By Mike Maher

“The Revenge” is the second album featuring two of the greatest vocalists in the prog metal/hard rock scene today, Russell Allen (Symphony X) and Jorn Lande (Jorn, ex-Masterplan). The songs were all written by guitar hero Magnus Karlsson (Starbreaker, Last Tribe) specifically with Allen and Lande’s unique voices in mind.Karlsson’s first project with the two vocalists, “The Battle” was an outstanding release and was my top CD of 2006 (so I may be prejudiced!). Expectations for this album are high and Karlsson does not disappoint. Promising fans a heavier album, Karlsson comes out swinging with “The Revenge,” a 12 track crank-the-car-stereo, up-tempo head bopper.

Allen and Lande both give great performances on the disc, alternating verses in several of the songs, and shining on their own in others. Some of the lyrics are a little cheesy but I can’t help but enjoy them. Karlsson isn’t doing anything drastically new with this album but fans of his work and of the two singers’ work will enjoy this CD because they give great performances. Karlsson is a very talented guitarist but he doesn’t use this project to showcase his speed on the fret board or to show us how many notes he can bend. He lets the vocalists shine. Now, that’s not to say that there are no revved up, overdriven guitars here, because there are. Karlsson’s solos on the tracks “Just a Dream” and “Her Spell” are awesome and his opening hook on “Wake Me Up” is catchy as hell, so take note! What I mean is that you get a sense that Karlsson loves Allen and Lande’s voices’ as much as we do.

As I count it, we get 2 songs with Allen, 3 with Jorn, and 7 songs with both vocalists. I’ll highlight a few songs here because they are steps above the rest. Lande’s voice is perfect for “King of Sorrow” and Karlsson’s guitars are epic sounding. Allen’s best solo song is “Will you follow” and it’s extremely catchy. “Just a Dream” and “Under the Waves” also deserve a mention as outstanding tracks. Overall, I highly recommend this CD to anyone who was a fan of Allen’s solo CD “Atomic Soul” and those who like any of Lande’s solo CDs. Then again, if you are a fan of these guys, you won’t need anyone to recommend anything they do! I’d call the entire album enjoyable, guilt-free hard rock, and a worthy follow up to “The Battle.”