Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sin-Atra

(No official website)
Style: heavy metal
Label: Armoury Records
Year: 2011
Home: n/a

Members: Bob Kulick ~ guitars/b. vocals
Brett Chassen ~ drums/b. vocals
Billy Sheehan ~ bass
Doug Katsaros ~ keyboards

Additional: Andrea Becker ~ b. vocals

Guests: Ritchie Kotzen ~ guitar
Devin Townsend, Glenn Hughes, Geoff Tate, Dee Snider, Tim “Ripper” Owens, Robin Zander, Eric Martin, Joey Belladonna, Franky Perez, dUg Pinnick, Elias Soriano, Jani Lane ~ vocals

Guitarist Bob Kulick, brother of Kiss's Bruce Kulick, has created a second career producing an ongoing series of cover/tribute albums, such as for Metallica & Aerosmith, featuring many of his musical friends in unusual one-time only line-ups. The talent has never been less than top rate though the results have been mixed. In previous efforts Kulick as set up a different band for each song making every song star-studded & unique, but in his newest tribute executive producer duties have been handed over to others, including Ronnie James Dio widow Wendy Dio, allowing him to front a band that is featured on every track with only the vocalist changing on each song. With a single band the sound is much more even from song to song than on past albums, which often ended up feeling like compilations with some line-ups stronger than others, but at the same time having a single band removes some of the unexpected diversity that previous tribute albums offered. Here each song is the same distorted guitar chugging. Even the inclusion of keyboard created horns, however odd at times, doesn't really make much of an impact though it's an interesting inclusion & when songs do stand out for their arrangements its often due to this inclusion. Sadly, the great Billy Sheehan is on bass but there's not much space given over to him to play in the upfront quasi-lead style he's known for, let alone giving the arrangements any breathing room. The songs themselves are untouchable classics, so essentially, the success of Sin-Atra lies wholly with the arrangements & singers. The vocalists, culled from the metal world, are under particular scrutiny as they are all performing in a musical style & with a band that doesn't match their known styles/bands. At times the result almost feels like an audition recording where everyone is straining to let their musical personality shine in the best way. Sadly, it's quickly noticeable who is straining, who has the pipes & who doesn't & who should stay within their usual musical context because their weaknesses become incredibly obvious. Not every voice is suited to every musical context, though one might want to think otherwise to be fair. Highlights include Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad (i.e. "New York, New York"), Eric Martin of Mr. Big (i.e. "Lady Is A Tramp"), Tim "Ripper" Owens of Judas Priest/Iced Earth ("Witchcraft") & Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple (i.e. "I’ve Got You Under My Skin"). The lesser known Franky Perez of Scars On Broadway puts in a real highlight with "High Hopes", probably because the album itself is a bit of a joke & Perez is one of the few to not take his rendition too seriously. More of the songs should have been treated with the same attitude & the highlights would have outweighed the lows. The worst songs suffer from over-the-top singing &/or poor arrangements, witnessed in "It Was A Very Good Year" with Dee Snider of Twisted Sister that sounds uncannily like an industrial version of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir". What might have made this better would be more melodic arrangements offering something behind the singers outside of just a rush of chords & muddy riffs. The album also features "Fly Me To The Moon" with Robin Zander of Cheap Trick, "Love & Marriage" with Elias Soriano of Nonpoint, "Strangers In The Night" with Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, "Summerwind" with Geoff Tate of Queensr├┐che, "I’ve Got The World On A String" with dUg Pinnick of King’s X & "That’s Life" with Jani Lane of Warrant & the one outside guitar solo with Ritchie Kotzen of Poison/Mr. Big. Thankfully, no sign of "My Way". If you're a Sinatra fan will you like this? Probably not. Metal fan? You'll love the playing which is good if not always interesting & if your favorite singer is here - probably, though you may also find yourself laughing ... but, kudos to Bob & company for at least trying.





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