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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Auras – New Generation (Frontiers Records) CD review

Auras – New Generation (Frontiers Records) CD review
Released: April 2010

Fans of Journey, The Storm, Tall Stories (Original), Hugo, Kevin Chalfant and even Toto to a degree should all check this album out, as if you like all the above, you know where I’m going with this review!

South American band Auras – Strange name, still … - have captured – No pun intended! – ‘that’ perfect AOR sound akin to ‘that’ band and have it down well, with their own side magic touch.

Opening with ‘Beauty of Dreams’ really is a pure magic track, great vocals – ala You know who! – great overall sound, rich and powerful and plenty of lush harmonies, both musically and vocally. Great way to start. 
With ‘Forgive and Forget’ next they push more of the same classy material, that huge production sound, strong vocals with big harmony vocals, power chords galore, nice guitar work and some interesting keyboard / piano touches here and there. Nice catchy chorus of course goes without saying.
Never Give Up’ starts with punchy riffs and synth stabs, then chills a little as the vocals initially come in, then picks up in the second part of the first verse before strong pre-chorus and chorus kick in passionate, rich harmony vocals in this mid-paced melodic rocker.

It is all very slick and smooth overall and it’s incredible these that a band that is at this level can produce such quality, but then they do have Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) at the helm, Frontiers main man when it comes to production work. Nice job, again Dennis!

Next it’s ballad time with ‘In My Arm’s’ and it’s really classy stuff, right up there with anything many of the aforementioned acts could provide.
‘Reach Out’ provides a back into mid-paced commercial rock, again rich sounds throughout with nice structure and some deft little fills that almost bring Toto to mind. Nice stuff.
In ‘New Generation’ it starts with a really funky electronic keyboard intro, before getting back into the general AOR smooth rock vibe, before upping the tempo a little later in the song.

What I’m getting a lot of from this and it’s not a knock, is that it’s very heavily driven by lots of background orchestration / strings, perhaps just a little more so than the aforementioned acts. That said, I wouldn’t say that all the tracks actually clone other songs by ‘a certain band’ as many other acts do. In saying that, sure the overall sound is reminiscent of others and we all know that it’s most likely down to the lead vocals of Gui Oliver that attribute to that fact.

‘Forever in Your Eyes’ next is quite possibly my favourite track here, though it’s actually leaning in a Toto type direction in the songs structure, I’d say heavy Lukather influence here, nice guitar solo too. Love it. I can’t stop singing the chorus!

Very atmospheric start to ‘Hungry Hearts’ and the track has a kind of chug along type groove, before growing, a song written in classy style ala Early Michael Bolton type style, when he knew how to write and play AOR!

In ‘That’s the way Love Goes,’ the song starts with a heavy grinding riff before it eases back as the first verse kicks in and it’s almost as if the guys have switched into a totally Toto type direction. This is sheer class.

No, ‘Keep on Lovin’ You’ is not the REO Speedwagon tune, it’s punchier for starters and again it’s a very catchy riff and melody throughout. Nice mid to up tempo pop rocker and what a mix of sound and again I’m very impressed by what I hear here!

‘Out of Love’ is introduced with a laid back intro, before we get the power chords kicking in, but the track is in that chug along type direction, with almost a kind of poppy power ballad intention!
Final track is ‘Love to Survive,’ which closes the album nicely with again one of those mid to up tempo number, again classy AOR to please fans of the genre that may not have considered checking this out.

My one peeve if any is not enough soaring solo’s throughout, the potential to go there more often is virtually endless, but nonetheless a very classy release that I must admit I took my time to get play, but I’m certainly very glad I did!

I recommend this to fans of AOR. An enjoyable album for sure!
Rating: 3.5+ out of 5.

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