The sophomore disc from Pride of Lions
has alot to live up to. The first disc was an excellence slice of AOR Survivor
style and the followup, "The Destiny Stone" upped the ante by presenting the music in an even more bombastic and spine tingling form. It went overboard and then some with the theatrics, threatening huge heights that even Styx
and Meatloaf had shied away from climbing. The songs were big, bold, beautifully constructed and played with equal passionate finesse. For 2004, that second PoL cd was a tough cd to challenge in the AOR
field. And now a few years later we have the third chapter, "The Roaring of Dreams"
manages to build a bridge between the first two discs and combine them into something that is both bombastic and flavorfully smooth. Westcoast relaxation in a few instances, big rollicking rock with 80s key pumping flair for others, and huge powerful epics that blow every emotion out of proportion. Its songs like the Broadway/Hollywood bombastic explosion of the title track, "The Roaring of Dreams"
which makes the disc seemingly burst at the seams with larger than life music. Its the soundtrack of how you would like for your life to play out. Summery delicacies whispering of unwithheld passion and stories of love that roar with such power they make the most romantic personality weak in the knees and fluttery in the heart.
There are two songs here that push the boundaries of the adjective. There are only so many ways to say superb, awesome, classic, near perfect, etc without being clichéd and exhausting the kaleidoscope of words available to suitably describe the material that you are working with. "Let Me Let You Go"
and "Astonish Me"
both defy mere language to try and accurately represent.
is the picture perfect example of 80s AOR
. Streamlined and polished to perfection, each piece of the song oozes a poppy catchiness. Not just the chorus, but the verses, even the bouncing bridge is stretched to the bursting point. The pure joy of keyboards gone wild, the heaving chest hysteria of the chorus with Toby's vocals pouring out from the heart, warming the blood and sending ripples of unfiltered ecstasy through the proceedings. Like happiness infused static shocks to the soul. Zippy guitars, high on the adrenaline sugar rush of the sweetness of life, sprinkles along delightfully, the electrified toppings to a musical sundae, oozing with all the trimmings. A Foriegner-like urgent drive is the finishing touch.
is the other side of the AOR
coin. Soft, persuasive, a painting of romance so beautiful the body aches just listening to it. An ode to love, a love so astonishing, so pure, so mindblowing that even the artists are struggling with words to express the depth of feeling. But the true layers of that depth is given away in the voice of Hitchcock, who seems to just melt while forming phrases to express the feelings for his soulmate. Its so delicate and precious, like a dandelion puff being guided by a gentle wind.
Oh there are plenty of other songs on here, but its these two that take center stage and become the centerpieces, whether they were intended to steal the show or not. Others evoke deja vu, like "Turnaround
". Could this be a sequel to Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse
of the Heart"? The similarities, both musically and lyrically are too close for comfort to think otherwise. Its a big bombastic track that has Meatloaf rock opera type phrasing and twisty turns with all the theatrics of Styx
. Is it too close to the original? Too unashamed of its pedigree? That's up for the listener to the decide. As the tail ender of the disc, its an easy one to skip if the familiarities and similarities are too much to stomach. Yet if you stick with it, you might just become entranced by the twin vocal play between Toby and his sister (making her debut), Tori Hitchcock, who's voice glitters with a bright, mournful sweetness. Bitter but touching. They both throw themselves in the midst of the storyline and the performances show just how far they have immersed themselves in this mini rock opera. Shared lead guitars purr and soar as the intensity increases from Mike and Jim alike, all grounded by a solid rhythm section that keeps everything grounded to reality even as the emotions struggle to be set free. Like a tumultuous wind, blowing the balloons to freedom and danger, obstacles threatening to pop their little helium filled latex worlds at any given moment.
You can almost visualize Peterik fine tuning his two Survivor
born babies, "Love's Eternal Flame"
and "Language of the Heart"
to be the twin champions to take down, stomp on and completely slay anything from the last real Survivor
album. Without skipping a heart beat or drawing a single shaky breath. These are two exquisitely honed pop rockers that revel in their newfound AOR
glory, sparkling with the pleasant freshness of being basted in Downy before puffing up in the rock n roll tumble drier on the "air fluff" setting. The harmonies are lovely, just the right amount of contagious uptempo syrup to keep the listener clamoring for more. The songs are drowning in the marshmellow gooey stickiness, from vocals to keys to overall tempo, and somehow the way they are put together its just like dessert for the soul. Delicious, its decadent, its everything you needed from the best of 80s soft rock music and just didn't know you still had the craving for it.
"Love's Eternal Flame"
satisfies the desire to voyeuristically peek in on someone else's steadfast relationship, so perfect yet with chinks in the armor due to distance. Yet the commitment and love pouring forth is so soul stealing, that it must be born of fantasy or fiction. For such things only exist in Victorian era made movies of manners. Or cheesy Harlequin
romance novels featuring flexing Fabio on drugstore shelves, tempting the loveless housewife with stories of fire and passion's flames. Distance and time are not the killers of love, a long distance relationship can be daunting, but with faith in the future, nothing can stop it from curling and dying. "Language of the Heart"
makes such love drenched relationships just as desirable and after a thorough ravishing, leaves the listener just as needy and wanting.
That leaves the opener "Heaven on Earth"
to rock the house, and that it does. Lots of guitars, tons of keyboards, an aggressively elegant vocal, it heaves forward onward with style over substance. Its just the perfect little rock track to kick an album off without being too epic. Its roots are closer to the ground and its head is definitely on straight. Nothing frivolous, that's left for "Book of Life"
with its intricate Ten-like (or insert Styx
here if you prefer) pomp and Toto-ish puffball power. "Tall Ships"
relies on an abundance of keys to carry the tune. Its quirk is the siren/foghorn sound effect that blares its one note honk hook for the chorus. Cheesy, yes, but an unexpected cute touch amongst all the hustle, bustle and urgency that drives the song. Also, its simple few appearances is enough to leave an unforgettable mark on the memory.
is a skyflier that takes to the wide open blue like a eagle's wings to the wind. The song just soars and lifts the heart right along with it. I love the casual airiness that whisks through the verse and takes the tradewind for the soothing bridge before popping over a cloud for that dizzying chorus. "Secret of the Way"
is a Westcoast treat from start to finish. A smooth, silken rhythm and a popping chorus that is delightful with those bubbly guitar notes, treading foam and surfacing like little splashes in the ocean. "Faithful Heart"
is the beautiful ballad with the innocence of a blushing bride, true to heart in every sense. A whisper of temptation that is whisked away by the unbound power of love at its strongest. Peterik has penned an array of ballads over the years, and this stands out as one of his finest. Of course it never hurts to have a vocalist as expressive as Toby singing your love lavished lyrics and Mike Aquino playing the featheriest of notes from a cooing electric guitar. "I hear your voice it says come home and love me..."
, Toto, Styx
, Ten, Survivor
, Meatloaf, Bonnie Tyler, Foriegner, Journey: if any of these band name drops mean anything to you, then Pride of Lions
have delivered an album that is sure to tickle your fancy. "The Roaring of Dreams"
is a nice halfway point between the rockier debut and the grandiose "Destiny Stone". In fact the blending of 80s and modern balance is near perfect, with neither the softer AOR
side or the bouncy rock taking charge of the whole album. All in all, the big rock bombast of "Destiny" might be the preferred of the three, but this is still a very fine offering that deserves a listen. Some of these songs are just ridiculously good and are heavyweight contenders for best of the genre for this year. Don't be surprised to see them cropping up on Year End lists when 2007 starts winding to a close...that is, if the reviewers don't forget it under the sea of material released between now and then. That would be a shame, for "The Roaring of Dreams"
deserves to find its place in fond memory.
Written by Alanna
Thursday, March 8, 2007Show all reviews by AlannaRatingsAlanna: 8.5/10
Members: 8/10 - Average of 1 ratings.Member ratings
A deeply passionate album. Especially Love's Eternal Flame and Astonish You are out of thi... · Read more ·
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