The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




OCTOBER 17 2014



Nine years ago Allen/Lande released their first album ‘The Battle’ – a project that brought together two great Hard Rock and Metal vocalists along with guitarist/bassist/keyboardist Magnus Karlsson and Jamie Salazar on drums. That combination also released ‘The Revenge’ and 2010’s ‘The Showdown’: each album a stunningly consistent slab of classic Melodic Metal. The big change this time is that both Karlsson and Salazar have moved on to be replaced by ex-Stratovarius member Timo Tolkki and drummer Jami Huovinen.


This time the feeling of anticipation is somewhat different as the departing Karlsson of course was responsible for all of the music on those first three releases, all the lyrics on the first two albums and all but a handful on ‘The Showdown’.  Big boots to fill indeed…


To be honest after a few listens I’m still undecided: ‘The Great Divide’ is neither as consistent nor as immediate as Karlsson’s trio of releases, but it does have its attractions and at times it takes you to new vantage points while not straying exactly from the well plotted path. There’s more, perhaps to be expected, of a Power Metal feel provided by Timo, for the most part it works but at times it just misses the mark.


The good news is that as soon as you listen to opening track ‘Come Dream With Me’ you know that it’s business as usual as the ferocious melody, interwoven  guitars and gentler keys and a huge hook combine to allay any concerns you might have had for the big opening number.  It’s only the second track ‘Down From the Mountain’ that you sense the change though, this is European Power Metal and the sound is still with us strongly on ‘Hands of Time that follows.


One of the highlights for us is the overwrought power-balladry of ‘Lady of Winter’ where Allen and Lande go head to head for the prize! Of course there will always be the spectre of Dio and he looms no larger than on ‘Dream About Tomorrow’ which will please many. ‘The Hymn to the Fallen’ is pretty strong too – giving Lande the opportunity to venture into Coverdale territory for one of the most memorable moments here.


The title track too is solid enough stuff but not quite as winning as the staple fare, taking the pace off to revolve around a doomy riff; but it’s ‘Reaching For the Stars’ that sticks out most of all for us – with Allen at his very best.  There are a few missteps but they are few and far between and it’s probably only closer ‘Bittersweet’ that we started to skip over.


At the end of the day it still comes back to the voices – the impossible power and precision of Allen and the fire and ‘voices’ of Lande who captures everyone from David to Ronnie here. Best of all though is how these two voices work together four albums in it seems all so intuitive and simple. Fans will love this and I will also be keeping a close eye on what Karlsson does next. Quite simply a keeper.



by Mark Rockpit