REVIEW: OSUKARU “The Labyrinth”

Classic AOR based on the movie from 1986 starring David Bowie

Over the years you’d think I’d be drawn more to AOR (Adult or Album Oriented Rock), but my tastes have changed and I’m much more selective with this format.  The reason is that it’s a format that has to be done right or it can come off terrible cheesy and dated.  I actually love bands like Journey, Europe, Survivor and newer ones like Eclipse and House Of Shakira so I’m always looking or strong Melodic Rock and AOR.

Osukara have all the elements to be one of the better Melodic Rock bands out there.  They are amazingly tight and everyone in the band is an amazing musician, but I don’t expect anything less from Sweden.  Fredrik Werner has a melodic voice but he has some “grit” behind it as well that really sets him apart.  He reminds me a little bit of Kevin Chalfant of The Storm.  There are several duets and some ballads with Lisa Eugenia, who is also a powerful singer and doesn’t sound like the typical opera vocalist in so many bands nowadays.

Oz Osukara could easily move into the Metal realm has a great tone and some amazing solos. He keeps most of the songs in the AOR side with more Pop sensibilities, but I’m imaging live he really tears into it more.

Finally, in my opinion, one of the most important parts of an AOR band are the drums and bass.  I know, that might sound silly to some, but if you don’t have a strong backbone you come off as weak, and this music should be POWERFUL and Olaff Gadd and Vidar Mårtensson do not hold back.  I think the rhythm section can pull a band from “average” to “amazing”.   And of course, production does have a big part and this album was produced almost perfectly for this style.

Now, as far as the songs go, it is a “conceptual” album based on “The Labyrinth”.  It’s tells more of a story than a group of individual songs, but “The Stories We Tell” and “Voices In The Dark” to me stood alone very well.  There’s lots of great melodic songs here and I do recommend listening from beginning to end for maximum enjoyment. They’re doing everything right to stand apart in the AOR music world.

Oz Osukaru: guitar, keyboards
Fredrik Werner: vocals, guitar
Lisa Eugenia: keyboards, vocals
Olof Gadd: bass
Vidar Mårtensson: drums

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