If there’s one word that best describes singer Jeff Scott Soto, it’s “prolific”. He made his first major breakthrough in the mid 80s when he appeared as a singer for hire with Yngwie Malmsteen, a job that doubtlessly helped him score similar work with virtuoso guitarists Alex Masi and Axel Rudi Pell. From that point on, he never stopped working. Throughout the nineties, he fronted hard rock bands Eyes, Talisman and Takara (sometimes simultaneously) and in the twenty first century, he’s fronted his own band SOTO – taking a heavier direction – and been a member of AOR supergroup, W.E.T. In between all of that, he’s found time for an on/off solo career. Take one look at his discography on Wikipedia detailing all of his major works alongside dozens of guest appearances and you’ll find yourself wondering if he ever sleeps.
Angelica Rylin’s solo debut ‘Thrive’ (Frontiers Records, 2013) was a decent AOR record. The core of its material took its influence from Robin Beck and other female stars from the late 80s and despite a very predictable approach to the material, Rylin gave strong vocal performances throughout. Its dozen well-written, chorus driven rockers opted for big hooks and bigger melodies at almost every turn and by going for a less bombastic approach than her band The Murder of My Sweet, it certainly made Rylin far more of an appealing musical prospect.
Following a tour in 2017, symphonic metal band Eternal Idol found themselves in a severely depleted state after both their vocalist and drummer quit the band. With almost half of their members gone and given that replacing a vocalist can be especially difficult, some would say it was time to call it a day. The rest of Eternal Idol had other ideas, and in the autumn of 2020 they re-emerged bigger and better than ever.
Bringing in the talents of Rhapsody vocalist Fabio Lione, Hell In The Club bassist Andrea “Andy” Buratto and Serenade vocalist Claudia Layline, the new look Eternal Idol could be seen as a supergroup of sorts. Although a drastically different line up could’ve put them on the back foot, their second full length album ‘Renaissance’ is hugely confident.
When Stardust appeared on the melodic rock scene in 2016, they managed to build a fanbase fairly quickly. Their self-released EP captured a likeable sound and by securing the legendary Michael Wagener – producer of classic albums by Skid Row, Warrant and White Lion – to bring the songs to life, the Hungarian band’s career seemed to get off to a better start than most. Fan enthusiasm brought them to the attention those long time champions of AOR/melodic rock, Frontiers Records, who quickly signed up Stardust for their full length debut.
A new band for 2020, Sinner’s Blood have similarities to Russell Allen’s Level 10 and Jeff Scott Soto’s SOTO project in that their material has a genuine heaviness, but the majority of songs on their debut release ‘The Mirror Star’ also have unashamedly huge choruses. At their best, those choruses will invite you to sing along, but with frontman James Robledo often sounding like South America’s answer to Jorn Lande or Russell Allen, there’s every chance that singing at those volumes will cause untold damage – if not to yourself, at least to your immediate neighbours.