Review by Paul H Birch
Hammering into the fast lane, title track ‘Power & Volume’ proves to be a statement of intent with abundant wordplay clichés keeping their promise in this opening little firecracker from Sweden’s Free Fall on an album that rarely lets up from start to finish.
With well-crafted hard rock ‘n’ roll swaggering pitched somewhere between Bon Scott-era AC/DC and The Heavy Metal Kids, and Phenomenon/Force It-era UFO pacing thrown in for good measure; we’re talking the sound of late-seventies underdogs bitching at your new age heels. The kind of music kids too young to have caught Zeppelin and Purple before they hit big were latching onto; played without any sense of irony or approached in pastiche by a bunch of lads from Sweden today.
Free Fall formed when The Soundtrack of Our Lives’ guitarist Mattias Bärjed decided he wanted to play in a classic four piece line-up. By the tail-end of 2009 he’d pulled in Ludwig Dahlberg and Jan Martens as the rhythm section and added Kim Fransson to embellish it all vocally.
‘Midnight Vulture’ is a marauding heavy blues until the rock guitar solo breaks out; reversing the pattern for ‘Top of the World’ they half-inch Mick Ralphs’ monumental riff to Mott the Hoople’s Rock and Roll Queen, throw in some lovely chord changes during the pre-chorus, then let loose with a bluesy gonzoid guitar solo.
Bärjed’s not really the main attraction on the record though. What he does, he does with grace; playing to accentuate lines, adding colour, and doing it for the sake of the band. Most people will initially notice Fransson’s voice which possesses a razorblade whisky tone drizzled with some honey to take off the edge. And you can’t complain about the aptly named Ludwig on drums, notably on songs like ‘Love Bombing’, but if you’re looking for a musician who stands out then it’s Martens on bass.
After the bravura of their title track opening number they shift gear for their very own signature tune in ‘Free Fall’. My initial impressions were that the shifting chord progression was vintage Schenker, then as the six string’s sound shatters, splinters and decays a knowing bass line picks up bubbling emphatically under Fransson’s singing and growing ever more infectious. It’s like some lost song from the original Yes, and I adore it! With ‘Attila’ Martens is at it again, investing melody in eastern scales over a slow Kashmir beat contrasting with Fransson at his most soul-drenched screeching best.
Free Fall have got their chops down exceedingly well and even better interact admirably as a band. That’s arguably best exemplified on ‘World Domination’ where Bärjed casually cascades down his fret board sending it awash with noise, crushing chords sweep in as Dahlberg crashing his kit competitively back at him, Martens finds the space in between to dig his bass in melodically and Fransson gives it the classic front-man angle. By the end of the song it turns into a bombastic psychedelic wall of sound bludgeoning rocker.
There’s nothing profound or innovative on Power & Volume: it’s a succinct album, knowing not to outstay its welcome while being assured of getting played regularly. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed that like the underdogs of yesteryear Free Fall continue to progress further up the music industry’s food chain!
8.5 out of 10
- Power & Volume
- Free Fall
- Midnight Vulture
- Top of the World
- World Domination
- Love Bombing
- Meriola Blues