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Articles Home » 2007 Articles » Ladder, The (UK) - 2007 Sacred
 
Ladder, The (UK) - 2007 Sacred



ARTIST: Ladder, The (UK)
ALBUM: Sacred
LABEL: Escape Music
SERIAL: ESM 149
YEAR: 2007

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Steve Overland - vocals * Gerhard Pichler - guitars * Bob Skeat - bass * Pete Jupp - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Body And Soul * 02 Sacred * 03 Something To Believe In * 04 All Of My Life * 05 Believe In Me * 06 Run To You * 07 Here I Am * 08 Sea Of Love * 09 Make A Wish * 10 Mean Streets * 11 Abandoned

RATING:


Background
Fans of Steve Overland will need no second bite of the cherry to take a chunk out of the sophomore album by UK band The Ladder. First coming to the fore with the late 2004 release of their debut 'Future Miracles', The Ladder have continued what looks like a production line sequence of albums coming through the Escape Music printing press. Overland, also previously heard with Shadowman not forgetting his main outfit FM, can lay claim to owning one of the best set of vocals to ever come out of the UK melodic rock scene - and that fact hasn't changed with the release of 'Sacred'. What has changed though is that original guitarist Vinny Burns (Dare, Ten, Burns-Blue) has been replaced by Austrian six-stringer Gerhard Pichler (Melodica, Poley-Pichler), and the sound has taken on more of a modern slant - more so the arrangement values, less so the production. Mostly, the change in approach works well, and I found the whole album a consistent listen overall.


The Songs
Whereas 'Future Miracles' was an exercise involving older material - some penned from the FM days, the material on 'Sacred' is new. So new in fact, that there isn't a hint of the influences that made Steve Overland the man he is today. In that, I'm talking of Bad Company, Free, Paul Rodgers etc. Perhaps Gerhard Pichler's presence was a catalyst to approach things slightly differently? If it was, it certainly worked. Urgency is the word that first springs to mind with opener 'Body And Soul', a tune with melodic density. The title track is next, complete with unusual textures and undulating passages. In time, a song like 'Something To Believe In' could end up being a veritable classic, with its timeless vocal and melodic arrangement. Very nice song indeed! 'All Of My Life' merges simplicity with a slight funky edge whereas 'Believe In Me' contains a few interesting (modern) aspects. The rhythm is not your typical rock 'back-beat', but more a contrived 90's hit machine sound found on many singles during that era. In saying that though, the track is still kinda cool. My favourite track here in 'Run To You' - a track that mixes several styles in the space of five minutes. Swirling keys, translucent guitar melodies, hard riffing in places and multi-part vocals everywhere. Plus a chorus that sticks! Another track with populist aspirations is 'Here I Am', loads of rich acoustic guitar, a flurry of modern sounding keyboard parts and a nice guitar solo from Pichler. The other highlight here is the ballad 'Sea Of Love'. Tinkerbell keys, impassioned vocals and an effective toggle-switch that alternates between light/soft and dark/heavy. 'Make A Wish' makes the transition from acoustic ballad to hardened rocker with ease, not so sure that 'Mean Streets' does the same, the songtitle sounding more threatening than the music.. no real hard edge here, the music sounds too syrupy to be convincing. Thankfully, the album finishes on a high.. 'Abandoned' another of those predominant acoustic tunes with a luscious keyboard layer as accompaniment during the verses but shifts gear appreciably on the choruses. Great track.


In Summary
Don't be fooled into thinking that 'Sacred' is just a showcase for Overland and his majestic vocals. It isn't. The other players step up to the plate, and deliver a performance that justifies their place in the batting line-up. The album merits comment on its non-conformity to the tried and true recipe you hear on other contemporary AOR albums released in 2007. The fact that it sounds different, modern.. whatever you want to call it, is a boon for a stagnating AOR scene. Despite its point of difference, the underlying feature of 'Sacred' is layer after layer of pure melody. And to think that FM are returning to the stage real soon (Firefest) and that Overland's other band Shadowman have another album in the can - will ensure that fans go searching for cannisters of oxygen to avoid hyper-ventilating with excitement. In the meantime, add this CD to your collection with a GD recommendation.


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