JORN – “Over the Horizon Radar”
By Colonel Angus
This band is not a household name in the United States but over in Europe, metal fans have been enjoying this band for over 20 years. JORN is a metal band out of Norway fronted by singer Jorn Lande. That name may sound familiar because he was one half of the ALLEN/LANDE project where he teamed up with SyYMPHONY X singer Russell Allen for 4 records. I have always liked Lande’s vocals and he is one of the few singers that I feel can do no wrong vocally.
The issue I have is the music doesn’t always match his talent. He has range while many of the JORN albums follow a pattern so closely that I feel they are interchangeable. That being said, I do hold the “Worldchanger” record in high regard. For whatever reason, all the planets were aligned and it is my favorite work from his catalogue. Add into that no less than 3 covers disks and you have a lot of music but not a lot of unique substance. When I was given “Over the Horizon Radar” for review, I have to admit, it wasn’t a release I was looking forward to but to my surprise, it is quite good.
This new JORN disk starts off with a couple of really good tunes, the title track and “Dead London”. Both are your standard JORN fare but the performances and melodic catchiness makes them rise above the fray. Next up we get “My Rock And Roll” and for my money this one is a little too stock. It’s not a bad song but I tend to dislike tracks that have “rock and roll” in the title as they seem too forced. Following that, there is a great set of songs starting with “One Man War” which has very infectious chorus. Even though the record is full of melody and catchy choruses, its tracks like that that have a special something to really stick with the listener.
“Black Phoenix” is another cool metal tune with a bit of an 80s vibe but in a good way. I also get a SCORPIONS vibe from “Special Edition” which has a weird chorus (i.e. not very good) but the rest of the tune holds up nicely. I really like “Ode To The Black Night” which I would classify as the epic track on this disk. It has a very DIO (the band) sound and has that epic feel that Ronnie was so good at injecting into songs. The wheels start to come off a bit for me with “Winds Of Home”. The tune sounds like it should be an intro for another song and it just doesn’t really go anywhere. Luckily, things rebound quickly with my favorite cut on the whole disk “In The Dirt”. It is a mid-paced rocker that has it all; great vocals, great riffs, and melody for days. I wish the whole album was this good. “Over The Horizon Radar” ends with “Faith Bloody Faith” which is good but I wanted to touch upon the tune before called “Believer”. I feel that the song doesn’t really fit the rest of the material but it is an awesome tune. It has a funky vibe that really makes it stand out. This is the kind of song that I would expect on a Glenn Hughes record. Lande does an excellent job with this style and he should consider a whole record of these kind of tracks.
“Over the Horizon Radar” turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me as I liked it much more than I thought I would. Is it a classic from start to finish? No is the short answer but there is enough here to make it my second favorite JORN record after “Worldchanger”. Lande is a great vocalist and while he may not have the distinctive voice, he is able to handle any material. And the material here is far better than some of their earlier efforts. I would recommend this disk and coming from a skeptic like me, that says something.