Drummer Deen Castronovo has had the pleasure of playing on some cracking albums. The Bad English self-titled debut was a belter, the last few studio albums from Journey were also pretty damn good too, but ‘Double Eclipse’ by Hardline was/is a bonafide classic that still sits amongst the top three melodic rock albums of all time, still talked about in revered terms to this day. It wasn’t until Castronovo began to sing lead vocals on a few Journey tracks that his talents truly came to light. Hearing him sing ‘Mother, Father’ for the first time resulted in beer being spat out as the surprise sank in… and I very rarely waste a beer, especially at gigs where a round costs more than the defence budget of a small country. Joining forces with bassist/vocalist Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) and guitarist Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio, The Dead Daisies), the trio known as Revolution Saints released their self-titled debut in 2015, and beer was spat out again. Damn, it was good. All of which means that expectations for ‘Light In The Dark’ were pretty high. Thankfully, the album doesn’t let anyone down.
‘Light In The Dark’ is not a disjointed, patchy effort like some of Frontiers Music “projects” can be. It’s the sound of a “band”, and a band having fun. When Revolution Saints open with the barnstorming title track, the enjoyment is there for all to hear. The ‘Bark At The Moon’-esque buzzsaw guitar intro from Aldrich is incredible, and it’s easy to see why he is so respected by his peers. The vocals to and fro between Castronovo and Blades and hint at the partnership that Blades has with another drummer/vocalist, Kelly Keagy in Night Ranger. There are shades of Journey’s ‘Only The Young’, that same galloping, euphoric beat and the towering vocal harmonies. Castronovo is a mightily powerful drummer. Any doubters need look no further than his work on the Geezer Butler GZR project, or his special guest slot on the ‘Genexus’ album from Fear Factory. It’s great hearing him behind a drum kit again, and it’s also pleasing that he is singing lead vocals, and it hasn’t held back his playing. An album of bangers (‘Ride On’, ‘‘Don’t Surrender’ and ‘Running On The Edge’), slower, crunching moments (the excellent ‘Freedom’, ‘Take You Down’ and closer ’Falling Apart’), and of course a ballad or two (‘I Wouldn’t Change A Thing’ hits, but ‘Can’t Run Away From Love’ misses). Whatever the style or tempo, Aldrich plays a blinder. Uber hot at the minute, thanks to the relentless touring with The Dead Daisies, here it’s just him handling the guitar duties, and he is on fire. Even on the ballads he makes his presence felt. Blades continues to prove that he is still a man of many talents, and his playing, especially on ‘Ride On’, is faultless. Lending his keyboard skills is producer Alessandro Del Vecchio, who adds some nice touches when called upon. Ultimately, it is Castronovo’s finest hour. Any singer that can make the listener think of Steve Perry has to be doing something right. The fact that he also plays drums is the icing on the cake.
It’ll be a close run contest between Revolution Saints and Eclipse for melodic rock album of the year… so far. Well, Jeff Scott Soto does have a new album out next month…
Released October 13th on Frontiers Music
Review: Dave Stott