Download - 'Eleven Stages' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/f5/21/da/download-eleven-stages-32-1415309151.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     November 06, 2014    
 
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Well worth a listen.

Andy Portmann has been around the Swiss music scene for quite a while now. He provided backing vocals for Krokus back in the nineties and has also being involved in engineering, producing along with a couple of solo and band projects leading up to this, his latest band Download. A couple of years in the making seem well spent as ‘Eleven Stages’ is unquestionably the highlight of his career to date. A combination of Classic Rock and Heavy Metal influences, the album is also packed with haunting rhythms, powerful riffs and some delightfully memorable and melodic choruses that are made for Rock airplay.

‘The Release’ is a forty second intro, piano picking out the tune with haunting, distorted vocal before the powerhouse guitars of ‘Run’ blast in. If Portmann was looking to make an early statement of his vocal talents, ‘Run’ provides it in great style. Quiet tuneful verse underpinned by a predominately bass and drum riff leads to a full on chorus with guitars and vocals that smack straight between the eyes with both power and precision. ‘Soul In A Bottle’ is of a similar construction with a mid-paced verse building to a huge chorus.

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Traditional Swiss Rock influences are buried in the overall sound with ‘It’s Rising’ reminiscent of the early power of Shakra and ‘With You In My Life’ a delightfully orchestrated ballad full of piano and strings in classic Gotthard style. But underpinning it all, the band does develop a strong and cohesive sound. Portmann’s vocals are clear, full of passion and just the right amount of oomph when he lets rip with a scream as powerful as anyone around – which he does sparingly to great effect.

‘Stronger’ is a full on Rocker whilst still keeping the melody flowing with some subtly placed keyboard harmonies and some outstanding guitar interplay; there’s a classic lead duel between Hef Hafliger and Guido Strassman. My highlight of the album though is ‘The Last Time I’ll Hear Music’, opening with possibly the heaviest riff of the album yet developing to the most memorable and catchy chorus, swiftly followed by ‘My Strange Illusions’ which maintains the power melody style.

I’m not familiar with Andy Portmann's back catalogue, but in ‘Eleven Stages’ he’s produced a seriously strong album. Clear, crisp production, full of great individual performances and packed with tunes that combine power and melody with no little style, on top of guitar based metal substance. Well worth a listen...

Ian Parry

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