As we all know, Frontiers Records has always specialized in 80’s sounding Melodic Rock and AOR but in later years, the company have broadened their styles some – first it was Power Metal bands that came along and of lately more 70’s retro acts have been releasing records on the company. But one genre that they haven’t exactly spoiled us with is classic Heavy Metal. Metal bands yes but I can’t remember the last time a band in the vein of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Accept was signed to the company. But now it’s time for that – say hello to Destinia. Destinia is a project lead by Japanese guitar maestro Nozumu Wakai that got off the ground in 2014 with the debut album Requiem For A Scream and the follow-up, the E.P. Anecdote Of The Queen where singer Rob Rock (Impellitteri, Driver) was hired. Wakai is also involved in music production for anime and computer games so with a new album out, it’s not like the guy will be sitting idle in the near future.
Speaking of the new album, the musicians he have managed to gather for the recording aren’t exactly rookies. What about singer Ronnie Romero (Lords Of Black, CoreLeoni, Rainbow, The Ferrymen), bassist Marco Mendoza (The Dead Daisies, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Blue Murder) and Tommy Aldridge (Whitesnake, Ozzy, Black Oak Arkansas, Yngwie Malmsteen, House Of Lords) – quite an impressing bunch. The involvement of those names makes for some expectations as my guess is that they wouldn’t participate in any crap band just to receive a paycheck. Now, I’m not familiar with Wakai and Destinia at all so I have nothing to compare this album with, but Aldridge and Mendoza are veterans by now and Romero seems to show up pretty much everywhere these days and I rate him a world-class vocalist, never doing a bad job whatever he puts his voice on, so this project sure is an interesting one.
The titular opening track – and leading single – comes along as something of a Power Metal bouncer but with its roots in classic Metal. It’s heavy, tough and pretty hard but it contains a lot of catchy melodies and a sing-along friendly chorus. Wakai’s playing is obviously influenced by 80’s guitar heroism and even though he might not have created a new style, he’s a very good player. I like the song without being floored. “Rain” is melodic – with the word melodic highlighted – Metal, think Bon Jovi goes Heavy Metal and you’re pretty close. It’s quite heavy and bouncy but with a huge Pop vibe. I also get a Joe Lynn Turner fronted Rainbow vibe from it. The tune is full of hooks and brings on a large dose of hit-potential. Great stuff. “The End Of Love” runs in a fast pace, smattering drums and memorable melodies all over – clearly influenced by European Power Metal. Despite that, I do like the song, much to the Pop catchiness of the sticky chorus.
“Promised Land” is bouncy, heavy and bombastic with a symphonic feel. It’s direct and in-your-face and the chorus is both striking and memorable – a headbanging friendly Metal track. It’s ok but a bit forgettable. “”Take Me Home” is a mid-paced Metal track with clear traces of early 90’s Arena Rock mixed with Classic Metal. It also has one feet in power balladry and the amazingly striking chorus brings on some borrowings from AOR even. It’s an obvious single choice – a brilliant tune. The somewhat lyrically clichéd “Raise Your Fist” is bouncy Metal stomper that brings on a pumping Metal groove. The tune do has an influence from Power Metal, especially in the quite catchy and sing-along driven refrain but most of the tune’s home is in 80’s Dio-land. It’s an ok tune – good but not great. “Be A Hero” brings on even more Power Metal vibes but it stands on Heavy metal ground. It moves straight-forward and it holds a refrain so catchy it’s impossible not to surrender to. Good one.
“Metamorphosis” blasts out in a European Power Metal way. It holds one of those big, slightly cheesy choruses that sticks no matter whether you want it to or not. Also, the pompous keyboards brings out the Power Metal further. It’s an ok track but this really isn’t my kind of Metal. “Cross The Line” is a Metal track in a faster pace. It’s big on hooks, it’s headbang-friendly and the refrain is doing its best to catch us on – and sure, it holds a slight Pop vibe but the tune kind of falls on the way-side as it’s quite a forgettable piece. Same with “Judgement Day”, it blasts on full speed, it kicks and bites and it makes me think of early Helloween style wise and even though the chorus is on the sing-along ish side, it fails to grab me. Closing track is called “Ready For Rock”, a song more in the vein of heavy Hard Rock than Metal and the feeling of American Arena Rock from the early 90’s appears. It might be a little corny lyrically but it grooves and it rocks with all the hooks in the world which makes it very memorable. The lack of Power Metal only makes it stronger to my ears. Probably my favorite song on the album.
The final judgement of this album is that this is pretty much a standard metal album. As for being a classic Metal album, it’s really not – this draws more towards Power Metal than actual Heavy Metal and I have some issues with that. But yes, the album is well-written, well produced and with an all-star line-up like this, it sure is well-performed. Aldridge and Mendoza knows each other from both Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy so they’re a well-oiled machine and as for Romero, that guy’s got lungs of steel. Wakai himself is a true guitar-hero of the 80’s and while the guy obviously can play very well, I do find him somewhat unpersonal. The thing is, it’s the musicians that are this album’s profit. It’s not that the songs are bad because they aren’t but they’re too mainstream and most songs just don’t stand out enough – they’re good while I’m listening to them but they just won’t last. The music also lacks identity and since Romero is on so many records nowadays, it feels like I have heard this record before. Not bad but very uneven.
1. Metal Souls
3. The End Of Love
4. Promised Land
5. Take Me Home
6. Raise Your Fist
7. Be A Hero
9. Cross The Line
10. Judgement Day
11. Ready For Rock