On the other hand, it’s exactly how Journey should sound but don’t…
Review by Gary Cordwell
Release date: 23 February 2015
Any regular readers of Woody’s Melodic Round Ups will know that anticipation and expectation is high for this release. Revolution Saints is another AOR supergroup put together by Serafino Perugino, head honcho of that home of all things melodic, Frontiers Records, and written and produced by his trusted right hand man, Hardlines’ Alessandro Del Vecchio (interview here). Now, we all know that sometimes blind dates don’t work, and that these ‘assembly line’ projects can be hit and miss affairs, but, having listened to this debut release I’m pleased to say that the chemistry is definitely there this time. Fingers crossed this won’t be a hastily forgotten one night stand!
The idea was originally to record a solo album to showcase the vocal talents of Journey’s drummer, Deen Castronovo. However, things quickly escalated with Night Ranger’s Jack Blades drafted in on bass and recently departed Whitesnake guitar hero Doug Aldrich joining the fold. Word of mouth began to spread, an AOR fantasy dream team was starting to take shape!
So, you ask, this Castronovo… any good? The answer is a resounding yes! How has he managed to hide in relative anonymity behind his drumkit for so long? What a voice – powerful and ballsy, sure, but also warm and burnished. It’s inclusive; he draws you in, you instantly like him. Be it foot-to-the-floor rocker or lighters aloft ballad, he nails it – and then some!
Just how good his voice is is highlighted perfectly on ‘You’re Not Alone’, which features guest vocals from the singer in his day job band – Journey’s Arnel Pineda. Arnel’s in fine voice, strong,crisp and clear – but it’s theatrical, showbizzy, whereas Deen is out ‘n out rock ‘n roll – why on Earth was he overlooked when Journey’s mic was vacant?
The songs too, are just fine – tuneful, summery, melodic – ticking so many boxes that they veer dangerously close to generic ‘Rock Of Ages’ AOR at times, but luckily they are taken to another level by the commitment and sheer breath-taking talent of the performances. Everyone involved has brought their A-game. It’s urgent and fiery yet supremely skilled – pros in complete control of what they are doing. And despite their parts being recorded seperately it never feels like a patchwork album – it flows and roars – and there is a palpable sense of enjoyment.
There is a good mix of ballads and rockers although the album is perhaps slightly tail-heavy, weighed down with maybe one too many piano-led “Baby don’t leave me” ballads, but fear not, Aldrich is always there, waiting in the wings with another chrome plated, Harleys on a desert highway riff to pick things up again. Indeed, Aldrich, I think, is the key to this. He sounds as though he’s been let off the leash – he absolutely owns several of these songs, wailing all over them, relishing his freedom and it is this added oompf (technical muso term) that raises this album above the standard fare. His muscular presence makes this a rougher, heavier, sleeker proposition than the majority of melodic releases.
The album finishes on an oddly low-key note (they’ve got their pianist out again!) and there we have it, a thoroughly superior modern melodic rock album that has serious break-out, mainstream hit potential. Neal Schon adds a solo at one point and you realise that this is exactly how Journey should sound now! But they don’t. Revolution Saints do and let’s hope that there’s more to come from them! I know it’s early days yet but this has to be the front runner for melodic album of the year.
8.5 out of 10
- Back On My Trail
- Turn Back Time
- You’re Not Alone (Feat. Arnel Pineda)
- Locked Out Of Paradise
- Way To The Sun (Feat. Neal Schon)
- Dream On
- Don’t Walk Away
- Here Forever
- Strangers To This Life
- Better World
- To Mend A Broken Heart
- In The Name Of The Father