Casablanca - Riding A Black Swan
This is the second album by the Swedish 'supergroup' that feature the brilliant Ryan Roxie. Their first, 'Apocalyptic Youth', was released a couple of years back to some success including a nomination as Classic Rock Magazine's album of the year and was a cool combination of glam and 80s metal. While Roxie is featured throughout this isn't a Roxie project. He gets only one co-writing credit, but if you listen you can sometimes hear his influence throughout the records 10 songs.
'Riding a Black Swan' is a step forward from the debut and opens with the mini-epic 'The Giant Dreamless Sleep' which is quite a way from the glam rock of the first album. A surprising opener in some ways it's a mid-tempo blast of classic rock with nice dual lead work from Roxie and Erik Stenemo. 'Hail The Liberation' returns to more familiar ground, again with nice interplay between the guitarists, and a catchy chorus. The bands love of Thin Lizzy, as on the first album, comes through even in the lyrics with mentions of 'Johnny the Fox' and 'Jimmy the Weed'.
'Dead End Street Revisited' is a mid-paced rocker while 'It's Alright' (co-written by Roxie) opens with the drum beat from Alice's 'Detroit City' before locking into a rolling pop-rock number. Vocalist Anders Ljung reminds me most of Davy Vain of classic US glam band 'Vain', A great band that never really made it. Casablanca remind me of them a lot as they have that glam feel, but also have a classic rock/metal edge.
'Barriers' is a pretty straight forward rocker leading up to the title track 'Riding A Black Swan' which really rocks with a great riff and guitar hook. 'Some Misty Morning' is reminiscent of Uriah Heep as it's bounces along 'Look At Yourself' style while 'Heartbreak City', 'No Devil In Me' and 'Just For The Night' are all pretty standard hard rockers, the latter again bring to mind 'Vain'.
All in all 'Riding A Black Swan' is a good album but you get the feeling there is better still to come. The song writing and performances are all top notch, and there are some imaginative arrangement ideas here and there, but as of yet the band maybe lack that certain something special and unique that will push them to the next level. Having said that the album is a real 'grower' and after repeated listens it really starts to get in your head.