FIND ME – Dark Angel

find me - dark angelIf you have been a reader of my reviews for a while now, I guess you all know that I have a band name-issue. Yes, I have a problem with band names that I think blow and I have even dismissed records because I thought the band name was bad, so bad that there would be no chance in Hell that said record would be any good. Well, that way to reason has bitten my ass several times by now, so now when someone recommends a band to me, I check it out no matter what the band’s name is. Of course, a band name like Find Me puzzles me big time. No, it is not the greatest name in the world and frankly, I’m really curious how the founders of this project, Daniel Flores (The Murder Of My Sweet, Issa, Seventh Wonder) on drums and keyboards and lead singer Robbie Leblanc (Blanc Faces), thought when they picked the name. -“Hey, man, I got some killer tunes”. -“Yeah, me too. We should do something”. – “Yeah. Let’s start a project and release the songs”. -“Cool. But we need a name for the project”. -“Yeah. I know a killer name. Find Me! How about that?” – “Awesome!!!!”. Duh? I’m sure there’s a reason for the name and it probably means something that I haven’t figured out or maybe it’s something internal between the two dudes. Be that what it may, I know that the guys teamed up back in 2013 and released a critically acclaimed record, Wings Of Love, on Frontiers Records (what a shocker, an AOR project on Frontiers!!!), an album I didn’t bother to check out because of, well, you know, the name and stuff… I’m a moron, yes I know! However, by the release of this album, I have had a change of heart and mind and therefore decided to give this album at least a try. The reason for this is mainly because I really love the latest album by The Murder Of My Sweet, Beth Out Of Hell (reviewed here), an album Flores is the co-writer of. But where TMOMS have its roots in metal and hard rock, I know that Find Me is pure AOR and even though those elements sure comes up for air with TMOMS as well, they’re merely to spice it up a bit whereas in Find Me, no metal is to be found at all. At least that’s what I’m told. The rest of participants in this project are Philip Lindstrand on rhythm and lead Guitars and bass and Sören Kronqvist handles the keyboards with Christopher Vetter helping out on additional lead and clean guitars.

Before I pushed play on this record I didn’t have any expectations at all on it. Robbie Leblanc I hadn’t heard at all before – I hadn’t even heard OF him, to be honest,and with Flores, the only songwriting work I know by him is The Murder Of My Sweet – a great band, yes, but they’re not an AOR band.  Opener “Nowhere To Hide” knocks me right off my feet right away. It’s an extremely catchy tune with striking melodies and I’m hearing early Aldo Nova in it. What a great way to start. “Let Love Rule” is not a cover on the old Lenny Kravitz song, but a mid 80’s sounding AOR killer, so catchy it’s ridiculous. This is single material without a doubt. The title “Forever” might have been used to death, but the song that bears that name, a late 80’s Foreigner influenced power ballad, totally kills – impressive stuff. “Another Day” is a bit rougher and edgier than the rest of the songs so far and it sounds like a more AOR-ish Murder Of My Sweet with a contagious chorus. Leblanc duets here with Angelica Rylin, Flores TMOMS band mate and also his better half. Brilliant tune. The title track is also brilliant. The mix of Slippery When Wet (1986) – era Bon Jovi and Unruly Child works like a charm and the darker twist gives the song edge. “Bleed In The Rain” is a mid tempo AOR tune that makes me think of Robin Beck’s later stuff. I love the arrangements, the melody is really strong and the chorus is stickier than glue – very good. “Face To Face” would have been a number one hit, had it been released in the mid 80’s. I would release this as a single in a heartbeat if I was them. I would also release “Where Do I Go” as a single because this Foreigner meets Strangeways smelling AOR-rocker is a hit. And the single material keeps coming. “Midnight Memories” is fantastic and so catchy it hurts. The world actually need this song all over the air waves and it’s my favourite song on this album. “Don’t Slip Away” is a mid tempo ballad that sounds like something Mark Free could have used in Signal or Unruly Child. Which means quality. This is AOR heaven! “Did You Feel Any Love” has borrowed some from Don Henley’s “Boys Of Summer” and even tough that song isn’t on my list of favorite tunes, this song is brilliant AOR-rocker with huge hit feel – love it! Closing track “I’m Free” is more west coast than AOR, pop even and there is even a bigger Don Henley feel over the song. It doesn’t really move me and it is the album’s least striking track. It’s not bad, but it’s not awesome either. I would have loved a huge knock-out as the closing track, but it really doesn’t matter, the rest of the songs are so great I wanna play the album over and over again anyway.

What to make of all of this then? Well, the quality of the songs are high – I mean, extremely high. The fact is, the only thing that makes this album not a10/10 quality wise is the last song, but the rest of the tunes are all perfect, if you’re an AOR-fan. However, there is one little problem here and that is the lack of originality, identity and a sound of their own. See, there is nothing here that says: This is Find Me, this is their sound. Now, I usually don’t have problem with things like this, but – what I mean is that originality is extremely overrated, in my world there’s no need to invent the wheel again. The wheel is already here so let’s just make the best quality we can. But I want identity, I want to be able to hear what band I’m listening the first time I hear a new song and that don’t happen here. But as the songs are so amazingly good, I can see no reason not to purchase this if you’re into this kind of music. The production and mixing are crystal clear, a sonic joy to be honest and everyone involved are brilliant at what they do and I would go as far as to say that every AOR fan should own this record. Me, I have to check out their debut because if it’s only half as good as this one, it’s a must. The project’s name might not be all that – maybe they should have called the project Dark Angel and the album Find Me? – but the songs are fantastic. Find Me? Yes, I have finally done so.

8/10

Tracklist:

1. Nowhere To Hide
2. Let Love Rule
3. Forever
4. Another Day
5. Dark Angel
6. Bleed In The Rain
7. Face To Face
8. Where Do I Go
9. Midnight Memories
10. Don’t Slip Away From Me
11. Did You Feel Any Love
12. I’m Free

 

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