A shot in the arm of adrenaline rock
The X-factor. No one knows what it is and no one knows how to get it, but you know when someone has it. It certainly can't be given or won on a TV show. You either have it or you don't and some people arguably have it more than others. To some performers it comes naturally, instantly having that X-factor that makes them appealing and listenable. To others it has to be nurtured and develops over time, but I think the nucleus has to be there to begin with. I mention the X-factor because Sweden's The Quill have this mysterious gift by the bus load.
One listen to 'In Triumph' and you just know that The Quill have 'IT' whatever 'IT' might be. Van Halen 1 had 'IT' as did 'In Rock' and, dare I say it, 'Permission to Land.' Whether it's the quality of the songs, the tight production, the excellent performances or even all three of these elements, one thing is for sure, if you're a fan of Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Thunder, The Darkness and so forth, then you need to get this album now.
I'm not saying this album is original, far from it, it's just your basic hard rock, but it's exciting, full of melody and packed with quality tunes. With all the fads, trends and bandwagons, there's something comforting in the knowledge there are still bands out there that just do that old fashioned thing called 'Rock.' It's also a reminder of how simple the music scene was before it was fragmented into unfocused and often rival sub-genres. They don't need electronics, over-sized production, over-the-top hype and a plethora of members to deliver the goods, just quality performances and even better ideas.
Magnus Ekwall's vocals are superb and sound like a mix of Coverdale and Hughes. This is non-more evident than on opener 'Keep the circle whole,' a solid rocker with some catchy riffage. 'Yeah!' has a main riff that would sit well on any Mindset album, whereas 'Broken Man' is good enough to grace the hallowed track-listing of Deep Purple's 'Burn.' 'Slave/Master' and 'Merciless Room' and wonderful changes of pace without resorting to the schoolgirl mush of the dreaded tawdry ballads. 'Black' is another solid rocker and 'No light on the Dark side' is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin on top of their game.
It is track ten, 'Triumph is a sea of flame,' when 'In Triumph' wavers slightly. This isn't a complaint however; there aren't many albums that are consistent all the way through. But in an age where many disks have run out of decent ideas by track three, it's refreshing to hear a long player in which the first three-quarters contain vibrant, hook-laden and varied ideas. Hard rock works best at the '10 songs, 40 minutes' level which leaves little room for chaff and over bloated ideas that cause many albums to become moribund. At a run time of fifty-one minutes I would argue that 'In Triumph' is a couple of cuts too long, it should be quality over quantity every time. If they had shaved 'Triumph is a sea of flame' and 'In the shadows' from the CD, this would've created a much tighter affair making this album a potential classic.
This isn't an album for everyone; I don't think it has that mass appeal and quirky eccentricity of The Darkness's discography. It is music that arguably had its day thirty years ago, and its potential audience is the more mature end of the rock/metal spectrum. Whether or not the band will pick up any young fans with this release remains to be seen, but for us old fogies, this is a well performed record with a fistful of great rockin' songs. They have the X-factor, and you can hear it for about a ten quid rather than getting suckered into spending fifty pounds on phone votes. A triumph indeed.