Genre: power metal
To be honest, I think that X Factor contestants are best off forgotten - and, well, most of them do fade from the limelight drift into oblivion faster than the double bassdrums in an old Helloween song.
However, every now and then a truly remarkable contestant pops up and deserves all the attention they can get. Denmark's X Factor had Oliver Weers, who was famously kicked out for being too good, only to be offered a contract with a hard rock label and now has a career as a musician that most other X Factor contestants - even winners - can only envy. Norway's X Factor had Per Fredrik Åsly (aka. PelleK) performing power metal songs on X Factor (yes, as you can imagine this is pretty much unheard of), making it to the top 12, and now he has a career as an album releasing musician.
His latest album "Bag of Tricks" is his first release on the metal-oriented label Liljegren Records and, true to who PelleK is, it is a tour de force in European power metal. The songs are big and epic, the way Euro power metal should be, and features chucking guitars and pounding double bass drums. The vocal melodies are catchy and the choruses memorable, allowing PelleK to showcase his clear and powerful singing voice.
The epic aspect of this album cannot be underestimated, and many of the songs are boosted by symphonic synth effects - at times taking on an almost cinematic character. While this works for me most of the time, I do think that the synths become too dominant, and some of the ballads do strike me as being a bit too cheesy for my taste, such as 'Born in Babylon', 'Don't Belong' and 'Send My Message Home'.
PelleK is obviously a very talented singer, and, with Tommy ReinXeed taking care of virtually everything else, You can expect the musicianship to be no less than super professional, and especially the guitar solos are blazing and shreddy, yet often melodic and always biiig.
While a tad too cheesy for my taste in several places, I recognize that "Bag of Tricks" is a quality Euro power metal-album that has all the things that fans of the genre love. And, as mentioned, it does contain several elements that appeal to me as well. Fans of ReinXeed and Sonata Arctica should definitely give this album a listen.