Forbidden Dream - ''Less Equals More"

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Forbidden Dream - ''Less Equals More"

A lot of the impact in the songs is lost in a decidedly unwelcome guitar fuzz.

I have to say that I quite like the quirkiness of calling your album after the mathematical symbols for “less equals more” and Canadian rock band Forbidden Dream, whilst not exactly reinventing the riff, carry that quirky edge into their music. Put together by brothers Chris (drums/vocals) and Phil Houle (guitar) along with Brad Fetter (bass/keyboards), ‘<=>’ is the band’s second album, following 2008’s ‘Slightly Out Of Frame’. Now when I say quirky, I don’t mean that there are a plethora of glockenspiel solos or an African tribe playing zithers on ‘<=>’, however the musical direction does tend to veer from song to song and the mix of melodic rock, prog metal and AOR is all the more unusual for its rough mix, which lends a punk like attitude to the songs. What Forbidden Dream are in the habit of creating is bold statements that are brash while still melodic and accessible, although never exactly commercial.

Drumming lead vocalists are a rare species and at times Chris Houle does kind of give the answer as to why, although in other sections his voice works really well within the songs. Style wise his high pitched delivery sometimes veers into the screeching category, which would be more likely to be heard fronting a clone of Motley Crue. It does take a while to get used to his voice, although once you become attuned to the Dave Meniketti meets Vince Neil style, it is reasonably effective, even if Chris will never be marked down as one of the best vocalists in rock.

Among the best examples of what this band are trying to do is ‘Give’, which has a few great guitar licks, tremendously atmospheric keyboards and one of Chris’ best vocals on the disc - sound wise this song would happily fit onto an FM album, if the production was smoother and crisper. ‘Hey Lord’ on the other hand has a looser Y&T vibe about it, although it does lack the killer chorus that Meniketti prides himself on. That said it does allow Phil Houle to really kick his six string into overdrive, with the bluesy riff and stinging solo illustrating what a fine player he is. The electric piano and clean strumming of ‘If Only You Knew’ sits somewhere in between a melodic rock ballad ala Poison and a rocked up piece of Americana and if those three songs don’t begin to convey the gentle eclecticism on ‘<=>’, then the Hendrix style workout of ‘Camp For The Weak’ and progressive metal of ‘Alive’ may.

There’s loads of promise on ‘<=>’ and there’s no doubting the talent in Forbidden Dream. The band possess that raucous “power trio” fire, however it is just a shame that the production across the disc isn’t considerably sharper, as a lot of the impact in the songs is lost in a decidedly unwelcome guitar fuzz.

Steven Reid

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