After splitting with AOR Heaven following the release of 2004’s “Infinity Ends”, BLIND ALLEY are back with a new label, Perris Records, and one hell of a new album! “Destination Destiny” is a brilliant CD full of surprises for the AOR fan, and I must admit that I wasn’t really prepared for it on my first listen. Now that I’ve enjoyed “Destination Destiny” in its entirety about ten times, one thing’s clear: this is a must-buy album.
While I’m confused as to who does what in BLIND ALLEY (their website lists four of the five members as lead singers), it’s still evident that these guys have talent to spare. The guitarwork is solid, especially during the soulful solos on the ballads like “The One To Never Know”, where the guitarist channels Neal Schon (JOURNEY) and does it well. Drummer Claes Magnusson’s performance is spectacular, as he’s both a very powerful drummer and a very technical one, as evidenced by his creative fills directly prior to the chorus of “Fire And Ice”. Keyboards provided by guitarist/lead singer/backup singer/bassist Magnus Olsson add texture to the songs, but interestingly enough, they’re actually used to make the songs feel heavier.
You see, while “Destination Destiny” is essentially an AOR record, it has moments where it lapses into clear, unmistakable Metal. Tracks like “Stone Cold Eyes” and “I Cannot Fight” are just heavy, and BLIND ALLEY crush their way through them as if they’ve been doing it forever. The transition between AOR and Melodic Metal is seamless; just like their famous Swedish brethren, EUROPE, BLIND ALLEY prove that they can write excellent Metal songs just as well as they can write soothing Rock songs. It’s difficult to say which ones are better; if BLIND ALLEY limited themselves to only one of these two styles, they could still make a living out of it, regardless of whichever one they chose.
Naturally, a healthy bit of Prog seeps its way into the Metal tracks. “Stone Cold Eyes” in particular has a highly complicated bridge where guitar, drums, and keyboard all act independently, creating a very neat rhythm. However, a lot of Prog finds its way into the AOR tracks as well; songs like “Talk Of The Town” feature oddly timed guitar chugs and double-bass patterns as well as unbelievably catchy choruses. In fact, if it weren’t for the radio-friendly chorus, “Talk Of The Town” could easily be a DREAM THEATER song.
Without a doubt, BLIND ALLEY is the thinking man’s AOR band. No two songs sound the same at all, what with the wide spectrum of challenging riffs and varying degrees of heaviness that “Destination Destiny” offers. Melodic Rock fans should definitely pick this up, as it offers some of the most creative yet catchy songwriting I’ve ever heard. In case you missed it, “Destination Destiny” is 50% AOR, 25% Progressive Rock, 25% Melodic Metal, and 100% awesome.
(Online June 1, 2007)