|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Daniel Band & Mark Wright|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: Canada|
|Year Released: 1988/2012||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 38:34|
Sometimes, it takes a while for an album to make the case for itself, and such has been my experience with Running Out Of Time, the 1988 swan song effort from Toronto, Canada’s Daniel Band. My introduction to the album occurred at the time of its release when I listened to a cassette copy and came away let down. Outside of the thin production, Running Out Of Time brought a commercial aspect that could not help but disappoint- at least when factoring what I knew Daniel Band capable (based upon my expectations of the time). Tracks such as “Hold On” and “We Need Love”, for instance, impressed as forced attempts at FM radio play while the Dokken-ish hooks to “Sins Of The Heart” proved every bit contrived. When the group composed a ballad, “Long Time”, it came across way overdone and when it rocked out, “Black Or White”, too crude and simplistic.
I placed Running Out Of Time on the backburner until following the turn of the century when I came across a cheaply priced used CD copy. Several subsequent listens later and I started warming up to the album for the first time: What I once considered blatant commercial throwaways in “Hold On” and “We Need Love” now impressed with their abundant melodies while “Sins Of A Heart” stood out with hooks and muscle to match. “Long Time” and “Black Or White” were no longer skip button worthy but rather a haunting ballad (that ranked with the groups best) and no-nonsense cruncher, respectively. Other songs that came to life included “Greedy Little Hands”, with its bluesy underpinnings, and “Running Out Of Time”, as a result of its melodic hard rock flavorings. The animated “Party In Heaven” even injected a much needed element of humor.
The lone drawback that remained, and ultimately kept me on the fence with the album, was the murky production. That, however, all changed in early 2012 when Running Out Of Time was re-mastered and re-issued on Retroactive Records. The re-mastering provides a much needed facelift in that the highs now come across better defined and low-end that much more thicker and weightier. In listening to the two versions side by side the Retroactive re-issue almost sounds as if Daniel Band returned to the studio and re-recorded the album from scratch (yes, the difference is that pronounced).
Musically, Running Out Of Time finds Daniel Band maintaining its eighties influenced hard rock sensibilities. If I were to invite comparison, it lacks the finesse and style of Run From The Darkness (1984), arguably the best of the groups five album career, while straying from much of the heaviness characteristic to Straight Ahead (1983) and Rise Up (1986). Running Out Of Time, in contrast, reinforces some commercial underpinnings that reflect the radio friendly leanings from the time at hand. Yes, I might have initially derided that commercialism, but repeated play allowed Running Out Of Time to ultimately stand out as a collection of catchy and melodic based songs that deliver an element of muscle at the same time.
That muscle in question comes about as a result of guitarist Tony Rossi, who provides just enough rhythm guitar to allow many of the albums more commercial based numbers (“Hold On” and “Running Out OF Time”) to stand out when otherwise they might remain stuck in the mud. Others such as “Black Or White” and “Greedy Little Hands” find him adding the trademark Daniel Band crunch we have grown to expect. From a soloing standpoint he continues to bring a shred based mentality (see “Sins Of The Heart”) but can also head in a bluesy direction on “Greedy Little Hands” and “One”, a new song Daniel Band recorded as a bonus track for the Retroactive re-issue.
Vocalist Dan McCabe also remains a top performer with his trademark clean and smooth high end style, which has often garnered Daniel Band comparison to countrymen April Wine and Triumph. The new song “One” proves he has not lost anything in terms of range or presence either. As with past Daniel Band released, Rossi contributes vocals as well, this time to only one song, “Things Are Changin’’ (actually the only track here I skip over in that it brings too much of a restrained and laid back feel for my taste).
If you are like me and were initially turned off by Running Out Of Time - whether due to production or musical direction - then give the album a second chance by picking up the Retroactive re-issue. But even if you already like the album then still make the re-issue a necessary purchases due to improvements from the re-mastering and the classy new track “One”.
Track By Track
Driving hard rocker “Black Or White” gets things going. A staunch low-end is delivered by the song, with walls of slugging guitars and perseverant mid-paced momentum playing the lead role. But it is not all angst and muscle in that quite the pronounced chorus hook stands out as well. Rossi slays on lead guitar.
The mature melodic metal of “Sins Of The Heart” follows. A more melodic approach is taken here, as abundant backing vocals step forward to sustain its memorable chorus while McCabe’s pristine vocals help accent the ardent scene. Again, Rossi is all over the place with his licks and chops. “Sins Of The Heart” talks about exactly that:
Secrets are well hid within
Pride’s the original sin
Hiding so no one will see
The sins of the heart
Then you go and play the game
Everyday it’s just the same old story
There you go, you’re doin’ it again
You don’t fool me
So don’t think that you can cause you don’t.
“Hold On” trends towards melodic hard rock territory. Highlighting a forward keyboard mix and upbeat impetus, the song evenly flows its distance to a radio friendly emphasis and layers of underpinning guitars in just the right amounts (enhancing but not dominating). No, not as heavy as some here but no less listenable all the same.
“Long Time” is by far the albums best. The song takes a resonant semi-ballad heading, slowly maneuvering its verses to gently done guitars only to abruptly pick up in pace as a stalwart guitar steps forward to join with its imposing chorus. In the end, each Daniel Band album has one or two songs that cannot help but make you say, “Man, this is good as it gets” and such is the case with “Long Time”. This one asks a relevant question in the end:
A thousand years is but a day
And all our tears just slip away
But the moon keeps on waxing and then it wanes
And the sun keeps on shining and then it rains
It’s never ending in the circle’s gaze
Are we ascending to Eternal day?
The Son keeps on loving and calls our name
And wind keeps on blowing from where it came
Is there anything such as a long time?
“Party In Heaven” proves another mid-paced hard rock but reinforced by a bluesy focus (in terms of darker guitar tones) and vigorous mentality (from a high energy standpoint). No, not the albums catchiest, but what “Party In Heaven” lacks in hooks more than makes up for in the humorous lyrical direction:
There’s a party in Heaven
The bread is unleaven
The tree of life is growin’ fine
It’s way past eleven
My number is seven
The lamb and I are drinkin’ new wine
We got the Salvation Army
We go Fred we got Barnie
And others that you won’t believe
We got peace in the place
We got God’s love and grace
He’ll never ever ask us to leave
Returning to melodic hard rock is “We Need Love”. The song reminds me of “Somebody Loves You” (from On Rock) in that a commercial environs prevails - back backing vocals step forward to sustain its accessible chorus - but provides more than enough guitar to prevent things from turning into a trite listen.
“Greedy Little Hands” showcases an equal joining of hooks and heaviness. Starting to a drum solo, the song reinforces a stalwart mindset with its hulking guitars and every bit as pronounced low-end (McCabe’s bass really stands out here). But despite an atmosphere leaning towards the heavy handed, “Greedy Little Hand” proves quite listenable in that the albums penchant for catchy hooks also prevails. The focus here is on false teachers:
Takin’ down, taking down the road
Far from home
Carrying the load
I can’t believe my ears
The depth he stoops
Even cry synthetic tears
Greedy little hands
He sticks ‘em in your eyes
Greedy little minds
He’s tellin’ you a lie
Greedy little hand in everybody’s pie
Greedy little hands
He reaches to the sky
“Things Are Changin’” is the only Running Out Of Time track to fall flat. An almost laid back feel can be found here (do I dare say a seventies influence as well?) with the end result the melody, energy and drive inherit to the albums better material gets lost in the shuffle. Guitars do not bit and chorus fails to stick with you as well.
More commercial undercurrents are found on the albums stunning title track. Pristine melodic hard rock, “Running Out Of Time” shines with its infectious mindset and upbeat momentum that has radio friendly written all over it. Similar to many here, you will be challenged to rid this one of your mind. Lyrics talk about the passage of time:
Every year is getting shorter
Each one passes quicker than before
And the autumn leaves are colored
Soon the winter will be knocking at the door
Well you know we need a Saviour
‘Cause there is nothing that we can do alone
It always takes us now or later
But He will take us to our final home
“One”, the bonus track recorded exclusively for the project, finds Daniel Band exploring bluesy hard rock territory. This one proves gritty and scratchy while staying true to the groups traditional sound, reinforcing McCabe’s poignant vocals and Rossi’s rollicking presence on guitar (check out his rollicking stretch of soloing).
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Black Or White” (3:04), “Sins Of The Heart” (3:24), “Hold On” (3:21), “Long Time” (5:16), Party In Heaven” (2:57), “We Need Love” (3:54), “Greedy Little Hands” (3:51), “Things Are Changin’” (4:05), “Running Out Of Time” (4:16), “One” (4:22)
Dan McCabe - Lead Vocals, Bass & Keyboards
Toni Rossi - Guitars & Lead Vocals
Bill Findlay - Guitars & Synthesizers
Matt Delduca - Drums