Lars Eric Mattsson: Hot and Able (1983-85) and Let Me Rock You (1984-87)
Classic Hard Rock
Rating: 9/10
by Johnny Childs
Prog Rock Magazine

  

The never resting Lars Eric Mattsson who is celebrating 25 years since his two first albums "Eternity" and "No Surrender" were released in Japan (Eternity was released one year earlier in Europe) has dug deep into his huge treasure chest of unreleased goodies and come up with two (!) 16 track albums of his early stuff which he told me he has polished quite a bit.

These songs dating back to his first bands "Joe Cool" (1983-85) and "Eternity" (1986-87) are surprisingly good amd do not sound dated in any way. Stylewize you get everything from the expected melodic neoclassical to classic hard rock in the vein of Whitesnake, Triumph and early Scorpions. You can tell that there was a noteable change in style somewhere in the middle of this era as the latter album seems to include some more complex song stuctures. Lars playing is killing as always and his vocals are really good most of the time. Some killer Hammond B3 work from Alexander King (Condition Red) gives these songs the right attitude and there is even a bass solo in one of the songs.

It really seems very hard to belive that there are some 24 years between these recordings and Lars latest opus "Epicentre" which is a totally mindblowing experience if you ask me.

Stadout songs for me thsi time are:"Crusaders", "Stranger in You Own Land", Lay Down Your Sword", Left Out in the Cold", "Takes One Fool" "Take Me Home", "The Final Poem"... and then there is "I Love to Rock" which obviously seems to be something of a joke coming from Lars!

 




Lars Eric Mattsson: Epicentre
Melodic Progressive Rock
Rating: 4.5/5.0
by Craig Hartranft
Dangerdog.com



After several decades in the music business and 22 recordings, composer, guitarist, producer, and Lion Music owner Lars Eric Mattsson isn't slowing down. Epicentre is his 23rd album, and the creative Mattsson has more than a few tricks up his progressive rock sleeve.


Not the least of which is taking to the microphone himself to sing on all of the 15 vocal tracks on this 18 track album. He give this a go only a few times in the past. Mattsson admits that he only found his 'voice' half way through the recording process, and then started over. His 'voice' is melodic, but definitely a little gruff and gritty. He's definitely a better composer and musician than a singer.
Another notable aspect, a difference if you will, of Epicentre is that the songs are shorter than usual, say, versus 2010's wonderful Tango. Mattsson says this was intentional. Most songs clock in around three to four minutes.
Perhaps the most intriguing thing about the album is Mattsson's diverse and eclectic song creation. But that's hardly news. His energy and creativity is boundless, making him a musical wizard. You can read about the songs in Mattsson's track-by-track description (PDF). Suffice to say that this is some exquisite melodic progressive rock that expresses Mattsson sharp song composition and skillful musicianship. (He plays everything except the drums.) You can listen to samples from the album below.
But here's a few highlights. For some crafty pure prog Wait for the Sunrise and Freedom Fighters (one of three instrumentals) are choice numbers, the latter with some of Mattsson's most fiery fret work. Within A New Devil, he blends electric and acoustic guitar with some dobro for an appealing musical cocktail. There's definitely blues/jazz shuffle to Too Late, and some real electric blues with Scratch My Back. Another instrumental, South of the Border is an odd bird as it sounds like one long withering guitar solo. It's not the most pleasing track here, but in lesser hands, it probably would have been butchered.
Some final comments. A curious thing you'll notice is that there is no pause, or brief silent segue, between most songs. Mattsson plays, stops, and then jumps right in again. The number and length of the album, 18 songs at nearly 70 minutes, makes for a rather large consumption in one listen. But Mattsson notes that this was intentional as all the songs point to where he is in his musical journey. Epicentre is another accomplished and creative recording from a quite talented musician. Easily recommended.

 




Artist: Lars Eric Mattsson
Title: Epicentre
Label: Lion Music
8/10
Bruce E.J. Atkinson
Roctopia.co.uk


'Epicentre' is simply a stand-out collection from a musical mastermind.
One should not enter into the "Epicentre" lightly! From the outset, it is more than evident that Lars Eric Mattsson has delivered his Masterstroke.
Marking his twenty-third release, 'Epicentre' is a musical expression that touches upon greatness! There is an expansive musical spectrum that is contained in the eighteen tracks here with intricate guitar workings that envelope us, creating a distinct moodiness. Lars has also treaded on new ground. With the exception of drums, this album has been written, arranged, performed, and produced by Lars himself! The man has even provided the vocals!! First time singing; Lars' voice is emotional and delivers each song like it is his last. His is a textured, whiskey soaked delivery, hovering around the middle ranges. A perfect companion to his emotionally driven guitar stylings.
Christer Jansson keeps 'Epicentre' grounded with his driving percussion, allowing Lars to work us through his melodic, but complicated excursions. A complete Work, 'Epicentre' is one of compassion. Each composition is one that has been written and created with conviction, and is not self indulgent.

Considered to be one of the best guitarists in the world, Mr. Mattsson is also a master of classically tinged modern rock forms. A multi-instrumentalist; Lars continues to amaze with his performances on keyboards and bass! There is so much on 'Epicentre' – a truly remarkable Work – with all of Lars' trademark signatures and then some! The musical currents run deep and true! Although I would not approach this Work with a list of "stand-out" tracks, there are some musical passages that weigh in more than others. 'Cinnamon' is one such passage. Apparently one of the first songs Lars recorded, this is an example of what makes "Epicentre" such a personalalbum. Listen for the change in his voice on this one! As mentioned, the whole album flows so effortlessly, and credit has to be given as to where the instrumentals are placed. 'South Of The Border' and 'Andalucia' could really have not been placed anywhere else! Again, just evidence of the genius of this Artist. Carrying on with the emotional side of Lars' new found voice, pieces such as 'I Don't Know' and 'Cold Inside' are great examples of this, blending his music and voice splendidly! You see, Lars is still not comfortable with his vocal powers, however he doesn't need to worry...as each and every vocal he gives us is just right! Another accolade for this very sensitive Artist! Pushing through this new plateau, Lars has, indeed, found his voice, and one this scribe humbly suggests that you should too!


'Epicentre' is simply a stand-out collection from a musical mastermind!
 


 

Artist: Lars Eric Mattsson
Title: Epicentre
Label: Lion Music
Review by Time Signature
Progfreak.com:




Guitar virtuoso and owner of Lion Music, Lars Eric Mattsson, has a shitload of albums under his belt – both as a solo artist and as a member of acts like Book of Reflections, Vision, and Condition Red. While there is no doubt that he is incredibly gifted and that, though Lion Music, he has made a tremendous effort in keeping progressive metal, neoclassical metal, hard rock, and melodic metal alive, I think that the quality of his output is varied. In 2011, he released the instrumental album ”Aurora Borealis” which I found underwhelming, while his 1998-album ”Obsession” (reissued last year) is absolutely brilliant.

This year, he released ”Epicentre”. While following the neoclassiclly oriented ”Aurora Borealis”, ”Epicentre” does not follow up on ”Aurora Borealis”. While the preceding album was quite onesided, this one is multifacetted, as Mattsson explores a range of expressions and vistas. Thus, we are treated to tracks, like 'Cinnamon' or the swinging 'Too Late', while others, like 'No Way, No Surrender' and 'Wait for the Sunrise' as well as the heavy 'Freedom Fighters' and 'No More War' are all out prog metal attacks in the form of complexly structured flurries of passages and sections. Also in the progressive metal department, 'Land of Dreams' and 'Mirror' both explore eastern music, the latter also being nicely funky. There is enough variation on the album that the 18 tracks never get tiresome to listen to.

Also, while Mattsson is obviously a guitar shredder – and there are loads of guitar acrobatics of all sorts on the album – we are not dealing with a purely instrumental album. In fact most of the tracks feature vocals delivered by Mattsson himselft. His husky singing style may not please everybody, but it does its job. Needless to say there is nothing wrong with the musicianship and, all the more impressively, Mattsson plays all instruments with the exception of the drums (which, sadly, suffer a bit from the production – I think that the drums could have been more prominent in the mix and that they could have had a more organic sound).

Anyway, like ”Obsession”, ”Epicentre” captures Mattsson at his best and shows that there is more to his creativity than just neoclassical shredding. In other words, we are dealing with a fine progressive metal album which is enjoyable almost all the way through.

(review originally posted at metalmusicarchives.com)  8/10


 


Mattsson, Lars Eric: Obsession
 


Originally recorded in 1998 and now remastered and re-released , Lars Eric Mattsson's Obsession is a hell of an album. And I'm not saying this just because it has already been praised in dozens of glorious reviews. No, I'm saying this because I feel that Obsession is so much more than what we call a fine studio effort these days. This is an album that repeatedly kicks you right in the ass as if to say: "So you thought you know what to expect from a guitar-driven hard rock album just because you listened to Yngwie Malmsteen's full discography? Then take this, man! And that!"


 
I'll be honest with you – after I first listened to Obsession I was literally drained. But at the same time I was looking forward to listening to it once again. And again. This damn thing just takes it out of you – and then makes you beg for more. Take the crazy opener "Caught In Your Web" which hits you hard with Mattsson's voracious guitar riffs and Bjorn Lodin's wild and rugged yet strangely beautiful vocals. And if you think the second track, "Alive", will be any gentler, you have no choice but to think again, sorry, as it is another out-and-out scorcher that keeps you on the edge of the seat till the very end. "Just A Leo", track #3, takes you by surprise with its risqué, cheap sounding intro but after awhile it becomes an entirely satisfying fiery number with a catchy chorus – only to happily go back to the initial cornucopia of kitsch a moment later. What a ride! But hey – didn't I warn you that Obsession isn't exactly a drab, play-it-safe material?

 
I guess I need not remind you that the aforementioned three tracks are just the beginning of it all, either. The first moment when we are finally allowed to breathe out is "Messenger" which is another brilliant track, one that – due to some atmospheric guitar playing – makes you feel like you're walking through endless desert sands; and beware: the moment you start thinking you can relax for good, the guitar immediately attacks you with its sting as if it were earth's deadliest scorpion! Some more traditional hard rock songs in the vein of classic Rainbow or Deep Purple are "Long Way Home", "Eyes of a Child" as well as the final track, "And the Road Goes On", but Mattsson always peppers them with enough signature maddened guitar work to make them entirely his own. And Lodin amazes throughout, too, but perhaps nowhere more so than in the magnificent, semi-balladic "Sense and Obsession" in which his voice oozes both passion and weariness.

 
Clearly then, this isn't an album to listen to in the background while sipping wine with the love of your life. Trust me, you'd start headbanging or playing the air guitar within the first few minutes and your relationship would be over just like that. Obsession simply screams for your full attention and anytime you try to turn your back on it, it does its best to seduce you again, much like a jealous woman would. And, only appropriately, the tricks it's playing to achieve its aim ain't always subtle. So make sure you can divide your free time evenly between the love life and Obsession-listening time and then go get the album. Hell, even if you can't – GET IT! Who needs love life if you have Obsession?


Line-up: 
Lars Eric Mattsson – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards & Backing Vocals. 
Bjorn Lodin – Lead Vocals. 
Christer Jansson – Drums.


Tracklisting: 
01. Caught in Your Web 
02. Alive 
03. Just a Leo 
04. Messenger 
05. Long Way Home 
06. Time and Again 
07. Sense and Obsession 
08. Mother Forgive 
09. As the Sun Meets the Sky 
10. Eyes of a Child 
11. Lay It on the Line 
12. And the Road Goes On

Added: April 8th 2012
Reviewer: 
Bartek Paszylk
Score: 


Highlights of the latest reviews in so far...

Mattsson's Tango is magnificent career defining moment for this excellent composer, and an amazing listen. With the depth of composition, it will take you more than a few listens to digest, but it's worth every minute. Highly recommended.
5/5 at http://www.dangerdog.com/2010-music-reviews/mattsson-tango-review.php

If you enjoy guitar-oriented progressive metal with equally captivating male/ female vocal work, “Tango” should contain enough of the normal requisite goods to make this worth your money and time investment.
4/6 at http://www.imhotep.no/?did=9096482&aid=9069486

Overall Mattsson always serves up a veritable smorgasbord of material on each album, yet with ‘Tango’ the overall quality is high throughout and is a highly recommended starting place for anyone yet to hear Mattsson distinctive trademark sound.
90% at http://www.virtuosityone.com/mattsson_tango.htm

Mattsson has long been a reliable source of fine progressive metal music and on this latest album its about time he became much more widely known.
4/5 at http://www.hotdigits.co.uk