From Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, there seems to be no limit to the number of melodic rock and metal bands arising. Stratosphere, the brainchild of keyboard player Jepp Lund, arises from the former. Of Lund, I know little even after scouring the ubiquitous Internet, and Escape provides little information of his background. The same could be said for the rest of the quintet, with exception of powerful vocalist Goran Edman (Kharma, Vindictiv, Yngwie Malmsteen). However, Stratosphere's sound is unmistakable: Fire Flight is soaring, arena-ready, AOR melodic in the very best tradition.
With this genre familiarity a listener knows what to expect: generous melodies with catchy hooks, clear soaring lead vocals bolstered by ambitious vocal harmonies, sizzling guitar solos, and rich keyboard layers for accent or atmosphere. It's all here, and largely adequate and predictable, but in a very good way. As to the keyboard participation, though Stratosphere is his baby, Lund seems to take a backseat to the others on most songs.
To the songs, the best are the ones that are expansive arena rock feel like The Battle Within or China Girl. Yet, a song like Enemy of My Soul offers more than a typical ballad with a heavier feel under the soaring development. Some tunes are rather predictable pieces of pop-like AOR such as Street of Moscow. Then Russian Summer and Shining Star are suspiciously vapid and unconvincingly, when they really shouldn't be.
Fire Flight also has two instrumentals, the title track and Rendezvous. On both you hear more of Lund's expertise. And both are probably the best songs on the album. Simply, and with no slight to Edman, the compositions are grand and the musicians seem to play with energetic abandon. Actually, Rendezvous kicks the collective ass of all the rest of the songs on Fire Flight.
Fire Flight is a strong AOR melodic rock debut for Jepp Lund's Stratosphere. Even with some predictability inherent in the genre, many songs truly soar and the musicianship is first class. Recommended.
Fire Flight is a strong AOR melodic rock debut for Jepp Lund's Stratosphere. Even with some predictability inherent in the genre, many songs truly soar and the musicianship is first class.