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Pride Of Lions The Destiny Stone Frontiers Records
FRCD216
· Produced By: Jim Peterik

· Running Time: 64.15

· Release Date: November 8

· Released: EU JP

· Musical Style: Melodic Rock

· Links: Frontiers Jim Peterik
99%
Songs: 99%
Sound: 99%
Music is all about emotions. And the best releases are the ones stacked with it. That is probably why Jim Peterik is one of my all time favourite songwriters and why he has never disappointed with each release he is part of.
In recent years it has been the World Stage project, followed by songwriting and production duties with Mecca and then on to the first Pride Of Lions album, which is still a personal favourite from the year or so.
Now it's time to prove that Jim can deliver the highest quality melodic rock consistently. I was in now way surprised to learn that The Destiny Stone does just that!
This is an important release for all involved in Pride Of Lions. It will continue the momentum set by the debut and further help establish the name as a lasting vehicle for Jim Peterik and vocalist Toby Hitchcock.
The debut became my favourite release of 2003 and narrowly missed a perfect score.
I was tempted to bestow a perfect rating upon this release – as it is better than the debut in just about every department.
The songwriting however is where the biggest gains have been made. It's hard to build on a near perfect set of songs, such as the debut album, but the songs of The Destiny Stone really have an emotional, passionate quality that few releases can match.
Not only is there more passion, but the songs are in places more complex and really stretch the boundaries set by the understanding of what traditional AOR must conform to. The songs are quite lengthy and within them are passages that divert from the melody and structure of the song, adding extra texture and true character.
The production is also extremely good – once again courtesy of Larry Millas with Jim's assistance. Multiple listens are required to get to know all facets of this album and new parts reveal themselves constantly.
And Toby's vocals have, as expected, matured further. I said in my review of the debut album that once Toby lived in his own skin for a while and once he got out on stage and grew with the experience only performing can bring, that his voice would mature and warm further. That it has. Within this album are some moments any singer would be proud of.
In many ways the band has taken the blueprint of the first album and worked on improving each aspect. And I think they have succeeded nicely. Track By Track:
In the traditional sense, a band such as this is obligated to get the album off to a flying start and The Courage To Love Somebody doesn't disappoint.
In the same vein of It's Criminal, but with a little more urgency, this is an uptempo AOR rocker, with a great chorus featuring some soaring vocals.
One small thing that detracted from the debut was the general pacing. It was the continual transition from rocker to ballad and back again which slowed momentum. That has also been addressed here, with a few different tempo's used and an extra uptempo track or two included.
Parallel Lines is one of those. Following on from the cracking pace of the opening song, this slows up just slightly, but still flows nicely. It's also a track straight from the 80's handbook, with a driving keyboard riff during the somewhat dramatic chorus setting the tone.
The first ballad of the album is the very fine Back to Camelot. This is a truly epic ballad with a rich theatrical feel. Add strings and orchestra tappings, plus some fabulous lyrics touching on life in medieval times and an album highlight is made.
Born To Believe In You kicks in with another strong dose of retro keyboards, but quickly fires up into a big rocker. The track builds its tension and pace by having Jim sing the first half of the verse and Toby the second half, moving into a raspy, aggressive chorus.
What Kind of Fool slows things down again, at least for the intro and verse. The chorus is a big bombastic, pomp-fest that fans of the debut will love. Once again, the track builds throughout and features some fine guitar playing and powerful vocals. The ending is also a little different, which certainly adds to the texture of the album.
Man Behind The Mask is a dramatic, retro styled pomp/rocker that hints of Dennis DeYoung era Styx. A good tempo changer for the middle of the album.
Light From A Distant Shore is another brilliant ballad and one that is quite different from the first ballad Back To Camelot. This features some soaring vocals, but in a totally different sense to the earlier track. This is a very laid back, breezy ballad with some great slow guitar playing and some massive harmony vocals as the song rolls on.
About time for a rocker and sure enough, Letter To The Future delivers. Starting slowly, the track doubles in speed and becomes a perfect melodic rocker with the arrival of a catchy chorus.
The Destiny Stone is a mid-tempo rock track, with that sense of dramatics Pride Of Lions are becoming rather good at. The lyrics tell a great story and the track has a really positive vibe. Running at over 6 minutes, there is a lot to absorb, including some fine acoustic guitar riffing towards the end of the track.
Second Hand Life really snaps things into high gear. I love this track. A great poignant lyric that should be listened to is the base of this memorable rocker with a great chorus. The track builds (a staple of this album) and features some great harmonies and a well placed tempo change later in the track.
Falling Back To Then is a darker, moodier rocker that features some fine harmonies and a great chorus that gets better each listen. Well placed for a strong finish to the album.
Closing the album in no better way is The Gift of Song? Holy smokes! How does one describe this track? If I was reviewing the score to Phantom Of The Opera it might be easier! This is a monster to close the album and I challenge anyone not to get totally caught up in the track and utterly blown away by the last minute! Toby Hitchcock – you rock my friend!
This is an epic theatrical track that Styx and Dennis DeYoung would have been proud to deliver. I'll leave it to the listeners to enjoy it for what it is, but it's a tremendous credit to Jim and Toby for being able to pull it off successfully.
The Bottom Line
99.5….99.7 even….a fabulous all-round album that showcases classic style AOR with some well executed twists and turns. The addition of some orchestral parts and true sense of theatrical pomp just adds to further the enjoyment of an album that proves there is life in the classic form of the AOR genre; provided it is written and recorded with the same passion Pride Of Lions delivers.
Essential for just about all lovers of melodic rock music and all fans of Survivor/Mecca/Peterik.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
· Pride Of Lions
· The Destiny Stone

Line Up
· Toby Hitchcock: Vocals
· Jim Peterik: Guitar, Vocals
· Mike Aquino: Guitar
· Ed Breckenfield, Hillary Jones: Drums
· Clem Hayes: Bass
· Christian Cullen: Keyboards
· Thom Grifin: Chiors

Essential for fans of:
· Survivor
· Mecca
· World Stage
Track Listing
· The Courage To Love Somebody*
· Parallel Lines
· Back to Camelot*
· Born To Believe In You*
· What Kind of Fool
· Man Behind The Mask
· Light From A Distant Shore
· Letter To The Future
· The Destiny Stone*
· Second Hand Life*
· Falling Back To Then*
· The Gift of Song*
--*Best Tracks


13/09/05: Axe Machine - info@hugomusic.net
Rating: 90
Just read in another review that his voice sounds a bit like Paul Laine? Nothing could be further from the truth. His voice is strong as an ox, but smooth and sweet like the perfect chunk of Switzerlands finest chocolate. Must also be noted that this is ten times better than their first effort, which was by no means a misfire. The bottom line is that this CD is utterly brilliant, and it's really a crime that this wasnt released in '88, when this band would have been CBS's next hit factory. Nevertheless, AWESOME!

10/08/05: Park Hanuk - meduza@freechal.com
Rating: 80
I can't stop shaking my head whenever I listen to this album... Guess why? I can't believe the fact that the legendary Jim Peterik, who was able to pinpoint whoever he wanted for this grandious project, ended up working with Toby Hitchcock, who is average at best in terms of singing, especially in this genre where the game's best singers roam.

Toby seems to be rather comfortable hitting high notes that Jim Peterik can't touch anymore, but his voice just lacks power and emotion and he still seems to struggle to establish his own singing style, he sounds like Jimi Jamison, Goran Edman and even Lana Lane at times. And background vocals sound too weak throughout the album.

The songs are very strong and so is the production, that's why I still give 80. Get rid of Toby Hitchcock for the next release.

10/06/05: DeKozzen - hans.cosyns@vt4.net
Rating: 90
Completely agree with Freddy DK here.
Very, very good album. Only Outland & Stan Bush I rate higher.
Peterik rules ! Cheers !

19/05/05: Eduardo Rocha - edurocha73@ig.com.br
Rating: 85
Good CD. There are some great songs, but this 2nd CD is not so strong as their 1st one. The reason: this one has too many mellow songs. Anyway, I still recommend this CD for any AOR fan. Tobby has an incredible voice and Jim still writes catchy songs.

19/04/05: Russ - travellingintime@aol.com
Rating: 90
Another great album - some superb keyboard (check out Parallel Lines!) and wonderful singing by Toby. Its a more rounded album than the debut but I've scored it slightly less because the slight turn off is the seemingly unnecessary religious feel to it. That said there is some great AOR and really strong songs. I slightly prefer the debut because of its immediacy but I do wonder if in time The Destiny Stone will hold sway because of its greater depth. My favourite tracks are Parallel Lines and Second Hand Life.

06/03/05: Chewsmoka - chewsmoka98@yahoo.com
Rating: 95
As far as I'm concered, There never need be a Survivor reunion, as the last alum and this one take the cake. Most of my friend including my fiance's thought this was Survivor!, and most laughed at how dated it sounded! But to me,it's just good music. Jim's voice is not near as good on this one, and made me want to hear Toby more and more, as he just keeps getting better. Some great guitar work as well, All thhe trakcs flow smoothly, except a few. Better than anything Survivor has done since whenever, and
like wine,good music just gets better with age

29/12/04: Get-Got - stuntisland@bell.net
Rating: 99
For all my life i though HAREM SCAREM had the very best songwriting, lately after the WEIGHT OF THE WORLD album they simply sound repetitive, boring, HESS voice which was the best in style, starts to become boring and flat.

Enter PRIDE OF LIONS new album, i don't own the 1st album, but bought this directly, and here is my opinion:

1 - This is MEATLOAF dressed in AOR/MELODIC ROCK style, the music we love with EPIC style.

2 - TOBY is wonderful, i simply can't get enough when he shoots a sustained note, perfect timing, it's as if he reads my mind to WHEN he should do that.

3 - TOBY voice also is a mix of many singers, as someone noted, i did noticed the his voice is similar to FREDDY MERCURY , JOE VANA (mecca), Mark free , PAUL LAINE.

4 - JIM PETERIK songwriting is awesome, and again he proves the master, i've enjoyed this album more than SURVIVOR albums all together, MECCA album has 2 songs i like and the rest is bad (for me @ least)....this album is perfection.

5 - last thing, this is an album for the dreamers in us, turn off the lights, put the CD and play LIGHT FROM A DISTANT SHORE song, you'll feel the same as when you sit in a garden and stare for hours @ the sky, losing yourself in it....pure emotions.


My favories:

1 - Light From a Distant Shore
2 - Destiny Stone
3 - Parallel Lines

now please do me a favour and go get it.

thank you.

27/12/04: theGift - giftgive@yahoo.com
Rating: 92
Andrew, i wanna thank you for another Top Notch review, and as i type this i am speechless, GIFT OF SONG is a song that will remain in history forever & ever.

not only is Toby voice utterly absorbing, i'd go as far as to say he is Queen / Mark Free / Mecca voices in one, the power and deliver of the songs (especially GIFT OF SONG and DISTANT SHORES which are my favorites ever), are simply breathtaking.

i bought 2 CD's , not one of this album , one is on my wall as you enter my house for all to see , and the other on my CD player :D

"PRIDE OF LIONS" , YOU'VE CHANGED THE WAY I KNEW MUSIC FOR GOOD , FOR THIS I THANK YOU!!

album of the century.
----------------------

27/12/04: TheSimmer - simser@webmail.com
Rating: 99
KEN AHL....you should go , listen to JOHN ELEFANTE.....
don't take the words literally, just listen to the music / vocals with an open mind.

said this...i find that this album is absolutely fantastic, and you will excuse me if i say that it's better than any SURVIVOR / JIM JAMISON album.

watch out track number 2 , very very complicated arrangement, it reminds me of NECESSARY EVIL (by harem scarem), a song you won't remember after 20 times of listen, but yet , it's utterly absorbing , and slowly sticks in your head...

if you can create something that way, you are a GOD!

oh, and the MELLOW thing is great too, i hate when guitar take over and destroy the emotions and robustness of EPIC songs like these.

BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR.

26/12/04: ken ahl - kahl1212@hotmail.com
Rating: 50
sorry andrew but i have to disagree with you on this one.
tobys voice is good but not in jimmi jammisons class.
also this album needs guitars! very mellow.
and the one thing that was most annoying about this cd is the
born again christian lyrics. i felt like they were trying to convert me.

26/12/04: X-for-X - x2x@hotmail.com
Rating: 98
I have only 2 word to say:

MY GOD!!

the moment i heard THE COURAGE TO LOVE SOMEBODY i wanted to cry, the vocals are simply awesome, i love voices like NEWMAN , HARRY HESS...

you must buy this, YOU MUST.....YOU HEAR ME?

time 2 replay this CD again :D

18/12/04: Christian - sommerhoff@messpunkt.biz
Rating: 40
Greetings from Germany and first of all sorry for my bad english. I never gave a rating before, but this time i was so disappointed by Andrew's and a lot of other ratings, so i couldn't hold it back anymore. I agree eith Paul on the whole, when he says this is "AOR by numbers". This album sounds brilliant, but the songs got no soul. I love Survivor and Journey, but if anyone out there loves these bands too, wait before you buy: if you think that AOR-bands like "the storm" (who delivered such great hooks like "i need all your lovin", "Gimme all your lovin'"...)or Jimi Jamison or something like that are not good, then DON'T BUY THIS. I don't know how someone can give a "99" for Journey's "Arrival" and for this album too.
Every line of every song on this album I heard before. and not yesterday but 20 years ago. Sorry, but these guys live still in the eighties, only Jim's ideas were better when he was young. I still can't believe that so many don't recognize the missing character of these songs. Just a bad copy of what was before.

30/11/04: Ian - Watsoni10@aol.com
Rating: 98
What a fantastic album.In my opinion this puts the debut in the shade,and we all know how good that was.

29/11/04: mrh - mhiner14@charter.net
Rating: 85
I agree with one of the other reviews when he discribed it as "spiritless" & "by the numbers". Much Like the 1st album. Though well produced and performed it lacks some fire of a good guitar influence in the writing and the singer needs alittle more of an edge to his voice. There isn't enough veriety in from song to song so no stand out/memerable tracks. With a full band influence this could be better. This is not nearly the masterpiece everyone is proclaiming. It's good when compared to alot of other recent releases but not to this genera in its heyday.

25/11/04: Almir - almirfus@terra.com.br
Rating: 90
First of all, I was one of the few that didn't like the first album. I gave a 40 for that one.
Second, you can argue that Toby's voice is great. My problem with his voice is that it sounds a lot like those lame songs from the 80's movies. Remember that song "Almost Paradise"?
That kind of song.
So, you can say that he is a great AOR singer. Not melodic Rock or any kind of other "rock" except AOR. And that's what this CD is. An AOR album, period.
But I can deny this is one damn good CD.
From start to finish with no fillers at all.
My only problem is that they sound a lot like Dennys De Young's Styx and I like Tommy Shaw's Styx better. But this is nothing that makes me dislike any of the songs of this album.
"What Kind of Fool", "Light From a Distant Shore" and "Gift of Song" at least for me, are the best tracks. "The Gift of Song" remind me a lot a song from the 80's that I loved called "Music" sang by John Miles and produced by Alan Parson.
What a way to finish an album. Indeed, Andrew.
99 is a little too much.
But light years better than the first one.

24/11/04: Freddy De Keyzer - freddydekeyzer@hotmail.com
Rating: 91
Pure brilliant classic AOR, that's what we get here ! How someone can give this only a 40 rating is beyond me ! He sure ain't a melodic rock/AOR fan !
Of course, it's not perfect at all ! Production could a bit better !
But this year, I think only OUTLAND released a better album than this and it's on par with the Asia and Stan Bush releases !
Great stuff, both quality and quantity !

24/11/04: Mika - erkkonen8@hotmail.com
Rating: 93
The debut was the best album of 2003 and the this one is almost as great as the debut fantastic songwriting and Toby is a very good singer, my favorite tracks are The Courage To Love Somebody
Parallel Lines, Born To Believe In You and The Gift of Song. This one will be top 5 but not nr 1 2004 but still great work guys...........

20/11/04: Philip - lindstrandphilip@hotmail.com
Rating: 98
First I just like to say that the first Pride of Lions record is one of the best records i have ever heard so living up to the first one is huge task. Well is Destiny Stone better then PoL. No it isn't but don't get me wrong, nothing does. But this record just like it's older brother is the best melodic rock record of the year, the only thing that's better is TNT's My Religion. For starters Toby Hitchcock you're the best, he just rips through this album like no other. Many of the songs just like on PoL is among the best melodic rock songs ever recorded so hats of for Mr Peterik. This record actually contains the best song ever made. THE GIFT OF SONG. Oh my God as I said earlier Toby Hitchcock you're the best. So folks try keeping the tears in but I warn you it's nearly impossible

19/11/04: koogles - endangeredcds@hotmail.com
Rating: 95
How could this have been anything less than near-perfection? Think about the last time Jim Peterik did anything substandard... pretty hard isn't it? The guy doesn't make bad records. And Toby Hitchcock's vocals are note-perfect... like he's got a "Styx sense" and "Toto recall". In "Letter to the Future", I hear an old Survivor keyboard lick from "Rebel Son". I wonder if that was intentional. After having listened to this CD once, I'm convinced it's better than the debut, and "the Courage to Love Somebody" is probably the best thing Peterik's done since his Survivor days.

14/11/04: guillermo - guillerperez@usuariosretecal.es
Rating: 99
Me gusta mucho este album Mucho maqs sonido a Survivor que su predecesor

13/11/04: Paul Haworth - paul@metropolis2.fsnet.co.uk
Rating: 40
I am very diappointed with this, which I bought on the strength of the last album and the Melodic Rock review. Not a note out of place and can't fault the voice, but I would call it 'AOR by numbers'. Absolutely spiritless!! Forced myself to listen to it 4 times now and parts of it make me cringe. Enough said.

11/11/04: Tim Robertson - Tim.J.Robertson@GSK.Com
Rating: 100
If any album of the last 10 years have deserved a perfect 100 score it's this one. I actually thought the debut was overrated, with only "Sound of Home" and a few others being real killer tracks. This album is in a different league entirely, with more variety and depth and quality of songwriting than the debut. Hitchcock is a true superstar on this too, showing such passion in his delivery. THE highlight for me is "Letter to the Future" which is right out of the "Vital Signs" song book, but the truth is there isn't a filler on here. If you loved Survivor and Styx from their heyday then you must have this classic album.

08/11/04: Ooze - lioncourt@tiscali.it
Rating: 75
I think 99 is exagerate, a good album, good performance, but, even if Toby is great, far from "Too hot too sleep".
Again Jim, tryng to catch that atmosphere but that work will remain unique.
After 3/4 listenings you'll be bored, just like the one before.
regards

05/11/04: Antonio V. - antviclop@hotmail.com
Rating: 100
This is an exercise of style. An example of mastering one genre.All this album is plenty of heart & soul.When you put all your soul in your work it deserves respect and praise.This is not a routinary standard AOR album. This has life whitin and passion all around. No fillers here, all great songs, each one of them has proper personality, each one grows with sucessive listenings.The boy sing with feeling and power,pure class, fantastic vocalist.Peterik..., all has been said before, the man is a genius, one of the better composers out there,not only talking of AOR , I think in rock, in general. Well, look like I'm a fan and ..., yes it's true, but I'm the happiest fan to have such awesome clasic and fantastic melodic rock album.

03/11/04: Karl - kalle_e@hotmail.com
Rating: 100
What an album this is!!! I thought that they couldn't do any better after the first album but I was wrong....My favorite songs are 'Light From A Distant Shore', 'Falling Back To Then' and 'The Gift of Song'. This band ís concentrating on what all bands should concentrate on and that is strong songwriting. I rank this album as being the best that I have in my collection of 400 AOR/Melodic rock albums. Good Job Guys.
Greetings from Sweden...........


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