One of the projects of Lion Music's main performer Lars Eric Mattsson is the prestigious neo-classical project Book Of Reflections. After the eponymous debut album released in 2004 and Chapter Two, Unfold The Future (2006), Relentless Fighter is the third album of this project. For this one Mattsson recruited two new vocalists who provide the new album their characteristic voices. The first is the German singer Carsten Schulz, known from the bands Evidence One and Domain, and the second one is Markku Kuikka the lead singer of Status Minor. Christer Jansson plays the drums on the album and besides the guitar Mattsson plays the bass and the keyboards.
Musically this album has more in common with their first one, which means the music is incredibly powerful and contains heavy guitar passages. The neo-classical style tends towards Yngwie Malmsteen's music and refers to Axel Rudi Pell as well, but it's a bit heavier yet than the music of these guitarists. In several songs Lars Eric Mattson plays guitar and keys alternately, duelling on both instruments in a very tasteful way. Listen for instance to Angel Shed A Tear and you'll catch my drift.
As far as the compositions are concerned they're nicely built up and hold numerous solo spots. The album also contains the instrumental piece Gates Of Oblivion, a Middle Eastern orientated piece with nice and odd rhythms. The rest of the songs are equally divided by the two guest vocalists. Carsten Schulz sings the odd numbered songs and Markku Kuikka the other ones. Schulz's voice is higher pitched and sounds a bit forced, while Kuikka has a lower voice, which in my opinion suits the compositions better, but that's of course a matter of taste. However, I think Kuikka sounds more relaxed. As a sample I would recommend to listen to the album's closing song Without My Angel to hear a stunning combination of an outstanding singer with an acoustic guitar that gently segues into an electric one. This piece is my personal favourite of Relentless Fighter.
Lars Eric Mattsson has again recorded a strong album. His musicianship on the bass and the keyboards is more than adequate, but he really excels as a guitarist. His guitar playing has some typical characteristics which make the music immediately recognizable as being Mattson's music. The music sounds nice, powerful and direct having a very clean production. The vocal parts are quite different thanks to the two singers. You'll surely pick your own favourite, just like I did!
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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