Terra Nova - 'Come Alive'

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Terra Nova - 'Come Alive'

The sheer quality and sophistication of the songs speaks for itself.

Back in the musical dark ages (more commonly known as the mid 90’s) if you happened to be a fan of lush, keyboard laced melodies, gorgeous hooks and towering harmonies it has to be said that on the whole pickings were at best slim … with perhaps two notable exceptions. The first was 93’s ‘Never Say Surrender’ one-off from David Rosenthal and Red Dawn, whilst the second came almost three years later in the shape of ‘Livin’ It Up’, the debut effort from Dutch quintet Terra Nova.

Unashamed melodic rockers at heart, the band were constructed around the vocals and guitars of Fred Hendrix and his keyboard toting brother Ron. After years of being told that the depressing dirge of soulless pretenders such as Soungarden and Nirvana was the culmination of 30 years of genre fine tuning (sic), here was a band who actually put the joy back into hard rock. Granted, they never enjoyed the huge commercial successes the previous decade would have afforded them (Well, maybe a little bit in Japan), but fans of the genre they still stand tall and proud, a beacon of light and hope in what at times seemed very dark days indeed.

Subsequent releases (and discounting compilations there’s been three of ‘em) all had some fine moments, but never quite managed to recapture the fire or exuberance of that brilliant debut. Having gone their separate ways at the end of the 90’s, Terra Nova regrouped in 2005 for well received comeback opus ‘Escape’, yet another text book lesson in strong melodies boasting hooks big enough to snare an ocean liner, which in retrospect was probably the closest in feel and sound to the debut … until now that is.



Five long years have passed since ‘Escape’, but with the release of ‘Come Alive’, the Hendrix brothers are back where they belong. Backed by longstanding guitarist Gesuino Derosas and a returning Lars Beuving on drums (plus bassist Eric Coenen), this is probably as close as we’re ever likely to get to a full blown ‘Livin’ It Up’ era reunion; and judging by some of the quotes that have been flying around, that’s exactly the sound they’re aiming for.

Have they achieved it? ... depends on how you look at it really. Those early 80’s style keyboards a la Balance and company aren’t quite as prominent as they used to be, and the all pervasive vocal harmonies are used a touch more sparingly, so that whole pomp feel which characterised the debut is at times a little subdued. Having said that however, Fred Hendrix has always been a superb songwriter to these ears, his understanding of what constitutes a great melody and how to steep that in just the right amount of melodrama is second to no one ... at least no one from the last 25 years or so!

So, whilst the band’s sound on ‘Come Alive’ may not be quite as verdant or bombastic as it once was, the sheer quality and sophistication of the songs within speaks for itself. From frisky rockers such as ‘My Own Way’, ‘Come Alive’ or ‘Do Or Die’; to slower, more cerebral tracks like ‘The Final Curtain’ or ‘Those Eyes’, this is simply Terra Nova doing what they do best ... and long may it continue.

DAVE COCKETT

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