This is not the Swedish heavy metal band; this is the original Air Raid, the 1980s US pomp rock band fronted by Arthur Offen and Rick Hinkle on guitar. Yes, they are back! Air Raid only made one self-titled album back in 1981, but boy, what an album. After some silent years, Arthur came back (quite silently, though) with the pomp project Flag, with whom he released three killer albums in the same vein as Air Raid. He then did a solo album under his name, also in the same vein. All of them are well worth checking out if you’re into high-quality pomp rock! Well, Now Arthur and Rick have reunited to produce a new Air Raid album.
Starting with a track named Air Raid, they show they are back without missing a beat! Same style and sound, same mighty, guitar-oriented, powerful pomp rock with great melodies. Arthur still has the voice, slightly aged and matured, but with the same power and attitude. Let Your Freedom Ring continues in the same style, and I must say, what I find a bit intriguing with Air Raid, even on the first album, is that their sound is anything but polished. The drums sound acoustic, the guitar is rough-edged, there are even wah solos, which is not every day you hear in this genre, and there are no extra layers of “shimmer”. It sounds like the album could have been recorded live in the studio. I love that! Island Song starts quite slow and quite heavy, picks up the pace, goes back down, and Arthur makes an almost dystopic vocal delivery. Quite theatrical and with lots of interesting twists and turns. It is followed by Derby Bay which on the contrary, is an up-tempo quite lightweight piece to balance it out. A Place In The Northland starts out sounding like an intro to an old movie about knights in shining armor, and the lyrics may even describe that scene. A very theatrical, pompy, and orchestral piece, with an almost Phantom of the Opera kind of touch where Arthur is not holding back on the keyboard delivery.
Surprisingly short, though. Lost Horizon starts with yet another big and orchestrated keyboard delivery. Now we are going down to the dark corners of the theatre before heading into space (at least lyrically). Well-arranged and highly interesting opus. I complained that the previous track is short. Still, here I do get what I ask for, a long and intricate epical opus in six parts with different moods and vibes, From slow and gloomy, to up-tempo and rocking to mid-tempo with some raw edge guitar riffing, to almost chamber style music with acoustic guitar, violin and piano and back into pompy power rock territory. We’re talking a near 20-minute opus here! A masterpiece indeed! The album ends with The Silvering, which does feel like a perfect ending song, like a “Goodbye and thanks for all the fish” (sorry, I couldn’t help it – this did give me a Douglas Adams vibe for some reason). There’s no doubt – Air Raid is back, and they have done a masterful album indeed!