Jorn Lande & Trond Holter – present ‘Dracula – Swing of Death’ (Review)
Jorn Lande & Trond Holter
Avalon/Marquee (Japan) Frontiers
26 Jan 2015
Mention the words concept album or worse still ‘rock opera’ and its enough to send many rock fans running for cover. But that’s exactly what Jorn Lande and Trond Holter (aka Teeny from WIG WAM) have on offer for us here.
The concept is centered around the life of Vlad, the Impaler, more formerly known as count Vlad the III, Prince of Wallachia or to use his patronymic name (Vlad) Drăculea. In essence its the story of Dracula, entwining fact and fiction to great effect in a kind of ‘beauty and the beast’ tale.
While I am partial to the odd concept album they don’t always hit the mark with me, and as for rock opera’s, well they aren’t really my goblet of blood. So, despite being a big fan of Jorn and his sizeable vocal talents I approached the album with some scepticism but I needn’t have worried, one listen and I was hooked.
The album opens with ‘Hand of Your God‘ which is slow paced and atmospheric with the sound of waves lapping the shore and bells ringing as Jorn sets the scene for what’s to come. Next up is ‘Walking on Water‘ which is also the first video to be released with a great riff and melody, at times stepping into Thin Lizzy style guitar harmonies which harken me back to the formers Black Rose days.
The surprise track (and possibly my favourite) is the title track itself, ‘Swing of Death‘. This would be right at home on Broadway or London’s West End and possibly despite that, I love it. This has absolutely everything, starting with a swing style piano and a tap like feel before breaking into a chorus which has me thinking of Jim Steinman before more Think Lizzy style celtic harmonies. Jorn’s vocals on this track in particular portray the character of Dracula so well.
‘Masquerade Ball‘ is one of the more atmospheric tracks with its haunting piano introduction before it builds to full speed. Again Lande really portrays the character well as he sings of his lust for Mina.
‘Save me‘ is another of the albums highlights and sees the first of several duets with the amazing Lena Floitmoen Borresen. Her voice compliments Jorn’s so well in this battle of love with Jorn pleading ‘just die a little bit before you live forever‘.
‘River of Tears‘ continues the battle and we hear more of Lena’s wonderful vocals. This track also has my favourite line of the album ‘Tomorrow when you wake up you’ll be dead‘, fantastic stuff.
I can never listen to Jorn without thinking of his hero Ronnie James Dio and ‘Queen of the Dead‘ has that Dio like quality to it at times which Dio himself would have been proud of penning.
‘Into the Dark‘ details Mina’s journey to the other side with Lena taking the lead here vocally in fine style with another catchy chorus.
‘True Love Through Blood‘ is a wonderful instrumental track which allows Holter to step into the light and really shine (though in fairness he does this throughout the album).
‘Under the Gun‘ finishes the story and has Jorn and Lena duetting again in fine style before coming to a close.
The Japanese pressing contains the bonus track ‘Hands of Your God‘, an alternative take on the opening track.
What the two Norwegian compatriots have produced here is possibly the album of the year (yeah I know its only February). Every track ouses quality in every department from the hook laden writing, the great guitar work and stellar production to the amazing vocals. This simply has it all. What are you waiting for, go buy it.