When it comes to giving albums a 10/10 rating, some people have made it clear that I give them to often. In fact, I have heard that my numbers are too high in general, but that’s not the case at all. But it have been said that as a reviewer one should be very restrictive in giving those, that an album have to be a true classic to earn one – how on earth you could tell that after only having the album for a month or so. Well, here’s the way I see it, if I love everything about an album, all the songs, the sound, the performance, then it’s a 10. Does that mean that I find said album as great as Kiss Alive or The Sweet’s Give Us A Wink, two clear 10’s, in my book? Probably not because different records means different things to different people, but the way I see it, a record can be a 10 in its own right. What do all this have to do with Swedish progressive hard rock / pop / melodic rock / AOR act Jono then? Well, their last album Silence was one of the 10’s I have given out.
Back in 2015 I got this e-mail from one of the members, asking if I’d like to review their latest album. I had heard about the band then but never heard their music so to review an album by them would give me a chance to get to know their music, I thought. He sent me a reviewer’s copy of the album – yes a CD and not a streaming or download link – and I only needed one listen to be completely floored. I e-mailed back and said that I loved the record and that a review was on its way and like a week later a copy of the predecessor Requiem (2013) – and that album floored me just as much (I still haven’t gotten around to find the self-titled debut from 2006, I can admit with shame…) – was found in my mailbox. Those two albums has been safe and sound in my phone since then and I just can’t seem to grow tired of them – to me this is two masterpieces and to give them any number below a 10 just isn’t possible. So now that their brand new album is in stores, it comes with expectations ridiculously high which in turn means that an 8/10 would look like a failure despite an 8 is very good. But how many bands can put out three 10’s in a row, right?
Already after the first spin of opening track “Sailor” I have a feeling where this is gonna go because, see, it’s just as magnificent as I hoped. It’s an uptempo, groovy and swinging pop-rocker with a progressive touch and a melody that could have been in some musical where the arrangement is really dramatic. It’s memorable as hell but it’s not hit-laden, just overwhelmingly good. “Crown” opens with a synth-intro and continues in a progressive, Muse-like vibe. We get some chugging guitars, a steady bass line and a chorus that catches on after first listen. It comes in a mid-pace but still with a thrilling groove. I just love this! The mid-pace continues with “No Return”, a pretty heavy, yet atmospheric melodic rock song with some early 80’s AOR vibes all over the somewhat progressive arrangements. The catchiness is quite intense and it’s no wonder they chose this tune as a single. In a just world, this tune would be all over radio as I write this.
“On The Other Side” is an uptempo, more straight ahead melodic rock pearl that holds an almost cinematic feel and even though it do sports some progressive elements, it’s more direct. And the chorus is huge – catchy without being the least radio friendly or hit-searching. Pure brilliance! We get some fine metal riffing in the heavier and darker “Downside”. The big and orchestrated arrangements – and also in melody – the band goes into a style that makes me think of Trans-Siberian Orchestra and also Savatage with lots of drama and a very big sound-scape. Gotta love it because what’s not to love about that! An awesome song! “To Be Near You” comes on in a slower pace and this ballad is quite laid-back but also heavy, dark and very dramatic. It’s both huge and bombastic yet almost tranquilizing, soft yet hard and let’s not forget beautiful. A lot of contrasts that makes for diversity but everything marries like it’s the most natural thing in the world. So damn brilliant!
The dramatic arrangements continues with “My Love”, a big and bombastic AOR influenced rocker, quite riff-happy that both delivers a somewhat progressive undertone and a classic rock vibe that marries so brilliantly it’s impossible not to surrender. Add to the fact that it holds an addictive chorus and we have another winner here. Things heavies up with “The Magician”, a song that is based on pure heavy rock, (Dio comes to mind) some infectious grooves, killer riffs and drums that kicks up dust. The intense verse melody builds up momentum for the refrain that takes no prisoners. Fantastic! They go a bit more pop with “Trust” but it also brings on a 70’s laden classic rock vibe and it walks on the same route as The Night Flight Orchestra but there’s also a bit of Queen in there. The chorus arrangement is huge and it’s quite punchy but also a bit quiet and taciturn at times. Awesome! The closing track, “The March”, is a calm, laid-back and stripped ballad with only vocals and piano that brings on a dark, melancholic and saddening atmosphere that is really moving. A fabulous ending that makes the hairs on my body stand.
I don’t know what’s in the water in Gotland, Sweden but it’s just astonishing, to put things mildly, how these guys manages to create masterpiece after masterpiece – this is the third in a row. Because simply put, there’s nothing, not one tiny little thing to complain about here. Sure, Jono have their own style and some people might point out that they might be locked to their sound but hell, I beg to differ loudly about that. These guys are totally unpredictable and you never know what might show up next. They mix hard rock, pop, pomp, metal, AOR, classic rock, musical and symphonic rock but it always comes out sounding like Jono. They’re melodic and always memorable but they never come across as radio-friendly or syrupy. Everything here is spot on – the production, the performances, the arrangements and of course, the songs. Anyone can bust my balls for my high ratings anytime but with a record like this it’s impossible not to hand out the full monty. This could very well be the album of the year!
More Jono reviews:
3. No Return
4. On The Other Side
6. To Be Near You
7. My Love
8. The Magician
10. The March