Sparklands – “Tomocyclus”


Sparklands - TomocyclusI remember as a little boy listening to bands such as Toto, Styx, Kansas and Scorpian. In a way the formed some of my musical landscapes as a youth. Now many many years later I get to listen and review an album that brought back torrents of great memories of listening to those great bands; and I suppose the fact that I am a huge AOR fan just added sugar to the listen. AOR is back in the form of Sparklands.

To get you ready for the album lets first build a bit of a foundation. So who are Sparklands?, well they certianly ooze AOR. Sparklands was basically started out a passion for AOR by two Dutch brothers, Thomas Riekerk and Robert ‘Ty’ Riekerk and together with befriended producers and musicians like, Simon Getsels, Minco Eggersman and Martijn Groeneveld they started writing and recording sessions for Sparklands. There goal here seemed to achieve that ‘ulimate’ AOR sound, and from what I have read they went to a lot of effort to try and achieve this. They tell of how hard they worked at getting that true ‘retro’ sound by even using vintage gear to really capture the sound they were gunning for. After listening to the album, I think ultimately they have achieved that, and I think all their hard work and time to produce one of the most ‘ultimate’ AOR albums has paid off. “Tomocyclus” is filled with those big arena signiture AOR guitar solo’s, big drums, powerful catchy hooks and melodies. As if they have carefully studied some of the greats of the genre, and put them all together on one album. Its superb in that respect. Its a time travel release, that will transport you back to the days when bands like Mr Mister, Bad English, and Giant ruled the stages of AOR. This is a ‘classic’ release in ever aspect, and even with its vintage sound that for many of us older folk will certianly spark flames of the days of some of the greatest rock bands that ever played planet Earth, it brings to to the modern age a classic sound that will continue to reverberate through time and capture the hearts of many.

Almost instantly from the first track one is drawn to the proffesionalism of the compositions in deliverying high quality AOR that drives with a melodic edge. Very seldom have I come across a debut release like, “Tomocyclus” that can offer a world class assembly of mucisians of which impresses me as much as this album has. Almost straight through I listened with an ever increasing smile on my face. This 14 song release is world class.

There are many rock nostalgic moments that come to the fore throughout, like “Oasis” that brings a Bad English flavor and energy to the composition. You’ll find some almost perfect harmonies on songs like “The Feeling Is Gone” or “The Game” that almost hark back to the days of “Hysteria” of Def Leppard.

Richie Sambora is truly a classic reference point in highlighting Robert ‘Ty’ Riekerk guitar slinging ability. So if you are a Richie Sambora fan, then you’ll find something to like here. There are one or two moments in the album where things drag a bit especially towards the end; “Open Your Eyes” is a good example.

This is an album that is a sulute to the appretiation of AOR and melodic rock. From the mucisians to the compositions what “Tomocyclus” is able to achieve is of world class proffesionalism that immediately is able to stand with the greatest AOR/melodic rock bands out there of the likes of, Toto, Chicago, Mr Mister, Kansas and Giant. There are some gob-smacking ballads like “Shattered Dream” that illustartes a band that brings such a strong production to the table you cannot help pass comparisons to some of the greats of this genre. “Tomocycles” is not only insiprational in its delivery but evidently a classic by all respects. Overall Sparklands bring classic AOR into present day earth. For those who grew up in the 80‘s listenng to the likes of Giant, Def Leppard, Mr Mister, Toto, Styx, Kansas and Giant you are in for a great treat.

Rating: 9/10

Written by Donovan de Necker

1 – The Game
2 – Skyline
3 – Joanne
4 – Oasis
5 – Shattered Dream
6 – Afterlife
7 – State Of Mind
8 – The Feeling Has Gone
9 – Sparklands (Instrumental)
10 – Let Sparks Fly
11 – Lost In Space And Time
12 – Let It Out
13 – Open Your Eyes
14 – Tomocyclus

Studio album members (“Tomocycles”) :
Thomas Riekerk – lead and backing vocals
Robert ‘Ty’ Riekerk – aucoustic, electric guitars and keyboards
Simon Gitsels – synthersizers and keyboards
Minco Eggersman – drums, percussion, syntherzisers and keyboards
Martijn Groeneveld – syntherzisers and keyboards

Record Label: Avenue of Allies, Sept. 2013

Weblinks: Facebook / Bandcamp

Buy the album here:
First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission
USA: Metal Helm

Video below Sparklands – ‘The Game’

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