I can’t remember the last time an AOR / melodic rock band created such a buzz that Finish rockers One Desire did when they released the first single “Hurt” from their forthcoming self titled debut album. In Sweden, that is. I mean, rock radio in Sweden were all over the song and the DJs couldn’t stop saying nice and then more nice things about the song. And it wasn’t only the radio DJs, everywhere I heard people talking about the song’s greatness – even people who aren’t usually all that into that kind of music have been giving it thumbs up. That’s how a hype gets started. The band started out as OD by drummer Ossi Sivula and a motley crew of band members when he ran into his old pal guitarist Jimmy Westerlund (Sturm Und Drang) in 2014, who had just moved back to Finland from a stint in Los Angeles. Jimmy was first hired to produce a few songs with the band, but when the songs took a new turn musically and Frontiers became interested, Jimmy went onboard as the guitarist. A new singer was needed as well so Jimmy brought along his old Strum Und Drang buddy André Linman and the band went from OD to One Desire right there and then. When bass player Johan Kuhlberg (Cain’s Offering, Paul Di’Anno) was brought in, the band was complete and the rest is, as they say, history. When it comes to the single “Hurt”, I wasn’t convinced at all. Not that I thought that it was bad, I just didn’t get the hype. In my book, it was a “in one ear, out the other” kind of song. But there is nine more songs to convince me that One Desire are the great new hope for AOR and melodic hard rock.
And it is the single “Hurt” that opens album. I must admit that when I finally got the album in my mailbox I had started to come around towards the tune and it had grown on me a bit and once it hit me through my head phones, I finally got what the fuss was all about. It’s a big AOR rocker with a smooth melody and a sound that’s a time machine to the mid 80’s and a chorus that goes for the throat. I can’t believe I didn’t like it at first. Of course it’s a hit! Second single “Apologize” is in the same vein, a big fat AOR stomper with a chorus catchier than a VD and if “Hurt” is a hit, then this one is as well. Bang on target! “Love Injection” might be both cheesy and cliché lyrically, but it’s hard to not surrender to this smooth and slick pop song with the metal influenced riffing. The refrain is just like the previous two songs, really catchy.
There is a slight dip with “Turn Back Time”. It’s a good enough AOR tune with a huge 80’s feel but it comes across as a bit light-weight compared to the other three tracks and therefore not as good. As a sucker for a big power ballad, “Falling Apart” is right up my alley and had this album been released at the end of the 80’s, this song could / would have shipped this record platinum. The chorus is huge and sticks right away – love it or hate it, but admit that they have a hit on their hands here. “Straight Through The Heart” takes a more hard rock approach even though all the elements of both melodic rock and AOR are present – and another big ass chorus that takes no prisoners. “Whenever I’m Dreaming” is 80’s pop-metal at its best, extremely memorable and so catchy it balances on the line of cheesiness. The chorus is a slapshot right in the top corner – score!
They hit another dip with “Do You Believe”, a melodic pop-rocker. The song just doesn’t stand out like the rest and is somewhat forgettable. It’s not a bad song, though – it just is. “Buried Alive” is the heaviest and hardest track on the album – by far. I immediately think of Pretty Maids when I hear it and the influence of hard rock and even metal are all over the song. That said, it still comes with a memorable melody and a brilliant chorus – it kicks ass, for sure. Closing power ballad “This Is Where The Heartbreak Begins” is cheese deluxe, but it is good cheese – Brie or Camembert instead of everyday cheese. It is smooth and slick and sometimes so sweet it could turn you into a diabetic. Usually, this kind of saccharine ballad is a bit overmuch for me, but One Desire makes it work.
This is a very good debut album without any bad songs even though it contains a couple of fillers. One Desire do not bring anything new to the table, this is AOR and melodic rock as we all know it albeit in an updated modern way, but the lack of originality doesn’t matter the least – because the songs are so damn good and the band do have their own arrangements and an identity of their own. The easiest way to describe them is “Scandinavian sounding melodic rock”. I do have some issues with the production, though. Like so many other records in this genre, this album is too slick, smooth and polished. I believe rock music – especially this kind of rock – is always benefited by a rougher and heavier production, a bit of dirt under the finger nails has never killed anybody. The album could also have had a few more heavy songs in the vein of “Buried Alive”. Still, if the band will be able to continue to write as qualitative songs as they have done on this album, there is a bright future waiting for them around the corner.
3. Love Injection
4. Turn Back Time
5. Falling Apart
6. Straight Through The Heart
7. Whenever I’m Dreaming
8. Do You Believe
9. Buried Alive
10. This Is Where The Heartbreak Begins