Frontiers [Release date 16.10.15] www.joelhoekstra.com
Current Whitesnake and former Night Ranger guitarist Joel Hoekstra has released a handful of instrumental only solo albums and this time he’s gone for vocals. He’s not the singer, instead we have two vocal giants namely Symphony X’s Russell Allen and Jeff Scott Soto.
If that wasn’t enough he has a top notch rhythm section with drummer Vinnie Appice (ex-Black Sabbath/Dio) and bassist Tony Franklin (ex-The Firm/Blue Murder). Also guesting are Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater/Black Country Communion) tinkling the ivories and Pride Of Lion’s Toby Hitchcock on backing vocals. A stellar line-up but does it deliver? Oh yes it does and then some!
Russell Allen kicks the album off with a hard rocking storm on ‘Say Goodbye To The Sun’ and he keeps it up on the next song ‘Anymore’. The latter has some shades of Whitesnake on it, with a little Steve Vai styling on the guitar sound. Jeff Scott Soto’s first appearance is on the melodic rocker ‘Until I Left You’, a song made for Mr Soto and the most instant song on the album.
Obviously, aside from the vocals, Joel Hoekstra is all over the songs with his riffs and solos. There is plenty of variety including a few twists like ‘Never Say Never’ with a nifty acoustic passage. Derek Sherinian lays down some tasty organ playing on ‘Scream’ jousting nicely with Hoekstra’s solos.
There is a stunning duet between Jeff Scott Soto and fellow Trans Siberian Orchestra member Chole Lowery on the ballad ‘What We Believe’. The only thing missing is a duet between Soto and Allen, which given the great Allen /(Jorn) Lande albums is possibly a missed opportunity.
If you like melodic hard rock this album will be right up your street. There is musical variety and top draw songs. Mr Coverdale has always been a good judge of musicians for his band and Joel Hoekstra will certainly prove a creative foil for him based on this album. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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