Archive for November, 2009

Just a Random Update

November 29, 2009

I have a horrible habit of starting projects with high ambition, only to have that drive fizzle out as I leave my unfinished work to rust.

I fear sometimes that will be the fate of this blog.

Due to work, spending time with my lovely girlfriend, and just living my life I haven’t been able to summon the mental energy or extra time needed to write very involved updates or come up with creative blog ideas. I know I’ve promised frequent updates and different entry series, and have failed to keep up on that. Don’t worry, they will come eventually, just whenever I find time and effort to.

I want to be able to write like this for a living someday. I’d love to be a professional journalist, novelist, blogger, or run a website related to music, sports, writing, or video games. However, it takes a lot of time and a lot of capital to get myself involved in those industries; neither of which I have at the time. Perhaps one day my ideas will be realized… but not now.

As the new decade dawns I need to solidify my life goals. I have one of the hardest struggles taken care of already: falling in love. With a wonderful girlfriend behind me, chasing my dreams will be a bit easier. Love takes away many of the pains of living, and I’m incredibly lucky to have found somebody who loves me the way she does. She’s helped me believe in myself again, which is a huge boost to my abilities and positivity.

I want to touch others with my work, I want to be paid to do something I enjoy, and I want to be known for what I do. I refuse to accept anything less than what I am capable of. Even though I’m a few years off course in my schooling due to reasons out of my control, and won’t get a degree until at least the age of 26, I feel I have the ability to contribute a great deal to any writing-related industry NOW. I just need to keep my skills fresh, keep my eye on key opportunities, and not be complacent or lazy in anything I do. I will achieve my dreams. It all starts now, the “Teens” will be the decade of Tyler Woodbridge.

Video Game Review- Modern Warfare 2

November 24, 2009

Modern Warfare 2

There’s a very good reason I haven’t been updating this blog very often, if at all, over the past two weeks. I’ve been busy taking down choppers, laying down suppressive fire, securing strategic points, and infiltrating enemy lines in the new blockbuster game Modern Warfare 2, the latest installment in the Call of Duty series.

I was one of the millions of gamers across the nation who pre-ordered the game and stood in line awaiting its release at 12:00 AM on November 11th, 2009. This experience deserves a paragraph of its own as I had never witnessed anything like this before. Our local Game Crazy store was SWAMPED with people when I arrived at 10:00 PM on Monday. Apparently people started showing up for the launch earlier in the evening, and others yet had camped out in anticipation of the store’s opening to nab the first number ticket. Yes, a friend told me that he had seen people in tents outside the store at 5:00 AM. Insane… but not as insane as the fact that a man bought the 18th spot in line for $100. Yes, somebody just couldn’t wait a half-hour in line to get his game, and threw away a Benjamin to jump the wait. I did envy the man who sold his spot away, however, as he basically picked up a free game and a half.

After 45 minutes of waiting (Fifty other people, including a grandmother and an on-duty police officer, were ahead of me in line), I finally received my copy. I raced home, blasting Rage Against the Machine’s hit single “Guerilla Radio” in preparation for this event. I brewed some quick raspberry coffee, raced upstairs, slapped on my headset and ripped open my case in a hurry. I smiled in satisfaction as I watched my friends log onto X-Box Live, one by one, all ready to join me in combat on Multiplayer. One friend of mine walked a total of four miles to get his copy, braving wind and cold as he trudged through busy city streets. That’s dedication, folks.

Modern Warfare 2 Screenshot

MULTIPLAYER

The past few Call of Duty releases have had similar multiplayer to one another. Call of Duty: World at War‘s multiplayer seemed like an exact copy of that of Call of Duty 4 (time period alterations aside). I was afraid that Modern Warfare 2′s online battles would fall into that same rut as the past few games. While they were good games, the series was stagnating and beginning to feel like expansion packs rather than games.

Fortunately, Modern Warfare 2 is a different animal.

Compared to the previous two titles, Modern Warfare 2 boasts much more customization, variety, and replay value in multiplayer. The game retains the unlock-weapons-and-perks-as-you-play style as the titles before, which in itself leads to hours of addictive play. This style is beefed up with all-new weapons, weapon categories, perks, perk upgrades, customizable killstreak and deathstreak rewards, and challenges. Guns can be customized dozens of different ways, as the more you kill, the more you unlock; silencers, scopes, camo patterns, grenade launchers, and various other attachments can be added to nearly any gun. Pistols, shotguns, and SMGs can be dual-wielded. The excess grenade use that plagued the previous Call of Duty titles has been mitigated by different perks and less ‘nades in your starting arsenal.There are a handful of different explosive weapons and grenades at your disposal. Instead of being confined to three different killstreak rewards, you can unlock and choose your own strike. Whether you prefer UAV recon and airstrikes, or care packages and attack choppers, or even a tactical nuke; you can completely customize your style of play.

The maps are larger, more detailed, less clustered, and offer a grab-bag of strategic points and opportunities. Whether you and/or your team decide to camp a location, rove the streets, surround chokepoints, or man the rooftops; there’s really no limit to the ideas and tactics you can employ on these playing fields. One controversial move the developers made was to force all players in team games to be in the party chat; one cannot talk in an X-Box 360 party and play a team game at the same time. While this takes away the opportunity to talk with your friends that are playing other games, you’re forced to cooperate and communicate with teammates, promoting strategic conversation and, of course, endless trash talk.

I’ve spent nearly two days in game hours already playing the multiplayer with my friends, clan buddies, and even my girlfriend. There’s no thrill like unlocking a new, more powerful gun.. and the fun that follows in leveling it up and tricking it out with tiger camo and thermal scope. The “Chopper time.. hell yes!” and “AC-130 Gunship baby!!” moments that myself and my teammates have experienced have been very worth the battlefield grind it took to unlock the airstrike rewards. With the wide variety of weaponry and power-ups available, a team can mold a strategy for any gametype and any map.. and still have plenty of shoot-em-up fun.  Players can now customize their presence in lobbies with all-new unlockable Titles and Emblems. The multiplayer mode even offers third-person lobbies, a “mosh pit” that randomizes game types, and the thrilling “Game Winning Kill” cam. What’s not to like?

I have no qualms in saying that I believe the Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer mode is worth the price of the game alone.

Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Screenshot

CAMPAIGN

After several days of nonstop melon-popping and missile-dropping, I had to try my hand at the Modern Warfare 2 campaign. Of course, I chose to tackle it under Veteran difficulty, so I could experience the game in its most terrifying glory. With achievements to be unlocked, blood to be shed, and fun to be had; I was certainly looking forward to playing this.

At first, the campaign superceded my expectations. It was smoother and prettier than the other Call of Duty campaigns, yet still intense with all the fright and vigor of combat. Missions typically began and ended with interactive cut-scenes, and the loading screens connected the mission stories together with voice-overs and images. One critique of this campaign, which I also say about the other Call of Duty games, is that the characterization is a bit weak, many situations seem forced or disconnected, and some of the dialogue stale. That said, these drawbacks are minor enough that they don’t take much, if anything, away from the epic campaign.

There are many thrilling sequences and challenges in the campaign. From frantic truck rides through occupied Afghan cities to climbing icy mountains, from terrifying airport shootings to boat chases, and even a scene in outer space; there’s no shortage of unbelievable moments, popcorn-movie scenes, and fun-to-watch-and-play moments. The missions are all different enough from one another to keep the campaign fresh throughout, there are returning characters from the Call of Duty 4 campaign, and the surprising plot twists and shocking revelations make this one of the best stories in the entire series. There are images and scenes throughout the game that are downright jaw-dropping, ones that will be imprinted on my mind for ages to come.

Of course, there will be many moments where you find yourself constantly dying, pinned down by relentless enemy fire and struggling to find an escape route. This will be especially true if you decide to play under Veteran difficulty. The grind of going through fifteen lives just to make it through one city street, or taking one hallway, can be exhausting. Don’t give up, keep trying, try different movement and shooting patterns. Trust me. The game is rewarding when you tough it out through these exhausting moments. The shocking moments and fun mission varieties make up for the difficult challenges, no matter how long you find yourself hammering away at one part of the campaign.

Unfortunately, the campaign is a bit short.. but it’s definitely fun and interesting enough to tackle time and time again. This won’t win any awards for storytelling, but it’s very dramatic and worth your effort. I must mention before we continue that the graphics in this game are the best yet in the Call of Duty series.

CO-OP

There is no true cooperative campaign in this game. You won’t be able to unravel the plotline, gasp at the sheer grandiosity of the battles, and shudder at the brutality of war alongside one or more of your buddies. However, Modern Warfare 2 offers a new mode called “Spec Ops.” These are a variety of missions, challenges, battles, and even races that you can take on alone or with a friend. Depending on how hard the difficulty is, or how fast you complete the mission, stars are awarded based on performance and unlock new Ops to tackle. Many of the campaign’s thrills are offered without having to play all the way through to get to them. There are even a few Ops that don’t actually happen in the campaign, and are very worth playing on their own. With a couple dozen Ops, they offer replay value and a fresh take on the game’s addicting play.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Better graphics than ever. Thrilling, awesome campaign with its only drawbacks being brevity and a lack of major depth. An all-new co-op mode that’s fun to tackle alone or with a buddy. The best multiplayer in a Call of Duty game ever, which is saying a lot, with enough new features and a fresh feel to keep anyone playing for a long time to come.

Highly recommended to ANY gamer.. this is the best shooter I’ve ever played.. yes, better than Halo 3, which still holds a special place in my heart. But that’s a blog for another day.

Final Grade: A

Album Review- Eve 6, “Eve 6”

November 8, 2009

Eve 6's self-titled record

Today, I tackle my first Review by Request. A bud of mine that I had been in a band with and still talk music with from time to time offered Eve 6 for an interesting review. He said of this album, “‘Inside Out’ was a huge radio and MTV hit, but few know of the rest of the album, which is incredible, both musically and lyrically, thanks to simple song construction, catchy riffs, and brilliant word play.” There’s nothing that delights me more than helping shed some light on a band or album who may have a reputation based on a hit single, showing that the band has more merits to stand upon.

Eve 6 is typically pigeonholed as a “pop punk” or “alternative rock” group. Looking at their Last FM page, it appears they are similar (either in musicality or fanbase) to Everclear, Stroke 9, Third Eye Blind, Lit, Fastball, Better than Ezra, and The Verve Pipe. Wow, this is certainly unfamiliar territory for me. I can honestly say the only song by ANY of these bands that I know is Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy,” thanks to hours of Rock Band 2 with my girlfriend. I’m looking forward to engaging myself with music of a different variety than what I’m accustomed to. Perhaps I could even find a new favorite? On to the review of their self-titled record from 1998!

“How Much Longer” is an energetic track that launches into my eardrums with punch and tenacity. Upon first impression this is definately pop-punk rock, but a few characteristics help the group (and song) stand out. I love frontman Max Collins’ voice. The riffs are are indeed catchy, and the word play is indeed brilliant. I enjoy the lyrics, especially “A stone has blocked my hourglass/No progress made no time’s run out.” The basslines warble along and drive the rhythm. It’s a nice song.

The second track is one of Eve 6’s biggest hits, “Inside Out.” I like “How Much Longer” more, however this isn’t a bad track. I can tell already that this is one of those bands whose biggest hit isn’t their best song by far. The lyrics are surprisingly strong for the genre, most of this type of music suffers from overly simple and direct lyrics. Max Collins sounds like he’s really trying to say something, and I can tell by his voice that the lyrics are genuine. One thing to keep in mind when listening to this album is that the band was VERY young when they recorded this album; late teens, and very early twenties. For such a young and raw group to make a mature slant on pop punk is incredible.

The album slows up a bit when I get to “Leech.” This is my favorite track yet. The lyrics attack a liar and a showoff whose stories are false and shallow. The obvious strong point to the group is their lyrical ability. When I listen to just the music, it could just as easily be any of a litany of bands that came out between 1998 and 2004. However, Collins’ voice and the strikingly deep lyrics set the group apart from the pack, making for a nice surprise.

“Showerhead” is an unspectacular song. It blends too much into the rest of the songs, and the lyrics aren’t as strong before. There’s really not alot to say about it, it’s not bad but it doesn’t catch my ear at all.

I am a sucker for open road songs, so it’s only appropriate that I take to enjoying “Open Road Song.” Anyone who loves to go for a long drive while blasting their favorite music can certainly dig this tune. The guitar solo features some of the best music on the record yet and Max Collins’ voice dazzles some more. Eve 6 makes fun music and makes no bones about it, so I can’t knock this album for being pretentious at all… yet the lyrical work keeps the whole thing from being TOO poppish.

Max Collins of Eve 6

“Jesus Nitelite” has a different tone than the rest of the album. It’s more laid back, it’s not as “riffy.” The lyrics seem a little too faux-genuine and are disposable. I like the sound of the music but this is the first time I’ve had a negative reaction to the actual songwriting and singing. This song, along with “Showerhead,” are “skip” songs. Again, this isn’t a bad song, it just misses the mark.

I dig “Superhero Girl.” Almost every man has been in this position; where they’ve desperately longed for a seductive and teasing beauty who always manages to be right out of reach. The song captures the essence of this mood perfectly. Who hasn’t met one of these girls that you’ve cancelled plans and jumped through hoops just to see, and had her haunt your dreams and memories? This tune is a brilliantly understated snapshot of that situation.

My major knock against this album is how it all blends together, but in the wrong way. Much of the time the music isn’t exactly challenging, complex, different, or unusual. That’s to be expected in pop rock music, and I’ve spoiled myself on Dream Theater and Rush for the better part of this decade, so I may be a bit harsh. But in “Tongue Tied”  hoppy riffs and predictable choruses reign.

“Saturday Night” is a decent song. More lyrics that are noticeably deep for the genre, and more up-tempo riffs. The guitar work is different from most of the other songs, with what seems like a blues slide pattern as well as funky palm-muted wicka-wicka riffing. The drum work is decent too. Imagine that… they get better musically right after I critique the instrumental work! Who would’ve thought?

It appears that guitarist Jon Siebels saves his better work for the last part of the album, as the riff in “There’s A Face” is yet again a little different from the song before. A little variety in the music is present and it helps boost the album’s score.

“Small Town Trap” closes out the album, with what seems to be the best music the band has put on this record yet. Being a small-town guy, naturally I relate to the sentiment and find myself laughing at a few of the lines; primarily because they sound like parts of my life! Many artists (see: Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Mellencamp, etc.) have seemingly overdone the “let’s break out of this backwater burg” type of song, and I was afraid of this song trying too hard to be like them at first, but it stands on its own feet and offers a different slant. Good song, one of the best on the record and a positive ending to Eve 6.

Eve 6 was a decent foray into the pop-punk movement that was prevalent in the 90s and early 00s. While not a groundbreaking or absolutely brilliant piece of work, it was enjoyable and certainly had a few merits. Max Collins is underappreciated as a lyricist; I truly enjoyed listening to and reading the words on this record. I wasn’t as much of a fan of the actual music though, it was a bit repetitive at times and not overly interesting. That worked for the vibe of the album and complemented Collins’ songwriting style and therefore isn’t a crippling drawback.

Alright album, surprisingly good lyrics and no shortage of fun punky riffs, not very hard to get into but not a lot of reason to listen to frequently. There’s better stuff out there, but it’s worth a few listens and some appreciation.

FINAL GRADE: C (Average)

Projects I’m Working On

November 5, 2009

From the responses I’ve gotten, it looks like my music reviews are a hit!! I’m happy everyone’s enjoying them and I hope I’ve done my part to spread good music to the masses. I’ll be continuing to do music reviews once or twice a week. Also, to clear things up, my letter grade I give albums is based on music as a whole. Within Melodic Rock, the W.E.T. album is a masterpiece. However I reserve “A” grades for transcendental albums and immortal classics… releases like Born to Run, Ten, Boston, albums like that. So while the two albums I reviewed are VERY good and I’ll listen to them frequently, I just don’t think they’re all-time classics. We’ll how they stand up in the future though! I’ve got a couple new albums on tap to review and a couple classics, expect them up soon. Newer releases I’ll definitely cover within the next couple months include Porcupine Tree, Europe, Winger, Muse, Alice in Chains, Wolfmother, and several more. I will also field requests for reviews and have a couple requests being done as we speak. For you video game fans, I will review a couple hot games this holiday season, including Modern Warfare 2. So be expecting some new updates on that.

I’m also going to add at least one, MAYBE two more installments on my series on writing. These entries have helped me get back in touch with parts of me that I haven’t done anything with for what seems like an eon. I will have entry series on other topics that I enjoy; music, sports, anything and everything, you name it. Hopefully soon this blog will have a better design, a better grab-bag of topics, and more interesting stuff within. So stay tuned. My goal is to be informative and entertaining at the same time, so let me know if I’ve done that at all!

Prewriting is being done on a few novels I’ve been thinking about starting for far too long. I’m cooking up a thriller revolving around war, espionage, and political intrigue… but that tale will take forever to complete. To fill up the time while I work on that, I’ll be working on some stories based around events that have happened in my life, but I will accent those with fiction and fun storytelling. It’s bascially going to be my life on steroids, but with names changed and craziness added. I’m going to have fun with it.

Thanks to everyone who’s been reading. To paraphrase Bryan Adams (or just straight rip him off), everything I do, I do it for you. Hope you’re all well and having a good Thursday, the weekend’s almost upon us!!

-Tyler Woodbridge

Album Review- W.E.T., “W.E.T.”

November 3, 2009

W.E.T.'s self-titled debut album

Most casual music listeners and hipster critics live in the belief that anthemic rock died out some fifteen-odd years ago and only belongs in cheesy montages, ironic references, middle-aged flashbacks and the bottom of department store bargain bins. Wrong. Since the (mainstream) downfall of hair metal, arena rock, glam, and AOR there have been a contigent of artists who have slaved, labored, toured, and rocked their way through life just to bring us quality music.  Three of these bands are the funk-influenced Talisman, the Toto-esque Work of Art, and the riff-oriented Eclipse.  Members of the aforementioned bands have come together to bring us the band W.E.T., and combine their talents to showcase what, on the surface, looks like what could be a melodic rock masterpiece.

Before I continue on with this review, I must acknowledge and promote a website that has done more to promote this genre of music than any other. Visit Melodic Rock to read reviews, news, press releases, and interviews centered around melodic rock bands old (Journey, Styx, Survivor, Van Halen), little-known (Pride of Lions, Gotthard, Tall Stories, Tyketto), and new (Anberlin, Airbourne, Shinedown, and now W.E.T.) Be sure to visit the forums for a wealth of entertainment and knowledge, and stay tuned for weekday updates on a variety of independent and major-labor artists.

The website through which I've discovered dozens of Melodic Rock and metal bands

Now for a bit of background on W.E.T. Robert Sall of Work of Art, Erik Martensson of Eclipse, and Jeff Scott Soto of Talisman are all veterans of the Swedish and international music scene, having decades of professional experience between them. Perhaps the most well-known of the lot is Jeff Scott Soto, who has also spent time with Yngwie Malmsteen’s band, Soul SirkUS, and even the gods of the genre, Journey. One can’t speak enough of Soto’s vocal talents, he’s one of the most underrated voices in any style of music. Equal parts Sammy Hagar, Chris Cornell, and Steve Perry; there isn’t much Soto can’t sing, and emote well while doing so.

The first track, “Invincible,” has a calm intro before an explosion of riffs splits the speakers. Soto’s voice combines soul, R&B, and funk influences with soaring, anthemic notes. The band is incredibly tight; the instruments weave in and out of one another while maintaining a punch. The guitars shift from heavy and surging to wafting and epic. Major props go out to the understated yet effective keyboard theme, and the fact that Soto’s vocals sound especially “from the heart” on this record thus far.

The first song seamlessly gives way to the second, “One Love.” This song sounds like a sequel to the first, but there’s evident difference in the feel. The method by which the riffs give way to Soto’s vocals, and the brilliance of the snappy rhythm section, make the song flow rather well. The vocals are mixed extremely well and this is definitely a “sing-along” type of tune. I love Soto’s vocal especially about 2/3 through the song, right before the destructive tapping solo that is equal parts Van Halen and Schon, but all W.E.T.

“Brothers in Arms” has a very effective main riff. This song soars just as much if not more than the others before it. It’s not proven, but I believe this song to be a tribute to the late Marcel Jacob, Soto’s longtime bassist in Talisman and friend. I find Soto’s voice to be inspirational, full, vibrant, and deep. The guitars chug in the bridge, and the song turns on a dime. It defies the typical formula of the genre, especially after the chugging near-metal section gives way to peaceful drum-and-key interludes.  The ending blast to the song is pseudo Dream Theater before the record gives way and lessens pace to the fourth tune.

“Comes Down Like Rain” does just that, a gentle shower of moody and moving lyrics from Soto. W.E.T. manages to keep an epic sound even in their first ballad of the record. The guys are masters of melody and prove it yet again here. The guitar solo is very technically good, but it honestly has a “come out of nowhere” feel to it and don’t think it fit well to the mood and rhythm section. Good, but just not for the song.

“Running from the Heartache” is another dark and moody yet surging and big up-tempo number. The keyboards are tasteful yet again, and have been throughout the record. One criticism of the genre is that synths could be too overstated or used too much.. but yet in this album the keys are beautiful and accent the music rather than take it over. Guitars are big in melodic rock and this record is no exception.

I really do love “I’ll Be There.” This is the fastest track yet and its feel is a mix of Survivor, Soto’s solo material, and the best of pop rock. The lyrics could be passed off as “cheese” but Soto emotes them well enough to make them authentic; one can really “feel” listening to music like this. I love the riff, it’s very fist pump-worthy, and I can see myself cruising around to this song for years to come. “I’ll Be There” fits in well with any playlist of uptempo rock and roll. The best solo of the record thus far shreds through the speakers halfway through the tune. Melodic rock is packed to the brim with extremely talented instrumentalists. Martensson, Sall, and helpers Magnus Henriksson and Robban Back deserve their fair share of accolades and respect. It’s a shame that great players like these guys are relatively unknown and unappreciated while folk like the Jonas Brothers and Daughtry sell out stadiums and rack up platinum records.

“Damage is Done” is yet another up-tempo head-bobbing rocker. The shifts in timing and lush harmonies keep a fresh feel to the otherwise consistent mood of the record. There’s a great flow to this album, and should be listened to as an album despite the single-worthy qualities of the tunes. These songs could definitely be hits in the U.S. if it weren’t for the average listener being a sheep force-fed with ringtone rap and overmarketed pop-tarts… but that’s a rant for another blog.

Songs like “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” prove that the boys in W.E.T. are having a little fun with this album. It’s bluesier with more hard rock roots than the rest of the songs thus far. It wouldn’t sound out of place on a modern Whitesnake or Winger record, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s not as serious and dire as some of the other tunes but it’s a change in mood that’s very well-timed.

Another ballad comes in the form of “One Day at a Time.” In the vein of Journey’s “After the Fall” or Whitesnake’s “Is This Love?”, it’s a dense song with a snappy flow. I love how the twin guitar solo is layered, and how the harmonies are mixed. Production is top-notch; I can hear the instruments clearly. Authenticism isn’t subtracted and there isn’t any trickery, it’s just very well-recorded. The song takes nearly a minute to close out, with intense and morose keyboard and bass tones lulling me unsuspectingly into the next song.

“Just Go” revisits some of the gnarliest Talisman rockers with its churning feel. The drumming is impeccable and I really can’t say enough of the piercing guitar work. The keyboard is again wonderfully understated and accents the song. “Can’t choose the way we die/But we can choose how we live.” Brilliant lyricism and an inspirational feel. Are the guys saving the best guitar work on the album for the latter half? It sure seems so with this dynamic solo.

“My Everything” revisits the feel of “I’ll Be There,” and keeps a smile on my face as I tap my foot to these relentless riffs.  The guitar solo, again, is beautiful and fits smoothly into the rhythm section. Soto’s inflections and vocal trademarks are well-timed and precise, he’s a master of the vocal craft.

The album comes to a less hectic ending. “If I Fall” is possibly the best song on the album. It’s a mid-tempo song, faster than the ballads on the record yet not fast enough to fit in with any of the anthems. I love how the smooth intro goes straight into isolated guitar, thundering drums, tasteful piano, and then incredible vocals. The ringing, clean guitars throughout the background of the verses are extremely well-done and add to the passionate vocal work. The chorus is sensational, the harmonies are some of the best ever done in rock, I’m grinning from ear to ear, the song has definitely done its job. I can “feel” it, and love how this song makes me feel, it will be listened to many more times in my life. Fans of Journey will definitely eat this song up. The guitars are melodic yet piercing, it’s everything the genre stands for, was that even a “Who’s Crying Now” motif I heard thrown in? The outro is several minutes long, but it’s very effective and a great ending to what I see as a very good album. As I listen to the AMAZING guitar work, I wonder how the solos can get any better… and somehow, they do. It all fits well together and is a very mature, dense, impressionable piece of work.

W.E.T.’s debut album was moody, direct, well-paced, mature, mostly up-tempo and well-produced. A handful of the songs truly made me “feel” while the others delivered melodic rock with a seasoned feel. There wasn’t much that felt “cheesy” or “forced” or “formulaic” about this record; those are the typical criticisms of the genre as a whole. The instrumentalists are very talented and Soto has some of the best vocal work of his entire 25 year career, one can argue he gets better with age. The album did have one song that truly helped elevate it into greatness, and that was the beautiful “If I Fall.”  While W.E.T.’s work isn’t incredibly deep or innovative, it’s great rock and roll and worth every cent you pay to help support a good band, if you buy this record (which I kindly suggest you do).

Highly recommended to fans of any melodic rock, old or new, especially Work of Art, Eclipse, Talisman, Jeff Scott Soto, Journey, Whitesnake, Survivor, Pride of Lions, Boston, and Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen.

Great album, nothing goundbreaking, deep instrumentals under melodic sing-along lyrics, one of the best albums in years within the genre and perhaps one of the best since the 80s.

FINAL GRADE: B+

W.E.T.