Royal Flush the brand new Dutch AOR band fronted by ex Vandenberg and ex Kayak singer Bert Heerink completed their selftitled debut album. This album was in the making quite a while before it was ready to unleash. This because the band had some early line-up changes and they wanted to do as much as possible by themselves.
The recordings took place at drummer Arno te Loo's own Phoenix studio. During a pre mixed album chat and listening session i had with Arno i got convinced this would become a nice release. And that is what it has become. A true AOR album with lots of 80's influences. Not very heavy but theatrical, functional and therefore exactly suiting Bert Heerink's voice who has been doing a Pink Floyd Tribute tour in theaters all over The Netherlands the past two years.
Royal Flush opens with "Shoot the moon" a nice paced song with a lot of enthousiasm. Uplifting and a typical 80's vibe. Love the Eddie van Halen influenced guiitar fills between the verses. A strong opener.
The following "It's strange" has a cool and promising roaring guitar intro but leads into a calm straight forward rocker with some Floyd influences here and there. 70's oriented in which you can hear Bert is used to sing in theaters because of the way he aproaches the vocals. A short solo makes me think of BrianMay.
"Throw the dice" off course is included as a song title when the bandname is Royal Flush. A nice glamrocker in which keyboards have a bigger role. Again with a very nice guitarsolo. Bert Heerink proves he still has a great powerful voice.
The guitar intro on "Dance with the sun" has this very cool Scorpions vibe. I am loving this powerballad with beautiful female bachground vocals giving it depth and a complete sound. Clearly this is one of the album's highlights. Just listen to the fantastic solo leading into the outro.
"Oblivion Ocean" is the longest song on this release with a running time over 6 minutes. Epic with great vocals.
Besides singing Heerink is also known for his art paintings. Musically this comes to live in "The painter" a more funky oriënted rocksong which has some resemblances with Extreme. Another highlight.
Another great song is "Keep me out" a real rocker. Arno is hitting the drums like he is Animal from the muppets, fantastic.
A true treat is the anti war song "If battle is breaking out". A haunting drum and bassline gives it a nice foundation creating the right atmosphere where Heerink and Wallerbosch can be very creative with.
Shifting to the blues in first gear "Don't Go" is the leading ballad on this release. If released back in the 80's this could be a hitsingle.
The album closer "I am crazy" a middle of the road rocker which could have been on any Boston or Toto release.
Rounding things up this album is a cool release if you are into Toto, Journey, Boston and other classic AOR bands. It's not heavy but diverse which keeps it interesting. It will grow on you after each spin.
Productionwise it's good. A small criticism to the little echo at the end of some vocal lines in "Dance with the sun" but somehow it works well so maybe it was intended. A big compliment to BertHeerink who proves his voice is as flexible and strong as it was in his time with Vandenberg. The fact that sometimes you can slightly hear English is not Heerink's native language is therefore not a problem. JoopWallerbosch absolutely shines on guitar here being very diverse and really deserves a lot of credit. Drummer ArnoteLoo and bass player ArcoBommer layd down a solid pavement here with sometimes "less is more" and Peter-JanKleevers on keys gave the album more depth filling the overall sound perfectly.