Restless Spirits - Restless Spirits

Restless Spirits cover
Restless Spirits
Restless Spirits
Frontiers Music srl
Frontiers Records; projects, mixing a bit of this with a bit of that, because why not? Sometimes they come up with masterpieces, while other times, it’s not exactly a pretty picture…
Now enter a guy in a predicament. Ritchie Blackmore is using your vocalist, another guy from Frontiers (who’s a prolific writer for the label) is using him as well and you’re using him as well… there’s only so much of one guy to use, so he leaves your band. You figure it out, but most likely get a proposal to do a record with all the resident talent at the label… why say no. In our case, it’s Tony Hernando, and the band is Lords Of Black, who released their debut with little to no fanfare until Rainbow enlisted the talents of their singer Ronnie Romero, after which point they found themselves to be “kind of stars” by mistake…
Anyhow on this album you get people like Deen Castronovo (Dead Daisies, C/G, ex-Journey fame), Johnny Gioelli (Axel Rudi Pell, Hardline, Crush 40), and other capable but less identifiable singers like Frontiers permanent maestro, Alessandro Del Vecchio (also Hardline), new Lords Of Black vocalist Diego Valdez, as well as TSO and Animal Drive singer Dino Jelusic and Kent Hilli from Perfect Plan.
The musically hard hitting and socially condemning “Stop Livin’ to Live Online” has some tasty biting riffs and a nice solo and it benefits greatly from having Johnny Gioeli on vocals. Nice introduction to the whole project.
Deen Castronovo, who apart from being a cool ass drummer, has a great singing voice in the vain of Steve Perry, is in charge of “Unbreakable”, a by the numbers, plain, Journey-sound-alike that is not exactly groundbreaking.
Kent Hilli has a much more dramatic voice that fits well “I Remember Your Name”, a song that has an epic aor/hard rock sound, not a million miles away from House Of Lords and their ilk.
Jelusic’s Frontiers debut was a very hard edged and modern album that in a way mirrored some of Soto’s worst attempts at sounding “modern”. Here he has to do more singing and less screaming and is given a by the numbers song like “Cause I Know You’re the One”, which only feels mildly exciting during the chorus to work with… he does an OK job, but he doesn’t exactly rise above the mediocrity that characterizes the song.
Despite having Johnny Gioeli on vocals, who really gives it his all, “Nothing I Could Give to You” can’t boast much more than a nice vocal melody and a nice lick. I suppose the solo ain’t bad either, but these “constructs” are not exactly “shit hot songs” at least not always.
The next two song feature Castronovo on vocals. “Calling You” ain’t bad, as it at least tries to sound interesting and coherent, although it doesn’t always succeed… it almost gets there.
“Live to Win” is almost a re-write of Whitesnake’s “Bad Boys” with a different chorus and vocal melodies. Not particularly imaginative and it doesn’t even work that well mood wise.
While I find, Del Vecchio to be a rather capable vocalist, “You and I” is another pretty by the numbers tune, that only seems to have a nice chorus and a solo, but doesn’t quite work during most of the verses all that well. At least it doesn’t quite manage to create the dynamic it alludes to at one point. He also sings on the next song “When It Comes to You” that begins and builds like a ballad, that a guy like James Christian could really fire up, but suddenly decides to go for a very AOR-lite singalong chorus, which doesn’t quite fit with the rest of it… it’s a parts-song that doesn’t quite work and seems to waste some nice parts (not that they couldn’t be recycled in some other project down the line)…
Jelucic sings on “Lost Time (Not to Be Found Again)”, which has some nicer vocal melodies, but again feels a bit “artificial”. This time, it’s definitely not his performance dragging the song down but the inconsistent nature of it. It has a fantastic solo, but it feels like a bad Axel Rudi Pell mishmash at best.
It takes some balls to name your song “In the Realm of the Black Rose”, but I digress… this is the proper introduction of Diego Valdez the new vocalist of Lords Of Black. At first, I thought it was Soto singing, but soon his own timbre is revealed and while he’s a little reedier than I’d like, compared even to when Soto sounds reedy, he’s not bad. Actually, this along with “Stop Living...” are the two only songs, I sort of enjoyed in their entirety, without thinking too much over…
A superb acoustic version of “Nothing I Could Give to You”, with Gioeli, is included as a bonus on Japanese copies that really is much better than the original as it’s stripped down instrumentation allows the vocal melodies to shine.
This project is a clear example that even when serious talent is concerned, a great outcome is not always guaranteed.