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Balance - 'Equilibrium' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/48/e3/af/699_balanceequilibrium_1286027077.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     October 02, 2010    
 
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With the right mix this could have been a bit of a cracker.

Before we get into it, let me try to put this review into some kind of perspective. For what it’s worth, I personally consider Balance’s sophomore outing ‘In For The Count’ to be one of the greatest releases that ever emerged from the early 80’s. As you can probably imagine therefore, anything remotely new boasting the Balance name (even this far down the line) is going to be a huge deal, one of those real potential crossroads moments where you find yourself very glad they did on one hand, and seriously wishing they hadn’t on the other.

The delicious enigma that became Balance was put together at the tail end of the 70’s by vocalist Peppy Castro, guitarist Bob Kulick (later of Meat Loaf, Michael Bolton, etc.) and keyboard maestro Doug Katsaros, their overblown brand of keyboard driven pomp splendour soon scoring them a deal with Portrait. Their self titled debut emerged in 1981, yet whilst it had its merits and a few great songs, it paled in comparison to the stunning magnificence of the following year’s ‘In For The Count’ – hell; the title track alone was worth the admission price and then some!

Just why that release didn’t catapult Balance into the upper echelons like Journey and Survivor is anyone’s guess (although their reluctance to take to the road may have been a big factor), but as swansong releases go, it’s never been bettered in my humble opinion! Incredibly, that was all the best part of 30 years ago now, but as we edge cautiously into the murky waters of 2009, we once again find the name of Balance on the upcoming releases schedule.

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As you may already know, most of the songs which make up ‘Equilibrium’ were written back in the day for their proposed third album, so it comes as no great surprise to find out that it does at least offer a largely authentic Balance experience. And, when familiarity allows you to analyse the song and melody structures inherent in tracks such as ‘Twist of Fate’, ‘Walk Away’, ‘Breathe’ and ‘Winner Takes All’, there’s definitely plenty to get excited about. However, you’ve probably guessed that there’s a ‘but’ in there somewhere, and that comes in the shape of a less than spectacular production.

For starters, the sound is somewhat muddy and cluttered overall, and whilst I’ve no problem with the individual performances, the guitars are way too prominent over the keys in the final mix for that classic Balance sound ... at least in my humble opinion. Add to that the fact that Peppy Castro clearly isn’t the singer he was back in the day, and I’m left with rather mixed feelings. Having said that, based purely upon the quality of songs on offer here, I find it even harder to believe that they weren’t snapped up by somebody else when their original label collapsed back in the early 80’s!

With the right mix this could have been a bit of a cracker, but as it stands, despite some consistently good songs, it doesn’t quite recapture the legend in the way I hoped it would. Still, I keep coming back for more on a fairly regular basis, so maybe I’ll grow to love all its little foibles over the coming months. Close on guys, but at the moment no cigar.

DAVE COCKETT

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