With change comes controversy. But for those that have followed vocalist Jeff Scott Soto’s vast and acclaimed career, you should not only expect change, but embrace it!
After all, you know it’s coming…and if one particular project is not a personal home run, then you know something else is just around the corner.
As most should know I’m a long time dedicated JSS fan and he’s a good friend. But that shouldn’t mean praise comes easily.
If anything I’m harder on those I respect most, as I expect the best every time.
It’s the same with many artists. Most of the time I feel as if these great artists deliver – because they are the best of the best. But none of them (despite the occasional suggestion otherwise!) have been immune from criticism. That includes JSS. But not on this occasion!
I’ve read a great many comments on this album from others. Some people don’t like the heavier, modern style. Some like heavy stuff, but aren’t gelling with this one. Others have longed for Jeff to do something truly ear shattering and are eating this album up with fervor.
And then there’s those that have followed Jeff through everything he has done and just appreciate whatever comes next – from the AOR of Prism; to the anthemic groove infused Talisman years; the straight ahead melodic hard rock of Lost In The Translation and Damage Control; to the pure stadium AOR bliss of W.E.T and Eyes; even through the Prince inspired soul/funk of Love Parade and the mature singer/songwriter pop of Beautiful Mess; released under the JSS moniker.
I could go on, but you get the point – Jeff Scott Soto never stands still and rarely repeats himself.
So Inside The Vertigo is just another chapter in an astounding career.
Such as the Beautiful Mess album went under the JSS moniker to differentiate from his normal known range of styles, so to has this album been singled out as a new band, so the name Soto has been adopted.
Soto’s “debut” is a truly accomplished piece of work. Yes, it’s super heavy as far as JSS fans are used to; yes, it’s far more contemporary than the classic rock we’re more used to hearing, but this set of songs packs a powerful punch.
I’d describe this as a mood album. It’s a time and place album for when you are fired up or want to get fired up. It’s a great record for driving to, but Soto accepts no responsibility for any fines incurred.
For those afraid of the production effects and the in your face, tuned down metal riffing, I suggest you concentrate on nothing but the vocal. Because as hard hitting as it is, at the heart of all JSS material lays vocal melody and hooks.
You can dress it up as metal, funk, pop or rock…but Soto always sounds melodic and it’s a distinct voice I can listen to anytime, anywhere.
This album runs the gamut of metal stylings. There’s the punchy riff driven Final Say, which while heavy, eases the listener into the album.
The heavy groove and cynical lyric of The Fall is impossibly catchy, even with a short chorus.
Then there’s the bombastic drum and rhythm of Wrath, which hook and vocal harmony wise isn’t that far removed from a classic JSS sound.
Break is intense. Dark, slow to mid-tempo…and intense (did I mention that already?). But still, the chorus is right there and filled with the same kind of melodies of Lost In The Translation – just darker and heavier.
Narcissistically Yours is a grinding, effects filled groovy rocker with another scathing lyric. And the vocals are huge.
End Of Days has to be everyone’s favourite song. This truly epic masterpiece winds its way through 9 minutes of atmospheric mood, to hard hitting angst, slow glorious guitar work before turning into a double time shred styled metal anthem half way through before once again changing direction for the last 2 minutes, bringing in a children’s choir to add to the already amazing atmosphere of this song.
Inside The Vertigo is another classic JSS style hard rocker, once again, just heavier and modernized.
The awesome metal ballad When I'm Older should really be all over rock radio, but you know that’s never going to happen. It’s classic JSS – especially vocal wise. This is a good entry point for those unsure about this album.
Closing the album is a four pack of metal goodness. Trance is super intense; Jealousy gets even heavier and a little faster; Karma's Kiss is slow and dark while Fall To Pieces ends the album on a somewhat simpler, but no less impressive hard rocking note.
Production on Inside The Vertigo is fabulous. It’s a huge wall of sound. The consistency of the songs on this record makes it one of Jeff Scot Soto’s finest works to date.
It really is a monster of a record and the intensity, the immense guitar work from Jorge Salan and groove from the rhythm section (David Z - bass and Edu Cominato - drums) cannot be understated. This is one talented group of musicians.
This is a true album. Not a group of songs cobbled together. This is a work of art.
That said, it certainly won’t be for everyone, but long time Soto fans should embrace this with enthusiasm as a few new fans come to admire one of the best rock n roll frontmen ever.