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Kens Dojo… a slightly odd name for a band, not initially filling me with anticipation; conjuring up an image of a nerdy collective of musicians who practice in a martial arts studio, but as I found out this is one album that shouldn’t be taken at face value (or at least how it reads on the press release). Kens Dojo is the brainchild of one Ken Ingwersen, a Norwegian guitarist (and martial arts fanatic – hence the “Dojo”) who has, over the years, performed with a broad spectrum of musicians from Ken Hensley (ex-Uriah Heep), Glenn Hughes and TNT to … Chesney Hawkes (yes, you did read that right, Chesney ‘I Am The One And Only’ Hawkes). In addition to this he’s also part of a production/writing team called Oslo Recordings, who have penned and produced tracks and albums for Gloria Gaynor, a whole stinking stack of German and Norwegian “Pop Idol” cheese and a Eurovision song. I suppose everyone has to make a living, but reading about this didn’t really help to raise my expectations, however, he did also mix Fleurety’s ‘Min Tid Skal Komme’ and Arcturus’ first studio album ‘Aspera Hiems Symfoni’, so that’s at least won him a bit more metal credibility! However, it appears that along his varied musical travels, Mr Ingwersen has collected a glut of rather talented friends (and hence the name Kens Dojo I guess), who he’s enlisted to play on ‘Reincarnation’, and that in combination with his studio and songwriting experience, it has resulted in an unexpectedly pleasurable and infectious release. With its style mainly rooted in melodic rock and AOR, the album weaves its way through the power-prog metal leanings of ‘Keeping The Flame Alive’, of which Nils K. Rue from Pagan’s Mind lends highly-processed vocals (quite apt really, as this could easily be mistaken for a Pagan’s Mind track), to the rather tender and almost pop-like feel of ‘Reincarnation’, aided by the vocals of Chesney Hawkes, which sounds cringeworthy, but in fact works very well mid-album and adds a lighter dimension to the release, and it pains me to say it, but his vocals and vocal tone on here really are quite stunning. With other vocalists including Michael Eriksen from Norwegian prog-metallers Circus Maximus and Glenn Hughes, the vocal variety on ‘Reincarnation’ makes for a particularly interesting listen, and will no doubt bring the album more attention from fans of those contributing vocalists – cunning, though probably not intentional, especially with Ken Ingwersen not being a particularly well-known name. The guitar-playing of Ingwersen is also notably flawless and technically brilliant, with the album’s three instrumental tracks ‘Momentos A Solas’, ‘El Recreo’ and ‘Soundcheck Bonanza’ being reminiscent of early 90s Satch-style and displaying much technical fret-widdlage. The production and mixing is equally flawless (though with Ingwersen’s studio experience, it’s not entirely unexpected), with not one instrument or vocal track sounding misplaced, and adding to the listening experience. Very much a surprise of a good album, in every respect, ‘Reincarnation’ would make for one particularly interesting and varied live show, should Ingwersen decide to take it out of the Dojo.
AOR Heaven
Review by Hannah Sylvester
30th August 2010
1) Forever
2) Keeping the Flame Alive
3) I Surrender
4) Reincarnation
5) Momentos A Solas
6) Demon in Diamonds
7) Come Alive
8) El Recreo
9) Set This Angel Free
10) Rain
11) Soundcheck Bonanza
"...an unexpectedly pleasurable and infectious release."