Frontiers (Release date 24.01.20)
Frontiers Records’ AOR superhero assembly is working like a dream. The Revolution Saints – Deen (Journey) Castronovo, Jack (Night Ranger) Blades and Doug (Whitesnake) Aldrich – are on their third album now, so that confirms it.
Almost by definition then, there’s no breaking of new ground here, no envelope stretching, no innovation. Just three consummate artists, whose ambitions at the height of their fame far outstripped the genre’s conventions, doing what they do best.
Every track, without fail, confirms itself to be a fresh spin on well explored melodic rock concepts. Much credit needs to go to producer and co-writer, Alessandro Delvecchio who keeps a firm hand on the studio tiller.
Irresistibly feelgood openers, ‘When The Heartache Has Gone’ and ‘Price We Pay’ wear their influences well. The first borrows heavily from Journey’s ‘Be Good To Yourself’, yet it still feels crisp and new.
Aldrich’s soloing outshines Schon’s, and Castronovo’s vocals dive deep. (Steve Perry’s recent solo album sounds tired and uninspired next to this track. Irony upon ironies. Maybe Perugino should persuade Perry to team up with DelVecchio). The second repeats the trick, adding a piano motif and a melancholy undertow, without overdoing the sentimental bit.
The balladic ‘Coming Home’ is a chest beating, stadium rousing anthem, it’s full throated stuff, with guitars and piano that race to crescendo. Out and out ballad, ‘Closer’ goes a step further. The vocal is beautifully delivered by Blades, it burns with melodic rock intensity, peaking with an all guns blazing, rafter raising chorus, on a “anything worth doing is worth overdoing” basis.
‘Talk To Me’ is singularly assured piece of work, elegantly formed, and carefully and colourfully textured, in a slightly more contemporary rock fashion.
‘Higher’ and ‘Eyes Of A Child’ are triumphs of passion over pastiche. You may feel by now that you’ve mainlined into MTV or FM Radio, circa 1985, especially when you hear Aldrich lighting them up with radiant bursts of guitar. The warmth, and the whiffs of nostalgia are impossible to avoid.
If all the songs have a distinctly familiar air then, it’s no accident. But just because you’re joining the dots, it doesn’t mean you can’t create a beautiful picture. ****
Review by Brian McGowan
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