What a shame that Jorn Lande — lead singer for U.S. melodic hard rockers Millenium, not to mention the front man on Yngwie Malmsteen’s ill-fated North American tour earlier this year — couldn’t have released Worldchanger as his first solo album. That way, his debut wouldn’t have been laced with impressive yet safe covers of Journey, Foreigner and Deep Purple songs, as was 2000’s Starfire. That way, too, the tracks on the hefty Worldchanger wouldn’t have taken on immediate alternative meanings in the aftermath of the horrific and tragic terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11. The album’s title, many of its lyrics and its overall heavy groove resonate with a sense of vengeance, loss and grief. “House of Cards,” for example, is laced with such references. From the shouts of “S.O.S.! S.O.S.!” and the blaring of air-raid sirens at the beginning of the track to the verses -- (“It’s late at night/And I’m watching the news/There’s blood on the screen/And I feel guilty somehow/Escaping from reality/When I close my eyes/Don’t wanna see them die/Hear the children cry.”) -- the slowly churning and somber song acts as a haunting examination of evil. Similarly, album closer “Bridges Will Burn” becomes an anthem of despair: “Deep in the heart I feel sorrow and pain/Tears in my eyes they keep pouring like rain/The bridges we make will fall down/The bridges we build will burn down here/Deep in the heart I feel sorrow and pain/I can’t find the words, it’s so hard to explain/The bridges we build will burn down/The bridges we make will fall down.”
That said, the big Norwegian carries an even bigger voice on Worldchanger, sounding most like David Coverdale. And he wrote all of these songs himself, as well as produced the record; Tommy Hansen (Helloween, Heaven’s Gate) handled mixing duties. Musically, Worldchanger is significantly heavier yet less bombastic than Starfire. Album opener “Tungur Knivur” undulates with battle cries and a pervasive pounding that recall Black Sabbath, while the snappy “Sunset Station” and the almost poppy “Christine” reflect Lande’s involvement with Millenium. “Captured” and the title track evoke aural images of ARK, another Lande project.
If he can keep up the intensity and the heaviness, Lande has a decent shot at becoming one of Europe’s most sought-after rock vocalists. Already, he’s been involved in high-profile rock operas such as Nicolo Kotzev’s Nostradamus. With a far-reaching range that comes from the guttural depths of his throat, Lande -- at age 33 -- is young enough to still change the world in ways we can all appreciate.