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Volster - Arise Award winner

Volster
Arise
by Mark Machlay at 10 November 2020, 7:12 AM

The story of VOLSTER’s formation spans almost 25 years and they are preparing to release what is to be only their second album “Arise” on November 13th of this year. The Swedish hard rock band was started with a four song demo recorded in 1996. The writing team of guitarist and vocalist Ulf Andersson and bassist Henrik Lundberg first met as members of the hard/progressive rock band MASQUERADE, active in the late 80s to early 2000s. Andersson left the band early on for other projects but Lundberg would continue with the band for a couple albums until the band ultimately broke up. Lundberg sought out other projects after the breakup and eventually released as self-titled with heavy metal band HOUSE OF HEAVY in 2009. Then in 2013 – 17 years after recording that 4 song demo in 1996 – they duo decided to pick up where they left and start a band to perform the songs they wrote and write some new ones as well. They released their debut album “Perfect Storm” in 2018 with – at the time – a full lineup with a drummer and separate vocalist.

Shakeups behind the scenes resulted in the original writing duo being the sole members listed on their follow-up “Arise”. Membership aside, this album continues the beautiful partnership between Andersson and Lundberg that resulted in 2018’s “Perfect Storm”. With this album, the pair decided to try expanding outside of the genres of American and British melodic rock, blending in elements of AOR and prog rock to create a richer soundscape palette. I am happy to say, it paid off, the album is a monumental achievement in pushing the boundaries of melodic rock. However, not to get too distracted, the main inspiration of their music still relies on the core elements of strong melodies and fantastically hooky riffs. Thematically, the album deals with subjects that are very real and grounded like a general reflection on life and the state of the world today. Unlike their previous album which was co-produced, this time around VOLSTER produced the album themselves and was co-mixed and mastered by Thomas ‘Plec’ Johnsson once again at the The Panic Room Studio in Skovde, Sweden.

They have achieved all they wanted to with this new outing – strong, heavy riffs with lots of proggish tendencies and a big, bombastic tone that is equal parts power metal, prog metal, melodic AOR and even has traces of nu-metal – though thankfully the latter is few and far between. The vocal style is a mix of David Coverdale with a little of the aggression of Gene Simmons and is full of power and energy. My favorite track right now is the prog-tinged “I Wish” with a main riff that is right out of RUSH’s playbook complete with synth. But there is plenty of amazing straight-ahead melodic rock in triple-threat “Turn the Tide”, “End of the World” and “Gravity”. Not to be forgotten is the obligatory ballad “Follow Me” which is fairly straight-forward until the emotionally packed guitar solo. Bands usually peter out with the final few songs on the album but it’s in  their final few tracks some real surprises happen. “Sign of the Times” and “Highroad to Nowhere” is excellent prog-tinged hard rock very much similar to that groovy but slightly off-center style KING’s X has achieved. VOLSTER is forging new ground in the hard rock landscape and I hope they continue experimenting and evolve. Anyone that’s a fan of KING’S X, FATES WARNING, or RUSH would do well to check these guys out.


Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Revolution
2. Arise
3. Hanging On
4. Come Undone
5. Turn the Tide
6. End of the World
7. Gravity
8. I Wish
9. Follow You
10. Sign of the Times
11. Highroad to Nowhere
12. Til the End of Time
Lineup:
Ulf Andersson – Vocals & Guitars
Henrik Lundberg – Bass
Record Label: ROAR! Rock of Angels Records
     


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