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N.O.W - Force Of Nature

posted 25 Jul 2011, 06:21 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 25 Jul 2011, 06:29 ]
(Escape Music)

N.O.W are a new Brazilian band built around driving force and principal songwriter Alec Mendonca, with the rather excellent American Philip Bardowell (whom you may have heard recently on the killer Places of Power album).  As Alec was putting the band together, the one thing they were struggling to find was a quality lead vocalist, so Alec contacted Mr Bardowell and sent him the raw demos. Suitably impressed, he agreed to sing the songs and promised Alec “I’ll pour my heart into your songs” and, judging by his vocal performance here, he sure as shit did!

Brazil isn’t what you would usually think of as a hotbed for Melodic Rock/AOR talent, but just of late there seems to be a real spurt in talent in Latin America with Highest Dream, Auras & Watchmen to name just a few emerging over the past few years.

N.O.W delivers a quality pure AOR album, which is heavily influenced by the American AOR bands of the early and mid-80s - but the album never sounds dated! A lot of the band’s melodies and harmonies put me in mind of REO Speedwagon - but you can hear the Journey and Asia influences in there too. As you’d expect from an album in this style it’s packed with huge choruses and lush in-your-face harmonies. I was really impressed with the keyboard work of Jean Barros, who helps give the band that pure AOR sound, and this is without a doubt one of Bardowell’s best and most consistent performances on record. If you like Bardowell’s vocals you really have to check out last years Places Of Power “Now Is The Hour” album, an insanely good melodic rock album, but very different in style. Martin Kronlund works his magic again for Escape Music, mixing the album and giving it a quality production, as per usual!

The album opens with the driving pure AOR of “Can’t Make It (How Can I?)” which has some fabulous harmonies and some excellent keyboards. It’s a pretty good sign of what to expect from the rest of the album. “Listen to Your Heart” would be the most obvious choice for the band to use as a single with its sing-a-long catchy chorus - love the big keyboards on this one!

The band obviously like to change the style and tempo of their songs, they show that on “Lonely Soul” which starts very ballad-like with a keyboard intro and slow tempo, but builds steadily over the course of the song and once the guitars kick in the song takes on a lot of energy!  Although “You” which follows a similar structure is even better, which starts as keyboard lead ballad and that’s how we get the first verse and chorus, then wham bang, the guitars kick in and the tempo rises and it takes the song to a whole new level with the melodies sounding even better!  Caio de Carvalho (Guitars) delivers some really cool guitar licks on this one as well.

“Once That Feeling Comes Again” is a hook-filled song and has a killer keyboard riff in the bridge, a song that really harks back to the 80’s.  De Carvalho chucks a great charged and energetic guitar riff at us on “Idol’s Grace”, to accompany its instant and memorable chorus. “Peace of Mind” is also a good showcase of what the band does with fantastic harmonies, hook-filled melodies and a HUGE chorus.

The only song that Alec Mendonca co-writes on this album is “The Long Hard Way” which he wrote with childhood friend McCoy. It’s a really smooth upbeat Summery AOR rocker with great harmonies. “Hail Mary” starts with a cool guitar solo before buiding into a driving riff, and unleashing another big chorus with a really smooth melody. The closest thing to a ballad on Force of Nature is “I’m Free (But Not Ready to Go)”.

“Midnight Call” has some killer keys, big harmonies and a catchy chorus, although the band put a little bit of a Latin stamp on this one. They place some Spanish-sounding acoustic guitar solos within the song which are really effective!  The album closes with “No Time for Goodbyes” which has a really cool guitar lick and of course a big chorus and even bigger harmonies!  (I sense a theme of big choruses and harmonies here! - Ed.)

If you’re a fan of pure AOR, then you have to check this out, I’m sure most will go bananas over it! A solid album from a band which wears its influences like a badge of honour, although a slightly harder guitar sound helps to give them a fresher, more contemporary sound.

Track Listing: Can’t Make It (How Can I?) / Listen To Your Heart / Lonely Soul / Once That Feeling Comes Again / You / Idol’s Grace / Peace Of Mind / The Long Hard Way / Hail Mary / I’m Free (But Not Ready To Go) / Midnight Call / No Time For Goodbyes

Album Rating:

Woody’s Essential Track: You

Force of Nature is OUT NOW and available from all good retailers and