FEBRUARY 19th 2013

Review by Anka

“Why save the world when you can rule it”? Jorn‘s new release, aptly titled “Symphonic”, does sound like he is conquering the world of symphonic rock.  Although the album is only a compilation of older songs, the added symphonic arrangements give the album a fresh sound and help it expand beyond the realm of hard rock, AOR or heavy metal.

Well, any new release is worthy of attention when it comes from one of the most prolific solo vocalists in the world, Jørn Lande. His new album goes into a direction where we haven’t seen Jorn going before but the effort is definitely commendable. This is like a symphonic rock opera that will not make you yawn, even if you are familiar with most of its tracks.

Skeptical ones could easily think “I know the songs, then why listen to this new release”. This is a new take on older songs, they are infused with a new vision, and they are all well mastered. Simply put, it works.  While others could argue with the 14 song selection, I don’t think the titles are that relevant. The work is outstanding, the orchestral arrangements are very suited, balanced, and they don’t take over the heavy sound.  Plus you have the same Jorn you’ve always known, with his soulful, powerful singing. He is truly one of the best vocalists out there, possessing a very capable, versatile voice.

It’s an easy, pleasant listen from start to finish. The album intro is absolutely majestic and dark, with the string section delicately chanting the theme from “I Came to Rock”. The beautiful cinematic feel dissipates once the heavy section joins in. The overall orchestration is far from being pompous; it is rather subtle and only serves as a melodic support, an enhancer, or a vehicle for the heavy amplified part.  Most of the prominent orchestral elements are concentrated at the beginning and the end of the songs, so prepare to hear amazing intros and outros on almost every track: some clarinet, a bit of cello, some percussion, they’re all delicate enough to not distract from the power of the song itself.

The album carries on with tracks like “Rock and Roll Children” (new Dio cover, not appearing on any previous albums although Jorn has previously recorded a Dio tribute album), Burn Your Flame, Man of the Dark and many other tracks. Jorn's vocals, from bluesy to soulful tones, dominate the entire soundscape. The rock element still stands out, with catchy riffs and guitar solos that take the spotlight, at times backed by ample string orchestrations. It's a nice touch to the rock tunes of Jorn, and some songs really sound refreshed and different with the added symphonic element.

Songs to remember: Man of the Dark, Rock and Roll Children, Vision Eyes, Behind the Clown, A Thousand Cuts

Anything missing? Well maybe a few tracks that are your big favorites. In any case, the album is not meant to be a “best of” compilation, but rather an opportunity to remind us of a few long-forgotten songs, now presented in a new light. While I find it well balanced, I think some symphonic rock/metal lovers might expect the symphonic part to weigh more in the mix, but that shouldn’t be an impediment for any listener. There is enough to explore as we have 14 tracks from various Jorn eras, and it’s a great listen, definitely a “must” for the true fans.