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)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Panther ~ Panther (aka debut) (EP)


(Click heading to visit official website of Jeff Scott Soto)
Style: hard rock
Label: n/a
Year: 1986
Home: Los Angeles, CA (disbanded)

Members: Jeff Scott Soto ~ vocals
Mike Barrish ~ guitars
Scott Taylor ~ drums
Glen Davis ~ bass



This is a guilty pleasure. Straight ahead 80's hard rock with over the top vocals crying out cliched epic lyrics that even include a few dragon references, with guitar solos to match & the periodic sythesizer line to add an emotional quality where there really isn't one. Nothing more needs to be said. It's not a great release & typical of its era. Though, as the only album by Panther it's obscure status gives it a mystique it really doesn't deserve. Albeit .... there is one fact that needs to be mentioned. It's obvious why 18 year old frontman Jeff Scott Soto had previously gigged as the first lead singer of Rising Force featuring guitar master Yngwie Malmsteen ... he has the pipes to match the guitar. Today Soto, having sang most recently with Journey & Trans-Siberian Orchestra, has said that his early vocal style is a bit of an embarressment at times, as its more put-on to reflect then current styles versus being reflective of his real vocal comfort zone. The regular shatteringly high screams do certainly date the album. Brainless speed metal riffing guitars, not particularly playing any riff worth remembering, doesn't give Soto much foundation to work with either. There's a few decent tracks like "Danger", though its far to close to Blondie's "Call Me" to be comfortable. "Deliver The Axe" & "Warchild" are Dio meets Lizzy Borden with not enough of the best of either. The title track, ending the album, is what happens when Steve Harris of Iron Maiden writes a love song for Dio ... shades of better bands. Panther is undoubtedly an interesting listen because of the future of its frontman & that's about all. If it wasn't for Soto the album would have little going for it, let alone a complete lack of melody. While, overdubbing himself on the screams to add obvious duet-esque echo might seem cool it actually doesn't make it more interesting, particularly considering how often it was deemed necessary to sing incredibly high notes that seem to all merit echo. Some singers in rock are vocalizer, such as Alice Cooper or Jizzy Pearl or Jon Oliva, changing vocal styles to fit the songs. Then there are the more traditional singers, such as Joe Lynn Turner, who may not always have the most distinct tone but can be called upon to hit any note with accuracy & always turn in a reliable performance. At this point in this life Soto was trying to be a vocalizer, though his only trick was the high notes, while today he has become a solid singer with a warm tone & far more vocal subtlety & control. The fact that Trans-Siberian Orchestra nearly went backwards during the recording of their epic two album Night Castle after discovering Soto & wanting to rewrite to give him the lead vocal role only shows how far he's come vocally. This band is not to be confused with the more successful Panther, also out of California, featuring vocalist Chris Rodd that released three albums. For those that don't know Soto you probably won't become a fan from this release, but his career is well worth hunting up with recordings for Axel Rudi Pell, Roger Taylor's Queen Extravaganza, Talisman, W.E.T., Michael Schenker, Slaughter, Lita Ford, Stryper, Bob Kulick, Dokken, along with regular solo albums & countless guest vocals.



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