Norum, John - Optimus

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Mascot Records
Catalog Number: M 7080 2
Format: CD
Total Time: 37:52:00

The name John Norum will forever be linked with the name Europe, as is clearly stated on the front cover of his new Optimus album. With Europe's "Final Countdown" being more of a pop song rather than a rock anthem, I was not sure what to expect. Take every single compilation CD and chances are you will find "Final Countdown" on there. So knowing John Norum is the main composer within Europe, I was expecting another selection of AOR flavoured material. Instead Optimus delivers the kind of music which could easily be from Bad Company, because if you'd replace John's vocals with those of Paul Rodgers then you'd almost have an unreleased Bad Company gem in your hands!

Regardless of Norum's baby-face like appearance, John really kicks ass on this album. Recorded by a trio consisting of John on vocals and guitars, Thomas Torberg on bass and Hux Flux on drums, the endresult is pretty much back-to-basics rock music the way we like 'em best. The advantage of a name like Hux Flux is that it immediately strikes a bell. As the drummer behind the band Paatos, it is nevertheless strange to see the guy behind the drum kit on this brand new solo album by the man who is best known the world over as Europe's guitarist. But the combination of the three musicians works wonders putting their mark on ten original Norum compositions. The guitars sound rough and often distorted, the voice is honest and direct and the lack of keyboards, horns or backing vocals make sure that only authentic heavy rock remains. The sound gets very compact and direct as you can hear during "Better Day" which sounds like it has been recorded in a tiny club with the trio line-up of Cream in mind. "One More Time" has a slightly more commercial inclination with John singing a little in the David Coverdale style and thus delivering the kind of stuff which would fit perfectly onto a Whitesnake or even Glenn Hughes recording. Talking of Hughes, "Time To Run" has been written together with Glenn and it doesn't take a lot of imagination to think how it could have sounded when sung by Hughes, especially as Norum adds some extra vibrato towards the end of the chorus. In the instrumental title track "Optimus," John Norum fuses the main melody for "Eight Miles High" into his own composition. Then again, if you'd treat "Change Will Come" in more of an acoustic, medieval way, you'd have a perfect song for Blackmore's Night on your hands.

With a duration of a little under 38 minutes and sporting ten tracks, this would've been a classic rock album in the vinyl age fitting five solid tracks a side. By staying close to the nucleus of the rock idea Optimus has become an eye-opener for those who had pigeonholed John Norum since his success with Europe. With this honest album John proves to be one hell of a solid rocker whether in the guitar department, the vocal section or simply what his composing skills are concerned. Optimus is a no-nonsense, no-frills album with clean cut rock 'n' roll from beginning till end, and a wonderful statement that magnificent music can still be delivered by using only a handful of like-minded musicians. An album that not only Europe but surely The World will embrace whole-heartedly!

Chase Down The Moon / Nailed To The Cross / Better Day / One More Time / Time To Run / Optimus / Takin' The Blame / Change Will Come / Forced / Solitude

John Norum - vocals, guitars
Thomas Torberg - bass
Hux Flux - drums

Europe - Europe (1983)
Europe - Wings Of Tomorrow (1984)
Europe - The Final Countdown (1986)
Total Control (1987)
Live In Stockhom (1990)
Face The Truth (1992/1994)
Another Destination (1995)
Worlds Away (1996/1997)
Face It Live '97 (1997/1998)
Slipped Into Tomorrow (1999)
Europe - Start From The Dark (2004)
Optimus (2005)

Genre: Rock

Origin SE

Added: February 19th 2005
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 859
Language: english


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