Back in 2013, I had a chat with Chris Laney. He told me that he wanted his new album with his new band Laney’s Legion released by Frontiers Records. Later on, he told me that they had declined to release it with the words “It’s too modern sounding”. That kind of speaks volumes how that label looked at things back then. It was all about melodic rock and AOR for them. Nothing wrong with that, they helped many bands to reunite and signed lots of new ones within those genres so all respect to them for that. But that also means that their releases were predictable – you knew exactly what a Frontiers’ act sounded like without even listening to the album in question. But things have changed since then – now they have added both heavy and power metal bands to their list which, through a fan perspective, brings to more variation and that’s a good thing. The signing of Wayward Sons, a new band, was therefore not predictable in the way that I really didn’t know what they sounded like beforehand – I had no clue who these guys were before I got my hands on the stream link I had sent to me. Was this another all-star project or a completely new band. When I looked through the press release, no star-names showed up at all which was kind of refreshing. Except for one, a name that made me very curious about this band.
The lead singer’s name is Toby Jepson and as a huge fan of Little Angels, the band he fronted between 1987 – 1994, I was of course really interested to hear what his new outfit might sound like. Little Angels released three albums – Don’t Prey For Me (1989), Young Gods (1991) and Jam (1993) – during those years and I love all of them. After the split, Jepson formed Toby & The Whole Truth and later joined both Fastway and Gun as their new singer, but neither worked out. In 2012, Little Angels reformed – they played a brilliant gig at Sweden Rock Festival in 2013 – but unfortunately, the reunion didn’t last so no more gigs and no new album from those guys. Since I always loved Jepson’s voice, the news that I just got a new record from him and his new partners in crime – Sam Wood (guitar), Nic Wastell (bass), Phil Martini (drums) and Dave Kemp (who also held saxophone duties in Little Angels’ horn section The Big Bad Horns, on keys) – were very good and exciting news indeed.
Wayward Sons kicks off the album with “Alive”, the album’s second single. It’s a very down ‘n dirty hard rocker with big blues-rock influences, raunchy and kicking and the Led Zeppelin meets Deep Purple vibe only feels fresh and alive (sic). The tune sticks with me right off the bat and raises the expectations furthermore. A real killer. The album’s first single “Until The End” follows and it is now that I realize I recognize it. Yes, I’ve heard the tune before – I watched the video for it with half an eye without realizing it was Jepson singing and then later forgot about it. Listening to it now, I don’t know how that passed me by as his voice is so easy to spot. The tune is a melodic hard rocker with a punch. The whole song is very crunchy and raw but it also sports a very catchy chorus that sticks really fast. I wouldn’t say the tune is radio-friendly, though. But a damn good song it is. “Ghost” is next and this classic rock pearl holds influences from both 60’s rock as The Who and The Kinks and melodic hard rock from the late 80’s. The tune is groovy as hell and has more hooks than a fisherman’s hat. Awesome!
“I Don’t Wanna Go” breaks loose with a punchy beat, a kicking and swinging groove and a fist-in-the-face punch. This high-octane ball-buster will without a single doubt go down brilliantly live – so awesome! “Give It Away” is a pure melodic rock tune with a big 70’s pop feel and the tune closest to Little Angels’ sound on the album – not that it sounds like them style wise. The song also contains a break that makes me think of British pop-punk. I really shouldn’t approve of that but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work. The melody is striking, the chorus is catchy and it really swings – another really good song. “Killing Time” is an attitude-driven, ballsy and raw heavy rock tune that holds a slight punky touch. That said, it lies on the noisy side of rock and I can’t really get a grip of the song. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t stick at all. Which is not something that could be said about “Crush”. This is a big pop song with a huge melody that takes over the tune and the refrain is there with extra catchiness. Still, the song do have a heavy arrangement and it’s not sugary one bit. Great!
“Be Still” is an uptempo pop-rocker, riff-happy with a brilliant melody and a chorus so catchy it hurts. It’s pretty much a straight forward rocker with a kick and I can’t help but to get a summer feel from it – so awesome! “Small Talk” comes across as a rough, raunchy kick-ass rocker, kicking and biting. It is pretty angry, dark and in-your-face and even though it is ok, it doesn’t go all the way for me. The album closes with “Something Wrong”, a groovy, mid pace rock stomper with an edgy beat and a distinct refrain. It’s catchy but not ‘hitty’, it’s a bit dark edged but still uplifting. It comes with a 70’s swagger combined with an 80’s melody arrangement and the two marries brilliantly. A great tune and a great way to close this record – I immediately want to play the album again.
As you might have guessed by now, this band doesn’t sound anything like Little Angels, except for Jepson’s voice and maybe a melody line her and there. And yes, Jepson is still a great singer with a broad range and it’s really cool to hear him sing this kind of rougher and raunchier hard rock than Little Angels played. Because where Little Angels moved in the melodic rock territory, Wayward Sons are classic hard rock – the big, groovy, down to earth and meaty kind. And that is what this album is all about. Add attitude, power and shitloads of hooks and catchiness and you have a good idea how this album sounds. Which goes for the production as well – raw, stripped and rough but balanced enough to sound professional and slightly smooth. With that, I say welcome back to Toby and hopefully he and his cohorts will keep this great band going for the long run. And oh, this is not a melodic rock or AOR album, it’s a bona fide classic hard rock one. It’s great that Frontiers signs bands like this – another musical branch added to their list!
2. Until The End
4. Don’t Wanna Go
5. Give It Away
6. Killing Time
8. Be Still
9. Small Talk
10. Something Wrong