|Khymera A New Promise||Frontiers Records|
Italian musician Daniele Liverani is back with his second Khymera opus. As with the first release, a selection of obscure AOR songs has been gathered to be recorded under a new moniker.|
But there are a few changes here since the first Steve Walsh lead project. Gone is the grumpy lead singer, to be replaced with the much acclaimed Pink Cream 69 bass player Dennis Ward.
The previously unheard of Tommy Ermolli comes in on guitars and provides some very tasteful AOR friendly licks and Liverani covers keyboards and bass. Liverani's musician partner Dario Ciccioni continues his role as drummer.
Ward is a much better fit for this kind of material than Walsh and really does his reputation no harm with his vocal debut. His raspy and determined tones remind me a little of Jeff Scott Soto, but with that European edge. He further enhances the record by contributing some fine harmony vocals, which are mixed perfectly into the album (by the man himself).
The songs are gathered from various sources, the most unusual being a cover of the Unruly Child track Damage Is Done, with several others supplied by the ex-Sugartown duo of Tom and James Martin.
Track By Track:
A short, bombastic instrumental opens proceedings, but being that it doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the album as such, could perhaps have been left off.
Alone is the first vocal track and our first taste of Dennis Ward the vocalist! Where has he been all this time? He sounds great and his voice has a warm familiarity that suits this genre of uptempo AOR. The feel good vibe of this anthemic melodic rocker is the perfect start to the album, mixing plenty of keyboards with Tommy Ermolli's guitar riffs.
The material that comprises A New Promise is largely collected from the archives and the 80s vibe of the opening track and the uptempo Let It Burn shines through. A fresh production and strong lead vocal updates things, but 80s AOR fans will be the ones getting the most from this album.
Looking For You is a brilliant song. Some may be familiar with it, as part of the unreleased, but leaked Don Barnes solo album from the early 90s. It's nice to hear it done again here and the roots of the song shine through, the keyboard parts and Dennis' vocal have 38 Special written all over them.
The rock ballad All That I Have is enjoyable, giving Dennis Ward a chance to change his delivery a little, showcasing a grittier side of his voice.
Unruly Child's The Damage Is Done is an interesting choice of song. I love the song itself and this is a pretty strong version, but I can't say that it totally fits the album as easily as some of the other tracks. The song has a tougher vibe than the other material featured here and stylistically doesn't quite fit.
After The Way is another track from the Don Barnes solo album and again sounds just like it was intended (by Barnes). It's an ok track, but certainly isn't a highlight.
You Can't Take Me (Away From You) is an unreleased Jeff Scott Soto track and his signature is all over this track. Dennis' own vocal style, with its raspy edge, isn't too far removed from Jeff and as stated, you will hear comparisons to him throughout the album. This is a classic Soto AOR tune and sounds great here.
The classy rock ballad Tomorrow Never Comes is another Soto sounding tune and follows on from the last track perfectly. A well timed chance of pace.
Fields of Fire sees the album back to the rocking style of the first couple of tracks and features a good strong chorus. One of the better tracks on the album in my mind and another strong track giving the second half of the album a lead over the first half.
If You Dare To Dream is a Judith Randall song and one can imagine Mark Free's vocals at home here. Dennis struggles a little with the range required by the song I think, but otherwise enjoyable.
Give In To The World is a moody, keyboard heavy mid-tempo track, but not one of the stronger tracks featured. It does feature some nice guitar work in the background.
All Is Gone follows on from the mood set from the previous track, but works a little better due to some increased intensity.
It is not a track that will be loved by all and one that requires a little more listening to than some of the other more instant tracks on the album.
I do think that after a run of strong tracks, the album closes on a slightly less positive note, but it is all still very good.
There are plenty of modern rock and metal releases to keep fans of those genre's happy – this one is for fans of old school, feel good melodic rock and AOR.
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