J.R. Blackmore & Friends - Voices Part 1

J.R. Blackmore & Friends Voices Part 1 cover
J.R. Blackmore
Voices Part 1
J.R. Blackmore Records
J.R. Blackmore is back with a personal album after almost 5 years. In the meanwhile, he had participated in ELA Rocks and also released an album with Tony Carey and ELA as EBC ROXX. To be honest, I really like Jürgen’s personal albums, especially “Between Darkness & Light” and I keep following his (new) musical steps. His previous work with EBC Roxx was good but not really my cup of tea… I mean that I, personally, prefer Jürgen’s personal works and listening to “Voices Part 1” is no exception and verifies my personal position.
So, Jürgen sat down and composed 10 songs (the bonus track “Dreams” was taken from the extraordinary “Between Darkness & Light”) and invited a bunch of vocalists to sing them. Those are his “friends” that you will also see in the cover of the album. On the other hand, Jürgen is cooperating with some new musicians on this album, as well. As a result, we have: Paul Morris (Doro, Rainbow) on keyboards, Danny Miranda (Queen, Meat Loaf) on bass and Charly Zeleny (D-I-O-N) on drums. Quite an impressive line-up don’t ya think? Furthermore, you need good music, ‘cause a good line-up is not always what the fans are looking for, not to mention that many good line-ups have disappointed us in the past. Not to worry at all… J.R. is a guarantee when it comes to good melodic rockin’ music and great emotional ballads.
The album opens with the homonymous “Voices” a mysterious intro with some oriental-like sounds/voices that bursts into a “middle eastern” heavy riff bringing to mind the early days of Rainbow… what a song. Markus Engelstädter makes the song even better... great voice and a great way to open an album.
“Guardian Angel” is probably the “hit” of the album. A melodic rock hymn with Jürgen’s characteristic melodic guitars and beloved symphonic elements. Oliver Hartmann’s voice fits perfectly to this song… a killer catchy chorus… surely one of the best symphonic melodic rock songs of the year!

“Beethoven” has a heavier orientation with heavy riffs and fast drumming, without losing its melodic base and with some symphonic influences, as well. Michael Bormann sings like crazy, maybe it’s the first time that he is singing such a heavy tune but in the end, everything works out perfectly.
“Destructive Mania” is a melodic rocker that has an atmospheric intro and then gets right into the point. Catherine Jauer is singing on this song. I have never heard of her before… but has a very good and powerful voice. The lyrical concept of the song is very good too.

“Incomplete” is the first ballad of the album… and what an emotional song! Michael Bormann signs his heart out on this song… impossible not to touch you! I just love the guitar and the keys solo at the end of the song. This is one of the best ballads of the last decade.! Simply amazing!
Back to “middle eastern” again… with “Devil In Disguise” a mid-tempo atmospheric hard rocker. Oliver Hartmann does an exceptional work again.
“Jekyll & Hyde” is a mid-tempo heavy semi-ballad. The first half of the song is very atmospheric with Dave Esser’s low tone vocals and then in the other half it becomes heavier. A very interesting and tasteful song with a great “theatrical” performance by Dave.
“Victorious” is a melodic hard rock tune with some “middle eastern” elements and a big chorus. Markus Engelstadter sounds very good on this song once more.
A dark intro with an evil voice and “Nanshu” begins… a gloomy atmospheric/symphonic heavy rocker. ELA’s performance is great, while Dave Esser is the “evil voice” on this song.
“We Are Rock N’ Roll” is the last song with vocals on the album. Dave Esser sings this moody hard rocker…
“Dreams” is the bonus song of the album. The song was originally included in the album “Between Darkness & Light”. A fantastic arousing symphonic instrumental tune… very touching… one of the best songs that J.R. has ever written… one of my beloved instrumentals of all time!
The production of the album is very good and has a rockin’ edge… not very polished and plastic as many productions of this genre. It has a 70s-80s feeling… that I totally love.
Jürgen released an impressive melodic hard rock album and this is not a surprise for those, like me, that are following J.R. Blackmore all these years. in truth to be told. Jürgen can deliver some similar atmospheres on the songs, that only Richie could and did with (the early) Rainbow over 35 years ago. This is neither a comparison nor a contest... this is true hard rockin’ music played from the heart! This is what I call qualitative sensational melodic music! If you like this kind of music then try not to miss this album… ‘cause you will absolutely regret it afterwards! This is definitely one of the top 5 melodic hard rock albums of the year…