REACH – Reach Out To Rock

Reach - Reach Out To RockSweden has, since the mid 80’s delivered hard rock in all of its forms with the highest quality. Sure, no genre has been created in Sweden and yes, there hasn’t been any Swedish acts that has re-started any new trend. But! We have always had extremely talented musicians and song writers in this country and a huge passion for the music that has been played. Not only in rock music, I might add. Singers, musicians and song writers from this country has always stood high in course, no matter the genre. Except for two (three, depending how you count) exceptions. Death Metal is one. In the 90’s, Sweden – and our second biggest city Gothenburg in particular – was way ahead of the rest of the world and there is actually a brand of death metal called The Gothenburg Sound. Bands from all over the world wanted to be part of that and it put Sweden on the map in those circles. The other is, what some people call TNWOSGAS – The New Wave Of Swedish Glam And Sleaze. In the early 2000’s bands such as Crashdïet, Crazy Lixx, Hardcore Superstar, Babylon Bombs, Sister Sin and Dynazty were all over the place, in a time when nobody gave a shit and most people had one foot in the now (thank God) dying nu-metal genre. As a spin-off from the glam and sleaze, shitloads of AOR and melodic rock bands has made a big impression internationally and especially England seems to have embraced the melodic trend. Sure, big bands like Def Leppard and Bon Jovi has been big no matter the trend, but there has been an explosion of old rockers from the 80’s reuniting in later years. Bands such as H.E.A.T., Eclipse, W.E.T. (yes, I know that Jeff Scott Soto is American), Nubian Rose, Grand Design, Houston, Impera and Laney’s Legion has been greeted with some raving reviews in the rock press and also creating a pretty large fan base. Especially H.E.A.T. must have world domination just around the corner. That’s why it’s time to say welcome to the next Swedish act to reach (pun, yeah, yeah…) out for the big success. Reach were born back in 2012 by drummer Marcus Johansson and guitarist Ludvig Turner (who also participated in Swedish Idol) and the band was completed by bassist David Jones and singer Alex Waghorn. One of the first things the band did was to record a cover of the big Avicii hit “Wake Me Up”. Why they did that beats the hell out of me, but I guess they thought the song just couldn’t get any worse. It did become somewhat a hit, though and there is talk about 1 000 000 YouTube hits. Their cover version also happens to be very good, I must admit and whips the crap out of the original. But now it’s time for this young four piece’s real trial by fire – their debut album. With them they have Pontus Norgren (Hammerfall, ex – Poodles, Zan Clan, Jekyll & Hyde, Talisman, Humanimal, Great King Rat) as a mixing engineer – and for all of us that have experienced Pontus’ work as a sound engineer for live gigs, knows that the guy ‘s work is pure world-class. As the production team, Reach is joined by unknowns Erik Modin and Johannes Hennoks, two guys who also has a trial by fire with this album.

With influences such as Whitesnake, Europe, Scorpions and Gary Moore – their words – and a pre-talk about these guys being the next big thing in the AOR / melodic rock world, the album they have made sure has a whole lot to live up to. Opener and first single “You Called My Name”  doesn’t exactly lower the expectations. It’s a perfect little AOR gem that has borrowed some from Ratt’s “Round And Round” riff complete with an addictive melody and the whole thing screams HIT a long way. “Fortune And Fame” follows the same path, a brilliant AOR rocker with a huge hit potential, the chorus is a killer! And they just keep them coming, “Tell Me” – catchy as hell with some mind-blowing hooks, “We Are” – brilliant melodic hard rock with a refrain that sticks like glue, “Someone Like You” – a glistening melodic rocker with a big Treat influence and “The Beast” – a heavy melodic hard rocker with heavy metal influenced riffs and a groove that will rock anybody’s socks off live. After six tracks, all of them smouldering with a stupendous aplomb, I have to pause and catch my breath. But with play pushed again, Reach show no signs of taking any prisoners. “Make Me Believe” is total groove with a great beat and an amazing chorus, another single to be. “Reach Out” lays all of the necessary attributes for an AOR smash on the line and makes surrender inevitable – the hooks are massive! “Looking For Love” is a pretty standard AOR rocker, but in a good way. It might sound like we have heard it before, but the song is so catchy it hurts and I’m thinking single once again. But it seems they have left the best for last, “Coming Home” floored me right away. It’s a bit of a sore thumb here and I’m thinking, this might just be how Saigon Kick could sound had they went into AOR territories. I love Saigon Kick, I might add. Wow! What a knock-out!

With all of my superlatives here, it might sound that this album is a clear 10/10 rating, but there are things that holds that rating back. Yes, the songs are all bloody brilliant and I really can’t find anything wrong with them and the production is spot on – Modin and Hennoks should  probably make room in their calendars now and Norgren’s work is kicking – no surprises there! But, there are a few minor things that needs to be pointed out. The band’s lack of experience shows at times, nothing really annoying, but it shows. Also, they could do with some more identity. I am also not sure of the reason why their Avicii cover and their first video “Black Lady” aren’t included here. The musicians efforts are faultless – just like many, many Swedish bands that figures around this type of music, these guys handles their instruments with splendour although singer Waghorn sometimes sounds a bit strained and thin. Same there, nothing that really annoys me and these are things that will be solved as the years, gigs and records go by. Because I would be very surprised – and disappointed – if this band dissolves any time soon. With a kicking and biting debut AOR rock album under their belt, I have no doubts what so ever that this band will make it big if they play their cards right. As for this album, every lover of melodic rock and AOR should own a copy of it. Reach out to Reach, folks!

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)


1. You Called My Name
2. Fortune & Fame
3. Tell Me
4. We Are
5. Someone Like You
6. The Beast
7. Make Me Believe
8. Reach Out
9. Looking For Love
10. Coming Home


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