Album Reviews

Departure – Hitch a Ride Review

Released by: Escape Music

Release Date: April 20th, 2012

Genre: Melodic Hard Rock

Links: http://www.escape-music.com/

 

Line Up:

Mike Walsh: Guitars, Keyboards

Duey Ribestello – Drums

Ryan Walsh – Bass

Andi Kravljaca – Lead Vocals

 

Tracklist:

1 No Where To Go

2 You Don’t Need To This Anymore

3 Waiting For Rain To Come

4 Soldier Of Fortune

5 LuvSick

6 Roses

7 Travel Through Time

8 Fly

9 This Is My Time

10 Without You

11 Outside Looking In

 

I love surprises when it comes to records that come out of nowhere and just stand out. Last year that happened with the British Melodic Rock icons Airrace and they’re comeback album “Back to the Start”. It had everything you wanted from a Melodic Hard Rock band, powerful vocals, swift melodies, tight production and memorable choruses. This early 2012 year we have the project of American Multi-instrumentalist Mike Walsh named Departure. Back when Escape Music started Departure was one of the first bands on it’s early catalog and since 1998 ensemble has released 3 albums. This time around Walsh returns after a 8 year hiatus and countless experiences working with Mark Thompson-Smith (Praying Mantis) and Dean Fasano’s Message among others notables.

In the year 2012 he welcomes the strong addition of power vocalist Andi Kravljaca from the metal band Silent Call and needless to say that this man takes the cake because he leaves a lasting impression in the vocal department. I knew he had talent when hearing the Silent Call material but holy damn he does a stellar job here. I don’t know who put these guys together but I want to hear more after listening to “Hitch a Ride” the 4th album in Departure’s tenure.

The sound has been compared to Journey or Kansas, and I won’t stray too far form that analysis. The keyboards and tasty guitar licks of Walsh are a crucial part of the record and alongside Kravljaca’s vocals, you have a recipe for success. The first opener is a typical Kansas like groove with an enormous pompous chorus that brings the bands sound into the forefront. I like the keys in the background as Walsh does a nice job of integrating it’s progressive elements into the songs, reminds of old school Styx and on the awesome song “Waiting for the Rain to Come” you’ll know what I mean. The heavy guitar laden “Soldier of Fortune” is another smashing hit featuring the amazing vocal range of Andi once more, he sounds a bit like a younger Johnny Goieli think Hardline era. I like the shifty change in rhythm of the tune “Fly” which only reinforces the uplifting atmosphere throughout the album. The slower opener of “Without You” is another masterpiece of melodic proportions, Andi here just blows you away with his amazing reach, the guitar are wonderfully leading the way in this marvelous piece.

The writing holds as much water as the actual instrumentation, is not your typical mushy mushy love lust lyrics, you have traces of very mature songwriting, something that you expect from veterans of the scene that know how to make catchy yet accessible music.

Certainly for those who heard the bands last effort “Corporate Wheel” featuring a relatively unknown singer in Timothy Lewis in 2003, knew it would not be an easy task to fill those shoes because he also fulfilled an amazing voice, is safe to say that here Andi Kravljaca does more then hold his own as he hits some high octave notes in almost every song seamlessly. Mike’s guitars and keyboards are again superb and alongside their trademark AOR/Pomp/Prog style, it invigorates each note with layers of melodic hooks that reign all over the place. I am a sucker for the 80’s keyboard/guitar AOR and big pompous production and that trait rules this record. I don’t like to compare but as they’re past records have shown, Departure can be linked to great Melodic Rock/Prog icons like Kansas and Journey and even throw a bit of Saga for good measure. It surprised the hell out of me and will probably remain in the top list category for the remainder of the year. Approved and sealed with a Melodic Hard Rock Stamp.

 

Written by Denys

Ratings    Denys    9/10

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