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Shining Line - Shining Line

posted 25 Jul 2011, 08:57 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 25 Jul 2011, 10:45 ]
(Avenue of Allies)

Review by Woody

Shining Line features a cast of who’s who in the current melodic rock scene who have been gathered for an old school AOR project. The band is the brainchild of Italian drummer Pierpaolo Monti who is the principal songwriter on the album and the main band here are Amos Monti (bass), Alessandro Del Vecchio (Keyboards), Marco D’Andrea (Planethard) & Mario Percudani (Hungryheart) on Guitar’s. The production duties are performed by Michael Voss (Mad Max, Casanova, and Voices of Rock).

There is a massive guest list on this album so *deep breath* appearing on the album we have, Erik Martensson (Eclipse), Tank Palamara (Oxido), Harry Hess (Harem Scarem), Michael T Ross (Hardline, Lita Ford, Angel), Robbie LaBlanc (Blanc Faces), Tommy Ermolli (Khymera), Robin Beck, Mikael Erlandsson (Last Autumn’s Dream), Michael Voss (Mad Max, Casanova), Michael Shotton (Von Groove), Vinny Burns (Dare, Ten), Bob Harris (Axe) Sue Willets (Dante Fox), Tim Manford (Dante Fox), Ulrich Carlson (M.ill.ion), Carsten Schulz (Evidence One), Marko Pavic , Phil Vincent, Matt Fillippini (Moonstone Project), Brunorock, Michael Bormann (Jaded Heart) amongst many others.

Given how many musicians have a hand in the creation of this album, you’d be forgiven for thinking this has the potential to be a total mess. Thankfully it’s the total opposite and what the album delivers is a fantastic collection of old school style AOR with a great upbeat summery feel, with some amazing performances from many of the guests. I think some thought has gone into who was to sing or play on every song so that everyone got a song that suited them best without upsetting the overall feel of the album. The style of the song’s flow well together and you never feel like your listening to a compilation album but listening to a Shining Line album, even though every song has a different singer. I think keeping the vibe of the material in one vain helps make the album more cohesive and enjoyable and also allows us to enjoy the song writing skills of all involved especially Pierpaolo Monti.

When I first heard of the project and that its principal songwriter was a drummer I automatically assumed this would be a heavy affair if not Metal definitely at the harder edge of rock. Surprisingly what we do get is a sumptuous and beautiful collection of unforgettable melodies and sing along choruses - a near perfect summer melodic rock album. They don’t make them like this anymore and certainly nowhere near as well as this. These all-star projects can be very hit and miss for me but I think the fact the sound of this album is very cohesive makes it stand out amongst similar projects. I think the biggest down side to this album isn’t about the music but the probability we will never hear these songs live given the amount of musicians involved in the project.

Old School AOR Rocker “Highway Of Love” feature’s Erik Martensson (Eclipse) on vocals. It showcases Erik’s vocals immensely well and also shows what a perfect AOR singer he is! It’s a great slice of summery AOR with soaring harmonies and a chorus to die for. Along with its hook filled keyboards and guitar riff it will surely be a hit with genre fans. “Amy” another rocker features Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) in AOR territory. Hess slips into traditional AOR mode with ease and dramatic results. The song has a fantastic guitar riff and an instant and catchy chorus. “Strong Enough” see’s a stellar vocal performance from Robbie LaBlanc (Blanc Faces). This song has a great upbeat feel to it and has another massive sing-along chorus.

“Heaven’s Path” is a short atmospheric keyboard instrumental courtesy of Alessandro Del Vecchio. Ballad “Heat Of The Light” features Robin Beck on vocals, who I’m a total unashamed fan boy of, and here her strong female rock voice is used to maximum effect. Beck’s voice creates a very powerful song especially on the chorus. A fantastic and memorable ballad perfect for Robin’s vocal style. “Can’t Stop The Rock” is a great up-tempo rocker with an infectious melody on the smooth chorus and features the vocal talent of Mikael Erlandsson (Last Autumn’s Dream).

Ballad “The Meaning Of My Lonely Words” features a superb vocal performance from Von Groove’s Michael Shotton and I haven’t heard him sound this good in years! Some excellent backing vocals bring out the best in the big chorus too. “The Infinity In Us” see’s producer Michael Voss step in front of the mic. It has some lush keyboards and a smack in the face guitar solo from British guitar legend Vinny Burns. A Hook laden melodic rocker with plenty of nice “Whoa Whoa’s” (always a winner aren’t they!). It’s the sort of song that sticks with you without you realising it! Mid tempo ballad “Still In Your Heart” is a duet between Bob Harris (Axe) & another favourite singer of mine Sue Willets of Dante Fox. Sue is absolutely magnificent on this track, she nails the melodies and emotion of the song perfectly and it’s great to hear Sue sing a straight ahead AOR song again. Given how beautiful and powerful this woman’s voice is it’s a real tragedy we don’t have more music from her to listen to. Tim Manford also of the tragically underrated Dante Fox also delivers a killer melodic guitar solo. The chorus on this has a killer melody and is a near perfect AOR tune - Powerful Melodic Rock Gold!

“Homeless Lullaby” is a driving rocker with a fantastic guitar riff and a big chorus with the vocal talents of Ulrich Carlson (M.ill.ion) and Carsten Schulz (Evidence One). “Follow The Stars” sees Phil Vincent show what a versatile vocalist he is and proves here without a doubt he can do smooth AOR just as well as heavier melodic rock like Legion! A smooth and beautiful AOR song with sumptuous melodies and delicious keyboards - I adore the keyboard work on this tune! “Unbreakable Wire” is a full on rocker with a driving riff and fantastic keyboards bring out the best in the song it’s big chorus - Brunorock provides the voice on this one!

Under Silent Walls the final epic track on the album is split into three parts. Part 1 - Blossom: From Night To Dawn is an instrumental, slow and atmospheric with some nice melodic guitar work. Part 2 - Alone feature’s another favourite of mine Michael Bormann on vocals. It’s an atmospheric ballad with some great backing vocals and a chorus that suits Bormann’s style perfectly - a great slow burning ballad. Part 3 - Epilogue: Death Of Cupid is an extension of part 1 only shorter and with a fuller heavier stance.

Fans of Pure AOR will go nuts for this album, which is infectiously catchy and filled with wall to wall keyboard and guitar hooks. An album chock full of emotive and powerful ballads and sing along AOR rockers. This is well crafted traditional sounding keyboard heavy AOR, light and breezy with a massive feel good factor. It’s a fantastic collection of songs which is Melodic Rock Gold and any genre fan’s collection is missing a vital part without Shining Line amongst it!
Track Listing: Highway Of Love / Amy / Strong Enough / Heaven’s Paths / Heat Of The Light / Can’t Stop The Rock / The Meaning Of My Lonely Words / The Infinity In Us / Still In Your Heart / Homeless Lullaby / Follow The Stars / Unbreakable Wire / Under Silent Walls - Part 1 - Blossom: From Night To Dawn / Under Silent Walls - Part 2 - Alone / Under Silent Walls - Part 3 - Epilogue: Death Of Cupid
Album Rating: 5/5
Woody’s Essential Track: Still In Your Heart

Shining Line is OUT NOW and available from all good retailers &