JOEL HOEKSTRA's 13 - Dying To Live (Review)

information persons: 
Produced By: 
Joel Hoekstra
Release Date: 
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Release Year: 
Friday, October 16, 2015
Guitarist, songwriter and all-round good guy Joel Hoekstra is a man on the rise. From Rock Of Ages, to Night Ranger, the occasional Foreigner fill-in role and now in Whitesnake, Joel Hoekstra is become a name guitarist in an era where few new guitar heroes have emerged.
His debut solo album is where he’s allowed to shine – from the impeccable guitar soloing and master class in memorable riff writing – to the challenging job of taking control of production – Joel nails it.
And in a nice added bonus, Joel has written every track on this album. Himself! (there’s one co-write with Russell Allen).
It’s nice to hear such an accomplished album from the pen of the star rather than hired gun writers.
This is a diverse album that ranges from melodic metal to commercial melodic rock, without losing the common thread and consistency an album needs.
Interestingly, with the two vocalists involved it is often a reversal of the expected, with metal man Russell Allen delivering a couple of fine melodic numbers and the voice of melodic rock Jeff Scott Soto handing in a couple of aggressive in your face numbers.
Of course both singers do what they do best on the other tracks, giving the album a clear balance of styles, despite the sometimes distracting tactic of alternating vocalists.
Say Goodbye to the Sun is a fierce tour de force with Russell bellowing at full volume. A Dio-esque metal intensity with this fine song.
Anymore sees Russell delivering a really catchy hard rock track with a fast beat and a free flowing high energy chorus.
Until I Left You is nothing short of a classic JSS sung melodic rock anthem. Great tune for fans of Night Ranger and Jeff as Joel turns ultra-commercial here.
Long For the Days is an epic sounding classic rock ballad. There’s some 70s and 80s influences there and more Dio, but ultra-melodic. Classy slow guitar solo too.
Scream is Jeff’s turn to go metal, with a tough but melodic sounding stadium metal track.
Never Say Never is Russell getting to sing at his most commercial. This is an instantly memorable melodic rocker with a stand out chorus.
Changes is Russell again, signing a moody hard rock track with a good heart.
The Only Way to Go is a uptempo hard rock song with a swagger and JSS in his darker heavier tone and Joel slashing his way through the song.
Dying to Live is a fast and fabulous melodic metal track which suits Russell to a tee.
Start Again is another JSS delivered monster melodic rock anthem. Huge chorus.
What We Believe is a bit of an epic mid-tempo album closer – the perfect tempo and tone to end one epic album.

Two thumbs up for Joel. Another very strong album – even more so give that it’s his debut solo album. A must for anyone that’s enjoyed his output in Night Ranger, Whitesnake and elsewhere.
And a cracking good set of songs for fans of JSS and Russell Allen to enjoy. The two singers really deliver here.
Melodic hard rock at its best!