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Cornerstone: Once Upon Our Yesterdays

Three albums into a collaboration between ex-Rainbow singer Dougie White and former Royal Hunt bassist and keyboard player Steen Mogensen, Cornerstone continues laying the strong musical foundation it established on 2000's Arrival and 2002's Human Stain. Once Upon Our Yesterdays, the band's third and most mature album, is bookended with perhaps the album's finest two tracks. Opener "Welcome to Forever" kicks off with intense riffs that propel the song and indicate the caliber of material to come, while "Scream" is packed with solid-rock power chords and intricate harmonies. Both songs encompass Cornerstone's sound, which at times echoes that of the main players' old bands. In between come eight more tracks -- most of which are tight and tough songs full of melody and passion entwined with dark and often religious imagery. (Sample line: "Mother Mary walk beside me to the water's edge/A kiss has brought my world down/Pray the living God won't find us, drinking with his friend.") The only dud is the forgettable and cliched "21st Century Man," which is repeated as one of two bonus live tracks on this American release of Once Upon Our Yesterdays. (The other live song is "Wounded Land" from Human Stain.)

Guitarist Kasper Damgaard's solos are intelligent, and his restraint benefits these songs, while White's dusty voice provides a solid contrast to the aggressive rhythm section of Mogensen and drummer Allan Sorensen. Cornerstone remains a refreshing band that arguably rivals (and, I daresay, expands upon) the best versions of Deep Purple and Rainbow -- bands to which Cornerstone so gallantly aspires.

Track Listing:
1) Welcome to Forever (6:24)
2) When the Hammer Falls (4:28)
3) Passion to Warfare (4:46)
4) Hour of Doom (4:18)
5) Man Without A Reason (3:33)
6) 21st Century Man (3:28)
7) Once Upon Our Yesterdays (5:59)
8) End of the World (4:07)
9) Some Have Dreams (5:26)
10) Scream (6:00)
11) Wounded Land (Live Bonus Track)
12) 21st Century Man (Live Bonus Track)
Total Time: 57:25

Added: January 18th 2005
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Cornerstone Web Site
Hits: 4030
Language: english

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Cornerstone: Once Upon Our Yesterdays
Posted by Steve Pettengill, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-01-18 14:10:34
My Score:

Cornerstone firmly resides in the Rainbow school of heavy metal, which comes as no surprise given that Doogie White was briefly the vocalist for Ritchie Blackmore's doomed Stranger in Us All reunion project. While Once Upon Our Yesterdays is a better effort than Stranger in Us All, it's only partially successful. At its best, it is nearly on par with anything by Rainbow or Alcatrazz.

Album opener "Welcome to Forever" is a nicely developed mini epic including some nifty Hammond organ courtesy of keyboardist Steen Mogensen that begs to be further up in the mix. Likewise, guitarist Kasper Damgaard lays down some simple but effective riffs. The Eastern European tinged "End of the World" features gypsy violin and an unexpected synth solo; I swear if Blackmore's Night ever did an electric album, they'd sound something like this. "Scream" finishes the studio portion in doomy Dio-esque Gothic sludgerocker fashion.

But too often it seems the band are on autopilot and content themselves with fairly average midtempo heavy blues rock that Whitesnake did so well back in the day. Cornerstone also present the requisite power ballad in "Man Without Reason", a very Joe Lynn Turnerish crooner and while it is pleasant enough, it fails to really ignite. "When the Hammer Falls" is a fine power anthem as is the reasonably infectious "Some Have Dreams", but somehow I come away from Once Upon Our Yesterdays wanting a bit more.

Perhaps my expectations are a little too high, but there's not quite enough for me to sink my teeth into here. In the wake of the outstanding Hughes Turner Project, which treads similar ground on a far higher plain, Cornerstone comes up a little short. Hopefully, the band will take more chances on their next effort. They unquestionably have the vocalist and the musicians to take them to the top. All they need is better material.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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