|Musical Style: Power/Progressive Metal||Produced By: Ricardo Parronchi|
|Record Label: Avantage||Country Of Origin: Brazil|
|Year Released: 2004||Artist Website: Destra|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 95%|
|Running Time: 59:32|
Returning with an excellent sophomore effort entitled Joe's Rhapsody after releasing its disappointing 2000 debut Sea Of Doubt, the talented Brazilian power metal band Destra takes the catchy melodic based songwriting of Magnitude 9 and Theocracy and combines it with the progressiveness of Shadow Gallery and Threshold. The end result is a musically brilliant album showcasing songs with catchy choruses and noteworthy melodies backed by the bands top notch display of musicianship. While an average lead vocal performance held back Sea Of Doubt, new vocalist Rodrigo Grecco turns the area into a strength with his smooth sounding vocal delivery. Lead guitarist Eduardo Parronchi possesses more than enough ability to compete with contemporaries like John Berry (Jacobs Dream), Pete Southern (Balance Of Power) and Paulo Frade (Eterna). Keyboardist Maxsuel Rodrigo adds just the right amount of touch to the bands sound. Ricardo Parronchi, who played a major role in the albums songwriting, is as fine a bassist as this reviewer has heard, while Fabio Fernandez puts in a strong showing on drums.
The production values to Joe's Rhapsody, capably handled by Ricardo Parronchi, showcase immaculate big budget-like sonics allowing all the instrumentation to rise above the mix.
Joe's Rhapsody is a concept album in which the main character, "Joe", is a convicted murderer who ends up a death row prisoner. The albums storyline details the life of Joe who, after winding up in prison, in the end finds Christ.
Give Avantage Records a great deal of credit for an excellent packaging job featuring a twenty page CD booklet with full color band photos in addition to both an English and Portuguese translation to the lyrics.
"The Dinner - Intro" is a mostly spoken word album opener introducing the main character as he sits down for his last meal with the prisons director (warden?). The songs final fifty seconds is carried by a combination of vocal harmonies, keyboards and rhythm guitar.
Commencing to a bass guitar solo, the catchy "Cruel Jungle (Part One)" progresses to a near perfect mix of rhythm guitar and keyboards until it picks up in pace for its first verse. Ricardo Parronchi's punchy bass guitar proceeds to carry the song through its second and third verse in an energy-laden manner until it slows to a near crawl. "Cruel Jungle (Part One)" regains its momentum to an instrumental passage culminating in blistering guitar solo.
As its title implies, "Family Album (Part One And Two)" is divided into two parts. The first begins to a blend of crunchy rhythm guitar and organ, the two conveying the song at an upbeat tempo until it peaks for a chorus with a catchy refuse to go away hook. Eduardo Parronchi cuts loose with just under a minute of the albums best lead guitar work before the song repeats its chorus one last time and transitions to its second part.
An acoustic guitar carries the second part of "Family Album (Part One And Two)" through its first minute until it picks up in pace when the rhythm guitar fades into the mix. Subsequent to the song peaking to a few seconds of bluesy lead guitar, it gives rise to an emotional setting as Grecco twice repeats the phrase:
Crying at the gates
Her last words
I'll be praying for you
After a combination of piano and acoustic guitar introduces the straightforward melodic hard rock of "Julia", the acoustic guitar drops from the mix at the start of its first verse. As the song gains momentum, the rhythm guitar kicks in and quickly drives it to melodic flavored chorus backed by a touch of vocal harmonies.
Fading in to several seconds of keyboards, "Cruel Jungle (Part Two)" is underscored by an edgy rhythm guitar and heavy duty bass line as it advances on a sweeping chorus with a huge infectious hook. Stopping dead in its tracks, the song picks up in pace to an instrumental passage opening to a slowly played guitar solo that gradually picks up speed over rapid double bass.
A crunchy rhythm guitar reinforced by keyboards takes "My Little War (My Big Disgrace)" forward until it slows upon reaching its first verse. Picking up in pace, a touch of organ highlights the mix as the song proceeds to a chorus delivered with an abundance of emotional charged energy. The rhythm guitar and organ open an instrumental passage culminating with a guitar solo that starts quickly only to incrementally slow in pace.
"Lost Bullet" stands out with its great catchy guitar riff. Once a quietly played guitar line backed by a piano propels the song through its first verse, the catchy riff in question abruptly takes over and leads the way to a hard hitting chorus that pulls you in and refuses to let go. A near perfect mix of organ and bluesy rhythm guitar carries an instrumental passage that gives way to the catchy riff one last time.
"Goodbye Blue Sky" starts at an upbeat double bass driven tempo until it slows to a piano for its first verse. As the song picks up in pace at the start of its third verse, the rhythm guitar moves to the front of the mix over a heavy bass line and propels it to a stylish chorus backed by vocal harmonies.
The progressive influenced "Darkness Land" jumps out of the gate to Greccos' smooth sounding voice reinforced by a crisp rhythm guitar. Gaining impetus at the start of its second verse, the song advances in a guitar driven fashion through its third prior to arriving at a brief but resounding chorus. A standout instrumental passage featuring a flashy guitar solo backed by rapid double bass helps take the song out past eight excellent minutes.
After a flawless mix of rhythm guitar and organ initiates "Wisdom Calls (The Preaching)", just the right amount of double bass pushes the song ahead before it attains a catchy chorus backed by keyboards. "Wisdom..." breaks for a blistering guitar solo before the album reaches its high water mark as Grecco delivers the line, "He's the way, He's the truth and the life..." in an emotional manner.
The semi ballad "One Last Prayer" gets underway as a piano carries its first verse before the rhythm guitar takes it at a compelling mid-tempo pace to a strong vocal harmony driven chorus. Repeating its chorus one last time, "One Last Prayer" makes a time change to a laid back and bluesy tempo as an organ and gospel choir close out the albums final two minutes.
Great albums are made up of great songs and such is the case with Joe's Rhapsody- it's material of such high quality that I cannot help but keep going back to the album again and again. While it is near impossible to pick a standout track, leading candidates include the catchy "Cruel Jungle Part 1 & 2" and "My Little War (My Big Disgrace)", "Lost Bullet" with its hard hitting riff and the over the top progressiveness of "Darkness Land". An excellent production job and the bands first-rate musicianship only adds to the albums appeal.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "The Dinner – Intro" (1:47), "Cruel Jungle (Part One)" (4:59), "Family Album (Part One And Two)" (7:10), "Julie" (4:56), "Cruel Jungle (Part Two)" (6:32), "My Little War (My Big Disgrace)" (4:58), "Lost Bullet" (4:50), "Goodbye Blue Sky" (4:18), "Darkness Land" (8:27), "Wisdom Call (The Preaching)" (5:01), "One Last Prayer" (6:15)
Rodrigo Grecco – Vocals & Acoustic Guitars
Ricardo Parronchi – Vocals, Bass, Acoustic Guitars & Mandolim
Eduardo Parronchi – Guitars
Maxsuel Rodrigo – Keyboards
Fabio Fernandes – Drums & Percussions
Ricardo Rosa – Percussions
Marcelo Saorim – Flute
Valdir Vale Maia – Cello
Leandro Rossetto - Violins
Also Reviewed: Shining Star - Reset