Friday, January 30, 2015

The Lynx Is Out Of The Trap And Prowls Again!

Swedish hard rockers LYNX formed in the town of Eskilstuna, just west of Stockholm Sweden, in 1975 as PEGASUS. Vocalist Mats Eriksson (later Feretti) and Per Hermansson met on the train going to a Deep Purple gig in Gothenburg. On the way home again the decision to form a band was made by the two young men and they immediately recruited the drummer Tommy Karlsson. Just a couple of days later they found bass player Pål Johnsson and guitarist Jan Elvi. They chose the name Pegasus right at the start. After being together for a year or so Jan Elvi left the band and was replaced by guitar slinger Per Larsson. The band split up the first time as far back as 1977, but Larsson, Hermansson and Eriksson continued to play together in different formations.

In 1981, Pegasus was brought back from the dead but this time with Kuano Vaatovaara handling the bass. Pegasus slowly built up a larger following and a few years down the line drummer Tommy Karlsson was replaced by Johan Skagerlind. A record contract was signed in 1985 with the small label Mill Records. Just before the recording Pegasus changed the name to Lynx when they learned there was another band going by the name of Pegasus. A smart move to avoid legal fights over the band name. Drummer Johan Skagerlind played on the pre-production demos but just before the recording chose to leave the band and in came Carl Moser. He had almost no time to learn the songs but did so in two weeks. The debut album was recorded at Decibel Studios, Stockholm and released later that year. Production was handled by the band themselves together with Thomas Sunmo and Olle Larsson.
Picture courtesy of Lynx homepage

Caught In The Trap was Lynx's debut album and also the only album the band released. It combined the energy and attitude of the early NWOBHM wave, the heavy riffs and grooves of Black Sabbath with more melodic edged bands like Europe and Treat. The mix making it a really interesting release and with the frequent use of keyboards a parallel could easily be drawn to NWOBHM band Tobruk and the first two albums by EuropeLynx recorded four more songs ("Back In The Streets" + 3 more) for a proposed second album which never materialized and Lynx split up soon after. Guitarist Per Larsson went on to play guitar in Dionysos and black metal band Nightspirit, the latter still active.

Fast forward to 2014 and Mats Feretti and Per Larsson have reunited and together they are writing new songs so maybe, just maybe, there will be more Lynx music in the future with the inclusion of some unreleased older tracks. Very much due to the great guys at Greek label No Remorse Records Caught In The Trap can finally be enjoyed in remastered format on CD for the first time. Caught In The Trap is the second release in the label's ”Swedish Hard n´ Heavy Series” (DIZZINESS – On The Rocks being the first). I hope there are some new and interesting re-issues coming up in the future. I´m definitely going to follow this very interesting series.

Track By Track Comments
The album starts off with a heavy song called ”My Own Way” which has a distinct Sabbath feel with a ”doomy atmosphere” running throughout the song much to the credit of Hermansson keyboards. The song starts off with a keyboard intro setting the atmosphere for the song before Larsson's riffs set in and a great and weird riff it is! Eriksson's spaced out and airy vocals float perfectly on the heavy riffing from Per Larsson. A really strong opener with a pulsing beat that catches your attention right away. It is followed by ”Win Or Lose” which is a mid-tempo affair, has a really catchy chorus and displays hints of Rainbow or early Europe. Some old style Hammond fills and a great solo from Larsson add value to the song. Lyrically it's about having to fight and 
Picture courtesy of Lynx homepage.
whether you win or lose is your choice. It is followed by another great mid-tempo track called ”Fingers Crossed” which blends sharp guitar riffs with atmospheric keyboards in the background with Eriksson's clear vocals on top. Again some great riffs from Larsson in front of Vaatovaara's thumping bassline and Moser's pulsating drums. The song does not have a clearly defined chorus line. The fourth track on the album is called ”Man Without A Face” which is a great melodic rocker with a chorus that easily sticks in your head. The Rainbow influences on this song (Joe Lynn Turner era) are rather obvious, but it's a great melodic rocker and definitely one of the stronger songs on the album. The song is about the man without a face, a tyrant long ago who only came out at night and never showed his face. This is followed by Don´t Fool Me”, a song about being left alone in the dark waiting, which together with the opening track and ”Man Without A Face” are my top picks from this great album. ”Don´t Fool Me” is a great melodic hard rock song with clear hints of AOR. It´s got a really catchy hook with a huge chorus.

Next song is ”The Final Race”, a song about illegal street racing and losing control of the car - the final race. It is a faster-paced heavy rocker more in the vein of Saxon and Tygers Of Pan Tang and the British influences are really showing on this one. The song contains a nice solo from Per Larsson and some cool riffs. It is followed by ”Nothing In Return” and it may be the fastest song on the original album which gives the listener another healthy dose of NWOBHM inspired heavy rock. The song contains a nice chorus and a great hook. Lyrically it deals with the subject of being used and how "easy come, easy go" sometimes applies to love.  Next up is the strange but excellent track ”Master Of Evilwith a rather mysterious sounding riff and a vintage organ in the background creating that type of spooky atmosphere that was a signature mark of Black Sabbath's. The song brings up the subject of only getting one chance at getting rid of the almighty Tyrant (The Master of Evil) and throwing him off the throne. The original album then rounds off with ”Nightstalker” with the Rainbow influences clearly showing again. A really strong chorus with some nice keyboards and a great riff.

Now the bonus material takes over and everything is from the days when they were known as Pegasus. First out is a live recording of a song called ”In The Night” and it was recorded by Swedish  Radio in 1981 in a town called Oxelösund. On this track, Tommy Karlsson was still behind the drumkit. It's a great song with a really nice vibe and an interesting hook. Think Rainbow again and you will get very close to what this song sounds like. Sound quality is of course not the greatest but a very interesting time document. When it comes to the songwriting it would easily have fitted on the 
Pegasus live. Picture courtesy of  Lynx homepage
album. Second song called ”Keep On Giving Me Love” is by far the fastest track on this reissue and starts of with a falsetto scream in the vein of King Diamond from Mats Eriksson and it continues in a fast pace with the pedal to the metal. An interesting song with a nice chorus line but sound quality is a bit poor. It was recorded on a 4-track in the rehearsal studio. The CD ends with a track from the pre-production demos leading up to Caught In The Trap. It is called ”Race To Hell” and it´s the only track where drummer Johan Skagerlind keeps the beat going. It's an early version of the song ”Final Race” that ended up on the album.

The production on this album from 1985 is really impressive with a crisp sound and all the instruments can be clearly heard separate from each other.  The album is clearly heavier than most contemporary bands from Scandinavia in this genre. With heavy riffing, a great musicianship and a bunch of great songs this is really an undiscovered gem for many fans of the genre. Mats Ferretti's mystical and crystal clear vocals fit the music perfectly making this a really interesting blend of the traditional NWOBHM sound with the more keyboard oriented AOR sound. Some songs even show some hints of AOR.

The guys at No Remorse Records have done a great job again with reissue that comes with a very nice 20 page booklet including the lyrics to all the original 9 songs and a short band biography written by Per Larsson.  This great package includes some really nice and great photos from the time of the recording of the album. I still wonder though why the 4 songs recorded for the second album were not included as bonus material, especially in the light of the questionable audio quality of the bonus songs. The only viable reason would be to save it for a later release with some new songs added. Considering how good "Back On The Streets", "The Arena", "Stolen Money" and "R&R Gonna Save Your Soul" sound, some of them you can find on YouTube, it's very strange why they were not included. Both the songwriting and the audio quality is superior to the bonus material included. That would have made a great release even better!

Rating an old release as this is always hard and for the time (the mid-1980´s) this was a really great album that unfortunately got lost in the shuffle. Lynx was good enough to compete with the best. I would give this reissue a 7/10 and maybe would have been even higher if the bonus material had been different. I can´t shake the feeling that the four demos for the second album should have been on as bonus tracks! No Remorse Records are doing a fantastic job of bringing all these old and great releases out again, often for the first time on CD. The Lynx album is no exception and is one of their best releases.

Let´s just hope that something comes out of the newly re-established connections between Larsson and Feretti. Maybe they can bring the original Lynx back together again – who knows. There are plans for a new record with both old material and some new songs and I´m still hoping that record will bring us the 4 missing demos because they are so good that they need to be heard!  Until then I strongly recommend a listen to Caught In The Trap.

BUY: Lynx - Caught In The Trap

The Lionsheart


Unknown said...

Per Larsson from Lynx here. The reason why the newer tracks isn't on this release is because we are saving those to be included in an upcoming release that also will include some brand new material

The Lionsheart said...

Ok Per thats great news! Really looking forward to that release and some new Lynx stuff! Keep on rocking!!

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