I was pleasantly surprised to hear a female voice when I listened to the first track of AJENDA’s new release “Unrecognizable”. I’ve got nothing against male vocalists, yet being a female myself, it’s always inspiring to hear a woman fronting a Hard Rock band. The voice belongs to Jen Walker, the powerful frontwoman of the Belfast-based band. Although impressive, Walker’s vocals by no means are the sole highlight of the band. The guitars by Gavin Cairns are catchy and diverse; Peter’s drumming solid and the Janny’s bass-work very funky indeed. The group brings forth all the key elements of a Hard Rock band: emotive and fierce vocals, memorable riffs and drumming that will get your feet tapping and head banging. They have a good combination of heavy songs and soft ones, showcasing the band’s versatility. I was hooked right on my first listen of this work of art, and I challenge you to disagree.
The aforementioned opening track, “Dirty Rock N Roll”, begins with a series of lovely “la la la’s” from Walker, accompanied with some funky cleans. Before long however, the guitar becomes more distorted and the funky bass joins in. A screaming solo makes itself heard towards the end, and the “la’s” make a comeback. Walker then showcases her low voice, very suited for this genre of music. The next track, “Tattoo”, is somewhat softer, starting with piano and some very emotive vocals. However, the guitar riffs give the song a heavy edge, as do the moments of audible bass. A sample of the lyrics is “mix of emotions”, which is exactly what this song is, manifesting itself in a riveting struggle between soft and heavy. “Unrecognizable” highlights the work of the bass upon opening and during the verses, but by the chorus the whole band erupts into a corpus of catchy riffs, vocals and drums. The fourth track is different again, with the drum cymbals introducing the song. “Paranoia” also features some distinct guitar work and effects, as well as rumbly bass. We’re only in the fourth song, and already AJENDA has proved their diversity, and simultaneously highlighted their unique sound. “Heaven’s Tears” is introduced with some Spanishesque guitar, and later features what sounds like the faint knocking of bongo drums. However, the catchy riffs and rumbly bass of their earlier songs are not left behind, and neither are Walker’s powerful yet divine vocals.
The second half of the album begins with soft clean guitar riffs which continue throughout “Otherside”, but the drumming picks up during the choruses. This ballad is powerful and memorable. “Hollow” again begins with soft guitar, and features some interesting drumming. It erupts into distorted riffs later on, and the vocals get more antagonistic to emphasize this. The next track “Hatred and Greed” follows in the path of “Unrecognizable”, by highlighting the bass in the introduction. The drumming remains solid throughout, and there is some very rapid riffication to complete the Rock N Roll symphony. As the end of the album becomes imminent, the listener is provided with another melancholy number to put them in a contemplative mood. “Fragile” emphasizes acoustic guitar, and Walker’s lovely voice. The ballad about heartbreak features a male voice, again conveying the variety in AJENDA’s music. The duet is the longest track on the album, at 5:46. “Unrecognizable”’s final track brings back the funky bass and drumming, and the intensity. “Olympus Monz” is an entirely instrumental track, which rises to a series of crescendos throughout. This piece is an appropriate end to the album, showcasing the group’s talented musicianship for one final few minutes of glory.
“Unrecognizable” by AJENDA is an incredibly diverse collection of music, featuring a significant amount of skill and consideration. The vocals are distinct and emotive, the bass funky, and the guitars and drumming extremely versatile. This album is quite hard to define and describe, and the only way you can attempt to understand it is to listen to it. A definite recommendation for all Hard and Soft Rock lovers out there.