Rising from the "where have they been" file is Sweden rock act Coastland Ride with their third album, Distance. The core of the band has not changed, featuring Markus Nordenberg (lead vocals, keyboards), Anders Rybank (keyboards, guitars, bass, drums, and background vocals), and Mikael Bohlin (guitars, keyboards). Once more the band outsourced the lead guitar work to Sven Larsson (Street Talk, Lionville) and, new this time, Lars Criss from Lion's Share for one song, Winds. You listen to that song below.
Musically, Distance is exactly what you would expect from Coastland Ride, classic melodic hard rock in an AOR wrapper. If anything defines a Coastland Ride song it's likely two things first, strong vocal harmony and brisk guitar riffage. Nordenberg is sings clean, melodic, and smooth with a versatile unstraining range. Rybank and additional guest vocalists sweeten the vocal arrangement for even more lush harmony. Not to distract from the steady groove of rhythm section or the bright keyboard embellishment, but the Coastland Ride is definitely guitar forward in the spry riffage and slick leads. Sometimes that riffage gets a little sharper, even heavier, for songs like Princess Little Wonderland and Dead For Seven Days.
As for the songs, most everything rocks with the ease of a Westcoast AOR groove. You'll hear this within songs like Reasons To Try, Nation Of Grace, Winds, Love Is On Your Mind, or Higher Ground, for example. With these songs the arrangements sway and weave between lighter and sharper moments, with the intertwining vocal and guitar harmony leading the way. Nation Of Grace is a song that has a more prominent synth layer, notably at the end with the vocals. One of the finest vocal arrangements comes within Higher Ground where, in the chorus, Nordenberg's smooth soaring voice may give you chills down your spine. As with most AOR classic rock there are some ballads within Distance, found in the songs Here In My Heart and Hardcoded Life. The former turns mostly on the vocal arrangement over a smooth piano line, the latter on voice and the gentle steady rhythm section groove.
Bottom line? It's simple. Coastland Ride's Distance is quintessential and classic AOR melodic hard rock, done by musicians who compose and play in the best tradition of the genre. Hopefully, we won't have to wait another six years for the next album. Easily recommended.
Coastland Ride's Distance is quintessential and classic AOR melodic hard rock, done by musicians who compose and play in the best tradition of the genre. Easily recommended.
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