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Mattson - 2003 Powergames

Lars Eric Mattsson - guitars, bass and keyboards
Lance King - all vocals
Eddie Sledgehammer - drums

It's another Mattsson album, and another opportunity to hear what Lars has been up to lately. To be absolutely frank, I'm not too enthused with the new album for two main reasons. Firstly, the style of neo-classical hard rock on display - particularly the guitar sound is not where I'm at. Secondly, the choice of singers in the past has been... let's just say, interesting. Having said that, my reservations were swayed somewhat by seeing the involvement of Lance King on vocals. Perhaps Lars will manage to swing my vote this time. The press bio with this says it's Lars' most complex release so far. I haven't heard his work on his progressive projects such as Condition Red, but in comparison to the work I have heard it is definitely more progressive. In keeping with the prog theme, the album has only eight tracks. Of those seven are vocal and one is an instrumental which goes on for a whopping 17 minutes. Bringing in the talented Mr. King is definitely an improvement, and Lance doesn't let us down with a very good performance. Not only are Lance's vocals a step up, but his vocal arrangements bring more depth to the choruses than on previous Mattsson albums.

The Songs
Now onto Lars himself. Has he managed to swing my vote? I'm afraid not. There are some pretty good songs, such as opener 'Open The Gate' and the effective ballad 'Chained To My Pain', but I still can't appreciate Lars' approach to the guitar. Though technically proficient, the softer moments lack warmth and the heavier moments lack, want for a better word, balls! It's all a bit too neat and tidy. Production wise the album could have sounded better. The drums sound very dull and the guitars don't have enough crunch.

In Summary
If you've got an affinity with Lars Eric Mattsson's music, that won't change with 'Powergames'. Bringing onboard Lance King is a big step in the right direction. Hopefully that will continue in the future. One day I'd like to hear Lars just let it rip with scant regard for safety rather than trying make every note sound perfect. Come on Lars, take a walk on the wild side!

Track Time: 57:51

Track Listing:
01 Open The Gate
02 Victim Of Freedom
03 Blind Faith
04 Chained To My Pain
05 Bridge To The Past
06 Safely Through The Fight
07 Beyond The Horizon - Guitar Concerto No 1
08 Lead Me On My Way

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