W.E.T. – Rise Up

W.E.T. - Rise UpAll of you who have heard of this project knows that W.E.T. is something of a AOR supergroup. Well, at least, they could have been one if all the members had been, well, super. No shadow over the guys as players or song writers, but none of them has ever reached any superstardom. Singer Jeff Scott Soto is without a doubt the biggest star of the band with qualifications from Yngwie Malmsteen, Talisman and Journey. Unfair? Yes, probably, but who said life was fair? W.E.T. is short for the members’ day jobs Work Of Art (Robert Säll, guitars), Eclipse (Erik Mårtensson, guitars) and Talisman  (Jeff Scott Soto, lead vocals) and the music they play is very pink and fluffy AOR. Their self titled debut was released in 2009 to critical acclaim from both fans and critics. However, no matter how much of a fan of Jeff Scott Soto’s voice I am, I had a hard time getting into that record – as a matter of fact, I still haven’t. The songs never stuck, they felt too cheesy and I really thought they sounded like a second-rate Journey – nothing special at all.

When they, four years later decide to release a follow-up, I’m not all that aroused, but since I know that the guys involved here are really good musicians and they do know how to write a catchy tune or two I gave it a go. Maybe their debut was just a miscalculation from the band’s part. Or maybe it was me – maybe I misjudged that album completely. I guess we’ll never know, but I decided to give their new album a fair shot anyway. What hit me right away was that the sound on this album is thicker and cleaner than on the debut, but the sound of the band is more or less the same. Another thing that hit me right away was the music! The two first songs “Walk Away” and first single “Learn To Love Again” are both AOR-killers that went for knock out right on the spot – brilliant! The title track follows and it’s ok – pretty good, but doesn’t really stick, “Love Heals” is a text-book example of how to write a stunning power ballad and “What You Want” is a bona-fide melodic rock song. By now, after five tracks, I have totally surrendered and expectations have started to rise for the second half of the album. And the guys keep on giving us treat after treat. “The Moment” is a catchy as hell uptempo AOR track, “On The Run” is pure brilliance, a Zeppelin groove that goes into Talisman territory with an AOR hit chorus, “Shot” is a killer hard rock track with AOR-ish undertones and “Still Unbroken” is a great closer and a very catchy hard rock / melodic rock stomper.

For me, this album is a big surprise as I wasn’t that impressed with their debut (I must say though, that the debut isn’t a bad album, it just didn’t rock my world). This is not original by any means, but who cares when the songs are as magnificent as this. To make a killer AOR album in this day and age is not an easy task as you need something really special to not sound like everything else out there and it’s more important in the AOR world than anywhere else to have extra strong material and that was the problem with their debut, it just didn’t have that. This one does. I can almost guarantee that any AOR fan out there will enjoy this album tremendously and only a too-hard-for-your-own-good-true-heavy-metal-warrior-in-the-night will dismiss this as garbage. We are only writing March in our calendars, but one of the best AOR albums of 2013 is already here.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Track list:

1. Walk Away
2. Learn To Live Again
3. Rise Up
4. Love Heals
5. What You Want
6. The Moment
7. Bad Boy
8. On The Run
9. Broken Wings
10. Shot
11. Still Believe In Love
12. Still Unbroken

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