Within the realm best know as 'Melodic Hard Rock', few vocalists have experienced careers as diverse and enduring as Brooklyn, New York-born veteran Jeff Scott Soto. Initially emerging in 1984 with Rising Force, the full-length solo debut from ex-Alcatrazz and Steeler axeman Yngwie Malmsteen, stints with the Jerry Only-led Christian Rock oddity Kryst The Conqueror, Talisman and Axel Rudi Pell would follow in rapid-fire succession before embarking upon a solo career. Further bolstering his then still-burgeoning résumé--with varying degrees of success--with tenures in AOR legends Journey (pre-Arnel Pineda), Soul SirkUS, the Holiday-themed Trans-Siberian Orchestra and eventually the star-studded Prog Metal Super Group Sons Of Apollo, the future of the multi-octave frontman appeared impossibly bright. Fortunately for all parties involved, the wait is now over as he has at last unleashed Origami--the latest, and quite possibly greatest, effort issued under the SOTO sobriquet.
On the stellar Origami (2019), an expertly assembled ten song collection of Melodic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, each track, beginning with the hook-laden single “HyperMania” and the emotionally-overwrought jewel “BeLie”, instantly commands the rapt and undivided attention of all but the most jaded of listeners, myself most definitely included. Wisely attempting to capitalize on the grassroots momentum initiated with the release of DIVAK (2016) and, perhaps more notably, the thunderous Psychotic Symphony (2017), the group unleashes a genre-defining blend of multi-octave vocals, razor-sharp fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms. An intentional--or so it would seem--amalgamation of his work with Malmsteen (minus the over-the-top neo-classical overtones), German shredder Axel Rudi Pell and Swedish Hard Rock veterans Talisman along with his most jagged, barbed lyrics, the group provides an ideal showcase for their obviously virtuosic, collective talents.
Continuing with the self-explanatory social critique “World Gone Colder” and the maddeningly infectious--and occasionally speed-of-light--“Dance With The Devil”, the newly-rejuvenated combination of vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, Sons Of Apollo, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen), guitarist Jorge Salan, keyboardist/guitarist BJ (a.k.a. Behjae Behjae), bassist Tony Dickinson (replacing David 'Z' Zablidowsky, who was killed in a 2017 tour bus accident while on tour with Adrenaline Mob) and drummer Edu Cominato steamrolls ahead at a carefully-calculated pace. Flexing their more-than-considerable creative muscles early and often, the group drives home each key focal point without overwhelming the proverbial average listener, yielding an impressive initial sonic landscape. Exceeding even the most optimistic of 'fanboi' expectations, many of which were artificially inflated given his recent success, the group boldly maintains a balance of melody and near-unprecedented Metal crunch.
Undeniably Soto's most thoroughly satisfying and, for that matter, lastingly memorable, effort to date, other standouts, including the relentlessly pummeling tirade “Vanity Lane” and the acoustic-tinged closer “Give In To Me”, offers a veritable wealth of further sonic evidence in support of what can only be described as a bona fide career resurgence. Adorned throughout via artwork courtesy of the acclaimed Gustavo Sazes (Amaranthe, Arch Enemy, Machine Head), Origami is available in an array of different configurations, including a limited edition CD digipak and 180 gram vinyl that also includes a CD and a full digital download. With InsideOut/Sony Music now handling world-wide distribution and promotion, the group--on paper, at least--are destined for greatness. Ultimately 'hitting' far more than he 'misses', the powerhouse vocalist delivers the high-octane compositions his ironclad reputations were built on, making it one of the most promising new releases of the rapidly abating year.
But what can you really expect? Even more of the Jeff Scott Soto you already presumably know and love. With Origami effectively re-capturing the nearly-forgotten essence of his woefully-underrated 'hard' and 'heavy' roots, the majority--if not all--of the maddeningly infectious wares contained herein are guaranteed to appeal to even the most pessimistic of would-be enthusiasts. Ultimately surpassing the previously-mentioned Retribution and DIVAK (which in itself is a near-herculean feat), the ends results of his more than considerable efforts are nothing short of extraordinary. Love him or loathe him, this is quite possible as good as 'modern day' Hard Rock can and will ever get. Needless to say, if you've once again found yourself in search of a refreshingly forthright alternative to the painfully mindless din and clatter that is so often force fed en mass, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane counter-irritants for what it is that ails you. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
Inside The Vertigo (2015)
Damage Control (2012)
Live At Firefest 2008 (2010)
One Night In Madrid (2009)
Beautiful Mess (2009)
Essential Ballads (2006)
Believe In Me (EP) (2006)
Lost In Translation (2004)
Holding On (EP) (2002)
Love Parade (1994)
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