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Rob Rock Band - "The Voice Of Melodic Metal - Live In Atlanta" (CD)

Rob Rock Band - "The Voice Of Melodic Metal - Live In Atlanta" CD cover image

"The Voice Of Melodic Metal - Live In Atlanta" track listing:

1. Garden Of Chaos
2. First Winds Of The End Of Time
3. Rock The Earth
4. In The Night
5. Slayer Of Souls
6. Judgment Day
7. Only A Matter Of Time
8. This Time Is The Last Time
9. Savior's Call
10. Metal Breed
11. I'm A Warrior

Reviewed by on May 23, 2009

"The band is spot on, with searing solos, a powerful rhythm section and inspiring guitar melodies. And of course Rock fits on top in his upper echelon glory. "

Rob Rock is melodic power metal’s ultimate journeyman. He has sung for a multitude of talented, but not hugely popular, bands over the last 25 years or so. His many acts include Impelliteri, Vice, The M.A.R.S. Project, Axel Rudi Pell, Avantasia, Warrior, Edguy, Frost, Dawnrider, and countless studio sessions and cover projects. The list is impressively long, and is only partially represented here. Currently he is working with his own band and a reunion with Impelliteri. After listening to “The Voice of Melodic Metal – Live in Atlanta” his journeyman career isn’t surprising.

The album begins with a host (presumably a local radio DJ) pumping up the crowd. Immediately it is apparent that it’s a small crowd because instead of a massive roar there is a group of people yelling and it’s pretty easy to pick out individual voices. From there the band rips into “Garden of Chaos,” which is a fast paced, power chord packed celebration of power metal, complete with breakneck riffs and double kick drums. Rob Rock breaks in triumphantly after the intro, and he is impressive. Rock’s upper-register shriek, held notes, and vibrato combine for a powerful effect.

The album goes on from there with little variation. “Rock the Earth” is another fast paced pounder, “In the Night” is a slower drama piece with more down-tuned and distorted guitars offset by Rock’s shriek, and “Metal Breed” is a European-style power metal shred fest with a synchronized solo break from guitarists Carl Johan Grimmark and Daniel Hall. Rob Rock does his thing every time, only occasionally breaking the mold and dropping into a more aggressive yell or throaty growl.

Technically the album is superb. The band is spot on, with searing solos, a powerful rhythm section and inspiring guitar melodies. And of course Rock fits on top in his upper echelon glory. The album is also produced well, with all the instruments easily heard. The production isn’t too shiny either, as the small variations and rough edges of the live performance are apparent and appreciated. The song selection covers Rock’s four solo albums pretty evenly, giving a nice retrospective of his solo career. Finally, the crowd may be small, but it is enthusiastic, frequently singing along and cheering mid-song.

After repeated spins, however, the disc gets old. This isn’t because the music isn’t good, or that the production isn’t top notch, or that Rock can’t belt it out. It’s simply that Rock hasn’t pushed himself as a vocalist over his career, and it shows outside of the studio. He is a vocalist that owes much to Bruce Dickenson, Dio, and the like, but he has only that one mode of singing. Modern day power metal requires much more variation and range, from operatic falsettos to death-metal styled growls, and Rock just doesn’t do it. This isn’t to say that he can’t, but he doesn’t.

Rock does execute his style to perfection on every song on the album; he sings a fairly high note to start a line, then he hits and holds a slightly higher note for the last word of the line, maybe adding some vibrato for effect. That really is all there is to it. Rock is an impressive vocalist, but doesn’t ever break from his standard procedure and unfortunately he has been surpassed by other vocalists that show more variation in their deliveries.

He has built a successful career with his singular style, but without the magic of studio production his lack of range shows, and unfortunately this is a live album. In the end it seems as though Rob Rock is more of a mirage, to us and all the bands he has sung for. He looks fantastic from far away, but once you get up close, it is just the sun glinting off brackish water.

Highs: Every song is melodic power metal executed to perfection.

Lows: Rob Rock is not as skillful singing live as he is in the studio, as his lack of variation shows.

Bottom line: In a vacuum the album is fantastic; compared to other albums it is merely good.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)