(Avenue Of Allies)
Review By Woody
There seems to be a bit of a surge of Italian melodic rock bands and musicians at the moment including Davide ‘Dave Rox’ Barbieri and his band Wheels Of Fire. If you’d asked me as little as five years ago to name any Italian AOR bands I would have seriously struggled to name anyone. Up For Anything is the second album from Wheels of Fire and see’s Dave writing with Pierpaolo Monti whom I’m a big supporter of following his Shining Line project and also the extremely busy keyboard wizard Alessandro Del Vecchio.
The debut Wheels of Fire album failed to set my world on fire, the passion and love of melodic rock was present, but the songs just didn’t stand out and at times felt a bit amateurish. Up For Anything is a vast improvement and a step up on many levels and not just in the quality of the songs. This album shows a more defined and cohesive sound and with a definite improvement in song writing most notably in the lyric’s.
I hadn’t really given much time and thought on Dave’s vocals in the past, but after listening to this album through a few times it really struck me what a fantastic melodic rock vocalist he is, smooth and powerful. Obviously hearing his voice on songs that I enjoy has helped me appreciate his vocal skills.
Up for Anything does fall foul of what many albums do in recent times and that is too many songs! I think bands and labels are so keen to fill the capacity of a CD too many average or filler tracks filter in and I think had this album only been ten tracks long it would have been a far stronger album. I think genre fans will find plenty to love on this album regardless of its length; it has a good mix of good time tunes as well as more substantially satisfying tracks.
I like the party rock and generally uplifting atmosphere this album creates throughout although oddly my favourite track is the dark edged rocker ‘Pain’. I found the song captivating and found myself singing along to the powerful chorus and although it is far lyrically darker than the rest of the album I found it a really satisfying song.
‘Follow Your Heart’ is a lovely harmony drenched uplifting rocker which is a great showcase for Dave’s vocals. The huge melodic rock chorus will definitely appeal to AOR fans and I adore the melancholic keyboard intro and outro!
‘Turn Up The Radio’ is a feel good throw away party tune and along with the equally uplifting ‘Nothing to Lose’ and the boogie infused ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ with its horns that evoke the Little Angels will surely have crowds dancing their asses of live!
‘Web Of Lies’ makes me think of Tony Harnell’s Westworld, its sparse and atmospheric but with an intensely melodic chorus. The groove laden ‘Lay Your Body Down’ I think is the result of Tyketto and Little Angels meeting in a blender. Yet another uplifting dance inducing track which was born for the live stage.
A nice feel good rocker ‘Come Back Home’ is a definite grower as it took a few spins to sink in, but trust me the chorus on this one will get its hooks into you. ‘No Mercy’ features some outstanding hook filled guitar work courtesy of guest guitarist Rob Marcello, which warrants repeat plays. For me it’s a bit of a grower as the chorus doesn’t hit on its first strike.
Of the two obvious ballads ‘Tell Me’ for me is the better, it may be because this old school rock n roll ballad puts me in mind of ‘These Days’ era Bon Jovi and it has a really evocative chorus which will really appeal to the average AOR fan. ‘Everytime’ is more of a Beatles inspired type of ballad, which has some nice vocal touches form Dave.
Up For Anything is a great slab of uplifting and powerful guitar orientated melodic rock. Fans of late eighties melodic rock and bands like Tyketto, Little Angels, TNT, Westworld and even a bit of Bon Jovi should give this one a spin. This is a strong follow up for Wheels of Fire which pushes them to the forefront of the current Italian AOR scene alongside label mates Lionville.
Track Listing: Follow Your Heart / Don’t Walk Away / Turning Up The Radio / Pain / Web Of Lies / Lay Your Body Down / Respect / Come Back Home / Tell Me / Nothing To Lose / No Mercy / Yesterday’s Gone / Everytime
Album Rating: 7/10
Woody’s Essential Track: Pain
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