League Of Lights - 'League Of Lights'

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League Of Lights - 'League Of Lights'

A good, emotionally uplifting melodic rock debut.

League of Lights are a new melodic rock group from the UK, having at the core the husband/wife duo Richard and Farrah West. Richard is best known as the keyboard player/song writer for the progressive metal band Threshold, and he has also worked with the likes of PowerQuest and DragonForce. The band was formed around his wife and singer Farrah West, after which they proceeded to add some established musicians to the project. On the six string lead is Ruud Jolie from Dutch metal act Within Temptation, the rhythm section consists of bassist Jerry Meehan (Robbie Williams/Bryan Ferry) and Mark Zonder on drums from US band Fates Warning. League Of Lights self-titled debut was released on 11th April 2011 through EightSpace Records.

The band kicks off its debut with the diverse little number, 'I'm Alive', which is probably the best track on offer. Deliciously futuristic keys oscillate in the opening bars before the drums and guitar burst into life with a highly memorable lick. A grand orchestral arrangement adds further texture before it all disappears and is replaced with simple echoing guitar and Farrah's vocals. The verse builds from the start to reach the pinnacle at the chorus. This track gives a wonderful indication of what is in store for the remainder. A couple of the songs are based in the 80s electro-pop sound, especially 'Cover Me Now' and 'Half Light'. The likes of 'Ambertown' and 'Don't Leave Me Behind' are more rooted in the melodic rock spectrum with a greater emphasis on the guitar. In both cases, each genre is complimented by layered orchestral arrangements in its choruses. The two main ballads, 'Last Sunset' and 'You Light My Way', are emotional and soulful performances, especially from Farrah, backed up by piano and violins, with the latter having a commercial enough feel to be released and do well in the charts. The album is completed by 'Heaven Sent A Star', which has a very symphonic arrangement but without the overly bombastic guitar. As with the rest of the album the piano, bass and arrangements drive the track with the guitar providing support.

This is a fine debut from a very established set of musicians, but it will not be quite to everyone's taste. This is very much melodic soft rock, with some 80s pop twists … probably too much of it. Most of the tracks also have a nod to symphonic/progressive metal in its orchestral choral arrangements, but metal this is not! There is nothing around quite like this style right now and the group have done well to construct something different. To describe the sound it would be best to say this is akin to the likes of Within Temptation and Evanescence, but without all the marauding metal. The musical side is very tight, polished and well played, and although Farrah West doesn't have the power or range of the likes of Sharon Den Adel, she does have a lovely angelic voice excellently suited to this style.

The production side of the album is crisp and allows the music to shine through, especially the arrangements and keys. However, despite its connections and links to Threshold and Within Temptation, fans of these should approach this album with a little caution. Even with the inclusions of Richard and Ruud, this is a very different beast to these bands. There can be no denying there are lovely symphonic like orchestral arrangements and Jolie is also allowed to shred his six string occasionally, providing some lovely riffs, but this is not progressive or symphonic metal at all and fans of these bands need to be aware of the differing style and intensity. However those that adore the likes of Dare will lap this album up with its emotional ballads and melodic mid-paced rockers.

The album has a commercial enough 80s pop edge to it to appeal to more chart orientated people who enjoy the likes of Savage Garden and Richard Marx. Overall this is a good, emotionally uplifting melodic rock debut with memorable hooks and harmonies, and is worthy of your interest.

Dave Scott

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