissed easily, since the music holds a good standard. Just like with the previous Allen/Lande albums, "The Great Divide" is a more classic inspired heavy metal album that fits both vocalists very well. The music does have some similarity with what Tolkki has done in his Avalon, but it does not overtake the album. Besides, I think that both Russell and Jorn are such competent singers that they can take a mediocre song and make it better. Also, I had some trouble separating which of the two front men was singing on what song, since their vocals are surprisingly similar, but that only works as an advantage since it makes the album more unified. Besides, you do hear the difference after the right amount of listens.

But if I should be honest, I do not care who sings which songs, because both Allen and Lande does a great job in this album, especially Allen who has left the stupid in your face attitude he has in Adrenaline Mob, and instead focuses on doing some great singing. His best performance comes in "Reaching For The Stars", a semi-slow song that gives a lot of room to the singer so he can show his full potential. My favourite Lande moment is his performance on the chorus to "Down From The Mountain" where he goes all in and put out all his power into a few lines of lyrics. Just fantastic.

Then there are of course other notable songs in this album, like the grand semi-ballad "Hymn To The Fallen",  the heavy "Dream About Tomorrow", or even "Lady of Winter" that sounds like it is ripped off of one of the Jorn albums (which of course makes it perfectly suitable for Lande). And ultimately it is those songs that sounds less like a creation from any of the previous or current Tolkki projects that really lifts "The Great Divide". A song like the opener "Come Dream With Me" just does not get me going thanks to the fact that it sounds like something out of a Revolution Renaissance record. This is clearly the best Timo Tolkki written album outside of Stratovarius, but it could have been even better if he kept it clean and simple with the classic heavy metal theme.

So once again I can admit that Allen and Lande makes a great team, even without Magnus Karlsson by their side. "The Great Divide" is a fine heavy metal record that is a must buy for fans of both vocalists, and even for those who enjoy the work of Timo Tolkki. His involvement did not bring as much change as I was fearing, but it did rattle the cage a small bit so the album would stand out against the other 3 Allen/Lande creations. No matter what, "The Great Divide" is an excellent album with great musicianship and good team work.

Songs worthy of recognition: Reaching For The Stars, Down From the Mountain, Lady of Winter

Rating: 8/10 Solid Grounds

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