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Saturday, January 24, 2015

CD-Review: Last Autumn's Dream - "Level Eleven"

It's impressive how many albums the Scandinavian band Last Autumn's Dream has produced since their start in 2004. With "Level Eleven" they release their 11th album in eleven years. This is a huge number. Most bands that are around for 20 years now aren't so productive. Now you might ask if this is always a good thing and to be honest although Last Autumn's Dream produced always good albums a certain continuity found its way in recent LAD records. Can "Level Eleven" add something new to the whole thing?

The answer is: yes, it can. "Level Eleven" has a very special twist and this is a harder edge with an overall more rockin' sound. When I listened to the opener "Kiss Me" I was wondering if I listen to a Last Autumn's Dream album. Instead bands like Salute or Lover Under Cover (both with fronter Mikael Erlandsson) came to my mind. That means Last Autumn's Dream sound very fresh here. This trend continues in songs like "Go, Go, Go" or "Delirious". Here you have the massive groove and the hard rockin' guitars paired with fantastic vocal performance by Mikael Erlandsson, who sounds also more agressive this time. That's the one site. 

On the other hand you still have the typical LAD feel-good-AOR tunes, which sound very traditional. Here the band delivers again strong harmonies and nice earworms. "Follow Your Heart" is representative for everything this band stands for and in my opinion it's the best song on this record.
Yeah and if you deal with an AOR record, what shouldn't be missed? Right, the big rock ballads and here LAD deliver again very soild fare with "Fight The World" and "Made Of Stone".
So if you sum up everything you could say that LAD never sounded that fresh and traditional at the same time. It's a really good combination, that works very well.

Nevertheless I have one major problem with "Level Eleven": it can't really grab me like previous records did. Maybe because you've heard many of the melodies before on previous LAD stuff. Especially in the second half of the album the songwriting feels more and more replaceable. Every LAD album offered some fillers, but also some huge anthems. This time the weighting is different. There are less huge hits, that means not many songs can stand out. Mainly you get solid fare - no more, no less and that leads to the fact that a huge number of tracks just passed me by.

The overall presentation is good, the band sounds tight and also new guitar player Peter "Pac" Söderström fits very well to the band. He delivers some cool solos that can't reach the unique play of former guitarist Andy Malecek, but nevertheless he is doing a really good job here. The one who can really shine on this album is again singer Mikael Erlandsson. In my opinion he is one of the best singers in Rock and I love it when he starts to roar, just to switch to a very clean and emotional vocal style in the next moment. Erlandsson always delivers and so he did on "Level Eleven".

So, the bottom line is a solid album with a fantastic singer, tight musicianship and solid songmaterial that combines traditional Last Autumn's Dream AOR-stuff with a slightly more rockin' note in sound. It is not a true evolution, but it is a step in the right direction to ensure that you don't listen to the same arrangements again and again. If the songwrtiting itself would offer more hitpotential and not just more of the same, this album could have been a very important turning point in LAD history. Maybe next time. For now you get a solid one which is made especially for Last Autumn's Dream and Mikael Erlandsson fans, as well as people who can't get enough of Scandi Rock.



01. Kiss Me *
02. Follow Your Heart *
03. Fight The World *
04. I'll Be There 4 U
05. Losing You
06. Go Go Go - Get Ready For The Show!
07. Delirious
08. Made Of Stone *
09. Stick Around
10. Star
11. PLZ

* best tracks

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