Monday, June 4, 2012
By Stephen Kasenda
BIG LIFE “Big Life” (2011)
Big Life, a name that reminds me of Night Ranger's classic release, definitely won't surprise me if their songs have derivative influences from what the Ranger did in the 80s. But to top the cake, Steve Newman uses his tender melodic rock touch and Mark Thompon-Smith enhances the product with his metallic experiences he grabbed by fronting Praying Mantis in the early 90s. If you also have heard the prog/AOR mix of Slamer's "Nowhere Land" and the two classic Giant albums, there are a lot of similarities in style on this record as well.
Going through this album from top to finish for the first time, my initial impression was they have a very unique sound - not your everyday melodic rock. Many songs have unpredictable patterns but the good thing is that every single tune has hit potential. If you prefer their harder side, "Dying Day", "Close To You", "Calling", "Feel Alive", and "Takin' Me Down" are the best picks. If you're curious for the slower parts, "I'll Still Be Here", "Stop In Time", and "Nothing Without You" are ballads carefully crafted for maximum enjoyment. The crème de la crème of this record is the third track, "Better Man". Driven by piano, it has a strong Toto touch - the chorus is a champion, the harmony is utterly brilliant, and it’s simply a superb song!
I didn't expect this album to be that good, but after repetitive listening, this album just gets better and better. I even came to the point that Big Life even surpasses the already-great release of Newman's, "The Art of Balance" last year. It would be a total waste if this project is only a one off shot. For fans of melodic hard rock and AOR, it's an unforgivable crime to pass on this. Bottom line: Bigger than just Big!
Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.