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Articles Home » 2013 Articles » Impera - 2013 Pieces Of Eden
Impera - 2013 Pieces Of Eden

ARTIST: Impera
ALBUM: Pieces Of Eden
LABEL: Escape Music
YEAR: 2013


LINEUP: Matti Alfonzetti - vocals * Tommy Denander - guitars * J.K.Impera - drums * Mats Vassfjord - bass

TRACK LISTING: 01 Beast Within * 02 These Chains * 03 All Alone * 04 Smalltown Blues * 05 Since You've Been Gone * 06 Goodbye * 07 Easy Come * 08 You And I * 09 This Is War * 10 Fire And The Flame



I really failed to get that excited with the Impera debut, 'Legacy Of Life' released in 2012. Quite surprising as I have always had a lot of time for Tommy Denander and Matti Alfonzetti. So with some trepidation I brought this new release, maybe late at night, in a drunken haze, in a bid binge on eBay, only to discover in the morning that it was one of numerous bids that I was successful on, well one must be responsible for their actions, and I paid the debt (I've done this too Chris.. so you're not alone.. Ed). So it sat there for a good couple of months unplayed, unloved and after reading many a review stating this was a promising release, after a great debut, yea but I have already mentioned my feelings on that one. Finally as a final act of desperation I took it along with me as the 'work journey album' for the week; I wondered if it would make it till Wednesday let alone Friday!

Well before I start the engines up, bit of background, which let's face it; most of us all know the history of at least half of the group. Denander continues to work 25 hours a day, lending a hand on the excellent Houston, Matti seems a slacker in comparison by only working a paltry 24 hours, with the likes of Skintrade, Bam Bam Boys, Road To Ruin, with a flourishing solo career and what can be deemed as Jagged Edge part 2, being the Red White and Blues. Let's not ignore the impact of the third of the song writing trio, being J K Impera, obviously more than just a drummer and add in the bass player Mats Vassfjord and together this pair are definitely not lightweights. A number of guests appear on the album, JK old sparring partner from his time with Lion's Share being Andy Loos plus the reappearance of Bob Kulick, who of course featured on the original version of 'Goodbye', way back in 1978; you will see later why I mention this rather detailed fact.

The Songs
'Beast Within' contains an interesting subject matter being a tribute to the 'Alien' film, which works very well, makes a nice change to the usual lyrical subject matter. Musically it glints with a heavy touch of Shinedown, yes a surprising source but does have the threat, which I like, and like Shinedown have shown on a number of occasions, has a killing melodic chorus.

'These Chains' has the Jagged Edge pedigree falling out of every musical element. The same can be said for 'All Alone', while it maintains the safe template of the verse, chorus, verse, the verses are quite dark and the pre-chorus is sufficiently persuasive, even precarious to make it interesting. Nice bit of chugging going on, the backing has an Axel Rudi Pell aspect to it.

Denander rarely displays the pink and fluffy stuff as found on the excellent Houston, but it doesn't distract, this is a different album, a change of styles for sure, but I found it still has immense levels of pulling power, even if there isn't a slightest whiff of Westcoast.

The joyous upbeat of 'Smalltown Blues', doesn't always keep me smiling, it finds itself in the land of Heartland, but for me it's probably the first time the album displays an average performance. Maybe it's just too happy for me or that the chorus of 'Roll, roll, roll away', is too similar to the sea shanty of 'row, row, row the boat'.

So bearing these thoughts in mind of the previous track the next one that follows has the same impact on this album of replacing James Milner with Andros Townsend, say with 15 minutes to go in the forthcoming World Cup game against Italy, (what invisible hold or mind bullets does Milner have over England managers and ITV commentators to warrant a game or the high praise that is placed upon him, I really don't know?) but with such a change gives a fresh impetus, something interesting, as, 'Since You've Been Gone' (nope not another makeover of Russ Ballard classic tune, to add to the likes of Rainbow, Impellitteri and Head East, I'm sorry to say), but a 35 yard screamer. Once again we see the resurrection of Jagged Edge and would easily fit on any of the Tangier or Badlands albums.

Many of the tunes here have a classic side which can be pointed at UFO and echoes of everyone's favourite Uncle Paul Stanley because the songs are so well written. Talking of Mr Stanley, well from his debut album we have a version of 'Goodbye'; it's obvious these guys are aware of their history. This is a great version in fact the best cover I've heard since The Opium Cartel version of the Blue Oyster Cult, 'Then Came The Last Days Of May (I'll keep plugging this until someone tells me I'm dreaming and wrong in my high estimations of this cover), which granted is not that long again, but you get what I'm trying to say. The drum sound is amazing, and it is good cos I don't usually mention this piece of the musical family in my articles. Although the appearance of this version is strangely still a source of a bit of a niggle to me, because yes after repeated plays of the album I always seem to have a quick flick through to listen again to 'Goodbye', because either it has a tendency to stand head and shoulders against the other tracks or maybe it is because it's such a good take on the original and breathes new life into it. I am hoping it is the latter reason, because it does sounds so 70's (good thing) and especially because they have managed not to rub out all those Stanley mannerisms. What it did do was make me go off and play the Stanley album as a whole, rather than just to hear the old version again.

I can easily forgive the awfully clich‚ 'Easy Come', yes my pet hate, please start using a thesaurus (although that could be said of me too), but how many times do we have the old 'easy come, easy go' lyric, as Father Jack Hackett would whisper (!) in Father Ted, 'What the feck?' Tesla use is fine, but please no more. So what about the song? It's a trip to the country where we find the likes of Beggars and Thieves mixing in the community that is also occupied by Tall Stories and Winger so all powerful bedfellows, lots of guitarist's bumping shoulders into each other on stage, that kinda thing.

Even better is 'You And I', do you remember fine day mike koglin remixthe time when Dokken used to sound like this? Plenty of George Lynch guitar snags here to get you hooked. I like the guts, the hard hitting, this is far from a whimper, this is a flurry of thunder and hit the banks of scandi metal, like the excellent Midnight Sun.

'This Is War' really just plays it safe, but much more enjoyable is 'Fire And The Flame' which has that Demon Drive, John Norum even Blue Murder fever to it, quite powerful and a genuine album track to finish this delightful ceremony.

In Summary
If David Coverdale ever decides to make his Whitesnake legacy a franchise when he retires (like Gene Simmons has always threatened to do) then it would be an inspired move to install Matti as the new general manager, although I wonder if he has the necessary screams on his C.V when he submits his application, whereas young Tommy is fast becoming the human melodic rock jukebox. I suppose my biggest compliment I can give this is that it sounds like a band that were formed in school halls, after school detentions, parents garages, rather a project and in this day and age of record executives raiding their album collections looking for past singers, once treated as gods to be just plugged into a computer and form an album by the internet, which seems to be the recipe of most AOR these days. OK, that might have been the case here and there are jolly good reasons for it, but some of the obvious projects seem to outweigh bonafide groups which is a shame. But let's not finish on a downside, this album breaths quality and manages to provide 10 tracks that are different and for once they are easily identifiable, they have more musical awareness then even Ronaldo has in the penalty box, it's just these guys can managed to stay on their feet long enough to provide a great finish. I am looking forward to album number 3, and that's something I wouldn't imagine I would be saying a couple of years ago. Maybe it's time for me to break out the debut again?

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