Wake The Nations - 'Sign Of Heart'

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Wake The Nations - 'Sign Of Heart'

Definitely worth picking up if you happen to be a fan of independent European AOR.

A new AOR outfit from Finland has come bouncing out of the shadows full of 1980's-inspired fluffery; big parping keyboards with melodic rhythm guitar and bass lines are the order of the day. The band's main song-writer and guitarist Risto Tuominen was in the cult AOR act Human Temple as was bass player Janne Granfors and Jori Tojander, so it won't come as a surprise that stylistically it's similar to that band but with less of a Hard Rocking edge and more of a straightforward AOR sound.

Tojander's keyboards have a stronger up-front role that makes comparisons to fellow Finns Brother Firetribe not wildly farfetched (at times). They are also reminiscent of Swedish AOR stars Miss Behaviour with their fondness for weaving keyboard and guitar hooks together.

What separates Wake The Nations from HT are the vocals. Here the band have elected to rope in a number of singers to front the songs in the kind of manner Frederic Slamer does with his AOR project, albeit with lesser known names.
Janne Hurme, the singer of HT, sings on two tracks compounding the comparisons to that band. When Krister Stenbom takes to the mic, WTN effectively become Villa Sucks which all of the musicians in this band previously played in; Stenbom's 'So Broken' happens to be one of the best songs. There are also a couple of female singers in Taage Laiho and Etef Martinez who bring a Quarterflash or Osukaru vibe to the songs.

Tuominen's solos are tastefully understated and his songs do have some good old-school hooks in places. However, in a crowded market place at the moment this album would have benefitted from a stronger overall production sound and the use of so many singers, while offering a varied and interesting listen, does dilute who Wake The Nations really are as a band. Also, while some of the singing performances are good, others are patchy and opting for just one or maybe two lead singers to make it feel more like a band album rather than a compilation would work better in future.

Not at the top of the shopping list with so many great releases at the moment but definitely worth picking up if you happen to be a fan of independent European AOR.

Duncan Jamieson

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