Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall - Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall

Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall
Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall
Frontiers Records
Magnus Karlsson is a well-respected guitarist but most of all a prominent songwriter. For more than 13 years, he has composed and delivered some great albums not only with his own band, Last Tribe, but also other artists that he happened to cooperate with, like Kiske, Allen, Lande, Somerville, Tony O‘Hora, Tony Harnell (Starbreaker), Bob Catley, Mark Boals and so on. He may have a specific songwriting formula but most of the times, he comes up with some strong melodies.
This time Magnus decided to release a solo work and he invited some great singers to help him along the way. In such situations a song by song countdown is needed so here we go.
“Free Fall” features Russell Allen (Symphony X, Allen/Lande, Adrenaline Mob, Russell Allen’s Atomic Soul) on lead vocals. It’s heavy& melodic… I think it could have been part of the Allen/Lande legacy as well. Nice tune but not great.
On “Higher” we have Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear, Scheepers, ex-Gamma Ray, etc.) behind the mic. A heavy/power track which gives space to Ralf to do what he does better. Even though Ralf is a good vocalist for some reason I can’t stand his voice for very long. Sorry but this song does nothing for me.
“Heading Out” is probably the best song of the album. Magnus kept one of the best for himself as he sings on this one as well. The fact that he sings very well and his voice fits the song wonderfully is very positive. Strong refrain, great melodies… wish there were more songs like this one on the album.
“Stronger” features the magnificent Tony Harnell (Starbreaker, ex-TNT, Westworld) on lead vocals. I missed this guy a little. I heard that he’s ready for another Westworld album so let’s cross our fingers he makes it. As for the song, Tony takes it one level higher with his divine voice. Mid-tempo, melodic with a catchy chorus. Another winner on the album but alas one of the very few. The same goes for the gratifying acoustic version which is featured on the Japanese version of the album.
Rick Altzi (Masterplan, At Vance etc.) sings on “Not My Saviour”. Rick has gained lots of popularity due to his participation in the new Masterplan album. He’s good but sometimes I think he tries hard to sound like Jorn and he ends up sounding like a second-rate Jorn at times. Why?! That’s the major problem with the new Masterplan album. Anyway, the track is nice but nothing more.
On “Us Against The World” we have David Readman (Pink Cream 69, David Readman, Delany, Missa Mercuria, Voodoo Circle etc.) on lead vocals. It sounds like a Magnus “b-side” and it doesn’t excite at all. Average at best!
Mark Boals (Ring of Fire, Iron Mask, Holy Force, The Codex, ex-Royal Hunt, ex-Yngwie J. Malmsteen  etc.) has taken the vocals duties on “Our Time Has Come”. Unluckily this is another “b-side” so Mark can’t help it any further. Below average.
“Ready Or Not” is the second song that Magnus also does the lead vocals. As I said earlier, he did keep the best for himself. Another very good track, not in the same league with “Heading Out” but damn good.
With “Last Tribe” Magnus is possibly making a tribute to his band which has the same name… as Rickard Bengtsson is singing who is Last Tribe’s vocalist as well. OK tune, nothing more or less.
“Fighting” features Herman Saming (A.C.T., ex-Locomotive Breath) on lead vocals. By the way, where the f@ck is A.C.T.? Why did they disappear after the amazing “Silence” in 2006?! I like the song’s “bridge” along with Herman’s unique voice very much. The refrain is kinda flat. Another decent tune.
Michael Andersson (Cloudscape, Fullforce, Silent Memorial etc.) sings on “Dreamers & Hunters”. A classic Magnus song but as far as I can tell, a friggin “b-side”. It could have been better but it ends up being nothing but a filler. Not good.
“On Fire” is the third song that Magnus sings and it also closes the album. Not a strong way to close the album as the song could be characterized as another “b-side”.
The production is excellent in every part. The CD was produced by Magnus himself & mixed and mastered by Daniel Flores (The Murder of My Sweet, 7days, Crash the System, Mind's Eye, The Codex etc.) who also contributed to the drum part. Everything else has been done and arranged by Magnus (even some drums too)! Overall, the downsides are more than the album’s positive parts. Although Magnus said that he wrote every song having each specific singer on mind, it does feel like some tracks have been taken from various old projects that didn’t make it back in the day. I do not want anyone to take this the wrong way, so I gotta make clear that the album ain’t bad or average. It’s solid by all means.