Second Reign – Gravity (Massacre Records)

Friday, 1st October 2021
Rating: 8.5/10

Original plans for a few single releases to get live shows transformed over the next sixteen months into a debut full-length album for Swiss band Second Reign. Forced to record Gravity separately due to the lockdown, the quartet finally came together in one studio to hear guitarist Alain Schneble record his final guitar part – a truly unique experience as these musicians heard the songs come to life with revisions on the fly. Developing a sound that is catchy and melodic with roots in the 80’s melodic hard rock scene, these thirteen songs showcase a versatile act that can display AOR, metal, and pop nuances that fuse together rather easily.

Employing a dual guitar with keyboard sound at the foundation allows these musicians to expand horizons as far as main musical components into layers of secondary launch points, embedding the proceedings with multiple earworms track to track. The modern keyboard splashes contrast against the driving guitars of “The Truth”, allowing bassist Stephan Lipp to dig deep into a desperate delivery through the verses and magnificent chorus. Powerhouse fills from drummer Dan Hammer allow the pulsating keyboard/guitar interplay on “Fire” to be a front half favorite – the vocal harmonies resonate in classic AOR-bliss during the pre-chorus/chorus, keyboardist Bo Rebesamen unleashing a progressive solo that would make Styx mavens proud. Slightly modern alternative rock or pop strains appear from time to time in specific tracks in the musical or vocal trajectory (“Falling” the most evident) but doesn’t diminish the quality and performances that Second Reign stand on. Alain as a guitarist can travel through the melodic rock, hard rock, and metal gamut in terms of feel, atmosphere, and versatility from his main duties to lead breaks – an asset that will surely continue to be explored.

Favorites shift depending on the day – currently the energized “Another Night” featuring a great balance of sophisticated guitars and shimmering keyboards as well the subdued “Home” with guest sax solo work from Beda Felber stay reverberating deep in the brain play after play. Those who love the 80’s melodic rock with AOR, pop, and semi-modern sensibilities should be very pleased with Gravity and keep Second Reign on that new horizon list if you desire fresh bands of this ilk.

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