THE ROCKFORD HEROES – White EP + Light Scares (2012)
THE ROCKFORD HEROES was founded in Sweden during autumn 2010 by Jonas Arvidsson (guitar) and Dan Hultstrand (vocals).
Jonas, previous guitarist in the metal act VII Gates, wanted to do something more complete and comprehensive to his musical influences, and found that the so far unknown talented Dan wanted the same thing.
After a few demo recordings to show the music, drummer Marcus Johansson and bass player Pekka Kiviaho were recruited as well, thus formed a complete line-up.
The Rockford Heroes raised some eyebrows with their impressive indie EP “Light Scares” earlier this year, and now are back with another one in the form of “The White EP”. Both EP’s combine their love for classic ’70s pomp AOR / Melodic Rock, ’80s Hard Rock & modern day sounds.
The music features plenty of crunchy riffs and classy keyboard textures, with a wide spectrum of influnces ranging from Styx, Rainbow, Skid Row, Edguy, Queen, Pretty Maids, Tobruk and many more. The band is kind of all over the map but it works.
The first EP “Light Scares” is more seventies / eighties oriented, sometimes pompy but not with that edgy modern AOR sound that we hear from so many bands today, it is a bit rougher around the edges and less layered.
I can hear strong Styx influences here, the melody of earlier REO Speedwagon but also the first Def Leppard, Tobruk and Bronz.
Lead singer Dan Hultstrand has a really good voice soinding in places a bit like Tommy Shaw first-era Styx, but without the lisp that Tommy has. I love the way the guitars and keyboards are thrown in the mix, creating a very nice atmosphere.
“Streets Of Gold” reminds you ’79 Styx with its lovable chorus, the melodic rock lines of “Embrace The Moonlight” brings back Bronz and Tobruk, while “Keep Away From The Sun” will recall to you the first Europe, Whitesnake and Zepp.
“Love Lies Bleeding” akins more ’80s Styx sounds, while “Devil’s Eye” has a different production (obviously from a different recording session) featuring some synths in a German or Scandi style.
I found myself listening again and again to the songs included in this EP and some special attribute to remark is that the production and output sound does not resemble at all to the plastic-pressed recordings done massively lately.
The 4-track “White EP” it is musically slightly different, a bit more heavier which is well illustrated in the very good opening track “Gold Encircles The Altar”. It is still very melodic though and the music still feels rooted in the melodic hard rock style but with a more modern approach.
The vocals are also more powerful, hard rocking, with Hultstrand singing in a first Skid Row Sebastian Bach-like style. The keyboards play a Rainbow or even Foreigner role keeping the connection with the ’80s intact.
Guitars feel harder than the previous EP as it is obvious in the riff driven and fast rocker “Capricious Arrows” that could easily hide some NWOBHM influences following the characteristic bridge-chorus addictive structure.
I love the way the keyboards throw Uriah Heep on the influences table while opening the door for some almost AOR grooves during “A Split Second Goodbye”.
“The Fools Realm” closes the EP kicking-in as a power ballad (I can spot the Coverdale singing references here) and then explodes into a great Euro Hard ala Pretty Maids or Praying Mantis tune based once again into British virtues via the driving main melody and the mood lifting tempo. A terrific track.
The Rockford Heroes must be Sweden’s best kept secret, but I’m sure we will hear great things about them in a near future.
The songs are extremely well-crafted with driving grooves and awesome melodies that will stick to mind from the very beginning. They go from pompy classic sounding melodic tunes to epic styled arrangements and layers of vocals, plus some surprising hooks.
Honestly, each tune here has its own charm, providing some really hard rocking moments but also with enough sophistication and melodies to also appeal the Melodic Rock, AOR and even the progressive crowd.
Now if only these guys can put together a strong full length and get a label to back them the world will then get a hefty dose of what they are all about.
01 – Gold Encircles The Altar
02 – Capricious Arrows
03 – A Split Second Goodbye
04 – The Fools Realm
05 – Streets Of Gold
06 – Embrace The Moonlight
07 – Keep Away From The Sun
08 – Love Lies Bleeding
09 – Devil’s Eye
Jonas Arvidsson – Guitars
Dan Hultstrand – Vocals
Marcus Johansson – Drums
Andreas Lundgren – Bass
BUY IT !