You name it, Joel Hoekstra has done it. From Cher to musicals, Whitesnake to Revolution Saints, and even Trans Siberian Orchestra, he’s never short of work. However, “13” and “Crash Of Life” represent something different – this is his vision. Hoekstra takes charge of most of the writing, and the cast list is equally impressive, featuring the likes of Vinny Appice on drums, Derek Sherinan on keys, and the notable presence of Jeff Scott Soto lending his talents to backing vocals. While it is generally discouraged in journalism to assume knowledge, I will assume that you may already be familiar with these individuals and their significance (if not, you might not appreciate this album anyway).

The new addition to the lineup is singer Girish Pradhan, and he deserves more than a few sentences. Pradhan is the brilliant lead vocalist of Girish And The Chronicles, a wonderful hard rock band from India. He proves his worth here, showcasing his vocal prowess. As is the case with all great hard rock bands, such as Thin Lizzy and Guns N’ Roses, the chemistry between the singer and the guitarist is crucial, and in this double act, they are nothing short of stunning.

“Everybody Knows Everything” dismisses the modern world while presenting Dream Theater-inspired keys, resulting in a compelling experience. The title track effortlessly captures the essence of arena rock, demonstrating the band’s ability to create anthemic soundscapes. “Damaged Goods” emerges as a heavy, muscular, testosterone-fueled prog metal masterpiece, reminiscent of Symphony X. “Torn Into Lies” showcases the band’s skill in crafting captivating power ballads.

“Far Too Deep” combines chugging riffs with an unforgettable chorus and an outstanding solo, leaving a lasting impact. “Not Tonight” is a rare gem where all the elements align perfectly,. “Over You” ventures into ballad territory, delivering an emotional and powerful performance without sacrificing its grandeur. “I Would Cry For Love” explodes into an infectious hook, highlighting the band’s ability to create memorable and energetic moments.

“Don’t Have Words” – I do, and those words are “Deep” and “Purple.” “Find A Way” evokes the essence of Inglorious, potentially influenced by their shared musical past. “You’re Right For Me” introduces a southern-fried flavour to the mix, adding a touch of distinctiveness. Lastly, the closing track “Through The Night” infuses a pop tinge into their hard rock sound, providing a pleasant surprise.

It’s easy to look at a lineup and assume that it will excel, but as Leicester City fans can attest, that doesn’t always guarantee success. However, when the chemistry is right – as it clearly is here – it becomes a wonderful thing. “Crash Of Life” is a confident, classy, and polished album, but its ability to be greater than the sum of its parts is perhaps the highest compliment you can pay it.

Rating: 8.5/10

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