Frontiers [Release Date 27.01.17]
They come less frequently these days, with a five year gap between each of the last two albums, but a Pride of Lions album is always worth the wait, marking the return of veteran master songwriter Jim Peterik to the melodic rock style with which he enjoyed his greatest days with Survivor.
Despite the odd different touch, such as the violin intro reminiscent of Kansas to opening song ‘All I Want is You’, all the PoL trademarks are there- the lovingly crafted orchestration, melodic hooks, and the contrast as Jim’s sonorous baritone usually opens up the songs before the powerful, soaring tones of Toby Hitchcock take over.
‘The Turn’ took me a while to appreciate but has a statelier, bluesier feel that reminded me of the first three Foreigner albums. ‘In Caricature’ has massive melodic hooks and ‘Silent Music’ a fine vocal performance by Toby, but both are let down by what I thought were some rather tortuous lyrical metaphors.
As it progresses the album covers a wide range of styles, with the title track rockier with an urgent pace and some rapid fire soloing from Mike Aquino, only to be followed by the cloying sentimentality of ‘Everlasting Love’, exemplifying the show tune side of the Peterik songwriting school that can divide melodic rock fans.
‘Freedom of the Night’ was reminding me of Survivor even before I noticed the credits dedicate it to Jimi Jamison, while Toby is the sole vocalist on ‘Rising Up’ and ‘The Silence Says it All’, both of which are more straight ahead rockers which could have been outtakes from his ‘Mercury’s Down’ album collaboration with Erik Martensson.
While ‘The Light in Your Eyes’ is a touch derivative, managing both to start with the lyric ‘I Can’t Fight This Feeling One Moment More’ and have the same musical vibe as ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’, the song almost defines AOR, as does ‘Faster than a Prayer’ where the hook-filled chorus is pure Peterik. Unfortunately so is closer ‘Unmasking the Mystery’ which again plays to the schmaltzier side of his songwriting.
All in all, not all songs hit the mark, certainly not in comparison to earlier PoL classics like their debut or ‘The Roaring of Dreams’. But if, like me, you still hanker after old-fashioned values of good melodic arrangements and lovingly crafted songs, it’s an album to return to again and again. ****
Review by Andy Nathan
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