Bag of Tricks

1. Entrance
2. Fugue State
3. Reason And Psychosis
4. Send My Message Home
5. Thundernight
6. Win
7. Don’t Belong
8. Stare Into My Eyes
9. Born In Babylon
10. Bag Of Tricks
11. Conflagrate My Heart

PelleK (Lead & backing vocals & keyboards)
Tommy ReinXeed (Guitars, bass, keyboards, backing vocals, orchestration, drums & programming)
Gisha (Guitars)

The Used (2002)
In Love and Death (2004)
Lies for the Liars (2007)
Artwork (2009)

Oliver Hartmann (Lead vocals on 3)
Marit Borresen (Lead & backing vocals)
Amanda Sommerville (Lead vocals on 4)
Anders Ringdal Ström (Acoustic guitar & lead vocals on 9)
Tommy Karevik (Lead vocals on 8)

Tommy ReinXeed (producer)

Released 30/5-2012
Reviewed 19/5-2012

rival records

Since Pellek is released through Liljegren Records, one can to 99% be sure of it being power metal (and probably with a Christian undertone). A correct assumption it turns out as we play the debut album by Norwegian Pellek, called 'Bag Of Tricks'. And it's not just power metal with a somewhat Christian undertone but also a somewhat progressive touch on it, which is something that could be expected as well since Liljegren Records these last couple of years showed repeatedly that they think we're still ten years back in time and that they are called Limb Music Production (or LMP) as they're releasing power metal with progressive and neo-classic tones in an insane tempo. Pellek is the latest of many and just like every other Liljegren Records release we find either Christian Liljegren or Tommy Reinxeed credited on the album, which on this album turned out to be the later and he is credited for playing the guitars on the album. And the bass. And keyboards. And the drums. And programming. And orchestration. And backing vocals. And except for this for producing the album. So it's not at all like he's trying to steal the glory or anything. Absolutely not!

Pellek has a name that backwards doesn't mean anything at all, but forward probably comes from Per Fredrik Åsly being called Pelle back in his home country - or at least so I'd guess - and then he's putted the K from Fredrik at the end because I can't imagine he would have taken it from his surname being Källmalm, like mine, since it isn't. Anyway, Pelle got some attention three years ago in the Norwegian version of The X-Factor where he ended up top 12 at a twelfth position. As you can expect from Liljegren Records (they have a history of exaggerating things) they blow this fact completely out of proportion saying that the "TV show was broadcasted for millions of viewers in Norway" and that "PelleK showed Norway how to sing power metal songs". Now, I'm not saying he didn't do so or that The X-Factor didn't have millions of viewers seen over the whole season but the episode with the most viewers had a bit over half a million viewers and since Pelle performed together with Anders Ringdal Ström under the name of Reaching Horizons and was eliminated in the first round out of ten in the finals they only had one performance, one audition and a couple of semi-finals to "show Norway how to sing power metal". Still, being twelfth out of thousands isn't bad but let's not bend the truth more than it can handle.

Anyway, none of this really matter as we get the solo debut album by Pelle. Not this or that he's the vocalist in two other bands or that he was one of the vocalists on the crappy compilation Swedish Hitz Goes Metal that was released last autumn (and was one of the worst pieces of shit I've heard in all my years as a music reviewer). Nor does it matter that Pelle has more that two million You Tube views, since the only thing that matters with a new release is the new release and my review of 'Bag Of Tricks' therefore doesn't even care for the behavior of Liljegren Records. And with all that said, what can we find in Pelles bag?

The opening track is just under two minutes and begins very grand and orchestral with a music quite similar to the Danny Elfman Batman theme in Tim Burtons movies from the early 90's before it changes into something more of a Narnia sound (best to add that I mean the movies, not the band) and the leaps in to the first real song, called Fugue State. This is a pretty typical power metal song that goes in the same vein as many other Liljegren bands, like DivineFire and Golden Resurrection. In this particular song I also find Pelles voice scaringly similar to Christian Liljegren who sings in these bands, which is a result of the Reinxeed production that has made his voice get that sound despite Pelle having a much more powerful voice with a wider vocal range and is able to stretch the notes into long segments. His voice, along with the layers of choirs that comes in from time to time, gets very strong and powerful in some parts and the music is mostly catchy and interesting, even though I feel the guitars sometimes gets a bit too much Tommy Reinxeed - which means dreary and insipid. However, most tracks works and it just feels a bit sad that some of the tracks gets that unroyal treatment.

To your left you can read the guestlist on 'Bag Of Tricks' (if you can't read you've done very good to get this far in to the review without that ability) and among the guest there are two great Germans, Oliver Hartmann and Amanda Sommerville (both of whom has been seen in Avantasia that is mentioned as a similar band) and there are also two more Norwegian vocalists except the previously mentioned Ström. I really like this vocalistic variation that these give the album and the variation can only be matched by how the tempo on the album goes up and down in different songs. You have everything from calm ballads to frenetic rockers and I really think that for once Mr. Reinxeed has made a good job with both production and orchestration, which has given the album a lift towards the skies. Send My Message Home is probably my favorite of them all, which is a duet between Pelle and Amanda that goes a bit back and forth until only 1 minute and 20 seconds remains where the song shifts quite dramatically into a semi acoustic ending with trumpets, guitars and such. I also think that Fugue State, Reason And psychosis, Thundernight, Don't Belong and Stare Into My Eyes makes up the better half of the album that overall feels really good despite having a few cheap tricks in the bag.

The music feels varied and have plenty of keys and orchestration as well as variation in the tempo, though the foundation is a classic power metal sound with double kick, shouty electric guitars and a speedy tempo. The eleven songs make 41 minutes of music, which feels just right for this album and my interest is carried well in to the end of the album with the most interesting songs being really interesting. Despite a few songs being less interesting I still get a positive feeling from 'Bag Of Tricks' and despite the fact that it hardly will go to history as world changing and super unique, I think it has more interesting tricks in the bag than the opposite. Perhaps the most interesting release to come from Mr Reinxeed and/or Liljegren Records? Either way, it's clearly an album above average!



Label: Liljegren Records/Doolittle Group/Connecting Music
Three similar bands: Avantasia/Golden Ressurection/Theocracy
Rating: HHHHHHH (5/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm

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