Frontiers [release date: 10.09.21]
Ronny Munroe, Alessandro Del Vecchio (Frontiers’ inhouse producer / writer / arranger) and Pete Alpenberg, now aka Between Worlds, have brought in the heavy artillery for this, their self titled debut.
After ten years fronting Metal Church, Munroe picked up a second job, joining the Trans Siberian Orchestra’s winter tour in 2011. His TSO bandmates, Jack Frost and Chris Caffery, plus Night Ranger’s Joel Hoekstra have all been recruited for the Between Worlds’ project.
It’s immediately clear that the band put aside any loyalty to the limiting structures of genre formula, and just went ahead to make a rock’n'roll album, in their own (presumably temporary) image. Openers ‘Between Worlds’ and ‘These Walls’ are neither Power Metal or Hard Rock, with both focusing on melodicism and Munroe’s powerful tenor vocals. Typical of the album as a whole, both tracks are set on a solid rhythmic bedrock. The contribution of Alex Jansen on bass and Michele Sanna on drums to the Between Worlds’ sound shouldn’t be underestimated here.
Naturally, there are shades and shadows of the members’ day jobs in most of the material. Frost contributes lead guitar on the majority of tracks, and is led musically by DelVecchio and Alpenberg’s sinuous, sinewy tunes. ‘Life Enough For Me’ is a case very much in point. Munroe wrings maximum emotion out of this bruising meditation on self respect and responsibility, but it stands out just as much because of Frost’s elegantly melodic axe soloing. It’s unquestionably one of the album’s better tracks.
Del Vecchio’s reputation as a producer/arranger sometimes takes a bit of battering. He is often accused of a one-size-fits-all approach. All credit to him, on Between Worlds, the music’s dynamics are more assured, catching the moods, creating a sense of urgency when required (‘Times Of Change’, ‘Soul Chaser’) or taking a comparitively lightfooted approach when needed (‘Scent Of An Angel’). If any criticism can be levelled at him it is simply that there is not enough variation in pace through the album, but it’s a minor beef. ***1/2
Review by Brian McGowan
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