Formed out of the ashes of Norwegian AOR-sters Wig Wam, Ammunition is the new project from vocalist Age Sten Nilsen who, since the surprise split of his former band last March, subsequently has teamed up with guitarist/producer friend Erik Mårtensson (best known for his work with W.E.T and Eclipse), with whom he sought to pick up the pieces exactly where he had left them, as if nothing had happened…
And this is exactly what has happened, as ‘Shangaied’ is a collection of 12 of the highest quality melodic rock anthems, very much in the European – and particularly, unsurprisingly, teh Scandinavian – tradition of the genre.
Opener ‘Silverback’ sets the tone: a massive crunching riff from Mårtensson and fellow guitarist Jon Pettersen (also of Bad Habits and Wild Willy’s Gang), coupled with a booming, bombastic bass line from Hal Patino (of King Diamond/Pretty Maids fame), over which Nilsen snarls his vocals with an almost cocky confidence, while huge soaring, harmonized vocals swoop over the mellifluous main melody. If anything, Nilsen’s new project has a slightly more aggressive edge than its predecessor, as demonstrated on the likes of the title track and lead single ‘Tie Me Down’: the guitars have a slighter harder feel, and Nilsen’s vocals are fiercer and more cutting, as if he is trying to prove himself all over again – which, of course, in a way he is having to do.
Not that he’s still not capable of charming of the knickers off a middle-aged woman with his more dulcet tones, as the sweeping ballads ‘Road To Babylon’ and ‘Heart’s Not In It’ would defrost even The Governess herself and have her fiddling with her nether regions off camera. ‘Take Out The Enemies’ and ‘Hit Me (With Your Bombs)’, which straddle the middle of the album, are punchier, delivering short, sharp left and right jabs which don’t fail to connect to dance with your dancing muscles, while ‘Do You Like It’ produces only one answer… “No, we fuckin’ love it!”. Other highlights on this all-killer-no-filler showstopping opus include ‘Wild Kard’, a paean to the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle which is dedicated to “every widow of the six-string cavalry”, the swaggering, sleazy strut of ‘Another Piece Of Me’.
With ‘Shangai-ed’, Age Sten Nilsen’s Ammunition most definitely have set down a strong marker for almost every other melodic rock band in 2015, by using a combination of their collective experience and their desire to continually raise the bar and produce high quality collections of tunes such as this.
Silverback / Give Me A Sign / Shangaied / Tie Me Down / Road To Babylon / Take Out The Enemies / Hit Me (With Your Bombs) / Do You Like It / Wild Kard / Another Piece Of Me / Heart’s Not In It / Strung Out
Recommended listening: Tie Me Down
‘Shangai-ed’ is released on AOR Heaven on January 26 in the UK (January 23 in the rest of Europe).