|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Roxx Records||Country Of Origin: Brazil|
|Year Released: 2017||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 13||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 57:19|
Meet the Roxx Records spring of 2017 new Sunroad album, Wing Seven. Same basic recipe as the Goiania, Brazil based group’s previous albums, but a few of the ingredients are new. In terms of the former, Wing Seven finds Sunroad maintaining its penchant for straightforward hard rock and melodic metal fused with strong blues and groove based overtones. From the latter standpoint, Wing Seven highlights a consistency and songwriting depth Sunroad struggled to achieve in the past and matches it with the strongest production of its seven-album career. Tying everything together is a talented new vocalist in Andre Adonis, whose raw edged and emotional middle register style complements the varied Sunroad sound and helps makes its new material stand out that much further.
I have to confess to not being the biggest Sunroad fan leading up to the release of Wing Seven. If anything the group has been one of my favorite targets in what amounts an at times brilliant and others frustratingly uneven Brazilian Christian hard music scene. I graded the groups 2003 sophomore album Light Up The Sky 55% in describing it as ‘erratic’ and ‘an all around inconsistent effort’, while 60% third album Flying N’ Floating from 2006 did not fare much better due to songs that ‘lack melodies of a strong enough nature to keep me coming back to the project again and again’. Things improved for Sunroad on follow up releases Long Gone (75%) and Carved In Time (70%) from 2009 and 2013, respectively, but I hardly ever listened to either album after writing the review.
This all changes with Wing Seven. When I first learned of the albums release, my immediate thought was ‘Oh no, hear we go again’, but upon hearing the track “In The Sand”, which made its initial appearance on the Metal Pulse: A Tribute To Dale Huffman compilation, I was blown away. Subsequent listens to Wing Seven left a similar impression from featuring what (in my opinion) is the best combination of songwriting, production and vocal performance of a Sunroad career that dates to the late nineties.
Allowing Sunroad to take the next step musically is the manner in which it has overcome the turnover bug, which prevented it from ‘developing the continuity characteristic to bands that preserve the same core of musicians from one release to the next’ (quoting my Carved In Time review). Whereas bassist Akasio Angels and drummer Fred Mika have appeared on every Sunroad album dating to Light Up The Sky, each forthcoming album found the pair debuting a new vocalist and guitarist combination. Not so on Wing Seven in that standing alongside Angels and Mika is holdover guitarist Netto Mello (from Carved In Stone), with the three joined by previously referenced newcomer Adonis. I do not think it is coincidence the stability a consistent line up brings helped lead to Sunroad recording by far its best album ever.
Opener “Destiny Shadows” is a good indicator of the newfound Sunroad abilities, playing up the contentious as driving guitar riffs and combative low end set the strapping mid-paced tone but also melodic from the airy backing vocals that lighten the affecting refrain. “In The Sand” proves every good, also upholding the mid-paced leanings as organ melds with abounding guitars to spawn a laid back and shuffling blues based swagger of the kind certain to have you returning with repeat listen. Early nineties Bride cannot help but come to mind in regards to the two.
“Misspent Youth” takes the bluesy elements to the next level (somewhat akin to Sarepta). The song decelerates even further, highlighting pronounced organ and pointed bass as Adonis adds some fitting snarl and sass to his delivery. “Drifting Ships” also revels in easy-going blues in maneuvering its length transitioning between calmer passages of a soothing variety and others in which a profound heaviness asserts itself. Melody is near mesmerizing. Inherent to the pair are generous stretches of Mello’s decisive lead guitar work.
Sunroad also approaches things from an up-tempo standpoint, as can be found on technical barnburner “White Eclipse”. The song fades in to sirens before taking off at a breakneck clip, reinforcing equal parts intensity and catchy hooks its duration as the band puts its all out energy on full display. “Craft Of Whirlwinds” makes an equal forthright statement in starting smooth and tranquil before taking off to a blending of thickset guitars and crafty Hammond B3. Adonis again reaches down for some lower register angst, although almost touching upon the strained at times.
“Whatever” highlights prodigious groove based overtones within an upbeat package. With a brawny bass presence and lively guitars leading the way, the song plays up an ambience that has blithe if not mirthful written all over it. Likewise, “Brighty Breakdown” preserves the spirited intent but with slight modern facets not unlike late nineties Bride. The song revels in tons of high-energy emotion, as found in its bouncing guitar rhythms, catchy hooks to spare and prodigious polished backing vocals.
Sunroad steps outside the box on instrumental “Day By Day” but does so in style. This one proves a Satriani influenced shred fest with Mello strategically revealing his licks and chops in abundance not to mention quite the exuberant soloing abilities. I feel it is sufficient to suggest Mello is the best guitarist to grace the Sunroad line-up.
The group is not afraid to go the ballad route, albeit almost to fault. “Skies Eyes”, first of the albums three ballads, takes a classic approach with its use of acoustic guitar, keyboards and orchestration. Final two, “Plot Of Your Heart” and “Last Sunray In The Road”, close the album as hard rock ballads that combine for nearly fourteen minutes of music. If you like lengthy Bloodgood ballads “Top Of The Mountain” and “Changing Me” (off Out Of The Darkness) then you should find the pair to be of your liking.
I find the three to be done exceedingly well and highlight a more tempered side to the Sunroad songwriting abilities; that being said, I also cannot help but feel three ballads on a thirteen song album is a bit excessive regardless of the quality. Not that I can fault the group either in that if I were a songwriter aspiring to record an album I would want to go with my best material as well- and if that happened to be of the ballad variety than ballads it is!
This leads to my lone constructive comment regarding Wing Seven in that perhaps it is a bit long winded; hence, how the group could have potentially compacted things by cutting a song or two. Again, I find no fault with Sunroad either in that Wing Seven presents with solid front to back consistency for an album its length, particularly in light of what the group has released in the past. I cannot help but be proud of Sunroad accordingly from the musical steps and strides it has made up to this point in releasing what amounts a career defining work in Wing Seven. In looking forward I hope Sunroad maintains its core line up of Adonis, Mello, Angels & Mika for any follow up album it records- and sooner rather than later: do not let your newfound fan based wait another four years between albums!
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Destiny Shadows” (5:26), “White Eclipse” (3:29), “In The Sand” (5:36), “Misspent Youth” (3:52), “Tempo (What Is Ever)” (:40), “Whatever” (4:40), “Skies Eyes” (4:37), “Day By Day” (3:17), “Craft Of Whirlwinds” (5:08), “Drifting Ships” (4:07), “Brightly Breakdown” (4:17), “Pilot Of Your Heart” (5:44), “Last Sunray In The Road” (6:56)
Andre Adonis - Lead Vocals & Keyboards
Netto Mello - Guitars
Akasio Angels - Bass & Backing Vocals
Fred Mika - Drums, Percussion & Backing Vocals.