Many are the songs that have travelled from guitarist/song writer Magnus Karlsson’s pen – sometimes his work has been very good, sometimes it has been underwhelming. Karlsson’s day-job, Primal Fear, has had their ups and downs with some really good records but also some – like their latest effort Apocalypse (2018) – that was a bit disappointing. The debut from Russell Allen & Jorn Lande, The Battle (2005) is one example of a project that came out brilliantly. Earlier this year, Karlsson released the third Starbreaker (featuring Tony Harnell) album, an uneven record and just a couple months later, the second album by The Ferrymen – Karlsson’s project with singer Ronnie Romero (Rainbow, CoreLeoni) and drummer Mike Terranna (Yngwie, Axel Rudi Pell, Beau Nasty and a million other projects) – shows up. The debut from 2017 was a good enough record without being spectacular so my expectations are of the medium kind. I hope I’m positively surprised, though.
Opener “Don’t Stand In My Way” is more or less a continuation of what we were treated with on the debut – fast-tracked Heavy Metal on a tough and punchy ground yet with a hook and lots of melodies. After a symphonic, orchestrated opening, the tune blasts away but it slows down slightly for the refrain. There’s also a slowdown for the solo-spot which gives it a different approach dynamically. It ends as it began – heavy, punchy and heavy. A good song and perfect as the the opener. Latest single “Bring Me Home” begins with a gorgeous piano-piece but on a tough rhythm, the song heavies up, slower in pace and darker in mood. The piano and the smooth melodies gives the tune a touch of Melodic Rock but the Metal is always there making the tune powerful without any form of saccharine. The song’s refrain is also of the catchier kind – hooky with a some hit-potential to go with it too. Very good.
The album’s second taster/single/video is the title-track – a hard, slammin’, kicking and in-your-face belter, brought in to punch your lights out. It’s aggressive and fast-paced only for the splendid melodies of the bridge to build up a climax that’s the brilliantly catchy refrain – all in the name of heaviness. Said refrain is a easy sing-alonger which should make this tune perfect for the stage – very, very good. On a more laid-back and sullen note, “The Night People Rise” brings on an atmospheric ambience in the verses but pumps up the pace and gets both heavier and rougher when the refrain comes in. Still, the refrain holds a good chunk of pop-melodies and hook-laden twists all around, making it a catchy piece. A female choir and strings get “Save Your Prayers” on its way only for it to bring on a kicking rhythm on a fast and aggressive note, riff-happy and headbang-friendly. A groovier rhythm and a slower pace takes place when the chorus shows up with another catchy melody. Good one.
The slower paced “Heartbeat” takes a trek into ballad-land, at least for the verses. On a softer, more laid-back note, they pave way for a heavier direction when the chorus hits, making the tune something of a Heavy Metal power ballad. Said chorus is spot-on with a hook in every corner, making the tune a winner. The song’s hit-potential makes it a clear single-contender. Great stuff. Darker in mood yet with a positive outlook, “Our Own Heroes” is a hard-hitting, heavy and bouncy tune, somewhat reminiscent of a way catchier Lords Of Black. The song’s verses makes me think of a more Heavy Metal laden Rainbow while the chorus is striking and beefy albeit not that catchy but the instrumental section’s Middle East feel brings on a good contrast that lifts the tune’s dynamics – good one. Latest single “No Matter How Hard We Fall” starts out in a slower pace in a pop-metal mode only to go into fast and rough passages before the verses comes and slows things down again, passages that comes in after every chorus ends, choruses which are both effective and striking. A very good song.
“My Dearest Fear” comes in a mid-pace with a dark ambience on a metal-groovy foundation, poundy with a slight twist of Goth and symphonic tendencies. The tune is a rhythmically steady beat-fest made for fists in the air but also with lots of memorable melodies and a refrain that hits right between the eyes. Hard to not like indeed. With chugging, gritty guitars that holds some razor-sharp Judas Priest influenced riffing, “You Against The World” would seem like a sure winner. Fast, rowdy and pounding the song goes for the throat but just about misses the target. It’s not a bad song but it swishes by and fails to grab a hold on me. What a pity. The guys round things up with “All We Got”, a straightforward Hard Rock number, upbeat with a Melodic Rock injection where pop-flirts takes a hold of the hooks and makes it the most accessible tune on the record, while still heavy all over. The massive chorus sounds like a hit all the way. A very good tune and a great way to say goodbye for mow.
While it would be unfair to say that this is not an enjoyable album, this record – just like the debut (and many of Karlsson’s projects) – doesn’t bring on a lasting impression. The “I want more” nerve isn’t tickled often enough, which in turn makes it somewhat forgettable in the long run. I’m not sure whether I like this one or the debut more – I haven’t listened to the debut since a month or two after it came out and I fear this record will have the same destiny. To point out how the good the musicians are – especially Romero – is pointless as it goes without saying but I’m afraid that the musicians are the ones holding this project together more than the memorability of the songs. That said, I can’t slag this record off as I really like it whenever I put it on and that have to count for something.
More The Ferrymen reviews:
1. Don’t Stand In My Way
2. Bring Me Home
3. A New Evil
4. The Night People Rise
5. Save Your Prayers
7. Your Own Hero
8. No Matter How Hard We Fall
9. My Dearest Fear
10. You Against The World
11. All We Got