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Frozen Rain - 2012 Ahead Of Time



ARTIST: Frozen Rain
ALBUM: Ahead Of Time
LABEL: Avenue Of Allies
SERIAL: 12-01-0039
YEAR: 2012
SPONSOR: Germusica

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Carsten Schulz - vocals * Kurt Vereecke - keyboards, bass, acoustic guitar, backing vocals * Jurgen Vitrier - keyboards * Pik Priem - guitars * Vincent De Laat - bass * Hans Vereecke - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Believe It Or Not * 02 Forever * 03 Breakin' Out * 04 We're Gonna Rock * 05 Too Late * 06 Turn It On * 07 Ahead Of Time * 08 The Last Dance Ain't Over * 09 Not At Home * 10 The Way That You * 11 Voodoo Party

RATING:

WEBLINKS: www.frozenrain.be


Background
Belgian keyboardist Kurt Veerecke is a regular friend of GD, and his 2008 debut with his band project Frozen Rain was an excellent slice of AOR. It's taken three years for a follow-up, and you'd be thinking this is a different outfit altogether judging by the material on 'Ahead Of Time'. Where the debut was quite a smooth brand of AOR, 'Ahead Of Time' is a brash guitar oriented affair with coarse vocals provided by veteran German singer Carsten Schulz. He can be heard on the Paradise Inc album from last year, but also on albums by Evidence One and Midnite Club among others. For me, most of the tracks work a treat, if you are inclined toward things heavier. Yes, the sound is raw and powerful in places, and the guitar tone is quite unique to my ears. OK I'll say it up front, I'm not a fan of new guitarist Rik Priem. If it isn't his tone, then it's the way he creates a shrill sounding vibrato that kills it. Thankfully, Kurt's keyboards help smooth things over mostly. If you take a dab of Terra Nova, mix it up with some Evidence One and Affair, then this would represent the 'new' Frozen Rain. It's not a direction I'm pleased about, but hey.. it's progress.. However, in their defence, they have centralised all activity around a core of players, unlike the last time when a cast of thousands was used. Added to the new direction, mixing is handled by Alessandro Del Vecchio and mastering/engineering by Denis Ward.


The Songs
Things get off to great start with the opener 'Believe It Or Not', 80's/90's sounding synths precede the boisterous affair to follow. Schulz vocals are identifiable early on, with 'Suzanna' being belted out on the chorus.. who she is I have no idea. 'Forever' is a racy number with a cool chorus, but things take a turn for the better with the excellent 'Breakin' Out'. This is more to do with the arrangement and juicy synths filling out the chorus. It's a winner for me! 'We're Gonna Rock' is another to impress, the guitar/keyboard connect is really really good.. winner number two. 'Too Late' is the first ballad, and was written by Kurt's daughter. A good track though it could've done with a Mark Free or Lee Small to carry it to another level I reckon. 'Turn It On' continues the brash and brazen sound, in some ways familiar to last years great Shy CD. The title track is next, and the aforementioned Shy is a good fit. This track is pretty good actually, very melodic, not allowing the guitars to dominate too much, but the chorus could've been better. Despite the guitar heroics, 'The Last Dance Ain't Over' works wonders, the fast and brutal approach borders on HM territory, but don't let that put you off. I like the AOR style of 'The Way That You..'. Kurt's keyboard work is impressive here, and the song itself keeps to the tried and true melodic footpath. The album closer 'Voodoo Party' is a pot pourri instrumental, with everything from vocoder parts, divebombing guitar antics, and an array of keyboard sounds. This track is certainly the odd man out!


In Summary
It's taken me ages to write this review, and that's only due to giving it a thorough listen before putting finger to keyboard. I know there's a large time gap between albums, but things are quite different now. Though I appreciate the change of direction, it sounds like we've got a completely new band in operation. That's not a criticism, just an observation. For those of you who enjoyed the debut Frozen Rain CD, I'm not sure you'll get value for money, but that's not to say you should check it out and listen to it anyway. Consider yourself forewarned, and the oft used phrase 'your mileage may vary' should be applied liberally in this instance.


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