To most people, even rockers, Q5 might not be a well-known name, but the fact is, this band is responsible for one of the greatest underground cult classics ever. I remember listening to Steel The Light (1984) back when it was released and all of my friends loved that record. I thought that Q5 would be one of the biggest metal bands, but that – as we all know – never happened. Little did we know that Steel The Light would be hailed as a classic metal / hard rock album by hard rockers all over the world some 30 years after its release. But the biggest reason for Q5 never climbing up to the big league was released the year after, in 1985, and was called When The Mirror Cracks, one of the biggest sell-outs I have ever heard in my life. That album is so different to its predecessor that it doesn’t even sound like the same band. All the heaviness, the big groove, the big, dynamic and ballsy sounds had been replaced by bleeping synthesizers, electronic drums and lame pop melodies that would make Nelson sound like a death metal band in comparison. I am 100% sure that Q5 lost pretty much all of the respect they got with their debut album and that most of their fans took their interest to other bands instead because of that album. I remember putting on that album with big anticipation only to be so disappointed that I stopped caring whether Q5 would make it or not. The band split up shortly after said album’s release and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why. Their guitarist Floyd D Rose later went on to inventing the Floyd Rose guitar tremolo system, today used by pretty much everyone who plays guitar. It’s safe to say that Rose never had to worry about paying the rent after that. Rose didn’t participate in this reunion either, the reunion that has given us the new record on Frontiers Records – an album at least I have been very anxious to hear. Sure, the band’s gig at Sweden Rock Festival last year may left some to be desired, but that said, they weren’t bad at all, I just had hoped for a bit more. Still, a new record is a new record and with the original logo-type back and with the art work looking like a nod back to the debut, I sure looked forward to sinking my teeth into this one. Maybe, maybe….
The opening track is called “We Came Here To Rock” and the title alone made me hopeful. But what came bursting out was something of an AC/DC pastiche with a small twist of late 80’s Saxon. It’s not a bad song, but it doesn’t really sound like the Q5 I had expected or hoped for. Sure, the groove is vibrant and the melody sticks, but the song is still only ok. “One Night In Hellas” goes back to the early 80’s, but it’s more in the vein of NWOBHM than the powerful American hard rock / metal that used to be Q5’s brand. Again, this is only ok, no more, no less. The AC/DC influence is back in “The Right Way”, but in all honesty, this sounds more like Krokus sounding like AC/DC than AC/DC as a whole. But it’s a pretty good song with a good punch so I let this one slip. Besides, I get the feeling that this one could go down well live. It’s first with the title track, song number four, that I get the Q5 I want and this one goes right back to the sound of Steel The Light. The groove is Q5 all the way and the guitar melody is amazing – now we’re talking! “Tear Up The Night” is keeping the good work up – this is a fast, straight ahead heavy metal rocker that easily could have been an outtake from their debut album. It’s a damn good song and just in line with what I think Q5 should sound like. The same can be said of “Halfway To Hell”, a hard rocking, classic sounding Q5 stomper that brings along all the elements I love with this band. “A Prisoner Of Mind” is magnificent – it’s heavy, slow and quite long and it is pretty much a sister song to the debut’s title track “Steel The Light”. If that song rocked your world, you’ll love this one as well. “Unrequited (A Woman Of Darkness And Steel)” takes the band on a little different route as the song is more in the melodic hard rock way, but despite the song’s big pop feel, it never gets cheesy in any way. It’s catchy, melodic but it still rocks – a real winner. Do you think “Lonely Lady” from the debut is a killer tune? Well, I do and therefore I have no choice but to surrender to the brilliant pop-rocker “Just One Kiss” because they play in the same league. It’s one of my favorite tracks on this record and in my book, this is a single – without the shadow of a doubt. “Fear Is The Killer” takes a trip back to Saxon-land, an old school metal track with a big punch, but it’s not as strong as the last few songs. It’s the same with the heavy but very melodic “Land Of The Setting Sun”, it’s a good song but not great enough to really rock my socks off. “A Warrior’s Song” is some kind of metal ballad, not bad but I just can’t seem to grasp it. I’m getting a demo tape feel of it, it sounds somewhat unfocused and at times the lead vocals goes sour, something we’re not used to when it comes to singer Jonathan K. The song goes into a five-minute instrumental piece called “Mach Opus 206”. It’s a metal song with a good riff and an arrangement that makes me think of “Children Of The Sea” by Black Sabbath. I like the song but I can’t for the world figure out why they kept it an instrumental. With vocals, this one could have been a real killer! “Get Next To You” is listed as a bonus track and it’s quite easy to figure out why. The song is sleazy party rocker that sticks out like a sore thumb and even though I quite like it, it just doesn’t fit on a Q5 record.
Because of the fact that I live in the real world, I hadn’t expected this album to top Steel The Light or even match it – I mean, Steel The Light is a goddamn masterpiece, but I’m still a bit disappointed with this album. I had hoped for more and overall I find this record somewhat uneven. There are some damn good songs that proves that the guys still has a lot to offer, even without Floyd Rose in the band, but the album contains too many fillers for it to be a real killer. That said, none of the songs are straight ahead bad. Also, at times it doesn’t feels like the guys knows in what direction they want to go in. Sometimes it sounds exactly like the Q5 and the way I think they should sound, but at other times the stray away sounding like too many other bands. Still this album is superior to When The Mirror Cracks and there’s not one second on this album that is reminiscent of that record – thank God. Since Floyd Rose was a big part of the song writing on the debut album, maybe it is his input that this album lacks. Maybe if he would come back to the band – or at least help out in the song writing department – for album number four, they might give us a real monster of an album, because I really hope that they will record a fourth one. New World Order is a good album. Good but not great.
1. We Came Here To Rock
2. One Night In Hellas
3. The Right Way
4. New World Order
5. Tear Up The Night
6. Halfway To Hell
7. A Prisoner Of Mind
8. Unrequited (A Woman Of Darkness And Steel)
9. Just One Kiss
10. Fear Is The Killer
11. Land Of The Setting Sun
12. A Warrior’s Song
13. Mach Opus 206 (Instrumental)
14. Get Next To You (Bonus Track)