If variety is the spice of life, then Jono is the cumin of "Life." Hard Rock in general has been the constant in the heavy music world - a reliable crutch when it seems everything else sounds the same. In recent times, with 10,000+ bands and thousands of new albums released every year, it gets harder and harder to find the gems. Sure, you can locate many quality albums, but they get so lost into the morass that its easy to forget even when you are genuinely impressed. Then there are albums like "Life" - the ones that rarely leave the speakers for months on end, the ones where you truly believe are modern day classics that 15 years from now will be heralded as the greats. Jono just may have accomplished that.
The recipe for "Life" goes a little like this:
- 3 cups of latter day Savatage
- 1 cup of Freddy Mercury and classic Queen
- 1 cup of old Marillion
- 1/2 cup of The Who's "Tommy"
- a dash of Les Miserables
Pour "Poets & Madmen" and "Dead Winter Dead" into a bowl for a solid heavy rock base. Slowly mix in the classic Queen, so it aerates the mix with just a touch of "Bicycle," as well as the old Marillion for the perfect blend of progression. Dry out The Who's "Tommy," grind it into a powder and add it to the very center of the mix for theatrics and sprinkle some Les Miserables for some of that Broadway punch!
"Life" is bold, its big and is sure to grab your attention. Everything one expects from a great rock album is represented: copious melody, wonderful fetching choruses, stellar songwriting, top level musicianship and big bold theatrics. Vocalist Johan Norrby is a songwriting genius and is the center point with his huge and vibrant vocal performance that is surrounded by guitarist Stefan Helleblad (Within Temptation) and Leo Olsson's superior guitar work and Johan Carlgren's bold brazen keyboards (check out "Crown"). Revered symphonic rock act Trans-Siberian Orchestra has not written an album as relevant as Jono's "Life."
Picking the album's best tracks is a challenge, but "On the Other Side," "Trust," "Crown," "Downside" and the impeccable theatrical rock classic "The Magician" (which is a strong candidate for Song of the Year) are the first that spring to mind. Norrby's propensity to conjure various tones in his vocal style, including Queen's Freddy Mercury (check out "Trust" at 2:17) and Nils Patrik Johansson (check out "The Magician").
Jono has made a bold statement with "Life" - shouting above the huge morass of music as one of the strongest candidates vying for the ears of listeners. If you prefer your music huge, bold, daring and theatrical and filled with melody and intriguing songwriting - then Jono desires your attention. If there was a shining candidate for hard rock album of the year, Jono's "Life" is arguably it. Grab "Life" by the balls and take it.