Friday, October 9, 2015

JOEL HOEKSTRA'S 13: "Dying To Live"

Rating: RR
Label: Frontiers 2015
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Joel Hoekstra, who? Former Night Ranger and current Whitesnake guitarist, that's who. He's also part of the Trans Siberian Orchestra, but we never payed much attention to be completely honest. The 13 tag and band members such as Tony Franklin and Vinny Appice lead us first to to believe in Blue Murder and John Sykes only to realise that we've included the wrong Appice brother/drummer. Oh well. 'Dying to Live' is still something that John Sykes and Blue Murder could have recorded in the early nineties and I sort of think of Hoekstra as the lesser version of Sykes somehow? That's a bit harsh, but not necessarily wrong.

Russell Allen (Symphony X, Allen/Lande) and Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen, Journey, Talisman, Eyes, etc.) are the two lead vocalists on the record and the latter gets stuck with second grade/rate material. Indeed. Allen sings all the goodies such as 'Anymore', 'Changes', or 'Long For The Days', excellent mid-tempo Whitesnake rock. In fact. Allen has never sounded this close to Coverdale in the past. Compare this to the blunt work of "Scream" and you'll notice that Soto is losing out big time. The only good thing about this track, the keyboards by Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Kiss, etc).

The title track (sung by Allen) and 'What We Believe' (sung by Soto and TSO singer Chloe Lowery) are the two exceptions as the first do absolutely nothing while the latter goes down smooth as the Heart/Led Zeppelin folk tune. The hit and miss kind of album. Neat guitar work though.


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  2. ...The deadliest fish?? The bloke from Marillion or sushi?

  3. "Dying To Live is pretty damn phenomenal. One of the biggest and best surprises 2015 has served up!"
    -Steven Reid,

    "If you're going to do a side project, all whilst touring with the world renowned Whitesnake, this is most definitely how you should do's really something special and one of the most impressive releases of 2015." (10/10!)

    "To sum up “Dying To Live” in my humble opinion ranks as one of the top must have Melodic Rock Albums released in 2015 to date." (10/10!)
    -Seb DiGatto, The Metal Gods Meltdown

    "Hard rock the way it used to be. One of the best rock albums of the year? Quite possibly." (10/10!)
    -Alan Bannerman, Powerplay Magazine

    "..full of fine performances and strong tracks...I defy anyone who calls themselves a fan of this genre, to not like what they are hearing."
    -Ian Johnson, Fireworks Magazine

    "..this record is about Joel Hoekstra the songwriter.  What he has produced here will find it's way into the hearts of fans across every genre of rock…on this evidence a Coverdale/Hoekstra writing union would be a very tasty prospect indeed." (10/10!)
    -Brian Boyle,

    "..his dreams of a great melodic rock album have come to excellent album, with great arrangements, stunning guitar work and well constructed songs." (4 stars!)
    -Guitar Techniques Magazine

    "Joel Hoekstra released an album that is definitely amongst the top 5 best ones of this year...I can't rate it anything higher than 10/10, though I can do as colleges do and give it a 10/10 with honors!" (10/10)
    -George "Snaki" Lane, BeRock Radio

    "It will be in my top 10 list for 2015 for sure..This album really deserves five stars. Spoil your ears and mind, buy this album!" (5 stars!)
    -Arie van der Graaf,

    "The whole album is full of a vibrant energy...the musicianship, lyrics and vocals are top-notch rock gold throughout." (10/10!)

    "..a group of world-class musicians rallying around a respected friend to help him create a dream album and the results are nothing short of astonishing. If you love hard rock then this album is as essential to you as oxygen."

    "..from the impeccable guitar soloing and master class in memorable riff writing – to the challenging job of taking control of production – Joel nails it.…a cracking good set of songs…Melodic hard rock at its best!" (93/100)
    -Andrew McNeice,

    "Dying to live is a fantastic album - great songs, great vocals and great guitar work - what more could you ask for? It's one of the best albums I've heard all year."
    -Anthony May,

    " of the best melodic rock albums I've heard this year…Dying to Live is a gem of an album..this is all about the songs and trust me, they shine, big time."
    -Ritchie Birnie,

    "Dying To Live…is melodic hard rock at it’s best….has something for everyone...a classic in the making."
    -Adam Kennedy,

    "Alongside his assemblage of eminent players, Hoekstra has crafted the real deal; this album rocks in such a big way.  This is songcraft at its finest. Each and every composition and arrangement is a winner." (9.5/10!)
    -Mark Holmes,