Thought the golden age of AOR was over? Think again.
All 41 might have picked a stinker of a band name to usher in the latest in a long line of inevitably slick Frontiers studio projects but the music and production is simply sublime: every song here drips with melodic goodness and the dual vocals of Terry Brock and Robert Berry add a mouthwatering layer of authenticity.
And talking of authenticity, Boston man Gary Pihl is the perfect choice in the lead guitar role. His divine axe work is delicious from start to finish – the fusion of understated riffs and emotive solos epitomising the allure of AOR at its evocative best. Pihl’s stamp of authority is just one of the reason’s why The World’s Best Hope stands toe to toe with the genre’s classics.
Such is the quality coursing through All 41’s stellar debut that focusing on a standout track is nigh on impossible. Opener After The Rain lays down an impressive marker and the Mr Big refrain of Never Back Down Again is mightily addictive. Mother Don’t Cry and Don’t Surrender (To Love) are sumptuous ballads (the former featuring an Alessandro Del Vecchio masterclass on keys) – both hark back to AOR’s lighter-waving heyday and both will reduce grown men to tears.
Brock and Berry ensure that there’s plenty to like here for fans of Strangeways and Alliance with echoes of both bands underpinning a sound rooted in decades of genre-leading melodic rock. Joining forces with Pihl and drummer Matt Starr (Ace Frehley, Mr Big), they’ve created a record that sounds right for 2017 and an album that’s built to challenge AOR’s big guns.