Moon Safari – Himlabacken Vol. 2 Review

Beyond The Blue is a short song, while Blood Moon picks up again those big 6-part harmonyvocals that make it sound like STYX again, so once more pure Pomprock,...

Released by: Blomljud Records

Release Date: December 8th. 2023

Genre: AOR

Links: https://www.moonsafari.se/

 

Line Up:

Petter Sandström 

Simon Åkesson 

Pontus Åkesson 

Sebastian Åkesson 

Johan Westerlund 

Mikael Israelsson 

 

Tracklist:

1. 198X (Heaven Hill)
2. Between The Devil And Me
3. Emma, Come On
4. A Lifetime To Learn How To Love
5. Beyond The Blue
6. Blood Moon
7. Teen Angel Meets The Apocalypse
8. Forever, For You
9. Epilog

 

Founded in 2003, the Swedish band MOON SAFARI was discovered by THE FLOWER KINGS keyboardplayer Thomas Bodin, who also produced their debut album A Doorway To Summer in 2005. They released 3 more studio-albums during the following 10 years, and eventually after their fourth studio album, Himlabacken Vol. 1 (2013), it became quiet around them, but another 10 years later they return with a follow-up of their previous concept album, marking new CD Himlabacken as volume 2 here, and their 5th studio album in total so far. The band’s line up consists currently of Petter Sandström – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, Johan Westerlund – bass, backing and occasional lead vocals, Simon Åkesson – lead vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, Pontus Åkesson – guitars, backing and occasional lead vocals, Sebastian Åkesson – keyboards, percussion, backing vocals and Mikael Israelsson – drums, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals. Their music is progressive rock with 6-part lead- and harmonyvocals, because each of the bandmembers is able to sing really well, making the music sound extremely melodic and catchy.

Opener 198X (Heaven Hill) immediately shows that we are dealing here with a lovely high quality album that will appeal to all fans of Neo-Prog, Sympho, Pomp and AOR due to the massive use of harmonyvocal driven choruses, cheerful keys and soaring guitar melodies. It’s like we stepped back to the mid 80s, yet it still sounds fresh if you know what I mean. ARENA comparisons are there for sure, but also let’s say ASIA or KANSAS and even JOURNEY, so melt it all together and you got yourself a perfect mix of AOR, Pomp and Neo-Prog/Sympho. It might be something in the water, but the Swedish musicians always have a good ear for a catchy melody and when combined with prog elements, then you end up sounding quite sensational and that’s what MOON SAFARI is all about when you listen to the amazing uptempo Between The Devil And Me that is actually a close-call in hookladen early 80s Westcoast-AOR perfection, reminding quite a lot of TOTO and LE ROUX circa So Fired Up, but with a proggy touch in the instrumental section of this 10 minutes counting epic tune. The cheerful keys and harmonyvocals of Emma, Come On takes us straight back to the 70s sound of STYX, so here is a pure Pomprocker for your taste!

A Lifetime To Learn How To Love is up next, and this might at first sight sound quite sugarsweet and pop orientated, it is a nice ballad that reminds me a bit of PROMOTION, the short-lived Swedish CHICAGO/TOTO ish sounding band from the 1990s. Beyond The Blue is a short song, while Blood Moon picks up again those big 6-part harmonyvocals that make it sound like STYX again, so once more pure Pomprock, but also QUEEN and ROBBY VALENTINE come to mind, while you might also compare MOON SAFARI to that other Swedish band that does more or less the same thing (A.C.T., but then a bit more quirky) and even CATS IN SPACE. Teen Angel Meets The Apocalypse is a 21 minutes counting tune that combines the theatrical musical aspect of STYX with the classic neo-prog/symphonic sounds, which can also be heard during Forever For You, while the shorter Epilog closes the CD.

Here and there 80s YES is also a very strong comparison, and I have to say this is a very impressive high quality CD, but for some it might all sound a bit too theatrical and musical orientated due to the massive use of harmonyvocals, forgetting the real progrock element sometimes, however if you like KAYAK, STYX, KANSAS, ROBBY VALENTINE, VALENSIA, A.C.T. and such, then you will definitely like this album of the Swedish band MOON SAFARI.

 

Written by: Gabor Kleinbloesem

Ratings: Gabor   8/10

 

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