Waste Lagoon - Shadow Chaser

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Millennium Lagoon Records
Catalog Number: MLR01
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:10:00

Mmm ? can we say Rush? Even if you can, this is no Rush clone. They aren't that good, when all is said and done. Well, no, that's a little unfair and misleading. Its true they aren't as good as the famous Canadian trio, but that doesn't mean they are awful or inept. The musicians in this Norweigan metal band called Waste Lagoon do an average, and sometimes better than average, job on Shadow Chaser. Those musicians are Ronny Tertnes on guitars, Sune Aksnes on bass and Zsolt Meszaros on drums. And as an instrumental album, it might go over a little better. But with the addition of vocals from Frode Fredriksen, things just don't go as well as they could for Waste Lagoon. At least to me.

The album really takes off during the latter half, the first seven tracks being a little hit and miss for me. The strongest of the bunch is probably the instrumental Rush tribute "Lagoona Stragianto." But in that bunch we also get the ultimately silly ? and not in a good way ? "Rabbits." It starts out okay, with a suitably Presto!- period feel (recall the rabbits on that album's cover?). But, uh, the rabbit died on this one, I'm afraid, gnawing its own foot off in the trap. No, I don't think that's what it's about ? no lyrics included and not to be found anywhere -- , but that's what happens at the end, with a chorus that struck me as silly. Ouch, that was very cruel of me (but no animals were hurt in writing this review). In fact, the lyric is "Who are the silly rabbits now? That's us!" the last bit sung by the whole band. Um? yeh? ok. I'm sure there's a message in there somewhere ? Rush always does, but? yeh.

Anyway, before you think I'm going to thoroughly lay waste to Waste Lagoon, they do sound like cheerful, enthusiastic gentlemen and surely mean well. I mean, you can't be all bad as a person if you are inspired by Rush ? inspired? Heck, there's even a song called "Witch Hunt" and one called "Lagoona Strangiato"! But their compositional skills need a little polishing. I just found some parts a little too? awkward? not clumsy, but?awkward. Can't explain that further, except that I never found Rush awkward.

Anyway (she begins again), how they sound like Rush is in the 80s-style grinding bass lines and arrangement of elements. They even try sometimes for Peart-like poetics, but don't quite get there. When they don't try to be Pearty and just go with the other elements of Rush, mainly the Lee aspects, well, it works better. And the band make no bones about begin Rush influenced, by the way, as they wear it right on their sleeves ? well, the inside of the sleeve that is, right there in the credits. But as much as Fredriksen tries to sound like Geddy Lee, and some times he really does, he is the weakest element in this quartet. If he stopped trying to sound like Lee, he'd be better off. One really hears the Lee-ness strongly in "The Third Way," which at times recalls the Signals period ? the verse sections of "Chemistry" in particular. This works better than other tracks in the first seven, which begins with the very 80s metal sounding "Witch Hunt," -- the guitar solos the only "modern" touch -- recalling early Rush, but not the period of "Witch Hunt."

But, with track 7, it's as if a different band has taken over. Or least a different sensibility. They get into a nice groove to begin "Wilderness In The City" which isn't too bad, as things go. This is a heavy piece that also made think of, tone-wise, Yoke Shire. If there were more tracks of this quality on this album, Waste Lagoon would prick ears a little more ? but I don't know that many would listen past the first half to get here. Not great by any means, but at least one can say, "ah, there's potential here." Zool also come to mind here, though I think Zool are notches above. But it's chiming guitar a la Dream Theater and John Petrucci ? that signature sound on Images And Words -- on "Two Different Worlds" that works well here, because Fredriksen does better sounding like James LaBrie than Geddy Lee, it seems a little more natural, actually. Some nice swirling keyboards on here, too, making this a rather nice mid-tempo melodic track. Ronny Tertnes (or maybe it's guest and producer Ronny Heimdal) does get to share a pretty neat guitar solo, too. Oh, but a classic Lee like yelp is out of place, however.

"Life Elsewhere" begins as a jazzy, fusiony piece, still with that Rush feel? but drops that to leave something a little less inspiring. "Hi-Ho" is so-so, though instrumentally is promising. It appears to be a tribute to The Lone Ranger, or at least Silver. "Recycled Waste" is the second instrumental that starts with programmed drums, but soon adds in bass, acoustic drums and guitar, keeping a Rush feel, but not echoing the famous Rush instrumental "YYZ." Oh, you hear a hint in the guitar tone and some of Tertnes' (Heimdal's?) phrases seem as if that's the direction they'll go, but don't. "The Beauty Of It All" begins as a strutting rocker, but abandons that right after the first verse, and yet doesn't really change musically at all? it's as if the attitude behind it slips away, as if it were an affectation. Because, after all, it wouldn't be very Rush-like? The album closes with "Pollution & Greed," which recalls late 80s-early 90s Rush.

My initial thoughts were much less favorable towards this release than my subsequent thoughts; that is, this review started out a little more savage than it turned out to be. But, in the end, Waste Lagoon are only an average at best Rush influenced quartet who will be buried by some of the other Rush influenced bands out there? Reindel (also distributed by Fossil Records) come to mind. It might be telling to note that, as of this writing, the band's website hasn't been updated since before this album was released in 2001?

Witch Hunt (2:18) / Acid Rain (4:36) / Lagoona Strangiato (4:11) / The Third Way (3:58) / Shadow Chaser (4:18) / Rabbits (2:49) / Quite A Story (6:05) / Wilderness In The City (3:53) / Two Different Worlds (4:00) / Life Elsewhere (4:30) / Hi-Ho (3:48) / Recycled Waste (2:20) / The Beauty Of It All (3:40) / Pollution & Greed (5:39)

Frode Fredriksen ? vocals
Ronny Tertnes ? guitars
Sune Aksnes ? bass
Zsolt Meszaros ? drums

Shadow Chaser (2001)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin NO

Added: August 22nd 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.uib.no/people/stud3582/
Hits: 1338
Language: english


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