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Baal - 1996 Sensorama



ARTIST: Baal
ALBUM: Sensorama
LABEL: Virgin Records
SERIAL: VIR8415482
YEAR: 1996

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Bjrn Fjstad - vocals * David Kampmann - guitars * Jimmi Krogsgaard - bass * Henrik Steen Nielsen - keyboards * Jesper Grann - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 King Media * 02 Burnfeast * 03 Chronical Love Song * 04 Let Me Go Down * 05 Bubble Fake * 06 Dragon And The Bird * 07 My Boy * 08 Let It Flow * 09 Violent And Different * 10 Fall And Rise * 11 Eurodope * 12 Bikerhead * 13 Steam Of Guilt * 14 The Last Show On Earth

WEBLINKS: www.baalworld.com


Background
This is Baal's debut, released in 1996, the edition I picked up is the Japanese version, which contained 2 extra live tracks and came in a different cover to the European release. Baal hail from Denmark, they released 5 studio cds along with a live one, in fact after a break it seems they are currently mixing a new cd and new dates have been arranged. This really is a difficult one to assess. It's not your normal easy listening CD, it's not AOR, or melodic rock but really a morphing together of a number of different styles, being pop rock, indie, maybe opera infused pop, with lots of stabbing piano. More recent releases they seem to have toned down a bit. Feeling a bit adventurous (as far as an accountant can get) I had picked up their 2003 release 'The Supreme Machine' on 12 November 2004 (I have kept a record of every CD/vinyl purchase since 1995, worrying isn't it!), which contains two cracking tracks in the shape of 'Writing On The Wall' and 'The World Is Losing Air', after reading a review on a melodic rock site and a small review in the old fanzine 'Frontline', which mentioned the special word, 'QUEEN'. This sparked my curiosity, yes it does touch upon classic Queen but not in a obvious way, say like Valensia do. I made a mental note to look for any other of their releases and it wasn't until recently that I picked up a Japanese version of 'Sensorama' for as little as 4 on a market stall, sitting alongside All Saints and Celine Dion!


The Songs
The cd kicks off with 'King Media', which has a similar starting riff to Gotthard's 'Anytime Anywhere', but that's where the similarities end, instead we get an uptempo version of Enuff Znuff and see if you can spot the Gershwin's 'American In Paris' break. This is followed with 'Burnfeast', with it's cello opening, then a slow 'cockney influence' like The Small Faces, then melts into a Queen vocal choral which is very reminiscent of what you find on 'Lap Of The Gods' from 'Sheer Heart Attack'. It really is a mini opera in just 3 minutes and 26 seconds. It's a track that would not look out of place on a 1970's edition of 'The Old Grey Whistle Test', screened in the early hours of the morning, and just listen to that piano melody at the end of the tune. I didn't pick that melody up until after number of plays. 'Chronical Love Song' is similar in song structure as the previous tune, which has The Feeling style chorus, however this would be the sound of The Feeling if they started to sprout horns and devils wings. It's complex, challenging, intelligent but ultimately rewarding. You never know what's round the corner with Baal, as this tune finishes with a hard rock guitar solo. 'Let Me Go Down', begins with piano again and builds to a crescendo. Angie Aparo springs to mind while punctuated with Lenny Wolf (Kingdom Come) style screams, no less, with the singer & main songwriter, Bjorn Fjaestad vocal chords straining, but he stills carries it off, he puts every inch of his body into this particular performance. This flows into 'Bubble Fake', with it's Big Money introduction. Lyric wise I am reminded of the great Kevin Gilbert. With the lyric 'credit had run out', being quite topical in the current United Kingdom financial climate. 'Dragon And The Bird', is really a more straight forward rock number (if Baal could do such a thing!), with it's thumping bass lines, expressing hints of New England. The more I listen to this CD, the better it gets, small parts open up at different times, it lives, it breathes quality. The continuing influence of Enuff Znuff is represented by 'Let It Flow',but with more piano and passionate vocals, while 'Violet and Different' at only 2 mins & 42 seconds displays very much a Queen style. 'Bikerhead' s a psycho Baal song, which mixes ABBA with Ministry, a recipe that doesn't really work for me.


In Summary
This CD is like a screaming baby, it craves attention and it's only when you give it the necessary attention and care does it show it's true beauty and individualism. It's an exhausting record and not always the easiest one to listen to in one session. If you are looking for a challenging 'pop' CD then it's worth investigating. After 12 years since its release it still sounds very fresh. Listening to more recent tracks on their Myspace I still feel that these ones are safer and not exactly in the same style of the songs on 'Sensorama'. My last note on the subject is please listen to 'The Last Show On Earth' and create a picture in your mind of Freddie Mercury sitting at his piano and singing this tune.


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Comments
#1 | englandashes on January 01 1970 01:00:00
Eric, if you do, I would be interested in your views, by the way on youtube, someone has posted the tune ' Writing on the wall' and also a video for one of their more recent songs, Copenhagen Streetlights, these 2 show different sides to BAAL, worth checking out.
#2 | Eric on September 07 2008 13:42:57
Highly interesting review. I'll have to check this out!
#3 | jefflynnefan on September 07 2008 23:19:03
Is that Dave Letterman on the cover? lol
#4 | gdazegod on September 08 2008 02:08:54
Haha.. David Letterman encased in carbonite (a la Hans Solo in Star Wars!)
#5 | jefflynnefan on September 09 2008 00:11:14
Thanks, I'll check out the video for 'Writing On The Wall' the next time I'm at Youtube!
#6 | Eric on September 10 2008 13:15:35
Checked out the videos. Interesting vocals from Bjorn on both. I need to get the CD.
#7 | dangerzone on September 16 2008 05:45:35
That looks more like 'Abominog's brother I think!
 
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