As is becoming a tradition I had half a review written detailing the many exploits of Magnus Karlsson of late before Microsoft struck and with a reboot undid the entire thing. Between all his projects and doodads the man seems unwilling to stop cranking out album after album of his own style of melodic heavy metal. Between most recent (and decidedly lukewarm) Frontiers Records team-up Allen/Olzon and the upcoming Primal Fear full length the time is right to unleash the third album released under the Free Fall moniker. And with all this material just getting cranked out one would be hard pressed to remember much of anything of the previous two albums – that is aside from the phenomenal Jorn Lande blessed title track off the previous album Kingdom of Rock (2015). The third one is titled We Are the Night and is much like the previous two based on the noodling of Karlsson’s guitar, as well as the songwriting and multi instrumentalism of the same.
Vocals are once again handled by guests and friends from afar as well as Karlsson himself on a couple of the songs. The guests include the overrated (there, I said it) Ronnie Romero (The Ferrymen, Lords of Black, Rainbow) and Tony Martin who still lives on the legacy of being Black Sabbath’s third best vocalist. The inclusion of Romero especially is confounding, given the bleak One by One he appears on could just as easily have been tossed on a The Ferrymen album; it just feels like filler left out from there. Dino Jelusić (Stone Leaders, Animal Drive) lend some Coverdale inspired weight to a couple of tracks, not least is Hold Your Fire which blasts the album open on a high note. As usual though, Karlsson himself sings a few of the tunes, and makes an absolute blast of it, proving himself the perfect fit in the title track and Don’t Walk Away. The catchy guitar noodling is obviously the main focal point of the entire project, and to that end Karlsson does tend to put some of his strongest songwriting chops to the table here.
The strongest tracks see massive rhythms broken intermittently by furious lead work and soloing galore, always grounded in the beefy drum work of Jaime Salazar. Other tracks take a more AOR route that fit Karlsson’s strengths so well. Everything is catchy, and it’s all perfectly polished in a flawless Jacob Hansen production, but it’s just never too memorable, to which end tracks like the slow Queen of Fire, Under the Sign of the Star and Temples and Towers just bring little of interest, though Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast) lends a great performance on the first one. Aside from a few tracks gaining some traction, there’s little staying power and little in the way of innovation. Karlsson also tends to show off his skill and abilities without going to extremes and taking to shredding or overdone soloing (instrumental On My Way Back to Earth is a fine example); the elements are put in place to make the album an enjoyable, if straightforward and taken at face value fairly simple, listen meant to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. It’s all well and good and definitely a fine album to crank on your average drive on a curving country road, but… when the next one comes out, how much of this will still be getting played regularly?
Standout tracks: We Are the Night, Don’t Walk Away, On My Way Back to Earth