SCORE - 86%
Toby Hitchcock is one of the voices of the last decade or so. Since his Pride Of Lions debut, his powerful tenor has been front and centre for some of the genre’s best anthems and most epic ballads. Any Toby Hitchcock is good Toby Hitchcock. And for the most part, this album is no different. Songs are delivered by the who’s who of the AOR scene, with at least another 4-5 classic songs here – Queen Untouchable, Promise Me, No Surrender and This Is Our World. Man, the guy can sing.
I like that a lot of the album is uptempo and flows at a pretty hectic pace. I don’t think this is as strong as Toby’s Erik Martensson-helmed debut. Even though this album is also a Swedish production, the differences are quite stark. Reckoning sounds firmly planted in the 80s, with the keyboards and production style a more distinct European in flavour.
The songs are enjoyable but not to the same level as the debut or Pride Of Lions. There is one issue that desperately needs to be addressed. The keyboards. We need to talk about the keyboards. As has been the case with all Daniel Flores productions, the keyboards dominate. They are the highest element in the mix, aside from vocals and there are just way too many layers of them. There is no letup in the sonic bombardment. There needs to be more space for the rest of the instrumentation to breathe. Even during guitar solos the keyboards still dominate.
I like Daniel a lot – very talented and sweet guy – but there must be an intervention. The keyboards are simply overbearing, and the production style is becoming very repetitive. Find Me (all 3), the second First Signal album, the Palace debut, Cry Of Dawn and now Toby Hitchcock – largely all sound the same.
So moving forward I hope some individual personality can be infused into these projects. And that’s the main essence of what’s missing here – its own personality. That said, there’s still plenty to enjoy and Toby’s vocals are powerful, emotional and totally immersive. Fans of Find Me, Daniel’s other AOR work and 80s keyboard melodic rock will enjoy.