Spiritually uplifting soft rock...

They formed in their home town of York, Pennsylvania in 1988, and now in their early thirties with six albums (two of which reached the top spot on the Billboard Top Two Hundred album chart) soft rock quartet Live return with their seventh long-player, 'Songs From The Black Mountain'. Yet despite having been playing together for more than half of their lives, touring the world and selling over twenty million albums, 'Songs From The Black Mountain' offers somewhat of a new beginning for the band as it marks the dawning of a new musical era as they sign with Epic records.

While Live's style of soft rock/pop rock may not be everyone's cup of tea, there is in 'Songs From The Black Mountain' a kind of captivating, spiritually uplifting aspect to the music that makes it difficult not to be affected by. Similarly, the album doesn't lose any of the intelligent lyrics and catchy melodies that have secured Live a place in the hearts of many.

And opening track, 'The River' captures this perfectly; warm acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies can't help but light you up inside, as does the instantly memorable melody, before the driving guitars, elegant strings and soaring arena rock-ballad aspirations of 'Mystery' appear to sweep you away. 'Get Ready' is a slower, more sombre and gentle acoustic number, and like 'Wings' and 'Love Shines' (in fact, like all of the songs on this album), is heavily laden with earnest spiritual imagery.

Meanwhile, 'Show' and 'Sofia' take the driving mainstream rock that is hinted at in the slower songs to new powerful heights of uplifting, inspiring forcefulness - perhaps none more successfully that the strong and emotive anti-war plea, 'Home' and the almost gospel chants of 'All I Need'.

Certainly, the spiritual elements of 'Songs From The Black Mountain' will not sit well with everybody, but fans of mainstream, feel-good pop rock will certainly enjoy the warm, stirring messages that pervade this album. But in reality, whatever your taste, the inescapable melodies and whole-hearted, impassioned sound that Live exude will can't help but capture your imagination, and fans of the band will definitely not be disappointed.