23 Acez - Redemption Waves (Mighty Music)

Pleasing... very pleasing!
Release Date: 
11 Jan 2015 - 11:30pm

Belgian hard rock veterans 23 Acez have come up with something of a minor classic with their second album, Redemption Waves. Combining elements of classic eighties AOR a la .38 Special (the album’s standout track, The Bigger Picture, could easily have found it’s way onto a Ferris Bueller-style romp back in the day) with heavier, riff-orientated material that wouldn’t go amiss on a classic Skid Row album, the band would appear to have all the hard rock bases covered with this release.

Indeed, if the album has a weak point it’s that the band seems to be trying to cover a little too much ground here; It’s unlikely people responding positively to The Bigger Picture will have quite so much fun listening to some of the darker, grungier material on offer, but that may just be my personal preferences colouring my judgement. And it has to be said that the darker, grungier material is right out of the top drawer too. In fact the band do manage to fuse these two worlds together quite magnificently on the chugging AOR of Descending, pointing perhaps to an exciting new direction if the band chooses to pursue it in the future. I for one certainly wouldn’t be averse to this style cropping up more on subsequent 23 Acez releases. 

Star of the show in a strong all-round team performance is vocalist/guitarist ‘Zors’ Willaert, whose pleasingly gritty yet melodically powerful voice adds colour and texture even in the odd moments when the music becomes a little prosaic, whilst the excellent riffage of Willaerts and six-string compadre Tom Tas bring high levels of air guitar worthiness to much of what's on offer here.

It’s hard to see Redemption Waves appealing to younger fans of the harder end of the rock spectrum, mired as it is in the music of years gone by. However if quality heavy rock with a classic feel is where your musical heart lies, you’ll enjoy every minute of this album.