Allen/Lande – The Great Divide (Frontiers Records)

Sunday, 19th October 2014
Rating: 8/10

Always thought this was a cool concept, rounding up two of melodic metal’s better singers and letting them duke it out. The respective talents of Russell Allen (Adrenaline Mob, Symphony X) and Jorn Lande (ex-Masterplan, Ark) are well-accounted for at this point, so pontificating on their abilities would be a waste. However, the added element of Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius) composing all of The Great Divide effectively shoots the album over the top. It’s a finely-tuned, song-oriented, and largely engaging set of songs with a straightforwardness that is hard to come by. Translation: No subgenre tags will work here.

Much to his credit, Tolkki completely and totally resisted the urge to roll out his patented epic/symphonic metal double-bass strut. Granted, he could write songs like that in his sleep, but the art of crafting a basic, verse/chorus/verse/chorus song is a lost one, and Tolkki hits the nail right on the proverbial head with most of these jams. Obvious highlights include the Lande-led “Come Dream With Me,” as well as “Solid Ground,” which features the album’s most rousing chorus from yet again, Mr. Lande. “Dream About Tomorrow” might be the only jam here that revolves around Stratovarius-like ideas; a take-off of “Hunting High and Low,” if you will, although the soaring highs of Allen and cut-throat chorus from Lande turn the song into an instant winner.

Great flow across the board, with the even the touchy balladry of “Lady of Winter” being inoffensive. So really, all of The Great Divide lets the two gents belt it out, free of any of restrictions and/or norms they’re faced in with their current acts (Allen should really ponder dumping Adrenaline Mob. Talk about a blemish on one’s resume). A melodic metal effort du jour, the validity of Allen/Lande is simply reinforced by how good The Great Divide is.

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