The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world


FRONTIERS RECORDS | Release Date: October 16 2015


BOOKS & DVD'S 2009-2014 

Probably best known for his contributions to Night Ranger and The Trans-Siberian Orchestra before joining Whitesnake as a replacement for Doug Aldridge (who left the band ironically to form Revolution Saints with Night Ranger’s Jack Blades) Joel Hoekstra is a man with an impressive CV far too long to mention here.

I met Joel briefly in Florida earlier this year then watched him jam with a number of rock luminaries and was suitably blown away. Not being familiar with his previous solo work though I came to this new project expecting nothing but phenomenal guitar-work. I’m certainly not disappointed…

‘Say Goodbye to the Sun’ kicks off proceedings with relish and bite, it’s a song that rides a chunky riff and runs on a Heavy Metal vibe much in the vein of Dio. It’s simple, its classic and it’s effective. ‘Anymore’ follows in a similar vein but with a shot more melody and blues that sits it somewhere closer to Whitesnake territory proving that the ex-Night Ranger man should sit well as Doug Aldrich’s replacement in the ‘Snake. It’s a solid start.

As the album progresses you find that it is pretty much a tale of two styles – the more open epic Metal, still bridled by Melody but more raucous; and the purer classic Hard Rock that sits at a midpoint between Whitesnake, Night Ranger and latter day Foreigner. ‘Until I left you’ is the grandest expression of pure melodic rock here and it works nicely, cutting a memorable melody with soaring instrumentation and a nice refrain:  its feel good music that ticks all the right boxes.

As the album progresses you can feel the quality control has been consistent and well applied, there’s nothing here you feel is unworthy or keeping company with the rest, and Jeff Scott Soto and Russel Allen do a fine job with vocals throughout.

As for highlights on ‘Dying to Live’; well ‘Long For the Days’ again has that Whitesnake feel and makes all the right moves even down to snatches of Mr Coverdale’s lyrical clichés, and it’s elevated by a nice bridge and a great solo. Then there’s ‘Scream’ which does indeed, roaring out of the traps with crunching guitar and solid rock melodies, replete with great organ break, to make it an immediate hit.

Elsewhere the quality remains constant with ‘Never Say Never’ bursting forth as a contender for the gold – it’s fast paced fist-pumping Melodic rock and is nicely juxtaposed with the moodier, magnificent ‘Changes’ which is similarly all class. If you love those then you should also love the assured Hard Rock of ‘The Only Way to Go’ and the sizzling epic Power Metal romp of title track ‘Dying to Live’ like we did.

To round out the album ‘Start Again’ takes us back to distinct Melodic Rock territory before final track ‘What We Believe’ takes us out with a great ballad featuring co-lead vocals by Chloe Lowery of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, it’s a nice fresh change of pace and a great place to leave things for now..

There’s obviously something about the number 13 for Joel – before forming this band his previous solo work was entitled ’13 Acoustic Songs’ – on the basis of ‘Dying to Live’ it’s obviously a number that brings more than it takes… The best thing we can say about this album though is that it sounds so much more than a side project by a talented guitarist – its quality first to last.





by Mark Rockpit




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