Review: Wigelius – Tabula Rasa
AOR Heaven (2016)
Reviewer – David Mark Pearce
Well, this is my first ever review, also the first as part of the Rockposer Dot Com! team and I couldn’t have been given a better album. Dan asked if I fancied writing a review and I said “Sure, why not, I’m sat on my backside with a heavy cold and while my chest isn’t working too well at the moment, my ears are firing on all cylinders!” 🙂
So, here we are …… a band called Wigelius and an album called ‘Tabula Rasa‘, which means ‘Blank Slate’ in Latin.
Who, you might say? I know, as that’s exactly what I said, but when you’re two songs in and you’re wondering why you’ve not grabbed your guitar to jam along, then you know you’re onto a winner of an album.
I confess I’ve not heard their debut album ‘Reinventions’, but on the strength of this one, I’ll be tracking it down – no pun intended!
Band leader, Erik Wigelius, is responsible for the top notch production. Every instrument can easily be heard without that in your face approach, which is often expected from a band these days. The loudness wars, eh?!
I mention Erik for his production, because some of you might know that he and his brother, Anders, are responsible for slick sound of Care of Night’s ‘Connected’ album. Has the penny started to drop about what these guys are capable of yet?
Well, I guarantee when you start listening to this, you’ll want to put the album on again, as it is beautifully performed in every area. From a guitarist’s point of view, the man on the strings, Jake Svensson, again a name I do not know, is a stellar player – melodic, with just the right amount of flash and speed added to taste and not just here and there but throughout!
Erik is the drummer and Anders is the rather fine vocalist. My feet were tapping from the opening song and trust me if that doesn’t happen, then neither does the album!
There’s a serious Mutt Lange overtone to this but, don’t worry, it’s no Def Leppard/Adams affair. Imagine, instead, that influence over a Swedish AOR band and you might start to have an idea of what’s on offer here. The cracking ballad ‘My Cherie‘ at the end, has a wonderful middle 8 which provides a spine tingling lift in an already great song and is a fine example of the quality of songwriting on offer from this fine album.
But, before we talk of the end, we should talk about how this album begins.
The opening song ‘Do It All Again‘ starts with a great Bon Jovi ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’ vibe, only on the intro, as the song then settles in to a Go West meets Bad English ‘Best of What I’ve Got’ sort of feel with a sprinkle of Madonna ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ in the pre chorus – you’ll hear it, trust me.
Then we’re into the excellent ‘Deja-Vu‘. This is where Jake really shines because, wow, what a solo! This song changes key everywhere, pulling you this way and that, but grabs hold of you for every chord and melody change. It’s up to you to hang on for the ride!
‘Long Way Home‘ has a great groove and (if they haven’t by this point) your feet will definitely be tapping along to this one, as they will with ‘Yesterday’s News‘. Think In Faith/Blood Red Saints when it comes to backing vocals and how they’re arranged on this album, particularly on ‘Time Well Wasted‘ – I swear you’ll want to sing “shot in the dark and you’re to blame, you give love a bad name” by Bon Jovi here! Again, trust me, you’ll hear it. I don’t mean to detract anything from what’s on offer. To me, it sounds like these guys have been influenced by these bands and weaved in, although not copied, their inspiration – let me get that straight.
Now, I’ve highlighted a few songs here, but I could’ve easily picked out a similar amount of the ones I didn’t choose and said exactly the same. This album is that good!
So, now we put them into the “Who do they sound like?” box. There are all sorts – I hear the more melodic sides of Bad English, Bon Jovi, Heat, It’s Alive and WET, amongst others. As far as I’m concerned, they should be right up there with them and one of the first albums on everyone’s playlist.
This album came to me at the end of 2015 and you guys won’t be able to hear it until 2016, but let me tell you it’s already in my top ten for both years and, I would say, extremely near the top of those years offerings and, on that note, I’m just about to reach for my guitar ……