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ALTA REIGN Mother's Day

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Saturday, February 6, 2021 @ 10:41 AM

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Mother's Day

Rat Pak Records - 2021

When it was announced that drummer Jeff Plate was going to be releasing a new project, I knew that I'd be picking it up. His connection to SAVATAGE made the album a must-buy for me. While that connection may have gotten me to spend the money it would be the music that would ultimately determine just how much I would like the album itself.

Plate has teamed up with his TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA bandmate, keyboardist Jane Mangini, plus a group more hand-picked musicians for an album that has essentially been brewing in his head for 30 years. As he briefly explains in the liner notes, it all started with guitarist Matt Leff and singer Zak Stevens ( in his pre-SAVATAGE days) and culminates in the release of the Mother's Day album.

I must say that the most confounding part of the album to me personally was the way the album's vocals were done. Now, I mention this because I had skillfully avoided hearing any of the music before I had the actual CD in my possession. The music is billed as a mix of hard rock, straight up metal and progressive stylings. And that last one is particularly evident in the way the album's vocals are handled. Guitarists Tommy Cook and Collin Holloway both take turns singing lead and while both delivery quality singing, my first impression was that the vocals didn't always seem to fit the music of each track. It was higher pitched and more ethereally delivered, a progressive sound hallmark but set against a more straightforward rock music soundtrack most of the time. But while it threw me a bit the first time through the album, the sound does grow on you and makes for an interesting mix of styles in the end.

The album opens with the song "Shine" and the song's intro is definitely going to raise your blood pressure. It features a strong rocking vibe to it. While the music does go a tad bit lighter once the vocal track kicks in, the song does retain an edginess during the various instrumental breaks. That same kind of in your face rock pacing helps make the track "Witness" The first real standout number on the album for me is "Thin Red Line". It's another fiery rocker type track that features a killer performance both musically and vocally. The lyrics are top notch and I was just left with the notion that the song was "cool" each time I listened to it.

"Never Say Never" was a decent track but while I liked the lyrics in the main verses, I thought the song's chorus could've been a bit better. Two songs on the album are paired with a lead-in instrumental piece. The first is "ESC (Escape)". It's got a strong rock feel to it but I thought it came off a bit disjointed as it led into the "Come Out And Play" track. Fueled by a strong uptempo pacing, I really loved the music for that cut a lot.

The second instrumental is called "Passage" and it is decidedly more low-key than you might expect. However, I thought it made for a pretty involving short piece myself and it served as a nice counterpoint to song "Rise", the track it feeds into. That song has a bit of a schizophrenic musical palate. It starts off hard and fast, but then develops a more methodical style. Once the lyrics start, the song's pacing gets even slower. The vocals during the song's chorus get slightly more gravely in tone. The outro on the song features a guest appearance from SAVATAGE's Chris Caffery and I thought between his guitar work and Jane Mangini's keyboards, the outro was electrifying to say the least. The song ends up being over eight minutes long and given the various stylistic changes throughout the length of the track, it makes for an adventurous listen.

The album does feature a ballad. The song "Always" ended up being relatively enjoyable and though there is only 12 songs on the album's tracklisting there is an alternate take on the song as a hidden 13th track. The anthemic nature of "Let's Go! (I'm In Charge Now)" will get your fists pumping in the air.

I already mentioned "Thin Red Line" as the first standout track on the album, but there are a couple other songs that really drove this album home for me. The album's title track is superb. It's got tons of kinetic rock and roll sound to spare. The combination of guest guitarist Joel Hoekstra's (WHITESNAKE, TSO) riffs and Jane Mangini's keyboards in the song's intro gets you fired up and Hoekstra's solo in the middle of the song is top-notch. The song's lyrics paint an environmentally conscious story for the listener but wisely doesn't beat you over the head with it and make you forget that you are listening to a damn good track at the same time.

I also loved the song "Immortal". It's a pure jolt to your heart in terms of musical style and it's packed with a rhythmically catchy chorus. The vocal delivery from Tommy Cook is fantastic!

It may have taken three decades for Jeff Plate's music ideas to go from conception to execution and finally release to the metal masses, but I think this is an invariably intriguing album for listeners to check out. It challenged some of the preconceived notions I had going into the album and came away winning more than it lost in that particular battle. ALTA REIGN has a significantly enjoyable debut album on its hands and I think fans of any subset of metal's various genres is going to find plenty to like on Mother's Day!

4.2 Out Of 5.0

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