Album Reviews
Band: AOR

Title: L.A. Darkness

Label: Escape Music

When it comes releasing to quality album after quality album, you have to look no further than Fredric Slama’s AOR Project, as album after album highlights all aspects of the Melodic Rock genres, from the South Coast AOR to Hard Rock and all points in between.

Now in 2016 Slama returns with what is the 15th album in the series with another mix of stella songs featuring the crème de la crème of the genre’s vocalists.

On this album we see Kevin Chalfant, Steve Overland, Jeff Scott Soto, Paul Sabu, Jesse Damon, Henry Small, Philip Bardowell and Rick Riso lending both lead and backing vocals.  As well as Slama’s partner in crime Tommy Denander, we have Colin Rodgers on drums and even Alessandro Del Vecchioo lending his gentle tones as backing vocals.

So what about the album?  Well anyone who has followed the albums knows that Slama mixes things up from album to album and this time he brings a touch of Foreigner, Journey and Toto to the mix, leaning towards the heavier spectrum of these bands.

Things get underway with ‘The Smartest Girl in L.A.’, and from the off the hearts of many of melodic rock with just burst with joy, as Scott Soto unleashes those unmistakable pipes.  I'm delighted to confirm that all the quality of the musicianship that has become part and parcel of the whole AOR Project over the past 14 album, continues on with album number 15.

This great melody rich rock continues with ‘The Locked Soul’, with Mr Melodic Rock himself FM’s Steve Overland laying down his sultry tones on the this one. This is another masterclass in pure bred Melodic Rock from Slama and Co.

What Melodic or AOR album wouldn’t be complete without a ballad or two and 'L.A. Darkness' is no different, as the wonderful ‘One Foot in Heaven’ shows the mellower side of the album, with Chalfant bringing forth the goods vocally on this one.

The tempo is picked up once more with the edgier ‘Blueprint For Love’, with Jesse Damon providing the Hard Rocking vocals for this one, before the wonderful ‘Desire Turning Into Dust’, again edging towards the heavier side of the AOR genre, with Phillip Bardowell giving the beans on this one.

There is a great riff and keyboard sound running through ‘Heart In Pawn’, the second song featuring Overland, again the maestro shows why he's been at the top of the melodic game for such a long time.

It's time to pick up the pace a little more with ‘Seven Storms’, that sees Prism’s Henry Small provide the vocals for this 70’s styled rocker, before returning to the now for the stunning ‘Why Girls Say No’ and the excellent ‘Dangerous Fascination’, which features one of my all time favourite vocalists Paul Sabu, bringing that unmistakable raspy hard rock edge to this one.

The album closes with the instrumental ‘Burning Rainbows', which gives Denander and Slama a chance to show their musicianship and wraps up an album that is one stylish slice of Rock, from the pen of Slama and Denander and those involved in the project.  This one is definitely up there as one of albums of the genre for 2016.

Review by: Barry McMinn

 

Tracklisting:

1. The Smartest Girl In L.A. 
2. The Locked Soul  
3. One Foot In Heaven  
4. Blueprint For Love  
5. Desire Turning Into Dust  
6. Heart In Pawn 
7. Seven Storms
8. Why Girls Say No 
9. Dangerous Fascination 
10. Burning Rainbows 

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