The disc begins softly on “Locked in a Soulcage” with a voice that reminds me of an Andrew Lloyd Weber piece, or perhaps Roger Waters? Olav Gustavsson’s voice is pure drama and produces some good melodies all through the CD. The real star of the CD however is Tommy Magnusson, lead songwriter who plays guitar, bass and keyboards. A very talented man who in 2004 joined with drummer Martin Nilsson (does everybody in their neighborhood have two S’s in their last name?) to create the band No Rules.
Although No Rules claim inspiration from some classic AOR and prog bands, their more evident influences seem to be hard rock and metal. Black Sabbath and Dream Theater influences abound throughout, although I feel No Rules displays a better sense of dynamics than your average metal recording. More variations in mood and tone are displayed here, even though the requisite busy drumming is evident on most of the tracks.
Some standout cuts include “After the War” with one of the catchiest choruses on the CD, “Walking With Me” reminds me of a lost Ayreon track, and “Dreams” which is my favorite song on the disc. “Dreams” is probably the proggiest piece here as its lively flute displays a mellow prog feel. A strong melody and acoustic guitar flesh out the diversities of the band on this track.
I feel that better production values would bring the quality of these songs out tremendously. Gustavsson’s voice seems slightly muddied and at times sound like they are being sung through a megaphone. The disc also appears to lose a little steam and gain an element of sameness towards the end, as if Magnusson wanted all the strongest material right up front to capture the audience.
A lot of thought and perspiration is supplied by No Rules on “Where We Belong,” and I can’t find any fault with the songwriting talents of the band. I believe the audience for this work is perhaps not the prog world as alleged by the guys. “Symphonic Rock” is their claim, and that’s fair. My opinion would be that No Rules needs to profess more metal in their promotions.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on July 24th, 2007