The term “supergroup” is a moniker used frequently these days to describe the gathering of three to five musicians who come together outside of their usual surroundings and bandmates to create music that, on paper at least, should be the best thing since sliced bread.
Problem is, it usually doesn’t work that way. Being successful in a musically creative venture is one thing, but attempting to get lightning to strike twice in an entirely different setting — this time with artists who sport impressive resumes of their own — is another.
Enter Revolution Saints, the project consisting of Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) on bass and vocals; Doug Aldrich (The Dead Daisies, Whitesnake, Dio) on guitar; and Deen Castronovo (Journey, Bad English) on drums and vocals. This, by definition, is an easy landing spot for a “supergroup” label. The talent is top-shelf, and all three gentlemen have been involved in bands that have sold millions of albums and achieved levels of success that very few do. But as Revolution Saints, the question was whether or not they could deliver the goods in this new world outside of their collective comfort zones.
The self-titled debut album in 2015 was a good introduction with its upbeat writing and solid production. The songs were mainly written by producer/songwriter Alessandro Del Vecchio for a Castronovo solo project, but when Blades and Aldrich expressed interest in joining the fray, Revolution Saints was born. Although it didn’t set the world on fire, and was not a true “band” effort, a decent foundation for possible future collaborative efforts had been laid.
And build they did. Wanting to prove that they weren’t another flash in the pan, the trio forged ahead for round two, the fresh-sounding “Light In the Dark,” released in October of 2017 on the burgeoning Frontiers record label, which has quickly become a mecca for fans who like their rock served melodious and hard.
If the debut album was an appetizer to tease the tastebuds of what was to come, “Light In The Dark” is indeed the entrée.
There’s an air of familiarity in the new album thanks to the razor sharp production of Del Vecchio, who recorded “Light In The Dark” at his studio in Somma Lombardo, Italy, with additional recording taking place at Blades’s studio in Washington, and Aldrich’s CasaDala studio in Los Angeles.
Although Del Vecchio was once again at the helm, and his influence is reflected in the final product, this album is a step up from its predecessor. Aldrich delivers a fiery guitar riff on the opening track of the same name, setting the tone for what is about to be served. His soloing in the track and on the album’s most impressive — and the shortest — composition, “Ride On,” show that Aldrich continues to be one of the most underrated guitar players in the genre. When given the proper space and his Randy Rhoads/Gary Moore-inspired stylings are allowed to show through, Aldrich almost single-handedly breathes life into tracks such as “The Storm Inside” and “Don’t Surrender.” Fans of good guitar playing will not be disappointed here.
Castronovo’s vocal prowess is also front and center on every track except the opener. The longtime sticksman’s talent is especially showcased on the album’s epic six-minute ballad, “I Wouldn’t Change A Thing,” with its seemingly autobiographical lyrical theme of forging on through tough times, and that, no matter how broken things seem, the sky will clear and bring with it an invaluable life lesson learned.
The album’s lone filler track and second ballad, “Can’t Run Away From Love,” misses the mark, but the back-to-back instantly catchy choruses and short but fanciful guitar histrionics from Aldrich on the upbeat “Running on the Edge” and “Another Chance” quickly regain any momentum lost.
With “Light In The Dark,” Castronovo, Aldrich and Blades haven’t broken any new ground in the genre, let’s be clear on that. Few bands do. But what they have come up with is a quality record with expert musicianship, a great sound and positive messages of self-belief. And in this world of chaos, click-bait headlines and finger pointing, sometimes a reminder of what is good is enough to point the compass back in the right direction. In other words, it’s a light in the dark.
“Light In The Dark”