JARI TIURA – King Of Lions

I must admit that before writing this review I had never even heard or read the name Jari Tiura. Or at least I think I hadn’t. So when this record said hello to me through my mailbox, I didn’t know what to expect at all. But as it turns out, Tiura have once sang in MSG, on the album The Tales Of Rock ‘n’ Roll from 2006 and he stayed in Michael Schenker’s band for one year. Before MSG he had a band called Masterstroke and today he is active in Stargazary and Century Lost. Another band of his that have been mentioned is Snakegod but whether they’re active today is beyond my knowledge. Beyond my knowledge is also how those bands sound because just like with Tiura himself, this is the first time I hear of those acts – and when it comes to that MSG record, I’m pretty lost as well because I haven’t heard a note of it. It came out when my interest in Schenker was at an all-time-low. So to sit down and listen to Tiura’s solo debut with an open mind wasn’t that hard as I had literary nothing to compare it to at all.

Tiura opens the album with “Away From All The Magic And Wonder”, a pretty groovy rocker with a whole lot of both Pomp Rock and Pop waved in and a band like Magnum immediately comes to mind but also the more straight forward Arena Rock of the late 80’s makes itself present. The almost overblown refrain do make the song stick with its direct catchiness. First single “London” follows and even though the tune is edgier and rockier than the opening track, it still feels like a natural first single. The chorus is one of those that sticks no matter whether you like it or not, very catchy and distinct. The tune itself is a Melodic Rock track with pompy undertones and yes, I like this a lot. Jari speeds things up with “Friends And Foes”, an uptempo Melodic Rock track with an instant melody that’s really catchy and a guitar melody that’s even catchier than the vocal dito.

“Human” on the other hand is built on good chunky Hard Rock riffs and a rhythm with a good punch. It’s a Melodic Rock track with AOR undertones although the chorus is more in-your-face than actually catchy. It still holds a memorable melody, though. The big ballad “Lion Of Judah” follows and the tune gyrates around Pomp Rock and progressive arrangements not a far cry from Magnum’s more AOR-ish and grandiose ballads. Sure, it’s a bit overblown but I still love the epic touch of the song and the refrain really is powerful. Very good. The single “Dreamchaser” follows and again, I think of it as an obvious single candidate. Big on keyboards and AOR melodies, the tune’s pink n’ fluffy sound is perfect for radio. There are moments of Pomp Rock in it but the chorus is very sticky and hard to get out of the brain once it’s there. Good tune! “Silent Moon” isn’t a single yet but really should be one – because it sits with biggest and catchiest refrain on the entire album. It’s a song picked up right from 1986 and this is total AOR-rock and I just can’t get the song out of my head. A great tune!

When I read the title “Take On The World”, I was actually hoping it would be a cover of the Judas Priest song of the same name, a song I really love. But it isn’t. Instead we get another 80’s sounding rocker that mixes Melodic Rock, AOR and Pomp Rock. It’s hard not to surrender to the spot-on catchy refrain and the punchy rhythms here so Priest or no Priest, this is a good tune on its own. The last track on the album, “Blue Sky Lightning”, is also the roughest track on the album and comes with crunchy guitars, a steady beat and a meaty vocal line. That said, the verses comes with some almost Yes-like Pomp/Prog vibes and the keyboards brings on a feel close to Symphonic Rock that’s almost Goth-like. Still, the more straight forward hard rock is what the song is built on for the most. It’s my favorite song on the album and when I hear it, I wish more songs had the same presence, more crunch and balls.

After reading my briefing of the songs it’s probably easy to think that I’m about to give this album a high rating. But I won’t. Why? Well, first I must point out that I would have if it was only up to the quality of the songs because I really think there are really strong tunes here. But there’s more to an album than the songs – and it’s there where this album falters. First, I have a problem with Tiura’s voice – I just don’t think it holds up very well. To my ears, it sounds like he wants to be a musical singer, overblown and far-out and it just don’t work. There’s also something with his tonal that sounds wrong to my ears. I read another review that said he sings like an onion, but that’s harsh, it’s not remotely that bad. The other thing that bugs me is the production, a production I think sounds low-budget and homemade – the demo tape feel is all over the place and it even makes it hard to listen to. The songs are a clear 8/10 but the rest brings down the final score, even though the musical performances here are completely faultless.

5/10

Tracklist:

1. Away From All The Magic And Wonder
2. London
3. Friends And Foes
4. Human
5. Lion Of Judah
6. Dreamchaser
7. Silent Moon
8. Take On The World
9. Blue Sky Lightning

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