JENS JOHANSSON
Progressive Metal / Power Metal / Metal Related • Sweden

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Johansson (born November 2, 1963 in Stockholm) is son of the well-known Swedish jazz pianist Jan Johansson and brother of the heavy metal drummer Anders Johansson. In 1982, the classically trained Johansson left the jazz fusion band Slem and joined the Swedish metal band Silver Mountain, which also included Anders. In 1983 he left Sweden for California and joined guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen as a member of his band, Rising Force. Numerous records and world tours ensued and he stayed with Yngwie until 1989. Johansson also played with the band Dio between 1989 and 1990. Like Anders, he began an ongoing collaboration with Jonas Hellborg in 1989 which has resulted in several well-received progressive and avant-garde recordings, including Dissident, Silent Run (an acoustic piano trio record with Ginger Baker on drums) and the hard core progressive fusion record, E.

In 1993, Johansson co-founded a progressive blues metal project, The Johansson Brothers,
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JENS JOHANSSON Discography

JENS JOHANSSON albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
The Johansson Brothers
Progressive Metal 1994
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Ten Seasons
Metal Related 1995
.. Album Cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Sonic Winter
Power Metal 1996
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Heavy Machinery
Progressive Metal 1997
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fission
Progressive Metal 1998
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
The Last Viking
Power Metal 1999

JENS JOHANSSON EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fjäderlösa Tvåfotingar
Progressive Metal 1991

JENS JOHANSSON live albums

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JENS JOHANSSON Reviews

JENS JOHANSSON The Johansson Brothers

Album · 1994 · Progressive Metal
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SouthSideoftheSky
Band of brothers

This album is the first out of three albums that the two brothers, keyboardist Jens and drummer Anders Johansson, made together under the "original" name of 'The Johansson Brothers'. For those of you who don't know the history of these guys, they both used to play in Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force in the 80's. They have also made an album together with famous Jazz-Rock/Fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth as well as collaborated with such diverse artists as Ginger Baker, Ronnie James Dio and Mike Romeo of Symphony X. Jens has also played keyboards on many bands' and artists' albums including Blackmore's Night, Kamelot and he is a member of Stratovarius. The musical interests of the two brothers extend to experimental Jazz-Rock/Fusion, Prog Metal, Power Metal, (Neo-)Classical, World Music and more.

The present album is more in the Deep Purple category but with some progressive aspects. The Johansson brothers are obviously very skilled on their respective instruments and not surprisingly the sound is strongly dominated by keyboards and drums but there are also bass and guitars. There are a couple of instrumentals, but most of the tracks have vocals. The keyboards are mainly organ, synthesisers, some piano and (something that sounds like) a harpsichord (even if I'm pretty sure that it is produced with electronic keyboards). The vocals are very bluesy and almost soulful and would fit in nicely in any classic bluesy Hard Rock band. As I said, Deep Purple might come to mind, but the music here is much more melodic during the vocal parts and much more progressive and jazzy during the instrumental parts. Most of the songs are based on melody and not on instrumental workout. Most of the many keyboard solos are appropriate within the context of the songs and never too excessive. This is not at all an album concerned just with showing off chops.

The last track is a cover of The Beach Boys' Good Vibrations played in Deep Purple style with an organ solo. The song itself is about five and a half minute, but the track runs to over 21 minutes of silence with some noise at the very end. So don't expect an "epic" here!

Compared to the other two albums they did, Sonic Winter and especially The Last Viking, this debut is slightly immature. This first album has been made available as a two-for-one 2CD release together with Sonic Winter. This is probably the best way to get this album and both are good albums. However, the present one is the least good one among the three Johansson Brothers albums.

JENS JOHANSSON Sonic Winter

Album · 1996 · Power Metal
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SouthSideoftheSky
Keyboard-driven Metal

This album is the second one out of three that the two brothers, keyboardist Jens and drummer Anders Johansson, made together. For those of you who don't know the history of these guys, they both used to play in Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force in the 80's. Malmsteen also plays on this album as a guest, which is very interesting considering that this is a different kind of music compared to that of Rising Force. The Johansson brothers have a very wide set of musical influences that stretches far beyond the boundaries of Metal music. This can be seen on their (especially Jens') extremely diverse output, much of which is far from Metal. The influences on this particular album, however, include keyboard-heavy Deep Purple-like Rock, Neo-Classical Metal, some Jazz Fusion as well as classic bluesy Hard Rock. Overall, you might put this in the Prog Rock/Metal category.

The Johansson brothers are obviously very skilled on their respective instruments and the guitar shredding of Malmsteen is clearly recognizable, but quite sparse as he appears only in a couple of the songs. The overall sound is strongly dominated by keyboards, drums, bass and vocals with some guitar solos (not all played by Malmsteen). The keyboards are mainly organ, synthesizers, some piano and (something that sounds like) a harpsichord.

The vocals are very bluesy and almost soulful and would fit in any classic bluesy hard rock band. Deep Purple might come to mind, but the music on Sonic Winter is more melodic during the vocal parts and more progressive and jazzy in the instrumental parts. The longer tracks are instrumentals and consist mainly of some very good instrumental workout. Still, this is not an album concerned just with showing off chops. The shorter songs are based on melody and not on instrumental workout. Most of the many keyboard solos are appropriate within the context of the songs and never too excessive.

There is here a nice balance between bluesy Hard Rock/Metal songs with some quirks, and more experimental instrumentals. I would say that this album is a clear improvement over the first self-titled one. These two albums are now available together in a two-on-one double CD release. While I think that the third more Power Metal-like album The Last Viking (that features Mike Romeo of Symphony X on guitars) is even stronger, the present album is a very good and underrated one too.

Recommended!

JENS JOHANSSON The Last Viking

Album · 1999 · Power Metal
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SouthSideoftheSky
An endangered species?

The two brothers, keyboardist Jens and drummer Anders Johansson, has so far made three albums together (plus one together with guitarist Allan Holdsworth). The Last Viking was the last one they did and this one is quite different from the others. The Last Viking is clearly much less jazzy and also, at least on the surface, less progressive than the two other Johansson Brothers albums and even more so compared to the straightforward Jazz-Rock of Heavy Machinery (the one they did with Holdsworth). But The Last Viking is also more consistent and, on the whole, much better in my opinion.

For those of you who don't know the history of these guys, they both used to play in Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force in the 80's. For this album they enlisted Mike Romeo from Symphony X on guitars and Göran Edholm on vocals. The former is strongly influenced by Malmsteen's playing and the latter also used to sing for Malmsteen. But even if The Last Viking has some minor similarities with Yngwie Malmsteen's music, and also to that of Symphony X, these influences are not too apparent. The Last Viking has a much warmer and melodic sound that would be foreign to these metal bands, and the Johansson brothers have a much wider set of influences that stretches far beyond the narrow boundaries of metal music. This can be seen on their (especially Jens') extremely diverse output.

The Johansson brothers are obviously very skilled on their respective instruments and Romeo is a great guitar player, but this is not an album based on shredding and showing off chops. On the contrary, these songs are strongly based on melody and not on instrumental workout. They do burst out in many short, often extremely fast paced and impressive keyboard and guitar solos, but these are always appropriate within the context of the songs and never excessive. It is also clear that the three instrumentalists work together, and it is never a matter of just providing a backdrop for only one of them to show off. The instrumentalists share about equal space in the sound, which I like a lot.

We find here a very nice balance between up tempo songs, ballads and instrumentals. The material is very melodic. The ballads and the two instrumentals are great counterpoints to the more fast paced metal songs. On the surface this is rather conventional 80's metal, but at the same time it is not conventional at all. Below the surface we find a rich sonic palette and a strong sense of melody. The Jazz and Blues influences of earlier Johansson Brothers albums are almost gone, as are the more experimental edge, but there are still strong Classical influences here. Many would probably find this music a bit cheesy, but I find it cute and charming. I must say that I like this album more than most albums by Symphony X or Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force (though The Last Viking does not come close to the very best albums by these bands).

The vocals are very good and In The Mirror especially has excellent harmony vocals. The lyrics are perhaps not too interesting and are often about love and man's relation with nature (and Vikings?!). Again, some would find this cheesy, but I find it rather charming. You cannot take it too seriously, as I'm sure they don't do themselves! The keyboards sound like organs, pianos and harpsichords (even if I'm pretty sure that everything is produced with electronic keyboards). Everything has a sound that I do not recognize from somewhere else.

I enjoy this album, you might too

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