Wheels Of Fire - 'Up For Anything'

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Wheels Of Fire - 'Up For Anything'

An album that every self respecting Fireworks & Rocktopia reader should own.

Boy, have Avenue Of Allies ended 2012 with a bang! With fabulous new releases from Lionville and Sapphire Eyes hitting the racks as we speak; here’s another to add to that illustrious collection: the tremendous sophomore effort from Italian melodic rockers Wheels Of Fire. ‘Up For Anything’ continues the blueprint set down on their debut ‘Hollywood Rocks’ by celebrating everything that was special about melodic rock music/hair metal in the 80s. Indeed, their emphasis on instant hooks, sumptuous melodies and strong choruses has a certain early Bon Jovi quality about it. This is, however, a tougher sounding record than its predecessor, where the guitars and bass are far more prominent in the mix, which suits the new material extremely well and gives the album a much more contemporary edge.

After ‘Hollywood Rocks’ was released in 2010, the band was reduced to the nucleus of vocalist Davide “Dave Rox” Barbieri and guitarist Stefano Zeni. Since then they have built a stable line-up around them with Marcello Suzzani coming in on bass, Andrea Vergori on keyboards and Fabrizio Uccellini on drums. On the evidence of this masterful collection of melodic hard rock tunes, it’s abundantly clear that this line-up clearly has not only already gelled very well, but has that indefinable chemistry about it that many bands can only dream of. I really do believe that if they can stick together, this group of guys could be on the cusp of something really big.

When the tinkling keys of album opener ‘Follow Your Heart’ give way to a strident riff and driving rhythm, it pretty much sets the tone for the entire album: upbeat, feel good rock tunes played with an infectious enthusiasm and more than a little panache to boot! ‘Don’t Walk Away’ with its delicious voice box refrain – perhaps strengthening my earlier Bon Jovi assertions – is already a firm favourite (House Of Lord’s fans will be interested to know that James Christian helps out on co-lead vox on this song; his wife, and rock chanteuse in her own right, Robin Beck also contributes backing vocals). ‘Turning Up The Radio’ with its hooky riff, soaring lead break and sing-along chorus has…ahem!…radio hit written all over it; ‘Pain’ rocks like a mother and ‘Web Of Lies’ builds from a gentle intro into a massive power ballad. I love the funked-up vibe to ‘Lay Your Body Down’; the juxtaposition of down-tuned guitars and sparking keyboards on ‘Respect’; the cod-blues of ‘Tell Me’ and the sass and swagger of ‘Yesterday’s Gone’; where the parping horn section provides an obvious ‘Permanent Vacation’ era Aerosmith reference point.

The sheer quality of ‘Up For Anything’ is such that I could go onto mention every song in glowing terms; but suffice to say this is an album that every, and I mean every, self respecting Fireworks  & Rocktopia reader should own. ‘Nuff said I think!

Alister Strachan

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