Released By: City Of Lights Records
Release Date: June 28th, 2013
Genre: AOR/Melodic Rock
Oz Osukaru (EYE, ex KATANA) – guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
Fredrik Werner (ex MR. ARTIST) – lead & backing vocals, guitars
Adrian Lopez (PANORAMA) – piano, keyboards
Jens Björk (ex MR.ARTIST) – saxophone
Cecilia Camuii (PANORAMA) – lead & backing vocals
Ryan Coyle – drums, percussion
Axel Ryberg (PANORAMA) – drums
1. Dawning (Intro)
3. Heaven In Your Eyes
4. Prisoner of the Night
5. Walk In Balance
6. Holding On To Memories
7. Cruise Control
8. Mafia Rules
9. I Won’t Let You Go
10. Never Play With Fire
12. The Fire Burns On
+ BONUS TRACKS
13. Stay Tonight
14. Don’t Let Go
Gothenberg wunderkind guitarist OZ OSUKARA has been a busy boy over the last few years: on top of all the studio work gets around with, he released debut slammer ‘Salvation’ under his surnamed-band’s banner in 2012 and now has followed up with the similarly molded Triumphant barely a year later. Question is, just how triumphant is it in the grand scheme of today’s AOR world?
To put it simply (and perhaps nicely), this is a mixed bag: it’s not nearly as good as the debut on the songwriting front, but there are some nice changes to their core sound itself that bodes well for future material if Oz and co. learn from their mistakes here. The first being the addition and emphasis on interplay between FREDRIK WERNER (ex MR. ARTIST) as the main male singer and the charming CECILIA CAMUII (of PANORAMA fame) as new co-lead female vocalist. The second is the pronounced emphasis on the saxophone prowess of Jens Björk, which differentiates them from their fellow FOREIGNER and SURVIVOR inspired ilk. There’s some decent chemistry between our main leads: the former is no STEVE PERRY or LOU GRAMM (he strains wayyyy too much), but he’s passable, while the girl is definitely a notch higher on the totem pole despite not being utilized particularly well on this release.
Whilst there is some consistency from song to song, (partly due to Oz’s excellent axe work throughout) there are highlights to be found among a mostly so-so set: the oceanic ‘Cruise Control’ is a lovely sax-led instrumental fit for speeding down an L.A. highway, whilst ‘Mafia Rules’ is anchored tight and heavy by a delicious glammy riff and some edgy vocals. Probably the best track here to be honest, if only because most of the other tracks (title track, I Won’t Let Go, etc. etc.) are so by-the-numbers that you almost wonder if this really is the same creative mind behind last year’s ‘Salvation’. That album wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was far better than this one.
As much as I love sax/guitar driven AOR, average songwriting, bleh production values and generic harmonizing where the singers can’t even stay in key doesn’t make for a particularly enthralling listening experience, especially when some bands over the last couple of years (like Sweden’s Work Of Art and also The Magnificent) have set the bar so high for most melodic rock bands to follow here in 2013 and beyond. Of further note, the last Osukara album had CHRIS TIANN on lead vocals and he was fantastic: Oz, why did you get rid of such a promising talent in favor of two average-sounding singers who can’t even carry this half baked material?
Based on how solid the last album was, I was expecting Osukara to turn up the volume, sharpen up the songwriting and solidify the lineup and studio situation so that he’d knock his next LP out of the park and into the big leagues where his talent belongs. Instead we get the auditory equivalent to laziness: instead of putting together an all-star record, we get a gutterball that serves as ideal ammunition for anyone looking to make a case in court of how modern AOR has been growing stagnant. Nobody said making great music was easy, but hopefully the next record will be the winner we know this guy is capable of crafting.
Written by Derek