FIND ME - Dark Angel // 7/10
Find me is a band that hails from Sweden and is a collaboration between famed songwriter and producer Daniel Flores and singer Robbie LaBlanc from the band Blanc Faces. Dark Angel is the group's second album, following on from their well received 2013 LP, Wings of Love.
The album also features many different hands in terms of performances and songwriters and the result overall is a well produced LP which pays respect to that brand of eighties hard rock that has long ago faded in most parts of the world, to replaced by it's heavier and grittier brethren.
However, let's take it track by track to give you an idea of what the album contains:
The title of the first track, Nowhere to Hide is apt, because it is hard to hide from the vibe of eighties rock that oozes from this one. It is the kind of track you could see playing during the end credits of an eighties film (or perhaps during one of those montages where the main protagonist gets to work sorting out the issues presented to him or her in the film).
This does not make the track bad, in fact I absolutely adore the lyrics to this one and if you ever wanted a song to pick you up and make you more driven to do the laundry, finish that school project or even forget about that lost love, I suggest you give it a spin yourself, even if it is just to get you through the monotony of the spin cycle.
Let Love Rule is one of those tracks you could see becoming something huge, because it presses all the buttons that a decently written AOR balled must press. Like the rest of the album as a whole, vocalist Robbie LaBlanc really shines here, hitting all the right notes to make this track one I could see becoming a big deal with both Find Me's fans and those not yet familiar with the groups brand of melodic hard rock.
Forever is definitely one of my favorite tracks off of Dark Angel; it begins with the sounds of a lone piano and some gorgeous vocals, before we burst into exploding guitars and some great vocal harmonies. It dips back and forth between those two levels of intensity, giving it some great dynamics that make me feel like it is 1986 all over again in the best possible way.
Add in a blistering guitar solo that makes one think of hairspray and shred and it really stands out from the other songs served up on the LP.
Next up is Another Day, a keyboard heavy song that powers it's way into your ear space with authority and the female guest vocalist makes the song have a real diversity from the rest of the tracks, including some great power chord guitar progressions that really makes you wanna move along with the rhythm section.
Speaking of distorted guitars dressed in crunchy goodness, the albums title track has plenty of that, complete with a 'sing with me chorus' and great guitar fills and solos that really impress with the way the different sounds come together to make a whole that is definitely greater then the sum of it's parts.
Bleed in the Rain is also one of my favorites off this sophomore effort, as it 'bleeds' great lyrics and a song structure that perfectly fits the subject matter, that of a love song from the point of view of the unrequited or pleading lover.
It also features one of the best guitar solos off the entire album in my opinion, one that is almost a classic in the sense that although the structure used here has definitely been used before, it does so in such a way that it seems more a tribute then a rip off.
No matter what you want to label it, this kind of rock and roll lives and dies by hooks and the track Face to Face has them in droves. Be it the great lead fills or the vocally arresting chorus, I can't seem to find anything wrong with the track.
As far as production and songwriting goes, I would call it flawless.
Where do I go is again a great tune, although at this point I will admit that the one issue I have with Dark Angel as a whole rears it's head and that is besides a few small sections, the songs by this point start to have a certain 'sameness' about them. Which is fine when you have a concept album that wants to draw you into a certain mood or a storyline that plays across an entire LP, but honestly this song had a hard time sticking out from the rest of the pack.
That is not to say the song is bad, quite the contrary, it is of the same high caliber production and performance wise as the rest of the album, but it does all start to meld together a bit by this point in my opinion.
Midnight Memories thankfully busts that trend with a nice opening riff that sets it apart from the last couple of songs. It is a slower affair, but one that does enough to stand on its own two feet.
Don't Slip Away makes sure that you are not slipping away and paying attention with yet another power ballad that does everything right in regards to the production. However again by this point it almost feels like it could have been pasted on to the end of another of the ballads on this LP and I would not have noticed in the slightest.
At this point we know what to expect and Did You Feel Any Love almost feels like they are asking the listener if they felt any love for this album as a whole. The answer in the case of both this track and the album itself is that yes indeed I did but reaching the final song of the original compositions on this album I keep expecting to get surprised by something that branches out from the rest of the songs.
Rounding off the album is I'm Free, a cover of a Kenny Loggins' song which appeared on the soundtrack from the film Footloose (the original film with Kevin Bacon and John Lithgow, not the unneeded semi recent remake).
Surprisingly, this is the most fun I had with the album for quite a few tracks, not only because I do like a few of Loggins' tunes myself but also because it shows the very diversity I was searching for all album long.
The cover is catchy, well performed and like any good cover song changes just enough to let Find Me make the song their own while still retaining the basic overall structure and hooks that made the original so popular in the first place.
When all is said and done, Find Me's Dark Angel is a great album, especially if you yearn to be back in the hey day of eighties rock. It is slick, it's performances are almost perfect but yet admittedly as said above Dark Angel does not seem to have enough variety in composition, tone and dynamics album wide to really be an album that will appeal to many outside it's target audience.
That is quite a shame, because besides that flaw the album is damn good, the kind of thing you throw on like a nice warm blanket on a Winter's night or your favorite t-shirt, almost like comfort food for your ears.
My suggestion is to rush out and buy this album if you are a fan who misses eighties melodic rock or the power ballad and if that does not sound like it describes your tastes you should still give it a listen or two because the production is awesome and there are some really great individual performances in there to enjoy as well.