When I heard there was a new album from Jorn Lande up for review, I jumped at the chance. Then I read the press release that accompanied. Alarm bells sounded in my head as the words “Rock Opera Concept Album” leapt from the page. Has Jorn taken a risk too far or has he once again proven to be an originator, willing to catapult his talent into uncharted waters? Dracula: Swing Of Death is an album detailing the story Dracula (combining factual and fictional aspects) and features the combined Nordic talents of Trond Holter and Jorn Lande. What makes this different from many previous rock operas is that there are no monologues, no interludes and no orchestral forays to create an atmosphere. This collection is an album of ten anthems of varying styles pulled together as a musical narrative.
Where many concept albums over the years have been caught up on delivering a convoluted storyline that easily became the prime focus of the artist (Rhapsody anyone?) Holter and Lande already had one of the greatest stories ever told and all they had to do was adapt the epic struggle of eternal love into their classic rock compositions. “Walking On Water” and “Save Me” carry strong melodic sensibilities alongside Thin Lizzy harmonies. The title track is the real curveball as it is more Vaudevillian than Metallian and the flow of the album benefits from its ingenuity. The grotesquely gargantuan ‘Masquerade Ball’ allows Dracula/Lande to bellow forth about his insatiable need – “Tonight on you I’ll dine”. The vocal of Lena Fløitmoen who covers both Mina and Lucy is a succulent highlight on the album as her voice brings a crisp and sharp contrast to the gravelly rasp of Lande. Their trade-offs on the aforementioned ‘Save Me’ and ‘Into The Dark’ are what defines the album and brings the story to the forefront. ‘Queen of the Dead’ could slot into the Jorn live set let alone the theatres to which the stage production is already being lined up.
Holter’s guitarwork throughout and notably on ‘True Love Through Blood’ is clinically organic with a rich tone that lets his stringed voice be as much a character in the story as that of Lande’s or Fløitmoen’s. ‘River of Tears’ and the album curtain call ‘Under The Gun’ are old school Euro classic rock anthems that feed the lifeblood of the story that true love never dies.
With Dracula: Swing Of Death, Lande and Holter have delved deep within themselves, stoked the fires of inspiration and created their own chapter in the artistic mythos of the lovelorn Prince.
“Listen to them, the children of the night, what music they make”
Jorn Lande – Lead Vocals
Trond Holter – Guitar
Bernt Jansen – Bass
Per Morten Bergseth – Drums
Lena Fløitmoen Børresen – Duet vocals on “Under the Gun”, “Into the Dark”, “Save Me” and “River of Tears”