Pride Of Lions is basically a musical vehicle for two men, Jim Peterik and Toby Hitchcock. Says Peterik: "Pride Of Lions is my vision of the best elements of the great melodic rock era of the 80s, updated of course with more modern production sounds." Which indeed, it is.
Jim should know what he is talking about too, as he was one of melodic rock's key men in the 70s and 80s. Not only forming Survivor but also co-writing all of their hits including the classic 'Eye Of The Tiger', he also chalked up top 10 hits with .38 Special and notched up a co-writes list that reads like a who's who of rock that includes Lynyrd Skynrd, Sammy Hagar, Van Zant, Aerosmith, John Wetton, Cheap Trick, Uriah Heep, REO Speedwagon and many more.
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By comparison, Toby Hitchcock is a virtual unknown from Valparaiso, Indiana, having been introduced to Jim by Kelly Moulik, Jim's niece. Said Peterik: "The first moment I heard Toby on mic I knew I had come across someone really special." The upshot is, of course, that both men have phenomenal sets of pipes that exude the very essence of American AOR.
This is Pride Of Lion's forth album and if your grab bag is of the likes of Survivor and Journey then 'Immortal' will have you doing back flips of elation. The vocal prowess of Hitchcock and Peterik combined with the skills of the Pride Of Lions band and its guest musicians is a pretty shit hot proposition but it's the songs that are the stars of this album.
With all of them being Jim Peterik compositions, he says: "After producing and writing the songs for Jimi Jamison's wonderful 2009 release, 'Crossroads Moment', I needed a minute or two to get my juices back flowing in the direction of writing a great new Pride Of Lions record. When Toby decided to do his solo album, this was the perfect time for reflection. Once I started writing, the flood gates just opened up. I feel this is the cd to put POL on the map once and for all."
Well, whether it puts Pride Of Lions on the melodic rock map once and for all is debatable, but even if it went completely unnoticed 'Immortal' is a fantastic slice of melodic rock of the highest calibre. The fluffy driving AOR of opener 'Immortal' sets a pace that 'Shine On', 'Vital Signs' and 'Coin Of The Realm' effortlessly take up and mercifully the album has not been overloaded with too many maudlin ballads that AOR albums are particularly prone to but if the slowies are your thing then the three big power ballads here, 'Sending My Love', 'Everything Money Can't Buy' and 'Are You The Same Girl' should have you in rapture.
As already stated, this album harks back to the heady days of AOR's heyday and though the production is bang on, it's up to date bells and whistles wizardry cannot hide the datedness of the sound (think of early Dare and you won't be far off the mark). Luckily, in this instance, that's no bad thing because the market place is so huge at the moment and the demand for legacy product so strong that exceptionally good albums like this should see 'Immortal' lapped up.
Of course, to be able to write and perform this sort of eighties style rock and get it right avoiding the dual pitfalls of boring and schmaltz can be a difficult trick to pull off but here with 'Immortal', Pride Of Lions show us how it can be done.
Yet it's not all sweetness and light because there are parts, admittedly fleeting, where 'Immortal' flirts with the sort of cheese Americans can be prone to, such as during 'Delusional' and 'If It Doesn't Kill Me'. 'Immortal' has a tendency to flip into the sort of breezy, life affirming rock that the sweet young, clean living thing next door to you would probably listen to. The sort of goofy, optimistic bright sun-shiny soaring AOR that is made to measure for those American hyper health vids or ads for ladies sanitary products with wings that turn the wearer into some sort of contortional Wonder Woman.
Yet despite these few flaws, 'Immortal' is a very, very good album that misses out on being granted inclusion onto the everyhomeshouldhaveone lists because of its nasty tendency to occasionally lapse into the generically inoffensive and fluffy whimsy that this genre of rock is much maligned for.