What do you expect from one of the best drummers in the world, one of the best vocalists in the world, and a guitar virtuoso? Well a lot of people were expecting one rip-roaring metal album full of technical drumming and fantastic guitar riffs and amazing vocals. You get ONE of those things. ONE. Russell Allen on vocals is very clearly the high-point of the album. Let me make this very clear with a little metal humor for you all.
THE MOB DOES NOT RULE.
Of course, after hearing the EP they released last year under no means expect any virtuoso prog album, we knew that we were getting hard rocking that treaded the heavy metal waters. Not all of us like that. Especially with the talent Mike Portnoy and Mike Orlando possess on drums and guitar, respectively. Russell Allen, who every single time I listen to him, and after seeing him live, consistently reminds me of Dio and he really shines through on the entire album. Doing much more ‘clean’ singing than he does in Symphony X, it’s a nice different approach for him. You would think that with the overall t alent level of the band they would have shot for a more technical sound, in which they didn’t. The drumming seems basic for Portnoy and the guitar work just seems like basic riffs and a solo style we hear all the time. The bass? Well it just plays a long with the guitar.
The latter half of the album, starting with “Hit The Wall” if you ask me is where the album starts getting interesting. The first four songs just do nothing for me, I’ve heard them all in numerous places and settings and even on shuffle and I just don’t like them. They are TOO basic compared to the latter half. Although, when you get to “Come Undone” which features Halestorm guitarist/vocalist Lzzy Hale, you realize that the band is going for a real hard rock sound. Did I mention it’s a Duran Duran cover? Yeah, take that in for a second. Also, she is the best part of the damn song, her and Allen going off of each other? Brilliant. The song? Not so much. You work down to the last two songs and you get “Angel Sky” which is the ‘ballad’ of the album. It is one of the better songs and might actually the best drumming you will hear from Portnoy and some of the best vocals Allen has ever done. “Freight train rollin’, freight train comin’” very clearly some of the most BASIC lyrics you could ever hear. It is from the heaviest song on the album and probably Mike Orlando’s best performance, lead wise, riff wise, and just in general. Of course the song is called “Freight Train” , go figure.
It’s one of those hard rock albums where everything runs together after a few listens. It is an overall disappoint when you look at the talent level of the band. Symphony X fans probably will not find much in it and neither will Dream Theater fans. But hard rock radio? Yeah. Better get ready because FREIGHT TRAIN COMIN’!
Edit: I was informed of a mistake I made including Fozzy members in the band, I have since changed the wording/opinion to fit the reality.