Frontiers Records [Release Date 21.04.14]
Nearly five years after return to form album Karma, in which their activities have ranged from Kip Winger composing ballet scores to Reb Beach playing guitar in Whitesnake, Winger are back with another album, which should take another step in rehabilitating their unfairly maligned association with the hair metal era.
This is perhaps their most diverse album to date. Opening cut ‘Midnight Driver of a Love Machine’ is probably closest in style to the Winger sound that brought them success on the first two albums but has enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.
It is followed by ‘Queen Babylon’, which could have sat on one of the Dio era Rainbow albums and ‘Rat Race’ is perhaps as traditionally heavy as they have yet been, burning along on a riff not unlike Judas Priest’s ‘Rapid Fire’.
However things then take a left turn as the title track has a stripped back retro vibe, which could echo the late sixties both in lyrical and musical feel, and ‘Tin Soldier’ continues the anti-war theme which is a recurring motif in their work, and the progressive intrusions reflect the involvement of the likes of drummer Rod Morgenstein in jazz fusion and other musical genres.
Both ‘Ever Yours’ and ‘Be Who You Are Now’ have the slow, dreamy atmospherics more often found on Kip solo albums, and while ‘So Long China’ is as mainstream as the album gets, ‘Storm In Me’ is another moody, darker if less melodic atmospheric piece.
Finally’ Out Of This World’ builds from slow beginnings into a strong chorus and a classic guitar outro on which Reb gets to show his chops sometimes hidden within the confines of Whitesnake.
It is inevitable that with this sheer variety not every track will be of universal appeal. However as a statement of Winger’s versatility and talent it cannot be bettered and, especially with the band touring and even playing Download this year, is a very timely profile builder. ****
Review by Andy Nathan
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