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FOUR BY FATE Relentless

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 @ 6:44 AM

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The End Records - 2016

It has been a long and winding road for FOUR BY FATE. A decades long friendship between ex-FREHLEY'S COMET members Tod Howarth and John Regan was the seed leading to the formation of the band. But it was only after numerous lineup changes and after guitarist Pat Gasperini and AJ Pero came along that things really seemed started humming for the band and led to the Relentless CD.

Unfortunately, the passing of AJ Pero meant the band had to find another drummer since Pero had completed just 6 of the songs that encompass the track listing. Former SKID ROW drummer Rob Affuso signed on and suddenly, the band was fixed and all systems truly were go.

But with everything in place, the question now became just how well would everyone mesh together when it comes to the music? Well, let's talk about that, shall we? Tod Howarth and Pat Gasperini are individually credited with writing 10 of the 12 songs on the album. The other two songs are covers.

In fact, a cover of the John Waite song (co-written by Waite and Desmond Child) "These Times Are Hard For Lovers" from Waite's 1987 album Rover's Return is the lead track on the disc. Regan was a part of the recording of that Waite album, by the way.

The song kicks off with an immediate uptempo run through and features a very catchy chorus (unsuprisingly given Desmond Child's involvement). It's a solid way to kick things off, but it seemed to me as if the production on the song had the music coming off a bit muffled. It was the only time I had that feeling throughout the disc though.

The guitar work throughout Relentless is top notch with Gasperini's playing coming through quite strong on the rip snorting wildness of the truly killer number "Moonshine" and standing out on the solo in particular for "Hangin' On". The song "Levee Breach" had a great sound to it, but I thought there was a bit too much in the way of affectation on Howarth's vocal performance in the song's main lyrical verses.

The band's pedigree hailing from the 1980's metal scene is on display on tracks like the power ballad "It's Over Now" and the rather understandably titled "Back In The 80's", which as you might guess is a rumination on that time and climate in the music scene.

The cover of "Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo" from Rick Derringer is adeptly done but in all honesty, a relatively unnecessary inclusion. I get the notion of honoring a song that the band members like and all, but as a listener, I was rather unmoved by the song's inclusion.

The album closes out with Tod Howarth's quite resounding patriotic ode to America (quite fitting given as this review is being written on the 4th of July weekend) called "Amber Waves". The original recording of the song grooves along slow and steady but there is an established epic feel to the song as well. An acoustic version of the song is included as the 13th track on the album but there really isn't much in the way of difference in the two versions in my mind.

Alongside "Moonshine" and the John Waite cover, there were two other songs that stood out. "Don't Know" starts out with just Howarth's vocals and an accompanying guitar before the entire band comes in to kick the song into a higher gear. I also quite enjoyed "Follow Me". The song features a little musical foreplay with the opening guitar riff that draws you in and then FOUR BY FATE drops the hammer down and just blows the doors off with a highly energetic track that gets your blood pumping.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I first heard a couple of sample tracks from the disc prior to its release. Would the album be a collection of smooth uniformly similar songs? Or would the band really take things into their hands and offer something that may harken back to an earlier time but still sound fresh and modern? Fortunately, it was the latter.

While not every song found its way into my treasure chest of a musical heart, FOUR BY FATE's Relentless is a strong debut from this new band with a great music history in their background. They don't rest on their past accomplishments though. Instead they are, as the album's title states, relentless in their quest to give you something fresh and new.

4.1 Out Of 5.0

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