Coastland Ride – Top Of The World

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Review by Brian McGowan

Second album from Coastland Ride, with the band apparently uncertain about which direction they should take.

The album’s twin openers – ‘Act Of Faith’ and ‘Wait’ – are huge, melodic rock/AOR hybrids. Like Zeno coming face to face with Grand Illusion. Two headed beasts that come galloping into sight with that same sense of purpose, that same get-under-your-skin sense of urgency. Both resolve satisfyingly with an upward gearshift into a massive chorus.

After that inviting start, the band seem to lose their nerve and beat a hasty retreat into Westcoast territory. From the shelter of their comfort zone they write and perform some solid westcoast songs. Nothing spectacular mind, just your standard mellow, think of the beach and a beer style of music – that said, ‘Made Up My Mind’ has a certain Per Gessle like pop charm – but some of these tracks err so far on the side of caution that they make Toto look like Metallica.

Then, well…on track 7, everything changes again – mood, tempo, style – and things get really interesting.

It’s no coincidence that this track, ‘Save Yourself’ is produced and mixed by Patrik Norman, and not the band as on previous tracks. It’s leaner, darker, edgier, with more of a contemporary feel, leaving the preceding tracks with a weak and watery aftertaste.

It reminds me a little of perennially underrated Finnish band, Zero Nine, where various pop and rock styles are skilfully combined, cohesive yet challenging. ‘Strange Confusion’ and ‘Jericho Falls’ weave strands of Prog, New Wave and Westcoast into surprisingly satisfying end products. This marriage of disparate styles seems totally implausible, yet it works, thanks to inventive arrangements and total conviction (and commitment) from the band.

There’s a real sense of foreboding to closing track, ‘Nail Me To The Cross’ (the clue is in the title), recalling the dramatic intensity and vocal harmonies of legendary rock band, T-Ride, effectively ending the album on an emotional low and an artistic high.

There will be some who’ll find album’s stylistic wanderings to be tedious, but others will stick with it and find that an investment of time and patience will be amply rewarded.

http://www.coastlandride.net/