This is a call out to all fans of melodic rock / Metal. Looking for something to quench that thirst? Look no further than Life, the latest release from Swedish band JONO. Haven’t heard of them before? We’ve got you covered!
JONO started off as a solo project of singer Johan Norrby (hence the moniker “JoNo”). An album was released in 2006 featuring some of the members of the band’s current line-up, and from that point moving forward the band has carried on. JONO’s sound is hard to pinpoint. Maybe it’s best described as melodic rock with symphonic and progressive elements – always based on strong melodies, with bombastic arrangements. Their music has been compared to great artists like Queen, Kansas, Journey, and Supertramp, just to name a few.
JONO is comprised of band members Johan Norrby (lead vocals), Johan Carigren (keyboards), Stefan Helleblad (guitar), Nicka Hellenberg (drums), Janne Henriksson (bass) and Leo Olsson (secondary guitar).
The album opens with ‘Sailors,’ boasting an instrumental opening with guitar that is somewhat welcoming. Vocally it’s not hard to see that inspiration is drawn from James LaBrie (Dream Theater), because the vocal range and talent that Norrby possesses is almost identical. Instrumentally there’s a lot about JONO that has Dream Theater aspects, which is brilliant because Dream Theater are such an iconic group in their genre. There isn’t much happening instrumentally apart from some catchy riffs and solid drum work behind it, however it still employs enough power to have you hooked from beginning to end.
Crown opens with a synthesized sound, instrumentals soon blending into the mix to create another worldly feel to the album. Vocals are as smooth as the previous track, and I have a feeling they’re going to remain this solid throughout, which is brilliant. Norrby’s talents are more than impressive. Instrumentally solid, especially the guitar work which deserves heavy praise. The bass line comes through strong in this track also, heightening the instrumental performance.
‘No Return’ sees the smooth blend of guitar and keyboard introducing us to the track, once again very Dream Theater-esque. I wasn’t wrong when I said the vocal ability would reign supreme throughout, another brilliant performance. Instrumentally, it’s stripped back a hell of a lot, allowing Norrby’s vocals to hit centre stage, however what we are given is a level of brilliance which although in the background, carries the track on its back. Once the chorus hits prepare yourself for goosebumps, because the combination of vocals with a sudden uplift in instrumentals will excite even the most sombre of music fans.
‘On the Other Side’ sees the guitars and keyboard combine for the introduction yet again, this time with the drums coming in for solid support. The tune of the track is somewhat simple, and vocally, especially in the form of lyrical content, it’s stripped back in comparison to the tracks before it – however the abilities of this man, and the support around him, are something to truly be in awe of.
‘Downside’ is a sound we haven’t really experienced yet – drums and guitar combining seamlessly to create somewhat of a dark performance, cleverly crafted riffs and superb vocal range combining in the shadows to emerge with monsterful brilliance. It’s definitely unlike anything we’ve heard up until this point on the album, and in my opinion is one of their stronger performances (however that could be my bias to a darker, heavier tone, so I’ll leave the decision making to you!).
Carigen lends his talents on the keyboard to the opening of the next track, ‘To be Near You,’ combining with a softer vocal from Norrby. The range demonstrated throughout has been somewhat masterful, proving that a solid Metal track doesn’t need to have overbearing vocals or screaming, nor face melting solos, but a more sombre approach packs enough punch to deliver a knockout blow also. Instrumentally this track is as solid as we’ve come to expect from JONO.
‘My Love’ delivers more praise from myself to the guitar work throughout not only this track, but the album as a whole. Absolutely brilliant! These riffs will linger in every unturned crevice of your mind. Vocally, there’s nothing that we haven’t come to expect so far, and Norrby never disappoints. Be prepared to fall into a trap amongst the chords, because lyrically the performance is solid, also.
Aptly named for a track full of instrumental magic, ‘The Magician’ is yet another track on the album that displays the abilities of all members of JONO. From the vocal performance, right down to the last note of the instrumental performance, you will not be disappointed. Not just in this track, but throughout the album as a whole, we’ve been treated to some true talent, and it’s not hard to understand why these guys have created such a buzz.
‘Trust’ is the second-to-last track on the album, so you’d think the band would be gearing up for a huge finish, correct? ABSOLUTELY! I don’t know what it was that had myself so mesmerised, but the instrumental opening of the track had my immediate attention, and I hung on every note right to the finish. Am I the only one who gets a sense of Queen, or the channelling of Freddie Mercury within this album? Superb track, if not the best on the album (once again, a matter of opinion which I’ll leave up to you all to determine for yourselves!). We are in for a huge finish, I can feel it!
Well, I was right! However, it might not be the ending you would have anticipated. The keyboard opening of ‘The March’ is mesmerising. Why? Because it’s the perfect wind-down from what’s been a brilliant album, and solid performances throughout. When an artist or band chooses to end an album on a calmer, softer tone one of two things can happen. They can step up to the plate and smack it out of the park, or they’ll be left at the plate swinging and missing before striking out. JONO are bringing this one home! Close your eyes while listening to this track, and allow your soul to be transported to the spiritual plane, before being grounded back into reality. You will not be disappointed!
What an experience!
JONO’S LIFE IS OUT NOW, AND YOU CAN GET YOUR COPY HERE!