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29th August 2011

scott adams

toby hitchcock mercury's relief

Whilst I'd never for a second dream of criticizing Italian label Frontiers for becoming a rest home for bewildered AORsters, the sheer number of albums they throw out by men who, whilst great vocalists in their own right, have names forever destined to be preceded by the words 'singer of...' does lead to a certain saminess in the sound of the albums they release by artists you assume are not strictly 'top priority' at the label.

Take Toby Hitchcock for example. Singer of (Survivor alumnus) Jim Peterik's Pride of Lions, he's a man with a set of pipes built for the early nineteen eighties, a glorious vocal throwback to names like Journey's Steve Perry and Fergie Fredriksen (of Toto, in case you didn't know, And if you didn't, why are you reading this?)

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But he's not a songwriter, see, so Frontiers have teamed him up with one of their songwriters of choice, Erik Martensson, a man whose diamond-studded footprint is all over the latter day work of artistes such as Giant and W.E.T., a man who can churn out the melodic rock goodness in his sleep.

And that's where things get a little messy. Mercury's Down is a very good album, make no mistake – indeed there are several epic moments on this disc where you'll be in tears if you call yourself a fan of AOR, such is its intermittent brilliance- it's just that every now and then – in fact more often than is comfortable if truth be told, there's a hint of 'written to order' about the songs.

And because of that, some of the material here doesn't quite seem to have been written with Hitchcock's vocals squarely in mind, leaving the man shouting gamely along to songs he can't quite keep up with. The song 'Let Go', for instance, would be utter, utter dynamite in the hands of a stylist such as Joe Lynn Turner or a bombastic anthem shouter like Jimmy Barnes. It's a devastating track, or would be in the throat of a master, but poor ol' Tobes just can't quite cut it.

However, that's one song in a dozen that fizzes a bit, so we should complain, right? The song itself brings to mind the glory days of AOR titans Drive, She Said (and you can't get much better than that in my book), and, as said earlier, there is an awful lot to like here if you leave your critics hat at the cloakroom and let yourself float in the music.

Worth a punt, that's for sure.

More Scott Adams right here.



Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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