MICHAEL ROMEO
WAR OF THE WORLDS Pt 2

Sony Music International Japan

H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds is a literary masterpiece, one of my favourite books, which has been a controversial radio drama performed by Orson Welles in 1938, has been filmed many times for both cinema and TV and has also been used as an inspiration for several concept albums, starting with Jeff Wayne’s in 1978 which was then turned into a theatrical musical. Michael Romero’s Part 1, to my knowledge, was the first Prog Metal interpretation and it was well received and reviewed by the critics; ‘technical and cinematic, a superb blend of classical music and Romero’s particular style of playing’ I seem to remember writing at the time.

 

That was four years ago and now we have Part 2.  John Macaluso is back again on drums as is John ‘JD’ DeServio on bass but this time the vocals are handled by Dino Jelusick who recently made news when it was announced he had joined Whitesnake as a backing vocalist. There are motifs from the first album in the opening track, a short introduction that links the two albums together but it must be said, in that short introduction, Michael has put together a superb piece of orchestral work which jumps straight into the band in full flight. This album is heavier but not so much as to separate it from the previous one and often the heavier parts are offset by Jelusick’s vocals which are more melodic.

 

The two-disc set is comprised of the album on Disc 1 and an instrumental version of the album on Disc 2. The album actually ends with track 11, Brave New World (Outro) but there are two additional tracks included, both of which are excellent. They fit the narrative of the story but Michael was right to leave them out of the album per se as they would interrupt the flow.  For the Japanese release, Michael has included a version of the Godzilla theme and the English and Japanese booklets are both 12 pages. 

 

In this music, Michael has evoked the feel of the book, something that is sadly lacking in many of the other media interpretations of the story and whilst Jelusick’s vocals bring parts of the story to life, I have to admit I preferred the instrumental disc as I could imagine the parts of the story better but that’s just me coming from an English literature background. For you out-and-out Metal fans out there, you are going to love this and if you are not familiar with the book, I suggest you buy a copy and read it whilst nibbling on a selection of cheese and sipping a fine wine after which, listening to this will take your enjoyment to another level.

 

Track List

Disc 1

Introduction – Part II

Divide & Conquer

Destroyer

Metamorphosis

Mothership

Just Before the Dawn

Hybrids

Hunted

Maschinenmensch

Parasite

Brave New World (Outro)

The Perfect Weapon

Alien Death Ray

Godzilla (Bonus track for Japan)

 

Disc 2

As above but instrumental.

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OUSEY/MANN
IS ANYBODY LISTENING

Escape Music

As an introduction, for those of you who don’t know, the musicians involved here are Chris Ousey, the vocalist with Heartland and multi-instrumentalist Steve Mann currently with the Michael Schenker Group and Lionheart. Introduced by a mutual friend at Escape Records, if you are familiar with either of these previous gentlemen’s work, you are really going to enjoy this album.

 

You know sometimes how you first hear an album and you are just waiting for the track that slows the album down and then how the rest of the album never gets back into top gear and sort of fizzles out? Well, that doesn’t happen here – far from it. Opening with a bouncing synth sequence, layers are built and them WHAM!, the opening guitar chord comes crashing through your window. I haven’t heard an opening chord like this since the Ramones re-recorded Rock 'N Roll High School for their End of the Century album back in 1980. It’s an attention grabber and from then on, it doesn’t let up in either performance or production. Take my advice and make a cuppa and use the bog before you press play as you won’t be going anywhere for an hour.

 

It may be hard for you younger generations to believe but there used to be time not so long ago when music only had a dozen categories and one of them, my particular favourite, was Rock. Nowadays, every genre is sub-divided or joined with virgules sometimes four or five times so that nobody really knows what-is-what anymore and the problem with that is it excludes more categories than it includes. This is a long way round of saying where this album lies musically and I would say if you like what is now termed 1980’s Classic Rock, you will certainly like this.


What really strikes me about this collection of songs is just how well every one of them is paced and pitched. None seem laboured; none seem excessively fast. Chris is never over-singing and very comfortable in the range whilst at the same time hitting and holding notes better than ever in his three-decade career. Steve has mentioned in interviews that he spent quite a bit in lockdown brushing up on his guitar chops and it shows. Along with that his production and mixing throughout are flawless. Given that this is the first pairing of these two and Steve’s uncanny ability to get more out of the artist with every successive album he works on, Vol II is going to be something to behold.


This is Rock music at it's best folks. 

 

Track listing

1. The Flag

2. And So It Begins

3. Brave New World

4. I’ll Tell You When To Stop

5. Broken

6. Cruising At Altitude

7. Built For The Fight

8. The Fall

9. Is Anybody Listening

10. Before You Leap

11. I Know Who I Am With You

12. No Second Chances

13. Number One