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M.ILL.ION - Back on Track

Back on Track
by Chris Hicklin at 18 October 2021, 3:10 PM

Swedish Melodic Rockers M.ILL.ION have a 30-year history in the industry, with a raft of albums under their belt and a plethora of high-profile tours, the band has a lot of experience. This journey was almost brought to an untimely end in 2014 when bassist and founder B.J Laneby was struck down by an infection, almost dying in the process. Fortunately for all he recovered, and now in 2021 the band are back, with a not-exactly-new album. It would be fair to describe this as a celebration of the band’s career, containing as it does three all new songs, several reworkings of material from older albums, and some unearthed archival recordings which have been remastered for the modern palette.

Opening with the first of the new songs, title track “Back on Track” is the band’s musical announcement of their return, with self-referential lyrics the point pretty much is simply to let you know, M.ILL.ION are back and taking no prisoners. It’s a fun, propulsive soft rocker, with a driving bass and some tastefully executed guitar solo work, a decent start.

The band ratchets things up a little on “Rising”, with a thunderous drum intro the song features a much heavier riff, more forceful vocals, and more serious lyrics. Hans Dalzon’s pipes are strong throughout, and Magnus Rohdell’s sturdy drum work is peppered throughout with some impressively detailed percussion that rings out above Henrik Andersson’s creative lead guitar parts, which utilise lots of hammer-on techniques to create a very fluid sound.

From the very creatively titled first album “No.1” we also have a new version of “90-60-90” the meaning of which I must admit eludes me. Still, the song is a cracker, with rippling Hammond Organ and gospel backing vocals that elate, a fine piece of AOR.

“Judgement Day” is a powerful melodic rocker that can originally be found on the 1994 release “We, Ourselves & Us,” with a cool jangling guitar riff that recalls “Don’t Fear the Reaper” but that is where the similarities with that song end. It’s a rousing anthem with a big singalong chorus, punctuated with bells and something that sounds like a theramin of all things, creating a 50s sci-fi sound effect. Very entertaining stuff.

An absolute standout is “Narrow Mind Land” from 1998’s “Electric” album, which is one of the fastest tempo tracks to be found on the album. Dipping its toe into NWOBHM territory, but with a whole host of interesting sounds SAXON would not be heard dead putting on their record, it is also one of the heaviest offerings with energetic double bass drum work and raucous guitars that descend into discordance to close the track out.

Things get a little groovier with the no-nonsense “Burn in Hell,” this is one of the most fun guitar riffs on the LP, it’s much more in the vein of the 80s hair rock bands than much of the rest of the album. But if “Burn in Hell,” is the band’s reminiscence on the best of 80s MOTLEY CRUE then “Dr Loov” might be the opposite, as it strays too far into the excessive cheese of that era and sounds a little too derivative for its own good.

Mid-tempo “Mother Earth” is a personal favorite, this has the best backing vocal production on the album. The tune itself is very catchy and despite the efficient 3.30 running time of the song, the melody is burned into your memory before the end of the first listen. It’s a got a big WHITESNAKE-esque chorus with a step up in key halfway through the track that elevates it to another level of Arena Rock. This one belongs on a big stage somewhere.

While “Back on Track” may not be about to usher in a new era of melodic rock, it’s a forward looking retrospective on the band’s career to date, and a welcome one. The new material is strong, and the band’s chops as musicians have not missed a beat over the years. The production is a mixed bag as the music has been assembled from a variety of sources, but what is new has been very ably mixed by the experienced hand of Simon Hanhart. The older production is of its time though, and it shows a few cracks in places. Based on what is on offer here, I am looking forward to a full album from these reactivated rockers.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 6


3 Star Rating

1. Back on Track
2. Rising
3. Circle of Trust
4. 90-60-90
5. Sign of Victory
6. Judgement Day
7. Eye of The Storm
8. Narrow Mind Land
9. Lovely Eyes
10. Burn in Hell
11. Doctor Lööv
12. Mother Earth
13. Get Down to Biz
14. Tear Down the Walls
15. Candyman
Hans Dalzon - Lead Vocals
CT Rohdell - Guitar
Marcus Berglund - Keyboards
B.J Laneby - Bass Guitar
Henrik Andersson - Lead Guitar
Magnus Rohdell – Drums
Record Label: AOR Heaven


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