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Air Raid: Freedom Ring

Forty whole years have passed and now we are offered the Freedom Ring, the second outing from the much revered and even more keenly missed Air Raid, a band who up until now had only served up a singular, classic, self titled debut album. As you’d expect four decades down the line, a few changes have occurred in terms of band line-up, but the key duo of Arthur Offen (vocals/keys/guitar/bass) and Rick Hinkle (guitar/ukulele/keys) are thankfully still in place but now it’s Jimmy Porter who does an impressive job behind the drums, while Susan Bennett helps out on vocals on a trio of tracks and Spencer Kirkpatrick adds some excellent acoustic guitar in places.

The aforementioned and seminal debut is rightly lauded as a pomp driven AOR classic but many years have passed since then and in truth Freedom Ring is a different beast entirely. Bringing in more readily obvious influences from the early 70s, what we’re left with is an album with the accessibility of AOR but which possesses a progressive heart, and if you tied me down and beat me viciously with a spiky gherkin, I’d say that the results land somewhere - but not directly - between Asia, Uriah Heep and, well, Air Raid! The important thing is that it’s a mighty statement and one which truly gets better and better the more you listen, such are the intricacies and nuances that come to the fore after the more immediate moments have sunk in.

The opening cut, cunningly titled “Air Raid”, in one fell swoop illustrates so many good things about this album, with a classic, grandiose voice from Offen, pompous keyboards that truly sound majestic, some fiery guitar work and a chorus to die for, all meshing seamlessly. Add in superb chord progressions that truly leave you desperate to play air-bass on “Let Your Freedom Ring”, where a tinge of Kansas comes into play, and what a killer one-two punch this album’s opening pair provide. Arguably, however, it’s the five part epic “Lost Horizon” where Air Raid really let loose and fly their progressive flag proudest, synth-strings and some emotionally charged guitars setting an enigmatic scene that then ebbs from tender vocals and piano, before it flows to energetic guitars, driving snare patterns and another proud, engaging melody. “The Silvering” then takes everything to its closing conclusion in a mid-paced but proud fashion that, once again, draws you deep into its heart. And that’s the thing for me with Freedom Ring, this being an album that comes across more as a labour of love that we’ve all been invited to share in than any nostalgic reformation-comeback. These are songs from the heart, delivered with passion and skill, and if you love your music progressively inflected but with major hooks and a classic but current sound, they are truly not to be missed.


Track Listing
1. Air Raid
2. Let Your Freedom Ring
3. Island Song
4. Derby Day
5. A Place In The Northland
6. Lost Horizon -
Black Ship Landing
Walk The Streets A God
A Bridge Of Gates
The Incantation
A Hundred Years Or More
7. The Silvering

Added: August 28th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Freedom Ring @ Arthur Offen online
Hits: 629
Language: english

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