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Hörnqvist, Jonas: L.I.A.

Having teamed up with Lion Music, L.I.A. is the first all instrumental album from Treasure Land and Bleed The Hunger guitarist Jonas Hörnqvist. Flanked by a band comprising Burt Swart on bass, Chad Edik on keys and Kyle Prussic behind the kit, the surefooted six-string master is intent on firing us deep into neo-classical metal territory; where his impressive fret explosions clearly take centre stage and most, if not quite all, of the limelight. To be fair it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a Lion Music release but then you’ll also know that you’re in safe hands, because in this sphere, that label really is one of the leading lights. And so it proves here, L.I.A. forceful and bombastic in all the right places while still possessing more than enough contrast and restraint (by guitar virtuoso standards you understand) to prove an extremely well rounded collection.

We’ll state the obvious first and cover off that Hörnqvist can make his musical weapon spit fire, as it does on the fret fury of “From High Above” and that he can also make it weep, as evidenced on the emotion outpourings of “Time Will Tell” or “Tower Of The Gods” - even if some of the finger technique shown on the latter arrives at an incredible velocity. There’s little denying though that the natural setting for tracks such as “We Will Conquer Them All” or “Let The Battle Begin” is the bombastic realm which is readily associated with Yngwie Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore (who has already made some deservedly positive comments about this album) or the leader of them all, Ritchie Blackmore. It’s a comparison L.I.A. stands up to proudly, the depth of writing allowing Hörnqvist’s efforts to engage in a way that only the best guitar instrumental players truly can, as he builds a real narrative from song to song. With Edik’s keyboard work enforcing the regal atmosphere, while also being given just enough room to truly make a mark on their own terms, the value of surrounding himself with equal talents hasn’t been lost on the band leader - the rhythm work from Swart and Prussic hitting the spot throughout and also in an unexpectedly unfussy manner. Something which I have to say truly allows these tracks to hit home as well crafted pieces of music and not just overly technical displays of prowess.

The flood of albums that used to appear in this style when the likes of Shrapnel Records were in their heyday seems to have slowed to something of a trickle, but with Lion Music continuing to proudly fly that particular flag, thankfully there’s still a natural home for excellent guitarists like Jonas Hörnqvist and his equally exciting solo debut album. Hopefully it’s a partnership that’s set to run for a long time to come.

Track Listing
1. We Will Conquer Them All
2. They Are Coming
3. Let The Battle Begin!
4. Time Will Tell
5. Kneel Before The King
6. The Ancients
7. From High Above
8. Victory
9. Kingdom Come
11. Rainbow Child
12. Moments In Time
13. The Final Stand

Added: October 1st 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Jonas Hornqvist on facebook
Hits: 1119
Language: english

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