IMPERA – Pieces Of Eden (2013)
Following the successful last year debut, Swedish supergroup IMPERA are releasing today their sophomore studio album, “Pieces Of Eden” via Escape Music.
Founded by drummer Johan “Impera” Kihlberg (Graham Bonnet, Vinnie Vincent), the project again features the talents of vocalist Matti Alfonzetti (Jagged Edge, Skintrade, Red White & Blues), bassist Mats Vassfjord (John Corabi, Grand Design) and terrific guitarist Tommy Denander (pick a melodic rock act from the last decade and there’s a fair chance he’s been involved with it).
As on Impera’s debut, “Pieces Of Eden” is a keen blend of Melodic Hard Rock values and the bluesy croon of Alfonzetti, making for a sound reminiscent of Jagged Edge with a harder hitting push & shove added to the mix.
This is a ten-track slab that combines effortless melody with rockin’ grooves, where the sound is polished, the vocals soulful, the sort of bombastic stuff that should, by right, fill arenas. Indeed a timeless type of music that harkens back to the halcyon days of the late ’80s when this style was on everyone’s lips and quite literally in everyone’s hair too, but this is not a cheesy time machine in search of hazy memory.
The CD starts out with a bang and one of the highlights, the kickin’ “Beast Within”, and following suit into “These Chains”, the modern day Europe-like “All Alone” and the bluesy “Smalltown Blues”. The extremely sweet, slower “Since You’ve Been Gone” (not a Rainbow cover) sits in the middle of the album, breaking up the pace a bit with taste.
Later we found “You And I” driven by a moving riff, a good hard rocking midtempo in “This Is War” and the groovy closer “Fire And The Flame” which is a slow burner that ascends with a darker guitar riff and hard hitting drum backbone, having a Tony Martin-esque feel to it.
All are good songs build around a tight musicianship and hearty vocals, but I have a problem with this material: the catchy factor is missing…
That’s why I have reserved for the end the best tracks on the album: one is the stellar cover of Paul Stanley’s “‘Goodbye” (originally featured on the Kiss man’s 1978 self-titled solo album). It has a lovable bubblegum edge to its sprightly guitar sound, courtesy of a guest contribution from Lars Chriss (Lion’s Share), with solos from Bob Kulick, who also played on the original version.
The other is “Easy Come”, where finally the catchiness appears in a full Melodic Rock form and lead into the ears with those amazing guitars by Denander and Alfonzetti’s strong melodious delivery.
As you can see, Impera’s “Pieces Of Eden” is faultless on all the technical, know-how aspects, offering excellent musicianship, inspired performances and very good production.
However, even with all these factors locked in place, where this record fails to live up to its predecessor is in the songwriting department. Not by much mind, but enough to make the first few spins a bit of an anticlimactic journey, while still being an entertaining excursion.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a fine effort, a good, if unspectacular second outing from Impera that should appeal to a wide audience. It just didn’t blow me away as expected.
Anyway, it’s much better than many other super-group projects appeared recently, and that is saying something.
01. Beast Within
02. These Chains
03. All Alone
04. Smalltown Blues
05. Since You’ve Been Gone
07. Easy Come
08. You And I
09. This Is War
10. Fire And The Flame
Matti Alfonzetti – vocals
Tommy Denander – guitars
Mats Vassfjord – bass
J.K. Impera – drums
Lars Chriss – guitar, production
Bob Kulick – guest guitar
BUY IT !