I offer two reviews in one because these two albums are closely related. Lion's Share and principal member, Lars Chriss, returns after a six year hiatus to offer 'Emotional Coma,' a heavier version of previous releases; call it Lion's Share 2.0. This is pretty much straight heavy metal with a little melody mixed in for good measure. 'Road II Ruin' is what: an alternative Lion's Share? a side project? or, songs that didn't make the 'Emotional Coma' 'A-list?' All of the above or none of the above. According to Mr. Chriss, the third choice is the right answer. The songs on 'Road II Ruin' did not fit the objectives of 'Emotional Coma.' Whatever! I'm not entirely sure, but Chriss is probably right.
'Emotional Coma' features vocalist Patrik Johansson (Astral Doors, Wuthering Heights, etc.) and some aggressive heavy metal sounding like Dio era Sabbath. Don't look for keyboards or backing vocals; they're pretty much non existent. I can't say I was overly impressed by this work. Yet, there are some very good songs on the album including 'Edge Of The Razor,' 'Trafficking,' and 'Hatred's My Fuel.' Even the Angel Witch cover, 'Sorcerers,' is very good. Possibly the best track is the title track, a heavy number with some mellow interludes proving that Johansson can be smooth and easy when necessary. Honestly, this album confirms the Solomon's wisdom, 'there's nothing new under the sun.' In the end, the best part about the album is Mr. Chriss' superb guitar work.
On the other hand, 'Road II Ruin' is basically hard rock with a little melody and a bluesy feel here and there. On this one there are some very good keyboards ('Walk The Line,' for example). The relatively unknown Matti Alfonzetti supplies the vocals. Mr. Alfonzetti is definitely up to the job: he has the talent to meet the music head on. His voice reminds at times of Coverdale and Dio. But frankly, he seems as bored as the songs are mediocre. I guess it's a good thing they didn't end up on 'Emotional Coma.' (I wonder if Alfonzetti ever considered the fact that he was asked to sing leftovers.) Again, as with 'Emotional Coma,' I was not overly impressed by RIIR. However, there are some highlights including 'The Only One,' 'Face Of An Angel,' 'Walk The Line,' and 'Until I See The Sun.' My favorite track was the slower 'For Your Soul' where Alfonzetti seems truly inspired. But, generally, the songs seemed to run together to the point of monotony. Again the best thing is Chriss's fret work.
Well then, what should you do? Buy or not? I did and I can't say that I'm unhappy, just ambivalent. If you're a fan, I would say don't hesitate because I think you'll be pleased. For the rest of you, sample what you can before you shell out your hard earned money.
- Craig Hartranft
One is metal, the other straight hard rock. Both left me with a sort of frustrated ambivalence. However, there are some interesting songs on both releases. And Lars Chriss certainly inpsires with this fiery fret work.