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Todd La Torre – Rejoice in the Suffering – Review

Label: Rat Pak Records

Genre: Heavy Metal

Released: 5 February 2021

Members:

Todd La Torre – Vocals \ Drums,

Craig Blackwell – Guitars \ Bass,

Track listing

  1. Dogmata
  2. Pretenders
  3. Hellbound and Down
  4. Darkened Majesty
  5. Crossroads to Insanity
  6. Critical Cynic
  7. Rejoice in the Suffering
  8. Vexed
  9. Vanguards of the Dawn Wall
  10. Apology

Bonus Tracks (Deluxe Version Only)

  1. Fractured
  2. Set it Off
  3. One by One

For a man who set out as a drummer but always wanted to sing, he’s made quite a name for himself. As a band member who stepped up to the mic, their hits have been covered by bands like Disturbed who included ‘Land of Confusion’ on their set list for many years. As a solo artist he’s perhaps most famous for the stunning drum intro to ‘In The Air Tonight’,  which of course was used by Cadbury with the Gorilla and …… wait what, ah, this is the other famous drummer turned singer who’s just dropped his first major solo album? Right then… my bad.

So… to TLT’s debut solo album and if this is what suffering sounds like then hell yes, I’m all for rejoicing. A tour-de -force from Todd and whilst I’m supposed to tell you this at the end of the review after you’ve read me ‘oh-so-educated’ views on the debut solo album from the voice of Queensrÿche [old person at the back , shut up, this isn’t up for debate!] the fact of the matter is this is excellent. It draws on what Todd does best and that is;

‘M E T A L’.

Todd mixes and matches vocal styles to suit the music being played and when you realise that this album has been constructed by just 2 people, Todd (vox and drums) and Craig Blackwell (guitars and bass) then it proves just how far genuine talent can go. The opening track ‘Dogmata’ makes no effort to lull you into a false sense of security by presenting a Queensrÿche clone exercise, full of off cuts or similar. Instead the opening track fires out a salvo of metal bullets that rattle through the brain and prove the La Torre’s range puts him up there with some of the best  tenor vocalists out there alongside Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio, Geoff Tate, Bruce Dickinson and Ralf Scheepers. At the other end of his vocal capabilities the growls that appear on the album are as effortless as those supplied by the likes of Chuck Billy and Phil Anselmo.

This then should (and as) an album that is written by and written for metal fans. The opening trio of songs present a complimentary nod towards some of the vocals above and on track four, ‘Crossroads to Insanity’,  we have a track that truly presents Todd as only Todd can do. The solo at at 2 minute 50 mark from Craig Blackwell nailing this as the first of the ‘press repeat’ songs on the album before continuing.

For those doubting the vocal capabilities of the man, look no further than ‘Critical Cynic’ where he’s up in the clouds one minute and down in the deepest layers of the earth the next. To call Todd a drummer who sings a little is akin to the moment in ‘Waynes World’ when Garth sits behind the drumkit and when asked, admits that he plays “a little”.

For those that are looking for something close to the classic Queensrÿche sound then ‘Vexed’ delivers in spades. It’s got a great old style ‘Rÿche sound to it for me, harking back to the early days of the band. Later on we get another eye opener in the shape of ‘Vanguard of The Dawn Wall’ tips its hat towards the power and energy from Priest’s classic ‘Painkiller’ era. Check out the video below for further proof;

The album ends properly on the tenth track ‘Apology’ and it really is the perfect album closer, and once again presents what I see as the ‘classic’ Todd vocal sound. Another repeat play item on the list. And that should of course be the end of it but, being the generous chap he is, the deluxe release (and the vinyl – which arrived at my house the day I wrote the review thanks to a very rapid ‘buy now’ moment when I knew a double white vinyl edition would be coming out) contains a further 3 tracks.

Of these, ‘Set It Off’ is a thundering favourite and proves that bonus tracks don’t mean ‘remix or throwaway or b-side’. These three could in fact be placed anywhere on the album and fit in perfectly. The final song, ‘One by One’ could be found on the blackest of metal releases. Heavy does not come close to describing what he’s managed to do with the vocals and drum work here.

Will ‘Rejoice in the Suffering’ sell as many copies as solo albums from the other famous drummer come singer? Maybe not but I’d like to see that bloody Cadbury’s gorilla try and play any of these!

Buy this if you like metal played well! We need this on the stage at festivals ‘when’ (not if) they return!

Reviewed by: Adrian Hextall

Score: 9/10

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