First Signal

FIRST SIGNAL – One Step Over The Line

One Step Over The LineI know that most people will go “Who?” when the see this review. Well, First Signal isn’t a band per se, it’s another one of those Frontiers Records projects. When I first heard about the project in 2010, I showed little interest because frankly, I’m usually not that big on projects, but then I saw that Harem Scarem singer Harry Hess had been hired as a singer together with song writer and producer Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) and since I have a real weak spot for Harem Scarem, I just had to find out how the self titled debut album sounded. And I’m really glad I did. The album was packed with AOR and melodic rock of the finest brand. Naturally Harem Scarem came to mind but also Journey influences were all aver the album. I was hooked and still today I truly love that album. But it has been six years since that record saw the light of day and it looked like that album was a one-off which as far as I’m concerned was a shame. If it would have been up to me, First Signal would have turned into a real band with more records, videos, touring and so on, warts and all. But of course, when a project gets rave reviews and becomes at least somewhat successful, the idea of a sequel starts floating around sooner or later and this time it was Swedish drummer / song writer / producer Daniel  Flores of Find Me and The Murder Of My Sweet fame who took control of the song writing and producing tasks. Other musicians that are part of this second part of tasty AOR and melodic rock except for Hess and Flores (who handles drums and keyboards here) is Michael Palace on bass and guitars and also a bunch of background vocalists such as Darren Smith (Harem Scarem, Red Dragon Cartel), Alessandro Del Vecchio, Rolf Pilotti, Nigel Bailey and Flores’ better half Angelica Rylin (The Murder Of My Sweet). Since the debut album was a real killer anything other than equally as good will be looked upon as a failure so expectations here is sky-high – and then some!

“Love Run Free” opens the album and I only needed to hear one verse and one chorus to find out that my expectations probably will be fulfilled. The song kind of continues where the last album ended and the whole track just shines of melodic rock brilliance. “Love Gets Through” continues the amazing ride of said brilliance. A fine mix of Journey and Harem Scarem with all the hooks in the world makes this guy look like a smiling fool while listening – hell yeah! “Still Pretending” is an amazing power ballad, the type of song that all the Desmond Childs and Diane Warrens of this world would cut off their right arm to write. I know power ballads in 2016 doesn’t have the same impact they had back in 1989, but this one should be a hit anyway! And the hits just keeps coming – “Broken” is a big pop song with a shit strong melody and a chorus to die for, “Kharma” is total AOR and gives a big nod to the latest Find Me album but also leans towards Harem Scarem’s melodies, “Minute Of Your Time” is a brilliant little AOR rocker that brings Harem Scarem’s debut album (and their most AOR sounding) to mind, so memorable someone with memory loss would hum it for days and “She Is Getting Away” is a catchy mix of AOR and melodic hard rock with a big pop refrain, catchy as can be that sticks immediately. “December Rain” comes in a heavier finery than most of the songs here, more melodic arena rock than AOR, but this solid rock songs also comes with an insanely catchy chorus and memorable melodies all over the whole tune – brilliance de luxe! The ballad “Weigh Me In” is a real killer as well and it would have fitted perfectly on Harem Scarem’s latest album Thirteen. It’s melodic and catchy but with a heavier arrangement and not so much a power ballad as a powerful ballad. “Pedestal” is AOR Heaven! Very catchy, very pop and very awesome! Even though it’s an uptempo pop / AOR track, it has some good riffing and in my book, this is a hit! The closing title track finishes this pearl of an album, a catchy and memorable melodic rocker, with a groove and a swing and this one should be a future single – another “should be” hit.

If you hate AOR and melodic hard rock, everything is wrong with this album. If not, there’s nothing wrong with it at all. The quality of the songs here are so high it’s almost ridiculous, the musicians are all amazing, the production is crystal clear, yet ballsy with a good foundation to stand upon and Harry Hess is – as usual – nothing short of brilliant. I thought that the debut was an amazing record, but I’ll be damned if this one isn’t just a notch better. With this album, more now than ever, I would love for First Signal to become an actual band – a real band, because with two albums packed with such amazing tunes, it would be a waste not to move forward with it. Do you hear me Sweden Rock? So to persuade everybody involved that First Signal should be a band – or at least to make sure we get a third portion of the tastiest AOR by gourmet musicians and song writers – we can all start by getting our hands on a copy of this album. I know I will!

9/10

Tracklist:

1. Love Run Free
2. Love Gets Through
3. Still Pretending
4. Broken
5. Kharma
6. Minute Of Your Time
7. She Is Getting Away
8. December Rain
9. Weigh Me In
10. Pedestal
11. One Step Over The Line