Mostly written and co-produced with the Frontiers labels’ in-house producer Alessandro Del Vecchio, who is a fine musician in his own right (Hardline, Voodoo Circle) it has taken a pain staking 2 years to write.
This time Jorn has put together a band not of session musicians but consisting of Primal Fear members Alex Beyrodt (guitars), Mat Sinner (bass), Francesco Jovino (drums) and Del Vecchio himself on keyboards.
With this line up you would expect a mixture of heavy hitting guitar work along with great melodies and hooks and a powerhouse rhythm section combined with Jorn’s outstanding vocal capabilities and some Whitesnake and Dio influences. You might think you’ll know what you’re going to get if you are a Jorn fan but this album lifts him to a whole new level. There are also a couple of surprise guests!
Album opener and title track ‘Life on Death Road’ is a searing, blistering attack on your eardrums and senses. Fast, heavy with some great riffs and powerful drumming from Jovino it’s a seven odd minutes belter with the guests appearing on the guitar solos featuring Craig Goldy (Dio and now Dio Disciples) and Gus G (Firewind, Ozzy Osbourne, Arch Enemy and Kamelot to name a few) as well as Beyrodt himself.
Several other songs on the album follow in the same vein including ‘Love is The Remedy’ (with another shredding solo from Gus G), The Slippery Slope (Hangman’s Rope) and ‘Insoluble Maze (Dreams in The Blindness)’, the later being very reminiscent of a Dio-era song with a mixture of his own material and his time with Black Sabbath but it’s definitely Jorn’s song in terms of the vocal delivery.
There are a few more heavy rock style songs on the album like ‘Hammered to The Cross (The Business)’ with its slower riff and classic steady bass and drum lines, ’Devil You Can Drive’, with a nice keyboard part from Del Vecchio and ‘Man From The 80’s’ which lyrically will resonate with those of a certain age!!
Of course there are a couple of ballads. ‘Dreamwalker’ with a piano intro that suggests a standard ballad but which explodes into something a lot more along the lines of a power metal ballad, melodic with strong vocals, great guitar solo and a nice three part harmony vocal to finish.
The real full on ballad on the album is the wonderful ‘The Optimist’. Co-written by Gus G it has a mixture of subtle guitar, bass, drums and keyboard lines and Jorn can’t help himself dipping back into his last album with some lyrical nods to the likes of Kate Bush with the term cloud busting being used as one example (see if you can spot a few others…).
Finally we come to the David Coverdale/Whitesnake influenced songs. Again they are all Jorns and not a copy cat like say on The Snakes’ album. ‘Fire to The Sun’, however, could’ve been on Whitesnake’s 1987 album and not been out of place, with the whole band in full flow with hard kicking drums and a great melodic solo from Beyrodt. ‘I Walked Away’ is a more bluesy song in the style of the early Snake or Coverdale solo era with a solid rhythm section and Jorn showing off his vocal range from low end blues to higher end screams, again making it his own. A short but fantastic solo just makes the song work beautifully.
Album closer ‘Blackbirds’ is the last example of how early Whitesnake influenced Jorn with its opening vocal delivery and lyrics before morphing into something more from the late 80’s era with yet another great solo from Beyrodt.
In no way are any of these songs ‘tribute’ songs, they clearly show their influence but are delivered with passion and a more modern sound thanks to the great production from Lande and del Vecchio.
It’s hard to summarise an album roughly 70 minutes in length in a few words but for the King of Norwegian Heavy / Power metal vocals this may well be his crowning glory. Buy it, you won’t regret a minute of it.
Review by Andy Gillen
Life on Death Road is out now on Frontiers Music srl