Album review: STORM FORCE – Age Of Fear

STORM FORCE - Age Of Fear

Escape Music [Release date 25.01.20]

Storm Force hail from Canada and although a new band they have a familiar name in their ranks, Brighton Rock founder and guitarist Greg Fraser. Joining him are vocalist Patrick Gagliardi, drummer Brian Hamilton and bassist Mike Berardelli. Their debut record is produced by Darius Szczepaniak (the Black Crowes) and it is a bit of a riff monster! They certainly draw their influences from the hard rock sound of the 80′s, adding in their own take and a little more metal into the overall sound.

Opener ‘Because Of You’ sets the scene nicely with heavy hard rock riffs and the soaring, earthy vocals of Patrick Gagliardi, who is a bit of a find. Serena Pryne duets on ‘Breathe’ and the title track, another powerful singer and perfect for these two songs.

No surprise that there is a bit of Brighton Rock in their sound, none more so than on ‘Ride Like Hell’. A song like that would sound great played live. However, the standard does drop a bit on the pedestrian ‘Dirty Vegas’.

‘Different Roads’ and ‘More Than You Know’ provide the album’s ballads, with ‘Different Roads’ throwing it all in the mix from a simple piano/vocal intro through to a big production with strings finale.

Timeless melodic hard rock from Storm Force and one to be played loud. An impressive debut and plenty to enjoy. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

Guitarist Greg Fraser answered a few questions about Storm Force and their debut release, along with an update on all things Brighton Rock

What have you got planned musically for 2020?

To play as many concerts as possible & promote the hell out of this record. We can’t wait to get out there and crank these songs out live. We’re also going to keep writing new songs & hopefully record a second Storm Force record at some point. But for now this record is our number one focus.

How did Storm Force come together and how did you hook up with Escape Music?

I’ve been accumulating songs over the years and I felt the time was right to make a new record. I originally was going to form a so called ‘Super group’ of Canadian All-star musicians & we actually had one in place but could not get it off the ground to even get in one rehearsal because of logistics & scheduling conflicts. I knew that it would be incredibly difficult to get it going let alone ever seeing the light of day. I definitely did not want to have a band where everybody recorded on their own & then mailed in their parts like a lot of bands are doing these days. I decided to find guys who were at the top of their game & hopefully live close enough that we can get together a lot more & I really lucked out with the guys I found. They are all incredible musicians who I think really shine on this record & I feel privileged to be in a band with this kind of talent.

After we started recording a bunch of songs we started getting  excited at the results and decided to test the waters so we  sent some songs out to a couple of record labels who immediately were very interested in signing the group. I then reached out to some industry friends to see if they had dealings with these labels to see which one we should sign with & a few people were very hesitant & said the way to go is with Escape out of the UK. I did a little research & decided to send them a few songs & they too were very interested. After a nice phone call with the President of the company I knew in my gut this was the label to go with. So we signed with them in June of 2019 & it’s been a real pleasure to be part of the Escape Music team.

Could you take us through some of the highlights on the album…songwriting process, recording etc.

Some of the highlights for me was how each song grew from a little seed of an idea & then would blossom into these huge songs with everyone completely giving their all and I think knocking it out of the park. I would have an idea for a song and then bring into Brian our drummers recording studio. He would lay down usually a 6:00 basic drum pattern on a drum machine with no rolls or anything. Then I would lay my guitar riff idea & maybe a vocal melody idea on top of the drum pattern just for a starting point. And then we might send that to Pat our singer to see if he likes it & then he would make comments maybe on the tempo or maybe a key change to suit his vocals & likewise with our bass player Mike. Once we feel we’re onto to something that really excites us we start a fresh recording of all the new ideas with real drums which kicks everything up a notch.

We all record in the same studio for every song and our drummer Brian did a stellar job engineering & recording it all. Finally we would send it off to our producer Darius who with fresh ears would mix it and blow us away every time. I’ve been making records for over 35 years and I still get so much joy out of creating new music and the whole process of making it. It still drives me.

How did you find vocalist Patrick Gagliardi? He is a real find and suits the songs perfectly.

I’ve known Patrick since we were kids. I used to hang with his older brother when I was around 12 – 13 yrs old & I remember even then that his family were into to singing songs around the house. Then around 10 years later when Brighton Rock was starting to take off, Patrick was in a local band called Surface Tension who put out a record & were starting make some noise around the area. I think they even might have opened for BR a few times. Even then you could hear the talent in Patrick’s voice. Then during the MySpace era we reconnected & on his page he had samples of some covers he was doing like Aerosmith & Brian Adams etc & I was blown away at how much he could sound like these guys with full power & tone. Fast forward a bunch of years I happened to be watching a local cover band one night having a couple of beers & the guys in the band asked me if I would mind going up & jamming a song. I said sure & not knowing that they were also asking Pat to go up and sing. I think we played Rock & Roll by Zep & Pat blew the roof off the place. I knew if I ever make a new record with a new band he was my  first choice for singers. When I started Storm Force I did not even audition anyone else. I told Pat the job is yours if you want it. He said yes & now we’re celebrating the release of our debut record.

Is Storm Force purely studio based or are there plans to play live dates?

We are absolutely going to be play live shows. We all still love to play live & look forward to play these songs on stage very soon. We plan on doing our record release party in Feb or early March then after that we’ll playing as much as possible. Can’t wait to get out there and kick some ass!

Brighton Rock have played a few shows since the Firefest appearance in 2012. Are there any plans to tour more regularly? What have been the live highlights for you?

There are unfortunately no plans to tour extensively but the band still plays a few shows each year since the Firefest reunion & will continue to do so. Everybody in the band has crazy schedules & it’s almost impossible to plan any type of tour at this point.

As for highlights every show since the Firefest show in 2012 has been a highlight. The Firefest show in particular was amazing & the response was overwhelming, so much so that we were honoured to be invited back again in 2013. We were not sure how we would be perceived since we did not tour the UK since 1989 & that tour was a definite highlight also especially selling out the Marquee club.

Touring America for the first time back in the 80′s was an incredible highlight for us & we had so much fun back then. Also getting to meet some Rock Stars that we grew admiring like Ronnie James Dio, David Lee Roth, Alice Cooper to name a few. Back in Feb. 2019 we were invited to play on the legendary Monsters Of Rock Cruise which was amazing! A definite highlight. Another big highlight was touring with Canadian legends Triumph when our first record came out and getting to play in front of 20,000 people every night was unbelievable & a dream come true. We had a blessed career & I will never forget the great times we had for the rest of my life. So happy we can still play a few shows each year.

Are there any plans for new music from Brighton Rock, especially as many bands from the late 80s are back and have been releasing new music. There have been rumours in the past that a new album was underway.

After we played Firefest in 2012 we were so pumped from the response that we decided to make a new record but like I mentioned our schedules are so scattered that we soon realized that it was going to be impossible to make the record that we would all be proud of. It’s so hard for us all to be in the same room these days because everybody is all over the place. Even rehearsing for a show is very challenging. The last thing we would want is to put out a record that wasn’t up to par with our previous records just to have a record out. So we decided to give up on it for the time being.

Maybe some day all our schedules will be alligned & we can give it another shot. We did manage to finish one song called ‘End Of Time’ which was mixed by Beau Hill & released in early 2019. That song came out great. We also did a remake of an old Kiss song called ‘Creatures Of The Night’ that we also did a video for. You can check out both songs on YouTube

What is the current live scene like in Canada? Is it similar to the UK where a lot of the small/medium sized venues have closed and many bands only play a few towns/cities as opposed to widespread tours they would have done in the past.

Pretty much the exact same here in Canada. The live scene has dwindled & touring is really difficult to book since so many venues have dried up. Back in the day BR could play almost every day of the week somewhere because the live scene was so vibrant. But now most clubs only book bands on weekends which sucks but is a reality. Younger bands are not getting the stage time that we used to have which is hugely important in becoming a concert act. Just because you have good songs and a good record does not mean you will be a good live act if you don’t put the time in on doing tons of shows like we used to be able to do.

Message for your fans…

Thank you so much for your interest in our new band. We look forward to everyone hearing our new record & hope to one day play a show near you. We have a website that just launched that is still a work in progress www.stormforce.ca and also a Facebook page www.facebook.com/officialstormforce to keep you updated on all things Storm Force. I hope 2020 will be one of the best years of your lives & I wish you all nothing but the best.

Cheers!

Greg Fraser

 


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