Osukaru: ‘Transition’

Osukaru CD coverOSUKARU
Released on May 4, 2015 (City of Lights Records)

I first got turned on shamelessly to Osukaru due to the melodic rock group’s cool cover for its new album Transition. I had never heard any tracks from Osukaru but decided that I’d check them out. Before listening to Transition, I received a City of Lights Records compilation CD entitled You Better Rock It Up Vol. 1. The one track that stood out for me on a first listen was Osukaru‘s “Arrows” and that is when I took the plunge into Tradition hoping to hear more of the same from the group who is based in Sweden and not somewhere in Asia as you might infer from the album cover for Tradition.

While I continue to enjoy and marvel at the song “Arrows” which is the opening track on Tradition, unfortunately none of the rest of the tracks on the album live up to that first song and sometimes they stray into pop rock territory, which is not my cup of tea. “Arrows” is very catchy, upbeat and melodic and has singers Fredrik Werner and Cecilia Camurii trading lead vocals throughout the song. Next up is “Strangled Emotions” which is just way too poppy for my sleaze rock / heavy metal musical taste. The heavy keyboards and occasional saxophone outbursts just don’t cut it for me. It is the type of song that I cringe to listen to and is the type of light pop rock that I would expect to hear in an elevator on a way to a doctor’s office. While “Edge Of A Broken Heart” is also straying into pop rock category, it has more of an edge to it with less keyboards and more guitar with Camurii handling the lead vocals. Basically, it reminds me of Vixen back in that group’s prime. One of the best tracks is actually the mostly instrumental “Play” which is built on a cool guitar riff and has some ripping guitar solos throughout. The saxophone parts fit well into the song. Too bad that there are no vocals on the track until the very end when you can hear Camurii‘s opera like voice because it is one of my favorite tracks. There was definitely a missed opportunity for Osukaru on that track.

“Blinded Eye” is a track that starts off strong with a good guitar riff and melody before inexplicably slowing down to a snail’s pace before building up again with some nice melodies and back to that strong guitar riff. I find that where Transition really misses the boat is during the track — if you can call it that — “Rocks 98.5 [Redux]” which is really a radio announcement. A radio announcement? Why? Is it to demonstrate that Osukaru should be receiving radio airplay? Apparently, “Rocks 98.5 [Redux]” was inserted to advise the listener that Osukaru‘s new original material had come to an end on Tradition and the band was now revisiting and had re-recorded some of its tracks from its past. “Rocks 98.5 [Redux]” is completely unnecessary and should have never been included. Frankly, it sounds like group co-founder Ryan Coyle is plugging a radio show…

The songs that have been re-recorded on Osukaru‘s Tradition — which I am hearing for the first time so won’t compare them to the originals — sound like your typical melodic rock fare and are enjoyable for the most part although I definitely rather hear harder rocking songs. My favorite song out of the re-recorded Osukaru “classics” is actually the bonus track “City Of Lights Reimagined” which definitely is more pop rock than anything else but which I find has a cool and at times funky beat to it. I wish that Osukaru had rocked out a lot more on Tradition and veered more into Masterplan type melodic rock. The potential is there with talented guitarists Werner and Oz Osukaru but perhaps I just have to simply accept that Osukaru is a poppier type melodic rock band rather than a harder edged one.

Track List:
01. Arrows
02. Strangled Emotions
03. Edge Of A Broken Heart
04. Play
05. Blinded Eyes
06. Rocks 98.5 [Redux]
07. Tell Me You’ll Stay
08. Out Of Touch
09. Mafia Rules
10. Promised Land
Bonus Track:
11. City Of Lights Reimagined

Band Members:
Oz Osukaru – rhythm and lead guitars, keyboards, hammond organ, backing vocals
Cecilia Camurii – lead and backing vocals
Fredrik Werner – lead and backing vocals, acoustic and lead guitars
Vidar Martensson – drums and percussion

Additional Musicians:
Jens Bjork – saxophone
Ryan Coyle – drums and percussion
Fredrik Svensson – bass (1, 2, 5, 7)
Axel Ryberg – drums (1)
Malin Tack – additional backing vocals
Signe Johnsson – additional backing vocals

Guest Musicians:
Jules Mills – vocals as Mafia Boss (9)
Erik Heikne – guitar solos (9)
Janne Stark – harmony and ending guitar solos (3)

Produced by Oz Osukaru

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, October 2015

Osukaru – Arrows (Official Video)

Song taken from the album “Transition”, out now on City of Lights Records (CD) and Simply Boundless Records (digital).Music video by Osukaru performing “Arro…