How many out there remember Norwegian melodic rock / glam band Wig Wam? How many who knew about them did actually give a rat about them at all? In my book, Wig Wam was a damn good melodic hard rock band that never released an album worse than good. To most people Wig Wam were most famous for winning the Norwegian part of the Eurovision Song Contest (Melodi Grand Prix) with their song “In My Dreams” that brought them to ninth place in the international ESC. But to many people, Wig Wam became somewhat a joke which is really unfair, if you ask me. But the guys’ exaggerated glam image and geeky stage names like Glam, Sporty, Flash and Teeny contributed to that and truth be told, it’s pretty hard to take a band with all those attributes seriously. But Wig Wam were a much better band than their image gave impression of. Albums like Wigwamania (2006) and their last album Wall Street (2012) deserved a much better destiny than they were given and the band members were much better musicians than most people thought – or knew. But after four albums, Wig Wam had gotten as far as they could, there was no way the guys could have taken the band further, enough was now enough and last year they disbanded. It didn’t take long for singer Age-Sten Nilsen (Glam) to put together a new act, this time without stupid stage names and a ridiculous glam image. Nilsen had prior to his new outfit put together a cover band called Nordic Beast that featured players like John Norum (Europe) and Mikkey Dee (Motörhead), but they were never meant to be a real band and they were only playing for fun. But with Ammunition Nilsen had found a bunch of really interesting names to help him move his new act forward. For guitar and song writing duties he brought in melodic rock song writing genius Erik Mårtensson of W.E.T. and Eclipse fame and also more unknown guitarist Jon Pettersen, on bass veteran Hal Patino from King Diamond and Pretty Maids came on board and so did ex-Sabaton and Eclipse drummer Robban Bäck with the addition of Circus Maximus keyboard player Lasse Finbråthen. With this all-star band, Nilsen is about to explore new adventures and hopefully get the respect and critically acclaim he deserves.
Nilsen and his new band takes hold of the rock immediately with brilliant opener “Silverback”, a catchy, but traditional hard rocker – a heavier Wig Wam if you will. The same goes for “Give Me A Sign”, that would have fitted well on any Wig Wam release as well. The title track has a big melody and some big hit potential, but sound wise, it’s a bit rougher than Nilsen’s old band – rougher than Mårtensson’s as well. Wig Wam comes to mind a lot again in first single “Tie Me Down” albeit in a sleazier and rougher way. The song is catchy as hell and could give the band some radio time with a bit of luck. The ballad “Road To Babylon” isn’t the kind of ballad we’re used to in this kind of music, the song is really rootsy with a big blues feel and has no traces of power balladry at all – completely cheeseless and a real winner. “Take Out The Enemy (Hallelujah)” bites hard and is a real kicking up dust rocker – great! “Wild Card” should be a single because the tune is a total hit with a chorus Desmond Child or Diane Warren would sell their relatives for. I’m not sure if a tune like “Heart’s Not In It” is still relevant in 2015 because it sounds exactly as the type of ballads Aerosmith wrote in the mid 90’s, like “Cryin'”, “Amazing” or “Hole In My Soul”, but I really hope is does because the tune is brilliant and I’d take this one before the Aerosmith tunes any day. The closing track is called “Strung Out” and also has a lot of Wig Wam in it with a huge chorus melody and hit written all over it. If you get the Japanese version – which I would advice – you get “Access Denied”, an awesome track and a great little pop song. It’s a shame it’s only on the Japanese version because all buyers should be able to get this one.
Being a fan of Wig Wam, I really had no doubt that Nilsen would come up with the goods with his new outfit and after finding out that Erik Mårtensson was involved, this album is one album I could more or less buy completely unheard. I mean, there’s no way in hell that these guys would release a crap record. The only “negative” thing I can say about it is that it’s a bit predictable musically because knowing where Nilsen and Mårtenson comes from, I could rest assured that this wouldn’t be grunge, nu-metal or some metal-core shite. So I guess their predictability is a blessing in disguise, kind of. And they did come up with the goods for Ammunition’s debut album. It’s a great effort, full of melodic hard rockers, a more hard rock version of Wig Wam with more rootsy influences that comes from the 70’s, but with the big hit choruses from 80’s hard rock. As the main song writer for Wig Wam together with guitarist Trond Holter – who has just recently finished a rock opera about Dracula with Norwegian singer Jorn Lande – Nilsen has sure put his prints all over the songs on this record. Sound wise, the production is faultless although I may have wished for a little more bite and crunch, as it is now, it’s a bit too slick and clean. When I listen to melodic rock and AOR, I’d like it with a bit more dirt under the fingernails. Apart from that, this is a great debut album and if Nilsen can keep this line-up intact for further releases, this is a band that sure is looking at a bright future. But for the next release, please drop “Age Sten Nilsen’s” from the name. Just Ammunition is enough and not to be mean, it’s not like Nilsen’s name will sell a shitload of records. His music should, though.
Jon Wilmenius (8/10)
02. Give Me A Sign
04. Tie Me Down
05. Road To Babylon
06. Take Out The Enemy (Hallelujah)
07. Hit Me With Your Bombs
08. Do You Like It
09. Wild Card
10. Another Piece Of Me
11. Heart’s Not In It
12. Strung Out
13. Access Denied (Japanese edition only)