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Promise Land
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Giant
Promise Land
Frontiers Records
2008
Melodic Rock
Mark Balogh
www.frontiers.it
www.myspace.com/frontiersrecords
Rating:
4.0 stars

As a precursor to this review, I have to say I started it weeks ago but seemed to hit a writerís block of sorts and am just now getting it finished.

A new GIANT album is upon us and it was certainly a surprise to hear about its arrival not so long ago. Donít be fooled though because this is not the GIANT you might remember. Gone is original singer and guitarist Dann Huff and in his place is ex-STRANGEWAYS vocalist Terry Brock and ex-WINGER guitarist Jon Roth. Much has been said that the GIANT name is being tarnished with this new version of the band but Iím not sure Iíd go quite that far. It seems the original version of the band has been given "legendary" status in some peopleís minds and although they had some classic songs, the albums as a whole were not quite legendary in my book. Now, please donít start forming hate mail to me quite yet! I count myself as a fan for sure but just try to look at it with a realistic approach.

When I first heard of the new record, "Promise Land", and that Dann Huff would not be at the helm (he did however take part with some song writing credits and added a few guitar solos on it though) I decided Iíd try to listen to this album without comparison to the previous incarnation and that is really the only way it should be approached as it is basically a new incarnation. The sound of the band is not really all that close to the first couple records in my opinion, mainly due to the fact that Huffís voice and even guitar were so identifiable to that original GIANT sound. Having said that, itís not to say "Promise Land" isnít a quality melodic rock release. I mean, with Brock on vocals you certainly canít go wrong and I have to give Jon Roth props as I never knew he was this good of a player when he was with WINGER.

The album opens with "Believer (Redux)" which sounds something like a JOURNEY/GIANT hybrid with Brock at the helm. Itís a strong way to start the record for sure. The title track "Promise Land" follows with more of the same feel as the opener but with a more subdued approach. Itís another strong track and one that sounds just "nice" upon initial listen but grows more and more with subsequent spins.

"Never Surrender" brings more of that JOURNEY vibe back with an infectious chorus and some atmospheric guitar sounds from Roth as he channels Schon. Another great track and that makes it three for three to start the album!

"Our Love" slows things down a bit as the band harkens back to their ballad style of earlier records. The song is reminiscent of songs like "In My Dreams" without ever reaching those lofty heights. Not many songs can compare to "In My Dreams" as it is truly one of those classic rock ballads. And I said I wasnít going to compare, soÖ

"Prisoner of Love" seems to take on kind of a "I Canít Get Close Enough" (from the debut record) feel. Itís a good track with some great guitar work from Roth. As I said earlier, Roth shows himself to be an impressive player on this record and itís a real treat to hear him in the spotlight. "Two Words" is another one of those melodic hard rock tracks that is solid without being classic and again Roth shines on this one as it is actually not all that far away in guitar-sound from that of early WINGER!

"Plenty of Love" is where things approach some of those not so classic times that the original GIANT seemed to suffer from. Itís a decent at best hard rock track made only slightly above the norm with Brockís great vocals and yet more guitar pyrotechnics from Roth. Still itís not a track I would remember this release for at the end of the day. Same with the subsequent track "Double Trouble". Itís a song that sounds like it could have come from the times of the bands "III" release, which was not much more than a collection of demos and unreleased material. Itís just an average rock song in my opinion, which again Iíd be hard-pressed to remember this release for.

Now "Through My Eyes" is something of a surprise with its melodic and airy AOR chorus and slick melodic soloing. The song doesnít have the bite or edge of some of the others songs on the record but is maybe the closest they come to sounding like Brockís former band STRANGEWAYS. Total AOR and a great track!

"Iíll Wait For You" is decent enough but it ends up coming off as just thatÖ not great and not bad, just sounds a little too predictable in my book. Again some good guitar work and Brockís vocals boost it up just a notch.

"Dying To See You" is a nice surprise with its poignant vibe and features a great vocal from Terry Brock. Itís a simple song by nature but it works well and I just like the feel of this one.

"Promise Land" closes with "Complicated Man" which has got a bit a honky-tonk swagger going on and sounds like something you could hear coming from a band like the long forgotten ROXY BLUE or to a lesser extent even the mighty VAN HALEN in their earlier days and the, in my opinion, slightly out of place sounding "Save Me". Not my choices for strongest tracks on the record, thatís for sure.

All in all, "Promise Land" is not a bad affair at all and has more winners than clunkers for sure. I tried not to compare it to the earlier GIANT works but in the end, it may not be all that far off the base. The stronger songs may not quite tread in that classic GIANT territory but the lesser tracks do seem to be reminiscent of what I thought was the weak link in their earlier days. Having said all that, the performances by Brock, Roth, Brignardello, (David) Huff and company are still solid and the production is crisp and solid too. A commendable, although not classic, melodic rock release.


Band Lineup:
  • Terry Brock Ė Lead vocals
  • Mike Brignardello Ė Bass
  • David Huff Ė Drums
  • John Roth Ė Guitars
  • Tim Lauer Ė Keyboards
  • Jack Holder Ė Keyboards
  • Dann Huff Ė Guitar

 

Track Listing:
  1. Believer (Redux)
  2. Promise Land
  3. Never Surrender
  4. Our Love
  5. Prisoner Of Love
  6. Two Worlds
  7. Plenty Of Love
  8. Through My Eyes
  9. Iíll Wait For You
  10. Dying To See You
  11. Double Trouble
  12. Complicated Man
  13. Save Me

 

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