JOHN NORUM – Optimus

JOHN NORUM - Optimus


Mascot Records
Release date: February 23, 2005

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

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De·pend·a·ble (di pend’ uh bol), adj. capable of being depended on; worthy of trust; reliable. If one word was needed to describe John Norum and his solo career, then dependable would be the most descriptive choice. After releasing no less then six solo studio releases, John can be depended on for providing solid Hard Rock, layered upon on a Blues foundation with scorching guitar leads. His newest release, Optimus, is no exception to this formula. Unfortunately, this “formula” lends itself to very few surprises for the die-hard Norum fan, and several moments of mediocrity.

Sure there are several shining moments on this release, but the entire CD itself just doesn’t stack up to some of John’s prior solo works. It seems to lack that “special something” and cohesiveness as a whole. For example, the opening track, “Chase Down The Moon,” is just standard John Norum rock with a heavy Gibson sound, and an ordinary tempo that is spiced up by a sub-standard set of Norum guitar fills. Maybe Norum fans have become accustomed to expecting too much? Shining moments like “Nailed To The Cross” and “Forced,” where the “riffage” gets a little more prominent, and the instrumental “Optimus” are more memorable for some reason. Part of this is due to the anticipation that these types of tracks seem to exude as Norum fans drool like Pavlov’s hounds waiting for the inevitable; a blistering guitar solo, which these tracks deliver.

So why water down such powerhouse tracks like these with mediocre material like “One More Time,” “Takin’ The Blame” (with its Thin Lizzy like guitar harmonies), and “Change Will Come?” Coincidentally, without making any inference, the three aforementioned tracks were all penned solely by John. Even the release’s instrumental closer, “Solitude,” is average fanfare for Norum, and once again is a track solely accredited to John.

Bottom line, this is a commendable release from one of Rock’s finest guitarists. It’s full of Melodic Hard Rock based on a Blues foundation with whirling highlights of soaring guitar solos. While it certainly won’t become a die-hard John Norum fan’s favorite release, it is still worth purchasing, and any “Norum Collection” would be incomplete without it.


John Norum: Vocals, Guitars
Thomas Torberg: Bass
Hux Flux: Drums
John Norum: Production


  • 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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