Skills, “Different Worlds”: album review
There’s apparently no lifespan on the melodic hard rock skills the skills show on different worlds, the first album of the “supergroup” formed by the label. And if that brand of rock is your bag, the 11-track set is prototypical enough to slip alongside anything from Whitesnake, Dio, Dokken, Scorpions and the rest – even Judas Priest in its 42-minute run. Hell, its cover even looks like a graphic cousin to Whitesnake’s self-titled, multi-platinum 1987 effort.
There’s reason to be skeptical of the whole effort, of course. Skills is another of Frontier Records’ “laboratory” projects, formed by company boss and true hard rock believer Serafino Perugino as a vehicle for Brazilian singer Renan Zonta (Electric Mob, Brother Against Brother). Perugino teamed up with Zonta with Night Ranger guitarist Brad Gillis, Billy Sheehan of Mr. Big, Winery Dogs, band of Sons of Apollo and David Lee Roth and Giant drummer David Huff. The result on different worlds is sleek, stylish and timeless, a trip down the time machine that nonetheless boasts an abundance of contemporary sonic sound and sounds as valid today as they would be on the Sunset Strip circa 1986.
And rest assured that Zonta is a star, a powerful tenor who, while perhaps inseparable from his ancestry in the hair-metal community, is nonetheless imposing and present. He handles anthems and power ballads with equal veracity, bellowing with Valhalla-shaking power – check out the impressive lung capacity of ‘Just When I Needed You’ – that matches well with the metal-leaning dynamics of his companions. of group.
You would have a hard time calling different worlds groundbreaking in any way, and there are times when it feels like a lot of songs that would have worked as original compositions for the rock of ages musical. There are guardians among them, however, including the polished and propelling “Show Me the Way”, the galloping “Escape Machine”, and the arena-sized “Hearts of Stone”. Gillis opens “Stop the World” with some interesting guitar playing and nods to the late Eddie Van Halen in the title track’s intro, and you drop the needle just about anywhere on the album and find a chorus worthy of your cellphone’s flashlight.
Right from the start, Zonta promises that “the best is yet to come”, if there really is more to come from Skills. In both cases, different worlds gives the vocalist a believable calling card, and you can bet we’ll hear more from him, if not the band, down the road.
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