|W.E.T. W.E.T.||Frontiers Records|
It has been more than two years since I handed out a perfect score. I don't do these things lightly. But there is no doubt in my mind that this album represents the highest quality possible – the songwriting, performance energy, production are all perfect in my eyes and most importantly, I feel that this album pushes the melodic rock genre forward. |
Without forward movement we are all doomed to do nothing but reflect on past glories and we can't do that forever. Albums like this are exactly what is needed to keep the genre fresh and invigorated.
I have had the advantage of having this record since June, so it has well and truly had time to sink in and grow on me. I have been listening to it almost continually since then and still want to keep putting it on over and over. I have different favourite songs from week to week and haven't tired of one track on here.
If the 700 news blurbs have escaped your attention, W.E.T. is Robert Sall (songwriting) of Work Of Art representing the 'W'; chief brains trust and multi-instrumentalist/guitarist/producer/songwriter Erik Martensson from Eclipse representing the 'E' and songwriter/vocalist Jeff Scott Soto representing the 'T' as in Talisman.
The band evolved from an idea out of the Frontiers Records office, who had the continued desire for JSS to deliver a melodic rock record, when the singer wanted to expand his solo name into other styles.
Eclipse and Work Of Art were two of the bands of 2008 – both of which delivering critically acclaimed albums that were also snapped up by hungry fans.
With the project line-up settled, demos were commenced and it wasn't long before genuine chemistry developed and the project become a band.
The songwriting here is nothing short of brilliant. Chief writers Erik Martensson and Robert Sall along with Miqael Persson with have assembled an amazing array of songs.
Performing the songs, you get the very best of Jeff Scott Soto's power and passion, and the master Erik Martensson is simply on fire. The Eclipse album was a monument to melodic hard rock craftsmanship, but he's gone one step further here.
What I love is that the album contains moments of AOR passion, but isn't restricted to just being an AOR release. There are some truly heavy moments here, which are made more commercial and catchy by the team involved.
And this isn't an old-school release. Erik's ability to update that classic sound and drive it into the future with powerhouse rhythm and production effects makes this an equally classic and contemporary release.
Track By Track:
Invincible starts off very calmly and builds…sounds very melodic…then bang! We're underway. Great sounding guitars, powerful rhythm section, vocals right up in the mix and JSS sounding more melodic than he ever has. More so than Eyes, more so than Prism. He's back into that higher range and really pushes his vocals to the limit, yet it sounds absolutely natural and 100% engaging. And you know you can't help but sing along – in fact, to the whole album. I'm always tired when I get to the end of this record from singing along.
One Love is simply brilliant. Pure melodic rock songwriting brilliance. The verse features some memorable vocal lines, but the chorus soars higher than ever expected and goes right over the top – all layered in harmonies.
Brothers In Arms is – like most of the tracks here – another glorious slice of harmony drenched melodic rock in the finest tradition of the genre. The chorus is immense again and the mid-song bridge/instrumental passage is powerful, moody and hard rocking, all within the same two minute setting. And the final chorus just blows the lid off everything to date.
It is time for a chance of pace and Comes Down Like Rain is just that. A soft, sultry vocal whispers over some subtle instrumentation. The first chorus is almost not there – it sends chills up your spine and it isn't until 2 minutes into the song that things blow up. And what a heart wrenching chorus it is. Things turn heavier with a big guitar solo before going completely soft again – brilliant songwriting again in play.
Running From The Heartache is pure Steve Perry/Journey, or pure classic AOR at any rate. Smooth, mid-tempo keyboard drenched AOR with another killer bridge/chorus arrangement and harmonies through the roof.
After smooth American AOR of the previous track, the urgent I'll Be There has a more European feel to it, but is equally melodic. And yes, another bloody huge chorus with a big soaring JSS vocal, reaching into those higher than high ranges again. The latter half of the song is filled with solos and gets heavier, leading perfectly into two of the heaviest tracks on the album.
Damage Is Done just rocks. The sound isn't far from Eclipse and represents another European twist. The straight ahead rocker is a definite 'album track', but is placed perfectly to make the flow of the album just brilliant.
Then…it's The Who….no its Whitesnake! The intro to Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is is just pure energy and the verse vocal is stamped with authority. The chorus isn't as big as some earlier tracks, but the tempo and direction of the track makes it equally infectious.
The last part of the album goes heavy, melodic, heavy, melodic…and One Day At A Time is the track to take a breather on. Holy shit does this song get to me. This is the big power ballad of the album and features a chorus with harmonies to high I never thought I would ever hear JSS sing like this. This is noting short of stunning and one of the great ballads of the last few years.
Time to rock again and the heaviest track on the album is the double time rhythm of Just Go. With a pumping riff kicking it off and a raspy vocal throughout, the song powers along, albeit with a prominent keyboard riff joining in. The chorus is furious and the drumming outstanding.
My Everything sees the guys step back into pure American AOR, in a similar vein to Running From The Heartache. More layered harmonies, backing vocals a big chorus make it yet another winner.
This breathtaking album closes with one of the songs of the decade. If I Fall is W.E.T.'s very own Don't Stop Believin'.
Clocking in at over 6 minutes, this is pure feel good, uptempo AOR gold! It starts slow and builds with a Neal Schon-like guitar riff, piano, drums and then that vocal. Steve Perry is back and singing his lungs out. The song sounds like it could have come from Trial By Fire or Perry's For The Love Of Strange Medicine, but the chorus is pure Escape! Harmonies, layers of vocals, a feel good lyric and JSS' monster voice.
Even better the regular song structure winds up at about the 3 minute mark and guitars take over. JSS sings the hamonies over an extended Journey-esque lead guitar break that runs until the song closes. What a stunning way to finish the album.
This song is a huge middle finger to Journey – as if to state – 'hey, you wanted the heritage sound, here it is…' Soto has never sounded so soulful and powerful as he does here. Steve Perry goes metal…
I have only ever handed out perfect scores on 7 previous occasions and the last was 3 years ago! (Danger Danger x 2; Harem Scarem x 2; TNT; Toto; Mecca). That's how much I believe in this album.
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