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Articles Home » 2009 Articles » Salute - 2009 Toy Soldier
Salute - 2009 Toy Soldier

ARTIST: Salute
ALBUM: Toy Soldier
LABEL: Escape Music
YEAR: 2009


LINEUP: Mikael Erlandsson - lead vocals, keyboards * Martin Kronlund - guitars, bass * Imre Daun - drums, percussion * Dan Helgesen - hammond organ on 'Lost In A Dream'.

TRACK LISTING: 01 Lost In A Dream * 02 Cheated * 03 Toy Soldier * 04 I Am Your Prisoner * 05 Dynamite * 06 I Really Want You In My Life * 07 It's My Time * 08 Follow The Sun * 09 Running Away With You * 10 Steel Desire * 11 Be A Star * 12 Yesterday Always Been Gone


Not being the biggest fan of Mikael Erlandsson, I am totally surprised with how good his new project Salute actually is. Combining forces with Gypsy Rose and White Wolf affiliated Martin Kronlund and Imre Daun, Erlandsson and his compadres have delivered a very good hard rock album. Last caught singing with Last Autumns Dream, an underrated outfit by anyone's standards, that band has improved in leaps and bounds since their early days, and I guess Salute is representative of Erlandsson's recent form. Salute is heavied up with Kronlund's guitar to the fore, this is not lightweight fare at all! It borders on metal, and that may come as a surprise to most.

The Songs
Lots of organ/guitar driven rock kick starts the album as per the opener ' Lost In A Dream'. They've chosen their opening track well, as it sets the pace for the rest of the album. Mikael's voice is raspy as usual and well suited to the metal like bludgeon emanating forth.

'Cheated' reminds me of Grand Illusion, those wonderful AOR/pompsters also from Sweden, though not as grandiose as those guys.. (Peter, Anders.. please reform!!) This one has some cutting guitar and two tracks in, it's all muscle and bristle.

The title track 'Toy Soldier' is an amusing track, with a fusion of different ideas (shuffle beat, power-pop like choruses, the kids nursery rhymes in the lyrics) that works a treat.

The first power ballad arrives in the shape of the tortured (literally speaking) 'I Am Your Prisoner'. It's another remake of the fragile and dependent relationships that develop between man and woman.

There's lots to like about 'Dynamite', the song living up to its title, musically caught between Pink Cream 69 and Gotthard.

A piano entrance precedes the orchestral flavours of 'I Really Want You In My Life', a slower song with depth, again I am reminded of Grand Illusion musically, though of course the vocals sound different. I mean, there is only one Peter Sundell after all!

'It's My Time' is another solid rocker, with Kronlund dealing out some riffs that open the song, though noticeably during the middle is somewhat smothered over by chorused vocals and keyboards.

'Follow The Sun' is reminiscent of Erlandsson's earlier solo work (we're talking mid 90's period). An earthy rocker with organ and a (sort of) mid-west vibe. Probably the most different track onboard.

'Running Away With You' features more organ, and depending which end of the time spectrum you use as your reference point, you'll either be recalling Deep Purple/Lucifers Friend at one end, or Gotthard at the other.

A splash of modern keys introduces 'Steel Desire', but shortly after this one speeds along like a Japanese bullet train! This one is built on a fast metronome, and the style works well for Erlandsson.

Kronlund delivers some Def Leppard inspired riffs for 'Be A Star', as this track operates in the center-lane of melodic rock, and sounds peach perfect.

The closing 'Yesterdays Always Been Gone' sounds like a trip down memory lane, and interestingly fuses modern melodic rock with a slightly whimsical approach. It's hard to describe, but guys like Robby Valentine and Valensia have been dabbling in this style for a number of years, so I guess they are good reference points. I think I heard The Beatles mentioned in the lyrics, so that probably suggests where the influence of this song comes from.

In Summary
If 2008 was a year of quality hard rock and AOR releases, then 2009 would be a poor comparison, because by and large, a lot of this years releases have been very average. What I will say though, is that 2009 has been populated by some surprisingly good releases from acts or artists that I wouldn't normally consider to be that strong. Salute's 'Toy Soldier' fits the bill perfectly for that latter description. Don't be fooled by all the environmental factors surrounding this CD (label, personnel, perceived musical style). This is actually rather good, hence my rating of 9.

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