Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Review: Mecca “Undeniable”

Melodic rock/AOR
Back in 2002, the melodic rock world embraced a new band called Mecca, specializing in polished AOR rooted in the classic 80s sound but with a contemporary flair. Formed by vocalist Joe Vana, he enlisted, among others, the services of former Toto members David Hungate (bass) and Fergie Frederiksen on vocals and close friend and former Survivor founding member Jim Peterik, who contributed masterfully to the songwriting and production of the album. With such heavy hitters, the project could do no wrong.

Fans have been salivating for a new Mecca record ever since and now – 6 long years later – their dream has come true. Despite numerous setbacks, Vana continued charging forward to make this long-awaited follow up record, enlisting the talents of session masters such as Pat Mastellotto (King Crimson, Mr. Mister), Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson), along with Tommy Denander and Wolff. His core band was also created around Rick Vitek on drums, Brian Moritz on keyboards, Wally Hustin on bass, Eric Ragno on keyboards, Mark Alano on guitar and Joe’s son (Joey) on guitars and backing vocals.

The sophomore record wastes no time in regaining the foothold Mecca had that captivated audiences many years ago. “Perfect World” boasts engaging melodies augmented by slick production and smooth vocals. “Closing Time” flexes more guitar muscle, but not at the expense of a memorable chorus. Admirably reaching beyond their comfort zone are tracks like “Life’s Too Short”, which experiments with spoken word verses flanking a majestic chorus – it took me aback at first, but a second listen and I warmed up to this track fast. “I Know” slips right back into late 80s Toto and stands out as one of the best mid-tempo numbers on the record. Even though it clocks in over 6 minutes, “Did It For Love” is so masterfully written that you’ll want the song to continue nonetheless. Far and away the heaviest track in the bunch, “W2W” (which stands for wire to wire) is a blistering explosion of AOR strong enough to shake anyone out of a slumber and shows yet another side of this dynamic group.

“Undeniable” is described as an album that perfectly melts the outstanding High-Tech AOR approach of Mr. Mister’s “Welcome to the Real World” to the commercial brilliance of Toto’s “The Seventh One”. After hearing the record, I can’t argue with this description – it is close to a masterpiece. Fans of the debut are going to love it, and if you haven’t experienced Mecca before, now is the time! And one more thing…Mecca III is already underway!

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9


No comments: