Kee Marcello must be in a musical wayback machine. Or he has a sense of humor. His new band (and their self-titled album) is called Out of This World. Which was the name of the first Europe album he appeared on in 1987. A halcyon moment, undoubtedly—but that album sold half of what its predecessor, the hot-selling “The Final Countdown,” did.
Is that a good idea?
Well, from a musical standpoint, “Out of This World” is worthy of the name. It is a great melodic hard rock album, showcasing the remarkable talents of Mr. Marcello and former Fair Warning vocalist Tommy Heart. There are hooks galore, and a lot of musical references to the past.
And not necessarily to the previous bands of Marcello and Heart, although you can hear a bit of that here.
But on the lead track, “Twilight,” what with the synth opening that builds and builds, one can’t help thinking of Styx’s “Lorelei” from 1975. The vocal harmonies are striking, the keyboards are memorable, the chord progressions are catchy. Marcello’s guitar is a very different style than the Stygian sound of JY (James Young). Heart’s voice is in a little lower register (and huskier) than Dennis DeYoung. But make no mistake—this is no rip-off. The references are there but fashioned in a new and distinctive way. And here’s another kudo: “Twilight” clocks in at 7:25 and is NOT a Prog song. Yet the energy and flow keep the piece moving the whole time. This is a great leadoff.
The next couple of songs also have that Styx feel, especially in the keyboards. Uptempo, anthemic, melodic, “Hangin’ On” and “In a Million Years” are catchy as all get-out.
“Staring at the Sun” begins a shift toward other sounds, and more emphasis on Kee Marcello’s guitar. The lyrics—like so many melodic rock bands—tend toward big philosophical and universal themes
“After all is said and done,
Realize that we have won.
We’re not the ones
Staring at the sun.
Give or take
We’ve won the prize.
If we only realize.
We’re not the ones
Staring at the sun.”
Blinded by the light, these guys ain’t.
“The Warrior” talks about unleashing that inner fighter, up against anything and everything. And that’s just what guitarist Marcello does. This is his time to really shine, to shred and speed in all sorts of directions. Frankly, if we’re talking influences and sound-alikes here (and we are), this one is reminiscent of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher.” It lacks the lascivious lyrics, but the speedy pace and guitar gymnastics are in the ballpark.
“Up to You” is…well…it’s as if Van Halen did Pat Benatar’s “Shadows of the Night.” The chorus sounds much like her 1982 hit. But the synths and guitar are more like Eddie Van’s “Jump.” I know, it sounds a little strange. The two go together, however, in a very pleasing fashion.
Out of This World then concludes the proceedings with a power ballad, “Only You Can Teach Me to Love Again”—a bit of longing to leave you with. The melody is pretty, and there are some wonderful piano fills to bring a different texture. It’s a great wrap-up to a very strong debut album.
While we’re at it, give credit where credit is due. With this kind of album, where so much depends on the vocalist and the guitarist, the rhythm section must do its part to keep the show moving without intruding on the up-front part. Ken Sandin of the late Swedish band Alien keeps the bass hopping throughout. And drummer for hire Darby Todd—who has performed with more musicians than we can count, most recently the Martin Barre Band—is very strong, punchy, demanding more of his mates. He gets it.
Oh, and one mustn’t forget a guest shot by Deep Purple’s Don Airey. Nope, there are no Purple organ sections. But his work on synths and piano are highlighted in a number of places and ways. Frankly, any project with Airey is bound to appeal.
“Out of This World” (the album) is not long—only about 40 minutes in total. But it leaves you wanting more. And that’s a good thing for anyone.
Maybe Kee Marcello naming the band and the album after Europe’s 1987 effort is actually hopeful. The original “Out of This World” sold 3-million copies worldwide. If this one does anything close to that, it will be a rousing success and the boys will be laughing all the way to the bank. They deserve it for this one.
Released By: Atomic Fire Records
Release Date: January 14th, 2022
Genre: Melodic Hard Rock
- Tommy Heart / lead vocals
- Kee Marcello / guitars, keys & backing vocals
- Ken Sandin / bass & backing vocals
- Darby Todd / drums
- Don Airey / guest keyboards
“Out of This World” Track listing:
- Hanging On
- In a Million Years
- Lighting Up My Dark
- Staring at the Sun
- The Warrior
- Up to You
- Only You Can Teach Me How to Love Again
The multi-national band with a rich heritage breaks out of quarantine with the energy and hooks to concoct a rich ear candy. It’s sing-a-long, fist pumping music that is, indeed, out of this world.