Tuesday, January 13, 2015

SOTO: "Inside The Vertigo"

Rating: RRr
Label: earMusic 2015
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

'The past 5 or more years have propelled me a plethora of anger and frustration, I'm actually quite pissed off about a lot of things, SOTO is my outlet to release some of this pent up emotion'. - The strong and harsh words of U.S. powerhouse vocalist Jeff Scott Soto, previously of Yngwie Malmsteen, Journey, Talisman, Eyes, Takara, and what not really. It's however not just another solo record (even though the moniker may suggest otherwise) as the singer insisted on making this more of a band effort with the help of Jorge Salan (lead guitar), BJ (keys, guitars), David Z (bass) and Edu Cominato (drums).

Produced by J.S.S. the album features tracks co-written with his band mates as well as other musicians. Collaborators include guitarists Gus G (Firewind, Ozzy), Jason Bieler (Saigon Kick, Talisman), Mike Orlando (Adrenaline Mob) and Joel Hoekstra (Night Ranger/TSO), all of whom perform on their penned tracks for the album. Others appearing as guests/co-writers are Casey Grillo (Kamelot), Connor Engstrom, Tony Dickinson, Leo Mancini, Hugo Mariutti and Gary Schutt.

Inside The Vertigo is the rather angry effort and it's all about power riffs, metal, grungy prog-ish vibes, and basically the modern rock album. There's plenty of excellent guitar work, powerful vocals, but sadly not a whole lot of hooks or songs that grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go. I find it difficult to separate the majority of tracks and it could just as easily have been one long groove session in the studio. However, opening track, "Final Say", one of the most positive moments.

'The Fall', 'Wrath', 'Break', sounds like Ozzy and KISS rejects during their grungy mid nineties era and you should get the idea just by reading the titles. Never utter crap or bad, it's just so been there and done that. "Narcissistically Yours" is however darn interesting and the nine + minute epic tune of "End Of Days" hits you right between the eyes with sheer emotion and children choir. Not at bad as it looks on paper or in this case, your PC screen. The song is Prog-lite and frankly put a tiny masterpiece in my opinion. Low and behold. The following title track is yet another home run with its hint of the neo-classical metal and groovy guitar break. Very classy and the mid-section of the album (tracks# 5 to 8) are all top notch with "When I'm Older" as your excellent semi-ballad. Very much the hit and miss album.

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