SALUTE – Heart Of The Machine (2010)

SALUTE - Heart Of The Machine

In addition to his various solo releases, Mikael Erlandsson will be best known to melodic rock listeners for his involvement with Last Autumn’s Dream.

Not content with having those two prongs to his busy career, Erlandsson is also involved with a third project, SALUTE, where he performs alongside guitarist Martin Kronlund (who in 2010 played a big part in the fifth instalment of Tom Galley’s Phenomena project) and Gypsy Rose drummer Imre Daun.

After the promising debut “Toy Soldier”, “Heart Of The Machine” is SALUTE’s second release and its eleven songs, as you’d expect, are heavily influenced by late eighties/early 90s melodic hard rock.

One of the inmediate notice when you play ‘on’ is the improvement in the production department.

The album sounds big, bright, shiny ‘stereo’, and perfectly mixed.

“Higher” opens with a pounding riff undercut by a slab of keyboards, creating a sound that’s unmistakably european. Anchored by a rock solid bass line, it’s an opening number which instantly shows the power behind pairing of Erlandsson and Kronlund. Erlandsson’s vocals are assured and Kronlund’s solo work is equally confident.

An uptempo workout with a great hook; “A Falling Star’ helps make sense of why Erlandsson is well respected as a song writer in the melodic rock field. The track has plenty of great vocal harmonies, which are put to especially good use on a bridge section, leading into a multi-layered solo from Kronlund.

While the stomping approach of the opener shows power, it’s “Feed Your Hunger” which really showcases Salute at their best. In a much lighter mood, (though remaining mid-paced) Kronlund’s rhythm guitar work presents itself in a classic staccato style which is coupled by a clean lead, creating something very effective. Erlandsson’s vocal is understated and melodic, beefed up by some great harmonies.

“I Will Be There” is a huge power ballad which really highlights Kronlund’s soaring guitar work. Erlandsson’s voice is natural and very much suited to the soft keyboard accompaniment which opens the track.

“Tearing Me Down” features Kronlund in a quasi-aggressive mode, utilising a dirtier tone with an occasional horsey-noise. While he and Daun are clearly the driving force here, Erlandsson’s vocal performance is one of the album’s best. His slightly raspy delivery is well suited to the old school classic rock sound of this track; a sound reinforced by slabs of old style organ on the pre-chorus.

The title song “Heart Of The Machine” has verses that gives you goosebumps, but the chorus isn’t strong enough, even if it works.

“The Long Haul” gives drummer Imre Daun a chance to play in a slightly more aggressive fashion – an opportunity not missed by Kronlund either, chiming in with both a decent riff and solo.

“Your Servant Tonight” makes me not so happy. This moody midtempo is too long and the arrangements seems unfinished. Maybe the only weak track on the album.

“Heart Of The Machine” presents a solid musicianship on a set of songs which were co-written by Bangalore Choir’s David Reece.

While the overall style is guitar-driven, there is a considerable keyboard presence on the album, swirling around the crunchy chords like sonic phantoms, never dominating but definitely a vital aspect of Salute’s approach to the genre.

The production is another highlight, courtesy of guitarist/producer Martin Kronlund. The sonics are full and rich and super slick, which often robs the songs of a hard rock edge but offers plenty to impress the AOR / melodic crowd.

Recommended to every fan of classy european melodic rock, Mikael Erlandsson’s huskily vocals, Last Autumn’s Dream, etc.

01 – Higher

02 – A Falling Star

03 – Feed Your Hunger

04 – I Will Be There

05 – Tearing Me Down

06 – Heart Of The Machine

07 – The Long Haul

08 – Shadows

09 – Train Of Rock N Roll

10 – My Part In This Pain

11 – Your Servant Tonight

Mikael Erlandsson : Lead Vocals, Keyboards

Martin Kronlund : Guitars, Bass

Imre Daun : Drums and Percussion

Henrik Thomsen (Overland, Jim Jidhed) : Bass (special guest)

David Reece : Backing vocals


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