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Da Vinci - Ambition Rocks

Da Vinci
Ambition Rocks
by Mick Michaels at 26 August 2017, 12:07 PM

Originally formed in Norway in 1986, former Polygram artist Da Vinci looks to make a major comeback 25 years later with a new line up and their new album, “Ambition Rocks”. The album contains a fully packed ensemble of 13 tracks showcasing the band’s heavy mix of predictable melodic, late 80’s Pop Rock. The keyboard laden arrangementsare an immediate throwback to an era that drums up either nostalgia or despair, depending on one’s personal taste.  Even before reading the band’s bio, I was struck with familiar sounds of TNT, NIGHT RANGER, and EUROPE.  As the album progressed, it began to feel like a modern mix of STYX and STRYPER. All, mind you, bands that I enjoy on a song-to-song basis.

The album starts off with a very short, melancholy instrumental, “The Return.” From there, it kicks into the hard driving “Vicious Circle.” The keys and guitar mix, as well as the note configurations, are very reminiscent of the big, airy sounds from back in the day.  There is no mistaking the band’s roots. What was disappointing was how the song abruptly ended… without warning and very anti-climatic for a song that was meant to lead the charge on the band’s comeback trail. “Curious Sensation” swiftly picks up the previous song’s unexpected ending and quickly gets the listener back on course.However, I couldn’t help feeling the need for the vocal lines, especially following the solo, to escalate to a greater intensity and pull me over the edge, committing me completely to their new campaign. Track five, “Rocket to Fame,” pretty much summed up what was to be expected from the rest of the album… more nostalgia rock.

The highlights of the album for me were track 7, “Storm on the Horizon”and track 10, “Painted Lady.” Right out of the gate with “Storm on the Horizon” I felt I was in a grand illusion rockin’ the Paradise…  The STYX-like arrangement is quite pleasing and Ellingsen’s grittier Michael Sweet style vocals are edgy and delivered with an urgency that forces the listener to pay attention. “Painted Lady” takes a bit of a bluesy approach setting the keyboards further back in the mix for a majority of the song to let the guitar and the vocal harmonies breathe and take center stage.

Overall, “Ambition Rocks” is a solid, old school, hard rock album for those who yearn for the sound choice of a new generation. There is no debate, that as musicians, these old rock dogs are at the top of their game.  The album is full of melody, harmony and without question, tons of past memories of a time when MTV was king and the Walkman ruled. For me though, the album never seemed to deliver past much more than that… just a trip down memory lane… you know the ones that don’t hold much stock anymore.There really were no chances being taken.  Ellingsen, who is without a doubt a very good singer, could have elevated the album to a higher plateau if he just pushed the envelope somewhat more. What could have been an opportunity for DA VINCI to usher in their triumphant return, resulted in a modern day re-hashing. By all bets, it was a safe record. And who can blame them, better safe than sorry. As I was definitely a fan of some of this particular rock style back in the day… it appears what we have is just more of the same.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 5
Memorability: 4
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. The Return (instrumental)
2. Vicious Circle
3. Curious Sensation
3. I’ve Come All This Way
4. See U When I See You
5. Rocket of Fame
6. Angel
7. Storm on the Horizon
8. Little Lonely
9. Sole Survivor
10. Painted Lady
11. You’re Mine
12. Touch of Humanit
Gunnar Westlie - Guitar
Dag Selboskar – Keys
ErlingEllingsen - Vocals
Roy Funner - Bass
Bjørn Olav Lauvdal - Drums
Record Label: AOR Heaven


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