There is always a way to find great music in this world and sometimes the best come from a chance find. It is just that way that I found a band from Finland that blew me away from the first listen. You know the feeling, the song kicks in and you are instantly blasted back in your seat, volume cranked to 11 and after the 3 minutes, you jam it again and again. That was my first impression of Shiraz Lane when I happened across the video for “Mental Slavery” from their “Be The Slave Or Be The Change” EP. I instantly checked the bands website out and found a spot to purchase the EP directly from a site in Finland that was handling the merch at the time. Best $15 I ever spent. This band made me feel the same way that I felt when Guns N’ Roses blew up in 1987 with the brash vocals and in your face “Screw The World” melodies and power. I knew that these guys were making it big and a few months later were signed by Frontiers Records. Their debut album, “For Crying Out Loud,” released in 2016 was everything that I expected and more, but like most artists, having a great debut brings the pressure of following up with a 2nd. Well I am here to say that “CARNIVAL DAYS” is one hell of a sophomore release. All of the hooks, power and melodies are there, but there is also some change sprinkled in; maturity and willingness to explore. Come on in to a show that never ends and WELCOME TO THE “CARNIVAL DAYS.”
The album opens with the title track “Carnival Days” and I am instantly reminded of the swagger that Aerosmith brought to every album; there is a cool here that you see in bands that have been on the scene for 30 years, a “We Have Been Here Before” attitude. This tune has grooves a plenty with harmonies and yes, even some horns thrown in. This is a song that rocks from all angles. I am a huge fan of a catchy hook and this has it. Alright, its in my head and I keep singing it in my mind “Welcome To The Carnival Days………….a perfect way to open this album.
The opening track brought me right in where I needed to be and then “The Crown” kicks in and I am blasted right into my seat just like I was when I first heard the band. The track opens with a steady bass groove and thumping drum beat provided by Ana Willman drums & Joel Alex bass and the guitar follows in with the textbook Shiraz blast and a BOMBASTIC bridge and Chorus. With Jani Laine – lead guitar and Miki Kalske – rhythm guitar there is twin tandem here that compliment each other like ice and water – cool grooves and melodic riffs for days. These guys are heavy in all the right places and are a force to be reckoned with. DAMN, I realize why I have loved this music for 35 years and these guys just cement the fact. Lead singer Hannes Kett, has the shrill, glass shattering vocals that remind me of an Alleycat scrapping in a pure vengeance to overpower its prey and he has total command. In my opinion Axel Rose never sounded this good.
As “The Crown” slowly winds down there is no time to catch a breath and yes it is getting “Harder To Breath,” the 3rd track that incorporates the same power and melody. Another huge hook and a full out onslaught of straight forward, groove driven melodic hard rock. The first single released and this is everything that this band is about.
I have been focusing on how great the songs are and they are massive, but the production is also masterful. Huge sound and I often think that this is live. Produced and recorded by Per Aldeheim at Gröndahl Studios, Holländargatan 29 and at The Terrace, Stockholm Sweden, mixed by Linus Corneliusson at Fascination Street Studios and mastered by Tony Lindgren and Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios, Örebro Sweden, there is mega sound flowing perfectly though my headphones.
Back on track, “Tidal Wave” kicks in with a poppier style that is geared for radio, but when its Shiraz Lane, there are no weak, give-up tunes. There are the massive hooks and guitar driven melodies that are the foundation of the style that these guys write in. Every song is well written and again, it seems like the band has been together forever. Tight lyrics and melody lines flow through the entire album.
The band has the ability to do it all and diversity is symbolized in this album and no track shows more than “Gotta Be Real.” There is a slower paced flow here with the sitting around a campfire feeling. Mega heart and emotion with a feel good groove. I hear so much passion with this one and that shows how deep these guys are with the writing. Perfectly delivered and the listener can see where they are coming from; A story told across the time.
There are keys sprinkled in throughout the album and that is prevalent with the track “People Like Us.” The tune delivers the groove as do all of the tracks here. There is just so much included with all 11 tracks and I can hear the influences of the band members orchestrated perfectly. This is a band that is maturing and writing for themselves, directly from the heart.
“Shangri-La,” track number 7, incorporates the steady melody and a very soulful lyric by Hannes Kett. Kett delivers this one from the heart with vibrato and plenty of style.
There is depth in all of the right places and this is all mixed with mega heaviness and “War Of Mind” kicks in. The political lyrics about the mind and trying to escape the internal, mental struggles that we all face. This is a tune that just needs to be played loud. As with any excellent hard rock song, there is a guitar solo that stands out and Jani Laine tears through this one like a knife through butter; Smooth and precise, yet with speed that hugs every corner.
If you have been listening to this band regularly like I have, you can tell just by hearing the opening riff who it is. The song opens with almost a high powered bongo beat and then kicks in right where expected. There is a straight forward, in your face style with vocal chants in the chorus that make you just want to throw your fist in the air.
For all of the power there is also a passion and the ability to deliver a great power ballad and in steps “Hope.” The song is so well written and this is where I get the Aerosmith influence. Steven Tyler has the uncanny knack of delivering a vocal that takes you to the true emotion of a song and I hear that exactly with Hannes Kett, especially with “Hope” and the closing track “Reincarnation.” There is a positive influence here that just makes the listener understand the true meaning of music and life in general. The ability to reach the heart and soul of the listener is what music is all about and that is exactly what Shiraz Lane has done, again.
I was asked recently if Hard Rock and Metal is still alive and my answer was an affirmative “Yes.” With that yes, I am backed by a masterful piece of melodic hard rock, glam and sleeze that is “Carnival Days.” Shiraz Lane has taken it yet to another level and these guys are truly transitioning from a piece to the mold in which all hard rock should be formed. I cannot say enough great things about a young band that just continues to impress me from every beat that they deliver. If you are looking to be rocked with and blown away, check out Shiraz Lane. I highly recommend and I am without a doubt a fan of this band forever. “Welcome To The Carnival Days” a show that never ends.
SHIRAZ LANE IS:
Hannes Kett – lead vocals
Jani Laine – lead guitar
Miki Kalske – rhythm guitar
Joel Alex – bass
Ana Willman – drums
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Harder To Breathe
Gotta Be Real
People Like Us
War Of Mine
Shot Of Life
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