Like all jobs, reviewers choose different ways to approach the task to review an album. Personally, I think an album should be listened to up to 10 times before the verdict will fall. A good album are an album that grows on you and not always hit you like a Sledgehammer.
First song Ghost Town nearly knocked me of my feet though beeing a straight rock song ala The Answer or Bonafide. With the bands as a reference to the song, you might think it does not sound like Art Nation and at a first listening, I would agree with you, except that it is Alexander Strandell singing and his voice got something that stand out. Alex might even bring some of his best performances ever on Liberation.
After that convincing start I got a bit reserved as second song Kiss Up & Kick Down sounded quite different as the sound was way much bigger. But this is were listen to an album several times become apparently important, cause Kiss Up & Kick Down should be the next single. Give it some airtime and it will quickly be a favorite on any rock radio station.
Third song Maniac together with the previous song are my two favorites on Liberation. It has an intro riff that makes me think of funk but that’s just the intro. Just like Kiss Up & Kick Down its arrangement with strings added in production becomes a real pompy song. Carl Tudén varies between a straight rock drums and a more shuffle sound in the verse. The guitar solo, played by Christoffer Borg, is not the most equilibristic of Art Nations solos, but I like this short solo because its neat and melodic.
One Nation feels more of a metal song and Simon Gudmundsson‘s (after the recordings he has left Art Nation) basslines feels a bit progressive intro wise. The chorus is catchy but perhaps a little bit cliche wise when it comes to the lyrics .
The Real Me was the first single out, a choice that I think maybe was a little strange. Action-packed song, absolutely! Powerful as well, but I do not think it’s a single. The solos however are really smashing, in this one as both Christoffer Borg and Johan Gustavsson step up. Liberation does not contain any bad tracks but The Real Me does not tick all my boxes.
Of course a rock band och Art Nation’s dignity should have a ballad and Take Me Home are a real classy power ballad built up slowly with accoustic guitars and finishing off with again with those strings.
My only concern about that kind of string arrangements is that a band gets forced to use backing tracks live, almost everyone does that today but I think that takes away part of the live feel. When listening to an album however those kind of features can be the cream of the crop, a thing that makes a difference.
Second part of the album continues with all quality music, stand out songs to me are When Stars Align and What Do You Want. As said before the arrangements are real classy with extra effects/instruments that are put on overall the production and arrangemets could be the thing that takes Art Nation to the next level and likely their big break, Art Nation 2017 has kept their sound but also developed their sound towards both pop and even some more of the metal than on revelation.
In order to reach to a 10 on our scale, you should make an album that will become a classic. I actually think this could be Art Nations big breakthrough still I won’t give the album 10 as some of the latter songs on the album don’t do it for me. Liberation are close getting a 9.5 but stops at a 9 a band that I think has got even more to give.