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ToJa - V

ToJa
V
by Riccardo Gaffuri at 23 July 2017, 1:57 PM

TOJA (from vocalist Tommy Rinn “TO” and guitarist Jan Thielking “JA”) is a German melodic hard rock/AOR band, celebrating their 20th anniversary with their fifth LP, fittingly named ‘V’ and released by Pure Rock Records Label. Almost completely standing on Tommy hard rock vocals and Jan guitar sections and compositions, ‘V’, appears to be a hard rock album straight from the 80s, presenting to the listener delicate ballads and riff-oriented rockers.

This eighties’ feeling meets the listener in the opener, ‘Tears of Fire’, a musically good melodic hard rock track, suffering a bit from mixing and production (especially on the drums) which will leave some bitter in the mouth.  ‘She's A Rebel’ electro keyboards may seem odd at a first listening, but lives well with the overall nice drive of the song. ‘Forever Rock’ makes you wonder which good results and success this album would have had if it was released 30 years ago, as this, proposed now in 2017, sounds too dated to expect a strong reaction from the audience. ‘Love Is Like a Sin’ slows the pace, with its rich and heavier riffs. ‘Ballad Of A Friend’ is an emotionally powerful ballad, properly kept up just by vocals and acoustic guitar. ‘Where's My Home’ has some metal attitude in the riffage and a catchy refrain. ‘Don’t Let Me Go’ doesn’t keep up with the previous ballad level, sounding a bit anonymous.

‘Senza Cantata’ shows off Jan’s smooth guitar and, although being just instrumental, will not bore the listener. ‘Ashes To Ashes’ will give the album a proper blues groovy ending. Per se, ‘V’ is a solid work from ToJa: while a better production may have smoothed the edges on the mixing, this is just details in the end, vocals and guitar do a good job to keep the listeners engaged. For me, the great limit of this album is a too strong focus on the classic hard rock niche, which may confine their audience to 80’s nostalgia or their fans, who surely will appreciate this album. A bit more originality or just the will to go beyond these boundaries may have enticed a wider crowd.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Tears Of Fire
2. She's A Rebel
3. Forever Rock
4. Love Is Like A Sin
5. Modern Times
6. Ballad Of A Friend
7. Where’s My Home
8. Run For Cover
9. Don't Let Me Go
10. Senza Cantata
11. Ashes To Ashes
Lineup:
Jan Thielking - Guitar/Keyboards/backing vocals
Max Rudolph - Drums
Ole Dietz - Bass
Tommy Rinn - Lead Vocals
Record Label: Pure Rock Records
     


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