Thursday, September 28, 2017

Album Review: Revolution Saints - Light In The Dark

A few years back, the legion of assembled supergroups made up from the veterans of the 80s produced a real gem. Revolution Saints was not just a band that made a really great melodic rock/AOR album, they were a vehicle to show the vocal talents of Deen Castronovo. Sure, people knew him from his time behind the kit in Journey, but he had never fronted a band for an entire album before, and he more than held his own. In fact, on what was one of the absolute best tracks of that year, he out-dueled the current Journey singer in a duet. So with that kind of successful debut, I was assuredly excited to hear what would come next. That's where "Light In The Dark" comes in.

Following up a great record is never easy, but especially when it's your first album, because there's no telling where your style will take you. Fortunately, Revolution Saints are veterans who have been around long enough to know who they are as musicians.

The title track picks up where the first album ended, blending Doug Aldrich's semi-metallic guitar playing with Deen's gritty vocals, and a smooth AOR melody. That's the formula that worked on the first album, and if it ain't broke there's no reason to fix it. Plenty of music of this style gets put out, even just from their label, and it's clear when a band is a step above the usual competition. Revolution Saints are one that is.

And that brings us to the issue I have with the record. While "Light In The Dark" is a very nice melodic rock record, it's not as captivating as the debut album was. I don't know the circumstances of the writing of these new songs, but the hooks don't sparkle as consistently as their earlier counterparts. There are great moments, but fewer than last time out. That's a high bar to judge against, but I'm comparing the band to themselves, so it's fair. You have a song like "I Wouldn't Change A Thing", which is a ballad in the mold of "You're Not Alone", but it never builds up to a satisfying climax the way that song did. It's the start of a good idea, but it isn't fully fleshed out yet.

But then there are songs like "Don't Surrender", which are perfect examples of how to write melodic rock. At their best, Revolution Saints are the proverbial five-tool players, and that kind of song illustrates them all, as do "Take You Down" and "Freedom".

If we compare Revolution Saints to the other bands that have put out melodic rock albums of this stripe this year, they would come out near the top. They're on par with Eclipse, and trailing only Harem Scarem's career-defining effort. But I can't not compare "Light In The Dark" to the band's own first effort. In that respect, this is a bit of a disappointment. "Light In The Dark" would be a fine debut that would have me excited about their future, which would then lead to growing into a record like their first one, in a perfect world. But the order of the albums is reversed from that, and the sequence does make a difference. "Light In The Dark" is a very good record, and one I can easily recommend checking out, but I can't say the band took a step forward here. Their debut is just too good for that to be the truth.

No comments:

Post a Comment