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Oxygen - Final Warning

Final Warning
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 05 July 2012, 7:36 PM

After I signalled about that in my recent reviews that concern the situation of the AOR genre, I must acknowledge that it is alive and well but just a little heavier than the various 80s examples. Fans of the genre will probably know what I mean. Along with its being breathing, most of the AOR, now added quite a lot with melodic Hard Rock, is still full of cliché’s about relationships, the Love theme in particular. Honestly I can’t understand how far this theme can be choked or stretched because I think that even thirty years ago, artists said it all. However, even today it will probably stick to some people. Well some of it even sticks with me on occasions. I brought the last few sentences due to the new release, “Final Warning”, via Escape Music, of the band OXYGEN from Sweden, which you might have guessed plays AOR / melodic Hard Rock in the vein of the 80s (both European and American influences).

Inheriting the utter catchiness and the cheesiness of the 80s AOR, OXYGEN are stating this obvious with this album. Tony Niva, the veteran vocalist and mastermind behind OXYGEN, was able to assemble a fine team of musicians that delivered a fairly good material paying respects to the old melodies and the classic harmonic atmospheres. When I approached this release I knew that nothing would send me out telling my friends that I found the next new thing in line, however, I enjoyed this release. It might be a pack load of cliché’s, as if reality is not a part of the creators’ points of view, but it is still good and well performed. As I mentioned about stating the obvious, all the material here is based upon great opening riffs, sometimes embedded as main riffs, explosive solos in the vein of George Lynch era of DOKKEN and EUROPE’s John Norum, amazing high end vocal line that reminded me of a mixture of Tony Harnel of TNT and PLACE VENDOME’s Michael Kiske. Most of the rhythm section was more or less ordinary for his kind of music, as well as the keyboards providing a lovely halo over the songs.

In general, I can say that nearly every song here, when it comes to commercialism, can be a runner up for the next Eurovision song contest; it will probably represent Sweden with honour just as H.E.A.T. did. On the other hand, when it comes to the real world, which is certainly not that stupid contest that is more politically related than truly for the good of the music, several tunes of this album just weren’t that convincing. The ballads, “I Remember” and “You” were rather weak. How many times can an artist make a reprise after reprise of the same kind of ballads? After listening to so many of the same kind, it’s not amusing anymore. “Bring Back The Joy” was just too much. I know that optimism is something positive, and no us Metalheads don’t always like to talk, sing about the shit running in our lives, however, this track was just above the pink level. I can’t really explain it differently.

On the other hand, cool catchy tracks as “Best Days Of Our Lives”, “Anything For You”, “Janitor Of Love” presented great musical skills, especially by the lead guitarist and of course I savored a warmed space for the vocal line that really delivered it just as the great ones in the 80s did. OXYGEN provided a release that was well produced with the relevant sound direction of the era they aimed to pay tribute for, yet, some of their songs seemed to lack depth or overly impressive content as the commercialism guide screamed from above to ruin the experience. I would check out this release, it is not aimed only for die harders.

3 Star Rating

1. Janitor of Love
2. Anything For You
3. When Tomorrow Never Comes
4. I Remember
5. Gold From The Future
6. We Must Fight
7. I Wanna Know For Sure
8. Bring Back The Joy
9. Best Days Of Our Lives
10. You 
Tony Niva - Lead Vocals / Backing Vocals
Roger Ljunggren – Guitars / Bass
Marcus Persson – Keyboards / Backing Vocals
Bengan Andersson - Drums
Record Label: Escape Music


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