Ken's Dojo - 'Reincarnation' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/ee/59/de/763_kensdojoreincarnation_1288301754.jpg Hot

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Quite possibly the best album of its type you'll hear anywhere this year.

Although still probably best known in international hard rock and heavy metal circles as the guitarist on the first Street Legal album (or failing that as the guy who produced TNT’s oft maligned ‘Transistor’ set), Ken Ingwersen has actually been involved in the music business for quite some time now. A black belt karate expert – hence the Ken’s Dojo name for this, his first solo project – if you dig a little deeper into his background you’ll find that he’s played with the likes of Glenn Hughes, Ole Evenrude, TNT, Return and Ken Hensley (amongst others) as well as finding time to establish a solid reputation as a producer in all spheres (although more recently that has been concentrated in acts of a more chart oriented vein).

The culmination of a long held ambition to record a solo album that goes right back to his hard rockin’ roots, when I first heard ‘Reincarnation’ my initial thoughts were that it could just be ‘the’ surprise of this summer! Calling in a few favours from such well known faces as the aforementioned Glenn Hughes, Nils K Rue (Pagan’s Mind), Tommy La Verdi (21 Guns) and the ‘one and only’ (sic) Chesney Hawkes, Ingwersen has crafted an album full of great, memorable hard rock songs underpinned by some at times truly excellent guitar work.

Opener ‘Forever’ comes rumbling out of the speakers like a cross between TNT and prime time Queensryche, all moody vocals and minor chords melded together with devastating effect – definitely one of the best opener’s I’ve heard from anyone this year. After such a memorable beginning, you’d not unreasonably expect the quality to dip right? ... wrong! ... Having set the standard from the word go, the remaining tracks carry it right through to the end with assured ease.

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Built around a solid, decidedly 80’s Scandie MHR core, Ken and his cohorts tease us with a plethora of divergent moods and emotions, deftly placed little tangents taking the songs off on delightful detours before bringing them back full circle. The Hughes track ‘I Surrender’ is a smouldering, soulful ballad with a disarming neo-classical undercurrent (very similar to Brazen Abbot at times, I’d love to hear Glen and Ken work on an album’s worth of stuff in this vein), whilst the Nils K Rue cut ‘Keeping The Flame Alive’ is the best thing Queensryche haven’t written in 20 years!

Tommy La Verdi injects ‘Demon In Diamonds’ with some brooding, bluesy grit, and as for ol’ Chesney ... well, check out title track ‘Reincarnation’ and see for yourself; trust me, I think you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was! But even the tracks without the big name vocals (including aforementioned opener ‘Forever’) have just as much impact, ‘Come Alive’, ‘Set The Angel Free’ or the haunting instrumental ‘Momentos A Solas’ – love the guitar tone, very Mark Knopfler - being especially memorable.

A real must, ‘Reincarnation’ is quite possibly the best album of its type you’ll hear anywhere this year.

Dave Cockett

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