Label: Frontiers 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
One of Frontiers Records' reliable songsmiths is Magnus Karlsson, the Swedish guitarist/songwriter/producer. During the last decade or so, he's been heavily involved in some of my and possibly your favourite albums, such as the three Allen/Lande albums, Bob Catley's "Immortal" and Starbreaker's two albums. Many metal fans will know him as one of the Primal Fear axemen or from his earlier bands Last Tribe and Midnight Sun.
For his first solo album, Karlsson has written a really impressive set of songs, and to sing them, he's gathered a really impressive list of vocalists. And if that doesn't impress enough, he also proves that he's a very good singer himself on three of the tracks. In fact, those three songs ("Heading Out", "Ready Or Not" and "On Fire") are among my favourite songs, they're highly melodic and catchy ones and Karlsson's smooth voice suits them perfectly.
If you're familiar with Karlsson's work, you'll know what to expect - gloriously melodic metal and hard rock songs. That's what you'll get, ranging from the heavier tracks like "Higher" (sung by Primal Fear's Ralf Schreepers) to "Stronger", a superb balladic pop/rock track with TNT/Westworld/Starbreaker singer Tony Harnell on vocals. I could easily imagine someone like Pink scoring a massive hit with this song... but I'm glad I get to hear it sung by Harnell instead, he does a great job as usual.
Other highlights include the powerful "title track" "Free Fall" with Russell Allen and the melodic double treat of "Us Against The World" (vocals: David Readman) and "Our Time Has Come" (Mark Boals). There are really no weak moments on this album, even the tracks I haven't mentioned would be highlights on an ordinary melodic metal album.
The production by Karlsson himself and Daniel Flores (mixing and mastering) is great, and Karlsson has obviously taken his time with the guitar parts - there's some fine axemanship on this album. I really couldn't ask for much more, so the rating is a no-brainer... folks, we have an Album Of The Year contender here!