Recently, we had the pleasure of reviewing a new project by renaissance man Sascha Paeth, and we were pleased to see a release from his kindred spirit, Alessandro Del Vecchio before 2019 can draw to a close. We may need to hold our horses on naming the best releases of the year, because this landmark 1000th album from Frontiers Music SRL is quite a rocker.
Like Sascha, Alessandro Del Vecchio is a record producer of esteem who cannot resist the lure of being on the other side of the studio glass from time to time. A keyboardist and vocalist, Alessandro formed his band Edge of Forever in 2002 for very similar reasons to Serafino Perugino founding Frontiers Music SRL as a label about twenty years ago: the AOR and melodic rock scene became radioactive and absolutely untouchable to the major labels in the 90s. If a band’s management walked into Capitol Records with a demo tape even remotely sounding like Journey or Foreigner, the manager might have been physically ejected from the site and put on some sort of list as an untouchable musical leper. Thankfully the hostile reactionary zeitgeist of the 90s has eased up in recent years, but let’s be real; it’s the niche labels and bands like Edge of Forever keeping the melody alive with new albums like this week’s hot new release “Native Soul.”
Edge of Forever is a little bit like Whitesnake or Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. While some of the names and faces change from album to album, there is always one man who remains constant. In this case, the Ringmaster Alessandro is joined by fellow italiano countrymen Aldo Lonobile on guitars, Nik Mazzucconi on bass, and Marco Di Salvia behind the drum kit. Nik is a returning face from the previous record, “Another Paradise,” but Alessandro remains the singular founding member of the band.
An expressive high-tenor, Alessandro puts his range and technique on display with the opener, a genuine a capella vocal soundscape brought to us by the band members, setting our stage with a tale of the “Three Rivers.” It’s great, because it is like something one may have heard at an Eagles or CSNY concert back in the day, and it gives us no idea or expectation of what is coming. Not to ruin the surprise, but the three rivers shove us over the falls and we plunge headlong into title track, “Native Soul.” At risk of jumping tracks to another metaphor, the title track is less of a fall into a lake and more of a head-on collision with a freight train full of bricks. Pounding drums and bass pave the way for some gnarly snarly guitars, complete with pinch harmonics and riffing reminiscent of what Nuno gives us in “He-Man Woman Hater.” Marco absolutely punishes the drum kit, particularly the toms, and is not shy about phrasing his beats and fills to give a native and tribal feeling at all the right parts in the song. Even the bass parts by Nik get creative, walking up and down scales in ways that are interesting while never in conflict with the song itself.
Tapping a great keg of AOR feeling, the next track is “Promised Land,” with authentic Journey vibe at least equal to killer acts like Airrace and Restless Spirits. From the retro keys to the soaring guitar leads and vocals, it is absolutely a convincing revival of the golden age. However, the fourth track, “Carry On” may very well be our favorite. With its driving and relentless beat, everyone in the band is just so busy. The guitars are like Jake E. Lee after espresso, the drums are frantic, and the bass is not shy about waging an open war of staccato on some of the higher notes. The best part is it is not a disorganized mess; it’s like watching Keith Moon. It’s bombastic and over the top, and yet always just barely under control.
The next track, “Take Your Time” (to say goodbye) is a tribute and farewell from Del Vecchio to his friend and mentor Marcel Jacob, who took the time and energy to take a relative unknown under his wing, and foster not only Edge of Forever, but also Alessandro’s entire career. Marcel left us too soon in 2009, but this song serves as a letter to his old friend, as well as advise to the rest of us. Take the time with the loved ones while they are still here.
From revved-up rocker “Dying Sun” to unplugged ballad “Shine,” to the epic closer “Ride with the Wind,” the album just delivers great songs one after another. Alessandro’s keys do interesting things when appropriate, and stay out of the way when it’s right to do so. Perhaps that’s the upside to having a producer and a veteran keyboard hero all in a single person. His vocals are easily on equal footing with Erik Mårtensson, Deen Castronovo, or Jeff Scott Soto. The drums across the album are tight and creative, the bass sounds great and never fails to be interesting to the ears. The guitars? Aldo just kills on this album. The riffing is like Aldrich/Beach era Whitesnake fused with George Lynch and Jake E. Lee. The leads are up to the task of the biggest loudest Primal Fear record you can imagine. Whatever our expectations were for this album, these boys blew them away with their musicianship. This is such a cool rock album, every bit equal with the newest Eclipse album, and that is high praise indeed. The record label, Frontiers Music picked a winner for their 1000th release. You can pick it up yourself right here.
Released By: Frontiers Records SLR
Release Date: December 6th, 2019
Genre: Melodic Hard Rock
- Alessandro Del Vecchio / Lead Vocals, keyboards
- Nik Mazzucconi / Bass Guitar
- Aldo Lonobile / Guitars
- Marco Di Salvia / Drums
“Native Soul” Track-Listing:
1. Three Rivers
2. Native Soul
3. Promised Land
4. Carry On
5. Take Your Time
6. Dying Sun
8. I Made Myself What I Am
10. Wash Your Sins Away
11. Ride With The Wind
Edge of Forever covers so much territory with this new album, it has widespread appeal to a rock and metal audience. Whether your favorite band is Journey, Winger, Bon Jovi, Firewind or Ozzy, there are songs here you will want in your music rotation on a permanent basis. It is a heavy album with the melodic sensibilities of the golden age of arena rock, mixed and sung by a bonafide master. You cannot go wrong