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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Giant - Promise Land CD review

Giant – Promise Land (Frontiers records) 
Released (North America) March 9th, 2010

You know when Dann Huff more or less said he was done with Giant you almost wanted to ask why?

How demanding was it? It wasn’t like the band was doing major tours or loads of PR work for their last couple of albums. The last release, ‘3’ was I seem to recall, outtakes and previously unreleased stuff redone, if memory serves me right or am I wrong …? It certainly wasn’t as strong as either of it’s predecessors.

So what was so demanding about Giant then Dann, expectations or is it you’d just rather focus on producing more pop driven artists? Hmmm. Sorry, I'm done whining ...!

So, this is the 'new' Giant, not same as the 'old' Giant, so a new experience for us all and now minus original members, Dann Huff, Alan Pasqua (Who was also missing on ‘3’) and you’re wondering, so how does it does 'Promise Land' sound?
Before I get there, let me tell you that original members drummer and brother of Dann, David Huff is here and so is bassist Mike Brignardello, but in come new members Terry Brock on lead vocals and Winger guitarist John Roth.

Well, there’s hints of Giant, but with opening track ‘I’m A Believer’ I’d have to say they have a sound not unlike say current Journey (Sorry, just how it sounds.), which is no bad thing to many AOR rock fans. Terry Brock’s vocals here though, it’s hard not to think Journey, as his style is similar to Steve Perry’s. Ironically, Dann Huff played the guitar here and to be honest it’s more like prime Neal Schon again no bad thing ..., but there is already …, Journey.

Sure, I’m guilty of being a big Journey fan – Although did not agree with how they treated singer Jeff Scott Soto after he bailed them out and to a degree, Steve Augeri. – and in liking Journey so much, I love stuff like Hugo, Strangeways (Brock’s old band), The Storm, The Vu, Kevin Chalfant, Tall Stories, etc, so to me, this sounds good, but not Giant like really.
With title track, ‘Promise Land’ its classic AOR and erm, yes, Journey ‘esque. Very Perry, very Schon like, but there is a touch of Giant to it though. The keyboards here are very effective. Nice track.
Don’t get me wrong though, as I loved, I mean love Giant’s music and have the previous 3 albums, so that should tell you something, but when you have someone like Brock onboard, who hugely admires Journey.
Put simply, it’s clearly not Dann Huff …, who was so much of what Giant was.

‘Never Surrender’ is again a really strong song, up-tempo number with big harmony vocals through the verses and choruses and great layers of sound.

In ‘Our Love,’ co-written by Dann Huff, it’s time for a big old power ballad and these guys have it down here, very rich sound and very good.
Aha, ‘Prisoner of Love,’ now we might have something a little more akin to old Giant, even in the guitar style here and it’s more rocking stuff, more of what we’d expect. Good guys, good one.

On ‘Two Worlds Collide’ likewise, Brock’s vocal has moments almost like Huff’s sound, but musically it’s on a more rocking track, then the chugging bridge just before the first guitar solo, which is sweet by the way and the solo on the outro, kicking serious butt. Rocking dudes!

Dann Huff did have a hand in some of the songs written here, next one, ‘Plenty of Love’ included, which is a lot more rocking and edgy and I don’t know why, but somehow slightly reminds me a little in places of Toto’s ‘Stay Away.’
For ‘Through My Eyes,’ the band pulled in hit writer Mark Spiro to help out. Spiro co-wrote Giant’s 90’s hit, ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams. Through My Eyes is a big commercial AOR pop rocker, nice stuff!

A rocking start to ‘I’ll Wait for You,’ is served next, with a certain urgency in Brock’s opening verse and song develops into up-tempo kind of a little Van Halen meets Toto in structure and a killer guitar solo too, this is a huge song that sounds like a hit single potential. I love this!

‘Dying To See You,’ almost slips into Journey ballad territory, but then again it’s really just the start that makes me think that as the song becomes that classic simply big AOR richness.
Rocking again with, ‘Double Trouble’ – Dann Huff co-write – more familiar Giant ground, I do wish the Hammond organ sound was allowed to come up a little stronger with the guitar riffs through the verses. Gets a little repetitive, perhaps the closest thing to average AOR here, but it’s OK.

Well, what have we here ...?! ‘Complicated Man’ brings back memories of ‘Time To Burn,’ not quite there but on the right track. Funnily enough, I can’t believe this isn’t Dann Huff on guitar, it seriously sounds like him on top form but the press blurb says it’s not. I really love this track. You go guys, seriously! Should be great live, if they do any gigs.

Final track ‘Save Me’ features Dann Huff as co-writer and supplying the lead guitar here, for a moment reminded me of ‘Play That Funky Music,’ but it’s edgier than that. Funk rock done well!

So that’s it, the new Giant album and it’s a really good release, lots about it that I really like, even loved and it’s better than Giant ‘3,’ but to me it’s not quite to the level of ‘Last of the Runaways’ or ‘Time to Burn.’
Worth having, oh yes, there’s plenty to like about it for sure.
Rating: 4 out of 5.

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