Jorn Land_Swing of DeathWhen word of this rock opera treatment of Dracula from none other than The Rock King and Trond Holter (current guitarist for Rock King’s solo albums) hit the streets, let’s just say there was a difference of opinion between AMG and myself as to the merits thereof. Never much of a Jornophile, AMG wanted no mention of it on his pristine webpage. But how can we ignore a Broadway-inspired concept album about that immortal Lord of Darkness, Dracula Von Impalerstein? Especially when the Norwegian Wunderkind wants so badly to bring heavy rock to the mysterious lands of Transylvania. Obviously we can’t, so despite dire threats to shut down the site forever, you’ll now hear all about this ambitious, atrociously named project, allegedly three years in the making. Can you hear the boiling blood of a certain ruthless blog overlord? I can. Now, limber up those jazz hands!

If the very idea of “The Voice of Rock” shaking the bones of such a famous monster story gives you the willies, it likely won’t help when I tell you this baby was born to play on community theater stages everywhere. It’s more shit show than horror show, and as with many of Jorn’s solo outings, the quality fluctuates wildly. Uneven as it is, it’s an inspired mess with a tongue-in-cheek super-schlock appeal that may confer a cult charm.

Things stroll out of the mausoleum in typical Jornish fashion with “Hands of Your God” offering  the mid-tempo, bluesy metal he’s known for, albeit heavier and lyrically darker. It’s serviceable, but not as gripping as an opening stanza should be. Things improve dramatically on album highpoint “Walking on Water” where Jorn gets to bully us with his burly barroom voice and rock a big, macho chorus. He displays considerable gravitas in a very good song and for a moment, just a moment, you start to believe Jorn is Vlad the Bad.

Jorn and Trond

Then “Swing of Death” comes along and pulls the cape out from under your dreams, hopes and childlike naiveté. Approximating what a Holiday Inn lounge act would deliver when given jazz requests, the title track staggers between “Stray Cat Strut” rockabilly, quasi-jazz and eventually poppy hair metal tinged with regret. It bears traces of stale Meatloaf too and it might have worked as a transition piece in Rocky Horror, but here it drives a stake through the album’s seriousness.

From there it’s a wild rollercoaster ride, leaving the listener fearing what lurks behind every twist and turn. Decent moments like “Masquerade Ball” are offset by shockingly cornball tunes like “Save Me,” a duet where Jorn and Norwegian songbird Lena Floitmoen swap profound lines like “why can’t you see that we belong together, just die a little bit before you live forever” and  “I don’t want your kiss of death, I think I’ll tell my father.” The music is of a frightfully faux-Savatage theatrical variety and you can almost visualize swirling smoke and dancing ghouls flitting to and fro behind the singers. If this song ever gets hungry, it could live off its own ham-handedness.

“River of Tears” and “Into the Dark” work, though the former has godawful lyrics and the latter is too close to Evanescence for my tastes. The best moment on the back half comes with the unbridled instrumental insanity of “True Love Through Blood” where Trond dabbles in nu-metal before going full Epica with a cosmic butt-ton of neo-classical symphonics and one face melting solo after another. It’s not subtle and even Yngwie might call it overdone, but it’s amusing nonetheless.

Jorn LandeJorn sounds as good as ever, but the man’s righteous David Coverdale wail is only as good as the song it appears in and some of these are not up to snuff. And the lyrics Jorn is asked to deliver…dear God, the lyrics! These low-wattage quotables doom the man to portray the Lord of Vampires as “creepy, pale-faced guy hitting on you in a 70s disco.” Lines like “Let’s get down and dirty, come and lay down on my bed. Tomorrow when you wake up you’ll be dead” are tough to stomach and though I’m sure they were intended as unadulterated camp, they still hurt my ethereal soul.

Trond Holter earns his musical keep throughout, with some wild and wooly guitar work, hyperkinetic solos and acres of keyboard noodling running the gamut of intrusiveness and tact. The man is talented and a lot of the music is interesting and diverse, though the cheddar factor is often at critical mass.

When the dust and cobwebs settle, this is a case study of everyone trying too damn hard. All things considered though, this could have been a whole lot worse and cheese rashes and cringe-wrinkles aside, at times this is an amusing piece of something, I don’t know what exactly.

It appears Jorn and company plan to take this beast to the stage for the full-bore rock opera treatment, and I’ll admit I’d pay a pretty penny to see this mess live, if only for that “is this real life?” moment. Hearty hails to Saint Jorn and his merry moustache of metal as he embarks on his off-off-Broadway tour. I’ll be eagerly awaiting Frankenstein: Screw That Neck.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6  |  Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Frontiers Records
Websites: jornlande.com/mainsite
Release Dates: EU: 2015.01.23  |  NA: 01.27.2015

 

Share →
  • Alexandre Barata

    Now this is what I’m talking about! Jorn your socks off!

  • Lasse Momme

    Holy shit, you actually went ahead and did it…..

    Also, the guitarist looks like the mangled unholy lovechild of Yngwie Malmsteen and Slash. this is not a good thing.

  • Iskandar

    Best thing next to twilight saga..

    • Feeblejocks

      Still a better love story.

  • Jukka Alanen

    If Jorn lived in Westeros, where would he live?
    – In Jornish Marches!

    • Darren

      I bet AMG’s face looks so fojorn right now.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Great review Mr. Druhm. But I expected to see a 9.0/5.0 for this release…

    • I try to live a life of moderation.

    • Tanuki

      He forgot to look at his WWJD bracelet before scoring

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        It’s tricky. Sometimes I put my bracelet on upside down too.

  • Kronos

    It’s finally here!

    • Yep, now you can take time off for other hobbies and pursuits. It was great working with you!

  • This is basically the punchline to the worst ongoing inside joke of all time.

    • Kronos

      How can we continue now that we’ve topped off Jorn and spheres?

      • Kryopsis

        Jorn, spheres and even Amaranthe. Now would be the perfect time for Ripper Owens to announce a new album…

        • AMG would close up shop for good and start a cat fancier blog.

          • I’ve been considering a cat fancier blog for a long time anyway, so it’s not as drastic as it sounds.

    • Jorn: the moonfaced assassin of AMG’s joy.

    • itsmydamnation

      so honestly what would be a top 5 or 10 songs of Jorn’s to check out, i’ve never heard our messiah before……

      • BaboonKing

        From his solo records or with other bands? His solo career is a bit meh, really… but lets try:

        “Bridges will burn”
        “Ride to the Guns”
        “Out to Every Nation”
        “Burn Your Flame”
        “End of time”

        His work on other bands is much more interesting:

        “Crystal Night” – Masterplan

        “Perfect Dark” – Beyond Twilight
        “Burn the Sun” – Ark

        “Devil in the Belfry” – Avantasia

        “Beneath the Waves” – Ayreon

        There you go. Now I’ve got to run… I’ve heard AMG can sense Jorn connoisseurs from afar, like a troll smelling a fat, juicy christian entering its domain. ;)

        • I’d add “The Scarecrow,” “Another Angel Down,” “Promised Land” and “RunawayTrain” by Avantasia and “Enlighten Me” and “Back for My Life” by Masterplan.

          • Marco Brigo

            “Comatose” from Ayreon! Don’t forget that! He’s so emotional in that song, he sounds a lot like a rock Bocelli in that piece.

    • Until the next time anyway.

      • nunka

        What’s sad is – and I think most here will agree – Jorn was actually a respectable musician back when he was with Masterplan (the first time). He should go back (again) and stop pretending he’s got the talent to run a solo career.

        • I think he was and still is a very versatile and talented singer. He’s just been badly served in the writing department thus far in this solo career. He needs a solid band with some talented writers and then he can kill it.

  • El_Cuervo

    I’m glad that you didn’t steal my “Count Jorncula” line from when this was announced Druhm.

    • I have enough of my own puns, I don’t need to steal.

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    Jorn looks constipated.

    Imagine how good this could be if it was a duet with Ripper.

    • staaaaaaahp

      • Grymm

        *water spit*

        There goes my phone… LOL

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      It’d be amazing. It could carry over to an entire album called BeJORNd Fear.

  • BaboonKing

    The album was always bound to be a tongue in cheek clusterfuck… but after all the inside jokes and build up, I’m glad to see you outdid yourself with one of your best reviews ever, Mr. Druhm. Hats off!

    • Thank you, kind sir.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Yep well done Steel Druhm

  • Grymm

    He rhymes “sacred ground” with… “sacred ground” (!!!) on “Walking on Water”.

    He truly is the Ja Rule of metal! Jørn Rule?

    • I think one of them refers to coffee grounds.

      • Grymm

        “We’ve secretly replaced Jørn Lande’s holy ground with Folgers Flavor Crystals. Let’s watch and see what happens!”

  • If anyone ever made a movie about the life of Jorn Lande, Nicholas Cage would probably do it…since like Jorn, he doesn’t say “no” to anything!

    • BaboonKing

      Well, he said no when offered a role for “The Expendables” (but yeah, that’s about it).

  • Herr Coffey

    Nice. Jørn, well done

  • HippieOfDeath

    That video, man… That video…

    From 1 to even: I can’t

    • But it’s so dramatic!

    • Tanuki

      Dude!, its the god of metal literally walking on water in the video. what more could you ask for?!.
      (ok, so he stands stationary on some buckets in the water, but still…)

      • Jesus walked on water. Jesus isn’t metal. Therefore, walking on water is not metal. Therefore Jørn can’t be metal.

        • Water into wine is pretty fookin metal.

          • Meh, more like water into cheap beer would be pretty fookin’ metal.

          • Tanuki

            If he turned water into rum Alestorm would write a fookin’ album about it.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Dancing / standing stationary in satanic buckets of blackened water…I call this a “call to the WinterJorn”… it doesn’t get more metal

  • André Snyde Lopes

    AMG: “Die, monster! You don’t belong in this world!”
    Jørn: “It was not by my hand I was once again given flesh. I was brought here by spheres who wished to be me tribute!”
    AMG: “Tribute!? You stole Druhm’s, and made him your slave!”
    Jørn: “Perhaps the same could be said of all power metal…”
    AMG: “Your words are as empty as your soul! Heavy rock ill needs a savior such as you!”
    Jørn: What is a rock? A miserable little pile of minerals. But enough talk… Have at you!

    • Grymm

      You went all Symphony of the Night on us. I applaud your efforts, good sir.

      *RAPTUROUS APPLAUSE*

    • San Eutocio

      That’s what I’m Tolkien about!

  • BarryLeFreak

    Skipped the review to look at the score first – we don’t want Steel Druhm going all HMG on us and repeating the White Wizzard event

    • That’s exactly what I did. Hence: Angry Metal Guy dot Com still on the internet.

      • BarryLeFreak

        I imagine that there’s a dusty leatherbound book sitting in a dark corner of the AMG office with emergency protocols in case of a Wizzard class event (with a sphere on the cover). It’s only ever been opened once…

        • That’s classified.

          • Is that the protocol binder labeled “WWJD”?

          • BarryLeFreak

            We don’t talk about it or what happened to [REDACTED]

  • Excentric_1307

    The AMG website is going down in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…

  • Hróðvitnir

    With that play, I’ll eagerly await “Dracula: the Swing of Death – the Movie”. Also, Yngwie called, he wants his phrases back.

  • BarryLeFreak

    Is it.. is it over?

    • We made it through the rain, we kept AMG protect,
      we made it through the rain, Jorn found himself respected.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    And I thought you were all joking about the Dracula concept album!
    Wow, Its certainly Jorntastic!
    That song and clip had me doubled over I agree Hails to that merry moustache of metal!

  • Rise

    I enjoyed dat jaunty tune.

    @AngryMetalGuy looks kinda happy though. But how couldn’t he? It’s fucking Jorn Lande we “tolking” about.

  • Vega Magnus

    But does it sound like Septicflesh?

    • I think Septicflesh needs to do a Dracula concept album and show Jorn what’s what..

  • James Ingold

    If I turn my brain function down just enough I actually really enjoy this.

    Let’s just file this under “guilty pleasures” and never speak of it again (until I’m really drunk and want to show my friends a ‘wicked Dracula rock opera’).

  • OzanCan

    Hahahahah “taşak metal” xD

  • Noobhammer

    There is not enough time in the world for me to stand and give a standing Jørnvation to this beautifully crafted article detailing the gloriousness of the Chuck Norris of hard rock. Truly seeing this live on stage would be like watching the opening of the Ark of the Covenant.

    • Brilliant.

    • Our Fortress Is Burning

      Weird. I was just thinking the exact same thing.

  • Siege Bantayan

    Jorn with mic photo: COME AT ME AMG!

  • Imagine if Jorn did a guest spot on the next Mayan album:

    “Is that Jorn?” “No, that’s Mayan.” “Oh, Jorn AND Mayan…”

  • Man, Mick Mars looks like shit as a blonde.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      ha lol

  • Alped

    I don’t know a lot about Jorn. I mostly stay away from artists who call themselves only by their first name, like Yanni.

    • What about Gaga??

      • Alped

        It doesn’t count, she’s a Lady!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Well, I’m glad this review came along. My daughter’s elementary school teacher is preparing to do a school production of this, and now I think I’ll have to have a talk with her. I feel kind of bad about it, as I was the one who first suggested it to her. I should have just gone along with her original plan to do Equus.

  • Doomdeathrosh

    In the given pic Jorn seems to be REALLY angry at AMG!!

  • El Lado Oscuro

    Not as bad as Timo’s Avalon last record, but still awful. a 1.5 would have been less indulgent

  • I haven’t laughed this much in a few days. Thanks Druhm.

  • Sawbones Quad

    Its freakin’ Teeny from Wig Wam on guitar. I didn’t go in expecting an album that was serious at all. Nice review even tho I like this album!

  • Sébastien Bouche

    Still… the CD’s in my car and plays continuously. I’m still hurting my lungs and throat everyday trying to catch those high notes.
    Maybe it deserved this review (which is quite good, by the way!), but cheesy lyrics aside, you neglected the fun factor the tracks convey. This is a 5/5!
    Now, if he could go on a diet, stop moving like Gollum on acid, assume the fact that he’s going bald and shave that horrible moustache (and find a good lyricist!), that guy would be able to heal cancer, stop wars and bring heavy rock to the land!

    That voice… that voice.