Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid is a busy man. He’s best known for his vocal work in melodic death metal band, Soilwork, whose eleventh album is due for release in January. Aside from featuring on Dyecrest’s latest album, he has also been recording and touring with The Night Flight Orchestra. They released their fourth album earlier this year and what started as a fun side project has become something more serious.
Strid and Soilwork guitarist David Andersson came up with the idea of writing some classic rock/AOR songs while on tour in America. The duo’s dalliance with ‘70s and ‘80s hard rock now boasts eight band members and, possibly as a result, their last album was a tad overblown. True to their influences, they followed up the ass-kicking pop magic of 2017’s excellent Amber Galactic with a record that sounds like it was recorded on a massive budget with a stockpile of cocaine. Nuclear Blast are re-releasing NFO’s back catalogue to capitalise on their unexpected popularity so I’ve been checking out their debut album, Internal Affairs.
It’s an inauspicious introduction for the formative band when ‘Siberian Queen’ fails to take flight but when the opening riff of ‘California Morning’ arrives, the album kicks into gear. ‘Glowing City Madness’ has a Creedence Clearwater Revival/Bob Seger vibe and an Abbey Road style vocal melody; even the solo sounds like George Harrison. The excellent, high energy stomp of ‘West Ruth Avenue’ is irresistible while ‘Transatlantic Blues’ starts as a piano based ballad and manages to stay the right side of cheesy.
‘Miami 502’ is an unabashed homage to ‘Hot For Teacher’. The title track’s synth-bass funk and string stabs point to the future of the band. Along the way there are nods to Foreigner, Journey, Rainbow, Van Halen and ELO. ‘A Song For Ingeborg’ was originally a bonus track for the Japanese market but its inclusion here is a wee touch of genius. After 11 tracks of cheesy rock, the acoustic arpeggios and French lyrics serve as a welcome palette cleanser.
If you only get one NFO album, then get Amber Galactic, but if you want more then go back to the start and pick up Internal Affairs. It may not be as ambitious and fully realised as their magnum opus but it’s got some serious tunes.
Internal Affairs is available from Nuclear Blast here.