The album may have dropped a little while back, but it is just too classic to not inform you Shockya readers about. You should insert rock after classic because this album is from the former Uriah Heep member, Ken Hensley. The keyboard player, Hammond organ player, guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer joined forces with Norway’s Live Fire in 2006 and recorded the album, “Faster”, over a three-week period in Riga, Latvia. The 12 track album dropped June 21st via Eagle Rock Entertainment. Hence, the “while back”, but good music is good music and deserves to be reviewed.
Hensley’s music background is rooted in a time period where rock was evolving and branching off into different sections, such as hard rock, progressive rock, southern rock, soft rock and pop rock. Starting at the 60s and moving on, the rock genre positively got jerked around by bands that came across its path. A very lucky few artists were able to stay on course through its evolution, while others unfortunately got veered off the rocky road for good. Hensley was not one of these unfortunates. With more than five decades in the music industry, he has continued to churn out music and for that, Hensley’s career is classified as legendary.
Carrying on his legacy, Hensley created an album that is comprised of various realms of the rock world. “Faster” opens up with the track, “Set Me Free (Yesterday)” and immediately puts tape over the mouths and guitar strings of many modern rocks artists. The leading tune mixes aggressive rock with some southern flare and creates an overall haunting vibe that is embedded in powerful lyrics. The guitar shredding along with Hensley’s vocals maintain the fluidity of the song, while also adjusting the tempo to lead up to a big blowout at the end.
Say goodbye to hard rock and hello to pop rock with the next tune off the album, “The Curse”. The song has a jingle to it with its upbeat tempo and fast-paced vocals. Unlike many pop rock songs heard nowadays, the vocal pitches used in “The Curse” are unpredictable. You cannot guess which octave Hensley will dive into next, which makes the track extremely contagious by developing an urge within the listener to master the ordering of its pitches. The pop rock sound positively creeps it’s way into the album’s title track and “The End Of Never” as well.
Moving through the divisions of rock, Hensley hits soft rock with the tracks, “I Cry Alone” and “Slippin’ Away (The Lovers Curse)”. The more subdued tracks have a southern charm to them and display Hensley’s powerful and deep vocals. At times, the low register sound resembles that of a song from a Broadway show. He has the ability to bring theatrics into his vocal range without hindering the authenticity of the tunes. Separating a show tune from a radio tune that oozes with emotion is not an easy feat to accomplish. Crossing that boundary is the reason why some rock songs are deemed as cheesy.
Honestly, you can probably unveil other rock subgenres off of “Faster” that have not been discussed here, but there is no wrong or right when it comes to Hensley and Live Fire, just good ol’ rock n’ roll.
by Lonnie Nemiroff