Finland. Oh man. When I was in my twenties in the late eighties, Sweden was one of the leading countries in Scandinavia when it came to producing melodic hard rock / AOR /arena rock bands – they were everywhere and for the most, the quality was very high. Sweden produced a lot of other kinds of hard rock music as well but it was with melodic hard rock that Sweden had the biggest birth of bands. Norway had a few – TNT is the most well-known act from that time – and so did Denmark with Pretty Maids at the top. Finland was a country no one even looked at by then. Sure, Hanoi Rocks were from Finland but I really can’t think of any other band. Since then Finland has come up with a lot of bands, we all know about Nightwish of course but mostly, Finish bands were dark, mellow and depressive metal acts, melodic hard rock not very much. But things have changed in later years, Finland have given us a whole bunch of really good melodic rock bands – King Company, One Desire and Brother Firetribe to name a few. And now it’s time for yet another one – The Nights. The band took form when singer Sami Hyde, who has been involved in the Tony Mills (Shy, TNT) Band and guitarist Ikka Wirtanen, who has produced and co-written for acts like Reckless Love, put their heads together to form a new band. To complete the line-up, Sami and Ikka brought in bassist Harri Kokkonen and drummer Jan-Erik Livari. And now it’s time for the guys to show the world that yet another melodic rock band from Finland have something to bring to the table.
Opener “Welcome To The Show” opens with some modern metal riffing in the vein of Disturbed and the likes and I wonder if I got the right album. Wasn’t this supposed to a melodic rock / AOR act? But as soon as the song gets going the song takes a melodic, AOR-ish turn and even though metal riffing stays, the melodic rock vibes takes over. It’s a great opener, very catchy and I can’t help thinking of One Desire. The same with the following “Nothing But Love”, it holds a heavy beat and metal riffing, but both the melody and arrangement is total melodic rock. This too comes with a majestic chorus that sports lots of AOR undertones – a brilliant tune. The single “Juliette” is a total melodic rock tune with a huge pop vibe and its chorus is taken right out of 1988. It’s very Scandinavian sounding – and I mean that in the best possible way. “I Will Never Stop Loving You” is the album’s first ballad (like the title didn’t give that away…). It’s very mid 80’s sounding, complete with programmed drums and an 80’s sign-of-the-times synth sound. It’s a bit cheesy, but still a very good power ballad.
“In A Blink Of An Eye” is a big AOR tune with a pop-rock beat, an 1986 sounding synthesizer and an arrangement and chorus that belongs in the same year. The refrain is extremely catchy and love it or hate it but that melody won’t leave your head once it’s there. Me, I love it. The One Desire comparison comes back with “Hold On” – a hard rock tune with a big AOR influence. Maybe it’s unfair to put The Nights’ fellow country-mens name in the review because I think it’s just a coincidence, but I just think they sound so alike at times. Well, that said, it’s not a bad thing, the tune is damn good in its own right. “Elegy (You Should Be Here)” is a splendid pop song that sports some heavy riffing. Fact is, the guitar sound is even a bit dark and metal influenced here and there. The tune is crazy catchy and it deserves to be a big hit. “Take Me To Heaven” is more melodic hard rock than actual AOR. The guitars are more upfront in the mix and the drums are heavier, but catchiness is what rules the song – this is great stuff.
Power ballad # 2 is called “You Belong To Me Tonight”. The sound here reminds me a lot of 1987 era Whitesnake – “Is This Love” comes to mind – albeit with a touch of AOR. But I prefer this one to Coverdale’s power ballad. Very good, indeed. We get some pretty heavy hard rock with chugging guitars in “I Wanna Be Your Superhero” but on top of it all lies a pink and fluffy, super catchy AOR arrangement – catchy as Hell. There’s also a break in the middle where they go all heavy metal on us with ballsy riffs and heavy drums. The contrast is very cool and works like a charm. Then the song ends as it started – how brilliant. The closing track “We Can Rule The World Tonight” is a dark, laid-back and mellow ballad that mixes AOR with a U2 influence. Very atmospheric and even cinematic – and unexpected. A great closer.
I know that there is an inflation in AOR and melodic rock acts right now, but I have no doubt that fans of those genres will love this album. The quality is very high both in song writing and musicianship – and these guys sure knows how to write hooks, they’re all over the place. As for originality, it’s not really there but they do have their own identity despite my One Desire comparisons. But the fact is, The Nights plays in the same league as them and for me, I couldn’t care less if you invent the wheel again or not – as long as I get great songs, a good production and faultless musicians, I’m a happy camper – and The Nights provides us with all of the above. Highly recommended!
1. Welcome To The Show
2. Nothing But Love
4. I Will Never Stop Loving You
5. In A Blink Of An Eye
6. Hold On
7. Elegy (You Should Be Here)
8. Take Me To Heaven
9. You Belong To Me Tonight
10. I Wanna Be Your Superhero
11. We Can Rule The World Tonight