Revolution Saints, ‘Eagle Flight': Album Review
Revolution Saints is one of the more potent projects launched from the boardroom of Italy's Frontiers Records conglomerate. The original incarnation teamed Journey drummer Deen Castronovo - a singing secret weapon for those who pay close attention - with Night Ranger bassist Jack Blades and Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich. The trio recorded three albums together and made a greater commercial impact in Europe than in the U.S. But it certainly came off as more than some record executive's Venn diagram.
Now comes Revolution Saints Mk. II, and Eagle Flight shows off a band that is better and bigger-sounding than before. The group is still built around Castronovo and his vocals, a powerhouse whose timbre puts him in the AOR all-star realm defined by Steve Perry. This time he's joined by another Whitesnake (as well as Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Cher) guitarist, Joel Hoekstra, and the loaded Jeff Pilson of Foreigner and Dokken. It's every bit the equal of its predecessor and perceptibly heavier and harder-hitting, a textbook straddle of melodic rock and metal that maintains a formidable momentum throughout its 10 tracks.
Eagle Flight is again the province of producer Alessandro Del Vecchio, who also serves as the band's primary composer. Hoekstra works with Del Vecchio on the track "Talking Like Strangers," while a committee of others - including Anders Wikstrom of the Swedish band Treat and Kristian Fyhr and Nikos Sofis of Italy's Turilli/Lione Rhapsody - join him in the creative consortium. For those not eyeballing the liner notes, however, Eagle Flight sounds like the work of a cohesive band that displays the exuberance of what's effectively a new concern, while Castronovo - toned and tuned by his continuing work with Journey and Neal Schon's Journey Through Time and another recent supergroup, Generation Radio - is in energetic form and sounds even more comfortable in his frontman role here.
The title track achieves lift-off with Del Vecchio's melodic piano and Hoekstra's treacly guitar pattern setting a mood before the song achieves a surge forward, skirting the fringes of metal although staying more on the Journey side of the line than Whitesnake. "Talking Like Strangers" is an upbeat, crunchy rocker with an arena-shaking chorus, while Hoekstra incorporates a Santana-style hook over the top of "Kids Will Be Kids." "Crime of the Century" comes off as a Revolution Saints take on "Separate Ways," and "Set Yourself Free" is filled with blazing guitar histrionics.
The pedal stays down for most of Eagle Flight, including the likes of "Need Each Other," "I'll Cry For You Tonight," the galloping "Sacred" and "Save It All." The set pulls back only once, on "Once More," a gentler track that nods in a power ballad direction without going all the way there. All told, Eagle Flight is a solid beginning for this new version of Revolution Saints. It may not replace any of the members' day job music in our hearts and ears, but it locks into a convention few bands mine as convincingly anymore.