Review: Imperium – Heaven Or Hell

Review: Imperium – Heaven Or Hell

AOR Heaven (October 30th 2020)

Reviewer: David Pearce

Imperium is the project of Mika Brushane, a musician, best known for his prowess as a drummer, hailing from Finland. ‘Heaven or Hell‘ is his third album following ‘Dreamhunter‘ and ‘Beyond the Stars‘. A multi-talented artist, he composed all the songs himself and as well as the drums plays bass, keyboards and sings backing vocals. He has a roster of guest vocalists and guitarists on the 10 tracks including Robban Ernlund, Markku Kuikka, Stefano Lionetti, Mikey K Nilsson, Erkka Korhonen and Robbie LaBlanc.

The opening track is ‘Love Won’t Let You Go‘, a heavily 80s influenced tune that has elements of Huey Lewis and the News. It’s a really catchy track that starts the album off in a very upbeat manner. Next up is title track ‘Heaven or Hell‘ which wears its influences more lightly, but which features clear echoes of Europe in the tune and features a really good chorus that would sound great live.

Road to Paradise‘ is a similarly infectious track that reminds me of the 80s chart hits of Mr Mister. ‘Vision in a Dream‘ has a great keyboard opening that really grabs you straight away and moves into a heavier, rockier style of music that takes the album up a notch and makes it one of my two favourite tracks on the album.

Dreaming On‘ continues the uptick in quality and volume with another rock track that channels acts like Survivor to good effect. ‘Save Me‘ is a rock ballad that holds its own against the examples of the genre that peppered the charts in the 80s and 90s. ‘Higher than the Sky‘ has a really good guitar solo to start that immediately sets it apart and moves into a Scorpions style vocal which carries the track along and makes it another favourite as Brushane proves that he is at his best when he really lets rip.

Invincible‘ is a guitar driven track with a powerful vocal performance that is probably the best of the guest performances on the album and makes the track sound better than it might in other hands. ‘Time is Up‘ is a track that will be very popular live, and have the lights on the massed ranks of mobile phones swaying along in unison, and works very well on the album as well. Lyrically it is probably the most effective one on the album.

Lost in Yesterday‘ finishes this very listenable album with another good track that, improbably, put me in mind of Robbie Williams’ Advertising Space at first! It’s a pure pop rock track that seems to sum up the modus operandus of this album. Imperium don’t try to reinvent the wheel, but Brushane knows what his strengths are and plays to them very effectively.