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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Toby Hitchcock – Mercury’s Down album review

Toby Hitchcock – Mercury’s Down album review
Released on: Frontiers Records. Release date: Available now

What a great voice this guy has, he really does and this was initially picked up on in the melodic rock field, by a certain Jim Peterik (Ides of March, Survivor, World Stage), who then recruited Toby Hitchcock for his project ‘Pride of Lions.’
The first, self titled Pride of Lions album being released in 2003, 'The Destiny Stone' in 2004 and the third studio album 'The Roaring of Dreams' in 2007, there’s also a live album out there titled ‘Live in Belgium.’
Then Frontiers records President Serafino Perugino persuaded Toby to hook up with Erik Martenssen of Swedish rockers Eclipse.
Erik is a very talented multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer and also part of the W.E.T. project that features Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen, Talisman, Journey) and Robert Sall (Work of Art).

Erik has written some great material here, played some incredible parts and the production is big, no let’s make that huge!

Opening track ‘This is the Moment’ eases in quietly and then, wham! It whacks you right between the eyes and it’s such a powerful overall track that captures many, many influences indeed.

Now I’d have to be lying if I didn’t think there was more than a hint of Journey about ‘Strong Enough.’ It oozes melodic rock bliss, loads of vocal harmonies, multi layered keyboards, nice guitar work, in power chords, solo’s, melodies and such a strong and punchy rhythm backbone. Brilliant!

‘How To Stop’ has a haunting Neal Schon like guitar wail and it grows into a massive track once more, very strong indeed. Punchy, melodic, hook lines, throughout with a modern kind of slight pop touch, to it.
The overall sound throughout the album is so rich, like, big and melodic with a heavy underlying attitude about it.

Next up, ‘Let Go’ really, really reminds me of something else that I cannot put my finger on, but overall it’s a heavier up tempo power ballad number. Toby’s voice is so, so strong. Nice one Toby and kudos to Erik, for everything else you hear here. So much sound, so much depth.

At times, there are moments where Toby’s voice is a little similar to Christian singer / musician, Mark Schultz and there are moments in ‘One Day I’ll Stop Lovin’ You,’ that I hear touches of similarities, but Toby’s voice is way stronger, I have to say. This is a big old power ballad style again, but a little slower tempo.

‘I Should’ve Said’ is an up tempo melodic rocker in the top league, loads of power chords and now I think about it, there’s an element of the more commercially driven Whitesnake about the music too. Another top notch performance by Toby Hitchcock and Erik though.

More of a heavier pop rocker with ‘If It's To Be (It’s Up To Me)’ next, quick paced stuff again and beautiful musical hooks and riffs galore.

‘Just Say Goodbye’ has great guitar hook line around solo / riff moment, right after the first chorus and the main guitar solo too, I love it!
Plenty of big harmonies again throughout in this big up tempo number and it like stops for some piano arpeggios and then, boom! Track starts to run out.

Yes, this is such a winning album for me, it just flows so well, it’s like so many great memories revisited from so many great AOR / Melodic rockers, that you can’t put your finger on. So the riffs / hook lines sound like something you know, but they’re really not, it’s just great new music that if you’re a fan of the genre, then they’ll be much on this album that will grab you.       

‘Summer Nights in Cabo’ … I mean a title like that just pretty much speaks for itself doesn’t it …?!
Sammy Hagar maybe showed the guys around the place and partied on!
Yes, it’s just one catchy up tempo number after another, with plenty of musical brilliance throughout.

Wow! ‘Tear Down the Barricades’ just rocks in from the start with a riff that reminds me of say Ozzy, White Lion or even Whitesnake.
Big old catchy chorus again though, but certainly through the verses a heavier number than the rest here.

A mellow, haunting intro to ‘A Different Drum’ before the rock kicks in, with push, stop / start riffs, then that well controlled voice is there again and the track has moments of light and dark, but the strong vocally driven songs continue to flow.

Title track ‘Mercury’s Down’ closes the album and it starts with a much heavier, yet similar guitar riff to Journey’s ‘Separate Ways.’ It’s certainly an edgy rockier sounding closer, very driven indeed. Nice guitar solo again.

Overall, one for me that I’ve had on in the car again and again and I do like it, it captures so much, so a winner in my books for sure.
 'Mercury’s Down,' an album that will not disappoint!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
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