TOBY HITCHCOCK (Pride Of Lions) – Reckoning [Japan Edition +1] (2019)
Survivor’s Jim Peterik alumni in Pride Of Lions, vocalist TOBY HITCHCOCK, will release his new solo album “Reckoning” next January 25th, 2019 via Frontier Music, tomorrow this Japan Edition with a bonus.
In this new album Toby is surrounded by Frontier’s stable personnel guitarist Michael Palace, and skilled drummer, keyboardist and producer Daniel Flores, plus Yngve “Vinnie” Strömberg on additional drums.
Fortunately, “Reckoning” doesn’t sound like a cookie-cutter production, and there’s some truly superb songs on it.
I’ve always been attracted to guitar driven rock music more than anything, but I have also been fond of a strong vocalist. To be honest, even if a band has some brilliant guitar stuff going on, if I don’t like the voice it essentially kills it for me.
Granted, I’ve always thought I had a keen ear for good singers. Among my top favorites are folks like Jeff Scott Soto, Tony Harnell, Gioeli, Ann Wilson, etc.
When the music is vocally driven, you’ve got to have a pretty powerful voice to carry it. The last decade Jim Peterik stumbled across a young man while putting together his Pride Of Lions band by the name of Toby Hitchcock, and he has certainly made a major impact on the melodic rock world, without a doubt.
While Pride Of Lions is taking some down time so that Peterik can focus on a new World Stage record, Hitchcock decided to follow up his really good 2011 solo debut with new solo material entitled “Reckoning”.
Plain and simple, Hitchcock could sing the phone book and make it sound great, but do you really want to hear a great voice doing something as inane? Of course not.
His first solo album was stunning, and while “Reckoning” is overall very good, musically it is a bit more subdued and not as strong sonically. Toby’s voice is still powerful as hell, and it isn’t from lack of his talent.
Let me explain me better; the album’s problem it’s on the initial tracks ‘No Surrender’ and ‘Promise Me’. While both are solid songs in its own right, the mix – at least to my ears – is confusing, distracting you from the main melody. Add to that a copious instrumentation, and you end a bit disoriented.
But then comes track 3 ‘Show Me How To Live’, and wow… what an amazing ballad. Toby finds room to shine – relaxed AOR instrumentation – and he delivers a lesson in phrasing. Now we’re talking…
From here the album gets a true melodic hard rock feel, it’s like they wanted to open the album with punchy, heavier tracks, but what works for Toby is the feel of track 4 ‘Behind The Lies’, which puts him in a Pride Of Lions ADN.
A killer tune, with keyboard flourishes, and call me nuts, at places Toby reminds me of the great Jimi Jamison.
‘Fighting For My Life’ goes AOR with clean and sweet guitars, synths swirls and an anthemic chorus, there’s a great Scandinavian pulse on ‘Serenity’, same with the emotional midtempo ‘Queen Untouchable’ (love the keys here).
Semi-ballad ‘Gift Of Flight’ is another highlight with some excellent harmonies, ‘Don’t Leave’ is pure timeless melodic rock, there’s a fine guitar work on ‘This Is Our World’, we have more Pride Of Lions anthemic gold on ‘Someone Like You’, and for the end a stripped, piano only version of ‘Show Me How To Live (Acoustic)’, where Toby re-recorded the vocals with a more subtle approach.
“Reckoning” is another really good solo album by Toby Hitchcock, which in my opinion fails in its ‘design’ to aim to start with 2 ‘heavy songs’ – for sure to appeal a wider audience – but since track 3 is a fabulous collection of melodic hard rock / AOR songs.
Toby’s voice is stupendous here, even having been improved since the last stuff I heard from him, more mature and in control.
A melodic hard rock / AOR ‘singer’s album’, and a darn fine one.
01. No Surrender
02. Promise Me
03. Show Me How To Live
04. Behind The Lies
05. Fighting For My Life
07. Queen Untouchable
08. Gift Of Flight
09. Don’t Leave
10. This Is Our World
11. Someone Like You
JAPAN BONUS TRACK:
12. Show Me How To Live (Acoustic)
Toby Hitchcock – Vocals
Daniel Flores – All Keyboards and Drums
Michael Palace – Guitars, Bass
Yngve “Vinnie” Strömberg – Drums and Percussion