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Various Artists - Embrace The Sun: The Lion Muisc Japan Relief Project

Label: Lion
Format: CD download
Released: 2011
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 6/ 10


A noble cause: 28 tracks, over the course of two discs, from the guitar virtuoso, prog and power metal roster of Finland’s Lion Music, recorded almost exclusively for this Japanese tsunami/earthquake relief comp. Not a fan of all the artists, there are several worthy acts in their own right, so this might be a worthwhile way to check them all out simultaneously.

 

Label owner Lars Eric Mattsson, himself a six-string wizard with many albums, kicks things off, with female voiced ‘Mother’, which utilizes traditional Japanese rhythms. Resurrected Swedes, Overdrive recorded a new track, specifically for this compilation, ‘New Beginning (Arata Na Staato)’, which features Per Karlsson singing in Japanese! Oddly enough, Locomotive Breath (formed by Overdrive’s guitarist Janne Stark) are also here, with a revving ‘Rise Up (Perspective Of The Common Man)’, referencing the waters getting higher in the post-earthquake tsunami. Although guitarist Milan Polak roped in Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (GnR), Kip Winger (on bass, no less) and Harry Hess (Harem Scarem), the AOR ballad ‘End Of Time’ is forgettable warning about nuclear power. Female fronted neo-classical Mastercastle offer ‘Sakura’, which includes a ‘newscast’ voiceover in addition to the music. ‘Do You Care?’ by Infinite Overture, mixes female vox and male death growl. One time Michael Jackson guitarist (she of the blond Mohawk mullet) Jennifer Batten airs an acoustic ‘Sakura Season’ instrumental to close the first disc. The keyboard master Mistheria opts for Nightmare Records boss Lance King for vocals on the tender classical piano laced ‘Kibou’. Perhaps Iron Mask got the assignment wrong, as their soaring vocal ‘Sons Of The Sun’ begins more as a Scottish/Irish gig than tribute to Asia. The concluding titular number, attributed to ‘The Lions’, is actually ten different guitarists segueing a solo or two throughout its jazzy 5:31. At least their hearts are in the right place. Support.

 
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