LION’S SHARE – EMOTIONAL COMA (AFM 2007)

REVIEW BY KASSU KORTELAINEN / JANUARY 2007

Swedish Lion’s Share slams forward their fifth full-lenght release in the form of 2007’s ‘Emotial Coma’. The band has been delivering music since the late-80’s and the driving force in their engine has been traditionally-based heavy metal. The same formula is in use this time around as well though flavoured with some extra heaviness compared to the past.

Starting from the grim cover art and carrying on to the songs by the weighty riffs of guitarist Lars Chriss and vocals of singer Patrik Johansson, the atmosphere on the disc is effectively toned with shadowy imagery of darkness and doom. Darkness that doesn’t yield even to the more melodic sections of the release, present for example on the massive choruses of ‘Trafficking’ or ‘Hatred’s My Fuel’. As such, the doomy sound works well enough and I admit, through the first couple of listens I found the album very likeable. But upon further listens the biggest shortcoming of the album started to creep in to my brain. The opening song of the album, “Cult Of Denial” shows a lot of promise, but as the similar pattern in songwriting continues over to the rest of the songs, they don’t form a very intersting picture as whole. Mainly the riffs could’ve used more variation as the hammering of heavy, simplistic riffs song after song can only carry so far before the idea starts to wear out and makes room for boredom. A shame, since with a little more thought and flexibility to the riffs, the standard of the album could’ve reached completely different levels… after all ‘Emotional Coma’ has a lot of good in it as well. For example that huge chorus of ‘Trafficking’ or the emotional songscapes of album’s title track are, and remain, very effective.

Having earned his stripes with Astral Doors, singer Patrik Johansson is a capable vocalist but his problem in my opinion has been his voice sounding unbelievably like that of Ronnie James Dio. Now, obviously that can hardly be seen as a bad thing – who of us wouldn’t like to be able to sing like mighty RJD – but in case of Johansson, his Dio-impersonation was strating to get so over the top at places that it became almost disturbing. On Emotional Coma, however, Johansson has found more of his own sound to his singing and though a certain Dio-flavour is still audible in his singing, it’s fused as part of his own personal style. And so Johansson’s vocals work better than ever. Unfortunately, in the cold and bleak world of Emotional Coma the singer can’t really make the most of his abilities as the atmosphere of the songs limit his performance to the same range and emotion through most of the proceedings.

When taken apart, raw and powerful “Cult of Denial”, effective midtempo piece “The Edge Of The Razor”, brutal metal pounder ‘Trafficking’ and “Emotional Coma” are all good, strong songs and true standouts on the album. On the flip side there are songs that are either just plain tedious (‘Toxication Rave’, ‘Bloodstained Soil’) or crash in their attempts to recycle old ideas (cliché-ridden ‘Soultaker’ or ‘Clones Of Fate’ which seems to be an attempt to recreate Priest’s ‘Rapid Fire’). The rest, including a somewhat interesting Angel Witch cover ‘Sorcerers’, fall somewhere in the middle.

As the custom seems to be nowadays, a few guest musicians pay their visit also to ‘Emotional Coma’. Bruce Kulick (KISS) and Glen Drover (Megadeth) throw in a couple of nifty solos and Mats Levén (At Vance, Therion, Yngwie Malmsteen, Krux, etc.) is credited for backing vocals. The guests handle their duties well, but don’t really add or detract any extra value to the album.

‘Emotional Coma’ is an album that includes a few good songs that regrettably get lost in the general monotony of the whole package. With a touch of more contrast and a few more fresh ideas to songwriting and delivery Lion’s Share would deliver a much better impact. As it stands, the album doesn’t pack enough longevity to make regular visits to the CD player – although offers a few good spins for anyone craving a dish of doomy traditional metal.

2k

lionsshare_coma

1. Cult Of Denial
2. The Arsonist
3. Emotional Coma
4. Clones Of Fate
5. The Edge Of The Razor
6. Toxication Rave
7. Trafficking
8. Bloodstained Soil
9. Soultaker
10. Hatred’s My Fuel
11. Sorcerers

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About Kassu Kortelainen