CORNERSTONE Once Upon Our Yesterdays (2003)
This is the third release from the brainchild of (now) ex-Royal Hunt bassist Steen Mogensen, and it continues in the style of the 2nd CD ‘Human Stain’. Joined again by ex-Rainbow and Yngwie vocalist Dougie White (a diminutive Scotsman with a fog-horn in place of his vocal chords), and fellow ex-Hunter Allen Sorensen on drums, the line up is completed by Danish guitar wizard Kasper Damgaard (Mike Tramp) and some guest keyboards from the Huntmaster Andre Andersen.
The album opens up with an immensely catchy hook in ‘Welcome to Forever’ that is just going to stay in your head forever! Dougie is one of those singers that just seems to get better with age, and the control he now has over that phenomenal voice box is obvious immediately. Next it feels like I’ve time-slipped a quarter of a century, as ‘When The Hammer Falls’ sound like it could sit happily right in the middle of Sabbath’s ‘Heaven and Hell’ album. Steen hammers out some Geezer like bass, and Dougie sounds more like Ronnie than Ronnie did??? Great track! If Cornerstone ever expand on their single live show to date, either of these tracks would make great set openers.
‘Passion To Warfare’ slows it down a little for this song of lost love. Hard to place this one, as it doesn’t completely fit the style of the album, but a good song. ‘Hour Of Doom’ is characterised by some great guitar work, and chilling lyrics – make your own minds up what the subject matter is, I’m still undecided. Ballad time. Oh no! I hear you cry, but fear not. If there is one thing (among many) that Cornerstone have done consistently well over their 3 albums, it is to produce ballads that are a cut above the usual Americanised lurve-rock songs. ‘Man Without Reason’ is the first of two such tracks on this album and Dougie presents a spine-tingling rendition of the chorus.
‘21st Century Man’ rocks it up again with some thought provoking lyrics about the clash between science and religion(s). Brilliant stuff, followed by the album’s title track. As songs like ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and the like are viewed now, if you could jump forward 20 years and pick a track from 2003 that you would call a “classic rock” track, this would be it. Unfortunately there’s not much chance of this excellent song getting any airplay to achieve that.
Back in time again, ‘End Of The World’ is quite simply, Rainbow (oh, and another cracking song to boot). The second superb ballad ‘Some Have Dreams’ follows before the album rocks out with a ‘Scream’. In my view, the weakest track on the album, but would be more than a filler for most bands. Bottom line – if you like 80’s style heavy rock (Rainbow, Magnum, Dio etc) you will love this album.
There really are not many bands in the history of rock that have put together three consecutive albums of the quality that Cornerstone have, and I would honestly say no other band’s first three albums have been this good! If you haven’t heard any of them yet, take the plunge.
Review by Ian Pollard