Sweden’s Chris Laney has some serious vocal and guitar chops, lemme tell ya. This debut CD by his band Laney’s Legion boasts heavy, world-class tunage marked with powerful lungs and guitar thrills! You want high octane? “On and On” will hit the spot. With slick production, “On and On” is a relentless intro, full speed ahead, sails to the wind, crack open a beer and let’s fucking do this.
“Taste of Your Tongue” goes a bit Nickelback on the verses, but they’re forgotten when you hit the vintage 80’s rock chorus, which rescues the song from residing in Chad Kroeger’s backyard for too long. Similarly, “Poptastic”, a tribute to rockin’ out with your Kiss albums, is all about the chorus hooks. It has an 80’s snarl like good Poison-Crue-Jovi. “We’re still good friends of metal, Priest and Helloween”, sings Laney. “I’m talkin’ bout Van Halen – 1984!” Hey man, I get that. His heart is in the right place, although I don’t refer to Van Halen as “poptastic” myself, I get what he means. The opening guitars are reminiscent of Van Hagar.
It’s all good though, because “Beneath the Surface” has a heavier groove and takes you to a more bangin’ headspace. The guitar solo, presumably by Rob Marcello, is pure nirvana. Since this album is a celebration of an era when an album was a collection of hard rockers and power ballads, “Bleed Within” is the expected softie. Like a perfect post-Hysteria Def Leppard ballad, “Bleed Within” combines the layers of backing vocals with the acoustic strumming to meld into sweet candy perfection.
Now, speaking of backing vocals, we should really take a closer look at the credits. “Let’s Get it On”, a heavy Ratt-like number, boasts some interesting names. Tomas Åkvik, Mathias Blom, and…Jompa Wilmenius? “Let’s Get it On” is a stellar track, loads of guitars and groove…but those backing vocals! That’s the key! Jompa is the secret weapon of hard rock gang vocals. Now, I will say that “Let’s Get it On” reminds me of a couple songs…can’t place them…but some of these hooks are familiar from the days of old. “Hollow” continues with the hard rock shred, with hint of Foo Fighters (think choppy, like “Everlong” in the guitars).
“Lady Luck” is the only song I didn’t connect with. Too modern, perhaps? It’s not a bad song, but similar to things that in Canada are quite overplayed on the radio. (That’s not Laney’s fault; that’s more Cancon‘s fault!) “Assassin of Our Love” returns to more comfortable territory, a solid power ballady track with hints of early Bon Jovi circa “Runaway”. Laney then proclaims “No One Can Stop Us”, rocking out Dokken style and advising “You’ve gotta get your shit together”! Again, special attention must be played to the classy and impressive solo work. “Legion” finishes the album by going a bit more metal. Savatage could have performed Legion, although the production clearly differentiates it from Savatage. We know where their heads are at by the credits though: “Thanks to Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange for the inspiration.”
Laney’s Legion is an impressive CD. It is impeccably produced, and arranged to a “T”. It occupies a curious place in the space-time continuum. If hard rock never fell to grunge in 1991-1992, perhaps albums like this would be commonplace today. It’s rare to hear such focus on the hard rock-isms that were popular long ago, but with today’s recording tech. It’s a cool mesh, but the bottom line is, this is a better album than most of the Bon Jovi or Def Leppards in the last couple decades.
But 10/5 stars on the backing vocals*
* Much gratitude to Jompa for sending me this CD. He’s a great internet friend, and he though I’d like it. He was right!