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Adrenaline Rush

AOR Heaven (2014)
Rating: 9/10

Apparently named after Lynch Mob’s 1990 debut opus Wicked Sensation, this German-based combo plies its trade by constructing catchy heavy rock which features strong vocals and a solid rhythm section.

Wicked Sensation is very much the brainchild of guitarist Michael Klein, who over the years has seen a few changes within the ranks; the latest being the recruitment of former Accept / Bangalore Choir frontman David Reece to replace long-term vocalist Robert Soeterboek ,who was forced to step-down from band activities due to health reasons. The line-up on this album is completed by Sang Vong (guitars), Martin Mannhardt (bass), Bernd Spitzner (keyboards) and Dirk Bruinenberg (drums).

It’s amazing to note how a singer of Reece’s quality has matured over the years, and his inclusion certainly takes Wicked Sensation up a notch or two from their previous three releases. Then again, it shouldn’t be any surprise that Adrenaline Rush is such a winner as the album features a number of guest appearances from the likes of ex-U.D.O. guitarist Mathias Dieth and Harem Scarem frontman Harry Hess.

Indeed, there’s no better way to start proceedings than with the Reece / Hess duet on ‘King Of The World’, featuring a driving guitar melody and that astonishing chorus which sounds like it’s been wrenched from a Harem Scarem platter.

With such a fantastic opener, I worried that Wicked Sensation wouldn’t be able to remain consistently brilliant throughout, but how wrong was I? ‘Same Old Situation’ brings the funked-up coolness of Extreme to mind; it rides in on a sexy groove where the guitars playfully cavort with a punchy horn section, while the drums and bass slip into something more comfortable before preparing us for that beefy chorus strut. Okay, so it does sound rather early 90s but until the grunge invasion this sort of pompous and flirtatious wholesome rock was a real treat to the ears, and if you can’t dig the soul first time around just let it work its magic because this cut will soon be all over you like baby oil.

‘Misery’ offers up a more subtle approach; it’s typically AOR in its fashion with that breezy guitar sound. Wicked Sensation have an unerring ability to vary themes, and so they have more in common with criminally underrated acts like Kik Tracee in that while it could often be tempting to categorise this as lush harmonious rock, things are never as straight forward as they seem. For every ‘Misery’ there is always a contrasting ‘Blue Painted Sky’, which is pure Van Halen straight down to that hot guitar sound.

But then we get a moodier turn with ‘Angel In Black’, which although littered with keyboard sprinkles is very much darker in tone, especially in the lyrical sense; nevertheless, it’s still a devilish hard rock tune pumped up by those thumping drums. However, for further proof of those contrasting styles – all which seem to flow into one another with no a crack evident – we have the slow-building ache of ‘Living On My Memories’, the hammering title track with its bludgeoning guitar and the closing breeze of ‘This Time’.

Adrenaline Rush is one of those albums which when it finishes will have you clicking the “play” button immediately after for another fix. For a hot-wired, multi-layered hard rock extravaganza then one cannot look past this brilliant album.

Neil Arnold

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