Aces High are another classy hard rock outfit from Sweden. Similar in style to bands such as Thunder, XYZ and Nevada Beach, they released their (very hard to find!) debut album in 1997. The band features drummer Anders Johansson of Malmsteen / Holdsworth fame. In common with many similar bands from that neck of the woods, Aces High write excellent rockers and even better ballads, as demonstrated with our featured number. A band certainly worthwhile adding to the collection.
  

Review
Do you remember the Swedish hard rock band Aces High that released the nice effort "Ten'n'out" in 94?!,well it surely had some strong moments with classy melodic hard rock mixed with AOR and then 4 years later they returned with the follow up "Pull no punches" that wasn't as good as the debut.
Now after another 6 years this 5 piece hard rocking band is back with a 3rd album in the same style as the previous ones,Aces High play melodic hard rock in the same vein as MSG,Rainbow,Europe and Talisman to mention a few.
They do it well and even if they pull off all the cliche's-it's performed with class and energy so it never gets boring.
The opening track "Killing time" smells Saxon a long way when they did their excellent "Back to the innocence" album,the title track "Forgive and forget" is one of the best songs on the album with a great AOR chorus.
The half ballad "Tell me" sounds a bit like Europe but singer Bjorn Andersen doesn't have the same feel and clear pitch as Joey Tempest on it,then they walk in the footsteps of Richie Blackmore on "Judas Kiss" and "What I came for",very much Rainbow meets Purple kinda tracks.....they are ok for what they are but I would have liked to hear more AOR-ish sounding stuff instead.
The faster "Blinded" is only boring and should've been the last track instead of being in the middle of the album,the smooth and enjoyable instrumental piece "Legacy" sounds somewhere between the soundtrack themes of Cat People and Top Gun.
They end the album with "Listen to fools",an epic song with great drumhitting and once again lots of Richie Blackmore vibes in the guitarwork.
I still think that the debut is their strongest album up to date but this new one satisfies too........

 

Forgive and forget:

Aces High were formed as Eyes in 1989 by guitarist Jake Sandberg, bassist Anders Johansson and keyboardist David Brandt. Later the same year they got in touch with Danish singer Bjørn Andersen and also changed the name of the band to Aces High, since a US band named Eyes had emerged on the music scene.

The following year they acquired drummer Matts Björkman (ex-Quadruple) and in 1994 they released their first album, "Ten'n'out" which proceeded to become very successful in Japan. Fans of melodic hard rock had to wait some years for the follow-up, though. "Pull No Punches" was released in 1998, now with Björkman replaced by Anders Johansson (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, also in Hammerfall) on drums. This prompted the bassist with the same name to start writing his name as Anders J-sson to avoid confusion. And after another long wait, they're back again with "Forgive & Forget".

The album is generally very solid melodic metal, there is nothing here that truly blew me away, but then again there is nothing here that is anything below average. Vocalist Bjørn Andersen has a very distinct voice, somewhere between that of Ian Gillan and Biff Byford, the guitars are solid, with strong hooks that focus more on the song than riffing away into oblivion, whilst the hammond organ adds a Deep Purple vibe to many of the tracks.. The mix does let the album down a little, it just sounds a little flat. Yet the albums highlights like the instrumental prelude to the solo in Forgive & Forget do not suffer as a result of this.

One thing that became apparent to me is that the band use much cleaner guitar sounds that many of their counterparts, this allows the tones to breathe a little more and gives a punchier edge, which does make it through the aforementioned mix. Also its plainly apparent is the band seem more concerned for the song than highlighting individual performances.

Overall a solid enough slice of Scandi Melodic Metal.

 

 

Nicky Anderson (vocals), Jake Sandberg (guitar), Anders Johansson (bass), David Brandt (keyboards), Mats Björklund (drums)

 

Bon Jovi
House of Lords
Europe
Gotthard
Steelheart
Foreigner
Thunder
XYZ

 

 

If you have any contribution to make to this band or something to add, email me - Japie Marais.

 

Aces High

 

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Hold your mouse over the album to see the title, year of release and rating out of 5.

Aces High - Pull No Punches - 2000 - 4/5

Aces High - Forgive & Forget - 2004 - 4/5

 
 
 

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