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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Reviews: Revolution Saints, The Experiment No Q, Winterage

Revolution Saints: S/T (Frontiers Records)

Revolution Saints is a definitely a supergroup, with all three members of this power trio coming from the A-List of Melodic Rock/AOR, the band consists of six stringer Doug Aldrich known for his time as David Coverdale's sideman, bass comes from Night Ranger/Damn Yankees mainman Jack Blades and drums and indeed lead vocals are from Journey sticksman Deen Castronovo. Yes I did say lead vocals, many Journey fans will know Castronovo contributes some lead vocals on Journey albums but never a whole album, so how does he fair? Very well indeed, his vocals are strong, soulful and perfect for this type of music, in parts he even sounds a lot like Journey's Steve Perry especially when he is duetting with current Journey singer Arnel Pineda on the super ballad You're Not Alone. Castronovo is not the only star though Aldrich shows why he was at ol' leather lungs himself side for all these years sliding up and down the fretboard like a madman and Blades adds the bototm end and helps out on the vocal front on Way To The Sun (which features guest guitars from Neal Schon) and the lead single Turn Back Time something that this track and indeed the whole album does in spades. We are in prime AOR territory here with and album that would fit well when nestled between Eclipse and Midnight Madness, this is quite a feat especially when you consider many of the tracks were written by Keyboardist/Producer Alessandro Del Vecchio, Eclipse's  Erik Mårtensson and guitarist Magnus Karlsson, men who were not around when these albums were released. With this all star cast they have produced an album of excellent melodic rock with some big choruses and staggering ballads in the shape of Don't Walk Away. If you love AOR and melodic rock, you will love this album it harks back to the 1980's heyday of these men's day jobs and shows that you can't teach old tricks but you can combine those tricks to create a magical album of prime radio rock. 8/10 

The Experiment No Q: The Experiment No Q (Nembo Records)

OK so bare with me here, The Experiment No Q is the project of Paolo Vallerga who is the lyricist, artistic director and (one of) keyboardist/guitarist of this project writing most of the music (with a little help) as well as the poetic lyrics that run through this record. He has assembled a large group of relatively unknown musicians (this is not an all-star project) to perform the songs. This album can be classed as progressive, but it falls into both rock and metal categories as well as numerous others too, with five vocalists (four male and one female), four guitarists, three bassists, three drummers, yet another keyboardist as well as violinist and flautist, this album is a real melting pot of influences and styles, To The Wise And Understanding Reader is a metallic start to proceedings with a heavy weight riff fest and powerful percussion to get you in the mood before throwing a curve-ball with Unpainted Leaves which is a lot jazzier in its style and even has some scat singing from vocalists Linnéa Vikström and Nalle Påhlsson, from jazz to driving marching industrial metal on Romantiquesque which strays into Rammestein territory another stylistic sway and we go into a piano led The Dream Of The Whales which sounds like a more restrained ballad track from Dream Theater or Threshold, The Ship And The Poet is exactly that a poem set to an ominous, dark musical backing. As I've said this album twist and turns leaving no musical avenue unresearched, but unusually the songs on this album are concise keeping all the experimentation into songs under 7 minutes which means that they don't outstay their welcome and become convoluted and bloated which can happen with some prog bands, it means that this album is incredibly accessible for those that are put off by 25 minute tracks favoured by proggers. Back to the songs and The Black Horizon Of The Monodist is organ fuelled 70's rock that ends with an explosive guitar solo, whereas Labyrinths is pure Porcupine Tree ending with a guitar solo over a sample from a space launch. As the album wraps up we are finally faced with an elongated track but The Testament Of Cremer is paced like a Maiden epic infused with epic poetry and galloping rhythm guitars before we get an acoustic bonus track that is totally Italian. This album a real musical journey that draws from rock, metal and jazz while bringing in other musical elements to flesh out their appeal and of course their sound, an album to absorb in it's entirety and one that gives more on every listen. This is a steampunk fairytale told by a multitude of talented artists and brought together by a man with great vision. This could be one of the prog albums of 2015. 9/10

Winterage: The Harmonic Passage (Self Released)

Italy is somewhat of a heartland for symphonic power metal and Winterage are the newest addition to the countries plethora of symphonic metal bands. What sets them apart though is their liberal use of Gabriele Boschi's violin which gives the album an almost folky feel for the most part, this means that they sound similar to fellow Italians Elvenking which is no bad thing in my opinion. Yet even with the addition of the violin, for the most part this is rapid drumming from Davide Bartoli, the staccato guitars of Riccardo Gisotti, who duels with Boschi, throughout and melodic keyboard flourishes of Dario Gisotti who adds a hint of 70's prog to proceedings on The Flame Shall Not Fade. I will admit the mix of guitars and violin is excellent and helps move Winterage into a different category musically as it allows them to move between classical Son Of Winter (which also features some majestic female vocals) and metal (the title track) with ease helping them do both very well indeed. With the operatic vocals of Daniele Barbarossa topping everything off nicely Winterage have constructed an album of classically influenced metal that is symphonic in its truest form. A great first strike from Winterage with a sound that will endear them to many fans of symphonic power metal. 7/10  

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