|Balance Equilibrium||Frontiers Records|
Balance were a much loved pomp/hard rock outfit from the early 80s, recording 2 studio albums that retain their cult following. Featuring guitarist Bob Kulick and vocalist Peppy Castro and keyboardist Doug Katsaros, the band is back after a 20+ year absence, bringing many of the songs planned for their never recorded 3rd album for a fresh take in 2009.|
This album should have been a home run, but rather it is a merely a base hit. Bob Kulick has spent the last decade as an in-demand producer, churning out many tribute records for various labels.
So it is curious as to why this album is well and truly under-produced. It is rough in places, sounding perhaps more like unreleased demos than a polished up new studio record.
I get that the guys have set out to mirror the sound of their first two records, but I think the rough sound is just a reflection of rushed recording rather than a genuine attempt to recapture past glories.
The other problem with this record is the all important vocals of Peppy. They are for the most part, well…awful. Raspy, strained and struggling throughout, Peppy's vocals just haven't aged well and he is the main weak point of the album.
It was hard to listen to at first. After a while you get used to it, but how many won't bother to persist? There really are some badly fluffed notes and areas where the vocals grate on your ears as he tries to capture the range of the band's first 2 records.
There are some redeeming qualities about the record though. The songs mainly.
They are the definite highlight of the album. The songwriting is indeed classic 80s pomp rock, with some delightful hooks and truly memorable chorus melodies.
This record really is a throw back to the 80s with a traditional keyboard infused melodic rock sound mixed with some Stan Bush style AOR vocal melodies and tones.
And despite a rough production and some (at times) painful vocals, you can't help but sing along and the songs do stick on your head.
Winner Takes All for example is a cracking melodic rock anthem, with a moody edge.
Breathe is a nice swirling keyboard dominated early 80s throw back; Crazy Little Suzi and Walk Away toughen things up; Who You Gonna Love has a certain pomp swagger to it and Forever is another great track straight out of 1982.
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