REVOLUTION SAINTS – Revolution Saints

Revolution Saints CoverHats off to Italian record company Frontiers. Why? Well, this record company was formed by a hardcore melodic rock fan, Serafino Peruguino back in 1996, when melodic rock and AOR was about as hot as sleeping nude on the North Pole. When no one else gave a rat’s ass about that kind of music, Serafino took a shot – and has in the long run succeed with what he set out to do – put melodic rock and AOR back on the map again. In Sweden we had a record company called MTM in the 90’s that tried the same thing, but went bankrupt in only a few years. The difference was that MTM couldn’t afford to advertise, something that Frontiers has. Where Serafino and his company got that money from God only knows, but that they have managed to recruit big acts like Journey, Whitensake, Def Leppard, Boston and Asia, bands that actually still sells records, has probably helped a great deal. Frontiers is also responsible for the runions of lots of 80’s / early 90’s bands on their label. Not all of them are Frontiers’ work, but the fact that these bands knew that there is a label like Frontiers around has made it easier for them to reunite and get their products out. So for me, who grew up and was there when all those bands formed and made it big, this record company is a God send. Some of my favourite bands are on this label, such as Winger, Y&T, Pretty Maids, Stryper, Night Ranger, Cinderella, Mr Big, Dokken, Extreme and Tesla. Add to it that bands that never really made it arena big, like Enuff Z’Nuff, Danger Danger, Crown Of Thorn, House Of Lords, Black N’ Blue and Sebastian Bach also has a home there. But Frontiers doesn’t only reunite bands, they also sign newer acts in the melodic rock genre like Crashdiet, Crazy Lixx, The Poodles, Issa and Eclipse. The fact that Frontiers’ didn’t sign the superb Laney’s Legion was a real shocker – that band would have been perfect for that label – especially as they released one of the best albums of 2014. The only negative to say about the record company is that they have a tendency to interfer with their artists’ creative work, but that’s hardly a new thing with record companies. At least these guys are real rock fans. But one thing that Frontiers has been known for is their so-called “supergroups”, projects formed by Serafino with hand-picked musicians from the label. Sometimes, those projects turns out really great, such as the amazing Sweet & Lynch (Stryper & Dokken / Lynch Mob) album, although that album was solely written by Sweet and Lynch and not by Frontiers’ hired guns song writers. But albums like the Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) fronted First Signal and the three Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween) fronted Place Vendome albums has shown that Frontiers has hand-picked their song writers and producers carefully as all those albums are really, really good. Now it’s time to say welcome to the next Frontiers sponsored project – say hi to Revolution Saints.

Put together by the label, Serafino picked the members from three different Frontiers bands – Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) on bass and vocals, Deen Castronovo (Journey, Bad English, Hardline) on drums and lead vocals and Doug Aldrich (ex – Whitesnake, Dio, Lion, Bad Moon Rising, Burning Rain). The song writing was done by one Alessandro Del Vecchio, a keyboard player and song writer that works for the label, with some help from Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse, W.E.T., Age-Sten Nilsen’s Ammunition) and Magnus Karlsson (Allen / Lande, Primal Fear) among others. This is a thing that really confuses me as all three members of this projects are song writers in their own right – and damn good ones as well. Only Blades stands as a co-writer on two songs here. But what is important is not who writes the songs, it’s how the songs turns out and that the musicians FEELS the tunes and not just goes into the studio and sings them without caring at all. And my impression is that none of these guys would jump on a project like this without really digging it. They are all well-respected musicians and they have too much credibility to lose to just jump on any half-assed project. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway. Two singles / videos pre-dated the album that gossiped on a killer album –  if those songs were anything to go by. The first song I heard / saw was “Turn Back Time”, one of two songs co-written by Jack Blades and it really knocked me off my rocker right away. To me it’s a melodic rock HIT, with some fine, fine lead vocals by Deen Castronovo and Jack Blades, who shared small parts of the vocals. The next video that was out was album opener “Back On My Trail”, an uptempo AOR rocker with some major Journey influences. As both singles opens the album, we continue with track number three, a fantastic uptempo ballad called “You’re Not Alone”, guested by Journey lead vocalist Arnel Pineda. Pineda does – of course – a brilliant job singing on it and it stands clear that Pineda has gotten a vocal style of is own, the Steve Perry cloning seems to be long gone now. It’s a great song with a big hit feel. “Locked Out Of Paradise” is a brilliant pop song based on rock that really sticks by first listen. Neal Schon (Journey, Bad English, Hardline) guests with a sharp guitar solo on the great ballad “Way To The Sun”, a song that has all the no-cheese qualities that Journey’s ballads were based on without actually sounding like Journey. Which isn’t something you can say about “Dream On” (also co-written by Blades), a pop metal tune that is total Journey all the way. Great song and very catchy! “Here Forever” is an 80’s pop metal ballad that would probably had been a huge hit in 1987 – and it really should be one in 2015 as well.

“Strangers To This Life” is fantastic, a rocker that reminds me of Journey’s rockier moments in the 80’s and Castronovo really sings the hell out of it. Although “Better World” really could by any melodic rock / AOR band from the 80’s style wise, it sounds so much better than most of the bands that jumped on the pop metal bandwagon back then. The song is blessed with a really catchy chorus. Erik Mårtensson, the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Swedish AOR band Eclipse is also hired by Frontiers as a songwriter, he co-wrote “Dream On” here so it feels only natural that Revolution Saints has recorded a cover of Eclipse’s “How To Mend A Broken Heart” from their 2008 album Are You Ready To Rock. They have made a stunning cover of the song and combined with a fantastic melody, Castronovo’s Steve Perry-influenced voice makes the song sound like a heavier Journey. A brilliant song and a single to be. Closing ballad “In The Name Of The Father (Fernando’s Song)” is just fantastic and screams HIT! Also, the Journey influence is once again very prominent. I usually don’t like when an album ends (or opens) with a ballad, but this is so damn good I immediately want to play the record all over again. Now, there has been a lot of Journey comparisons here, but it really can’t be helped. But this is no Journey clone band what so ever, although the Journey influences are all over this album. If you’re a Journey-fan, you’re gonna love this album and if you don’t, there’s a big chance that you might not be a Journey fan after all. Deen Castronovo has proven himself as great singer with Journey when he takes the lead on “Mother Father” (Escape, 1980) live, but this is the first time he sings a whole album by himself and let me tell you, he does it with glory. He has similarities to Steve Perry, which also help the Journey comparisons. I have never been a fan of Doug Aldrich as a player and I could never get it through my skull what David Coverdale and Ronnie James Dio heard in the guy. Besides, I never liked his own bands the least, even though I must admit he helped put Coverdale’s career back on track with the two great Whitesnake albums he played on and co-wrote. But with this album, I totally get it. On here Aldrich plays with a passion and a flow I haven’t heard him play with before – Aldrich is perfect for this band. The only guy whose talents seems a bit thrown away is Jack Blades. I mean, the guy has always been a prominent song writer and a lead singer – not only the bass player – in every band he has played in before and played a pivotal part in all of those bands, but not here. Seems like a waste to me. Maybe they could have avoided many of the Journey comparisons by sharing the vocals between Blades and Castronovo more. Also, with killer song writers like these guys, it’s also a waste not to use them. Still, the Revolution Saints has recorded one hell of a melodic rock album and it sure sounds (and looks) like the guys are having a blast together. Let’s hope for a tour and a second record from them. And let’s hope that next time, they will write the majority of the songs themselves.

Jon Wilmenius (9/10) 

Track List:

1. Back On My Trail
2. Turn Back Time
3. You’re Not Alone
4. Locked Out Of Paradise
5. Way To The Sun
6. Dream On
7. Don’t Walk Away
8. Here Forever
9. Strangers To This Life
10. Better World;
11. How To Mend A Broken Heart
12. In The Name Of The Father (Fernando’s Song)

2 comments on “REVOLUTION SAINTS – Revolution Saints

  1. Yeah, well, the bonus tracks – at least on the deluxe edition – are just other versions of some of the songs on the album. You’re Not Alone sung by Deen instead of Arnel Pineda and Way To The Sun with Aldrich playing the solo instead of Schon. Dunno if there are any unreleased tracks on the Japanses version, though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.