a l b u m r e v i e w s


Produced by: Mangold, Brock, Jackson

Released: OUT NOW
Relatives: Kansas, Zebra, Journey

  1. I'm Alive
  2. Crossed The Line
  3. Aryon
  4. Forever Again
  5. Stranded
  6. All Your Life
  7. The Wait
  8. I Will Be There For You
  9. Nothing But A Heartache
  10. Wine
  11. Desperate Heart
  12. Signs Of Life

WARNING! This album is not for the feint of heart!
This is one hell of a record. A true AOR super group of musicians have come together here and have created a wonderfully detailed, some times quite complicated, but always entertaining album of intelligent rock n roll.
When you pair Strangeways vocalist Terry Brock with Zebra's Randy Jackson, the great keyboard player and song writer Mark Mangold, drummer Bobby Rondenelli and bass player Billy Greer of Kansas together, there is bound to be something interesting come out of it.
Signs Of Life is a concept album that bends it's way through several different moods on it's way to a conclusion. It mixes parts of pure AOR and melodic rock, with the progressive symphonic rock of Kansas, the hard rock of Zebra and the swirling keyboards of Drive She Said all to the unmistakable vocals of Terry Brock, who sounds like a mix of Kansas' Steve Walsh and Journey's Steve Perry.
To further build the mood and vary the tone, the backing vocals are superb and Randy Jackson with his Robert Plant like tones, takes lead on a few tracks.
It's a complicated album that is best described track by track. This album really does have an original feel, sound and approach. It's fantastic to see an AOR record taking a chance and being bold in moving the genre forward.
It takes a bold band to kick off the fist track of their debut album with a seven-minute plus progressive rock epic! I'm Alive does just that. Randy Jackson handles vocals on this seriously intense opening track. First listen will leave you lost, but I am on my 10th listen and know it backwards now. It's awesome and captures the best melodic moments of bands like Kansas with an added commercial touch. There are several layers to a song where their is several parts, so it doe stake some listening to before the melodies reveal themselves and one can truly appreciate the great production and structure of the song. Crossed The Line is next up and sensibly is a more straight forward uptempo rocker. The great Terry Brock's on vocals (welcome back) and while it is less complicated, it no less intense a rock song. The chorus is highly memorable. Lots of guitars and later in the song, swirling keyboards, time changes and some outstanding vocals.
After the pretty frantic opening two numbers, Aryon slows things down a little. It's a moody track with Terry occasionally sharing lead with Randy and moving uptempo for a rousing and memorable chorus.
Forever Again is nothing short of a killer power ballad. Once again, it is far from straight forward, with several different layers and textures, but above all, a wonderful raw emotional vocal and a huge chorus.
Stranded sees Randy back at the mike and another song that is different than anything we have heard so far. This track has a real Led Zeppelin rock feel to it. This is one of those tracks that takes repeated listening.
All Your Life features Randy on the first two lines of the song before Terry Brock is back. This is a heavy track, yet with an acoustic foundation, with many layers and once again a slight Zeppelin influence. It's very cool and an original and challenging song.
The Wait does it for me big time. This is a class song straight up with its moods changing from a desperate passionate plea to a fast paced bridge into the chorus, which quite honestly ignites this track. The catchiest chorus of the whole album is a real AOR gem and continues right through the song. What a vocal from Brock, what a performance from the guys - Awesome.
In a cleaver move, after the towering anthem of The Wait, things are slowed down a little (but only a little) with this huge power ballad I Will Be There For You. Another monster production and vocal, this song is a little Kansas and a lot of heart.
Nothing But A Heartache lightens the moody completely. If there is such a thing, this is the album's more straight forward track. An uptempo happy go lucky pop rocker, with plenty of keyboards and a cool catchy chorus.
Wine is a mid tempo track that sees the guys gel together with their own original sound. A really musically intense chorus with a slightly more sparse verse. Another high class song.
Desperate Heart features more harmony vocals and a slightly progressive touch with a great rising harmony filled chorus.
Signs Of Life is the last song on the album and conclusion to the story. The track contains some sensational Terry Brock vocals, some great backing vocals and changes moods as it goes. The chorus is more wrapped in the passage of the song and is used as the emotional peak of the track.
BOTTOM LINE: What a wild ride. Take this album through from start to finish and you get a roller coaster of emotions and sound, ending the voyage truly satisfied. If you listened it properly, you should be exhausted!
It's bold and it's fresh, but it's not your average record and should be seen as something that should be listened to from start to finish without interruption. If you like your melodic rock songs 4 minute in length and with a set formula, then avoid this!
If you like your music to be sometimes challenging and can appreciate what a fine and talented bunch of guys have created here, then this is for you. There will be no better example of melodic rock pushing the boundaries than this fabulous album.
ESSENTIAL FOR: Fans of all the guys solo albums and AOR fans that love adventurous music.

b a c k t o i n d e x