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Kramer, Rocky: Firestorm

Are the day of the fret shredder burning up a million notes a nano-second the preserve of an ever ageing audience? Enter Norway’s Rocky Kramer, a fret-smith looking to stem that tide by setting out to combine symphonic rock and metal to a stage-show like production via his undoubted virtuosic talent on guitar.

Firestorm is the man’s fourth (supposedly of ten!) loosely themed concept release centred round emotions such as anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise. Surrounding himself with highly trained and highly talented musicians, the guitarist has also enlisted the experience of Kim Richards (who has links to the likes of Pink Floyd and Queen) to oversee this ambitious undertaking. All of which makes the, in my opinion, slightly out of place production of this album all the more confusing. Don’t get me wrong, the results are crystal clear, beautifully separated and sharp as a tack, and yet I can’t quite piece together whether things are meant to sound like ‘Rocky Kramer The Musical’, or, as the press blurb hopes to assert, Mozart meets AC/DC. That in itself is a real shame because there’s no denying that Firestorm is a hugely likeable and well intentioned outing that showcases - albeit not always in the right places - Rocky and his band’s jaw dropping prowess on their chosen instruments.

With every song having its own little spoken/acted out vignette by way of introduction the stage show feel may be intended but there’s no doubt that at certain points rather than march things forward or provide the hoped for backdrop, they simply interrupt proceedings and suck away some of the momentum that the beautifully poised classical-metal of “I Wanna Know”, for example, provides. Personally I’d prefer to hear this band rock out a lot more, “Alcohol” revealing a razor edged swagger that doesn’t cut through quite as often as it maybe should across an album that sounds way more polite than it thinks it does.

With finger tapping outbursts, fret melting forays and powerful riffs abounding, that things don’t quite fall into place as powerfully as you always feel they could, makes Firestorm come across as a missed opportunity. And yet the enthusiastic vocals from Rocky himself alongside the powerful rhythm section of drummer Alejandro Mercado and bassist Michael Dwyer, which is all expertly augmented by the keyboard work of Matt Grossman, still remain infectious.

Firestorm isn’t the powerful, bombastic romp that it often threatens to become but it is still an engaging and ambitious endeavour. It also marks Rocky Kramer out as a real talent. Hopefully the next outing in this aspiring conceptual undertaking allows him to display those skills in a slightly more hard hitting setting.

Track Listing
1. Invocation
2. Rock Star
3. Alcohol
4. The Firestorm Symphony
5. Go To Hell
6. Entr’acte Confusion
7. I Wanna Know
8. Entr’acte Frustration
9. Sick & Tired
10. Entr’acte Deception
11. Attitude
12. Can You Feel It
13. The Outsider
14. Black & Brown

Added: March 26th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Rocky Kramer online
Hits: 447
Language: english

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