White Flame

WHITE FLAME – Cougar

I could make things real easy for me and write this review with only four words. Album. Of. The. Year! But I won’t, because I feel that these Finish blokes deserves more attention than that. But, yes folks, the album really is that good. The fact that White Flame isn’t a household name is nothing but a scandal. Prior to this one, the guys have released two albums, Yesterday’s News (2007) and the brilliant Tour Bus Diaries (2009) and judging by the quality of those records, they should already have made it big. The music is hard rock with a classic rock touch, raunchy but slightly commercial with great melodies and songs perfect for live performances. Why the guys never got any attention is beyond me, but the fact is, even I, who  I consider to be a guy with a good outlook on what’s going on in music, hadn’t heard of this band until the news that Chris Laney (Crashdiet, Babylon Bombs, Crazy Lixx) was to handle the production of their new album. So my guess is that their record company didn’t exactly worked overtime to promote them. Which is a shame, because with three albums down the line, they are by far the best band ever emerged from Finland, a country more associated with bands like Nightwish or gloomy depressive metal acts.

But hopefully all this will change now that they have released an album that will knock you off your feet, because on here there’s nothing even remotely bad. In fact, every song is a killer and I can’t remember when I last heard a rock album so even and so strong. The album opens with “Get What’s Mine”, a groovy, catchy and riffy hard rocker that really sweats. It is followed by first single “I Know Where You Live”, a Chris Laney co-write that has all the elements for being a total hit, sing-a-longish the way they made pop metal in the late 80’s, “Make Believe” is a brilliant half ballad that has traces of both Beatles and Cheap Trick, the title track is just fantastic, pure rock ‘n’ roll, that grooves with old Aerosmith swing and a chorus that has elements of both old soul and rock and if this one doesn’t make you move, I don’t know what will and “What Girls Like” has a funk rock groove that would make a band like Extreme green with envy. Talking of Extreme, the song “Used To Be A Girl” has a lot of that band in the verses but takes of in a more Aerosmith / Dr Feelgood – era Mötley Crüe pop rock hit feel in the chorus. The song is so good it’s breathtaking. But maybe they should have thought twice about the title and added “(Like You)”to it. I mean, used to be a girl? If you just read the title it sounds like it’s about a chick who had a sex change… There is also a cover here, “The Look” by Roxette. It’s a good song and White Flame’s version kicks the original hard and it’s nice to hear a version of that song with a singer that can actually sing and a production that lives, but the fact is, the guys writes so damn good songs themselves that it makes this cover superfluous.

The album’s grand ballad is called “Stay”. This tune is phenomenal, soulful, heartfelt with a beautiful melody, but no cheese and then we get “We Get It On” – what a rocker!! I’m thinking a more hard rocking Aerosmith here and this will make you sweat by just listening to it. Right on! Another favourite here is “Gutted” and if I must complain about something, then this one should have been the opener, both on this CD and in future live shows. It’s a fierce hard rock song, that has the attack of an 80’s band that worships 70’s music. A magnificent sweaty rocker that punches you right in the guts before “The Question” finishes the album in a calmer way. The album has a clean, big, but real rootsy production and the mixing is great, tight but where you can hear all the instruments clear and with lots of dynamics. It also just takes one listen to find that they are all excellent musicians and Vince (apparently these guys don’t do surnames) has a soulful and bluesy voice with a broad range.

Anyone who is in love with both 70’s and 80’s hard rock, White Flame provides the perfect mix and I can honestly say that I really can’t imagine that anyone who does will find this album lame. If this kind of rock is your thing and you still doesn’t feel like checking this out, you’re a fool. Because you’d be missing out on The Album Of The Year. It’s just that simple.

Jon Wilmenius (10/10)

Tracklist:

1. Get What’s Mine
2. I Know Where You Live
3. Make Believe
4. Cougar
5. What Girls Like
6. Used To Be A Girl
7. Right Back In
8. The Look
9. Stay
10. We Get It On
11. Gutted
12. The Question

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