[ SHORT REVIEWS - LIST | DETAILED REVIEWS
(49:00; Intelligent Music)
Smartly bypassing the fourth album, ‘Sorcery Inside’, which I have reviewed already, now we are bang up to date with the fifth album which was released earlier this year. There has again been a change in approach as while Phillips again recorded all his drums in LA, it appears all other music was recorded in Bulgaria. There has also been a change in the singers, as while John Payne (Asia) has returned once again, he is now joined by Ronnie Romero (Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, Lords of Black) and Richard Grisman (River Hounds) and Tony Crumpton (River Hounds). I must confess to having never heard of River Hounds, but a quick search showed that although they are a London-based quartet they have recorded a live concert in Sofia so are obviously well-known in Bulgaria. Listening to “Where I Belong”, it is easy to hear that Grisman is not overawed by his more famous contemporaries, and I can see I am going to have to search out some of their material. Six of the twelve songs have Romero and Grisman sharing lead vocals, while Payne is only involved in two songs (each sharing leads, once with Romero and once with both Romero and Grisman), so I am not sure if this means his journey is ending with IMP. For composer Vrabevski it is all about the music, and he has switched lead singers a few times over the five albums, but there has always been continuity with Lawton passing the baton to Williams, Williams to Payne, and now Payne to? This is yet another very strong album from IMP, but with much less focus on orchestration again. The album prior to this one, ‘Sorcery Inside’, was my initial introduction to the band where I said “This contains everything one can wish for in this style of music, with great musicianship, amazing vocals, wonderful hooks and songs that make the listener smile throughout.” While this may not be quite the standout album which its predecessor was, this is still an immensely enjoyable melodic rock album. There is more focus on guitar again, and Bisser Ivanov is a revelation with some great runs, and keyboard player Ivo Stefanov is here marked as a full band member, which is nice to see as he has been involved since the debut album all those years ago. Projects are often one or two album affairs at best, especially when those involved are in different countries, yet over the course of eight years IMP have released five albums, with Vrabevski providing all the music and lyrics, arranging the music with the group each time. Every album has been classic melodic hard rock with a focus on vocals, some have more orchestration than the other, yet generally they are all at a consistently high level. Although I would point to ‘IV’ as my favourite and ‘II’ as my least, to be honest it is hard to really go wrong with any of them. Long may the project continue.
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]