Wow, this was a pleasant surprise. I've never heard of these cats before, thus I wasn't expecting much. I'm happy to report that my expectations were definitely exceeded, in fact, I like this album so much that I'm skipping watching Jeopardy tonight to write the review (my the sacrifices we critics must endure). This is the second release from these guys (a seven piece - they've actually got TWO keyboard players) and from what I've read, the first album was a heavy dose of neoclassical power metal. Such is not the case on "Nine" - the album is a nice mix of melodic hard rock, progressive metal and the occasional neoclassical power metal bit.
The whole band is quite good, but I'm most impressed with vocalist Erik Blomkvist, a young dude with the pipes of a rock veteran. Erik has a strong, gritty mid-range and an ear for unusual melodies (ala Peavey from Rage) as well as catchy AOR-inspired hooks. Blomkvist sites Joe Lynn Turner and Dio as influences, and while he's certainly no clone of either, you can hear how he uses them as inspiration. This guy doesn't just show promise, he's already lived up to it. I've got a feeling that he'll be getting all kinds of project band offers just like Jorn Lande, as he's in that vein with his power and range.
Speaking of which, Jorn's solo albums are a worthy comparison to what Platitude offers here. As mentioned, there are some neoclassical guitar bits on this, so arpeggio fans will find the guitars to their liking. Rhythm guitar work is straight forward (alas), but with two keyboard players taking frequent solos, there's not much space to fill. The focus here is clearly on the vocals and the hook, thus the virtuoso shredding is kept to a minimum (but it's nice to hear it when it arrives). The sound is excellent as well. All in all, "Nine" is a tremendous and impressive sophomore effort for this young band. Fans of heavy AOR with progressive leanings will find the CD to be the perfect fix.