Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Greg X - Dream
   
Musical Style: Melodic Rock Produced By: Greg X
Record Label: Independent Country Of Origin: UK & USA
Year Released: 2011 Artist Website: Greg X
Tracks: 8 Rating: 75%
Running Time: 37:50

Greg X - Dreams

What’s the difference between a hard rock album you like and a hard rock album you can’t live without?

Answer: Volume

And, no, I am not talking about decibels (although that is a matter not entirely irrelevant) but rather quantity in terms of “volume” of songs.  Such is the case with Dream, the 2011 debut solo release of Polish born and London based guitarist Greg X (not to be confused with Petra vocalist Greg X. Volz).  Dream finds Greg X joining forces with renowned vocalist Ken Tamplin (Shout, Magdallan, Joshua) to create eight polished songs that, as a result of their blending of AOR and melodic rock with some melodic hard rock and metal leanings, prove a throwback to the more commercial sounds of the eighties.

The problem, as already insinuated, does not necessarily revolve around quality (MUCH more on this later) but instead that the album is a bit short in featuring just eight songs and thirty-seven minutes of music.  Not to make a mountain out of a mole hill, but Dream can best be described as one of those albums you end up very impressed with musically but cannot help but make you say, “Man, I wish it had included an extra song or two”.  To be completely fair, the artist must be given credit for going with his best material and not giving us any filler.  Yes, some songs are better than others, but you will not find yourself hitting the skip button either.  At least Greg X did not go the same route of colleague Tamplin, whose most recent solo album Wake The Nations from 2003 featured 18 songs with roughly half throwaways.

Quantity notwithstanding, the ultimate measuring stick is quality, right?  And this is where the artist laudably succeeds- and cannot help but make you wish Dream were a bit longer as a result.  If you are a fan of Foreigner, Journey and Giant - not to mention contemporaries Line Of Fire, Action, Adrian Gale and James Guest - then you will find a lot to like in Greg X.  Those into metal on the lighter side of things, and by that I am thinking Shout, Guardian, Stryper and a slew of other hair metal bands, should be able to embrace this as well.

Dream shines with its catchy melodies in that it features more than ample hooks to capture the attention of FM radio in an era gone by.  My favorite tracks are the heaviest, such as the melodic metal of “As The World Spins ‘Round” and “Love And Hate” in addition to classic melodic hard rockers “Wake Me (Before You Go)” and “Stand Up”.  Dream also touches upon some customary AOR and melodic rock moments, as it does on “Dream The Dream” and “Waiting On You”, while also providing a very well done ballad in “How To Love”.  The artist even showcases his guitar prowess on instrumental “Victory”.

Speaking of guitar prowess, Greg X proves quite the accomplished musician (he is known as one of London’s most influential guitar teaches and is founder of the Wimbledon School of Guitar).  The album, as one would imagine, gives him every opportunity to showcases his varied (and deftly done) soloing abilities, as he does on “Dream The Dream” (faster and more radiant side to his playing), “Stand Up” (emotional touch) and “Love And Hate” (angry and more aggressive feel).
 
Ken Tamplin remains one of my favorite vocalists in that he has not lost his touch with his warm and textured 4-octave vocal abilities.  Dream, along this line, cannot help but remind you  of Tamplin’s better projects over the years, including Shout (In Your Face), Magdallan (Big Bang) and his nineties solo albums An Axe To Grind and Tamplin.  But the main advantage - and this is to the benefit of all hard music fans - is that what we have is another great guitarist and vocalist combination (sort of like Chris Impellitteri and Rob Rock).  The overall feeling left is that I hope Greg X and Tamplin prove a partnership that will produce albums for years to come.

Production might not be of the big budget variety but otherwise gets the job done, although you will find some periodic murkiness to the guitar tones (such as on “Waiting For You”).

Do not confuse Dream with being a Christian album.  Rather, I might describe it as a mainstream project with a Christian vocalist (along the same lines as Adrian Gale).  You will find lyrics clean and positive (Christian friendly if you will) in reflecting the occasional spiritual overtone.  Specific songwriting credits are not listed, but I would not be surprised if Tamplin had his hand involved in the lyrics to the likes of “Waiting On You” and “Stand Up”.

Track By Track

Opener “As The World Spins ‘Round” brings everything you would wish for in a melodic metal masterpiece: Walls of crunchy guitars, radio friendly leaning and Tamplin exhibiting the full range to his abundant voice.  The artist steps forward with a stretch of radiant soloing.  The only is that the heavy set backing vocals at the end of the song are a bit overdone, otherwise this one rivals Shout at its best.  Lyric snippet:

As the world keeps spinning ‘round
And round and round
As it dies, it dies
With an awful sound

I hear the sound it’s calling
Sounds like the world is falling
No where to run or hide now
Now’s the time, the time is now, the time is now

“Dream The Dream” takes the more AOR and melodic rock influenced approach.  The song backs off somewhat from the guitar driven proclivity in the process, highlighting touches of accenting keyboards and a huge chorus interwoven with layered vocal melodies.  Lead guitar heads in the faster and more fluid direction.  The overall feel is Angelica or Stryper on the lighter side of things.  Lyric snippet:

So I’ll take this guitar I hold in my hands
Gonna play it for the world

Ain’t giving in to their dark commands
I’m living life out loud

You may think I’m crazy but
Here’s my advice for sure

Live for hope, for love
It makes this life worth living for

“How To Love” brings a semi-ballad feel.  This can be found in the songs light and airy feel in mixing crisp acoustic guitars with traces lf gently played rhythm guitar.  An uplifting feel is the outcome, as can be found in the heartfelt chorus (backed by just enough rhythm guitar) and extended instrumental passage helping carry things into the six and a half minute range.  Lyric snippet:

So hold on to the only love
Dreamers in their spirit know
The sun is shinin’ whether day or night
Don’t stop believin’ it’s worth the fight

So go on it’ll save your soul
We were made to love, oh well don’t you know
Don’t leave out all that we can be
It carries us here to eternity

An up-tempo heading is taking on “Wake Me (Before You Go)”.  The rhythm guitar plays the more forthright role here, with a commercially influenced melodic hard rock environs prevailing as a result.  Correspondingly, the chorus is on the gripping side of things (very catchy and of the radio friendly variety).  Lyric snippet:

There’s no turning back now
If I could rewind the hands of time
I’d find the time I made you mine
And leaving everything behind

And so we take our chances
Loving our romances
Living life oh so fast
Building castles not meant to last

“Stand Up” maintains the melodic hard rock sensibilities.  The song takes a mid-paced heading, emphasizing beautiful guitar harmonies and symphonic keyboards while playing up the same type of notable melodies characteristic to the albums better material- in other words, hooks, hooks and more hooks.  Lyric snippet:

It’s best to give than to receive, so tell
Me just what, just what you believe
So now’s the time, the time is now, so
Stand up, stand up and just receive

Now let’s take another look, someone
Opened up the book
Do we know what we believe or are we
Just deceived?

A return to melodic metal territory can be found in “Love And Hate”.  What we have here is the albums heaviest, with forward guitar walls leading the way but mixed with some smoothly flowing vocal melodies and low-end touch of groove.  Lead guitar takes on an angry and biting feel this time around.  Wish there were a few more heavier pieces along this line here.  Lyric snippet:

Ring the bells and sound the alarm
There’s evil men out doin’ their harm
Doin’ the dance, doin’ their snake charm

The piper’s callin’ pay the devil his due
He’s gonna mesmerize you with his voodoo
Enslaving men like me and you

Love and hate, wait their fate
Look around don’t’ be caught by surprise

“Waiting On You” is the albums only let down.  No, by no means filler - you will find one of those quirkily infectious hooks that are difficult to get rid of - but a watered down guitar mix holds things back.  Musically, the trend is towards a melodic rock direction, and while that is not bad, there is also a touch of energy and inspiration missing at the same time- at least based upon my experience.  Lyric snippet:

Lookin’ for that rock of ages that payin’ wages
That we accrue
As this life is turns the pages of ancient sages who
Have made it through

To see beyond what’s here and now takes a certain kind of saint
Gotta not just feel but know what’s real and just what ain’t

Back and forth and up and down
The search for love seems no where found

The aptly entitled instrumental “Victory” closes Dream in strong fashion.  This one allows Greg X to stretch and showcases his licks and chops, driven by stunning harmonies and catchy riffs while highlighting some soloing that almost has a neo-classical edge to it.  Fans of Satriana, Vai, Chastain and Pastor Brad will fancy this one.

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “As The World Spins ‘Round” (3:57), “Dream The Dream” (4:14), “How To Love” (6:29), “Wake Me (Before You Go)” (4:22), “Stand Up” (5:00), “Love And Hate” (5:02), “Victory” (4:35)

Musicians
Ken Tamplin - Lead Vocals
Greg X - Guitars, Bass & Keyboards
Jay Schellen - Drums

Additional Musicians
Ed Villanueva - Keyboards
Panos Kolias - Keyboards

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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