TWO OF A KIND – Rise

There have been quite a lot of criticism against Frontiers Records for releasing too many all-star projects where the record company itself writes the songs and then hires some well-known musicians in AOR and Melodic Rock circles to play and sing. At one hand I can surely understand that criticism and even stand behind it at times but what people tend to forget is that Frontiers is also responsible for bringing back a lot of older bands that today keeps on bringing out new, great music and are still touring around the globe. What they also do is they sign new upcoming bands and gives them a shot a reaching out – and that’s a bloody great thing because without new bands, rock music will die. The only sad thing is that I get the feeling that many fans, especially those who have reached a certain age, aren’t that interested in finding new bands and are content with just listening to their old records over and over. I will never get that.

So every time I see a new band in my reviewers links from the company, I hope that that band will the one that reaches out to bigger crowds and becomes the new superstars. Naive maybe, but that’s how I roll. And yes, I do go out and buy the albums I find good enough. Two Of A kind are a “new” band from Holland who released their debut album back in 2007 to pretty much no avail – I hadn’t heard of them before this one. The band was formed by bass player and song writer Fred Hendrix (Terra Nova) who through Frontiers Records president Serafino Perugino hooked up with the two female lead singers Esther Bruons and Anita Craenmehr and together with Hendrix’ Terra Nova band mates, guitarist Gesuino Derosas, drummer Hans In’t Zandt plus his keyboard playing brother Ron. And after eleven years, the band are finally set to release their follow-up.

Opener “Here Is The Now” tells us that what we’re dealing here with is AOR and Melodic Rock. This tune comes in a mid-pace, very much a melodic hard rock tune but with some raunchy guitars at the front and some Pomp Rock influenced keyboards. I can’t say that the refrain totally floored me but still I think it’s a really good song and said refrain is sure catchy enough. The following track “Rock Your World” tries its best to do so with a Classic Rock groove, a pumping rhythm and a catchy refrain and I  must say for the most it’s successful at just that – the song do rock! It’s a really good tune with a refrain that sticks even though it might be a bit clichéd lyrically.

“Wheel Of Life” is faster and upbeat, rhythmic and groovy and the Classic Rock influence stays on even though we’re clearly talking about a Melodic Rock tune here. It’s a straight-forward tune with memorable melodies and an effective refrain – very good. First single “Naked” is a ballad with acoustic guitars as a base but it’s also big sounding with a very distinct groove. What also brings up the dynamics is that they use a Hammond instead of the more standard synth sounds that bands in this genre often use. Add to a spot-on chorus and we have a winner – great tune. The title track is an uptempo rocker, groovy with a bounce but with a main melody that stays in the Melodic Rock / AOR vein. Parts of the melodies reminds me a lot of Robin Beck’s “First Time” albeit in a faster pace. The chorus is catchy as hell and this should without a doubt be a single at some point. Awesome!

“Touch The Roof” is a stompy and raunchy rocker with a killer groove that sports a live feel. The tune is Melodic Rock with a Hard Rock vibe – or vice versa, quite in-your-face with attitude. Maybe not single material but it sure do rocks – great! “Higher” starts out acoustically but goes electric soon and holds a very rhythmic drum beat and a big Rock groove – and let’s not forget about the raunchy organ. This is Melodic Rock mixed with both Pop and Classic rock and it holds a refrain that catches on immediately. One of my favorite songs of this album. “Alienation” is a slow, laid-back ballad with a bluesy feel. It’s not remotely close to a power ballad, more a powerful ballad, down-to-earth and deep. The clean guitar and organ also help to raise the dynamics – a brilliant tune!

“It Ain’t Over” is a Pop song with a darker atmosphere with laid-back and soft-laden verses but it also contains an uplifting and more bouncy refrain. But there are some heavy guitars in there that brings on a slight Metal influence and the melodies are all distinct all the way through. Good tune. “Without You” is a mid-paced pop-rocker, pretty laid-back but with a groove. Style wise it brings my mind back to mid to late 80’s Heart. The chorus is so brilliantly catchy and it comes with some major hit-potential – magnificent. “Run Girl” closes the album slower in pace on an acoustic guitar base and a Classic Rock bluesy groove but it is a Melodic Rock song with a chunk of Pop in it. The catchy refrain comes with some killer vocals that makes for a huge sound – a great way to end this record.

To be honest, the first time I listened to this record, I didn’t like it. I didn’t think it was crap but it did nothing for me and it grew on me by each listen. Sure, Two Of A Kind aren’t revolutionary by any means but that’s not the point. What I do like with this album is that they take their Melodic Rock out of their comfort zone and dares to invite both Classic Rock, Blues and Hard Rock to the party which makes for a more organic sound. And speaking of sound, this album doesn’t sound over-produced but more down-to-earth – which I like. That said, it sounds a bit thin at times. As for the performances, the musicians here are flawless and the two singers are both brilliant. However, I must admit I have a problem setting them apart which means I’m not sure of who’s singing on what song. All in all, a good album that shouldn’t disappoint fans of Melodic Hard Rock.

7/10

Tracklist:

1. Here Is The Now
2. Rock Your World
3. Wheel Of Life
4. Naked
5. Rise
6. Touch The Roof
7. Higher
8. Alienation
9. It Ain’t Over
10. Without You
11. Run Girl

 

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