The well of projects from the Frontiers label seems to be inexhaustible. Each month (almost) there’s another one out and even though I certainly have found some of them very likable, most of them has come across as quite samey. The reason for that is of course that most of them are written and produced by the label’s go-to man Alessandro Del Vecchio – and this one is no exception to that rule. On this particular album, the template was the quite successful albums by Jorn Lande and Russell Allen, something they tried to repeat with the Olzon/ Allen album not that long ago. This time, however, they took the project to Brazil and hired singers Renan Zonta (Electric Mob) and Nando Fernandez (Sinistra) to sing Del Vecchio’s songs.
Now, I would lie if I said that this project felt arousing from get-go as by now it’s not that hard to figure out how this will sound when Del Vecchio is involved, no matter if the album contains Metal, Hard Rock or plain AOR. Truth be told, Del Vecchio is involved in too many projects and even though I will never deny the guy’s talents, because he sure is talented, his sound has become too predictable in later years – and so is his productions. When it comes to the singers, I’m neither familiar with Fernandez as a singer or his band but Zonta I know of. Great singer but Electric Mob didn’t really impress me. Their album was good but a bit forgettable. That being said, I will take on this project with an open mind and I’m positive we’ll get some great singing if not anything else.
The album kicks off with ”Two Brothers”, a heavy yet modern Metal belter with a bit of Melodic Rock twist within the vocal-melodies. It’s quite a grandiose number, very punchy and beefy where the riff comes on kicking but it also brings along a prominent hook. The chorus is catchy yet not hit-oriented or radio-friendly. Nothing new under the sun style-wise but a good tune. Speaking of Allen/Lande, ”What if” is not a far cry from the sound of that project. It’s a straight-forward, uptempo and direct Hard Rock meets Metal stomper with a somewhat symphonic keyboard arrangement. The mix of punchy aggression and smooth and slick melodies works just fine but the chorus, while it’s good enough, really could have been stronger.
”City Of Gold” starts out on a slower note, heavy and quite moody with a bit of an Eastern flavor to it. The song then continues more upbeat in a higher tempo, clearly metal-fused but with an orchestrated keyboard on top. A softer and held-back breakdown with a clear symphonic vibe comes in as a bit of a breather before the song takes off again. The chorus is direct and very effective albeit not poppy or radio-friendly. Great stuff. Latest single ”Heaven Sent” is a crunchy hard-rocker that brings along some gritty riffage that takes the tune into Metal territory. It’s a bit darker laden on a slightly pompous note but with a killer chorus-hook that makes the tune stick right from go. A very good song and a perfect choice for a single.
”Haunted Heart” mixes upbeat rhythms with some more laid-back vocals melodies, especially in the verses. Still on a heavy note, the punchy drums and ballsy bass with rowdy guitars works well with the more Melodic Rock laden chorus on the straight-ahead rhythms and the fat keyboard-riff. As a whole, it’s a decent track but also feels a bit middle-of-the-road. The single ”Deadly Sins” brings on a dark mood, a kicking rhythm and a fat, menacing guitar-sound but also a cool Eastern flavored keyboard that takes on a haunting vibe. The chorus might not be very radio-friendly in the sense of ”let’s write a hit”, but it sure is memorable as hell. A great song and one of the finest moments here.
Going into ballad territory, the sparse and acoustic slow-burner ”In The Name Of Life” brings on some orchestration that dwells in the background. The tune is slightly folky and it’s both stripped down and overblown – and the soundscape is both big and emotional. There’s a bit of an Avantasia touch within the melody-lines as well, which doesn’t hurt. It’s a nice breather and really good song. Second single ”Demons In My Head” is equal parts Melodic Rock and Metal with an influence of Symphonic Rock for good measure. It’s a bit on a slow note but the rhythm’s upbeat and the even though there are some proggy influences, it’s a quite straight-ahead number albeit with a laid-back and somewhat eerie piano part involved. The chorus is effective without any fuss – a good song indeed.
The eastern tinged ”Whispers In Darkness” holds a sitar intro before it goes off into a heavy and darkening, clearly Black Sabbath influenced Metal piece, quite intense with some pounding drums, a rolling bass and some mean and gritty guitars. Swedish guitarist Jonas Hornqvist brings out his inner Ritchie Blackmore for the solo part and the vocal parts really hits where they should accompanied by a spot-on refrain. Leading single ”Valley Of The Kings” blasts on in a fast tempo with smattering drums, lots of keyboards and a sing-along main-melody and while the tune is ok, it’s a bit too Power Metal for me. The same can be said about closing track ”Lost Son”, a headbang-friendly metal-blaster with chuggy riffing and galloping drums running amok. It’s clearly here to rip your head off but as a song, it’s quite forgettable.
To be frank, I’m not sure where to go with this. Look, played on shuffle, one song here and there, they all work just fine but as whole, both songs and sound becomes too same-same and it actually becomes a bit hard to keep my interest up. Yes, there are some really good songs on here – some are actually great – but there is also a couple of fillers too many for comfort. The Heavy Metal meets Melodic Rock/Arena Rock vibe of the debut Allen/Lande album is quite prominent here and it spontaneously feels like this album is written from that stand-point. The singing of Zonta and Fernandez is, of course, totally faultless – both of them are powerhouses with both range and vigour but at the same time even they sound a bit too alike. Final verdict – good enough but a few steps away from great.