Mattsson - Power Games

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Lion Music
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:10:00

Guitarist Lars Eric Mattsson has been around for some time, recording his first EP in 1987 (Can't Go On Without Your Love, independent), getting his first recording deal in 1988 (Eternity, on Black Dragon) and continuing since then through several musical genres to develop a strong presence in the progressive world. Mattsson has been recently associated with several well-received projects ? the Jason Becker Warmth In The Wilderness tributes, Condition Red, Another Dimension and Obsession ? and joined forces with some large prog names, such as Derek Sherinian, Alex Masi, Erik Norlander, and Mark Boals. In Power Games, his most recent effort, he collaborates with vocalist Lance King (Balance of Power, Empire) to create what is being touted as his most complex progressive release thus far.

Complex it is, right enough, and pure prog right to the core. Somehow, however, Power Games hasn't grabbed me on a fundamental level. It's very listenable, but even after giving it several weeks to grow on me, it hasn't done so. It's ... missing something. From a purely objective point of view, the playing is beautiful and technical, King's voice is handsome ? sometimes reminiscent of James LaBrie (Dream Theater) ? and the production is tight and well-balanced. The songwriting, though, doesn't capture me on the whole.

Power Games begins with a few orchestral bars leading into a run of keyboard arpeggios ? by way of introduction ? before getting down to business with the upbeat, groovy-tempo'd opening number, "Open The Gate." Mattsson doesn't muck about, and we're treated to some fairly frantic finger action from the word go, string and keys both. This holds true throughout the album, with some very nice technical work worth listening for. I suppose the quintessential example of this would be Mattsson's guitar concerto, "Beyond The Horizon," a showy seventeen-minute long instrumental ? oh yes, very prog. I'd keep an ear peeled for "Chained To My Pain," which has a lovely melody line, some of King's best vocal moments from the album, and some beautiful acoustic work. My other favourite is "Safely Through The Fight;" it's the most fun, with a buoyant tempo and great chorus.

This is an album which is ... good, has some great work involved and all that, but it doesn't truly hit my spot and I don't really know why. There's some really good moments as I've described, and I'd at least recommend you give it a listen as a potential buy. I'm sure lots of people will pick up on things I've missed and enjoy it far more.

Similar to: Royal Hunt, Ring of Fire

[This review originally appeared October 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Open The Gate (7:34) / Victim Of Freedom (3:59) / Blind Faith (5:21) / Chained To My Pain (4:02) / Bridge To The Past (8:22) / Safely Through The Fight (6:04) / Beyond The Horizon (Guitar Concerto No 1 (17:11) / Lead Me On My Way (5:17)

Lars Eric Mattsson - guitars and keyboards
Lance King - lead and background vocals
Eddie Sledgehammer - drums

Another Dimension (2000) Power Games (2003)

Genre: Melodic Rock-AOR

Origin FI

Added: January 17th 2005
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Artist website:
Hits: 804
Language: english


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