Record Label: Inner Wound Recordings
Release Date: 28th November
Willy Norton – Vocals
Frederick Thunder – Guitar
Patrick Harrington – Guitar
Paul Miller – Bass
Boris Le Gal – Drums
Highways To Nowhere
Rose In Bloom
Heart Of The Sun
Sons Of Liberty
Chasing The Night
So what I think happened was that Dream Theater, Magnum and Dragonforce all went out on the town for the night, got very drunk and nine months later Neonfly were born. This may not be an accurate account of the birth of the band but it would be a good snapshot of the general sound you can expect – if you can imagine it. It sounds like it should be a trainwreck but in actual fact works very well, surprisingly. It also explains why they have supported both Magnum and Dragonforce and have also performed an acoustic set at Download in the past and been given great reviews while doing them.
There are songs here to suit most tastes, from the just-the-right-side-of-cheesy power balladry of “Rose In Bloom” to the prog rock of “Heart Of The Sun” and also including a very good instrumental (“Aztec Gold”) along the way. Throughout all the songs on offer the musicians are on top form and the whole band combine brilliantly to create a cohesive sound that sometimes emphasises the guitars or at other times the keyboards or bass depending on what works best.
It’s this blending of the elements that makes the songs so good and the first time you listen to them, you will genuinely not know what is coming next, even within the same song. An example of this would be the first 2 minutes of “Better Angels”, which starts with a heavy riff and a harmonic from the guitar that wouldn’t be amiss on a Machine Head album and yet within 10 seconds the sound is suddenly acoustic and keyboard based. An excellent and melodic chorus with layered background vocals and a great hook to it breaks up the verses which alternate the heavier riff with the more acoustic sound. It certainly sounds ambitious on paper but the band pulls it off very well and it’s one of my favourite songs on the album.
“Highways To Nowhere” is one of the heaviest and is just brilliant, starting with an acoustic guitar before a simple but heavy riff kicks in. It also features probably my favourite vocal performance from Willy Norton on the album and has a great, slightly rough edge which works so well with the tone of the song and shows another side to his usual smooth delivery as shown best on the ballads. An excellent solo which doesn’t outstay its welcome also features and is one of several guitar highlights. The whole song has an epic feel to it that is surprising considering its running time is only just over three and a half minutes.
While the songs on the album are all good in their own right, I have to say that I much prefer the heavier ones to the ballads, which can come across at times as a little bit dated when compared to the more progressive and technical songs. This is mainly due to the quality of those and not a failing of the ballads and is also an observation rather than a criticism as I’m sure others may well think the opposite.
This is a surprising album in many ways, firstly because I hadn’t heard of the band, secondly because of the quality of the music on offer and also because of the range of styles and influences on display. If you like any of the bands mentioned then I would definitely recommend this album and also if you like melodic rock with a heavier edge then this may well appeal too.
Written by Duncan Everson
Ratings Duncan 8/10