Artist: China Blue
   Title: Twilight of Destiny
   Label: Frontiers Records

The name Eric Ragno will probably be well known to the majority of melodic rock fans as keyboard player for hire.  What we have here is an excellent slice of melodic rock with Eric not only playing, but also co-writing and producing the songs with JK Northrup mixing the whole shebang. 

With the boot on the other foot so to speak Eric brought in some of melodic rockís finest exponents.  Doug Odell and Fabrizio Grossi provide bass, Zane Petersen and Pete Newdeck on drums.  Pete Newdeck has said he played on 5 songs, but canít remember which ones unfortunately and my promo copy doesnít supply that info.  The one and only Josh Ramos provides the Journey style riffing and lead.  On vocals we have the talented Tony Mills, although I didnít instantly recognise his vocals.  This release sees Tony stretching himself vocally.  The man himself, Eric Ragno, provides the lush swirling keyboards. 

First out of the block with itís atmospheric keyboard opening is 'What Do You Need But Love'.  Tony Mills nearly morphs into Hugo on this song and in fact it would have fitted perfectly on the Ramos/Hugo release.  There are a lot of layers on here but itís all down to the catchy chorus

Next up is the more straight ahead 'I Feel Like Dying'.  Josh Ramos throwing out the riffs with ease and Tony Mills delivering the anthemic chorus

Another atmospheric opening, ushers in 'Changing Ways'. This song has a prog feel to it as Ericís keys swoop and swirl while Josh riffs out.

Thereís a bit of a gothic opening to 'So Wrong', until Josh Ramosí guitar kicks.  This is a song that has to be listened to a few times to appreciate itís intricacies.

'Donít Be A Stranger' is a ballad with Journey tones to it.  Tony Mills vocals swoop and soar on this one.    'Crimes', very melodic and atmospheric with some great prog style passages. Next up is 'Passions', a moody song that feels like itís just floating along, Josh Ramos provides a clear and precise lead break on this one.

'Moving On' is just awash with multi-layered vocals and lush keyboards. Title track 'Twilight Of Destiny' is a keyboard and guitar instrumental leading into the track 'Lost' with itís atmospheric backing vocals and Tony Mills understated vocals.   

The penultimate track is the up-tempo and straight-ahead 'Take Me As I Am'.   Closing the CD is another longer guitar/keyboard instrumental 'A Last Goodbye'.  Floating through the speakers and enveloping the listener with itís lush tones. 

This is definitely not your run of the mill melodic/AOR release.  A lot of thought has gone into the making of this and requires the listener to play it a few times to appreciate itís beauty.  My only issue is with the production as I feel Eric may have been to close to the material.  The drums and bass donít have that edge to them and the vocals are sometimes awash with effects.  Saying that this is definitely not a CD that can played in the background, while you do something else, so give it the time it deserves.  All the musicians on here have stretched themselves and come up with a release that stands out for being a bit different.

Review by: Brassy

Tracklisting:

1.  What Do You Need But Love
2.  I Feel Like Dying
3.  Changing Ways
4.  So Wrong
5.  Don't Be A Stranger
6.  Crimes
7.  Passions
8.  Movin' On
9. Twilight Of Destiny
10. Lost
11.Take Me As I Am
12. A Last Goodbye 


                  

 

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