A genre I rarely find myself listening to is AOR. Which is a shame as there are some classic acts within it, and some awesome tracks. Thing is, AOR seems to be the domain of eldsters (of which I sadly am one) so there aren’t many new acts coming through. Filling this gap are FirstBourne from Boston, MA, giving their AOR a nice shiny melodic metal finish.
Incredibly accessible without being overly commercial or cheesy, Pick Up The Torch is FirstBourne’s second album and it’s been a good introduction to the band. Skipping past the intro track, “Home” crashes in with bright guitars, a high pitched scream and a cracking bouncy rhythm.
“Truth of the Lion” goes for a less brash approach and doesn’t match up as a result, which is a shame as it’s not a bad song. Just put up against the opener it feels a little… empty. The likes of “Control”, “Breaking Chains”, “Riot” and especially the title track make up for this, though. “Pick Up The Torch” in particular has some wonderfully shredded guitar work.
There’s an odd pairing of tracks, too. “When Morning Breaks” is pretty much a straight-on ballad and it’s backed up against “My Choices” which is more of a power ballad with some heart-wrenching solos towards the halfway mark. These are the kind of songs you’d normally find separated with some more rockers in between. Still, they work though it does put a speed bump into the album’s flow.
The album proper ends with the nicely over-the-top “Symphony of Subconscious” before a cover of Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Rising Force” rounds things off.
While not the kind of thing I’d normally listen to, I gave Pick Up The Torch more than a few listens for this review and I’m surprised to find myself thinking that I’ll come back to it. It’s nice to step outside of that comfort zone once in a while.
Pick Up The Torch is out on October 25th