|Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock||Produced By: Walk The Sky|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2005||Artist Website: Walk The Sky|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 44:29|
When guitarist Rick Hunter-Martinez is mentioned two names immediately come to mind- Soldier and Regime. Soldier, of course, is Hunter’s most well known band, a four piece Bay Area melodic outfit that in the late eighties releases two critically acclaimed demo tapes in Louder Than Hell and Babylon. After Soldier fell apart, Hunter put together Regime in the early nineties. Moving in a more melodic based hard rock direction, Regime recorded a great eight song demo entitled Straight Through Your Heart that displayed Hunter’s penchant for writing a song with a good catchy hook. And that brings us to his latest endeavor- Walk The Sky. Initially formed to showcase the material from his prior bands that, in his words, “was too good to forget about”, Hunter recruited drummer Jeff Lemas (The Infinite Why) and vocalist Rob Bonstin (Press) before recording the bands self-titled debut in 2005.
I might describe Walk The Sky as a blend of catchy melodic hard rock and blues based rock drawing its influences heavily from both the seventies and the eighties. Featuring songs previously recorded by Soldier and Regime in addition to many new tunes as well, the album is certain to appeal to fans of Stryper, Angelica, Firehouse, Dokken, Fifth Angel and Aerosmith. Hunter adorns the album with his tastefully done leads, his fast fingered playing bringing to mind the likes of Chris Impellitteri (Impellitteri), Joshua Perahia, James Byrd (Fifth Angel) and Rex Carroll (Whitecross). With a melodic flavored delivery reminiscent to that of Michael Sweet (Stryper) or Ted Pilot (Fifth Angel), Bonstin adds an incredible vocal dimension to the bands sound. Lemas rounds out the rhythm section with bassists Tom Young and Marc Baroz.
Production values, while crisp and clean and betraying no overriding elements of muddiness, would benefit from just a touch of big budget polish. The albums low end, for example, could have come across in a heavier and more pronounced sounding manner.
It is also worth pointing out that lyrics were not included with the packaging while they are not available at the artist’s website either. The album artwork, at the same time, is on the plain side. A bit of color would have helped out here.
Walk The Sky opens with “Castles In The Sand” and “Lay It On The Line”, two of the better songs from Straight Through Your Heart.
Taking off in up-tempo fashion, the melodic hard rock of “Castles In The Sand” tapers off for its first verse only to gradually gain momentum and peak for a chorus backed in a catchy manner by vocal harmonies. Hunter’s fluid lead guitar work is the final piece to the puzzle of a very fine album opener.
“Lay It On The Line” continues the album in its melodic hard rock direction. Following an introduction carried by several seconds of edgy rhythm guitar, a moody atmosphere is created as the bass guitar prevails over the song at the start of its first verse. The rhythm guitar, however, returns to a place of prominence as “Lay It On The Line” approaches a catchy radio friendly chorus.
Walk The Sky maintains its excellent start with a very well done cover of the Touch classic “Don’t You Know What Love Is”. After advancing at a mid-tempo pace as a choppy rhythm guitar bounces in and out of the mix, the song hesitates prior to attaining a chorus with an infectious refuse to go away hook. Hunter steps forward with an emotional flavored guitar solo.
“Snake Eyes” is a good blues based hard rocker. While not quite the same quality as the tracks preceding it, it proves the stronger of the albums more blues influenced material as a result of its grit-laden chorus and Hunter’s scratchy guitar leads.
“Always Remember” stands out as the albums strongest composition. Opening to several seconds of catchy rhythm guitar harmony, an acoustic and rhythm guitar trade off as the song proceeds in an emotional fashion to an immaculate chorus fortified by Bonstin’s abundant vocal delivery. The lead guitar work bolstering a sweeping instrumental passage brings to mind Rex Carroll (Whitecross) at his very best.
The straightforward hard rocker “Face To Face” reminds me of the old Soldier song “Borderline” (from Babylon). After kicking in to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar, the song rushes forward fast and heavy until it transitions to a chorus driven at a steady upbeat tempo. Hunter nails a terrific fast fingered guitar solo.
The blues heavy rock of “Make Up Your Mind” is a more laid back and slower paced number that, while certainly not bad, fails to rank with the albums better material. Likewise, “Touched By You” is also a bluesy rocker that moves at an even slower tempo while highlighting plenty of blues flavored guitar licks. Fans Of Glenn Kaiser Band will feel right at home here.
Walk The Sky returns to its hard rocking direction with the cover of the Soldier song “Heart Of Stone”. Making its initial appearance on Louder Than Hell, a fast and furious tempo is maintained by the song during its verse as Bonstin puts forth a vocal performance bringing to mind that of Jimmy Arceneaux (Soldier). A super charged chorus is delivered with a ton of energetic momentum.
“What You Need” is the albums fourth blues based composition. Maintaining a slower and more mid-tempo pace during its verse portions, the song evenly flows to a cool chorus in which Bonstin trades off with laid back vocal harmonies that continually repeat the phrase “love, love, love”.
The album closes to another Regime song in “Love Comes Down”. By far its heaviest track, several seconds of guitar feedback initiates the song before it progresses at breakneck speed to a catchy chorus underscored by pounding double bass. Hunter complements the guitar driven atmosphere with a fiery solo.
In summary, Walk The Sky proves a very fine though somewhat uneven debut album. While the band really shines on catchy hard rockers like “Lay It On The Line”, “Always Remember”, “Castles In The Sand” and “Love Comes Down”, on occasion I skip over several of its more blues influenced numbers such as “Make Up Your Mind” and “Touched By You”. A bit more polish in the production department in addition to more detail in regards to the packaging would have helped out as well. All in all, the bands performance, particularly from Hunter and Bonstin, is excellent and is more than enough to put the project over the top.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Castles In The Sand” (4:18), “Lay It On The Line” (4:40), “Don’t You Know What Love Is” (3:59), “Snake Eyes” (2:57), “Always Remember” (5:46), “Face To Face” (4:11), “Make Up Your Mind” (3:41), “Touched By You” (4:15), “Heart Of Stone” (3:47), “What You Need” (3:51), “Love Comes Down” (2:58)
Rob Bonstin – Vocals
Rick Hunter-Martinez – Guitars
Tom Young – Bass
Jeff Lemas – Drums
Marc Baroz - Bass