Showcase Album for November 2002
2. When I Come Home
3. How Good It Feels
4. A Million Miles
5. What If
6. Look To See
7. Righteous One
8. Misery Loves Company
9. I Can't Run
10. Neon Knights
Z Records 2002
|More Releases by
TNT - Transistor (1999) [Harnell]
Morning Wood - ST (Jap 1993/ 2002 re-release) [Harnell]
Riot - Thundersteel (1988) [Reale]
Danger Danger - Return of the Great Gildersleeves (1999) [Ravel]
|Westworld began life as Tony
Harnell's mix and match side project that also sported bassist Bruno Ravel from Danger
Danger and axe attacker Mark Reale from Riot. Their stunning debut was an AOR masterpiece,
featuring a wide diversity of songs that include heart throbbing ballads, frenetically fun
rockers and smooth melodic workouts. It was basically TNT pulled kicking and screaming
into the 1990s without resorting to the modern tension of TNT's failed attempt of a 90s
comeback, the miserably disappointing "Firefly". They did straighten their act
out with "Transistor" a few years later, so all is forgiven. The 2000 follow up
to the smashing success of the self titled, "Skin", was a little darker, matured
and a much more cohesive band effort. Where the debut attempted to cover a smorgasbord of
everything, "Skin" concentrated on album flow with a tight knit consistency.
"Cyberdreams" is the latest and is yet another fantastic collection of tunes
courtesy of the group, and while it might not quite be able to take the crown from the
reigning king of the three Westworld discs thus far, it does edge in at hard fought, but
tightly close second.
First off, enough simply cannot be said about the overall sound quality of the disc. It is by far and above the best production heard so far on a Westworld album. Crystal clarity shows they sacrificed a bit of time and effort into making this sound the very best they could with the allowed budget. Mixed by Bruno Ravel and produced by the band, its quite an added surprise, considering the lower sound quality of the past two cds. The feel of the disc is similar to "Skin"; bold melodic rock painted in shades of darkened hues that adds a third dimension to these songs, a few which potentially could have been paper thin if in the hands of lesser writers and performers. But the darkness is not as widespread or suffocating as the touch of "Skin" and has been lightened considerably with poppier choruses, making the tunage easier to digest for the targeted AOR audience. A clever slight change in format indeed, especially since they managed to retain all the layered depth as previously enjoyed in their previous incarnations. The musicians themselves are in fabulous shape, Harnell has often been likened as having the voice of a wayward angel, and his gorgeous, ethereal vocals sound as rounded and captivating as ever. The rhythm section is bigger and tighter and the guitars are simply slick. Reale shows us his softer side, something he tries to hide in Riot but is encouraged here in fold, you can see this come to light in the gentle moody ballad "Look to See". But that guitar also comes in thick and chunky style, sizzling with electric fire and riffin' it up in one mid tempo rocker after another.
Westworld fans are in for a treat, and I really can't imagine anyone not liking this disc. It has so many mass market things going for it; not too heavy, a wonderful sense of atmosphere, fat production, brilliant performances and more importantly than all of these: the mass appeal of the songs themselves. It is pure luscious darker styled AOR that is definitely modern in a 2000 rock sense but with one foot in the melodic waves of rock's 80s heyday, cheese factor not included. Unfortunately the disc's slick running time is also its only drawback. One of the debut's most delighting features was its far and wide diversity that kept it spinning in the disc player long after the novelty should have worn off and something brighter, newer and shinier should have been taking up valuable listening time. Whether this lack of occasionally diverting from the path will hurt the album's longevity or not is not entirely clear, but with everything else adding up as all pluses, its easy to see that third time's the charm.