Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Album Review: Ammunition - Ammunition

I've said before that there are certain people in music who I fear getting run into the ground. The nature of the business, where an individual band has a difficult time making a living through their music along, means that everyone is always doing something new. Let's take Erik Martensson, as an example. In 2016, he released an album with Nordic Union, last year with his band Eclipse, and this year he has scheduled releases with W.E.T. and Nordic Union again, plus this new album from Ammunition. I don't know exactly how much he contributes in the writing in a couple of these cases, but that is a lot of music for one person to be putting out, no matter how talented they are. Erik certainly is, but I worry that he is going to suffer from what happened to Magnus Karlsson, who went from writing some amazing albums for Bob Catley and Allen/Lande to churning out so much material that it now all sounds stale and the same.

This project sees Martensson teaming up with former Wig Wam singer Age Sten Nelson. Perhaps being on this side of the pond is the only needed explanation, but is Wig Wam really a band that enough people know about to make this project a priority?

Anyway, moving on to the music, Ammunition follows in the lead of Eclipse with highly melodic AOR/hard rock; the kind that is heavy enough to sound powerful, yet hooky enough to cross over. That's exactly the area where I like my music, so this is an album that should have an easy time pleasing me.

And to that, I can say it does. These eleven tracks are short and sweet, focused on delivering the hooks fast and furious. The opening one-two punch of "Time" and "Freedom Fighter" are as good as this style gets, especially with the use of backing vocals to give a slight counterpoint in the former track. The guitars are bright, and not tuned down to where they sound dark and ugly. They are smooth, with just enough grit in them to make it clear this is rock and roll, which is the same thing I can say about Nelson's voice. Sounding similar to Ronnie Atkins from the Nordic Union collaboration, he delivers tough but melodic vocals that get the songs across perfectly.

In fact, there's really only two things I can say about this album that aren't a hearty recommendation (and neither one diminishes is as a very good record); 1)There are a couple moments that sound a bit familiar, and 2)I find the recent Nordic Union and Eclipse records to be slightly better.

That ties back to where I started this discussion. This Ammunition album is very good, and I enjoyed listening to it a heck of a lot. I'll be giving it plenty of spins in the near-term, but there are some diminishing returns with Martensson's projects at this point. This album is good, and I have no complaints whatsoever about it, but I think I would consider it even better if I hadn't already heard two better, very similar, albums from the same guy in recent years.

But to get back to the point, judging "Ammunition" on its own is easy. This is an album that does heavy and hooky extremely well, and delivers a rocking good time. I can absolutely recommend this album for anyone looking to have a little fun with their rock and roll, in that Eclipse style. Thumbs definitely up.

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