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Queenmaker - Under the Kiss

Under the Kiss
by Mark Machlay at 14 July 2020, 4:12 AM

Longtime Swedish rocker Rob Nasty from of Swedish glam-sleaze metal groups LOUD N’ NASTY and DANGER has formed something of a side project under the name QUEENMAKER. Nasty provides all the instruments while relative newcomer Jennie Vaananen provides the electrifying female fronted vocals. From what I can tell, she is a big fan of the hair metal from the 80s judging by her Instagram page sporting WASP, RATT, POISON and many other tattoos as well as an impressive record and memorabilia collection from the era, though I could find little musical credit if any. They style themselves in the fashion of that era with the studded leather, aforementioned tattoos, heavy eyeliner and big long hair. They are far from an ironic take or merely playing with the genre, they live the life and revel in gauzy and grandiose that went with the 80s hair metal movement.

Having only two tracks to listen to, it’s hard to judge a fledgling group on. The sound draws heavily from DEF LEPPARD and WHITESNAKE with a female rather than male lead singer. Pioneers of the female led metal movement in the 80s like LITA FORD and VIXEN are worthy comparisons as well. Vaananen’s vocals are not particularly unique but they are suitable, it would be interesting to hear more material and see if see has the range to belt out a facsimile of the 80s hair metal screams. There are notes in “Under the Kiss” that she reaches that belie a greater range as it almost seems like a strain. “Hold on to Love” is the safest, keeping to a mid-tempo chug and a longing chorus that perfectly scratches that 80s “big production” itch. Unfortunately neither song are incredibly taxing for a female vocalist, which makes me just want a little more material to sink my teeth into to properly judge. The music itself is a great send up to the genre with 80s style synths, crunchy electric guitars, big drums and glam-infested 80s production with enough modern sensibility to be clean, clear and powerful. It is heavily appreciated when so many are still re-hashing the production mistakes of the 80s.

To me, this material is safe, radio-friendly AOR with very little bite. With a cover image as scintillating and erotic, I was expecting more from the toe-edge-of-the-water arena rock I heard. Rob Nasty did a great job with the production and instrumentation and even displays a decent guitar solo near the end of “Hold on to Love”. Ultimately, more needs to be heard if I am to properly judge if this project has legs. But aside from all the mediocrity I may be implying, it was fun to listen to and I can easily see myself coming back to this pair of tracks to indulge in and enjoy because the hooks are familiar and comfortable.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Under the Kiss
2. Hold on to Love
Jennie Vaananen – Vocals
Rob Nasty – All Instruments
Record Label: Edged Circle Productions


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