QUOTES: 'This is a gorgeous album full of melody and good songs in abundance.' - Hard RoxX 'Challenge is so pure and naked, if it doesn't touch you, you must be dead.' - Radio Marabu Network 'A superb female vocalist and strong songs full of fantastic melodies.' - Strutter'zine 'Great melodic rock, with a fine unplugged guitar and a hot emotive voice.' - The Critical Review Check out many more quotes and reviews at the Official Challenge Website. BIO: Bluesy acoustic guitar. Grand piano. Classic Hammond organ. Soulful vocals and solid songwriting. Get the idea? 'Acoustic Universe' is the first full-length offering from melodic rock group Challenge. Now wait a minute! Where are those screaming electric guitars and 12-part vocal harmonies? 'We took a back-to-basics approach,' comments Arno Verstappen, Challenge guitarist and songwriter. 'Our attitude was to write strong songs, capture an honest performance and leave it alone.' While it may seem unusual for a new band to use the term 'back-to-basics,' upon listening to the album it makes perfect sense. The straightforward, uncluttered instrumentation showcases the songs in their most pure and naked form. 'Recording this way is like a breath of fresh air,' says vocalist Allison Lindsay, who co-produced the CD with Arno. 'There's nothing like the feel of a great live performance and to capture that vibe in the studio brings it all home.' The two core members are supported by some of the best players in the business, whose credits read like a who's who in rock music. They've toured and recorded with the likes of Steve Vai, Alice Cooper and Sheryl Crow, just to name a few. Originally from Holland, Arno came to Los Angeles to study at GIT (Guitar Institute of Technology). After graduation, he stayed in town to form a band and Allison had the voice for the job. Coming from opposite sides of the Atlantic exposed the two musicians to different styles of music. 'Growing up in Los Angeles has turned me on to a different musical environment than Arno,' explains Allison. 'His style was born from the influences of the great European rock guitarists. Guys with lots of feel and personality. My background stems mostly from dynamic American singers. You could say we blend the best of both worlds into our music.' Allison is also gaining notoriety teaching at Sabine Institute (for Vocal Strengthening and Development) in Los Angeles. Sabine Institute (established by renowned vocal coach Elizabeth Sabine) is famous for coaching many of rock¹s brightest stars, including Axle Rose, Dave Mustaine and Dan Huff (Giant). The Institute is currently branching out to Japan, Australia and Italy. The 10 songs on 'Acoustic Universe' take a look at life around us. Covering many issues from the fear of crime ('Wake Into Daylight') to having a positive outlook ('Finding My Way') to defying conformity ('It's My Life') as well as passionate love songs. 'The music really moved us to dig a little deeper lyrically, rather than settling for the standard rock clichés,' says Arno. 'Overall, the record has a feel of completeness.' While the band is certainly not turning a blind eye to the ever-changing musical climate, they feel no need to jump on every trend either. 'People will always have a craving for melody, no matter what the flavor of the month,' insists Allison. 'So all we have to do is play what comes natural.'