Frontiers [Release date 04.09.20]
This is up and coming Brazilian band, Landfall’s first album with talented vocalist Gui Oliver. His high tenor has encouraged the label to compare him to Steve Perry, but his vocal timbre is often much closer to a Johnny Gioli or an Eric Martin, as we will hear.
Openers ‘Rush Hour’ (not a cover of Jane Wiedlin’s classic single, unfortunately) and ‘No Way Out’ skilfully evoke the romanticism and rhythms of eighties’ AOR, without truly staking out a unique piece of territory.
‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘Road Of Dreams’ confound the label’s “sounds like Steve Perry” claim. Here, and as with other tracks, vocalist Gui Oliver and the band combine melodic rock convention with tougher, harder edged rock stylings, bringing to mind Dokken and Mr Big, rather than Journey or the Storm. No bad thing of course…
Landfall are no copycats, riding on the coat-tails of genuine talents. They may have worshipped at the feet of the giants of the melodic rock genre, but they are clearly skilled songwriters and accomplished musicians in their own right, having honed their craft on the tour circuit grindstone for many years, before entering the studio.
‘Across The Street’ and ‘Roundabout’ reveal a grittier, more resilient shade of rock, fizzing with sparks, steam and kinetic energy, embracing just enough aurally adhesive hooks to catch us before we fall.
Then, ‘Distant Love’ goes and does a Steve Perry thing on us. With one eye on the road ahead, and one eye on the rear view mirror, they pitch the perfect AOR song. One that could have fallen off the back of the 1983, chart storming Journey juggernaut for which this label is named. The understated, uncluttered arrangements and undemanding lyrics call for a strong vocal performance from Oliver. Impressively, he delivers just that, showing the power and punch which created his reputation, but also displaying a nuanced sensitivity, previously undetected. Album standout by a considerable distance.
That said, while the Journey/Perry-esque stuff is pleasing to the ear, no band wants to be known only as a “soundalike”. And there’s plenty evidence here that Landfall can carve out their own sizeable niche. Next time perhaps. ***
Review by Brian McGowan
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