10 out of 10
Has anyone ever been on the roll Jeff Scott Soto is currently riding? In October he released Psychotic Symphony, the amazing debut record from prog supergroup Sons of Apollo, a month later he followed that up with the fantastic solo record Retribution, and now he’s back with probably the best release of the three, W.E.T.’s Earthrage. The core of W.E.T. is keyboardist Robert Sall (of the band Work of Art), guitarist, bassist and vocalist Erik Martensson (of Eclipse) and, of course, vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (of Talisman). Three modern legends in the field of melodic rock that is currently dominated by Swedish bands and the Frontiers label.
Frontiers has a habit of combining talents to form interesting projects (Allen/Lande, Revolution Saints, etc.) and that is how this band originally came together. However, with studio album #3 they have really evolved into a band rather than individual pieces. The sound is rounded out by guitarist/producer/writer Magnus Henriksson (also of Eclipse) and drummer Robban Back. Much like other Frontiers releases that feature multiple lead vocalists, Earthrage begins with both Erik and Jeff on Watch The Fire. The chorus grabs you right away and sets up 11 tracks of melodic rock perfection. These are big, fist pumping choruses that have you singing along to every song the first time you hear it.
This truly is a record of standout tracks, but there are some that soar even higher. Kings on Thunder Road is a perfect summer song that, as you can imagine by the title, sneaks in a few Springsteen references about dancing in the dark down by the river. My personal favorite is the somewhat quirky, Queen-feel of Elegantly Wasted. A great lyric, a fun song and just what you hope for when you listen to a JSS involved release. No W.E.T. release is complete without the huge ballad, and Heart is on the Line easily lives up the standard set by Comes Down Like Rain on the first release. This all leads up to the masterful ending of The Neverending Retraceable Dream which illustrates everything that is great about this genre of music, a primer for any young melodic rock band.
If you are a fan of slick production, big choruses, unmatched vocals and perfectly executed musicianship, Earthrage could be your favorite record this year.