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Kaasin - Fired Up

Fired Up
by Chris Hicklin at 10 January 2022, 1:15 PM

While “Fired Up” may be a “debut” album, it would be fair to say the proponents of this work are no newcomers to the world of Rock. Band leader Jo Henning Kaasin has a pedigree that extends as far as having collaborated with such legendary vocalists as Joe Lynn Turner and Glenn Hughes, both luminaries of prog giants DEEP PURPLE, the former having recorded with Kaasin’s previous outfit COME TASTE THE BAND, initially a DEEP PURPLE cover project (and named for an album by the band) before evolving into an act performing original material albeit with a backwards looking aesthetic. To nobody’s surprise “Fired Up” has a lot in common with bands such as RAINBOW, WHITESNAKE and other purveyors of Blues and Neo-Classical based Melodic Hard Rock.

The RAINBOW comparisons are obvious from the get-go, “We Are One” is a familiar slice of 70s inspired goodness, the guitars are driven but not overly so, they are an important part of the sound by they do not dominate it by any means, Benjamin Dehli’s tastefully understated keyboards bring warmth and character to the sound and Jan Thore Grefstad’s vocals are clean and well enunciated with soaring peaks. The drum sound is a little muddy and low in the mix, which is a shame as Chris Brush is a very capable machine. Grefstad shows off the versatility of his voice as the album continues onto the mid-paced, spacey “Hidden”, sounds a little like Axl Rose on the verses, although the song is an anthemic, otherworldly prog piece with a neat little oddly timed riff and a huge chorus that has nothing in common with Axl’s band.

Penned by band leader and guitarist Jo Henning Kaasin the lyrics to “Smoking Gun” would seem to suggest he is not the biggest fan of Donald Trump. The track is a scorching indictment of the former POTUS and his actions on and around the January 6th, 2021, attack on the Capitol building, castigating Trump for cowering in bunkers as fireworks go off around him, while disdainfully namechecking hate groups like Proud Boys along the way. Musically the track is interesting, it opens with tortured sounding bluesy harmonica, while acoustic guitars and Gospel-tinged backing vocals give the track a further rural American flavor.

The album’s only genuine ballad comes at the halfway mark. “Shades Of Yesterday” is a sparkling acoustic led piece that gives Grefstad’s vocal cords the workout they’ve been waiting for. His voice is soulful in the extreme, and when he adds a hint of gravel, it comes to life. The following two tracks “Walking Downwards” and “Chain of Love” hurtle forwards a decade bringing us all the way into the 1980s, with the former bringing strong Top Gun vibes, especially in the keyboards.

With Staale Kaasin‘s dirty fuzzed up bass, “Wrong” brings something new to proceedings, a flavour of something both a little grungy and groovy. Sleazy top-notch vocals on this track really help it to pop, while cool sci-fi keyboards and a clever bridge with lots of anticipated notes are particularly effective in making this a standout track.
The heaviest track on the album is also the final track on the album proper, “Inside Out” has a breakneck speed riff on the verses which brings the band’s sound almost to the edge of Metal, it’s a thrilling end to the album, I’m sure the drums are fantastic too, but you can’t really hear them. This is followed by two highly melodic pieces that are old single releases, while welcome additions to what would otherwise be only a 9-track release, they are bonus tracks so I will not dwell too long on them except to say that if they are on your format (CD only) do check them out.

By and large the production on the album, which was overseen by organist Dehli, is acceptable, the guitars and vocals are well recorded, but the drum sound leaves a lot to be desired, this is really a problem for a Hard Rock outfit as a good drum sound is indispensable. But there is plenty of inspired song writing and intelligent arrangements to be found, and the unspectacular production does not detract too badly from this.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 6

4 Star Rating

1. We Are One
2. Hidden
3. The Smoking Gun
4. Carry On
5. Shades of Yesterday
6. Walking Downwards
7. Chain of Love
8. Wrong
9. Inside Out
10. Revelation (CD bonus track)
11. Runaway Train (CD bonus track)
Jo Henning Kaasin - Guitar
Jan Thore Grefstad - Vocals
Staale Kaasin - Bass
Benjamin Dehli - Organ & Keyboards
Chris Brush - Drums
Record Label: Pride and Joy Music


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