Reviews january/06

Ambition / Ambition / FR CD 271


Ambition - The return of Thom Griffin! Tracklisting:Hold on; Hypocrites; Alone I cry; Shaping Fate & Destiny; All I need; Make it alright; No wasted Moments; Together; Too much; Hunger; The Promise; Waiting in my Dreams.

Ambition started back in 2002 when Serafino Perugino from Frontiers records was putting together the Mecca project. It ended as you already know with the resurrection of ex-Trillion singer Thom Griffin singing backing vocals on that record - ironically together with ex-Trillion singer Fergie Frederiksen;-)
Now in 2006 after the Ambition -project has taken several differnt direction it is finished with Thom Griffin doing most of the vocals - but also Joe Vana from Mecca and Jean Michel Byron is doing some singing - Byron has a whole track "Hunger" for himself! As backing they have Fabrizio Grossion bass, keyboards and as producer (of course) and the industrious 6-stringer Tommy Denander - the split drums duties by Masayoshi Yamasuka and Joachim Cannaiuolo!
The music on this album can be described as a mix of Radioactive, Mecca and Vertigo. This is not strong as the two Radioactive albums but it´s definitely in the same quality as Mecca and even stronger than Vertigo IMHO. The album opens up with a brilliant AOR-rocker called "Hold on" what a wake-up call, an amazing AOR-song that has awesome AOR-hooklines with a powerful chorus with fantastic background vocals and Denanders fluid guitars all over it (just check the solo). And they keep coming like pearls on a string. Thom sings like he´s never been away from the music scene and sounds a bit like Fergie Fredriksen from time to time. "Hypocrites" has a strong Toto feel over it where Thom and Jean Michel Byron shares the lead vocals. "Shaping Fate & Destiny" is a another AOR-hit with airy keyboards, catchy hooks and a great radio friendly chorus. But also the track "Make it alright" takes you back to AOR heaven - it gives some stints to Journey - the guitars is a mix of Schon and Lukather, but with Denander written all over it. "Together" is another hummable tune with a great chorus - and ai could mention tho one more catchy tune penned bysome of the greatest songwriters p.t. Christian Wolf, Terje Eide and Joey Carbone.
The album ends with a "forgotten" and hidden treasure from the Mr. Mister repertoire called "Waiting In My Dreams". Good way to finish this fantastic AOR-album and I must say that Thom Griffin sings great - it's a very fine and welcome return to the scene.

Avian / From the Depths of Time / MAS PC0499


Avian - Melodic metal mastered by Tommy Hansen! Tracklisting:Through the Past and into Forever; As the World burns; Black Masquerade; The Fear; Final Frontier; Across the Millions; Time & Space (part 1); Single Blade of Vengeance; Blinding Force; Time is all we need; Queen of the Insane; Last Moon; The Depths of Time.

Avian is the band formed by guitarist and songwriter Yan Leviathan, a new talent to the prog metal scene - but as newcomer Leviathan he has assistance from some of the established names in the genre: Lance King on vocals (Balance of Power, Pyramaze, Shining Star) but also former Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson joined Leviathan to contribute to "From the Depths of Time" and also co-wrote a few of the tracks - he also brought F5 drummer Dave Small along! Mr. Kings keyboard friend from Pyramaze Jonah Weingarten was asked to join in, too - so was Roger Moore as lead guitarist. As the topping of the cake Danish producer Tommy Hansen mastered the whole thing in the Jailhouse Studios in Horsens - and armed with the Danish based management Intromental Management.
As on many prog/power metal releases there are a lot of instrumental passages - solos, and intermezzoes... on Avian's "From the Depths of Time" as a concept album that goes as well! I like the melodic sides to the genre and tracks like "Black Masquerade", "Single Blade of Vengence" and "Time is all we need" are my favorites. But all tracks are very listenable - with great musical skills and a very nice production that allows every artist to shine. Off course Lance King's voice is spectacular, but also the keyboard passages of Jonah Weingarten is great!
Even the artwork by Mathias Norén is outstanding.

Khymera / A new Promise / FR CD 248


Khymera - Daniel Liverani & Dennis Ward! Tracklisting:A new Promise; Alone; let it burn; Looking for you; All that I have; The Damage is done; After the Way; You can't take me; Tomorrow never comes; Fields of Fire; If you dare to dream; Give in to the World; All is gone.

Khymera has taken a whole new approach as Steve walsh is not longer the lead vocalist - this time bassist of Pink Cream 69 Dennis Ward is doing the trick! He has a more direct "European" access to the songs - and supplied by the big sound made by songwriter/keyboardwizz/bassist Daniel Liverani it is the perfect match! This time the drummer from the Genius-project Dario Ciccioni and fabulous newcomer Tommy Ermolli on guitars are called in to put the last touches to "A new Promise".
All in all i'm very surprised that Ward ws singing that good - he shines on tracks like the Unruly Child-cover "The Damage is done", the magnificent "Fields of Fire" with a contagious chorus and "After the Way" which reminds me of Giant's "Where would i be without you" but nevertheless is a great track!
On the album Liverani & Ward called in some of most wellknown writers on the melodic rock and AOR-scene like Robin and Judithe Randall ("If you dare to dream"), Jeff Scott Soto ("You can't take me") and Don Barnes ("Looking for you" and "After the Way").
As we can expect from a project featuring song and themes from various sorced and songwriters (even if the core of the band is more of a band this time) not everything is perfect and not all the songs matches the "concept" but with a cover and some several left-overs it is almost perfect. As a whole, this is a very listenable record that is best described as uptempo classic melodic rock/AOR. I think the production is even better than the first and the vocals are certainly a whole lot more suitable.
There are plenty of modern rock and industrial metal releases to keep fans of those genre'ecstatic – this one is for fans of old school, easy-listening melodic rock and AOR! Great!!

© Steen Elstrup Pejtersen 1999-2006