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Mercury’s Down
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Toby Hitchcock
Mercury’s Down
Mark Balogh

4.0 Stars

Toby Hitchcock has been a favorite of mine since he debuted on the scene with Jim Peterik (ex-SURVIVOR) with the PRIDE OF LIONS project back in 2003. Peterik found Hitchcock to share lead vocals in PRIDE OF LIONS and what a find it was. Hitchcock possesses a voice like few others in this genre. It’s powerful yet melodic and you can tell his vocals are a finally trained instrument. Those POL albums are highlights of the genre in part because of that. If possible, I may have become a bigger fan of Hitchcock’s after seeing POL live in Illinois in 2010. He showed all the power and melody in a live environment that he showed on record and then some.

So now we finally get the long-awaited solo record from the voice and it is titled “Mercury’s Down”. It will hit both Europe and North America on Frontiers Records in late August. Frontiers play an important part in the record because they hooked up the mega-talented Erik Martensson (of Sweden’s ECLIPSE) with Hitchcock for the record. Martensson not only had a hand in the songwriting be he also plays all the instruments on the album as well as producing the whole affair.

What you get when you hook up these two talents is a slick, soaring melodic rock release and definitely one of the stronger debuts you will hear in 2011. Having said that I feel the “Martensson factor” may have overshadowed the project just a bit. See Martensson is also responsible for a big part of another Frontiers project from last year entitled W.E.T., which featured singer Jeff Scott Soto. Martensson wrote and played on a big part of that as well and what you get here is a similar feeling CD, one that ultimately lacks a bit of identity in the long run. Don’t get me wrong, Martensson is very talented but the album has Hitchcock’s name on it and so I feel if this project maybe had another name I might be able to justify it more in my mind.

Now that I got that out of the way, I hope I didn’t deter you by this point because there is some seriously strong material on offer here. Material that does Hitchcock’s vocals total justice and certainly solidifies his place in this genre.

Mercury’s Down” opens with a double shot of adrenaline-fueled songs, as both the first single and video “This is The Moment” and “Strong Enough” are pure melodic hard rock at its best. Hitchcock’s vocals soar just like I’d expect and the edgy (yet melodic) guitars are in full force. Perfectly layered vocals add to the melodic flair and the songs are real attention grabbers!

“How To Stop” follows and leans more toward an AOR side with a catchy hook and lighter overall feeling than the first two tracks. “Let Go” slows things down a bit more with something of a power ballad feel. Hitchcock’s vocals are a highlight here (like they are most of the time!) and they carry the song. Special mention to Martensson’s guitar solo as it is short but sweet and perfect for the song.

“One Day I’ll Stop Loving You” is as haunting as the title suggests. It is a full-on ballad that sounds a bit like prime GIANT (remember them? If you are reading this review of course you do!).

“I Should Have Said” brings the energy level back up a bit with bombastic drum sounds and heavier guitars. The song is reminiscent of the opening two tracks without being quite as edgy. It is more AOR-ish melodic hard rock in sound than full-on hard rock. “If It’s To Be” is a high-energy AOR number. It’s a little typical in approach but done well and gets points for a catchy chorus.

“Just Say Goodbye” sounds a bit like the melodic side of British acts MAGNUM or TEN. It’s a very cool song and the keyboard/piano breaks give the song a different sound then has been displayed on the record so far. A favorite for sure as all the elements seem to come together here and it culminates in a real winning track. The record continues to hit the stride with “Summer Nights In Cabo” as it is another strong track with some Neal Schon-inspired guitars from Martensson and more soaring vocals from Hitchcock. For me these types of tracks signify a sound I could see Hitchcock comfortably sitting in with his solo work.

“Tear Down The Barricades” sounds a bit like Nordic-inspired melodic rock ala the classic TALISMAN. That sound is especially true with the guitars supplied by Martensson. The song is a high-energy rocker with attitude but ultimately strays a bit in feel from the rest of the record. I almost want to say the same with “A Different Drum”. The two songs are still quality offerings but sound ever so slightly out of place for me here; not bad just different in relation to the vibe of the rest of the record.

The record closes with the title track “Mercury’s Down” and it’s another track with attitude, specifically in the guitar sound. The record closes as it started with attitude and Hitchcock pulls off the track with conviction. The song is another strong one.

What you get with “Mercury’s Down” is a solidly produced, performed, written and arranged album. It’s one that is impressive and eye opening at times but also lacking a slight bit of identity at others. Where does Toby Hitchcock’s solo career go from here? Time will tell but his vocals remain as strong as ever and I hear a new PRIDE OF LIONS is in the works for 2012! And Erik Martensson is also one talented individual and I will always look forward to his work with ECLIPSE. Maybe a Martensson solo record is in the cards at some point? He kind of has two under his belt already!

Band Lineup:
  • Toby Hitchcock – Lead Vocals
  • Erik Martensson – All instruments


Track Listing:
  1. This Is The Moment
  2. Strong Enough
  3. How To Stop
  4. Let Go
  5. One Day I’ll Stop Loving You
  6. I Should Have Said
  7. If It’s To Be
  8. Just To Say Goodbye
  9. Summer Nights In Cabo
  10. Tear Down The Barricades
  11. A Different Drum
  12. Mercury’s Down




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