So you thought it would be nice to have Survivor
for the 2000's right? Well these guys have just answered your prayers and granted your wishes. Headed by one of the former driving forces of Survivor
, Pride of Lions
is Jim Peterik's baby and therefore is treated with the utmost patience, care and love. Each song is nutured by him to try and strive to be the very best that it can be, and this shows in every aspect of the music. "Destiny's Stone" lords over their self titled, debut effort with an air of superiority, since it manages to one up the previous disc in almost every way imaginable.
The young and still learning vocalist Toby Hitchcock
gets the honor of being most improved band member, when all aspects of the disc are considered. His voice has been pure gold since we first heard him, but with this release you can tell that he's matured and found sides of his talents that allow him to project more emotion than before. It's altered from a kind of pure, angelic beauty, to a new creation that keeps that intact, but sheds the icier exterior and replaces it with a heart of pure soul. There are moments here where he not only shines, but glimmers with warmth and honesty as well. Who does he sound like though? Well, if it were possible he would be the spawn of Mickey Thomas from Starship crossed with some of that Jimi Jamison blood. A couple of choice bits reveal an almost pure bred Jimi clone but as you can imagine, the musical goings here are smooth and fluffy, especially guided by a voice like this one.
The 1980s show through in all their glorious colours for "Parallel Lines"
which is spiced with delirious guitar that has a pure, squealing sound that reminds me of Dokken
in ways. Toby's voice is gorgeous as it climbs up to Jimi high standards. The chorus is peppered with some authentic keyboard grooves circa from about 1984, that shoot this one out of the canon as an over-the-top rocker with a pompous swagger that is reminiscent of Ten.
"Back to Camelot"
is a nice epic piece that also happens to be a ballad that croons about medieval times. Cool and different but you know you want to hear about love. Come on, you know you want to.
"What Kind of Fool"
starts with a softness that lulls you into thinking it's a ballad all about love, and get the hopes all up, but no, it pumps up the volume with waves of AOR
bliss as keyboards and piercing vocals surge in with power and beauty. But yes, it is all about love, the vocals are subdued and lovely through the verses, I love how he manages to keep up this addictive pacing with careful emphasis on how each word is revealed and then hits it out of the ballpark for that magnificent chorus. And the guitar! Oh that guitar! The impact hits the fan with this massive aura and the guitar just slams in behind it with an urgent purity that squeals and rips right from the core of the heart. Then the ending is this soulful blast of blues and showers of chimes to accentuate the string bending. How often do songs like this come around? Not often at all. If you like AOR
, this will bring shivers up the spine. "The sweet magic, fairytale turns tragic."
Is this Styx
or what? "Man Behind the Mask"
comes roaring out of the 1970s right down to the vocals and pompy keyboards. Great stuff, and I even hear a little splash of Queen
lurking around in there. Stuff that diverts from the usual give this disc texture. The chorus is just awe inspiring and the rest of the song rocks out with such a variety of flavors and feels.
"Light From a Distant Shore"
is a breezy ballad and given this delicate slow pacing and is allowed to sail away on the winds of lovely vocals that set the course for love. The lyrics are simple but heartfelt in the way they are delivered, making them mean so much more than what the surface area would dare to hint at. "I'm a ship and I'm lost on the ocean, back and forth on the waves of emotion."
The title track doesn't disappoint either, delivering the drama wrapped up in a mid-tempo track that keeps reaching for the sky, ultimately soaring like a bird above the ocean winds. Definitely Styx
mixed with Survivor
here, but what a sweet combo it is. Lyrically it even gives us a story to latch onto, an extra bonus that wasn't necessary but makes this one even more replayable. This one is theatrical but yet bard-like at times, in the choice of delivery in the verses. That is, if it was a bard that came equipped with a huge backing band and some jamming guitars. The acoustic solo backs up the whole bardic theme and its awesome hearing Peterik and Hitchcock bounce vocals off of each other. This is the nature of "The Destiny Stone"
Darker in tone to open, "Falling Back to Then"
may disturb with its haunting guitars that are rougher that anything else on the album and moody vocals that lift on the last note each time til the song tries to straighten out to a keyboard laden powerhouse climaxing to a full throttle chorus. But what makes the song stand apart is the wistful electric guitar that goes solo near the ending of the track and snaps right back into AOR
overblown mode in the blink of an eye.
"The Gift of Song"
literally gives me chills when I hear it. Absolutely mindblowing, it has this tension that runs through it, you just know this thing is going to blast wide open, tagged for aural demolition, and it does. Toby holds the kind of note that most can only dream about, going completely over the top and the song then changes from something that sounds like an inspirational gospel track spliced with a good dosing of Stryper
to a full on assault of hard rock majesty complete with 70s style organ jamming and Toby just keeps upping the ante vocal wise, absolutely blowing his lungs clear out of his chest for the ending. Amazing and emotional, I kept thinking of singer Sandi Patti (inspirational/gospel singer) throughout til the last note which mimics Jimi all the way. What a fantastic closer this is and something I can't imagine too many other bands attempting to pull off and actually doing it sucessfully. A song like this can fall prey to cheese with ease.
But the album contains even more great tracks than the ones I have touched upon, like the retro light rocker "Second Hand Life"
with its lyrics that are food for thought to the inspired opening track, "The Courage to Love Somebody"
that packs a wallop of rocking power.
"Letter to the Future"
has to be singled out too because it's the only track that left me kind of fidgety the first few times around but grows on you with multiple listens. It's a little too generic perhaps, we've heard songs of this type decades ago and there's not a lot that sets it apart from the rest. Good but not the kind of greatness you get used to when partaking in the guilty pleasure that is Pride of Lions
Pride of Lions
"The Destiny Stone" is nearly a perfect example of classic 1980s AOR
that seems like it has just been released from a time capsule and unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. Those that hear it will instantly think this is an 80s relic, with only the tight and pristine production giving away its time frame. Nothing from that era gone by has this kind of cleanness to back it up. A treasure of melodic rock goodness is awaiting within, with all the little extras one comes to expect from albums these days. Orchestral sections, time changes, theatrics so epic it resurrects classic Styx
from its deeply buried grave, and pure, unfiltered passion. I would even dare to say that there isn't really a clunker on the album, even when outfitted with twelve tracks and some quite long for its genre, the disc runs just as silky smooth and inviting as can be without much of a hitch along the way. This is rock of the melodic kind at perhaps its modern finest.
Written by Alanna
Friday, May 6, 2005Show all reviews by AlannaRatingsAlanna: 9/10
Members: 8.5/10 - Average of 1 ratings.Member ratings
Fantastic album and indeed near perfect. The Courage to Love Somebody, Born to Believe in ... · Read more ·
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