Having been released originally in 1985 on vinyl, this cool debut album by Swedish band UNIVERSE was also re-released on CD in 1995 (both releases by the label Sonet). At this point the line-up was MICHAEL KLING (guitar), HASSE HAGMAN (bass), ANDERS WETTERSTRÖM (drums), PER NILSSON (guitar), FREDRIK KRISTRÖM (keyboards) and KJELL WALLEN (lead vocal).
Right away I hear lots of early EUROPE in the songs, which is always nice. This is not so strange either, since Kling had played with JOHN NORUM (EUROPE) in the late 70’s in the band WC and Hagman had played in JOEY TEMPEST’s first band.
“Woman” has got some SAXON vibes but still more melodic. The more I listen to these songs, the more I realize it is GOOD! Really good. The lead voice of Kjell Wallén is awesome! Such power and energy, and both his singing and the energetic guitars almost make it qualify for the NWOBHM (well, it would rather be NWOSHM) style. And the EUROPE similarities are many – without being rip-offs at all. It wouldn’t be too daring to guess that the guys had listened to RAINBOW, too. There are some clear vibes, and that’s always heart-warming for melodic fans.
I must say these songs are what used be called heavy metal back in those days (1985). Sure, it’s a completely different thing to today’s metal, so don’t confuse these things. Melodic hard rock and heavy metal were more close in the mid-80’s. Most of the stuff is quite uptempo, even though there is the semi-ballad “Lonely child” (how much 80’s isn’t that for a ballad name?), a strong tune.
If I’d have to bring some criticism it must be the sound and production. The guitar sound is pretty lame at times, but one must remember this was in 1985. It’s not too much to worry about, and overall this album really brings me good vibes. I prefer an old sounding 80’s sound to the modern, sterile productions that are often soulless. A four in grading, but it’s a bit shaky. Still, a must have for all serious collector of Scandi hard rock.