Ellefson – Soto – Vacation In the Underground Review

Ellefson-Soto Vacation In the Underground is an album that you should give a chance, and you have to let it soak in fully before it can be appreciated....

Released by: Rat Pak Records

Release Date: October 7th, 2022

Genre: Metal

Links: https://www.facebook.com/ellefsonsoto/

 

Line Up:

Jeff Scott Soto – Vocals

David Ellefson – Bass

Andy Martongelli – Guitar

Paolo Caridi – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1)    Vacation In The Underworld

2)    Like A Bullet

3)    Sharpen The Sword

4)    The Reason

5)    S.T.N.

6)    The Revolution

7)    Celebrity Trash

8)    Live To Die Another Day

9)    The Day Before Tomorrow

10)  Hercules

11)  Rise To Win

12)  Out Of The Blue (Bonus Track)

13)  Lone Star (Bonus Track)

14)  Writing On The Wall (Bonus Track)

 

 

After a messy and seemingly controversial break-up with Megadeth, Dave Ellefson was on his own, ready to take what he’d learned over the years of being a Thrash Metal stalwart with one of the “Big 4” to forge a path of his own. Writing a song that, once completed, he knew whose voice needed to be added. After catching regular shows of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, he by chance met Jeff Scott Soto, and that was the voice he heard for the song “Writing On the Wall.” Once the track was laid down, a partnership was quickly forged, and the songs poured forth, thus creating the new project Ellefson-Soto.

Their debut album, Vacation In the Underground isn’t anything one would expect from either of these legends, but as it comes together, you realize that it very much fits within the context of this collaboration. Soto’s voice is so distinctive you’re going to recognize him immediately. If you prefer your JSS more Metal than Melodic, well you’re in luck. Metal Jeff is present on this album. And while Ellefson is known more for his bass work complementing a much heavier style, the heaviness of this album stems from his background. I went into this album fully expecting my usual reaction to a JSS project in that I would instantly love it. On the contrary, my first couple of listens found me somewhat disappointed. I found some of the songs to be lacking a certain panache to them, with little dynamics. It at times seemed heavy for heavy sake. The back half of the album improved upon those first few spins but getting through the first part was kind of dull, at first. However, after a couple more tries, it finally clicked. I still don’t love it near as much as I do other JSS projects (shocking I know coming from me,)or Dave’s stuff with Megadeth, but it is a grower instead of a show-er. “Celebrity Trash” is where the album started finding its identity and offered more melodic stuff while remaining heavy. That funky riff is great, and the song is very memorable. Furthermore, tracks like “Rise To Win,” “Lonestar,” and “Writing On the Wall” perfectly demonstrate the potential of this pairing. It felt more like they were finally stepping out of their comfort zones and taking into a much more serious experiment. Plus, another shock is a tender ballad with “Out of the Blue,” which happens to be one of the bonus tracks. Even for Soto, this is a hauntingly beautiful and powerful track. And of course, if you would’ve told me years ago that Dave Ellefson would be on an album with a ballad, let alone writing it, I’d have laughed.

As with most things labeled “project,” there’s no telling if there will be more from this duo. I would certainly be on board for a follow-up, and perhaps the next one would be the knockout I was anticipating. Ellefson-Soto Vacation In the Underground is an album that you should give a chance, and you have to let it soak in fully before it can be appreciated.

 

Written by: Chris Martin

Ratings: 8/10

 

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Ellefson - Soto - Vacation In the Underground
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Ellefson - Soto - Vacation In the Underground
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  • Grower
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