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Articles Home » 2008 Articles » Pleasure Dome - 2008 For Your Personal Amusement
Pleasure Dome - 2008 For Your Personal Amusement

ARTIST: Pleasure Dome
ALBUM: For Your Personal Amusement
LABEL: Escape Music
YEAR: 2008


LINEUP: Ted Poley - vocals * Dave Tsien - guitars * Charlie Calv - keyboards * Ed Avila Jnr - bass * John Hummel - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 For Your Personal Amusement Intro * 02 Trapped * 03 One And Only * 04 The Aura That Surrounds You * 05 Praying For A Miracle * 06 Always Tomorrow * 07 Love Is A Game * 08 Seems Like A Dream * 09 I Won't Cry * 10 Return To Zero * 11 Who Will Save The World * 12 For Your Personal Amusement Outro



On paper, these New Jersey rockers would have you believe this is the second coming of long lost pomp gods Prophet combined with 'son of' Shotgun Symphony! Certainly the band's previous membership would suggest so. Calv, Avila and Hummel have all been members of SS, while Tsien and Calv have been members of Skintag. Poley needs no introduction here, so an interesting array of talent on this understated Escape Music project - Pleasure Dome. According to the band's bio, they have been in some shape or form since 2004, but it wasn't until 2007 that things accelerated, where breaks in each others schedule cropped up. Recorded by keyboardist Calv, and mixed by Martin Kronlund (Gypsy Rose, White Wolf) in Sweden. So what of the sound? It's been described as 'a tight power-pop roller-coaster ride of soaring melodies, crafty guitars and colourful sounds that is destined to become another classic'. Er right.. Perhaps the PR guy went a bit overboard with that description. I don't hear that much of the power-pop thing happening, but this is a pretty good slab of hard rock with a slightly darker and intense edge. The interplay between guitarist Tsien and ivory meister Calv is a definite feature of this album.

The Songs
The band open and end the album with the title theme 'For Your Personal Amusement'. Brief intro and outro interludes, but it's the songs in between that really matter, and I'm loving a lot of this. The first real track is 'Trapped'. Fuelled by some hard pumping bass lines, this one has a bit of angst and turmoil thrown into the mix, the guitar solo captured in a soupy mix of reverb and delay. 'One And Only' melds that classic Danger Danger melody with Enuff Znuff's pop metal brand. This is great stuff, quite poppy and bright by comparison. We talked earlier about that darker edge in which this band rides the razor on. 'The Aura That Surrounds You' is a good example of that. The keys provide the atmosphere, the drums are the metronome, while the guitars provide the torchlight. Pleasure Dome revert to ballad mode for 'Praying For A Miracle', dropping into Nelson and Danger Danger territory with ease. Nice track. Charlie Calv weaves a tapestry of synthesis on the awesome 'Always Tomorrow', there's so much to like about this track, which is the closest sounding to Shotgun Symphony without the high-pitched vocals of Tracy White. Tsien's riffing hovers back in that Enuff Znuff zone again for 'Love Is A Game', the song offset by some female vocals (unsure who she is) but she sounds kinda similar to Debbie Davis (Witness). Keyboard freaks will love the instrumental 'Seems Like A Dream'. If you love listening to Geoff Downes on long orchestrated pieces, or a guy like Eric Ragno (Vox Tempus) then you'll love this. It segues into the slow burn of 'I Won't Cry' which sees Ted sharing lead vocals with our female accomplice. The song is an intense exercise with drama and personality. Ed Avila sets the bass pulse on 'Return To Zero', the track is probably the most progressive sounding piece on the album. The last proper song 'Who Will Save The World' is another highlight. Wind the clock back to the first Talisman album for a reference point. The track builds nicely, but unfortunately the chorus sounded too much like the verse. It really needed differentiation. Apart from that though, still a terrific song.. the keyboard solo in particular is outrageously good.

In Summary
To be honest, I didn't approach this album with a great deal of confidence, but I came away very impressed. No, actually - super impressed! There's not a lot of the previous pomp/AOR influence that the band members are best remembered for, instead the sound is 90's decade melodic rock with some metallic flair, progressive layers, while a couple of commercial tracks are used to smooth off the rough edges. I like how Charlie Calv creates density, mood and atmosphere with his keyboard textures, everything else operates around it. Pleasure Dome will appeal to those looking for a dose of intelligently created melodic hard rock. Those seeking some short term superficial relief should look elsewhere.

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#1 | gdazegod on November 05 2008 08:17:35
If I can say one thing about Escape Music releases.. whoever is running the art department should be fired! Their album covers suck big time. I respect Khalil and Barrie big time worthy, but their art cover selections are not inspiring. This one goes into the list for worst cover of 2008!
#2 | jeffrey343 on December 08 2008 03:17:42
This is out there on Rhapsody, so I gave it a listen and came away very impressed! Ted Poley's voice sounds a little older than in the early Danger Danger days, but it has a nice edge to it. "One And Only" is greatness - I think it sounds a LOT like it could have been a Dokken song. "Who Will Save The World" is the other big winner to me. The way they drop the superhero references is classic. I'll agree that the chorus is very similar to the verse, but the song is clever as hell. The whole album is very good.
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