JONO – Silence

CD-digipak-4p_JONO.inddSometimes I just wanna punch myself. The fact that a somewhat nerdy – when it comes to music – dude like me misses out on good music pisses me off – especially when you have said band right under your nose. But my issue is that I have a thing with names. If an artist or band have a name that I don’t find one bit interesting and sometimes plain bad, I have a tendency to not care. Only for me to, a long while after – we’re talking weeks and months, sometimes years – often by accident, stumble over said band and realise that they were actually really damn brilliant. These things have happened before and I know myself, so I know it will happen again. I’ll never learn, I guess, not even the hard way. Exactly this happened with Swedish rockers Jono. This band played Väsby Rock Festival recently, a festival I attended, but apparently I had more important things to do than to give these guys a fair chance. I have since heard only good things about this lot, but I still haven’t got around to listen to them. To my defense, I run this site myself and I have shitloads of reviews lying in wait to be written and I think a part of me just didn’t want – well, need is a better word – another one to write – I’m behind schedule as it is, see. Of course, when I open up my e-mail there’s a mail from Jono and would I like to review their new album? I just can’t turn those things down so here we go. It is after just one listen that I wanted to punch myself the first time – why, why, why haven’t I checked them out before? But ok, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. An introduction of the band might come handy as I reckon most people really don’t have a clue about this band. This project started some 15 years ago by lead singer / keyboardist Johan Norrby (JoNo – geddit?) as a solo project, but the debut, self-titled Jono album didn’t appear until 2006. But it would take him / them seven years to release the follow-up Requiem in 2013. I’m not sure how big the marketing was for that record, but I don’t remember ever hearing anything about Jono or the record back then. Be that as it may, with the new record, the marketing bit seems to work properly now and the band – Norrby (vocals, keyboards), Stefan Helleblad (also with Within Temptation on guitar), Janne Henriksson (bass), Nicka Hellenberg (played on Within Temptation’s The Unforgiving record on drums) and Johan Carlgren (keyboards) – has getting lots of recognition. Also the band’s influences – says the press release – are band s like Queen, Saga, Supertramp, Kansas and Muse – which also makes things really interesting.

My first listen didn’t turn out as I had hoped. Due to some domestic issues at home, the record became a background experience, but even then I could hear that I was gonna like this. Second listen, through headphones, really did the trick. The opening riffs of opener “Man Of Misery” reminds me of the Zak Stevens fronted Savatage – around Dead Winter Dead (1995) – or maybe even Trans-Siberian Orchestra because the song turns into something that can best be described as a Prog-rock musical – this is so awesome and I am completely floored! “Wasting Time” is exactly what you are not doing while listening to this, it’s a fantastic tune with a big Queen influence, but there are also arrangements that makes me think of a cabaret or such. “Can We Make It” have a distinct and catchy melody, a heavy groove and big symphonic undertones and I can hear both Queen and Kansas in here, but again, there are riffs here that makes me think of Savatage – I wonder if this is by coincidence or if Savatage might be an influence. “Turn Around” is an amazing ballad and again I’m getting a musical vibe here. When I close my eyes I can see this tune being played as the last song before the curtain falls and I just wanna stand up and cheer. “Your Bread” brings out the real Hard Rock of the band, but it has some really big pomp and symphonic passages. It’s a pretty fast tune, but extremely melodic – fantastic! “In My Life” has some really cool early 80’s AOR influences and I’m thinking about bands such as City Boy, Styx, Wrabit, I-Ten and the more progressive stuff like Trillion, but arranged in a more modern way. The song is fabulous and so catchy it hurts! “Clear” takes a more progressive turn, a melodic Hard Rock / Prog / Pop song that have me thinking about the brilliant Flying Colors, but as always, the melodies are in focus and the chorus really sticks. “The One To Blame”, also a brilliant tune, is an uptempo rocker with cabaret influenced AOR and symphonic arrangements where Styx and Queen meets – and hold on to something now – My Chemical Romance in their The Black Parade (2006 – a masterpiece!!!) era. Now, the MCR comparison may lie in the ear of the beholder and I guess it’s totally unintentional because I doubt that this band has ever lent MCR an ear, but still, that’s the way it sounds to me. Then we get “Opus” – a seven minute  Rock opera! I’m thinking of words to describe this one. Majestic! Magnificent! Amazing! Epic! Those seven minutes passes by way too quick and this Queen-influenced, progressive operatic piece of music could have been twice as long. The closing track “Josefina” is a one and half-minute long (short) ballad and here comes my first issue with the record: The song is too damn short!!! Otherwise it’s an emotional and heartfelt piece that send shivers down my spine.

This album, ladies and gentlemen, is a masterpiece! That’s the only word I can use to describe this record. When the record come to an end, it make me sad, because I want more. Jono could have made this a double album and it still wouldn’t have been too much to digest. You know you’re doing something very right when you manage to make an album so full of different musical styles, epic songs and so much music to get into and still make the listener feel like it’s not enough. I want to mention all the influences that has been mentioned throughout this review. The Muse influence isn’t one that I could grasp although I could be wrong as I haven’t really listened a lot to them and Supertramp, well, they have never been my case of beer so I couldn’t say. But Queen, Saga and Kansas, sure. I also want to add some more to that: Savatage, Toto, Styx and I believe that this album is going to be loved by every fan of Flying Colors – the band that feature Steve Morse (Deep Purple), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Winery Dogs) and Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard). But – and this is a very important issue – no matter how many influences that are being thrown in to describe Jono’s sound, they never ever sound like anyone else – Jono sounds like Jono, end of discussion. This album is a clear contender for the Album Of The Year position, hell, it just might be the album of the year. I can’t think of one tiny bit of criticism to add to this review. I also need to check out Requiem now – and the debut! My biggest problem now is how to categorise their music. Music lovers out there, you really need to buy this. You need this album!

10/10

Tracklist:

1. Man Of Misery
2. Wasting Time
3. Can We Make It
4. Turn Around
5. Your Bread
6. In My Life
7. Clear
8. The One To Blame
9. Opus
10. Josefina

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