Review by Woody
Escape are a new UK AOR band, a Northern Irish/Black Country Hybrid (much like myself) which features the song writing partnership of Stevie K on vocals from Northern Ireland and Black Country guitarist Vince O’Regan. The band also features a midlands rhythm section with Andy Mills (Pulse/Alibi) on bass and Andy Pierce (Seven Dayz) on Drums. They have just been announced as part of the line-up for HRH AOR Festival which is happening next April and it seems the band are already hard at work on album two set for release at the Festival.
I was really struck with this album and I took to its quintessential British AOR flavour straight away. Anyone familiar with Vince’s previous AOR work with Pulse will now the style of music to expect here, infectious guitar riffs and memorable keyboard licks. I always love the way Vince blends the keyboards and guitars in his AOR song writing, one never overshadowing the other but bringing the best out of every song. I know Vince is musically venturing into a heavier sound with bands like Legion, but he is an absolute natural when it comes to laying down a killer melodic rock lick. Although the emphasis is on melody and hooks here Vince is never afraid to unleash a few stunning guitar solos.
Stevie K is not a typical AOR singer, his powerful voice having more grit and bite to it veering him into the Danny Vaughn / Jeff Scott Soto school of melodic rock singing. I was really impressed with Stevie’s performance and I love the passion in his vocal style, it’s a shame he isn’t more well known I have to hold my hands up and admit this was my introduction to the man, hopefully he’ll be around for many more years to come!
‘Still Alive’ is a bombastic opening cut with pompous keyboards, driving guitars and pounding drums. A song which is sure to go down a storm live! Keep an ear out for a killer guitar solo from Vince on this track. The commercial and obvious single ‘Unbreakable’ has an infectious keyboard riff and the compelling melodic guitar riff underpin this catchy as hell and invigorating song. This is a great song to fire you up! Trust me the chorus will stick in your head and compel you to sing along! ‘Best Of Me’ is a mid-tempo ballad on which Stevie delivers some cool vocal melodies throughout. Vince lays down a hook laden guitar lick on this one.
‘Living On The Wrong Side’ really puts me in mind of Pulse, a driving AOR Rocker. I love the Journey-esque guitar licks on ‘Read Between The Lines’ and it has some killer hooks in the chorus. ‘New Horizon’ is a gripping ballad with some wonderful piano parts.
‘Night To Remember’ is another one that really fires you up, full of power and unforgettable melodies. It’s a pulsating AOR rocker that rips up your stereo speakers. The best thing to do when you get to this track is just press ‘repeat’ and save yourself a job as one listen just isn’t enough! I love the killer keys and the gripping guitar riffs which combine to devastating effect and add to that Stevie’s powerful vocals it makes for a fist clenching sing along killer track!
‘Moment in Time’ is a mid-tempo rocker with a lighter waving chorus. Bombastic rocker ‘Bring You Down’ has a juicy guitar riff with a pompous chest beating chorus. ‘Rescue Me’ is a swaggering rocker with big guitars and some extremely effective keyboards especially on the chorus. ‘Heartbreak City’ is a driving rocker with some great guitar hooks. There’s a touch of Whitesnake boogie to this track.
Unbreakable is straight ahead melodic rock with a bombastic edge! It’s a great collection of some truly unforgettable tunes proving that British musicians can do this style of music just as good as the Yanks and the Scandinavians! I hope to hear more from these guys as this strong debut promises good things to come from a new addition to the ever growing ranks of home grown AOR!
Track Listing: Still Alive / Unbreakable / Best Of Me / Living On The Wrong Side / Read Between The Lines / New Horizon / Night To Remember / Moment In Time / Bring You Down / Rescue Me / Heartbreak City
Album Rating: 8/10
Woody’s Essential Track: Night To Remember