SOS - Reviews
I was very happy to say that I was present at the inaugural HRH AOR festival the other week. Why? Because all the bands were great, but a few really shone! One of those was Moritz. Moritz are a band that were just so unlucky back in the day. Founded in 1986 in London, UK. The band consisted of members from Icemon, Spitfire and LA Secrets(featuring Laurence Archer of Stampede/Grand Slam).
The band was fairly short lived and they split in 1988 and Ian, Greg & Andy became the core of AOR band If Only (review here - http://www.chesyrockreviews.com/2011/06/if-only-no-bed-of-roses.html ) while Peter went onto join Samson.
The band returned in 2008 after the long awaited City Streets CD finally gained a release via the Harmony Factory label. The album consisted of the sought after so called Shadows of a Dream EP and some unreleased recordings. It received critical acclaim, prompting the guys to get back together. Perhaps the album cover put people off!! (Exhibit A at the bottom of the review). Its one of those has to be seen to be believed. Thankfully the guys have matured a bit and don’t give a toss about the image – just the music. The band reformed with the original line-up, and released the excellent Undivided in 2011. I love this album, but in hindsight it sounds a little ‘flat’ when listening to the new opus ‘SOS’. Moritz have obviously eons of experience and this time have followed the ‘ if something’s worth doing, its worth doing right’ mantra. Throw more money doesn’t mean success I hear you say. But, its bloody well worked in this instance, AND it still probably hasn’t cost them a fortune.
Immediately, the album production sounds superior over Undivided, and, more importantly, everyone is bringing their A Game right from the off. ‘Fire’ or it should be named “On Fire” as Pete Scallan’s vocals immediately kick me in the teeth and he comes over a little Bon Scott/ Jimmy Barnes in sound, and that is one great sound I can tell ya. The ante is upped immediately, and Fire becomes the ignition point for the whole album. ‘Cant Hide My Heart’ falls into now typical Moritz territory, smooth, classy, and a chorus that’s instantly memorable. ‘Gonna Lose Her’ has more of a 70s funk groove than anything heard from them before and its nice to hear that its not all just AOR. Until that chorus……! Great, great song.
‘Remember Yesterday’ has a Foreigner feel to the beginning, completely different from the rest, but just as compelling. Its hard not to compare ‘Mercury Falling’ to Brian May as the guitar tones are exactly the same. ‘Amber Lee’ is one of the many highlights, very 80’s but a classy Radio friendly affair. ‘Caught Between Life & Light’ is the first ‘real’ ballad on the album; a mellow start building up to a really nice crescendo and a great solo from Nolan. If you’re gonna finish, then finish on a good ‘un, and title track ‘SOS’ does just that, a powerful Moritz modern day anthem! Predominantly the main songwriter is Greg Hart, who based on his quality deserves to be sitting on a huge pot of money. Couple this with the excellent vocals of Scallan, the Flying V soloing of Mike Nolan, the great texture added by Andy Stewart, and the backbone of Ian Edwards, and John Tonks, and ''SOS'' makes for one of the best albums of the year, and its still only April. If this isn’t still in my or most other melodic rock lovers Top 5 come December I’ll eat this review!
An essential buy for 2013.
SCORE - 90/100
It really is refreshing to hear a British band like Moritz deliver such finely crafted melodic hard rock.
It has been two years since the release of Moritz's critically acclaimed 'Undivided'. They have always delivered finely crafted AOR, but now they have produced a more classic rock approach to their song writing. Still featuring five of the original members in Messrs Scallan, Hart, Nolan, Edwards, and Stewart, they joined by John Tonks (Thunder, The Union, Bonnie Tyler) on the drum stool.
Things kick off in fine style with the blues hard rock credentials of 'Fire', a song that bears stylistic resemblance to the likes of Bad Company or Whitesnake, with guitars really rocking out: making it a great opening number. Anyone fearing the guys had left behind their more melodic influences will not have to worry, as the instant lush hook of 'Hide My Heart' arrives. If you want passionate vocals, truckloads of keyboards and music to lift the heart, this song ticks all boxes. There are a great many influences contained in 'Gonna Lose Her', ranging from The Doobie Brothers to ELO, and guitarist Greg Hart takes full writing credit, supplying some tantalising six string action to the mix. Listening to 'Remember Yesterday' is like discovering a long lost Faces track. The keyboards drive the song and the vocals are perfect with an authentic feel of the seventies in its delivery. You'll certainly notice the influence of Queen with 'Mercury Falling', right down to the guitar solo. As a straight tribute to the late Freddie, it's far better than anything the Paul Rodgers-fronted version of the band could offer in my view.
Pete Scallan's vocals mimic Thunder singer Danny Bowes on 'Amber Lee'. It has both a catchy chorus and sharp riffs, and it is one of numerous songs on the album that would make a great single. If you are in need of a power ballad fix then look no further than 'Caught Between Life And The Light'. Building in layers with a commanding vocal, the track takes off with conviction, before the guitar solo blasts to the surface. A particular favourite for of mine is 'Soul Of Fire'. The song slowly smoulders in typically beautiful west coast blues style, and has a guitar and keyboard melody just dripping with so much emotion, you don't want it to end.
It really is refreshing to hear a British band like Moritz deliver such finely crafted melodic hard rock and 'SOS' more than stands proud against anything else released so far this year!
Well I’ve finally got my hands on the much anticipated new release from British melodic rock / AOR band Moritz.
The fact I’m writing this review is the first indication that I’m not disappointed. Start playing and your immediately greeted with the sort of melodic rock /AOR that British bands have long since been famous for.
Let’s remember one thing, if the singer doesn’t cut it then the rest of the music is really somewhat irrelevant as the listener is immediately put off. But Pete Scallan’s vocals are superb, showing us that he’s not lost any of the tone and range from days gone by.
There’s always a danger with melodic rock / AOR releases that the keyboards will be too prominent in the mix. Thankfully this is not the case with SOS, the production & mix certainly pleasing to these old ears of mine.
I must not forget to mention the rest of the band, Gregg Hart & Mike Nolan on guitars, Ian Edwards on bass, Andy Stewart on keyboards and joining the original line up is John Tonks delivering just the right amount of attack on the drums.
Stand out tracks for me would have to be ‘Invincible’ ‘Soul of Fire’ & the first single off the album ‘Gonna Lose Her’
So is this release ‘over hyped?’ Not for me it isn’t & I cannot wait to see them perform this new material live.