Nubian Rose – Mountain

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Review by Brian McGowan

The band’s striking vocalist, Sofia Litja is the voice coach for Sweden’s TV Talent show, ‘Idol’, but we won’t hold that against them. Especially when they show such remarkable good taste in guests. The magnificent Mats (Treat/Malmsteen/At Vance) Leven – one of Europe’s finest rock vocalists – joins Litja on a cover of Lita Ford’s and Ozzy Osbourne’s song, ‘Close My Eyes Forever’; mighty geetarman, Kee (Europe) Marcello adds weight and sonic depth to ’Living For Tomorrow’.

Mixed by Tobias (Europe/Crashdiet/Hammerfall) Lindell, ‘Mountain’ is unashamed, unadulterated Melodic Hard Rock, based on the archetypal eighties’ blueprint, though maybe the guitars cut looser and bite harder, giving the songs a more contemporary feel. Guitarist / producer, Christer Akerlund sprays the polish on sparingly, making sure the music shows through and it’s just brimful of skyscraping hooks, with Litja’s powerful, passionate voice seemingly sucking up thousands of volts of electricity then regurgitating them in 4 minute bursts of highly tuneful, highly energised melodic rock.

Litja’s soaring voice launches into an upward trajectory from the first track, ’Ever See Your Face’ maintaining a high pitch orbit for the rest of the album, occasionally hitting notes that only dogs and bats can hear. Her vocal resemblance to soul sisters, Ann (Heart) Wilson and Lee Aaron swims into crystal clear focus on ‘How Am I’ and ’Your Love’, hugely derivative chunks of eighties’ styled FM Radio fodder, both with naggingly familiar hooks.

Throughout, Akerlund throws all the right guitar shapes, his axe sings and rings out, never outstaying its welcome. He usually builds keyboards into the bridge and chorus of each song, utilising them as an emphatic pointer to the song’s direction. ‘Living For Tomorrow‘ and ‘Get Ready’ are probably the picks, as their ascent into a genuinely anthemic chorus turns out to be a recurring theme. These are immediate, accessible, hook-heavy songs, with the slightly less conventional ‘Reckless‘ and ‘Sisters‘ closing the album in a blaze of thumping chords and stomping, Van Hagar-esque hooks.

‘Mountain’ is a fine if relatively unadventurous debut. It will win over plenty of people who are already fans of the genre and the era from which it emanates. And maybe that’s been the target all along.