By Lorraine Kay
“Lady Macbeth”, the latest CD release by, who many Europeans and Asians have come to recognize over the past 10 years as the Queen of Symphonic Rock, Lana Lane, is a powerful, heavy symphonic, epic rock album, based on the famous Shakespeare play. Marking the 10th anniversary of her first CD, “Love is an Illusion”, and 20 plus releases later, this concept album tells the “Macbeth” story from the perspective of villainous Lady Macbeth. With ten haunting and original songs, primarily written by Lane, twist on the story is emotional and passionate, but somewhat sympathetic and ominous.
Released on the Avalon label in Japan, on Think Tank Media in North America and Frontier Records in Europe this CD is full of darkness and power, from beginning to end. The new Lane masterpiece unravels the ambition and madness of Lady Macbeth caught up in the crimes of her murderous husband and accomplice, she reasons their plans, coldly encouraging and urging her husband’s actions and grimly awaiting the news of the king’s demise.
Lane masterfully weaves her fix on the story, giving the listener a front row view of the progressive inner workings of the mind of Lady Macbeth, first cunningly waiting as her plans unfold, seemingly taking charge and then later a bit of regret catching in her voice – remembering a better life before betrayal and terror took up residence in her mind.
Produced and co-written by Lane’s husband, Erik Norlander, this CD is a must for any symphonic rock fan. No mushed-out frilly girl piece, this hard-rocking rock opera can hold its own alongside Pink Floyd’s The Wall or The Who’s Tommy. The tunes definitely have a strong feminine touch, but the working word is “strong”. With plenty of thunder, Lane and Norlander don’t hold back any punches on this one.
As always, Lane’s voice is clear and strong, filled with passion. The lady rocks and there is no argument that Lane is among the best of vocalists. This is symphonic rock at its best with her amazing voice that can seductively soothe or shake the rafters, playing the main part. Compared at times to Ann Wilson or Pat Benatar, she is very much an individual artist in her own right, once again showing us that her voice abilities are limitless, with range to spare. Lane easily exceeds those fine ladies as a storyteller, especially this time around. Lady Macbeth is the perfect vehicle for her enchanting and passionate vocal styling, which serves to teleport the listener to a world of history and fantasy. Powerfully belting out each hard driving rock number well above the instruments Lane can also settle into sensitive ballad mode when the song calls for it – just another aspect that Lane is so very good at, without losing any of the energy or dynamics as she switches from mood to mood and register to register.
Norlander does not disappoint one bit as a master producer or as a keyboardist. As a musician/technician, he instills a sense of mystery throughout the epic, painting with vibrant colors of crescendos and extended progressive chords, which masterfully support and drive Lane’s voice from song to song.
The band is an excellent group of master musicians, most of who have supported Lane for most of the past ten years. Guitarists Peer Verschuren, Mark McCrite and Neil Citron were joined by newcomer Kristoffer Gildenlow on bass, Don Schiff on NS Stick, Ernst Van Ee on drums and Kelly Keeling on harmony vocals.
The CD has its moments of “in-your-face” rock and roll that is offset by some very beautiful ballads. Even though the CD is an epic-concept production, many of the songs can stand alone on their own merit, being commercial friendly. The first of which is the opener, “The Dream That Never Ends”. It is a powerful opening anthem. Staying true to the darkness of this tale of murder and betrayal the first track introduces Her Ladyship arising from the softness of a mystical dream before it rips into a powerful rock anthem that drives her through her madness with unrelenting war drums. Lane’s powerful controlled vocal styling rings throughout Lady Macbeth. In contrast, still with a dark theme, “Summon the Devil” (track 4) is a wickedly fun and haunting chant that echoes Shakespeare’s lines from the scene of the three witches stirring their caldron of trouble. “Double, double, toil and trouble, Fire burn and caldron bubble…something wicked this way comes”. Lane is supported by a chorus of vocals and strong and equally dark comping by Norlander on clavinet and synthesizers, somewhat reminiscent of Edgar Winters’ Frankenstein.
Creating a multi-colored offering in on track 6, “Shine on Golden Sun” begins softly – floating on top of acoustic guitar and Mandolin arpeggios and trills. This one quietly emerges before exploding into a chorus of vocals and pounding drums over the chorus and solos. “The Vision” (track 7) is a nice instrumental interlude featuring Erik Norlander on keyboard solos, Neil Citron on guitar solos and Don Schiff on NS Stick solos. Lane, McCrite and Keeling, skillfully added atmosphere in a soft chorus of oohs and aahs.
Dunsinane Walls, – As the Macbeths realize the truth of the witches’ warning in their final hour, they meet their doom as their enemies close in on the castle. This haunting melody is unyielding, beginning with a single mellotron line above a piano awaiting Lane’s sweet and sad song of farewell – “And so my friends, I bid adieu”.
According to Norlander, he recorded the CD with Lane’s European touring musicians in Schiedam, The Netherlands: virtuosos Peer Verschuren on guitar and Ernst Van Ee on drums, along with newcomer to the Lana Lane family, Swedish bassist Kristoffer Gildenlöw coming from the excellent prog metal band, Pain of Salvation. American contributors to the Lana Lane project were Mark McCrite on guitar and harmony vocals, Neil Citron on guitar and Don Schiff on NS/Stick. Norlander also recruited the lead vocalist from his solo albums, Kelly Keeling, to contribute stunning harmony vocals to the album.
Lane and the band are currently on tour in Europe and Japan. American fans eagerly await information regarding concert dates in the states. For more information about the tour and to purchase “Lady Macbeth”, visit www.lanalane.com.