8/10

Author´s note: this review was first published 20th of october 2020

As a first for this writer it is time to review an album that is still unreleased and, as far as I know, from a still unsigned Swedish band. But these guys are hardly newcomers, I can tell you. How about drummer extraordinaire Morgan Ågren (Devin Townsend, Kaipa, Dweezil Zappa, Fredrik Thordendahl, Mats & Morgan etc) taking care of business behind the kit? Or perhaps winner of the Swedish Eurovision contest, Jan Johansen (Ignition) using his soulful pipes on some of the most demanding songs of his career? Or maybe renowned bass guru Ken Sandin (Alien, Uli Jon Roth, Vinnie Moore) laying the foundation and locking in perfectly with Ågrens dynamic grooves? All the while Sonic Desolution´s mastermind, Peter Lazar (from very underestimated prog metal band Timecode Alpha) is keeping a keen eye on things. Session player on “Explorer” is Magnus Berglund (Arctic Rain) whose fluent and versatile style effortlessly finds that just that balance between shred and feeling is one of the records highlights. Two other highlights is the gravelly, yet extremely powerful voice of Mads Clausen (ex Biscaya, Timecode Alpha) and the amazingly powerful vocal skills of Annica Svensson.

So these guys have been around the block a few times and as a listener you sure can tell. The entire album oozes of self confidence and the songs and arrangements are all very high caliber stuff. My personal favorite is the dynamic rollercoaster of “Midlife Insight” where especially Jan Johansen´s gritty voice shines as he conjures up his inner David Coverdale and really lets it rip.

Those expecting a dose of prog metal will be a bit disappointed as this records more falls into the prog rock genre rather than its heavier and more aggressive sibling. The technical aspect of the music is really enjoyable and quite impressive but settles for a more restrained attitude instead of constantly begging the listeners to “Look at me, I can play a gazillion notes per second!”- approach. Don´t get me wrong, there is plenty of proggy interludes and sections but don´t expect Animals as Leaders type of prog. Should I be forced to make comparisons I hear some faint echoes of the mighty The Flower Kings but otherwise this feels very fresh and, dare I say it, unique.

I think the future has great things in store for this constellation and I can almost place a bet that record companies within the genre will bareknuckle fight over this savory treat of an album.
Can´t wait to see where this is heading. With songs and performances this good, nice things are bound to happen.
Highly recommended!

Artist: Sonic Desolution
Title: Explorer
Label: Unsigned
Rating: 8/10
Place of origin: Sweden
Standout track: Midlife Insight, New Beginning