The three-piece melodic metal band ‘A Hero for the World’ comprising of Jacob Kaasgaard (vocals and keyboards), David Sivelind (guitar and bass) – both originally from Sweden – and Andy Gentile (drums) from the USA, have now released an expansive self-titled album. The recording includes guest vocals from Louiebeth Aratan.
The opening track ‘We Are Forever’ has that relentless pace that you would immediately associate with this type of work. Imagine DragonForce had never grown wise – and were stuck in a perpetual state of limbo. Guitars fluster and foam, and voices are passionately high and regally refined. But the constant ornate richness soon wears thin.
This first lengthy track reminded us of Boston (the studio production is excellent.) But beyond that, this track – this whole album – is not the fire breathing monster that it thinks it is. Where is the darkness ? Where is the conflict? The music is dignified and elegant. In fact it is almost sedate. Gorgeous instrumental ability does not alter the truth … the sounds offered here are often yawn inducing and anachronistic. Too much of a good thing is bad for you. Listening to every track on this record is like eating chocolate cake at every mealtime. The diet is sickeningly rich.
‘Eternal Shadows’ begins with some gentle strings, then a buzzing riff journeys in – very swiftly followed by some old school melodic phrasing and a bucket load of 80’s synth. The power-voice soon reaches harrowing, even nauseating, highs.
Continuing the ‘Forever’ theme, ‘Free Forever’ steps in with a pleasant melody – but this is slightly tarnished by the voice of Kaasgaard who, now, appears to lack the depth of timbre that is required to go down properly into those low notes. Luckily, Louiebeth Aratan comes to save the day. Her voice is clean and hot – matching the high notes of the organ – jumping and wiggling happily around the unlimited space.
‘Let It Go’ is yet another hymn of triumph. It has some guitar parts that actually flow, and even some tasty riffs. A strange monastic chant lurks behind the accelerating guitars – pumping them along. Then the track ‘Heaven’s Eye’ starts with passionate zeal. The pace is elegant and canters along nicely. A vigorous hot-rub of guitar-work burnishes the surface of this song. But there is no escaping that voice, especially when it scrapes along the surface, then dips and dives in agony.
‘Alive’ is introduced like a guitar song from the previous track. It is balanced and honest, and it is vaguely recognizable. Then, with the ‘End Of Time’ we seem to be getting somewhere. This song has an exciting riff and unstoppable energy. The arrangement has the right amount of lavish generosity. The only black mark is that voice, again. This time Kaasgaard reaches too high. And as a consequence, he causes himself an injury.
‘Over Land And Sea’ is an 80’s style instrumental thumper in the ‘Europe’ mould, with the same-old bleary eyed synths and a fluster of drums that kettle you in like the rozzers do on a Sunday parade. And this brings us to ‘A Quest For The Brave’ with a pointed melody and the reminder that it comes from “Over land and sea…” And does Kaasgaard attempt some growled vocals on this track? I sincerely hope not.
The conclusion of this album is ‘One Hope Of Light’. The sweet melody is incongruous – it sounds like Cliff Richard is singing it. But the chorus is magnificent, as you might expect. The guitars are courageous and they surround the adoring voice. And then, at about 04:55 ‘A Hero for the World’ finally achieves what we have all been waiting for. The true horror of a genuinely catastrophic key failure. We always knew it would happen.
It’s a shame, because that moment is also the springboard for Louiebeth’s second portion of voice. Unfortunately, her voice is pasted over by some toe curling and cheerily spoken utterances.
In addition to advising the band that they seriously need to re-title this project (it has almost the same name as Megadeth’s risky 2001 album ‘The World Needs A Hero’,) someone also needs to urgently instruct ‘A Hero for the World’ in a simple home truth: That the power-metal genre has evolved since the 1980’s. It has grown into something far more spectacular. They will need to up their game, and to be a good deal more inventive. They need to strive for something original and really imperative in their work if they want to stand any chance of success in 2013.
And, while all the glitz and sophistication of the production on this album is well executed, and the songs are quite enjoyable, the lead vocals from Kaasgaard will undoubtedly not be everyones cup of tea.