Jack L. Stroem - 'Jack L. Stroem'

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Jack L. Stroem - 'Jack L. Stroem'

While it avoids too much modern studio trickery which is a plus, it also comes across as pretty basic.

This Swedish guitarist and singer melds Classic Metal with Prog and Modern/Alternative Rock on this, his self-titled debut.

Jack L. Stroem doesn't stand still as a guitarist; he has a Spacey, Prog sound on the loose shifting groove of 'You're All That I Want', a heavier approach is taken on the riff-filled 'Unfold My Soul', while 'We're A Lie' has a spiky guitar style that has a Punky, Power Pop feel. There's a dramatic bombast to much of the music, in particular the album closer 'Turn Away'.

One influence that is clear is Muse. This is mostly due to Stroem's vocals which possess that high reedy quality that Matt Bellamy favours, as evidenced on the chugging 'Fearmonger' and 'Inside'. The latter has atmospheric keyboard and a big mid-song key change that makes it one of the standouts.

He's backed by session musicians that add colour, but at its heart you know this is a single man's vision. If this were just an instrumental guitar album, then it demonstrates Jack L. Stroem has plenty of talent. However, his vocals are not only weaker, thus bringing the material down at times, but they are also quite heavily accented in places. The high-pitched Muse-like approach is actually okay if you are partial to that, but elsewhere his singing can be cumbersome.

He made the album in the USA with producer Charles Normal, and while it avoids too much modern studio trickery which is a plus, it also comes across as pretty basic. There are just seven tracks on this release, and despite there being a lot of variety within those songs, at thirty-five minutes it feels one or two short.

A steady band around him and some work on the vocals are what's needed if he's to find a suitable label to get behind him and thus make a name for himself in modern Prog Rock circles.

Duncan Jamieson

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