Norwegian guitarist / songwriter / producer Ken Ingwersen releases his 2nd solo project June 7. Ingwersen is known to Uriah Heep/Ken Hensley fans for being the guitarist in Hensley’s band Live Fire [having played on a few studio albums and a pair of live ones with the late keyboard player & songwriter], as well as his band Wonderworld [the Live Fire guys who’ve recorded 3 albums to date], and has wrote, played on and produced numerous albums, most notably the classic Street Legal album Thunderdome . The Future Looks Bright is the follow up to 2010’s excellent Reincarnation, featuring some eye grabbing artwork that speaks to state of the world, and is done by the man himself.. And like Reincarnation, The Future Looks Bright is full of cool guests, and a good variety of great tunes. Ingwersen has a knack for coming up with memorable rockers, which usually include a few changes or some pop element, making this not quite metal, but definitely would appeal to metal fans, given some of the riffs, solos, and the guest singers. Sure there’s no Glenn Hughes this time around, but there are some impressive singers like Age Sten Nilsen [Wig Wam, Ammunition] who delivers a strong voice on the opener “I Wait For Nothing”, a great uptempo rocker to kick things off. And there is no shortage of great rockers here, such as the heavier “Raining Down”, featuring Rasmus Andersen [Diamond Head], “Touch The Sky”, which really soars with Ingwersen’s guitar playing and the vocals of Brandon Baumann [of the US band Diamond Lane], and “Just An Illusion”, probably the heaviest track here [metal], due largely to the guitar sound and solo, and by the vocals of Truls Haugen [of Norwegian band Circus Maximus]…
Geez, I’m going to have a lot of bands to check out because of this album…. Chesney Hawkes, who also appeared on the first ‘Dojo’ album, is back here on the track “Gone”, it’s a bit of a lighter track about dealing with loss. Hawkes’ voice suits this perfectly, as he has a bit of softer feel, and the song is in the same vein as the track “Reincarnation”, which he sang on the first album. Love the guitar solo, as Ingwersen can deliver with a great feel, ala Gary Moore. “Never Forget” is the track I was looking forward to the most when I saw the list of singers – as it is sung by Andrew Freeman [ex Lynch Mob, Devil’s Hand, Last In Line] , A slower paced heavy rock track, which picks up during the chorus, a bit darker, reminds me of Rainbow in places. The album’s title track features the vocals of Ray Van D, from the Netherlands, as well as Wonderworld bandmate Tom Fossheim on drums. It’s probably the lightest / most ‘commercial’ song here, but another great one – based on acoustic guitar, it’s got a nice summertime feel; the song is based on what’s going on in the world today. Dig the solo as well [I hear a bit of Brian May]. “Sun Goes Down” is the last vocal track, a straight ahead rock tune featuring Scott Foster Harris [Tracii Guns’ League Of Gentlemen]. There are also 2 instrumental tracks on the album that highlight Ken Ingwersen’s guitar playing. As I said above, the guys plays with a lot of emotion, and I am reminded of Gary Moore and David Gilmour at times during his instrumental pieces. And if anyone has heard his playing on Ken Hensley’s “The Curse” from the Faster album, you will know what I mean – “Longhaired Blues” starts out soft, but it takes off, one of my favorite songs here, and “Cuarenta Dias” is a slower number, that eventually picks up, with some nice changes, before coming back down. A nice change of pace and fitting ending to the album!
Ten tracks, and all though I have a few early favorites, there are no duds, and enough changes from song to song to keep me wanting to just restart this. For me, it’s a step up from the previous Dojo album, simply due to the material being stronger and more consistent. A fine choice of singers and stellar production, A shout out to drummers Bjørn Olav Lauvdal [ex Street Legal] and Sturla Nøstvik [ex Artic Trond] . Fans of Ken’s playing, as well as fans of all the great hard-rock, AOR, and metal that keeps coming from places like Sweden and Norway will dig this!
KJJ, 05 / ’21