You may not have heard the name of guitarist Ralf Jedestedt, however when he can put together an outfit with the pedigree of Goran Edman on vocals, Anders Johansson on drums, along with Per Stadin and Mats Olausson on bass and keyboards respectively, it will tell you that he is widely respected in the music industry. It is very impressive indeed for any guitarist making his recording debut to have a band that has a track record including Yngwie Malmsteen, Hammerfall, John Norum, Silver Mountain, Snake Charmer, Glory, Brazen Abbot, Jean Beauvoir and ARK, and that's just to name a few, especially when you consider that said guitarist wrote all the songs on the album. What is slightly less impressive is that for large parts of Land Of The Free, it sounds as though this is a band going through the motions. There are no below par performances on the album, however little on show really slaps you about the face and demands your attention.
A promising if not altogether convincing start "Xtacy" greets you with an Iommiesque riff from the Tony Martin era Sabbath, it's one of those songs that neither has you reaching for the skip or repeat buttons. Vocally Edman is reminiscent of Tommy Shaw, or even his Styx band mate Lawrence Gowan, it's not an aspect I've heard in his voice much before, but it works well with the music and the slightly quirkier approach is welcome.
After the nod towards Iommi the majority of the rest of the album veers between Rainbow inspired riffs and Glenn Hughes doing his funk lite, none of which is a bad thing, however when you consider how many bands have used this template over the last few years something pretty special is required to make an album stick out from the crowd and sadly that just isn't the case.
When that mould is broken it's for the likes of "Mr. Cain" which could easily have been a ballad that didn't make the cut for the Guns & Roses Use Your Illusion albums, with its Slash like tone and melody line, along with Edman adding a nasal whine ala W-Axl to complete the effect. I have to say that I found this to easily be the low point of the album.
Closing track "Innerventions", one of the more overtly Hughesian moments with its smooth funk tones and Edman tipping his hat to "The Voice Of Rock" and "Land Of The Free" which sees the return of later day Sabbath as a reference point with another jaunty riff and fiery guitar solo, are two of the more memorable moments on the album, but overall there's not quite enough to really hold the attention.
Supposedly album number two is already in pre-production with the same line up, hopefully the guys put in as strong a performance, however they really will need more rounded songs to work with.
In a year where Chickenfoot have set the standard for "super group projects" impossibly high, it's a disappointment for such an experienced bunch of musicians to come up with something so lacklustre and while we might not be talking of quite the same calibre as Hagar and Satriani here, it would be fair to suggest that something a bit more charismatic should be expected from this array of talent.
02.Fruits Of Life
04.Land Of The Free
05.Pennywise and Pound Foolish