With bands such as Rainbow, Deep Purple, Whitesnake and Blue Murder on their collective resume’s this release had the potential to be in for a shout at the album of the year category, but is it? Well, yes and no.
Turner's vocals throughout are excellent,with a deeper, raspier tone in fitting with his progressing years and really suiting the overall sound of the album.
The influences are clearly there to hear, especially Lhasa which could have been on Rainbow Rising, but have been given a modern twist and the Franklin/Cappice combination drives the album with relentless rhythm.
For me,however,the stand out contribution comes from Karl Cochrane. His guitar work is excellent at worst and outstanding at best and helps lift some of the weaker tracks.
There is also some very good keyboards supplied by Frontiers records producer Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline and formerly Eden’s Curse) who had a major role in putting this project together.
The overall musicianship cannot be faulted and there are some excellent riffs and solos from Cochrane but the album for me is in two parts. The first half being excellent hard rock with a heavier darker tone to it, while the second half has a more commercial, melodic,safe feel to it. This isn’t necessarily a criticism but I felt the album tailed off in parts during the second half when it could have become a genuinely classic rock album. ( Maybe playing it on shuffle would iron this out )
Rated X is an album worth investigating with the hope that a second one will be sanctioned and continues where the first part of this one left off. Recommended tracks are the first 6 , Peace of Mind (8), On the way to Paradise(10) and album closer Stranger in Us All. Rating – 8/10
Guest reviewer: Andy Gillen