AOR tastic

Q. Anyone remember Ivan Gunn?
A. Well I do, and he's back with a new blockbuster of a project called Faithealer

Ivan was the founder of the pomp-tastic Balance of Power, and is also ex-Pride (Both bands should have hit headier heights than they did). He is joined by former S.I.N./Forever vocalist Jason Marks. Completing the line up are Gunn's mates and ex-Pride colleagues Matt Mitchell and Chris Green, Walk The Sky's Rick Hunter-Martinez, and one time Balance Of Power man Paul Curtis.

On first impression "WTTEOTW" has all the hallmarks of albums that immediately grab one's attention, with first class artwork that reminds you of days past where bands took as much time getting the artwork right as they did on their content. Does the content live up to the hype of the packaging? Oh yes!

If you love you rock music that's all things AOR/melodic then you're in the right place for certain. I like my melodic sugar coated, bands like Journey, Diving for Pearls, Icon, Giant, FM, Drive She Said, I could name many, many more. Well that's what I'm trying to put across; sugar coated loveliness, chocolate sweeties, dipped in more chocolate, covered in a crispy shell, coated in more chocolate and maple syrup for good measure. I like my music with a bit of polish ( I don't mean immigrant workers on drums!) and nicely layered harmonies, with keyboards a plenty, but with a nice bit of oomph for good measure. Thankfully, Faithealer have hit the nail on the head and have this want list in abundance.

Even though my digi download version was only kicking in at 128kbps, I must admit that the sound filled the room and I was blown over with its quality and pomposity. So the CD itself promises to be a monster.

Faithealer's debut is a mighty fine one. It's not perfect but when they get it right the results are melodic heaven. 'Who Will Stop The Rain' and 'Stronger' (one of my favourites) both hammer home this point. The intro to 'Just Give Me Tonight' reminds me of the excellent Red Dawn. Even the ballads are pretty good and I don't say that lightly nowadays. The duet between Marks and Mat Mitchell on 'Heaven From Here' is another track that lesser bands would kill their Grannies for.

My interest only wanes slightly for the style of singing on 'The Last Teardrop falls' with JMs voice getting a bit too warbly for my liking. With a bit of Gary Barden/James LaBrie type phrasing for equal measure. I'd prefer to buy the European version as I don't really want the two versions of this track, but I do prefer this acoustical bonus track over the album version.

That gripe aside, Faithealer have written songs with wonderful hooks, great choruses and harmonies, textures upon textures and are mightily constructed. "WTTEOW" is probably a natural successor to Balance of Powers debut from all those years ago. The only thing that was missing for me at the time was a decent singer, which Faithealer have now in Jason Marks

In a year where melodic rock has had some notable albums of merit, FM / Unruly Child / Issa / First Signal / Shining Line, along comes Faithealer with an album to add to this growing and great list