Review By Teresa Hopkins
Artist: WICKED SENSATION
Album: ADRENALINE RUSH
Label: AOR Heaven
Release Date: November 28, 2014
01. King Of The World
02. Same Old Situation
04. Leave Me Like A Fool
05. Blue Painted Sky
06. Angel In Black
07. Living On My Madness
08. Desperate Nation
09. Adrenaline Rush
10. No More Lies
11. This Time
As I initially listened to the promo teaser, not yet knowing the situation behind this one, I couldn’t help thinking about the singer, “That guy sounds remarkably like David Reece. I’d like to hear more of this!”
Well, upon further sleuthing, I found out that indeed, Reece was asked to sit in for Robert Soeterboek, who unfortunately was diagnosed with a cyst on his vocal chords during the time the band was recording. Surgery was required, and a lengthy recovery time would have created yet another setback among many with which the band had already dealt. Upon Robert’s insistence, and after several weeks of searching, the band felt that the voice of David Reece had the right passion they needed to help carry out their vision. I feel they could not have made a better choice. Those of you who are familiar with Soeterboek’s vocal work know that the prospect of filling in for him, with a talented band such as this, would probably be intimidating for anyone else. But luckily, David agreed—and what results is one jewel of an album called “Adrenaline Rush”, the fourth release by WICKED SENSATION of Karlsruhe, Germany.
Since I first heard him as the new lead vocalist in Accept back in ’89, I’ve always thought David Reece had a great set of pipes. Having fronted bands such as Bangalore Choir, Sircle of Silence, and Tango Down, he sure honed his chops over the years, and now it seems like he’s the Morgan Freeman of Hard Rock: in the last few David has been a very busy man, working again with Bangalore Choir and Tango Down, releasing a couple of notable solo albums, touring with EZ Livin’ (his current band), and this fabulous album with WICKED SENSATION. Over the years, many singers’ voices change, and some can’t quite do what they did back then. But I dare say Reece’s voice has gotten even better with age. Oh, he can still belt ’em out, all right, but now, he’s got this wonderful smoky soul and depth to his voice that give it so much more expression and charisma. And he works it, too: David lends that extra something to each song, making them even more special.
That said, I am just crazy about “Adrenaline Rush” from start to finish. I’ve had a number of album reviews needing written, all of them first-rate bands, and though I truly enjoy every one, I keep going back to this. All the elements I love about classic hard AOR rock are here in spades.
I love Michael Klein’s playing style and tone, and together with Sang Vong, they are a twin guitar force to be reckoned with. The rhythms are tight and punchy, and the dual harmonics, leads and fills are intricate and melodic. The bit of contrast there is very appealing.
I really like Martin Mannhardt’s playing, too. The man is a groovin’ machine! His bass lines are so good that I could just sit and listen to them exclusively as well. Smooth and fluid on a few songs, bright and snappy in others, his contributions are every bit as important and outstanding to the mix as the rest of the band. Bernd Spitzner adds just the right touch with keyboards. Subtly, they enhance each song, adding to the richness of the sound without ever overpowering it. And Dirk Bruinenberg has made it impossible for me to sit still while listening to the album. His playing is so bright, energetic, and powerful. They really have a winning lineup here!
And the songs…well, there are eleven decadent rock-lover’s tracks, not a one to be overlooked. Michael Klein’s writing and attention to detail gets better each time. The hooks are so good that I found myself singing along with every song before I even fully knew them. I couldn’t help myself. They stayed with me long after the album was over, and even after a day or two break, riffs and lyric lines were running through my mind—and I wasn’t complaining a bit.
‘King Of The World’ is a powerful opener that sets the mood and the energy for the entire album. There are themes of love, unrequited and love lost, but with songs like ‘Same Old Situation’, ‘Leave Me Like A Fool’, and ‘No More Lies’, you’ll be too busy rocking to be brought down. The hypnotic ‘Misery’ is probably one that sticks in my head the most. It just draws me in, “awake all night…”. Ballad ‘Living On My Memories’ and the anthemy ‘Blue Painted Sky’ have a great mid-’80s feel to them, perfect for a summer drive or anytime. ‘Angel In Black’, energetic with a darker feel, a choir of background vocals, and some nice harmonic leads and switch offs is another winner.
The title track, ‘Adrenaline Rush’, fully lives up to its name. While I’ll gladly listen to the entire album over and over again, I kinda like hitting the repeat button on this one. Though I’ve no doubt Klein and Vong could have done an outstanding job themselves, bringing Mathias Dieth in for the solo was a nice touch and further exemplifies the special camaraderie of musicians and guitar wizards.
Closing out the album, ‘This Time’ is quite a shift in every way from the aforementioned track, but very moving in its own right! I adore the melancholy mood and the stripped-down feel of the song, performed on acoustic guitar along with some light percussion and keyboard. The simplicity and beauty of the music, along with the raw strength and dynamics of Reece’s voice, truly convey the emotion in the lyrics.
In addition to David Reece and Mathias Dieth, guest musicians on the album include:
Harry Hess – Choirs, Backing Vocals on Tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6
Eric Ragno – Keyboards on “Same Old Situation”
Ritchie Kovac – Percussion on “This Time”
Jan Knopf – Backing Vocals, “Blue Painted Sky”
Kudos also to Dennis Ward (PINK CREAM69, UNISONIC), at the production helm again to give his special touch to the mix, bringing out a real sparkle overall.
WICKED SENSATION really took it up a few notches this time around. It’s evident that they put a lot of effort and care into their latest musical offering. I feel “Adrenaline Rush” is their best yet! I don’t call it mainstream rock by any means, but every song here has “Hit” written all over it.
“Adrenaline Rush” is one of my favorite albums of 2014—or ever. I want to see this album go Big Time—there’s simply no excuse for it not to.
Here’s that album teaser. See what you think!
WICKED SENSATION is:
Robert Soeterboek – Vocals
Michael Klein – Guitars, Backing Vocals, Bass
Sang Vong – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Martin Mannhardt – Bass
Bernd Spitzner – Keyboards
Dirk Bruinenberg – Drums