Time to love: German legends check in what may be their swan song… or dozen of those.
“I’ve got to get it right this time” might be this album’s leitmotif: not only because a lot of it sounds like a defiant apology – to the loved ones and to the world – but also because it could be the last we hear from the FRIEND. Four new tracks laid down for the "Awakening" anthology that entailed the band’s reunion and a string of festival appearances that resulted in a live record, inspired the veterans to write more, so if “Too Late To Hate” is a closing chapter in their story – which, in John Lawton‘s words may not be the case – there would be no better finale. The aforementioned line comes from “This Time,” a romantic ballad unexpectedly breaking into a Hammond-driven prog wigout to organically demonstrate a continuity of the ensemble’s method in the same way cosmic opener “Demolition Man” does it before wrapping contemporary rapping around the “Ride The Sky”-type of heavy assault. So here’s one hell of a return is played by classic rules.
Lyrical in a pop bounce of “I Will Be There” and heroic in the likes of “Jokers & Fools” that find Peter Hesslein’s guitar offset natural dramatics of Lawton’s vocal delivery, the group tie affairs of the heart to sociopolitical woes, with metallic “Sea Of Promises” and theatrical “When Children Cry” thematically linked to each other. Yet “Tell Me Why” shows the quintet wouldn’t shy away from fine rocking to make a song’s message highly memorable, while the traditional influence on “Brothers Without A Name” etches the band into eternity, given it’s their first LP since 1981’s “Mean Machine” to feature original bassist Dieter Horns. It’s an album full of righteous anger – and of love, too; so while a concert snippet of an unreleased “When You’re Gone” may sound sad, there couldn’t be more affectionate farewell. It’s too late to hate the FRIEND for getting away: their long goodbye is another comeback.