Erik Martensson performed on one of the strongest melodic rock albums of 2017 when Eclipse released ‘Monumentum’. He will also be back this year with W.E.T., so he will have performed on what could be the standout melodic rock album of 2018. In between, Martensson takes more of a supporting role with the latest album from Ammunition. Lead vocals are handled by Age Sten Nilsen, with Martensson sticking to backing vocals, guitars, producing, mixing, co-songwriting, making the tea.. that kind of thing. No dramas though, as Nilsen possesses a fine set of pipes himself, and Ammunition have produced an album that might rival W.E.T. for top spot come December 2018.
This eponymous release is the second album from Ammunition. The debut, ‘Shanghaied’, released in 2015, was a fine example of catchy melodic rock with a few left hooks here and there. Album number two continues where the first left off; more of the same massive hooks, guitar licks and thumping drum beats that made ‘Shanghaied’ so memorable… but a word of warning… this album features whistling, a much maligned form of expression, thanks to Scorpions. The track in question ‘Wrecking Crew’ is a jaunty little number that took the band to the grand finale of Norway’s Eurovision. It’s poppy as hell, but with an infectious bounce that makes it irresistible, and it’s easy to see why it was so successful as a single. From the first few bars of opener ‘Time’, straight through to the swagger of closing track ‘Klondike’, it’s clear that the guitar sound is crucial to this album. Martinsson shares the six string duties with Jon Pettersen, and the pair make a glorious noise. The solos are crisp and melodic, the riffs.. raucous. The vocal harmonies are incredible, especially the Queen-like choral segment on both ‘Time’ and ‘Klondike’, which come out of nowhere and demand attention. When it comes to catchy uptempo melodic rock, the Nordic nations have it down to an art form. In the hands of any other nation, something like ‘Virtual Reality Boy’ would be a watered down moment. Here, it keeps the simplistic characteristics of a good pop tune, but adds a killer guitar sound. Same with ‘Gung Ho (I Told You So)’. In my head I can hear Bon Jovi playing this, but their version sounds nothing like this. Nilsen’s vocals are sharp as hell, as they are throughout the album, but I keep on coming back to the guitars. So many melodic albums these days drown the guitars in the mix, so it is a pleasure to hear them so prominent on this little beauty.
Where’s the ballad, you might ask? Well,that would be ‘Miss Summertime’ then. Piano driven with a simplistic approach, and a chorus you could imagine someone like Billy Joel belting out as he batters on the keys. Perfect for ‘cell-phones-in-the-air’ time, it’s airy and light, so that means the song that follows it must be the opposite. Yep, ‘Bad Bones’ opens with some hellacious guitar and one almighty groove, but it soon settles down into a fine slice of commercial rock. Again, the harmonies are magnificent and the guitars sizzle. The solo towards the end is a standout, but those harmonies… ooft!
Available now through Frontiers Music, more information here.