Age Sten Nilsen’s Ammunition - Shanghaied

Age Sten Nilsen’s Ammunition Shanghaied cover
Age Sten Nilsen’s Ammunition
I must say that, when Wig Wam announced that they were calling it a day, I was almost inconsolable… I may have seen by this point more than 1000 shows but I still consider their show in a small haunt in Athens, in front of no more than 200 hooligans – one of the top 3 shows I’ve ever seen in my life, rivaling the likes of AC/DC’s of this world and the like… so that should give you a brisk idea of just HOW GOOD, that show must have been! I must however in all honesty admit, that their “final” (?!) album “Wall Street” sounded a little tired and forced and not as much fun as the previous ones, so maybe the band, saw that they had taken it far enough and decided to quit, while they were ahead, before they made a real mockery of themselves.
At any rate, their restless frontman, Åge Sten Nilsen, who seemingly, can’t stand still, just, didn’t and he took, the songs he had written for a new Wig Wam album to the hot new producer for all things Scandi-melodic-rock and member of Eclipse and WET, Erik Martensson, with a view to complete an album. Slowly more songs were added and more musicians, like Hal Patino the former King Diamond and Pretty Maids bassist, who also is joining Age in the cover band Nordic Beast, were brought in. similarly, another one of Age’s friends Jon Pettersen, who’s been playing guitar on his Queen tribute performances and who’s a member of Bad Habits also joined, on guitars, besides Erik, forming a twin guitar attack. Sabaton’s Robban Back, who also plays in Eclipse was summoned to provide the “battery” and Circus Maximus and sometimes Wig Wam keyboard player, Lasse Finbrathen just completed the puzzle. More or less, a bit of Scandi, super-duper line-up of musicians with a mind to play some greatly honed melodic rock that would probably just push the pedal to the metal a bit more than Wig Wam ever did… what’s not to like… then?
Åge and Erik seem to have managed to create a great hybrid between their main “bands” without, sounding like copyists… Åge brings in distinct, “Sweet” and “80s Queen” influences and a sense of pomp and excess, with a tendency to go over the top vocally every once in a while… while I suppose Erik manages to keep the whole thing in check and rocking, dressing it up with delicious riffs, that sound urgent, modern and in the case of “Åge’s music” quite original, as he’s pretty much both a liberty to work up his ideas, but he also has the template of the vocalists “melodies” within which he can “create”, thus he needs to be rather inventive… the great thing is that while there’s this great rock tone in the guitar sound, very much like the early 80s bands we all loved, it’s much thicker, (production wise) and the whole atmosphere is consistently euphoric… It’s as if someone has taken the best most up-tempo moments of Def Leppard and Europe and maxxed them out and then overproduced the hell out of them and placed a great singer on top of them. That’s possibly my best description for this project and it’s not even a good one! And you know what? Most of the songs are great too!
Silverback” begins with its massive chorus and why wouldn’t it?! It’s catchy as hell! Then it proceeds to groove like a mofo with a thumbing, driving pattern hitting hard and repeating an almost monolithic, bridge – before the chorus drops again after an awesome but albeit short lead! Hard rock Heaven! Excuse me as I collect my jaw from the floor!
Give Me a Sign” sounds like it’s gonna be a “pussywipped” ballad, but it ain’t quite like that... it’s actually a nasty, riff driven mid-tempo track with a strong chorus, that holds out, remarkably well, but seem to be borrowing a little bit too much from a Wig-oldie…
Shanghaied” is weird as hell… anyone that might have heard “Åge’s” solo albums, might be aware of his “storytelling” abilities, but this “cautionary tale” which is done in a grand musical style, is nothing more than a hilarious joke about a “lady-boy”?! Dafuck man?!! This will make Beijing duck, uneasy to go down, for a while… lol!
Tie Me Down” is another “single” a song with an irresistible chorus and an ascending riff, that just won’t quit… it’s simple but effective rock ‘n roll, with an infectious groove and a nice sing-along… well these boys, have gotten “the idea”... apparently this version is different to the “single or video edit” since it has a spoken-outro and is noted as such. It’s an “outro version” specific to the album I suppose.
Road to Babylon” is a great ballad, that begins quite typically but soon gets more and more lush in terms of orchestration, with backing vocals and layers of guitars making it more and more spiritual almost to a point where it sounds like a chant… the solo as well, is just a “jewel”… if I say this song is a masterpiece, then I hope I haven’t used the word in vain…
Because the Good Lord might “Take Out the Enemy (Hallelujah)”…(?!) This song had me going a little (WTF) since it begins, with a proper gospel belting, then it goes to hell and it comes back to the straight and narrow again and it just plays ping pong between heaven and hell, very melodically too! What were these guys smoking really?!?!
Hit Me with Your Bombs” is cute and rhythmical as they come, but it just seems to lack the luster, of a bona fide single track. The chorus is good, but it’s not great... there’s something amiss in this song that keeps it from just delivering its full payload, if you’d excuse my pun…
Do You Like It” was probably the first track that was completed and sampled from the album. While it’s a bit too “glamtastic” bearing all those Kiss-disco elements from around the “Dynasty” era it’s not all that bad, with it thumping, thudding progression, even if in a couple of places it might feel too flashy, even for its own good. Heck, I like pop metal, or even straight up pop, but yeah, I was kind of cringing… but on the other hand, well, what’s the problem with being a bit more lighthearted?!
Wildcard” is a semi-acoustic ballad, that gets electric midway, with sing-alongs, along the way, in a way not to dissimilar to the Bon Jovi’s of this world, but a lot brighter, even if the theme, is a little more tricky…
Another Piece of Me” is a punchy acoustic song that turns into a rocker at times and is quite interesting, because it explores great dynamics and it’s quite unusual... structurally. Obviously, fans of ASN, might have heard something similar on his previous solo album, but the general public might be taken by surprise…
Heart’s not in It” is a real tear-jerker, a very sentimental track that just goes on and on, with Age pouring out his soul in an amazing performance that epitomizes why he is such a great singer/artist…
Strung Out” is a mid-tempo track drowned in 80s sounding keyboards and crunchy guitars, that has this British sound, that's not too bad, but is not really, scoring too high either.
Last but not least “Access Denied” is the Japanese bonus track and it’s pretty good, melodic and uplifting – it would have been much better replacing a number of the tracks that are tacked towards the end of the record, that could have taken its place instead.
Overall, “Shanghaied” is an impressive comeback from Åge Sten Nilsen, under the pretext of a full band, following the dissolution of Wig Wam and his recent solo endeavors. The brand of “fun” and frolicky rock ‘n roll, that Wig Wam were known for will seemingly not die, with them and we can always hope that in later years, they can always do the “We did it for not too much money – reunion tour” of Europe and Japan! Until then a good number of “Sanghaied’s” numbers could and should receive regular rotation in your playlists if good time rock ‘n roll/metal is your poison!

PS: For some mysterious reason the band also decided to leave a pretty amazing track, entitled “Lighthouse” (it will be featured as a bonus track on the European release) outside the album, and it has been released as a single, and performed in a TV show called “The Hit”. It’s a pretty sensational melodic song with great dynamics, what one would call a great power ballad... well done “Ammunition”/Åge! Now get your @$$€$ over here for a live performance, eh?!