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Mats Karlsson - The Time Optimist

Mats Karlsson
The Time Optimist
by Laura Glover at 25 December 2019, 4:11 AM

Venturing out for his first solo venture from his hard rock band 220 VOLT, Mats Karlsson took a softer approach to this album than his other works in the previously mentioned band. "The Time Optimist" is a great rock album in my opinion. However, I am not sure it has a solid place in today's metal. Having had intellectual conversations with other metal nerds about what makes metal "metal", I do maintain my opinion with the knowledge that older metal bands were softer. Which is why I defined "today's metal" specifically, and by those standards this album hits me as hard rock. Mats included many musicals guests on this album, including:  drummer Björn “Grizzly” Höglund (Easy Action, The Summit, Hoven Droven), drummer Peter Hermansson (220 Volt, Talisman, John Norum), Bass-ace Nalle Påhlsson (Therion, Treat, Easy Action), and also some well-known musicians in Sweden as drummer Mike Ajax, bassist Lars Ericsson (The Summit), the first 220 Volt singer Christer “Frille” Åsell and also vocalist Jenny Fall. “The Time Optimist” consists of 11 tracks in different styles, nine tracks penned by Mats, one by Mats co-written with Björn Höglund, and the album also has a cover of the track “Real Gone” by Sheryl Crow/John Shanks. There are two duets where Mats shares the lead vocals with singer Jenny Fall, and one with “Frille” Åsell.

That all being said, lyrically I think this album is solid. Truly parts of this album remind me of some of the beats I've seen one of my all time favorite bands, GHOST, play. Such a "Folk Rock" type of feel. With some definite 80's romantic vibes, various songs speak of true love and good friendship. "Bumping Along" - Has a great dance type beat intro, and vocals that take you back to the older days of hair bands. "Let's go bump along" it tells us while talking about finding a place for his heart to rest. "Natural High" - Entry into some great guitar chords, and Mats vocals. With great rises and falls, led by the aforementioned vocals. "Where do we go from here?" he asks us. Existential questions to ask one's audience.  "Megalo Seitani" - A beat made to dance to, and easily relateable lyrics. We are told of the healing waters and the journey wherein. There is various instrument play throughout this song that give it extra power.

"I Believe" - A song about making it better by taking a stand. This song can be related to so many things. What do you believe? Would taking a stand make it better for the future? With all the recent talks about climate change, this could be a poster song to remind us to "make it better". "Stop the World" - "All I want is to stop the world, for a little while". Oh, Mats, so do I! To have the ability to have a pause button to cherish those moments just a little longer. Moments of love, moments of life. A hug from my mom, my children's laughs when they were still toddlers. This song begs you to remember, love your loved ones. Pay attention to the little things. Small moments are the gems of life. Gifts in a chaotic and often painful, cold world. "Real Gone" - Harder guitar riffs lead into lyrics that make me think of Bruce Springstein type of song. This song also has a female co-singer, she lends a rock/country air to the mix. "I believe I was right when I said you were wrong". Them's fighting words.

This album would have great appeal to many an older generation rocker/metalhead. If you ever had five gallons of aqua net in your hair, this may well be the album for you. This would also be a great introduction to the world of metal for someone who isn't ready for the brashness of "screamo".

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Bumping Along
2. Natural High
3. Megalo Seitani
4. I Believe
5. Stop the World
6. October 28th
7. Real Gone
8. Heather
9. DayDreamer
10. Function Over Fashion
11. The Other Side (Of Love)
Lineup:
Mats Karlsson - Guitarist, Songwriter, Producer
Record Label: MK Music
     


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