It was hard to not be aroused when the news of a new “supergroup” that featured bassist and singer Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees), drummer and lead vocalist Deen Castronovo (The Dead Daisies, Journey, Bad English, Hardline, Ozzy Osbourne) and guitarist Doug Aldrich (The Dead Daisies, Burning Rain, Whitesnake, Dio, Bad Moon Rising, Lion), went online back in 2015. The fact that the band was put together by Frontiers Records mattered little but on the other hand, since many of their projects are supervised (produced and written) by the label themselves – which often means Alessandro Del Vecchio, the project beforehand ran the risk of sounding just like many of their other projects. Because the truth is, too many of Frontiers project-albums are very similar both song and sound-wise. My hope here was that Blades, Castronovo and Aldrich had gotten together and written the songs themselves.
With the eponymously titled debut in hand it was clear that that wasn’t the case. Only two songs were co-written by Blades, leaving both Castronovo and Aldrich out of the song-writing completely – a bit weird as said album was originally intended to be a Castronovo solo album before it turned into a band. Most of the debut was written by Del Vecchio but other writers like Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse), Johan Becker and Peter Alpenborg were involved, all of them belonging to Frontiers’ song-writing team. Despite that, the debut was a killer record where the members had managed to put their own stamp on the music, creating an identity of their own. A follow-up, Light In The Dark (2017), was released because of the big success of the debut, an album that had the members as co-writers on many of the songs, making it more of a band product. That album was a bit rougher round the edges, but also a damn good record and a successful one – which made it quite easy to motivate a third release – with some great expectations following its footsteps.
The album opens with the leading single “When The Heartache Has Gone” and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why it was chosen as the first outing. That this is the Revolution Saints stands clear after merely a second or two -this band/project really has managed to create a sound of their own. It’s an uptempo rocker where AOR and Melodic Rock meets in the finest of symbioses. The hook-laden, driving verses builds up expectations that the immediate and catchy, Journey sounding chorus has no problems keeping. This tune is a hit and the sing-along chorus will stick in the minds of anyone with just a tiny touch of sense of melody. What a treat!
“Price To Pay”, also a single, is a bit more soft-laden but still upbeat pop-rock albeit not as anthem-like as the opening track is. It’s quite pink n’ fluffy AOR driven but it’s not syrupy at all. Style-wise, it reminds me of the Gioeli-Castronovo album and what’s not to love about that? This tune is also single-perfect with a massively catchy refrain that sticks as soon as it begins. Damn good, this. The title-track is heavier, raunchier and much more guitar-driven than the first two and Aldrich gets to share his guitar skills. The song is carried by a solid and punchy rhythm section signed Blades/Castronovo and this Melodic Rock track with a clear Hard Rock inspiration track – it actually reminds me some of modern day Night Ranger – is both catchy and holds a good, meaty live-feel. Good one.
“Coming Home” (isn’t it time that we put that title to rest now?) is an uptempo half-ballad, a bit laid-back and mellow in the verses but with a more uptempo chorus that’s stickier than glue and it sure brings on a radio-friendly, hit-catchy vibe. The whole thing is a slick and smooth blend of AOR and pure Pop – and clearly single-material. It’s a very good song but it’s quite obvious that Del Vecchio is behind this one. While the last track led us in towards balladry, the real big ballad comes with the single “Closer”, a song Journey of today easily could have included on an album. It’s a real stadium, lighter-in-the-air love-song, laid-back and soft but with a big soundscape. The tune sure brings on a feel-good vibe and a monstrously glistening refrain that’s impossible to escape. Very good.
On a rougher outlook, “Higher” is more of an uptempo hard-rocker, guitar-driven with a rhythmic groove and crowd-friendly swagger. It’s a song that would be perfect live if these three ever decides to hit the stage. It’s an energetic, uplifting rocker with an instant chorus that’s catchy without being smooth or slick but it will still catch your intention. Very good. Another single, “Talk To Me” – featuring a duet with an Italian female singer called Lunakaire – is a straight-forward pop-rocker very much recognizable as something Del Vecchio would write. It holds a moody atmosphere and some more held-back verses but a more upbeat refrain, all with a more smooth melody-structure, making the song a bit slick and hit-friendly. A really good song and as a single-choice, it’s a no brainer. Good one.
“It’s Not The End (Just The Beginning)” is an uptempo hard rock-pop stomper, smooth yet crunchy that holds big, hook-laden and memorable melodies all over where the chorus is almost over-the-top catchy, the kind that sticks in your mind no matter if you love it or hate it. The solo break clearly leans towards classic Hard Rock where the tune creates an edge on a tough and solid beat that holds the tune up. I like this very much. “Million Miles” is more of the opposite, plain AOR, slick and smooth and again, the Del Vecchio song-writing style is very prominent which kinda takes away the Rev Saints identity some. Still, this is a catchy as damn, well-written pop-rocker that makes for a very enjoyable listen.
“Win Or Lose” surely follows in the footsteps of its predecessor – big melodies, shitloads of hooks and a massive chorus that hits right where it should – but it’s also very much a Frontiers-project song that’s identified by the singer and not the style of the song. Still a good one. Closing track “Eyes Of A Child” is a soft, piano and acoustic guitar based ballad, filled up to the max with Journey references, especially within the melody arrangements and the vocal phrasings are very much Steve Perry influenced. On top, there lies some synth strings and an arrangement that brings musical theatre to mind. It’s soft and taciturn with a big emotional touch and the tune breaks away some from the standard Del Vecchio way of writing songs. A great song that works splendidly as a closing track here.
I must say that this record is a double-edged sword for me. It’s a very good album, no doubt about it. Great songs, great musicians, very good production. All is well there. But I have issues with it as well. It feels like with this record, the project is treading water. No matter how good songs Del Vecchio & co. has written – because they have – most of them sounds like new versions of old tracks and even though I totally get that even projects like this needs its brand, it’s never a good thing when it sounds like everything’s on repeat. Also, with a skilled song-writer like Jack Blades in the band – I mean, the guy has written shitloads of gems for both Night Ranger, Damn Yankees and for other artists, it’s plain dumb to not use him, if not only for variation’s sake. Talk about an unused talent! I know that this project is owned by Frontiers but if a fourth record is planned, some development is very much needed, in both song-writing and production. This album contains lots of high-quality songs but it feels like I have already heard them on the other albums.
More Revolution Saints reviews:
1. When The Heartache Has Gone
2. Price To Pay
4. Coming Home
7. Talk To Me
8. It’s Not The End (It’s Just The Beginning)
9. Million Miles
10. Win Or Lose
11. Eyes Of A Child