Quick-Tiques! Reviews

Journey – Freedom (CD/LP)  Frontiers Records

Already in the opening track, “Together We Run,” I start looking through the promo material to see if Journey has changed the lead singer. Arnel doesn’t really sound like he used to! A bit raspier, a bit scarred, which I’ve never heard before. To be honest, I have no complaints about it at all! It gives a nice edge to his otherwise quite polished voice. The song itself is quite classic melodic hard rock. “Don’t Give Up On Us” (we haven’t!) sounds like they’ve borrowed a bit from themselves, but not too obvious and not too much. It, however, feels like his struggling a bit to get the vocals to cut through, and I’m missing the edge. “Still Believe In Love” is a different type of ballad, almost with a 10CC: ish vibe to it, while in “You Got The Best Of Me,” they again put the pedal to the metal, and Neal lets his guitar rip. A really nice one. However, take the tempo down again already in the next song, the bombastic and more traditional style Journey ballad, “Live To Love Again.” The power returns again in “The Way We Used To Be,” a really good rocker with a cool bluesy solo from Schon. Here Arnel’s voice is more in its right element. ”Come With Me” continues the rock streak, and there are some pretty brutal riffs going on with a bit more attitude in the vocal department as well. Another kicker! Then we’re back in ballad land again. I wish they would maybe not go full-on go-stop-go but throw in some more mid-tempo songs to ease the ride. “Let It Rain” starts with some almost Steve Vai-style riffs from Schon, and they again take it down into the heavy rock ditch (I like being there, I should add). “Holding On” keeps the tempo up, and here I get a vibe of the first three (pre-Perry) albums. Another killer! I’m not 100 % into the production, though, which I feel is a bit messy at times. “All Day And All Night” is a prime example of the mid-tempo segment I mentioned before. “Don’t Go” is the first song yet where I feel – yeah, this is pure classic AOR. “United We Stand” takes us back to the “Trial By Fire” era while “Life Rolls On” starts off as a soft typical Journey ballad but 1:40 into the song, Schon breaks loose and rocks out, and the song changes style, which is cool! The 7+ minutes “Beautiful As You Are” offers many surprises. It starts off as a sensitive soft ballad with acoustic guitar and strings and with Arnel singing softly, but a minute and a half into the song, all Hell breaks loose, and the tempo rises. New drummer Narada Michael Walden is busy as a bee in the last part of the song and almost turns it into a drum solo while Neal throws in some heavy guitar chords. It ends in the same soft manner as it started. 15 songs. To be honest, I feel it’s a little too much. 11-12 songs would have been a solid killer album. The production may be a matter of taste and doesn’t get top scores from me, but it’s not bad, just not to my full liking. The playing and the performances are definitely there, and yeah, the songs are, too!

By Janne Stark

I'm a Swedish guitarist, writer, and record collector. I've recorded a bunch of albums/C.D.s with bands like OVERDRIVE, LOCOMOTIVE BREATH, BALLS, MOUNTAIN OF POWER, ZELLO, PLANET ALLIANCE, plus made guest appearances on stuff by NARNIA, AUDIOVISION, CHRIS CATENA, FAITH, BLINDED COLONY, THALAMUS, M.O.B., TOWER OF STONE, VII GATES, etc. I'm currently involved in the following bands/projects: GRAND DESIGN, MOUNTAIN OF POWER, OVERDRIVE, ZOOM CLUB, and CONSTANCIA. I've been writing for magazines like FUZZ, Backstage, Kool Kat News, Hard Roxx, Sweden Rock Magazine, etc. I still write for, and, plus I'm the author of the three volumes of "The Encyclopedia of Swedish Hard Rock And Heavy Metal"! I have a lovely wife, two crazy cats and two beautiful daughters.