For some artists, there is one seminal song that, in the eyes of many from the outside looking in, must surely seem to hang around their necks like the proverbial artistic albatross. For Jim Peterik, founder of Survivor, it must surely be ‘Eye Of The Tiger’: despite the passage of more than three decades, and a hugely impressive catalogue of equally impressive AOR anthems, it is the one song which most people undoubtedly remember – even if the vast majority of the uneducated spides in nightclubs all over the world cannot recall the name of the man responsible for the tune to which they have been shadow-boxing their Rocky-wannabe way across dancefloors over the intervening years!
Thirty years on from that now iconic moment in time, Peterik – who has worked with many great singers over the years, including (of course) the late, incredibly great, Jimi Jamison – has thrown his not inconsiderable songwriting weight behind a new project, with a new vocal muse. And that is Marc Scherer, whom Peterik first met at the turn of the decade when the singer booked into the latter’s Burr Ridge studio to record vocal tracks for his band Arc Of Ages’ (then) new album: so impressed was musician-turned-producer (“when I heard Marc’s amazing voice pouring though my studio door, I could not believe my ears… truly one of the best voices I’ve heard – and I’ve worked with the best!” he is on the record as saying) that he invited Scherer to first demo and then record backing vocals for his band Pride Of Lions’ 2012 album, ‘Immortal’. And, now, three years later, we come to an album Peterik subsequently was inspired to write around Scherer’s voice…
Right from the opening, title track, two things are immediately obvious. The first is that Peterik is undoubtedly one of the finest songwriters ever to have worked in the AOR genre – and most definitely has not lost the knack. Each and every one of the 11 songs is perfectly balanced, with crunching, in places almost guttural, riffs combining beautifully and homogenously with huge harmonies and magnificent melodies which sweep, soar, duck and dive around and into your aural cavities more infectiously effectively than the Ebola virus. It is also a beautifully paced album, with the thoughtfully selected track listing matching the feel of the individual songs – starting slowly, building atmospherically into huge crescendos as big as tsunamis crashing against Mount Everest before easing back and drawing the listener into both its and their depths.
The second thing which stands out, perhaps even more than the actual quality of the songs in themselves (as if it were possible) is the sheer magnificence of Scherer’s voice. His mammoth five octave range very firmly establishes him as the single greatest find in terms of vocal talent in the past decade and immediately arguments his place as quite possibly the natural successor to the likes of the aforementioned Jamison as he embraces the songs and truly makes them his own. His performances are flawless throughout, ranging from the richly mellifluous to the sublimest of screams (such as at the end of ‘Cold Blooded’, which positively sends shivers down your spine): emphatic, empathetic, evocative, passionate, sympathetic and filled to the brim with, in turns, joy and pathos in a way which perfectly complements – and compliments – Peterik’s perfectly crafted songs.
In places it could be argued that ‘Risk Everything’ is the classic 21st century album that Survivor never quite got around to making – and that is in no way meant as a criticism, as this is a stunning slice of melodic rock in its own right and one of those platters that leaves an impression which will last for a long time to come and will be revisited by afficionados of the genre on a repeated basis and possibly, in time, taking its place alongside the true classics of this mien. Perfect. In every way.
Risk Everything / Chance Of A Lifetime / Cold Blooded / Desperate In Love / Thee Crescendo/ The Dying Of The Light / How Long Is A Moment/ Brand New Heart / Broken Home / Milestones / Your Independance Day
Recommended listening: The Dying Of The Light
‘Risk Everything’ is released on Frontiers Records on Monday (April 20).