There sure has been lots of movement within the 220 Volt camp in later years. Not only did they reunite back in 2014 and released a good enough album in Walking In Starlight but in 2019 guitarist Mats Karlsson decided to release a solo album called The Time Optimist, a solid and surprisingly vital Classic Rock album – and now it’s time for drummer Peter Hermansson to show us what he can do on his own. Also a drummer with both Talisman and John Norum and a life-long commitment within the Swedish Hard Rock community, there was a long list of guests ready to give the drummer a helping hand.
If you’re not an old Swedish fart like me who was there in the 80’s, you might not have a clue who 220 Volt was and this album might be of little interest. Well, 220 Volt was among the first heavy acts out of Sweden and stayed heavy when most bands went poppier and they always had respect from contemporary musicians. So with players like Nalle Påhlson, John Levén, Mats Karlsson, Mats Vassfjord and Martin Thomander to name but a few, Hermansson is ready to bring his debut full-length solo album – he did release a digital only E.P. called Black Cloud in 2013 – out to the public.
Hermansson & friends opens the album with ”A Revolution”, an uptempo rocker carried by a beefy and punchy rhythms. It’s a pretty plain hard-rocker with a big 70’s vibe all over, quite rowdy yet very melodic with distinct and spot on refrain that hits right away. The following track, ”Angel Eyes” is a slightly spacey Classic Rock number that brings along a flowing rhythm which blends great with the crunchy groove. The melodies are a bit low-key and held-back and the smoothness takes a Melodic Rock touch but the song do holds some grit and the chorus is a real killer.
The leading single is called ”Perfect World”, a good choice. Instead of going with the most pop-laden tune, they went with an upbeat, straight forward classic Hard Rock belter with a darker touch and even a slight wink towards Metal. It’s a riff-happy dust-kicker on a bouncy and infectious groove with a bang-on-target refrain that hits like a ton of bricks with no sugar added. Great stuff. ”Last Goodbye” is a stripped and down-to-earth ballad, soft and quiet with a laid-back vocal arrangement. The melodies are fine-tuned and the whole vibe is calming, naked and sparse. Good one.
Back to the Classic Rock in the days of the 70’s, ”Hero’s End” blasts away with some meaty riffage and an enormous groove. The rhythm-section is solid and punchy, the guitars are crunchy a rough-edged and the fat beat is kicking. The song comes in a mid-pace with a bunch of strong melodies and on top a stellar refrain that you won’t forget even if you try. Very good. Next up is a cover of Humble Pie’s ”I Don’t Need No Doctor”, but this one is closer to W.A.S.P.’s (awesome) version than the original. The live-feel here is huge and the whole number is powerful, edgy and rough. This one will be a killer live if that ever happens. Well done indeed.
”Send Me An Angel” is another ballad casted in Classic Rock of the 70’s, very big on acoustic guitars. The tune is a bit Rolling Stones-y with a Led Zeppelin touch, stripped down and sparse at times with a down-beat rhythm and an organic sound. A good, chunky refrain takes the song home. Good one. ”Movin’ On” picks the pace up a few notches and with some gritty guitars and a rough ’n ready beat, the song comes on strong as a live belter with both dirt under the fingernails and attitude. It’s a straight-forward, fast-tracked rocker with a direct and striking chorus. I dig.
”Set Me Free” is a deep and emotional ballad, stripped down and earthy with only vocals and guitar. After the first half the song ups the tempo, taking the song from a slow-burner into a half-ballad but till keeping the down-to-earth vibe intact. Laid-back yet hooky, the chorus sticks by first listen and to me this is a hit 24/7. Great! Turning things around completely, ”I Ain’t Gonna Crawl” is heavy, pounding and raw on a fast track and a hard look towards Metal – straight-forward and in-your-face, holding no punches back. I dig the fact that it lets loose and breaks bones but as a song, it’s only ok and I miss the catchiness here. A cover of Deep Purple’s ”Soldier Of Fortune” ends the album. Peter’s version stays very true to the original and even though it’s impressing how he nails the tune vocally, I’m not too sure of the purpose of this version. It’s good but it’s really hard to do anything constructive with this one.
Hermansson’s debut solo full-length album is a solid effort and even though he’s no Pavarotti as a singer, I really like his raspy and edgy voice and to be honest, I had no clue the guy could actually sing. As a drummer there’s really no need to point out just how good Hermansson is but ok – he’s bloody awesome – tight and groovy with a hard punch. Style-wise, this record is based on down-to-the-bone Classic Rock with a weakness for chunky Hard Rock and that 70’s Rock is close to his heart is heard all over this record. Four ballads on a Rock album could be a bit too much but the ballads here never goes into syrup territory at all and even though there are some smooth melodies involved, things never gets cheesy. If all this sounds interesting for you, then this record is a no-brainer – to miss out on this is a mistake, so don’t!