Review: Thaen Rasmussen Project – Thaen Rasmussen Project
No Dust Records (October 10th, 2022)
Reviewer: David Pearce
The Thaen Rasmussen Project hail from the San Francisco Bay Area and their eponymous debut album promises to update the Classic Rock sound for modern audiences. Formed by guitarist Thaen Rasmussen, who also provides bass and keyboard accompaniment as well as vocals, the band features singer Torre Carstensen, drummer Carter Kennedy and two keyboardists Jon Simon and Phil Bennett. With such an unusual line up the Thaen Rasmussen Project will have a very different sound from many other rock bands.
The album starts with ‘Full Tilt’ a no holds barred track with Rasmussen demonstrating his virtuosity and drummer Kennedy propelling the song full tilt in every way. It is a song that harks back to NWOBHM legends Judas Priest with a powerful vocal to match. Second track ‘Surreal’ is another no-nonsense rock anthem that shows a group steeped in the history of the classic rock genre. Carstensen is a superb rock vocalist who can hold his own with anyone. Next up is ‘Fire Burns Blue’ which has an epic start that sounds like the soundtrack to a fantasy film. There is definitely a 70s prog vibe to this song which has the potential to be a live favourite complete with solos. It is a really well constructed song that shows a different side to Carstensen’s vocals. Fourth track ‘Rise Above’ is a track that wears its 80s heart on its sleeve and has a real swagger to it. It’s the type of track that Def Leppard would have been happy with in their heyday. The first half of the album finishes with ‘Imaginary Grace’ which is a classy, classic rock tune, returning to the late 80s with a catchy hair rock ballad that shows off the tightness of Thaen Rasmussen Project’s playing. It is a really strong finish to what would be Side A, and one which would have you flipping over the vinyl very quickly.
‘In the Night’ starts the second half of the album with a driving rock tune containing a very impressive guitar solo that would have the crowd raising the roof in concert. ‘Farewell’ is a rock ballad that could have come directly from an 80s film and would definitely fit in well to a Stranger Things era TV show. With a Dire Straits style guitar solo, it’s my favourite track on the album. ‘Freakshow’ is the eighth track and it starts with vinyl crackle and the familiar circus theme. It has a mix of rock styles that goes from classic rock to a much heavier style on occasions. Penultimate track ‘Broken Wings’ is yet another track that demonstrates the mastery that this group have when mining the highways and byways of rock history. As with every other track on this excellent debut they make the sound unmistakably theirs. ‘Time Will Tell’ is the album closer and it is a suitably majestic track to finish with. Thaen Rasmussen is a guitarist who can turn his hand to any guitar solo and the guitar work in this track is yet another fantastic example of his craft.
The Thaen Rasmussen Project have hit the ground running with a superbly assured debut that augurs well for their future success.