Artist: Revolution Saints
Album Title: Revolution Saints
Label: Frontiers Records
Year of Release: 2015
When news of a new ‘supergroup’ reaches me, I always have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I get very excited because the prospect of a group of highly talented and well-known artists coming together in the name of a new musical venture is always rife with possibilities. On the other hand, I’m always a little wary. Call it the cynic in me, but I always wonder about the motivation behind the venture and, equally importantly, I hope that the final result is worthy of the names involved. Too often in the past, I have waited excitedly for the ‘supergroup’ to release their material only to be hugely disappointed by the outcome. And no, I’m not naming any names here.
It is therefore something of a relief as well as genuine pleasure to be able to report that the latest such project is no let-down. Going under the moniker of ‘Revolution Saints’, the names of Doug Aldritch (Whitesnake, Dio, Burning Rain), Deen Castronovo (Journey, Ozzy Osbourne) and Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) have joined forces to bring us their vision of AOR-laced melodic hard rock. Oh, and Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Edge Of Forever) handles the keyboards and some of the vocals just in case the initial trio wasn’t enough. After several days of careful listening, I can declare the vision to be an immensely positive one and one that I am sure will delight many fans of this particular genre of music.
To contextualise things, I may be known online as the ‘Man of Much Metal’ but I’m not afraid to admit that I have a genuine soft-spot for music of this type. Admittedly it has been a more recent development in my musical taste and I’m in no way an aficionado of melodic rock, but over the past couple of years I have embraced it and thoroughly enjoy it when done well. And, simply put, ‘Revolution Saints’ is one of best exponents of the genre that I have heard in recent times.
Given the clientele involved, it is hardly surprising that there are more than a few stylistic nods towards Journey and their particular ilk throughout the album’s 12 tracks. There’s a definite 80s/90s feel to a lot of the co tent but let’s be honest, that’s no bad thing. But all that being said, Revolution Saints have a definite identity of their own and are in no way a clone or a copycat band, far from it. This is slick, well-executed and confident-sounding music of the highest order.
The album kicks off with the up-tempo and high energy ‘Back On My Trail’, which showcases in just over four minutes what this band is all about: driving rhythms, expressive and playful guitar work, big hooks, huge AOR-inspired keys, powerfully-delivered vocals and an overall feel-good factor that’s hard to put into words and quantify but is the demonstrable hallmark of great, well-written melodic rock.
With barely a pause for breath, the lead single, ‘Turn Back Time’ takes over and continues the strong opening to the album. It’s a track that has benefited from plenty of radio airplay and the feedback has been very favourable in the main. For my money, despite an initially more laid-back, breezy feel it’s a slightly busier composition with plenty going on, including a cracking guitar solo and some frenetic, bombastic drumming. Crucially though, the ubiquitous chorus is memorable right off the bat and provides plenty more sing-along fodder.
‘Locked Out Of Paradise’ has echoes of a Magnus Karlsson-penned moody Allen-Lande rocker whilst ‘Way To The Sun’ is arguably the most epic track on the entire record. It builds from a gentle acoustic guitar and vocal led number into an enormously grand and majestic rock song, complete with a guest guitar solo courtesy of Journey’s Neal Schon. This track is one of those that sets the benchmark for everyone else due to release melodic rock over the coming year.
Elsewhere, ‘Dream On’ is a cheeky little up-beat number, ‘Strangers To This Life’ has a nice swagger to it, particularly in terms of the guitar work and the instant chorus whilst ‘Here Forever’ is another brooding mid-paced track with a sprawling chorus and some impassioned vocals.
It’s not all high octane, driving rock frivolity though as the album features no less than four ballads. Your opinion of ballads will dictate whether or not this is a welcome decision of course, but I must admit that the standard is very high with each. The first of these appears as early as track three in the form of ‘You’re Not Alone’ and despite being slower, more introspective and emotionally charged, I love the guitar tone throughout the verses and the chorus is another winner. It also benefits greatly from another guest appearance, this time from vocalist Arnel Pineda who duets to great effect with Castronovo.
The award for the best chorus however, has to go to ‘Dont Walk Away’ which is an instantly memorable hookfest and will immediately get lodged in your brain. That said, it’s pushed close by the magnificent closer, the piano-led’In The Name Of The Father’. It’s normally a bit of a risk to end an album of this sort with a ballad but it is such a beautiful, dramatic and emotional track that it works. It also serves to underline just how impressive Castronovo’s pipes are, just in case it has taken this long to realise that fact.
One thing that does strike me as slightly strange is the choice of the cover song on this album. I’ve never been a big fan of cover-versions anyway as I prefer to listen to as much original material as possible, particularly when it’s this good. Nevertheless, Revolution Saints have included one here and have chosen ‘How To Mend A Broken Heart’ by fellow melodic hard rockers Eclipse. It’s a fantastic song and is one of my favourites within the genre. However, I’m not sure I understand the rationale. It’s perhaps going too far to suggest that Eclipse are a direct competitor but they do plough a similar furrow and they too have a new album coming out in the near future, so maybe it might have been better to cover a different artist. Be that as it may, its a very small, almost insignificant point and the Revolution Saints version is nevertheless immensely enjoyable and does the song plenty of justice.
Overall, when push comes to shove, at the end of the day and a whole host of other overused clichés, there’s really nothing not to like about this album. If you’re looking for a professionally put together melodic rock album with AOR overtones that has heart, integrity and a cracking bunch of memorable tunes, I suggest that you’ll be hard pushed to beat ‘Revolution Saints’.
The Score Of Much Metal: 9
If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others right here:
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Travellerw
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld