"Power and Volume"
By Great Sun Jester


Released by the fine Nuclear Blast label, Swedish rockers Free Fall's new album Power and Volume, an unabashed hard rock adventure reveling in a wide array of influences and surging with raw, brash enthusiasm. The opening tune, "Power and Volume", is a full throttle, gritty aural assault that leaves alternating between breathlessness and exhilaration by the song's final note. Lead vocalist Kim Fransson possesses a set of pipes that, at times, recalls the belt-sander screech of AC/DC's Brian Johnson, but there's clearer technique coupled with his power.

The second song, "Free Fall", pulls things back a notch and serves as the first inkling of the band's versatility. This great track strike manages to strike a curious common ground between the busy bass and drums of The Who and Humble Pie's bluesy howl.

 "Top of the World" squeezes its relatively simple riff for all its worth and, once again, the specter of Bon Scott era AC/DC rises from the music. However, the band distinguishes itself from its influences by embracing different lyrical themes and through a distinctly different take on those classic rock tropes; as an example, you'll never hear Angus Young using a whammy bar. "Attila" is a tremendous achievement, a menacing stomp that nevertheless seems understated somehow. The song is full of slow-moving, growing shadows and by the point the song reaches its crescendo, the listener is left slightly in awe of the band's ability to manipulate dynamics.

 "Love Bombing" is another strong slab of blues-tinged boogie that doesn't re-invent the wheel, but it presents the band's strengths in a clear way. You can't pin this band's rhythm section down for long, but despite their activity, the guitars and vocals always have a strong foundation. The next song, "Domination", makes this clear with a hard-hitting stomp that, in another rhythm section's hands, would disintegrate into artless plodding. The album's final track, "Meat", isn't the closer I would have chosen, but it is another strong hard rock song featuring committed, melodic guitar playing and a great groove.

One cannot talk enough about this band's promise. While they still proudly wear their influences on their sleeve, you can often hear the band's own distinct identity pushing those influences aside and drawing you in to a new, yet comfortably familiar, listening experience. If the band continues approaching new material with this sort of conviction and works at writing songs that speak to them rather than invoking the past, Free Fall are destined for a long, successful run as a top flight performing and recording act. Highly recommended.