A Rocktopia user review by Dairenn Lombard.
For the Genre: **--- (2/5)
Compared to the Era: ***-- (3/5)
Summary: Enjoyable, but unimaginative and painful at times.
There are some highlights on this disc, without question. You get shimmering production—plenty of heavy bass grooves, big drums, tight guitars, crisp synth work and clean, clear vocals across the board. You get fairly enjoyable arrangements, particularly on tracks like “Shame on You,” “Lay you Down to Rest” with Mitch Malloy and “Tonight” by the incomparable Joe Lynn Turner. As a song, “Into the Night” fell short for me but vocalist for “The Eternal Idol” by Black Sabbath, Tony Martin, sounds as great now as he did two decades ago, and gives you a reason to listen to this song.
But tracks like “Dirty Games,” “In the Heart of the Young,” and “Rock Me” had some of the worst backing vocals I’ve ever heard on an AOR release; they’re just so weird. “Rock Me” and “Dirty Games” try to go for that 80s-style sleazy glam and falls really short and I’m not sure if it’s because Paul Shortino is more bluesy than he is a Vince Neil-style glam singer or David Reece sounds like he is talking when singing on “Dirty Games.” It just didn’t work. “Down the Drain” is the worst example of the lack of imagination on this CD: forgettable drums on a bland song with painfully contrived lyrics made worse because Paul Sabu’s vocals suffered from clumsy delivery that sounded very strained. “Only 4 Ever” is much better but the music is just so forgettable, and in a genre where melody is just as important as the vocals and lyrics, it’s really only as good as your garden-variety Billboard Top 40 rock song from the United States.
Perhaps the weirdest thing about this CD is project producer Michael Voss’ cover of “Maniac.” It’s actually not bad, but the minute you hear it, you’re asking yourself, “why?” Covers are already a dicey proposition, even when you’re good, everybody loves you, and you’re selling a ton of records and shows. Sometimes it works out when you have the chops, like Joe Lynn Turner on Sunstorm’s debut CD for a song like, “Night Moves.” But I can think of so many other songs that could use Voss and Lausmann’s treatment that would have come across much better, like Head Games by Foreigner. I’m dying for a much heavier rendition of that song.
I had really high hopes for this CD; I couldn’t wait to buy it when I found out about Joe Lynn Turner’s involvement and when I heard “Shame on You” on one of the Melodic Rock Facebook pages I follow. But sadly, it didn’t end up being the winner I hoped it’d be. And though the artwork is not bad, even that is marred by the use of that cheap-feeling and looking DigiPak packaging. The best recommendation I have would be to buy a couple of the MP3s from your favorite online digital downloads retailer, and burn your own mix disc.
Dairenn Lombard (Rocktopia user name: starfire)