Elm City Music / EMI - 2012
Take two titans of metal and mix in some heavy rock rhythms and smoking hot guitar licks and you've got the start of a pretty good album.
Yes, ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy and Symphony X singer Russell Allen (who produced the album with Mike Orlando) have a bit of work to do on selecting a few more quality songs or lyrics, but overall this was a pretty sweet heavy rock album.
Things start off with the first single from the album, the anthemic "Undaunted". The song fires you up right away and I like the way Allen uses his more gruff sounding vocal style here. It dares you to step up, so you can be knocked right on your butt.
Allen's vocals didn't stay with the gruff style throughout the whole album, there were songs like "Indifferent", "All On The Line" and "Believe In Me" that found him singing much clearer.
I really liked the album closer "Freight Train". The chorus to the song comes off a bit choppy, but listening to the song in its entirety, that is by design.
"Down To The Floor" was a very aggressive track. And the lyrics made the song sound like something NASCAR might consider for a highlight package.
The closest thing to a ballad type song is "Angel Sky". It is mainly in a midtempo groove but for an album that is all guns blazing, this is the respite song.
I had problems with two songs on the disc. The song "Psychosane" had a great rhythmic vibe but the song came off as trying to hard in the performance to live up to the song title. I liked the music to "Feelin' Me", but while I'm am not opposed to swearing in song lyrics, the inclusion of them in this song didn't work for me. It came off as posing instead of being "real". The feeling of being challenged worked in "Undaunted" but here it sounded amateurish.
Singer Lizzy Hale made a guest appearance on the song "Come Undone". Her vocals and the overall construction of the track elevated the song immensely. Very heavy with a slightly operatic feel to it.
Oh, and Mike Orlando played all the guitar and bass tracks for the disc and did a fantastic job.
It's not a grand slam home run type of debut album, but I think this ends up being a pretty solid release and for me at least, it whets the appetite for more. I only hope that this project turns out to be more than a one off release.
The band certainly provides the adrenaline. It's a heavy rock cornucopia that gets your blood pressure up.
GRADE: A MINUS