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PONTUS J. BACK- Rock Force One

Finland, much like its neighbor Sweden, is home to more than its fair share of metal bands, of both the melodic and death metal ilk. But a Finnish bluesman? Never heard of one. Until now, that is. Pontus J. Back has a powerful testimony about how the rock and roll lifestyle just about killed him, before Jesus took control of his life, and he's never been the same. Check his story out on Rock Force One is Pontus' 5th solo album, and if you've heard The Rex Carroll Band, you have some idea of what you're in for. Blues rock at its core with a ZZ Top influence, tempered by southern rock ala Lynyrd Skynyrd, and even a bit of country on a couple tunes.

Pontus pens straightforward evangelistic tunes ("The Word has the answers you need...") delivered in his gravelly voice, sometimes accompanied by female BGVs. His music works best when it's hard rocking the bluesy guitar riffs, like "Preacher Man" or the rhythmic "The Word." "Gold and Silver" and "Florida Sunshine" tap the southern rock roots with the bluesy guitar playing counterpoint to the rollicking keys. "You are Special" takes that same formula and doubles the speed. "Money Money" is easily the most memorable song on Rock Force One, deserving of radio coverage. There are several songs that- while still maintaining the blues and southern rock vibe- veer dangerously into country territory ("Dogman's Song," "Time to Say Goodbye," and "The Best is Yet to Come," the latter even utilizing that most metal of instruments- the banjo.) They don't ruin a good album for me, but if you're reading this and expecting a full out metal assault- be forewarned. High point is the album closer and title track- an instrumental whose bluesy axe solos will clear out any misgivings you may have about the aforementioned trio of songs. This album is anything but one dimensional, containing depth and diversity. I've heard that Pontus even has a rockabillly album! Keep an ear out for Pontus J. Back, Finland's answer to biker blues, and Jesus rock and roll missionary. (Talking Music) 3.5 out of 5 Stars

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