HIGHER GROUND – A Thousand Pieces

HIGHER GROUND - A Thousand Pieces


AOR Heaven
Release date: November 29, 2004

Guitars: C+
Bass: B
Drums: A
Vocals: C
Lyrics: C
Recording Quality: B+
Originality: C
Overall Rating: B-

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A Thousand Pieces hails from Swedish band Higher Ground and represents their second full album in the last six years. The music has been penned as “Melodic Rock” but at times it’s the type of rock that will most likely appeal only to a certain genre of listeners. This is by no means a “Heavy Metal” release, even with a solid drum and bass performance turned in by Petter Eriksson and Ulf Merkell, respectively. The music falls into the same genre as bands such as Street Talk/T/Bell and Martin Stenmarck/Jamie Meyer, Giant, Richard Marx and Survivor even though the band doesn’t sound like any particular artist at one time. If you’re not even remotely intrigued by these types of bands then proceed to the next CD review. Even lyrically, the release tells us tales of emotions, feelings, relationships and love. Not the typical stuff of Heavy Metal dreams.

The release opens up in fine AOR fashion with “Inside Me” and it’s thick, jabbing guitar rhythm, a strong offbeat drum track, and a melodic chorus. This song could fare very well on several USA FM radio stations if not for Peter Lindberg’s, at times, thick Swedish enunciation. The next track up is “Speechless,” demonstrating a bluesy guitar chop line, and another strong drum backbeat accompanied by a nice, tenacious bass line. This track also features some nice multi-layered vocals on chorus, which eventually includes accompaniment by a group of female backing singers. “Speechless” is one song that will eventually have you performing a toe tap in unison with the chorus.

At this point, the listener might suspect that they will become an ear witness to a slightly different sonic experience. Sadly, it comes to a quick end as the demon of mediocrity slowly creeps in on the third track, “I Feel Alive.” The rhythm section turns in another strong performance, and Lindberg delivers a decent, though slightly strained and forced, chorus. The female backing singers are heard from once again, but they don’t add “that special something” to the song like they do on the “Speechless” track.

Halfway into the release, “She’s Gone” starts to slow the tempo down slightly with an interlaced, upbeat chorus section, but then “Falling Apart” and “Cry” take the tempo way down. While, these two tracks come off as nicely done efforts, they just don’t offer anything special that you haven’t heard before. “She Plays” attempts to pick-up the pace again with its John Parr (remember “St’ Elmo’s Fire” and “Naughty, Naughty”) infested chorus. Unfortunately, the next track “Believe” brings us back down to Earth from our temporary AORish high, and delivers a more tender moment on the album. Thankfully, the release finishes in high-spirited fashion with “The Genius,” which provides a catchy, multi-layered chorus and an energetic, melodic ride reminiscent of Foreigner. The track comes complete with a steady rhythm section and the occasional keyboard twiddling.

A Thousand Pieces is a strong effort due to the fact there’s not one particular track that can be rubber-stamped as terrible. The majority of the tracks tend to be typical, hook-ladened AOR tracks. The release keeps its head slightly above water with memorable tracks like “Inside Me” and “The Genius.” The saving grace is the “Speechless” track which tries to breakout of the standard AOR mold. If only the band had tried to tread more uncharted AOR waters with tracks like “Speechless,” then they might have indeed left us totally “speechless.”


Vocals: Peter Lindberg
Guitars: Niklas Hammarberg
Drums: Petter Eriksson
Bass: Ulf Merkell
Keys: Erik Pettersson
Production: Michael Rosman


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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