|Ted Poley Collateral Damage||Kivel Records|
Ted Poley is back and for the first time ever, under his own moniker. Ted should be proud to attach his name to this release and I think most long time fans will agree that this is one of Ted's best ever releases and definitely his best outside of Danger Danger.|
Collateral Damage sees Ted team up with acclaimed musician Vic Rivera, the main man behind the last (and best) Adriangale release Crunch.
Vic wrote the majority of the songs here with several co-write credits to Ted. Vic also supplies all rhythm guitars, drums and bass. This is as much his baby as it is Ted's and the duo clearly work together like they have been a team for years.
There are several guests who make additional contributions, but I'll get to those shortly.
Like many others out there, I have been a long tine Ted Poley fan. Since the debut D2 record in fact.
While not everyone appreciated the releases from Ted's last project Melodica, I think the vast majority will be united in their praise for this album.
Most noticeably – and importantly – Ted sounds the best he has in years, with strong harmonious lead vocals at all times throughout this release.
An extension of that compliment is the massive harmony vocals featured here. Each song features multiple layers of vocals supplied by Ted and the previously unaccredited Mike Ledesma. Based on Mike's input here – watch for his name to appear again soon.
The style featured here is very melodic - pure AOR with an occasional melodic hard rock punch. It is certainly mellower than Poley fronted Danger Danger, but kicks a little more ass than Melodica or Bone Machine.
There are influences from the likes of D2 and Melodica here, plus a nod to the sound of the last Adriangale record thanks to Vic's involvement.
I have spoken of lots of positives here, but there is also a couple of points where I think improvements could have been made.
Firstly – the song running order – not as I would have done it. I think the better tracks are stacked in the back half of the album and the album's first two tracks are not at all suited for the position chosen for them. The album really kicks into gear around track 4 and maintains a better pace from that point right to the end.
I would have opened with Heads Up and then moved into Endgame and then Rise.
Secondly – the production – this is certainly the best thing Ted has put his name too outside Danger Danger, but even then there is some room for further improvement.
A great emphasis has been put on making this album very melodic and drenching it in harmonies. What would have been nice is a harder hitting drum sound and a little more urgency to a couple of tracks. It wouldn't have hurt the album to be a little heavier and a little tougher. Ted is up to it and we sure know that Vic is up to it.
Just a little extra muscle could have seen the great songs within taken right over the top. Just two small points for an otherwise extremely enjoyable release.
Track By Track:
The most traditional Ted Poley sounding track of the album kicks things off. I don't think Yeah, U Want It is the best track on offer here at all and think it was a little safe to select it as the opening track. That said, it is still a typically catchy Poley number and immediately puts any talk of vocal demons to rest. A guest spot by original D2 axe-slinger Andy Timmons caps things off.
Breathing Doll is another track better suited for midway through the album and doesn't have enough impact for its position here. The drum beat is a little dull and repetitive, but the chorus and some strong guitar leads help make it work. Harem Scarem's Pete Lesperance guests on guitar.
The mellower pure AOR of Curtain Call will have fans of Poley's softer side gushing. Some very melodic guitar riffing and a wonderfully passionate lead vocal and catchy chorus will have fans singing along with this from the first listen. Vic's lead solo is also something to appreciate.
Endgame has a definite Adriangale vibe to it, with a dirtier guitar riff and a tougher vocal. I like it! The chorus takes a while to appear and isn't one of the album's strongest, but the track acts best as an album tempo changer.
The short Xavier Paladian (Snake Eye) solo fits in well, but could and should have been longer.
Maybe is a personal favourite. Kicking off with a slower, darker and moodier start, the track fires up with some strong guitar work and a brooding but memorable chorus. It again features a strong vocal performance.
Firehouse guitarist Bill Leverty supplies a super fine solo which suits the song to a tee.
Good Enough is another fine example of how a slight change in mood can do wonders for an album. The moody keyboard intro and a lower Poley vocal is in contrast to a great uptempo guitar fuelled chorus. A fine song and perfectly positioned in the scheme of the songs around it.
Hero Falling is a fairly straight forward mid-tempo rocker with a fine chorus that touches on Def Leppard style delivery.
Let Go is a very fine ballad with a sentimental heart and lots of harmony vocals.
Now to close we get the two very best tracks of the album. Refer back to my point about the song running order! Still, it is always good to end any album on a high note and Heads Up (Look Out Below) and Rise do that without question.
Heads Up contains that little extra bit of fire that I talked about earlier and features a brilliant chorus, strong guitar work and layers of lush harmonies! Rise continues the step up in tempo started by Heads Up. More strong guitar work and more harmonies combine with maybe the second best chorus of the album (following Heads Up) to deliver a one-two punch to seal the album.
Some fine songs and a strong emphasis on harmony and melody make this a very attractive record for fans of Ted's and straight melodic rock/AOR.
I'm looking forward to the duo's next record already.
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