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Places Of Power - "Now Is The Hour" (CD)

Places Of Power - "Now Is The Hour" CD cover image

"Now Is The Hour" track listing:

1. In Your Wildest Dream (5:06)
2. Make Me Believe (5:12)
3. Desires Of Our Hearts (5:44)
4. One Day (4:18)
5. I Live For You (4:45)
6. Secrets (5:03)
7. The Passage (4:34)
8. Always (4:48)
9. Hard To Love You (4:24)
10. Light Of My World (5:29)
11. Path Of Least Resistance (4:01)
12. Places Of Power (4:22)

Reviewed by on April 2, 2009

"For those who are fans of the 80's fashioned ballads that launched groups like Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, and Skid Row to stardom, you'll probably also be pleased with Places Of Power."

It's no great surprise that a collaboration including Philip Bardowell, hard rock vocalist turned Christian vocalist and sometimes pastor, would be called Places Of Power. The term "places of power" refers to geographical zones that possess energy fields, and in the case of Places of Power's debut CD, "Now Is The Hour," this energy field is chocked full of positive, upbeat, and very mellow energy.

The emphasis on religion is very subtle on this album. Though the cover art includes mandala-like energy circles and the obvious depiction of doves, the music tends to avoid the Christian genre, with the exception of the intro to "Desires Of Our Hearts," which has a definite Christian rock sound to it. However, most of the songs' inspiration comes from the same source that fueled the ballads of the 80's, which is no surprise since the other half of this band is Bruce Turgon, former bassist for Foreigner.

While Bardowell does an amazing job of mimicking the vocal sound of Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm, the album isn't entirely a Foreigner copycat. The instrumentals are slightly more intense, giving Places Of Power a more metal-ish sound. For those who are fans of the 80's fashioned ballads that launched groups like Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, and Skid Row to stardom, you'll probably also be pleased with Places Of Power.

There are a few instances of glam guitars and anthemic gang vocals that are reminiscent of bands like Europe and White Lion, but what gives the music its classic appeal is also part of its downfall. Places Of Power too often clings to the dated synth sounds that accompanied so many of the ballads of the 80's era.

Fortunately, there are two songs that stray from this predictable formula. "One Day" features a funky bass in the opening, and a glam guitar that helps carry the piece into the realm of more modern melodic metal. The real star, though, is "Path Of Least Resistance," which reflects Turgon's prior work with Peter Criss of Kiss. This is an upbeat rock anthem that actually sounds a bit like classic Kiss. There's also a touch of southern rock tempo to it that makes you want to move, and makes "Path Of Least Resistance" significantly better than the rest of the album.

Places Of Power's "Now Is The Hour" may be a good choice for those who like over the top tunes like "I Wanna Know What Love Is," but unless you have a craving for something that closely resembles Whitesnake, Firehouse, Skid Row, or any of the other ballad-happy bands of the 80's, it's safe to skip this album.

Highs: "Path Of Least Resistance" offers a Kiss-like sound, and is a definite showstopper.

Lows: Christian rock patterned synths, and vocals that sound a little too much like Lou Gramm.

Bottom line: An album that caters to fans of retro ballad bands.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 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)